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As Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial draws nearer to a Senate vote, determining Trump’s state of mind during the Capitol riots becomes more and more crucial. To ascertain whether Trump is responsible for the mob he lit a fire under on Jan. 6, senators need to establish whether Trump thought of the mob attack as the planned outcome of his incendiary speech. Though it’s deeply unlikely that enough Republicans will vote to remove the former president, new evidence about phone calls made to top Republican officials points toward a knowledgeable Trump who refused to help call off the hordes.
One phone call between Trump and House Republican head Kevin McCarthy got so heated that the California congressman reportedly shouted: “Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?”
McCarthy had called Trump during the riot to ask him to call off the mob. Republican lawmakers who had been briefed about the call confirmed some details while speaking with CNN. Trump reportedly claimed that the rioters were antifascists, before McCarthy assured the president the people storming the capitol were his supporters.
“Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump replied, according to an unnamed insider.
This statement was a bridge too far for several House Republicans. Ten of them voted to impeach Trump for a second time, with McCarthy notably voting against the measure. McCarthy claimed in an address to the House of Representatives that Trump bore responsibility for the riot and still opted not to vote for an impeachment.
Republican Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington said that implicit endorsement of the rioters was enough to convince them to impeach Trump.
“That line right there demonstrates to me that either he didn’t care, which is impeachable, because you cannot allow an attack on your soil, or he wanted it to happen and was OK with it, which makes me so angry,” they told CNN.