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February 10, 2021

Classroom resource: Vivid footage of mob violence shown at impeachment trial

U.S. House impeachment manager and Delegate from the Virgin Islands Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) delivers part of the impeachment managers’ opening argument in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, on charges of inciting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, on the floor of the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C, Feb. 10, 2021. U.S. Senate TV/Handout via Reuters



Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. You may want to take a look at this article by NewsHour’s Dan Bush to read highlights from the first two days of the impeachment trial.

NOTE: The video of rioters inside the Capitol building is disturbing and may include upsetting language, though does not depict any individuals being hurt.

Summary: Opening arguments officially got underway Wednesday in former President Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial, as Democrats made their case on his role in inciting the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol. In this video, Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-Virgin Islands, showed security footage of Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who directed Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, to safety as he was running from a pro-Trump mob that had breached the Capitol. 

  • Plaskett said that as Vice President Pence was being evacuated, rioters started to spread throughout the Capitol. “The mob was looking for Vice President Pence because of his patriotism … because the vice president had refused to do what the president demanded, and overturn the election results.”
  • A second video shows Plaskett describing how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was evacuated from the complex as her staff hid underneath a conference table in her suite of offices, fearing for their lives.
  • On Jan. 6, Pence had been presiding over a session to certify Joe Biden’s victory over Trump, earning Trump’s censure. In the video, Pence is shown being rushed to safety, where he sheltered in an office with his family 100 feet from the rioters. They roamed the halls chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” some equipped with combat gear.
  • Even though the Senate rejected Trump’s defense team’s argument on Tuesday that the Constitution doesn’t allow impeachment at this late date (after he has left the White House), the legal issue could resonate with Senate Republicans eager to acquit Trump without being seen as condoning his behavior.
  • Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives for inciting the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6. After impeachment in the House, the Senate holds a trial and votes on whether to convict or not. A two-thirds majority is needed for conviction.


Warm up questions: Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:

  • Who is present at Trump’s impeachment trial? Who are “impeachment managers”?
  • What do the prosecutors have to prove in this impeachment trial? What role do Trump’s attorneys play?
  • Where and When is the impeachment trial taking place?
  • Why did prosecutors decide to show video footage of the mob at the Capitol? 
  • How will a verdict be decided in the impeachment trial?

Then have students share with the class or through a Learning Management System (LMS).

Focus questions:

  1. Do you think it was a smart strategy for impeachment managers to show and describe in vivid terms the video footage of the rioters’ movements inside the Capitol building? Why or why not?
  2. How did you feel watching the video footage of the mob inside the Capitol? What do you think the footage says about our democracy?
  3. Do you think prosecutors are making a strong case that Trump was the chief inciter of the insurrection? Explain.

Media literacy: How did impeachment managers get access to the video footage used at the impeachment trial? 

Additional resources: NewsHour EXTRA produced a number of lessons and stories about the attack on the Capitol on January 6 and its aftermath.

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