(AP) — Prosecutors unveiled chilling new security video in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial Wednesday, showing the mob of rioters breaking into the Capitol, smashing windows and doors and searching menacingly for Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as overwhelmed police begged on their radios for help.
In the previously unreleased recordings, the House prosecutors displayed gripping scenes of how close the rioters were to the country’s leaders, roaming the halls chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” some equipped with combat gear. Outside, the mob had set up a makeshift gallows.
Videos of the siege have been circulating since the day of the riot, but the graphic compilation amounted to a more complete narrative, a moment-by-moment retelling of one of the nation’s most alarming days. In addition to the evident chaos and danger, it offered fresh details on the attackers, scenes of police heroism and staff whispers and cries of distress.
At one dramatic moment, the video shows police shooting into the crowd through a broken window, killing a San Diego woman, Ashli Babbitt. In another, a police officer is seen being crushed by the mob. Five people died.
The vice president, who had been presiding over a session to certify Joe Biden’s victory over Trump — thus earning Trump’s criticism — is shown being rushed to safety, where he sheltered in an office with his family just 100 feet from the rioters. Pelosi was evacuated from the complex before the mob prowls her suite of offices, her staff hiding quietly behind closed doors.
Police overwhelmed by the mob frantically announce “we lost the line” and urge officers to safety. One later died.
Though most of the Senate jurors have already made up their minds on acquittal or conviction, they were riveted, and sat silently. Rioters had rummaged through their desks in the very chamber where the impeachment trial is now being held. Screams from the audio and video filled the chamber. One Republican, James Lankford of Oklahoma, bent his head, a GOP colleague putting his hand on his arm in comfort.
“They did it because Donald Trump sent them on this mission,” said House prosecutor Stacey Plaskett, the Democratic delegate representing the Virgin Islands.
“President Trump put a target on their backs and his mob broke into the Capitol to hunt them down.”
Some senators acknowledged it was the first time they were grasping how perilously close the country came to serious danger.
“When you see all the pieces come together, just the total awareness of that, the enormity of this, threat, not just to us as people, as lawmakers, but the threat to the institution and what Congress represents, it’s disturbing,” said Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. “Greatly disturbing.”
The stunning presentation opened the first full day of arguments in the trial as the prosecutors argued Trump was no “innocent bystander” but the “inciter in chief” of the deadly Capitol riot, a president who spent months spreading election lies and building a mob of supporters primed for his call to stop Biden’s victory.
The House Democrats showed piles of evidence from the former president himself — hundreds of Trump tweets and comments that culminated in his Jan. 6 rally cry to go the Capitol and “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. Trump then did nothing to stem the violence and watched with “glee,” they said, as the mob ransacked the iconic building.
“To us it may have felt like chaos and madness, but there was method to the madness that day,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the lead prosecutor, who pointed to Trump as the instigator.