CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said Saturday that President Donald Trump is “winning” his impeachment trial in the Senate.
However, Toobin, a prominent liberal pundit, said Democrats achieved a different kind of victory by fielding a “very diverse” team of prosecutors compared to Trump’s team of “white men.”
Toobin offered his commentary during a panel discussion following the first morning of opening arguments by the president’s legal team.
“Again, I just think the Republicans are winning here. The president is winning here,” he said. “And as long as they don’t completely fall on their faces, which they’re all competent lawyers, they’re not going to do that, I think that’s fine for them.”
Toobin also conceded that Trump’s lawyers made a “legitimate” point when they argued that his temporary withholding of military aid to Ukraine was in keeping with his longstanding concerns about “burden sharing” with foreign countries.
“The House managers didn’t focus on that or even mention it,” Toobin said. “And fair is fair.”
Toobin has in the past been quick to make despairing proclamations of Republican victory, as when he last March declared the death of federal abortion rights.
Jeffrey Toobin breaks down diversity in the Trump impeachment trial
The CNN panel went on to discuss Trump’s impeachment defense for several more minutes before Toobin broke in with the non-sequitur about diversity.
“White House and white people,” he said, noting that Trump’s legal team comprised six white men and two white women. “I mean, you know, this is a lesson in the diversity of the two parties. I mean you look at the House managers, it was almost evenly divided between men and women. It was, you had two African-Americans, you had a Hispanic.”
Regarding the female Trump lawyers, Toobin added, “We’ll see if they’re allowed to argue.”
“In a visual medium, when you have one side that has a very diverse team, and the other side that’s all white men, that says something in and of itself,” he concluded.
Toobin did not say what exactly counting minorities and women among the lawyers had taught him about the case, and no one on the CNN panel asked for an explanation.
“The most massive interference in an election in American history”
Trump’s lawyers delivered their opening arguments on the Senate floor in about two hours. It was their first rebuttal of Democrats’ case for impeaching the president, which had been laid out in about 22 hours across the previous three days.
In a preview of the defense likely to be offered over the next two days, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said Democrats have no case and are doing damage to democracy by trying to undermine the will of American voters.
“For all their talk about election interference, they’re here to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history, and we can’t allow that to happen,” Cipollone said. “It would violate the sacred trust that the American people have placed in you and have placed in them. The American people decide elections. They have one coming up in nine months.”
The third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history is unlikely to end with a vote that removes Trump from office, as Republicans who control the Senate have continually voiced support for the president.
However, it is certain to cast a shadow over the November 2020 presidential election, even though ratings for the first two days indicate only a fraction of the more than 130 million Americans expected to cast ballots will have watched the first days of the proceedings.
Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House of Representatives in December on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic political rival, and impeding the inquiry into the matter.
The president has denied any wrongdoing.