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.