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Impeachment case targets Marshal’s outrage over Capitol attack on Trump

“The story of the President’s actions is both fascinating and horrific,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and senior prosecutor, in an interview. “We believe every American should be aware of what happened – that the reason he was impeached by the House and the reason he should be sentenced and expelled from his future federal office is to ensure that such an attack on our democracy and our Constitution does not happen again. “

By making Mr. Trump the first US president to be twice impeached, Democrats have essentially given themselves an unprecedented overhaul. When Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, was preparing to prosecute Mr. Trump for the first time for a lobbying campaign on Ukraine, he read the 605-page account of the coverage of the impeachment trial. President Bill Clinton in 1999, sending as many assistants. 20 dispatches a day as he sought to modernize a procedure that had only taken place twice before.

This time, a new group of nine Democratic leaders only need to return for a year to study the lessons of Mr Schiff’s pursuit: don’t upset Republicans, use lots of videos and, most importantly, make succinct arguments. to avoid lulling the jury of lawmakers into boredom or distraction.

Lawyers for Mr. Trump have indicated that they again intend to mount a largely technical defense, saying the Senate “does not have the jurisdiction” to try a former president after he leaves because the Constitution does not. not say explicitly. While many legal scholars and a Senate majority disagree, Republicans have flocked to the argument en masse to justify dismissing the case without weighing on Mr. Trump’s conduct.

But lawyers Bruce L. Castor Jr. and David Schoen also plan to deny that Mr. Trump instigated violence or intended to interfere with Congressional formalization of Mr. Biden’s victory. , claiming that his baseless claims that the election was “stolen” are protected by the First Amendment. And Mr Castor told Fox News he too would rely on the video, possibly unrest in the cities Americans led by Democrats.

Managers will try to refute them with both constitutional arguments and an overwhelming body of evidence. Mr Raskin’s team spent dozens of hours putting together a wealth of crowd-captured videos, Mr Trump’s own unvarnished words, and the criminal pleas of rioters who said they acted at the behest of Mr. the former president.

Primary source material can replace live testimony. Trying to call new witnesses has been the subject of a long debate from leaders, whose evidentiary record has several loopholes that the White House or military officials could possibly fill. In the last trial, Democrats made an unsuccessful request for witnesses at the center of their case, but this time many party members say they are not needed to prove the charge and would simply cost Mr Biden a precious time to move your agenda forward without changing the outcome.

“It’s not that there shouldn’t be witnesses; these are just the practical realities of our situation with a former president, ”said Daniel S. Goldman, a former House attorney who worked on Mr. Trump’s first indictment. “This is also something we learned from the last trial: he is a political animal, and these witnesses are not going to move the needle.”

Mr. Raskin and other managers declined to discuss the strategy, but current and former officials familiar with the confidential preparations agreed to discuss it anonymously. The almost complete silence of prosecutors as the trial approached was another change from the strategy of Mr. Trump’s first indictment, when Democrats set up a large communications war room on Capitol Hill. and saturated the airwaves of cable television in an all-out battle against Mr. Trump in the court of public opinion.

They have largely left it to trusted allies like Mr Schiff and President Nancy Pelosi to discuss their case publicly and respond to criticism of why the House is insisting even now that Mr Trump is being removed from office. its functions.

“If we didn’t follow through on this, we might as well remove any sanction from the Constitution of impeachment – just remove it,” Pelosi told reporters who wondered why Democrats would spend so much time on the impeachment. Congress with a former president. .

Key questions about the scope and form of the trial remain unresolved. Senators spent the weekend haggling over the precise structure and rules of procedure, the first time in American history that a former president will be tried.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers for Mr. Trump expected to have at least 12 hours each to present their case. Mr Raskin, a former constitutional law professor, has trained his colleagues in daily meetings to aggressively refine their arguments, hang on to the narrative where possible, and integrate them with the visual aids they plan to ” display on Senate televisions and screens. Across the country.

Behind the scenes, Democrats rely on many of the same lawyers and assistants who helped put the 2020 case together, including Susanne Sachsman Grooms of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and Aaron Hiller, Arya Hariharan, Sarah Istel and Amy Rutkin of the Judicial Committee. . The Chamber also temporarily recalled Barry H. Berke, a seasoned New York defense attorney, to act as lead counsel and Joshua Matz, a constitutional expert.

Mr Schiff said his team attempted to produce an “HBO miniseries” containing snippets of testimony to bring to life the esoteric plot about Mr Trump’s lobbying campaign on Ukraine. Mr. Raskin may sound more like a blockbuster action movie.

“The more you document all of the tragic events leading up to that day, the president’s misconduct that day, and the president’s reaction to people being attacked that day, the harder and harder it is to a senator to hide behind these false constitutionalists. fig leaves, ”said Schiff, who informally advised managers.

To assemble the presentation, Mr. Raskin’s team turned to the same outside company that helped assemble Mr. Schiff’s multimedia display. But Mr. Raskin is working with much richer material to tell a months-long story of how he and his colleagues believe Mr. Trump sowed, rallied and provoked a crowd in an attempt to reverse his defeat.

There are clips and tweets from Mr. Trump from last summer warning that he would only lose if the election was “rigged” against him; clips and tweets of him claiming victory after losing; and clips and tweets from state officials coming to the White House as he sought to “stop the theft.” There is the audio of an appeal in which Mr. Trump pressured the Georgian Secretary of State to “find” the votes necessary to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory there; as well as presidential tweets and accounts from sympathetic lawmakers who say that once those efforts failed, Mr. Trump resolutely turned his attention to the January 6 congressional meeting for one final statement.

In the center are footage of Mr. Trump speaking outside the White House hours before the crowd passed police and stormed the Capitol building. Officials’ preliminary brief suggests they consider juxtaposing footage of Mr. Trump urging his supporters to ‘fight like hell’ and march to Capitol Hill and confront Congress with videos posted by members of the crowd who can be heard processing his words in real life. time.

“Even with this trial, where the senators themselves were witnesses, it is very important to tell the whole story,” said Mr. Schiff. “It’s not just one day; it is the conduct of a president who uses his office to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power.

But proximity could also create complications. Several people familiar with the preparations said leaders were reluctant to say anything that could involve Republican lawmakers who echoed or welcomed the president’s baseless allegations of electoral fraud. To have the slightest chance of presenting an effective case, the leaders believe, they must make it clear that it is Mr. Trump who is on trial, not his party.

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Alison Saar on turning outrage into art

Alison Saar likes to make sculptures of strong black women, standing: broad shoulders, wide posture, unshakeable in their convictions. She made a bronze monument to Harriet Tubman who presides over a traffic island at 122nd Street in Harlem. She created a small army of warrior-turned slave girls, inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s character, Topsy, for a major gallery show in Los Angeles. And now Ms. Saar, 64, has a new public sculpture on the Pomona College campus, commissioned by the Benton Museum of Art there: “Imbue,” a 12-foot-tall bronze evoking the goddess Yoruba Yemoja.

“Imbue” accompanies its largest museum investigation to date, “Of Aether and Earthe,” which will be held at two locations: the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, which plans to open its section in January; and the Benton, in Claremont, Calif., where its show is set up and ready to open when state coronavirus guidelines permit. Below are excerpts from a conversation with the artist about his new show and his ongoing obsessions.

Your new sculpture for Pomona shows Yemoja, the Yoruba goddess associated with childbirth and rivers, carrying a stack of heavy buckets on her head. What does Yemoja represent to you?

Yemoja comes back often to my work. I first discovered her when I was living in New York City in the 1990s, trying to struggle with being a young mother and having a career – it was like a real balancing act. . I did a piece then called “Cool Maman”, which balances pots and pans on her head, all in white enamel. I see Yemoja not only as an aid in terms of patience, poise, and child rearing, but also as a watery, invigorating spirit that feeds my creative process.

For your “Topsy turvyIn 2018 at LA Louver, you transformed Topsy, the enslaved character of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, into these fierce warriors. You even did a mixtape for the show, “Angry Songs for Angry Times”. How would you describe the source of your anger and was it difficult for you to channel or release it?

I’ve always wanted my work to not just be angry, but to point to a resolution or express some optimism. But it was more and more difficult to find something positive. After Obama was elected, we started seeing these horrible things bubbling up on social media – about growing watermelons in the White House or calling him and Michelle apes.

Since then, with Trump and the white supremacists, things have gotten even darker and more frightening. In “Topsy Turvy” the final piece was “Jubilee,” a figure cutting her hair and dancing, removing social chains and all the pain we carry. But it’s still a painful lump in my eyes. I practically stopped worrying about sending a positive message; I felt it was okay to express your anger.

These figures are provocative but tender; they are fine warriors. Do you think about this contradiction?

I think it’s always about balance, and it comes down to the character of Yemoja, balancing so much on her head. Much of my life has been a balance between anger and a sort of serenity, and that is reflected in my process as well. I start by thinking about things, dreaming about things, but the actual work involves chainsaws and hammers and knives and blades and a lot of bandages – I get cut a lot. The physical struggle with the materials is very aggressive.

You’re used to using salvaged materials, whether it’s painting on bags of seeds or carving with tin on the ceiling. When did you discover ceiling tin as a material and what does it bring you that you couldn’t get from more traditional mediums like stone or wood?

When I moved from Los Angeles to New York in the 1980s, I had a job at the Studio Museum of Harlem, working as a sort of registrar before becoming an artist in residence there. As I walked towards the museum, I saw all this amazing ceiling tin on the sidewalk of people renovating townhouses. I would drag him to my studio. For one thing, it was hiding the imperfections of the wood carving underneath – I was using wood from the dumpster that had holes and cracks. But it also created some kind of skin or armor. I loved the pattern because it reminded me of African scarification, which in some ways is an external biographer, telling us who you are married to or what group you belong to.

Your Benton show includes a disturbing sculpture, “Conked,” where a woman swallows her own long hair, made of wire. Guess the title refers to the old-fashioned hair straightening process?

Conking is a type of hair treatment where many really toxic ingredients strip the hair of what causes it to curl. In the beginning, one of the ingredients was laundry. While straightening her hair, this woman ate the “laundry” or “lie”, trying to separate from her African American body, and that is why I am showing her head separated from her body. I’ve done a lot of severed heads at one point – guess I’ve had anger in my job for a while.

Do you think it’s fair to say that a survey of your work is also a survey of the things black women do to their hair?

Yes [laughs]. I am a little obsessed with the hair. I think part of that is being biracial and very clear, to the point of being seen as white; my hair is the only thing that looks like a real connection to my African American ancestry. And a lot of my young life was spent with my mom in salons and through those hilarious hair straightening rituals with my cousins ​​in the kitchen.

You recently had a Black Lives Matter fundraising raffle called “Rise,” which shows a woman doing a mighty punch. Was there a particular source for your image?

I looked at a lot of pictures of women from the Black Panther movement with their Afros and their fists raised, then I contemporary the hairstyle to say that we are still fighting the same battle. I didn’t want it to be just one woman. I love Angela Davis, but there are many other women who go unrecognized, and I pay tribute to all of them. Some people see the Black Panthers as militant and scary. For me, women were very involved in education, free food, caring for the elderly, these amazing community practices that are always erased by the image of the guy holding the guns.

Printmaking is one of the most populist art forms, historically linked to ideas of accessibility and, sometimes, democracy. Do you see engraving as a political tool?

I never really thought my print was political, but rather populist, accessible and affordable. I love the story of the borders where people would print a poem and place the city with them, and I made a couple with poets.

You come from a family of artists. Your mother is Betye Saar. Your father, Richard Saar, was a curator and ceramicist. Your sister Lezley Saar is an artist. Have you ever considered doing something else for a living?

I really wanted to step out of the shadows of my mother’s reputation after high school. So when I was studying at Scripps, I worked with Dr Samella Lewis and was looking to become an art historian specializing in African diaspora and non-Western culture. I did a double major: fine arts and art history. I just think that in the end I felt better able to make art than write about it. It was more rewarding. It was something that I had been trained for all my life.