Despite a bipartisan vote to convict, Trump is acquitted after Senate fails to reach 2/3 margin

After a confusing day, the United States Senate voted on Saturday afternoon 57 to 43 in favor of convicting Donald J. Trump in his second impeachment trial. Though this was, by far, the greatest bipartisan vote in favor of impeachment in the nation’s history, it still was not sufficient to reach the necessary two-thirds of the Senate necessary for conviction.

Among those Republicans voting with Democrats were Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and Pat Toomey. 

With that vote, the court of impeachment is adjourned and Republicans have shrugged off their last flirtation with the idea of democracy. 

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 8:59:25 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Burr on his decision to convict Trump

— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) February 13, 2021

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 9:02:52 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Sen. Chuck Schumer: "This trial wasn't about choosing country over party, not even that. This trial was about choosing country over Donald Trump, and 43 Republican members chose Trump."

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 9:05:41 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

CASSIDY on Guilty vote: “Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person. I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty”

— Scott Wong (@scottwongDC) February 13, 2021

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 9:13:06 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Trump has released a gloating statement. I’m not going to quote any of it. Just know that he doesn’t take a moment to condemn the violence on Jan. 6.

Trump trial (briefly) thrown for loop after GOP actions force House managers to request a witness

On Saturday morning, lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin stepped forward to surprise the Senate with a request for a deposition. The possibility of calling witnesses was always theoretically part of the process, and this was always the point where it was supposed to happen. But until this morning, there had been an assumption that witnesses would be skipped in favor of a “get past this” strategy that would see closing arguments this morning, and a final vote on Donald Trump’s conviction by this afternoon.

However, at least three things happened in the last 24 hours to change those assumptions. First, Trump’s legal team put on a show that was loaded with lies, aspersions, and irrelevant statements that had nothing to do with the case. Second, late Friday, even more information appeared on a phone call between Trump and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, which underscored Trump’s depraved indifference to the events in the Capitol. Finally, a letter from Mitch McConnell was leaked, showing that he was still determined to hide behind the faux constitutionality defense, and would not be voting for Trump’s conviction or encouraging others to do so.

All of that made it almost inevitable that the House managers would ask for at least one witness on Saturday morning. But it still seems to have caught everyone off guard.

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 5:14:19 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

McCaskill seems to indicate there may be a deal to not call witnesses which sounds like a big win for gop.

— Jed (@TheJedReport) February 13, 2021

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 5:30:11 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

One and done may actually be none and done.

BRAUN says Rs are prepared to allow a news article about the McCarthy/Trump call based on JHB account, into the record in exchange for Dems dropping request to depose JHB. Trial would proceed to closing arguments and final vote today. Per pool

— Scott Wong (@scottwongDC) February 13, 2021

As soon as Rep. Raskin asked to be allowed to depose a witness, Trump’s legal team went ballistic in shock. Attorney Michael van der Veen stepped up and spiraled into a rant so ridiculous that it ended with senators laughing at him and Sen. Pat Leahy having to call for order—and tweak van der Veen for his uncivil language.

Once the realization set in that the House managers were doing the unexpected, a vote was held on whether to debate calling witnesses. That vote passed 55-45 with Republican Sens. Collins, Murkowski, Romney, and Sasse joining all Democrats. At the last minute, Sen. Lindsey Graham changed his vote to “aye,” but this was clearly done as a rat-f***ing move, so that the defense can call nonsense witnesses and Graham can claim to have been in favor of witnesses all along.

It’s clear that the House managers want to hear from Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who recounted McCarthy’s statements about his phone call with Trump, and Friday night confirmed those statements. Trump’s legal team has countered with a threat to call hundreds of witnesses, including Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris. Van der Veen went on to insist that they would all have to show up for in-person depositions in his office in “Phillydelphia” … which led to much of the chamber chuckles.

Following the vote, the chamber broke down into a series of small groups as senators tried to work out rules for what comes next. The Senate could move forward, voting on each witness in turn. It could agree to give each side a fixed number of witnesses. It might even set up a committee to collect depositions, while the rest of the Senate returns to normal business—though that last option is unlikely because it would not allow Republicans to claim that the impeachment trial was slowing the regular work of the Senate. Republicans seem suddenly anxious to pass COVID-19 relief.

After a series of time-killing maneuvers, the Senate finally took an official break. Action will resume at 12:30 ET, though there is not guarantee that anything will have been worked out by that point.

This shouldn’t be the last day of the impeachment trial. Live coverage #1

Following the latest bombshell news about Kevin McCarthy’s screaming match with Donald Trump on January 6, will House Managers request witnesses, or will today be the final day of the second impeachment trial for Trump? We’ll find out soon. 

The impeachment trial is being aired on major television news networks and streamed on their websites. Daily Kos will have continuing coverage.

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 3:05:10 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

I can’t wait to find out which Republican Senators care more about being primaried than their country, democracy, their children, their grandchildren, the truth, decency or their own name in history.

— Jim Gaffigan (@JimGaffigan) February 13, 2021

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 3:06:59 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

How much of this conversation was “Would you just shut the #$%@ up, Tommy?”

Senators Mike Lee and Tommy Tuberville were huddled together on the Senate floor before the trial kicked off Saturday. Trump attorneys Bruce Castor and Michael Van der veen came in and talked with them. Lindsey Graham came over to talk for a moment.

— Daniel Flatley (@DanielPFlatley) February 13, 2021

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 3:09:17 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

House mangers are going to ask for at least one witness! Now van der Veen claiming “there was a stipulation going around that there weren’t going to be any witnesses.” Van der Veen now says he wants “over 100 depositions.”

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 3:11:54 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

They will need 51 votes to get witnesses.

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 3:12:08 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Van der Veen is pissed. Really wants to deliver that closing argument and go home. But sure, let’s have all the witnesses. Let’s get every damn person who ever attended a Trump rally in there. Not much I can think of that would be better than a string of Trumpies stepping up to say how “the president told us to be there.”

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 3:14:40 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Raskin challenges Trump’s team to simply bring forward their client.

Van der Veen says McCarthy disclaims “the rumor” saying it didn’t happen. Now they’re saying that the conversation with Tuberville and Lee didn’t happen. Which is a lie.

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 3:15:24 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

“When Raskin said he wanted to call Herrera Beutler, Graham shook his head no, and put hand on forehand,” per pooler @jason_donner

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 13, 2021

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 3:15:38 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

I’m kind of liking just how snarly van der Veen is this morning. They really don’t want anyone to hear this evidence.

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 3:16:41 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Van der Veen: “It doesn’t matter what happened after the insurgents attacked this building.” That’s not a great sale to the people who were at the pointy end of the spears.

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 3:18:46 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Van der Veen now declaring that he wants Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris to come to his office in Philadelphia. And people are laughing at him. 

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 3:21:12 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Raskin says there was never any “stipulation” about having no witnesses. Doesn’t get into the histrionics that van der Veen engaged in.

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 3:23:04 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Now a roll call vote on whether to hold debate on calling witnesses or subpoenaing documents. 

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 3:28:18 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

A source familiar with the work of the House Managers says former Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff Marc Short has been contacted about providing information about threat to Pence. Short has not responded, the source said.

— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) February 13, 2021

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 3:32:58 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The vote passes, with Collins, Murkowski, Romney, and Sasse voting with Democrats. After the vote, Lindsey Graham changed his vote to an “aye.” Why isn’t clear, but you can be sure that the reason will turn out to be jackassery.

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 3:41:11 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

So, by 55 — 45, the vote passes to open debate on calling witnesses. 

Witnesses themselves will also be subject to votes, and no matter what van der Veen shouts, they can do it over Zoom, or any other way, that the Senate approves. Suck it, Michael.

But the biggest point of the day may be van der Veen shouting how nothing that happened after the insurgents attacked the Capitol matters. If that wasn’t a tacit admission that the facts of how Trump handled the assault are damning, it was very near it.

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 3:43:36 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The reason they're all laughing at you, Van Der Veen, is that in the Clinton impeachment trial, the testimony of witnesses was taken remotely on videotape and then played in the Senate. No one had to go down to your office in Phillyaheedelphia.

— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) February 13, 2021

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 4:07:09 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

What’s happening right now, with all the little clusters around the room, is that they’re trying to work out some sort of deal. It may be that each side gets one witness, or they may allow each side to call three witnesses, or the whole thing could fall apart and Republicans could demand a thousand witnesses.

If McConnell still has any control over his caucus, there will be some kind of deal, but that’s definitely not a sure thing.

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 4:39:11 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Then Senatorial version of Where’s Waldo. Find the one jackass who isn’t wearing a mask. 

The critical moment in the Q&A session was the question Trump’s lawyers kept refusing to answer

For as much time as was spent with Donald Trump’s legal team trying to erect miles and miles of beautiful wall using nonsense arguments about the First Amendment, or by digging through legalist definitions of incitement, it was all pretty pointless. Sure, Fox News will keep up the pretense that some of that mattered. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz—who consulted with Trump’s attorneys multiple times in the case—will claim that the answers that they wrote, to the questions that they posed, made a difference in their decision. But again and again, Senators in the chamber stepped right up to the biggest gaping wound in everything Trump’s team had to say.

Senators, on both sides of the aisle, quite understandably, wanted to know why when a howling mob of murderous f#ckwads descended on the Capitol, Trump did not do a damn thing to defend them. Trump may have welcomed the “calvary” to Washington D.C., but he certainly did not send it to the Senate chamber even though he knew the building was under assault from his supporters.

And nowhere was that more clear, than how Trump’s legal team responded to questions concerning Trump’s actions regarding Mike Pence.

The sequence of events that happened after Trump’s insurrectionist mob smashed their way into the Capitol was of deep concern to the people on the pointy end of the spears and flagpoles. The sequence of events surrounding Trump’s actions after his speech and before the National Guard finally arrived at the Capitol that evening was the subject of the most serious, and important, questions of the day.

During Friday’s session, Trump’s attorneys tried to build on the objection made by Sen. Mike Lee, to claim that the call between Trump, Lee, and Sen. Tommy Tuberville was “heresay.”That sequence became the direct subject of questioning on Friday evening during Trump’s impeachment trial, when Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. Susan Collins sent this question to both Trump’s legal team and the House impeachment managers.

Romney and Collins: “When Pres. Trump send disparaging tweets at 2:24 PM was he aware that Pence had been removed from the Senate by Secret Service for his safety.”

While Rep. Joaquin Castro made it clear Trump had to have known that the Capitol had been breached, and that the call to Sen. Tuberville made it clear Pence had been removed from the chamber, the answer from Trump’s legal team was even more telling … they didn’t have one.

Instead, Trump’s lawyers fell back on something they would repeat every time someone asked about Trump’s action or Trump’s knowledge: They blamed the House for “not doing a full investigation.” Which is an astounding claim, because the only one who had the knowledge that could answer the question is their client, Donald J. Trump.

The refusal to answer this question was the loudest silence of the whole impeachment trial. And it wasn’t the only time this happened. Here’s another question, this time from Sen. Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Donald Trump’s legal team just told senators that they have no idea when their client learned of the attack on the Capitol. They blamed their ignorance on the House managers, saying they should have uncovered what Trump knew, what he did, and when in their investigation. Wow.

— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) February 12, 2021

Note that Trump’s attorneys also continually acted as if the House managers had access to video or other information that was not provided to them. This is not true. Trump’s legal team had access to the same materials as the House team. Again, the only missing information here is that which could only be found in the skull of their client — a client who was invited to testify, and who refused.

Senators weren’t done poking at this obvious weak point. Sen. Bill Cassidy sent a question to both sides saying “Sen. Tuberville reports he spoke to Trump at 2:15 and told Trump that Pence had just evacuated. Presumably Trump understood that rioters were in the building. Trump then tweeted that Pence lacked courage. Does this show that Trump was tolerant of the intimidation of Pence?”

Trump attorney van der Veen answered, “Directly no, but I dispute the premise of your facts.” He then returned to attacking the House managers for not having information exclusive to their client.

Trump attorney dismisses Tuberville's account as "hearsay" that he spoke with Trump about 10 minutes before Trump attacked Pence on Twitter on Jan. 6. This is what Tuberville said this week: "I said, “Mr. President, they just took the vice president out, I’ve got to go.'”

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 12, 2021

As the Senators were leaving the chamber on Friday, Sen. Tuberville underlined the weakness of this point by sticking a fork in the “heresay” argument.

NEWS: Tuberville speaks to reporters just now and stands by account he gave to @burgessev on Wednesday "I said Mr President, they've taken the vice president out. They want me to get off the phone, I gotta go ... probably the only guy in the world hung up on pres United States"

— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) February 12, 2021

The removal of Pence happened at 2:15. It’s recorded on the cameras of the Senate chamber.

Mike Pence taken from Senate chamber at 2:15 PM

Then, just after Trump hung up from his conversation with Tuberville, with full knowledge that his mob was in the Capitol building and that Pence was in danger, Trump tweeted again.

This is just one sequence out of hours in which Trump displayed total disregard for either the security of the nation or the lives of those in Congress. But no other moment may so completely describe his malice and criminal indifference.

Finally, just as the session was ending on Friday, CNN reported on another aspect of Trump’s refusal to act on Jan.6 — his confrontation with House minority leader Kevin McCarthy. That conversation had already been the subject of a report used by the House managers; a report which Trump’s legal team also dismissed as “third hand.”

Now CNN has more details of the phone call between Trump and McCarthy. In that call, Trump told McCarthy that the insurrectionists “cared” more about the election than McCarthy.

"Well, Kevin,” said Trump, “I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”

McCarthy was still begging Trump to do something to call off his supporters when rioters were breaking smashing the windows of his office. Finally, frustrated that Trump was doing nothing to help, leading McCarthy to shout. “Who the f--k do you think you are talking to?" 

Apparently Trump knew exactly who he was talking to … someone who would vote against Trump’s impeachment and come right down to Mar-a-Lago to beg forgiveness for ever raising his voice to his king.

Witnesses. The House managers should demand witnesses. And McCarthy should be at the top of the list.

Senators continue asking questions in Trump impeachment trial: Live coverage #4

The question and answer period continues true to form: lies and evasions from Team Trump and a solid performance from the House impeachment managers but for the lingering question of why they aren’t calling witnesses—something the questions have repeatedly if inadvertently highlighted the need for.

The impeachment trial is being aired on major television news networks and streamed on their websites. Daily Kos will have continuing coverage.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 10:28:13 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

Cruz has a question for both sides.

The House managers spent 15 minutes to articulate a new standard for incitement. Is this new standard derived from the criminal code or any Supreme Court case? Also, allow me to recycle the defense lies about Vice President Harris.

Raskin says he’s not familiar with the statement from Harris, which is in any case irrelevant to the proceedings at hand. In this case, we have nothing to compare Trump’s actions to because it’s unprecedented, so the standard is being set. Trump and his lawyers are arguing that what he did was just fine. The House impeachment managers are trying to prevent this from being repeated. That’s the point here.

Van der Veen telegraphs exactly how coordinated with Cruz this question was, during one of Cruz’ visits to the defense lawyers, and offers the exact legal citations Cruz wanted. But of course this is not a criminal proceeding, and this whole answer is outrageously dishonest.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 10:28:38 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

Did Cruz write out a word-for-word script for this?

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 10:33:46 PM +00:00 · Barbara Morrill

A question for the House Managers: What is the relevance of Trump’s tweet on the evening of Jan. 6, telling the insurrectionists to “remember this day forever.” House Manager Castro recaps the violence of the day, notes that Trump didn’t call the National Guard, and that saying “remember this day forever,” shows that what had happened was at his behest and what he wanted. Why would you praise and commemorate something you opposed? 

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 10:37:55 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

Sen. Cassidy with a question for both: Sen. Tuberville reports he spoke to Trump at 2:15 and told Trump that Pence had just evacuated. Presumably Trump understood that rioters were in the building. Trump then tweeted that Pence lacked courage. Does this show that Trump was tolerant of the intimidation of Pence?

Van der Veen: “Directly no, but I dispute the premise of your facts.”

Then pivots to attacking the House managers for not having … what, gotten Trump to tell them the truth on this?

“I have a problem with the facts … in the question, because I have no idea.” (Guy, just take out the “in the question” part.) But he says sure, Trump must have been concerned for everyone’s safety.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 10:40:26 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

Raskin notes that Trump’s lawyers keep blaming the House managers for not having information that is “in the sole possession of their client,” who declined to come testify.

That’s about it, really. That’s the answer. But Raskin also points out that not showing up in a civil proceeding—according to the late Justice Scalia—can speak against you. 

“Rather than yelling at us and screaming at us that we didn’t have all the facts about what your client did,” the defense could have brought their client to defend himself.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 10:42:21 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

Trump’s lawyer claims the reports about Mike Lee were from someone’s friend overhearing something in a bar. In fact, Lee himself confirmed the calls on the record to his hometown paper, the Deseret News. His office also confirmed them to CNN and the Washington Post.

— Josh Dorner (@JoshDorner) February 12, 2021

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 10:43:55 PM +00:00 · Barbara Morrill

Plaskett continues to kill it, in talking about Trump’s dereliction of duty, wonders aloud if anyone there (Senate Republicans) had any experience of Trump turning on them. 

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 10:49:46 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

Aren’t the House managers being very unfair by not offering Trump more extensive due process?

Van der Veen once again wants a question reread. Is this a strategy or does he need this much time to get his thoughts together on softballs?

He thinks that Trump deserved more due process. Due process due process due process. This is all so unfair. Whine whine whine.

Refer here to Raskin’s last answer: Trump refused to come testify, and this is a civil trial. He is not going to be deprived of his liberty over this or even made to pay out money. This is about what’s acceptable in the U.S.—specifically, whether violent insurrection aimed at overturning an election is acceptable—not about Donald Trump’s personal rights or even about punishing him as an individual. 

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 10:51:26 PM +00:00 · Barbara Morrill

Due process only exists in criminal law. This is not a criminal proceeding. Trump was offered opportunity to testify. He refused. What more due process do you want?

— Daniel Goldman (@danielsgoldman) February 12, 2021

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 10:56:16 PM +00:00 · Barbara Morrill

Raskin says it would be a dereliction of congress’ duty to pretend, as the defense wants them to do, that Trump is just some guy in the mob instead of being (at that time) the Commander in Chief. Notes that Trump’s lawyers is a criminal defendant. (Which, in my opinion, he should be.)

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 10:57:20 PM +00:00 · Barbara Morrill

In case you missed it: 

Michael Van Der Veen: "This is about the most miserable experience I've had down here in Washington, DC."@RepRaskin: "You should have been here on January 6th."#ImpeachmentTrial

— CSPAN (@cspan) February 12, 2021

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 10:59:22 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

Another Republican question. Roughly: How could Trump have incited something that was pre-planned? 

In other words, “allow me to ignore the meticulous case showing that Trump called this rally and spent months causing people to premeditate this.”

Trump’s lawyer agrees that Trump’s speech on January 6 could not have been the sole inciting factor, while ignoring everything else he said and did. Then he tries to return to the last question, so consider him pre-destroyed by Raskin.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 11:01:04 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

I love that Republicans think constantly pointing out that a group of white nationalists known to work closely with Trump’s favorite felon went to Capitol early to breach the perimeter is somehow a defense of Trump.

— Gregg Levine (@GreggJLevine) February 12, 2021

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 11:09:44 PM +00:00 · Barbara Morrill

Hillary question … basically, could the dream of locking her up come true if Trump is convicted. Team Trump says, “Yes!” And then rambles some more. 

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 11:24:28 PM +00:00 · Barbara Morrill

The question and answer session is over. 

Question and answer time begins in Trump impeachment trial: Live coverage #3

Donald Trump’s impeachment defense began and ended Friday, filled with repetitive, amateurish, dishonest videos and arguments. His lawyers failed to refute the rock-solid case of the House impeachment managers, but they’re not worried, because, thanks to Republican partisanship, they never thought they had to do so.

The impeachment trial now moves on to the question-and-answer period.

It will be aired on major television news networks and streamed on their websites. Daily Kos will have continuing coverage.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:02:36 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

We’re moving straight into the question and answer session, with questions addressed to each legal team.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:03:30 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The Washington Post has a tally of the lies told by Trump’s legal team.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:08:07 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

After Rep. Castro provides a thorough answer on Trump’s involvement, Cruz and Graham provide a set up in which they ask “does a politician raising bail for rioters encourage more rioting.” This is slander aimed at Vice President Kamala Harris, who requested people contributed to a bail fund for peaceful protesters, none of whom had been accused of violence crimes.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:11:19 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Raskin gets a question on Trump’s challenging the election and differentiates between Trump’s attempts to make a legal challenge, to attempting to bully officials, to inciting a mob.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:12:56 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski send a question to Trump’s team: “Exactly when did Pres. Trump learn of the breach of the Capitol, and what specific actions did he take to bring the rioting to an end.”

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:14:29 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Trump’s team is very, very much not answering this question. They’re also lying about access to the security videos, because they also have access to this.

This is a key question, and they’re providing no answer. Because there is no good answer.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:15:48 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

That answer was so bad, it may have lost them another vote. Really.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:16:44 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Question concerning the Proud Boys group, “Is there evidence that Trump knew, or should have known, that his tolerance of anti-Semitic speech could incite the kind of violence we saw on Jan. 6?”

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:18:49 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Plaskett does a good job of answering the question, giving instances of Trump’s previous support of violence.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:20:30 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Hagerty and Scott ask a nonsense question “isn’t this just a political show trial” as a set up for Trump’s legal team. Pointless.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:23:08 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Markey and Duckworth send a question to the House managers asking the same thing that Collins and Murkowski asked. Good on them.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:25:42 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Plaskett points out how ridiculous it is to think that Trump wasn’t aware of everything that was going on the moment it happened. However, I sincerely wish she had pointed out the timeline of the breach, then the call to Tuberville, then the tweet concerning Pence. That’s a critical moment.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:28:18 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Romney and Collins send a question to both sides: “When Pres. Trump send disparaging tweets at 2:24 PM was he aware that Pence had been removed from the Senate by Secret Service for his safety.”

Note: I like it when people ask the questions I want asked.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:29:44 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Castro handles the response from the House side, but fails to connect it to the phone call from Tuberville. Dammit. The phone call was RIGHT BEFORE the tweet. Tie the two together, man.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:30:31 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Okay, there you go! The call to Tuberville! Perfect. That’s what we needed. Thank you. Nail. Coffin.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:32:21 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Trump’s team claim that Trump never knew that Pence was in danger, again hides behind the idea that “the House didn’t investigate.”

Oh boy, they KNOW they’ve lost on this one, because they’re falling back on the “that’s not the charge.” 

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:34:27 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Klobachar, Casey, and Brown to House managers: “In presenting your case, you relied on past precedent on impeachment trials, such as Wm. Belknap impeachment. If we do not impeach Pres. Trump, what message will we be sending to future presidents and congresses?” 

And okay, this one is definitely a softball. But Trump’s team already got two.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:38:42 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Plaskett gives a good short speech in response. “And the world watched us, and the world is still watching … extremists who attacked the Capitol … will be emboldened ... Donald Trump told them this was only the beginning.”

Plaskett also points out the frequency of women of color being used in the videos from the defense team. “I thought we were past that. Maybe we’re not.” 

Nicely done.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:41:17 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Mike Lee and Josh Hawley and the rest of the insurgency caucus tees one up for Trump’s attorneys: “Multiple state constitutions enacted prior to 1787 … specifically provided for the impeachment of a former officer.” Does leaving that out of the Constitution mean framers didn’t want former officials impeached.

Trump’s team, unaspiringly, says sure. And this has been another episode of Conservative Republicans pretend to get into the heads of people in the 18th century.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:43:02 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Alex Padilla gets to House managers about the “big lie” and the results in encouraging Trump supporters.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:46:15 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Castro takes the “74  million” that Trump’s team keeps using and flips it around — that’s how many people Trump kept telling they were getting their votes stolen. Trump didn’t need to get more than a small fraction of his supporters to believe to make up the mob that attacked the Capitol.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:51:55 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Hawley pops right back up again to ask both sides: “If the Senate’s power to disqualify is not derivative of the power to remove, could the Senate disqualify a sitting president, but not remove him or her.” Which may sound like an interesting thought experiment, but is, of course, just a set up for Trump’s team to say “No.”

Van der Veen being extraordinarily snide and dishonest in his reply.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:54:23 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Raskin gives a clear answer to the actual question. Showing that of the eight people convicted, only three were disqualified. Showing that disqualification is a separate act.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 9:59:32 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Warren asks the House managers if Democrats in the past asked members of Congress to object to votes after an insurrection. Which … I kind of which she hadn’t asked, because there’s an opportunity here to pound the sorest points on the Trump case. But Rep. Raskin does a good job of clearing up at least one of the items that appeared in the Trump team’s videos.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 10:01:17 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

Question from Sen. Kevin Cramer: Has there been a more pro-Israel president than Donald Trump?

Angry Trump lawyer says no, then starts yelling about Democrats supposedly having gotten “caught doctoring the evidence.” 

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 10:07:00 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

I wish a Senator would ask: which specific pieces of video do Republicans claim was "doctored." The surveillance camera video, the press video, or the video from the insurrectionists themselves? Or all of it? They should be specific.

— Joy WE VOTED!! WEAR A MASK!! Reid 😷) (@JoyAnnReid) February 12, 2021

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 10:07:44 PM +00:00 · Barbara Morrill

Bernie Sanders asks both sides if the election was stolen from Donald Trump. House Manager Plaskett says “he lost the election, he lost the court cases” and throws in a quote from Mitch McConnell noting Trump lost. Trump’s lawyer responds—after having the question read twice—by saying “My judgement is irrelevant here.” Refuses to answer the question. And finishes by attacking the House Managers. 

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 10:16:23 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

Sen. Ron Johnson wants both teams to answer why, if the attack was predictable and foreseeable, law enforcement were caught off guard and the House sergeant at arms reportedly turned down a request to activate the National Guard.

Team Trump up first. Once again Van der Veen asks for the question to be repeated. Delaying much, here? His answer: “Holy cow, that is a really good question.” What a vehicle for attacking the House managers for not investigating enough! 

Hmm … Maybe this is because the head of the Capitol Police and the House sergeant at arms were already forced out?

Van der Veen even gets a “jiminy crickets” in there to show just how flabbergasted he is by this issue. “Who ignored it, and why?” he asks.

Plaskett: “First, if defense council has exculpatory evidence, you’re welcome to give it to us. We would love to see it.” She notes that Trump’s lawyers are eager to blame everyone but Trump, the one who had access to the most information about what would happen. And the National Guard was not deployed for two hours after it was requested—that’s not on Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser or anyone but the federal government. “The president of the United States did not defend the Capitol of this country.”

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 10:21:40 PM +00:00 · Barbara Morrill

The question to the House Managers is—paraphrasing here—if Trump’s Big Lie caused the violence and death on January 6, does him saying “be peaceful” excuse the incitement. House Manager Castro says, much more eloquently, no. 

Donald Trump’s insult-to-the-nation of an impeachment defense continues: Live coverage #2

Donald Trump’s impeachment defense begins—and is expected to end—today, following two days of argument for his guilt by the House impeachment managers. That prosecution was rock solid, tracing out how Trump set the stage to delegitimize an election he lost, then followed through when he did lose, insisting that the election must have been stolen. They showed that Trump himself chose the date of Jan. 6 for an event—which he promised “will be wild”—calling his supporters to Washington, D.C. on the day Congress met to certify the election results. They showed his repeated pressure and public attacks on Mike Pence, who he wanted to overturn the election. They showed how he encouraged the rally crowd outside the White House to be angry and to march on the Capitol. They showed how the mob received Trump’s instructions, saying it themselves in videos of the Capitol attack and in interviews and court documents since that they were doing what he had asked of them. They showed how terribly close to harm members of Congress—and in particular Pence—came. And they showed how Trump did not call the mob off throughout the attack.

Now his defense team begins, knowing that the vast majority of Republican senators do not care how guilty Trump is and do not care how ineffective the defense is. Expect it to be alternatively incompetent and dangerous and to show its contempt for the rule of law in its shoddiness and shortness.

It will be aired on major television news networks and streamed on their websites. Daily Kos will have continuing coverage.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 6:17:40 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Van der Veen is really shocked—shocked, mind you—that the House managers didn’t spend more time on a defense that he put forward which was nonsense.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 6:19:08 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

I’m having trouble believing that this will actually be done in 3 hours, because I’m no sure Van der Veen will get through a paragraph by then.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 6:20:20 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Van der Veen now going to show another video. Let’s just hope it’s not another rerun.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 6:25:51 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Van der Veen is really going to go down the road of the “First Amendment defense.” Which apparently requires a lot of reading things out slowly.

Since this is the weakest of all the points Trump’s team made, it’s fine if they want to run out the clock with this.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 6:27:54 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

According to Van der Veen, “Wilson” is telling me about something the Senate cannot do. And I confess, I’ve already zoned out enough to not remember who Wilson is.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 6:30:58 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Apologizing again for mistaking Van der Veen for Castor. Have I mentioned before that I have prosopagnosia. Yup.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 6:34:52 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Van der Veen feels very bullied just because every constitutional scholar in the nation disagrees with his nonsense position.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 6:40:26 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Van der Veen insists this is read along time, as he continues to make an claim against an argument the House managers never made.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 6:44:11 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

“Allegations of irregular Negro block-voting... It was the 60s” 😳

— Matt Rogers 🗳 (@Politidope) February 12, 2021

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 6:53:23 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

No playing large parts of Trump’s speech on Jan. 6, including things that have no connection to what van der Veen said he was trying to do. He did make sure to get Hunter Biden into the clip.

Honestly, the House managers could have run this same clip. Because it’s certainly not helping Trump.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 6:57:02 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

So, what the Trump team really meant is they had 1 hour of material that they would use three times over.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 6:59:35 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Break. Everyone has 15 minutes to sober up from any drinking games before Castor comes on.

And if your drinking game involved the word “fight,” your family has 15 minutes to make arrangements.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 7:35:29 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

And we’re back, and Bruce Castor — yes, actual Bruce Castor — is coming forward.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 7:38:03 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Castor: “Clearly there was no insurrection.” Who then explains that it can’t be an insurrection unless you take over the television statements.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 7:41:00 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Castor says the House impeachment managers spent “no time” connecting Trump to the insurrection. He’s now talking about Trump’s “real supporters,” because he’s also leaning into the idea that the people there on Jan. 6 were not real Trump supporters.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 7:42:29 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

And dammit, he’s now repeating a video. Because we can’t go five minutes without a rerun. 

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 7:48:32 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Like the videos, Castor’s whole argument is a rerun, Van der Veen already said everything he’s saying.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 7:50:02 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

About the only thing Castor seems to be adding is a lot of attacking the House managers.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 7:53:19 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Please. Let's not see the fight video again. Please.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 7:55:33 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Yup. Insulting the House managers is definitely Castor’s primary role.

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 8:01:32 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner
  1. The Trump “stay peaceful” tweet is over an hour after the attack on the Capitol began.
  2. It’s not only after the insurgents broke into the Capitol, after he called Tuberville, and not only after the tweet urging them to go after Pence.
  3. And yes, the House managers did show that tweet. More than once.
Friday, Feb 12, 2021 · 8:03:56 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

It’s nice how Trump’s team constantly talks about edited videos, before showing 2 second clips. And screams against using media sources, before citing media sources. 

But really, who expected anything more?

Donald Trump’s impeachment defense begins. Expect nonsense: Live coverage #1

Donald Trump’s impeachment defense begins—and is expected to end—today, following two days of argument for his guilt by the House impeachment managers. That prosecution was rock solid, tracing out how Trump set the stage to delegitimize an election he lost, then followed through when he did lose, insisting that the election must have been stolen. They showed that Trump himself chose the date of Jan. 6 for an event—which he promised “will be wild”—calling his supporters to Washington, D.C. on the day Congress met to certify the election results. They showed his repeated pressure and public attacks on Mike Pence, who he wanted to overturn the election. They showed how he encouraged the rally crowd outside the White House to be angry and to march on the Capitol. They showed how the mob received Trump’s instructions, saying it themselves in videos of the Capitol attack and in interviews and court documents since that they were doing what he had asked of them. They showed how terribly close to harm members of Congress—and in particular Pence—came. And they showed how Trump did not call the mob off throughout the attack.

Now his defense team begins, knowing that the vast majority of Republican senators do not care how guilty Trump is and do not care how ineffective the defense is. Expect it to be alternatively incompetent and dangerous and to show its contempt for the rule of law in its shoddiness and shortness.

It will be aired on major television news networks and streamed on their websites. Daily Kos will have continuing coverage.

Three ‘very friendly’ Republican senators met with Trump’s defense lawyers

At the beginning of an impeachment trial, senators swear an oath to “do impartial justice.” Most Republican senators have made clear throughout both of Donald Trump’s impeachment trials that this was a lie—at best, a fig leaf they used to get out of answering questions about how they saw the evidence. Then there’s Lindsey Graham, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz. Those three met with Trump’s defense lawyers Thursday evening to offer advice.

The “very friendly guys,” according to Trump lawyer David Schoen, were making sure Trump’s lawyers were “familiar with procedure.” Probable translation: Wanted to be sure these clowns didn’t screw this thing up too badly for even Republicans to ignore. Was that ethical, though? “Oh yeah, I think that's the practice of impeachment,” Schoen claimed. 

How badly do Graham, Lee, and Cruz think Trump’s lawyers are going to screw up their defense arguments? Alternatively, how worried are they that some Republicans were persuaded by the House impeachment managers’ case? All but six Republicans already voted against holding an impeachment trial at all on the obviously false grounds that it was unconstitutional, giving them an excuse to vote to acquit without engaging the substance of what Trump did at all. 

Sens. Roy Blunt and Marco Rubio are sticking with that claim, for instance. “My view is unchanged as to whether or not we have the authority to do this, and I’m certainly not bound by the fact that 56 people think we do,” Blunt said. “I get to cast my vote, and my view is that you can’t impeach a former president. And if the former president did things that were illegal, there is a process to go through for that.”

And Rubio: “The fundamental question for me, and I don’t know about for everybody else, is whether an impeachment trial is appropriate for someone who is no longer in office. I don’t believe that it is.”

Do Cruz, Lee, and Graham think Schoen and immediately notorious idiot Bruce Castor need their advice to get through what’s forecast to be a very abbreviated day of arguments? Or are they still trying that pathetically hard to suck up to Trump? They do seem to have gotten the attention of his inner circle, with sleazeball adviser Jason Miller repeatedly mentioning their involvement on Newsmax, making absolutely clear the senators were there to build the case for Trump. “It was a real honor to have those senators come in and give us some additional ideas,” he said.

Republican senators have that “not constitutional” sham to hide behind, and they are energetically doing so. They have state parties ready to attack them the minute they step out of line. Donald Trump has his own defense lawyers, albeit not exactly the prime talent of conservative law. And as of Thursday, he officially has three of the people sworn to do impartial justice actively strategizing to help him get off.

The House impeachment managers, on the other hand, had the truth of what happened, and it was too powerful for Republicans to fully ignore. But that is unlikely to be enough.

Trump’s legal team doesn’t actually have a case to present, they just don’t believe it will matter

In two days of presentations, the House impeachment managers laid out a case that seems more than ironclad; it seems to demand action. Starting with a chilling video of events on Jan. 6, they’ve walked the case both backward and forward to demonstrate every aspect of Donald Trump’s guilt. They’ve shown how Donald Trump groomed his supporters not to accept any outcome but a Trump victory from months before the election was held. How Trump immediately began insisting that the election was being “stolen” even as the votes were still being counted. Then how Trump exhausted every legal action, attempted to strong arm state and local officials, and attempted to leverage Mike Pence into taking unconstitutional action. Finally, deprived of everything else, Trump used the army of rabid supporters who he had inflamed with “stop the steal” and directed them at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Perhaps the most chilling and effective portion of the whole presentation dealt with what Trump did after the assault was underway. Far from attempting to stop the attack or provide help to either Congress or the police, Trump acted to increase the peril. In particular, Trump used knowledge of Pence’s movement to inflame the crowd further, and repeatedly signaled his support for their actions.

On Friday, Trump’s legal team will present their case. Early indications are that it will be brief. Because, despite everything else that’s been revealed about Trump’s actions leading up to Jan. 6, many Republicans are once again prepared to give him a pass.

Imagine going to a trial in which the defendant is charged with multiple, monstrous crimes. Then, as the prosecutors are laying out the facts of the case—including the most compelling evidence that reveals details previously unknown to the public—looking over to see that half the jury isn’t even paying attention. One is doodling on a notepad. Another is playing a silly game designed for children. Others are snickering to each other and passing notes. 

As it turns out, no imagination is required. Because that’s exactly how Republicans have treated this trial. As House managers showed how the police lines were being forced, Josh Hawley moved back into the viewing gallery to play. As they described the incredibly close call between Pence and rioters seeking to murder him, Rand Paul was doodling his next hair style. As House managers showed how Trump had constantly not just overlooked violence by his supporters, but encouraged it, Lindsey Graham, who was a House impeachment manager for the impeachment of Bill Clinton, was chortling over his chance to show disdain for the current trial.

Despite the way that Republicans have reacted, it’s clear that the House team laid out a compelling case immediately understandable not just in the Senate, but to the public. 

I’ve closely studied every impeachment trial in our history. No impeachment has ever been as ably prosecuted in the Senate. In no prior impeachment has a conviction been as overwhelmingly justified. Now the Senate is on trial. To acquit itself, it must convict Donald J. Trump.

— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) February 11, 2021

But going into Friday, Trump’s legal team let it be known that their presentation may be as brief as three hours. Some of that time will likely be devoted to rehashing their nonsensical arguments about how the First Amendment protects calling for violence. Or pretending that Trump acted to do something, anything, to end the insurgency. But most of the reply from Bruce Castor and David Schoen is likely to be a funhouse mirror version of the House case.

It can be expected that they will show video of Democratic candidates urging their supporters to “fight” or “never give up.” It can be expected they’ll intersperse unconnected clips of violence from protests in Seattle or Portland or, based on other recent Republican ads, from any number of foreign countries. And because this presentation is going to be 100% aimed at giving Republican senators talking points on Fox News, it's an easy bet it will play heavily into existing memes around women of color. Expect to see Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, all saying things that Trump’s team will indicate are somehow “worse” than anything Trump said.

Expect to see random images of violence taken out of context, with Black Lives Matter marches put next to images of burning stores. Or black-suited figures identified as “antifa.” Expect to see a video, and a presentation, that leans heavily into the racist message that Fox News has already been selling for at least as long as Trump had been grooming his supporters—that BLM marchers are destructive and violent, and that Democratic officials have encouraged them in that violence. Expect to hear a claim that Vice President Kamala Harris asking for support in bailing out protesters was just putting violent extremists back on the street to commit more crimes.

Or … maybe not. Maybe they won’t do anything at all. After all, the real test this week wasn’t one of Trump’s guilt. That was clear even before the trial began, and every moment of the presentation only made the certainty and the extent of Trump’s crimes more obvious.

The real test was whether Republicans in Congress would step away from Trump and move toward doing what the nation needs to move forward. On that point, the evidence suggests that Trump’s team could use their three hours to recite recipes, or promote the next season of Hannity, or simply provide the details for the next assault on the Capitol.

House managers did a fantastic job. They left it all on the floor. No one watching could have any question about Donald Trump’s guilt. Republicans don’t have any question about Trump’s guilt. 

But they seem shockingly willing to convict themselves.