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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
February 13, 2021

Republican Acquittal of Trump Is a Defining Moment for Party

Even off-line and off camera at his Palm Beach, Fla., estate, and offering only a feeble impeachment defense through his legal team in Washington, Donald J. Trump remains a dominant force in right-wing politics.

During the first trial of Donald J. Trump, some 13 months ago, the former president commanded near-total fealty from his party. His conservative defenders were ardent and numerous, and Republican votes to convict him — for pressuring Ukraine to help him smear Joseph R. Biden Jr. — were virtually nonexistent.

In his second trial, Mr. Trump, no longer president, received less ferocious Republican support. His apologists were sparser in number and seemed to lack in enthusiasm. Far fewer conservatives defended the substance of his actions, instead dwelling on technical complaints while skirting the issue of his guilt on the charge of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

And this time, seven Republican senators voted with 50 Democrats to convict Mr. Trump — the most bipartisan repudiation ever delivered in an impeachment process.

Yet the great majority of Republicans refused to find Mr. Trump guilty on Saturday, leaving the chamber well short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict him.

February 13, 2021

Lindsey Graham Hisses Directions At Attorneys Messing Up Speech They Spent Hours Rehearsing

WASHINGTON—Appearing to lose patience as the defense presented its arguments in President Trump’s impeachment trial Friday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was repeatedly overheard hissing directions at lawyers as they messed up the speeches he spent hours rehearsing with them the night before.

“Come on now, big smile, project your voice like we practiced—no, no, no, what are you doing?” Graham said through his teeth as David Schoen, Michael T. van der Veen, and other members of Trump’s legal team continued to botch the written defense he had coached them through late last night and into the early morning.

“The timing, the tone, the gestures we worked on? Did you assholes remember none of it? It’s ‘The former president’s rhetoric is protected under the First Amendment,’ and then you do the long, pregnant pause for dramatic effect. Now sell it, you fucking halfwits!”

Sources reported that as defense arguments concluded, a visibly tense Graham jumped up from his chair, applauded wildly, and stared daggers into his Republican colleagues until they, too, stood and joined his ovation.

February 13, 2021

Trump's Stupid Defense Is Another Attack--This Time on America's Intelligence

Every argument Trump’s lawyers mounted was ludicrous, and any honest person knows it. Unfortunately, it’s Republican senators who’ll be doing the deciding.

Lacking any compelling defense of Donald Trump, his lawyers engaged in all sorts of trickery and misdirection and whataboutism on Friday. It’s hard to blame them. They were dealt a bad hand. Trump is obviously guilty. So instead of pounding the facts or pounding the law, they—as the old legal maxim goes—pounded the table.

It started when Trump attorney David Schoen made a somewhat startling accusation: “We have reason to believe the House managers manipulated evidence and selectively edited footage,” he asserted. One such example cited was from Rep. Eric Swalwell’s presentation where he referenced a tweet from a Trump supporter named Jennifer Lynn Lawrence. On Wednesday, Swalwell presented her comments as if she were saying that she was bringing the cavalry. In actuality, though, Lawrence tweeted that she was “bringing the Calvary.”

The obvious conclusion from Swalwell (and everybody, really) was that Lawrence simply doesn’t know the difference between “cavalry” and “Calvary,” but, in a blog post, Lawrence called out Swalwell, arguing that she actually meant “Bringing the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ (AKA the salvation of everyone) back to Washington DC…” This line of argumentation was picked up by the defense on Friday: “The tweeter promised to bring the ‘Calvary,’” Schoen said. “A public display of Christ’s crucifixion, a central symbol of her Christian faith with her. A symbol of faith, love, and peace.”

Based on the context, it appears more likely that Lawrence simply used the wrong word. Regardless, the fact that Trump's defense began by making an issue out of this sideshow, instead of, you know, proving that he did not incite an insurrection, tells you all you need to know about the amount of evidence at the defense’s disposal.

February 13, 2021

On a bed of lies and rage, Trump's defense rests

Opinion by Dana Milbank

If adjectives and adverbs were alibis, former president Donald Trump would be acquitted unanimously.

If hyperbole were exculpatory, he never would have been impeached in the first place.

But, alas, for the former president, his lawyers had little to work with — few facts, scant evidence and unhelpful precedents — to defend Trump against the well-documented case that he conceived, incited and encouraged the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. The defense ran out of steam after consuming just 2 hours and 40 minutes of their allotted 16 hours.

Yet, even in that brief period, they misstated legal precedents. They invented facts. They rewrote history. Trump lawyer Bruce Castor, panned for his rambling opening argument Wednesday, closed the argument Friday by confusing Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

But Michael van der Veen, the personal-injury lawyer Trump hired as part of his defense team for the Senate impeachment trial, did have one thing in abundance: words. The best words. Towering, hyperbolic words. Leading off Trump’s defense on Friday, he seemed to believe that if he piled up enough of them, the prosecution’s case would collapse under an avalanche of tangled, angry verbiage.


February 13, 2021

In office, Trump was the greatest threat to U.S. democracy. Now it may be Tucker Carlson.

Opinion by Max Boot

When Donald Trump was in office, he posed the most dangerous threat to American democracy. With the former president now golfing full-time, the most dangerous threat may well emanate from the Fox “News” Channel — and specifically from its top-rated host, Tucker Carlson. He seems to be on a mission to make America’s worst problems even worse.

Carlson has a long history of pushing vaccine conspiracy theories that endanger people’s lives. On Tuesday night, he attacked covid-19 vaccines, claiming without providing any evidence that “the way the authorities handled the covid vaccine did not inspire confidence,” “all these people [were] lying about it” and “the most powerful people in America worked to make certain that no one could criticize it.” He never did say what these lies supposedly were — he just left his audience with the impression that the vaccines are part of a plot against them by powerful, shadowy forces. One fact Carlson did not mention: His boss, Rupert Murdoch, has already been vaccinated. His conspiracy mongering is likely to discourage Fox News’s elderly viewers — who are at the highest risk of dying of covid-19 — from getting safe and effective vaccines that could save their lives.

Having done his level best to injure public health, the next night Carlson sought to exacerbate racial and political divisions. On Wednesday, he argued that “they” (whoever they are) are lying to “you” — the Fox News viewer — about the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6. “The known facts bear no resemblance to the story they’re telling — they’re just flat-out lying,” Carlson said. He didn’t say what the real story was — perhaps, like half of Republicans in a recent poll, he thinks antifa was responsible for the assault?

Rather than try to make his case for an alternative reality, Carlson segued into a diatribe about the Black Lives Matter rallies last year that were sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. He claimed that protests “changed this country more in five months than it changed in the previous 50 years” — and it was all based on “an utter lie.” Floyd wasn’t “murdered by a cop,” Carlson told viewers. He “almost certainly died of a drug overdose, fentanyl.”

This is the claim advanced by attorneys representing the cop who pressed his knee onto Floyd’s neck for roughly nine minutes, but it’s not true. The medical examiner ruled that Floyd’s death was a homicide. While Floyd had fentanyl in his system, the cause of death was “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” A private autopsy requested by Floyd’s family found he died of asphyxia, or suffocation.


February 13, 2021

Trump's lawyers offered an attack on everything but the evidence

Opinion by George T. Conway III

It wasn’t a defense. Not in any serious factual, legal, or logical sense.

What former president Donald Trump’s lawyers offered on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Friday was an attack — a misleading, distortive, gaslighting, repetitive, irrelevant and, at times, absurd although mercifully brief — attack. It was an attack on the House impeachment managers, on Democrats, on the impeachment process. It was an attack on everything but the evidence against Trump.

It was a disgrace, like the man it failed to defend.

It was a political screed, fit for One America News, and certainly welcomed by the audience of one in Palm Beach. The impeachment article “slanderously” attacked Trump. The impeachment was another “politically motivated witch hunt” that “divides our nation,” stands in the way of “unity and healing,” “cool temperatures” and “calm passions,” and renders the nation unable to “rise above partisan lines.”

This from the lawyers whose client has to this day never conceded an election he lost by 7,060,115 votes, and who mendaciously claimed on Jan. 6 that his “election victory” had been “stolen by emboldened radical left Democrats.”


February 13, 2021

Lawyers Enabled Trump's Worst Abuses

The legal profession must reckon with its complicity in Trump’s attack on democracy.

By Sherrilyn A. Ifill

Every day, we learn more about the concerted attack on American democracy perpetuated to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. But the violent storming of the Capitol was only its most visible and ugly climax. What has become disturbingly and abundantly clear is that whether through former President Donald Trump’s relentless and meritless lawsuits, the plot in the Department of Justice to remove the acting attorney general, or a congressional plan in which members — including two former Supreme Court clerks — perpetuated false unsubstantiated claims of massive voter fraud, lawyers played a central role in enabling the most dangerous assault on American democracy in more than a century.

The appalling conduct of the lawyers at the highest levels of government who behaved so shamelessly in seeking to maintain Trump in office was not an aberration, but a continuation. Throughout Trump’s presidency, lawyers were centrally involved in perpetuating some of its most repugnant excesses. Attorney General Jeff Sessions helped develop the concept of family separation as a migration deterrent. His deputy, Rod Rosenstein, reportedly signed off on applying the policy no matter the age of the child. Sessions’s successor, Bill Barr, misrepresented the Mueller team’s findings and interfered with the sentencing of the Trump advisers Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.

Despite this, there was little condemnation from the leadership institutions of our profession. The American Law Institute invited Mr. Barr to speak just months after his hijacking of the Mueller report, and ensured that there was no opportunity for questions from the audience. And neither judicial nor prosecutors’ associations ever issued condemnatory statements when Mr. Trump incited threats against the Black jury forewoman in Mr. Stone’s case.

The upending of norms and standards carried into the legislative and judicial branches as well. Many cabinet and judicial nominees, beginning with Mr. Sessions himself, made a mockery of the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation process by providing misleading information on their confirmation questionnaires — which are submitted under penalty of perjury. Neither Mr. Sessions nor other nominees were held accountable for these misrepresentations. Instead, almost all were confirmed.

February 13, 2021

Trump's Taste for Blood

If Republicans won’t convict, bring on the handcuffs.

By Maureen Dowd

Every scene in “Lawrence of Arabia” is perfect, but there’s one I find especially haunting.

Peter O’Toole’s Lawrence returns to Cairo after successfully leading the Arabs in battle against the Ottoman Empire and tells a military superior that he does not want to go back. Slumping in his Bedouin robes, looking pained, he recalls that he executed an Arab with his pistol.

There was something about it he didn’t like, he says.

The irritated general tries to brush it off, assuming the erudite Lawrence is upset at killing a man.

“No, something else,” Lawrence explains. “I enjoyed it.”

The first time I realized that Donald Trump took pleasure in violence was back in March 2016. In an interview, I asked him about the brutish rhetoric and violence at his rallies and the way he goaded supporters to hate on journalists and rough up protesters. Even then Mitch McConnell was urging Trump to ratchet down the ferocity.

I told Trump that I had not seen this side of him before and that he was going down a very dark path. With his denigrating mockery of rivals and critics, he had already taken politics to a vulgar place, and now it was getting more dangerous.

Shouldn’t parents be able to bring children to rallies without worrying about obscenities, sucker punches, brawls and bullying, I wondered?

He brushed off the questions and blithely assessed the savage mood at his rallies: “Frankly, it adds a little excitement.”


This is actually a pretty decent opinion piece by Maureen Dowd.
February 13, 2021

You Can Barely Tell It's the Same Trial in Cable Impeachment Coverage

Descriptions like “very powerful” and “really stellar” on MSNBC and CNN. And “asinine” and “irrational” on Fox News.

Cable news coverage of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump matched the political divide that played out between his supporters and critics on the Senate floor: The proceeding was either a substantive, often chilling deliberation on presidential malfeasance or a case of nothing-to-see-here.

On MSNBC, the star anchor Rachel Maddow described the security footage aired by Democratic House managers as “very powerful.” On CNN, the prime-time host Chris Cuomo warned that Mr. Trump’s violent supporters might be emboldened if he was acquitted. Both networks showed largely uninterrupted coverage of the trial and devoted hours of analysis to it at night.

On Fox News, Sean Hannity invited Donald Trump Jr. on his Tuesday prime-time program to rebut the arguments made by Democratic prosecutors. The son of the former president, a frequent guest on “Hannity,” called the House managers’ case “asinine,” adding that he “thought that these senators would maybe have something better to do.”

On Thursday afternoon, Newsmax cut away from the Senate floor for a discussion of the decision by Mark Cuban, the owner of the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks, to stop playing the national anthem before the team’s home games. At the same time, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and major broadcast networks were sticking with the trial.


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