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‘Knock the crap out of them’: Videos of Trump encouraging violence over the years played at impeachment trial

Jamie Raskin argues insurrection was a 'culmination, not an aberration'

Alex Woodward
New York
Thursday 11 February 2021 19:01 GMT
Videos of Trump encouraging violence played at impeachment trial

On the third day of his impeachment trial in the US Senate, House impeachment managers screened Donald Trump's remarks to his supporters at his campaign rallies to illustrate his history of encouraging violence, leading up to the insurrection at the Capitol on 6 January.

Impeachment manager Jamie Raskin pointed to Mr Trump's directions to his crowds of supporters to attack counter-protesters at his rallies, telling them "get them the hell out of here" and "kick the crap out of them" in 2017.

Mr Raskin also showed senators footage of Republican Gregory Gianforte assaulting a reporter, and Mr Trump's apparent support: "Any guy that can do a body slam is my guy."

The attacks on the Michigan state capitol in 2020 among far-right groups to protest the state's coronavirus restrictions, fueled by the former president's attacks against Governor Gretchen Whitmer, were a "state-level rehearsal" for the Capitol siege and a "preview" of the coming insurrection, Mr Raskin said.

Read more: Follow live updates from Trump's impeachment trial

Following an alleged plot among far-right militia groups to kidnap the governor, interrupted by the FBI, the former president "chose to vilify Governor Whitmer, again, and then amazingly took credit for foiling the plot against her," Mr Raskin said.

A chant of "lock her up" erupted at a Michigan rally in October 2020 – the president didn't intervene, but said that he would be blamed or implicated if he even "gives a little nod."Mr Raskin called that a "winking" acknowledgement of his own culpability in his behaviour.

The insurrection on 6 January "did not spring into life out of thin air," Mr Raskin said, following an opening argument on Thursday from impeachment manager Diana DeGette, who outlined how his supporters who stormed the halls of Congress explicitly said they were doing it at the former president's invitation.

"These tactics were road tested," Mr Raksin said, adding that the insurrection was a "culmination, not an aberration."

The former president was routinely criticised and condemned for his history of encouraging violence at his rallies and his apparent lack of remorse for the consequences.

Senators heard his comments following the deadly riot among neo-Nazis and "alt-right" groups in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, when then-president Trump said there was "blame on both sides" and "very fine people on both sides."

Following the insurrection, on 12 January, Mr Trump said: "If you read my speech … people thought what I said was totally appropriate."

"There the pattern is, staring at us in the face," Mr Raskin said.

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