Today, on Day One of the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, the Trump Ship looked like the Titanic going down to a watery grave.
First, the Democratic House managers began their presentation to find Trump guilty of inciting a crowd to commit insurrection by showing a 13-minute video of video of clips of excerpts from Trump’s 80-minute speech at noon to that crowd combined with scenes of the mob storming the Capitol Building and members of Congress inside it. It was a most compelling and gut-wrenching visual. The added timeline was most helpful. Trump’s speech was most disturbing, telling the crowd to “march” on the Capitol and “fight like hell” to get the election overturned and keep him president. The rest of this trial will surely center on whether or not Trump meant those words literally, which is how the crowd understood them. As I’ve blogged before, that’s Trump’s style. See, “With Trump, It’s Often a Question of Literal or Nonliteral.” He will say something he intended literally and later take it back, due to criticism, by arguing it was meant non-literally or sarcastically or “just joking.”
Second, the Democratic House managers–led magnificently by former law professor Jamie Raskin–then argued an overwhelming case alleging that President Trump did indeed incite that crowd on Certification Day, January 6th, to storm the Capitol and threaten the lives of over 500 members of Congress gathered there to acknowledge the Electoral College vote count that deemed Joe Biden our next president.
FYI, five people died as a result, 140 police officers were injured, two other officers committed suicide, and over 200 people who participated in the Capitol assault have now been arrested.
Third, Trump’s two lawyers argued their case to exonerate the former president. They were awful, and everybody is now saying so, even Trump and Republican members of Congress. It just shows what I’ve been saying, and is well known, that “Trump Can’t Get Any Good Lawyers.” Weeks ago he fired Wood and Powell due to their extreme conspiracy theories. And over a week ago several of his lawyers exited the White House door because Trump insisted their main argument at trial must be election fraud. Trump suffers from delusion about this, since all fifty states and sixty court cases verified that there was no evidence of election fraud.
Fourth, the Senate took a vote on whether or not the trial is constitutional. It is because Trump’s lawyers argued it is unconstitutional to impeach him since he is now out of office. Jamie Raskin had made the obvious and convincing argument, which he called “the January Exception,” that it would be unconstitutional and illogical to not hold the president responsible for any crimes and/or misdemeanors if they were committed in the closing days of his presidency, since he would soon become a private citizen.
I would also add (though I don’t recall if Raskin made this point) that the president’s oath to uphold the Constitution is always presumed, and rightfully so, for the entirety of his tenure as president. The vote was taken, and it was 56 to 44 in favor of the trial continuing due to it being constitutional. Since there are 100 senators for fifty states, and that mix is now 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats, six Republicans joined fifty Democrats to make a total of 56 votes favoring the trial.
How long will the trial last? Both Democrats and Republicans have expressed their desire for this trial to last no longer than one week. It is strongly expected by all members of Congress that this trial will not result in the needed 67 votes (2/3s of the Senate) to convict former President Donald Trump. That being the case, he may remain the voice of the Republican Party and perhaps run again for president in 2024.
But before today, recent polls show that a slight majority of the American people, about 57-58%, believe the Senate should convict the former president of incitement to insurrection. If enough Americans only get to watch that 13-minute video in this trial, I think that number will increase. Will it get to 67%? Regardless, I believe most of these Republican senators will be voting according to the vocation rather than conscience. What do you think?