Trump ‘borderline screaming’ at screen
Donald Trump was reportedly "borderline screaming" at his TV screen in his luxury Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida as he watched his lawyer Bruce Castor's opening argument in the Senate today.
Sources close to the former president - who is watching the proceedings from afar - told CNN he was very unhappy with the performance.
They said he was frustrated by Mr Castor's "meandering arguments that struggled to get at the heart of his defence team's argument" which is supposed to concentrate on whether it is constitutionally allowable to hold a trial for a president who is no longer in office
The legal team of Mr Castor and David Schoen was assembled a little over a week ago, meaning they had just a few days to prepare their defence for the former president.
However, the opening remarks from Mr Castor have been slammed by all sides of the political spectrum.
"I have no idea what he's doing. I have no idea why he's saying," top lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who represented Mr Trump in his last impeachment, told Newsmax. "The American people are entitled to an argument, a constitutional argument.
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"I just don't understand it. Maybe he'll bring it home, but right now, it does not appear to me to be effective advocacy. He may know the senators better than I do, maybe they want to be buttered up, maybe they want to be told what great people they are.
"Boy, it's not the kind of argument I would have made, I'll tell you that."
Republican senator Bill Cassidy was the only senator who was swayed enough by today's arguments to change his opinion, having voted against proceeding with the trial last month.
He did not have kind words to say about the Trump defence performance.
"The House managers were focused, they were organised … they made a compelling argument. President Trump's team, they were disorganised, they did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand," he told Politico.
"If I'm an impartial juror and one aide is doing a great job and the other side is doing a terrible job on the issue at hand, as an impartial juror I'm going to vote for the side that did a good job."
The performance also left many people on social media confused.
Lord grant me the self awareness to never put myself in a position to be as unprepared as Bruce Castor was today.— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) February 10, 2021
Just getting around to watching Bruce Castor now. If he was your attorney when you got caught illegally downloading a movie, you'd probably end up in the electric chair— Christian Schneider (@Schneider_CM) February 10, 2021
This is really, really, really bad.— George Conway (@gtconway3d) February 9, 2021
Bruce castor strategy - seemed to be - speak some words - until time runs out -— John Cusack (@johncusack) February 9, 2021
Mr Castor finished his muddled speech in the senate with an explanation as to why it was all over the place.
He said he thought the prosecution would be speaking solely about the jurisdictional argument, rather than the broader case, and they changed their own strategy in response.
"I'll be frank with you. We changed what we were going to do on account that we thought that the House managers' presentation was well done. And I wanted you to know that we have responses to those things," Mr Castor said.
"I thought that what the first part of the case was, which was the equivalent of a motion to dismiss, was going to be about jurisdiction alone.
"And one of the fellas that spoke for the House managers seemed to suggest that there's something nefarious that we were discussing jurisdiction and trying to get the case dismissed. But this is where it happens in the case, because jurisdiction is the first thing that has to be found.
"We have counterarguments to everything that they raised, and you will hear them later on in the case."
He and Mr Schoen argued the Senate had no jurisdiction to try Mr Trump once he had left office and warned that the impeachment threatened to "tear this country apart".
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It will leave the United States "far more divided and our standing around the world will be badly broken," Mr Schoen argued.
However, senators were unconvinced by the argument that the trial was unconstitutional. They voted 56-44 in favour of the constitutionality of the historic trial.
The vote, held before the main part of the trial was to get under way tomorrow, saw six Republicans join all 50 Democrats in the evenly divided Senate.
Despite this modest show of bipartisanship, the result highlighted the nearly impossible task of getting the two-thirds majority - requiring 17 Republicans to join the Democrats - that would be needed to convict Mr Trump of inciting insurrection.
Earlier, both sides presented their opening cases, with Democrats arguing that Mr Trump broke his oath in a naked bid to retain power after losing the November election to Joe Biden.
Mr Trump's team is basing its case largely on the procedural argument that a former president cannot be tried, calling the Senate trial "absurd".
They also argue that whatever Mr Trump said during his January 6 rally is protected by the constitutional right to free speech and did not amount to ordering the assault on Congress.
"We can't possibly be suggesting that we punish people for political speech in this country," Mr Castor said.
A second acquittal is all but certain for Mr Trump. Today's result means the Democrats' impeachment managers will start to make their case tomorrow, with Mr Trump's defence to follow later in the week.
- with AFP
Originally published as Trump 'borderline screaming' at screen