Dear Sen. Warner,
I know the public documents, videotape, and proffered evidence at the former president’s trial yesterday was damning, but it hardly registered with half of our country. What would still register — miraculously, perhaps, at this late stage of our national unraveling — is courtroom testimony. Take the Constitution seriously concerning the court you have become. Call many, many witnesses; compile oral as well as documentary evidence, and argue from that. Subpoena rioters and police officers. Subpoena the former president’s former insiders. Subpoena “hearts and flowers” witnesses. Let the trial go on for months if necessary. Nothing else will make the nation understand that you are taking the events during and leading up to January 6 seriously, and nothing else will make it understand why.
Courtroom testimony and a through trial would, I think, slowly drive a wedge between the irreconcilable believers of the former president and the sensible but cowed members of his party. On the other hand, mere opening statements, closing arguments, and proffered facts from unnamed sources reported in newspapers that Republicans entirely discount — no matter how compelling you believe those proffers to be — are leaving you open to the justified claim that you have constituted yourselves into a kangaroo court.
Democratic officeholders often ridicule their Republican colleagues for their fearful adherence to the will of the former president’s base. However, calling witnesses may also upset many in your own base, who want much of President Biden’s agenda passed immediately. But nothing on President Biden’s agenda, as important as the first few weeks in office are to a new president, is worth the potential price of the republic.
Defend the republic the way the Constitution designed that defense for cases like the one at bar — by an actual trial, the more important of which sometimes take weeks and months. Real trials compel sworn testimony. Do your duty by the Constitution. Call many witnesses.