Devin J. Stone is a practicing lawyer whose YouTube channel looks at various elements in popular culture from the perspective of the law. In his latest video, he examined the arguments that have been presented in the trial so far, which includes those expressed by impeachment managers from the House of Representatives, led by Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, that the president abused his office by soliciting campaign interference from Ukraine and obstructed Congress by trying to cover up their investigation into his alleged wrongdoing. In the video, Stone accuses the Republicans of arguing contradictory points; that it’s simultaneously too late and too early to call witnesses in the trial, and also that the Democrats should wait for the courts to decide whether White House officials are allowed to ignore congressional subpoenas and that the courts have no right to decide this type of question.
Republicans voted along strict party lines to block 11 amendments proposed by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that would have ensured witnesses be called during the trial and additional subpoenas issued, but also complained that Democrats presented nothing new at the trial, as if they weren’t directly responsible for that being the case. Stone also commented on the marathon nature of the proceedings, as arguments were heard for hours on end and went long into the night, which is likely to fatigue both the senators trying the case and the American people, likely an intentional move on the Republicans’ part, as they were the party who set the rules for the impeachment trial and also the party most interested in preventing the facts about the case from becoming known among the general public.
Stone also observed the various ways the impeachment of Trump differs from the impeachments of past presidents, most notably how the investigation of Trump was by necessity conducted by Democrats instead of by an independent counsel, and that the investigation was not exhaustively concluded before the articles of impeachment were sent to the Senate. As Attorney General William Barr was unwilling to appoint an independent counsel to investigate Trump, Democrats had to do it themselves, raising separation-of-powers questions and potentially causing legal problems for the Democrats later on.
Additionally, Stone also discussed the theory floating around the Internet that Chief Justice John Roberts can intervene more heavily in the trial, forcing witnesses to be called and documents to be produced. As expected, however, Roberts intervened very little in the trial, with his only extemporaneous comment being an admonishment of the hostile tone of both the prosecution and the defense during the first day of the trial. Stone said that he expected Roberts to do more of the same, fading into the background as arguments were heard, as presiding justices in past impeachment trials have taken a similarly passive role and “both sides-ing” the issues.
Finally, Stone pointed out the ridiculousness of the fact that Trump, in Davos, commenting about how the fact that the administration withheld evidence from the trial gives him an advantage in the trial, seemingly bragging about his obstruction of congress, one of the offenses he was impeached for. Truly, we live in interesting times.