Donald Trump was acquitted of “Incitement of Insurrection” at the end of his second impeachment trial. Many seem to think this result was inevitable, but that wasn’t the case. In this episode, by examining the evidence and how it was presented by the House Impeachment Managers, learn how the trial could have been structured to provide the possibility of a different outcome.
Executive Producer: Scott
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CD226: The 116th Lame Duck
CD206: Impeachment: The Evidence
- Article: Georgia Prosecutor Investigating Trump Call Urges Patience, By Associated Press, US News, February 26, 2021
- Article: “A Date Which Will Live In Infamy”: The Other Scandal From The Capitol Riot, By Jonathan Turley, February 22, 2021
- Article: The False and Exaggerated Claims Still Being Spread About the Capitol Riot, By Glenn Greenwald, February 16, 2021
- Article: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Second Impeachment of Donald J. Trump, By Weiyi Cai, The New York Times, February 13, 2021
- Article: VERIFY: Yes, Donald Trump can be subpoenaed to testify at his impeachment trial, By Katrina Neeper, WUSA, February 12, 2021
- Article: Trump’s Lawyers Repeated Inaccurate Claims in Impeachment Trial, By Linda Qiu, The New York Times, February 12, 2021
- Article: “Much To Do About Nothing”: The Withdrawal Of The Lee Claim Has “Much To Do” With A Glaring Flaw In The House Case, By Jonathan Turley, February 11, 2021
- Article: Georgia Prosecutors Open Criminal Inquiry Into Trump’s Efforts to Subvert Election, By Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, The New York Times, February 10, 2021
- Article: Senate votes Trump impeachment trial is constitutional, By Marisa Schultz, Fox News, February 9, 2021
- Article: “THE PRESIDENT THREW US UNDER THE BUS”: EMBEDDING WITH PENTAGON LEADERSHIP IN TRUMP’S CHAOTIC LAST WEEK, By Adam Ciralsky, Vanity Fair, January 22, 2021
- Article: Yes, It Was a Coup Attempt. Here’s Why., By Fiona Hill, Politico, January 11, 2021
- Document: House Resolution, Article of Impeachment, U.S. House of Representatives 2021
- Article: Fact check: Georgia rejected ballots did not go from 4% to “almost zero” in 2020, By Reuters Staff, Reuters, November 23, 2020
- Article: Trump Misinformation on Georgia Ballot Rejections, By Robert Farley, FactCheck.org, November 20, 2020
- Insurrection Law and Legal Definition, USLegal
Sound Clip Sources
Hearing: Senate Impeachment Trial Day 1 – Impeachment Managers, U.S. Senate, February 9, 2021
David Shoen: A review of the house record reveals that the speaker streamlined the impeachment process. House Resolution 24 to go straight to the floor for two hour debate and a vote without the ability for amendments. The house record reflects no committee hearing no witnesses, no presentation or cross examination of evidence, and no opportunity for the accused to respond or even have counsel present to object. House managers claim the need for impeachment was so urgent that they had to rush the proceedings, with no time to spare for a more thorough investigation, or really any investigation at all. But that claim is belied by what happened or didn’t happen next. The House leadership unilaterally and by choice waited another 12 days to deliver the article to this Senate to begin the trial process. In other words, the House leadership spent more time holding the adopted article than it did on the whole process leading up to the adoption of the article. We say respectfully, that this intentional delay by Speaker Pelosi such that in the intervening period, President Trump became private citizen Mr. Trump constitutes a lapse or waiver of jurisdiction here for Mr. Trump no longer is the president described as subject to impeachment in Article One, Section three, clause six, and in Article two, Section four, and this body therefore has no jurisdiction as a function of that additional due process violation by Speaker Pelosi. Moreover, with all due respect, then President Trump suffered a tangible detriment from Speaker Pelosi has actions which violates not only his rights to due process of law, but also his expressed constitutional right to have the Chief Justice preside. The impeachment articles should be treated as a nullity and dismissed based on the total lack of due process in the house.
David Shoen: For example, they contend, citing various law professors that quote any official who betrayed the public trust and was impeached could avoid accountability simply by resigning one minute before the Senate’s final conviction vote. This argument is a complete canard. The Constitution expressly provides in Article One, section three clause seven, that a convicted party following impeachment shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment according to law after removal. Clearly, a former civil officer who’s not impeached is subject to the same. We have a judicial process in this country we have exactly an investigative process in this country, to which no former office holder is immune. That’s the process that should be running its course.
Bruce Castor: I mean, let’s let’s understand why we are really here. We are really here, because the majority in the House of Representatives does not want to face Donald Trump as a political rival in the future. That’s the real reason we’re here.
David Shoen: Presidents are impeachable because presidents are removable. Former presidents are not because they cannot be removed. The Constitution is clear, trial by the Senate sitting as a court of impeachment is reserved for the President of the United States, not a private citizen, or used to be President the United States. Just as clear, the judgment required upon conviction is removed from office and a former president can no longer be removed from office.
Rep. Jaime Raskin (MD): Indeed, the most famous of these impeachments occurred, while the famed framers gathered in Philadelphia to write the Constitution. It was the impeachment of Warren Hastings, the former Governor General of the British colony of Bengal, and a corrupt guy. The framers knew all about it, and they strongly supported the impeachment. In fact, the Hastings case was invoked by name at the convention. It was the only specific impeachment case that they discussed at the convention. It played a key role in their adoption of the high crimes and misdemeanors standard. And even though everyone there surely knew that Hastings had left the office, two years before his impeachment trial began, not a single framer, not one raised a concern, when Virginia and George Mason held up the Hastings impeachment as a model for us in the writing of our Constitution.
Rep. Jaime Raskin (MD): Senators, Mr. President, to close, I want to say something personal about the stakes of this decision whether President Trump can stand trial and be held to account for inciting insurrection against us. This trial is personal Indeed, for every senator, for remember the house, every manager, all of our staff, the Capitol Police, the Washington DC, Metropolitan Police, the National Guard, maintenance and custodial crews, the print journalists and TV people who were here, and all of our families and friends. I hope this trial reminds America how personal democracy is. And how personal is the loss of democracy to distinguished members of the Senate. My youngest daughter Tabitha, was there with me on Wednesday, January 6. It was the day after we buried her brother, our son Tommy, the saddest day of our lives. Also, there was my son in law, Hank, who’s married to our oldest daughter, Hannah, and I consider him a son too, even though he eloped with my daughter and didn’t tell us what they were gonna do. But it was in the middle of COVID-19. But the reason they came with me that Wednesday, January sixth, was because they wanted to be together with me in the middle of a devastating week for our family. And I told them, I had to go back to work, because we were counting electoral votes. That day, on January 6, it was our constitutional duty. And I invited them instead to come with me to witness this historic event, the peaceful transfer of power in America. And they said they heard that President Trump was calling on his followers to come to Washington to protest and they asked me directly, would it be safe? Would it be safe? And I told them, of course, it should be safe. This is the Capitol. Steny Hoyer, our majority leader had kindly offered me the use of his office on the House floor, because I was one of the managers that day and we were going through our grief. So Tabitha, and Hank were with me and Stephanie’s office, as colleagues dropped by to console us about the loss of our middle child, Tommy, our beloved Tommy, Mr. Newsome, Mr. Cicilline, actually came to see me that day, dozens of members, lots of Republicans, lots of Democrats came to see me. And I felt a sense of being lifted up from the agony and I won’t forget their tenderness. And through the tears, I was working on a speech for the floor, when we would all be together in joint session, and I wanted to focus on unity. When we met in the house, I quoted Abraham Lincoln’s famous 1838 Lyceum speech, where he said that if division and destruction ever come to America, it won’t come from abroad. It’ll come from within, said Lincoln. And in that same speech, Lincoln passionately deplored mob violence. Right after the murder of Elijah Lovejoy, the abolitionist newspaper editor, and he did Lincoln deplored mob violence. And he deplored mob rule. And he said it would lead to tyranny and despotism in America. That was the speech I gave that day, after the house, very graciously and warmly welcomed me back. And Tabitha and Hank came with me to the floor, and they watched it from the gallery. And when it was over, they went back to that office, Steny’s office, off of the House floor. They didn’t know that the house had been breached yet, and that an insurrection or riot, or a coup had come to Congress. And by the time we learned about it, about what was going on, it was too late. I couldn’t get out there to be with them in that office. And all around me, people were calling their wives and their husbands their loved ones to say goodbye. Members of Congress in the house anyway, we’re removing their congressional pins, so they wouldn’t be identified by the mob as they tried to escape the violence. Our new chaplain got up and said a prayer for us and we were told to put our gas masks on. And then there was a sound I will never forget the sound of pounding on the door like a battering ram, to most haunting sound I ever heard and I will never forget it. My Chief of Staff truly taken was with Tabitha and Hank locked and barricaded in that office. The kids hiding under the desk, placing what they thought were their final texts, and whispered phone calls to say their goodbyes, they thought they were gonna die. My son in law have never even been to the Capitol before. And when they were finally rescued over an hour later by Capitol officers, and we were together, I hugged them. And I apologized. And I told my daughter Tabitha, who’s 24 and a brilliant algebra teacher in Teach for America. Now, I told her how sorry I was. And I promised her that it would not be like this again. The next time she came back to the Capitol with me. And you know what she said? She said, Dad, I don’t want to come back to the Capitol. Of all the terrible brutal things I saw and I heard on that day. And since then, that one hit me the hardest. That and watching someone use an American flag pole. The flag still on it, to spear and pummel one of our police officers ruthlessly mercilessly tortured by a pole with a flag on it that he was defending with his very life. People died that day. Officers ended up with head damage and brain damage, people’s eyes were gouged. Officer a heart attack. Officer lost three fingers that day. Two officers have taken their own lives. Senators, this cannot be our future. This cannot be the future of America. We cannot have presidents inciting and mobilizing mob violence against our government and our institutions, because they refuse to accept the will of the people under the Constitution of the United States. Much less can we create a new January exception in our precious beloved constitution that prior generations have died for and fought for, so the corrupt presidents have several weeks to get away with whatever it is they want to do. History does not support a January exception in any way. So why would we invent one for the future?
Rep. Jaime Raskin (MD): And there can be no doubt that the Senate has the power to try this impeachment. We know this because Article One, Section Three gives the senate the sole power to try all impeachments the Senate has the power, the sole power to try all impeachments all means all and they’re no exceptions to the rule because the Senate has jurisdiction to try all impeachments It most certainly has jurisdiction to try this one.
Rep. Jaime Raskin (MD): The first point comes from English history, which matters because in Hamilton road, England provided the model from which the idea of this institution has been borrowed, and it would have been immediately obvious to anyone familiar with that history that former officials could be held accountable for their abuses while in office. Every single impeachment of a government official that occurred during the framers lifetime concerned a former official.
Rep. Joe Neguse (CO): Let’s start with the precedent with what has happened in this very chamber. I’d like to focus on just two cases. I’ll go through them quickly. One of them is the nation’s very first impeachment case, which actually was of a former official. In 1797, about a decade after our country had ratified our Constitution, there was a senator from Tennessee by the name of William blunt, who was caught conspiring with the British to try to sell Florida and Louisiana. Ultimately, President Adams caught him. He turned over the evidence to Congress. Four days later, the House of Representatives impeached him. A day after that, this body the United States Senate, expelled him from office. So he was very much a former official. Despite that, the house went forward with its impeachment proceeding in order to disqualify him from ever again, holding federal office. And so the senate proceeded with the trial with none other than Thomas Jefferson presiding. Now, blood argue that the Senate couldn’t proceed because he had already been expelled. But here’s the interesting thing. He expressly disavowed any claim that former officials can’t ever be impeached. I mean, unlike President Trump, he was very clear that he respected and understood that he could not even try to argue that ridiculous position. Even impeached, Senator Blunt, recognized the inherent absurdity of that view. Here’s what he said. ‘I certainly never shall contend that an officer may 1 commit an offense and afterwards avoid by resigning his office.’ That’s the point. And there was no doubt because the founders were around to confirm that that was their intent and the obvious meaning of what is in the Constitution.
Rep. Joe Neguse (CO): William Belknap I’m not going to go into all the details, but just in short in 1876, the House discovered that he was involved in a massive kickback scheme. hours before the House committee that discovered this conduct released its report documenting the scheme. Belknap literally rushed to the White House to resign tender his resignation to President Ulysses Grant to avoid any further inquiry into his misconduct, and of course, to avoid being disqualified from holding federal office in the future. Well, later that day, aware of the resignation, what did the house do? The House move forward and unanimously impeached him, making clear its power to impeach a former official and when his case reached the Senate, this body Belknap made the exact same argument that President Trump is making today. That you all lacked jurisdiction any power to try him because he’s a former official. Now many senators. At that time when they heard that argument. Literally, they were sitting in the same chairs you all are sitting in today, they were outraged by that argument. outraged. You can read their comments in the record. They knew it was a dangerous, dangerous argument with dangerous implications. It would literally mean that a president could betray their country, leave office and avoid impeachment and disqualification entirely. And that’s why, in the end, the United States Senate decisively voted that the constitution required them to proceed with the trial.
Rep. Joe Neguse (CO): And just imagine the consequences of such an absurd interpretation of the Constitution. I mean, if, if President Trump were right about that language, then officials could commit the most extraordinary destructive offenses against the American people high crimes and misdemeanors, and they’d have total control over whether they can ever be impeached. And if they are, whether the Senate can try the case, if they want to escape any public inquiry into their misconduct, or the risk of disqualification from future office, and it’s pretty simple, they just could just resign one minute before the house impeaches or even one minute before the Senate trial or they could resign during the senate trial. It’s not looking so well. That would effectively erase disqualification from the Constitution. It would put wrongdoers in charge of whether the senate can try them.
Bruce Castor: The argument about the 14th amendment is absolutely ridiculous. The house managers tell you that the president should be impeached because he violated the 14th amendment. And here’s what the 14th Amendment says. no person shall be a senator or representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military under the United States, or any other state, who having previously taken an oath as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial Officer of any state to support the Constitution, and shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may vote by two thirds of each house to remove such disability. Now, it doesn’t take a constitutional scholar to recognize that that’s written for people who fought for the Confederacy, or previous military officers who were in the government and not the Confederacy. And it does take a constitutional scholar to require that they be convicted first. In a court with due process of law. So that question can never be right until those things have happened.
Bruce Castor: If my colleagues on this side of the chamber actually think that President Trump committed a criminal offense, and let’s understand a high crime is a felony, and a misdemeanor is a misdemeanor, the words haven’t changed that much over the time. After he’s out of office, you go and arrest him. So there is no opportunity where the President of the United States can run rampant in January the end of his term and just go away scot free. The Department of Justice does know what to do with such people. And so far, I haven’t seen any activity in that direction. And not only that, the people who stormed this building and breached it. We’re not accused of conspiring with the President.
Hearing: Senate Impeachment Trial Day 2 – Part 1, U.S. Senate, February 10, 2021
Rep. Madeleine Dean (PA): He then contacted Majority Leader of the Michigan Senate, Mike Shirkey, and the Speaker of the Michigan House, Lee Chatfield to lobby them to overturn Michigan’s results. Trump invited Mr. Chatfield and Mr. Shirkey to Washington to meet with him at the White House, where the President lobbied them further. Let’s be clear, Donald Trump was calling officials, hosting them at the White House, urging them to defy the voters in their state and instead award votes to Trump. The officials held strong and so Trump moved on to a different state, my home state of Pennsylvania. I am certain my Senators, Casey and Senator Toomey remember what happened there in early December as he did in Michigan. He began calling election officials, including my former colleagues in the Pennsylvania legislature, Republicans, Majority Leader Kim Ward, and Speaker of the House, Brian Cutler. Majority Leader Ward said the president called her to, “declare there was a fraud in the voting,” then on November 25, President Trump phoned into a Republican state senate policy hearing, trying to convince the Republican legislators, Senators and House members, there had been a fraud in the vote. He even had his lawyer hold a phone up to the microphone in that hearing room. So the committee could hear him. Here is what he said.Donald Trump: We can’t let that happen. We can’t let it happen for our country. And this election has to be turned around because we won Pennsylvania by a lot. And we won all of these swing states by a lot. Rep. Madeleine Dean (PA): This was a gathering. I’ve attended many I have to tell you, as a former state legislator, a lot of policy hearings, I have to say with some confidence that was likely the first time a President of the United States of America called into a state legislative policy hearing. And remember, here is the President saying he won Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania had been certified for that Biden had won by more than 80,000 votes. Less than a week after calling into that meeting, he invited multiple Republican members of the Pennsylvania legislature to the White House, the same scheme he had used on the Michigan legislators. It didn’t work with those public servants either. Think about it. The President of the United States was calling public officials from the White House, inviting them into the Oval Office, telling them to disenfranchise voters of their state, telling them to overturn the will of the American people. All so he could take the election for himself.
Rep. Madeleine Dean (PA): And then in Georgia, a state Trump had counted on for victory, his conduct was perhaps the most egregious. On November 11, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger confirmed that he believed ballots were accurately counted for Biden. Trump went on a relentless attack. Here are just a few examples. In all Trump tweeted at Raffensperger 17 times in the coming week. Show us just a few calling him “a disaster, obstinate, not having a clue, being played for a fool” and being a “so-called Republican” all because Raffensperger was doing his job ensuring the integrity of our elections.
Rep. Madeleine Dean (PA): In early December, Trump called Brian Kemp, the Governor of Georgia and pressured him to hold a special session of the state legislature to overturn the election results and to appoint electors who would vote for Trump. A few weeks later on December 23, Trump called the Chief Investigator for the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, who was conducting an audit. An audit of the signature matching procedures for absentee ballots. Trump urged him, “find the fraud” and claimed the official would be a national hero if he did. Let’s call this what it is. He was asking the official to say there was evidence of fraud when there wasn’t any. The official refused and the investigation was completed. And on December 29, Raffensperger announced that the audit found, quote, no fraudulent absentee ballots with a 99% confidence level. On January 3rd, Trump tweeted about a call he had with Georgia election officials the day before. He said, “I spoke to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger yesterday about Fulton County and voter fraud in Georgia. He was unwilling or unable to answer questions such as the ballots under the table scan, ballot destruction, out of state voters, dead voters and more. He has no clue.” On January the fifth, The Washington Post released a recording of that call, which had occurred on January 2nd, remember, just four days before the attack on the Capitol. Here is what President Trump said: Donald Trump: It’s more illegal for you than it is for them. Because you know what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s it. You know, that’s a criminal offense. And as you know, you can’t let that happen. That’s that’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyers. That’s a big risk. Rep. Madeleine Dean (PA): Let’s be clear. This is the President of the United States telling a secretary of state that if he does not find votes, he will face criminal penalties. And not just any number of votes. Donald Trump was asking the Secretary of State to somehow find the exact number of votes Donald Trump lost the state by. Remember, President Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes. In his own words, Trump said ‘All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes.’ He wanted the Secretary of State to somehow find the precise number plus one so that he could win. Here’s what he said Donald Trump: Well, look, I want to do is this I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Rep. Madeleine Dean (PA): He says it right there. The President of the United States, telling a public official to manufacture the exact votes needed so he can win.
Rep. Ted Lieu (CA): But when Rosen took over, President Trump put the same pressure on him that he had done with state officials, members of Congress, US senators and his former Attorney General. President Trump reportedly summoned acting Attorney General Rosen to the oval office the next day, and pressured Rosen to appoint special counsels to keep investigating their election, including unfounded accusations of widespread voter fraud, and also to investigate Dominion, the voting machines firm. According to reports, Mr. Rosen refused. To maintain that he will make decisions based on the facts in the law and reminded President Trump what he had already been told by Attorney General bill Barr, that the department had already investigated and quote found no evidence of widespread fraud. But President Trump refused to follow the facts in the law. So the President turned to someone he knew would do his bidding. He turned to Jeffrey Clark, another Justice Department lawyer, who had allegedly expressed support for using the Department of Justice to investigate the election results. Shortly after acting Attorney General Rosen followed his duty and the law to refuse to reopen investigations. President Trump intended to replace Mr. Rosen with Mr. Clark, who could then try to stop Congress from certifying the electoral college results. According to reports, White House Counsel Pat Cippollone advised President Trump, not to fire acting Attorney General Rosen. Department officials had also threatened to resign en mass if he had fired Rosen.
Rep. Ted Lieu (CA): Trump reportedly told almost anyone who called him to also call the Vice President. According to reports, when Mike Pence was in the Oval Office, President Trump would call people to try to get them to convince the Vice President to help him.
Rep. Ted Lieu (CA): You can either go down in history as a patriot, Mr. Trump told him, according to people briefed on the conversation or you can go down in history as a pussy.
Del. Stacey Plaskett (VI): Pezzola has since been charged with eight federal crimes for his conduct related to January sixth. According to an FBI agents affidavit submitted to the court, the group that was with him during the sack of the capital confirm that they were out to murder ‘anyone they got their hands on.’ Here’s what the FBI said. And I quote, ‘other members of the group talked about things they had done that day. And they said that anyone they got their hands on, they would have killed, including Nancy Pelosi,’ and that, ‘they would have killed Vice President Mike Pence. If given the chance.’
Rep. David Cicilline (RI): Those around Donald Trump, as was later reported, were disgusted. His close aides, his advisors, those working for him former officials, even his family were begging him to do something. Kelly Anne Conway, the President’s close advisor call to quote, add her name to the chorus of aides urging Donald Trump to take action. Ivanka Trump, the President’s own daughter went to the Oval Office as soon as the writing escalated and was as confirmed by Senator Graham “trying to get Trump to speak out to tell everyone to leave.” Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called Jared Kushner pleading with him to persuade Trump to issue a statement or to do something. And Kushner too, went down to the White House after that call. And it wasn’t just the people at the White House. Members of Congress from both parties who were trapped here, calling the White House to ask for help.
Rep. David Cicilline (RI): The President, as reported by sources, at the time was delighted to see watch the violence unfold on television. President Trump was reportedly and I quote ‘borderline enthusiastic, because it meant the certification was being derailed.’
Rep. David Cicilline (RI): Senator Ben Sasse related conversation with senior White House officials that President Trump was “walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was.”
Rep. David Cicilline (RI): He attempted to call Senator Tuberville, dialed Senator Lee by accident. Senator Lee describes it, he had just ended a prayer with his colleagues here in the Senate chamber and phone rang. It was Donald Trump. And now Senator Lee explains that the phone call goes something like this. Hey Tommy, Trump asks, and Senator Lee says this isn’t Tommy and he hands the phone to Senator Tuberville. Certainly then confirm that he’s stood by as Senator Tuberville and President Trump spoke on the phone. And on that call, Donald Trump reportedly asked Senator Tuberville to make additional objections to the certification process. That’s why he called.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX): An aide to Mark Meadows, the President’s Chief of Staff, urged his boss to go see the president saying, “they are going to kill people.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX): On January 6th, President Trump left everyone in this capital for dead.
Hearing: Senate Impeachment Trial Day 3 – Part 1, U.S. Senate, February 11, 2021
Rep. David Cicilline (RI): Senators, simply put, this mob was trying to overthrow our government.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX): According to charging documents, Riley Williams allegedly helped steal a laptop from Speaker Pelosi his office to, ‘send the computer device to a friend in Russia, who then plan to sell the device to SVR Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service.’ While we can’t be certain if or how many foreign spies infiltrated the crowd, or at least coordinated with those who did, we can be sure that any enemy who wanted access to our secrets would have wanted to be part of that mob inside these holes.
Hearing: Senate Impeachment Trial Day 4, U.S. Senate, February 12, 2021
Michael Van Der Veen: According to publicly available reporting, it is apparent that extremists of various different stripes and political persuasions, preplanned and premeditated an attack on the Capitol. One of the first people arrested was a leader of Antifa. Sadly, he was also among the first to be released. From the beginning, the President has been clear. The criminals who infiltrated the Capitol must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. They should be in prison for as long as the law allows. The fact that the attacks were apparently premeditated, as alleged by the house managers, demonstrates the ludicrousness of the incitement allegation against the President. You can’t incite what was already going to happen.
Michael Van Der Veen: Law enforcement officers at the scene conducted themselves heroically and courageously and our country owes them an eternal debt. But there must be a discussion of the decision by political leadership regarding force posture and security in advance of the event.
Michael Van Der Veen: Consider the language that the house impeachment article alleges to constitute incitement. If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore. This is ordinary political rhetoric that is virtually indistinguishable from the language that has been used by people across the political spectrum for hundreds of years.
David Schoen: Speaker Pelosi herself on February 2nd, called for a 9-11 style commission to investigate the events of January 6th. Speaker Pelosi says that the Commission is needed to determine the causes of the events she says it herself. If an inquiry of that magnitude is needed to determine the causes of the riot, and it may very well be, then how can these same Democrats have the certainty needed to bring articles of impeachment and blame the riots on President Trump? They don’t.
David Schoen: As any trial lawyer will tell you reportedly is a euphemism for I have no real evidence.
Michael Van Der Veen: Brandenburg versus Ohio is really the landmark case on the issue of incitement speech. After the case was mentioned yesterday, in the Brandenburg v. Ohio case, another landmark, the court held that the government may only suppress speech for advocating the use of force or a violation of law. If such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action, and is likely to incite or produce such action. The Brandenburg holding has been interpreted as having three basic prongs to determine if speech meets the definition of incitement. The Brandenburg test precludes speech from being sanctioned as incitement to a riot, unless, this: one, the speech explicitly or implicitly encouraged use of violence or lawless action. Two, the speaker intends that his speech will result in use of violence or lawless action. And three, the imminent use of violence or lawless action is likely is the likely result of the speech. The house managers cannot get past the first prong of the Brandenburg test. They have not and cannot prove Mr. Trump explicitly or implicitly encouraged use of violence or lawless action period.
Bruce Castor: Did the 45th President engage in incitement? They continue to say insurrection? Clearly, there was no insurrection. Insurrection is a term defined in the law and involves taking over a country, a shadow government, taking the TV stations over and having some plan on what you’re going to do when you finally take power. Clearly, this is not that. What our colleagues here across the aisle meant is incitement to violence. To riot.
Bruce Castor: Several of my colleagues and the house managers got up and spoke about the proceeding in the House being like a Grand Jury proceeding. Well, I’ve been in Grand Jury proceedings. I have run grand juries, in Grand Jury proceedings you call witnesses. You hear evidence. You make transcripts. You take affidavits, you develop physical evidence. You hear reports from police officers, you hear forensic analysis from scientists. In fact, you invite the target of the grand jury to come in and testify if he or she pleases to be heard by the grand jury. Which one of those things happened in the house prior to the impeachment article?
Bruce Castor: The House managers told you that the President demanded that the Georgia Secretary of State, “find just over 11,000 votes.” The word find like so many others, the house managers highlighted is taken completely out of context. And the word “find” did not come out of thin air. Based on an analysis of publicly available voter data, that the ballot rejection rate in Georgia in 2016, was approximately 6.42%. And even though a tremendous amount of new first time mail in ballots were included in the 2020 count, the Georgia rejection rate in 2020, was a mere four tenths of 1%. A drop off from 6.42% to 0.04%.
Bruce Castor: With that background, it is clear that President Trump’s comments and the use of the word “find” were solely related to his concerns with the inexplicable dramatic drop in Georgia’s ballot rejection rates.
Rep. Jaime Raskin (MD): The problem was when the President went from his judicial combat, which was fine to intimidating and bullying, state election officials and state legislators. And then finally, as Representative Cheney said, summoning a mob, assembling a mob and then lighting the match for an insurrection against the union. When he crossed over from non violent means, no matter how ridiculous or absurd, that’s fine, he’s exercising his rights, to inciting violence. That’s what this trial is about.
Speaker: Exactly when did President Trump learn of the breach of the Capitol? What specific actions did he take to bring the writing to an end? And when did he take them? Please be as detailed as possible.
Speaker: Exactly when did the President learn of the breach at the Capitol? And what steps did he take to address the violence? Please be as detailed as possible.
Del. Stacey Plaskett: Mr. President, Senators, This attack was on live TV on all major networks in real time. The President as President has access to intelligence information, including reports from inside the Capitol. He knew the violence that was underway. He knew the severity of the threats. And most importantly, he knew the Capitol Police were overwhelmingly outnumbered in a fight for their lives against 1000s of insurgents with weapons. We know he knew that. We know that he did not send any individuals. We did not hear any tweets. We did not hear him tell those individuals stop. This is wrong. You must go back. We did not hear that. So what else do the president do? We are unclear. But we believe it was a dereliction of his duty. And that was because he was the one who had caused them to come to the Capitol. And they were doing what he asked them to do. So there was no need for him, to stop them from what they were engaged in.
Michael Van Der Veen: This is an article of impeachment for incitement. This is not an article of impeachment for anything else. So one count, they could have charged anything they wanted. They chose to charge incitement.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX): Senators, Donald Trump spent months inciting his base to believe that their election was stolen. And that was the point. That was the thing that would get people so angry. Think about that. What it would take to get a large group of 1000s of Americans so angry to storm the Capitol. That was the purpose behind Donald Trump saying that the election had been rigged, and that the election had been stolen. And to be clear, when he says the election is stolen, what he’s saying is that the victory and he even says one time the election victory is being stolen from them. Think about how significant that is to Americans. Again, you’re right over 70 million, I think 74 million people voted for Donald Trump. And this wasn’t a one off comment. It wasn’t one time it was over and over and over and over and over again with a purpose.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX): We let the people decide the elections, except President Trump. He directed all of that rage that he had incited to January 6. The last chance. Again, this was his last chance this was certifying the election results. He needed to whip up that mob. Amp them up enough to get out there and try to stop the election results. The certification of the election.
Sen. Ron Johnson: House managers assert that the January 6th attack was predictable and it was foreseeable. If so, why did it appear that law enforcement at the Capitol were caught off guard and unable to prevent the breach? Why did the house Sergeant at Arms reportedly turned down a request to activate the National Guard stating that he was not comfortable with the optics? Michael Van Der Veen: Holy cow. That is a really good question. And had the House Managers done their investigation, maybe somebody would have an answer to that. But they didn’t. They did zero investigation. They did nothing. They looked into nothing. They read newspaper articles, they talked to their friends who know a TV reporter or something or someone or another. But Jimmy Crickets, there is no due process in this proceeding at all. And that question highlights the problem. When you have no due process. You have no clear cut answers.
Del. Stacey Plaskett: He put together the group that would do what he wanted. And that was to stop the certification of the election so that he could retain power to be President of the United States, in contravention of an American election.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX): He intended, wanted to, and tried to overturn the election by any means necessary. He tried everything else that he could to do to win. He started inciting the crowd, issuing tweet after tweet, issuing commands to stop the count, stop the steal, worked up the crowd, sent a save the date. So it wasn’t just one speech or one thing he was trying everything. He was pressuring elected officials, he was riling up his base telling him the election had been stolen from them, that it had been stolen from him. It was a combination of things that only Donald Trump could have done.
Hearing: Senate Impeachment Trial Day 5, Vote on Calling Witnesses, U.S. Senate, February 13, 2021
Rep. Jaime Raskin (MD): But last night, Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Butler of Washington State issued a statement confirming that in the middle of the insurrection, when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the president to beg for help, President Trump responded and I quote, ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’ Needless to say this is an additional critical piece of corroborating evidence further confirming the charges before you, as well as the President’s willful dereliction of duty and desertion of duty as Commander in Chief of the United States, his state of mind, and his further incitement of the insurrection on January 6th, for that reason, and because this is the proper time to do so under the resolution that the Senate adopted to set the rules for the trial. We would like the opportunity to subpoena Congresswoman Herrera regarding her communications with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and to subpoena her contemporaneous notes that she made regarding what President Trump told Kevin McCarthy in the middle of the insurrection, we would be prepared to proceed by zoom deposition of an hour or less, just as soon as Congresswoman Herrera Butler is available, and to then proceed to the next phase of the trial, including the introduction of that testimony shortly thereafter, Congresswoman Butler further stated that she hopes other witnesses to this part of the story, other patriots as she put it, would come forward and if that happens, we would seek the opportunity to take their depositions via Zoom also for less than an hour, or to subpoena other relevant documents as well.
Michael Van Der Veen: What you all need to know and the American people need to know is as of late yesterday afternoon, there was a stipulation going around that there weren’t going to be any witnesses. But after what happened here in this chamber yesterday, the house managers realize they did not investigate this case before bringing the impeachment. They did not give the proper consideration and work they didn’t put the work in, that was necessary to impeach the former president. But if they want to have witnesses, I’m going to need at least over 100 depositions, not just one, the real issue is incitement. They put into their case, over 100 witnesses, people who have been charged with crimes by the federal government. And each one of those they said that Mr. Trump was a co-conspirator with. That’s not true. But I have the right to defend that. The only thing that I ask if you vote for witnesses, do not handcuff me by limiting the number of witnesses that I can have. I need to do a thorough investigation that they did not do.
Michael Van Der Veen: We should close this case out today.
Michael Van Der Veen: It’s about the incitement. It’s not about what happened afterwards. That’s actually the irrelevant stuff. That’s the irrelevant stuff. It’s not the things that were said from the election to January 6th. It’s not relevant to the legal analysis of the issues that are before this body. It doesn’t matter what happened after the insurgence into the Capitol Building, because that doesn’t have to do with incitement. Incitement, it’s a point in time, folks. It’s a point in time when the words are spoken, and the words say, implicitly say, explicitly, say, commit acts of violence, or lawlessness. And we don’t have that here. So for the house managers to say we need depositions about things that happened after it’s just not true.
Michael Van Der Veen: Nancy Pelosi’s deposition needs to be taken comm Vice President Harris’s deposition absolutely needs to be taken and not by zoom. None of these depositions should be done by Zoom. We didn’t do this hearing by Zoom. These depositions should be done in person in my office in Philadelphia. That’s where they should be done.
Bruce Castor: Donald John Trump, by his counsel, is prepared to stipulate that if the if representative Herrera Butler were to testify under oath as part of these proceedings, her testimony would be consistent with the statement she issued on February 12 2021. And the former President’s Council is agreeable to the admission of that public statement into evidence at this time.
Rep. Jaime Raskin (MD): I will now read this statement. This is the statement Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Butler February 12 2021. In my January 12 statement in support of the Article of Impeachment, I referenced a conversation House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy relayed to me that he’d had with President Trump, while the January 6th attack was ongoing. Here the details. When McCarthy finally reached the President on January 6, and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot. The President initially repeated the falsehood that it was Antifa that had breached the Capitol. McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when according to McCarthy, the President said, ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’
Rep. David Cicilline (RI): There was a lot of discussion yesterday about what the President knew. And when he knew it. There are certain things that we do not know about what the President did that day. Because the President, that is former President Trump has remained silent. But what he was doing during one of the bloodiest attacks on our capital since 1812. Despite a full and fair opportunity to come forward, he’s refused to come and tell his story.
Rep. David Cicilline (RI): There can be no doubt. At the moment we most needed a president to preserve, protect and defend us, President Trump instead willfully betrayed us. He violated his oath. He left all of us in offices like Eugene Goodman, to our own devices against an attack he had incited and he alone could stop.
Interviewer: Can you give a direct answer you will accept the election to see Donald Trump: I have to see, oh, I’m not going to just say yes. And this election will be the most rigged election in history, this is going to be the greatest election disaster in history. And the only way they can take this election away from us, is if this is a rigged election, we’re gonna win this election, which a rigged election, the only way we’re gonna lose, do you commit to making sure that there’s a nice little word for all of we want to have get rid of the ballots, and you’ll have a very transfer will have a very peaceful, they won’t be a transfer, frankly, there’ll be a continuation, it’s the only way we’re gonna that’s the only way we’re gonna lose is if there’s mischief, mischief, and it’ll have to be on a big scale. So be careful. But this will be one of the greatest fraudulent and most fraudulent elections ever. We’re not going to let this election be taken away from us. That’s the only way they’re gonna win. This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. We were winning in all the key locations by a lot, actually. And then our numbers started miraculously getting whittled away in secret. And this is a case where they’re trying to steal an election. They’re trying to rig an election. And we can’t let that happen. You can’t let another person steal that election from you. all over the country. People are together, in holding up signs stop this deal. If we don’t root out the fraud, the tremendous and horrible fraud that’s taken place in our 2020 election. We don’t have a country anymore. We cannot allow a completely fraudulent election to stand. We’re gonna fight like hell, I’ll tell you, right. If you don’t fight to save your country with everything you have, you’re not gonna have a country left. We will not bend we will not break we will not yield. We will never give in. We will never give up we will never back down. We will never ever surrender. All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen. We will never give up. We will never concede it doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s steps. And you use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with. We will stop the steel. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. Make no mistake, this election was stolen from you from me and from the country. And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not gonna have a country anymore.
Michael Van Der Veen: Because their case is so weak that house managers have taken a kitchen sink approach to the supposedly single article of impeachment. They allege that Mr. Trump incited the January 6th violence. They alleged that he abused power by attempting to pressure Georgia Secretary of State Raffensburger to undermine the results of the 2020 election and they allege that he gravely and endangered the democratic system by interfering with a peaceful transition of power. At least three things there. Under the Senate rules, each of these allegations must have been alleged in a separate article of impeachment.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT): It is therefore ordered and adjudged that the said Donald John Trump is hereby acquitted the charge in said article.
Sen. Mitch McConnell: Indeed, Justice Story specifically reminded that while former officials were not eligible for impeachment or conviction, they were, and this is extremely important, still liable to be tried and punished and the ordinary tribunals of justice. Put another way, in the language of today, President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office. As an ordinary citizen, unless the statute of limitations is run, still liable for everything he did, while he’s in office. Didn’t get away with anything. Yet. Yet.
Sen. Mitch McConnell: January 6th was a disgrace. American citizens attacked their own government. They use terrorism to try to stop a specific piece of domestic business they did not like. Fellow Americans beat and bloodied our own police. They stormed the senate floor. They tried to hunt down the Speaker of the House. They built a gallows and chanted about murdering the Vice President. They did this because they’d been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on earth. Because he was angry he lost an election. Former President Trump’s actions preceded the riot or a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty. The house accused the former president of “incitement.” That is a specific term from the criminal law. Let me just put that aside for a moment and reiterate something I said weeks ago. There’s no question, none. That President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president. And having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole, which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth. The issue is not only the President’s intemperate language on January 6, it is not just his endorsement of remarks, in which an associate urged “trial by combat.” It was also the entire manufactured atmosphere of looming catastrophe. The increasingly wild myths about a reverse landslide election that was somehow being stolen. Some secret coup by our now president. Now I defended the President’s right to bring any complaints to our legal system. The legal system spoke the electoral college vote. As I stood up and said clearly at that time, the election was settled, over. That just really opened a new chapter of even wilder, wilder and more unfounded claims. The leader the free world cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feigned surprise when people believe him and do reckless things. Sadly, many politicians sometimes make overheated comments or use metaphors, we saw that, that unhinge listeners might take literally. But that was different. That’s different from what we saw. This was an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories, orchestrated by an outgoing president who seemed determined to either overturn the voters decision or else torch our institutions on the way out. The unconscionable behavior did not end when the violence actually began. Whatever our ex president claims he thought might happen that day whatever right reaction he says he meant to produce by that afternoon. We know he was watching the same live television as the rest of us. A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name. These criminals were carrying his banners, hanging his flags and screaming their loyalty to him. It was obvious that only President Trump could end this. He was the only one who could. Former aides publicly begged him to do so. Loyal allies frantically called the administration did not act swiftly. He did not do his job. He didn’t take steps so federal law could be faithfully executed and order restored. No. Instead, according to public reports, he watched television happily. Happily, as the chaos unfolded, pressing his scheme to overturn the election. Now, even after it was clear to any reasonable observer that Vice President Pence was in serious danger, even as the mob carrying Trump banners, beating cops and breaching parameters. Their president sent a further tweet attacking his own vice president. Now predictably and foreseeably. Under the circumstances, members of the mob seem to interpret this as a further inspiration, lawlessness and violence, not surprisingly, later, even when the President did half heartedly began calling for peace. He didn’t call right away for the right, good and who did not tell the mob to depart until even later. And even then, with police officers bleeding and broken glass covering Capitol floors, he kept repeating election lies and praising the criminals. In recent weeks, our ex presidents associates have tried to use the 74 million Americans who voted to reelect him as a kind of human shield against criticism. Using the 74 million who voted for him is kind of a human shield against criticism. Anyone who describes his awful behavior is accused of insulting millions of voters. That’s an absurd deflection. 74 million Americans did not invade the capital. Hundreds of rioters did. 74 million Americans did not engineer the campaign of disinformation and rage that provoked it. One person did. Just one. I’ve made my view of this episode very plain. But our system of government gave the Senate a specific task. The Constitution gives us a particular role. This body is not invited to act as the nation’s overarching moral tribunal. We’re not free to work backward from whether the accused party might personally deserve some kind of punishment. Justice Joseph Story, our notions first great constitutional scholar. As he explained nearly 200 years ago, the process of impeachment and conviction is a narrow tool. A narrow tool for a narrow purpose. Story explained this limited tool exists to, “secure the state against gross official misdemeanors,” That is to protect the country from government officers. If President Trump were still in office, I would have carefully considered whether the house managers prove their specific charge. By the strict criminal standard, the President’s speech probably was not incitement. However, however, in the context of impeachment, the Senate might have decided this was acceptable shorthand for the reckless actions that preceded the ride. But in this case, the question is moot because former President Trump is constitutionally not eligible for conviction. Now, this is a closed question. No doubt. Donald Trump was the president when the House voted, though not when the House chose to deliver the papers. Brilliant scholars argue both sides of this jurisdictional question. The text is legitimately ambiguous. I respect my colleagues who’ve reached either conclusion. But after intense reflection, I believe the best constitutional reading shows that article two, Section Four exhausts the set of persons who can legitimately be impeached tried or convicted. It’s the president. It’s the Vice President and civil officers. We have no power to convict and disqualify a former officeholder who is now a private citizen.
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