It would be the world’s most highly classified book club! While they’re hanging out in the SCIF, maybe senators could (by unanimous consent, of course) binge-watch some favorite TV shows.
I suggest they catch up on “Lost in Space.” It would help them better understand Trump’s impeachment defense.
In the ’60s cult classic, recently revived by Netflix, 11-year-old Will Robinson and his space-colonizing family, forced to crash-land on an alien planet, must fight to survive in the strange and hostile environment light years from home.
Trump’s lawyers, in three days making their case on the Senate floor, characterized the president in similar terms: surrounded on all sides by dangerous aliens trying to harm him. Jim Comey! Robert Mueller! Peter Strzok! Lisa Page! Bruce and Nellie Ohr! Christopher Steele! Impeachment managers!
“Danger, danger, danger!” cried out Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow. The Trump lawyers invoked “danger” some two dozen times in 90 minutes Tuesday.
The House delayed sending impeachment articles to the Senate.
“Danger, danger, danger!” Sekulow said.
The articles cite no specific violation of law.
“Danger, danger, danger!”
The House managers would trample attorney-client privilege, Sekulow alleged.
“Danger, danger, danger!”
No, Will Robinson! Does not compute! I cannot accept that course of action!
The bizarre closing argument fits neatly with Trump’s worldview, from his apocalyptic acceptance speech to his American-carnage inaugural to his daily complaints that he is the perpetual victim maltreated by many foes. Trump reportedly found his attorneys’ legal arguments boring on Monday, so they closed with something more his speed: fear.
The president’s entire defense was like a sci-fi series. The plot wasn’t terribly complicated (lawyers used only about 14 of their allotted 24 hours). There were robots (Patrick Philbin) and aliens (Ken Starr, Alan Dershowitz). There were special effects and simulated explosions. And there was an overriding tale of good against evil, in which a perfect protagonist battles powerful, dark forces.
“The president did nothing wrong,” his lawyers wrote in their brief.
“The president has done absolutely nothing wrong,” White House Counsel Pat Cipollone declared in his opening arguments.
“Everything here was done correctly,” Philbin asserted Tuesday.
“The president at all times acted with perfect, legal, authority,” Sekulow echoed.
In real life, nobody believes this; even Starr, in a more honest moment, criticized Trump’s “extraordinarily poor judgment.” But in our sci-fi version, our hero makes the “perfect call” and bravely meets danger after horribly unfair danger.
Philbin declared that the House managers were making a “dangerous” move and that the Framers thought it “dangerous.” How dangerous? “One of the greatest dangers.”
Sekulow followed this warm-up by declaring that “you can’t view this case in a vacuum” and invoked many favorite Trump villains who have nothing to do with impeachment: Comey, Page, Strzok, the Ohrs, Steele, the dossier, the FBI’s FISA court abuses — and that terribly dangerous Mueller. “Bob Mueller allowed the evidence on the phones of those agents to be wiped clean while there was an investigation going on!” Sekulow said.
Like his boss’s Twitter stream, Sekulow’s argument ricocheted from dubious complaint to extraneous grievance: spies surveilling the Trump campaign. Democrats running for president. Managers criticizing Trump for acting in his own self-interest when he’s working at “the highest level to obtain peace in the Middle East.” A disagreement over whether managers spent 21 or 23 hours making their case. Burisma and those corrupt Bidens! An “ongoing corruption” problem in Ukraine. Bolton’s “inadmissible” allegations in that “unpublished manuscript.” A “scary” situation.
Um, relevance? “You’ve now heard from legal scholars, from a variety of schools of thought, from a variety of political backgrounds,” Sekulow said, “but they do have a common theme, with a dire warning: danger, danger, danger!”
Repeatedly in his recitation of perils, Sekulow told the senators to put themselves “in the shoes of the president,” and for a moment I was filled with sympathy for Trump.
It must be terribly scary for Trump to be lost on this alien, dangerous planet, with only a robot (played by Stephen Miller) for a friend. And we must do everything we can to help him return to wherever he came from.
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