CNN Panel Agrees: Trump Defense Team Was Right To Keep It Short

Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
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Just as President Donald Trump’s defense attorneys concluded their opening statements before the Senate, a CNN panel conceded that they had been smart to keep things brief.

The members of president’s defense team took just a combined two hours — less time than lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff alone — to make opening statements Saturday, and CNN analysts Jeffrey Toobin and Preet Bharara agreed it was a strong move. (RELATED: According To CNN Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, Abortion Was Supposed To Be Illegal In 18 States By Now)


CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer picked up the coverage as Trump’s team concluded its opening, and immediately turned to Toobin. “I suspect, Jeffrey, if you’re one of the wavering GOP senators on the fence now, what they heard from White House lawyers probably helped them if they’re going to come around to the decision to avoid any additional witnesses or evidence,” Blitzer prompted.

“Right. I’m not sure there are many wavering Republican senators at this point, but certainly there was information put forth today that would allow Republicans to vote against witnesses and to vote for an acquittal,” Toobin began.

His main criticism of the defense was that none of the attorneys had been “spellbinding.” He also suggested that Trump’s outside counsel Jay Sekulow had possibly veered off course. “I was surprised that Jay Sekulow, who I think is a very fine lawyer, seen him argue in the Supreme Court several times, wandered in the wasteland of the Mueller report that didn’t seem relevant.”

“But, you know,” Toobin conceded, “If you are inclined to the defense point of view, there were facts and arguments to justify your position this morning.”

Bharara weighed in then, first arguing that Schiff had done a decent job of anticipating the points the defense would make and of offering what he called “a prebuttal” of sorts.

“What people say on social media,” Bharara added, “It was a smart thing to not take too much time. I don’t know if that’s a function of wanting to be respectful of senators’ time or the president said we’re in the Death Valley of ratings. Generally speaking, you take less time, make points more crisply, that’s probably better.”

“If you’re winning, shut up,” Toobin agreed. “That’s I think the guiding principle of what they’re doing.”