It was never really in doubt that the impeachment trial would move to the next stage since the senate is split 50/50 with a tie breaking vote to the vice-president Kamala Harris. As it turned out though, the margin of 56-44 meant that six republicans crossed party lines to move the impeachment on to the next stage. What was surprising though, was the bi-partisan confusion that greeted the case made by Mr Trump’s lawyers as to why they thought the impeachment itself was unconstitutional and should be halted. Attention seemed to focus on Bruce Castor in particular.
In a 48-minute rambling address to the Senate Mr Castor, a former District Attorney General in Pansylvania (himself a magnet for controversy having refused to charge Bill Cosby), attempted to pain the impeachment as unnecessary. He suggested that, since Mr Trump had been removed by voters, the object of the constitution had been achieved. Implicit in such a statement was the acknowledgement of Mr Trump’s loss in a fair electoral process, something that stands in stark contrast to the claim he repeated in the wake of the election that he was the victim of massive voter fraud. Perhaps no wonder then that Mr Trump, media reports suggest, was deeply unhappy with Mr Castor’s performance.
And the criticism kept coming from all corners. CNNs Anderson Cooper described it as ‘a meandering, drunk, wedding speech’, Andrew Neil, Chairman of the right-leaning magazine The Spectator described the performance as awful, while Alan Dershowitz (who represented Mr Trump in his first impeachment trial) told Newsmax (a conspiracy-theory-laden conservative news channel) that he had ‘no idea what [Mr Castor] is doing’.
This approach stood in stark contrast to the approach of the Democrats who played a dramatic montage of videos from January 6th interspersed with recordings of Mr Trump’s speech to the mob, in which he told them to ‘fight like hell’. In a made-for-TV impeachment trial, Democrats are putting across their evidence accordingly and, if the overriding opinion from commentators is anything to go by, with much greater success than the team of Mr Trump. Ultimately though, as powerful and well received as that video was, impeachment is an inherently political process and Mr Trump looks almost certain to avoid conviction. What could be more of a concern for him is the news that a criminal investigation is being opened up into his call to the Georgia Secretary of State, in which he asked him to find 11,780 votes. With a new problem to worry about, Mr Trump better hope he has a top legal team…
Image Credit: C-Span