Federal prosecutors and former senior DOJ officials agree: Video evidence is damning against Trump

Federal prosecutors and former senior DOJ officials agree: Video evidence is damning against Trump
Donald Trump supporters need the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, TapTheForwardAssist

Online news outlet Just Security, which focuses on 'rigorous analysis of law, rights, and U.S. national security policy,' has created an intense 10-minute compilation splicing together video clips from events leading up to the Capitol insurrection alongside Donald Trump's speech to the mob before they marched to and into the Capitol.

Using videos that were created and uploaded by users of the gutter of right-wing social media dumpster Parler (before the FBI lights came on and users started to scramble), the events of Jan. 6 are becoming clearer. The original video was collected by ProPublica and made available to the public, and Just Security was able to create more context for Donald Trump's speech, using the crowd responses. Set chronologically, the video is a damning piece of evidence that could and should be used in the impeachment trial of the twice-impeached former president. It shows the crowd reacting in real-time to Donald Trump's calls to "fight" for him at the Capitol, as well as whipping the crowd into a white-hot frenzy toward his own vice president.

Just Security reporters Ryan Goodman and Justin Hendrix interviewed numerous "former senior Justice Department officials and former federal prosecutors" to get their takes on the video compilation and the result is a roadmap into the possible second impeachment of Donald Trump.

The video begins with footage of Donald Trump speaking to the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal crowd, highlighting his claims that "We will never give up. We will never concede. You don't concede when there is theft involved," and "We want to be so nice. We want to be so respectful of everybody, including bad people."

Video of the crowd obtained from Parler shows people yelling and cheering, and responding to Trump's call to action by yelling things like "Storm the Capitol," "Invade the Capitol building," and "Take the Capitol." Calling the "left" of the United States, "ruthless," Trump continuously called on then-Vice President Mike Pence to "do what's right for the Constitution and the country."

Trump hits the war and fighting metaphor again, saying that "Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy," and how the Stop The Steal folks will now march down to the Capitol building and make themselves a herd heard. The video then pivots to the march down to the Capitol building, showing charlatan luminaries like InfoWars' Alex Jones telling the crowd to go to the "other side of the Capitol building," where he claims Trump will be.

Later, the video shows a crowd at the door of the Capitol building chanting "We want Pence," over and over again. It's not a bunch of people calling for Mike Pence to speak—that's something that's never happened in America, frankly. A man inside of the Capitol building is videotaped talking into a landline phone in the building, asking for Speaker Pelosi and Mike Pence, saying "We are coming for you, bitch!"

Other video taped next to scaffolding erected at the Capitol building shows a guy speaking into a megaphone, saying he hopes Mike Pence goes to the "gallows," and that he would like to see him in front of a "firing squad." I wonder why Mike Pence didn't come out to nod paternalistically at the MAGA supporters, like he has for the past four years?

Video inside of the Capitol building hallways shows big bearded faketriots screaming at D.C. and Capitol police, telling them that "You're outnumbered. There's a million of us out there, and we are listening to Donald Trump—your boss."

The chant of "Fight for Trump" continues.

At 4:17 PM that day, after hours of inaction, Trump released his weak sauce Twitter video, once again calling the election "fraudulent," but telling his supporters to go home. This is followed by video of Mr. QAnon Narcissistic Mascot Jacob Chansley saying that Trump told them to go home and that the rioters had "won the day," because it had sent the message they would remove officials from office "one way or another" if they didn't overturn the results of the election—or whatever demands they come up with, I guess?

Finally, they cut in MAGA acolytes like Texas realtor Jenna Ryan, who chartered a private jet to go and storm the Capitol building. After first telling people she hadn't gone in the building, only to have her own footage and a lot of other footage show that she was lying, the video has a local news interview with her saying that she thought she was following Trump's instructions. She was, but that's still a crime.

Former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Elie Honig tells Just Security that "The House impeachment managers should consider rolling this tape as their final exhibit at the trial. It shows, clearly and viscerally, how President Trump's words in fact incited the insurrectionist mob — particularly when taken in combination with Trump's own tweet, after the riot, praising the mob as 'great patriots' who should 'remember this day forever.'"

Former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman disagrees with Honig on strategy, but not on how damning this all is:

From a legal standpoint, a prosecutor in a case charging Trump with seditious conspiracy would play this tape in an opening, and then say, "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, the evidence will show that the insurrectionists came to Washington that day because they believed the President had called them there to do their patriotic duty; once there, the President worked them into a demented rage, telling them they had to fight like hell, and that he would be there with them at the Capitol. They went with blood in their eyes screaming 'Fight for Trump!,' threatening the lives of Nancy Pelosi and Mike Pence, and proceeded to storm and lay waste to the Capitol, the sanctum of our democracy, all while President Trump viewed the bedlam with delight from his safe perch back at the White House. They were criminals and deserved to be punished; but any fair-minded person will see from this evidence and more that we will bring forward that it was the President who lit the match and threw it on the fire because he wanted – and at a minimum reasonably foresaw – that they would become an out-of-control mob."

In lieu of real evidence of fraud, the Trump administration and its surrogates—and those wanting to make some last-minute money off the MAGA crowds—promoted the idea that the entire election of Joe Biden over Donald Trump was rigged. In every form of media, at every opportunity, they told millions of Americans that not only were their suspicions of problematic votes cast, but that in fact, a coordinated effort to overthrow the "landslide" victory of Donald Trump was underway.

You can argue that the people who believe the things that Donald Trump says are being conned. They are. You can say they truly believed that their attempt to force Congress to throw out millions of American votes was just and constitutional. You can say all of those things because Donald Trump, the president of the United States, told them exactly that. Other elected officials, including senators, told them it was true.

The fact of the matter is that Trump's guilt is very easily verified. He purposely misled his supporters and then attempted to have them illegally overthrow our government. The only defense the MAGA insurrectionists being arrested right now have amounts to an insanity plea. They believed the government was out to get them and they needed to violently defend themselves because they believed they were about to be hurt by magic. It's not a worthwhile defense in most of their cases, and hopefully, they can watch from a jail cell's closed-captioned television set as their fearful leader and liar is convicted of crimes against our Constitution and the Executive office of our country.


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