US president Joe Biden said powerful images and footage of last month’s attack on the US Capitol may have “changed some minds” among Republicans on convicting Donald Trump, as House Democrats prepared for their final afternoon of impeachment arguments.
Biden has avoided any extensive commentary on the Senate proceedings against Trump, as he attempts to marshal Congress towards approving his $1.9tn relief package and confirming his cabinet nominees.
But Biden referenced the proceedings on Thursday, saying he had watched some news coverage of the proceedings, in which House Democrats released a series of new videos and photographs documenting the January 6 assault on the Capitol.
“I’m focused on my job . . . to deal with the promises I made,” Biden said. “And we all know we have to move on.”
In order for Trump to be convicted, 17 Republicans would have to agree to do so along with every Democrat. So far only a handful of senators from Trump’s party have indicated they are leaning in that direction.
The US president — who served in the US Senate for more than three decades — suggested some Republicans could have second thoughts after watching the new evidence. “I think the Senate has a very important job to complete and I think my guess is some minds may be changed, but I don’t know,” Biden said.
Over the course of the day on Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers argued that Trump directly stoked the assault on the US Capitol by denying the outcome of the November election and encouraged his supporters to “fight like hell” to prevent the certification of Biden’s victory, rallying a mob to march on Congress.
The prosecution have also focused on Trump’s apparent lack of contrition as deadly violence was breaking out in the US Capitol with lawmakers fearing for their lives. Video footage showed party leaders and Mike Pence, the vice-president, being rapidly escorted to more secure locations.
Jamie Raskin, the congressman from Maryland and the leading manager of the impeachment trial, said Trump had first incited and then failed to halt the riot. He said the former president “completely abdicated his duty as commander-in-chief to stop the violence”.
After House Democrats wrap up their case on Thursday, Trump’s defence lawyers are expected to make their arguments on Friday and possibly into the weekend. Trump’s team have argued that the trial itself was unconstitutional because he is no longer a sitting president. His legal team’s debut performance, however, was widely panned by experts and even some Republican lawmakers.