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House managers Representative Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California, from left, Representative Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat from the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Representative Madeleine Dean, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, leave the Senate floor after delivering the article of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate Chamber in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. Trump’s trial in the Senate will kick off today after the impeachment managers deliver their single article accusing him of inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol that left five people including a police officer dead. Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post/Bloomberg

For a week in February, our productivity plummeted as we sat transfixed, listening to arguments during the second impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. As Americans, we were watching history. As trial attorneys, we were watching something else: a future law school advocacy course on what to do and what not to do.

While the impeachment managers were persuasive, conservative and liberal pundits alike excoriated Trump’s team. Politics aside—and despite the outcome—the managers were just plain better. They convinced most of the Senate (including seven Republicans) to convict, making this the most bipartisan impeachment in history. According to a Feb. 15 ABC News/Ipsos Poll, nearly 60% of Americans believe Trump should have been impeached for inciting the Capitol attack, and three-quarters believed senators voted based on partisanship. Justsecurity.org tracked statements from senators who voted to acquit and found that over half believed the managers proved their case but based their vote on jurisdictional grounds (something the Senate had previously rejected by majority vote). If this were a high school debate competition, the managers won the persuasiveness ballot. But why?

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