#COVID19Chronicles-302: February 3, 2021-Setting up the impeachment cases

The second impeachment of Donald Trump is historically unique, so I’m tracking elements of it simply for that reason.

Yesterday, preliminary briefs were due and submitted on time. The two sides will argue as follows: the 80-page brief from House Democrats lays blame for the deadly siege directly at Trump’s feet, saying (according to The Hill) he intentionally “whipped [the crowd] into a frenzy.” The former president’s new legal team, filed a 14-page response arguing the trial is unconstitutional and that Trump’s rhetoric did not inspire the riot.

I’m not sure it’s worth arguing what the strengths and weaknesses of the cases appear to be. Others have begun to do that:

The House Democrats try to draw a ‘direct line from Trump’s months-long campaign to delegitimize the presidential election results to his speech in Washington urging supporters to “fight” for him and the violent mob that then laid siege to the Capitol.’ (The Hill)

They stress that Trump should be punished to ensure that U.S. democracy is not threatened in this fashion ever again. (This is important, not least because at the first impeachment trial, some Republicans argued against conviction on the grounds that Trump would learn his lessons.

Well, we know better, now! He learned he could get away with anything, as he had predicted long before. 😦

“President Trump’s conduct must be declared unacceptable in the clearest and most unequivocal terms. This is not a partisan matter. His actions directly threatened the very foundation on which all other political debates and disagreements unfold,” the Democratic brief states. “They also threatened the constitutional system that protects the fundamental freedoms we cherish.”

The Democrats think that the case stands on its merits, bolstered by the reality of the siege of the US Capitol on January 6, through which all members of Congress endured. By contrast, the president’s arguments hope to somehow show that what many saw and experienced firsthand to be true wasn’t true.

Trump’s attorneys argued that the trial proceedings are null and void because a former president cannot be impeached. Precedent shows that officials (not presidents) have been impeached after leaving office.

They argued there was no correlation between Trump’s rhetoric and the mob that later stormed the Capitol. The president’s speech about the election being stolen from him, though unpopular in Washington, is nonetheless protected by the First Amendment, and any effort to punish him would violate his civil liberties, Trump’s lawyers argued.

Republicans have flip flopped in a way that should embarrass anyone, none more than Lindsey Graham, who now warns if any witnesses are called:

Personally, I think the Democrats case is strengthened by citing the now-ample evidence that the president directly had a hand in trying to subvert the election for months before November 3 and also after, for which there is ample public evidence, including calling the Georgia Secretary of State and asking him to “find 11,800 votes”. Other evidence, such as an alleged plan to ousts the acting Attorney General and then force electoral outcomes in Georgia (and other states) also seems powerful. The funding of the January event/rally by the White House and Trump campaign organization would add to the case, in my opinion.

For neutrals, the idea that what former president Trump did in entirety doesn’t constitute high crimes and misdemeanors and clear impeachable acts just makes no sense.

#COVID19Chronicles-300: February 1, 2021: Trump lawyered up, again :)

It’s not quite Buggin’s Turn or ‘last man standing’…A new team has been drafted in to defend the former president in his impeachment trial: trial lawyers David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor, Jr. will lead Donald Trump’s impeachment defence team.

Wrinkly? It seems that the legal firm represented by the new team had sued Trump and the US Postal Service in the past…challenging his claim that mail-in voting was rife with fraud! Ho-hum. In it for the money?

The team leaders have an interesting ‘pedigree’:

According to the Guardian-‘Schoen previously represented Roger Stone, who was convicted of obstructing a congressional investigation into Trump’s collusion with Russia, and also met convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein while the financier was preparing for a sexual exploitation trial. Castor is a former acting attorney general of Pennsylvania, who opposed reforms to support victims of sexual abuse and declined to prosecute Bill Cosby a decade before he was convicted.’

The trial is due to start on February 8. Still plenty of time to make another change? The deadline to submit a preliminary memo outlining the former president’s defense is tomorrow. Get cracking!

Will any of this matter, if Republicans are not going to vote on the merits of the impeachment article?

Football fans will note that this change occurred just ahead of the January transfer window deadline 🙂

#COVID19Chronicles-299: January 31, 2021-Trump unlawyered!

Before I went to bed last night, I was reading about the team of lawyers in the team to defend Donald Trump at his second impeachment trial, led by Butch Bowers from South Carolina.

When I got up, I was shocked to read that five of the legal team had quit!

CNN broke the story that two lead lawyers had skedaddled by “mutual decision”:

But it seems things slid downhill fast. They say a week is a long time in politics; it seems to be true.

The stumbling block was Trump’s insisting that the case be built on the election having been subject to massive voter fraud. No evidence exists of that and this line had failed miserably in court cases brought by Trump’s lawyers before the results were certified and confirmed. As was seen in those cases, lawyers wouldn’t cross the ethical line of peddling lies in proper legal settings, irrespective of words uttered outside such settings. So, it seems again. Many legal minds think a better line would be to contest the constitutionality of the case, which would give more leeway for an acquittal.

‘The Donald’ is nothing if not a dog with a bone on this obsession.

The question, now, of course, is who will lead the legal team now. It’s unlikely to be Rudy Guiliani, as he may himself be a subject in the trial.

The interesting times just keep getting more interesting.

#COVID9Chronicles-294: January 26, 2021-Heading to the second Trump impeachment trial

The article of impeachment of Donald J. Trump was walked to the Senate by the House impeachment managers, yesterday evening:

It was delivered:

It was read:

It will not be presided over by the Chief Justice, as it involves a former president:

The trial will begin on February 8:

Many are concerned that as time passes, the natural pressure to see conviction will abate. it will be difficult to see where 17 Republicans will vote for that, fearing backlash as well as some concerns about the legitimacy of the process. But, in the minds of many politicians and the public, the question will always be that if the actions that can be laid at the feet of the former president do not amount to impeachable events, what does.

Each day, brings out more evidence of a larger conspiracy to overturn the legitimate election results, driven directly by Donald Trump, so his intent to subvert the democratic process is clear.

#COVID19Chronicles-282: January 14, 2021-President Trump impeached again!

The House of Representatives voted on January 13 to impeach president Trump for an unprecedented second time–for “incitement of insurrection.”–with 10 Republicans joining Democrats for a 232-197 vote, making it the most bipartisan impeachment in US history.

One of the last Republicans to vote was also amongst the most clearly argued, especially its last paragraph. Peter Meijer of Michigan was the 7th GOP House member to back impeachment:

“The President betrayed his oath of office by seeking to undermine our constitutional process, and he bears responsibility for inciting the violent acts of insurrection last week.”

Nancy Pelosi signed the impeachment article later in the evening:

The matter will now pass to the Senate. However, current majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has muddied the waters by signalling his readiness for impeachment proceedings to begin but dousing that by saying it wont progress in the Senate before the Inauguration.

#COVID19Chronicles-281: January 13, 2021-Unprecedented presidency as second impeachment looms for Trump

UK prime minister, Harold Wilson, famously said in 1964 “A week is a long time in politics”, and a week since the US Capitol was under siege by insurrectionists, where are we?

Corporate America is pulling its financial support, at least temporarily:

The president made a first public appearance, on his way to check on the wall built along the border with Mexico, choosing the Alamo location. Hope you know your US history to see what that may imply. He made a statement that his remarks to the rally last week, ahead of their heading to the Capitol, were “totally appropriate” and impeachment was a “witch-hunt”. He laced his remarks with threats to the Biden administration:

The Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a rare statement, yesterday, about the unprecedented events of January 6, inserting themselves into a fast-moving political process, as reported by The Guardian:

‘“The violent riot in Washington DC on January 6, 2021, was a direct assault on the US Congress, the Capitol building, and our constitutional process,” the seven generals and one admiral said in an internal memo to troops, adding that the military remained committed to protecting and defending the US constitution.

“The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection,” the memo, seen by the Reuters news agency, said.

The military leaders said that the president-elect, Biden, would be inaugurated on 20 January as planned, and become not only the 46th US president but, as the office of the president includes, their commander in chief.

“Any act to disrupt the constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values, and oath; it is against the law,” the statement said.’

Republican leadership is acknowledging that ‘MAGA’ supporters of the president were behind the insurrection:

VP Pence said he would not support invoking the 25th Amendment, which would lead to the president being removed from office and replaced by the VP:

It’s not clear if this was linked to his first meeting with the president since the latter left him to hang out in fear of his life in the Capitol without checking on his status (or that of his family).

Nevertheless, the House of Representatives voted for the VP to invoke that amendment:

However, the path is set for an unprecedented second impeachment of a president:

Impeachment articles introduced by the Democrats in the House of Representatives now include incitement to insurrection:

Significantly, House Republicans are standing up to support this move:

House Republicans are willing to back the Democrats’ impeachment effort, led by Liz Chaney (daughter of former VP Dick Cheney) and leader of the House Republican Conference (effectively, the third highest Republican politician in Congress: “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States.”

To her credit, Cheney has been a constant critic of President Trump, and was amongst those ‘called out’ by him when he addressed the rally on January 6.

Senator Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, signalled that he’s is in favour, based on reports in the New York Times of his views expressed to associates: the president committed “impeachable offences”. This support would help “purge” Trump from the Republican Party:

This follows his wife, Elaine Chao, resigning from the Trump Cabinet last week.

That may be a piece of clear political strategy to preserve the financial lifeline of corporate donations as that has come under threat for those who voted to support not certifying president-elect Biden’s nomination as president last week.

Retired GOP legislators are in favour, more than 20 issued a joint accusing President Trump of “actively orchestrat[ing] an insurrection on a separate but coequal branch of government.”:

It seems there are maybe 20 Republican Senators ready to support conviction (a 2/3 majority is needed, ie 67 votes).

Impeachment managers were named:

The impeachment could lead to Trump never being able to hold political office again as the new article states Trump “warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States,”:

However, the legal process to do this is unclear.

Looking more widely into social reactions, long-time, once-good friend, Geraldo, on board:

Though, with some blowback:

By the end of today, the impeachment may be a fact and that unsavoury place in history sealed.