The Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe Defense

Vince Rizzo
2 min readFeb 11, 2021

Just a quick observation of the impact of yesterday’s impeachment trial performances. The general impression by most-even most Republicans — is that the Trump team of lawyers was awful. They failed to defend the former president on their most powerful argument before their jurists — -that the whole proceedings were a sham because they were “unconstitutional.”

In order of appearance the firm of “dumber and dumb” blew it. First, they praised the arguments of their opponent, then, they gave up the fact that Trump lost the election — -words that are unutterable among the former president’s inner circle. The second lawyer, David Schoen, then mounted the argument that the Senate if they voted to remove the president (who they just admitted had already been removed by the voters) would disenfranchise the 70 million or so voters who actually voted for Trump. This tack, of course, serves up the opportunity today for the House managers to highlight the former president’s (I like to use that term, feels better every day) own attempts to disenfranchise voters in each of the so-called battleground states at the very same time that the Republican Secretary of State in Georgia announced an investigation into the very same charges. How rich!

Forgive me my cynicism, but does anyone else see this as an example of playing right into the Republicans’ dirty little hands? I can just hear Lindsey Lickspittle complain to Sean Hangioby (soft “g” as on Giada) that the former president should be exonerated due to “ineffective counsel” :

Ineffective assistance of counsel, or bad lawyering, constitutes a violation of a criminal defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel. In too many cases defendants retain or are burdened with attorneys who lack the time, experience, or professional responsibility to zealously represent their clients…

This would be a sixth amendment defense (to supplant their blown first amendment one) that the needed 34 Republican senators could latch on to in order to validate their vote not to convict the former president. The two tests for ineffective assistance of counsel were laid out in Strickland v. Washington (1984) which the accused required to prove their denial of rights under the Sixth Amendment:

1) Counsel’s performance was deficient; and

2) Had it not been for counsel’s deficient performance, the result of the trial or sentencing would have been different.

Now that’s a defense!

Originally published at



Vince Rizzo

Former president of the International Association of Laboratory Schools (IALS) and a founder of a charter school based on MI theory.