The House Managers have effectively wrapped up two days of opening statements, and I’ve taken the night to reflect upon them as a whole.
Having done so, I have a few comments on the overall all strategy and my impressions both as they happened and in reflection.
First the critiques I felt as it was happening:
I felt it was a mistake not only to address the Biden conspiracy theories Trump used as a motivation basis for the actions for which he has being impeached. It opens the door for the defense team to really dig into that at great length.
I also felt that they went a bit over the top with the droning repetition of the same points as they continued to build upon the context framework.
Finally, I believed they used the term “Quid pro quo” far too often and should have instead said variants of “Coerce” and “Extort” to drive the point of illegality home more thoroughly.
But, let me address why reflection shows these were both actually subversively brilliant strategy.
The House Managers began their opening statements with the history of impeachment law and abuse of power, to refute the expected defense claim that a president cannot be impeached, and even if a president could that these offenses don’t rise to an impeachable level.
They then explained the irrefutable evidence of the timeline of the actions of the president and his agents.
Next they combined the timeline with the law to show exactly how and where the violations occurred.
The annoying repetition throughout ensured that those attempting to tune it out or stepping out of the room to avoid being exposed to hearing it or seeing the visual evidence presented would be unable to completely avoid it no matter how hard they tried.
The repeated use of “Quid pro quo” is also nothing but bait for a trap of the defense team which will feel compelled to outline and stipulate to the actions in their attempt to prove it doesn’t qualify, and in so doing they will have to admit what was actually done and why.
Their focus on once again debunking the Biden conspiracy theories seemed to unfortunately lend credence to the arguments as worthy of examination (if only to refute them again). However, there are many Trump loyalists in the Senate and his defense team is likely to be unable to pass the opportunity to seize on this as a massive part of their defense
They will see this as grounds to force their own witness and evidence subpoenas upon the Biden’s to both stall the proceedings and delay the final vote. Even Trump will be hard pressed not to try to force this to happen. But to do so, they will have to allow witness testimony and further evidentiary discovery, which is how the House Managers get the opportunity to force the Administration and government agencies to comply with discovery submission also.
Finally, just in case the ploy for additional witnesses and evidence fails, they presented extensive video and documentary evidence during their opening that fully proved their case for any viewer with any reasoning capability at all, and Schiff wrapped it all up with a powerful instruction for sentencing on the expectation that his these opening statements have a great possibility of also serving as their closing statements.
In my lifetime, whether in reality or fiction, I have never seen a more masterful display of courtroom strategy than that of the House Managers this week.
The House Impeachment Managers are not using Schiff’s final moments last night to close out entirely though, and will spend their remaining time Friday detailing the obstruction charges.
If you cannot be there for all of it, be there for the final 30 minutes to see Schiff finish up one last time.
I expect it will be his best yet.