Day two of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial – curiously referred to by the rest of the media as day three, which sort of underlines the farcical nature of the whole affair – saw Democrat impeachment managers ditch the emotive strategy for something approaching a factual argument, even if those facts were contorted almost beyond recognition.
What were these mutilated facts, then, that the prosecution held up as alleged evidence that then-President Donald Trump incited a violent invasion of the Capitol building on January 6? They were statements made by a few of the protesters that they were there in Washington, D.C. on that day because the president had called upon them to go. Well, of course Trump had called upon his supporters to rally in protest at what he and those who voted for him saw as a stolen election.
Opinions Are Not Evidence
Did any of these statements prove that Trump had done anything more than call for a protest, though? No, they did not. If Democrats are basing their allegations against the 45th president on the idea that calling for a demonstration is the equivalent of inciting insurrection, then an awful lot of them should be thinking about raising bail money rather than campaign funds.
Additionally, the managers quoted former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who claimed that the riot at the Capitol occurred because Trump had been “poisoning the minds” of his supporters. They also recalled former Defense Secretary James Mattis alleging that the events of the day in question were “fomented” by Trump. Two men who turned on the president the moment they lost their jobs. Not exactly credible witnesses – particularly because neither of them are capable of providing any solid proof of their claims.
As George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley wrote in a February 11 opinion piece for the Fox News website, what Democrats are conducting in the Senate is “trial by innuendo and implication.” As they did during Trump’s first impeachment, Democrats tried to build a case without witnesses and without provable facts – instead relying on conjecture, circumstantial evidence, and media reports.
One would have thought that Trump’s political opponents would have learned their lesson, but, alas, they have not. In keeping with 100 years of left-wing philosophy, Democrats appear to be operating on the belief that an absence of fact simply does not matter when you can fabricate your own facts out of opinions and second- or third-hand accounts of events.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) suggested that the lives of police officers might be in future peril should Trump not be convicted:
“My dear colleagues, is there any political leader in this room who believes that if he’s ever allowed by the Senate to get back into the Oval Office, Donald Trump would stop inciting violence to get his way? Would you bet the lives of more police officers on that?”
Quite a question from a member of the party that not only stood in silence as police officers were threatened, attacked, and in some cases killed by rampaging left-wing extremists, but actively supported those who waged war against law enforcement officers during the “Summer of Love.”
Failed to Close the Deal
As the former president’s attorneys prepare to take the field, there appears little doubt that the impeachment managers failed to prove the central allegation within the impeachment article. They did not prove that Trump directly and deliberately incited an insurrection.
Further, they have presented a case that is riddled with holes. The inconvenient timeline of events on January 6, the investigations that have established prior planning and organization of violent confrontations, the fact that known left-wing activists were present at the Capitol, themselves inciting the crowd to invade the halls and chambers of Congress.
It is fashionable to point out that impeachment is not the same as a criminal or civil trial. The latter are legal matters, while the former is a political exercise. Nevertheless, even impeachment trials require compelling evidence, if not indisputable proof, if they are to end in conviction. Impeachment managers have presented neither, and it seems Donald Trump’s attorneys have little more to do than avoid muddying the waters to ensure their client’s acquittal.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.