In an open letter that describes their efforts to protect themselves during the Capitol riot and pins the blame on Donald Trump and his allies, 364 congressional aides are calling on senators to convict the former president in his impeachment trial next week.

What You Need To Know

  • In an open letter, 364 congressional aides are calling on senators to convict the former president in his impeachment trial next week.

  • The congressional staffers blamed lies told by Trump and others for the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot 

  • The aides said they "hid behind chairs and under desks or barricaded ourselves in offices" during the assault

  • The letter was reportedly signed only by Democratic staffers -- some Republicans expressed tentative interest but ultimately were dissuaded by concerns about retribution

The letter was published online Wednesday on Medium.

The Senate and House staffers, who noted that their views are their own and not those of their employers, wrote that they attended school in the post-Columbine era and on Jan. 6 were forced to used their training from active-shooter drills.

“As the mob smashed through Capitol Police barricades, broke doors and windows, and charged into the Capitol with body armor and weapons, many of us hid behind chairs and under desks or barricaded ourselves in offices,” they wrote. “Others watched on TV and frantically tried to reach bosses and colleagues as they fled for their lives.”

The aides added: “The attack on our workplace was inspired by lies told by the former president and others about the results of the election in a baseless, months-long effort to reject votes lawfully cast by the American people.” 

They also criticized Trump for breaking a longstanding U.S. tradition of a peaceful transition of power. Trump never conceded to Joe Biden, repeatedly and falsely claimed that widespread fraud cost him the election, and told a crowd of his supporters just before the assault on the Capitol, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

The riot at the Capitol by the pro-Trump mob broke out as members of Congress convened to vote on certifying Biden’s win in the Electoral College. 

“Our Constitution only works when we believe in it and defend it,” the congressional staffers wrote. “It’s a shared commitment to equal justice, the rule of law, and the peaceful resolution of our differences. Any person who doesn’t share these beliefs has no place representing the American people, now or in the future. The use of violence and lies to overturn an election is not worthy of debate. Either you stand with the republic or against it.”

Trump’s second impeachment trial, on a single article of inciting an insurrection, is set to begin Tuesday in the Senate. 

In a pre-trial brief filed Tuesday, the nine Democratic House impeachment managers said Trump’s responsibility for the riot is “unmistakable.”

“President Trump summoned, assembled and incited a violent mob that attacked the Capitol, cost the lives of three police officers and four other people, threatened the Vice-President and Congress, and successfully halted the counting of the Electoral College vote,” the brief says.

In its own brief Tuesday, Trump’s defense team made the claim that the former president cannot be tried for impeachment since he no longer holds office and argued that "as a private citizen, the Senate has no jurisdiction over his ability to hold office."

If convicted, the Senate could bar Trump from holding public office again.

A procedural vote last week seeking to declare the trial unconstitutional failed 55-45. A two-thirds vote is needed to convict Trump.

In their letter, the congressional aides wrote: “[F]or our sake, and the sake of the country, we ask that they vote to convict the former president and bar him from ever holding office again.”

The New York Times reported that all the staffers who signed onto the letter worked for Democratic lawmakers. The organizers solicited support from Republican aides, some of whom expressed tentative interest, but ultimately they were dissuaded by concerns about retribution.