Tuesday Reads: Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial
Posted: February 2, 2021 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, just because, U.S. Politics | Tags: Bill Cosby, Bob Bauer, Bruce Castor Jr., Butch Bowers, David Schoen, Donald Trump, House impeachment managers, Jeffrey Epstein, Rand Paul, second impeachment trial
Clerk of the House Cheryl Johnson along with acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Tim Blodgett lead the Democratic House impeachment managers as they walk through the Capitol Hill
The second impeachment trial of Donald Trump begins next Tuesday, Feb. 9. As usual, Trump is unprepared and his defense is in chaos. His entire legal team recently quit because he wanted them to argue that he lost the 2020 election because of voter fraud. There was also the matter of the payment of legal fees, according to Axios: Scoop: Fees — not just strategy — blew up Trump’s legal team.
What we’re hearing: The notoriously stingy former president and his lead lawyer, Butch Bowers, wrangled over compensation during a series of tense phone calls, sources familiar with their conversations said. The argument came even though Trump has raised over $170 million from the public that could be used on his legal defenses.
- The two initially agreed Bowers would be paid $250,000 for his individual services, a figure that “delighted” Trump, one of the sources said.
- However, Trump didn’t realize Bowers hadn’t included additional expenses — including more lawyers, researchers and other legal fees that would be accrued on the job.
- He was said to be livid when Bowers came back to him with a total budget of $3 million. Trump called the South Carolina attorney and eventually negotiated him down to $1 million.
- All of this infuriated Trump and his political team, who think the case will be straightforward, given 45 Republican senators already voted to dismiss the trial on the basis it’s unconstitutional to convict a former president on impeachment charges.
- Trump’s political arm also was planning to pay separately for audiovisuals, a rapid-response team and legislative liaison.
In the end, the money dispute added to frustrations Bowers and the other lawyers felt about whether the former president’s claims of election fraud should be central to their arguments.
This happened even though Trump had raised $170 million for his defense.
But now Trump has found two new lawyers. Business Insider: Trump’s new legal team includes an attorney who declined to prosecute Bill Cosby and another who met with Jeffrey Epstein days before his death.
Days after five members of Donald Trump’s impeachment legal team quit over a disagreement on strategy, two new lawyers, David Schoen and Bruce Castor Jr., have been added to the roster….
Castor was the district attorney of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, from 2002 to 2008. In 2005, Castor declined to prosecute Bill Cosby when he was charged with sexually assaulting Andrea Constand. Castor said at the time that “insufficient, credible and admissible evidence exists upon which any charge against Mr. Cosby could be sustained beyond a reasonable doubt,” The Washington Post reported.
Years later, after more than four dozen women had accused Cosby of sexual crimes, Castor said he’d verbally offered Cosby an immunity deal in which he declined to prosecute him in criminal court to ensure that Constand would be able to sue him in civil court.
Bruce Castor Jr.
His handling of the Cosby case is widely believed to be responsible for the failure of his reelection bid in 2015….
David Schoen, a criminal-defense lawyer in Atlanta, was a part of the Trump ally Roger Stone’s defense team during his trial on charges of witness tampering, obstructing an official proceeding, and making false statements related to the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Schoen also met with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in the days before Epstein’s death in August 2019. Schoen has claimed that Epstein’s death was not actually a suicide.
Those two sound perfect for Trump. I wonder if he’s paying them?
USA Today: Trump’s lawyers will argue impeachment trial is unconstitutional after split with old legal team over voter fraud.
Former President Donald Trump’s legal team are expected to use an argument at his impeachment trial next week that is already supported by the majority of Senate Republicans in charge of his fate: That the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer the commander in chief….
While Trump’s new team says fraud isn’t at the center of their arguments, they’re not closing the door on them….
Schoen, in an interview with The Washington Post Sunday evening, offered some insight on the path forward, saying he planned to focus on the “weaponization of the impeachment process” and would not argue the president’s claims of voter fraud.
“I am not a person who will put forward a theory of election fraud,” Schoen told the Post. “That’s not what this impeachment trial is about.”
Schoen told Sean Hannity of Fox News on Monday night that the trial is unconstitutional and nothing more than an effort to prevent Trump from running for president again. “This is the political weaponization of the impeachment process,” he said.
Schoen also called the trial “the most ill-advised legislative action that I’ve seen in my lifetime.” [….]
The new team appears to have a two-pronged strategy: Arguing the trial is unconstitutional and that Trump’s remarks about the election did not incite the deadly riot at the Capitol.
Meanwhile, Democrats have filed their case against Trump. The Washington Post: Trump’s actions described as ‘a betrayal of historic proportions’ in trial brief filed by House impeachment managers.
House Democrats made their case to convict former president Donald Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in a sweeping impeachment brief filed with the Senate on Tuesday that accused Trump of whipping his supporters into a “frenzy” and described him as “singularly responsible” for the mayhem that ensued.
In the brief, the nine House impeachment managers argue that Trump is not protected by the First Amendment’s freedom of speech provision, which was never intended, they wrote, to allow a president to “provoke lawless action if he loses at the polls.”
“If provoking an insurrectionary riot against a Joint Session of Congress after losing an election is not an impeachable offense, it is hard to imagine what would be,” the brief states.
Democrats also rejected the claim embraced by many Republicans that it is unconstitutional to convict a president after he has left office — an argument that Trump’s lawyers are expected to make in his defense.
“There is no ‘January Exception’ to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution,” the House Democrats wrote. “A president must answer comprehensively for his conduct in office from his first day in office through his last.”
House impeachment managers
Trump is supposed to submit his response later today. It’s difficult to see how his lawyers could have had enough time to prepare careful arguments. More from the Democrat’s case:
The House Democrats wrote that Trump’s embrace of unfounded accusations that the 2020 election was stolen from him helped foment his supporters’ attack on the Capitol. When those false assertions failed to overturn the election, the Democrats wrote, Trump “summoned a mob to Washington, exhorted them into a frenzy, and aimed them like a loaded cannon down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
They added: “The Framers themselves would not have hesitated to convict on these facts.”
The House impeachment managers urged senators to bar Trump from ever serving again in elected office: “This is not a case where elections alone are a sufficient safeguard against future abuse; it is the electoral process itself that President Trump attacked and that must be protected from him and anyone else who would seek to mimic his behavior. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a case that more clearly evokes the reasons the Framers wrote a disqualification power into the Constitution.”
The brief made clear Democrats’ intention to build an emotionally compelling impeachment case against Trump in which they have sought out new cellphone footage of the Capitol siege, as well as details about injured police officers.
The goal is to present the Senate with fresh evidence that reveals what Trump knew in advance of the Jan. 6 rampage at the Capitol, as well as how his words and actions influenced those who participated. The rioting left five dead, including one member of the U.S. Capitol Police. In addition, two officers, one with the D.C. police department, have since died by suicide.
At The New York Times, constitutional legal expert Bob Bauer writes: Why the G.O.P. Argument Against Trying Trump Is So Dangerous.
As the Senate trial of Donald Trump nears, the defense is coming into view. It appears that most Senate Republicans will not defend Mr. Trump’s conduct around the Jan. 6 Capitol siege. Instead, they will rally around an argument about the chamber’s constitutional powers and the supposedly dangerous consequences for our politics if the Senate tries a “late impeachment.”
This argument is built on two closely connected representations, and Senator Rand Paul previewed them in his recent constitutional objection to “late impeachment.”
The first, in Mr. Paul’s words, is that “impeachment is a tool to remove someone from office. That’s it.” The Senate lacks the power to try an impeached president, once out of office, to determine if he is guilty of the charges the House has levied against him.
The second, Mr. Paul and others argued, is that Mr. Trump is now a “private citizen,” and so any action against him could serve no purpose other than revenge….
This Republican argument wholly misconstrues the text, history and structure of the Constitution’s impeachment clause. It is a mistake to minimize impeachment’s broader objectives by suggesting that removal from office was somehow its only or primary function.
The power to impeach specifically provides for two decisions: impeachment and conviction, resulting in removal, and then disqualification from holding office. As drawn from the English practice, and reflected in state constitutions at the time, both these actions were understood to serve the overall purpose of public accountability for egregious abuses of public office.
Indeed, several state constitutions at the time of the federal Constitution’s writing permitted impeachment only after public figures had left office. Public accountability and disqualification were the purposes of impeachment; the Constitution’s addition of removal from office was an expansion on these provisions.
The argument focused on Mr. Trump’s status as a former president is misguided and dangerous. When impeached, he was in office. Moreover, it is highly doubtful that the framers intended the impeachment clause to give the president free rein to commit impeachable offenses in the closing months of his term.
In any case, the Senate always decides on disqualification after the offender is a “private citizen,” since that is what he becomes upon conviction of an impeachable offense. The Constitution does not even specify that this second vote on disqualfication must be immediate. The Senate could vote weeks later, after deliberation and debate, well into the former president’s “private” life.
Still more fundamental: This “late impeachment” argument fails to grasp the constitutional framework within which the question must be considered. The Federalist Papers made plain the framers’ preoccupation with protections against the demagogue, the “unworthy candidate” of “perverted ambition” who practices “with success the vicious arts, by which elections are too often carried.” The provision for “disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit” was one of many instances of constitutional checks against popular passions that could lead to the election of officeholders who would threaten to subvert the Republic.
Read the rest at the link. I imagine the impeachment managers will read this article carefully.
So, that’s what we know so far about the impeachment trial. I’ll post more news links in the comment thread below. There’s a lot happening.