Monday, February 08, 2021


Politico Playbook tells us this about the upcoming impeachment trial:
Several of the House impeachment managers wanted firsthand testimony to help prove their case that Trump incited the Jan. 6 riot, our sources tell us. But Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER, Speaker NANCY PELOSI and Biden administration officials have been eager for the process to move quickly, we’re told.

It’s been a source of frustration for some Democrats privately.

... there had been talk among the managers about calling individuals who could change minds — if not the minds of 17 GOP senators needed to convict, then perhaps a slice of the GOP electorate that still supports Trump. Some of the ideas floated: having Capitol Police officers tell their stories about fighting the mob, or inviting Republican officials in Georgia who were pressured by Trump to overturn the state’s election tally.

There’s also been chatter about bringing in former White House officials who observed Trump on the day of the riots.
That's the same argument made by former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti:
Witnesses Could Prevent a Foregone Conclusion in Second Impeachment Trial

Democrats might be reluctant to delay the trial with a battle over subpoenas, but without dramatic live testimony Trump will likely be acquitted.

... Yes, calling witnesses might extend the proceedings by days or even weeks, as some Democrats have openly feared, but to not seek that advantage ensures the trial will play out as expected, with Senate Republicans voting in sufficient numbers to acquit Trump.

... even a handful of witnesses who are willing to testify against Trump could make a huge difference. For example, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is a Republican who Trump threatened with a criminal investigation because he was unwilling to break the law and overturn his state’s result by helping Trump “find 11,780 votes.” Raffensperger recorded audio of a call with Trump, which managers could play, but that tape would not be as compelling as in-person testimony. Republican senators might identify with a Republican officeholder who was put in a horrible situation by Trump.

Testimony from a victim of the attack could be even more powerful. For example, during her recent Instagram Live broadcast, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told a gripping story of the fear she felt during the assault on the Capitol. Why not have one of the up to 140 injured Capitol police officers tell a similar story?

Generally speaking, jurors don't decide to convict a defendant based on intellectual arguments and logical deduction. If Republican senators are making intellectual calculations, they might be calculating the impact of their vote on donors and constituents back home. So House managers need to hit them in their gut, not their head. A couple of carefully chosen witnesses could do that.
No, no, and no.

Republicans wouldn't vote to convict if you played them a tape of Trump personally plotting the assault on the Capitol in a phone call with Oath Keepers or Proud Boys. They don't dare. They know that Trump intends to destroy the careers of every Republican who defies him, and they know his base will carry out his orders.

Republicans started with the conclusion that Trump must be acquitted and then sought arguments supporting that conclusion. They have multiple arguments. An ex-president shouldn't be impeached. Trump's speech was fiery but not an incitement that passes the Brandenburg test. Somer of the rioters started heading to the Capitol before Trump spoke. And what about all those riots in Portland, hunh? And on and on into conspiracy theories: It was Nancy Pelosi's fault. It was Antifa's fault. Trump's lawyers apparently plan to argue the latter theory:
Donald Trump's lawyers will reportedly use claims from the Gateway Pundit in their impeachment defence that allege "anti-Trump" groups were the primary perpetrators of the Capitol insurrection.

Mr Trump's impeachment brief attempts to argue that the Capitol rioters entered the building "of their own accord" and that some were actually anti-Trump, rather than the pro-Trump mob that has been widely reported and well known pro-Trump figures identified.

The citation for the claim is a Gateway Pundit article alleging a Boogaloo member that aligns with the Black Lives Matter movement was among the rioters at the Capitol on 6 January.
Even if you successfully knock down several of these lines of defense, the Trumpists -- and every zealot or coward in the Senate Republican caucus -- will fall back on the ones remaining.

Call Brad Raffensperger, and Trump's defenders will say he's just a RINO who's in on the Democrats' election-stealing conspiracy. They'll say it doesn't matter that Trump asked Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to give him a win -- what Trump meant, they'll argue, was that Raffensperger should find votes that were actually cast for Trump and not counted. (That does seem to be what Trump actually meant, because he's delusional and believes his own conspiracy theories.)

Call a White House staffer and if you get an honest account of Trump's actions and words, the staffer will also be accused of being a Deep State traitor. Call an injured cop and the Trump defenders will say what happened was terrible, but Antifa was the culprit.

They can't be reached -- neither Trump's voters nor his enablers in Congress. It would be good to have everything witnesses might tell us on the record, but it won't have the slightest effect on the outcome.

House Democrats are frustrated, and so am I -- but Republicans are the source of my frustration. They shouldn't need a full trial with witnesses to know that what Trump did in the hours, days, and weeks leading to January 6 was a high crime that should disqualify him from ever holding office again. We're veering into Murc's Law territory if we think the nature of the upcoming trial will decide how it turns out. It won't. There's nothing Democrats can do, because Republicans are Republicans.

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