Are Republicans stupid, or have they used deception and lies for so long, they can no longer see reality? Senator Kevin Cramer was on MSNBC yesterday morning discussing the impeachment trial. He made numerous blatantly false claims, and when the anchors tried to correct him, he stuck to his guns, claiming they were incorrect. One of his lies (or just stupidity) was that Nancy Pelosi withheld the articles of impeachment until after the former president left office. As Stephanie Ruel pointed out, Pelosi was ready to send over the articles of impeachment on January 14 but was told by the Senate Parliamentarian that since the Senate had been dismissed, she could not send over the articles until the Senate reconvened. McConnell purposely delayed the trial of the former president so that he could make the argument that a former president cannot be tried after he left office. Cramer claimed that it would have taken unanimous consent to reconvene the Senate when anyone who was paying attention knows that the Senate could have bypassed this with the consent of the Senate Majority Leader (McConnell, at the time) and Senate Minority Leader (Schumer, at the time). Though Schumer agreed to reconvene the Senate, McConnell refused. Contrary to Cramer’s claim and that of the former president’s defense team, Pelosi was not responsible for the trial taking place after the former president left office. McConnell is entirely and wholly responsible for this and purposely held up the impeachment trial.
There is no doubt that the former president’s defense lawyers presented an unorganized and deceptive argument filled with lies, subterfuge, and fringe legal theories. Just about the only thing that they said truthfully was that Joe Biden won the election, fair and square and that the House Managers presented an excellent case for the constitutionality of an impeachment trial of a former president. The former president’s defense started on a strange note, with one of his lawyers, Bruce Castor, giving a meandering defense of the former president. He rarely referenced the former president or his behavior on January 6. At times, he appeared to be arguing for the former president’s free speech rights and against a partisan cycle of impeachments. The other defense lawyer, David Schoen, delivered a more forceful speech, accusing Democrats of trying to “disenfranchise” the former president’s supporters. It was a strange defense because the former president had spent the previous 77 days trying to disenfranchise millions of voters in states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. Schoen also described the trial as an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of a “private citizen.” Schoen argued that the House had violated the former president’s due process rights by pursuing impeachment so quickly and that if the Senate went ahead with the trial, it would set a precedent under which the House could impeach any public official at any time after leaving office if control of Congress changed hands. In his argument, he suggested lawmakers had impeached the former president too soon and too late. The defense team’s arguments were often contradictory of one another, and even of their own arguments at times. Castor even argued for the criminal prosecution of the former president by the Justice Department, and Cramer repeated this argument on MSNBC. Of course, if the Justice Department did file charges against the former president for inciting an insurrection, the Republicans would go crazy calling it a Democratic witch hunt, even after they had argued for that exact thing to happen.
Numerous Republican Senators derided the defense presented by the former president’s lawyers. Ted Cruz said, “I don’t think the lawyers did the most effective job.” Cruz added that the lead House impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie B. Raskin, was “impressive.” Sen. John Cornyn, who is among Trump’s defenders on Capitol Hill, said that he has seen “a lot of lawyers and a lot of arguments” and that Castor’s “was not one of the finest I’ve seen.” Sen. Lindsay Graham said, “Well, I think I — I thought I — I really didn’t know — I thought I knew where he was going. And I really didn’t know where he was going.” Graham added that “nobody’s mind was changed one way or the other.” However, the House Managers changed one Republican Senator’s mind. Sen. Bill Cassidy was the only Republican Senator to switch his vote to support moving forward with the impeachment trial. Cassidy said after the first day of arguments, “The issue at hand, is it constitutional to impeach a president who’s left office? And the House managers made a compelling, cogent case, and the president’s team did not.” He said that the former president’s defense lawyers gave meandering opening statements that were incoherent and ineffective.
In yesterday’s presentation by the House Managers, a case was methodically made using the former president’s own words and tweets. I had several things I had to do yesterday afternoon, so I did not get to watch the House Managers’ complete presentation, but what I saw was so overwhelmingly convincing that I cannot understand how anyone can vote for acquittal. However, the sad thing is that most of the Republican Senators, if not all, recognize that what happened on January 6 was horrible, indefensible, and the fault of months of rhetoric by the former president culminating in his call for his supporters to march to the Capitol and present a show of strength. Yet, I do not expect the former president to be convicted. On Twitter, Senator Lindsey Graham called the yesterday’s presentation “offensive and absurd.” The only thing offensive about the presentation was the former president’s actions. There was nothing absurd about the evidence presented. It was terrifying. As Dave R commented yesterday, “They won’t convict because that makes them complicit. They would rather let the American voters fire their asses than grow a spine.” Just like the first impeachment trial, the vast majority of Republicans are not only making a mockery of the judicial/legislative process of impeachment, but they are making a mockery of the United States. Their inaction makes them just as culpable as the former president.