Three Exhibits for an (arguably) unconstitutional impeachment trial

note: you can “argue” anything, as we keep seeing from our litigious former president’s army of ever weaker lawyers.

I argue that these three statements by Donald Trump remove any ambiguity about the former president’s intent to incite the riot he provoked (according to Mitch McConnell) on January 6th.

As Joaquin Castro details months of Trump’s constant, angry lies about a “rigged election”, starting many months before the voting started (and amplified, as Eric Swalwell points out, by $50,000,000 in ads, the ad buys ending January 5th [1]), and reminds us of the armed gangs of Trump supporters who went, in the months before the riot at the Capitol, pursuant to that Big Lie, to STOP the counting of ballots in many places across the US, I was struck yesterday by these three statements by Mr. Trump, from the day of the riot.

Trump and his allies insist, to this day, that we will never know how prevalent the imagined electoral fraud was that swept the big baby out of office. Actually, we do know. There was very little voter fraud found anywhere. The former president’s lawsuits claiming fraud were dismissed, by the dozens, for lack of evidence of fraud. Even the former president’s gunsel/personal attorney/AG Bill Barr finally stated that there was no evidence of fraud on a scale that could have changed any election results.

Exhibit One:

A striking line from Trump’s 70 minute speech to the crowd he invited to DC for an organized January 6th protest he promised “will be wild,” just before the riot:

Say what you will about Donald Trump, he knows a thing or two about going by a very different set of rules.

Exhibit Two:

The text of Trump’s tweeted video two hours into the riot (after tweeting his disappointment at Mike Pence’s “lack of courage” [2]). At first, you think “there’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened” (note Yiddish-inflected syntax) refers to the riot at the Capitol he has spent months provoking. A second later you realize he is simply doubling down on his provocative lie, the only thing Trump knows how to do.

He didn’t know how people with COVID, who were not millionaires, felt about getting this scary, sometimes deadly disease, he doesn’t know how families felt when they couldn’t feed their children, or the terror of people finding themselves without health insurance during a deadly pandemic — but he did know exactly how his angry, armed supporters felt when they broke into the Capitol to hang Mike Pence and shoot Nancy Pelosi in the head [3].

Exhibit Three:

Trump tweet four hours into the riot:

sacred landslide election victory,” y’all.

To the Trump party senators who intend to acquit their leader on a far-fetched constitutional technicality (that came about only because their party refused to reconvene the Senate in time), heed the words of your infallible leader, delivered to the crowd he exhorted to Stop the Steal:

Today, we see a very important event, though, because right over there, right there, we see the event that’s going to take place, and I’m going to be watching because history is going to be made. We’re going to see whether or not we have great and courageous leaders or whether or not we have leaders that should be ashamed of themselves throughout history, throughout eternity. They’ll be ashamed. And you know what? If they do the wrong thing, we should never, ever forget that they did. Never forget.

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“We’re going to see whether or not we have great and courageous leaders or whether or not we have leaders that should be ashamed of themselves throughout history, throughout eternity. They’ll be ashamed.”

The People rest.

[1]

Always in character, Trump lied about this to the crowd that ransacked the Capitol on January 6:

I did no advertising. I did nothing. You do have some groups that are big supporters. I want to thank that. Amy and everybody. We have some incredible supporters. Incredible. But we didn’t do anything. This just happened. Two months ago, we had a massive crowd come down to Washington. I said what are they there for? Sir, they’re there for you. We had nothing to do with it.

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[2]

“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” Trump wrote at 2:24 p.m. ET as the mob of his supporters was breaching the building.

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[3] I transcribed that from the section of the 13 minute videotape played by the impeachment managers. There’s more, including a line pirated from from Bill “I feel your pain” Clinton:

“I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it… But you have to go home now,” Trump said in the pre-recorded video that was quickly locked by Twitter “due to a risk of violence.” “We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anyone hurt. It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they take it away from all of us… This was a fraudulent election but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”

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