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Trump trial: Alan Dershowitz says Democrats ‘overplayed their hand’


Attorney Alan Dershowitz has criticized the House impeachment managers for going on ‘too long’ in presenting their case against Donald Trump to the Senate, where he is charged with inciting the January 6 Capitol riot.

Dershowitz, who defended Trump in his first impeachment trial but is on the sidelines for the second, was reacting after House Democrats acting as prosecutors rested their case on Thursday. Trump’s defense team will make their case on Friday. 

‘The Democrats overplayed their hand today, they went on too long, too repetitious, they should have rested yesterday,’ Dershowitz told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday.

‘I think the Republicans — the lawyers [on Trump’s defense team] — will do a good job by making it neat and clean, and to the point and short,’ he added.

Attorney Alan Dershowitz has criticized the House impeachment managers for going on ‘too long’ in presenting their case against Donald Trump to the Senate

Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead House manager, reminded the 100 senators who are sitting as jurors of their oath to render 'impartial justice'

Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead House manager, reminded the 100 senators who are sitting as jurors of their oath to render ‘impartial justice’

Dershowitz predicted that Trump’s attorney’s would present two lines of defense: first, that the Senate does not have jurisdiction to convict a former president, and second, that Trump’s remarks to a crowd during a speech before the riot were protected by the First Amendment.

He urged Trump’s legal team to present a concise case and wrap up quickly, after defense attorney Bruce Castor delivered a disastrous soliloquy on Tuesday that even Trump’s allies characterized as rambling and pointless.

Dershowitz, a civil libertarian and free speech advocate, also slammed 140 constitutional scholars who this week penned a letter demanding that Trump’s attorneys not defend him on free speech grounds, arguing it ‘would be legally frivolous.’  

The letter carries an implicit threat, as the rules of professional responsibility prohibit an attorney from making frivolous arguments and carry disciplinary sanctions for those who do.

‘I hope the defense attorneys for Trump don’t listen and make that argument, and I’ve offered to defend them in front of any bar association,’ Dershowitz said.

Pre-eminent constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe, one of the signers of the letter that Dershowitz criticized, had a different reaction to the House managers’ case, which he praised. 

‘I’ve closely studied every impeachment trial in our history. No impeachment has ever been as ably prosecuted in the Senate. In no prior impeachment has a conviction been as overwhelmingly justified,’ Tribe wrote in a tweet on Thursday.

‘Now the Senate is on trial. To acquit itself, it must convict Donald J. Trump,’ he continued.

Dan Rather, the former CBS Evening News anchor, similarly praised the House Democrats for their prosecution.

‘The House managers in the impeachment trial delivered one to [sic] the most comprehensive, competent, clarifying and compelling cases I have ever seen in the U.S Congress,’ Rather tweeted. 

House prosecutors wrapped up their impeachment case against Trump on Thursday with an impassioned appeal to the Senate to convict the former president and bar him from holding office again.

‘We humbly, humbly ask you to convict President Trump for the crime (of) which he is overwhelmingly guilty,’ said Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse, one of the nine impeachment managers from the House of Representatives.

‘Because if you don’t, if we pretend this didn’t happen — or worse, if we let it go unanswered — who’s to say it won’t happen again?’

'We humbly, humbly ask you to convict President Trump for the crime (of) which he is overwhelmingly guilty,' said Rep. Joe Neguse, one of the nine impeachment managers

‘We humbly, humbly ask you to convict President Trump for the crime (of) which he is overwhelmingly guilty,’ said Rep. Joe Neguse, one of the nine impeachment managers

The House impeachment managers rested their case after two days of arguments that included Trump’s own words and hours of graphic video from the assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters who were seeking to halt certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s November 3 election victory.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead House manager, reminded the 100 senators who are sitting as jurors of their oath to render ‘impartial justice.’

‘Exercise your common sense about what just took place in our country,’ Raskin said, arguing that Trump stood by doing nothing for two hours as his supporters rampaged through Congress.

‘Why did president Trump not tell his supporters to stop the attack on the Capitol as soon as he learned about it?’ Raskin asked. ‘As our constitutional commander in chief, why did he do nothing to send help?’

Raskin argued that the Republican former president had been stoking anger and encouraging extremism since Election Day — and even before. 

‘This pro-Trump insurrection did not spring out of thin air,’ Raskin said. ‘This was not the first time Donald Trump had inflamed and incited a mob.’

Raskin said it was imperative the Senate convict Trump and bar him from running for the White House again in 2024.

‘Is there any political leader in this room who believes that if he’s ever allowed by the Senate to get back into the Oval Office Donald Trump would stop inciting violence to get his way?’ Raskin asked.

‘Would you bet the future of your democracy on that?’

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks to the media after House impeachment managers rested their case against former US President Donald J. Trump

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks to the media after House impeachment managers rested their case against former US President Donald J. Trump

Trump’s lawyers will begin their defense on Friday, arguing that the former president cannot be held personally responsible for the storming of Congress.

They have also argued that the trial itself is unconstitutional because Trump is now out of office, although the Senate rejected that argument earlier this week.

Most Senate Republicans have indicated that they will vote to acquit Trump on the House charge of incitement of insurrection. 

They argue that the trial is unconstitutional and that Trump didn’t incite supporters to lay siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 when he told them to ‘fight like hell’ against the certification of Biden’s victory. 

If Republicans hold the line, Democrats will fall well short of the two-thirds of the Senate needed for conviction.

Trump’s two top lawyers, Bruce Castor and David Schoen, risked losing one Republican vote on Tuesday after Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy said they did a ‘terrible’ job arguing that the trial is unconstitutional. 

Cassidy, who had voted with his party two weeks prior to stop the trial, switched his vote to side with Democrats.

Including Cassidy, six Republicans sided with Democrats on that vote that the trial is constitutional – far from the minimum of 17 Republican votes that would be needed to convict.

On Friday, all eyes will be on Bruce Castor (above), who delivered a rambling argument on Tuesday that Republican senators criticized as perplexing, 'disorganized' and 'random'

On Friday, all eyes will be on Bruce Castor (above), who delivered a rambling argument on Tuesday that Republican senators criticized as perplexing, ‘disorganized’ and ‘random’

David Schoen, lawyer for former President Donald Trump, talks to reporters as he departs the U.S. Capitol on the third day of Trump's second impeachment trial on Thursday

David Schoen, lawyer for former President Donald Trump, talks to reporters as he departs the U.S. Capitol on the third day of Trump’s second impeachment trial on Thursday

Trump’s lawyers plan to argue their client’s innocence on multiple fronts. Their main arguments include that the trial is unconstitutional, that the insurrectionists who broke into the Capitol did so on their own accord and that Trump’s rhetoric to supporters was common political speech protected under the First Amendment.

Hoping that brevity will appeal to their restless Senate audience, the lawyers are expected to keep their arguments short. A Trump adviser said Thursday that they are expected to wrap up their defense in less than a day.

All eyes will be on Castor, who delivered a rambling argument on Tuesday that Republican senators criticized as perplexing, ‘disorganized’ and ‘random.’ 

Trump, too, was furious over the performance of his defense team as he watched the proceedings from his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, a person familiar with his thinking told the AP.

On Friday, Castor will get a second chance. After the Democrats´ video presentation on Wednesday, he said the images ‘would have an emotional impact on any jury, but there are two sides of the coin and we haven’t played ours.’

Like the House prosecutors, Trump’s lawyers have up to 16 hours over two days to plead their case. Once the defense’s presentation is finished, senators will have time to submit written questions to both sides. 



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