March 5, 2021

Neal Katyal on why impeachment and removal could be coming in the New Year

Katyal: Not so fast on the idea that Trump's Senate trial has a foregone conclusion.

Neal Katyal, a law professor and former Acting Solicitor General of the United States, wrote the rules regarding the special counsel and argued for Attorney General Barr to release the Mueller report to the public last year. That heavily redacted report never exonerated Trump, but he remains in office in 2020.

Now, to ring in the New Year, Katyal outlined why he believes the Senate may not rush to acquit Trump in his upcoming impeachment trial, although Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested otherwise.

In a Twitter thread, Katyal breaks it down.

“THREAD ON IMPEACHMENT AND REMOVAL IN THE NEW YEAR. The conventional wisdom is that the Republicans in the Senate will rush to acquit Trump. I outline here why I think that overstates the case, and that the process has any number of variables in which things may change.”

The thread begins by throwing a wrench in Trump’s plans for the New Year with some good old-fashioned facts:

“1. Trump wants you to believe that the outcome is preordained. But it’s not. Particularly when he acts the way he does. In short, he acts like a guilty man.”

“2. First, the facts. Trump has done something no one has done, not even Nixon. Categorically blocked all witnesses & documents in impeachment. That’s how a guilty man behaves. Nixon’s support looked strong through the start of impeachment, but it crumbled.”

“3. Trump has outed the whistleblower by name. Is that how an innocent man behaves?”

Katyal referred to his earlier tweet in which he responded to a tweet by CNN correspondent, Manu Raju, that “Trump, just before midnight on the Friday after Christmas, retweeted a tweet that singled out the alleged whistleblower by name to his nearly 68 million followers.”

Katyal called on Senator Mitt Romney to speak up, considering that Trump had invited retaliation on the whistleblower.

Next, Katyal says that Trump doesn’t have a reasonable explanation for why he suspended financial aid to Ukraine. As a matter of fact, he wrote an entire book on the subject.

“4. Trump has never been able to come up with a coherent story for why the aid to Ukraine was suspended. I don’t have space to detail all of that here, but my book with @SammyKoppelman goes through all his shifting explanations in detail.”

Can I get a witness?

With a musical interlude of “Can I Get a Witness” by the legendary Marvin Gaye, Katyal introduces his argument on why he believes the facts will matter to the Senate in the end.

“5. Now, why should any of those pesky facts matter to a Senate, particularly one controlled by Mitch McConnell who has publicly pledged to move in lockstep with the White House and acquit the President? #CanIGetAWitnessMitch ?”

A check on McConnell

Here’s a good reason McConnell may not be able to obstruct the Senate trial: He won’t preside.

“6. First, because even McConnell has no appreciation for our system of law, others do. His statements blatantly violate his Oath, which requires him to do impartial justice. And our Constitution puts the Chief Justice in charge of the impeachment trial.”

In a year-end report on the judiciary, Chief Justice Roberts indicated what the New York Times called “a timely subtext that appeared to be addressed to President Trump.”

“We should reflect on our duty to judge without fear or favor, deciding each matter with humility, integrity and dispatch,” wrote Justice Roberts. “As the new year begins, and we turn to the tasks before us, we should each resolve to do our best to maintain the public’s trust that we are faithfully discharging our solemn obligation to equal justice under law.”

Thus, Katyal concludes:

“7. Chief Justice Roberts will strive to do impartial justice, even if McConnell won’t. His New Year’s Eve Statement was characteristic.”

If McConnell thinks he can get away with blocking key witness testimony, he may have another thing coming. The New York Time’s recent report has already made the Majority Leader’s position untenable.

The Washington Post responded to the Times report:

“The report demonstrates in striking detail that inside the administration, the consternation over the legality and propriety of the aid freeze — and confusion over Trump’s true motives — ran much deeper than previously known, implicating top Cabinet officials more deeply than we thought.”

8. Second, the case for blocking the witnesses is a really hard one. McConnell looks like he’s protecting a guilty man with something to hide. This weekend’s revelations in the @nytimes make McConnell’s position increasingly untenable.”

Next, Katyal points out that it was the President himself who called for witness testimony. Was Trump bluffing at the time?

“9. Third, Dems are giving Trump what he wanted. During House proceedings, Trump said he wanted witnesses to testify, just in Senate not the House. Dems have called him on it. Bait & switch now? Trump is acting even more like a guilty man b/c he is afraid.”

Now, there are key swing-voter Republicans who are raising concerns about Mitch McConnell’s public statement that he would be in “total coordination” with the White House during the impeachment trial. If just a few Republican Senators join Senator Murkowski and Senator Collins, then the tide of justice could change rapidly.

10. It is no surprise @lisamurkowski raised concerns about McConnell & @SenatorCollins announced she is open to witnesses. I expect pressure to build. @MittRomney will be critical. Ultimately, I can see a resolution leaving these questions to CJ Roberts.”

Finally, Katyal points to Trump’s “erratic” behavior. Would he behave this way if he were innocent?

“11. Trump’s actions, which look, smell, and sound like that of a guilty man are just the start. He is becoming increasingly erratic, stumbling into lawbreaking like revealing the whistleblower identity and the like.”

Even as Trump acts like he’s already been cleared, he is losing ground with his most loyal followers, as influential Christian conservatives begin to distance themselves at last.

12. And that is why you see Trump’s support cracking in quarter after quarter. Christianity Today. Influential conservatives like @RameshPonnuru.”

Calling Trump’s bluff, Katyal calls for Trump to testify himself, and Senate rules expressly call for it.

“13. Apart from witnesses, longstanding Senate impeachment rules say that the President is summoned to appear in the Senate when impeached. Trump should testify. If he thinks he did nothing wrong, #SayItUnderOath. That’s what innocent people do, day in and day out.”

Putting politics aside, both Democrats and Republicans must unite in upholding the Constitution and the rule of law. We must, or we will no longer be America as we know it.

“14. I have never felt the case for impeachment is political, it’s based on the rule of law. Whether it hurts Dems or helps Republicans is beside the point. It’s our duty. People like me just want process – a real trial where both sides make their case.”

Katyal finishes with the compelling argument that Trump should be held to the same standards as any American citizen. If he is innocent, then he should explain his case before America. If he will not, it will be all-too-obvious why, and even the corrupt Senate could be forced to admit to the glaring reality.

“15. And the thing that gets me the most, is that Trump is behaving like a guilty man. If this were such an easy case, as he claims, he should do what every other American does – face justice and tell his story. The fact that he is afraid to do that speaks volumes.”

“16. Trump is afraid of the truth. And he is afraid of you and me knowing the truth. There is hope that our Senate will see that. END”

See Neal Katya on MSNBC:

Featured image: Screenshots via YouTube


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