'What is this dude rambling about?': Trump impeachment lawyer's terrible opening argument stuns observers
Bruce Castor, former President Donald Trump's impeachment lawyer, gave an opening argument in the Senate trial on Tuesday so baffling and confusing that many observers and commentators struggled to understand the point he was trying to make. He seemed to be ad-libbing, rather than reading from a prepared outline or text. While wearing an ill-fitting suit, he made disjointed references and claims, and he employed examples in which he couldn't remember the specifics.
At some points, he seemed to be gesturing toward an argument about the First Amendment, contending that Trump's speech to the mob that attacked the Capitol couldn't be considered an impeachable offense. This is a poor argument that has been widely rejected by constitutional scholars, though some have said it's the best of the poor options Trump has to defend himself.
But for much of the discussion, it wasn't even clear if Castor was making an argument at all. Much of it clearly wasn't focused on what was ostensibly the first topic for the competing sides to address: whether holding a trial for a president out of office is constitutional. At one point, though, he made a claim that will almost certainly be rejected by most conservative legal thinkers: that precedents in pre-revolution British law are irrelevant for understanding the meaning of the U.S. Constitution. In fact, many originalists — a form of jurisprudence favored by Republicans and conservatives — look back to this period to try to understand what the "original meaning" of the text teaches us about how it should be applied today.
Here's what some of the observers, including many legal experts, had to say about Castor's opening argument:
what ... what is going on https://t.co/XAgv9ZNzJZ— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar)1612901577.0
excited to attend Bruce Castor's standup routine after the pandemic is over
— Grace Panetta (@grace_panetta) February 9, 2021
This is a "My Cousin Vinny"-level mismatch of opening statements so far
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) February 9, 2021
Did Bruce Castor take a wrong turn and end up at the wrong trial? pic.twitter.com/pX33sBJXQH
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 9, 2021
Wonder if Castor read in the Robert Caro book that people were always shocked by how well LBJ's obsequious flattery worked and decided he'd give it a go
— Michelle Goldberg (@michelleinbklyn) February 9, 2021
so, uh, Trump's impeachment trial strategy appears to be to just have folks go out there and wing it like it's an open mic night or something pic.twitter.com/FkF1xI6pHo
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 9, 2021
What is this dude rambling about??? Cringey
— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) February 9, 2021
Trump's team is lawyering like they are aware the quality of the arguments is unrelated to the outcome — and they are correct!
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) February 9, 2021
“You are super smart senators with super special Senator thoughts. You figure out how to acquit and appease Trump! Deliberate!" https://t.co/utspQZPf1g
— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) February 9, 2021
I feel trapped in a stress dream.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) February 9, 2021
Bruce Castor: The American people have spoken and they changed administrations and didn't re-elect Donald Trump.
Donald Trump: I was re-elected in 2020 but the election was stolen from me.
What a mess.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) February 9, 2021
If Trump still had his Twitter account, he may Tweet-fire this lawyer on the spot.
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) February 9, 2021
Lawyer for the former POTUS who maintains that the election was stolen argues that there's no need to disqualify that former POTUS because the American people just voted him out of office. I'm confused ...
— Andy McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) February 9, 2021
I have been in this government class before, where someone hasn't done the reading, napped through the first half of class, gets called on and just riffs for 15 minutes.
— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) February 9, 2021
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