Giuliani Thinks Trump Should Just Tell The Senate Why He Ordered The Code Red
Donald Trump was impeached last week for inciting an insurrection against the United States government. That's more serious than a parking ticket, so Trump should consider competent legal representation at his second annual Senate trial. However, Rudy Giuliani, one of the lead Kraken wranglers in Trump's “elite strike force" of COVID-19 superspreaders, was at the White House Saturday. The MyPillow Guy could probably provide better legal counsel than Giuliani.
Giuliani confirmed with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl that he was working on Trump's defense, and it's a doozy. He's prepared to argue that Trump's pre-siege speech didn't constitute incitement to violence, because Trump's fascist Big Lie about winning an election he lost is true!
"They basically claimed that anytime [Trump] says voter fraud, voter fraud -- or I do, or anybody else -- we're inciting to violence; that those words are fighting words because it's totally untrue," [Giuliani] said. "Well, if you can prove that it's true, or at least true enough so it's a legitimate viewpoint, then they are no longer fighting words."
Yikes. There's so much wrong here. First place, Trump's campaign lost more than 60 court cases contesting the election results. Judges consistently rejected the suits as lacking merit or standing. Trump's “elite strike force," despite what was said in public, rarely argued sweeping voter fraud in court because there are legal penalties for lying to judges.
The House of Representatives isn't charging Trump with defamation. It doesn't matter if what he said was true or not (and it wasn't). The House impeachment managers will focus on Trump's repulsive words that inspired a violent attack against Congress. As GOP Rep. Liz Cheney said: "The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the president." She's right.
Yes, there is a rightfully high bar to charge a private citizen with incitement, but impeachment isn't strictly a legal proceeding. The Senate can determine that Trump's actions make him unfit to hold office, now and forever.
Giuliani laughably argued that Trump's second impeachment isn't even legal and should be dismissed outright like a common Kraken suit.
"If they decide to bring it to a trial, he should move to dismiss the impeachment as entirely illegal. That it was the only impeachment ever done in what, two days, three days," Giuliani told ABC News. "We would say to the court, 'You are now permitting in the future, basically in two days, the Congress can just impeach on anything they want to."
Not to get all originalist on Giuliani's scraggly ass, but the Constitution says nothing about an appropriate timeframe for impeachment. Article II, Section 4 says simply: "The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." It's perfectly legal for Congress to impeach and remove the president in the time it takes for Domino's to deliver a pizza.
Giuliani also conflated a quickie impeachment with a baseless one. Trump is charged with a serious offense, which arguably justifies haste. This isn't a blowjob impeachment, where you can take your time and tease out a satisfying conclusion. Congress should probably move quickly when the president has sicced a mob on them.
He went on to claim that if “[incitement] is going to happen, it's got to happen right away." This argument is unsupported by the actual events of January 6. The mob had grown violent, storming the outer barricade of the Capitol, during Trump's speech. The thugs had overtaken the police and made their way up the Capitol steps just 20 minutes after Trump said, "If you don't fight ... you're not going to have a country anymore." They'd breached the Capitol when Trump tweeted that Mike Pence didn't have the “courage" to unilaterally reject the electors.
I don't even play a lawyer on TV but I think Trump's speech easily meets the Brandenburg test for incitement. He was advocating for imminent unlawful action, as there were no legal means to overturn Joe Biden's victory. Pence had already told him that what he wanted was impossible and unconstitutional. What did Trump mean when he urged his mob to go to the Capitol and "give ["cowardly" Republicans] the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country"? Don't worry, Trump can explain it all for the Senate himself because Giuliani hasn't ruled out the former (thank God) president testifying at his trial. This is great news for A Few Good Men fans.
Sunday morning, in an interview on Fox News, Karl Rove said that if Trump uses Giuliani's coup-coup defense, it “raises the likelihood" that 17 Republican senators will vote to convict. We're all for it, but White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley released a statement claiming Trump hasn't determined which lawyer or law firm will defend him against the “impeachment hoax."
Late Sunday, Karl reported that Giuliani apparently realized he was present at the pre-siege rally, where he delivered a bonkers speech about “trial by combat." That makes him a witness and “unable to participate" in the Senate trial.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."