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Democrats warn of possible storming of Capitol again if Trump not convicted

WASHINGTON DC, USA: Democrats have concluded their arguments that Donald Trump incited the 6 January Capitol riot, warning “he can do this again” if he is not convicted.

Impeachment prosecutors on Thursday used rioters’ own words to link Trump to the violence while arguing the riot had caused long-term harm as well.

Democrats also presented accounts from police, staff, intelligence officials and foreign media to pursue their case.

The former president’s defence team will present their arguments on Friday.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives impeached Trump last month, accusing him of inciting the riot. Lawmakers from the House have been presenting their case to senators this week.

Trump’s lawyers have argued he was using his right to freedom of speech when declaring last November’s presidential election fraudulent.

A two-thirds majority is required to convict Trump in the evenly split 100-seat Senate, but an acquittal looks likely as the vast majority of Republican senators have remained loyal to him so far.

If Trump is convicted, however, the Senate could also vote to bar him from holding elected office again.

The violent riot at the US Capitol, which saw five people lose their lives, was an attempt by Trump supporters to stop the election result being certified.

On Wednesday the trial was shown new footage of the violence Trump is accused of inciting. Democrats sought to detail how Trump sparked the attack on the Capitol and took senators step-by-step through the events of January 6.

On Thursday, they embarked on the final point of their prosecution: the harm they say Trump caused to property, people and democracy.

“Because impeachment, conviction and disqualification [from office] is not just about the past. It’s about the future,” Congressman Ted Lieu told the trial, after arguing Trump also showed no remorse for his actions.

“It’s making sure that no future official, no future president does the same exact thing.”

Democrats showed clips of rioters themselves saying they had come to Washington DC because they believed that was what then-President Trump wanted.

Fellow House manager David Cicilline used video and court documents to illustrate the harm done to “Congress and the Democratic process”.

He added that some rioters admitted they planned to murder Vice-President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while others spoke of “sealing” lawmakers in the basement where they hid and “turning on the gas”.

“Never did any of us imagine that we would face mortal peril by a mob riled up by the president of the United States,” Cicilline said.

He also shared accounts from staff who were in the Capitol during the riot. One staff member, he says, quit her job afterwards. Another employee, who is a mother of three, said: “the insurrection shattered all my sense of security at work”.

Democrats also argued Trump’s conduct caused “long-term harm” to both domestic security and the nation’s international standing.

Impeachment manager Diana DeGette argued threats from domestic extremist groups “were and are made worse by President Trump’s refusal to take accountability and his refusal to forcibly denounce what his own FBI identified as some of the most dangerous elements of our country”.

On the international level, Congressman Joaquin Castro said American allies were shocked by the attack while adversaries mocked the US.

“The world is watching and wondering whether we are who we say we are,” said Castro.

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