WASHINGTON (AP) — Prosecutors unveiled new security video Wednesday in Donald Trump's impeachment trial, showing the mob of rioters breaking into the Capitol as police requested on their radios for help.
In the previously unreleased recordings, the House prosecutors displayed 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 compilation amounted to a more complete narrative, a moment-by-moment retelling. In addition to chaos and danger, it offered fresh details on the attackers, scenes of police heroism and cries of distress. And it showed just how close the country came to a potential breakdown in its seat of democracy as Congress was certifying Democrat Joe Biden's election win.
"They did it because Donald Trump sent them on this mission," said House prosecutor Stacey Plaskett, the Democratic delegate representing the U.S. Virgin Islands. "His mob broke into the Capitol to hunt them down."
The presentation opened the first full day of arguments in the trial as the prosecutors argued Trump was no "innocent bystander" but rather the "inciter in chief" of the deadly Capitol riot.
While Senate jurors sat silently, Senators shook their heads, folded their arms and furrowed their brows as screams from the audio and video filled the Senate chamber. One Republican, James Lankford, of Oklahoma, bent his head, a GOP colleague putting his hand on his arm in comfort.
"On Jan. 6, President Trump left everyone in this Capitol for dead," said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, a prosecutor.
Pence, who had been presiding over a session to certify Biden's victory over Trump is shown being rushed to safety, sheltered in an office with his family just 100 feet from the rioters. Pelosi was evacuated from the complex before the mob made their way into her suite of offices, her staff hiding quietly behind closed doors.
At one 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.
Police overwhelmed by the rioters announce "we lost the line" and urge officers to safety. One officer later died.
Some senators acknowledged it was the first time they had grasped 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 Sen. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska. "Greatly disturbing."
Trump is the first president to face an impeachment trial after leaving office and the first to be twice impeached. He is charged with incitement of insurrection through words his defense lawyers said are protected by the Constitution's First Amendment and just figures of speech.
The House Democrats showed piles of evidence from the former president — hundreds of Trump's tweets and comments that culminated in his Jan. 6 rally cry to go to the Capitol and "fight like hell" to overturn his defeat. Trump then did nothing to stem the violence 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.
"And when his mob overran and occupied the Senate and attacked the House and assaulted law enforcement, he watched it on TV like a reality show. He reveled in it," he said.
In one scene, a Capitol Police officer redirects Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, down a hallway to avoid the mob. It was the same officer, Eugene Goodman, who has been praised as a hero for having lured rioters away from the Senate doors.
"It tears at your heart and brings tears to your eyes," Romney said after watching the video. He said he didn't realize how close he had been to danger.
The day's proceedings unfolded after Tuesday's emotional start.
The prosecutors are arguing Trump's words were part of "the big lie" — his efforts to sow doubts about the election results, revving up his followers to "stop the steal" even though there was no evidence of substantial fraud.
Trump knew what would happen when he took to the microphone at the outdoor White House rally that day as Congress gathered to certify Biden's win, said Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo, another impeachment manager.
"This was not just a speech," he said.
Security remained tight Wednesday at the Capitol, fenced off and patrolled by National Guard troops.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said Biden would not be watching the trial.
The difficulty facing Trump's defenders became apparent at the start as they leaned on the process of the trial rather than the substance of the case against him. They said the Constitution doesn't allow impeachment at this late date, after he has left the White House.
Even though the Senate rejected that argument in Tuesday's vote to proceed, the legal issue could resonate with Republicans eager to acquit Trump without being seen as condoning his behavior.
Defense lawyer Bruce Castor encouraged senators Tuesday to be "cool-headed" as they assessed the arguments.