GOP castigates ‘terrible job’ by Trump legal team
House Democrats started former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial with a well-executed video and direct speakers. Trump’s defense opened with a rambling bit by lead lawyer Bruce Castor that conceded the House presentation was “well done” and their arguments would be answered later.
The contrast was not lost on the jury.
“The House managers were focused. They were organized. They relied upon both precedent, the Constitution and legal scholars. They made a compelling argument. President Trump’s team were disorganized. They did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). “And when they talked about it, they kind of glided over, almost as if they were embarrassed of their arguments.”
Cassidy even voted with 55 other senators that the trial should go forward and was not unconstitutional, changing his position from last month. “If I’m an impartial juror and one side is doing a great job and the other job is doing a terrible job on the issue at hand? As an impartial juror, I’m going to vote for the side that did the good job.”
Cassidy’s shift was the most electric moment of the day and highlighted what could only be seen as an incoherent defense by Castor. The Trump lawyer singled out senators who are mulling conviction and conceded he had changed his entire presentation after three of the House impeachment managers, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), made their opening arguments.
“I thought the first attorney for the president today did not present a case, which surprised me. Did not make any arguments,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who also voted to uphold the constitutionality of the trial. “The second attorney representing the president clearly did, and did a competent job. I’m puzzled by the presentation of the first attorney.”
David Schoen, the second attorney, offered a more conventional presentation appealing to the GOP. But he bobbled the timeline of the impeachment trial, blaming House Democrats for declining to send the article until Trump was out of office. Yet the Senate was on recess during that period — which made it impossible for Trump’s trial to start without the Senate deciding to reconvene on an emergency basis.
Generally, Republicans were warmer on Schoen. But Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former state Supreme Court judge and state attorney general, conceded of the presentation: “Not one of the finest I’ve seen.
“The first lawyer, just rambled on and on and on and didn’t really address the constitutional argument,” Cornyn said. “Finally the second lawyer got around to it.”