"You could hear a pin drop… you can’t help but feel how somber the environment is."
Having spent the week hearing arguments in the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, California Senator Alex Padilla (D) spoke with FOX 11’s Elex Michaelson about his experience as a juror in the Senator chamber.
"By and large, all week long, people have been riveted, especially during the presentation of the House managers," Padilla revealed of his Senate colleagues, adding that as phones and electronics are not allowed on the Senate floor, the most uninterested members can do is doodle or read the paper, although he said few did.
"Look, 97 of the 100 members of the Senate were in the Chambers the day it happened, and were only feet away from the insurrectionists as they were being escorted from the Chambers to a safer location," Padilla added, describing the trauma many must have felt as they were presented with footage from the January 6 Capitol riot for the first time.
Of that evidence, presented by nine House impeachment managers, including representatives Eric Swalwell (CA-15) and Ted Lieu (CA-33), newly-released footage of Senator Mitt Romney and former Vice President Mike Pence being escorted out of the Capitol made the most news.
Padilla, who announced in January his intent to vote to convict the former President, said that following the presentations this week, he is now "more convinced than ever."
"Nobody is above the law, and when you break the law, there must be consequences, you must be held accountable," Padilla said. "Seeing the evidence laid out by the House managers, to see the sequence of events, not just of January 6 and connecting the dots directly between Trump’s inciteful rhetoric and the violence and fatalities that happened that day, but you can go back months, you can go back years, this was all fueled by conspiracy theories about election fraud that had no proof of evidence, that’s what we refer to as ‘the Big Lie.’"
With that in mind, Michaelson asked Padilla what he made of the Trump defense, much of which hinged on footage of Democratic leaders, including President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, using similarly heated and violent rhetoric - namely the word "fight."
"I heard their arguments, clearly grasping at straws," Padilla said, noting that the Trump defense team did a "horrible" job defending actions that were "clearly indefensible."
"When we’re ‘fighting’ for issues that we believe in, it depends on how you fight," Padilla said, "You can fight through legislative efforts, you can fight through political organizing and turning out the vote, or, as we saw on January 6, there are people that took direct instructions from Donald Trump and turned to violence, came to Washington DC at his invitation, targeted the United States Capitol at his direction, armed and ready."
In a wide-ranging debate on The Issue Is Padilla also discussed whether Democrats will go it alone on the next round of COVID relief, and why he has more important things to focus on than the potential recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom.
The Issue Is is California's only statewide political show. Watch FOX 11 Los Angeles Fridays at 10:30 p.m. and Sundays at 9 a.m. For more showtimes and information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.