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'We Defended Our House,' Raskin Says After Trump Acquittal

Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., delivered his closing arguments on the fifth day of former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial.
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Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., delivered his closing arguments on the fifth day of former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial.

Updated at 6:03 p.m. ET

In closing arguments on day five of former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial, House managers argued Trump was solely responsible for inciting his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, threatening the safety of lawmakers and democracy itself.

"It's now clear beyond doubt that Trump supported the actions of the mob," lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin said on the Senate floor.

"He must be convicted," said the Maryland Democrat. "It's that simple."

Speaking to reporters after the Senate voted 57-to-43 to acquit Trump, Raskin called the trial the "most bipartisan presidential impeachment in the history of the United States."

"Trump stormed our house with the mob he incited, and we defended our house. And he violated our Constitution, and we defended the Constitution," Raskin told reporters.

Raskin referenced remarks from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blasting the president for his actions on Jan. 6 as proof that House impeachment managers had been successful in making their case.

"[McConnell] just went to the floor, essentially to say that we made our case on the facts, that he believed that Donald Trump was practically and morally responsible for inciting the events of Jan. 6th, "Raskin said. "He described it as we did, as a disgraceful dereliction of duty, a desertion of his office."

The arguments

Raskin and House managers recapped their arguments from earlier this week, using footage of Trump and his supporters to build the case that Trump knowingly misled his supporters to believe that the Nov. 3 election was fraudulent and weaponized their anger and disappointment to breach the Capitol.

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., noted how Trump declined to testify before the Senate.

"I would insist on [testifying] if I were accused of a grave and serious crime that I was innocent of," he said. "I would demand the right to tell my side of the story."

Cicilline referenced a tweet from Trump on the day of the insurrection, noting his disappointment that then-Vice President Mike Pence wouldn't intervene to stop the tallying of the Electoral College votes.

"The undisputed facts confirm that not only must President Trump have been aware of the vice president's danger, but he still sent out a tweet attacking him, further inciting the very mob that was in just a few feet of him inside of this very building," Cicilline said.

The safety of Pence, and the assertion that Trump willfully did not act swiftly and decisively enough to protect his own vice president, was a point that was repeated throughout the closing arguments.

"When the vice president of the United States escaped a violent mob that entered this Capitol building, seeking to hang him and calling out 'traitor, traitor, traitor,' when they shut down the counting of the electoral college votes, is this the future you imagine for our kids?" Raskin asked.

Raskin used the closing argument to push back against the defense's claim that Trump's actions after the insurrection began aren't relevant.

Impeachment manager Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., played a video montage of Trump repeating the false claim that the election had been rigged.

"This was not one speech. This was a deliberate, purposeful effort by Donald Trump over many months that resulted in the well-organized mob attack on Jan. 6," she said.

Manager Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado rebutted the defense's argument that Trump has been denied due process.

"We had a full presentation of evidence, adversarial presentations, motions. The president was invited to testify. He declined. The president was invited to provide exculpatory evidence. He declined. You can't claim there's no due process when you won't participate in the process," he said.

He noted that impeachment is separate and distinct from the criminal justice system.

"Why would the constitution include the impeachment power at all, if the criminal justice system serves as a suitable alternative once a President leaves office?" he asked. "It wouldn't."

Neguse also sought to address an allegation raised by defense attorneys, that the impeachment trial was rooted in hate. He turned to a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

"This trial is not born from hatred," said Neguse. "Far from it. It's born from love of country. Our country. Our desire to maintain it. Our desire to see America at its best."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.