What The Democratic Senators Were thinking
As is very rare, I find myself disagreeing with Josh Marshall who asked “What Were the Democratic Senators Thinking?” when they agreed to accept Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler’s assertions (that Trump sided with the insurgents over minority leader McCarthy’s) in writing when Trump’s lawyers stipulated that they could be assumed to be accurate.
First, I will play amateur lawyer (and link to an actual lawyer who contested Marshall and was posted by Marshall) — the managers said they asked to call witnesses specifically to present that (hearsay) testimony. After listening to their closing arguments it is clear that they were being frank — the testimony was critical to their case against Trump. Assuming it is accurate (as agreed), it proves that Trump was not horrified to find his supporters were smashing the windows of McCarthy’s office, that even if their actual fighting when he called on them to “fight like hell” was due to a misunderstanding (as absurdly argued by his lawyers) he chose not to explain to them that their violent actions were unacceptable (even though he later falsely asserted that the violence hadn’t occurred). As explained by the managers, his reaction is proof of his support for violence and that his (already obvious) incitement to violence was incitement.
As an added bonus, Trump’s lawyer committed gross misconduct when he said that, even though they stipulated that the claims are accurate, the claims weren’t accurate. I’m not a lawyer, but I am sure that to “stipulate” is to commit to making no such claim — that stipulating then breaking the promise by contesting is misconduct at least approach contempt of, in this case, the Senate. The utter humiliation of Republican Senators who are lawyers (who will ignore the evidence and the constitution) is heightened by forcing them to pretend that it is OK to stipulate then unstipulate.
Marshall (and many many others) describes the events as Democrats backing down. Notably they got exactly everything they said they wanted (and also clearly what they needed to make their closing arguments). The discussion focuses on TV scheduling (and yes TV is powerful) and on doing whatever (45) Republicans don’t want to show who’s boss. This is all important (most Americans are, like me, not lawyers and care about show and not rules of evidence). I think Marshall is right when he wrote “This decision signaled a failure to grasp the damage sustained by deeply demoralizing your supporters. It opens those who defend them to ridicule and contempt.” It is possible to argue that the Democrats got everything they wanted (for one thing it just requires assuming they meant what they said and noting what new evidence they wanted in the record and that they got it and a promise that it not be contested). But it was bad politics as theater and, with the outcome not in doubt, the whole trial is theater.
Here I think it is possible and useful to argue that the Democrats won by getting exactly what they wanted (exactly what they said in advance that they wanted). I think that is the proper response to ridicule. Or to put it another way, if the problem is that it looks like a defeat and surrender (even though it isn’t) maybe Democrats not in the Senate should try to explain that the Democrats won the confrontation (as they did) rather than lament the fact that it appears that they caved (which they didn’t).
Marshall is also right that the trial can’t be allowed to delay confronting problems which can be solved (unlike Republican’s shameless hypocrisy). Testimony would not have been collected quickly (especially because Republicans are eager to obstruct everything). The trial would have to wait for depositions and resume when the Senate should be fighting Covid. Actually addressing people’s problems is the way to (maybe possibly) survive mid term elections. Also it actually addresses people’s problems which is the point of politics.
I think part of why I praise what Democrats did today in the Senate is that I have heard the summary arguments. I know why it was necessary to get Herrera-Beutler’s assertion in the record, and I know how devastatingly convincing the summary arguments are. Also
Do you recall when Obama tried to negotiate with Repubs on everything? It took too long to get the ACA in place due to Blue Dogs and Repubs feinting interest. I too would have loved to see trump hung out to dry and hear him squeal about it. It is not worth what we (a collective “we”) need to do right now to save people from Covid, to rescue people from economic disaster, and to set this country on the right course.
We have two years before the next election of Senators and House Representatives in which to hold a majority in the House and to gain a couple of seats in the Senate. We can not depend up Susan “pull the football away Lucy” Collins, Murkowski, and Romney as they will vote yes in committee and no on the floor.
We know what trump did. McCarthy made it known before he went to Florida to kneel and ask for forgiveness. To win the war, we just need to keep beating them into the ground on other occasions.
Maybe this country is not what we thought it was. Maybe it a an authoritarian, racist autocracy, only occasionally slowed down by election of progressive politicians.
The House Managers did themselves, their party, and the Nation proud. They were inspirational, they were superb.
I liked reading about them. I agree in other words.
Yes, at C & L they are sort of presenting it as a failure/loss. However, the ads should write themself especially with Moscow Mitch voting to acquit then declaring Trump guilty.
At the same time, Trump has already released a statement. One obviously written not by him but as a set up for future political activity.
Digby has it here: https://digbysblog.net/2021/02/the-betrayal-of-dear-leader/
“I want to first thank my team of dedicated lawyers and others for their tireless work upholding justice and defending truth.
“My deepest thanks as well to all of the United States Senators and Members of Congress who stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country.”
This part made me chuckle: . I always have, and always will, be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate.
That ain’t him talking.
But, there was this which is him: “This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country. No president has ever gone through anything like it,…”
It continues on.
I posted a link and I think my post went to spam like a prior one. Unfortunately I can’t fix. I don’t have the login link.
I do not see it there. We are migrating to a new sever. It might be lost.
I did some back of the envelope numbers. So exactly how fed up is our Senate?
The Senators who voted not guilty represent a little more than 150 million Americans. Though in several states there were Senators that disagreed on the vote.
That doesn’t sound so bad until you consider this; Trump could have been acquitted by the votes of Senators representing 63 million people.
From Heather Cox Richardson 2/13 email
Ari Berman @AriBerman
Insane stat via @atausanovitch: 34 GOP senators representing just 14.5% of population can block conviction of president who tried to violently overthrow American democracy. US Senate & American politics deeply broken
I sort of knew that. But I based my numbers on the actual votes, not just the possible votes.
Either way, the Senate is no close to Democracy in action.
Half of one-third is ~ 16.666%, so it wasn’t even one-sixth of the population that was represented. Requiring not two-thirds but greater than five-sixth of the population.
But the point is what Senators voted. Doesn’t make sense to use the populations Vermont, Delaware, RI, ME, etc. to make a point.
Biden is going to need real accomplishments that the voters are aware of to survive the midterms and have a productive presidency. Continuing media focus on Trump that would have resulted from extending the Senate trial would have frustrated that effort. Biden wanted it done and he was right.
Yes and no appeasing the Republics with negotiation. You do not want to join us? Ok that is fine, we are moving onward.
They’ll have enough trouble negotiating with Manchin and Systema. They don’t need to horse around with the obstructionist caucus as well.