"Can I get a witness?" That appears to be the big question, at the moment, for Democrats in the historic U.S. Senate Impeachment Trial of President Donald John Trump. On today's BradCast, we offer special coverage of the beginning of the trial, which, at least for today, is turning out to be a trial about whether there will be a real trial or not, with evidence, documents and witnesses, as Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his caucus seem prepared to do everything in their power to ensure there will not be such an actual trial. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
Before we get to today's action in the Senate, we bring you up to date on the holiday weekend's pre-trial briefs presented by the Democratic U.S. House Managers, who are serving as prosecutors for Trump's two Articles of Impeachment on Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress, and the brief responses filed by the White House defense team.
Newly added to to Trump's legal team is hypocritical TV attorney Alan Dershowitz, who spent his weekend arguing on the Sunday news shows that the Articles were invalid because they did not include a specific crime. "You need proof of an actual crime," he argued. That, by way of contrast with Alan Dershowitz in 1998 during the Bill Clinton impeachment when he argued, literally, "it certainly doesn't have to be a crime" that qualifies a President for impeachment.
Trump's 6-page response to the Impeachment Managers 111-page brief describes the Impeachment as a "brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election" (which is what he is actually accused of doing in the Articles for which he is being impeached), and as "nothing more than a dangerous attack on the American people themselves and their fundamental right to vote." That's right. Donald Trump is now pretending to be concerned with the "fundamental right to vote." That, in the middle of an impeachment trial where he is accused of attempting to cheat in his 2020 reelection contest by withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in Congressionally-allocated military aid for war-torn Ukraine in hopes of forcing them to create dirt he can use against Joe Biden and other Democrats.
Tuesday's opening agenda was on the adoption of McConnell's proposed rules for the trial that would postpone votes on whether to include witnesses and documents previously blocked by the White House during the House's initial impeachment inquiry (the basis of Article 2's Obstruction of Congress charges) and even evidence gathered during the House Inquiry itself. Under McConnell's resolution, both sides would spend days in opening statements, and then take as many as 16 hours of written questions from Senators before they even vote on whether to allow witnesses or not. Legal observers have noted that is the opposite of how actual trials are carried out.
We share audio from today's terse opening statement by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, followed by an extended excerpt from lead House Manager Adam Schiff on the unprecedented attempt to exclude all witnesses and documents from a Senate impeachment. No trial in the upper chamber of Congress has lacked witnesses since the founding of our nation.
As we went to air for today's BradCast (and as we write tonight), all Democratic amendments to McConnell's resolution, attempting to subpoena documents from the White House, the State Dept. and elsewhere, and for witness testimony, have been rejected along strict party line votes with all 53 Republicans voting to table the amendments, and all 47 Democrats voting to move forward with the subpoenas.
Also today, a few quick points of news elsewhere regarding the public fight to stop the controversial certification of new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in Los Angeles County and the massive gun rights demonstration (over nothing) held on the Martin Luther King Day holiday in Virginia.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with exceedingly disturbing news about ocean warming, slightly more encouraging news about Wall Street beginning to wake up to worries about our climate crisis, and a big loss (for now) in the federal climate change lawsuit filed by a group of kids in California...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)