In an interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid Wednesday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) suggested that now-former President Donald Trump could be held as an “accessory” to murder for “instigating” an “insurrection” at the United States Capitol.
Pelosi, who presided over a vote to impeach Trump a second time but has yet to send the article of impeachment to the Senate for a trial, told Reid that she believed Trump directly encouraged rioters to attack the United States Capitol building and that Trump bears responsibility for the five deaths that happened as a result.
“[The] president’s words are important, they weigh a ton. And if you’re Donald Trump talking to these people, they believe it and they used his words to come here,” Pelosi said.
“When we talk about ‘did any of our colleagues collaborate?’” she added. “Well, that remains to be seen. We have to get the evidence of that. And if they did, they would be accessory to the crime. And the crime, in some cases, was murder.”
Although Pelosi initially appeared to be referring to lawmakers whom some Democrats allege led tours for individuals associated with the January 6th rally — and perhaps to members of Congress who questioned certain states’ Electoral College results — she later clarified, saying she meant the former president directly.
“And this president is an accessory to that crime because he instigated that insurrection that caused those deaths and this destruction,” she said.
Five people died during the attack on the United States Capitol, including one Capitol Police officer. United States Attorneys have opened an inquiry into his death as well as the death of a pro-Trump protester who was shot in the upper body as she tried to enter the Speaker’s Lobby through a broken window, which the U.S. Attorney’s office believes could have been the result of excessive use of force.
It is not clear whether Congress will even hold a Senate trial on Trump’s second impeachment, given that he has now left office. President Joe Biden has reportedly been discussing a Senate calendar with now-Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that would allow for votes on Biden administration Cabinet nominees as well as on significant pieces of Biden’s agenda while the Senate pursue a conviction, but it is not clear whether that setup is Constitutional (or, for that matter, whether it is constitutional to continue proceedings against a former president).
It is also worth noting that Trump has not been charged with a crime related to the January 6th riot, nor have any members of Congress.
Pelosi also took the opportunity of an MSNBC interview to take a final whack at Donald Trump as he exited the office, noting that while Wednesday’s transition of power was largely peaceful, a transition following a second Trump term might not have been.
“I do think that we’re bigger than all of this. Donald Trump was a stain on our country. I don’t think we could have sustained our democracy if he had two terms in office, for what he was doing to our institution or what he was doing to our Constitution. He dishonored it,” she said.