WASHINGTON, January 24, 2020 — Towards the end of the proceedings Friday night, lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff (D-CA) laid out predictions of what he thinks President Donald Trump’s lawyers will argue Saturday, rebutting them as he went.
He broke down the process attacks, including Republican complaints about “secret” House depositions. “Those super secret depositions in which only 100 members of Congress, equivalent to the entire Senate, could participate,” he said mockingly. “That’s how exclusive they were.”
He predicted complaints about questions he didn’t allow during the House inquiry, specifically concerning the whistleblower. He admitted that he wouldn’t permit members to ask about the whistleblower’s identity, saying that “some of us … believe we ought to protect whistleblowers.”
He said that the lawyers will probably go after him personally for mocking the President, then pointed to the many people Trump, “the man who loves to mock others,” has gone after. He added that the argument was all part of an attempt to distract from the President’s misconduct.
Schiff anticipated arguments about what is and is not impeachable under the constitution. He translated that what the lawyers really mean by that is that they “can’t defend his conduct” — that Trump did everything he’s been accused of, but that it’s all “perfectly fine.”
He circled back to the whistleblower, saying that all the ire team Trump directs at the person is out of “retribution,” a “pound of flesh” for exposing the President’s Ukraine scandal. He hit a common Republican talking point, that Democrats “hate” the President. He said that all he hates is what Trump has done to the country.
Schiff then moved on to a possible talking point that the Bidens are corrupt. “If they couldn’t get Ukraine to smear the Bidens, they want to use this trial to do it instead,” he said. He tried to take the air out of the mysterious and long-dangled “report” Rudy Giuliani has been teasing, saying that the lawyers may produce “documents smearing the Bidens” or accounts of “Russian corrupt former prosecutors.”
Schiff mentioned how the lawyers will likely say that Trump was just fighting corruption by freezing the Ukraine military aid. He called it an “after-the-fact rationalization” backed up with no real proof.
“Obama did it!” he proclaimed, bringing up Trump’s favorite boogeyman. Calling the argument an “insult to our intelligence,” he said that American people can differentiate between aid withheld for a “malicious purpose” and for America’s “best interests.”
He brought up the famous “perfect call” line, saying that the lawyers probably don’t want to defend that argument, but must due to Trump’s insistence. He added that they may say that Ukraine also said that the call was perfect. “Ukraine knows that if they acknowledge they were shaken down by the United States, the President of the United States will make them pay,” he said.
He made fun of the argument insisting that Trump should be taken at his word when he says there was no “quid pro quo,” and said that the “no harm, no foul” argument since the aid was finally released is a purposeful misunderstanding of the two country’s dynamics. “The moment Ukraine learned and Russia learned, there was harm,” Schiff said.
He said the lawyers will probably play clips from the House inquiry, implying that anything but a “televised confession” from Trump falls short of the necessary proof.
He brought up the executive privilege argument invoked by the White House to hold back documents and witness testimony. “They never asserted privilege,” he said, adding that they knew they’d have to provide documents with redactions and that they have no real claim to privilege.
In sum, he urged his audience to be prepared for Trump’s lawyers to convey that “the President can do whatever he wants” and that there’s nothing anyone can do about it.