If the US senators really represented an independent jury in the second impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, the ex-president would have to be seriously concerned after this prelude. The presentation, especially by the first of his attorneys to speak on Tuesday afternoon (local time), was so catastrophic that he is said to have roared in rage at home in Florida. At least that’s what CNN reports.
Anyone who has followed the first day of the trial in the hermetically sealed Senate will immediately believe this detail of the reporting. Bruce Castor, who heads the new defense team, which had to be reorganized at short notice after the departure of five lawyers, together with David Schoen, made such a disastrous performance that many social media users wanted Trump to return to Twitter for a while – just to see how he fires it during the lecture.
Castor not only needed an extremely long time in his lecture to get to the point at all. But he also stated that the Americans had elected Joe Biden as president. That happens when the people have had enough of a president. Trump, however, has not admitted his electoral defeat to this day.
Republican strategy: Talk about January 6th as little as possible
Trump’s star defender in the last impeachment trial, Alan Dershowitz, commented on Newsmax that he had no idea what Castor was doing. Trump would have liked to make Dershowitz head of his team this time too, but he refused because he considers the strategy desired by the ex-president to be wrong.
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The strategy is as follows: The defense tries to deal as little as possible with the prosecution’s arguments regarding Trump’s responsibility for the January 6th storming of the Capitol. Instead, the lawyers should first insist that Congress can no longer remove a former president from office, and that the process is therefore unconstitutional. David Schoen did that on Tuesday when he spoke to Castor.
In the subsequent vote, however, 56 senators, including six Republicans, voted for the process to continue. This will allow prosecutors and defense lawyers to present their arguments on the matter from Wednesday.
Trump wants to make his claim of election fraud a topic
In the next step, Trump wants the accusation of massive election fraud, which he has put forward without any evidence, to be discussed. But this strategy sounds adventurous to many because it could ultimately prove the Democrats’ thesis that Trump wanted to undo his electoral defeat by all means.
Specifically, the Democrats accuse the Republican of stirring up his supporters in a speech immediately before the storm and calling on them to march to the Capitol, where Congress should confirm the election victory of Joe Biden. That was “incitement to riot,” which is why the House of Representatives brought charges only a week later. Five people were killed in the riots, including a police officer.
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The strategy of the Democrats is to show the whole brutality of January 6th again in the procedure, which probably did not last two weeks. To this end, they presented the first of several dramatic video sequences on Tuesday, which are intended to illustrate how dangerous the riots were and what responsibility Trump bears for them.
13 minutes of silence in the Senate
For 13 minutes, the senators watched in silence as a member of the Capitol Police Department screamed in pain, as other police officers were verbally abused and attacked, and as “traitors” like Vice President Mike Pence, who had resisted Trump’s insistence, were somehow searched for to strike the election victory. Senators also heard Trump incite his supporters at the previous rally.
Such videos and reports are intended to generate or reawaken emotions in the coming days that might change the mind of one or the other Republican – for a conviction that requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate, the Democrats must convince at least 17 Republicans. Only with a guilty verdict could Trump be prevented from running again in the next presidential election in 2024.
Probably not right now, as Republican voters continue to hold on to Trump and would see it as treason if his party in Washington failed him. But it is not completely excluded either. Many politicians and congressional officials are still shocked by the violent mob they had to escape from. Some seek psychological help.
Emotional appearance of the Democrat Raskin
Particularly emotional on Tuesday was the speech given by the Democrats’ chief prosecutor, Jamie Raskin. The MP stressed that democracy was personal and that attacking them was also personal to him.
Raskin had brought his 24-year-old daughter and son-in-law with him on January 6th so that they could attend this “historic occasion – the peaceful transfer of power in America”. The day before, Raskin had to bury his son.
During the riots he was separated from his daughter and her husband. He later apologized for taking them to the Capitol and putting them in danger. Something like that won’t happen again, he promised, Raskin said. Fighting back tears, he added that his daughter had replied, “Dad, I don’t want to go back to the Capitol.”
Responding to the defense’s argument that the process was unconstitutional and that the Democrats had only initiated the process to “remove Trump from the political scene” forever, Raskin said that a president must remain in office for his actions until the last day be responsible. Everything else is extremely dangerous.
If all senators were so open to be touched by such arguments and moments, there would be the prospect that Trump could still be convicted. But it doesn’t look like that at the moment, no matter how bad the defense is. The process continues on Wednesday.