Impeachment Briefing: ‘Incitement of Insurrection’

Read the full article of impeachment here.

My colleague Charlie Savage analyzed the elements of the speech Mr. Trump gave near the White House last Wednesday that has led to accusations that Mr. Trump incited his followers to riot at the Capitol. He also wrote about whether Mr. Trump has put himself in criminal jeopardy.

Unlike the last impeachment, when Mr. Trump argued that his dealings with Ukraine did not break any laws, several laws clearly make it a crime to incite a riot or try to get another person to engage in a violent crime against property or people. That has been a primary focus of the new push to impeach Mr. Trump again.

Here’s some of the violent imagery Mr. Trump used in his speech:

  • “Republicans are constantly fighting like a boxer with his hands tied behind his back. It’s like a boxer. And we want to be so nice. We want to be so respectful of everybody, including bad people. And we’re going to have to fight much harder.”

  • “We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.

  • We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that is what this is all about.”

  • “We are going to try — give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re try — going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

I talked to my colleague Nick Fandos, who covers Congress and was in the Capitol when rioters stormed in, about Democrats’ strategy this time around.

Nick, why now? And what do Democrats hope to get out of this?

I think the answer to both is one and the same. They are cognizant of the fact that he’s leaving office in nine days, but they feel that this act cannot go unpunished, if not for anything else than the history books. You had members of both parties lying face down in the House gallery with gas masks on preparing for the worst.

The feeling is they want him out immediately — now. They want him to resign, for Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. But they realize those things probably aren’t going to happen, and impeachment is the only tool wholly within the power of Congress. They’re using the tool in their toolbox.

How can we understand the motivations behind this impeachment?

I have not heard, to this point, any political considerations being made around Trump. If anything, there’s some concern that this will prompt some sort of backlash where Trump becomes a martyr, a cult hero, and he ends up holding stronger influence over American life. But the way that lawmakers are talking about it is much more basic — this is about us and our society, as opposed to Republicans versus Democrats and who could run in 2024.

Do Democrats expect Mr. Trump to be convicted by the Senate this time?

They’re doing it not knowing one way or another. You could plausibly sketch out scenarios where he could be convicted and others where he definitely wouldn’t be convicted. I think they haven’t taken the time to game that out. They feel like they’re in the right trying to initiate the process knowing they can’t control how it ends. But they’re thinking, “We can do our part.”

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