Trump enters the stage

Discussion of the recent unfolding of history.

Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby promethean75 » Wed Jan 08, 2020 6:33 pm

hmm. hey yo i wonder if the idiot did this to distract us all from the impeachment thing? think about it. attack iran > iran is obviously outgunned so will only shoot a few bottle rockets at some american bases to get revenge > trump becomes the hero in american protestant redneck backward working class conservative eyes.

i dunno though, i still don't think this will have any lasting advantage in forestalling the general political current that's moving toward socialism in the west, so i'm not really disappointed. aside from being a temporary distraction and fix for the mess that trump is in, it sure as shit doesn't make the middle east any more friendly toward the U.S., which is a good thing. 'course that idiot never cared about the U.S. in the first place, so even seeing in advance what might result in long term foreign relations with the middle east from that air strike, wouldn't be something to worry about. this asswipe's job is to play the bitch of industrial lobbyists and deep state special interest groups and put as much money as he can in his own pockets before he dies. and this will certainly work, because he'll be dead before western capitalism is eradicated. yeah ol' don trump's gonna get away clean i'm afraid. and ya'll sorry sonsabitches sat right there and let him, too. i don't know whether to laugh or laugh.
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby promethean75 » Wed Jan 08, 2020 9:44 pm

Hey alls I'm sayin is the U.S. has done it before....

"Iran Air Flight 655 was a scheduled passenger flight from Tehran to Dubai via Bandar Abbas, that was shot down on 3 July 1988 by an SM-2MR surface-to-air missile fired from USS Vincennes, a guided missile cruiser of the United States Navy."
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:51 am

promethean75 wrote:hmm. hey yo i wonder if the idiot did this to distract us all from the impeachment thing? think about it. attack iran > iran is obviously outgunned so will only shoot a few bottle rockets at some american bases to get revenge > trump becomes the hero in american protestant redneck backward working class conservative eyes.

i dunno though, i still don't think this will have any lasting advantage in forestalling the general political current that's moving toward socialism in the west, so i'm not really disappointed. aside from being a temporary distraction and fix for the mess that trump is in, it sure as shit doesn't make the middle east any more friendly toward the U.S., which is a good thing. 'course that idiot never cared about the U.S. in the first place, so even seeing in advance what might result in long term foreign relations with the middle east from that air strike, wouldn't be something to worry about. this asswipe's job is to play the bitch of industrial lobbyists and deep state special interest groups and put as much money as he can in his own pockets before he dies. and this will certainly work, because he'll be dead before western capitalism is eradicated. yeah ol' don trump's gonna get away clean i'm afraid. and ya'll sorry sonsabitches sat right there and let him, too. i don't know whether to laugh or laugh.




I've thought as well in more dramatic terms way back in this forum , .calling it ' war the dog '., as a way of distracting internal problems and pegging it to outside influences.

Clever, but not new, as You noted.

It appears Trump is a gambler, and makes policy the same way as he ran the Tump casino in Atlantic City.

Then deny failure by not paying the contract is working for him to try to limit over run expenses.

But again, another ingenuity: .he set this up, or was set up in terms of faux entertainment, politics, clowning folksy playing around, grandiose in a feel good way, a good guy to have around, etc

Meanwhile the proof is in the pudding, we are how we always thought of ourselves, robust, go getter Yankees No one can mess around with, he can withstand the lashings of all of the serpentine tongued socialist bums, ...

He is THE Man, for all seasons, with or without public sentiment, he is an idol by fiat, even the gods shine fortune upon his countenance, Bless America and for whom it stands, Trump.
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Thu Jan 09, 2020 9:13 pm

POLITICO

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‘I’ve never seen him like that’: Trump defends Iran briefing after GOP Sen. Lee lashes out



President Donald Trump. | Drew Angerer/Getty Image

President Donald Trump on Thursday defended senior administration officials from forceful criticism by Sen. Mike Lee, after the Utah Republican called their classified briefing on the killing of a top Iranian military commander “the worst” he had participated in during his tenure on Capitol Hill.

“I get along great with Mike Lee. I’ve never seen him like that,” Trump told reporters at a White House event, referring to Lee’s fiery remarks Wednesday following the congressional briefing — which featured Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and CIA Director Gina Haspel.



“I had calls from numerous senators and numerous congressmen and women saying it was the greatest presentation they’ve ever had,” the president claimed.

Sprinting across several morning television news programs to address Washington’s heightened tensions with Tehran, Vice President Mike Pence also pushed back against Lee’s complaints.

While Pence said he had “great respect” for Lee and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who joined with his GOP colleague in blasting the briefing, he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “the truth is both of them have voted against the military action that’s been taken by this administration in self-defense in Yemen and in the region, and we respectfully disagree with them.”

The briefing Wednesday focused primarily on Trump’s order last week to eliminate Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite paramilitary Quds Force, in an overnight U.S. drone strike near Baghdad’s international airport. That assault prompted a missile salvo from the Iranian military against two Iraqi air bases housing U.S. troops.



Although senior administration officials have claimed Soleimani’s removal from the battlefield prevented an imminent threat that could have endangered as many as hundreds of American lives in the region, congressional Democrats have evinced skepticism regarding the intelligence behind the strike.

Lee appeared to echo those concerns, branding Wednesday’s session “the worst briefing I’ve seen — at least on a military issue — in my nine years” in the Senate.

He fumed that the administration officials in attendance warned against even deliberating legislation to restrict Trump’s authority to attack Iran, knocking their statements as “un-American” and “unconstitutional.”

“They had to leave after 75 minutes while they’re in the process of telling us that we need to be good little boys and girls and run along and not debate this in public,” Lee said. “I find that absolutely insane.”



In an interview with NPR on Thursday, Lee sought to clarify that his anger “was not about the Soleimani killing” but was “instead about the possibility of future military action against Iran.”

“I want to be clear: With respect to the strike against Soleimani, that was arguably lawful. I still have questions that remain unanswered on that point. I’m going to set that aside a moment, and I’m going to assume for purposes of this discussion that that may well have been lawful,” Lee said.

“What I’m most concerned about is about where that goes from here,” he continued. “What comes next? Is there another strike coming against Iran? If so, at what point do they need to come to us seeking an authorization for the use of military force? The fact that they were unable or unwilling to identify any point at which that would be necessary yesterday was deeply distressing to me.”

The briefing has prompted both Lee and Paul to throw their support behind a resolution offered by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) aimed at forcing the president to halt military action against Iran if not authorized by Congress except in a case of an imminent threat. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also announced Wednesday that the chamber would vote Thursday to limit Trump’s war-making powers.

“Mike and Rand Paul disagreed because they want information that, honestly, I think is very hard to get. It’s OK if the military wants to give it, but they didn’t want to give it,” Trump said. “And it really had to do with sources and information that we had that really should remain at a very high level. Could we individually maybe give one or two of them some information? Possibly, if we can do that.”

On “Fox & Friends,” Pence praised Lee as a “great conservative and a great leader” and said the administration had “honest differences of opinion” with the two senators regarding U.S. policy in the Middle East.

“But let me assure your viewers, I was there every step of the way,” Pence said. “And while to protect sources and methods, we’re simply not able to share with every member of the House and Senate the intelligence that supported the president’s decision to take out Qassem Soleimani, I can assure your viewers that there was a threat of an imminent attack.”

Pence was also pressed Wednesday by NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie on “Today” as to why the administration briefers could not, in a secure setting in the Capitol, share with lawmakers the nature of the threat Soleimani posed.



“Well, some of that has to do with what’s called sources and methods, Savannah,” he responded. “That if we were to share all of the intelligence — and, in fact, some of the most compelling evidence that Qassem Soleimani was preparing an imminent attack against American forces and American personnel also represents some of the most sensitive intelligence that we have — it could compromise those sources and methods.”


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Re: Trump enters the stage. Senate

Postby Meno_ » Sat Jan 11, 2020 1:37 am

POLITICS NEWS

As Pelosi prepares to transfer impeachment articles, Trump signals he might block Bolton testimony

Trump said in an interview that he would "have to" invoke executive privilege to block John Bolton from testifying in the Senate trial.



Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) walks back to her office after leaving the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 10, 2020.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images


Jan. 10, 2020, 12:02 PM EST / Updated Jan. 10, 2020, 4:26 PM EST



House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a letter to Democratic lawmakers on Friday that she will consult with them Tuesday as she announced steps to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Pelosi's announcement comes as President Donald Trump says he'd block his former national security adviser from testifying in the Senate impeachment trial.

The speaker's letter suggested that the House could name its managers, who will act as the prosecutors for the Senate trial, and transmit the two articles of impeachment against the president as soon as next week. But Pelosi gave no specific indication of exactly when she intends to send the articles to the Senate, a step that is necessary for the trial to begin.

"I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate," she wrote. "I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting on how we proceed further."

"In an impeachment trial, every senator takes an oath to 'do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.' Every senator now faces a choice: to be loyal to the president or the Constitution," she continued.

This browser does not support the video element.

Asked Friday morning if she would submit the articles to the Senate next week, Pelosi would only tell reporters at the Capitol, "We’ll see.”

Trump, in a Fox News interview excerpt released Friday, called Pelosi's actions "ridiculous," adding: "She should have sent them a long time ago. It just belittles the process."

Trump added that he thinks he would "have to" invoke executive privilege to block his former national security adviser John Bolton from testifying in the Senate impeachment trial, saying it would be "for the sake of the office."

When asked by Fox News' Laura Ingraham why he would not let Bolton testify, Trump said, "I have no problem, other than one thing: You can't be in the White House as president — future, I'm talking about future, many future presidents — and have a security adviser, anybody having to do with security, and legal and other things. ..."

Asked if he would invoke executive privilege, Trump said, "Well, I think you have to, for the sake of the office."

Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday that he wouldn't mind a Senate deal on witnesses if it meant that his defense could also call people to testify who are of interest to Republicans. When asked whether he’d object to his former national security adviser testifying, Trump said it would be up to the Senate, but protecting executive privilege was critical.

The administration has tried to prevent several top officials from testifying in the House and Senate proceedings, frustrating Democrats who have called for their testimony. Bolton, a key figure in the impeachment saga who did not testify during the House inquiry, said earlier this week he would be willing to testify if subpoenaed by the Senate.

Fighting over process

In her letter to colleagues on Friday, Pelosi sharply criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for actions that she said show his partiality toward Trump. McConnell has said he has enough Republican votes in the Senate to move forward with his plan for the impeachment trial without the support of the Democrats demanding witness testimony. He has also said that he is working in coordination with the White House counsel in preparation for the trial.

"For weeks now, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has been engaged in tactics of delay in presenting transparency, disregard for the American people’s interest for a fair trial and dismissal of the facts," Pelosi said.

"Leader McConnell’s tactics are a clear indication of the fear that he and President Trump have regarding the facts of the president’s violations for which he was impeached," she added.

When asked at the Capitol about Pelosi saying she could send the articles, McConnell simply responded, "About time." He later told reporters, "We’ve been asking to get started for the last, how many weeks has it been now? And we’ll get about it as soon as we can."

The majority leader added, "Look, we’re just getting started," when asked whether he thought the trial would need to be wrapped up before Trump delivers his State of the Union address early next month. "I'm glad we now have the option to do it. And it’s been a long wait, I’m glad it’s over."

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement on Pelosi's announcement that his Democratic colleagues "are ready for the trial to begin and will do everything we can to see that the truth comes out.”

Building pressure

Pelosi’s announcement comes after several Democrats in the House and Senate publicly said this week that she should relent and send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, although some of those Democrats later walked back those statements.

For weeks, Democrats have been calling for the testimony of several top administration officials who they say had direct knowledge of Trump's efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, while withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to the country and a White House meeting for its president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The speaker told reporters Thursday that she would send the articles “when I’m ready” and explicitly said she wouldn’t hold them “indefinitely,” but pressure has been building on her from within her own party as well as from Republicans to transmit them.

McConnell added to that pressure when he said Thursday that he supports a resolution offered by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., that would allow for the dismissal of the articles if Pelosi decided not to send them over.

McConnell has said the first phase of the trial would include "arguments from the prosecution, arguments from the defense" and a "period of written questions" submitted by senators of both parties. The majority leader, however, did not say whether Republicans would agree to hearing witness testimony, although he has said he would want the trial to adhere to the precedent set during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999, in which the Senate decided later in the proceedings on whether to call witnesses.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the Senate president pro tempore and Finance Committee chairman, criticized Pelosi in a statement Friday for what he called her "pointless delay," saying the speaker threw Congress into "unnecessary chaos."

"From the beginning, it’s been unclear what the goal of this hurry-up-and-wait tactic was or what the country stood to gain," he said. "We now know the answer was nothing. We’ve had three needless weeks of uncertainty and confusion, causing even more division."

The trial will likely put the five Senate Democrats running for the Democratic presidential nomination at a disadvantage in the race, as they will need to be present for the trial to act effectively as jurors. The trial could begin ahead of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, both slated for early next month.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Trump for Noble prize for peace

Postby Meno_ » Sat Jan 11, 2020 1:39 am

BBC News
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Trump says he deserves Nobel Peace Prize not Abiy Ahmed
10 January 2020 Africa
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Image copyrightAFPDonald Trump
US President Donald Trump seems to think that he was overlooked for last year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Why, what did he say?
"I'm going to tell you about the Nobel Peace Prize, I'll tell you about that. I made a deal, I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country. I said: 'What, did I have something to do with it?' Yeah, but you know, that's the way it is. As long as we know, that's all that matters... I saved a big war, I've saved a couple of them."

A video clip of him talking to supporters at a campaign event in Toledo, Ohio, on Thursday evening was shared on Twitter:


Presentational white space
Who was he talking about?
Although he did not name the Nobel Peace Prize winner or the country, it is clear that Mr Trump was referring to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Mr Abiy, 43, is Africa's youngest head of government.

Image copyrightAFP
Image captionMr Abiy has been praised for introducing a series of reforms
He came into office in April 2018 after months of anti-government protests forced his predecessor to resign.

Mr Abiy has introduced massive liberalising reforms to Ethiopia, shaking up what was a tightly controlled nation.

He freed thousands of opposition activists from jail and allowed exiled dissidents to return home. He has also allowed the media to operate freely and appointed women to prominent positions.

And in October last year, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize - the only head of state to win the prize since Mr Trump was elected in 2016.

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Why did he win the Nobel Peace Prize?
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Mr Abiy was honoured for his "decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea".

The two countries fought a bitter border war from 1998-2000, which killed tens of thousands of people. Although a ceasefire was signed in 2000, the neighbours technically remained at war until July 2018, when Mr Abiy and Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki signed a peace deal. So for two decades, the long border was closed, dividing families and making trade impossible.

The Nobel Committee said it hoped the peace agreement would help to bring about positive change to the citizens of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Since the peace deal with Eritrea, Mr Abiy has also been involved in peace processes in other African countries, the committee said.

You may be interested in:

Has Abiy brought peace to East Africa?
Inside the mind of Abiy Ahmed
Bold reforms expose Ethiopia's ethnic divides
Mali president's ex-aide 'charged over anti-Trump tweets'
Did Trump help broker peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea?
Not really - the US's influence in the peace talks was minimal. The United Arab Emirates, which has a lot of influence in the Horn of Africa, was key in helping to bring the two parties together, says the BBC's former Ethiopia correspondent, Emmanuel Igunza.

Saudi Arabia also played a key role in helping end the dispute.

Video captionNear Zalambessa relatives who had not seen each other for more than two decades hugged and kissed
The peace deal helped bring back Eritrea from the cold after sanctions were imposed in 2009.

The UN Security Council lifted the sanctions in November 2018, four months after the peace deal was signed.

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Why did Trump make the comments now?
This is not clear, given that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded on 11 October last year, and Mr Abiy gave his acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway, on 10 December.

Interestingly, Mr Trump has not officially congratulated Mr Abiy but his daughter, Ivanka Trump, who serves as his senior adviser, and the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have done so.

However, Mr Trump has publicly said he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize for, among other things, his efforts to convince North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un to give up nuclear weapons.

More on this story
Ethiopia's Abiy Ahmed: Inside the mind of this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner
10 December 2019

Abiy Ahmed's reforms in Ethiopia lift the lid on ethnic tensions
29 June 2019

Nobel Peace Prize: Has Abiy brought peace to East Africa?
11 October 2019

Abiy Ahmed: Ethiopia's prime minister
11 October 2019

Ethiopia country profile
24 June 2019

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------------''---------------'''-------------'''- x. X.


New charges in Toledo





Another Insane Trump Rant, But This One Had a Revealing Moment
In the midst of apocalyptic Democrat-bashing, the president seemed to reveal this is all a routine.

BY JACK HOLMES JAN 10, 2020
President Donald Trump Holds "Keep America Great" Campaign Rally In Toledo, Ohio
BRITTANY GREESONGETTY IMAGES
At this point, thanks to the almighty curve on which we as a nation have decided to grade Donald Trump, American president, Thursday night's yell-fest in Toledo was just another Very Presidential Event. The world's most powerful man demonized his political opponents as enemies of the state because they want Congress to have some role in making less-and-less-theoretical war on Iran. He called members of the assembled press "sick," and again suggested the free press has no legitimate role in our democratic republic if it fails to support his version of reality. He again characterized Hispanic immigrants as violent criminals, MS-13 "animals" against whom any measures are presumably justified. He lied, and also threw out more evidence-free claims about imminent attacks that justified his assassination of Iran's second most important figure. He yelled, and not for the first time, that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has a "pencil neck." This is all considered normal.



But there was one moment that proved particularly revealing. In the course of these explosions of, uh, patriotism, El Jefe tends to drift on and off the script provided to him by his lackeys—chiefly, the Santa Monica Wormtongue Stephen Miller. In the course of one such drift last night, he railed against Democrats on-script and then jumped off to, for perhaps the first time in his life, reflect on what he's doing.

Let's just get a transcript here.

But they want to have open borders. they want to have sanctuary cities. The radical Democrats have never been more extreme than they are right now. They are stone-cold crazy. You know, it's interesting. As I'm saying this stuff, you know—they want crime, they want chaos—I'm saying all this stuff, and then I say, "Gee, now I sort of understand why they hate me, right?" [Chuckles.] But it's true. It's true. Their policies are a disaster. They're bad politicians, and they have horrible policies. But what they do, they stick together, and they're vicious. They're vicious, horrible people. I didn't use to say that. They're horrible people. What they do to people is a disgrace. But they stick together.
You might say he's just joking around, but the blasé way he recites the "stuff" he says about Democrats points to it being a kind of bit. It's a routine. Unlike Miller and unlike the people in the crowd, Donald Trump is no true believer. He's a vector for forces that long predate him, the fear and resentment of a changing world that has long blasted out of Fox News and talk radio. He knows what people want to hear and he says it. He thinks something will help him so he says it. Democrats? Sure, call 'em vicious and horrible crime-wanters.


It's times like these that you remember Donald Trump does not actually care about any of this stuff. He does not care about illegal immigration—he's employed undocumented immigrants at his properties and on construction projects. He does not care about these people in the crowd who support him so enthusiastically, one of whom he shouted out for booing the very mention of Central American countries. Everybody's a mark or an enemy. Do they love me, or do they not love me? The Democrats have chosen to oppose him, so now he'll say whatever's necessary to destroy them. Meanwhile, can you imagine what the Liberal Media would do if Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren called Republicans "vicious, horrible people" who want crime and chaos? The Washington Post fact-checker needles Sanders for intricate healthcare policy claims that...are true.

Is Trump's rapacious cynicism better or worse than being a true believer? I suppose we're about to find out. The run-up to the 2018 elections, where Trump himself was not even on the ballot, were incredibly ugly. Imagine what's about to come over the next 11 months.

JACK HOLMES Politics Editor
Jack Holmes is the Politics Editor at Esquire, where he writes daily and edits the Politics Blog with Charles P Pierce.


©2020 Hearst Magazine Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Evangelicals disunited

Postby Meno_ » Sat Jan 11, 2020 3:53 pm

Trump, 'prosperity gospel' sell false promises.
'Evangelicals for Trump' was an awful display by supposed citizens of the Kingdom of God
Trump mocked his enemies, trafficked in half-truths, instilled fear and expressed zero humility. My fellow evangelicals loved every minute of it.
JOHN FEA | OPINION CONTRIBUTOR | 21 minutes ago

I have spent my entire adult life in the evangelical community. I had a born-again experience when I was 16 and I never looked back. I currently teach history at a Christian college with evangelical roots. As a historian, I study American evangelicalism.


But I have never seen anything like what I witnessed last Friday night as I watched President Donald Trump speak to a few thousand of his evangelical supporters at El Rey Jesus, a largely Hispanic megachurch in Miami, during the kickoff to his “Evangelicals for Trump” campaign.

It is no coincidence that this rally took place two weeks after Christianity Today, the historic voice of moderate evangelicalism, called for Trump’s removal from office. The magazine’s editor, Mark Galli, described Trump’s character as “grossly immoral” and warned his fellow evangelicals that their ardent support of the president was damaging to their Christian witness.

While the “Evangelicals for Trump” campaign had been in the works for several weeks prior to Galli’s editorial, it is hard to see the decision to schedule the kickoff event for Jan. 3 as anything but damage control. Even the smallest crack in his evangelical support — especially in swing states like Florida — could result in a Trump loss in 2020.


One note that's music to evangelicals
Before Trump’s speech Friday night, several evangelical leaders laid their hands on the president and prayed for him. “Apostle” Guillermo Maldonado, the pastor of El Rey Jesus, prayed that Trump would fulfill his role as a new King Cyrus, the Old Testament Persian ruler who released the Jews from captivity and allowed them to rebuild Jerusalem.

Paula White, a preacher of the Prosperity Gospel (God blesses the faithful with financial and physical health), prayed against the demonic forces, presumably Democrats, trying to undermine Trump’s presidency.

"Evangelicals for Trump" event in Miami, on Jan. 3, 2020.
"Evangelicals for Trump" event in Miami, on Jan. 3, 2020.

As Trump took the podium, the evangelicals in attendance, many wearing pro-Trump clothing and “Make America Great Again” hats, began screaming “USA, USA, USA.” It was clear from the outset that this event would be no different from any other Trump rally. It didn’t matter that the room was filled with born-again Christians. Trump only knows how to sing one note, and it is music to the ears of his evangelical supporters.

Trump and the 'Prosperity Gospel': He's selling false promises to credulous evangelical Christians

Trump bragged about the crowd size, adding that there were “thousands of people” outside “trying to get in.” He called the “Evangelicals for Trump” movement the “greatest grass roots movement in American history.” He reminded everyone that he took the life of Qasem Soleimani. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” the Rolling Stones anthem that has become Trump’s theme song, blared over the church loudspeaker in Spanish when he finished his speech. Maybe “Onward Christian Soldiers” would have been more appropriate.


Trump painted himself as a president who is protecting American evangelicals from those on the political left who want to “punish” people of faith and “destroy religion in America.” One of the evangelical Christians in the audience screamed “Pocohontas,” a racist reference to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Trump was visibly pleased.

Trump the strongman was on display. Like autocratic leaders before him, he stirred fear among his people and offered them safety under his regime.

Cheering Trump's depraved words
At one point in his speech, Trump rattled off the names of the Fox News personalities who carry his water on cable television. The crowd roared as the president read this laundry list of conservative media pundits.

This rhetorical flourish was all very appropriate on such an occasion because Fox News, more than anything else, including the Bible and the spiritual disciplines, has formed and shaped the values of so many people in the sanctuary. Trump’s staff knows this. Why else would they put such a roll call in the speech?


At times, it seemed like Trump was putting a new spin on the heroes of the faith described in the New Testament book of Hebrews. Instead of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Joseph, Moses, David, and Samuel, we got Sean (Hannity), Laura (Ingraham), Tucker (Carlson), and the hosts of Fox and Friends.

Message to evangelicals: Impeachment is about Donald Trump. It's not an attack on you.

I am used to this kind of thing from Trump, but I was stunned when I witnessed evangelical Christians — those who identify with the “good news” of Jesus Christ —raising their hands in a posture of worship as Trump talked about socialism and gun rights.

I watched my fellow evangelicals rising to their feet and pumping their fists when Trump said he would win reelection in 2020.

Trump spent the evening mocking his enemies, trafficking in half-truths in order to instill fear in people whom God commands to “fear not,” and proving that he is incapable of expressing anything close to Christian humility.


His evangelical supporters loved every minute of it. On Friday night, Christians who claim to be citizens of the Kingdom of God went to church, cheered the depraved words of a president, and warmly embraced his offer of political power. Such a display by evangelicals is unprecedented in American history.

I usually get angry when members of my tribe worship at the feet of Trump. This time I just felt sad.

John Fea







© Copyright Gannett 2020
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Re: Trump enters the stage wag dog?

Postby Meno_ » Sat Jan 11, 2020 10:00 pm

Why Trump's changing Iran story is costing him support in Congress

Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN

Updated 11:22 AM EST, Sat January 11, 2020

 



(CNN)President Donald Trump's decision to kill a top Iranian general and risk a war without consulting lawmakers has prompted Republican griping, with even close Trump allies going on the record to rein in the President's power to escalate things further.

That's in part because, a full week after the airstrike that killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the White House has yet to offer a clear, consistent articulation of what "imminent" attack the US was trying to avoid -- and, in fact, top administration officials are offering conflicting justifications, raising key constitutional questions.



The House has its say on Iran

While Republicans have largely fallen in line on the question of whether Trump should be allowed to pressure a foreign country -- Ukraine -- to undermine his political rival, they are exerting a few flashes of independence from the White House when it comes to attacking Iran.

The President has made specific allegations about the necessity of killing Soleimani. His top aides have remained much more oblique, making it seem as if they are trying to cloud the record without contradicting their boss.

Of course, ignoring Congress and fighting over policy and funding with lawmakers has been a constant of Trump's presidency, even during his first two years, when Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate.

Those fights intensified when Democrats took control of the House a year ago, leading to a record-setting government shutdown in early 2019. Then, when Trump blew off questions about his pressure on Ukraine to investigate his political rivals and tried to squash a congressional investigation, House Democrats impeached him for it.

Trump's decision to kill an Iranian general and tempt war without consulting Congress was of a different order, and created a national security crisis that puts American lives at risk. And Congress, like the public, has been kept in the dark on some of the most important intelligence.

It's an important question because, if there was no imminent threat of danger to Americans, the killing veers from anti-terror operation to political assassination. The Constitution, which gives Congress the power to declare war, did not envision that sort of power.

Here's what the administration has said so far -- and why it matters.

Embassies targeted

Expanding on an already broad list of justifications for the killing, Trump said at a rally with supporters in Ohio on Thursday that Soleimani had been plotting to blow up the US Embassy in Iraq, along with other diplomatic locations.

"Soleimani was actively planning new attacks, and he was looking very seriously at our embassies, and not just the embassy in Baghdad," Trump said, adding, "but we stopped him, and we stopped him quickly, and we stopped him cold."

He added in a Fox News interview on Friday that four embassies had been targeted. But Trump is the only US official to make that specific allegation in that way. Others, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley, have been much more vague, promising they had the goods to justify "imminent" threat, but failing to say publicly what the intelligence was.

Lawmakers, however, said there was no mention of embassy targeting in their briefings this week.

"I listened very carefully. I definitely would have known if anyone said that. That is news to me," Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia told CNN's Ted Barrett.

A vague target 'in the region'

Pompeo, a former CIA director, had previously said that the exact timing or target of an attack was unknown.

"It was going to be against the United States of America, likely in the region. We can't say much more than that, but the American people should know there was an attack. It was in the planning stages, but we had seen Qasem Soleimani be able to deliver on this kind of plan before," he said in a Fox News appearance on Thursday.

Interviewer Laura Ingraham, on Friday, specifically asked if Soleimani wanted to blow up the US Embassy in Iraq. Pompeo didn't say yes, but mentioned previous protests that jeopardized the US Embassy.

"It was his forces that penetrated our embassy just a handful of days before that -- Kata'ib Hezbollah warriors orchestrated and directed by Qasem Soleimani himself. I don't think there's any doubt that Soleimani had intentions not only to take action against our forces, our diplomats in Iraq, but in other countries around the region and world as well."

Later Friday, Pompeo was pressed about the discrepancies.

The White House briefing room exchange, in which he maintains the "imminent" language and insists on the lack of specificity, is key. Here's how it reads:

Q: Can you clarify? Did you have specific information about an imminent threat, and did it have anything to do with our embassies?

POMPEO: We had specific information on an imminent threat, and those threats included attacks on US embassies. Period. Full stop.

Trump had a busy week even aside from Iran and impeachment. Here's what you missed.

Q: So you were mistaken when you said you didn't know precisely when and you didn't know precisely where?

POMPEO: Nope. Completely true. Those are completely consistent thoughts. I don't know exactly which minute. We don't know exactly which day it would've been executed. But it was very clear: Qasem Soleimani himself was plotting a broad, large-scale attack against American interests. And those attacks were imminent.

Q: Against an embassy?

POMPEO: Against American facilities, including American embassies, military bases. American facilities throughout the region.

Why Congress wasn't briefed

Vice President Mike Pence said lawmakers couldn't be trusted with the most sensitive information.

"Some of that has to do with what's called sources and methods," Pence said Thursday on NBC's "Today" show. "Some of the most compelling evidence that Qasem Soleimani was preparing an imminent attack against American forces and American personnel also represents some of the most sensitive intelligence that we have -- it could compromise those sources and methods."

Except that's not generally the way it's supposed to work. Congress is supposed to be in the loop. And not every member of Congress. Rather, just eight lawmakers -- the so-called Gang of 8 -- representing the top two lawmakers from each party in the House and Senate and four top leaders from the intelligence committees. The Trump administration has ignored this bipartisan notification with previous operations, too.

But the larger question for Congress is focused on the future, particularly if the situation reescalates. The last time Congress authorized the use of military force was in 2003, when it voted to let President George W. Bush invade Iraq. Actions against terror groups are conducted under the 2001 vote taken after the 9/11 terror attacks. Democrats, along with a few Republicans, voted in the House to restrict Trump's ability to act against Iran.

Certainly there are competing interests -- justifying the killing of an individual by the US government vs. protecting methods and sources of intelligence gathering. But Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey said he had attended the intelligence briefing for senators and left without any clarity.

"I think this is a case where one ultimately molds the intelligence that exist to fit what you want to do," Menendez said on MSNBC.

On Thursday, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a close Trump ally, voted in favor of a Democratic-written war powers resolution, saying it was because the "Trump movement is an anti-war movement."

"I think the President needs to see his allies animating his true beliefs and instincts," Gaetz said. "I think that it's actually harmful to the President if all of the Republicans look like the pro-war party."

What happens next?

Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, erupted after a briefing by administration national security officials specifically over this question of separation of powers.

"It was, instead, about the possibility of future military action against Iran," he told NPR. "And it was on that topic that they refused to make any commitment about when, whether and under what circumstances it would be necessary for the President, or the executive branch of government, to come to Congress seeking authorization for the use of military force."

But Lee and other Republicans raising the alarm about war powers are still in the minority in their party. Even for some Republicans who want to have a debate on war powers, now is not the time, because it could damage Trump.

"I absolutely think we need to have an honest debate on the war powers act," said Rep. Austin Scott, a Georgia Republican. "But it does not need to be specific to one country and it does not need to be done in the manner in which it was done." He said the debate should occur "when it's not seen as an attack against the President

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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Pedro I Rengel » Sat Jan 11, 2020 10:02 pm

"costing him support in congress."

That's rich.
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Sun Jan 12, 2020 6:00 pm

Pedro I Rengel wrote:"costing him support in congress."

That's rich.



Yeah, isn't it? Like the national security of the country was rather less important then his primary concern.

I think even Republicans must hate this guy, but their carreeres ride on their tailcoats.







--------- ------ -- -- -





The Guardian -


Trump impeachment
Impeachment: Trump fumes as Pelosi prepares to send articles to the Senate
President claims speaker is ‘absolute worst in US history’
How to dump Trump: Rick Wilson on Running Against the Devil

Whether or not Nancy Pelosi is the “absolute worst Speaker of the House in US history”, as Donald Trump insists, the Democrat said on Sunday her caucus will meet on Tuesday to decide when to transmit two articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial.

John Bolton impeachment testimony will be blocked, Donald Trump says
Preparations continue for a piece of pure Washington theatre. Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached, which makes Trump only the third president to face trial in the Senate, a process Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton survived.

The articles of impeachment were approved before Christmas but Pelosi delayed sending them to the Senate while Democrats sought to negotiate trial rules with Republicans who hold the upper chamber.

Democrats want former national security adviser John Bolton and other key Trump aides to appear as witnesses and new evidence to be presented. Bolton has said he will appear if served with a subpoena.

In an interview with Fox News broadcast on Friday night, Trump made clear that he would block such testimony, citing executive privilege.

Majority leader Mitch McConnell remains in lockstep with the White House, saying he has not ruled out new witnesses but emphasising that impeachment is a political rather than a judicial process and promising the case against Trump will quickly be dismissed.

Republicans have followed their leader, regardless of the oath they will take to be impartial jurors. Democratic hopes that moderates such as Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska might force the calling of witnesses seem to have been in vain.

“It’s about a fair trial,” Pelosi told ABC’s This Week on Sunday. “They take an oath to have a fair trial and we think that would be with witnesses and documentation. Now the ball is in their court to either do that or pay a price for not doing that.”

Pelosi said McConnell’s behaviour, including signing up to a resolution to dismiss the charges against Trump without a trial, was “vastly unusual”.

“Dismissing is a cover-up,” she said.

The case against Trump is that he abused his power, by seeking investigations in Ukraine regarding a conspiracy theory about election interference and alleged corruption involving former vice-president Joe Biden, and then obstructed Congress in its attempts to investigate the affair.

In House hearings, witnesses detailed the withholding of nearly $400m in military aid as well as promises of a White House meeting for Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelinskiy. Bolton, who sought a judge’s opinion on whether he should testify, thereby delaying a decision until the articles were approved, emerged as a key figure.

For example, Fiona Hill, a British-born former White House expert on Russia policy, explained how Bolton called efforts towards the Kyiv government by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others a “drug deal” in which he wanted no part.

Even if Republicans do allow new witnesses and documentation, a two-thirds majority of 100 senators would be required to remove Trump – a vastly unlikely outcome.

But leading Democrats, among them Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and Adam Schiff, chairman of the House intelligence committee, have pointed to the emergence of new reporting on the Ukraine scandal as a benefit of Pelosi’s delay.

Pelosi told ABC: “We have confidence in our case that this is impeachable and the president is impeached for life, regardless of any gamesmanship on the part of Mitch McConnell. We’re confident in the impeachment and we think that’s enough testimony to remove [Trump] from office.”

On Saturday, Trump claimed “new polling shows that the totally partisan Impeachment Hoax is going nowhere”. In fact, most polling shows the US public split.

On Saturday a CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll of Iowa voters, released ahead of the caucuses which kick-off the Democratic primary on 3 February, said 45% of voters in the state, of either party, disapproved of the process while 43% approved. Nationally, polls site fivethirtyeight.com puts support for removing Trump at 50.2%, to 46.2% against.

Trump spent the weekend presenting his aggressive moves against Iran as a contrast to alleged Democratic inaction domestically. Pelosi “is obsessed with impeachment”, he told Fox News host Laura Ingraham. “She has done nothing. She is going to go down as one of the worst speakers in the history of our country. And she’s become a crazed lunatic.”

On Sunday, Trump demanded ABC host George Stephanopoulos “ask Crazy Nancy why she allowed Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff to totally make up my conversation with the Ukrainian President & read his false words to Congress and the world”.

That was a reference to a summary Schiff made at a congressional hearing of a 25 July phone call between Trump and Zelinskiy which sits at the heart of Trump’s impeachment.

Why is Pelosi waiting to send Trump articles of impeachment to the Senate?
The president and allies have sought to portray an attempt to misrepresent Trump’s words. Opponents say the rough White House version of the call shows Trump engaged in impeachable behaviour.

Asked about Trump’s personal attacks, Pelosi told ABC: “It’s Sunday morning. I’d like to talk about some more pleasant subjects than the erratic nature of this president ... but he has to know that every knock from him is a boost.”

She added: “I don’t like to spend too much time on his crazy tweets, because everything he says is a projection. When he calls someone crazy, he knows that he is.”



© 2020 Guardian News & Media
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Re: Trump enters the stage. Ins and outs of the Senate

Postby Meno_ » Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:09 pm

POLITICO

CONGRESS

How Schumer might get the last laugh on impeachment trial

Democrats plan to squeeze vulnerable Republicans with a series of tough votes that could hurt them in November.



Support for obtaining new documents at President Donald Trump's impeachment trial is “even stronger than we thought," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

By BURGESS EVERETT and MARIANNE LEVINE

01/13/2020 05:10 AM EST

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Chuck Schumer lost the first impeachment trial battle to Mitch McConnell. But the Democratic leader and his party insist they can still win the war.

While Senate Majority Leader McConnell has locked up enough Republican votes to ignore demands for a bipartisan framework for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, his Democratic counterpart is readying a counteroffensive. Schumer will force a series of votes designed to squeeze vulnerable Republicans and harm them on the campaign trail if they side with Trump.

Story Continued Below

Democrats argue the half-dozen at-risk GOP senators will need some daylight between them and Trump to get reelected. And if they vote against Schumer’s motions to hear new evidence and witness testimony, they’ll be seen as Trump sycophants — undermining their bids and boosting Schumer’s odds of becoming majority leader.

Support for obtaining new documents at the trial is “even stronger than we thought, with large numbers of Republicans supporting it,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in an interview. “And when you go against what the American people feel strongly about, on an issue they’re paying attention to, it’s not a good idea.”

Public surveys in key swing states back up Democrats’ claims.

Polling from Hart Research found that 63 percent of voters in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina would react unfavorably if their senator voted against calling witnesses or subpoenaing documents during the Senate impeachment trial. Another poll from Morning Consult found 57 percent of voters believe the Senate should call additional witnesses. That includes 71 percent of Democrats, 56 percent of independents and 40 percent of Republicans.

Story Continued Below

Given Trump’s fast-paced presidency, there’s no guarantee impeachment is the top issue for voters in November.

But Maine moderate GOP Sen. Susan Collins is already moving to blunt Schumer’s tactics, which she has complained about bitterly. She says she’s working with a handful of Republicans to keep a pathway open for witnesses, flashing some independence from Trump and McConnell.

“I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement on how to proceed with the trial that will allow the opportunity for witnesses for both the House managers and the president’s counsel if they choose,” Collins said in a statement for this story. “It is unfortunate that Chuck Schumer — who voted against witnesses in the Clinton trial and prejudged its outcome — and his allies are seeking to politicize this process.”

Trump national security adviser John Bolton’s offer to testify gives some momentum to Democrats' calls for witnesses and documents about the White House’s decision to withhold aid to Ukraine. Democrats also want to hear from acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey, and Mulvaney adviser Robert Blair.

Story Continued Below

“If the Republicans ram through process that ultimately leads to no witnesses, I think they do it at their own peril,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a former chairman of the party’s campaign arm. “Some of these members: They have an audience of one. But I think they forgot that there’s a broader audience that they’re going to have to face at election time.”

Republicans say Schumer has the politics all wrong, and that they are merely following the precedent of President Bill Clinton’s trial. That means starting the trial and deciding on witnesses later. However, Clinton impeachment investigators in 1999 did not face the same level of stonewalling the House has faced to date from Trump and Senate Republicans and eventually sought testimony from key witnesses.

So now that Schumer’s proposal has been rejected, Republicans merely see an effort to save face.

“He can create that narrative, I’m not the least bit worried about it,” said endangered Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). “Sounds like he’s trying to make lemonade out of lemons.”

“Everybody believes Sen. Schumer’s going to play a game with impeachment to try and get back the Senate,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is also up for reelection. “He wakes up every day trying to be the majority leader.”

Yet concentrating on process may also be good politics for Democrats.

“It’s a popular issue across America. I’ve not heard any blowback from it. Why wouldn’t someone want to hear from witnesses with firsthand information?” asked Doug Jones of Alabama, the most vulnerable Democratic senator facing reelection. He said not a single constituent “has said that’s an unreasonable position.”

Crossing Trump and being seen as following Schumer’s marching orders would court disaster for most GOP senators, who can’t afford to alienate their party’s conservative base. And Democrats are eager try to capitalize on Republican votes against new evidence in the impeachment trial.

Story Continued Below

And given slim hopes of most major legislation getting passed in the Senate this year, the impeachment votes may be some of the most high-profile roll calls taken by senators this year.

“The procedural votes may be more important than the vote on removal or acquittal. Because what will matter more to voters than where a senator lands is how he or she got there,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster for Hart Research. “So if Susan Collins or any of the other Republicans vote for acquittal and the takeaway for voters is this is a political or partisan vote on an important issue, that will have a long lasting impact.”



---------------------------------------'------





Close, oh close to wag the dog it almost barks at you.




MSNBC

The Rachel Maddow Show / The MaddowBlog



 

SAUL LOEB

Report further connects Trump's impeachment fears, airstrike

01/13/20 09:20AM — UPDATED 01/13/20 09:36AM






The official White House explanation for the airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani -- or more accurately, explanations -- can no longer be taken seriously. Donald Trump and his team have changed direction several times, in meandering and contradictory ways, to the point that their rhetoric on the subject is literally unbelievable.

But the point of the scrutiny is not to document the latest in an endless stream of presidential lies. It's also not some elaborate "gotcha" exercise. What's important here is coming to terms with why in the world the American president risked a war on Jan. 3, and whether Trump put his political interests above our national security interests with his decision.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that in the wake of the airstrike, the president "told associates he was under pressure to deal with Gen. Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate." Over the weekend, the New York Times reported something similar:

He told some associates that he wanted to preserve the support of Republican hawks in the Senate in the coming impeachment trial, naming Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas as an example, even though they had not spoken about Iran since before Christmas.

This is, of course, exactly the kind of scenario that shouldn't happen. When a Commander in Chief is making a life-and-death decision, which risks not only a war but further destabilizing the Middle East, he shouldn't be thinking about how his directive might help his impeachment trial defense.

Indeed, as we discussed last week, it adds an ironic twist to the circumstances: Trump was impeached in part for putting his political interests above our national security interests. If the latest reporting is correct, it led him to make another decision that put his political interests above our national security interests.

That may well serve as the basis for yet another White House scandal, which Team Trump is unprepared to respond to, since it seems incapable of offering a consistent, honest, and straightforward answer to the most basic of questions: why exactly did the president authorize this airstrike?

The more Trump and his team struggle with this, the easier it is to believe the president risked a war because he's worried about his impeachment crisis.



©2020 NBC UNIVERSAL
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Tue Jan 14, 2020 11:13 pm

ABCNews

Trump calls for 'outright dismissal' but GOP senator says there aren't enough votes

By Mariam KhanJan 13, 2020, 8:23 PM ET





Senate Republicans are downplaying President Donald Trump's weekend tweet calling for an "outright dismissal" of the charges against him.

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of Senate leadership, told reporters on Monday that the Senate Republican caucus simply doesn't have the votes.



Sen. Roy Blunt arrives for a briefing on developments with Iran at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 8, 2020.

"The argument for an argument to dismiss is: there was one in the Clinton rules," Blunt said, referring to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. "But I think I'm safe in saying there's almost no interest in motion to dismiss, certainly there aren't 51 votes for a motion to dismiss."

Over the weekend, Trump argued that a trial would give Democrats a "credibility that it otherwise does not have" and urged Republicans to dismiss the charges against him.

President Donald Trump talks to reporters before departing from the South Lawn of the White House, Jan. 13, 2020.

"Many believe that by the Senate giving credence to a trial based on the no evidence, no crime, read the transcripts, 'no pressure' Impeachment Hoax, rather than an outright dismissal, it gives the partisan Democrat Witch Hunt credibility that it otherwise does not have," Trump tweeted. "I agree!"

But Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have said that dismissing the articles of impeachment against Trump is not a likely scenario. Instead, they have endorsed a vote of acquittal, believing it sends a stronger message.

Several Republican senators are now debating whether or not a "motion to dismiss" should even be included in the rules resolution McConnell is currently drafting, which will determine the procedure senators will abide by during Trump's impeachment trial. During Clinton's trial, the rules resolution included a motion to dismiss, but it ultimately failed.

"Our members, generally, are not interested in a motion to dismiss. They think both sides need to be heard. They believe the president needs to be heard, for the first time, in a fair setting," Blunt said.

Other Republican senators concur.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told reporters on Monday, "I would vote against a motion to dismiss immediately. Absolutely."

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said, "I will not be supporting a motion to dismiss."

Other senators, while they're not commenting on how they'd vote on a motion to dismiss, have said multiple times now that they want a fair trial that allows for the House impeachment managers and Trump's legal team to make their case before the Senate chamber and the American people.

A reporter asks questions as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) leaves the Senate floor and walks to his office at the Capitol, Jan. 8, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

According to several senators, McConnell is finalizing the rules resolution by early this week, and it's likely he will release the rules resolution once the articles of impeachment have been transmitted to the Senate.

On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the House would vote on a resolution this week to name impeachment managers, a move that would trigger the delivery of impeachment articles to the Senate. She's meeting with her caucus on Tuesday morning to take the temperature of her colleagues before making a final determination on the timing to formally send the articles.

© 2020 ABC News Internet Ventures. All rights reserved.
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Re: Trump enters the stage new evidence?

Postby Meno_ » Wed Jan 15, 2020 5:52 pm

BBC News

menu

Trump impeachment: Democrats announce new evidence ahead of vote

 15 January 2020

 

US & Canada

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Image copyrightREUTERS

Image captionUkrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas is an associate of President Trump's personal lawyer

Democrats in the US House of Representatives have unveiled new evidence as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, they released a trove of documents relating to the allegation that Mr Trump put pressure on Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

The president denies the allegation and has branded the inquiry a "witch hunt".

The new materials include text messages that suggest the former US ambassador to Ukraine was put under surveillance.

They were obtained from the Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas, an associate of Mr Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Senior Democrats said they would send the documents to the Senate alongside the formal articles of impeachment.

The House will vote on Wednesday on whether to send these articles to the Senate. As Democrats control the House, this vote is expected to pass meaning the impeachment trial can begin in earnest next week.


Mr Trump was impeached by the House last month, on accusations of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He denies trying to pressure Ukraine to open an investigation into his would-be Democratic White House challenger Joe Biden.

What is the new evidence?

The materials include letters, phone records, notes and flash drives from Mr Parnas, who was born in Ukraine and is a close associate of Mr Giuliani.

They were made available to investigators earlier this week and then sent to the House Judiciary Committee

Image captionRudy Giuliani has been central in pushing the suggestion that the Bidens were involved in wrongdoing in Ukraine

The documents show that Mr Parnas was in regular contact with Mr Giuliani as well as Ukrainian officials.

One handwritten note from Mr Parnas, who was indicted last year on conspiracy charges, mentions asking Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate "the Biden case".

Also among the new materials is a screenshot of a previously undisclosed letter from Mr Giuliani to Mr Zelensky, in which he asks to arrange a meeting.

Some of the materials show Mr Parnas and Mr Giuliani discussing the removal of then US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Ms Yovanovitch was recalled from Ukraine for reasons that remain unclear. Last year, she testified that she was fired over "false claims" by people with "questionable motives".

Several text messages also appear to suggest that the former US envoy was placed under surveillance.

Mr Parnas was given updates on the ambassador's location and mobile phone use by a man named Robert F. Hyde. Mr Hyde is a Republican Congressional candidate in Connecticut and Trump campaign donor.

"She's talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off," one message reads. "They will let me know when she's on the move," another says.

Ms Yovanovitch has called for an investigation into the messages. "The notion that American citizens and others were monitoring [her] movements... is disturbing," her lawyer said.

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These documents "demonstrate that there is more evidence relevant to the president's scheme, but they have been concealed", Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Tuesday.

What will happen next?

If the House votes to send the articles of impeachment and this new evidence to the Senate, then the trial will probably begin on Tuesday.

Video captionA beginner's guide to impeachment and Trump

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will be sworn in to preside, and he will administer an oath to all 100 senators to deliver "impartial justice" as jurors.

Lawmakers may hear opening arguments next week. The House managers will set out their case against Mr Trump, and the president's legal team will respond.

The trial is expected to last up to five weeks, with the Senate taking only Sundays off.

The White House said on Tuesday the president was "not afraid of a fight" in his trial.

Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said Mr Trump was in fact eager for witnesses to testify that "this man did nothing wrong".

The impeachment trial will be only the third ever of a US president. But as Mr Trump's Republicans control the Senate 53-47, he is all but certain to be acquitted as a two-thirds majority is required to convict


House to vote on sending Trump impeachment articles to Senate



Trump impeachment and a US state divided



Copyright © 2020 BBC.
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Re: Trump enters the stage Ron Paul

Postby Meno_ » Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:14 am

POLITICO

CONGRESS

Rand Paul threatens fellow Republicans with explosive witness votes

The Kentucky senator is vowing to squeeze vulnerable GOP incumbents if they side with Democrats during Trump's impeachment trial.



“If you vote against Hunter Biden, you’re voting to lose your election, basically. Seriously. That’s what it is,” Sen. Rand Paul said. | M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO

Sen. Rand Paul is waging a fierce campaign to prevent the Senate from hearing witnesses in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, vowing to force tough votes on his fellow Republicans if they break with the president or back Democrats' demands for new evidence.

The Kentucky Republican is occasionally at odds with Trump, from his killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani to his national emergency to build his southern border wall. But when it comes to impeachment, Paul is taking the hardest line possible in Trump’s favor.



Paul says if four or more of his GOP colleagues join with Democrats to entertain new witness testimony, he will make the Senate vote on subpoenaing the president’s preferred witnesses, including Hunter Biden and the whistleblower who revealed the Ukraine scandal — polarizing picks who moderate Republicans aren’t eager to call. So he has a simple message for his party: end the trial before witnesses are called.

“If you vote against Hunter Biden, you’re voting to lose your election, basically. Seriously. That’s what it is,” Paul said during an interview in his office on Wednesday. “If you don’t want to vote and you think you’re going to have to vote against Hunter Biden, you should just vote against witnesses, period.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has warned Republicans not to divide the party and endanger his slim GOP majority, but Paul’s play could be useful to him. If the pressure campaign stifles the small group of Republicans open to hearing from witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton, McConnell will be able to conclude the trial in the swift fashion he’s long sought.

But if a majority of the Senate agrees to hear witnesses, Paul is ready to go all out to make sure everyone in the Senate is on the record about whether they stand with Trump.



“My first preference would be to be done with it as soon as possible and not to have any witnesses,” Paul said. “If they insist on having people like Bolton coming forward, my insistence will be not just one witness. But that the president should be able to call any witnesses that he deems necessary to his defense.”

Paul’s threat is backed up by real power under the process envisioned by McConnell and allowed for under Senate rules.



Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

After hearing opening arguments and questioning from House impeachment managers and the White House counsel, the Senate is expected to take a vote on whether to consider the witness issue at all, according to senators familiar with McConnell’s plans. If the Senate agrees to hear witnesses, every senator will have the chance to force a motion seeking testimony.

An initial vote to consider witnesses has been sought by GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. If it fails, the trial is likely to head to closing arguments. The question of witnesses might mimic the motion to dismiss impeachment that was considered and rebuffed during former President Bill Clinton’s Senate trial.



Both Collins and Murkowski said on Wednesday they aren’t advocating for specific witnesses but simply want to retain the right to hear more evidence during the trial. Collins even said she agrees with Paul’s view on witness parity.

“If he’s saying that both sides should have an opportunity, I agree with that, to call witnesses. We’ll make the call on which ones. But it isn’t fair to just let one side call witnesses,” she said.

But asked about Paul’s contention that she and other Republicans risk a collapse in support from the GOP base if they side with Democrats on procedural votes, she demurred: “You know, it’s not my focus. My focus is to be fair. And to have a dignified trial.”

Paul is perhaps the most aggressive user of Senate procedure to get his way, forcing votes on budget-cutting amendments on spending bills; briefly shuttering the Patriot Act; and even forcing his a brief government shutdown in 2018. And he often draws significant blowback from his party for his tactics.

But this time around, Paul is acting as his own version of a team player. He’s not going to offer a motion to immediately dismiss the trial despite pressure from Trump’s allies to do so. He’s even talking about party unity — even though he’s usually the most likely Republican to deviate from McConnell’s line.

“Sometimes it’s good to have people unified. ... I’m for immediate dismissal, but I know it’s not just four [senators]. There might be 10 that are against immediate dismissal. It’ll just be a vote that fails,” Paul said. “When it’s something that we’re trying to stay together and there is the other team trying to attack our leader, I think it behooves us to have as much unanimity as we can.”

Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are arguing that Republicans are in danger of giving Minority Leader Chuck Schumer the witnesses he wants by even considering a debate over new testimony. And that has Paul in the good graces of senior Republicans who have spent years dealing with his parliamentary antics.

“He’s just showing he’s not going to go quietly. If there’s some witnesses allowed, he wants to make sure there’s some reciprocity,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who is close to McConnell. “His point is that it shouldn’t be just a one-way street. He’s got a good point.”



It’s easy to see how the witness debate could get out of control for vulnerable senators in both parties. In addition to Paul’s plans, Democrats would also be sure to offer difficult votes for Republicans facing reelection like Collins, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Martha McSally of Arizona. And Democrats have a pair of incumbent senators up for reelection in November in states Trump won in 2016, as well: Doug Jones of Alabama and Gary Peters of Michigan.

“I don’t know if somebody proposes Rudy Giuliani as one of the reciprocal witnesses, how many votes that will get,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin said.





By threatening to create the circus-like atmosphere the GOP is trying to avoid, Paul could in fact shut down the witness debate and help Senate Republicans protect their majority. Just three Republicans are strongly considering voting to hear witnesses, one short of the simple majority needed. Senators like Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) are undecided and want to wait until they hear the opening arguments, meaning the whip count is unsettled.

And senior Republicans believe the specter of a chaotic witness debate could stifle the thirst for hearing new evidence.

“I certainly don’t think it’s to anybody’s advantage to have this constant offering of motions and back and forth that goes on indefinitely in terms of who may or may not be called,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said.

But if there are 51 votes for witnesses and the trial is extended, Paul’s tactics will become a huge problem for vulnerable GOP incumbents. His motions will put them between swing voters and Trump’s base, a poor position to be in during an election year.

Paul said he doesn’t want to let it get to that point. But if it does, he’s ready to go. And he thinks Trump will be, too.

If “some Republicans help Democrats get witnesses and there are no witnesses for the president, I think the end result is a revolutionary tide against those people,” Paul said. “I can’t imagine that [Trump] will let it go by if someone votes to bring in witnesses that his administration isn’t interested in.”



© 2020 POLITICO LLC
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Re: Trump enters the stage - getting ready

Postby Meno_ » Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:16 pm

The New York Times

The Trump Impeachment

 

TRUMP ON TRIAL

Its Reputation Tattered, Polarized Senate Faces a Steep Impeachment Test

A partisan start to the trial stands in contrast to a consensus approach struck in 1999, the last time the Senate weighed the fate of a president.

Senator Mitch McConnell on Wednesday walking through the Capitol Rotunda. He and his Democratic counterpart, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, are not in talks about the ground rules for the trial.Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Times


By Carl Hulse

Published Jan. 15, 2020Updated Jan. 16, 2020, 3:29 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON — It is finally the Senate’s turn. And if recent history is any guide, President Trump’s impeachment trial will be an intensely partisan display that will make the polarization of the Clinton era look like a bygone period of political harmony.

While Democrats and Republicans managed to unanimously come to terms on how to start President Bill Clinton’s trial in 1999, the two parties — and their two leaders — are today irreconcilably divided on how to proceed and whether the trial is even legitimate.

Hanging over the showdown is a decade of intensifying Senate conflict exemplified by ruthless party-line rule changes, constant filibusters, the Republican blockade of Judge Merrick B. Garland, poisonous confirmation fights and a dearth of legislative action as Senate leaders shy from votes that could threaten incumbents up for re-election.

IMPEACHMENT

 Here’s what to watch for in the new phase in the impeachment process



The Trump trial provides an opportunity for senators to show that the institution can still rise above brutal partisan combat at a moment of constitutional gravity. But there is little reason for optimism as Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has repeatedly expressed deep disdain for the House proceedings and the conduct of his political rivals across the aisle, a reflection of the view held by most of his Republican colleagues.

The House named the impeachment managers, held a floor vote and took part in a rarely used engrossment ceremony.IMAGE BY DOUG MILLS/THE NEW YORK TIMES

“It is a bad beginning, but that doesn’t dictate the ending,” said Kent Conrad, a former Democratic senator from North Dakota who took part in the Clinton impeachment trial. “We could have some people have a crisis of conscience and realize that history is going to judge them on how they perform here.”

Those inside and outside the Senate say the partisan atmosphere has deteriorated markedly from the days of the Clinton trial. That itself was contentious as House Republicans, at the urging of Tom DeLay of Texas, the Republican whip known for a take-no-prisoners approach, pushed through impeachment articles against the president in a lame-duck Congress in 1998.



Still, the two Senate leaders at the time, Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, and Tom Daschle, Democrat of South Dakota, reached an agreement for the trial that the full Senate found acceptable as a starting point.

Senators took their responsibilities seriously despite a consensus acknowledgment from the beginning that Mr. Clinton would not be removed from office, as well as deep disagreement over the appropriateness of the accusations against him — circumstances similar to the present.

“As absurd as the Clinton impeachment was, it was handled with, generally speaking, the proper solemnity,” said Russ Feingold, a former Democratic senator from Wisconsin who was the only member of his party at the time to vote with Republicans against a motion to dismiss the articles of impeachment against Mr. Clinton. “The trial was generally viewed as essentially fair.”



In contrast, Mr. McConnell and his Democratic counterpart, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, are not in talks about the ground rules for the Trump trial. Instead, Mr. McConnell is plunging ahead and next week, he plans to set the parameters purely with Republican votes if necessary, leaving some of the larger questions, including whether to call witnesses as demanded by Democrats, until later.



Mr. Schumer on Wednesday on Capitol Hill. He has repeatedly pressed for witnesses to be called in the trial.Credit...Hilary Swift for The New York Times

Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who has pushed to leave open the possibility of calling witnesses in the trial, said she had pressed Mr. McConnell to allow it in part because of her experience with Mr. Clinton’s trial in 1999, and her desire to honor the Senate’s unique obligation on impeachment.

“I happen to believe in the oath, and I believe in precedent, and that’s why I’m doing it,” Ms. Collins said on Wednesday.

Mr. McConnell has repeatedly denigrated the House impeachment as weak and rushed, derided the tactics of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and questioned the motivations of Mr. Schumer. The minority leader, Republicans say, is using the impeachment trial to undermine embattled Republicans such as Cory Gardner of Colorado and Ms. Collins in an attempt to wrest control of the Senate from Republicans in November

“The Senate Democratic leader recently said that as long as he can try to use the trial process to hurt some Republicans’ re-election chances, quote, ‘it’s a win-win,’” Mr. McConnell said this week. “That’s what this is all about.”

Democrats bristle at the idea that they are playing politics and say that Mr. Trump put national security at risk by withholding military aid from Ukraine as leverage to force an investigation of a political rival and then stonewalled the House investigation of his actions.

In a tale of two chambers, the contrast between the House and Senate was on full display Wednesday. House Democrats showcased their selection of impeachment prosecutors and the ritualistic delivery of the articles of impeachment across the Rotunda while Senate Republicans treated the matter like a hot potato, appearing in no hurry to take possession of the charges. Mr. McConnell promptly put off until Thursday the formal reception of the paperwork.

“The far left has been desperate to get rid of President Trump since Day 1, and that has been made abundantly clear throughout this process,” said Senator Todd Young, Republican of Indiana, who nevertheless said he would try to weigh the merits of the case. “Now that the articles are being delivered and a trial will be held in the Senate, I will uphold my duty as an impeachment juror and carefully evaluate the legal arguments.”



Before the Clinton impeachment trial got underway, the full Senate gathered in the old chamber down a marble hallway from the Senate floor to work out their differences in a free-flowing private discussion that participants remember as a singular event during their service. They said the weight of what they confronted, and the historic surroundings of the chamber where illustrious senators of the past had roamed the floor, encouraged them to find common ground.

Mr. McConnell, in contrast, apparently wants nothing to do with the old Senate chamber. Republicans say he would prefer to stay out of the storied space for fear an all-hands meeting there would lend undue import to the trial and create an atmosphere in which some Republicans could decide to ally themselves with Democrats on procedural issues, effectively costing him control of the process.


Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, wants the option to call witnesses in the trial.Credit...T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

With his name on the ballot in November, Mr. McConnell must also manage his own relationship with Mr. Trump. Any move that the White House interprets as backing away from a staunch defense or giving Democrats room to press their case is likely to provoke an angry response from the president and aggravate Republican voters who believe the matter should not even be dignified by a trial.



But Mr. McConnell is also keenly aware that the trial is a test of the Senate and of his own ability to navigate the political crosscurrents of an election-year impeachment debate.

“This is a difficult time for our country but this is precisely the kind of time for which the framers created the Senate,” he said on the floor on Wednesday as the articles were delivered. “I’m confident this body can rise above the short term-ism and factional fever and serve the long-term best interests of our nation. We can do this, and we must.”

With the disposition of the articles now the responsibility of the Senate, former members of both parties who served during the Clinton trial say senators should strive to do their jobs in a way that ultimately reflects well on an institution that has struggled of late to inspire public confidence.

“While any Republican senator could say, ‘I’m voting not guilty because they treated him unfairly,’ they have to vote on the merits,” said Slade Gorton, a former Republican senator from Washington State who worked with Democrats in 1999 to develop a bipartisan trial framework. “They have to go through a real process of thought on this. It is a very serious matter, and it has to appear to be right from the point of view of the people.”



Other participants from 1999 said they feared the future consequences for the Senate and the impeachment process if the Senate is viewed as botching the trial.

“The Senate’s reputation is clearly on the line with impeachment,” said Mr. Daschle, the Democratic leader who worked with Mr. Lott to try to avert partisan disaster during the Clinton trial. “How it is handled will not only affect the perception of the quality of governance at a critical moment for our country, it will have profound ramifications for how matters similar to this are addressed in the future.”

Trump on Trial is a continuing series of articles offering reporting, analysis and impressions of the Senate impeachment proceedings.


© 2020 The New York Times Company

------- ------- ---------



{ It was pointed out that now the theatre will become more of a political issue, with both sides of the isle carefully weighing the effect on the voting public.

The primary stages are more about constitutional and geopolitical arguments sandwitching national security and interests, but the secondary focus will be on members of Congress retaining their constitutive jobs.

Wherever there is a need for power grabs, by simulated presentation by paid advertisement, the ordinary channels of diplomacy will be suspended if it becomes obvious that they would probably be of less value.}
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Senate trial begins

Postby Meno_ » Fri Jan 17, 2020 3:29 am

The Guardian - Back to home
News
Opinion




Trump impeachment: Chief Justice John Roberts and senators sworn in as trial begins – as it happened
Earlier Adam Schiff, lead impeachment manager, read from resolution impeaching Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors




Key events
19:57 EST
The Senate opened the impeachment trial of Donald Trump today. The supreme court chief justice, John Roberts, was sworn in to preside over the trial. Senators also swore an oath to “do impartial justice according to the constitution and laws”.
The trial is now adjourned until 1pm ET on Tuesday.

Trump and Mike Pence denied knowing Lev Parnas, who said he carried out a campaign to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden on behalf of the president. Parnas alleged that Pence and other White House officials including attorney general William Barr and former national security advisor John Bolton.

Ukraine is investigating possible surveillance of former US ambassador Marie Yovanovitch following the release of texts between Parnas and an associate.
Impeachment trial opens as watchdog says Trump broke law on Ukraine
Updated at 19:57 EST
19:37 EST

Today, the Senate opened the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, nearly four months after Nancy Pelosi first announced an impeachment inquiry.

Here’s a timeline of key events leading up to this moment:

Trump impeachment: a timeline of key events so far
Updated at 19:39 EST
19:05 EST

Susan Collins, a moderate Republican senator from Maine, said she’s “likely” to vote to call additional witnesses.

Collins, who could be a swing vote in the impeachment trial, has criticized both Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Elizabeth Warren for prejudging impeachment evidence, suggested that lawmakers should follow the model of the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial.

In a statement, she said she had not decided on “any particular witnesses” she’d like to call and would like to hear “both sides” before deciding. “Prior to hearing the statement of the case and the Senators asking questions, I will not support any attempts by either side to subpoena documents or witnesses,” she said.

Updated at 19:05 EST
18:31 ES

Even the oath is controversial
Senator Chuck Grassley swears in Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts as the presiding officer for the impeachment trial.
“Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the constitution and laws: so help you God?

Chief Justice John Roberts swore he would. The senators swore they would.

But in the lead-up to today, both Democrats and Republicans have been accusing each other of lacking impartiality. The Guardian’s Lauren Gambino reports:

Impeachment: even the Senate's oath is controversial in hyperpartisan age

Reporters face new restrictions imposed by the Senate ahead of the impeachment trial
Though today’s impeachment events were mostly ceremonial, reporters covering Congress are already having to contend with harsh new media restrictions.


Congressional reporters, who are normally free to approach senators as they walk through the hallways, won’t be allowed to do so during the impeachment trial. Senators were also given cards with tips on how to avoid reporters, with phrases like, “Please get out of my way” and “You are preventing me from doing my job.”

According to the AP, at least 10 uniformed Capitol Police officers manned the corridor outside the Senate chamber to enforce the new rules, which journalists, free speech advocates, and Republican and Democratic lawmakers have criticized as unnecessarily restrictive.


Report: Federal prosecutors are investigating whether former FBI director Comey leaked information to reporters.

The Justice Department is reportedly investigating a years-old leak of classified information about a Russian intelligence document, the New York Times reports, focusing on whether former FBI director James Comey was involved:

The case is the second time the Justice Department has investigated leaks potentially involving Mr. Comey, a frequent target of President Trump, who has repeatedly called him a “leaker.” Mr. Trump recently suggested without evidence that Mr. Comey should be prosecuted for “unlawful conduct” and spend years in prison.

The timing of the investigation could raise questions about whether it was motivated at least in part by politics. Prosecutors and F.B.I. agents typically investigate leaks of classified information around the time they appear in the news media, not years later. And the inquiry is the latest politically sensitive matter undertaken by the United States attorney’s office in Washington, which is also conducting an investigation of Mr. Comey’s former deputy, Andrew G. McCabe, that has been plagued by problems.

The Guardian has not independently verified the Times’ reporting.


Mike Pence: Parnas’ allegation is ‘completely false’

The vice-president reportedly said Lev Parnas’ charge that he knew that the White House’ pressure on Ukraine was “about the Bidens” is false.

Pence spoke with the LA Times’ Eli Stokols at a campaign event in Florida.

PENCE campaigning in Florida, reacts to Parnas comments: “I don’t know the guy.”

He says Parnas’ charge that he “knew” the administration’s pressure on Ukraine was “about the Bidens” is “completely false.”




Evening summary

The impeachment trial has adjourned until 1pm ET on Tuesday, when the US Senate will delve into claims Donald Trump abused the powers of his office.
The trial adjourned after the supreme court chief justice, John Roberts, was sworn in to preside over the trial. He then swore in the senators, who also signed an oath book.
Donald Trump denied knowing Lev Parnas, the businessman who claims the president was aware of his efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden, the president’s rival in the 2020 election. “Perhaps he’s a fine man, perhaps not,” Trump said.
The Ukrainian government has opened an investigation into the possible illegal surveillance of Marie Yovanovitch when she was the US ambassador to Kyiv, following the publication of messages about her between two associates of Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.
US President Donald J Trump reacts during the announcement of the Guidance on Constitutional Prayer in Public Schools in the the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC Photograph: Yuri Gripas/POOL/EPA

More from Donald Trump’s religious freedom event at the White House this afternoon, where he addressed the Lev Parnas allegations and impeachment trial:

At "religious freedom" event in Oval, Trump bashes Adam Schiff as a "corrupt politician", then pauses to touch a young student behind him on the arm and say: "You'll hear about this as you grow older."


Asked about this letter written by Rudy Giuliani to the leader of Ukraine, President Trump says he knew nothing about the letter. "If he wrote a letter, it wouldn't have been a big deal." pic.twitter.com/uh9hBHyYmp
Spotted on the resolute desk in the Oval Office during the President’s event on school prayer: a map of 2016 election results by county pic.twitter.com/28mgWtGSyz

Now that the impeachment trial procedures are out of the way, Tuesday marks the day action will begin in earnest. That includes a seemingly outdated tradition where at the beginning of each day, sergeant-at-arms Michael Stenger will declare, “Here ye! Here ye! Here ye! All persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment.”

Details on the odd warning were reported by Roll Call, which dug into the history of the ceremony around threat of Senate jail.

In the past, the Senate has preferred to expel the senator from office, rather than send him or her to jail, so as not to deprive a state of its full representation. Such confrontations have occurred so infrequently in the Senate’s history that ambiguity is more readily available than specifics.

No senator has ever been imprisoned by Senate officials, but in the past, the threat of arrest and jail has silenced even the most agitated senators.

© 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Senate

Postby Meno_ » Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:38 pm

Letter from Trump’s Washington

Spoiler Alert: There Will Be No Impartial Justice for Donald Trump

Susan B. Glasser

January 16, 2020



The House delivered the articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate in a self-consciously anachronistic enactment of a process dreamed up by the Founders.

Shortly after 2 p.m. on Thursday, ninety-nine of the hundred members of the United States Senate raised their hands and swore en masse to do “impartial justice” in the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump. That, of course, is an impossibility in the political world they inhabit. Neither impartiality nor justice is on offer in this proceeding. Three years into Trump’s tenure, there is precisely no one in the U.S. Capitol who is undecided about the President, on the subject of his impeachment or any other. And yet there is real suspense, in the way that the Trump Presidency has conditioned us to expect: Will there be wild new revelations? (There already have been in the past twenty-four hours.) Will there be inappropriate tweeting by the defendant in the White House? (A given.) Will even a single senator break from the calcified partisan battle lines? (Who knows?)

This Senate trial is only the third such proceeding in American history, and, despite what appears to be its preordained acquittal of the President by his fellow-Republicans, it is starting out with such great uncertainty that it’s still not even clear if there will be witnesses called and evidence submitted. How can it be a trial without them? The Democrat-controlled House voted to impeach Trump in a party-line vote in December, and yet key facts about the President’s aborted scheme to pressure Ukraine for his personal political benefit remain unknown (although they are very much knowable), owing to an executive-branch information blockade ordered by Trump. Will those facts come out before the Chief Justice of the United States bangs down the gavel on the trial’s seemingly inevitable outcome?

In today’s brutally dysfunctional capital—in which institutions of government are controlled by feuding clans that communicate with each other almost exclusively via hostile tweets and cable-news sound bites—anything can turn into an exercise in raw power politics. Even the ministerial matter of transmitting the articles of impeachment from the House to the Senate and beginning the Senate trial became the subject of an entire holiday season of made-for-TV drama. For weeks, Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to turn over the articles until she’d received assurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell about what kind of trial he planned to run. No such assurances were forthcoming, although Pelosi arguably succeeded in one respect—turning the debate away from her side’s forthcoming defeat in the Senate to the matter of what would constitute a fair trial. Democrats have redefined victory to mean not necessarily winning the case but merely getting a proper hearing for it. For now, at least.

On Wednesday, after Pelosi finally ended her hold on the articles of impeachment, she named seven members of the House as managers who will prosecute the case in the Senate. On Thursday, at the stroke of noon, the House managers marched across the Capitol and physically presented the articles to the Senate in a self-consciously anachronistic twenty-first-century enactment of a process dreamed up by our eighteenth-century founders. There was gravitas, solemnity, talk of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” There were “wherefore”s and “hear ye, hear ye”s. Chief Justice John Roberts was summoned over from the Supreme Court to administer the senatorial oath and take up his duties as the trial’s presiding officer. The Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, later said that, as Roberts entered the chamber, “I saw members on both sides of the aisle visibly gulp.” “The weight of history,” as Schumer put it, was visibly upon the Senate. “God bless you,” Senator Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican, who was sitting in the chair, told Roberts after he swore him in.

But even now that the constitutional formalities have been dispensed with, McConnell has not revealed whether and how there will even be votes on requiring the testimony of new witnesses and the submission of documents that the White House refused to provide to the House, a stonewall more complete than any Administration’s in history. If such votes do happen, they are not likely to be until a week or more into the proceedings. Meanwhile, new revelations continue to spill out about Trump’s Ukraine machinations, including a series of sensational interviews this week by the indicted Trump contributor Lev Parnas, who said that Trump knew of Parnas’s efforts with Rudy Giuliani to pressure Ukraine into investigating former Vice-President Joe Biden. The suspense surrounding the trial mixes the dread certainty that today’s Senate is ill-equipped to handle its constitutionally dictated obligation with a lingering curiosity about whether a handful of Republican senators will force McConnell to hold a proceeding that is something other than a sham.

“The Senate is on trial as well as the President,” Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said at the press conference where Pelosi introduced him and six others as the impeachment managers. It was a seemingly self-evident observation that nonetheless bears much repeating. The Senate trial could take between three and six weeks, according to one estimate, though Trump’s advisers are pushing Republicans for a much more abbreviated proceeding. However long it lasts, the trial will essentially consist of a hundred senators sitting silently at their desks, stripped of their cell phones and laptops and all the other accoutrements of modern political life, listening to the presentation of evidence in a case about which they have presumably already made up their minds. We listeners will have plenty of time to contemplate the Senate itself and what it has become in the Trump era.

“I understand that the politics of impeachment are difficult for many Senators,” Val Demings, one of the House managers, from Florida, tweeted soon after Pelosi appointed her to the job. “But I have not written off the Senate. Each Senator still has the power to do the right thing.” But this Senate is no closer to a real jury than the proceeding is to being a real trial. On Wednesday, Politico counted twenty-six Republican senators who had already put out statements or otherwise publicly indicated that they would vote against conviction and twenty-four more who probably would; Democrats were equally united around planned votes to convict. Republican sources have said that they don’t expect a single Republican defection on the final trial verdict, just as there was not a single Republican defection in the House on the impeachment itself.

For the past three years, the Senate has been one of the main arenas in which it has become clear just how totally and completely Trump has taken over the Republican Party. He has not only vanquished doubters; he has dominated them. Skeptics have been purged. Senators have abased themselves again and again. Those who stood up to Trump inside his own party have been exiled, silenced, or flipped. The President is on trial for holding hundreds of millions of dollars in congressionally appropriated aid to Ukraine hostage for his own personal political ends, and, indeed, the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan government watchdog, announced on Thursday, as the trial began, that the aid holdup was an illegal abuse of executive power. But Republican senators who claim an interest in national security have been loath even to acknowledge that there might be anything wrong with Trump’s behavior, even as an abstract matter of principle.

The suspense surrounding the trial, then, is not about the possibility that Republicans might suddenly change their minds about Donald Trump and his misdeeds. Lindsey Graham is not going to revert to his 2016 Trump-bashing self. Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer are not miraculously going to start talking and produce a plan for the trial that everyone can get behind. The Senate that voted 100–0 on the rules governing the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton, twenty-one years ago, is a thing of the distant past. Today’s uncertainty is about the nature, shape, and contours of the trial that will result from this more intemperate political moment. Mitt Romney, of Utah, and a few other so-called moderates—Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee; Susan Collins, of Maine; Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska—may yet force their colleagues to vote on bringing in Administration witnesses, such as Trump’s former national-security adviser John Bolton, whom the White House does not want to testify. But it is doubtful that even a single one of them will ultimately vote to convict. This is why the real uncertainty remains what it has been since the day Pelosi and the House embarked upon this impeachment course, last September: it is an uncertainty about what comes after the trial—after Democrats have taken their shot at Trump and, in all likelihood, failed.

Soon after the day’s ceremonial start to the Senate trial had wrapped up, Trump appeared before the cameras to call the case against him a “big hoax,” “a witch-hunt hoax,” “a complete hoax,” and “a phony hoax.” What will he talk about when the trial is over and he is completely and totally vindicated in the greatest acquittal of all time? How will he govern then?

© Condé Nast 2020

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Re: Trump enters the stage. - Another witchunt

Postby Meno_ » Sat Jan 18, 2020 5:06 am

The New York Times



How Trump Is Spreading a Conspiracy Theory About Pelosi, Biden and Sanders

President Trump claims Nancy Pelosi has intentionally undermined Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign by delaying the impeachment trial. Mr. Sanders denounced that theory on Friday.



President Trump claimed without evidence that Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, was “rigging” the Democratic primary.



WASHINGTON — The first version of the conspiracy theory was hatched on Twitter last Friday, Jan. 10.

“Don’t rule out that the reason Pelosi hasn’t sent impeachment to the Senate is to hurt Warren and Sanders, and to help Biden,” Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush, tapped out on his iPad. “By timing the trial so it takes place during the Iowa lead-up, she has leverage over the liberals.”

Mr. Fleischer’s message was retweeted 1,400 times.

Seven days later, Mr. Fleischer’s theory that Speaker Nancy Pelosi was attempting to influence the Democratic primary — for which there is no evidence — was being promulgated by President Trump.

“They are rigging the election again against Bernie Sanders, just like last time, only even more obviously,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Friday, claiming his Senate trial was designed to keep Mr. Sanders, the Vermont senator, grounded in Washington instead of campaigning in Des Moines ahead of the Feb. 3 caucuses.



“Crazy Nancy thereby gives the strong edge to Sleepy Joe Biden, and Bernie is shut out again,” the president added.

BAD TIMING FOR JURY DUTY

The senators running for president will largely be kept off the campaign trail during the impeachment trial.

An idea that caught fire on Twitter and became grist for Mr. Trump demonstrates how the same echo chamber of right-wing media that boosted him in 2016 is exerting its power again just before the first primary votes are cast in 2020.

There was nothing new in terms of the process that got the idea in front of Mr. Trump. But the evolution from online conspiracy theory to Fox News fodder to presidential talking point demonstrated how a world of conservative influencers, Republican lawmakers and online media outlets can drive disinformation through repetition and amplification.



Two days after Mr. Fleischer’s tweet, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader, appeared on Maria Bartiromo’s show on Fox News and repeated it. “This is the dirty little secret nobody is talking about: why the Speaker held these papers,” Mr. McCarthy said on Sunday. “This benefits Joe Biden. This harms Senator Sanders, who is in first place and could become their nominee.”

In fact, Mr. Sanders is not the national front-runner for the nomination and never has been, although he had a narrow lead in a recent poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers. But Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign in recent weeks has been seeking to elevate Mr. Sanders, viewing the self-described democratic socialist as the president’s ideal Democratic opponent in November.

The Trump camp, in turn, is worried about Mr. Biden’s competitiveness against the president in Midwestern battleground states, and would like to do anything possible to trip up the moderate former vice president in his tight primary race against the liberal Mr. Sanders.

Mr. McCarthy has continued to repeat the theory and profess support for Mr. Sanders, repeating the talking points in an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News. His television commentary was then written up by Breitbart News, the right-wing news and opinion site.



On Thursday, The Federalist, a conservative website, ran an article with the headline: “Is Impeachment Delay How Democrats Are Rigging Iowa Against Bernie Again?” It said Ms. Pelosi’s decision to delay impeachment “provokes the question whether she is deliberately helping Joe Biden.”

One day later, the message had reached the White House, where Mr. Trump, a frequent purveyor of conspiracy theories, presented the idea as a fact.

“It’s easy to see why Bernie and his supporters would think the establishment is screwing them again,” said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, noting that the campaign often looks to Mr. Trump’s Twitter feed for its daily message.

Conspiracies surrounding Mr. Sanders’s political fortunes have been a particular fixation for Mr. Trump, dating back four years. During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump circulated the false and unsourced claim that an “analysis” — he did not say who wrote it or where it was published — concluded that Mr. Sanders would have won the Democratic nomination if not for superdelegates, the party leaders and officials who were not bound to vote for the winner of their states’ primaries or caucuses.



At the time, Mr. Trump and his advisers realized the potential political benefit in lobbing these kinds of accusations. Their campaign, which relied heavily on depressing Democratic turnout as a way to win battleground states like Florida and Michigan, stood to gain by fanning the flames of the rivalry between Mr. Sanders and Hillary Clinton and dredging up the bitterness that many Sanders supporters felt over their loss.

Even after winning the election, Mr. Trump continued to claim that Mrs. Clinton had somehow robbed Mr. Sanders of victory. When Donna Brazile, the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman, released a memoir in 2017, Mr. Trump inaccurately said the book showed that Mrs. Clinton “bought the DNC & then stole the Democratic Primary” from Mr. Sanders.

In an interview, Mr. Fleischer said he had not seen the idea about the timing of the impeachment trial anywhere else and had not consulted with anyone when he first pitched it on Twitter. “I just do my best to realistically assess what’s happening in Washington,” he said. Mr. Fleischer said he believed that Ms. Pelosi does not think Mr. Sanders can beat Mr. Trump in November, and that “she has one big thing on her mind: that’s winning the White House.”

He said his tweet took off because “if it has merit, it starts to gather momentum.”

“If it has no merit, it’s just another tweet,” he added.



Republican staff members on Capitol Hill said the theory gained traction because of a broader narrative — pushed by Mr. Sanders’s own supporters — that Mr. Sanders was generally getting a raw deal from the mainstream news media and other candidates in the race.

In a statement on Friday, in response to a question from The New York Times about the president’s conspiracy tweet, Mr. Sanders denounced the theories. “Let’s be clear about who is rigging what: It is Donald Trump’s action to use the power of the federal government for his own political benefit that is the cause of the impeachment trial,” he said. “His transparent attempts to divide Democrats will not work, and we are going to unite to sweep him out of the White House in November.”

Ms. Pelosi’s team has also made it clear she was not trying to meddle in the nominating process.

“Impeachment has nothing to do with politics or the presidential race,” a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi, Drew Hamill, wrote on Twitter this week, responding to Mr. McCarthy’s accusation. “As usual, the Minority Leader has no idea what he’s talking about.”


Jan. 17, 2020



{As odd this sounds, his base, still rock solid, is still buying it. My opinion is that his wild theories are becoming real, not because they have validity, but because the Democracy is crumbling under the weight of no sufficient leadership, meaningful policy , and the furtherance of the growth of sustainable equal wealth destribution across the board.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - quick curtains on impeachment?

Postby Meno_ » Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:31 pm

POLITICS



President shifts message on proceeding after weeks of using it to raise money and rev up the base



President Trump’s latest view on the impeachment trial is that he wants it over and done with quickly. 



 



 



 





 

Gerald F. Seib

Jan. 18, 2020 12:01 am ET

For weeks, President Trump and his campaign have heaped scorn on the impeachment process, while using it to raise a lot of money and energize the president’s base.

Now that the Senate has formally opened its trial phase of the process, the president’s approach has shifted. His message: Let’s get this over with, fast.

In both his public remarks and private comments, advisers say, Mr. Trump is ramping up pressure on Republican allies in the Senate to push the trial to a rapid close. They expect that pressure campaign to increase in the next few days, especially on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.).

There was a time when it appeared Mr. Trump actually wanted a full-bore trial in the Senate, thinking such a process would vindicate his actions in pressuring Ukraine and delaying the delivery of military aid there. Now, though, Mr. Trump’s anger at the indignity of being impeached—one associate described him this week as “livid”—and the fear that a Senate trial with witnesses could bring unpleasant surprises has ended that line of thinking.

Still, impeachment has had its silver linings for the president’s re-election effort. Both Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee have used the impeachment effort to raise millions of dollars and rally supporters. Online ads have pressed the president’s case, and some have targeted the 30 House Democrats who hail from districts Mr. Trump carried in 2016.



On the other side of the divide, the impeachment trial now is directly affecting the Democratic presidential campaign, by pulling off the trail a handful of senators seeking the party’s nomination. Still, the candidates don’t seem eager to focus on impeachment when out campaigning; it was barely mentioned when six of them debated in Iowa this week.



Do you expect the impeachment trial to go quickly? Why or why not? Join the conversation below.

One Democrat who is directly countering the Trump advertising blast is former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who already has spent $217 million on television and digital ads, many directly attacking the president. Like the president, Mr. Bloomberg is effectively running the kind of national campaign usually seen much later in a general-election year.

The Bloomberg effort is emerging as the Democrats’ wild card in the run-up to the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses, which kick off voting for the party’s nomination. Mr. Bloomberg is skipping Iowa, as well as the early primaries in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, to focus on the big blocs of states that follow.



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Re: Trump enters the stage -Brilliant Strategy by Trump

Postby Meno_ » Sun Jan 19, 2020 4:20 am

Opinion, Analysis, Essays


David Mark The GOP's Senate impeachment trial strategy got blown up by Trump's legal team — for good reason

The political grenade Trump threw by announcing his defense counsel star power might not be the approach Republicans wanted. But it just might be the winning one.



Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr is sworn in on Capitol Hill prior to testifying before the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment hearing on Nov. 19, 1998.Doug Mills / AP file


Jan. 18, 2020, 2:51 PM EST / Updated Jan. 18, 2020, 3:59 PM EST

By David Mark

This isn’t what Mitch McConnell wanted.

The Republican Senate majority leader from Kentucky has, since the House impeached President Donald Trump on Dec. 18, made clear his preference that a Senate trial over removing the president be of the shortest possible duration and the narrowest scope. After the trial opened Thursday amid solemn pomp and ceremony, McConnell and fellow Senate Republicans are now discussing speeding up proceedings to limit the time allowed for opening arguments.

Stacking his legal team with superstar figures gives Trump more control of the theatrics and narrative of the trial.

It’s part of the GOP’s broader approach to limit the attention paid to the trial, in which the president, 73, faces counts of abuse of power and obstruction of justice related to the Ukraine military aid affair. For Republican senators that means no witnesses and breaching established practice by limiting reporters’ access to lawmakers in the halls of the Capitol.

But the Senate Republicans’ scaffolding for a quiet-as-possible Trump impeachment trial collapsed Friday when the White House announced the president’s made-for-TV defense team. The mega-watt lineup includes the independent counsel who prosecuted President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1999 — Ken Starr — and successor Robert Ray; lightning-rod cable TV talking head (and former O.J. Simpson defense attorney) Alan Dershowitz; and longtime Trump legal allies Jay Sekulow, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

The political grenade Trump threw with Friday’s announcement might not be the approach GOP lawmakers wanted. But it just might be the winning strategy.

The Senate impeachment trial was always going to draw attention whether McConnell liked it or not. Stacking his legal team with superstar figures gives Trump more control of the theatrics and narrative of the trial. And if nothing else, the president is a master of using the media to change the storyline to promote his ends.

Moreover, Trump knows much better than Republican senators what works politically with the party’s base: to always be a fighter, as he learned under the tutelage of McCarthy-era lawyer Roy Cohn; to fight no-holds-barred, go for the jugular in opponents, home in on their weaknesses and never relent. That style, of course, won him the presidency and led so many established party leaders to the exits.





And while GOP elders like McConnnell and several senators facing tough reelection fights might think he needs to cut down on the tweeting and provocative behavior to have a hope of winning over swing voters in November, there’s little sign that they’re right. Given his strong, consistent negative ratings and the implied futility of his trying to win crossover voters, Trump’s best hope is to gin up his base as aggressively as possible while shaving down turnout of Democratic groups even slightly — as worked for him in 2016.

Polling in some key states seems to confirm the merits of this calculation, though Democrats have plenty of time to change the dynamics before Election Day. The president has held steady, and even slightly ticked up, in the crucial purple state of Wisconsin running solely on the base strategy. A poll released this week found the highest job-approval rating for Trump in Wisconsin since he took office.



And In parts of rural Pennsylvania, there are signs his base strategy is working. In November 2019 the GOP flipped local government control in six counties, mostly in the southwest part of the state where Democrats have long been competitive but Trump ran especially well in 2016.

Perhaps nothing better illustrates why the Trump go-for-broke strategy is the best one than the example set by the Democrats. They put their chips on a figure of dignified seriousness and purpose, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, to find impeachable evidence against Trump when he was tasked by the Justice Department to probe Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.




But their bet on Mueller didn’t pay off. His July testimony about his findings before a House committee left Democrats “disappointed they did not get the made-for-TV accusatory moment they wanted,” as The New York Times described it at the time. It was an entirely separate case of Trump pressuring the Ukrainian president to dig up political dirt on a potential 2020 opponent that created sufficient public outrage to get the impeachment process off the ground.

What Democrats really needed in the original Russia probe was a Ken Starr-like figure. Somebody with sterling legal credentials who nonetheless was a rabid partisan willing to keep open an investigation until finding a clear violation, which Clinton provided in spades once his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky and his dodgy legal responses about it were discovered by the Starr team.



Starr, after all, was originally installed to investigate the Whitewater scandal, involving a land investment by the Clintons in rural Arkansas shortly before Bill Clinton won the governorship in 1978. But Starr’s team would rework the same ground repeatedly to turn up a crumb or two of new information in order to justify keeping the investigation going.

In fact, Starr is the ideal lawyer for Trump’s ambitions, because his presence also ensures that the Clintons will be a major undercurrent of the Trump trial, a diversionary tactic to focus attention on alleged Clinton offenses rather than his own. This has been a recurring — and successful strategy — for Trump since he entered the 2016 presidential race.

Related

OPINIONThe Electoral College could be tied in 2020. That helps Trump and hurts democracy.

In just one episode while the Republican presidential nominee, Trump took an unusual step shortly before the second presidential debate in October 2016 against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton of meeting with three women who had previously accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault or harassment.

It’s also worth noting that Starr and the other members of the defense team are no legal slouches. Bill Clinton’s impeachment on charges of lying and obstruction of justice, both of which he was acquitted on in his own Senate trial, almost certainly wouldn’t have been possible without Starr’s tireless, years-long investigation and strategic leaking to the media.

Dershowitz, meanwhile, has long been a controversial figure but an effective advocate. The Harvard Law School professor emeritus helped win acquittal of O.J. Simpson in 1995. In another famous victory,less than a decade earlier, he won an appeal of socialite Claus von Bulow’s conviction on charges that he tried to kill his wealthy wife.

Trump’s Senate impeachment trial figures to be as much a public spectacle as a solemn dispensing of duty. Any time that’s the case, it works to Trump’s advantage.

It’s true that as Trump’s impeachment trial gets underway in earnest, this play-to-the-cameras strategy is a huge gamble. Even at this late date, Democratic House members are producing new evidence (such as.a batch of documents released Friday night raising allegations of surveillance by Trump-associated thugs against the ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine).

There’s also the wildcard of Chief Justice John Roberts, sworn in Thursday to preside over the proceedings. According to prevailing interpretations of Senate impeachment rules, even by Democratic-leaning scholars, Roberts’ role will be rather passive. Still, Roberts could seek a more assertive role that could shake things up, such as ruling that witnesses be called.

Whether it’s what the Founders intended when they considered how to deal with a rogue president, Trump’s Senate impeachment trial figures to be as much a public spectacle as a solemn dispensing of duty. Any time that’s the case, it works to Trump’s advantage.

David Mark is an editor, author and lecturer based in Washington, D.C.
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Re: Trump enters the stage. - Getting ready for trial

Postby Meno_ » Mon Jan 20, 2020 6:20 am

House Democrats file formal argument urging Trump's removal
Graham, Dershowitz say effort to dismiss articles of impeachment 'dead' as they prepare for trial
WILLIAM CUMMINGS | USA TODAY | 4 hours ago


The Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has officially begun, with Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, and much yet to decide.

Two of President Donald Trump's leading defenders said Sunday that the Senate will not vote to dismiss the articles of impeachment against him, though both argued the president committed no impeachable offense, outlining what is likely to be the heart of Trump's defense in his trial.


Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who is one of Trump's leading political backers on Capitol Hill, had said he wanted the impeachment process to "die quickly" when it reached the Senate. On "Fox News Sunday" he called the process a "partisan railroad job" but he said the effort to have the articles of impeachment dismissed before the trial is "dead for practical purposes."

"The idea of dismissing the case early on is not going to happen. We don't have the votes for that," Graham said, adding that the Senate impeachment trial will likely follow the format of the one for President Bill Clinton in 1999.

High-profile criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, who has been named to Trump's legal team, said on CNN's "State of the Union" that "a motion is not going to made" in the Senate to dismiss the case against the president as it was in the Clinton trial. But he made it clear he believes such a move would be warranted.


Trump is accused of leveraging military aid to pressure Ukraine into announcing a pair of investigations that stood to benefit the president ahead of his 2020 reelection bid. The House impeached Trump last month on two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Much of how the trial will proceed, including whether additional witness testimony or evidence will be allowed, has yet to be determined.

Impartial justice?: Can senators be unbiased in Trump impeachment trial?

Dershowitz plans to argue on the Senate floor that "even if everything that is alleged by the House managers is proven or taken as true, they would not rise to the level of an impeachable offense."

"If my argument succeeds, there's no need for witnesses. Indeed, there's no need for even arguments, any further arguments. If the House charges do not include impeachable offenses, that's really the end of the matter, and the Senate should vote to acquit, or even to dismiss," Dershowitz said.


Dershowitz said he "will be presenting a very strong argument" based on that made in 1868 by former Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Curtis in the impeachment trial against President Andrew Johnson.

Curtis' argument, according to Dershowitz, was "that the framers intended for impeachable conduct only to be criminal-like conduct or conduct that is prohibited by the criminal law." Dershowitz asserted that neither of the two articles of impeachment against Trump are charges of criminal behavior.

More: Who are the 7 impeachment managers selected for the Senate trial of President Donald Trump?

On Saturday, the Democratic House impeachment managers who will prosecute the case filed a lengthy brief that outlined their allegations against Trump, which said the president "used his official powers to pressure a foreign government to interfere in a United States election for his personal political gain, and then attempted to cover up his scheme by obstructing Congress’s investigation into his misconduct."

Trump's legal team responded with a brief that called the impeachment a "brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere in the 2020 election." Like Dershowitz, the brief said articles "fail to allege any crime or violation of law whatsoever." But it also said that the president had done nothing wrong and that Trump's actions on Ukraine were "constitutional, perfectly legal, completely appropriate, and taken in furtherance of our national interest."


"I didn't sign that brief. I didn't even see the brief until after it was filed," Dershowitz said on ABC News "This Week" when asked if he agreed the president had done nothing wrong. He said it didn't matter whether he thought what Trump did was acceptable, only if it was impeachable.

"My mandate is to determine what is a constitutionally authorized criteria for impeachment," he said. And abuse of power did not meet the criteria, he argued, because it "is so open-ended."

"Half of American presidents in history, from Adams to Jefferson to Lincoln to Roosevelt, have been accused by their political enemies of abusing their power," he said. "The framers didn't want to have that kind of criteria in the Constitution because it weaponizes impeachment for partisan purposes."

It should be up to the voters to determine if Trump abused his power or acted inappropriately, Dershowitz said.


House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the lead impeachment manager, called Dershowitz's argument that abuse of power is not impeachable "absurdist."

"That's the argument I suppose you have to make if the facts are so dead set against you," Schiff said on "This Week."

"You have to rely on an argument that even if he abused his office in this horrendous way, that it's not impeachable," Schiff said. "You had to go so far out of the mainstream to find someone to make that argument, you had to leave the realm of constitutional law scholars and go to criminal defense lawyers."

Schiff said "the mere idea" of Dershowitz's argument would have "appalled the founders," who were very concerned about foreign election interference. He argued that such action goes to "the very heart of what the framers intended to be impeachable."


"The logic of that absurdist position that's being now adopted by the president is he could give away the state of Alaska," Schiff said. "He could withhold execution of sanctions on Russia for interfering in the last election, to induce or coerce Russia to interfere in the next one."

As to the charge of obstruction of Congress, Graham said it was an attempt to "put Trump below the law" by impeaching him for attempting to claim his right to executive privilege. He said rushing the process and not giving the court's time to rule on what is protected by privilege posed a threat to the power of the executive branch of government.

"You impeach a president. You don't let him to exert executive privilege in the House. You deny him or her their day in court," Graham said. "You've destroyed executive privilege through the impeachment process. That would really make the presidency far less effective and would hurt the constitutional balance of power."

Democrats have argued that waiting for the courts to force every witness to testify would effectively take the teeth out of Congress' power to remove the president.


"If you argue that, well, the House needed to go through endless months or even years of litigation before bringing about an impeachment, you effectively nullify the impeachment clause," Schiff said. "The framers gave the House the sole power of impeachment. It didn't say that was given to judges who at their leisure may or may not decide cases and allow the House to proceed.

"The reality is, because what the president is threatening to do is cheat in the next election, you cannot wait months and years to be able to remove that threat from office."






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Re: Trump enters the stage - Is impeachment totally a politi

Postby Meno_ » Mon Jan 20, 2020 4:49 pm

Fox News

TRUMP IMPEACHMENT

Tim Scott on Dems' impeachment focus: 'They're pretty concerned' because Americans 'now solidly behind' Trump





Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said Sunday that Democrats have been focused on impeachment because “they’re pretty concerned” due to the fact that “they believe the American people are now solidly behind President Donald Trump.”

Scott appeared on “Fox & Friends Weekend” one day after House impeachment managers filed their brief to the Senate, claiming the evidence against Trump “overwhelmingly” established abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Scott added that “the most important statement made about this entire impeachment process was made by [Texas] Congressman Al Green when he said if we don’t impeach him, he might win.”

The South Carolina senator also pointed out, “[House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi held the impeachment documents for nearly a month, which means there is no existential threat. There is no national-security threat.”

NADLER SAYS DEMS UNWILLING TO NEGOTIATE HUNTER BIDEN TESTIMONY IN EXCHANGE FOR OTHER WITNESSES




Democrats pushed bribery, quid pro quo and extortion against President Trump in case for impeachment
Video
Democrats pushed bribery, quid pro quo and extortion against President Trump in case for impeachment
Former Florida attorney general, President Trump’s legal team member Pam Bondi on what to expect from the Senate impeachment trial.

Scott explained, “I believe the Democrat strategy is not to bring more illumination to the case, but to put a bull’s eye on the back of [Colorado Republican Sen.] Cory Gardner, [Iowa Republican Sen.] Joni Ernst, [Arizona Republican Sen.] Martha McSally, [North Carolina Republican Sen.] Thom Tillis. That is the strategy they’re using to try to win back the Senate,” Scott said, referring to Republican senators facing tough reelection campaigns.

“This is actually not about removing the president, this is about removing enough senators in the Republican Party in order to take control of the Senate and to rebuke the president for the next four years because they’re pretty concerned.”

In Saturday’s 111-page brief, the impeachment managers wrote, “President Trump’s conduct is the Framers’ worst nightmare.”

The brief was the Democrats’ opening salvo in the historic impeachment trial, with House managers arguing Trump used his official powers to pressure Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 U.S. presidential election for personal political gain, then tried to cover it up by obstructing Congress’s investigation into his alleged misconduct.

“The evidence overwhelmingly establishes that he is guilty. ... The Senate must use that [impeachment] remedy now to safeguard the 2020 U.S. election, … protect our constitutional form of government and eliminate the threat that the President poses to America's national security,” the brief stated.

Scott said Sunday that Democrats were reacting in such a way because their “greatest fears are coming true” due to Trump’s success.

TRUMP LAWYERS RESPOND TO ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT: 'CONSTITUTIONALLY INVALID'

“The fact is that this president has focused on bringing opportunities to the poorest communities in the nation,” Scott said. “This president has helped bring the minority unemployment rate to record lows for Asians, for African-Americans, for Hispanics.”

Scott noted the country’s 3.5-percent unemployment rate. “Our stock market is going through the ceiling. They are trembling in their boots, so the only thing they have focused on their minds today is not President Trump, it is removing senators from office so that they can have control of the United States Senate.”

He went on to say, “There’s no question that President Trump’s economic agenda has brought more prosperity into the African-American community than we’ve seen in my lifetime.”



“This president is producing the type of results that only say one thing to the African-American community,” Scott continued. “We believe that there is high-potential, incredible people who only needed opportunity and access to those opportunities. President Trump has brought so many of those to the community that I believe that we’re going to have a record turnout on behalf of the president [in November].”


©2020 FOX News Network, LLC.



{Everything is neatly packaged, are there any surprises left in this jack in the box?}
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Re: Trump enters the stage - witnesses or not, meAnwhile Tru

Postby Meno_ » Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:53 pm

POLITICO

IMPEACHMENT

Battle over impeachment witnesses escalates
Key players in President Donald Trump’s impending trial amplified their arguments on the Sunday news shows.



By JOHN BRESNAHAN

01/19/2020 01:19 PM EST


With President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial just two days away, the battle over whether to call witnesses during the proceedings, including former national security adviser John Bolton, continues to heat up.

Several of the House managers for the impeachment trial, including Reps. Adam Schiff of California, Jerry Nadler and Hakeem Jeffries of New York, and Jason Crow of Colorado, appeared on Sunday news shows to urge the Senate to allow new witnesses and evidence during the process as they seek to oust Trump from office. These Democrats repeatedly pushed the line that the only way to get a “fair trial” is through additional testimony and documents.




Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans intend to offer an organizing resolution for the trial that postpones the question of calling witnesses until the House has presented its case and the president’s legal team responds. Then, following a period in which senators are allowed to ask questions of both sides, the Senate will hold a vote on whether to call more witnesses. If no witnesses are called, the trial can move to its final stages, possibly by the time Trump gives his State of the Union address on Feb. 4.

“If the Senate decides, if Senator McConnell prevails and there are no witnesses, it will be the first impeachment trial in history that goes to conclusion without witnesses,” Schiff, the lead House manager for the trial, said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”

“The threshold issue here is, will there be a fair trial? Will the senators allow the House to call witnesses to introduce documents? That is the foundational issue on which everything else rests. And one thing that the public is overwhelmingly in support of, and that is a fair trial.”

Jeffries added on “Fox News Sunday”: “The most important thing is that the American people deserve a fair trial. The Constitution deserves a fair trial. Our democracy deserves a fair trial. And we believe that a fair trial involves witnesses. It involves evidence. It involves documents.”




But Senate Republicans, led by Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and David Perdue of Georgia, countered that the House managers should proceed with the evidence they used to impeach Trump in the House.



And Republicans echoed the White House line that the House impeachment hearings violated Trump’s right to due process, despite the fact that the president refused to allow his lawyers to participate in those sessions.

“I find it curious that Chairman Nadler of the Judiciary Committee called this a ‘rock-solid’ case,” Cornyn said on CBS’ “Face The Nation. “But if the House isn’t prepared to go forward with the evidence that they produced in the impeachment inquiry, maybe they ought to withdraw the articles of impeachment and start over again. This isn’t the Senate's responsibility to make the case.”

“This, to me, seems to undermine or indicate that they’re getting cold feet or have a lack of confidence in what they’ve done so far,” Cornyn added.



Perdue said on NBC’s “Meet The Press”: “Remember, this week is going to be the first time America gets to hear President Trump’s defense. He hasn’t had an opportunity to do that yet. It’s clear the president did not have due process in the House. Now, for the first time, we’ll have due process in the Senate.”

A number of Senate Republicans, including Cornyn, have called for former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter to be deposed if Bolton testifies in the case. Trump allies are calling this “witness reciprocity,” and McConnell appears open to their demand, according to GOP aides familiar with these discussions.

Yet Nadler, Schiff and the other House managers maintain that Hunter Biden is not germane to the case, since he cannot speak to the underlying issue of whether Trump improperly withheld U.S. aid to Ukraine contingent on officials there announcing an investigation into the Bidens.

“And this whole controversy about whether there should be witnesses is just really a question of, does the Senate want to have a fair trial … or are they part of the cover-up of the president?” Nadler said on “Face The Nation.“ “Any Republican senator who says there should be no witnesses or even that witnesses should be negotiated is part of the cover-up.”

So far, only three Senate Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah — have publicly declared that they’re open to hearing from additional witnesses, including Bolton. But in order for that to occur, at least one more Senate Republican would have to withstand Trump’s pressure and cross the aisle to vote with the 47 Senate Democrats.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has been appealing to Republicans for weeks to support Democrats on this issue, pointing to new evidence that has emerged since the House voted on Dec. 18 to impeach Trump. This additional evidence includes Bolton’s public offer to testify before the Senate; the Government Accountability Office analysis that the White House violated federal law by withholding the Ukraine funds after Congress had appropriated the money; and new documents turned over to the House Intelligence Committee by Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, on the role Giuliani played in the Ukraine scandal.

Schumer highlighted Parnas’ newly released documents as well as the GAO report at a news conference Sunday evening.

“Not Chuck Schumer, not a House Democrat but the impartial GAO said the president broke the law,” Schumer said. “That GAO report undid everything the president’s letter said and everything Mitch McConnell has been saying.”



In addition, Schumer lambasted the president’s lawyers for their first formal response to the House’s efforts to remove him from office. In a six-page letter filed Saturday, the president’s read lawyers described the impeachment inquiry as a “brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election.”

“It read more like a transcript of one of his campaign rallies, or six pages of @realDonaldTrump tweets rather than a legal defense,” Schumer said. “I hope for the president’s sake when their brief is released tomorrow, it’s better than that. It’s not just screaming and jumping up and down and pounding the table but it actually answers some questions.”

The Senate Minority Leader also criticized McConnell for not yet releasing his organizing resolution for the impeachment trial, calling it “unheard of.” Senate Republicans are weighing an aggressive impeachment trial schedule, whereby the House impeachment managers and the president’s defense would be allocated 24 hours each for opening arguments. Each side could have as few as two days to present their case.

“Whether it’s because McConnell knows the trial is a cover up and wants to whip through it as quickly as possible or because he’s afraid even more evidence will come out, he’s trying to rush it through,” Schumer said. “That is wrong. And it is so wrong that no one even knows what his plan is a day and a half before one of the most momentous decisions any senator will ever make.”



How Trump fused his business empire to the presidency




© 2020 POLITICO LLC





{And it goes on and on, with the usual vitriolic rhetoric of hate, but it appears we are approaching more elev a red drama, as a requirement to introject the rapidly loosing public support.

There will certainly begin a show of casualties, and it will be a thrill to watch as it is to try to guess. Who needs the apprentice now, that we have the veritable showman?}




IDEAS

Trump’s Impeachment Brief Is a Howl of Rage

The document released by the president’s lawyers reads more like the scream of a wounded animal than a traditional legal filing.

QUINTA JURECICBENJAMIN WITTES11:55 AM ET

KEVIN LAMARQUE / REUTERS

Over the weekend, as the Senate prepared for the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, the newly appointed House impeachment managers and the president’s newly appointed legal team both filed their initial legal briefs.

At least, one of them was a legal brief. The other read more like the scream of a wounded animal.

The House managers’ brief is an organized legal document. It starts with the law, the nature and purposes of Congress’s impeachment power, then walks through the evidence regarding the first article of impeachment, which alleges abuse of power, and seeks to show how the evidence establishes the House’s claim that President Trump is guilty of this offense. It then proceeds to argue that the offense requires his removal from office.

The brief then rinses and repeats the exercise with respect to the second article of impeachment, which deals with alleged obstruction of Congress. It concludes: “President Trump has betrayed the American people and the ideals on which the Nation was founded. Unless he is removed from office, he will continue to endanger our national security, jeopardize the integrity of our elections, and undermine our core constitutional principles.”

By contrast, the White House’s “Answer of President Donald J. Trump” to the articles of impeachment, filed by the president’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow and the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, does not read like a traditional legal argument at all. It begins with a series of rhetorical flourishes—all of them, to one degree or another, false. The articles of impeachment are “a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their President,” the president’s lawyers write—as though the impeachment power were not a constitutional reality every bit as enshrined in the founding document as the quadrennial election of the president. The articles are “a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election,” and are “constitutionally invalid on their face,” they write, as though the president’s right to extort foreign leaders for political services were so beyond reasonable question, it is outrageous that anyone might object to it.

This document reads like one of the president’s speeches at his campaign rallies. The language is a little more lawyerly, if only a little. In Sekulow and Cipollone’s hands, Trump’s cries of “Witch hunt!” have turned into “lawless process that violated basic due process and fundamental fairness.” His allegations that Democrats are a “disgrace” have turned into “an affront to the Constitution.” And Trump’s insistence that there’s a plot to destroy his presidency has become a “highly partisan and reckless obsession with impeaching the president [that] began the day he was inaugurated and continues to this day.”

MORE BY QUINTA JURECIC

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QUINTA JURECICBENJAMIN WITTES

But the message is unchanged. It’s not a legal argument. It’s a howl of rage.

There is, to be sure, a lack of parallelism between the purposes of the two documents. The House managers’ document is an opening brief that lays out the prosecutors’ case at some length, while the president’s response is an initial six-page reply to the articles. The White House’s first full brief is due this afternoon, so it’s possible that the lawyers will sound, well, a little more like lawyers in that document. But don’t hold your breath.

In fact, this is not the first time Cipollone has signed his name to a screed along these lines. In October, shortly after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the beginning of a formal impeachment inquiry, Cipollone sent the House a rambling eight-page letter that read almost as if it had been dictated by the president—down to the obsessive focus on the moral failings of the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff, which would be familiar to anyone reading the president’s Twitter feed. The former White House counsel Bob Bauer decried it as offering “arguments hopelessly weak in substance, political in both content and tone, and harmful to the credibility of [Cipollone’s] office.”

The document produced by the White House this weekend is a little more organized, but the arguments and the angry tone are the same. Read together, Cipollone’s October letter and this new document written with Sekulow set expectations for the president’s defense: barely contained, and barely coherent, rage—a middle finger stuck at the impeachment process, rather than any kind of organized effort to convince senators or the public that the president’s conviction would be unmerited, imprudent, or unjust.

Consciously or not, Trump’s pick of defense counsel for the Senate trial sends the same message. Along with Sekulow and Cipollone, the president will be represented by the former independent counsels Ken Starr and Robert Ray—Starr’s successor in the investigations against Bill Clinton—and the Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, among others. This is not the legal team one might expect a president facing the fight of his political life to select. Starr, after all, made robust arguments during the Clinton impeachment against the assertion of executive privilege and made others for the impeachability of a president for obstructing an investigation into his conduct using privilege claims. Dershowitz has made plenty of arguments against impeaching and convicting Trump in recent years, but he has a habit of staking out positions that are not merely iconoclastic—like that the president may be impeached only for violating the criminal code, or that the Supreme Court could overturn an unjust conviction in an impeachment trial—but intellectually sloppy, too.

Were Trump trying to make a traditional legal argument, he’d have picked the wrong legal counsel. But that’s not what the president is trying to do. CNN describes the president’s merry band as a “Fox News defense team,” noting that the main through line among the lawyers representing Trump is that they have all regularly appeared on the president’s favorite network. It’s not that the president’s legal team lacks talent. Starr was, after all, an esteemed appellate lawyer, a judge on the D.C. circuit, and the solicitor general of the United States. And Dershowitz was a Harvard law professor. But the president isn’t fundamentally making a legal case here. His arguments are that his phone call was “perfect,” that there’s a “deep state” conspiracy against him, and that impeachment is an effort to overturn an election. You don’t need good lawyers to make such silly arguments. You need lawyers who will yell untruths loudly, lawyers whose very presence will argue the us-against-them nature of the president’s defense.

And this is a group of people who do just that. Just by being there, they will make the president feel good, feel validated. Their presence will give expression to his anger, in the same way that Brett Kavanaugh’s tirade against the Senate Judiciary Committee reportedly delighted Trump.

For this reason, the contradiction of choosing Starr to argue in favor of a hyperaggressive vision of executive privilege and against conviction on the basis of obstruction of justice isn’t a problem, just as Dershowitz’s lazy argumentation and Cipollone’s hyperventilating outrage aren’t problems either. They’re the whole point. Flaunting the dissonance of having Starr defending a president in an impeachment trial is itself an expression of rage and defiance against the president’s critics—including, one must imagine, Hillary Clinton, whom both Starr and Ray investigated. It’s a legal team designed to own the libs, and the fact that Dershowitz has been accused of perpetrating misconduct against women (allegations he denies), and Starr of mishandling an investigation into such allegations, is perhaps no coincidence.

To the extent that there is an argument in the president’s defense, it’s that the president’s rage is more important than building a systematic legal case. Putting together a legal brief, after all, depends on a system of mutual understanding between the writer and the audience. The goal is to convince a neutral arbiter of the correctness of one’s point, within a structure of traditions and constraints. Trump’s howl of anger is a declaration that he doesn’t need to convince any arbiter, abide by any constraints, or reach any understanding, because his own emotions are the most important thing.

But the flip side of Trump’s insistence on his own preeminence is his grasping need for other people to reaffirm him. And so the president’s defense, the argument and the team alike, has another purpose: It’s a message to Republican senators. It says to each of them that no, the White House will not make a factual argument on the merits of the case—not a real one, anyway. And no, it will not make a real legal argument either. It, rather, will announce that, per George Orwell, two plus two equals five. And it will demand of the senators that they get in line to endorse that proposition, preferably on television, where the president can see. It will be a failure of loyalty if they are not willing to do this. And they will be subject to retaliation.

It’s not a strategy that would work in court. But the Senate is not, at the end of the day, a court—even when it’s sitting as the trial court of an impeachment. The Senate is a body composed of people who, as the past few years of Republicans’ willing subjection to Trump have shown, are exquisitely sensitive to this sort of pressure.

And the more absurdly bombastic the defense gets, the stronger this message becomes.





BENJAMIN WITTES is a contributing writer at The Atlantic, the editor in chief of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings institution

Copyright © 2020 by The Atlantic Monthly Group.

BBC News

menu

Trump impeachment: President's lawyers demand immediate acquittal

 20 January 2020

 





Image captionPresident Trump is facing two counts of impeachment

President Donald Trump's legal team, representing him at his impeachment trial, has demanded that he is immediately acquitted by the Senate.

In a brief submitted on Monday, they called the impeachment "a dangerous perversion" of the constitution.

Meanwhile House impeachment managers submitted their own brief, saying Mr Trump engaged in "corrupt conduct... to cheat in the next election".

Impeachment hearings will begin on Tuesday at 13:00 (18:00 GMT).

Mr Trump is charged with abusing his presidential power by asking Ukraine to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden - and of obstructing Congress as it looked into his conduct.

During the course of the trial, Senators will hear arguments for six hours a day, six days a week. It will be presided over by the US chief justice, John Roberts.

It is only the third time in US history that a president is facing an impeachment trial.






The trial could, in theory, lead to Mr Trump being removed from office. But as a two-thirds majority of 67 votes in the 100-seat Senate is required to convict and oust Mr Trump, and there are only 47 Democrats in the Senate, the president is widely expected to be cleared.

Mr Trump will be at the economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, when his trial opens.



What did the briefs say?

The 171-page brief submitted by Mr Trump's legal team is the first comprehensive defence of the president, ahead of the trial beginning in earnest.

It sets out to undercut the charges against Mr Trump, branding them "frivolous and dangerous" and arguing that they don't constitute either a crime or an impeachable offence.

"House Democrats settled on two flimsy Articles of Impeachment that allege no crime or violation of law whatsoever - much less 'high Crimes and Misdemeanours' as required by the Constitution," it said.

"They do not remotely approach the constitutional threshold for removing a President from office."



At the same time, an opposing brief from House managers - all Democrats - accused Mr Trump of using his "presidential powers to pressure a vulnerable foreign partner to interfere in our elections for his own benefit".

"In doing so, he jeopardised our national security and our democratic self-governance," it added. "He then used his presidential powers to orchestrate a cover-up unprecedented in the history of our republic."

What are the charges?

First, he's accused of seeking help from Ukraine's government to help himself get re-elected in November.

It is claimed that, during a call with Ukrainain President Volodymyr Zelensky, he held back military aid in exchange for an investigation into Hunter Biden - the son of Mr Trump's political rival, Joe Biden, and a former member of the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma.

The second allegation is that, by refusing to allow White House staff to testify at the first impeachment hearings last year, Mr Trump obstructed Congress.


President Trump denies the charges against him.






Copyright © 2020 BBC.



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POLITICO

Ad

IMPEACHMENT

Poll: Most Americans want Trump removed from office by Senate

51 percent of respondents support the Senate convicting Trump on articles of impeachment





01/20/2020 05:01 PM EST



A majority of Americans want the Senate to convict and remove President Donald Trump from office, according to a new poll conducted by CNN.

Fifty-one percent of respondents to the poll want the Senate to convict Trump on the impeachment charges brought by the House, which would lead to his immediate expulsion from office. Meanwhile, 45 percent of respondents said they don't want to see the president removed. The poll was conducted from Jan. 16-19 and released Monday, on the eve of the Senate impeachment trial, which gets underway Tuesday, though senators were sworn in last week.



The numbers are the most favorable for removal since another CNN poll in June 2018. Approval for impeachment and removal has generally hovered between 36 and 47 percent, peaking at 50 percent in polls from October and November 2019, once impeachment proceedings were underway in the House.

The latest poll also suggests Americans are largely invested in the impeachment proceedings, with 74 percent of respondents saying they are either very closely or somewhat closely following the developments.

The majority of respondents to CNN's survey said they want the Senate to hear from more witnesses, with 69 percent wanting the Senate to hear fresh testimony, and only 29 percent rejecting the idea.

Democrats have lambasted the White House for preventing members of the administration from testifying for House investigators before the articles of impeachment were sent to the Senate. While Democrats in the Senate hoped to remedy the problem by calling on witnesses in their trial, Senate Republicans have largely rejected the idea of hearing from witnesses, saying that was the House's job.



CNN's study was conducted by phone among a sample of 1,156 respondents. The margin of error is +/- 3.4 percentage points.


© 2020 POLITICO LLC


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impeachment trial begins

Pres. Trump just snubbed his outspoken personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, keeping him from joining his growing defense team for the impeachment trial. Giuliani has reportedly proven too large a liability, including his links to indicted businessman Lev Parnas, and this report tracks Giuliani’s history of questionable business judgment, including another major figure who was indicted after running the NYPD, a business alliance Giuliani later admitted was a “mistake.”





© 2019 NBC UNIVERSAL
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Re: Trump enters the stage - unrelenting procedures

Postby Meno_ » Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:34 pm

The New York Times


 

NEWS ANALYSIS

‘Constitutional Nonsense’: Trump’s Impeachment Defense Defies Legal Consensus

The president’s legal case would negate any need for witnesses. But constitutional scholars say that it’s wrong.






By Charlie Savage

Published Jan. 20, 2020Updated Jan. 21, 2020, 6:45 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON — As President Trump’s impeachment trial opens, his lawyers have increasingly emphasized a striking argument: Even if he did abuse his powers in an attempt to bully Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 election on his behalf, it would not matter because the House never accused him of committing an ordinary crime.

Their argument is widely disputed. It cuts against the consensus among scholars that impeachment exists to remove officials who abuse power. The phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” means a serious violation of public trust that need not also be an ordinary crime, said Frank O. Bowman III, a University of Missouri law professor and the author of a recent book on the topic.

“This argument is constitutional nonsense,” Mr. Bowman said. “The almost universal consensus — in Great Britain, in the colonies, in the American states between 1776 and 1787, at the Constitutional Convention and since — has been that criminal conduct is not required for impeachment.”

But the argument is politically convenient for Mr. Trump. For any moderate Republican senator who may not like what the facts already show about his campaign of pressure on Ukraine, the theory provides an alternative rationale to acquit the president.



Indeed, if it were true, then there would also be no reason to call witnesses like John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, because what he and others know about Mr. Trump’s motivations and intentions in his Ukraine dealings would not affect the outcome of the trial.

Mr. Trump’s legal team hammered away at the argument in its 110-page brief submitted to the Senate on Monday. “House Democrats’ newly invented ‘abuse of power’ theory collapses at the threshold because it fails to allege any violation of law whatsoever,” the president’s lawyers wrote.

Many legal scholars say senators should not take this argument seriously. They point, among other things, to evidence that for centuries before the American Revolution, the British Parliament impeached officials for “high crimes and misdemeanors” that constituted abuses of power but were not indictable offenses. The pattern informed the framers of the Constitution, who echoed that concept.

One precedent — a high-profile case against a former British governor-general in India named Warren Hastings accused of mismanagement, mistreatment of locals and military misconduct — unfolded during the drafting and ratification of the Constitution and was reported in American newspapers.



His chief prosecutor, the famous parliamentarian Edmund Burke, argued that Mr. Hastings’s actions violated the public trust even though they were not indictable. (Mr. Hastings was acquitted, but only many years later.)

The original draft of the Constitution had made only treason and bribery a basis for impeachment. But according to James Madison’s notes of the Constitutional Convention, George Mason brought up the Hastings case and proposed expanding the definition of impeachment to cover something like it. After rejecting the term “maladministration” as too broad, the convention participants decided to add the English term “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Mr. Bowman — whose scholarship on impeachment law is cited in a footnote in the Trump legal team brief — called the arguments in that brief “a well-crafted piece of sophistry that cherry-picks sources and ignores inconvenient history and precedent.” For example, he noted, it makes no mention of how the Hastings case involved allegations of abuses of power that were not indictable crimes.

Scholars pointed to other major landmarks. In 1788, as supporters of the Constitution were urging states to ratify the document, Alexander Hamilton described impeachable conduct in one of the Federalist Papers as “those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust,” and “political” offenses that injure society.


Mr. Hamilton also wrote that impeachments would differ from common trials in part because prosecutors and judges would not be as limited “in delineation of the offense.”

Critics of the Trump team’s theory have also noted that when the Constitution was drafted, hardly any federal criminal laws had been written. And several early impeachment proceedings — including against a judge who got drunk while presiding over cases — did not involve indictable offenses.

“It is just quite clear that the commission of a crime is neither necessary nor sufficient for an act to be impeachable,” said John Mikhail, a Georgetown University law professor. He portrayed the Trump legal team’s argument as not merely wrong, but as not even worthy of being deemed serious.

But Alan Dershowitz, a leading proponent of the theory, disagreed. An emeritus Harvard Law School professor and a celebrated criminal defense lawyer, he has joined Mr. Trump’s legal team and is preparing a presentation about the idea that he said he expects to make to the Senate on Friday.



Among other things, Mr. Dershowitz said in an interview, he interpreted Mr. Hamilton to be saying not that any violation of the public trust is impeachable, but that only crimes that are also violations of the public trust meet that standard.

He also said that there were some common-law crimes at the time of the ratification of the Constitution, and that the framers expected Congress to eventually enact criminal laws that could serve as the basis for impeachments.

Mr. Dershowitz said he intended to model his presentation on an argument put forward at the 1868 impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson by his chief defense counsel, Benjamin Robbins Curtis, a former Supreme Court associate justice.

Mr. Johnson was saved from conviction and removal when the vote fell one short of the necessary supermajority. Mr. Curtis had argued that Mr. Johnson was not accused of committing a legitimate crime, and that removing him absent one would subvert the constitutional structure and make impeachment a routine tool of political struggle.



But other legal scholars, like Laurence Tribe, a constitutional specialist at Harvard Law School and an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump, have argued that Mr. Dershowitz is overreading and misrepresenting this aspect of the Johnson trial, especially against the backdrop of other evidence about the original understanding of “high crimes and misdemeanors” and the range of factors that went into Mr. Johnson’s narrow acquittal.

In an opinion article in The Washington Post, Mr. Tribe accused Mr. Trump’s legal team of using “bogus legal arguments to mislead the American public or the senators weighing his fate.”

Listen to ‘The Daily’: Lessons From the Last Impeachment Trial

At the opening of only the third Senate trial of a president in U.S. history, we ask: What can the previous proceedings teach us about this time?

From one perspective, the argument might not matter. Mr. Bowman noted that while the House article refers to no criminal statute, the conduct described in the abuse-of-power one “plainly draws from” the crime of soliciting a bribe.


(The Government Accountability Office has also concluded that the Trump administration’s freezing of a congressionally appropriated military aid package to Ukraine amounted to an illegal impoundment of funds, but there are no criminal penalties associated with violating that law.)

But Mr. Dershowitz said that if the House had the evidence and the votes to charge Mr. Trump with bribery, then it needed to say so explicitly.

Some of Mr. Dershowitz’s critics have questioned whether he really believes what he is now saying, noting that in 1998, during the Clinton impeachment, he said: “It certainly doesn’t have to be a crime, if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don’t need a technical crime.”

Mr. Dershowitz argued that his position today was not inconsistent with what he said in 1998, pointing to his use of the phrase “technical crime” and saying that he is arguing today that there needs to be “crime-like” conduct. He also said he did not know about Mr. Curtis’s 1868 argument during the Clinton impeachment era, and reading it had affected his thinking.



Still, he acknowledged that his interpretation is an outlier.

“My argument will be very serious and very scholarly,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “The fact that other scholars disagree, that’s for the Senate to consider. There is a division — most of the scholars disagree with me. I think they’re wrong.”

But Mr. Mikhail said Mr. Dershowitz and the Trump legal team were wrong, and he noted that many senators of both parties went to law school or were otherwise legally sophisticated.

“These are very smart, legally informed people,” he said. “They understand the law. They can certainly see through ruses and efforts to distract and divert.”

© 2020 The New York Times
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Re: Trump enters the stage -how low can he go?

Postby Meno_ » Tue Jan 21, 2020 11:33 pm

https://youtu.be/VxPhLTzJ5EE



Watching Senate proceedings, Schumer amendments tabled , resuming at 8 pm Eastern time, if Trump is vindicated, then in all probability, the Putin threat/collusion as an overriding security bilateral interest, dwarfs the issue of any advantage politically to Trump.

Trump's greed has to play into Putin's threat. BLACKMAIL!
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