Donald Trump is finally learning the consequences of being such a deadbeat client that few reputable legal firms are now willing to risk their reputations and balance sheets by representing him in his impeachment trial.
With his team of those few attorneys still willing to be associated with the president now appearing before the Senate mounting a defense that has been called “constitutional nonsense” by legal scholars and described as having “inadvertently helped Democrats make the case for calling new witnesses,” the poor performance of his defense team has some Twitter wags wondering whether Trump’s strategy is to rely on an appeal based on ineffectiveness of counsel.
Is it possible the president is angling for post conviction relief based on ineffectiveness of counsel?
— Hasani Gittens (@hgitty) November 21, 2018
With a team that includes White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, whose opening statements have left him open to charges of perjury; Alan Dershowitz, whose client roster has included such notorious figures as Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, and OJ Simpson; Jay Sekulow, who’s strongest defense point seems to be that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi handed out souvenir pens after signing the articles of impeachment; and Ken Starr, the former special prosecutor on the Bill Clinton impeachment, who has had to disavow his previous statements on the nature of an impeachable offense to argue Trump’s position, the president is fortunate that his trial is taking place before a jury stacked with his fellow partisan Republicans.
As the president’s defense attorneys began their second day of presentation in the impeachment trial, Starr managed to raise the ire of Democratic Senator and disabled war hero veteran of the Iraq war Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) with an ill-considered tangent in which he compared the tribulations that a president and members of the Senate endure during an impeachment trial with the horrors of war.
Senator Duckworth retweeted a video clip of the defense attorney declaring to the assembled Senators and the TV viewing audience that “Like war, impeachment is hell. Or at least, presidential impeachment is hell” with a pertinent rebuke to both Starr — who avoided the draft during the Vietnam War with a 4-F classification due to his suffering from psoriasis — and the man she likes to refer derisively to as Cadet Bone Spurs.
Spoken like someone who’s never been to war. Just like his boss. https://t.co/6jxr8rwe1V
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) January 27, 2020
The Senator, who lost both her legs when the Black Hawk helicopter she was piloting was shot down by Iraqi insurgents, a mission for which she received a Purple Heart, has every right to be incensed by the hyperbolic comparison that Starr made without the benefit of any direct experience with even basic training, much less combat.
Given the lack of any substantive response to the overwhelming evidence of the president’s guilt presented by the Democratic House impeachment managers, Trump’s defense team is floundering and filling their time by simply regurgitating the president’s own logically and legally insufficient tweeted excuses translated into more conventional legalese.
The upgrade in the vocabulary used, unfortunately for the president, doesn’t make the legal arguments any more effective.
His defense team’s poor performance may be inspiring regrets in Trump’s mind that he wasn’t less of a nightmare client for numerous law firms whose assistance he could find useful in his current situation. Given the ever-expanding body of evidence indicating the truth of the charges against the president, it’s doubtful that the most skilled barrister in the world could successfully argue his innocence.
Luckily for Trump, the packed jury is unlikely to need even a semi-competent attorney to acquit the president strictly on the basis of partisan affiliation. Luckily for Trump. A tragedy for our democracy and the Constitutional order.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.