Rep. Eric Swalwell, who will help prosecute former President Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” said House impeachment managers are prepared to call witnesses at the upcoming Senate trial.
“If the Senate allows witnesses, we will be ready with witnesses,” Swalwell, D-Calif., told MSNBC Saturday morning.
MSNBC host Tiffany Cross told Swalwell she’d like to see Trump’s inner circle called to testify before the Senate trial about their speeches at the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6 that precipitated the Capitol riot, including Trump’s eldest son Don Jr. and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
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Swalwell didn’t say specifically if Trump’s confidants would be called but suggested the witness list could be far-reaching because so many people were impacted when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, leaving five people dead, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
“It’s not only the people who had knowledge of what the president knew,” Swalwell said. “The American people saw the police officers who were beaten and spit on and stampeded — 50 of them injured and almost 20 of them hospitalized, one of them killed. The cafeteria workers who ran for their lives as well. There’s a lot of witnesses to this crime.”
Swalwell said this trial would be different than the impeachment of Trump a year ago over soliciting foreign intervention from Ukraine into the 2020 presidential election. That’s because the senators are not just jurors, but also witnesses to the insurrection who “ran for their lives,” he said.
Witnesses were not allowed by the then-GOP-controlled Senate in the previous impeachment trial.
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House impeachment managers will frame the riot as a premeditated attack orchestrated by Trump, Swalwell said.
“This was not a heated passion crime. This didn’t happen spontaneously with words just slipping out Donald Trump’s mouth at that rally. For months he had propagated this big lie to radicalize these terrorists [and] to call … the calvary to Washington, and he called it ‘stop the steal,'” Swalwell said.
“And if you’re not an elected representative, the only way that you can stop the steal is by taking a physical act. He told them, don’t show weakness, you will lose your country if you don’t fight,” Swalwell continued.
“And then, most importantly, for two hours they attacked the Capitol and the president said nothing.”
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The impeachment process will formally move from the House to the Senate on Monday evening. Swalwell is one of nine impeachment managers, led by Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland. They are joined by Reps. Diana DeGette of Colorado, David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Joaquin Castro of Texas, Ted Lieu of California, Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands, Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania and Joe Neguse of Colorado.
The trial is expected to kick off in earnest on Feb. 9 so Trump will have time to ready his legal defense. Trump was impeached in the House for “incitement of insurrection” one week after rioters broke into the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden as president.
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Republicans have been divided on whether Trump bears responsibility for the insurrection. In order to convict the former president, 17 GOP senators would have to join with all Democrats in the Senate for a supermajority vote.
Since Trump’s term is over, the biggest penalty he faces is being barred from running for office again.