The Second Impeachment Trial Of President Donald J. Trump

Barely a week has passed since Republicans voted to acquit Donald J. Trump after his historic second impeachment — and on the somewhat flimsy basis that you couldn’t impeach or convict a former president, which, of course, you absolutely can — and already there is a massive Wikipedia page devoted to sifting through every small detail of the case. Why was Trump impeached a second time?

For months, he lied to constituents by claiming he had won the 2020 election and that Biden only claimed victory because of millions of illegal votes. Of course, he had said he would do exactly this before Election Day even occurred.

It was still surprising to some people when Trump’s frenzied followers marched on the Washington D.C. Capitol with clear intention to harm senators or even the vice president. Trump showed little remorse, and reports actually suggest he was happy to see his followers out in force. This has led to friction between him and the former vice president but, more importantly, it also led to a whirlwind impeachment.

Theoretically, the trial could have occurred before Trump left office, but Republican Senator Mitch McConnell nixed plans to call the Senate back from recess — and then famously voted to acquit based on the conditions he himself had created.

Interestingly, McConnell still had something to say: “President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office as an ordinary citizen. There’s no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it. The people that stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president… He didn’t get away with anything yet. Yet.”

Trump was asked to testify, but refused. The letter to the president also pointed out that presidents and former presidents had testified before — including Bill Clinton — and that there are no laws on the books to prevent this. Trump’s lawyers called the request a “public relations stunt.”

Five people ultimately died during the Capitol insurrection, including one police officer who was assaulted with a fire extinguisher, one rioter who was shot trying to reach the building, another who allegedly died of a heart attack after accidentally tazing himself in the testicles, and two more police officers who committed suicide following the day’s events. Trump might still be culpable for all of this, but Republicans still decided to acquit him of abusing his power while in office — which, legally, he’s been doing the entire time, potentially breaking dozens if not hundreds of laws.

Ultimately, 48 Democrats, two Independents, and seven Republicans voted to convict the former president. 43 Republicans voted not guilty. This was the expected outcome, but much of the country still watched in horror that someone so blatantly guilty of the outlined crimes could get away with them.

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The Crimes We Were All Obsessed With

There are big crimes, and then there are big crimes — the ones that society is obsessed with as opposed to the ones that really matter. You know the type: OJ Simpson and Aaron Hernandez, Casey Anthony and Nathaniel Kibby, and the list goes on and on. You won’t recognize every name on this list, of course, but that’s what makes it so fun. These were the “biggest” crimes committed in recent living memory.

An entire family vanished without a trace on February 4, 2010 — at least for three years, when the bodies of Joseph McStay, his wife, and their two children were discovered in the desert. Police charged Joseph’s business partner with their kidnappings and deaths.

Another couple were found murdered on March 6, 2015 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (a popular vacation destination for those living on the East Coast). It only took the police three days to track down Alexander Turner (the couple’s son) and his girlfriend to charge them with the fatalities. Alexander pleaded guilty. 

Have you ever heard of the Slender Man? Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser confessed to the police that they had stabbed their friend, 12-year-old Payton Leutner, nineteen times because they were worried about becoming the Slender Man’s next victim (and you can look up this legend with a simple Google search). Although the pair of stabbers was arrested, they were found not guilty because of mental impairment.

Ohhhh, Casey Anthony — what a saga, and may the gods help you if you experienced it through Nancy Grace’s somewhat biased eyes. It was Casey’s mother, Cindy, who first called the police to report that Casey had stolen her car and a few dollars on top of that. Later, she made another call when she admitted that Casey’s daughter was also missing. It was six months later when two-year-old Caylee’s remains were finally located near the home. It was a shock to many when Casey was eventually found “not guilty” of the murder.

The Salem Witch Trials

When we say the “biggest trials of the century,” keep in mind we didn’t say which century. Every generation of people have their own historical horror stories, and we like to unpack the most interesting ones. What could be more interesting than a literal witch hunt? We’ll discuss why witchcraft has always been on the mind of the Christian faith and what the unfortunate young women of Salem did to seal their fate.

What do you expect to see when you buy tickets to a magic show? More than likely, you know you’ll see masterful illusions and slight of hand. You don’t expect to see more fantastical instances of magic ripped straight from television shows like Game of Thrones. But early Christians believed in magic — and they believed that witches were responsible for conjuring the devil.

The Bible itself sows the seeds that would blossom into hate later. Deuteronomy 18:11-12 said that those who would “[cast] spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.” Another passage from Exodus says that those who partake in witchcraft should be put to death.

There are numerous other theories as to why the belief in witchcraft became so strong. Although the very belief in witchcraft was outlawed by Christian authorities in the Early Middle Ages, eventually things changed. They changed so much, in fact, that by the end of the Middle Ages and well into the next era, tens of thousands of people (mostly women) were accused of witchcraft or practicing magic, and sentenced to die. 

In 1692, several girls accused many local women of witchcraft — suggesting that because of these women, they had been possessed. The first cases were heard in June of that year, when the first woman was sentenced to die by hanging. Over one hundred people were accused of witchcraft in the following months, and at least 18 were tried and convicted and sentenced to die. 

Of course, like all things in the real world that seem too fantastical to be true, the hysteria was likely based on medical ignorance. Earlier the same year, 9-year-old Elizabeth Parris and 11-year-old Abigail Williams began showing strange symptoms. They would explode into fits and screams. A local doctor decided they had been bewitched. It wasn’t like they had a slip and fall attorney to argue on their behalf or suggest that perhaps they were pretending or should be diagnosed with some other strange disease.

Soon, other girls began to show the same symptoms. Many of these girls accused a slave, Tituba, an older woman named Sarah Osborn, and a homeless woman named Sarah Good of doing the deed.

Strangely, Tituba confessed to the inevitable interrogation. Historians believe it most likely that she wanted to avoid the end-of-life punishments usually doled out to witches by informing on others. Each subsequent batch of women involved a confession and informant, which is why so many were named. 

Surprisingly, those involved in putting forth the Salem Witch trials seemed genuinely appalled by their actions. Restitution was paid to the surviving family members by 1711. We haven’t even managed to pay restitution to African Americans for enslaving them for centuries, so maybe we could learn something! 

These Are The Weirdest Trials Ever

The United States is well known for strange, archaic state laws that were never stripped from the books. But we’re also known for our lack of tolerance — whether direct actions affect us or not. We’re also known for settling disputes by filing frivolous lawsuits for huge sums of money. Allegedly, anyway. Here are some of the strangest lawsuits that resulted in a jury trial. None of them resulted in criminal charges. 

Erasmus University in Rotterdam allegedly kicked out a student because of his smelly feet. According to the university’s lawyers, Teunis Tenbrook’s feet smelled so bad that staff couldn’t function at the extraordinarily high level expected of them. The suit took ten years to play out before a judge said that Rotterdam’s staff was not legally allowed to expel due to foot odor.

A D.C. judge brought a pair of pants to the local dry cleaner in 2005, but the dry cleaner accidentally sent them to a different location during the cleaning process. They were retrieved, but the judge refused to accept the clothing. Instead, he decided to sue the dry cleaner to the tune of $67 million by arguing that the owners had not delivered on their “satisfaction guaranteed” promise while potentially violating a consumer protection law. He lost the case and has not been reappointed to his position. 

Remember the TV show Dexter? One New York woman sued Showtime after she fell down the stairs after viewing the advertisement of actor Michael C. Hall wrapped in cellophane. Showtime’s representatives claimed that because the fall was not predictable (unlike hot coffee being hot), they were not responsible for what happened. They also contended that they were not morally or civilly obligated to provide protection from the advertisement. A judge ultimately dismissed the case. 

Magician David Roller claimed that David Copperfield had pilfered his patented divine abilities — but failed to prove in court that he had a patent or the divine abilities that might require such a patent. The case was dismissed after the suit was amended to claim that Copperfield had conspired to have him killed. Roller is no longer legally allowed to file lawsuits.

The Biggest Divorce Cases Of The Century

We all know the financial benefits of a strong marriage. But what about the financial destruction that can follow a rich person’s divorce? The higher you climb, the further you have to fall. This is true of anyone, but nowhere is it more apparent than in the biggest divorce cases of the century. Some of these people you will have heard about (primarily because they’re celebrities), while others will have managed to stay in relative obscurity (primarily because money allows you to disappear). 

French Billionaire Alec Wildenstein’s wife was awarded an awe-inspiring $2.5 billion in one lump sum — plus another $100 million annually for 13 years, totaling $3.8 billion for the entire divorce. Did you ever think that hating someone could be so lucrative? Wildenstein was on fire in the media because of the couple’s excessive spending habits. He like to breed racehorses and dealt in fine art.

When Rupert Murdoch divorce Anna Maria Torv, he didn’t wait long to remarry Wendi Deng. In fact, he only waited 17 days. When you know, you know — right? Murdoch and Deng split in 2013 after 13 years of marriage, and Deng received $1.8 billion after the settlement. Wow.

Speaking of Murdoch, he paid $1.7 billion to his second wife. They had been together for 32 years. Can you imagine being a divorce attorney Orlando and handling that kind of celebrity case? You could pop the champagne and retire the second the check cleared.

Bernie and Slavica Ecclestone called it quits to the tune of $1.2 billion in 2009. You might know Bernie as the CEO of Formula One racing. Or you might not. 

Adnan and Soraya Khashoggi divorced in 1974, when the $850 million Soraya received was worth even more. It took five years and one hell of a lawsuit for her to receive the check, though, because Adnan wasn’t about to part with his hard-earned (probably not) fortune willingly. By the way, Adnan was a renowned arms dealer from Saudi Arabia. 

Steve Wynn and Elaine Pascal have had somewhat of a whirlwind romance — more than once. They married in 1963, then divorced in 1986, then were remarried five years later, then divorced again in 2010. Elaine currently owns about half of Wynn Resorts company stock and has $740 million from the second divorce. Anyone want to take bets to see if they’ll have another go of it? Third time’s the charm!

Back in the 70s, a man named Craig McCaw built a company called McCaw Cellular. He divorced his wife Wendy Petrak after 24 years of marriage only to sell the company a few years later. When the divorce occurred, she received $460 million — a paltry sum compared to the $11 billion he received from the sale of McCaw. If only she had held out another couple of years!

Mel Gibson divorced his wife Robyn in 2006 and was forced to pay her $425 million — which was a nice even number because he had made $850 million. 

What Is The Longest Criminal Trial In The United States?

The United States guarantees defendants the right to a fair and speedy trial — on paper, but not always in practice. This is none more obvious than in the McMartin preschool trial, which resembled the hysteria of the Salem Witch trials in modern-day fashion. During the ‘80s and ‘90s, there was hysteria over possible Satanic ritual abuse (and this was long before QAnon even existed!). 

Just so you know we’re not joking, accusations included seeing witches fly, being abused by Chuck Norris, being abused in secret tunnels, or having been taken and abused in a hot-air balloon. There were allegations of car-wash orgies, being flushed down toilets, and a game called “naked movie star.”

These allegations were made against members of a Manhattan Beach family who operated their own preschool. A number of people were eventually charged with a combined hundreds of counts of abuse. 

But the “popularity” of the impending trial was how long it took, and how many resources were spent. The first accusations were made in 1983, but it took another year for the investigation to begin — and that took an additional four years. The trials took another three years after that until charges were dropped in 1990.

Part of the reason it took so long was the fact that the first trial was deadlocked. The judge had no choice but to move for a retrial, which itself resulted in another deadlock. All charges against those who had not been successfully prosecuted were therefore dropped. Ray Buckey had spent five years of his life in prison — but was never convicted.

Years later, one of the children who had made the whimsical allegations said: “Never did anyone do anything to me, and I never saw them doing anything. I said a lot of things that didn’t happen. I lied. … Anytime I would give them an answer that they didn’t like, they would ask again and encourage me to give them the answer they were looking for. … I felt uncomfortable and a little ashamed that I was being dishonest.”

One Of The Biggest Workplace Discrimination Cases Of The Decade

Workplace discrimination cases can be difficult to win. This is because most courts view them as likely frivolous lawsuits — and certainly nothing that would rise to the level of a criminal case. But imagine working for a state correctional system. Imagine enduring what you must from the prisoners themselves, but also systemic racism perpetrated by your colleagues. Imagine constant harassment and retaliation when you try to do something about it.

Do you have a case?

A jury court decided the answer was yes when they awarded Probation Officer Lisa Griffey a shocking $11.4 million after her claims were brought before the judge. 

According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (or the EEOC) workplace discrimination is not defined by “[p]etty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious).” It is defined by an environment that is “intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.” Only when the latter definition is met — and then proved in court — do you have a case. And that kind of behavior can be difficult to document. More than likely, the other party will vigorously dispute it.

In order to prevent this behavior, the EEOC urges all employers to clearly communicate legal obligations and workplace regulations. This includes: establishing a process through which employees can anonymously lodge complaints, providing effective training that meets legal standards, reviewing inappropriate behavior as soon as it arises, fostering confidence and trust in employees, and encouraging reports of inappropriate behavior. 

This type of process in the corrections facility might have prevented the massive jury verdict.  

Griffey described the workplace as one in which there was a “culture of racism.” She said she was routinely called racist slurs. When she tried to report the behavior, a “harassment counselor” made sure it went away. She then opted to transfer to a different office where the harassment continued in earnest. 

Because of the reports, Griffey’s husband was also subject to retaliation when someone made false charges against him. He was forced to retire. Because these allegations were apparently proved in court, both Griffey and her husband received separate awards from the jury.

This verdict represented one of the biggest payouts in a long time, but remember: this occurred in late 2019. While the behavior Griffey endured might seem like an occurrence from decades ago, it’s still happening all around the country.

Recently, the United States Department of Justice had lodged a formal lawsuit against Yale University, which it said made it nearly impossible for Caucasian and Asian-American students to enroll successfully. 

Colleges — especially Ivy League schools — have long used a system that allows easier enrollment for students whose parents also attended. They also factor in where a student grew up and life experiences, which are often reflected in college essays. It isn’t unusual because colleges try to foster a diverse environment for education. But the lawsuit against Yale was eventually dismissed. 

Now, the Asian American Coalition for Education would like to know why. They allege that the dismissal was without merit, and that restrictive policies like the aforementioned should be abolished to favor students with the greatest potential.

Biggest Crimes Of The Century? Trump Pardons All!

The investigation into President Donald Trump’s administration’s ties seems so long ago now — especially considering the administration’s scandals come about weekly — but it wasn’t so long ago that Robert Mueller and his colleagues arrested, charged, and prosecuted a number of individuals who failed to cooperate. Now, Trump seems intent on pardoning every single one. Officials associated with the investigation admitted that they expected Trump to do as much.

Michael Flynn is among the most notorious of those let off the hook so far. He was also the first big pardon. Flynn had been charged with obstruction of justice after lying to the FBI about backroom dealings with Russian diplomats. He pleaded guilty at first, then tried to withdraw the plea later.

George Papadopoulos served 14 days in federal prison for lying to the FBI, and was granted a full pardon. He was an important piece of Trump’s 2016 campaign and served as foreign policy adviser.

Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan collaborated with Paul Manafort on Ukraine, and was also charged with lying. He was allowed to go back to London after serving 30 days in federal prison. He was pardoned.

Speaking of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, he was one of the few prosecuted for more than just lying to the FBI (although he did that too). He was convicted for financial fraud. He was pardoned. 

Trump buddy Roger Stone was earlier granted clemency after serving part of his prison sentence for lying to the FBI. Trump later granted Stone a full pardon.

It has been long believed that Trump would pardon members of his own family, and that parade has commenced. His son-in-law’s father, Charles Kushner, was granted a pardon for 2004 charges related to tax evasion, witness tampering, and lying to the Federal Election Commission. His taxes had been filed after saying $6 million worth of political contributions were actually business expenses. Maybe he even saw them that way!

Will The Trial Of Joe Biden Become The Biggest Of The Century?

Mid-October was a tumultuous moment in the spotlight for both the Trump and Biden presidential campaigns. The New York Post — a sensational tabloid — dropped a piece on Biden’s supposed connection to the Burisma Ukraine scandal, to which the Trump administration has been trying and failing to connect Biden ever since impeachment rocked the White House. But those ideas were largely dismissed as absurd, conspiratorial nonsense. They were quickly debunked by members of Trump’s own administration.

But that certainly did not stop Fox News from asking why the host of Biden’s town hall-style meeting failed to ask about the Post’s allegations. Why ask a candidate about rumors that were never true? There was no information provided by the Post to indicate any veracity to its reports, and, as expected, the tabloid refused to provide the laptop and its supposed email treasure trove to forensics teams. 

Fox also lambasted the host of Trump’s town hall-style meeting for back and forth arguments — which the host used to separate fact from fiction. The facts are the facts, but for the most part every statement out of Trump’s mouth was fiction. Biden does not lie or misconstrue the truth nearly as often as Trump and his cronies, which is probably why his administration never caught the same heat as the Trump administration. 

These accusations were probably only aimed at accomplishing one thing: changing the corruption narrative plaguing President Trump to one plaguing Biden instead. They wanted Biden to spend more time on defense instead of promoting programs aimed at civil rights or environmental awareness during a hurricane season that has costed states many billions of dollars in hurricane damage claims. The number of named storms set records.

Although the accusations were not borne of truth, that didn’t stop the major networks from running away with them. Thankfully, fact-checkers quickly went to work.

During the same town hall, Trump repeated the false statement that the Obama administration had spied on his campaign and “got caught,” although those lies had already been debunked by federal investigations. Trump had previously said he was upset with United States Attorney General Bill Barr because he refused to indict Biden or Obama on charges — which, of course, he cannot do because there were no crimes committed. 

Trump also regurgitated lies about coronavirus, namely that it was almost behind us, that 85 percent of mask wearers get the virus, and that Dr. Anthony Fauci had said that Americans should not wear masks before reversing course — which, while true, removed the context. Fauci knew that there was a mask shortage and that, while effective, they would be more useful in the hands of healthcare providers. When the shortage ended, Fauci told Americans to buy masks.

Biden had previously said that he would not stand in the way of prosecution against Trump, although most legal scholars seemed to believe it could never happen. If Trump were to lose the election, surely he would resign so that Pence could pardon him for any crimes committed. We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but the outlook is grim on trials for Biden and Trump both.

 

Famous Crimes And Criminals You Never Heard About

How comfortable are you with your neighbors? Possibly more comfortable than you should be, if this list is anything to go by — because there are probably dozens of uncaught serial killers operating in the United States, or so our most trust authorities say. Even those criminals who were caught have a lot to teach us about the ones that might elude capture, both through their own stories and also by divining the truth from a pack of lies. 

Darren Deon Vann was caught and charged for murdering a prostitute in 2014. Most everyone thought that would be the end of his story, which is why the news never gained much traction. Since then, though, he confessed to at least six more murders. And he wasn’t just a serial killer — he also was charged and convicted for aggravated rape more than a decade ago. For his serial activities, he faces the death penalty. 

Remember when the remains of four unlucky victims were found near a Connecticut strip mall back in 2015? Or how about the three other bodies that were found in that exact same spot in 2007? William Devin Howell was caught and charged with the entire lot of murders. Howell was such a dark figure that he called his getaway 1985 Ford Econoline his murder mobile. He was given away by a cellmate after he was caught and charged for manslaughter back in 2007.

Salvatore Perrone murdered several ethnically Middle Eastern shopkeepers during business hours in Brooklyn. It was possible he was envious of their success, as his own business — and his marriage — had failed. The evidence against him was so powerful that a jury took barely a half-hour to convict him of the three counts of murder. He was nicknamed “Son of Sal” but we bet you’ve never heard of him!