Trump steers clear of impeachment trial rapid response without Twitter megaphone
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Former President Donald Trump has been extremely quiet as his impeachment trial got underway in earnest this week, in contrast to his ubiquitous Twitter presence during his impeachment trial last year, and longtime affinity for the spotlight.
Trump, of course, does not have access to his Twitter any more after his account was suspended partially in response to the Capitol riot that triggered the impeachment process against him. Other social media platforms, including Facebook and YouTube, shut down Trump’s accounts as well.
But the former president still possesses other means to make his voice heard as the House impeachment managers lay out their case why he should never be allowed to hold office again.
He could book television appearances. He can send out press releases through his “Office of the Former President.” Trump could also join other social media sites that are popular with his supporters.
Former President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before boarding Air Force One with first lady Melania Trump at Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, N.J., Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019, en route to Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Some think the radio silence from the former president is a positive.
“The lack of tweeting from President Trump has allowed the trial to be more inwardly focused,” a senior Republican aide told Fox News.
The lack of communications coming from the former president, a different Senate GOP source told Fox News, was spurring conversation about Trump’s silence being out of character.
The former president has sent out just two messages from his office all week, and a handful of surrogates like Jason Miller have been appearing on television.
One of the messages from Trump this week was a boilerplate statement supporting the structure of the impeachment trial.
“President Trump and his counsel are pleased that there was bipartisan support on how to structure the impeachment trial,” the statement read. “We appreciate that Senate Republican leadership stood strong for due process and secured a structure that is consistent with past precedent. This process will provide us with an opportunity to explain to Senators why it is absurd and unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial against a private citizen.”
A screengrab of former President Trump’s suspended Twitter page.
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The other message was simply a link to his legal team’s pre-trial brief.
This is in stark contrast to Trump’s prolific tweeting last year. According to TrumpTwitterArchive.com, Trump tweeted over 170 times between Jan. 22 and Jan. 23 of 2020, the first two days of merits arguments in his first impeachment trial.
Among them: “The Democrat House would not give us lawyers, or not one witness, but now demand that the Republican Senate produce the witnesses that the House never sought, or even asked for? They had their chance, but pretended to rush. Most unfair & corrupt hearing in Congressional history!”
Another: “The Democrats & Shifty Schiff, whose presentation to the Senate was loaded with lies and misrepresentations, are refusing to state that the Obama Administration withheld aid from many countries including Ukraine, Pakistan, Philippines, Egypt, Honduras, & Mexico. Witch Hunt!”
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None of that, however, has been present at Trump’s trial this week.
Trump’s current impeachment was spurred by the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Trump, after months of making false claims that he’d won the presidential election, called a rally in Washington, D.C., with his supporters for the same day Congress and then-Vice President Mike Pence were meeting in a joint session to certify the results of the election.
Trump, at the rally, repeated his false election claims and he and advisers used pitched rhetoric, riling up the large crowd. Trump at one point in the rally told his followers to “peacefully and patriotically” march to the Capitol, a comment his defenders point to as part of the reason why he does not bear responsibility for the ransacking of the Capitol.
In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., speaks during the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. (Senate Television via AP)
((Senate Television via AP))
But House impeachment managers are arguing that one comment does not cancel out the balance of Trump’s other comments in that speech or in the proceeding months.
“In a speech spanning almost 11,000 words — yes, we did check — that was the one time, the only time, President Trump used the word peaceful or any suggestion of nonviolence,” impeachment manager Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., said.
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Trump is highly unlikely to be convicted in the impeachment trial. On Tuesday, 44 Republicans voted that the impeachment trial is unconstitutional, meaning that Democrats would need 11 GOP senators to change their minds about the validity of the trial to even have a chance of convicting the former president.
House impeachment managers’ arguments will continue on Thursday. They’ll have up to eight hours to finish their opening statements, although it’s not clear that they will use all that time. It’s possible that Trump’s legal team could begin its opening statements Thursday, but it’s likely they will wait until Friday morning to begin that process.
The trial will then have to go through a few more steps, including senators questioning the lawyers for each side and a potential decision on whether to subpoena witnesses, before getting to a final vote on whether to convict.
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