Trump's Second Impeachment Trial (Day 3)

[ Posted Thursday, February 11th, 2021 – 18:32 UTC ]

On the third day of Donald Trump's second impeachment trial, the prosecution rested. Having made a very strong and climactic case yesterday, today the House managers finished up their presentation and ended with their closing argument, part of which was a pre-buttal to the expected arguments from the defense.

The defense is expected to only take one day to make their case, meaning both sides will have been heard at the end of the day tomorrow. The lawyer on Trump's team has reportedly withdrawn his objection to working on the Sabbath, therefore the entire trial could even be over on Saturday.


The prosecution rests

Today was a definite dénouement from yesterday, since yesterday was the day when not only the buildup but the day of the insurrection attempt itself was covered in painstaking detail, with plenty of brutal video evidence. Today the House managers ended their main case by describing the aftermath, both for Trump and for the country. They then moved on to rebut in advance the case they expect Trump's lawyers will make, summarized in a closing argument, and then rested their case.

First we heard from Representative Diane DeGette, the only House manager we hadn't heard from yesterday. She began today's presentation by exploring what the riot and attack on the Capitol looked like from the crowd's perspective. She quoted many of the participants as they said, in one form or another: "Trump told us to do this!" This drew a bright line from Trump's speech to the rally directly to what happened at the Capitol, first-hand, from the people who participated in both. This really is an undeniable point, and an important one to understand especially when taking into account how multiple people -- multiple prominent Republicans -- told Trump during that day: "You are the only person who can end this, because you are the only one the crowd will pay attention to." Trump, of course, refused to do so.

The leader of the House management team, Representative Jamie Raskin, then took time to reinforce several points made yesterday, as a review. Trump's whole history of incitement to and celebration of political violence by his supporters was the first of these reminders. His entire pattern of behavior -- an important legal concept that goes towards proving intent -- of egging crowds on to beat up protesters or excuse just about any right-wing violence anywhere was discussed. Trump was thrilled by a conspiracy to kidnap and execute the governor of Michigan, because Trump also did not like her. The entire presentation was designed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump knew what he was doing, knew what he was saying, and knew what consequences would be likely to take place after he did so.

Representative Ted Lieu spoke next, about how Trump handled the aftermath. Shamefully, Trump took three entire days before he would allow flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of the Capitol Police officer murdered by the mob. Trump refused to pay his respects when the man's remains were honored at the U.S. Capitol -- the very building he died defending. Trump had a total lack of remorse, and insisted that his words and actions were "totally appropriate." As Lieu put it, Trump "does not feel remorse, does not take responsibility" for anything that happened that dark day. In fact, Trump still has not publicly admitted that he lost the election, content to keep believing in his Big Lie that the election was somehow stolen away from him. This ended with a plea to the senators to hold Trump accountable, since he so obviously will never take responsibility in any other way.

DeGette then returned to point out that the danger from that day is in no way over. She reminded everyone of the security that was necessary for Inauguration Day, which was truly unprecedented in American history. All of a sudden the "peaceful transfer of power" had to be actively defended from the rabid supporters of one of the presidential candidates. "President Trump's mob" (as DeGette put it) had already made public the fact that they see January 6 not as an ending or culmination, but rather as merely the beginning of a new (and violent) movement. The federal government (only about 25 or 30 years late) finally put out an official bulletin warning frontline police all over the country of the dangers of right-wing radical groups. This all adds up to a very ominous message: more is coming; this isn't the end of anything.

Which is why this impeachment matters so much, because convicting Trump would send such a loud message of disapproval. Allowing Trump to escape any consequences will almost certainly be seen by right-wing extremists as a green light for future attacks. The whole prosecutorial presentation today was much more low-key than yesterday's dramatic videos, but the messages were just as important.

Representative David Cicilline went next, and forced the senators to look at the destruction the mob left behind in its wake. Cicilline spoke movingly about all the Capitol workers who got the unenviable job of cleaning up the mess -- including "feces on the wall" -- and how they were just as traumatized as the congressmen. This may not sound all that important, but consider that these are all well-known people to everyone who works in the building, from janitors to food workers to the security officers who work there on a daily basis. Senators know these people as human beings, to put it another way. Cicilline once again itemized the injuries all the police officers suffered at the hands of the violent mob, ending by deriding Republicans for their hypocrisy: "So much for backing the blue." He also pointed out that Trump launched an "attack on our democracy. He was trying to become king."

Representative Joaquin Castro took over after a short break, and spoke of the dangers to national security having a mob ransack the Capitol created. First and foremost, there is the fact that classified information is all over the building, in various places, and nobody really knows what was stolen and hauled away by the insurrectionists. Nobody knows what will happen to any these secrets in the future, either. Federal investigations have been launched into how widespread this breach of security was and what it means to the federal government -- investigations that would not have been necessary if Trump's mob hadn't sacked the building.

Castro also pointed out the negative impact watching all of this did to how America is seen by the rest of the world, as well. This is a more intangible effect on national security, but in the end could turn out to be the biggest one. Places like China and Iran had a field day pointing at our faults and our failure to maintain order throughout an election, and it's going to be very tough indeed for America to ever have any moral high ground on the world stage when it comes to criticizing other countries' elections as well.

Representatives Joe Neguse and Raskin then spoke, in the first effort to stave off the defense's expected argument that somehow Trump's speech was protected by the First Amendment. Raskin repeated his argument from the previous day about a fire marshal sending thugs to set a theater on fire, and pointed out that incitement to riot has never been considered protected speech under the First Amendment. He cited a case that will likely be brought up repeatedly tomorrow, Brandenburg v. Ohio, because it is the defining opinion from the Supreme Court on the issue. Neguse also pointed out that voting to acquit Trump meant agreeing that all of what he did is not just acceptable but to be considered a constitutionally protected response to losing an election -- meaning it could easily happen again in the future.

Ted Lieu went next, to undermine the concept that Trump was somehow denied due process. This has always been rather ridiculous, because as Lieu pointed out being impeached is nothing more than the equivalent of being indicted. Impeachment is merely being accused of a crime, not being convicted of one. And defendants don't get any rights whatsoever in this process during a normal indictment (they don't get to present their case to the grand jury which indicts them -- only the prosecution does). Lieu correctly pointed out that Trump is getting due process -- right here, in the actual trial. The indictment happened quickly for two main reasons: (1) Trump would soon be out of office, and (2) they were responding to an emergency situation. But the Constitution doesn't have some clause in it guaranteeing anyone the right to make their case during the impeachment process in the House. Therefore there was absolutely nothing wrong (much less unconstitutional) with the way Trump did get impeached for the second time.

Raskin returned to summarize both pre-buttal arguments, and then uttered some welcome words: "We're almost done -- we're almost done."

Neguse got back up to give the summation of the House managers' case. He asked three questions of the senators: Was violence foreseeable by Donald Trump? Did Trump encourage violence? Did Trump act willingly? Neguse answered all three of his own questions with a resounding "Yes." The close, like the rest of the House managers' case, was logical, easy to follow, and very effective.

Personally, I thought the Democrats should have closed exactly as they began, by replaying that 13-minute video they started with. This would have summed up the juxtaposition of what Trump said at the rally with the violent attempt at interfering with a sworn duty of Congress by force. But they apparently decided they had already made their point, and all that was left was for Raskin to wrap things up with a closing statement.

Raskin looked visibly relieved that the process was at an end, and he leaned heavily on Abraham Lincoln's fervent wish that "government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the Earth." This brought the House managers' case to a conclusion on a noble note.



The real question in all of this is how open any Republican senators' mind truly is. They are theoretically sworn to be impartial jurors, but it's a political trial through and through, really.

A few footnotes to the day are worth pointing out. One of Trump's lawyers (the not-pathetic one) actually said the following to reporters in the hallway, during one of the breaks:

I think they're making a movie. They haven't in any way tied it to Donald Trump. And it I think it's offensive, quite frankly, it's antithesis the healing process to continue to show the tragedy that happened here that Donald Trump has condemned, and I think it tears at the American people, quite frankly.

Offensive? Really? Because what I find offensive, sir, is you. And, you know, the fact that a sitting president of the United States led and encouraged and refused to defend against a violent attempt at insurrection at the United States Capitol, personally. And as for "tearing at the American people," have you met your client? He's been Exhibit A for this, all along.

One interesting footnote that will likely never happen, but is still amusing to ponder, is that the real bar to conviction is two-thirds of the senators present for the vote, and not the total number of them. Today -- shamefully -- 15 Republicans did not even attend. But what if they truly believe that the trial is so downright unconstitutional that they cannot take part in any of it? If 16 Republicans don't show up for the vote, then that will only leave 84 senators voting. And two-thirds of 84 is 56 -- the exact number who voted that the trial was constitutional. So Trump could indeed be convicted with only these 56 votes. But, as I said, this shouldn't even be considered a longshot, it is entirely theoretical and almost certainly will not happen.

One final tangential note, Larry Flynt has passed away. This is relevant not for the fact that he was a champion of the First Amendment (see the movie The People vs. Larry Flynt for details), but because of what he did during Bill Clinton's impeachment. Incensed that a president was being impeached for sexual misconduct (Flynt, a notorious pornographer, took this personally), he offered up to a million dollars reward for anyone who had any dirt on the politicians behind Clinton's impeachment. He put out the results in a one-time magazine titled The Flynt Report, which exposed the hypocrisy of several prominent Republicans and forced the incoming speaker of the House, Bob Livingston, to resign in disgrace. Livingston told his fellow Republicans: "I've been Flynted" when explaining why he couldn't be speaker. The job then went to Dennis Hastert, who later pled guilty to federal charges that arose from making hush money payments to a man Hastert had repeatedly molested while he was a high school coach. Nothing like "the party of family values," folks! Which was precisely what Flynt set out to expose, as payback for Republicans sanctimoniously impeaching Bill Clinton. So his death -- in the midst of another impeachment trial -- is notable indeed.

Tomorrow, the defense will begin (and reportedly close) their case for why Donald Trump should not be convicted and barred from ever serving in federal office again. The word is that they've been paring back their case to the bare bones, mostly because they are so confident that they've already got the votes (so why bother with a long-winded argument that won't come anywhere close to actually defending Trump's words or actions?).

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


24 Comments on “Trump's Second Impeachment Trial (Day 3)”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    No mention of Lead House manager Raskin's use of all of those references to Tom Paine?

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The real question in all of this is how open any Republican senators' mind truly is. They are theoretically sworn to be impartial jurors, but it's a political trial through and through, really.

    Another question is how senate Republicans who vote to acquit the former president will deal with a vindicated Trump once this trial is over. Trump has been keeping a very low profile since leaving office but, he's going to be like an exploding volcano when he is acquitted, again.

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And THAT, actually, should be enough on it's own for 17 senate Republicans to vote to convict, one might ponder.

  4. [4] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Thanks again for this.

    The entire thing seems like a dress rehearsal for a "Republic of Virtue" pageant from the French Revolution, with all the righteous politicians declaiming undeniable truths, while the actual people in charge are setting up the guillotine.

    That is, if Trump is acquitted as it seems he will be, it will be because the Republican Senators have not allowed themselves to review the evidence or process the fear they themselves experienced on that day - because they know that it's too late for them already. They have every reason to believe that anyone who crosses Trump and his minions at this point will be the first to get a fire-bomb in their home or shooter in their kids' schools.

    The House managers pointed this out in the plainest terms today - this coup attempt is the future of Republican politics in America if Trump gets off scot free due to the cowardice of the few remaining sane legislators in his own party.

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    What if, sometime before the vote, McConnell announces that he will vote to convict? Would that move enough or any of his fellow Republican senators to follow suit?

  6. [6] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Seriously? 14 senators weren't even present? Isn't it their constitutional duty to be present for an impeachment trial?

  7. [7] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Pardon, make that 15.

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Maybe they were watching on c-span?

  9. [9] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    15 GOP Senators missing today? Could they be practicing up to abstain come time to vote?

  10. [10] 
    Kick wrote:

    Christopher Columbus Cornwallis I.P.Q. Harvey H. Apache Pugh. Requiescat in pace.




    Q. Mr. Flynt, what is your full name?

    A. Christopher Columbus Cornwallis I.P.Q. Harvey H. Apache Pugh. They call me Larry Flynt. And all those historical figures.

    Q. Are you known as Larry Flynt?

    A. No. Jesus H. Flynt, Esquire.

    ~ Larry Flynt, excerpts from deposition testimony (read into evidence at the trial on December 5 and 6, 1984)

  11. [11] 
    Kick wrote:

    Nice summary, CW.

    I can't saying anything about the Impeachment 2.0 (Day 3) without cursing... so.

    The Defense today:

    * 1st Amendment -- Not Applicable to POTUS regarding impeachment
    * Whataboutism -- People we hate say things too
    * False Equivalency -- Apples and oranges... 2 different things

    There is no one the Defense can name who has ever attempted to gaslight an entire nation/world into believing they won a presidential election, lost 60+ court cases regarding same, phoned the election official of a State in America and illegally tried to tamper in an election wherein multiple recounts were certified multiple times, and when all that failed you, assembled a mob on the exact day of the constitutionally mandated joint session of Congress wherein you informed them "I'll be with you" and "we're going to walk down to the Capitol."

    Don't bother, Defense. Might as well just walk to the podium, state the fact that the majority of the jury is owned by your client, rest your case and sit back down.

    Why waste time?

  12. [12] 
    Kick wrote:

    ^^^ EDIT ^^^

    What I posted: "a majority of the jury"... owned by Trump

    What I meant: "a majority of the GOP in the jury"... owned by Trump

  13. [13] 
    Kick wrote:

    Nikki Haley throws Trump under the bus:

    "We shouldn't have followed him." ~ Nikki Haley


    No shit, Nimrata! Quite a few of y'all seem to be jockeying for position to see who's going to become the new leader of the GOP. You, Josh Hawley, Rafael Cruz, Marco Rubio. I cannot fathom why quite a few of you would wish to lead the White Supremacist Party (or believe that you even could), but here we are now.

    Bottom Line: Every one of these dorks choosing to ignore the facts of this trial and selecting to live in your invented fiction referred to as the "alternate reality" or "Earth 2," are obviously jockeying for position as to who will lead the Trumplican Party going forward.

    The Party of Lincoln came into the world arguing over issues regarding White Supremacy, and it looks to me like that's exactly the way it's going to go out. They're already "Republicans in Name Only," and Americans are leaving in droves.

  14. [14] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    Re "White supremacy". The phrase can have multiple meanings/definitions, and most of you guys would hate each and every one of them and label them all with the "racist" pejorative.

    I recall once reading the history of the colonization of Africa by the European nations. The author raised the question, "Why didn't Africa colonize Europe?"

    Any thoughts?

  15. [15] 
    Kick wrote:

    C. R. Stucki

    Re "White supremacy". The phrase can have multiple meanings/definitions, and most of you guys would hate each and every one of them and label them all with the "racist" pejorative.

    I'm not interested in a discussion about racism, and I'm equally not interested in another one of your endless frequently incorrect interpretations regarding what you believe "most" of us "hate."

    I recall once reading the history of the colonization of Africa by the European nations. The author raised the question, "Why didn't Africa colonize Europe?"

    Any thoughts?

    It's not relevant to the end of the Whig Party nor the impending end of the Republican Party as we know it.

  16. [16] 
    Kick wrote:

    Poor Donald. His shitty lawyers put together a false equivalency tape of all the fighters who kicked his ass out of Washington, DC.

  17. [17] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    "Why didn't Africa colonize Europe?"

    They did. Both in the long game: humans evolved in Africa and spread across the globe from there. And the short game: the Moors held the Iberian peninsula for quite some time.

    The real question you should be asking is didn't the Chinese...

  18. [18] 
    John M wrote:

    [14] C. R. Stucki wrote:

    "I recall once reading the history of the colonization of Africa by the European nations. The author raised the question, "Why didn't Africa colonize Europe?"

    Any thoughts?"

    1) Africa really begins south of the Sahara, NOT on the southern shores of the Mediterranean. Culturally and politically in a historical context, there has been no difference between Algeria and Tunisia on the one hand, and Italy or Southern France on the other. Look at the Roman Empire, Greek and Phoenician colonies, etc. The Sahara is a much bigger geographical barrier.

    2) Africans never developed large ocean going ship technology the way Europeans and the Chinese did. Africa below the Sahara is really rather isolated geographically, rather like South America or Australia.

    3) Europe WAS colonized by Asians instead, i.e. witness just the two examples of the Ottoman and Mongol empires for instance. Not to mention all the so called "Barbarian" invasions from the steppes of Asia to the east.

  19. [19] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    True, based on the genome project's research, it appears that the distant ancestors of all modern homo-sapiens came from Africa. specifically East Africa, in the region of Ethiopia or Somalia. That's where every single one of us is from.


  20. [20] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    How did some of us get so pale? And does that part about all the homo-sapiens also apply to the straight-sapiens???

    (OK, stupid joke, just couldn't resist.)

  21. [21] 
    dsws wrote:

    Why didn't Africa colonize Europe?

    Church bells as the precursor, weather as a contributing factor, and textile production as the relevant threshold.

    The sequence of technological developments that made it feasible to colonize an entire continent happened only once. There was nothing all that special about Europe. Each of the steps could have happened anywhere, and some of the key parts happened in China and the Arab world, but some of the later steps were based on metalworking techniques that had been developed for European church bells. There have always been periods of better and worse weather everywhere, but one of the periods of regional better weather happened to Britain just as the steam engine was getting good enough for use first in coal mining and then in textile manufacturing. Spinning and weaving were sufficiently labor-intensive that their mechanization was a leap that made the industrial revolution a lot more revolutionary than most events named 'something revolution'.

  22. [22] 
    Kick wrote:

    Won't it be interesting when the Senate acquits and thereby greenlights Trump's precedent that the Vice President can unilaterally choose which Electoral College votes will be recognized by the Senate?

    Democrats can heretofore just insist they've won every single presidential election and then "Stop the Steal" via the Trumpian Method. Afterward, nobody is held accountable because this all happens in January! Awesome! :)

  23. [23] 
    John M wrote:

    [20] C. R. Stucki wrote:

    "How did some of us get so pale? And does that part about all the homo-sapiens also apply to the straight-sapiens???"

    The scientific explanation for that is that paler skin leads to better vitamin D absorption from more indirect and weaker sunshine in northern latitudes. Hence, paler skin in Europe and Asia. (The Americas were colonized by migrants from Asia) While indigenous people in Africa, Southern India and Australia (Aboriginals), kept and retained their darker skin for better UV protection from stronger sunlight.

  24. [24] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    That's okay CRS, as Liberal as I am I'm down for some straight-sapien pride.

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