Feb 10, 2021
Rep. Eric Swalwell Opening Statement Transcript February 10: Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial
Rep. Eric Swalwell’s opening statement on February 10, 2021, the second day of Trump’s second impeachment trial. He argued why the Senate should vote to convict Donald Trump. Read the transcript of his speech remarks here.
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Eric Swalwell: (00:04)
Mr. President, distinguished senators, my name is Eric Swalwell and I represent California’s 15th congressional district. Manager Castro just told you about Donald Trump’s lies and acts before the election, but to paraphrase Winston Churchill, “That wasn’t the end of his efforts. That wasn’t the beginning of the end, but perhaps it was the end of the beginning.” Here’s what I mean. You saw President Trump prime for months, his supporters to believe that if the election was lost, it only could have been so because it was rigged, but that took time. Just like to build a fire, it doesn’t just start with the flames. Donald Trump, for months and months, assembled the tinder, the kindling, threw on logs for fuel to have his supporters believe that the only way their victory would be lost was if it was stolen. So that way, President Trump was ready if he lost the election to light the match.
Eric Swalwell: (01:18)
And on November 7, after all the votes were counted, President Trump did lose by 7 million votes, but for Donald Trump all was not lost. He had a backup plan. Instead of accepting the results or pursuing legitimate claims, he told his base more lies. He doused the flames with kerosene and this wasn’t just some random guy at the neighborhood bar blowing off steam. This was our commander in chief. Day after day, he told his supporters false outlandish lies that the victory, that the election outcome was taken and it was rigged. And he had absolutely no support for his claims, but that wasn’t the point he wanted to make his base angrier and angrier. And to make them angry, he was willing to say anything.
Eric Swalwell: (02:26)
On November 15, he states, “I concede nothing. We have a long way to go. Rigged election!” It doesn’t say why the election is rigged. November 17 in a Twitter statement, “Dead people voted.” That’s it. No evidence. Just dead people voted. November 28 Twitter statement. We have found many illegal votes. Stay tuned. This just wasn’t true. He never found illegal votes. He didn’t even try to pretend that he had evidence for that and stay tuned. Well, that was all about inciting his base, not about bringing legitimate claims. It was about dramatize in the election to anger his supporters. December 5, you see here, he goes after the governors of Arizona and Georgia, governors from his own party, claiming that they weren’t with him. You see senators, he is casting this in combat terms that either you are with him, making sure that he won the election or you’re fighting against him. These are just a few of the hundreds of Twitter statements that President Trump sent. And it wasn’t just Twitter statements. As you’ll see, he was dialing into meetings, holding rallies, appearing on television, continuing to spread the big lie that his election victory was stolen.
Donald Trump: (04:15)
People that were dead were signing up for ballots. Not only were they coming in and putting in a ballot, but dead people were requesting ballots and they were dead for years and they were requesting ballots. Dead people voting all over the place. The alleged Biden margin of victory in several states is entirely accounted for by extraordinarily large midnight vote dumps. You saw them with going up to the sky.
Eric Swalwell: (04:47)
Massive midnight vote dumps. Dead people voting all over the place. He said there were votes going up to the sky. This was never about pursuing legitimate claims. He was saying anything he could to trigger and anger his base so that they would fight like hell to overturn a legitimate election. And it worked. Just as Manager Castro showed you, President Trump’s supporters were taking up arms to stop the count. His message to fight like hell was having real consequences. In Michigan, you’ll recall that President Trump was attacking that state and its officials. He continued these attacks even after Michigan certified its votes.
Donald Trump: (05:38)
Take a look at Michigan. Take a look at what they did with respect to counties. And then you get to Detroit and it’s like more votes than people. Dead people voting all over the place. I went almost every county in Michigan, almost every district. We should have won that state very easily. We have a similar type of governor, I think, but I’ll let you know that in about a week.
Eric Swalwell: (06:07)
He’s literally telling them that there were more votes in Detroit than people. About 260,000 people voted in Detroit. There are roughly 500,000 registered voters in Detroit. There are approximately 670,000 people living in the city. So again, not true, but he needed to make these outlandish claims to truly make his supporters believe that their victory was stolen from them. And it was working. A few days after these clips on December 5, his supporters surrounded the Michigan Secretary of State’s home.
Speaker 3: (06:50)
Secretary of the State’s house and stop the steal. Stop the steal. Stop the steal. Stop the steal. Stop the steal. Stop the steal. Stop the steal. You’re a threat to democracy. You’re the threat to free and honest elections.
Eric Swalwell: (07:23)
Nine o’clock at night, Secretary’s family’s inside. Protesters have surrounded her home and they’re chanting that she’s a felon. And as we saw when armed protesters showed up to follow President Trump’s direction to stop the steal, this was not the first time that President Trump’s supporters used threats and intimidation. President Trump can not say, “I didn’t know what I was inciting.” From what Manager Castro showed and what I just showed, there was plenty of evidence that his words had consequences. And if he wanted to stop it, he could stop it. You saw Mr. Castro read statement after statement from our Commander in Chief saying, “Stop the count. Stop the steal.” President Trump was never shy about using his platforms to try and stop something. He could have very easily told to supporters, “Stop threatening officials. Stop going to their homes. Stop it with the threats.” But each time, he didn’t. Instead in the face of escalating violence, he incited them further.
Eric Swalwell: (08:40)
The next phase and the certification of results was the certification on December 14 of the electoral college votes. The night before President Trump personally issued 14 Twitter statements with more false claims about the election being stolen and directing his supporters to make sure that “they can not be certified”. He states here, “The rhinos, the rhinos that run the state voting apparatus have caused us the problem of allowing the Democrats to so blatantly cheat in their attempt to steal the election, which we won overwhelmingly. We will never give up.” In the face of threats to elected officials, this is his message. And he calls them rhinos, Republicans in name only and tells them to never give up. President Trump, to him, it was his supporters against anyone who would not overturn the election results so that President Trump could win.
Eric Swalwell: (09:47)
But on December 14, despite all of President Trump’s efforts to stop, the electors cast their votes according to the will of the American people and Joe Biden was certified as having won 306 electoral college votes. The day after this occurred, leader McConnell recognized this stating, “Many of us hope that the presidential election would yield a different result, but our system of government has processes to determine who will be sworn in on January 20. The electoral college has spoken.” As Manager Castro said, “No one here, no one among us wants to lose an election. Sometimes there’s a reason to dispute an election. Sometimes the count is close. Sometimes we ask for a recount or we go to court. That’s entirely appropriate, but what President Trump did was different. What president Trump did was the polar opposite of what any of us would do if we lost an election because once the outcome is clear and a judge rules, we concede. We recognize the will of the American people because we let the people decide,” and that’s what all of the courts, the Justice Department and the 50 states that had counted the votes, they said it was time for a peaceful transition of power because that’s what our constitution and rule of law demands, except President Trump.
Eric Swalwell: (11:25)
He directed all of the rage that he had incited to January 6. That was his last chance to stop the peaceful transition of power. And that brings us to the attack. Manager Castro told you the power of the lie, especially when the lie comes from the most powerful person in the world, the Commander in Chief. It also helps if you spend millions of dollars to amplify that lie. You’ll see here in mid December, President Trump announced the release of ads, including ones entitled, “The evidence is overwhelming. Fraud. Stop the steal.” He spent $50 million from his legal defense fund on these ads to stop the steal and amplify his message. They were released nationally, played in video ads, online advertising, and targeted text messages. They use the same words and phrases that President Trump had been spreading for months, that the election was full of fraud, to stop the steal, but now they had a specific purpose.
Eric Swalwell: (12:42)
How do we know that purpose? These ads were designed to run all the way up to January 5 and then they stopped. This was purposeful and deliberate planning to target his base to rally around that day. And it wasn’t just his ads. He continued to use his own platform. He told his supporters who truly believed their victory had been stolen and who were ready to fight when, where, and how to stop what he believed was a steal. Donald Trump would issue a deliberate call to action. And just like in his ads, that action centered around January 6.
Eric Swalwell: (13:32)
On December 19 at 1:42 in the morning, our Commander in Chief tweeted, “Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there. We’ll be wild. We’ll be wild.” We know why he picked this day. It wasn’t random. It was his last chance to stop a peaceful transition of power. And he gave his supporters plenty of time to plan. This was the save the day. Sent out 18 days before the event on January 6. And it wasn’t a casual one-off reference or a single invitation. For the next 18 days, Donald Trump would make sure to remind them over and over and over to show up on January 6th. And he would tell them exactly what he wanted them to do. On December 26, he tweets, “If a Democrat presidential candidate had an election rigged and stolen with proof of such acts at a level never seen before, the Democrat senators would consider it an act of war and fight to the death. Mitch and the Republicans do nothing. Just want to let it pass. No fight!” He’s saying that the Republicans are doing nothing and have no fight because you are doing your job, taking on the constitutional process of certifying the electoral college results.
Eric Swalwell: (15:13)
And he also suggests President Trump that if this was the reverse and the Democrats had lost, it would be an act of war, an act of war. That’s how Donald Trump prepared his supporters for January 6. He even stated again 14 minutes later to make sure his supporters understood, “The Justice Department and the FBI have done nothing about the 2020 presidential election voter fraud, the biggest SCAM in our nation’s history despite overwhelming evidence. They should be ashamed.” And then he adds, “History will remember. Never give up. See everyone in D.C. on January 6th.” That phrase “history will remember,” was the only time, the first time Donald Trump had used it in his presidency. And he sent this to 70 plus million Twitter followers the day they needed to show up and be ready to fight.
Eric Swalwell: (16:24)
On December 27, he reminds them again, “Don’t miss it. Information to follow.” A few days later, December 30, “SEE YOU IN DC.” This continues all the way up to January 6. On January 1, he states, “The big protest rally in Washington will take place at 11:00 AM. Locational details to follow. Stop the steal.” You’ll see that an hour later, President Trump retweeted one of his Twitter followers. That follower was Kylie Kremer, executive director of Women for America First, the group organizing the January s6 rally and the creator of the Facebook group, Stop The Steal. Kremer tweeted, “The cavalry is coming, Mr. President,” referring to the cavalry showing up on January 6. She also added a website for supporters to RSVP and made clear what the message was. #StopTheSteal. And what did President Trump say in response to hearing that the cavalry was coming? A great honor, he wrote back.
Eric Swalwell: (17:42)
This wasn’t just a single tweet. He and his organizers would do this over and over repeatedly. On January 3, another supporter tweets, “We have been marching all around the country for you, Mr. President. Now, we will bring it to D.C. on January 6th and proudly stand beside you. Thank you for fighting for us.” When President Trump reposted her tweet, she wrote back, “Best day ever. Thank you for the retweet. It has been an honor to stand up and fight for you in our nation. We will be standing strong on January 6th in D.C. with you. We are bringing the cavalry, Mr. President.” We are bringing the cavalry. That was the consistent message. This was not just any old protest. President Trump was inciting something historic. The cavalry was coming and he was organized. In her post, Ms. Lawrence tagged Kylie Kremer, the organizer of the event whose post we just saw President Trump retweet. Again, you see this is all connected. I want to show you all of the Twitter statements and there are a lot, but here’s one more. President Trump retweeted another of Ms. Kremer’s posts, which had all the details of January 6 with the same hashtags, #MarchForPresidentTrump, #DoNotCertify, #StopTheSteal. And in response, President Trump, he writes back, “I will be there. Historic day.”
Eric Swalwell: (19:35)
Before Congress, I prosecuted violent crimes in California as an Alameda County deputy district attorney. And when you investigate and prosecute violent crimes, you have to distinguish, was this a heat of passion crime or was it something more deliberate? Planned? Premeditated? The evidence here on this count is overwhelming. President Trump’s conduct leading up to January 6 was deliberate, planned, and premeditated. This was not one speech, not one tweet. It was dozens in rapid succession with the specific details he was acting as part of the host committee. In fact, when he had assembled his inflamed mob in D.C., he warned us that he knew what was coming.
Eric Swalwell: (20:32)
This was President Trump’s statement the night before the attack. I should say this was one of his dozens of statements on Twitter in the hours leading up to the attack. “I hope the Democrats, and even more importantly, the weak and ineffective RINO section of the Republican party are looking at the thousands of people pouring into D.C. They won’t stand for a landslide victory to be stolen @senatemajldr @JohnCornyn @SenJoyhnThune.” Thousands of people pouring into D.C. who won’t stand for the landside election to be stolen. It’s all right there. And he tags senators to pressure you to stop this. And he warns all of us that his thousands of supporters whom you’ll see that the FBI had warned were armed and targeting the Capitol won’t stand for us certifying the results of the election. This was never about one speech. He built this mob over many months with repeated messaging until they believed that they had been robbed of their vote and they would do anything to stop the certification. He made them believe that their victory was stolen and incited them, so he could use them to steal the election for himself.
Donald Trump: (22:06)
This election was rigged.
Speaker 5: (22:07)
This is tyranny against the people of the United States and we are not standing for it anymore.
Donald Trump: (22:12)
If we don’t root out the fraud, the tremendous and horrible fraud that’s taken place in our 2020 election, we don’t have a country anymore. The left lies, they cheat and they steal. They are ruthless and they are hell bent on getting power and control by any means necessary. Can’t let it happen. The Democrats are trying to steal the White House. You can not let them.
Eric Swalwell: (23:02)
Can’t let it happen. Never concede. Fight. He told them in speech after speech. These crowds were ready to fight. This is what President Trump was inciting. He foresaw what was coming, and this is what he deliberately led to our doorstep on January 6. I want to be clear. During this trial, when we talk about the violent mob during the attack, we do not mean every American who showed up at President Trump’s rally. Certain Americans came to protest peacefully as is their right. That is what makes our country so great to debate freely, openly, and peacefully our differences. Just like all of you were attempting to do in this very room on January 6. But what President Trump did was different. He didn’t tell his supporters to fight or be strong in a casual reference.
Eric Swalwell: (24:01)
He repeatedly over months, told them to fight for a specific purpose. He told them their victory was stolen, the election was rigged and their patriotic duty was to fight to stop the steal. And he repeated this messaging even after he saw the violence it was inciting. And when they were primed and angry and ready to fight, he escalated and channeled their rage with a call to arms. “Show up on January 6.” At the exact time, the votes of the American people were being counted and certified, and then march to the Capitol and fight like hell. He told this to thousands of people who were armed to the teeth, targeting us and determined to stop the electoral college count. What our Commander in Chief did was wildly different from what anyone here in this room did to raise election concerns. This was a deliberate, premeditated incitement to his base to attack our capital while the counting was going on and it was foreseeable, especially to President Trump who warned us, he knew what was coming. This is what the evidence has overwhelmingly shown and will show in this trial. And it’s also the truth.