Trump Lawyers Preview Impeachment Defense: Gateway Pundit Says Maxine Waters Did It. NOT GUILTY!
Donald Trump has an uncanny ability to find lawyers who are almost as noxious and unpleasant as he is. The latest output from the former president's impeachment defense team is a pugilistic diatribe, full of insults, distortions of fact, Trumpian verbal tics, and ad hominem attacks on women of color. Plus enough excess adjectives to make Jackie Chiles blush. We are shocked and chagrined!
Just look at this opening paragraph:
During the past four years, Democrat members of the United States House of Representatives have filed at least nine (9) resolutions to impeach Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States, each containing charges more outlandish than the next. One might have been excused for thinking that the Democrats' fevered hatred for Citizen Trump and their "Trump Derangement Syndrome" would have broken by now, seeing as he is no longer the President, and yet for the second time in just over a year the United States Senate is preparing to sit as a Court of Impeachment, but this time over a private citizen who is a former President.
As proof of these "nine (9) resolutions," Trump's attorneys cite to a CNN article from May of 2017 entitled "A running list of Democrats who have discussed impeachment." Good of them to let the reader know from the first sentence that this isn't going to be a piece of legal work grounded in good faith interpretation of the law or facts.
Indeed, the two law review articles relied on most heavily in the Trial Memorandum appear to have been deliberately misinterpreted as supporting the proposition that a president cannot be impeached after he's left office. Prof. Harold Krent of the Chicago-Kent School of Law says impeachment is totally kosher if the House commenced deliberation while the president was still in office: "It does little violence to the constitutional text to reason that, as long as an officer served in office at the time formal impeachment proceedings started, then the House and Senate retain jurisdiction to continue the process because the officer was 'in office' at the commencement of the proceedings."
And Michigan State University College of Law Prof. Brian Kalt did an entire Twitter thread on the way his work had been twisted.
One odd thing they do is cite me citing other sources instead of just citing those sources (e.g., p.17 & n.47). Ano… https://t.co/ajTAH5dT2A— Brian Kalt (@Brian Kalt)1612803428.0
Bruce Castor Jr., David Schoen, and Michael T. van der Veen are competent lawyers. They would never submit a filing like this to a trial court where they and their client could face real repercussions for misrepresentations of fact and law. FFS, they actually cited to Gateway Pundit as proof that BLM protestors staged the Capitol riot as a false flag operation. Impeachment after a president has left office is UNLEGAL they "prove" using editorials by Hugh Hewitt, Alan Dershowitz, John Solomon, and random English and Australian commentators. This in a memo that excoriates the House impeachment managers for relying on the New York Times and Washington Post, because "Media reports and reporters' opinions are not facts and most assuredly are not facts that should form the basis for instituting the grave power of impeachment."
Here on Planet Earth, Donald Trump was already impeached twice, once on December 10, 2019, and once on January 13, 2021. Both of those impeachments took place while he was in office, and all we're arguing about here is whether the Senate trial can take place now that he's left the White House.
And, yes, okay, his lawyers cover all the bases with various references to precedents both apposite and irrelevant, plus a mini-treatise on colonial-era impeachment law. But the actual 1876 impeachment of a secretary of state who had resigned his office is shrugged off because the Senate failed to convict and that means that the trial never happened, right? Besides Alan Dershowitz says in the Wall Street Journal that "A close vote nearly a century and a half ago doesn't establish a binding precedent." And then The Hill wrote an article about the Journal piece, so if you cite to both of them in your brief, it's automatically twice as credible!
It's all bullshit. Because they know, and we know, that impeachment is an entirely political process. Like the pardon power and Supreme Court decisions, there is no appellate review. If half the House and 67 Senators think the president's conduct amounts to an impeachable offense, then it is an impeachable offense. And 45 Republicans have already said that it isn't.
So Democrats are going to inflict maximal damage on Republicans by laying out the president's despicable conduct and making the GOP own it. And Republicans are going to scream bloody murder and try to distract from their own role in coddling a would-be dictator who sicced a mob on his own vice president in an attempt to overturn the election.
Hence this pile of verbal diarrhea. "Democrat politicians seek to carve out a mechanism by which they can silence a political opponent and a minority party." It's a "brazen political act" which "ignores the very Constitution from which its power comes and is defectively drafted." Democrats have "debased the grave power of impeachment and disdained the solemn responsibility that this awesome power entails." They have "violated every precedent and every principle of fairness" and "offered the public a master's class in the art of political opportunism." President Trump was merely exercising his First Amendment rights, while Nancy Pelosi and her allies are guilty of "intellectual dishonesty and factual vacuity" in their attempt to "callously harness the chaos of the moment for their own political gain" and "prey upon the feelings of horror and confusion that fell upon all Americans across the entire political spectrum upon seeing the destruction at the Capitol on January 6 by a few hundred people."
And the pièce de résistance: "In a brazen attempt to further glorify violence, the House Managers took several pages of their Memorandum to restate over 50 sensationalized media reports detailing the horrific incidents and shocking violence of those hours."
Because talking about what happened when Donald Trump's goons heeded his call to "fight like hell" is "glorifying violence." And also, aren't Democrats the real inciters here?
What about "rising Democratic darling Stacey Abrams" who leads a group called "Fair Fight" and who urges her supporters to "fight for free and fair elections"? If she's allowed to use the F word, why can't Trump? And what about Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who called for "unrest in the streets" during the BLM protests? "Should we hold her liable to pay for all of the businesses that were destroyed when people heeded her call and removed from office?" Trump's lawyers wonder.
What about Maxine Waters, who called for Trump administration officials to be harassed in public? What about Rep. Ilhan Omar with her "extremist rhetoric"? What about Rep. Rashida Tlaib with her calls for "genocide." (She didn't call for genocide.) What about Nancy Pelosi saying, "I just don't even know why there aren't uprisings all over the country. Maybe there will be." That was in reference to the separation of immigrant toddlers from their mothers, BTW — context which was conveniently omitted from the brief.
It's all so hacky and tired. So tired that USA Today fact checked the very same bullshit attacks weeks ago on January 15. But, hey, thanks, Counselors, for that lecture on the dastardly House managers who played "shamefully fast and loose with the truth as they cherry-picked [Trump's January 6 speech's] content along with content from other speeches made to other audiences for their Trial Memorandum."
So tired, and so, so Trumpy, right down to the bizarre capitalization (why "Bill of Attainder" but "separation of powers"?) and reference to "the 45th President" as opposed to "the former president," in deference to the wee feefees of a 74-year-old toddler. It's even got the mandatory threats to do LOCK HER UPS to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.
This is a dangerous slippery slope that the Senate should be careful to avoid. Were it otherwise, future House could impeach former Vice President Biden for his obstruction of justice in setting up the Russia hoax circa 2016. While he could not be removed from the Vice Presidency because his term ended in 2017, he could be barred from holding future office. The same flawed logic the House Managers advance could apply to former Secretary of State Clinton for her violations of 18 U.S.C § 793. Impeachment cannot and should not be allowed to devolve into a political weapon.
This will be a week of abject stupidity, full of shouting and recrimination and veiled threats. Can't hardly wait!
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.