In a wrenching second day at President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, hammered the former president over his initial response to the riot at the U.S. Capitol being carried out by his supporters.
After Democratic impeachment managers replayed video of a mob attack beleaguered Capitol police officers on Jan. 6, Castro accused Trump on Wednesday of refusing to call in the National Guard to assist them even hours after the riot played out.
“You heard from my colleagues that when planning this attack, the insurgents predicted that Donald Trump would command the National Guard to help them,” Castro said in his presentation on the Senate floor. “There’s a lot that we don’t know yet about what happened that day, but here’s what we do know: Donald Trump did not send help to these officers who were badly outnumbered, overwhelmed and being beaten down.”
Democrats, who are trying Trump on charges of incitement of insurrection, sought Wednesday to show that Trump not only encouraged his supporters to prevent the Jan. 6 certification of the Electoral College vote, but failed to act when they rioted at the Capitol as he watched from the White House.
“Two hours into the insurrection, by 3 p.m., President Trump had not deployed the National Guard or any other law enforcement to help, despite multiple pleas to do so,” Castro said. “President Donald Trump was, at the time, our commander in chief of the United States of America. He took a solemn oath to preserve, protect and defend this country and he failed to uphold that oath. In fact, there’s no indication that President Trump ever made a call to have the Guard deployed or had anything to do with the Guard being deployed when it ultimately was.”
Using video of the riot, tweets by the former president and news reports detailing the delayed deployment of Guard troops, Castro pressed his case that Trump initially didn’t want the insurrection to stop as it had successfully interrupted the certification of his loss against Joe Biden. Notably, Castro said, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller had listed the officials he spoke with as the riot unfolded who had requested the deployment Guard troops. Trump was not one of them.
“Shortly after 3:04 p.m., the acting defense secretary announced that the Guard had been activated and listed the people he spoke with prior to this activation, including Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Sen. Schumer and Rep. Hoyer. But that list did not include the president,” Castro said. “This omission of his name was not reportedly accidental. According to reports, ‘Trump initially rebuffed requests to mobilize the National Guard and required interference by other officials, including his own White House counsel.’ And later, ‘as a mob of Trump supporters breached police barricades and seized the Capitol,’ Trump reportedly was ‘disengaged in discussions with Pentagon leaders about deploying the National Guard to aid the overwhelmed U.S. Capitol police.’
Earlier in the day, impeachment managers played recordings of Capitol police officers pleading for reinforcements and showed video of them being attacked by the mob. Over 140 officers were injured on Jan. 6 and one was killed. In the days following the melee, two more officers took their own lives.
Castro pointed blame squarely at Trump for the failure to send Guard troops to the Capitol as the riot broke out.
“At no point on Jan. 6 did Donald Trump even reference the National Guard, Castro said. “The only thing that we heard connecting the president to the Guard was from his press secretary, who tweeted about the Guard being deployed at the president’s direction over half an hour later, at 3:36 p.m.”
Noting that Trump’s supporters had been rioting for “over four hours” by the time the Guard was deployed, Castro showed more video of the violent clashes.
“This is hard to watch,” Castro said, “but I think it’s important that we understand what the Capitol police were facing, how severely they were outnumbered, while our commander in chief, whose job it was to protect them, was just watching, doing nothing for hours, refusing to send help.”
Summarizing that portion of his presentation, Castro issued a blunt conclusion: “On January 6, President Trump left everyone in this Capitol for dead.”
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