Donald Trump lost a key opening battle on the first day of his impeachment trial, with the US Senate voting that it is allowed to try him even though he has left office.
The trial opened in the Senate with graphic video of the deadly January 6 attack on Congress, with the former president shown in footage as he whipped up a rally crowd to march to the Capitol and told them to “fight like hell” to overturn his election loss to Joe Biden.
The detailed and emotional presentation by Democrats was followed by meandering and occasionally confrontational arguments from the Trump defence team, which insisted that his remarks were protected by the First Amendment and that he cannot be convicted as a former president.
Even Mr Trump’s backers in the Senate winced, several saying his lawyers were not helpful to his case.
The senators sitting as jurors, many of whom fled for safety themselves the day of the attack, watched and listened, unable to avoid the jarring video of Trump supporters battling past police to storm the halls, Trump flags waving.
While many minds are made up, the senators will face their own moment to decide whether to convict or acquit Mr Trump of the sole charge “incitement of insurrection”.
The heavy emotional weight of the trial punctuates Mr Trump’s enduring legacy as the first president to face an impeachment trial after leaving office and the first to be twice impeached.
The Capitol siege stunned the world as hundreds of rioters ransacked the building to try to stop the certification of Mr Biden’s victory.
It was a domestic attack, in which five people died, on the nation’s seat of government unlike any in its history.
“That’s a high crime and misdemeanour,” Maryland Democrat Jamie Raskin said. in opening remarks.
“If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there’s no such thing.”
Mr Trump’s lawyers insist he is not guilty as his fiery words are just figures of speech.