Skip to comments.ANALYSIS: Relieved Republicans welcome Trump defense
Posted on 01/26/2020 7:37:06 AM PST by billorites
Members of the Trump defense team saw their two-hour presentation Saturday as a preview of coming attractions a way to give senators a sense of the president's defense while also suggesting there is much more to come when the impeachment trial resumes Monday. They were also acutely aware that, after 23 hours of the Democratic case against the president made over the course of three days, many senators were just tired. Even if the first day of presentation had not come on a low-rating Saturday, Republicans would have stayed away from forcing senators into another late night.
Lawmakers were "relieved after such a long week," one GOP source said Saturday afternoon relieved both to get a break and to see the Trump team at the podium offering a vigorous defense after three days of listening to the Democratic House impeachment managers make the case for removing President Trump.
And what relieved many GOP lawmakers was that the Trump defenders immediately dove into the facts of the Trump-Ukraine matter. Yes, some have strong objections about the process the House followed in impeaching the president. Indeed, some Democrats had charged that was all Trump defenders had to argue. But the opening of Saturday's argument was about the substance of the case.
"Today's approach was to address head-on the facts that [Democratic impeachment managers] presented by presenting a more fulsome view of those facts, a more in-depth view, because they were very much cherry-picked," said a member of Trump's defense team in a phone conversation Saturday.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone began by noting that even though the Democratic managers took 23 hours to present their case, they still left things out. The Trump defense would give senators those left-out facts. "And every time you see one of those pieces of evidence, ask yourself, 'Why didn't I see that in the first three days?'" Cipollone told senators. "They had it. It came out of their process. Why didn't they show that to the Senate?"
Cipollone handed off the presentation to deputy White House counsel Michael Purpura, who went through a list of facts the defenders view as important but that the House managers omitted. What about the officials who listened to the July 25, 2019, Trump-Ukraine call and did not hear a problem? What about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's statement that he did not feel pressured? What about the testimony of four witnesses who said the Ukrainians did not know about the pause in security assistance at the time of the call?
"The House managers didn't show you this testimony from any of these four witnesses," Purpura said. "Why not?" Time and again, Purpura pointed to facts that tended to support the president and asked: Why didn't they tell you this?
In the bigger picture, the Trump team highlighted what Purpura called "six facts that have not and will not change:"
1) The call transcript "shows that the president did not condition either security assistance or a meeting on anything."
2) Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials "have repeatedly said that there was no quid pro quo and no pressure on them to review anything."
3) Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials "did not even know the security assistance was paused" at the time of the call.
4) No witness testified that Trump himself said "that there was any connection between any investigations and security assistance, a presidential meeting, or anything else."
5) U.S. security assistance was restarted on Sept. 11, 2019, and Trump met Zelensky on Sept. 25 "without the Ukrainian government announcing any investigation."
6) Trump "has been a better friend and stronger supporter of Ukraine than his predecessor."
Later, the defense team turned to the question of process. Patrick Philbin, another deputy White House counsel, walked the Senate through the White House's position that the House subpoenas issued before the House voted to begin an impeachment investigation were not valid. Philbin pointed out that House Democrats banned the presence of agency lawyers or White House representatives for all of the depositions that formed the heart of the impeachment effort. Only at the end of the House's 78-day impeachment investigation, when the main work was done, were presidential lawyers invited to attend a couple of meaningless hearings.
"The president was completely locked out," Philbin told the Senate. "He couldn't be represented by counsel, he couldn't examine witnesses, he couldn't present evidence, he couldn't present witnesses for 71 of the 78 days. That's not due process."
The mixture of substance and process was a sign White House lawyers knew that, even among Republicans, they were addressing a varied audience. Some GOP senators wished the White House had made a more substantive defense over the last few months. Some were angry at the House Democrats' procedural shortcuts. Some were worried about the tone of the impeachment battle.
On Saturday, the Trump defense team seemed to find the right balance. "The tone was right, the demeanor was right, the delivery was right," said one Republican senator. "They deconstructed the Democrats' arguments in a respectful way, very appropriate for the Senate chamber. It wasn't like Jerry Nadler standing there calling all of us liars."
Of those Republicans who were uneasy about the president's defense and leaning toward agreeing with Democratic demands to call new witnesses, the senator said, "I think it settled their nerves."
"I thought it was a pretty effective factual rebuttal, not rhetorically overheated or ad hominem," said another GOP senator. "After Democrats asserted for days that they wouldn't argue the facts, they did a pretty good job of doing just that."
"Today was the first day the facts have actually been allowed to be cross-examined," Republican Sen. James Lankford told reporters.
"Every member of the defense team, and the president, were very pleased with today," said one House member after the Senate session. "In two concise hours, we eviscerated the managers' weak case and [lead impeachment manager Adam] Schiff's credibility. We thought it was most strategic to set the framework today rather than hold the Senate in a lengthy Saturday session after the previous painful three days. There will be plenty of substance and heavy artillery to come."
Since the defense began on a weekend, Monday will be almost a restart for the Trump team. The audience will be new and bigger. The Trump presentation will feature big names, Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz, making constitutional arguments. But probably more importantly, it will continue the direct engagement of the Democratic case, both in the facts and the way House Democrats pursued it. For three straight days, Democrats had the stage to themselves. Now the president's team is able to tell its side of the story.
Well done by White House legal team!!
I’m not relieved that there was a good defense, I knew that, just that it was presented effectively and forcefully.
For those of us who have followed the impeachment, it was the first time the President was able to fully defend himself.
We had been waiting for a long, long time.
Bring on the damn witnesses! I’m eager to see for myself the witnesses that Rudy keeps talking about. I want this whole humbug fiasco exploded.
I want the Dems unable to show their faces in public for years. Like after Watergate, when a bunch of famous and semi-famous people appeared on infomercials about how Republicans are human, too, and we’re really not so bad. It would be terrible if there were only one party in American politics, blah blah blah blah blah.
Let the Dems be out in the cold and pathetic like that. I’ll have less sympathy for them than I did for Republicans at that time. Hopefully, there’ll be a few hangings, so we can laugh while they beg for their lives.
An affirmative defense is strong evidence that someone else committed the murder - motive, opportunity, fingerprints on the gun that delivered the coupe de grace - they pinned it on my client and the police didn't do a proper investigation because they are corrupt and lazy even though they had all the evidence before charging my client.
Actually, thats not an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense is I did it, but it was legal. Self defense is an example of an affirmative defense.
And..the victim is still alive, and doing well, in good health!
Nadler and Schiff are not in good physical or mental health.
My fear is that Rudy is just dangling these comments out there in a hope that "HE" can remain relevant. How many times have we seen Republican thumping their chest when the cameras are on, and then produce nothing?
However, they are doing in themselves. The prez didn't do it, no body saw him do it, and they can't prove a thing!
Shiffforbrains and the nadless are committing public suicide, along with their party.
I understand why you think that but Trump is the target so shut the BS down. Expanding this is a trap. It is what rats want they will gladly make a deal and put gags on any witnesses the GOP brings in. The best move in my view is on 1/4/20 fire that worthless rat mole Wray and name an interim who will kick ass and take names.
The big question is: how much of the Repubs defense will the Dem’s propaganda arm, I mean, the “news” media, show on TV?
One of his best lines of thought that should resonate with Senators:
if there were no rules that had been adopted by the Senate, would you think that the majority leader himself could simply decide that he would have a committee receive evidence, handle that, submit a recommendation to the Senate, and that would be the way that the trial would occur without a vote from the Senate to give authority to that committee? I dont think so...
Because impeachment is delegated solely to the House of Representatives by the Constitution, the full House of Representatives should be involved in critical decision making regarding various stages of impeachment. Here the House Democrats skipped over that step completely. What they had instead was simply a press conference from Speaker Pelosi announcing that she was directing committees to proceed with an impeachment inquiry against the President of the United States. Speaker Pelosi didnt have the authority to delegate the power of the House to those committees on her own
Maybe McConnell should say to reporters that he's going to consider running the Senate the way that Pelosi ran impeachment in the House, just make decisions unilaterally, and see how it goes over with the other Senators and the media.
"If it's good enough for the Speaker and House Democrats, why wouldn't it be good enough for the Senate, too?" he should ask.
You know Byron if you been doing your job, you would of been making the case for Trump the whole time. But as usual “Conservative Inc” was too busy playing kissy face with the Fake News so they get invited on their Fake News shows, to ever bother doing their jobs.
Now, finally, for the 1st time the Trump defense is being presented. Remember that people. the whole time this clown show has been going on neither the Fake News, the Democrats nor “Conservative inc” bothered to get Trump’s side of the story. They simply regitated every lie fed to the by the Democrat Fascist party
Do it in the Senate Judiciary Committee. This sham peach mint needs to be ended this week.
Of course he’s the target. But Elmer Fudd’s shotgun barrel is bent backwards, so they’re shooting themselves. They DEMANDED witnesses. No witnesses proves a coverup. OK. Give them witnesses ‘til they beg you to stop. I don’t believe Bolton has anything they want, probably a lot that they don’t want. Just like Cohen, Mueller, et al. Trump claimed executive privilege on general principles, and if the courts uphold it, that’s that. If not, so let him testify. But the fired Ukrainian prosecutor has a trunk load of dirt on all the right people. I’ve heard him on OANN. Rudy says he’ll be deposing him in front of a camera for his podcast soon. Invite a Dem trial lawyer to cross-examine him, and there you are.
Trump defense = telling the truth.
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