It was ghastly to watch, but that was the point. A rampaging crowd threatening death as it hunted the vice president and speaker of the House. Senators spinning around midstep to run for their lives. Staff members barricading themselves in an office as attackers pounded on the door. Overwhelmed police officers retreating from rioters, desperately calling for help.
It seems safe to assume that never in American history has such gut-churning video footage been shown on the floor of the Senate, where matters of great weight have been debated but hardly brought home in such a visually powerful way. The images shown in former President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment trial on Wednesday were all the more resonant because some of the jurors themselves were onscreen.
The display of never-before-seen video from Capitol security cameras, along with newly disclosed police dispatch audiotapes, brought the mob assault of Jan. 6 back to life as mere words from the House managers prosecuting Mr. Trump never could. The terror of that day felt palpably real all over again as senators sitting in judgment of the former president were forced to relive the first mass siege of the Capitol since British invaders ransacked the building in 1814.