Conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot walked through the ways that Republicans are completely failing in their attempt to defend President Donald Trump.
The president's trial began Tuesday with a series of votes where Republicans blocked a vote on whether to include witnesses, evidence and any information from the House investigations. It appeared that the president's team was unprepared to argue against the witnesses and evidence, instead, demanding the trial begin immediately and arguments over witnesses be dismissed.
"The beginning of the impeachment trial of President Trump made clear that Democrats have not only the stronger arguments but also the stronger arguers," wrote Boot. "The House impeachment managers did a masterful job on Tuesday of marshaling the evidence to argue that the Senate needs to hold a real trial complete with witnesses..."
Boot noted that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) came prepared with not only information but a slate of videos that used his own words against him. It was so good that lawyers watching Schiff called it the perfect example to use for law school classes and others complimented it as the most impressive they've ever seen.
Schiff wasn't alone, however. Powerful first-hand accounts of what it's like to be a soldier in a war zone came from Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffres (D-NY) was just as "dazzling," Boot wrote.
"Trump’s lawyers were far worse. They played a bad hand badly," the columnist said. "Admittedly, they are handicapped by the inescapable reality that their client is guilty as sin. They can’t seriously dispute that Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden — the president said as much from the White House lawn. They can’t even dispute that Trump held up military aid to Ukraine to pressure its government into doing what he wanted. Their only defense on the merits is to claim that the president wasn’t concerned with smearing a Democratic rival but with fighting corruption. But that’s an absurd argument to make given that Trump never mentioned fighting corruption in general during his two phone calls with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — and given that, as my Post colleague Catherine Rampell notes, he is trying to legalize bribery by American companies."
Wednesday, the Nielsen Agency revealed that over 11 million Americans watched the proceedings on news outlets. It didn't count people watching PBS, C-Span, Fox broadcast, or any online video streams. So that number is well over the 11 million on the few outlets cited. Trump's show "The Apprentice" struggled in its final years, Trump struggled to get his audience over 10 million viewers. The numbers also dwarfed other typical shows.
About 11 million people watched live coverage of the impeachment trial yesterday afternoon, Nielsen says. The num… https://t.co/owJQzxJRRi— Michael M. Grynbaum (@Michael M. Grynbaum)1579726177.0
Boot pointed out that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was caught making very public lies that were then fact-checked immediately by Democratic counterparts. He then repeated the claim that Schiff "manufactured a false version" of the July 25 call between Trump and the Ukraine president. In fact, Schiff told everyone it was an illustration to show Trump's mafia-like behavior. Despite the disclaimer, Republicans flipped out and have continued to do so for months.
"Making his own contribution to this blizzard of bunkum, Sekulow claimed that 'the president was denied the right to cross-examine witnesses … denied the right to access evidence … and denied the right to have counsel present at hearings. That’s a trifecta, a trifecta that violates the Constitution of the United States,'" Boot quoted. "False. The president was offered a chance to have his lawyers participate in House proceedings and declined to take it."
Trump said that they wouldn't participate in the hearings because it would legitimize them. Now they're complaining about not participating in the hearing they chose to ignore. They even put it in writing and the White House counsel signed it.
Boot called the lies all inconsequential when compared to the biggest whopper of them all: the White House's claim that he can't be impeached because he never broke the law. Even their own lawyers disagreed with that claim, although some said it before they decided to work for the president. When Republicans called Jonathan Turley to testify along with Democratic constitutional law professors last month, Turley defended the GOP's claim that impeachment was premature because the subpoenas need to play out in court. Tuesday, even Turley said that the Trump team was wrong.
"The transparently false arguments by Trump lawyers will not convince those majorities that they are wrong. The Trump team will win an acquittal in the Senate no matter how badly they argue but, on the present trajectory, they won’t win in the court of public opinion," Boot closed.