Basically no one outside the legal community knew the name Bruce Castor before he stood up Tuesday to kick off the defense of former President Donald Trump in the Senate impeachment trial. Now everyone knows his name — and that’s not a good thing for Castor.
The stumbling, bumbling and at times downright incoherent performance by Trump’s lawyer drew widespread befuddlement from the assembled senators and predictable anger from the 45th president.
I went through the transcript of Castor’s opening statement, and, uh, it does not benefit from closer examination. The lines you need to see from Castor are below.
1. “My name is Bruce Castor. I am the lead prosecutor — lead counsel for the 45th president of the United States.”
He got his name right. Then screwed up whether he was on the side of the prosecution or defense. And away we go!
2. “And you will not hear any member of the team representing former President Trump say anything, but in the strongest possible way denounce the violence of the rioters and those that breached the Capitol, the very subtle of our democracy, literally the symbol that flashes on television whenever you’re trying to explain that we’re talking about the United States, instant symbol.”
Waiter, I’d like one word salad, please.
3. “We are generally a social people. We enjoy being around one another, even in DC.”
At this point, it was still possible to think that Castor was going for “folksy” in his presentation. And that he might have a point somewhere. [Narrator voice: he did not.]
4. “We recognize in the law — and I know many of you are lawyers, probably lawyers, some of you — I have been a lawyer 35 years — longer than me, many longer than me, probably.”
Look, you guys are old, right? Like, really old?
5. “We are so understanding of the concept that people’s minds can be overpowered with emotion, where logic does not immediately kick in, that we have recognized examples that otherwise would be hearsay and said that, no, when you’re driving down the street, and you look over at your wife, and you say, ‘Hey, you know what, that guy is about to drive through the red light and kill that person,’ your wife can testify to what you said, because, even though it’s technically hearsay, it’s an exception, because it’s the event living through the person.”
6. “And, you know, senators of the United States, they’re not ordinary people. They’re extraordinary people, in the technical sense, extraordinary people.”
[every senator nods head knowingly]
7. “When I was growing up in suburban Philadelphia, my parents were big fans of Everett Dirksen from Illinois. And Senator Dirksen recorded a series of lectures that my parents had on a record. And we still know what records are, right, on the thing you put the needle down on and you play it.”
“So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on ’em. ‘Gimme five bees for a quarter,’ you’d say. Now where were we… oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time.” — Grandpa Simpson
8. “If you ever heard Everett Dirksen’s voice, it’s the most commanding, gravelly voice that just oozes belief and sincerity. Must have been a phenomenal United States senator.”
So, according to Castor, good voice = “phenomenal” senator.” (Also, it’s probably worth mentioning here that Everett Dirksen’s voice is totally irrelevant to defending Trump from the charge of incitement.)
9. “He talks about extraordinary people. He talks about gallant men, which is the name of the — of the album, and now, of course, in a sign of the times, gallant men and women.”
So, we are still talking about the Dirksen thing then?
10. “United States senators really are different.”
[vigorous senatorial nodding]
11. “There isn’t a member in this room who has not used the term, ‘I represent the great state of’ fill in the blank. Why? Because they’re all great? Yes. But you think yours is greater than others, because these are your people. These are the people that sent you here to do their work.”
I, personally, love being a resident of “‘the great state of’ fill in the blank.”
12.”You know, it’s funny. This is an aside, but it’s funny. You ever notice how, when you’re talking or you hear others talking about you when you’re home in your state, the — they will say, you know, I talked to my senator or I talked to somebody on the staff of my senator. It’s always my senator. Why is it that we say my senator? We say that because the people you represent are proud of their senators.”
Is it funny?
13. “And United States senators have a reputation, and it’s deserved, a reputation for cool-headedness, being erudite.”
And handsome! And witty! Great at parties!
14. “The other day, when I was down here in Washington — I came down earlier in the week to try to figure out how to find my way around. I worked in this building 40 years ago. I got lost then, and I still do.”
Yes, I can see that happening.
15. “If the government takes action against that state representative or that US representative who wants to walk back her comments, the government takes — takes action against her, I have no problem going to court and defending her right to say those things, even though I don’t agree with them.”
16. “I was going to say it will — instead of floodgates, I was going to say originally it will release the whirlwind, which is a biblical reference. But I subsequently learned since I got here that that particular phrase has already been taken, so I figured I better change it to floodgates.”
17. “You know, it’s interesting because I don’t want to steal the thunder from the other lawyers but Nebraska — and you’re going to hear — is quite a judicial thinking place, and just maybe Senator Sasse is onto something, and you’ll hear about what it is that the Nebraska courts have to say about the issue that you all are deciding this week. There seem to be some pretty smart jurists in Nebraska and I can’t believe a United States senator doesn’t know that.”
This is almost certainly a shot at Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, an outspoken critic of Trump within the Republican Party. But for the life of me I can’t figure out what, exactly, Castor is talking about.
18. “To quote Everett Dirksen, ‘The gallant men and women of the Senate will not allow that to happen and this republic will endure’ because the top responsibility of the United States senator and the top characteristic that you all have in common — and boy, this is a diverse group — but there isn’t a single one of you who A, doesn’t consider yourself a patriot of the United States, and two, there isn’t a single one of you who doesn’t consider the other 99 to be patriots of the United States.”
So, did I mention I once had a record — does anyone even remember those!?!?! — of Everett Dirksen speeches? Man, what a voice! And a phenomenal senator, I bet!
19. “I’ll be quite frank with you, we changed what we were going to do on account that we thought that the House manager’s presentation was well done.”
Dude, you probably shouldn’t say that, you know, out loud…
20. “After he’s out of office, you go and arrest him.”
[The 45th president grimaces]
21. “President Trump no longer is in office.”
Yeah, this feels like a good place to end.