Jan 27, 2020 Impeachment Live Blog

I’ve been jotting notes during the previous days of this Impeachment Trial on Facebook. As Trump’s defense really begins today, it’s pretty clear I won’t be able to maintain the decorum necessary for the public environment of Facebook. So, today I’ll follow the trial here, updating this post frequently during the day. And I’ll be going full on, no holds barred, View from the Side style. Sarcasm, insults, and extended metaphors galore. Please feel free to follow along, and add any comments you’d like.

Just a little background, if you didn’t read View from the Side last spring and summer. I began this political blog after leaving the Democratic party as a protest of their lack of action on impeachment. I discontinued the blog once the impeachment began, though I haven’t rejoined the Dems. Yet. You can look through the previous entries using the VftS Index here.

** I wrote this on June 2nd — “Adam Schiff, baring a tooth to growl a little, says that Trump threatens national security by turning Barr loose like a drooling dog. Schiff sometimes has a hard, cold look about him that intrigues me. Few Democrats look capable of actually clenching a fist, but I’d like to see Schiff ask a few questions of Bill Barr-behind-bars in the ring.” I think he’s lived up to that, though he hasn’t yet had a chance to go at Barr. But enough about that. The trial is getting going, and I’m feeling pissed at these lying Repubs…

*** We are in a fight for the life of our country, folks. Do what you can. I have this idea that if everyone stepped outside at the same time, say 5pm D.C time today, and shouted “Donald Trump, you’re fired!” it might be kind of cool. Remember that scene in Network? “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

*** Kobe Bryant made it into the impeachment prayer. and this: “lead them along the path of honesty…you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” and happy birthday, JR. Amen

*** Sekulow: First he explains that lawyers are going to come talk about various aspects of the case. Good summary! What else would happen? He wants to come back to facts: Zelansky was clear about something… but he doesn’t say what. Then he says the President didn’t do it. Then he jumps to Vindman. Then he says it’s really about “deep policy concerns”. So far, his “coming back to facts” hasn’t included any facts. All he’s really doing is spewing talking points. He doesn’t “think” it’s about a phone call. He’s flipping through pages, I think he’s improvising.

Wow this is weak so far. I believe his intro really said nothing at all. So let’s see what Ken Starr says. (Interesting how parallel what they claim Dems are doing is what they did to Clinton. i.e. endless investigations etc.)


*** Starr : He starts with the special oath. Bad call, dude! He might wake up some sleeping consciences out there. Now is he trying to claim that the House was lying because they don’t have an special impeachment oath. He emphasizes that “The senate is a court” (and courts call witnesses and evidence!). He’s coming back to policy. “impartial” means look at all the evidence. He hasn’t really gotten to his point, yet. (The Repubs called the Dem report boring…??) I actually feel like he’s trying to argue against impeachment in total. He’s saying impeachment is obsolete!! Can one moldy dude rewrite the constitution, or is there another process? “Rank criminality” is a pretty good phrase for Trump, too.

The problem with the “this is not bi-partisan” argument is that it goes both ways. If the process is partisan, it either means one party is blindly against the president, or it means another party is blindly in favor, ignoring crimes by the President from their party.

He comes back around to saying impeachment is important. But what good is it, if it can be blocked by a criminal president and a complicit political party? “the common law” of impeachment. He moves now to the need for a crime. This will be a huge part of the overall defense. It’s wrong constitutionally according to Laurence Tribe among many others. But most importantly, it’s wrong in this case because of how many crimes have been committed in the process of Trump’s scheme. (election law violation, for example. extortion for another.) I think the Dems, in answer to this, should emphasize how many crimes have been committed.

*** Starr: The fact that it is an election year is irrelevant to the facts. He knows that, sum bitch is purely lying now. Now he’s back to crimes. This is really a rambling presentation. I like the phrase “democracy’s ultimate court”. Don’t y’all think such an “ultimate court” should consider all evidence?

Oh wait, now he says a crime isn’t enough to convict a president. He’s sliding into the “unitary executive” (i.e. temporary monarch) theory. This is such a dangerous notion. “The presidency is unique”. You’d think these arguments would have applied to his pursuit of Clinton. “Grave disruptions of the government” (good description of Trump). (You know, Starr’s face looks strangely like the back of my thumb…) This is nonsense! He says we don’t need impeachment because we have oversight (ignoring that the pres is being impeached for obstructing oversight! and that oversight has no purpose except potential impeachment.) This is a ridiculous, jumbled convolution of pseudo-academic bullshit. Trump should refuse to pay him, which is what Trump usually does anyway. It’s about time for Starr to shut his lying mouth and let some other liar take over. And by the way, there is no fookin’ “Rodino Rule”…

*** No such luck. He’s going to ramble and lie about obstruction of Congress. He just said the Senate is a court, so doesn’t that mean the House did go to court? He brings up the Pentagon Papers, which were released without the courts, leaked illegally by a brave whistle-blower… He needs to study history, asshole! This is such an insane argument. Holy smokes, Batman, what has Starr been smokin’? I want some.

*** Schiff already demolished the “House didn’t vote for impeachment” argument so I’ll leave that shite for someone else to pick up. And the argument about due process is equally misleading. He’s basically saying the President has the right to obstruct Congress and Justice. Oh, my fookin’ god in heaven, he just invoked “minority rights” to apply to minority in the House! That’s so wrong in so many ways, including the fact that it could be directly applied to the Senate minority. An ‘exit ramp’. He thinks the “due process” argument is the perfect excuse to protect the criminal by dismissal. (This is the “poor, poor, pitiful me…” defense. Cue Linda Ronstadt.)

*** Sad to see a fallen Starr still standing there like a sad case of stolen soul, bought and sold by the devil.

*** Sekulow: Wow, here’s a serious legal argument about pens! Now they’re going to turn to a serious legal argument. Remember how they complained about repetition so much? Then he restates the 6 Lies, all of which have been firmly refuted previously. Jeez loo-fookin’ wheeze. The goal really isn’t argument as much a pure hyper-normalization and confusion.

*** Purpura: Thanks god, a break is coming. Wow, he used the word “disingenuous”! Dang, he found one actual piece of evidence that Trump brought up corruption once in the past. One vague “hearsay” remark which could have referred to Biden for all we know. Good evidence, dude! He must have got his law degree at Trump U. OMG look what I just found about the school where he did get his degree…

***Purpura says the pause was lifted on Sep. 11… after the whistle-blower complaint had been brought to Congress. You know, it’s interesting that these arguments ignore the Bolton news so completely. How can they argue no connection without mentioning him? But not surprising, since he’s ignored so much of the evidence already presented in the trial. And it is a decent defense strategy, when defending a guilty person, not to refute damning evidence but try to present distracting or misleading evidence instead.

Sondland (the ambassador to the EU) “was only guessing” about a link to the meeting, hmm. The Volker testimony is his first effective piece of evidence about the meeting linkage. Sondland says linkage, Volker says none. This is a conflict that further questioning could resolve.

I notice he’s spending a lot longer on saying there was no linkage to the Presidential meetings and inaugural visit than he does on the military aid. Wait, he just said the evidence doesn’t show a quid pro quo. Despite what Mulvaney said…. Investigation for military aid. Quid, baby, pro quo. This is also a reasonable defense strategy. Make a halfway decent point, then link it to a blatantly false statement, as if they were the same. Then list your six lies again, as if you had proven them. He might as well have gone to Trump U.

***Sekulow after first break. Starts in with Guiliani…

Raskin— Her intro mentions “pounding the table.” Haven’t seen any Repubs do that. Oh, and now she’s saying what I said above about distraction. ‘Divert attention from the holes in your case.” Wow, thanks for saying what I was trying to say, and I’m not even a lawyer. Talk about a distraction, talk about introducing your own argument perfectly.

Her evidence is that they didn’t subpoena him? Hmmm. Will she mention the close associates in the same effort who are now indicted or will she avoid evidence? (rhetorical question, baby.) Will she even mention who paid Guiliani for all this work he was doing? I don’t think so.

There’s a lecture-y, but not academic tone to her voice. More motherly strict than intellectually fierce. “It may come as no surprise…” These sort of transitions are part of it. She did use a Latin phrase just now, though, so she must be right.

Real question: Is it a norm in US practice to have the president’s personal attorney run foreign policy initiatives? Rhetorical question: Isn’t all this BS about Guiliani a distraction from the evidence of Trump’s scheme?

Wow, Clarence Darrow just turned over in his grave! And she has the nerve to bring up obstruction in Mueller, who said, “cannot exonerate” the President!!

*** Philbin: Now they’re going to talk about the law. Of course they have tech trouble trying to make fun of Nadler. But the point, despite trying to ridicule Nadler whose wife is under cancer treatment today, is based on a lie, that the president couldn’t call witnesses. Liar, liar, “vile calumnies” indeed! Your own calumnies are shriveling up into your belly as you speak! Philbin is way too young to be this corrupted. Maybe he knows Matt Gaetz.

The reason to attack due process (poor, poor, pitiful me) is that you cannot defend the facts. Hah, he couldn’t even speak the line about “truth”. “The process isn’t about getting to the truth, it’s about a predetermined timetable” that ends next Tuesday when Trump told you he wanted the trial over. It’s amazing how easily these arguments can be turned around, it’s called projection, in Psych 101. It’s called taunting on the playground, “No, you…” Oh jeez-loo-fookin’-wheeze, no the whistle-blower’s identity is not relevant. And now the argument by laziness— this is probably an effective appeal to some Republicans— “You all don’t want to work too hard, do you?” Finally, do you want the truth, or do you not want the truth? That is the single question right now.

*** Philbin just said with a straight face that Trump’s refusal to honor subpoenas was justified by Bill Barr! Bill Barr who said to Congress, under oath, that he would do what Trump asked even if it went against Barr’s own legal opinion. Really, that is just what Barr said under questioning. (I’ll try to find the reference here.) Now Philbin just gave the list of presidents who submitted evidence to Congress when under investigation, even though they may have asserted some specific privilege claims.

Notice how often he puts in a snide reference to how hard all this is. “when we were here so late the other night.” They were there late, btw, because Moscow Mitch would not wait an extra day for the rules vote.

Wait, there was one case where executive privilege got appealed after losing? You’re not making a good case for yourself. You’re just proving the Dems case. Only a badly compromised court of Supremes could possibly uphold the “absolute immunity” claim of Trump. More monarchical president arguments. False equivalencies with Clinton. Exaggerated claims about the effect of getting info from Trump, that it would create a “vote of no confidence” presidency (as if that would be bad? if we had a parliament with multiple parties, that might work, actually…)

Accommodation! Are you fookin’ kidding me? There is no accommodation possible with a complete refusal, with a claim of absolute immunity, absolute power. Now he gets into it. Trump’s team says “You have to go to court… but the court doesn’t have the right to decide.” Double-plus Ungood. I can’t believe he even brought this obvious ridiculous position up, and then he defended it. OMG!

***Hmm, I’ll have to re-read my Constitution. What part of “sole power” isn’t clear here? I don’t remember the part about “the president decides what’s proper in an impeachment. Must have missed it.

Wait, he just said “sole power” isn’t “sole”. Cool. Who knew. Idiot! This guy’s done, bring on the next fool.

I just had the strong feeling that Justice Roberts was feeling really testy about this legal stupidity. I hope so.

Philbin just threatened to stonewall and obstruct the Senate if they try to get anything. He’s part of the team that will do it, too. That ought to really piss somebody off.

*** Sekulow is going into “table-pounding mode” with louder volume and hand gestures. Weird metaphor of asbestos. WTF? Turd.

Now we get to hear Pam Bondi, whose picture with Lev Parnas is quite fetching. I’ll resist the urge to get all Trumpian and call her Blondie. But it’s hard to resist.

She gets the role of attacking Biden and Burisma. Hey, she just did a brief dramatic retelling of Trump’s call. “We would prefer not to talk about this…” I’m sure. This angle is irrelevant, but I should say, for the record, that I have no defense of Joe or Hunter Biden. That they make easy targets for Trump’s criminality is all the more reason why the Democrats should quit supporting Joe for president. But I’ve said all that before. Bondi’s doing a good job of using evidence to prove that Hunter Biden worked for Burisma. They have used almost no specific evidence until this issue, which isn’t really relevant to the crimes. And has anybody said he didn’t? But she’s gonna prove it in exhaustive detail.

The point Dems need to make in response is that Trump didn’t pursue any other investigations except into Biden. Hey, I wonder if Trump is using the trade war against China as quid pro quo?

*** Ooh, I wonder if she’s gonna defend Shokin? And I wonder why Trump let Hunter get away with all this for two whole years until Joe Biden decided to run for President? This is super-pointless. But expected.

Oh, I just realized the significant absence. There has been and likely will be no mention of the 2016 conspiracy theory, the so-called “server”. That nonsense is too ridiculous for even the Trump team to bring up. A couple dumb Senators have mentioned it. But by now I think they all know better than that.

*** Okay, they are gonna defend Shokin. And she yields her wasted time.

Now Eric Herschmann. For some reason it’s important that he ran a competitor to Burisma. Herschmann just discredited himself by diving back into Mueller, “after 22 months…” and how many indictments, how many convictions? How many investigations have that kind of record? Heck, how many administrations can boast a record of that many convicted criminals? It’s a real competition, I know, I know. But Trump’s in the running, and Mueller is responsible for those charges and convictions. Maybe, in 2020, Trump will run on the record of his convictions.

I hope the Democrats bring new impeachment articles into investigation, right now, while this trial is still going on, based on the hanging charges of obstruction of justice in the Mueller report. That in itself has always been impeachable. Every time the Trumpies bring up Mueller, then, it will be about an impeachment inquiry going on in the House, which will sting a bit.

Now Hershmann’s just slamming away at Hunter Biden, again. Over and over again mentioning how much he was paid. Jeez-loo-fookin’ wheeze! But I’ve said that before. Is it dinner yet?

*** Oh dang, the exact same Biden clip. Come on, guys, you’ve got an archive. It’s not just the lying that offends me, it’s the lack of imagination. I hope this isn’t giving Biden a big boost in the polls. Shakedown, it was. Wow, a direct address to Schiff. Their case is so fookin’ thin. Now he’s yelling, calls Schiff’s dramatic reading of the call illogical, what the heck is this joker saying? He’s got the job of just reading Trump’s talking points, it sounds like.

“What was important to Ukraine was the weapons…” um, yeah. And then rather than answering the question, “So why did Trump withhold what was so important?”, he jumps back to Obama and criticizes Obama’s foreign policy.

“Be careful what you wish for…”— hmm, that goes both ways. “There he goes again…” wait isn’t that a plagiarism of Reagan? Circling the wagons?? (no time to criticize cliches right now.) Yes, they are avoiding the Crowdstrike thang like fookin’ corona virus. And he keeps saying the “sham” is only one investigation. What about Crowdstrike? The main Russian propaganda point? That will not get any mention from the Republican lawyers, even though it’s in the transcript.

*** Wow, the play toward Romney is interesting isn’t it? A little bit of a threat, I’d say, associating Romney’s position then with the House position, now. I was no fan of Pelosi’s delay. But he is ignoring the urgency of the coming election, which Trump has shown he will subvert. And the fact that the Senate was on vacation for most of the delay. And then, back to the pens. They’ve barely started attacking Pelosi. And he’s getting a little campaign speech in for Trump. Maybe the American people like putting children in cages, maybe Americans like their environment destroyed, their government corrupted, their futures stolen…

***Dinner Break. During which Republican Senator Joni Ernst called Trump “a larger than life president.” There’s a glowing, cult-like quality to the these fools, especially Lasko, who has the strangest Adderal grin on her face. Lee Zeldin looks worried somehow, when he talks about “the shoe on the other foot.” Then gets interrupted by Meadows. Interesting but not encouraging.

*** Robert Ray just said, “The Crime of Abuse of Power” as one of the Nixon articles of impeachment. And he says that tapes (i.e. Bolton notes) were brought in. This history is sounding a little familiar, like Nixon was a slow-poke compared to Trump. Trump’s done or tried to do all of that. I don’t think this is helping him. He’s breathless and afraid. What’s he afraid of?

He said, “the crime of abuse of power”, and then said the charges don’t allege crimes. Again, the Dems should keep emphasizing how many crimes were broken. And there were more than a few. But this is another ‘get off the hook’ argument for Senators. It’s not real, but it gives them an out. I’m not sure admitting his vote for Trump is very professional or helpful.

Hmm, he might be prepping an argument not to prosecute Trump later, as he said not to prosecute Clinton.

I think he’s really trying to justify his role in the Clinton trial, which actually sort of works against him. It’s just so weird to use Starr and Ray who are saying that what they did to Clinton was wrong so Trump should go free, or something to that effect. Then he lists all the crimes Trump committed, cool. I missed the whole list, I’ll listen later and fill it in. Thanks Robby Ray!

*** Ray on first article. I like that he’s arguing whether these acts do or do not fit the criminal statutes. ‘Cause they do! The repeat the lie strategy here, no quid pro quo. Sir, the Space Force Command is not Donald Trump’s. And your family connection again makes your own impartiality and honesty questionable. My father, as a career Air Force Officer would call you out on that. I’d just put a poetry curse on you, which would probably involve sandwiches and toothpicks, divorce papers, some type of diapers, and something else that I haven’t seen yet. Cassandra here is just laughing. She tells me not to worry.

He just said, “no crimes were alleged” after saying how the alleged crimes weren’t sufficient for impeachment. Which he does again! Why argue against crimes that aren’t alleged? And the separation of power issues he discusses are exactly what this impeachment trial is about? Why does it sound like he’s arguing for impeachment? “Big surprise!” Dude, sarcasm is a literary tool, not a legal argument. Works on Twitter, I guess.

*** Now he takes a moment on literary criticism of a news article. I didn’t understand where he was going, but now I see why, ‘cause it was written by Laurence Tribe. (Dershowitz’ main constitutional law enemy, fyi.)

Ah, they finally got Hillary in. Because, of course, Ray investigated her while she was a candidate. So, see, Trump can investigate Biden, too. Holy crime justifying a crime, Batman. This is getting surreal. That has previously signaled the approaching end to this jumbled nonsense. He’s repeating the same, can’t impeach for obstruction of Congress dribble. Trump’s allowed to reject all requests for information from the House and Senate, now, forever. Good luck with that and goodbye democracy.

Then he makes a weird metaphor about umpires, addressed to Roberts, which Roberts could take to mean he gets to decide. Hmm. Is is hoping that will get Roberts on his side? That Lincoln quote bugged me. I’ll have to get back to it.

And now Dershowitz, proud defender of Jeffrey Epstein, O. J. Simpson, and so many other people of good-repute. But everyone, even the worst people, even Trump, are entitled to a defense. And Dersh has made a lot of money doing so. The idea that he is reversing his previous position on this issue is because of his “love of the constitution.” Fook that. He just knows that, as a defense lawyer, his job is to lie for his client.

*** God he’s so pleased with himself. He uses Latin to tell us to use context, then a sports metaphor, to talk about treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors. These articles meet that standard. So he’s basically making an argument that can be accepted. Yep, these charges have crimes, but not conviction for a crime, conviction for the harm to elections, the constitution, and the nation.

Wait, he just shifted ground to “criminal-like behavior.” That ought to do it here. Dershowitz just convicted Trump for bribery! He just described Trump’s crimes and said they were impeachable, including obstruction of justice. “Purely non-criminal” In other words he just made it clear he’s not arguing against Trump’s impeachment. Oh, this is fookin’ great. He is making the case for the Democrats. Trump’s actions are so clearly “criminal-like” that they are, by Dershowitz’ own words, impeachable.

*** So why is he spending so much time on incapacity? Oh, because it’s not a crime. Now he is arguing that “crimes” must be present in impeachment. His argument against the Hamilton quote seems thin. Oh, he says he changed his mind, against what he said in the past. “Purely academic, purely non-partisan.” Right! Because he wouldn’t lie for a client. Gets a dig at Laurence Tribe, too.

This list of bad president actions is ridiculous. Total false equivalencies, at least without more elaboration. And then he goes back after Tribe, for the third or fourth time.

The “mind-reading” defense now. That’s just weird, because the entire basis of the legal system is linked to intent, motive, purpose of actions, which must be inferred by non-mind reading means.

He’s repeating, so he must be close to done. Right? No such luck.

*** Wow! Dersh just said that “abusive conduct” isn’t illegal. What about Animal abuse? Domestic abuse? Child Abuse? What the hell is he talking about. I mean heck.

Wait, he said they have to vote not on the arguments of the Articles of Impeach, but only on the outline? That’s like writing about the title of a book but not the actual contents. And he’s saying that Trump should get off on a technicality, which is exactly what a criminal lawyer should try to do. He said the Senate has no jurisdiction if there isn’t a crime, one that he agrees with. Does that fit with Sole Power to Try Impeachment?

But to raise the standards so high as to make impeachment impossible dooms America to an imperial presidency. I hope, with him, that the Senators will look at all the arguments. Hmm, I heard the “shoe on the foot thing” in the Republican Senators press conferences during the break. Was Dersh already talking to the Senators? As I said then, that goes both ways. You lying sack. You’re not partisan or moral, you’ll do whatever you can for your client! Just because you’re saying it loudly doesn’t make it so. Now he’s gone pure defense lawyer for his closing statement. Did he just say something about a glove that doesn’t fit?

Ha, ha, Roberts was so ready to go he almost cut off the Trumpians!

But Cipollone insisted on getting his chance to lie today. I understand, since all the rest of your team got their chance. Dude, this isn’t a fookin’ law school. This is our country you are giving away to a mobster. Oh, wait, you’re a mob lawyer, I forgot for a second. Playing the, “aren’t you tired, wouldn’t you rather someone else do your job?” card. This is so manipulative it has to be received negatively by a few of these Repubs. I hate when people say they’re done and then say one more thing. Yikes. He’s bad at this game.

This represents the adjournment of today’s blog!

Postscript: Here are a few links about the Trump defense fail yesterday. And a couple climate crisis links, too, because this is View from the Side after all!

This lawyer agrees with my point about the “partisan impeachment” argument. Whose fault is it, those whose party is united in opposing a criminal, or those whose party is united in supporting the criminal? In legalese.

And I do often see things like Liz Warren does.

“Criminal law is all about intent. Mens rea is the heart of criminal law. That’s the very basis of it. So it makes his whole presentation just nonsensical. I truly could not follow it,” Warren, a former Harvard Law School professor, continued. 

Fact check of Trump defense on CNN

More fact-check in the form of questions for Trump lawyers.

More Bolton relevant revelations, that suggest the pattern of corruption that infects Trump’s international dealings.

Need a reason to fight climate change? Like wine?

From the hippies were right files.

The impeachment trial continues today, and I’ll start a new post for today’s View from the Side. When the morning comes.

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