Trump’s legal team begins defense in Senate impeachment trial


>>Sreenivasan: JOINING ME HERE IN THE STUDIO TO DISCUSS TODAY’S IMPEACHMENT TRIAL ARE JAMIE FLOYD, HOST AND LEGAL EDITOR AT WNYC NEW YORK PUBLIC RADIO; AND RYAN GOODMAN, CO-EDITOR IN CHIEF OF JUST SECURITY. JAMIE, WE START WITH YOU. THE DEFENSE, WHAT DID WE LEARN TODAY? THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A TRAILER OF SORTS.>>YES, I LIKE THAT PHRASE. YOU GO TO THE MOVIES, AND YOU GET A LITTLE SNEAK PEEK.>>Sreenivasan: YEAH.>>AND THAT’S PRETTY MUCH WHAT THEY DID. THEY OUTLINED WHAT WILL BE THEIR REBUTTAL TO THE ARGUMENT TO REMOVE PRESIDENT TRUMP FOR… FROM OFFICE. THEY LAID OUT WHY THEY SAY THE PRESIDENT DID NOT VIOLATE THE LAW. HE WAS ACTING IN HIS PRESIDENTIAL CAPACITY, THEY SAY, AND ANYTHING THAT HE DID WAS NOT AN IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE. AND THEY ADDRESSED, IN A PREQUEL FASHION, BOTH ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT. AND THEN, THEY SAID, “YOU KNOW, WE’LL SIT DOWN FOR TODAY, AND WE’LL COME BACK AT YOU MONDAY WITH A MORE DETAILED REBUTTAL.”>>Sreenivasan: SO, IN THIS, RYAN, ONE OF THE CENTRAL CONTENTIONS THAT THEY HAVE IS THAT WHAT YOU’VE BEEN HEARING FOR THREE DAYS OVER 24 HOURS IS AN INCOMPLETE SET OF FACTS. WHAT ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT? WHAT IS THE NEW INFORMATION THAT THE DEMOCRATS HAVE BEEN HIDING?>>SO, THAT WAS WHAT THEY TRIED TO DO. THEY TRY TO SUGGEST, “HERE, WE’RE NOW PRESENTING TO YOU NEW INFORMATION THAT YOU HAVEN’T HEARD IN THE PAST THREE DAYS.” BUT A LARGE PART OF IT WAS ADDRESSED BY THE DEMOCRATS AND THE HOUSE MANAGERS. AND ADAM SCHIFF, EVEN LAST NIGHT, WENT THROUGH THIS PREBUTTAL WHERE HE SAID, “HERE’S WHAT THEY’RE GOING TO SAY TOMORROW, AND HERE’S WHAT OUR RESPONSES IS TO THAT.”>>Sreenivasan: RIGHT.>>THEY DID FILL IT OUT TO SOME DEGREE WITH ADDITIONAL VIDEO OF TESTIMONY BY OTHERS. SO, THEY TRY TO PROBLEMATIZE, LIKE, WHEN WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT THE UKRAINIANS KNEW THAT THE AID WAS SUSPENDED?>>Sreenivasan: HMM.>>BUT IT WAS INTERESTING BECAUSE IN THE SAME TIME THAT THEY PRESENTED ALL THE VIDEOS OF THE OFFICIALS… U.S. OFFICIALS SAYING, “WELL, THE FIRST TIMEIKNEW THEY KNEW WAS, LIKE, LATE AUGUST.” THEN, THEY LEAVE OUT THE VIDEO OF ONE OF THE OFFICIALS, A DEFENSE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL, MISS COOPER, SAYING, “ACTUALLY, THE FIRST TIME THATWEKNEW IN MY DEPARTMENT THAT THE UKRAINIANS KNEW WAS JULY 25,” WHICH IS THE VERY DAY OF THE CALL WITH PRESIDENT ZELENSKY.>>Sreenivasan: SO, LOOKING BACK OVER THE PAST THREE DAYS, DID THE HOUSE MAKE ITS CASE WELL ENOUGH? CONSIDERING WE’RE REALLY LOOKING AT FOUR, MAYBE FIVE REPUBLICAN SENATORS THAT MIGHT BE CONVINCIBLE.>>THERE ARE TWO STAGES GOING FORWARD. NOW, THE NEXT PHASE, ONCE REPUBLICANS FINISH WITH THEIR 24-HOUR PERIOD OF ARGUMENTATION– IF THEY TAKE THAT FULL PERIOD– IS WHETHER OR NOT THOSE FOUR OR FIVE– YOU REALLY ONLY NEED FOUR– REPUBLICANS WILL AGREE TO VOTE WITH DEMOCRATS TO CALL IN WITNESSES AND BRING IN DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE. THATMAYHAPPEN. I… I’M THINKING IT’S LESS LIKELY THAN I THOUGHT IT WAS THREE DAYS AGO, BASED ON WHAT I’M HEARING FROM CAPITOL HILL AND WHAT I’M SEEING IN THE RESPONSES TO SOME OF THE ARGUMENTS FROM THE DEMOCRATS.>>Sreenivasan: HMM.>>BUT THAT MAY HAPPEN. WHETHER OR NOT YOU CAN ACTUALLY GET THE NUMBER OF VOTES YOU NEED TO CONVICT, THAT’S A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT QUESTION. THAT’S THE ENDGAME, AND HIGHLY UNLIKELY. I THINK ALL ANALYSTS AGREE, AND I THINK THE DEMOCRATS SEETHATWRITING ON THE WALL.>>AND I THINK ONE OF THE MOST INTERESTING DYNAMICS THAT WE’VE SEEN IN THE PAST FEW HOURS AND FEW DAYS IS THAT WHEN THE PRESIDENT’S TEAM NOW PRESENTS THEIR FACTS AND SAYS, “YOU’VE BEEN TOLD OTHER THINGS, HERE’S SOME CONTRADICTORY INFORMATION,” IT ACTUALLY FORCES THIS QUESTION OF, “OKAY, IF I’M A SENATOR AND I CAN’T REALLY RESOLVE IT, WHAT MUST I DO BUT HAVE A TRUE TRIAL WHERE WITNESSES CAN COME FORWARD?” WHO KNOWS THE REAL ANSWER TO THIS? JOHN BOLTON. WHO KNOWS THE REAL ANSWER TO THIS? MICK MULVANEY. AND I THINK THAT’S WHY THAT… THAT ISSUE IS GOING TO COME TO US IN A WAY THAT I DON’T THINK MANY OF US ANTICIPATED AFTER TODAY’S HEARING.>>AND… AND WHAT REPUBLICANS ARE SAYING, IN PART– OR WILL BE SAYING– AND BEGAN TO SAY TODAY IS, “WELL, WHY DIDN’T YOU PURSUE THAT IN THE HOUSE?”>>Sreenivasan: HMM.>>”YOU KNOW, YOU’RE SO CONCERNED ABOUT THE POLITICAL QUESTION AND THE POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS AND THE TIMING OF THE ELECTION. IT… IT WAS ON YOU TO PURSUE THAT IN THE HOUSE.” BUT IT IS SOMEWHAT DISINGENUOUS WHEN THE WHITE HOUSE WAS STONEWALLING. AND… AND EVEN IN A REAL TRIAL– AND, OF COURSE, WE KNOW THIS IS NOT A… A COURTROOM IN… IN THE TRUEST SENSE OF THE WORD; THIS IS A COURT OF IMPEACHMENT– BUT YOU CAN ALWAYS CALL WITNESSES THAT WEREN’T CALLED IN THE GRAND JURY SETTING. SO, THIS IDEA THAT WE CAN’T HEAR FROM WITNESSES IS… IS A BIT OF A FICTION, AND… AND I THINK THE REPUBLICANS KNOW IT.>>Sreenivasan: AT THE CORE OF THIS, THIS ALSO SEEMS TO BE A… A CASE THAT SAYS WHAT IS THE POWER OF THE PRESIDENCY? ARE THESE CO-EQUAL BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT? WHAT IS THE EXTENT OF EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE THAT THIS INDIVIDUAL CAN SAY, “I’M USING THIS POWER?”>>SO, IT IS A SET OF TOUGH QUESTIONS IN THAT SENSE, AND I DO THINK ONE OF THE ISSUES THAT THE DEMOCRATS LAID OUT WELL IS THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION WILL BE WITH US FOR DECADES OR CENTURIES IN THE SENSE THAT WE’VE BEEN LOOKING… WHEN WE THINK ABOUT THAT QUESTION, WELL, WHAT HAPPENED WITH JOHNSON IMPEACHMENT HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO? WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE NIXON IMPEACHMENT DECADES AGO? AND SO, WHAT THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION HERE WILL DEFINE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TWO BRANCHES FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME. SO, CAN IT BE THE CASE THAT THE PRESIDENT CAN SAY, “YOU KNOW, YOU WANT ANY INFORMATION FROM US? WE’RE NOT PARTICIPATING WHATSOEVER. WE’RE NOT EVEN GOING TO TELL YOU WHAT SPECIFICALLY IS EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE, JUST NO PARTICIPATION.” THAT’S WHY THE LETTER, THIS OCTOBER 8 LETTER FROM THE WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO THE HOUSE WAS DECLARED BY THE “NEW YORK TIMES” IN ITS HEADLINE, “WHITE HOUSE DECLARES WAR ON THE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY” BECAUSE IT REALLY WAS JUST “NOTHING. YOU’LL GET NO DOCUMENTS, NO OFFICIALS, NO MATTER HOW LOW OR HIGH THEY ARE IN THE CHAIN.”>>Sreenivasan: RIGHT.>>AND THAT’S SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY THAT I THINK THE DEMOCRATS ARE TRYING TO SAY TO THE SENATORS, “THIS IS ABOUT US, TOO, AS AN INSTITUTION.”>>AND… AND THE IMPEACHMENT POWER IS WHERE ADAM SCHIFF LANDED AT THE END OF HIS ARGUMENT, KNOWING THAT THAT WOULD BE THE LAST THING HE WOULD SAY TO THE SENATORS. WHAT IS THE POINT OF THE IMPEACHMENT POWER IN THE CONSTITUTION IF IT IS NOT THIS MOMENT IN WHICH WE STAND RIGHT NOW? SO, THAT IS WHAT THIS MOMENT IS ALL ABOUT, AND THAT IS WHY IT IS SO HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT FOR THIS TO BE RESOLVED IN A WAY THAT UNDERSTANDS THE CAPACITY OF ALL THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT TO CHECK ONE ANOTHER.>>Sreenivasan: ALL RIGHT, JAMIE FLOYD, LEGAL EDITOR AT WNYC; AND RYAN GOODMAN, CO-EDITOR OF THE JUST SECURITY BLOG. THANK YOU BOTH.>>THANK YOU.>>THANKS.

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