Today what most Americans consider the real start of the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, President of the United States will begin in the Senate. With that in mind I’d like to take a look at the rival legal teams. Let’s explore.
The House Managers are effectively the prosecutors and they are: Representatives Jason Crow of Colorado, Val Demings of Florida, Sylvia Garcia of Texas, Hakeem Jeffries and Jerry Nadler of New York, along with Zoe Lofgren and Adam Schiff of California. The team will be led by House Intelligence Committee Chair Schiff.
For the defense we have Pam Bondi, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz, Eric Herschmann, Mike Purpura, Jane Raskin, Robert Ray, Jay Sekulow and Ken Starr. The word is that Cipollone and Sekulow will be the “co-captains”.
I don’t know a lot about several of the team members but would like to briefly comment about a few. Every member of the prosecution adds something to the team. Schiff has proven his skills over the last few months. Nadler is a veteran of these battles and considered to be somewhat of a constitutional expert. The one I expect to have a major impact even if it’s largely behind the scenes is Lofgren. She is both experienced and tough as nails.
The current House Manager team (7) is about half the size of the one the Republicans employed against Bill Clinton (13) which, years ago, I nicknamed Henry Hyde and the Dirty Dozen. Several people who I expected to see named were left off it. The most interesting of them was Eric Swalwell. I don’t know if Nancy Pelosi left him off it to save the “bomb throwers” for cable news or in some inside baseball California Democratic Party politics move.
Starting with the “co-captains” I have some questions about the defense team. Cipollone is the White House Counsel which means his client is the Office of the Presidency not the occupant of the Oval Office. He defends the institution not the man, or at least that is what we pay him to do.
Sekulow is a subject of the investigation. Doesn’t that present a conflict? His major experience is as an anti-choice lawyer and, if you judge it by wins and losses, not a very successful one at that.
Bondi is a recent addition to the White House having to leave a lobbying job for a foreign government to take her present post. In a past life as Florida’s Attorney General she accepted an illegal $25,000 donation from the Donald J. Trump Foundation and subsequently decided not to join a lawsuit against Trump University. Incidentally that lawsuit was solved by Trump paying a $25 million fine. I’ll invoke Nance’s law here: coincidence takes a lot of planning.
Dershowitz lends a lot of prestige to the team. However he has an interesting track record of defending the guilty including O. J. Simpson and Jeffrey Epstein (a big Harvard donor). In fact the good professor is implicated in the Epstein scandal.
Kenneth Starr, who is no stranger to being involved in recent controversy, is to me the most surprising member of the team. I can see why Starr would take the assignment. First off I doubt great offers are clogging his doorstep. Next it is a chance to regain relevance. Finally he has experience at wasting taxpayer money. If my memory is correct he spent $80 million in his Whitewater investigation.
That is my very brief and incomplete critique of the legal teams. I’m more concerned about how the trial is going to be conducted which we will find out in the near future. I fear it will be another GOP whitewash like the FBI “investigation” into Brett Kavanaugh.
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