Former President Donald Trump is reportedly angry with how his lawyers, on day one of his second impeachment trial, have attempted to defend him in their opening statements, at one point resorting to screaming in order to vent his frustrations, multiple reports have said.
Without a Twitter or Facebook account to express his feelings on the impeachment trial in a more direct manner, the public is largely unaware of what Trump’s thoughts are about the first day of the Senate’s impeachment proceedings. But according to sources close to the former president, he is not in a good mood about how his lawyers, Bruce Castor and David Schoen, have presented the case on his behalf so far.
Those people have described Trump as being furious, according to a report from The New York Times. One person, using a scale of 1 to 10 on how angry he was over the lawyers’ opening statements (with 10 being the angriest), said that Trump “was an eight.”
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Trump was particularly upset with Castor’s opening statement, which has been described by many as meandering and rambling. He was happier with Schoen’s remarks, but The Times added that he “ended the day frustrated and irate,” citing people familiar with Trump’s feelings on the matter.
CNN’s chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins confirmed those reports. “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,” she wrote on Twitter.
In stark contrast, Democratic House impeachment managers received many accolades for their opening statements, which made the case that Congress has always had the ability to impeach individuals who are former officials. They also showcased a 13-minute video highlighting the violent attack on the Capitol while Congress was in session on January 6.
Several lawmakers, including a number of Republicans, agreed with the assessments on Trump’s lawyers.
“I thought the first attorney for the president today did not present a case, which surprised me,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said. “Did not make any arguments. The second attorney representing the president clearly did, and did a competent job. I’m puzzled by the presentation of the first attorney.”
“I was really stunned by the first attorney who presented for the former President Trump, couldn’t figure out where he was going. He spent 45 minutes going somewhere,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski said, agreeing with Collins’s assessment.
Even senators who have aligned themselves with Trump during his second impeachment were flabbergasted by his lawyers’ poor performances.
“I don’t think the [Trump] lawyers did the most effective job,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate who has served as a state Supreme Court judge and a state attorney general, was similarly underwhelmed.
“The first lawyer, just rambled on and on and on and didn’t really address the constitutional argument,” Cornyn said, describing Castor’s presentation as “not one of the finest I’ve seen.”
The substandard way in which Trump’s lawyers made their defense arguments, compared to how House impeachment managers argued in favor of the legality of impeachment, even led one Republican senator to change his mind about the constitutionality of the proceedings.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), who had joined 44 of his Republican colleagues last month in a vote against the impeachment trial itself being constitutional, changed his opinion in a similar vote that was held on Tuesday.
“President Trump’s team were disorganized. They did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand. And when they talked about it, they kind of glided over, almost as if they were embarrassed,” Cassidy said to reporters when he was asked about his departure from his previous view.
“One side’s doing a great job. And the other side’s doing a terrible job on the issue at hand,” he added.
Even though Cassidy has changed his mind on the legality of impeaching Trump, and 56 senators in total voted in favor of proceeding with the trial, House impeachment managers will still have a difficult time securing a conviction of the former president. In order for them to be successful, two-thirds of the Senate must vote in favor of doing so — which means, even if every member of the Senate’s Democratic caucus votes to indict him, at least 17 Republicans would have to vote that way, too, in order for Trump to be convicted by the legislative body.