Trump’s Lawyers Mocked Democracy and Reasoned Debate

On the opening day of Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, there was a noticeable rift between the two legal teams, a rift as big as the Grand Canyon. The property managers, a team of Congressional Democrats who voted for impeachment, were knowledgeable, persuasive, focused, and eloquent. Trump lawyers were fun house mirror opposites: poorly prepared, meandering, incoherent and, perhaps worst of all, threatening.

Although the case was vastly superior to the conviction in terms of presentation and merit, it appears that only one Republican senator, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, changed his voice on the constitutionality issue of the trial. The day raised a question that goes deeper than Trump’s offense: is American democracy so polarized that an informed debate is pointless? Are Republicans so committed to power that it doesn’t even make sense to use evidence and logic to convince them? If so, American democracy is facing a far-reaching and perhaps incurable crisis.

Joseph Neguse and David Cicilline acquitted themselves admirably in portraying the Trump case, both in terms of giving historical precedence to impeachment and in terms of the January 6 indictment of incitement to mob violence. The real star, however, was Jamie Raskin, who spoke with passion about the violence of the January 6th uprising and the need for redress. Raskin shared how his daughter and son-in-law visited a colleague and stayed in the office after the Capitol was breached.

“I couldn’t get out of there to be in that office with you,” said Raskin called back. “All around me people were calling their wives and their husbands, their loved ones, to say goodbye. Members of Congress in the House of Representatives removed their congressional pins anyway so they wouldn’t be identified by the crowd as they tried to escape the violence. Our new chaplain stood up and said a prayer for us. And we were told to put on our gas masks. ”

Towards the end of his speech, Raskin said, “This cannot be America’s future. We cannot have presidents who incite and mobilize mob violence against our government and institutions because they refuse to accept the will of the people under the United States Constitution. ”

Bruce Castor Jr., the President’s first attorney, gave a widely mocked presentation reminiscent of a student giving a book review of a text he had not read. Contrary to the carefully measured words of the property managers, Castor seemed to give it wings.

His conversation contain a long and factually dubious Excursus on the importance of the Senate for Republican governance:


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