President Trump did something new this week, when, on Wednesday, he was impeached for an unprecedented second time, becoming the most impeached president in history. On Wikipedia, “Impeachment of Donald Trump” now has a disambiguation page.
Ten House Republicans voted with Democrats to impeach him for inciting an insurrectionist mob against the government.
Obstacles remain to a Senate conviction, however.
In his impeachment last year, the White House counsel’s office helped spearhead the president’s impeachment defense strategy. Trump has no such support this time.
His relationship with personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has frayed amid the president’s frustration over his second impeachment, according to reports. A fellow traveler in Trump’s campaign to overturn the election results, it was the former New York City mayor’s $20,000 fee that fed the alleged rift.
A top aide sought to rebuke this on Thursday, praising Giuliani in a tweet of the sort Trump, in the before, when he was not yet barred from Twitter, might have sent himself.
“Just spoke with President Trump, and he told me that @RudyGiuliani is a great guy and a Patriot who devoted his services to the country! We all love America’s Mayor!” senior adviser Jason Miller wrote.
Still, as the week wore on, Trump’s plans for a new impeachment defense had not emerged.
“We better have one,” Miller told the Washington Examiner of a potential strategy.
Trump may be in luck, however. The Senate does not resume until Tuesday, one day before he is set to leave office.
Legal scholar Alan Dershowitz predicted that in light of this, there would not be much to come.
“You can’t impeach a president based on a speech that he made that’s constitutionally protected,” Dershowitz told the Washington Examiner. “And then, there’ll be no trial because you can’t have a trial once the president has left the office. So there’s really no role for a lawyer.”
Dershowitz, who aided Trump in his impeachment defense last year, said he would “continue to defend the Constitution and the First Amendment in the court of public opinion,” however.
Perhaps most critically, he also said he had not talked to Trump about a case.
“This is just political theater, and I’m not an actor. I’m a lawyer,” he told the Washington Examiner. “There’s really no role for a lawyer.”
Banished to the internet’s hinterlands, Trump is issuing statements through his press office, a rarity over the past four years that saw his tweets become virtual canon.
Gone are the days of “covfefe,” or Trump tweeting that he is “FEELING GREAT,” replaced instead with sober pronouncements calling for calm.
“In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind,” Trump said around 1 p.m. on Wednesday. “That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You.”
Washington is on high alert ahead of the Biden-Harris inauguration next week, with up to 20,000 National Guard members expected in the capital.
One reporter, a former war correspondent, likened the scene to a battle zone.
“It looks like the Green Zone in Baghdad. It does not look like the U.S. Capitol,” Fox News reporter Jennifer Griffin said Thursday. “There are more National Guard troops right now on Capitol Hill than there are in either Iraq or Afghanistan.”
Pictures of soldiers lining the halls of the U.S. Capitol blanketed social media.
And in a nod to the city’s surprise militarization, Trump took to inboxes via the White House press office to remind reporters of his campaign promise to fight against “endless wars.”
Hailing a “19-year low” for U.S. troop deployment in Afghanistan, Trump said he “will always be committed to stopping the endless wars.”
He added, “It has been a great honor to rebuild our military and support our brave men and women in uniform.”
On Thursday, during a meeting at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Vice President Mike Pence paid tribute to the past week’s chaos.
“We all lived through that day, Jan. 6,” he said. “As the president made clear yesterday, we are committed to an orderly transition.”
In a small nod to overcoming the divisions, President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration announced its theme this week: “America United.”
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