On today's BradCast: It was Day One of sixteen scheduled hours of Questions and Answers in the Senate Impeachment Trial of Donald John Trump on Wednesday. And it was absolutely fascinating. [Audio link to today's show is posted at end of summary below.]
Senators from both parties submitted written questions to be read aloud by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts, who is presiding over the third such trial in U.S. history, and answered by the two teams of attorneys, the Democratic House managers prosecuting the two Articles of Impeachment against Trump, and the White House Counsel defending him. The brief answers by both sides supported their presentations made previously, and sometimes added additional claims. One example was when criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, representing the President, claimed that Trump's pressure scheme to withhold $391 million in military aid to Ukraine in exchange for announcements of investigations into his political rivals was perfectly allowable because if the President felt his reelection was in the nation's best interest, then he can't be impeached for the scheme. All of it, Republicans continued to argue, is nothing more than a "partisan policy difference" between Democrats and the White House.
On the Democratic side, House Managers detailed how the White House counsel had repeatedly claimed the impeachment is invalid because the House failed to seek subpoenas in court for some witnesses before bringing the Articles to the Senate, even while the White House is in Court right now in related cases arguing the exact opposite, that House subpoenas of Executive Branch officials are illegitimate because the House has no right to oversee the Executive Branch. As Lead House Manager Adam Schiff explained: "Yes, we're to try to divine the intent of the Framers, but we are not to leave our common sense at the door."
But the most crucial dispute at the moment, perhaps, is whether witnesses such as Trump's former National Security Advisor John Bolton should be subpoenaed to testify in the trial after the New York Times reported this weekend that his forthcoming book offers first-hand corroboration of the Ukraine scheme that the President's attorneys have denied. All of this, as reported on Wednesday morning, the White House sent a letter to Bolton's attorneys on January 23 attempting to block the March 17 publication of the book on "national security" grounds; as Trump unleashed a tirade against Bolton on Twitter on Wednesday; and as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly conceded on Tuesday night that he does not yet have enough Republican votes to block witnesses at the trial.
We're joined for expert insight and analysis on all of this today by Constitutional attorney JOHN BONIFAZ, Co-Founder of FreeSpeechForPeople.org and author of several books on impeachment, including The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump. Bonifaz' organization has been referenced at various times during the Impeachment proceedings, as they had called for Trump's impeachment on the day he was sworn in, charging that he was in violation of the Constitution's Emoluments Clauses as of that moment.
Bonifaz, argues today that "If this President is not removed from office, the House should proceed to advance new Articles of Impeachment. There is no reason why this President should not be held accountable for his cruel and unconstitutional imprisonment of children and their families at the border, for his obstruction of justice, for his abuse of the pardon power, for his racist abuses of power, for his violations of the Emoluments Clause --- the list goes on, and the President ought to be held accountable for those high crimes, as well."
He also responds to several of the defense arguments offered by the White House's attorneys; offers his thoughts on whether Bolton and others (including the Bidens) should be called as witnesses; gives his impressions of the case brought to date by Democrats; calls out both Dershowitz and White House attorney Ken Starr (who led the impeachment investigation against Bill Clinton) for hypocrisy; and explains his own consistency in supporting Impeachment of George W. Bush, Donald Trump and, yes, Bill Clinton at the time, for Abuse of Power by each of those Presidents...
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