'Impeachment Is The REAL Voter Suppression!' And Other Great Legal Arguments From Day One
Yesterday was the first day of Donald Trump's second impeachment trial.
And, well, I can say this: Trump's legal team showed levels of intelligence, competence, professionalism, and candor we have come to expect from the 45th president.
You know that quote from the end of Billy Madison? "At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul"?
That. It was that.
Trump's lawyers, Bruce Castor and David Schoen were SO BAD that they managed to flip Louisiana Republican Bill Cassidy, who had initially toed the party line and voted against the proceedings occurring at all.
Cassidy's reasoning? "Now 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." Lisa Murkowski said she was "stunned" and didn't know what Castor was trying to say.
As for what they were actually trying to say ... well, most of the time, it was unclear. The best I can surmise (and yes, I'm stealing this from an NRO person, idk, down is up and up is down), they were playing dumb cop, mean cop.
For most of Castor's rambling tirade, I truly didn't know what points he was trying to make. Like Matt Ford summarized for The New Republic, "[t]he first half of his presentation was a rambling discourse on, among other things, the Senate itself, the senators present, the long-dead senator Everett Dirksen, the Constitution, the purported existence of an ancient Greek senate, the hearsay exception, and more."
Seriously. If you don't want to watch the whole thing — which I completely understand — treat yourself to just a few short clips.
TRUMP: Get me the finest legal mind for my impeachment trial THE LAWYER WHO SHOWED UP: https://t.co/e98JaZExB9— The Daily Show (@The Daily Show)1612907180.0
As for Schoen, I couldn't really tell from his performance if he's a True Believer or was just playing the part for his fucking crazy client, but he did seem mad. Not entirely coherent, and mostly ignoring the actual constitutional issues in the question "is it constitutional to impeach a president once he's out of office." But he sure was pissed off. I think maybe he was going for the angry Kavanaugh defense?
In all, I think it actually ended up being worse than I expected, and that's saying something, because I never expected these clowns to be good. (Sorry, that was mean to clowns.) But the legal team of stupid and angry was so bad yesterday that it was actually embarrassing. And Trump continuing to embarrass us all after leaving office sounds about right.
So, while you enjoy today's impeachment liveblog, let's take a look at the three dumbest legal arguments Team Trump made yesterday, shall we?
1. "Impeachment is the REAL voter suppression!"
One of my personal favorite parts of the day was when David Schoen said holding an impeachment trial for a president who incited an insurrection is really just "a group of partisan politicians seeking to eliminate Donald Trump from the American political scene and seeking to disenfranchise 74 million-plus American voters."
Nope. That's not what disenfranchisement is, Dave.
See, disenfranchisement is what your side does, to try to keep poor people and people of color from voting. An impeachment trial has absolutely jack shit to do with voter disenfranchisement, especially when the president is already out of office. And wasn't him being out of office your whole point to begin with?
Reliving this is going to make me bleed from the eyes.
2. "Something something bill of attainder!"
I had lost interest and wasn't really paying attention to the idiots on my tv anymore when I heard the words "bill of attainder" from one of the president's lawyers.
I'm actually kind of pissed off I'm even talking about bills of attainder right now. It has absolutely nothing to do with any of this, truly.
Bills of attainder are explicitly prohibited by Article I, § 9 of the Constitution. The Bill of Attainder Clause prohibits laws that declare people guilty and punish them criminally without a trial.
If, right now, you're thinking, "Well that sounds entirely unrelated to impeaching a former president, even without noting THEY ARE HAVING A TRIAL," then congratulations, you are better at law than the former president's attorneys.
It's just dumb and wrong in so many ways. First, impeachment is not a bill. Bills are passed by both houses of the legislature and signed by the president. That is just ... not at all what an impeachment trial is. There was an impeachment in the House, now there is a trial in the Senate, nobody is being punished criminally ... yet.
3. "tHiS iS uNcOnStItUtIoNaL"
It's not unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial after someone has left office. It's just not.
You know how I know that? Because I've read the fucking Constitution. And even a little history!
At the end of the day, whether it's constitutional to hold a Senate impeachment trial for a former president is entirely up to the Senate. No federal court is going anywhere near this. And the Senate has spoken. Twice, as a matter of fact.
The Constitution contains exactly zero prohibitions against trying a former president. As the House Managers pointed out, this interpretation would create a situation where presidents could literally get away with murder without being impeached, as long as they did it close enough to January 20. And a hypothetical Senate Majority Leader, like, oh, say, Mitch McConnell, could ... do all the things he has done and continues to do.
I'm already getting preemptively angry at the Republican senators who will use this argument to justify voting for acquittal.
Well, that level of stupidity is about right
Even the Republicans who voted with the dumbasses were ... unimpressed with them. And the anchors on Newsmax, of all places, cut away from Castor to tell their views they "have no idea why he's saying what he's saying."
John Cornyn (D-TX) told reporters Castor "rambled on and on and on and didn't really address the constitutional argument." The former federal judge also said, "I've seen a lot of lawyers and a lot of arguments and that was ... not one of the finest I've seen."
Castor, however, apparently thought he did really well, saying he thought yesterday was a "good day."
Schoen, for his part, promised to "do better next time."
I guess we'll just have to watch and see.
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