House Managers Offer Compelling Case
- The second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump kicked off this week, beginning with arguments over whether the trial itself is constitutional. It should come as no surprise that a majority of Republican senators voted against moving forward with the trial.
- Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) was the only Republican to change course after previously voting that the trial was unconstitutional. Shortly thereafter, the Louisiana Republican Party rebuked Cassidy for his vote.
- House impeachment managers began their presentation laying out the evidence against Trump by showing a searing 13-minute video of the insurrection.
- When it was the Trump defense team’s turn, lead attorney Bruce Castor delivered a meandering and confusing hourlong speech.
- Republican senators panned the Trump defense team’s performance. Cassidy called it “disorganized,” adding that Trump’s lawyers did a “terrible job.”
- Trump, with no bully pulpit or Twitter account to speak of, was apparently quite displeased with his team’s performance.
Harrowing New Footage
- The second day of the trial began with word that House impeachment managers planned on presenting previously unseen footage of the insurrection.
- The shocking new video showed just how close the rioters got to lawmakers. There were a number of near-misses involving former Vice President Pence, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s staff, among others, as TPM’s Matt Shuham laid out here.
- Trump tweeted out an attack against Pence just two minutes before Pence and his family were evacuated from the Capitol.
- One particularly chilling video of the insurrection showed rioters wandering the halls of the Capitol looking for Pelosi. In a sing-song voice reminiscent of a horror movie, they called out “where are you, Nancy? We’re looking for you! Naaaaancy, oh Naaaancy!”
- Both Democrats and Republicans appeared visibly shaken after impeachment managers played footage of Capitol Police Officer Hodges shouting in blood-curdling screams for “help” as he was crushed by rioters and wedged in a doorway while trying to hold back the mob.
A Flimsy, Trumpy And Overwhelmingly Brief Defense
- While Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said last night that he hoped Trump’s lawyers would offer some type of explanation for Trump’s actions on the day of the insurrection, more precisely his “inaction” as Capitol police gave “panic-stricken” pleas for help, the team did everything but that. Later, while taking questions from senators, Trump’s lawyers not only dodged a question about when Trump learned of the insurrection and how he responded to it, they blamed House impeachment managers for not doing the research to find out Trump’s timeline for the day.
- Trump’s lawyers twisted themselves into a pretzel to argue that Trump is a champion of peace, showing a video montage of the former president repeatedly calling for “law and order” amid Black Lives Matter protests that broke out over the summer. As TPM’s Matt Shuham notes: The phrase, of course, was and remains Trump’s shorthand for crushing liberal protesters, especially the Black Lives Matter movement — not a plea for peace.
- The defense also repeatedly hurled personal insults at House impeachment managers as a strategy, calling them hypocrites, criticizing their understanding of the Constitution and suggesting they “made up” the legal standard for impeachment.
- At least two of Trump’s attorneys also incorporated parts of the Big Lie into their impeachment defense and suggested that Trump was telling his supporters to primary senators who didn’t support his “stop the steal” effort, not telling them to storm the Capitol.
- It seemed their most compelling defense was repeatedly playing (for at least 20 minutes total of their less than three hour argument) a video montage of Democrats saying “fight” or “fight”-adjacent things.
- Overall the defense was filled with Trumpisms, including the repeated invocation of “Constitutional cancel culture.”