Though the outcome of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is not in doubt, day one of the proceedings was, substantively speaking, a disaster for the defense. After Democrats offered a cogent and emotional argument — complete with highly effective video — Trump lawyer Bruce Castor gave an opening statement so bafflingly, comically discursive that GOP senators and other Trump sympathizers lined up to blast it afterward.
By all accounts, Trump agreed with his fellow Republicans’ assessment. Were the ex-president still on Twitter, he undoubtedly would have made at least some of his feelings about Tuesday’s proceedings known. Instead, he is mostly keeping mum at Mar-a-Lago, leaving us to rely on a staple news genre from the last five years: well-sourced news reports about his rage. There were many of these on Tuesday evening; below, a roundup:
Former President Donald Trump was unhappy with his impeachment lawyer Bruce Castor’s opening argument on the Senate floor Tuesday, two people familiar with his reaction told CNN.
Castor, who is representing Trump alongside attorney David Schoen, delivered a meandering argument during the first day of the Senate impeachment trial, including praise for the House impeachment managers for a presentation that he said was “well done.”
Trump was almost screaming as Castor struggled to get at the heart of his defense team’s argument, which is supposed to be over the constitutionality of holding a trial for a president no longer in office. Given that the legal team was assembled a little over a week ago, it went as expected, one of the sources told CNN.
Trump was especially disappointed in the performance of his lawyer Bruce Castor, who gave a rambling argument, wore an ill-fitting suit and at one point praised the case presented by the Democratic House impeachment managers, two people involved in the effort said. The former president — monitoring the trial on television from Florida — had expected a swashbuckling lawyer and instead watched what was a confusing and disjointed performance.
Mr. Trump, who often leaves the television on in the background even when he is holding meetings, was furious, people familiar with his reaction said.
On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the angriest, Mr. Trump “was an eight,” one person familiar with his reaction said.
And while he was heartened that his other lawyer, Mr. Schoen, gave a more spirited performance, Mr. Trump ended the day frustrated and irate, the people familiar with his reaction said.
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.
Trump — ever the showman — was impressed with the Democrats, who opened Tuesday’s session with powerful video that compiled scenes of the deadly attack on Congress. And he complained that his team — especially lead lawyer Bruce Castor — came off badly on television and looked weak in comparison, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.