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Kicking off impeachment trial, Cicilline says Trump ‘sided with the bad guys’

The Congressman from Rhode Island was tasked with explaining to senators why Trump can be tried despite no longer holding public office.

In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., speaks during the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021.Associated Press

US Representative David Cicilline took center stage Tuesday during the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, making the case to senators that Trump “sided with the bad guys” last month following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.

Cicilline, who is serving as an impeachment manager, was the third representative to speak during the trial, after his Democratic colleagues, Representatives Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Joe Neguse of Colorado.

He was tasked with explaining to senators why Trump can be tried despite no longer holding public office. Trump’s attorneys intend to question the constitutionality of the trial.

“As a former president who promised on a bible to use his power faithfully, he can and should answer for whether he kept that promise while bound by it in office,” Cicilline said.


Rep. Cicilline speaks at the impeachment trial
Rep. David Cicilline spoke at the impeachment trial on Tuesday. (Video via C-SPAN)

Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on Jan. 13 — before he left office — for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in provoking his supporters to storm the US Capitol, leaving five dead, including a Capitol police officer. Cicilline and US Representative Ted Lieu of California started drafting an article of impeachment while they hid from insurgents in Cicilline’s office.

Cicilline repeatedly pointed to a tweet from Trump issued hours after the insurrection that appeared to justify the attack: “These are the things and events that happens when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & peace. Remember this day forever!”

Cicilline said the tweet “chills me to the core.”

“The president of the United States sided with the insurrectionists,” Cicilline said. “He celebrated their cause, he validated their attack. He told them, ‘Remember this day forever.’”

Cicilline said the argument that the trial was unconstitutional is a distraction, and urged the senators to use common sense when thinking about Trump.


“President Trump was impeached while he was in office, for conduct in office,” Cicilline said.

Under the rules of the trial, the impeachment managers and Trump’s attorneys will each get 16 hours to make oral arguments. It’s unclear if any witnesses will be called. In order to convict Trump, 67 senators would need to vote to convict.

Because Trump is no longer serving as president, a conviction would not remove him from office or result in his losing any of his benefits as a former president. If convicted, the Senate could then hold a simple majority vote to disqualify Trump from holding Federal office in the future, making it impossible for him to run for election as a state representative or senators or for president in 2024. If acquitted, the Senate could not vote to bar him from Federal office.

Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.