Even GOP senators are really unimpressed by Trump's impeachment defense

410

Republicans were aghast at the lack of a coherent argument from Donald Trump's legal team — yet almost every single GOP Senator sided with the bad legal theory anyway.

Republican senators blasted the performance by one of the lead attorneys on Donald Trump's impeachment defense team, saying the lawyers' 45-minute opening statement did not make sense nor have a point.

Bruce Castor — a former district attorney from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, who before joining the Trump impeachment team was most known for refusing to prosecute Bill Cosbyadmitted he was basically winging his speech, saying he decided to change things around after the Democratic impeachment managers presented what he described as a "well done" argument.

And Republican senators said that lack of preparation showed, saying Castor did not address the topic both Democrats and Republicans agreed to debate on the first day of the impeachment trial: Whether it is constitutional to hold an impeachment trial when Trump is no longer in office.

"I thought it was very strange that the first attorney for the President did not make any arguments," Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said after the first day of the trial wrapped, according to NBC News' Garrett Haake. Collins was one of just 6 Republican senators to vote for the impeachment trial to proceed on Tuesday.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) expressed similar sentiments.

"Couldn't figure out where he was going," Murkowski said, according to Politico's Kyle Cheney. "Spent 45 minutes going somewhere, but I don't think he helped with us better understanding where he was coming from." Murkowski also voted for the trial to proceed.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said Trump's lawyers were not effective, and that the lead Democratic impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) "was impressive." But Cruz still sided with Trump's legal team, voting that the trial should not move forward.

"I've seen a lot of lawyers and a lot of arguments and that was — that was not one of the finest I've seen," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who despite saying the argument was bad still voted to say the trial was not constitutional.

But the harshest words came from Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

Last month, Cassidy voted for a motion from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to dispose of the impeachment trial on the grounds that it was unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office. But on Tuesday, Cassidy changed his tune, joining five Republican senators to vote for the trial to proceed after being swayed by what he described as a "great job" by the Democratic managers.

Cassidy slammed Trump's defense team as "disorganized," "terrible," saying Trump's lawyers "did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand." Cassidy added that it seemed as if Trump's team was "embarrassed" by their arguments.

When asked by a reporter what he thought was so terrible about the Trump legal team's job, Cassidy replied: "Did you listen to it? It speaks for itself."

The fact that only one GOP Senator was moved to change their mind by a coherent argument from Democrats and an incoherent one from Trump's team is not a promising sign for those who want to see Trump convicted.

The House Democratic impeachment managers need to convince 17 Republican senators to vote to convict Trump. And with only six saying the trial itself is constitutional, it's unlikely they'll meet that hurdle.

The trial is set to resume on Wednesday with the vote to proceed passing 56-to-44, including all Democrats in the Senate and the six Republican votes.

The Democratic impeachment managers will continue to make their case about why they believe Trump is guilty of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol that led to five deaths — including a Capitol Police officer.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.