Look, when the guy’s right, he’s right.
You want to know how badly it went today? So badly that even Ted Cruz was more complimentary of the Democrats than of Trump’s lawyers. “I don’t think the lawyers did the most effective job,” he said of Trump’s team, calling lead Democratic impeachment manager Jamie Raskin “impressive” and “a serious lawyer.” Cruz rarely gets on the wrong side of Trump but I think his professional dignity was wounded by seeing the president’s guys do such a lame job. He’s a former solicitor general of Texas and doubtless knows a thousand attorneys who could have done better than Bruce Castor. Instead they got 45 minutes of slop.
Castor lost Lindsey Graham too:
Graham on argument by Trump atty Bruce Castor: I thought I knew where he was going. And I really didn't know where he was going.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 9, 2021
Graham: The defense guys were accusing every Democrat of just hating Trump. And I'm not so sure either one of them are going to win the day.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 9, 2021
Trump himself was reportedly so angry about Castor’s meandering opening that he was “almost screaming” while watching it, according to CNN. “Trump’s allies were flabbergasted when Trump’s attorneys switched speaking slots at the last minute,” the network added, which I take it is what Castor meant earlier when he admitted — during his argument — that the defense had called an audible because the prosecution’s case was so strong. Evidently Schoen was supposed to speak first to make Trump’s jurisdictional argument and then Castor was supposed to speak about … something or other. I’m not really sure what his purpose at the trial is. He seems to think things went pretty well, though!
Bruce Castor defends performance at the trial to WSJ. "We only lost one…so I believe we had a good day."
He didn't plan to talk today but changed the plan after the House presentation was broader than expected. "I wanted to pull the senators back." https://t.co/TmT8yc7PFF
— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) February 9, 2021
Politico is also detecting angry vibes from Mar-a-Lago tonight:
Cocooned at his Mar-a-Lago estate, Trump watched as his defense attorneys responded to an emotional presentation by House impeachment managers with a series of dry, technical and at times meandering arguments about due process and the constitutionality of the proceedings. As they droned on, he grew increasingly frustrated with the sharp contrast between their muted response and the prosecution’s opening salvo, according to two people familiar with his thinking.
“President Trump was not happy with the performance of his legal team in action,” said one of the people familiar with his thinking…
Trump, according to those familiar with his thinking, saw his legal team’s performance as a missed opportunity and also was annoyed by the public criticism of his attorneys. And he wasn’t the only one.
Some people close to the president’s defense team said they quit watching the proceedings out of sheer frustration with Castor’s presentation and were confused by his refusal to use graphics or a video––tools his TV-obsessed client had hoped to deploy.
No doubt Trump would be sh*tposting about Castor and Schoen as you’re reading this if Twitter still allowed him to. It wasn’t just him, Cruz, and Bill Cassidy who were flummoxed by the defense, either. “I think they had a weaker case to start with, and I don’t think it was very persuasive,” said Pat Toomey after today’s floor vote. “I was perplexed by the first attorney, who did not seem to make any arguments at all, which was an unusual approach to take,” Susan Collins added, with dry humor. I had the same thought Matthew Walther did after watching:
Tuesday was a reminder of one of the great themes of Trump’s tenure in office: his anti-talent for choosing advisers and associates. No president of modern times has been so indifferent to questions about staffing and personnel. Instead of talented lawyers making an intelligent, constitutionally plausible case against the proceedings, Trump hired two flunkies who made the “Stop the Steal” dream team of Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell look like Johnny Cochran and Carl Douglas.
From Michael Cohen to Rudy and Jenna Ellis to Castor, Trump has never been discriminating about the legal talent he employs, a weird quirk for a rich man. (His two White House counsels, Don McGahn and Pat Cipollone, were well respected at least.) I think it’s more of a supply problem than a demand problem: Many top-flight lawyers don’t want to represent him either because they don’t want to deal with his incessant BS or they don’t want to be professionally canceled by anti-Trumpers of various stripes for having worked for him. So he’s left scrounging around and taking what he can get — especially in a case like this. Remember, both Alan Dershowitz and Jonathan Turley were reportedly approached to join the team and declined. Who wants to defend the guy who spent two months trying to convince the country that the election had been stolen until a mob of his fans took him seriously?
Anyway, now that he’s despairing of his legal representation, there may be only one way for Trump to turn his defense into something he’s pleased with. Andy Levy is right:
and we move a step closer to the best possible outcome of trump colonel jessuping this https://t.co/FINOFPqjbv
— my pal andy™ (@andylevy) February 9, 2021
I wrote last week after House Dems invited him to testify that there has to be some part of him that’s tempted. He’d relish the attention and the camera time, and he’s always believed deeply that he’s his own best advocate. Watching Castor and Schoen underwhelm everyone must have left him that much more convinced that only he can truly do justice to his cause.
He wants the Jessup moment. He needs the Jessup moment. Dems should nudge him again tonight by reminding him that their invitation to him remains valid.