Lying Lawyers and Butt-kissing Senators: The First Days of Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial

Photograph Source: Matt Brown – CC BY 2.0

The week began with the death of George Shultz. It reminded me of the 1980s when ol’ Shultzie was the face of Reagan’s murderous wars against the people of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala. A friend who just finished a career in the foreign service reminded me that Shultz was a true diplomat. He’s right, of course. It’s also true that there’s no contradiction between being the face of murderous policies and being a diplomat. Anyhow, I’m still waiting for the news of Henry Kissinger’s demise.

The Washington Post had a feature about Trump’s latest lawyer in Monday’s edition. He’s an egocentric fool from Philadelphia who likes to wear a cowboy outfit to court. That sounds about right. Another ultraright buffoon. Perfect for the one he’s defending. While I question the point of the impeachment trial at this date, I am looking forward to the show. The real meat when it comes to Trump’s prosecutable crimes will hopefully come later when New York gets its financial crimes case together against the crook. This impeachment thing is just one more chance to kick the jerk while he’s between scams. I would like to get a couple good kicks in myself, but I guess it’s going to be up to a couple Senators to do that.

Apparently, a primary defense of the Trump team is one that’s not really trying to defend the bum, but one that challenges the jurisdiction of the Senate. My question is, if the Senate can’t try him on the impeachment charges, who the hell does the Trump team think can? In other words, their position is another challenge to the idea that Trump should be answerable for anything he has done. When is hurricane season in Mar-al-Lago again? Leaving it up to nature to deal out justice is not my game, but I would be okay with it here.

Tuesday’s platitudes from the prosecution about the flag, the Constitution and the Capitol police were to be expected. An imperfect document bent to serve the slavers; the US constitution does have a few strengths. Most of them are in the amendments section, but the fact that impeachment is part of its original body makes it clear that the men composing the work knew well about the temptations of power, given that most of them had succumbed to at least a few of them. Whether or not it matters as far as putting Donald Trump in his place is a test both of its strength and of the system’s durability. Too many mainstream media pundits tell us that democracy was on the precipice that day in January. Democracy—even the hollowed-out version in the United States—is always on a precipice, especially in a nation ruled by those whose only allegiance is to greater profits. One doesn’t have to be a cynic to understand those with more money have more representation in US legislatures from Des Moines to DC. Even a blind man can see that the power comes from cash.

One expects circuitous and questionable arguments from Trump’s GOP defenders, but even I didn’t expect the stupidity on display the first day of the proceedings. Others have commented and joked about the most ludicrous of these remarks, so I’m going to leave them alone. One can only make fun of stupidity for so long until it’s no longer fun or funny. It was a kick seeing the Little Red Book being waved around in the chambers. I wonder if he got that from a Black Panther like I did? Like most stupid people, they do have some nerve, though. Their basic argument is that Trump can’t be convicted because he is no longer president even though the action he is being impeached for took place while he was president. In other words, it’s essentially the same argument he used during his last impeachment: he is not beholden to the laws that the rest of us are because he was president when the laws were broken. This is no different than previous presidents. The difference is Trump’s incredible arrogance and the submission of so many legislators to his will. Like dogs who get beat but won’t leave the human beating them, those Senators and Congresspeople wag their submissive behinds when Trump is nearby and try not to piss on themselves. It’s beyond sniveling. Well beyond.

Burt Cohen, who hosts an internet radio show called Keep Democracy Alive! asked on social media if any Senator really thought the storming of the Capitol would have occurred without Trump’s tweets, ramblings on FoxNews and at the rally immediately preceding the event. The answer seems fairly apparent. No, it would not have. I know a little bit about incitement, you see. In the late 1970s or maybe it was 1980, the Berkeley police pulled the plug at a free concert taking place in Berkeley’s People’s Park. After a brief struggle, a few hundred of us concertgoers went down to Telegraph Avenue and sat down. After blocking traffic for a little while the police attacked. Then the whole thing erupted into a riot. Police came from other cities and the sheriffs sent a few cars filled with cops in riot gear. I got attacked by a couple wannabe bikers when I stepped between them and a disabled person they were beating up. I ended up in the hospital with a concussion. Anyhow, the point of this story is that a few days later, a couple friends of mine got picked up for incitement, even though one of them had said nothing the day of the incident and the other had merely lit up a joint of what was then illegal marijuana. That was the excuse the police gave for their actions. I was laying low. A day or two later a couple cops forced me into their car and took me for a ride. They told me that I was an indictment pending for me regarding the riot. It was for incitement and felonious assault. I laughed. I hadn’t said a damn thing at the concert, much less anything about taking to the streets, but there it was. They let me out of the car near San Pablo and University Ave. and I called a lawyer who had helped me before. He looked into the cops’ story and I never heard anything about it again. My point is incitement is a pretty broad charge. Like every other law regarding political thought and action in the US, a person is much more likely to get convicted of it if their politics lean over to the left of the status quo than if they are to the right. I have a feeling the vote at the end of this proceeding will prove me right.

According to different media sources there’s talk among some Republicans about forming a new party because of the grip Trump has over the original grand old party. It certainly sounds like a way to split the right-wing vote, but could also create a situation where blue dog Democrats can express their reactionary-lite opinions and keep things the way they like them. Would a Joe Biden type run as a Democrat or a member of the Republicans without QAnon and fascism party? I’m not a party kind of guy—unless there’s beer and weed involved—but I can see how such a situation would make for lots of column inches in US media outlets.

The testimony from the impeachment managers was clear. Their argument is that Trump’s speech telling his minions to go to the Capitol on January 6th, 2021 wasn’t a one-off. No, indeed. It was the culmination of a months long plan to undermine the election results if Trump lost. Tweets were retrieved from wherever tweets go and splashed on the screens in the Senate and on devices everywhere. Tweets calling on his people to undo the election results of November. Tweets spreading lies only a true believer or an idiot would consider true. Tweets that apparently inflamed a lot of angry middle-class people to drop what they were doing and hop on the Trump train to somewhere. I will never understand what it is that Trump has that convinces people to not only vote for him but to also do whatever he says; to surrender their will to him. He’s not charming or particularly smart. He’s a liar and a swindler. He’s unattractive yet vain. And he can command the actions of millions of people. Go figure.

Once all the presentation of arguments is over, there is the possibility of calling witnesses. Even if this is voted down by the Senate, the fact is that every single Senator and impeachment manager is already a witness since they were in the building when everything went down. Therefore, some witnesses have already testified. At this point, though, it seems their testimony will not convince enough Republicans/Trumpists to convict. I can’t help but be reminded of juries who watch video and hear testimony from eyewitnesses providing enough legal evidence of murder by a cop who still vote to let the murdering cop go free.

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He has a new book, titled Nowhere Land: Journeys Through a Broken Nation coming out in Spring 2024.   He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: