Donald Trump’s defense lawyer David Schoen brandishes Mao’s little red book to argue impeachment is partisan attack on ex-president’s rights and accuses Democrats of ‘lust for impeachment’
- Lawyer David Schoen brandished a copy of Mao’s ‘little red book’
- He said there was ‘no room for due process’ in such a system
- Came after Democrats accused Trump of inciting a riot that sought to overturn his election loss to Joe Biden
- Trump lawyer Bruce Castor delivered a rambling speech where he tried to flatter senators and spoke about differences between murder and manslaughter
- 50 Democrats and 6 Republicans voted the proceeding was constitutional
- Trump brought on his legal team days ago after the departure of a bank of South Carolina lawyers
Former President Donald Trump’s impeachment lawyer David Schoen argued that it was unconstitutional for the Senate to try Trump for incitement of insurrection after he left office – claiming the effort was fueled by ‘base hatred’ and a ‘lust for impeachment.’
‘This is a process fueled irresponsibly by base hatred by these house managers and those who gave them their charge, and they are willing to sacrifice our national character to advance their hatred and their fear that one day, they might not be the party in power,’ Schoen told senators seated in the chamber at the start of Trump’s trial Tuesday.
At one point Schoen held up a copy of the U.S. Constitution, calling its emphasis on due process as its ‘life breath.’
David Schoen, an attorney for former President Donald Trump, brandished Mao’s little red book as he argued for due process in the Trump Senate impeachment trial
Then, he brandished a copy of Mao Tse Tung’s famous ‘little red book’ seeking to drive home his attack on the proceeding, seeking to tie those who would impeach Trump or deny him his rights to authoritarian regimes.
‘Some of them have chosen their own handbooks which direct their citizens’ conduct their citizens’ conduct on penalty of death. This is one of them. There can be no room for due process in such a system as this, or the system would be lost. Snap decisions are required in a system like this to maintain power for one political philosophy over all others in those kinds of systems.’
He continued: ‘But we, as a nation, have rejected those systems in snap decisions they demand to maintain role for one party, for one point of view and for imposed way of life. We choose to live freely under a Constitution that guarantees our freedom. Other countries fear those freedoms and seek to ensure adherence to a party line in all civic, political, spiritual and other affairs and to ensure that the party line is towed.’
Schoen whipped out the handbook after Democratic managers had played dramatic video of the riot waged by Trump supporters in the Capitol, in what they called a desperate effort to overturn a democratic election, following an erratic presentation by his co-counsel.
Castor accused Democrats of harboring an ‘insatiable lust for impeachment’
Fellow lawyer Bruce Castor delivered a rambling 47-minute speech at the start of the impeachment trial
Former President Donald Trump is charged with ‘incitement of insurrection’
The first order of business was a debate over whether the impeachment trial itself was constitutional – and 50 Democrats and six Republicans ultimately voted that it was, allowing it to go forward.
But it was also an opportunity for lawyers to lay down the foundation of their cases, and Schoen used both legal arguments and plays to emotion and to partisan feeling in a chamber of lawmakers who essentially serve as jurors in the court of impeachment.
‘My overriding emotion is frankly, wanting to cry for what I believe these proceedings will do to our great so long enduring sacred constitution, and to the American people,’ Schoen said.
He blasted the House Democratic managers representing the will of the Democratic-run House. ‘What they really want to accomplish here in the name of the Constitution is to bar Donald Trump from ever running for political office again, but this is an affront to the Constitution no matter who they target today,’ he said.
He accused them of harboring an ‘insatiable lust for impeachment.’
Schoen’s ramarks sought to blast away the foundation for the trial itself. It came after the other member of his team, Bruce Castor, delivered a rambling 47-minute argument to kick off his defense that the House impeachment was unconstitutional – while saying it would lead to unforeseeable consequences in the future.
The performance of Trump’s legal team appears to have pushed one Republican away from him, at least on the constitutionality issue.
‘The floodgates will open,’ the Philadelphia-based Castor argued before the Senate.
‘I was going to say it will, instead of floodgates, I was going to say originally it will release the whirlwind. Which is a biblical reference. But I subsequently learned since I got here that that particularly phrase has already been taken, so I figured I better change it to floodgates. But the political pendulum will shift one day,’ he continued.
‘It was disorganized, random, they talked about many things but they didn’t talk about the issue at hand. And so if, if I’m an impartial juror, and I’m trying to make a decision based upon the facts as presented on this issue, then the house managers did a much better job,’ said Sen. Bill Cassidy, of Louisiana, in remarks to CNN and reporters in the Capitol.
Castor veered from topic to topic, occasionally consulting his legal pad or whipping out a copy of the Constitution to read from it. He made several attempts to flatter senators collectively as well as individually.
‘Senators of the United States, they are not ordinary people. They are extraordinary people,’ he said, name-dropping home-state senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey.
‘Senators are patriots. Senators are valiant men and women,’ he piled on. At one point, he spoke about listening to recordings of the late Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois in the late 60s.
‘My parents were big fans of Senator Everett Dirksen from Illinois,’ he said. He said they had a recording of his series of lectures. ‘We still know what records are, right?’ he told the chamber known to be filled with septuagenarians.
He denounced the Capitol riot in the ‘strongest possible way.’
‘To have it attacked is repugnant in every sense of the word,’ he said.
He said it was natural to ‘recoil,’ but described impeachment as part of a ‘desire for retribution.’
But Castor argued there are clear differences within law that relate to intent. ‘We know we have a specific body of law that deals with passion and rage blinding logic and reason.
‘That’s the difference between manslaughter and murder,’ he continued. Manslaughter is the killing of a human being upon sudden and intense provocation. But murder is done with cold blood and reflective thought,’ Castor said.
Castor tried to mock the argument by House managers, which brought up an 18th century impeachment in Britain that got brought up at the constitutional convention in Philadelphia. Rep. Jamie Raskin brought it up to argue that the founders had assumptions about the extent of the impeachment power based on practice in colonial Great Britain.
‘I can’t believe these fellows are quoting what happened pre-revolution as if it was of some kind of value to us,’ Castor snipped.
But he himself had made a reference to ancient Athens just moments before, and later brought up Ancient Rome, having kicked off his arguments touting his connection to Philadelphia and appreciation for the history of the Senate.
Occasionally he meandered for long passages before his main point was evident, as when he issued a defense of political speech.
‘I saw a headline, representative so and so seeks to walk back comments about I forget what it was, something that bothered her. I was devastated when I saw that she thought it was necessary to go on television yesterday or the day before and say she needs to walk back her comments. She should be able to comment as much as she wants,’ Castor said.
‘One of the strengths of this body is its deliberative action,’ he said, mentioning how he saw West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin on television talking about the filibuster – an issue that divides the chamber.
After more than 40 minutes, he said: ‘I think that I want to give my colleagues Mr. Schoen an opportunity to explain to all of us the legal analysis on jurisdiction’ – the issue he spoke to address. ‘I’ll be quite frank with you, we changed what we were going to do on account that we thought that the House managers’ presentation was well done,’ he admitted. ‘And I wanted you to know that we have responses to those things.’
At one point he referred to Trump as the ‘former president,’ even though his client makes a point of calling himself the ‘45th president.’
He ridiculed Raskin’s idea of a ‘January exception’ to impeachment, pointing to criminal law. ‘So after he’s out of office, you go and arrest him,’ he said. He said there was no opportunity where the president can ‘run rampant’ in January.
Then in making the case that the Constitution’s impeachment clause is meant for current occupants, not former ones, he directly contradicted Trump’s claim that he ‘won’ the election.
‘President Trump no longer is in office. The object of the Constitution has been achieved. He was removed by the voters,’ Castor said.
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