FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2021
Katyal got there first: There sometimes seems to be a rule at the New York Times. There sometimes seems to be a rule that the letters can't make any sense.
Sometimes, the letters do make sense. This morning, this snarky epistle didn't, despite its opening line:
To the Editor:
Let me get this straight.
The lies about the election being stolen plus his words that incited his followers to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6 have been publicly broadcast and quoted in print, and even many Republican members of Congress initially acknowledged that the former president bears some responsibility for the riot. But since according to decades-old policy a sitting president cannot be indicted, Donald Trump has faced no legal consequences for his role in the riot.
And now for the coming impeachment trial, his defense team is arguing that it is unconstitutional to impeach a former president, a position that many Senate Republicans are rushing to support as a way to let Mr. Trump escape any form of responsibility for what many would claim was domestic terrorism.
So it’s looking as if Donald Trump may get away scot-free. All this from the party of law and order?
"Let me get this straight," the writer says as he starts.
After that, he doesn't get it straight. In the end, his presentation doesn't make sense.
In fact, Trump's defense team seems to be arguing that it's unconstitutional to proceed with an impeachment trial after the president has left office. Many Senate Republicans are supporting this claim.
Of course, that wouldn't constitute "a way to let Mr. Trump escape any form of responsibility" for "his role in the riot." Duh! If the commander actually committed a crime with respect to the riot, he can be prosecuted for his conduct now that he's left office.
Despite its cheeky opening sentence, this letter doesn't make sense. We mention this only because we saw the exalted Neal Katyal offer a variant of this logical groaner first.
He did so on Monday night, ten minutes into Brian Williams' TV program. Thanks to the magic of On Demand, we just watched his presentation again. (The tape will disappear from our system as of midnight tonight.)
MSNBC seems to have returned to producing transcripts in some manner and to some degree. That said, we can't find a central location for its transcripts, and we can't find a transcript for Monday night's Williams show.
Also, we aren't willing to spend the next half hour transcribing what Katyal said. Know this, though:
What he said was manifest bullshit. Of course, this is how "cable news" currently works here in the streets of Our Town.
If Trump committed a crime with respect to the January 6 riot, he can be prosecuted for it. In the language of this morning's letter, he can "face [the appropriate] legal consequences for his role in the riot."
Given that obvious fact, the letter in this morning's Times doesn't make any sense. In fairness, neither did Katyal's clown-car performance on Monday night, which Brian and the others all loved.