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"That was overwhelmingly distressing": Senators react to new video evidence from January 6 attack

Officer directs Mitt Romney to safety in riot
Capitol security video shows officer directing Senator Mitt Romney to safety during riot 04:16

Washington — Senators from both parties said it was difficult to relive the experience of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in the new evidence presented by impeachment managers that detailed the movements of rioters. On the second day of former President Trump's impeachment trial, the House impeachment managers presented evidence that included security footage not previously seen as a part of their argument that Mr. Trump incited the mob. 

The evidence presented Wednesday showed how close rioters came to entering the Senate chamber while senators were still there. GOP Senator Dan Sullivan said that watching the footage made him "angry."

"We knew it was going to be an intense experience, for me at least it brings back a lot of anger," Sullivan said.

Sullivan's fellow Republican colleague, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, said she had multiple emotions while reliving her experience that day with a "more comprehensive timeline." She called it "disturbing."

"I know what I was feeling in the Senate chamber when I could hear those voices. I knew what it meant to be running down this hallway with my colleagues," Murkowski added. "I wasn't fully aware of everything else that was happening in the building. So when you see all the pieces come together, just the total awareness of that, the enormity of this, this threat, not just to us as people, as lawmakers, but the threat to the institution and what Congress represents, it's disturbing."

GOP Whip Senator John Thune noted to reporters that it had been a "traumatic" day for many of the people present, and said that the House managers' presentation was a "harsh reminder of what happens when you let something like that get out of hand."

"I think they were very effective. They had a strong, strong presentation put together in a way that I think makes it pretty compelling," Thune said. However, he did not say whether he believed Mr. Trump was responsible for the events of January 6, although he acknowledged the managers did "a good job of connecting the dots."

New security footage from January 6 showed U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman directing Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah to safety before he encountered and directed the violent mob. Romney told reporters that it was the first time he saw the video and did not know it was Goodman.

"Obviously [it was] very troubling to see the great violence that our Capitol Police and others are subjected to," Romney said. "It tears at your heart and brings tears to your eyes. That was overwhelmingly distressing and emotional."

While acknowledging that the footage was difficult to watch, some senators remained firm that the Senate does not have the constitutional ability to impeach Mr. Trump. Senator Ted Cruz said that the footage provided by the House managers was "horrific," but indicated that he didn't believe this line of argument was relevant to the trial.

"Today's presentation was powerful and emotional reliving a terrorist attack on our nation's capital, but there was very little said about how specific conduct of the President satisfies the legal standard," Cruz said. However, the managers spent much of the afternoon outlining how Mr. Trump's words may have provoked his supporters.

Democrats also spoke about the intensity of the footage. 

In a brief statement to reporters during the break, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that he believed the managers' presentation was "compelling."

"It was gut wrenching. The bravery of our police officers is incredible. It was compelling. And I just hope that our Republican colleagues have an open mind as they look to what we've seen today. The managers made just an overwhelmingly compelling case, as far as I am concerned," Schumer said.

Senator Mazie Hirono said "you cannot help but be terribly affected by what happened here."

"I want to say to the Republicans, 'How do you live with yourself after watching all this if you're not going to convict the guy?" Hirono said. 

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