The first important hurdle in Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial came on Tuesday, when senators heard from both sides' lawyers and considered the question of whether the proceedings themselves are legitimate and constitutional. On this, there was at least some bipartisan agreement: the trial could proceed.
With that matter resolved, the Democratic House impeachment managers began making their case against the former president in earnest, and it was devastating.
New evidence was introduced at the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump on Wednesday — never-before-seen video and audio recordings of the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol to bring the violence they say the former president incited to horrifying life. The disturbing security and police body camera video and radio transmissions showed that the violence that led to the deaths of five people and injured over 100 police officers could have been much worse.
At one point yesterday afternoon, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), among the ringleaders of his party's anti-election efforts, told reporters, "There's nothing new here, for me, at the end of the day." One can only hope the far-right Missourian reconsidered after being presented with gut-wrenching evidence that neither he nor we had ever seen before.
Of course, the fact that the impeachment managers had new documentary evidence to present wasn't the only lesson we learned yesterday.
We learned that Jan. 6 was very nearly even more tragic. Watching the videos that had been kept from the public until yesterday, it became painfully obvious just how close the pro-Trump rioters came to harming elected officials, including then-Vice President Mike Pence, inside the Capitol. In many instances, the near-misses were the result of heroic efforts from law enforcement, while in other instances, officials survived because of luck.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) conceded yesterday that the video presentation revealed that senators were "maybe not as protected as we thought we were" on Jan. 6.
We learned that the prosecution captured and kept some Republicans' attention. Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters late yesterday that the Democratic attorneys "were very effective" and did "a good job of connecting the dots." He wasn't the only GOP senator who acknowledged the efficacy of the managers' six-hour presentation.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) described the Democrats' case as "riveting" and "compelling." Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said the evidence was "pretty damning, "adding, "Frankly, I don't see how after the American public sees the full story laid out here -- not just in one snippet -- but this whole scenario that has been laid out before us, I just, I don't see how Donald Trump could be re-elected to the presidency again. I just don't see that."
We learned that many of their GOP colleagues remained indifferent to the evidence. There was no shortage of Republican senators who were eager to effectively shrug their shoulders in response to the devastating revelations. "I don't think there's anything that's been said by either side that has changed any votes," Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), having abandoned any sense of shame, boasted that Trump ended yesterday in better shape than the day before.
We learned that many Republicans remain stuck on the dispute that's already been resolved. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) emphasized yesterday that many GOP senators don't believe they have the "authority" to convict a former president. Josh Hawley added that they lack the "jurisdiction." Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said it's hard to vote to convict "when you think the process is flawed in the first place."
In other words, while a bipartisan majority of senators agreed on Tuesday that the impeachment trial is legitimate and constitutional, more than a few Senate Republicans have decided not to budge from their discredited position.
House impeachment managers were allotted eight hours yesterday, and they wrapped up their presentation after nearly six hours. The Democratic prosecution team will have another eight hours today, though the general assumption is that they again won't need that much time, clearing the way for the defense attorneys to begin their presentation tomorrow.