The defense of Donald Trump at his impeachment trial got off to a rocky start earlier this week. There’s no denying that.
Today, however, the defense team came back strong in its closing argument. Trump’s lawyers used only about two and half hours of their allotted 16 to respond to the House managers’ case. That was enough to demolish it and to show the dishonesty of the managers’ presentation.
Below is video of the entire presentation plus the questioning of both sides (of which I did not watch much). The closing argument ends at around the 3 hour 18 minute mark. You can get a good feel for the defense if you begin at around the 2 hour 37 minute mark.
As I’ve said before, I think there is a decent, although ultimately unpersuasive, case for impeachment. But the House was in too big a rush to have made that case. The Article of Impeachment is an embarrassment, so it’s not surprising that the managers relied on emotion and distortion, rather than reason, in presenting it.
I doubt that more than five Republican Senators — the hard core anti-Trumpers — will vote to convict the former president. A sixth Republican, Sen. Cassidy, voted with the five on the question of whether a former president can be tried. Cassidy said that this vote, defensible on the merits, resulted from the weakness of the defense team’s argument on a close constitutional question.
Today, the defense team’s arguments were strong, so that any inclination Cassidy might have had to vote to convict has probably vanished.
The defense team took plenty of heat for arguing the constitutional question so poorly, and rightly so. But it should be commended for the substance and brevity of today’s effort.
UPDATE: I was wrong about only five Republicans voting to convict. Cassidy and retiring Senator Richard Burr joined the hardcore five.
Burr had voted that the trial could not take place as a matter of constitutional law. In a press release he said he still believes this, but the Senate voted otherwise and he considers himself bound by Senate precedent.
Silly me. I thought Burr’s oath was to the Constitution, not to Senate precedent.