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Convict Trump — or it can happen again, House impeachment team warns

National Guard troops patrol the U.S. Capitol grounds

National Guard troops patrol the U.S. Capitol grounds on Thursday, the third day of Trump's second impeachment trial. Credit: AP / Jose Luis Magana

The Democrats' case to convict

Why not just get over it and move on? Give former President Donald Trump a "mulligan" for his behavior, as Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) put it?

Because, answered the Democratic impeachment managers, if he is not sanctioned for inciting the deadly U.S. Capitol insurrection, Trump or an imitator would do it again, dealing U.S. democracy a blow from which it might not recover.

"My dear colleagues, is there any political leader in this room who believes that if he is ever allowed by the Senate to get back into the Oval Office, Donald Trump would stop inciting violence to get his way?" asked Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the lead impeachment manager. "Would you bet the lives of more police officers on that? Would you bet the safety of your family on that? Would you bet the future of your democracy on that?"

After the Jan. 6 riot, Trump pronounced his conduct fault-free, and that's further cause to worry, said Rep. Ted Lieu of California, another impeachment manager. "President Trump's lack of remorse shows that he will undoubtedly cause future harm if allowed, because he still refuses to account for his previous high, grave crime against our government," Lieu said. He added: "You know, I'm not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I'm afraid he's going to run again and lose — because he can do this again."

Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, an impeachment manager, cited the escalation in threats from extremists. "We are not here to punish Donald Trump. We are here to prevent the seeds of hatred that he planted from bearing any more fruit," DeGette said.

Those arguments concluded the impeachment managers' case. Trump's lawyers will take their turn Friday to contend Trump is blameless, after which senators can question both sides and lawmakers can consider any late requests for evidence or witnesses. The Senate will vote on whether to convict or acquit Trump as early as this weekend.

From all indications so far, the Democrats won't bring nearly enough Republicans aboard to form a two-thirds vote majority needed for Senate conviction of Trump.

Preludes to pandemonium

Along with the danger that Trump would incite violence again, the House impeachment managers said it was part of a pattern. He had done it before, if not on as big a scale as the Capitol riot.

"Trump knew exactly what he was doing in inciting the Jan. 6 mob. He had just seen how easily his words and actions inspired violence in Michigan," Raskin said.

Raskin recalled how Trump, tweeting "Liberate Michigan," egged on armed right-wing protesters who stormed the state Capitol on April 30 over Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s restrictions amid a surge in coronavirus cases. "The siege of the Michigan statehouse was effectively a state-level dress rehearsal for the siege of the U.S. Capitol," Raskin said.

"This Trump-inspired mob may indeed look familiar to you," he said of the Michigan gathering. "Confederate battle flags, MAGA hats, weapons, camo army gear, just like the insurrectionists who showed up and invaded this chamber," Raskin told the Senate. In October, federal and state law enforcement foiled an alleged plot to kidnap and execute Whitmer.

Raskin also played clips of Trump encouraging violence by cheering his supporters' beatdowns of protesters at his rallies and praising a Republican politician for body-slamming a reporter.

See Tom Brune's takeaways for Newsday for more from Day Three of Trump's second impeachment trial.

Janison: Act of desperation

Lieu, one of the impeachment managers, offered a powerful point about a Trump motive for summoning the mob, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.

By the time Congress met to accept Electoral College results on Jan. 6, the defeated president "ran out of nonviolent options to maintain power," Lieu said. The political logic of the Capitol assault was that simple — to halt a well-founded constitutional process and thus cling to office. The fact that it — like most Trump gambits — didn't work doesn't mean it never happened.

Lieu pointed to a Trump tweet the day before as a thinly veiled warning. "I hope the Democrats, and even more importantly, the weak and ineffective RINO section of the Republican Party, are looking at the thousands of people pouring into D.C. They won’t stand for a landslide election victory to be stolen," Trump had tweeted.

"The president wasn’t just coming for one or two people or Democrats like me," Lieu continued. "He was coming for you, for Democratic and Republican senators. He was coming for all of us, just as the mob did at his direction."

Biden after China call: Stay hungry

Joe Biden said that his first phone call as president with Chinese leader Xi Jinping lasted two hours on Wednesday night, and he came away keenly aware of China's strength as a competitor.

"If we don’t get moving, they are going to eat our lunch," Biden told a bipartisan group of senators. "They’re investing billions of dollars dealing with a whole range of issues that relate to transportation, the environment and a whole range of other things. We just have to step up."

It was an about-face of a statement Biden made on the campaign trail in 2019, when he said, "China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man … they're not competition for us."

A White House statement said Biden raised concerns about Beijing’s "coercive and unfair economic practices" and pressed Xi on the crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, human rights abuses against Uighur and other ethnic minorities in the western Xinjiang province, as well as actions toward Taiwan. On Twitter, Biden said after the call: "I told him I will work with China when it benefits the American people."

China’s state broadcaster CCTV struck a mostly positive tone about the conversation, saying Xi acknowledged the two sides had their differences that should be managed. CCTV said Xi pushed back against Biden’s concerns on Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang, saying the issues are China’s internal affairs.

More vaccine shots in pipeline, Biden says

Biden on Thursday announced the federal government has purchased an additional 200 million COVID-19 vaccination doses, asserting that the U.S. is on track "to have enough supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July," reports Newsday's Laura Figueroa Hernandez.

Biden, on a visit to the National Institutes of Health, said the administration has purchased 100 million additional doses each from Pfizer and Moderna, with both companies pledging to deliver the doses by the end of July, earlier than initially anticipated. That will bring the nation's total supply to 600 million doses.

While that should be enough for almost every American, it remains unclear when everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one, given the logistical challenges of administering the shots.

Trump's COVID bout worse than admitted

Trump's COVID-19 illness in October was worse than publicly acknowledged at the time — so bad that officials believed he would need to be put on a ventilator, The New York Times reported, citing four people familiar with his condition.

Trump was found to have lung infiltrates, and his blood oxygen percentages were dangerously depressed, dropping into the 80s. The low 90s and below indicate a sign of severe disease.

The then-president resisted being moved to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, but he relented when aides told him it would look better to go there when he could still walk out on his own or risk waiting until the U.S. Secret Service was forced to carry him out.

Trump was released from the hospital after three days and treatment with a variety of drugs, some of which were not yet widely available.

More coronavirus news

See a roundup of the latest regional pandemic developments on Long Island and beyond by Newsday's reporting staff, written by Bart Jones. For a full list of Newsday's coronavirus stories, click here.

What else is happening:

  • Mounting evidence has emerged that Trump may have been personally informed that then-Vice President Mike Pence was in physical danger during the Capitol siege, just moments before denigrating him on Twitter, The Washington Post reports.
  • Biden informed Congress on Thursday that he has terminated the national emergency Trump declared two years ago to divert Pentagon funds for building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. In a letter to Congress, Biden said the emergency declaration was "unwarranted" and "it shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall."
  • Reversing a Trump administration policy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will begin investigating complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity under the Fair Housing Act, Politico reported.
  • The Congressional Budget Office says the federal government is on track for a $2.3 trillion deficit this year, down roughly $900 billion from last year when Congress approved about $4 trillion in coronavirus aid. But when Congress decides on Biden's pandemic relief package, this year's figure could grow.
  • Former Republican officials who have given up on the party because it remains under Trump's grip are discussing creating a new center-right party, The Washington Post reports.
  • Biden will spend Presidents Day weekend at Camp David, his first trip to the official retreat since his inauguration.

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