U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, both Democrats, voted to convict former President Donald Trump on Saturday for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
The impeachment trial in the Senate began Feb. 9 with footage from Jan. 6, when the Capitol building was stormed by an angry mob of rioters. The trial did not include witness testimonies.
The House impeachment managers, including Reps. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., and Diana DeGette, D-Colo., presented the Senate with evidence consisting of videos and tweets from Jan. 6 and the surrounding days. They rested their case Thursday afternoon. Trump’s defense team rested its argument Friday afternoon after three hours.
After voting to convict Trump on Saturday, Hickenlooper said in a statement that Trump, “incited an insurrection and threatened the peaceful transfer of power – the very bedrock of our democracy.” On Friday, before voting, he said that not holding Trump accountable could have high consequences.
“I mean, if you can’t hold a president accountable of a high crime and misdemeanor of this nature, then you have to accept the ... likelihood that someone else will try it again,” Hickenlooper said in an interview with The Durango Herald. “He’s not going to be the only demagogue that tries to steal power in this country. This is a democracy that we hope will endure for another couple centuries, at least. And we just can’t leave the door open for this type of conduct again.”
Both Hickenlooper and Bennet were outspoken about their decisions to convict on Twitter.
“In my view, (Trump’s) egregious refusal to accept the results of a lawful election and his intimidation of election officials were sufficient to warrant conviction,” Bennet said in a statement. “In the end, he stopped at nothing, inciting a mob to attack the Capitol to overturn the lawful election of President Biden, putting American lives, principles, and democratic institutions at mortal risk.”
On Feb. 9, before the trial began, Bennet alongside Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., wrote and signed a letter to request additional mental health resources for employees working in the U.S. Capitol.
“January 6 was a dark day for our country – especially for those working in the Capitol complex,” Bennet said in a tweet after the letter was released. “My colleagues and I are calling for additional resources to support the mental health of Capitol workers in the wake of the attack.”
The letter is addressed to the architect of the Capitol, Senate acting sergeant at arms, librarian of Congress and the U.S. Capitol Police acting chief of police. In it, the senators ask to expand the emotional and behavioral health services and resources available to those who were in the Capitol building Jan. 6.
“As we work toward accountability and governing after the attack, Congress must ensure that support services, including emotional and behavioral health services, and resources are available to and appropriate for all who work in the Capitol to help promote healing,” the letter says.
On Friday night, after Trump’s team rested its case and the Senate wrapped up its Q&A session but before the final vote, Hickenlooper said the footage played by the House impeachment managers gave him more insight into the danger he and his fellow senators were in Jan. 6.
“You can’t help but see that (footage) and wonder what might have happened, what else could have happened that didn’t just because of chance in many cases, but also the heroic efforts of the Capitol Police and so many others who were trying to push back the mob,” Hickenlooper said in an interview with the Herald.
He said he was most affected by the way the House impeachment managers put together the timeline of the riot and the senators’ movements on Jan. 6, revealing how close they were to being overwhelmed by rioters. He said he was not the only one affected by the new footage and the timeline.
“When that video stopped and the House managers didn’t say anything for a full 30 seconds, I mean, you could hear a pin drop,” Hickenlooper said. “Everybody was transfixed by that, and I think everyone who didn’t already have a sense of how close we came to a real disaster, a catastrophe ... they did watching that video.”
Grace George is an intern for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez and a student at American University in Washington, D.C.