President Trump got his first full day of defense at his Senate impeachment trial on Monday. Trump's lawyers mostly whistled past inconvenient new revelations that former National Security Adviser John Bolton, in his forthcoming book, badly undermines one of their key arguments against impeachment: that there's no first-hand evidence Trump tied Ukraine military aid to investigations of Joe Biden and other Democratic rivals.
In fact, Trump lawyers Pam Bondi and Eric Herschmann devoted their presentations to attacking former Vice President Biden and his son Hunter. It wasn't until the night's last full presentation, by high-profile defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, that Trump's legal team even mentioned Bolton. And Dershowitz argued that "nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense."
Dershowitz and Trump attorney Ken Starr offered historical and legal arguments about impeachment, with Dershowitz taking the extreme minority legal view that impeachment requires "criminal-like conduct," and abuse of power and obstruction of Congress don't fit that bill. Starr's presentation "was a bizarre spectacle: the man who brought us the last impeachment of a president lecturing the Senate on the dangerous evils of impeachment," writes The New Yorker's Susan Glasser. You can watch some highlights from Trump's defense, curated by PBS NewsHour.
"I'm old enough to remember when, in 1998, Starr produced the most X-rated document ever to be printed under congressional seal, in service of lobbying for [Bill Clinton's] impeachment," Glasser writes. "Now, in 2020, the author of that report is acting as the sanctimonious guardian of congressional dignity, lecturing us all on the floor of the Senate about the unfair, improper charges against Donald Trump? Within seconds of opening his mouth on the Senate floor, Starr had his liberal critics — and lots of non-liberals, too — sputtering with outrage."
Still, Glasser adds, "in the end Starr's comments, trolling as they were, seemed inconsequential and destined to be quickly forgotten," at least compared to Bolton's bombshell. If the outcome of Trump's trial seems predetermined, Bolton's first-hand report of a quid pro quo might at least convince four Republicans to ensure witness testimony.
Trump's team had some factual errors in their presentation. The Associated Press tackles a few of them, and you can watch CNN's Jake Tapper fact-check some others — and Jeffrey Toobin denounce Bondi and Herschmann's "parade of lies" about Joe Biden — below.