House Democrats prosecuting Donald Trump’s impeachment trial for inciting the deadly siege of the Capitol played chilling security video on Wednesday showing members of the pro-Trump mob searching the building for his vice president, chanting: “Hang Mike Pence!”
Previously unseen videos showed the view from inside the Capitol as rioters smashed windows and fought with police on Jan. 6, coming within 100 feet (30 m) of the room where Pence was sheltering with his family. The mob had set up a gallows outside.
Outside the Capitol a noose hangs on a makeshift gallows. pic.twitter.com/74FO1wlA79— Cleavon MD (@Cleavon_MD) January 17, 2021
The footage, which also included body-camera views of brutal attacks on Capitol police, showed Pence and lawmakers being hustled to safety steps ahead of an advancing mob that stormed the building, resulting in the death of five people, including a police officer.
The House of Representatives has charged Trump, a Republican, with inciting an insurrection by exhorting thousands of supporters to march on the Capitol on the day Congress was gathered to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Trump’s lawyers argue his rhetoric is protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech and that the trial is politically motivated.
Conviction, while unlikely in the closely divided Senate, could lead to a vote to bar Trump from running for office again
The video footage highlighted the fact that hundreds of Trump supporters who attacked the building in an attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power targeted Republicans - whose votes would be needed to convict Trump.
House managers prosecuting the case frequently highlighted the threat to Pence. Trump had repeatedly said Pence had the power to stop the certification of the election results, even though he did not.
“The mob was looking for Vice President Pence,” Representative Stacey Plaskett said, narrating footage that showed the crowd chanting: “Hang Mike Pence!” and searching for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“President Trump put a target on their backs and then his mob broke into the Capitol to hunt them down,” she said.
Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro said that during the rampage, Trump tweeted that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.” A video showed rioters spreading word of Trump’s tweet to one another on bullhorns.
“He further incites the mob against his own vice president, whose life was being threatened,” Castro said.
Trump is the first US president to be impeached twice and the first to face trial after leaving office. His first impeachment trial, which stemmed from his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden, ended in an acquittal a year ago in what was then a Republican-controlled Senate.