Trump defense team lawyers wrapped up their initial presentation to the Senate, using only about half the allotted 24 hours. Critics have issued their pull-quote reviews: “Feel-good impeachment of the year!” “Magical (not in a good way).” “Irrelevant.” “Mendacious.” “Hypocritical.” “Ironic (not in a good way).” “Highly hypocritical.” “Dangerous.” “Stupid (there is no good way).” “Galactically stupid.” “Farcical.” “Laughable (in all ways).” It is an insane political climate in which the Republican Senate majority will almost certainly accept Trump lawyers’ arguments and vote, first to hear no witnesses, and second, to acquit President Trump. The insanity is ignored by the vast majority of the electorate because they are numb to it. Trump Republicans have become a lawless majority run amok by cult force. The country is in real danger. I am sick to my stomach. (scroll down for full article)
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“IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, DAY 4: Lead House Mgr. Adam Schiff Emotionally Wraps Up 2nd Day; ‘You know you can’t count on Donald Trump to do what’s right and not interfere in 2020!’” (1/23/2020)
“Jim Lehrer, Legendary, Revered PBS Journalist, Dies at Age 85” (1/23/2020)
“IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, DAY 5: Democratic House Managers Wrap Up Their Near-24-Hour Presentation Explaining Article II Charges: Obstruction of Congress, Blanket Order Refusing Cooperation” (1/24/2020)
“Secret Mar-a-Lago Audio Released: 1) Trump Ordered Firing of Amb. Yovanovitch in April 2018; 2) Trump Adviser Explains Ukraine Would Lose Immediately in Russia War if U.S. Pulls Help” (1/24/2020)
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Trump defense team lawyers wrapped up their initial presentation to the Senate Tuesday, using only about half the allotted 24 hours.
Critics have issued their pull-quote reviews: “Feel-good impeachment of the year!” “Magical (not in a good way).” “Irrelevant.” “Mendacious.” “Hypocritical.” “Ironic (not in a good way).” “Highly hypocritical.” “Dangerous.” “Stupid (there is no good way).” “Galactically stupid.” “Farcical.” “Laughable (in all ways).
The defense’s only full day, Monday, provided a star-studded performance by an array of lawyers critical thinkers love to hate: 1) Jay Sekulow (“Trump held up aid for several other countries”; “There is no proof of a quid pro quo”; “You can’t impeach a president over policy differences”; 2) Pat Cipollone (“The president committed no crimes; but just in case he did, they’re not impeachable”); 3) Jane Raskin (“Rudy Giuliani is just a minor player in Trump’s Ukraine scheme”); 4) Ken Starr (“Impeachment is too divisive for the country, and it’s becoming too common, too arbitrary”); 5) Pam Bondi (“Look at [the GOP lies about] the Bidens”); 6) Alan Dershowitz (“A crime is needed to impeach”; abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are not crimes, are not impeachable”)
Day 8, Wednesday, began the first half of 16 hours of questions asked by senators (through the chief justice) and answered by House managers and defense team members.
Here is what you need to know:
“If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”
(Dershowitz, Alan, Trump defense team member; Senate impeachment trial of President Donald John Trump; 1/29/2020.)
“Mere [damaging] information [from a foreign government] is not something that would violate the campaign finance laws. And if there is credible information, credible information of wrongdoing by someone who is running for a public office, it’s not campaign interference for credible information about wrongdoing to be brought to light.”
(Philbin, Patrick, Trump defense team member; Senate impeachment trial of President Donald John Trump; 1/29/2020.)
“We’ve witnessed over the course of the last few days, and the long day today, a remarkable lowering of the bar to the point now where everything’s OK as long as the president believes it’s in his reelection interest.”
(Schiff, Adam, D-Calif., lead House impeachment manager; media Q&A outside Senate chambers; 1/29/2020.)
The president’s defense team has argued the following in the Senate impeachment trial:
— A president shouldn’t be impeached in his first term, when the people can vote him out in the next election, even if he’s conspiring to rig that election.
(Which makes the impeachment clause of the Constitution a suicide pact.)
— Even if guilty of all articles of impeachment, the president cannot be impeached for any abuse of power that is not a statutory crime.
(This is antithetical to all evidence of framer intent and historical impeachment standards.)
— As long as the president believes his reelection is in the public interest, anything he does to that end is not impeachable.
(This brings up the laughable hypotheticals that the president could give the Russians our nuclear codes, take a yearlong nonworking vacation, or shut down “fake news” media outlets and not be threatened with impeachment — as long as he believes these actions help his reelection, which will be in the country’s best interests.)
— Soliciting, accepting, or using damaging foreign information against a presidential electoral opponent is perfectly acceptable as long as it does not violate campaign finance law.
(This is laughable on its face — foreign interference in our elections was a primary concern of the Founders. Additionally, the illegality of using foreign dirt against an electoral opponent was reestablished by the DOJ after Special Counsel Robert Mueller found that top Trump team members had engaged in that very offense in the 2016 election campaign.)
— No witness testimony or documentation should be subpoenaed, no matter how obvious it is that this evidence would address the heart of the impeachment articles, because the House “didn’t do its job,” it will “take too long,” and it will not change the outcome (i.e., acquittal was preordained anyway).
(The Senate is refusing to call John Bolton, knowing what he has to say: that the president did the crime and told Bolton personally. As I wrote last week, everyone, including the framers, knows what a trial is, though Senate Republicans are changing its definition. It’s long been held that House impeachment is the equivalent of a grand jury, and the Senate conducts the trial. Trial evidence expands on grand jury evidence. Moreover, witnesses and documents were called in every other of 50-some U.S. impeachments that have gone to trial since 1797.)
It is an insane political climate in which the Republican Senate majority will almost certainly accept these arguments and vote, first to hear no witnesses, and second, to acquit President Trump. The insanity is ignored by the vast majority of the electorate because they are numb to it.
Trump Republicans have become a lawless majority run amok by cult force.
The country is in real danger.
I am sick to my stomach. ■
Impeachment Timeline — This Week
[RECAP]: 1/21/2020 — IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, DAY 2: impeachment trial rules debated, McConnell forced to compromise by several moderate Republican senators: 1) arguments will be spread out to three 8-hour days for each side; 2) House evidence will be admitted; 3) observers agree Dem House managers far out-lawyered Trump defense team; 4) House managers deftly presented core of their case while offering amendments they knew would fail, to educate public while it was paying attention; lead House manager Adam Schiff widely commended for effective, professional presentation; 5) Defense team caught in several blatant lies, distortions, offered no defense for Trump’s actions, offered mostly name-calling, inaccurate process complaints; 6) House mgr. Jerrold Nadler admonished for accusing GOP senators of “treacherous” behavior if they refused to vote for witnesses, accusing Trump defense team of “lies”
[RECAP]: 1/22/2020 — IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, DAY 3: House managers begin arguing their case; lead House mgr. Adam Schiff Is brilliant; many GOP senators breaking rules, showing disrespect for process by leaving seats, room during House mgrs.’ presentation; Trump continues to attack Dems, process, calling top House mgrs. “major sleazebags … very, very dishonest people”
[IMPEACHMENT: DAY 115 — 1/23/20]
1/23/2020 — IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, DAY 4: House lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff wraps up 2nd day of presentation with emotional exhortation: “You know you can’t count on Donald Trump to do what’s right and not interfere in 2020!”
1/24/2020 — IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, DAY 5: Dem House managers wrap up their near-24-hour presentation with explanation of Article II charges: Obstruction of Congress, including administration’s blanket order to refuse congressional cooperation
1/25/2020 — IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, DAY 6: Defense begins presentation with short 2-hour opening
1/26/2020 — Fmr. National Security Adviser John Bolton’s book excerpts are leaked to NYT: Trump told Bolton personally that Trump wanted to continue holding up military aid to Ukraine until Ukraine agreed to announce investigations into Joe Biden, CrowdStrike (2016 election); this revelation threatens to increase pressure on GOP senators to vote in favor of impeachment trial witnesses
1/27/2020 — IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, DAY 7: Defense puts on full day of arguments, trots out celebrity lawyers on team: 1) Jay Sekulow (“Many other aid holdups”; “No proof of quid pro quo”; “Can’t impeach over policy differences”; 2) Jane Raskin (“Giuliani is a minor player”); 3) Ken Starr (“Impeachment is too divisive, becoming too common”); 4) Pam Bondi (“Look at the Bidens”); 5) Alan Dershowitz (“Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are not crimes, are not impeachable”)
1/28/2020 — IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, DAY 8: Defense wraps up early with a 2-hour day, Senate adjourns; final arguments: 1) president shouldn’t be impeached with next election so close; 2) there were no crimes committed, only policy differences; 3) Biden corruption warranted Trump holding up Ukraine aid; 4) no witnesses should be called because House should have done this, House didn’t do its job; 5) Trump didn’t do the crime, but even if he did, it’s not impeachable
1/28/2020 — Former White House chief of staff Gen. John Kelly says he believes John Bolton over Trump; Kelly famously told Trump on his way out not to hire a yes-man for chief of staff or he’d be impeached
1/29/2020 — IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, DAY 8: 1st day of 16 hours of Senate questions to defense, prosecution: Defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz argues the president can abuse power to get reelected if “he believes it’s in public’s best interest”; Patrick Philbin argues the president can use foreign dirt to get reelected “as long as it doesn’t violate campaign finance law”
Trump Corruption Chronicles — We Must Never Forget