Trump Impeachment II – The Beginning

And so it begins any minute now. Don’t fret, it will not take long, because Pelosi, Schumer and the Dems have so decreed out of political cowardice. Is that politically expedient at the start of the nascent Biden Administration? Maybe! But they all took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not their political expediency.

So where are we at the onset of proceedings?

The tentative schedule is this:

First, there will be a debate over the “Constitutionality” of even holding and impeachment trial at all. This is a ridiculous argument, and will fail, but with much cowardly GOP Senate support.

There will be up to four hours equally divided between the impeachment managers and the president’s counsel to debate the constitutionality of the trial. Again, that will fail as to Trump. Then there will be sixteen hours per side to argue their case. It will be predictable baloney from both sides, with no actual evidence submitted and admitted. And, no, “video presentations” do not count, that is simply argument by propaganda. Each party’s arguments are delimited by not being able to go over two days, and cannot exceed eight hours each.

“After the presentations are done, senators will have a total of four hours to question both sides. Then there will be four hours divided equally between the parties for arguments on whether the Senate will consider motions to subpoena witnesses and documents, if requested by the managers.

There will be up to four hours equally divided for closing arguments, along with deliberation time if requested by the senators before the vote takes place.”

Much of the above, though not all, came from an excellent report by Barbara Sprunt and Diedre Walsh at NPR.

Is this year another stupid and truncated show trial by Pelosi, Schumer and the Dems, in order to look like they are doing something while they are cowering? Of course it is. Same as it ever was.

There will also be discussion of an “organizing resolution”. Don’t fall for that, the parameters have already been agreed to behind the scenes.

Lastly, while joint stipulations may always be made, otherwise the general parameters are controlled by the extant Senate Rules on Impeachment. They are here for your reference.

And here is Leahy’s feckless “Dear Colleagues” letter.

image_print
156 replies
  1. PieIsDamnGood says:

    “First, there will be a debate over the “Constitutionality” of even holding and impeachment trial at all. This is a ridiculous argument, and will fail, but with much cowardly GOP Senate support.”

    Naturally you’re correct about the law, but won’t this argument provide the GOP with a reason to no convict without engaging with any of the actual issues? Seems this bad faith argument is going to succeed to me.

  2. jaango says:

    Aw, C’mon, bring on the popcorn.

    The Democrats should focus on the future, that being in the creation of the national Monument to Criminal Stupidity. Thus, all Senate votes would correlate to the grandkids having a ‘view’ for where their ancestors took America into the Dust Bin of History.

  3. Fran of the North says:

    While my senators can safely be assumed to vote based upon the evidence after weighing the facts, some may or probably (or most certainly) won’t.

    Rather than asking them to convict, perhaps a more fruitful approach would be to ask them to push for allowing witness testimony. And so I did.

    Roaches scatter when exposed to light, and there are all sorts of roaches on the other side of the aisle. The best thing is to shine the facts on the public, let the deniers deny and vote to acquit, and then make them spend the next year or more defending their position.

    • Norskeflamthrower says:

      “…let the deniers deny and vote to impeach and then make them spend the next year or more defending their position.”

      Exactly! The next year and a half is going to be all about two reconciliation budgets that comprise the structure of our 21st century “New Deal”, ongoing DOJ investigations (disciplined and quiet but coordinated and strategic), and legislative battles over voting rights, immigration, naturalization and dismantling ICE. All that leading to the 2022 midterms which will determine whether or not we still have a country. Sigh…a guy can dream can’t he?!!

  4. Bay State Librul says:

    God save the Republic!
    God save our democracy!
    Jamie Raskin deserves the first annual Adam Schiff Award for Impeachment Prosecution Greatness (IPG)

    • Eureka says:

      Festooning your comment, VG, with the latest episode of Newsmax comedy hour:

      Justin Baragona: “How bad is Bruce Castor’s presentation in defense of Trump so far? Newsmax cuts into it so Alan Dershowitz can trash it. “There is no argument. I have no idea what he’s doing. I have no idea why he’s saying what he’s saying!” [clip]”
      https://twitter.com/justinbaragona/status/1359238940453199873
      3:33 PM · Feb 9, 2021

          • Eureka says:

            Haha, yes! I thought that was the best line, too.

            (and TY for kindly mentioning you’d read that other — as you know sometimes it’s like typing into the abyss, never know if anyone ‘receives’ a comment)

  5. Rugger9 says:

    Castor just oozes oilyness, and he actually defended MTG’s statements on FA grounds without including that SCOTUS said incitement to violence (like MTG wanting to kill Pelosi) is specifically not protected by the First Amendment.

    I’m not sure why witnesses (i.e. Pence) aren’t being called to answer specific questions about events. Did Pence feel threatened to bend to DJT’s will? That goes toward the question of the threat from the mob incited by DJT.

    • vvv says:

      In my little neck of the general litigation jury trial woods, “folksy lawyers” are considered formidable.

      IME, they are almost universally well-liked, and usually lose.

      And IMO, Schoen’s psuedo-aggressive, would-be scholarly *schtick* was worse, not least because annoying, predictable, and boring.

      But the overly-partisan and compromised R senators won’t care.

    • timbo says:

      It’s a critical mistake on the part of the DP. On the other hand, perhaps Pence has said he would fight any subpoena to appear? Basically, Pence is trying to save whatever he can of his own reputation without being censured by the Indiana GOP and the GOP National Committees is my guess.

    • cavenewt says:

      I thought they were going to decide about evidence and witnesses later, after each side has their 16 hours to present their case?

    • vvv says:

      Basically yes, as opposed to a “misdemeanor”.

      But keep in mind that impeachment is a Constitutional political proceeding.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      A high crime is NOT the same as a felony. This was explained during Donald Trump’s first impeachment. Professors Noah Feldman and Pamela Karlan did their best to try to get everyone to understand this. But it is an historical concept that may not be fully lodged in our memories. So, here is a reminder:

      “High crimes and misdemeanors – Wikipedia”

      “High,” in the legal and common parlance of the 17th and 18th centuries of “high crimes,” is activity by or against those who have special duties acquired by taking an oath of office that are not shared with common persons. A high crime is one that can be done only by someone in a unique position of authority, which is political in character, who does things to circumvent justice. The phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors,” used together, was a common phrase when the U.S. Constitution was written and did not require any stringent or difficult criteria for determining guilt but meant the opposite. The phrase was historically used to cover a very broad range of crimes.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_crimes_and_misdemeanors

      • Valley girl says:

        vvv and SL= Having read bmaz pointing this out many times, I actually knew the difference. I guess my (stunned) comment didn’t translate that way, especially b/c I used “???”. I should have added WTF!!! or “shakes head no” or something.

      • cavenewt says:

        I raised my eyebrows at that statement too. After I tweeted about it I saw that Dr. EW had already done so. If you scrutinize the Wikipedia page, there is not one instance of the word “felony”.

  6. dude says:

    Is it just possible that Castor is doing the republic a big favor by being so obtuse while defending Trump? How is Q-anon going to explain this, let alone Trump’s fans in the Senate?

    • cavenewt says:

      Oh ye of little faith. Qsters and invertebrate R senators require only the flimsiest of fig leaves in order to repel any incipient cognitive dissonance.

    • JohnJ says:

      If I hadn’t stopped having birthdays a few years ago, this would be mine as well.

      I now see if I can get through the day without anyone remembering.

    • Lois Maureen Lussier says:

      Oh, you’re a cheap date! The other half turns 88 on May 8 and he’s already put in his request for a bottle of Courvoisier! The old dear never thought he’d live this long but on the 15th of this month we’ve been sparring for 63 years. You never know…. Right now he’s watching the ongoing saga of the president who would not believe he was defeated and all his subordinates in the Senate who are scared shiteless to say “aye”. Good luck to all my friends who are affected by this — I sure missed my winter vacation this year.

    • Duke says:

      I bought my father in law a bottle of black bush for the first birthday (1985) of his that knew him. And then I procured millennial edition for him. He never opened either. He died after voting for and lived under Obama and told my wife he voted for him so our kids could have a better world. I lost my parents, brother, son, daughter in law and two grandchildren to this Trumplandia hellscape. I raise a glass of millennial Bushmill to anyone alive today who sees the future is a result of what we say and do today. May you live till you reach a century and all your children’s children live to raise a glass to honor the republic and the democracy you leave for them to perfect for the future of all to follow.

      Happy Birthday to anyone Gladd today.

  7. Molly Pitcher says:

    Castor is too stupid to know how truly out of his league he is. I have to think that there are plenty of Senators grateful for the masks they are wearing, so their opinions of Castor’s legal prestidigitaion aren’t eveident.

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      That’s sort of the point, I think. It’s a power play by team trump to show they don’t take it seriously, and to embarrass the Senate republicans by making them vote to acquit (they will pretend) based on inane nonsense.

      • skua says:

        Have them expose themselves as a conga-line of suck-holes – hilarious for the board of a football franchise but a critical gauge on the Republic when it is near half the US Senate.

      • timbo says:

        TPM reported that Castor was actually Tom Cottons and Ted Cruz boss back at Castor’s law firm. The inanity is likely intentional and/or embarrassing on a number of levels…

  8. Anne says:

    I have academic and professional training in picking apart an argument based on flawed statistical reasoning. And ZERO training in picking apart a flawed legal argument. So as I listen to the defense, why am I able to perceive flaw after flaw, contradiction after contradiction, absurdity after absurdity? Never happened to me before. Why?
    (a) emptywheel has trained even me in legal bullshit detection?
    (b) their argument is over the top bullshit that doesn’t need a detector?
    Either way, thank you all!

    • Norskeflamthrower says:

      “…why am I able to perceive flaw after flaw, contradiction after contradiction and absurdity after absurdity?”

      Because you are a normal, intelligent human being with basic reasoning skills. Even the Dumpster’s Brown Shirts must be losing their minds along with their sleazy and corrupt enablers. This vote is gunna come back to bite a whole bunch of folks in 2022. (That is if we have elections in 2022.)

    • Bobby Gladd says:

      Why do humans “reason?”

      To win the argument. Not to get at truth.

      “He/She with the best story wins.” —a trial lawyer who presented to my Psychology of Law seminar in 1985.

      • skua says:

        Why do humans “reason?”
        I think originally to figure out how to do well in the physical and social environment and later when tracking.
        But yeah, then rhetoric was discovered.

      • Norskeflamthrower says:

        “To win the argument. Not to get at truth.”

        Yeah, but the truth will withstand bogus arguments, just not necessarily today, tomorrow or next week. But 21 months from now it gets another shot (I hope).

  9. Valley girl says:

    If anyone is using “due process” as cue to take a slug… you’re probably under the table.

    Shoen seems to have to hold his hair onto his scalp every time he drinks.

    And IANAL, but he seems to be er… stretching his interpretations.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Due process also applies to a criminal trial, not a political one as we have here. “High crimes and misdemeanors” meant “consensual extramarital sex” when the GOP (including a finger-wagging Rep. Lindsey Graham) were prosecuting Bill Clinton.

      The process is what the Senate as a whole decided it was as of this AM in the first vote. Schoen’s argument is therefore moot (but IANAL) along with the references to the 14th Amendment (which I think again applies to criminal issues). Due process differs for academic hearings (depends on the relevant code), civil (preponderance of evidence to pick the winner) and criminal (beyond reasonable doubt for conviction) for deciding who prevails.

    • P J Evans says:

      Schoen is an observant Jew, so he’s probably saying a blessing as he does that. Or holding an invisible kippah on.

  10. Savage Librarian says:

    Ha, ha, I think this clip might be a metaphor for the impeachment hearing today. The tennis balls remind me of the 3 sticky notes Schoen had in his Constitution book. The hamburgers remind me of DT. And I’ll let you figure out what the last one resembles.

    “Stupid Pet Tricks on Letterman, September 24, 1985”

    https://youtu.be/D8zEBRRw1oI

  11. klynn says:

    EW this stood out on your Twitter feed:

    “I’ve read all ~200 of the arrest affidavits at least once. It’s creepy seeing how all the individuals later charged worked together in the impeachment video.”

    Have you thought of expanding that comment into a blog post? It is an impactful tweet.

    • Norskeflamthrower says:

      I hope Marcy does at least one post but I have a hunch that in the next months a lot of ’em are gunna be read and heard in courts.

  12. OldTulsaDude says:

    Listening to Castor was Caddyshack deja vu: “I have a pool and a pond. The pond would be good for you.”

  13. skua says:

    Those wanting to arrange tea-leaves into hopeful portents (no, unhand those chicken gizzards) can work with there having been 6 Repub Senators voting for the constitutionality. Whereas only 5 were expected.

    • cavenewt says:

      And Senator Cassidy, the one Republican who unexpectedly voted for constitutionality, appears to have done it on the basis of theatrical review rather than legal argument.

      “House managers were focused, they were organized,” and “made a compelling argument,” Cassidy said after the vote. In contrast, he added, “President Trump’s team were disorganized. They did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand and when they talked about it, they kind of glided over, almost as if they were embarrassed of their arguments.”

      “….if I’m an impartial juror, and one side is doing a great job, and the other side is doing a terrible job, on the issue at hand, as an impartial juror, I’m going to vote for the side that did the good job.”

      To be fair, he later said

      “If anyone disagrees with my vote and would like an explanation, I ask them to listen to the arguments presented by the House Managers and former President Trump’s lawyers. The House managers had much stronger constitutional arguments. The president’s team did not.”

      He added, “This vote is not a prejudgment on the final vote to convict.”

      • Vicks says:

        I would assume that most senators assumed there would be more legal cover for betraying their country.
        Maybe Cassidy just expressed his disappointment out loud.
        Maybe more will come from it?
        Maybe not

  14. Matthew Harris says:

    This article seems to suggest that the length and format of the trial is due to some lack of intelligence and morals on the part of the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate.

    If we assume the goal of the Democratic and Senate leadership is to get a conviction, can someone outline a strategy for me that has more than a 10% chance of conviction? What format of the trial could be had, and what evidence could be given, that would give over a 10% chance of conviction?

    • P J Evans says:

      I’m not sure that even having the Trinity appearing in court would do it. But possibly having Trmp show up and testilie would.

    • Norskeflamthrower says:

      “…can someone outline a strategy for me that has more than a 10% chance of conviction?”

      Patience grasshopper. The politics of this entire exercise is a constantly moving feast that won’t be played out for 21 months.

    • Epicurus says:

      “…can someone outline a strategy for me that has more than a 10% chance of conviction?..” The Democratic managers would have to show the Republican Senators that more than 50% of their voting constituents would vote them out of office if they didn’t vote to convict. The ballot box is the only strategy they understand and internalize.

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      If the goal was to get a conviction they would have sent articles to the Senate on Jan 6th, written on the back of a napkin if needed.

      The dem house and senate leadership did not want to do this. They were forced, and they dragged their heels every step of the process.

      So ok, the point isn’t to convict. But they could send it to a committee for a proper investigation and hold hearings during prime time hours where they interrogate witnesses (staffers, cleaning staff, cops, doesn’t have to be the VP). They could further make the case to the people that a vote for Republicans is a vote for fascists.

      But the dem leadership has some twisted prism they see the world through that bends light back to the 1980s before it hits their optic nerve.

      • bmaz says:

        The “Article” was mostly written on the 6th while they were barricaded and hiding. It could, however, after brief polishing, been lodged the next morning.

        That said, McConnell was not bringing the Senate back anyway; however, placing that on his back fully would have been worth a whole heck of a lot.

        • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

          Oh for sure it was heartening to hear that the article of impeachment was drafted even under such terrifying circumstances, and McConnell would have been no less complicit had he reconvened the senate on the 7th to receive them.

          I don’t want to minimize the GOPs role in failing to respond appropriately. I completely agree it would have been worthwhile to send the article on the 7th and hang it around the GOPs neck.

    • timbo says:

      Ask Pence to testify and subpoena him if he refuses. That may drag the trial at. Similarly, do the same thing with Guiliani and Flynn. Be sure to ask questions of where the ideas of using terms such as “trail by combat” at the Jan 6 rally before the assault on the Capitol meant to those who actually uttered them to a crowd of folks that contained people with baseball bats and spears in it. Make Guiliani testify about his rising frustration about losing more and more court cases, including ones that went before Trump appointed Federal judges around the country. Ask him to explain the theories and concrete evidence for things like “Venezuela voting machines!” and stuff like that. Basically, use the trial to debunk each theory and rallying cry that lead to the insurrection of Jan 6. Make sure this is all under oath before the Senate. Bring in Meadows and other White House aids, again via subpoena, to testify about Trumps demeanor on the January 6th prior to the rally, make them testify about their own sense of the crowd as Trump spoke. Ask them under oath what they thought was going to happen. Go back to the question of Trump’s demeanor again from 1PM to 5PM. Make them describe what it took to get Trump to give his recorded speech asking the rioters to go home—did he want to do that or not? What was his reasoning to them about doing or not doing that video? See if there are any other witnesses in the White House that might be called who might also have direct knowledge of the events leading up to Jan 6th and the riot.

      Is there any evidence that CP members who were supporters of the Trump acted to facilitate the insurrection? If so, what was their reasoning for not stopping and/or aiding rioters? “The President expected it!” is what you want to illicit as testimony if possible. Make those officers take the 5th before the Senate during depositions if not in direct testimony before the Senate.

      Have witnesses testify about why the FBI and other federal agencies failed to anticipate or did anticipate it but failed to alert the Capitol Police about the potential for rioting of the 6th. Ask the witnesses to provide some explanation about how such a climate might have been created where the Capitol Police were left flat footed. Did that have anything to do with comments made by President Trump in the lead up to Jan 6? Attempt to document that Trump’s clueless rants and lying, coddling of the neo-Nazi right, etc, may have led to a lack of preparedness for Jan 6. Ask these folks to speculate about who placed, where, and why the bombs found outside the DP and GOP contributed to the riot. And who would have been capable and/or may have expressed interest in doing similar things in the past in a broad or general sense? Basically, build and outline the dangers of continually exhorting crowds of folks to feel cheated while not taking any arising threats of violence from such folks seriously. Finish up by asking witnesses if they felt that Trump, his statements, and management style, etc, had caused things to be missed when it comes to taking threats from the violent right in this country seriously. Do this all under oath.

      Witnesses under oath is key to getting Senators to shift their opinions on whether to convict or not. Trite (but violent) videos with a voice over from a law professor, ain’t going to get GOP Senators to switch their opinions. However, branding such Senators as backers of insurrectionism as a general way of doing business, brand them as supporters for perjurers and failed violent insurrectionists, and believers and promulgators of lies designed to steal the votes of millions of average citizens, folks who will do power plays that endanger the Republic itself, get them all on the record as to their true position and views.

      Yeah, there’d be risk in doing that. But there certainly is growing risk in not doing it. Which is the reason we have this impeachment trial in the first (actually second) place today. So, witnesses, witnesses, witnesses, all under oath or taking the 5th, the latter in public before the Senate while sitting in the witness box if necessary. That’s how Watergate unraveled and how Nixon began to fade politically. The number of folks testifying under oath as to exactly how nutty Nixon had become, how crazy his actions, how they were criminal or boardline criminal, all that slowly eroded Nixon’s ability to sustain a significant amount of support in the country. And Trump is actually in a more vulnerable position, politically, than Nixon was so it’s crazy not to call those witnesses and give it a drumbeat of inevitability that conviction would be warranted.

      Having said all the above, yep, it is the House that needed to do more work in advance so that the Senate could have a list of witnesses to call put before it by the House Managers. Now the House Managers are again hampered in that they have to go to the Senate leadership to bring allowing witnesses up to a vote…with no potential list of witnesses submitted to the Senate beforehand. In the case of someone pivotal like Pence, he’s an obvious witness to call. Same with Guiliani and Trump himself. Just the three of them as witnesses might make a very interesting case on the part of the House Managers. But, alas, the DP leadership does not want to go that far so far. The DP leadership appears to just want kabuki.

      • PeterS says:

        I’m curious, what can you imagine Pence saying that would make a difference?

        There were impressive witnesses in the first impeachment, admittedly not in the Senate trial, but all that compelling evidence had little impact on the GOP.

        GOP Senators will see what GOP Senators want to see.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh, I think there is quite a lot Pence “could” say the would be entirely damning. What was Trump’s attitude at the time. That Trump attempted to give him an illegal order. That Trump’s actions on the 5th and 6th put his life in danger. What he had to go through in the heat of the riot. That he feared for his life. Etc. But there will be no witnesses, much less Pence.

            • bmaz says:

              You asked the question, I gave you an answer. Keep in mind that he would be under oath were he to appear, and he may not be particularly thrilled with Trump or the wilderness he was left in by him.

          • timbo says:

            This ‘trial by newspaper clipping’ is incredibly lame. Lieu got things into the record that would provide a road map to witnesses at least. But that seems to be about it so far. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch this circus… what’s also annoying is all the DP members who think this is a good job and making a good case… when the question is political and requires a lot more forceful testimony from first person accounts, not some sort of trial by media clips. Ugh.

            • bmaz says:

              Personally, think they are doing well, given the format saddled with. The last part is the real problem, but they have blame there.

              • timbo says:

                Agreed—I admit they’ve been perhaps as effective as they could be under the circumstances?

                Yep, these folks appear to be as competent as the last bunch from last year’s first impeachment trial of Twitler. Unfortunately, the Senate is committed to be the most ponderous house of Congress… and, sadly, at the moment, today’s Senate is making the Federal Judiciary look like greased-lightening by comparison when it comes to changes in the Republic’s traditions in jurisprudence; the Senate’s calcified traditions on display in this impeachment trial beg many questions about the viability of the Republic itself. Meanwhile, frustration grows… on both sides of the question of the day.

                • timbo says:

                  Some of this timidity is no doubt because of the McCarthy fiasco 70 years ago. That, however, should not be a good excuse when it comes to the trashing of the Capitol by violent insurrectionist, egged on by a lying group of seditionists that include the 45th President and at least a handful of sitting US Senators.

        • timbo says:

          It is more what direct, first person witnesses would say that is important, under oath, than what you or I imagine they might say. Put first person witnesses all under oath and let the chips fall where they may. You and I are not relevant to those chips, only the sworn testimony would be relevant.

          • PeterS says:

            Fine. But you do suggest that sworn testimony might cause GOP senators to “shift their opinions” (I’m sceptical). So I guess you are imagining something definite.

            • bmaz says:

              Yeah, heck, extended Watergate like actual testimony on the record might never influence the body politic, right? What a waste it would be to have actual testimony and evidence, right?

              • PeterS says:

                Should I learn from the impeachment process a year ago, or something from nearly 50 years ago? I don’t understand why the testimony being only in the house, not the Senate, makes a difference, but I’m happy to learn.

                • bmaz says:

                  How about, if there is to be a “trial”, there ought be testimony and factual evidence submission at some point. Is that a fair place to start? And if you think there was none in Watergate, you may want to recheck your history.

                  • timbo says:

                    Yes, PeterS might want to study how public perception of Nixon as a politician shifted over time as witness after witness began to paint the President as a criminal in the White House once Nixon’s coverup began to crumble. Similarly, Trump is very vulnerable to the players who are around him. So let’s see some of them have to take the 5th or claim some sort of non-existent “executive privilege” when it comes to how Trump tried to subvert the Electoral College. Let’s get them up their testifying about why they believed Trump’s big lie about the 2020 election being somehow stolen or rig. About how it was “the best policy” to back these lies rather than follow the Constitution and over five dozen federal court rulings on the validity of the election in half a dozen states. Etc.

                    • timbo says:

                      Of course, that takes time. And this impeachment article was sent to the Senate as a political cudgel in case it suddenly and abruptly needed to be voted on in an emergency situation. And perhaps we are still in such a situation since both the DP and the GOP seem like they’re going to just move this thing ahead without the necessary witnesses to sent the appropriate message to those who seek to undermine the law and the Constitution. But they could do the right thing and try to clean up and out the GOP to the extent necessary to reduce the chances of continuing unrest and reduce the potential for future insurrection and sedition.

                • PeterS says:

                  Why would I think there was no testimony/evidence around Watergate, but thanks for patronizing me. Again, we had impressive witnesses and compelling evidence a year ago and it had little impact. I don’t know why the fact that it wasn’t presented in “the trial” makes much difference.

                  I was questioning GOP Senators “shifting their opinion”, I’ve never mentioned public perception. But hey, I’ve argued this long enough, we can agree about that.

                  (bmaz & timbo, could be a rap duo. Kinda reminds me of eric B & rakim)

                  • bmaz says:

                    And what is it you remember about Impeachment I? The witnesses. Me too. I think we can agree on that as well (hopefully!) Irrespective of whether doing so in II would result in a conviction, and no it might well not, it is the only way to do the job properly, which should always be the goal in a “trial”, even as imperfect a trial process as this one.

                    But this would be even more so as to your point about public perception. Making a show of witnesses on the issue of planning, participation and direction by Trump would be a very good thing. As you note there were no witnesses in the House this time, and certainly not on those issues. Even now, they are trying to make a record through tight edited videos which, while quite well done and narrated by the Managers, are really more “argument” than “evidence”, and thus easier to discount. With witnesses, and a case built over time, the impact, whether on the Senate jurors, the public, or both, as in Watergate, it could make a difference and lay a better foundation for criminal cases, whether of Trump or others. I bet we can agree on that too, at least hope so.

                    As the Dems, both House and Senate argue, if this case is not the most compelling impeachment case ever, then what would be? I can’t imagine one. Which is, lastly, why I was screaming for the Senate trial phase to be assigned to a select committee under Rule XI so that proper witnesses, evidence, and the time to adduce the same could be allotted without blowing up normal Senate function. I think (hope) we actually agree on a lot more than you think.

                    • PeterS says:

                      Yes indeed. I’ve been here long enough to recognise that we agree about most things. Though perhaps not about the need for more hip hop references on ew…

      • Peacerme says:

        Dems all need some therapy to treat their collective PTSD of years of authoritarianism.

        They continue living in the paradigm of powerlessness. We can all feel it. They are “trying”. “There is no try, only DO.” It must stop. The problem is that the Dems continue to allow the narrative to stand that there is something about Trump so powerful that he cannot be held accountable. Trump followers are attracted to his “power”. Not his brains or ideas. They love his “power”. Those are the coat tails they want to ride.

        If Dems do not break down that power they feed the monster. A lesson for history will do nothing to solve this problem. In domestic violence the most powerful tool against it was the coordinated community response. It was getting many people to be willing to speak up and stop colluding with the violence. Violent people must be held accountable. I am not for power and control but AM for natural consequences. The republicans are protecting the president in the same way that mobs protect the mob boss. The only way to weaken the mob was to make sure there were consequences for the bosses. It was making it clear to underlings that the boss was not really powerful enough to protect them. As long as Trump remains “untouchable” he maintains his power and the illusion of “protection” for all those psychologically abused souls that secretly love and fear his power. In the end those abused “children” are looking for “protection”. (His followers).

        The Dems are oblivious to the under current of power and control. A slap on the hand is NOT accountability.

        This is one time where shame is appropriate. Trump is a danger to our democracy. Shame of all those who collude is an appropriate use of shame. And Dems should pull out all the stops and use every bit of power our constitution gives them. If they pull their punches at this point it makes it look as if he IS just that powerful that they fear him.

        This is seriously sad.

      • Matthew Harris says:

        All of that is an excellent answer.

        What I think would be helpful is if the investigation into the rioters had gone further, and if we new that people who had been implicated in clear illegal behavior (smashing windows, etc), had received instructions and advice from others. Even though the investigation is going fast as far as such things go, that stuff might not come out for a few more weeks or months. I think that would help make the impeachment a more clear case.

        My own personal opinion is that the Georgia case is much more legally damning. Unless we know Trump coordinated with the Capitol Police or National Guard, all he did there was say some angry words, which encouraged people to commit a crime. But in Georgia, his words were clearly directed at encouraging a crime.

        • timbo says:

          My point is that if the impeachment is ineffective, any federal laws that might have been broken in Georgia are kind of in question as to there deterrence value in stopping extremist actions in future… What I mean is that if an impeachment charge here gets a conviction then it is much less likely for anyone who is convicted of federal crimes related to Jan 6th and the earlier events leading to that day’s seditionist insurrection will ever receive a Presidential pardon should seditionist liars currently jokeying for Presidential power in this country ever attain such a high office.

  15. cavenewt says:

    Bruce Castor, today: “A high crime is a felony, and a misdemeanor is a misdemeanor.” That’s not really correct, is it? I just read the Wikipedia article about “high crimes and misdemeanors” and simply calling a high crime a felony is a pretty severe misnomer. The word “felony” does not appear once on that Wikipedia page.

    Incidentally, somewhere else in the discussion about impeachment I see ‘Benjamin Franklin asserted that the power of impeachment and removal was necessary for those times when the Executive “rendered himself obnoxious…”‘ Seems the House really missed an opportunity for a slam dunk there.

  16. Eureka says:

    An oldie but timely overview:

    Everybody hates Bruce Castor, and the acting AG couldn’t care less
    https://www.pennlive.com/news/2016/08/bruce_castor_kathleen_kane.html

    What’s lightly pointed to but not spelled out here: even the execrable Chris Matthews’ (remember him?) Republican brother Jim hated Bruce Castor. Hated him so much that when they were GOP majority county commissioners, Matthews caucused with the lone Dem. Their GOP grudge-match (and Castor’s chatty ways) fed soap-level serials for years.

    And that’s how Pennsylvania’s third-most populous county became Dem-controlled before such was formalized by the electorate. When voters chose a Dem majority the next cycle, Castor was over the moon — gushing to the press that the Chair was nice to him. That new Chair? Current PA AG Josh Shapiro, fighter of Trump’s BS election suits.

    The End.

    • Eureka says:

      In 2007, when Castor won election to the three-member county Board of Commissioners, the other Republican forged an alliance with the Democrat. Despite the fact that Castor had garnered the most votes, he was effectively shut out of power.

      Ever the showman, Castor hung his certificate of public office in his bathroom, next to his toilet, as a potent symbol of his discontent.

      internal link removed

    • Eureka says:

      Doh! How could I have forgotten: it is not quite The End without noting that one of the Impeachment Mangers, Rep. Madeleine Dean, represents said county/area.

      in re Bruce’s Bad Day(s, continued)

  17. Fran of the North says:

    While the respite from constant rage-tweets has been refreshing to say the least, inquiring minds want to know what synapses are firing in former’s cranial empty-ness after today’s opening salvos.

    The venom, anger and confusion that are washing over His Orangeness’s psyche like waves before the Cat 5 hurricane makes landfall would be spectacular to watch first hand.

  18. Lester Noyes says:

    Seems like the Trump crowd could have grabbed any schlub off the street and said, “Hey you! Wanna defend Trump in the impeachment? You don’t have to know how – you’ll win anyway. Win-win! No money, though.”

  19. Norskeflamthrower says:

    Is it possible that Castor is a lawyer scorned and stiffed by the Dumpster and this was the perfect way to get something back for his injury? If this is true then it’s way beyond karma although the price Castor had to pay was his self-respect and the respect of his profession. Kinda like the 9/11 hijackers?

  20. Alan K says:

    Just wondering if there may be a way forward. There are two facts on which all can agree:

    1) GOP is not going to vote in sufficient numbers to convict
    2) Impeachment is not a useful tool to constrain the executive

    So is there an opening for a different mechanism? Perhaps the GOP could sign up for a “never again” effort? Perhaps an argument like “what if the Left flaunted the norms like Trump did?” would give enough political cover to amend the Constitution.

    There is no way this democracy can survive if Impeachment doesn’t work as intended. What are the good ideas out there?

    • Neil says:

      (First time posting here…)
      I’m hardly much of an expert, but it would seem to me that impeachment as such is working fine, the problem is with the Senate, or rather the fact that Senators are too close to “grubby” partisan politics.

      They’ve got the same re-election imperatives as everyone else, and behave accordingly. Either their method of being elected/appointed/”insert term here” needs to be changed, or their terms (or term limits) changed.

      Or perhaps abolish parties from the Senate? What if all senators were “independent”? One way or another, they need to have sufficient independence to be able to vote their conscience, for impeachment to work as intended.

      In most parliamentary systems, as far as I understand, the upper house is rarely elected as in the US.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The problem is not parties or politics per se in the upper or lower house. They are inherent in choosing among competing needs and priorities. The problem is American narrowness and extremism. It is as visible in the politics of the GOP as it is in America’s version of capitalism. Both forms are linked.

        The most vicious facets are the overwhelming influence of money, exemplified by the dark money networks run by billionaires like the Kochs, the Mercers, the Bezoses. The other, more specific to Trump and his second impeachment trial, is that the Republican Party rejects the norms of democratic governance. Forms of the latter have existed before in both major parties, exemplified by Boss Tweed in NYC, its variants in Boston and Chicago, and Jim Crow rule in the South.

        The current national version dates from Newt Gingrich’s House Speakership in the mid-1990s. Mitch McConnell is his successor. Discipline and tribal loyalty – which allows power to be exercised by a few white men at the top – is prized over any concern for facts and governance. Public service is regarded as the restaurant tip Trump would never dream of leaving on the table, because he owns the place. McConnell and his brethren feel the same.

        • Epicurus says:

          “…The problem is American narrowness and extremism. It is as visible in the politics of the GOP as it is in America’s version of capitalism. Both forms are linked…Discipline and tribal loyalty – which allows power to be exercised by a few white men at the top – is prized over any concern for facts and governance…”

          So how are these problems solved?

          • skua says:

            The trite answer: By creating a system in which building the desired outcomes is clearly more rewarding than continuing with the current.
            The sorry truth: Americans may not have this option, they may be long-term limited by the structure of their system.

            • John Mc says:

              A multi-party system where compromise is necessary to move any one group’s agenda forward is one answer. Don’t think we’ll see it in our lifetimes though. Not that the European systems don’t have their own problems, but as a one-time ex-pat I would immensely prefer those problems to what we’re enduring here.

          • Marinela says:

            First place to start is the norms, relying on them instead of explicitly requiring the norms to be laws that cannot be broken. The one issue I see with the American system is that the norms are followed by one party, not by all.

            It is similar problem exposed by a communism system.
            The power is given to a centralized government but there is no accountability, based on an utopia that looks good on a paper, like everybody is equal, nobody owns anything, the work products get equally divided, etc. The communism system ends up ripe with corruption by the top governing class, because there is no accountability of the people that hold the power. The flaws with the communism system is that it assumes the people will do the right thing, there is no verification.

            Instead you need a system that simply assumes there is potential for corruption, and have laws spelling out what happens when you break the laws. Have a way to verify the laws are followed, assume people are flawed, especially people in power or close to the power.

            Cannot stress it enough, assume people are flawed.

            In American system there are many norms that should be probably laws instead, with no way to enforce them if they get broken because they are just norms.

            For example, would be so simple if a Presidential candidate is required by law to disclose it’s taxes. This should not be a norm, that a candidate can decide to ignore, or assume that a political party would not nominate a candidate that doesn’t follow the norms.
            If it is the law, then the states could not have Trump on the ballot unless he discloses it’s taxes, before the election, period.
            This way regardless on what GOP party does, on how irresponsible it behaves, if it wants to nominate a candidate that cannot be on the ballot go for that. This is the 2016 scenario, and 2020 scenario.

            • timbo says:

              The basis of tax returns release as some sort of measure of fitness to be President is kind of a new thing in the long traditions of US elections. Whatever one’s point of view about it, the issue was never seriously considered by the Framers of the Constitution itself… as there was no federal income tax at the time the Constitution was put into effect, nor for some 80 years following the first Federal government.

        • timbo says:

          Yep. That’s it pretty much. I don’t know that you can eliminate parties in the Senate though. That’s not how representative democracy will work, no matter how you change the law and Constitution. What would be good is if the amount of money that is in our politics was limited and use of cutouts like corporations weren’t given the same protections as individual citizens.

        • Chris.EL says:

          Trump’s followers (aka worshippers) have all learned lessons such as:
          1. I can do whatever I want because Trump will bail me out (or pardon me);
          2. I can lie and cheat and collect many, many guns, because everyone else is doing it, so I have to keep up;
          3. If we all stick together, we can’t be touched!

          What the FF*** are we supposed to do about all this??
          ~~~~~~~
          From popehat today: …”Most of the Senators yesterday were too dim to understand Trump’s lawyer’s “I invite you to consider my Longfellow.” “…

          — I’m definitely not a Senator, is this an obtuse reference to a vulgar sex act or, what?

          • timbo says:

            This. “I was just following orders by amassing enough fire arms and ammo for a small army! The President said that I should be prepared and ready in case his rallies became wild!”

      • cavenewt says:

        impeachment as such is working fine, the problem is with the Senate, or rather the fact that Senators are too close to “grubby” partisan politics.

        Constitutional amendments being pretty much out of the picture of these days, what about making the vote secret in a Senate impeachment trial? Congress can pretty much write its own rules in terms of impeachment process, right? I mean, look what happened when the vote to oust Liz Cheney from her leadership position was secret rather than public.

  21. Rapier says:

    Pence stabbed them in the back. Mike has been awfully quiet. I’m dying to hear how he feels now after his great historical moment arrived, to play his part in God’s plan, which the smarmy prick has assumed for himself, how he choked.

    We haven’t heard a word from Mike about these proceedings have we? Nah. He will lie low and see how it shakes out, and declare that was God’s plan I suppose.

    • bmaz says:

      Can’t hear from Pence if the Dems will not even try, in any way, to get his testimony! Trump is on several legal chopping blocks, that is a different thing. Pence is not, why was he not the subject of process for testimony?

      • timbo says:

        Pence is trying to figure that out himself?

        I dunno tho…four years in the Trump regime and it’s very likely that he’s aware of criminal behavior that he should have brought forward and for which others in the Twitler regime might hold over the ex-VP. In any case, it appears that politically, Pence is now not going to have much power within the GOP for the foreseeable future. He’s become a pariah, much as Romney—the best Pence can hope for is to be a Senator from Indiana again. And to do that, he would have to be on the good side of the Indiana GOP, the Trumpist bulwark that would likely censure Pence in a heartbeat if Trump lifted a finger?

        Such is the dilemma of one who allied with Twitler as some sort of mythical way forward to a now shabby Shangra-la of political obscurity. At least Pence’s future won’t be as inconsequential as that of Dan Quayle… and the kids nowadays do need odd Xtian Podcasts to keep their minds away from diversified moral maturity so no doubt Pence will be back, if only on the odd talk-show every now and then.

    • PeterS says:

      Yeah, not only have we not heard from Pence, we haven’t heard much from “sources close to former vice-president Mike Pence”. I remember all those adoring looks, and “oh, THIS time Trump has gone too far and the GOP will push back” is a movie I’ve seen before.

  22. Doctor My Eyes says:

    I hope not to embarrass myself posting obvious info here among the legal cognoscenti, but it seems to me that misunderstandings concerning impeachment persist today just as they did when hopeful people were discussing possible impeachment of Now-dear respectable George W. Bush. In 1974 the legal staff of the Congressional Inquiry Committee produced the following analysis of impeachment.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/watergatedoc.htm

    “Impeachment is a constitutional remedy addressed to serious offenses against the system of government. The purpose of impeachment under the Constitution is indicated by the limited scope of the remedy (removal from office and possible disqualification from future office) and by the stated grounds for impeachment (treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors). It is not controlling whether treason and bribery are criminal. More important, they are constitutional wrongs that subvert the structure of government, or undermine the integrity of office and even the Constitution itself, and thus are “high” offenses in the sense that word was used in English impeachments.”

    To the founders, “high crimes and misdemeanors” was not a purposely broad term to allow inclusion of criminal activities such as incitement or even criminal violence. To the contrary. The list of reasons for impeachment is intentionally limited to crimes against the structure of government or the Constitution itself. Not all crimes are impeachable and not all impeachable offenses are crimes.

    It seems I’m not the only person stunned to see as clear a case for impeachment as it is likely possible to mount–a direct assault on the structure of government as specifically defined in the constitution–is being ignored by most of the GOP. Any worse example would likely have resulted in overthrow of the government and thus no impeachment begun. I’m not sure even we cynical ones can fully grasp how fully our constitutional foundation has been washed away.

  23. harpie says:

    Marcy has a screenshot of managers outline here:
    https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1359579952161685517
    2:08 PM · Feb 10, 2021

    Dean up. Here’s the core of the case.[screenshot]

    From the screenshot:

    TRUMP’S EFFORTS TO RETAIN THE PRESIDENCY
    Ignoring Adverse Court Rulings
    Pressuring and Threatening Election Officials
    Attacking Senators and Members of Congress
    Pressuring the Justice Department
    Attacking Vice President Pence

    I just wanted to NOTE that TRUMP also attacked SCOTUS and “his” Justices.

    • timbo says:

      Yes, you’d think they’d mention that, right? But then, this thing might go before the Supreme Court at some point so maybe best to leave mention of them out of the case itself… because… too scary and prejudicial? Sigh. Yeah, they have no guts to go after the “law-and-order President” who doesn’t care if police are bludgeoned to death as long as he can stay in power.

  24. harold hecuba says:

    I agree with those who are maddened/irritated that the Senate hasn’t brought actual witnesses to this trial, or presented real first-hand evidence from those who participated in the event (fucking make Mike Lee explain why he objected to him being a “witness”), etc.

    However, it appears that a pragmatic, political calculation was made and one in which I would reluctantly side with: present the case to the public, specifically those independents and Republicans who hate Trump. Trump won’t be convicted in the Senate even if they had audio/video/first person account of Trump marching with the mob into the Capitol. He just wouldn’t ’cause 4 out of 10 Republicans think violence should be used to protect their way of life.

    So rush through the trial. Get the votes on record. Let Trump stew in mediocrity and let the various states (NY and GA) proceed with their investigations and bring charges if they can (which becomes increasingly likely that charges will be brought forward). I want to see Trump in jail. This Senate trial won’t do that even if he’s convicted.

    • cavenewt says:

      You’ve pretty well summed up how I’ve come to feel about it. There *is* one important reason to convict him in the impeachment trial: strip away his pension, security detail, and travel allowance. It’s not a huge sum of money but it’s insult added to injury if we have to keep paying that.

      Perhaps a more important feature of conviction would be the following vote to bar him from future office. Even Trump sitting in prison would not accomplish that.

    • timbo says:

      Well, I will say that it is like sweet candy imagining some of these House Managers actually presenting a real case in a real trial. Some of these folks would be capable of pulling it off in a real trial with first person witnesses. But, alas, the drumbeat of expediency that doesn’t rock the political structure of the DP too much is what holds sway at the current moment.

  25. Badger Robert says:

    The President tried to overthrow the government. And the Senate isn’t going to take testimony and authenticate exhibits?
    They have been become titled lords whose interest in protecting their power and they don’t care about the Constitution.
    The Democrats are letting themselves be intimidated.

    • timbo says:

      It’s insane pretty much. Now we see why “impeachment is off the table!” is the rallying cry of folks like Pelosi—they don’t actually know how to conduct them effectively.

  26. Bay State Librul says:

    Is this America?
    “You betcha”, to quote a gal from Seward’s Folly
    Alaska became a state in 1959.
    Time for the District and Puerto Rico to be inducted into the Hall of Shame

  27. e.a.f. says:

    Good morning Bmaz, off topic, but given you enjoy music:
    when I found Empty Wheel it was on a B.C. Blog roll named The Gazetteer or Pacific Gazetteer, by RossK, a cancer researcher at the University of B.C. and a musician. So some topics do cover that. His 11 feb. post had some music by Warren Zevon and he posted the video. I then went on to listen to covers of that song and asked RossK who else covered some of Zevon’s songs. His post of 12 Feb. titled “Willie Said” has an early interview with a very young Linda Ronstadt, prior to the forming of the Eagles, which I think you might enjoy. He also has a link up with her singing in Germany, at Stadthalle, Offenbach 16 Nov. 1976.
    I would link the Blog but I don’t know how to do that. Never learnt, so I just tell people what to type in and up it usually comes. Pacific Gazetteer, RossK

    Found some more Jessie Coulter, I Thought I heard you call my name. The song maybe about some one leaving a love affair, but it reminds me of when you think you hear some you loved who has died calling your name.

Comments are closed.