The verdict on impeachment is in: Trump’s lawyers lost round one in a landslide after Bruce Castor followed up a 13-minute damning video with a meandering speech that didn’t seem to want to address the case at hand.
Trump co-counsel David Schoen said Tuesday night that the legal team would be “well-prepared” going forward and would “do better” at defending the former president.
“There’s a lot to say, and I know they feel very strongly about fighting against what they are seeing,” Schoen responded to comments by Sean Hannity.
Schoen also said that Castor didn’t expect to have to speak on Tuesday, which may have accounted for the fact that his speech seemed unfocused. Castor talked about the fall of ancient governments and getting lost in the Capitol building before calling out several House and Senate members by name and then finally, briefly, talking about the January 6 riot.
Democrats judged more compelling on first day of impeachment
In contrast, House impeachment managers put forward a 13-minute video montage of footage from the January 6 riot, juxtaposed with things Trump said about election fraud that encouraged people to take action against the fraud and for the integrity of elections.
While the video did not prove Trump did anything wrong, most of the lawmakers in both parties who watched it agreed it was more emotionally compelling than Trump’s lawyers.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said, “Anyone who listened to those arguments would recognize that the House managers were focused, relied upon and trusted upon the opinion of legal scholars.”
Cassidy also called Trump’s legal team “unfocused” and said they “attempted to avoid the issue.” Cassidy was one of six Republicans who voted that the impeachment was constitutional and could go forward, which differed from his vote last week that it was not constitutional.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) also voted the trial was constitutional, saying of Trump’s lawyers, “I think they had a weaker case to start with, and I don’t think it was very persuasive.”
Is Castor the right guy?
Hannity said he was getting calls from Republicans during the arguments who were frustrated about how things were going and told him, “Whoa, we need someone harder-hitting here.”
Trump’s legal team had already gone through upheaval prior to the trial, with the entire team leaving his defense less than two weeks ago and being replaced by Schoen and Castor.
The New York Times reported that Trump was “furious” about his team’s lackluster performance, which he watched between meetings at Mar-A-Lago, his Florida resort.
Having been banned from Twitter after the riot, Trump has no immediate way to respond to the trial as he did during his first impeachment trial a year ago.