On today's BradCast special coverage: For Trump's attorneys, at least, it was an open and shut case, as they both opened and closed their argument in about 3 hours of their allotted 16 on Friday, on behalf of the former President in his second Impeachment Trial. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]
We might have known it wasn't going to go well when the charge that a President of the United States incited a murderous insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th was characterized by his attorneys as little more than a case of "Constitutional Cancel Culture". A perfect fit for the Fox "News" chyron! And, naturally, a defense perfectly fit for Donald Trump since it was filled to the brim with unapologetic lies right out of the gate.
The first such lie (that we noticed anyway) came in the very first few minutes, when new Trump attorney and Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer, Michael T. Van Der Veen, falsely claimed that in 2016, "the Clinton Campaign brought multiple post-election court cases" and "demanded recounts". Of course, as long time readers and listeners know, they did no such thing, even if we wished they had. Despite cybersecurity and voting systems experts at the time begging the Campaign to do so, they refused. Instead, Green Party candidate Jill Stein sought those counts instead, as she announced at the time on this program.
liars...er lawyers, also falsely claimed House Democrats waited until Trump was out of office to deliver the Article of Impeachment to the U.S. Senate (that was because then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to reconvene the Senate), and that the Democratic House Impeachment Managers withheld the chilling, "never before seen video" used in their presentation this week, from the defense team in an outrageous "rushed trial without due process". (In fact, the Managers have since noted, all audio and video evidence and materials used in their presentation was given to the defense team before the trial began, as per Senate Impeachment Trial rules.)
Team Trump also charged that the Dems falsely manipulated Trump's tweets and manufactured evidence to make their case and that they failed to connect the violence at the Capitol to "the 45th President." The charge of manipulated, cherry-picked video evidence came just before the defense played several really long, fully out-of-context video montages of Democrats using the word "fight" in various settings, underscored by manipulative dramatic music. The Trump attorneys claimed that "the 45th President" never incited any violence and "was immediate in his calls for calm" after the assault was under way. That's a lot of lies (and that wasn't all of them) in such a short presentation. But we suspect they did their client proud.
Their central arguments were that Trump was merely exercising his First Amendment free speech rights when lying to his supporters for months that the election was rigged and imploring them to "fight like hell" or they "wouldn't have a country anymore". That, they argued, was only a plea for election reform and to primary Republicans who didn't fight hard enough for him. But there is no First Amendment right to incite imminent violence, and there are all matter of activities that would be protected by the First Amendment (wearing a Nazi armband, suggesting certain people should be killed) that are certainly impeachable activities for a President nonetheless.
Even more conspicuous were the matters that Trump's attorneys did not address, such as why Trump never attempted to send help to protect the Capitol or tell his supporters to stop their attack, even as he knew his own Vice President and others were being targeted for assassination by the MAGA Mob.
We're joined today to try and make sense of all of this, as well as the rest of the Impeachment Trial week and where it goes from here, by the the wise, award-winning opinion and analysis journalist, HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo.
She describes the defense case as little more than an effort "to create sound bites for Fox New, OAN and Newsmax. That's it. They know that they had intimidated the jurors. They have 50 Republicans. Of those Republicans, I would say 90 percent of them of them have been intimidated by Donald Trump or they are true believers in MAGA." Parton charges that the events of January 6th were "a grotesque assault on democracy" and a "domestic act of terrorism, which the President of the United States incited."
"He did incite it. This is not in any way disputable. And there's nobody, if they're honest with themselves, that believes he didn't," she argues. "They actually targeted the day when every single one of our national representatives were present, and it was to stop the certification of the Presidential election. This was huge. It's historic. We all watched it."
Moreover, she notes, no matter how the vote for conviction comes out, "it was imperative that they did this. They had to put it on the record. And now Donald Trump is the only President in history to be impeached twice."
We also discuss not only how Republicans are expected to vote, but why they might vote against conviction and disqualification from future office even though, as I opined yesterday, removing Trump's only remaining superpower --- his viability as a 2024 Presidential candidate --- would actually help the Republican Party itself and most of those Senators.
Would Parton like to see witnesses brought? If so, who? And what will --- or should --- happen after Trump is acquitted which, at least for now, is believed the most likely outcome. As usually, it's a very lively conversation with our friend "Digby", though it ended just before the breaking news from CNN that Trump had a heated conversation with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy during the insurrection, which devolved into a "shouting match" in which the Republican lawmaker is said to have "begged" the then-President to call of his goons and send help to protect the Capitol. Trump, reportedly refused, according to the several House Republicans who McCarthy briefed on the call and who are now, apparently, willing to go on record to say as much, according to CNN's late breaking report.
Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as President Biden places climate action at the center of both national security and foreign policy and as the U.S. wind energy industry just had its best year ever, among other important, non-impeachment related environmental news stories...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)