Before I get the guts of the day’s doings there is something I want to pass on……
This trial is a work of absurdity…why? Some jurors have stated without hearing evidence that the accused is not guilty….that flies into the face of our so-called fair and balanced judicial system.
I am not alone in seeing the absurdity…….
President Trump is on trial.
As in a real trial, charges have been asserted: the House alleges high crimes and misdemeanors. A judge presides: Chief Justice John Roberts sits in his fine black robe at the head of the chamber. There are prosecutors (the House impeachment managers) and defense counsel (Trump’s “A-team” of lawyers).
And pursuant to our Constitution, the jurors—the members of the Senate—have sworn an oath to render “impartial justice” at the end of the trial.
So, it looks like a trial. Except that in my 40 years as a lawyer, I’ve never seen a trial that corruptly flouted the basic requirements for fairness as brazenly as this one.
In a real trial, any juror who admitted conspiring with the defendant would be unceremoniously ejected from the jury. Yet Republican Senate leader and sworn-to-be-impartial juror Mitch McConnell openly proclaims on television, “Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with White House counsel.”
Day 9 is in the bag…….what amazing stuff has transpired (you realize that is sarcasm, right?)
Question and answer portion continues…….
Let’s go the analysis shall we?
After a dinner break, senators have resumed their final round of questions in President Trump’s impeachment trial, a session expected to last into Thursday night. (Read highlights from the first round.) That will set the stage for Friday’s much-anticipated vote on whether to call witnesses such as former national security adviser John Bolton. Ongoing coverage:
- Rand Paul: For the second straight day, Rand Paul submitted a question that named the person believed to be the whistleblower in the Ukraine controversy, and for the second straight day, Chief Justice John Roberts refused to admit it. “The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted,” said Roberts, per CNN. Paul said afterward that his submitted question made no reference to a whistleblower and read it aloud to reporters. The Hill, however, notes that it did include the name that has been reported in conservative media as the whistleblower. Paul said Roberts had no right to block the question.
- Paul’s explanation: “My question today is about whether or not individuals who were holdovers from the Obama National Security Council and Democrat partisans conspired with Schiff staffers to plot impeaching the President before there were formal House impeachment proceedings,” he tweeted. CNN reports he walked out of the impeachment trial to talk to reporters after Roberts blocked his question. On Wednesday, after his first question was rejected, a reporter for Roll Call said Paul was visibly angry during a break in the trial. “I don’t want to have to stand up to try and fight for recognition,” Paul said loudly, according to Niels Lesniewski. “If I have to fight for recognition, I will.”
- The question gets asked, sort of: Later in the day, GOP Sen. Ron Johnson submitted a question the Guardian says was “clearly based off” Paul’s rejected question, only this one did not include a name. Roberts read the question, which had to do with a right-wing claim that the whistleblower schemed with Democratic staffers of House intelligence committee members in an attempt to take down the president. CNN notes the question was about lead Democratic impeachment manager Adam Schiff’s staffer who used to work at the NSC, and that Schiff was “really mad” when it was asked.
- Is it actually illegal to out the whistleblower? Short answer: It’s complicated. CNN explains all the ins and outs here.
- Who is the whistleblower? Schiff said at one point, before Johnson’s question, “I can’t tell you who the whistleblower is because I don’t know, but I can tell you who it should be. It should be every one of us. Everyone one of us should be willing to blow the whistle on misconduct.”
- Awkwardness for Roberts: The chief justice read a question from Sen. Elizabeth Warren that he might have been tempted to answer. The Democrat asked whether “the fact that the chief justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Court and the Constitution.” The GOP side of the Senate began buzzing, per the Washington Post, while Democrats showed no emotion. After a pause, Schiff deflected from Roberts, saying it’s Congress that’s taking the hit. “It reflects adversely on us,” Schiff said.
- Trump’s slam: In a tweet Thursday, the president went after Schiff. “His District is in terrible shape,” wrote Trump. “He is a corrupt pol who only dreams of the Impeachment Hoax. In my opinion he is mentally deranged!”
- More Schiff: Another one of Schiff’s notable answers of the day came when he was asked why some aid freezes are OK, but the Ukraine aid freeze is not. “No one has suggested you can’t condition aid, but I would hope that we would all agree that you can’t condition aid for a corrupt purpose, to try to get a foreign power to cheat in your election,” he said.
- Tie-breaker? A big question in regard to witnesses is whether Roberts would break the tie if the vote is 50-50. On Thursday, Nancy Pelosi said he should do so, per the Post. She also said that if the trial does not allow witnesses or new documents, it will be a sham and thus any acquittal will be meaningless. Trump, she said, will be “impeached forever.”
- A DoJ comment makes waves: In an unrelated trial related to the 2020 census, a Department of Justice lawyer said in federal court Thursday that the House can use its impeachment powers to enforce subpoenas. Schiff mentioned the comment at the impeachment trial a few hours later, saying it was “in the category of ‘you can’t make this stuff up.'” CNN explains more here.
- General mood: CNN describes the senators as “lackadaisical” on Q&A day 2, noting that some were not present when the session got started and some wandered in late.
- Dershowitz circles back to Wednesday: On day 1 of Q&A, Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz offered what the AP calls a “stunning defense” of Trump’s aid freeze, arguing that a president can’t be impeached for something he does in the interest of getting himself re-elected, if he believes that re-election is in the public interest. That sparked quite an outcry, with critics saying it sets a dangerous precedent, but Dershowitz tweeted two dozen times Thursday on the matter. The first one: “Taking advantage of the fact most of their viewers didn’t actually hear the senate Q and A, CNN, MSNBC and some other media willfully distorted my answers.”
Sorry but to me this day was more about the game than the trial….the questions were for their persons time on camera than the evidence…..and then there is Rand Paul…..if there was ever a “media whore” it is this slug.
Not to worry there is more to come…..the fun is not over yet.
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