U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-California) delivered eloquent closing arguments during Day 3 of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate. As Esquire magazine’s Jack Holmes wrote:
Schiff's speech was brilliant because it didn't spend additional time on the established facts of the case, which no one seriously disputes, and got to the more essential issue: Donald Trump will never prioritize the interests of the United States—as he pledged to in his oath of office—over his personal interests. He is not capable of it. The evidence lies in his repeated calls for foreign countries to attack our democracy for his personal gain. The evidence lies in the bribe palaces he's running in hotels across the world, where some have started buying up huge blocs of rooms and not even bothering to stay in many of them. The Constitution is worth nothing to him because it does not benefit him personally. Neither is anything we might recognize as our national idea. Neither is the truth. He must be removed before his pathological self-interest can do any more damage than it already has.No less impressed was The New York Times’ Sheryl Gay Stolberg, who observes that “Representative Adam B. Schiff, the former federal prosecutor who has steered the House impeachment investigation into President Trump, secured his place as a liberal rock star—and villain to conservatives—with the fiery closing argument he delivered Thursday night, imploring senators to convict and remove Mr. Trump because ‘you know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country.’ By Friday morning, the phrase #RightMatters—from the last line of Mr. Schiff’s speech—was trending as a hashtag on Twitter, which was lighting up with reaction from across the philosophical spectrum.”
Walter Dellinger, a former acting U.S. solicitor general and a professor emeritus of law at Duke University, declared on Twitter that Schiff was “not just good,” but that he gave “one of the most impressive performances by a lawyer I have ever seen.”
None of this, however, guarantees that Republicans in the Senate will ultimately find courage enough to put their country before their petty partisanship and vote to remove Trump from the White House. None of this can stop Trump from lying to his cult-like followers, whining to them about how he’s been the victim of a “witch hunt” and is completely innocent of using his public power for private gain. (Do even those Republican senators likely to acquit Trump in this impeachment trial really believe he’s done nothing wrong here? Probably not.) And none of the powerful arguments put forth by Schiff and his fellow Democratic impeachment managers for Trump’s inglorious removal from office can ensure that the majority of Americans will vote for the Democratic presidential nominee in November, to rid the nation of a narcissistic chief executive with aspirations to become a dictator.
But at least for this moment, amid the powerful cadences of Adam Schiff’s Thursday night address, Americans living free of the Trump cult can know that their low opinions of Trump’s behavior, intelligence, and character; their fears about what damage he might yet do to the nation’s moral standing, international reputation, and strength as a democratic republic; and their increasing anger at Trump’s efforts to position himself above the law have been given voice.
That’s no small matter.
READ MORE: “Schiff Closes With a ‘Love Letter to Truth and Democracy,’” by Nancy LeTourneau (Washington Monthly).