On Tuesday — the first day of the Senate impeachment trial proceedings for ex-President Donald Trump — Trump lawyer Bruce Castor provided a bizarre, rambling attempted defense of the ex-president in which he, among other things, praised the voice of the late Senator Everett Dirksen, talked nostalgically about record players, and — for some reason — referred to the state of Nebraska as a “judicial thinking place,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.
Castor is rambling already. I am paying attention (really I am!) but I have no idea where he’s going. Hearsay exceptions, now some Senator that Castor’s parents liked, also, remember record players?
— Jennifer Rodgers (@JenGRodgers) February 9, 2021
At one point, he commented as follows:
‘So Senators are patriots. Senators are family men and women. They’re fierce advocates for the great state in which they represent. And somewhere far down that list of attributes — way below patriot, and way below love of family and country, and way below fierce advocates for their states — far down, at least that’s what I thought anyway… somewhere far down that list, Senators have some obligation to be partisans.’
Besides other issues — like the question of what on earth these remarks have to do with the substantive issues at hand — Castor is just a bad public speaker. Watch him below:
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
Amidst his strange haze of ideas, Castor seemed to zero in on a couple of claims, including the idea that Trump’s lies about the election should be considered protected First Amendment speech and the notion that the presently unfolding impeachment process will supposedly lead to “partisan” impeachments in the future. Neither of these ideas are particularly compelling, in light of reality.
"A 'high crime' is a felony, and a misdemeanor is a misdemeanor. The words haven't changed that much." – Bruce Castor, presenting an incorrect interpretation of the requirements for impeachment.
(SPOILER: An impeachable offense does not have to be a crime at all)
— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) February 9, 2021
For starters, the question isn’t whether Trump’s lies about the integrity of the 2020 presidential election were protected political speech. Rather, the issue is that he incited violent rioting at the U.S. Capitol, and pretending like his words had no connection to the violence is just ridiculous. Some of the rioters themselves said that they acted in response to remarks from the then-president. Robert Bauer, for instance, who’s been charged for his participation in the rioting, “reiterated that he marched to the U.S. Capitol because President Trump said to do so,” according to the filings outlining his charges. Also, pretending like the presently unfolding impeachment proceedings represent some kind of political vendetta is a lazily ridiculous argument — people are dead, and many others’ lives were in serious danger.
Sen. Sasse looked befuddled as Bruce Castor went on about Nebraska being a "judicial thinking place," per pooler @mikedebonis
As Castor suggested Sasse "faces the whirlwind," Sen. Fischer turned around & made an inaudible comment, sparking convo btwn Sasse/Portman/Burr/Tim Scott
— Zach C. Cohen (@Zachary_Cohen) February 9, 2021
Nevertheless, Castor rambled as follows:
‘This trial is not about trading liberty for security. It’s about suggesting that it is a good idea that we give up those liberties that we have so long fought for. We have sent armies to other parts of the world to convince those governments to implement the freedoms that we enjoy. This trial is about trading liberty for the security from the mob? Honestly, no, it can’t be. We can’t be thinking about that. We can’t possibly be suggesting that we punish people for political speech in this country, and if people go and commit lawless acts as a result of their beliefs, and they cross the line, they should be locked up.’
Again — pretending like the point of the impeachment proceedings is to “punish people for political speech” is lazy and false.
Trump lawyer Bruce Castor says Senate shouldn't convict because impeachment will become the rule rather than the rare exception. I can't think of a better time to make a "rare exception" than to hold accountable a president who incited an attempted overthrow of the US government.
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) February 9, 2021
Referring to lead impeachment case manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Castor added as follows:
‘If we go down the road that my very worthy adversary here, Mr. Raskin, asks you to go down, the floodgates will open… The political pendulum will shift one day. This chamber and the chamber across the way will change one day, and partisan impeachments will become commonplace.’
Check out Castor’s extended remarks below: