Your Official Souvenir Guide to the Trump Impeachment Trial

Sue Coe, Official Souvenir Guide, Trump Impeachment Trial, 2021. Tickets: Congratulations! You are one of small number of Americans selected by U.S. Senators to witness in person the…

Sue Coe, Official Souvenir Guide, Trump Impeachment Trial, 2021.

Tickets:

Congratulations! You are one of small number of Americans selected by U.S. Senators to witness in person the 2021 Impeachment Trial of former President Donald J. Trump.  In keeping with Electoral College protocols, every senator has been allotted the same number of tickets, regardless of the size of their state. It is therefore expected that all citizens of Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, South and North Dakota will have an opportunity to attend the trial.

Please note: Tickets for the 2019 Impeachment trial of Trump will not be honored for the 2021 trial.

After collecting your ticket at the Hart Office Building, please wait in line at the Congressional Visitors Center before entering the Capital. You will be permitted 30 minutes in the Senate Gallery before receiving a signal from the ushers to surrender your seat to a new ticket holder. Prior to sitting, hold your breath for 60 seconds and fan the air with both hands to dissipate any clouds of Covid virus. (Directive HHS 305.2.D, January 19, 2021, Corona Virus Special Advisor Scott Atlas.)

Please note: Visitors to the Capital may not wear animal pelts, Viking helmets, or bullet proof vests. Flag poles carved into spears are also strictly prohibited, whether or not American flags are attached. MAGA, QAnon and Nazi patches and insignias are permitted, but not if they adorn M-15 or other assault rifles, in which case they will be withheld and returned upon exiting the facility. Because of risk of fire, Rothschild Inc. (Jewish) space lasers are strictly prohibited.

What to except at the trial

Impeachment and impeachment trials are how the U.S. Congress holds Presidents accountable for legal and political misdeeds. They were intended by the framers of the Constitution to be rare events in order to make it appear that presidents not impeached are honest and wise.

Upon a majority vote for Impeachment by the House of Representatives, a trial is held in the Senate. According to the Constitution, a president may be convicted and removed from office by a two-thirds majority vote. (Two-thirds votes are as rare as unicorns in the Senate except for war and defense authorization bills.) A convicted president must be judged to have committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The framers chose the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” because nobody knew what it meant, limiting its use.

There is no established procedure for conducting an Impeachment Trial – it’s determined by the Senate Majority Leader, currently Sen. Chuck Schumer. In general, however, the prosecution is directed by the House Impeachment Manager, in this case Rep. Jamie Raskin, plus supporting counsel. The President will be represented by a team of five lawyers, led by Bruce L. Castor and David Schoen. Castor is well known. When he was Montgomery County District Attorney, he declined to prosecute actor Bill Cosby for sexual assault, claiming insufficient evidence. He also promised Cosby he’d never to prosecute him in the future. After the statute of limitation lapsed on dozens of cases, a subsequent DA charged and convicted Cosby of just three counts of sexual assault.

During the Impeachment trial, the Senate will be presided over by Sen. Patrick Leahy who is President Pro Tempore — the longest serving senator of the majority party. He was elected in 1975 but is only the 7th oldest Senate member. He has said he will continue to serve so long as he is able to scuba dive.

Because Trump’s defense team challenged the veracity of assertions that their client tried to subvert the election’s certification, Raskin last week invited Trump to testify in his own defense. Fearing a “Perry Mason moment,” Trump’s lawyers quickly declined the invitation. (In fact, such moments – when a witness or defendant blunders or confesses under cross-examination — are extremely rare.) Nevertheless, prosecutors have gamed multiple cross-examination scenarios, just in case Trump changes his mind:

Sue Coe, Raskin Defends the Constitution, 2021.

Raskin: “Isn’t it true that you knew your words at the January 6th rally would lead to violence? Wasn’t this an attempted coup directed against the government of the United States of America?”

Trump: “A coupe? Like a Cadillac Coupe de Ville? Nice car.”

Raskin: “Not a coupe, Mr. President, a coup, a putsch.”

Trump: “A Porche? I prefer something bigger, like the Coupe de Ville. You know, I’m the tallest president since Lincoln. Actually, I’m taller. He faked his height.”

Raskin: Ah ha!! I have in my hands Lincoln’s actual autopsy report proving he was 6’4”. You are only 6’3”!

Has any president been impeached and convicted?

In 1868, Andrew Johnson was impeached for violating the “Tenure of Office” act when he fired the Secretary of War. (The U.S. has never had a Secretary of Peace.) The real reason Johnson was impeached was that he was incompetent and frequently drunk. He also refused to implement the 13th, 14th and 15thReconstruction Amendments to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing civil and voting rights to newly emancipated Black people. He was spared conviction by a single vote.

In 1999, President Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about cum puer mulier habens sexus oris.* Clinton too was found not guilty after a Senate trial. In 2019, President Trump was impeached for trying to blackmail the Ukrainian president into announcing an investigation into then presidential candidate Joe Biden. The Republican-controlled Senate failed to convict him or even to call witnesses to see if he was guilty or not. Trump therefore claimed complete vindication.

*H.R. 901 (The Eliminating Pornography from Agencies Act), bars use of sexually explicit or vulgar language on federal devices, documents or public communications.

Sue Coe, Impeached Presidents, 2021.

Who’s on Trial?

Donald J. Trump became the most (in)famous person in the world during his four years in office. Here however, are some little-known facts about him:

+ Trump is the second youngest of five children born to an impoverished, Scottish immigrant mother named Mary Macleod and a Ku Klux Klan and Nazi-sympathizing, father named Fred Trump. Mary worked in the U.S. as a domestic. She and Fred met at a party in Queens in 1935. He mistook her maid’s apron for a Dirndl.

+ Fred Trump was a real estate developer immortalized by Woodie Guthrie in 1954 as “Old Man Trump” who:

Knows just how much racial hate
He stirred up in that bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed that color line
Here at his Beach Haven family project

+ In 1973, Donald J. Trump was charged by Richard Nixon’s Department of Justice with refusing to rent to Black tenants.

+ In 1989, he published an ad in all four NYC newspapers calling for the death penalty for the Central Park Five. Trump was accused at the time of inciting violence against the young Black men. All five were convicted of assault, but subsequently exonerated and released. They received $41 million in compensation for their wrongful conviction.

+ By the year 2000, Trump had squandered most of the fortune left to him by his father, but he parleyed his skills at mendacity and grifting to land a job on TV playing a successful real estate developer in a program called “The Apprentice.” That role made him $427 million.

+ Trump gained further celebrity by falsely claiming that former president Barak Obama was born outside the United States and thus ineligible for election to president in 2008. In 2016, Trump secured the Republican Party nomination for president and was elected later that year, despite losing the popular vote by almost three million ballots. It was the second time in 16 years that a Republican had lost the popular vote but won the electoral vote (see: Bush v. Gore in 2000).

+ During his four years in office, Trump was impeached twice by the U.S. House of Representatives, told more than 30,000 demonstrable lies, and rejected the use of facemasks against Covid 19 while more than 400,000 Americans died from the disease. In 2020, he was defeated for re-election by a margin of 74 electoral votes and more than 7 million popular votes, a percentage of 51.2 to 46.8 – not a close tally by U.S. election standards.

The Case for the Prosecution

The House of Representatives has charged Trump with four high crimes and misdemeanors: 1) Violating His Oath of Office; 2) Attacking the Democratic Process; 3) Imperiling Congress; and 4) Undermining National Security. The case is laid out in an 80-page brief that begins with a dramatic recounting of the events leading up to and occurring on January 6.

Months before the election, Trump stated multiple times that he had no intention of accepting the results unless he won. Any other conclusion than victory, he claimed, would be a fraud. (Heads I win; tails you lose.)  On the night of the election and in the weeks thereafter, he was true to his word, refusing to accept results that proved he had lost re-election by the same electoral vote margin (306-232) that he’d won by in 2016 — a result he at the time called a landslide.

As the weeks passed, and Trump’s court challenges failed, he became increasingly desperate. By mid-December, his record in state and federal courts was 62 losses and 1 (inconsequential) win. If he were a professional boxer, his results would have made him the world champion loser. (Middleweight Reggie Strickland [b. 1968] retired with a record of 66 wins and 276 losses.) On January 2, Trump called the Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger to implore him to “find the fraud.” The call was recorded: “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.” Trump added that Raffensperger’s failure to do so, would be “a criminal offense” and “a big risk to you.”

Despite threats to legislators and election officials in Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Trump failed to overturn results in the states he lost. Even his own Attorney General Bill Barr, rivalled only by Sen. Lindsey Graham as Trump’s lapdog, called his claims of election fraud “[bovem de stercore].” Anticipating that Congressional certification of Biden’s win on January 6 would be the final nail in his coffin, Trump began to organize and promote a massive “stop the steal” rally near the U.S. capital for that date. He promised supporters it would be really “wild”.

On January 6, 2021, Trump encouraged violence against Congressional members gathered to certify election results. In the course of his speech that morning, he told supporters: “We fight, we fight like hell,” because “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” And “you’ll never take back our country with weakness…you have to show strength,” to which his followers loudly replied, “take the Capitol right now!” and “invade the Capitol building!” He ended his speech by imploring the crowd to head toward the capital: “Let’s walk [together] down Pennsylvania Avenue.” In fact, Trump ducked into his car and was driven back to the White House to watch the proceedings on television.

Sue Coe, Stop the Steal, 2021.

Back at the White House, Trump reportedly cheered on the rioters, many of whom by then were crashing through barricades, assaulting Capital police, smashing doors and windows, trampling each other (in one case to death) and finally breaching the building. Inside, the mob ranged through the halls and chambers, hunting for victims; they wanted to lynch Mike Pence for refusing to de-certify the electoral votes, and erected a scaffold outside for the purpose. (It was a shabby looking affair with no buttresses or lateral support – a swinging body would likely have toppled it.)  They also wanted to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom one audibly called “that [canis femina]”. Having failed to track down either of them – they are second and third in the line of presidential succession – the mob invaded the Senate chamber, rifling through desks and occupying the dais of Pence, shouting “Mike Pence is a [concubitus] traitor”.

In the course of the mayhem, one police officer was killed by being struck in the head with a fire extinguisher. A rioter was shot and killed as she tried to vault through a transom leading to the Speaker’s Lobby where Pelosi and other Representatives had found sanctuary. The shooting affirmed what Trump’s supporters regularly affirm. Guns work. After the shooting, the crowd fell back, and the safety of House members was assured.

During the roughly four hours of the Capital siege, Trump did little or nothing to halt the violence. In fact, he was “delighted” according to White House staffers, rebuffing calls by party leaders to denounce the violence. At 3:13 p.m, he sent a brief Tweet calling for peace, and an hour later posted a video calling for “law and order,” but undercut the message by telling the rebels: “We love you, you’re very special.” With this utterance, Trump raised the rhetorical bar for romantic break-ups: Never again will one party say to the other: “you’re very special to me.”

The Case for the Defense

Trump’s lawyers’ brief essentially offers the same defense as the first impeachment trial, when the president was accused of blackmailing the Ukrainian prime minister to dig up dirt on Biden. It’s a version of what’s known as “The Narcissist’s Prayer:”

That didn’t happen.
And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.
And if it was, that’s not a big deal.
And if it is, that’s not my fault.
And if it was, I didn’t mean it.
And if I did, you deserved it

The attorneys argue that because the constitution describes impeachment as “removal from office”, Trump cannot be convicted because he no longer holds office. But even if he can be impeached and removed, he didn’t commit any impeachable offenses. However, even if he did, he was just exercising his first amendment rights. And even if that speech constituted a “high crime and misdemeanor,” he still can’t be convicted because he’s no longer in office.

First amendment claims in this case are specious. Like anybody else, the president is free to say what he wants. But stating “I refuse to honor my oath of office” for example, while protected by the 1st Amendment, would clearly be an example of “high crimes and misdemeanors” and grounds for impeachment and conviction. That was essentially what Trump did when he sought to subvert the national vote count, and when he egged on his supporters to storm the capital, attack legislators and stop the election certification. In fact, his statements were so egregious, that he could be charged with incitement to riot in a Washington D.C. court, a crime punishable by up to ten years in prison and a fine of $25,000.

INSERT IMAGE 5 HERE – Sue Coe, Capital Riot, 2021

Democrats in Congress have countered the legalistic claim that an ex-president cannot be impeached, by arguing that the language of the Constitution and precedent affirms the opposite. Terms lasts until the next inauguration, and presidents must be held accountable until their last moment in office. Otherwise, presidents could wantonly violate their oaths of office during the last weeks of their term, confident they could not be convicted and barred from future office. This has unfortunately led to funny comparisons:

+ It would be like saying a hockey player can’t be sent to the penalty box for two minutes when there is only one minute left in the game.

+ It’s like getting fired from your job and grabbing somebody’s laptop on the way out; you’ve already been fired, what else can they do?

Trump supporters such as Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz have also said that convicting Trump after his term has expired would be a slippery slope. Graham stated: “Under this theory [of] the radical left, if you can impeach a president after they’re out of office, why don’t we impeach George Washington?” Taking their cue from Graham, several civic and professional organizations have proposed posthumous impeachments:

+ The American Dental Association supports the impeachment of Washington for failure to floss and setting an example of poor dental hygiene.

+ The Jewish Grandparent Network wants to impeach William Henry Harrison for refusing to wear a muffler and goloshes to his inauguration, leading to his death a month later. They commented: “Politics shmolitics — abi gezunt [so long as you’ve got your health]!”

+ The Theatre Guild supports the impeachment of Abraham Lincoln for his fatally bad taste in comic theatre, bringing about the presidency of Andrew Johnson.

How Likely is Conviction?  

Congressional scholars argue that if Republicans won’t expel Trump supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene, an openly racist and anti-Semitic House member who believes that an international cabal of Democrats, supported by Hollywood and global elites, tortures, sexually abuses and cannibalizes children (the whole operation run out of the basement of a Washington D.C. pizza parlor), how likely are they to punish Trump himself?

The chances of achieving the two-thirds majority of the Senate necessary for conviction and subsequent barring from office, are thus exceedingly slim. That means that Trump will be eligible for election to president again in 2024.

We hope you enjoyed this Official Souvenir Guide to the Trump Impeachment Trial. Please come back soon to the U.S. Capital. Republican Representatives Mo Brooks, Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs and Lauren Boebert have kindly offered to give tours to selected groups.

Please note: Tickets for the 2021 impeachment trial will not be honored for the 2025 trial.


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