In case you missed Trump defense lawyer Bruce Castor’s rambling opening statement this afternoon, the @PostVideo team made a supercut with a few of the strangest moments.— James Hohmann (@jameshohmann) February 9, 2021
Via @RiegerReport: https://t.co/beT6zoFK4E
Lawyer who defended Trump in first impeachment trial says he has "no idea" what new attorney is doing https://t.co/kKmAo6Lg0U— DJ Judd (@DJJudd) February 9, 2021
Multiple people tell me Trump was basically screaming as Castor made a meandering opening argument that struggled to get at the heart of the defense team's argument.— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) February 9, 2021
Kaitlan Collins: "Trump was not happy with [Bruce Castor's] performance. He was borderline screaming over what was going on as he was talking to people about this." pic.twitter.com/TwGXeZ7KDs— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 9, 2021
Trump keeps logging on to Twitter to try and fire Bruce Castor.— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) February 9, 2021
'There is no argument - I have no idea what he is doing,' @AlanDersh on Trump's defense lawyer Bruce Castor 'talking nice' to U.S. Senators - via Newsmax TV's 'American Agenda.' https://t.co/VlT7z8drtO pic.twitter.com/7P7uVk5X19— Newsmax (@newsmax) February 9, 2021
Murkowski on Trump attorney Bruce Castor: “I was really stunned at the first attorney who presented for former President Trump. I couldn't figure out where he was going." (per Congressional pool reporter)— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) February 9, 2021
Lots of criticism from Republicans over Trump attorney Castor. John Cornyn:“And then I thought the President's lawyer the first lawyer just rambled on and on and on and didn't really address the constitutional argument. That was it was not one of the finest I've seen.”— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 9, 2021
“I don't think the lawyers did the most effective job," said Sen. Ted Cruz to @karoun when asked about Trump's lawyers. He added that Rep. Jamie Raskin was "impressive" and a "serious lawyer."— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 9, 2021
Bill Cassidy: “Anyone who listened to President Trump's legal team saw they were unfocused, they attempted to avoid the issue. And they talked about everything but the issue at hand."— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 9, 2021
Murkowski: "I was really stunned at the first attorney who presented for former President Trump. I couldn't figure out where he was going, spent 45 minutes going somewhere, but I don't think he helped with us better understand where he was coming from on the constitutionality"— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 9, 2021
“I was perplexed by the first attorney, who did not seem to make any arguments at all, which was an unusual approach to take,” Susan Collins told @tedbarrettcnn.— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 9, 2021
Asked about Castor calling out Sasse and Toomey specifically, Collins said, "I thought that was inappropriate."
Castor to reporters, asked about the criticism, says: “I thought we had a good day.” Asked if they would make any adjustments after today, he said: “No, I set up the outline a week ago and it will not change.”— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 9, 2021
Heading into the trial this afternoon, some GOP senators said no matter what they heard minds wouldn't be changed.— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 9, 2021
"No,” Ron Johnson said when asked if anything could change his mind. “Is there anything that could change Democrats' minds about the whole thing? Probably not."
And yet Cornyn voted to affirm Castor's argument https://t.co/IoCPARVs0P— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 9, 2021
John Dean just said Trump's lawyers made a good case that he should be criminally prosecuted. They did bring it up repeatedly ...— digby (@digby56) February 10, 2021
Tim Miller, The Bulwark, February 9, 2021
Bruce Castor's opening statement in defense of former President Donald Trump was one of the worst presentations I have ever seen by a public speaker, in any context.
On style, he was akin to a checked-out, tenured college professor who did no preparation for a lecture that had been designed by his TA. His manner was listless and utterly devoid of charisma—halting mumblecore, with Castor frequently pausing for applause. (There was none.) . . .
Castor's argumentation was so indolent that it made Sleepy Joe Biden look like the Energizer Bunny on meth.
His substance was not much better . . . [I]t is hard to summarize what exactly Castor's argument in defense of Trump was.
Don't take my word for it. Trump supplicant Alan Dershowitz literally told the gentle viewers of Newsmax, "There is no argument. I have no idea what he is doing." Newsmax cut away from the proceedings to spare their audience. . . .
He began anecdotes only to abandon them. He took meandering digressions—remember what a record player was? His allegories were hard to decipher. At one point early in the argument, he seemed to imply that Trump's crimes were more akin to manslaughter than murder. (Agree!) . . .
Castor repeatedly spoke to his friend "Pat" (that is, Senator Toomey) off camera, making asides that he himself acknowledged weren't to the point.
In the end Castor's case for Trump might be generously described as follows:
- Punting on the specifics of the constitutionality question that Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Col.) skillfully obliterated during the House managers' presentation.
- Lecturing the senators about comity and friendship.
- Arguing that the voters already removed Trump from office (before the insurrection) despite the fact that the insurrection was premised on the Big Lie that Trump himself still maintains.
- Reminding people repeatedly that he is pals with Pat Toomey.
- Ignoring the merits of the case against Trump altogether. . . .
The reality is that almost none of Trump's defenders are attempting to defend him on the merits. Marco Rubio is pretending to be upset that the Senate isn't working on other things. Lindsey Graham and Sean Hannity are pretending that equally impeachable things were done by Eric Holder, Cory Booker, and Maxine Waters (just to pick three Democrats completely at random). Rob Portman says what Trump did was bad, just not bad enough to do anything about.
So what we have is an impeachment trial where both sides are more or less stipulating that Trump's actions are indefensible. But Republicans can't say that out loud, because they live in fear of their own voters.
And that's how you get the inept, incompetent, ill-fitting, hapless, ineffectual, meandering, bumbling Bruce.
The Rambling, Stumbling Case For Trump's Acquittal
Jeremy Stahl, Slate, February 9, 2021
Bruce Castor, the former Pennsylvania district attorney who is most famous for having declined to prosecute Bill Cosby for rape, opened up the defense arguments and let's just say it did not go well. . . .
What was so bad about Castor's performance? For one, in what was supposed to be the opening of a specific procedural and jurisdictional defense, it was hard to identify a consistent narrative thread or particular legal argument he was trying to make. . . .In an effort to convince the Senate that the impeachment trial was unnecessary, Castor repeatedly pointed out that the American people had already fairly voted Trump out of office—the opposite of what Trump said in his months of complaints about election theft, which had ultimately inspired his supporters to attack the Capitol. . . .Inexplicably, Castor repeated the Trump lost the election so you don't have to punish him for trying to steal it argument a couple more times before moving to ground the former president will surely appreciate even less: If the Senate determined it doesn't have jurisdiction to try Trump, then he can always be prosecuted by the Justice Department."After he's out of office, you go and arrest him," Castor said.
Trump’s lawyer Bruce Castor refers to him as “the former president,” a term the ex-president’s team has avoided using in their press releases.— James Hohmann (@jameshohmann) February 9, 2021
what ... what is going on pic.twitter.com/XAgv9ZNzJZ— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 9, 2021
Did Bruce Castor take a wrong turn and end up at the wrong trial? pic.twitter.com/pX33sBJXQH— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 9, 2021
so, uh, Trump's impeachment trial strategy appears to be to just have folks go out there and wing it like it's an open mic night or something pic.twitter.com/FkF1xI6pHo— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 9, 2021
I challenge you to make sense of what Bruce Castor is trying to say here. This is like the worst college lecture of all time. pic.twitter.com/x7rHNjYByT— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 9, 2021
Did Rudy Giuliani suggest Bruce Castor to make his legal skills look sharper by comparison?— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) February 9, 2021
Nope. Rudy at home like, "Damn, this guy is good."— Jarrett Bellini (@JarrettBellini) February 9, 2021
He forgot what side he was on to open and it was just downhill from there.— Jodi (@jodi4444) February 9, 2021
Bruce Castor is making Rudy Giuliani look like Cicero— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 9, 2021
Bruce Castor makes Rudy Giuliani look like Perry Mason. https://t.co/JIi68rUK5q— Grant Stern (@grantstern) February 9, 2021
"Nebraska, you're going to hear, is quite a judicial thinking place" -- a real quote from Bruce Castor pic.twitter.com/lwbbl61xVL— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 9, 2021
even Castor's sips of water are problematic pic.twitter.com/eYtns11H29— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 9, 2021
Stunning: Castor says "we changed" our presentation because the House case was so "well done," which perhaps explains why Castor has seemed to be aimlessly vamping. Promises to answer the House arguments later, seeming to acknowledge he did not do so in the past 45 minutes.— Steve Inskeep (@NPRinskeep) February 9, 2021
Here's Bruce Castor admitting that Trump lost fair and square pic.twitter.com/cNLUqkqDyo— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 9, 2021
Trump’s “lawyer” just spent 20 minutes arguing that Trump should not be held accountable because the American people are smart enough not to vote for Trump again in 2024. Castor really is not good at this lawyering thing.— Glenn Kirschner (@glennkirschner2) February 9, 2021
"I'll be quite frank with you, we changed what we were going to do on account that we thought the House managers' presentation was well done" -- Bruce Castor pic.twitter.com/aAbkxdCZhk— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 9, 2021
Castor winds down his very bizarre speech by daring the DOJ to arrest Trump pic.twitter.com/jmoxdIU6Pm— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 9, 2021
I'm mildly surprised Castor is even pretending to make arguments. He could just do two hours of fart noises and make the same point: It doesn't matter what he says, because Republicans will shield Trump from consequences no matter what happens.— Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte) February 9, 2021
Castor and Schoen must be the most incompetent legal representation of any modern President, incumbent or otherwise.— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) February 9, 2021
In revisionist history, Trump lawyer David Schoen claims Speaker Pelosi held articles of impeachment "to avoid having the trial begin while Mr. Trump was still president." The trial couldn't have started because Senate was in recess and Leader McConnell declined to call it back.— Alex Bolton (@alexanderbolton) February 9, 2021
* * *
Over And Over And Over, Arrested Rioters Say What Spurred Them: Trump
Philip Bump, Washington Post, February 9, 2021
From those who've been arrested already, we hear a consistent refrain: They were there to support Trump or, in their view, there at his behest.
That's what Douglas Sweet of Virginia said after he was arrested on Jan. 7: "Trump asked all the patriots to show up, so I did."
Jacob Chansley, the "QAnon Shaman," told FBI agents that "he came as a part of a group effort, with other 'patriots' from Arizona, at the request of the President that all 'patriots' come to D.C. on January 6, 2021."
In an interview with the New Yorker, Larry Brock of Texas said that "the president asked for his supporters to be there to attend, and I felt like it was important, because of how much I love this country, to actually be there."
Someone who spoke with the FBI told agents that Robert Sanford, arrested Jan. 14, had been part of a group that "had gone to the White House and listened to President Donald J. Trump's speech and then had followed the President's instructions and gone to the Capitol."
Jennifer Ryan, a real estate agent from Texas arrested on Jan. 15, told a local television station that she had simply "answered the call of my president."
In a message to someone she was trying to recruit to come to Washington that day, Jessica Watkins of Ohio allegedly said that "Trump wants all able bodied Patriots to come."
The FBI quoted Christopher Grider of Texas, arrested on Jan. 21, saying in a TV interview: "The president asked people to come and show their support. I feel like it's the least that we can do. It's kind of why I came from Central Texas all the way to D.C."
On Facebook, Kenneth Grayson of Pennsylvania allegedly wrote: "IM THERE IF TRUMP TELLS US TO STORM THE F---- CAPITAL IMA DO THAT THEN."
Bruno Cua of Georgia, arrested last week, allegedly wrote on the social media site Parler that "President Trump is calling us to FIGHT!" by way of explaining his trip to Washington.
The same rationale was offered by unidentified people in video recorded at the White House.
"Our president wants us here. We wait and take orders from our president," one person said.
"We were invited here," said another. "We were invited by the president of the United States."
It's worth noting that these are the known testimonials. That so many suspects are still sought by law enforcement serves as a reminder that other similar arguments may still emerge.
President Donald Trump was "horrified" when violence broke out at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, as a joint session of Congress convened to confirm that he lost the election, according to his defense attorneys. . . .But that revisionist history conflicts with the timeline of events on the day of the Capitol riot, as well as accounts of multiple people in contact with the president that day, who have said Trump was initially pleased to see a halt in the counting of the electoral college votes. Some former White House officials have acknowledged that he only belatedly and reluctantly issued calls for peace, after first ignoring public and private entreaties to do so. . . .Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) told conservative radio broadcaster Hugh Hewitt that it was "not an open question" as to whether Trump had been "derelict in his duty . . . As this was unfolding on television, Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren't as excited as he was as you had rioters pushing against Capitol Police trying to get into the building." . . .For many White House aides, lawmakers and others who had been ensconced in the Capitol, Trump's actions after the riots began were particularly offensive — even more objectionable, some said, than what he did to incite the crowd. . . .
Another close adviser said that rather than appearing appalled, Trump was voraciously consuming the events on television, enjoying the spectacle and encouraged to see his supporters fighting for him. . . .
While Trump's defense attorneys claim he and the White House "took immediate steps to coordinate with authorities," the president played no known role in organizing reinforcements that day.