Tuesday, November 05, 2019
The House impeachment inquiry into President Trump has already uncovered evidence of a "quid pro quo" the president continues to deny. But none of that evidence will matter if House Democrats don't present the evidence in a way that moves the needle of public opinion.
Democrats can't afford to wait for the inevitable Senate trial to make their case. They will lose control of the process in the Senate, and they face an uphill battle given that they need the votes of 20 Republican Senators to remove Trump from office.
The only hope of creating a Republican stampede away from Trump is by persuading their constituents his removal is warranted. These are technically public hearings but because so much evidence has already been gathered in the closed-door depositions, these hearings are actually much more like a trial. And Democrats need to treat them that way.
That means thinking of the public as the jury.
To persuade a jury that is scattered across the country, watching from a distance and distracted by daily life and the president's talent for creating diversions, House Democrats will need to use the tools they have to tell a compelling story.
1. Stay focused.
The side with the simpler story usually wins at trial.
2. Start and end strong.
Any good trial lawyer knows that jurors tend to pay attention to the first and last witnesses more than the witnesses sandwiched in between.
3. Work with evidence you do have.
Stonewalling by the Trump administration has cost Democrats important testimony and evidence. But Democrats need to focus on the evidence they have, not the evidence they're missing.
4. Develop your themes.
Successful trial lawyers develop themes that run through their entire case and give it unity.
5. Stick to the facts.
Democrats should focus on the facts"which are on their side"and handle this process with the solemnity it merits. If the process looks like a partisan fight, it will be easier for Trump to paint it as "Washington as usual."
6. Explain why it matters.
Democrats need to make the case for removal by explaining why Trump's misconduct is serious.
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