During former president Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial on Wednedsay, House Impeachment Manager Stacey Plaskett linked a Texas incident involving a motorcade of Trump supporters and a Biden/Harris campaign bus to the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol Complex.
A so-called “Trump Train” was caught on camera on Oct. 30 surrounding the Biden/Harris campaign bus on Interstate 35 near San Marcos, Texas. Contemporary reports indicated that the FBI was looking into what occurred. Video showed at least two cars striking one another on the highway; at least one of the cars was damaged.
This video was taken yesterday on I-35 outside of Austin.
“Law and order,” indeed.pic.twitter.com/HRl3nqddob
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) October 31, 2020
State Sen. Wendy Davis (D), who was on the bus, said shortly after the Jan. 6th events in Washington, D.C., that law enforcement did not take the Texas event seriously enough, KMBT-TV reported.
As impeachment proceedings began and quickly moved forward, an 80-page House impeachment trial brief mentioned the Texas incident as evidence, its authors argued, that “Trump was comfortable urging, approving, and even celebrating violence.” The document cites several Trump tweets about the Texas “Trump Train” incident:
On October 30, when a caravan of his supporters in Texas attacked a bus full of Biden campaign workers, nearly running it off the road, President Trump tweeted a stylized video of the caravan and captioned it, “I LOVE TEXAS!” Days later, he declared that “these patriots”—who could easily have killed a busload of innocent campaign staff—“did nothing wrong.”
Those tweets became exhibits in Trump’s Senate trial.
Had forgotten about this: Trump responded to reports the FBI was investigating the bus incident by declaring “these patriots did nothing wrong.” pic.twitter.com/k3Hp0f2CyB
— Matt Ford (@fordm) February 10, 2021
The link was not merely a sequential series of events on a timeline, Del. Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands) noted. Keith Lee, she said, was a Trump supporter who organized the “Trump Train” in Texas. He was also at the Capitol on Jan. 6th.
Plaskett notes that one of the Trump supporters responsible for that was at the Capitol on 1/6. pic.twitter.com/HSOM5WJeLL
— Matt Ford (@fordm) February 10, 2021
Lee is not among those currently charged with a crime in connection to the Capitol siege.
The New York Times, in its own report and one republished by other newspapers, linked Lee to the Trump Train in Texas back in October and to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. It describes Lee as “an Air Force veteran and former police detective” who “spent the morning of Jan. 6 casing the entrances to the Capitol.”
In online videos, the 41-year-old Texan pointed out the flimsiness of the fencing. He cheered the arrival, long before President Trump’s rally at the other end of the mall, of far-right militiamen encircling the building. Then, armed with a bullhorn, Mr. Lee called out for the mob to rush in, until his voice echoed from the dome of the Rotunda.
[ . . . ]
In the months leading up to the riot, Mr. Lee had helped organize a series of pro-Trump car caravans around the country, including one that temporarily blockaded a Biden campaign bus in Texas and another that briefly shut down a Hudson River bridge in the New York City suburbs.
The reports detail Lee’s involvement with raising money to get people to participate in the blockade, the “Trump Train,” and the events at the Capitol.
Plaskett relayed the links to those senators who would listen.
“A caravan of more than fifty trucks covered in pro-Turmp campaign gear confronted and surrounded cars carrying Biden/Harris campaign workers and a Biden/Harris campaign bus as they were traveling down Interstate 35 from San Antonio to Austin,” Plaskett said.
Video of the incident rolled on Senate monitors.
“According to witnesses, this caravan repeatedly tried to force the bus you saw — and you see in that video — to slow down in the middle of the highway and then to run it off of the road,” Plaskett said. “What that video you just saw does not show is that the bus they tried to run off of the road was filled with young campaign staff, volunteers, supporters, surrogates, people. As the Trump supporters closed in on the bus, a large black pickup truck adorned with Trump flags suddenly and intentionally swerved and crashed into a car driven by a Biden/Harris volunteer. News of the event went viral on social media. The President of the United States in a campaign saw his own supporters trying to run a bus carrying his opponent’s campaign workers off the highway. To physically intimidate people in this country campaigning — here was his response the next day.”
Plaskett then showed Trump’s tweets in support of the “Trump Train.”
“I LOVE TEXAS!” Trump said in support.
“The President of the United States tweeted a video of his supporters trying to drive a bus off of the road,” Plaskett continued. She noted that Trump’s tweet had a “fight theme” song placed over the otherwise silent video when he tweeted it.
“By the next evening, that tweet that he did had been viewed 12.6 million times,” Plaskett said. “And it wasn’t just a tweet. On November 1st, at a Michigan rally with a sea of supporters, the president talked about that incident again.”
Plaskett played video of Trump facetiously claiming the “Trump Train” was “protecting” the bus.
“The president made a public joke of violence against campaigners in an American election,” Plaskett continued. “He made light of it. This is not a joke. In fact, it was so violent — it put so many people in harm’s way, that the FBI investigated the incident and the criminal responsibility of those who attacked these campaign workers.”
Plaskett then showed Trump’s tweets which mocked the FBI’s interest in the case.
“In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong,” Trump said on his since-banned Twitter account (Twitter justified the move by saying Trump glorified and encouraged potential violence in the aftermath of Jan. 6).
“Donald Trump’s praise worked to incite them [his supporters] further,” Plaskett went on to allege. ‘They remained ready to fight; ready to ‘stand back and stand by.'”
Some observers, including Yale professor and CNN analyst Asha Rangappa, noted that some who supported the “Trump Train” are now sitting seats of judgment.
DO NOT FORGET that @marcorubio endorsed the Texas caravan that ran the bus off the road as well, saying “We love what they did.” He’s now one of the jurors adjudicating Trump’s guilt. https://t.co/ByH3lanMBk
— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) February 10, 2021
“I saw yesterday a video of these people in Texas,” Rubio said at a rally, according to Newsweek. “Did you see it? All the cars on the road, we love what they did.”
“We do that in Florida every day,” Rubio continued. “I love seeing the boat parades. We thank all the great patriots.”
[Image via screen capture from Twitter]
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