Impeachment trial provides a rare opportunity for Trump
By impeaching now former president Donald Trump in the House of Representatives, Democrats and NeverTrump types may have just unwittingly provided a worldwide platform to the former president to allow him to showcase evidence of voting irregularities or perhaps even outright fraud in the 2020 election. For an added dimension, the trial may serve to demonstrate that the Capitol incident was really instigated and fostered by non-Trump supporting agitators and organizers.
For this to happen and for it to have the desired result, two things need be true. One, Trump really has to have the goods. Two, the defense has to make a cogent and understandably simple case. If so, then both the Democrat Party and the fledgling Biden/Harris administration will suffer irreparable damage.
An article of impeachment is basically a charging document, akin to a criminal indictment. In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove each and every element that constitutes the offense charged. Otherwise, the defendant is acquitted or at least should be. An impeachment trial is not a criminal proceeding, so the outcome can be driven by other political considerations. Nevertheless, the Democrat House managers must still offer some modicum of support for the elements of their case to avoid exposing themselves, again, as merely tawdry partisans.
In H. Res. 24, in which it was resolved to impeach Trump, the House's charge of "incitement of insurrection" can be reduced to few simple elements. First, on January 6, while speaking to a crowd at the Ellipse, Trump, "reiterated false claims that 'we won this election, and we won it by a landslide'" (p. 2). Second, Trump made "willful statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol" (p. 3). Third, incited by Trump's words, members of the crowd, in an attempt to interfere with Congress's joint session to certify the election results, committed various criminal offenses at and in the Capitol, resulting in property damage, injury, and deaths (ibid.). Fourth, during Trump's call to Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, Trump threatened him and directed Raffensperger to "find" the votes needed to overturn the results in Georgia (ibid.).
It would seem that to establish the falsity of Trump's rhetoric, the Democrat managers will have to present some evidence, by way of witnesses and documents, that Trump did not win the election by a landslide and the election results are actually legitimate. If not, the entire underlying premise for the charge collapses. Afterall, how can Trump be guilty of anything by speaking the truth? Any witness called by the managers will be subject to cross-examination, during which Trump's defense will have the opportunity to start presenting evidence and material that show irregularities and that, if not adequately rebutted, could cast doubt on the election results. Whether the Democrats present such evidence or not, the defense, in its case in chief, will present its own evidence. Recall, since the corrupt and degenerate media refused to give their viewers (or readers) any real insight into these claims of election irregularities, many may be hearing, for the very first time, credible support for Trump's claims. As the media did not do any actual investigation into claims of election irregularities or fraud themselves, but merely chose to sit back and declare there was no such evidence, the media will have little to combat credible appearing proofs.
Given the level of vitriol among the NeverTrump Republican caucus, even if the evidence is coherently presented, Trump could still be convicted. The mere airing of the evidence, however, poses serious risks to the establishments of both parties and other so-called elites, so expect the usual media outlets to censor such testimony under the guise of not wanting to be a vessel for distribution of Trump's lies and disinformation. Try as they might, the Senate trial puts these outlets in a bind, because whether they like or not, they have to air it. Their target audience wants this. Like addicts, their audience needs it; it wants it and has got to have it. No, CNN, MSNBC, et al. cannot miss out on this ratings bonanza.
Long-term, what happens when millions of Biden-supporters see and hear, for the first time, seemingly credible evidence that could make them question whether or not "their guy" really won or that the "insurrectionists" at the Capitol were not actual "white supremacists"? You can rest assured that the media; the Democrats; and certainly Joe Biden, who is just four weeks into his term, do not even want to think about it.
John J. Mastronardi is an attorney who writes from Southeastern Pennsylvania.