Sunday, January 31, 2021


With his second Senate impeachment trial about to begin, Donald Trump has no legal team, CNN reports.
Former President Donald Trump's five impeachment defense attorneys have left a little more than a week before his trial is set to begin, according to people familiar with the case, amid a disagreement over his legal strategy....

A person familiar with the departures told CNN that Trump wanted the attorneys to argue there was mass election fraud and that the election was stolen from him rather than focus on the legality of convicting a president after he's left office. Trump was not receptive to the discussions about how they should proceed in that regard.
In The New York Times, Maggie Haberman implies that the explanation for the lawyers' departures might not be that simple.
Mr. Trump had pushed for his defense team to focus on his baseless claim that the election was stolen from him, one person familiar with the situation said. A person close to Mr. Trump disputed that that was the case but acknowledged that there were differences in opinion about the defense strategy.
The CNN story suggests that even long-time Trump bootlickers want him to use the legality defense.
"The Democrats' efforts to impeach a president who has already left office is totally unconstitutional and so bad for our country. In fact, 45 Senators have already voted that it is unconstitutional. We have done much work, but have not made a final decision on our legal team, which will be made shortly," former Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller told CNN.
But Haberman tells us that Trump believes he knows better than the lawyers, and that the man who was expected to be Trump's lead lawyer, Butch Bowers, left at least in part because Trump didn't think he was ... um, sufficiently butch.
... Mr. Trump has insisted that the case is “simple” and has told advisers he could argue it himself and save the money on lawyers. (Aides contend he is not seriously contemplating doing so.)

The decision for Mr. Bowers to leave was “mutual,” another person familiar with the situation said, adding that Mr. Trump and Mr. Bowers had no chemistry, a quality the former president generally prizes in his relationships. Mr. Trump prefers lawyers who are eager to appear on television to say that he never did anything wrong; Mr. Bowers has been noticeably absent in the news media since his hiring was announced.
I can hear Trump now: This guy -- he's not a killer! I need killers defending me! I need Roy Cohn!

But it doesn't matter. House Democrats could find a tape of Trump personally planning the assault on the Capitol and all but a handful of Republicans would still vote to acquit.

Trump's strategy, as CNN describes it, is the correct one -- for Trump. It doesn't matter that it's based on a Big Lie -- it's a Big Lie that the majority of the GOP electorate believes. Why shouldn't Trump use the impeachment trial to relitigate the election one more time? What's the downside? He might lose one or two GOP senators in addition to the five who voted to proceed with the impeachment? So what? He'll still be acquitted. And there's no reason to assume that such a strategy will, in fact, lose him any additional senators. We don't even know for sure that all five of the Republicans who voted to proceed will vote to convict.

"I was robbed" is now a big part of Trump's brand. His image -- as someone who fought "the swamp" so effectively that a global conspiracy was needed to take him down -- requires him to insist that he didn't lose legitimately. And millions of Americans believe him.

If Trump wants to make a comeback in 2024, or wants to remain a kingmaker (or queenmaker), or even wants to continue to use politics as a grift, or hopes to summon another January 6 riot in the future to intimate prosecutors or litigants who want to bring him to trial, then he needs to keep saying he beat Joe Biden. Also, he believes it.

He'll be acquitted no matter what his defense is. So yes -- it's the right strategy, and while we'll probably laugh at the nutball lawyers he'll ultimately hire, they'll be doing the right thing for him.

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