The White House’s formal response letter to the House’s articles of impeachment is contemptible, but it is important because it shows where Trump’s defense strategy is headed
Here is the text of the first formal response by the WH to the House’s articles of impeachment.
The letter is contemptible and an embarrassment to the office of the presidency. 1/18 tinyurl.com/wj2aaen
It reeks of constitutionally illiterate lunacy — though this is not surprising, given that Trump is a constitutionally illiterate lunatic, and because we know that all of the WH’s letters to Congress have been drafted under the direction of Trump and approved by him. 2/18
Since Trump can hardly form a grammatical and coherent thought in his head, his wishes are clearly heavily edited and crafted before they are sent out on WH stationery, but the overall strategy, we can be sure, is always his. 3/18
That said, it is important to understand where Trump’s defense in the Senate trial is headed, based on this letter.
The first thing to note is that the letter is inconsistent in its claims and messaging. 4/18
On the one hand, the letter argues that the House has failed to articulate an impeachable offense.
This part of the letter includes the claim that everything Trump did he was authorized to do under the Article II powers of the presidency. 5/18
Call this the Alan Dershowitz “Let Putin take Alaska, it’s not impeachable because abuse of power is not impeachable” defense of Trump in the Ukraine scandal. 6/18
Folded into this claim is the additional claim that the House has failed to impeach Trump for any alleged criminal conduct. 7/18
At this point, the letter diverges from the position of Dershowitz, who acknowledges that impeachment need not involve a charge of criminal conduct. It also is contradicted by the GAO’s finding that Trump did violate the law when he withheld aid from Ukraine. 8/18
But the letter does not confine itself to these (indefensible) claims. It also asserts that, factually, Trump did nothing wrong, and then recites Trumpian talking points with which we are all too familiar from Trump’s talks before press gaggles on the WH lawn. 9/18
These Trumpian talking points have convinced no one who counts, but the inclusion of these talking points in the WH’s formal letter to the Senate has important implications for the trial — 10/18
because this claim will only underscore the need for the Senate to get witness testimony and documents to determine what did happen. And this is exactly what Trump wants to avoid.11/18
Dershowitz has said in a recent interview that his preference would be to have an immediate dismissal after the presentation of the House’s initial arguments, on the grounds that no impeachable offense has been charged. 12/18
New impeachment lawyer Alan Dershowitz predicted Trump will block Bolton testimonyThe newest member of President Trump’s impeachment defense team predicted earlier this week that former national security adviser John Bolton won’t be allowed to testify in the upcoming Senate trial …https://tinyurl.com/s4cqugq
Senator Hawley (R-MO) has told The Hill that the trial procedures resolution that McConnell will present on Tuesday will almost certainly include a provision for immediate dismissal. 13/18
McConnell has done this, according to Hawley, at the insistence of Trump and the WH,
which shows, among other things, that Trump does not want — and undoubtedly never did want — a real trial. (Are you surprised?) 14/18
A provision like that in the proposed procedures resolution has been under discussion and negotiation for a long time, but it has been clear for at least a week that McConnell will not have the votes to get it passed. (Hawley even says that he might not vote for it.) 15/18
But so far as today’s WH letter is concerned, the important point is that, by disputing the House’s claims about the facts — about what happened and how to describe it — the WH has made a vote for immediate dismissal that much harder to get in the Senate. 16/18
Cipollone and Sekulow do not appear to be the brightest people in the world, but one would hope they could come up with a better defense strategy than this. 17/18
But in all fairness, we also need to keep in mind that they are acting under the orders and direction of stable jenius Donald J. Trump, so maybe we couldn’t reasonably expect anything better from them. 18/18