WASHINGTON — The chilling, unseen footage of a riotous mob storming through the U.S. Capitol intent on killing Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was presented to senators by a nonvoting member of Congress from the Virgin Islands.
Delgate Stacey Plaskett, a former prosecutor in Bronx, N.Y., couldn’t even vote on the article of impeachment against Trump, but in her role as impeachment manager, she has emerged in the Senate trial as a commanding presence entrusted with the grave task of showing how dangerously close the rioters came to lawmakers and staff on Jan. 6.
“The vice president, the speaker of the House, the first and second in line to the presidency were performing their constitutional duties, presiding over the election certification and they were put in danger,” Plaskett said. “President Trump put a target on their backs and his mob broke into the Capitol to hunt them down.”
At the beginning of her evening presentation, Plaskett, 54, shared that she’d been in the Capitol on another harrowing day when all the lives of those working inside were in danger. On Sept. 11, 2001, Plaskett was a staffer in the House, and she reflected on how she might be dead if Flight 93 had reached the Capitol as planned.
“When I think of that and I think of these insurgents, these images, incited by our own president of the United States attacking this Capitol to stop the certification of a presidential election,” she said, enunciating each syllable, then pausing before adding, “our democracy, our republic.”
Before returning to her ancestral home in the Virgin Islands, Plaskett spent much of her career in Washington, D.C. She attended Georgetown University for her undergraduate degree and American University for law school. Then a Republican, she worked as a staffer on Capitol Hill and in the Justice Department in the George W. Bush administration. She became a Democrat in 2008 ahead of her first unsuccessful run for delegate in the Virgin Islands in 2012. She won the seat in 2014.
Her selection to the managers team is a reunion of sorts with Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the lead House impeachment manager, an opportunity to learn again from her former law professor at American.
“This is a moment of special pride for me because Representative Plaskett is not only the first delegate ever to be on a team of impeachment managers in American history, but she was also my law student,” Raskin said, introducing her before her first presentation earlier in the day, “and I hope I’m not violating any federal educational records laws when I say she was an A student then and she’s an A-plus student now.”
As a woman of color — notably the only Black female elected official in the room for the Senate trial — Plaskett has spoken about the importance of her role as one of the nine managers tasked with trying to prove Trump’s culpability in the Jan. 6 attacks.
“I recognize … that I’m an example for them, for young women, young girls of color, and even for those who are not — because as other people who are not of color see our brilliance, our excellence, they recognize that there’s so much we have to offer as well,” Plaskett told NowThis in an interview last week.
“[These] nine managers look like this country and we are bringing accountability to a man who believed that with his wealth and his whiteness, he is unaccountable to anyone. I want them to hold that image in their mind when they see us arguing this case for the American people,” she said.
Plaskett presented previously unreleased police communication audio and security footage with a passionate stoicism. Like a skilled prosecutor, she let the drama unfold and the facts tell the story.
She showed surveillance video of Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, moving unknowingly toward the mob when he encounters U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who turns him in the opposite direction as Romney breaks into a run. It was the first time Romney had seen that footage and how close he’d come to confronting the violent mob.
Plaskett, citing an FBI affidavit, said the rioters would have killed anyone, “including Nancy Pelosi. And that, quote, ‘they would have killed Vice President Mike Pence if given the chance.’ They were talking about assassinating the vice president of the United States,” Plaskett said.
She showed how the mob spread out through the Capitol searching for Pelosi, and that so grave was the threat to her life that she was taken to an off-site location away from the Capitol complex.
She read from one rioter’s own Facebook post: “The first of us who got upstairs kicked in Nancy Pelosi’s office door and pushed down the halls towards her inner sanctum, the mob howling with rage Crazy Nancy probably would have been torn into little pieces, but she was nowhere to be seen.”
“Crazy Nancy,” Plaskett said. “That’s Trump’s nickname for the speaker of the House.”
She showed video of the rioters chanting: “Nancy, where are you, Nancy? We’re looking for you.” Another tauntingly called, “Nancy. Oh Nancy.”
Staffers locked inside an interior room in Pelosi’s office could hear the rioters calling for Pelosi as they ransacked and took over her office. Plaskett pointed out that in the now-infamous photo of one man sitting at a desk with his feet on it, he is carrying a stun gun the FBI identified as a 950,000 volt walking stick, a weapon that could have caused serious pain and incapacitation had it been used.
“The chilling evidence shows that on January 6, armed and organized insurrectionist trained their sights on Speaker Pelosi. They sought out the speaker on the floor and in her office, publicly declared their intent to harm or kill her, ransacked her office and terrorized her staff,” Plaskett said. “And they did it because Donald Trump sent them on this mission.”