January 22, 2020

We are ALL Elie Mystal's mom.

I don't mean in the sense that we're all allowed to send him to his room. (We're not.) I mean, well, here's the tweet.

See what I mean, now? HOW MANY OF US, yesterday, were asking ourselves how lawyers — LEGITIMATE members of the Bar Associations of varying states and The District of Columbia — were permitted to stand before the U.S. Senate and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and lie with impunity on behalf of anyone, let alone the U.S. president? That's exactly what members of the White House team did yesterday, as they defended Trump against articles of impeachment.

Elie Mystal explained how that's possible, and all the ways in which the rules of this trial make it actually NOT a trial, in his illuminating piece for The Nation.

[T]he Senate impeachment trial doesn’t even pretend to follow the same basic rules as any other trial. For instance, in a civil trial, lawyers who make false, misleading, or frivolous arguments may also be sanctioned for violating the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Rule 11). Here, those federal rules do not apply. McConnell didn’t incorporate them into his rules, and so this Senate trial will proceed as if they don’t exist. We’re being forced to act like there are not centuries of American jurisprudence to guide us on what a “trial” should look like, because for impeachment those centuries are irrelevant. The only rules that matter are the ones that get a 51-vote majority in the United States Senate.

Got it? So, at the end of a long day for these Senators, Jerry Nadler had had it, and said the White House team had lied. Then, Cipollone of the Gelled Hair stood up with wounded indignation and demanded an apology. An apology to the Senate, to Trump and his family, and to the American PEOPLE, you SCOUNDREL (he seemed to say, as he walked over to slap Jerrold across the face with his white kid leather glove.) All of this, of course, was more bullsh*t.

Chief Justice John Roberts decided to step in and issue his first non-procedural utterance of the day. It wasn't, however, about truth, or justice, or the gravity of the charges against the leader of the free world. It was a reminder to not say mean things about each other. Again, from Elie Mystal:

He admonished “both sides, in equal terms” for failing to address the Senate with the proper respect. It’s a microcosm of how both-sideism plays to the Republican advantage. If he was going to bother to speak, Roberts could, as Representative Jamie Raskin suggested, have admonished Pat Cipollone for bald lying. Nobody would have had to listen to him, but he could have used his moral authority to set the the record straight.

Why didn't Chief Justice Roberts use his voice this way? It's not like the Republican majority could have overridden his decision on a question before him. It would just have been his reminding the two teams in this political world series that one team is not allowed to play with buzzers strapped to their shoulders. Don't lie. Don't cheat. Instead we got, "Just make sure your shirt is tucked in."

Manners over substance. Civility over progress. Typical.

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