Despite our blog’s title we usually avoid too much overt law talk here at LGM, but today needs to be an exception,
Let’s make something perfectly clear, as Richard Nixon used to say:
The procedural posture of Trump’s Senate impeachment trial as it ends is this: the Democrats asked for witnesses to help prove X, and the Republicans refused, on the explicit ground, put forth by Alan Dershowitz, that even if X were proven to be true, it could not — literally could not — be a valid basis for removing a president via the impeachment and conviction process.
This was, to put it in legal jargon, essentially a motion for summary judgment — that is, a procedure by which one party moves to end a proceeding on the grounds that, even if everything the accusing party is alleging is true, there still isn’t a valid legal basis for a judgment against the accused party, so therefore there’s no need for an actual trial.
What the Republicans agreed was true was this: That Donald Trump held up hundreds of millions of dollars of already appropriated aid to another country, because he was extorting that country’s leadership into announcing a fake investigation into the supposed corruption of the son of a political opponent. That’s what the Democrats alleged Donald Trump did, and that’s what Alan Dershowitz argued could not — again, not should not but could not, constitutionally — be a valid basis for removing a president.
That’s the legal and political precedent here.
This country is over.