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Trump’s Defense Team Failed At Their Most Important Job

Trump’s Defense Team Failed At Their Most Important Job
folder_openUnited States access_time 24 days ago
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By Staff, Agencies

On Monday, US President Donald Trump's defense team failed at their most important job –making a clear and compelling argument that there was no need to hear from former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

On Sunday night, just hours before the White House counsel was set to deliver the second day of opening arguments, an explosive story broke in The New York Times – providing details from John Bolton's forthcoming book, "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir." The book appears to undercut Trump's main argument – that his decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine and his request for an investigation into the Bidens were wholly independent of each other.

Shortly after the story broke, Trump responded on Twitter, "I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens... If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book."

We might consider believing the President's version of history, except that this tweet comes from a leader who claims he had a "perfect" phone call with the President of Ukraine [when the transcript of the call indicates otherwise]; who has alleged Ukraine – and not Russia – intervened in the 2016 election [when no intelligence supports this]; and who said that Article II of the US Constitution allows him to "do whatever" he wants.

Pardon me if I don't take him at his word.

So, what was a loyal legal team, who may or may not have known about the content of the book before their opening argument, supposed to do?

Jay Sekulow brushed it off as irrelevant – arguing, "We deal with transcript evidence ... We do not deal with speculation, allegations that are not based on evidentiary standards at all." He did, however, show a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi handing out pens during the signing of the impeachment documents – as if that was somehow an action that should rise to the level of outrage of the President of the United States.

Ken Starr, yes that Ken Starr – the prosecutor whose report on Bill Clinton led to the President's impeachment – had the chutzpah to take the moral high road decrying the overuse of impeachment, arguing the process "is filled with acrimony and divides the country like nothing else." Lovely, if not bizarre, given the lack of self-reflection it required for him to deliver that message. Still, his argument included no real defense of the President or his actions.

Pam Bondi was clearly tasked with making the case for why Hunter Biden's role on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company, is more troubling than the President of the United States attempting to force a foreign power to bend to his personal will. Never mind that the theory that Hunter Biden used his role on the board of Burisma for nefarious means has been completely debunked – not just by every reputable news organization – but by Trump's own former homeland security adviser Tom Bossert.

While day two of White House counsel's arguments introduced some new arguments in defense of Trump, it likely did not change the interest from the public, and even some Republicans, to hear from witnesses like Bolton. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, already on the list of possible votes in favor of witnesses, told reporters, "John Bolton's relevance to our decision has become increasingly clear."

Though the President may not be on the path to conviction, the trial may bring the Senate one step closer to allowing witnesses. And day two of the defense did not change those odds.

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