No Pettifogging: Roberts Admonishes Both Legal Teams After Late Night Outburst

Near midnight, the House managers and White House legal team erupted into name calling and recriminations. The confrontation led to Chief Justice John Roberts to admonish both sides and remind them that this is supposed to be the “world’s most deliberative body” and that “those addressing the Senate should remember where they are.” He also repeated a ruling from the 1905 trial of Judge Charles Swayne that there should be no accusations of “pettifogging.” With those words, the pettifog (bickering over trifles and petty disputes) dissipated from the chambers.

The kerfuffle over pettifogging began with statements by House Judiciary Committee manager Rep. Jerry Nadler (D, N.Y.) called the refusal to call witnesses at this stage a “treacherous vote” and a “cover-up” for Republicans:

“It’s embarrassing. The president is on trial in the Senate, but the Senate is on trial in the eyes of the American people. Will you vote to allow all the relevant evidence to be presented here? Or will you betray your pledge to be an impartial juror? … Will you bring Ambassador Bolton here? Will you permit us to present you with the entire record of the president’s misconduct? Or will you instead choose to be complicit in the president’s coverup? So far I’m sad to say I see a lot of senators voting for a coverup, voting to deny witnesses, an absolutely indefensible vote, obviously a treacherous vote.”

In reality, it was the Democrats who first tried to block all witnesses in the Clinton trial and then pushed for this very rule to delay any decision on witnesses. However, the response from the White House team was equally heated. White House counsel Pat Cipollone stated

“We’ve been respectful of the Senate. We’ve made our arguments to you. And you don’t deserve, and we don’t deserve, what just happened. Mr. Nadler came up here and made false allegations against our team. He made false allegations against all of you; he accused you of a cover-up. He’s been making false allegations against the president. The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler is you, for the way you’ve addressed the United States Senate. This is the United States Senate. You’re not in charge here. … It’s about time we bring this power trip in for a landing.”

Trump counsel Jay Sekulow also chimed in:

“At about 12:10 a.m., January 22, the chairman of the [House] Judiciary Committee, in this body, on the floor of this Senate, said ‘executive privilege and other nonsense.’ Now think about that for a moment. ‘Executive privilege and other nonsense.’ Mr. Nadler, it is not ‘nonsense.’ These are privileges recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States. And to shred the Constitution, on the floor of the Senate. To serve what purpose? The Senate is not on trial. The Constitution doesn’t allow what just took place. Look what we’ve dealt with for the last, now 13 hours. And we hopefully are closing the proceedings, but not on a very high note.”

Sekulow correctly objected to the claim that withholding evidence is proof of guilt. He noted that President Barack Obama did the same thing in the Fast and Furious investigation: “So, I guess when President Obama instructed his attorney general to not give information, he was guilty of a crime? That’s the way it works, Mr. Nadler? Is that the way you view the United States Constitution? Because that’s not the way it was written, that is not the way it’s interpreted, and that’s not the way the American people should have to live.”

Roberts had heard enough:

“It is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the president’s counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body,” Roberts said. “One reason it has earned that title is because its members avoid speaking in a manner, and using language, that is not conducive to civil discourse. “

“In the 1905 [Judge Charles] Swayne trial, a senator objected when one of the managers used the word ‘pettifogging’ — and the presiding officer said the word ought not to have been used. I don’t think we need to aspire to that high a standard, but I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are.”

Both sides can be chastised for allowing the rhetoric to outstrip the realities of the record and the law.

I simply welcome the return to 18th century standards and lexicon. Notably, pettifogging (which concerns petty disputes) or brabbling is less of a problem as excogigating about ways to avoid the issues at trial.

Roberts was not trying to quockerwodger counsel or leave the defense little more than sluberdegullion. However, there is little need to be beef-witted in the well of the Senate.

It is all enough to leave you feeling crapulous about the whole process.

71 thoughts on “No Pettifogging: Roberts Admonishes Both Legal Teams After Late Night Outburst”

  1. of the dozen or so names used to camouflage the three types of socialism I have now added pettifogging as it fits Pelosillyni so well.

    Greetings from the coalition with the largest voting block and the nice part is we’re once again in a perfect ambush situation a double el. The socialists can run but they can’t hide.

  2. Jay Sekulow: “The Senate Is Not On Trial”

    But In The Court Of Public Opinion It ‘Is’

    Trump’s legal team can raise all the What Abouts they want regarding Bill Clinton’s impeachment or Fast & Furious. But those What Abouts will only play in rightwing media.

    The majority of Americans want Donald Trump to address the charges laid out by Impeachment Managers. However Republicans have other plans. Trump has ordered Senate Majority Leader McConnell to make these proceedings a Quicky Acquittal.

    McConnell is attempting to heed Trump’s demands with a Slapdown-Of-A-Sham-Trial. One that denies House Managers the most relevant of witnesses. But I believe this strategy is a total miscalculation. And one should note that Donald Trump has a history of miscalculations. It was miscalculations on Trump’s part that led to the Mueller Probe and subsequent impeachment.

    The Impeachment Managers have already presented very serious charges complete with video clips of witnesses testimonies at pre-trial hearings. Republicans are delusional if they think these charges can be left dangling in the wind. Yet McConnell gives every indication he expects to do just that: ‘Leave the charges dangling in the wind’.

    Trump’s lawyers are responding to charges with a defense leveraged on indignation. One could call it the ‘How dare you!’ defense. “How dare you imply this president is anything but upstanding!”. This defense, like What Abouts, will only play to Trump’s base. But the majority of Americans will see it for what is: ‘An Avoidance Of The Truth’.

    The truth is these charges portray Trump as a cynical, borderline traitor. He was pressuring an aspiring NATO partner to assist his reelection campaign. Vital military aid, approved by Congress, was delayed until Trump was caught holding it up. That’s the truth: ‘Aid was held until Trump was caught sitting on the money”. These are the charges Trump has to answer.

    Therefore a Quicky Acquittal that ignores the charges will be viewed as naked arrogance by a majority of Americans. And no level of huffy indignation is going to dissipate that perception. Americans dont want any What Abouts regarding Bill Clinton or Fast And Furious. What Abouts cannot dissipate the perception of naked arrogance.

    So ‘yes’, Mr Sekulow, the Senate is on trial here. A Slapdown-Of-A-Sham-Trial leading to Quicky Acquittal is going to leave the Senate looking like a Gallery Of Stooges. It will never work!

    1. SO the facts and history and evidence don’t matter to those that blindly hate based on partisan politics? What difference would it make if the trial went according to the Democrats lies and he was still acquitted? Would the Democrats all of sudden apologize? The base elected Trump, and the base has broadened. His base will re-elect him.

  3. When it comes to pettifogging, Hellary is the queen of mean.
    So proud of Tulsi!

    Tulsi Gabbard Sues Hillary Clinton for Defamation over ‘Russian Asset’ Comments

    Tulsi Gabbard sued Hillary Clinton on Wednesday for defamation over the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate’s claim that the Hawaii congresswoman was a “Russian asset.”

    “With this action, Tulsi seeks to hold Clinton, and the political elites who enable her, accountable for distorting the truth in the middle of a critical Presidential election,” the suit explains. The move appears to be the next step after Gabbard’s lawyers demanded a retraction of Clinton’s “defamatory” comments in a November letter.

    Clinton made headlines in October after she called Gabbard “the favorite of the Russians” in an appearance on former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s podcast, and suggested she was being groomed as a potential third party candidate, despite Gabbard stating publicly she would not run a third-party campaign.

    While Clinton did not explicitly mention Gabbard’s name, her spokesman Nick Merrill said “if the nesting doll fits” when asked if the accusation was leveled at the Hawaii Congresswoman. After backlash, Merrill claimed that Clinton was referring to Republicans, not Russians, with the “grooming” comment.

    “Clinton had no basis for making her false assertions about Tulsi — and indeed, there is no factual basis for Clinton’s conspiracy theory. Clinton’s peddling of this theory has harmed Tulsi, has harmed American voters, and has harmed American democracy,” the lawsuit states.

    Following Clinton’s initial comments, Gabbard responded on Twitter by calling the former secretary of state “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long,” and challenged her to join the primary.

    https://www.nationalreview.com/news/tulsi-gabbard-sues-hillary-clinton-for-defamation-over-russian-asset-comments/

  4. I’m wondering at what point Chief Justice Roberts will be asked to rule on the admissibility of hearsay and other indirect testimony and evidence. Tossing that out, per federal rules of evidence, would streamline this farce.

    1. Cindy B.,
      These proceedings were boring enough without Roberts jumping in and discouraging “pettifogging”.
      The pettifogging and fireworks were about the only things that made watching this farce halfway interesting at times.

      1. Mr. Schulte,
        There are courtroom scenes in a Beverly Hillbillies episodes that are a riot.
        The Clampetts are being sued by a man and wife who caused a minor car accident, claiming that the Campetts caused the tap on the bumper and severe injuries to them.
        The Clampetts are a bit late returning after a court recess, and the judge warns them about being late.
        Granny scolds the judge, saying he shouldn’t talk about running late; “this is the second time today you done showed up in your nightclothes”.

    1. The name Eric Ciaramella should be published far and wide as a White House staffer openly discussing how to remove this President from office. This is on it’s face an egregious act that should never be permitted to happen. If he happens to be the whisteblower, well that just happens to gut any pretense that he was an apolitical actor merely exercising his 1st amendment rights with a colleague.

    2. “And Misko replied, ‘Yeah, we need to do everything we can to take out the president.’ “

      Now that’s believable dialogue. Ha.

  5. I simply welcome the return to 18th century standards and lexicon.

    That is very doable. We have exceeded the hedonistic, self-indulgence that ushered the demise of the Roman Empire, practices that were replaced by Christian foundational principles. These foundational principles were the bedrock of Western Civilization that gave us the US Constitution and our nation’s laws. Start there

    Church Fathers
    https://www.churchfathers.org/

    These great teachers, writers, pastors and theologians from 2nd to 7th Century AD set the tone for what you seek as to standards and lexicon. the standards that Chief Justice Roberts referenced came from Christendom.

  6. JT is a dishonest RNC shill posing as an objective observer.

    Witnesses in the Clinton hearings were a different matter as all had been interviewed or deposed before the hearings and there were thousands of documents surrendered by the WH and no dispute about the facts of tHe case. JTs throw away about Dems opposition to witnesses was based on politicization of inflammatory and salacious information, not covering up discovery of facts.

    Obama did not issue a blanket claim to legally ignore the Congress and he was not under an impeachment when he fought releasing more information in fast and furious. JT needs fact check the talking points he gets from McConnell.

    Senators voting to not hear witnesses and see documents are participating in.a cover up for political reasons and are failing their constitutional duties to the American people.

    Did I note that WH lawyers lied outright in front if the Chief Justice regarding access to witnesses in the House? They did and repeatedly.

    1. You beef-witted quockerwodger. Who seriously believes you have more gravitas than Turley?
      Go peddle your brabble somewhere else.

    2. Part of what you said is correct. Obama was not under impeachment when h fought releasing information in fast and furious. However, Trump was impeached for the same actions. If it was not impeachable for Obama (and it should not have been), it should not be impeachable for Trump either.
      I guess you did not follow the impeachment hearings. The WH lawyers were not given access to witnesses, and you should check your facts before you spread disinformation.

      1. Gerald, Obama replied in detail and citing specifics on his claim of executive privilege. Trump announced he was ignoring all congressional requests and that their hearings were unconstitutional. Further, the accusation of a cover up in this case was aimed at senators who are charged with holding a fair trial by the constitution. They have no executive privilege. JT knows this and is purposely misrepresenting what is happening.

        Cipilone multiple times said the Republicans had no access to witnesses when they were interviewed in secret. That is a bald face lie. All GOP congressman who were members of the committee had the same access as democratic members.

    3. “JT is a dishonest RNC shill posing as an objective observer.”
      *********************
      “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately … Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

      Ingrates are the worst!

    4. Shill for the RNC? Your lie is almost as breathtaking as the flood of lies by Democrats and the MSM starting the day of Trump’s inauguration.
      Wanna see some fast tap dancing? Put Joe and Hunter under oath.

  7. I thought Presidents counsel was quite constrained sitting there. There were times I could not watch the lying and the twisting of word. The two examples are the time he supposedly said. He was above the law. Trump did not say thst Scjiff took a snippet of something else he said. The big one though is the words on the phone call. .He never said I need a favor trom you. First. The Ukrain president brought it up. President said our contry has been through alot. Do us. Meaning people of America a favor. That interjecting. Do me is at best misleading. I dont know how those attorneys could listen to that all day. I could not.

  8. President’s counsel had every reason to respond to Nadler in such a manner. They were letting the American people know that House Managers were out of line and lies and accusations of coverup were unacceptable and more importantly, were untrue.

    These house managers have lied to the American people far too long. Let the Senate do their job and send Schiff and his band of liars home. At some point someone has to show boldness and courage to speak the truth. Heaven knows the House Managers have no idea that the words “truth, honesty and integrity” exist in the dictionary.

    Yes, the Senate is supposed to be the greatest deliberative body. If Chief Justice Robert’s’ believed that, then he should have REBUKED Nadler when he accused the Senators of an illegal coverup. Congress should have done their job

    The injustice playing before our eyes is an extremely sad chapter in our history as a nation.

    1. In my opinion, the House Managers (and Pelosi) are doing everything they can to exploit the situation. Finding every foothold or opening or unclear wording in the law and exploiting it, even by grandstanding and stating things as if they are facts when they are not. And a lot of the American people can’t tell the difference. I applaud the President’s team for putting these people back in their place. They are shredding the constitution, and they don’t give a damn. That should alarm us all. There is apparently NOTHING they would not do to prevail, legal or not. They are making a spectacle out of the Senate trial just as they did the House inquiry. STOP it.

  9. Personally, I was looking forward to Sekulow calling Nadler out for a duel in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

    1. Not fair. Nadler is a huge target, although not as big as before. You cannot reason with people who have no shame, which is derived from a lack of moral compass.

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