ITMFA IV: Then the door was open and the wind appeared
December 29, 2019 11:47 AM   Subscribe

At a time when local newspapers are struggling and misinformation is widespread, access to reliable information is the thread that keeps our democracy intact. Pelosi may have had the last word in 2019, but if we've learned anything from the past year, Trump won't take long to respond in 2020. Trump, Mulvaney, Sondland, and Giuliani are not saying they didn’t do the things that Trump was just impeached for ordering. They’re saying they did, but it’s fine. The Republican-run Senate will have to decide if they agree.

Previously: La, la, la, la, la

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posted by katra (857 comments total) 78 users marked this as a favorite
 
We can become like they are
posted by Pastor of Muppets at 11:58 AM on December 29 [7 favorites]


Shouldn't the threads going forward be called "R[emove]TMFA"?

would also accept "Lock Him Up"
posted by tivalasvegas at 12:05 PM on December 29 [25 favorites]


I'd prefer convict, myself.
posted by Dashy at 12:09 PM on December 29 [11 favorites]


I triple down on my prediction that the Senate WILL convict...
posted by PhineasGage at 12:15 PM on December 29 [15 favorites]


It has been mentioned on the slack that the Rs only abandoned Nixon once 60%+ of the American public approved of impeachment. Trump is at 55% now and climbing.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:18 PM on December 29 [21 favorites]


The Scottish teens* have 8% chance of conviction in the Senate. This seems a bit high; they also have other bets about leaving office or resigning, but the odds aren’t as good.

*Neither Scottish nor teens, per the rules
posted by Huffy Puffy at 12:21 PM on December 29 [1 favorite]


‘Nothing Less Than a Civil War’: These White Voters on the Far Right See Doom Without Trump (NYT)
Earlier this year, the groups and their allies organized a “Patriotism over Socialism” event in Gilbert, Ariz., near Phoenix, that included speeches from Representative Andy Biggs, the area’s congressman, and Kelli Ward, the state’s Republican Party chair. They appeared alongside more fringe figures: Sharon Slater of Family Watch International, which has promoted figures associated with anti-L.G.B.T. conversion therapy, and Laura Loomer, the far-right activist and Arizona native who was banned by Twitter and some other platforms after making anti-Muslim comments.

This blend of insider and outsider, of mainstream and conspiracy, is a feature of how Mr. Trump has reshaped the Republican Party in his image, and the core of his presidential origin story. Before Mr. Trump announced any firm plans to seek office, he was the national face of the “birther” conspiracy, which thrived in the Tea Party movement and had a significant amount of support from the Republican base, polls showed. [...]

In the White House, Mr. Trump has relied on similar unfounded conspiracy theories and promoted people who have perpetuated them. He pardoned Joseph M. Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, a hero of Arizona’s right wing and a leader of the “birther” movement, who was convicted of criminal contempt related to his aggressive efforts to detain undocumented immigrants.

On Mr. Trump’s Twitter account, likely the most watched in the world, he has promoted white nationalists, anti-Muslim bigots, and believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims that top Democrats are worshiping the Devil and engaging in child sex trafficking.

Even mainstream conservative media figures have embraced QAnon as a way to dismiss Mr. Trump’s political enemies. The Fox News host Jesse Watters, during a recent segment dedicated to the conspiracy, linked it to Mr. Trump’s Washington enemies. “Isn’t it also about the Trump fight with the deep state in terms of the illegal surveillance of the campaign, the inside hit jobs that he’s sustained?” he asked.
posted by katra at 12:41 PM on December 29 [17 favorites]


Searching for truth in an era of 'alternative facts': Disinformation in the age of Trump (NBC News)
The special edition also examined how one small falsehood can spread to the highest levels. Trump has suggested that CrowdStrike is a Ukrainian-owned company that spirited the Democratic National Committee's email server to Ukraine, NBC's Chuck Todd noted, "all in the service of claiming that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election. The claim, itself, has no basis in fact."

CrowdStrike is a California-based cybersecurity firm that was hired by the Democratic National Committee in 2016 to investigate the breach of its email system. NBC News National Security Analyst Clint Watts walked through the path of how that false assertion became a matter of fact for the president and his allies, concluding that, "if you want to propel your lie, just keep issuing falsehoods. The truth has one voice, but lies are infinite. You can continue to make more and more lies, which then wears out anybody trying to rebut them.”
posted by katra at 12:44 PM on December 29 [7 favorites]


Senate Republicans' major concern is being primaried from the right, and having Trump & Co back a challenger. At least that seems to be what's driving their political calculus, at least in states where they aren't overly concerned about the general election, which is a lot of them.

There is presumably a tipping point where their fears of pissing off Trump and having him campaign against them down the road, becomes less scary than staying on a sinking ship as public opinion goes further and further against the administration. What exactly that translates to in terms of percentage-favoring-impeach-and-remove I'm not sure, though. I'd guess it must vary from place to place, and the 55% national number still translates into removal/conviction being unpopular in many rural areas. But if that needle continues to move further and further against Trump, you're going to see a lot of Republican Senators start to get really uncomfortable.

I'd say Pelosi is doing the right thing in running the clock right now. I'd always thought the Democrats were shooting themselves in the foot by rushing the impeachment process and not letting public opinion build, but whatever—it seems like they're not rushing now, and that's a good thing.

I'm personally not very optimistic about Trump being removed, but that's mostly because I'm not optimistic about anything, anymore. Fingers certainly crossed.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:45 PM on December 29 [18 favorites]


‘Nothing Less Than a Civil War’: These White Voters on the Far Right See Doom Without Trump (NYT)

When your voting base's identity is anchored to threats of mass far-right violence, not voting to convict serves as much to preserve your physical safety as your political security.
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:49 PM on December 29 [13 favorites]


...a point which was not, I'm sure, lost on traditional conservatives in the Weimar Republic either.
posted by flabdablet at 12:54 PM on December 29 [39 favorites]


The Senate Republicans understand that support for removal from office has been flat for over two months, at a level that doesn't really threaten their reelection chances. What it will take is Republican and Republican-leaning independent support for removal increasing to a level that threatens to swing elections in at least 20 states that have Republican senators. I don't know if anyone is (publicly) tracking voter sentiment in those states at that level of granularity, though.

I also don't know if there are any targeted information campaigns aimed at those states. Did Steyer's pro-impeachment campaign get completely subsumed by his stupid presidential campaign? Bloomberg apparent got things started with a $120 million ad buy. Imagine what that kind of spending could have done if it was focused on a fact-based argument in favor of impeachment & removal, targeting 20 key states.
posted by jedicus at 12:57 PM on December 29 [22 favorites]


I guess a question I have in all of this is the role of John Roberts. He's supposed to preside over the Senate trial. Based on what I've seen of Roberts in the past, I think he would want the trial to appear (or even be) as fair as possible. Would he have the power to demand recusals from those who have stated publicly they cannot be impartial jurors? Could he somehow censure McConnell for failing in his Oath Of Office for announcing his rescinding of Separation Of Powers with what he's said about coordinating with the White House? If he has these powers, when and how do they kick in or are they manifested.

We are so far out in the weeds on this matter, because it seems we have rules that would apply in other matters which are judicial in nature, but this isn't really a judicial proceeding, and so it's hard to know how any of this might or could play out if people really decided to start exerting their implied powers and roles within this unmapped context.
posted by hippybear at 1:01 PM on December 29 [7 favorites]


I know that this idea is basically just fanfic at this point, but what if upon returning from the holiday break, the House leadership were to announce that they'd be spending a day getting depositions regarding violations of the emoluments clauses, followed by a day of open hearings and then a vote on another, additional article of impeachment?

You'd really only need two witnesses - a constitutional expert to explain that "domestic emoluments" equals "stealing taxpayers' money" and "foreign emoluments" are "bribes," and someone who can give an accounting of how much taxpayer money has been spent at Trump properties in the last three years, and perhaps summarize the public reporting on what foreign governments have spent at those properties. Could even be a Senate staffer or outside attorney specifically assigned to research & report on this topic? (No way the Trump Org is giving up details on how much $$ they've taken in from foreign governments, but what's been publicly reported should be enough to establish that a non-negligible amount of money has changed hands in an unconstitutional way.)

Given that stealing and bribery are easily understood as crimes, and there should be hundreds, if not thousands, of violations to cite, I'm not sure why Pelosi, Schiff, Nadler et al have ignored this so far.

But bringing it up now, and winning a vote on another article of impeachment, would dominate the news cycle for at least a week or two, and give the GOP the chance to spend more time defending the even-more-indefensible before the focus shifts back to the intransigence of Moscow Mitch and the GOP Senators w/r/t a potential trial. Seems to me like that would be a win...but like I said, it's just fanfic as things stand now.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 1:08 PM on December 29 [29 favorites]


"The candles blew, and then disapeared."
posted by WalkerWestridge at 1:12 PM on December 29 [3 favorites]


"40,000 men and women everyday, redefine happiness"
posted by Harry Caul at 1:15 PM on December 29 [2 favorites]


I guess a question I have in all of this is the role of John Roberts. He's supposed to preside over the Senate trial. Based on what I've seen of Roberts in the past, I think he would want the trial to appear (or even be) as fair as possible. Would he have the power to demand recusals from those who have stated publicly they cannot be impartial jurors? Could he somehow censure McConnell for failing in his Oath Of Office for announcing his rescinding of Separation Of Powers with what he's said about coordinating with the White House?

Roberts presides over the Senate trial, run according to Senate rules, which are set by the Senate, and can be changed by the Senate. Do not confuse his role with that of a judge in a criminal trial. (For that matter, do not confuse Senators with jurors.) Roberts has much less power in a Senate trial than a trial judge in a criminal trial. He cannot recuse Senators; he cannot censure McConnell.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:21 PM on December 29 [11 favorites]


I think Biden is missing a significant opportunity in waffling on testifying. It could be a disaster, but as the sports cliche goes, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. If he volunteered to testify; the Senate would have to hold an actual trial. He could do quite well, he's always been a pretty solid debater. Maybe they hang something on him; maybe he falls apart; but if that's the case, then he isn't going to win anyway.
posted by interogative mood at 1:28 PM on December 29 [9 favorites]


Exactly, he really should be his classic "Scrappy Joe" thing and tell the Republicans to bring it on and question all the witnesses.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:29 PM on December 29 [11 favorites]


When your voting base's identity is anchored to threats of mass far-right violence, not voting to convict serves as much to preserve your physical safety as your political security.

I agree to the extent that cowardice is central to the 2019 Republican identity, but I don't think physical safety is a concern for most. They have the Capitol police along with their own private security. Moral cowardice, not physical, is at the heart of this issue.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 1:35 PM on December 29 [7 favorites]


Hell, Biden should throw down the gauntlet and say that he'll show up and answer all questions under oath ... IF Trump does the same.
posted by Shadan7 at 1:38 PM on December 29 [47 favorites]


Roberts presides over the Senate trial, run according to Senate rules, which are set by the Senate, and can be changed by the Senate. Do not confuse his role with that of a judge in a criminal trial. (For that matter, do not confuse Senators with jurors.) Roberts has much less power in a Senate trial than a trial judge in a criminal trial. He cannot recuse Senators; he cannot censure McConnell.

Yeah, the only reason he's there at all is that the regular President of the Senate is the Vice President, who has an obvious vested interest in how the impeachment trial of the President turns out. The Senate runs the Senate; the presiding officer has some power, but it's always subject to the decision of a majority of the Senate.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 1:41 PM on December 29 [2 favorites]


"I'll honor that subpoena, sure. I'm gonna need you to do us a favor, though."
posted by Harry Caul at 1:42 PM on December 29 [44 favorites]


Yeah, the only reason he's there at all is that the regular President of the Senate is the Vice President, who has an obvious vested interest in how the impeachment trial of the President turns out. The Senate runs the Senate; the presiding officer has some power, but it's always subject to the decision of a majority of the Senate.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 1:41 PM on December 29 [+] [!]


Does the Senate majority leader get his routine power by the VP ceding it to him? Could the VP, if he so desired, take the reins from the SML? I ask, because if so it would mean that Roberts would have all the power McConnell usually exercises in determining process. But I'm not a constitutional expert, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:49 PM on December 29


Ignoring a subpoena (even if Biden backpedals and submits) plays right into the hands of Republicans, who will claim Democrats are lawless — even as Republicans themselves have ignored subpoenas along the way. It will be hard to undo the damage that Biden has caused the removal process by stridently opposing testifying, a process which is a massive uphill climb to begin with.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:54 PM on December 29 [2 favorites]


"I'll honor that subpoena, sure. I'm gonna need you to do us a favor, though."
that is some four-star trolling right there. thanks for the chuckle.
posted by j_curiouser at 1:55 PM on December 29 [6 favorites]


Joe Biden Says He Would Comply With a Senate Subpoena, Reversing Course (NYT)
Then, questioned by a voter about the issue of compliance with subpoenas, Mr. Biden answered unequivocally.

“I would obey any subpoena that was sent to me,” he said at a town hall-style event in Fairfield.

Mr. Biden’s 180-degree turn on whether he would comply with a subpoena was one of the starkest and swiftest reversals by a candidate in the Democratic primary campaign, and came after he faced questions and criticism about whether his initial stand would run counter to the rule of law.

[...] One of Mr. Biden’s top rivals for the Democratic nomination, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, also weighed in on Saturday, telling reporters in Des Moines, “If there is a lawfully issued order for a subpoena, then he should follow it.”
posted by katra at 2:16 PM on December 29 [6 favorites]


Biden, in his characteristic way, really messed this up. Of course you respect the subpoena!

To his credit, he reversed course and finally said the right thing. But do we need another preznit who's always winging it?
posted by sjswitzer at 2:22 PM on December 29 [21 favorites]


‘Nothing Less Than a Civil War’: These White Voters on the Far Right See Doom Without Trump
At Mr. Trump’s official rallies, including a recent one in Florida, the president has referred to Mr. Obama by stressing his middle name, Hussein, and said Democrats were “trying to stop me because I’m fighting for you.”

The Trumpstock speakers pushed even further, tying Mr. Obama’s middle name to a false belief that he is a foreign-born Muslim.
Jesus, he's running against Obama? In 2020?
posted by kirkaracha at 2:58 PM on December 29 [10 favorites]


Jesus, he's running against Obama? In 2020?

He's running against everything that's changed since 1990. His supporters are too. It's the (racist) old man shaking fist presidency
posted by Popular Ethics at 3:01 PM on December 29 [31 favorites]


Does the Senate majority leader get his routine power by the VP ceding it to him?

No; he gets it from the rules. Likewise, the President of the Senate gets every power that isn't breaking tie votes from the rules, and the President Pro Tempore would get his powers from the rules if he had any.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 3:14 PM on December 29 [2 favorites]


Cuz, why not? Giuliani, WH, State Dept, oil industry and big money, other govts under pressure. Impeachment: The Prequel. Trump’s lawyer and the Venezuelan president: How Giuliani got involved in back-channel talks with Maduro < WaPo
posted by Harry Caul at 3:29 PM on December 29 [3 favorites]


In a functioning administration the Senate would be furious that the President is going around the advice and consent of the Senate by using private citizens. If that doesn't tell you how craven the Republican senators are, I don't know what will.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 3:35 PM on December 29 [37 favorites]


I think it is enormously foolish to believe that the Republican run Senate will decide Trump should be removed from office. If you haven't already, take time to read Are Republicans afraid of Trump? Hell, no — he's destroying democracy and they love it by Amanda Marcotte in Salon. (emphasis mine)

It's a movement of white men and their wives who hold a narrow, racist, reactionary view of what being an "American" is. They believe that those of us who don't fit into that view — because we're not white or because we're not Christian or because we're pointy-headed intellectuals who believe in free thought or because we're queer or because we're feminists — are not legitimate Americans, therefore not legitimate voters. So Trump's law-breaking to undermine the 2020 election is seen only as a necessary corrective to the "problem" of a pluralistic democracy.

Democrats had better figure out how to
a) reverse voter suppression and/or
b) immediately register every possible voter available and
c) orchestrate and launch the biggest get out the vote drive ever
because if we don't, we can kiss America good-bye.
posted by pjsky at 3:45 PM on December 29 [84 favorites]


^^^ let's see Bloomberg and Yang get behind that.
posted by j_curiouser at 4:48 PM on December 29 [5 favorites]


^^^You mean Steyer. As other have said before, if that putz dropped his $100 million vanity project and spent the money on registering Democratic voters in Florida and the Midwest it would fundamentally change the odds in November.
posted by PhineasGage at 5:02 PM on December 29 [35 favorites]


Opinion: Donald Trump has violated his oath. Mitch McConnell is about to violate 2 (courier journal)

The Courier-journal is a Kentucky paper. There's an MSNBC interview with the op-ed writer here.

Mitch is up for re-election in 2020. I saw him get hometown chants of 'Moscow Mitch' this year. I wonder how safe his seat is? His boldness seems to imply he could wipe his ass with the flag in the name of trump and be returned to office. Or perhaps he's more like Paul Ryan, he got his tax cuts and bailed before the blue wave. In Mitch's case, he has his judicial appointments, a legacy that will poison the courts for decades.

Regardless, his remarks about being impartial disqualify any trial he's involved in. A juror doesn't announce a verdict before a trial. It's sad that an op-ed needs to be written at all about that simple truth, as many have. It's nice to see one written in Mitch's neighborhood.
posted by adept256 at 5:17 PM on December 29 [12 favorites]


Democrats had better figure out how to...
Your regular reminder that there are groups out there working against voter repression and groups out there registering voters. Also on getting out the vote.
This 'Democrats' is not other people. Stop waiting for someone else to fix it.
Join one of these groups, or form your own.
posted by MtDewd at 5:22 PM on December 29 [72 favorites]


"I wonder how safe his seat is?"

It's KY. Isn't his worst case scenario there a competitor within the party?
posted by Selena777 at 5:30 PM on December 29 [2 favorites]


Rick Wilson has a saying about billionaire vanity projects: “You could have had the Senate”.

Which basically wraps this shit nugget of a primary up in a nutshell. Billionaires can be benevolent but they’re not your friends. For every Gates there’s a Bloomberg, Steyer, Epstein, or Bezos. My eat the rich philosophy is pretty much cryptoguillotine these days.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:41 PM on December 29 [18 favorites]




For everyone who hates a blind link to a YouTube video, Rep. Lewis has announced that he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:17 PM on December 29 [18 favorites]


Yep, 'steyer' not 'yang'. Too many clowns...

Join one of these groups, or form your own.
Me and a thousand of my best friends still ain't gonna come up with $100m. Dudes *should* pony up. And I should do my part (I do).
posted by j_curiouser at 6:18 PM on December 29 [1 favorite]


Billionaires can be benevolent but they’re not your friends. For every Gates there’s a Bloomberg, Steyer, Epstein, or Bezos.

There are no benevolent billionaires, Bill Gates included.
posted by Rust Moranis at 6:46 PM on December 29 [28 favorites]


Because MtDewd is absolutely right -- Your regular reminder that there are groups out there working against voter repression and groups out there registering voters. Also on getting out the vote.

SPREAD THE VOTE "An ID today is a VOTE tomorrow. At Spread The Vote, we work every day to ensure that people have what they need to vote. 77% of the people we work with have never voted before and 100% of our clients cannot vote without us."

INDIVISIBLE "The Indivisible Project's mission is to cultivate a grassroots movement of literally thousands of local Indivisible groups to elect progressive leaders, realize bold progressive policies, rebuild our democracy, and defeat the Trump agenda."

VOTO LATINO "Through voter registration campaigns, strategic partnerships, get-out-the-vote initiatives, and more, we encourage our audience to make their voices heard in local and national elections."

These are just a few, and there are other good ones. I just wish (as others have mentioned) that the billionaire candidates would put their money to better use by supporting voter turn out efforts, and flooding the airwaves with propaganda fighting ads. But we all have to do our part, so -- if you're so inclined maybe pitch in a few bucks or a few hours to help the fight.
posted by pjsky at 7:30 PM on December 29 [45 favorites]


Nothing Less Than a Civil War

I thought it was telling that the very next Times article (on my iPad at least) was about what the liberals were doing...watching reruns of "West Wing." Quite the behavioral contrast.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:40 PM on December 29 [8 favorites]


Rep. Lewis has announced that he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer..

I might have to make an appearance in church. I spent a lot of time in churches, including in the south, and I’m just so curious wondering what’s being said. Like obviously logic isn’t a real, consistent thing in a church, but at some base level we got through sermons and life believing that the bad people got what was coming to them and you could see it happening. I mean I know what my preacher friends would say, but “The Lord doesn’t always come when you want, but he’s always right on time” is not going to cut it if my civil rights icons continue to drop dead from diseases while this wacko lives on in the white house for who knows how long.
posted by cashman at 7:45 PM on December 29 [10 favorites]


Would he have the power to demand recusals from those who have stated publicly they cannot be impartial jurors?

Unless a recusal removes them from voting instead of counting as an abstention - basically, a vote for "no conviction" - it wouldn't help. I don't know that there's a recusal process for the Senate. (The solution to that would be "they are barred from attending at all," which would reduce the number of Senators voting at all. Again, not sure we have a legal structure in place to require that.)

And no, I don't think the judge would have the authority to demand recusals - but the trial agreement hammered out in advance, would. Even that, though... I don't know how enforceable it'd be.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:18 PM on December 29 [1 favorite]


Why is anybody giving someone like Bloomberg air to breath here? We're here to talk about the other dickhead billionaire who is about to be on trial, who also had a campaign as a stunt, but somehow won.

The only way Bloomberg is related is that he represents the billionaire class that want to buy the government. He's just a symptom of the underlying malady that gave us Trump. If we were honest, we'd have to impeach him too.
posted by adept256 at 8:19 PM on December 29 [7 favorites]


the other dickhead billionaire who is about to be on trial, who also had a campaign as a stunt, but somehow won

Mazars accountant [in Janet voice]: "Not a billionaire."
posted by Lyme Drop at 8:40 PM on December 29 [13 favorites]


I don't think the judge would have the authority to demand recusals
well, Roberts should do it anyway from basic decency (I know) and make them defend 'not-recusing'. That'd be a laugh. [I'm riffing now, sry, off to slack]
posted by j_curiouser at 8:42 PM on December 29 [2 favorites]


WaPo rundown on the endless battles of the Anti-Giuliani: Douglas Letter.

"Letter is slated to represent the House at the Supreme Court, which will review two rare separation-of-powers cases over disclosure of Trump’s tax and financial records in March.

And in back-to-back hearings Jan. 3 at the federal appeals court in Washington, Letter will explain why the judges should give the House access to secret evidence from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation. His colleague, Megan Barbero, will then ask the court to uphold a ruling forcing McGahn to appear before a House committee despite White House efforts to block his testimony.

“Because of the stonewalling by the Trump administration and the insistence on going to court on every kind of thing, it’s very demanding with multiple opponents and multiple cases,” said Irv Nathan, who held Letter’s position the first time Pelosi was speaker, starting in 2007. “The job is on steroids.”
posted by Harry Caul at 5:11 AM on December 30 [7 favorites]


Roberts won’t say boo about whatever rules the Senate cooks up because his job is to apply the rules he is given, not to opine on the fairness or legality of those rules. To comment on the rules would be to inject himself into the politics of impeachment, which is anathema to a good judge, which he aspires to be. His job is simply to call balls and strikes.

Which is also a bunch of self-serving horseshit but is conveniently how he gets himself to sleep at night.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:51 AM on December 30 [8 favorites]


Behind the Ukraine Aid Freeze: 84 Days of Conflict and Confusion
Interviews with dozens of current and former administration officials, congressional aides and others, previously undisclosed emails and documents, and a close reading of thousands of pages of impeachment testimony provide the most complete account yet of the 84 days from when Mr. Trump first inquired about the money to his decision in September to relent.

What emerges is the story of how Mr. Trump’s demands sent shock waves through the White House and the Pentagon, created deep rifts within the senior ranks of his administration, left key aides like Mr. Mulvaney under intensifying scrutiny — and ended only after Mr. Trump learned of a damning whistle-blower report and came under pressure from influential Republican lawmakers.
...
The interviews and documents show how Mr. Trump used the bureaucracy to advance his agenda in the face of questions about its propriety and even legality from officials in the White House budget office and the Pentagon, many of whom say they were kept in the dark about the president’s motivations and had grown used to convention-flouting requests from the West Wing.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:58 AM on December 30 [4 favorites]


In this case "convention-flouting" is a euphemism for "illegal."
posted by odinsdream at 9:12 AM on December 30 [9 favorites]


In this case "convention-flouting" is a euphemism for "illegal."

Behind the Ukraine Aid Freeze: 84 Days of Conflict and Confusion (Eric Lipton, Maggie Haberman, Mark Mazzetti, NYT)

ftfy
posted by katra at 9:24 AM on December 30 [5 favorites]


In this case "convention-flouting" is a euphemism for "illegal."

Well, laws are a social construction.
posted by thelonius at 9:29 AM on December 30


Well, laws are a social construction.

Bill Barr Thinks America Is Going to Hell (Katherine Stewart and Caroline Fredrickson, NYT Opinion)
A deeper understanding of William Barr is emerging, and it reveals something profound and disturbing about the evolution of conservatism in 21st-century America. [...] According to some critics, Mr. Barr delivered the partisan goods then, as he is delivering them now. [...] In July, when President Trump claimed, in remarks to a conservative student group, “I have an Article II where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” it is reasonable to suppose this is his CliffsNotes version of Mr. Barr’s ideology.

Both of these views are accurate enough. But at least since Mr. Barr’s infamous speech at the University of Notre Dame Law School, in which he blamed “secularists” for “moral chaos” and “immense suffering, wreckage and misery,” it has become clear that no understanding of William Barr can be complete without taking into account his views on the role of religion in society. [...] Within this ideological framework, the ends justify the means. In this light, Mr. Barr’s hyperpartisanship is the symptom, not the malady. At Christian nationalist gatherings and strategy meetings, the Democratic Party and its supporters are routinely described as “demonic” and associated with “rulers of the darkness.” If you know that society is under dire existential threat from secularists, and you know that they have all found a home in the other party, every conceivable compromise with principles, every ethical breach, every back-room deal is not only justifiable but imperative. And as the vicious reaction to Christianity Today’s anti-Trump editorial demonstrates, any break with this partisan alignment will be instantly denounced as heresy.

It is equally clear that Mr. Barr’s maximalist interpretation of executive power in the Constitution is just an effect, rather than a cause, of his ideological commitments. In fact, it isn’t really an interpretation. It is simply an unfounded assertion that the president has what amount to monarchical powers. “George III would have loved it,” said Douglas Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine who once held Mr. Barr’s position as head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, of Mr. Barr’s theory. It’s almost beside the point to note, as the conservative lawyers group Checks & Balances recently wrote, that Mr. Barr’s view of history “has no factual basis.”

Mr. Barr’s constitutional interpretation is simply window dressing on his commitment to religious authoritarianism. And that, really, gets to the heart of the matter. If you know anything about America’s founders, you know they were passionately opposed to the idea of a religious monarchy. And this is the key to understanding the question, “What does Bill Barr want?”
posted by katra at 10:09 AM on December 30 [29 favorites]


Just a reminder that three Democratic senators, Jones, Sinema and Manchin, bucked their party leadership and voted for Barr's confirmation. When it comes to impeachment, I wouldn't be surprised if they also vote for acquittal. Let alone the required 67 for conviction, the senate may not even get to 47.
posted by JackFlash at 10:20 AM on December 30 [17 favorites]


MSN: Behind the Ukraine Aid Freeze: 84 Days of Conflict and Confusion (Eric Lipton, Maggie Haberman and Mark Mazzetti for NYTimes)

Explosive new revelations just weakened Trump’s impeachment defenses (Greg Sargent, WaPo OpEd)
McConnell badly needs the media’s both-sidesing instincts to hold firm against the brute facts of the situation. If Republicans bear the brunt of media pressure to explain why they don’t want to hear from witnesses, that risks highlighting their true rationale: They adamantly fear new revelations precisely because they know Trump is guilty — and that this corrupt scheme is almost certainly much worse than we can currently surmise.

That possibility is underscored by the Times report ["Behind the Ukraine Aid Freeze" above], a chronology of Trump’s decision to withhold aid to a vulnerable ally under assault while he and his henchmen extorted Ukraine into carrying out his corrupt designs.

The report demonstrates in striking detail that inside the administration, the consternation over the legality and propriety of the aid freeze — and confusion over Trump’s true motives — ran much deeper than previously known, implicating top Cabinet officials more deeply than we thought.
The Washington Post op-ed summarizes key points from the New York Times report.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:37 AM on December 30 [12 favorites]


A reminder that that Heather Cox Richardson, a professor of history and presidential historian at Boston College, is issuing daily recaps of current events and putting them in context. She posts them to Facebook and also to Substack.com.

Each of them is worth the read. The entry from December 27 is particularly noteworthy and related to the party dynamics about impeachment. I'll quote at length but encourage you all to go read the entire thing.
Until tonight, when Trump once again retweeted the name of the whistleblower, today has been remarkably quiet on the political front. This quiet gives me a chance to share something I found a year or so ago that, to me, illuminated the present political crisis more than anything else I have seen.

It’s a speech Robert Mueller gave in January 2011 in New York City, when he was the Director of the FBI.

Mueller explained that globalization and modern technology had changed the nature of organized crime. Rather than being regional networks with a clear structure, he said, organized crime had become international, fluid, sophisticated, and had multi-billion dollar stakes. Its operators were cross-pollinating across countries, religions, and political affiliations, sharing only their greed. They did not care about ideology; they cared about money. They would do anything for a price.

These criminals “may be former members of nation-state governments, security services, or the military,” he said. “They are capitalists and entrepreneurs. But they are also master criminals who move easily between the licit and illicit worlds. And in some cases, these organizations are as forward-leaning as Fortune 500 companies.”

These criminal enterprises, he noted, were working to corner the market on oil, gas, and precious metals. And to do so, Mueller explained, they "may infiltrate our businesses. They may provide logistical support to hostile foreign powers. They may try to manipulate those at the highest levels of government. Indeed, these so-called 'iron triangles' of organized criminals, corrupt government officials, and business leaders pose a significant national security threat."

To combat that threat, Mueller said, the FBI had shifted focus “from a law-enforcement agency to a national security service that is threat-driven and intelligence-led.”

With the FBI focusing on organized crime and national security, its interest in the connections between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016 not only makes sense, but also illuminates what they were afraid was going on....

...When then-FBI Director James Comey opened a counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election at the end of July, he was operating in a bureau that had been pursuing Mueller’s iron triangle of business, government, and criminals. Then Trump fired Comey and told Russian officials visiting the Oval Office: “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” The popular outcry induced the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, to name a Special Counsel to investigate (the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, had recused himself because he had been involved with Trump’s campaign himself) and Rosenstein chose… Mueller. A specialist in this new form of international organized crime.

And that brings up another interesting document that surprised me, although once you read it its revelations seem no-brainers. In August 2018, national security and intelligence community expert Natasha Bertrand noted in The Atlantic that the FBI and Justice Department agents Trump attacked most relentlessly had one major similarity: “their extensive experience in probing money laundering and organized crime, particularly as they pertain to Russia.”

For example: Trump has been obsessed with getting Bruce Ohr fired from the Justice Department: Ohr was a friend of Christopher Steele and the men stayed in touch after Steele left the British intelligence service. Steele contacted Ohr when he became concerned about the ties between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI who was fired two days short of being able to collect his pension, was a specialist in Russian organized crime and had handled the Russia investigation before Mueller was appointed. Lisa Page worked for the Justice Department trying organized crime cases, forcing on international organized crime and money laundering.

The more we learn about the politicians who took Russian money, the Russian businessmen whom Congress excludes from sanctions to do things like, say, open up aluminum plants in Kentucky, the more we hear pro-Trump voices echoing Russian propaganda, the more Trump goes after experts in international crime… the more I think about Mueller’s warning about the terrible danger of an iron triangle of international criminality.
posted by Sublimity at 10:38 AM on December 30 [87 favorites]


Giuliani’s Ukraine efforts are a formalization of the rumor-to-Trump pipeline (Philip Bump, WaPo)
Intelligence officials have briefed members of Congress on Russia’s effort to deflect blame for 2016 election interference onto Ukraine. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that the president at one point told White House officials that Russian President Vladimir Putin himself had informed Trump that Ukraine was to blame, something Trump accepted in defiance of the broad determinations of the intelligence community (and the publicly available evidence).

That line of argument may again be presented to Congress soon, in the form of a report Giuliani says he’s compiling that will aggregate the various allegations with which he has been presented in recent months. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) suggested over the weekend that any evidence presented by Giuliani should be scrubbed for possible Russian propaganda, an obviously important step, given the demonstrated links to Russia among several of those with whom he has been working.

But it addresses only part of the problem. The broader problem is Giuliani’s apparent lack of interest in validating the information he’s receiving. [...] That Giuliani is also briefing the president on the allegations he’s hearing simply offers an unusual shortcut between a rumor’s creation and its introduction to Trump. Normally, rumors filter to the president through Fox News or through random people on Twitter; in Giuliani’s case, he gets direct face time with the president in which to present his case. It’s not surprising, then, that Attorney General William P. Barr has reportedly cautioned Trump about Giuliani. But Giuliani is certainly giving Trump what he wants — and, as Trump wants, pushing it out publicly.

Graham and other Republicans have been happy to entertain (or even embrace) some of the allegations Giuliani and others have promoted in the interest of defending Trump during the impeachment effort. Graham’s suggestion that a formal presentation of evidence from Giuliani would demand vetting is therefore welcome. But it doesn’t address the real problem: that Trump himself is apparently more interested in what Giuliani says than how accurate it happens to be.
posted by katra at 10:39 AM on December 30 [5 favorites]


Pompeo to visit Ukraine as Senate weighs impeachment trial (AP)
In his meetings, Pompeo will “reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” as the country continues to battle Russia-backed separatists in the east, the State Department said. Pompeo also will honor Ukrainians who have died in the conflict, which intensified after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014, in a move condemned and rejected by most of the international community. The senior official said Pompeo would underscore that the U.S. will never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The official said Pompeo would discuss Zelenskiy’s anti-corruption efforts but would not comment on whether the secretary would raise Trump’s desire for an investigation into Hunter Biden and his role on the board of a Ukrainian energy company or discredited claims that Ukraine and not Russia was responsible for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
posted by katra at 11:50 AM on December 30 [1 favorite]


[This thread needs to retain its focus. If someone wants to make a separate thread on the peace talks, that would be ideal. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:38 PM on December 30 [3 favorites]


You know, it occurs to me that Both-Sides is possibly a similar wall for Trump as Cronkite was for Vietnam. There will come a time when the old way is untenable. Oh, they'll try as long as possible, but it can't hold forever, in the face of...everything.
posted by rhizome at 3:00 PM on December 30 [1 favorite]


Trump is amplifying his attacks using Twitter.
Let's look at the accounts he is interacting with! Many of these interactions do not appear to be organic.
Here is the account he Retweeted that exposed the Alleged Identity of the Whistleblower.
This is troubling!
posted by adamvasco at 4:38 PM on December 30 [15 favorites]


A little further down the thread linked just above by adamvasco:

MikeFarb
@mikefarb1
·
Dec 28
"If Trump is creating content using Fake Accounts, then Retweeting the content he created, to then have it amplified by any number of the 30+ Million Fake Accounts that follow him.

"This is Propaganda!

"He makes up a story. He spreads it to Tens of Millions of accounts with the press of a button. His 30 Million fake accounts spread it in minutes. It starts to Trend. It becomes News. Everyone is talking about it and it was all scripted."
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:12 PM on December 30 [17 favorites]


It's also the *exact fucking strategy* he just got busted for with Ukraine. He wanted a made-up thing announced that would dominate a news cycle and let him push propaganda that actually had been from him all along.
posted by odinsdream at 6:02 PM on December 30 [19 favorites]


The way I see it, it's the Strawman Fallacy applied to the news: create a depersonalized news item that provides attention to the thing you want to talk about. A straw-topic, if you will.
posted by rhizome at 6:27 PM on December 30 [3 favorites]


"He makes up a story. He spreads it to Tens of Millions of accounts with the press of a button. His 30 Million fake accounts spread it in minutes. It starts to Trend. It becomes News. Everyone is talking about it and it was all scripted."

Same thing the Bush administration did. For example, they leaked made-up evidence about WMDs in Iraq to the New York Times. The Times printed it uncritically. Then the White House cited the New York Times as evidence for WMDs.

Trump has just cut out the middle man. He doesn't need the Times anymore.
posted by JackFlash at 6:28 PM on December 30 [33 favorites]


"Help me Jesus! Help me Jewish God! Help me Allah! AAAAAHHH! Help me Tom Cruise! Tom Cruise, use your witchcraft on me to get the fire tweets off me!"

Surely some techie grad students (for bots n fakes n stuff) armed with 3 tweets a day from Tom Cruise (jk), Oprah, Clooney, DeNiro, Trippie Redd, and I dunno, Billie Eilish could get a topic-a-day to drown out the fascist propoganda. They should start a co-op.
posted by j_curiouser at 11:36 PM on December 30 [2 favorites]


Schumer seizes on new reporting in calls for trial witnesses (Politico)
“Simply put: In our fight to have key documents and witnesses in a Senate impeachment trial, these new revelations are a game-changer,” Schumer said at a news conference in New York City. [...] The New York Times story comes after the Center for Public Integrity obtained emails from Duffey that showed he contacted the Defense Department to hold off delivering aid to Ukraine about 90 minutes after Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens during a July 25 call.

“When you combine these new revelations with the explosive emails from Michael Duffey released last weekend, it makes the strongest case yet for a Senate trial to include the witnesses and documents we have requested,” Schumer said. “I hope every Republican senator should read this story and explains why they would oppose our reasonable request for witnesses and documents in the Senate trial.”
Susan Collins says she is 'open to witnesses' in impeachment trial (Politico)
“I think it's premature to decide who should be called until we see the evidence that is presented and get the answers to the questions that we senators can submit through the Chief Justice to both sides,” Collins told Maine Public Radio on Monday. [...] In the interview, Collins, who is viewed as a possible swing vote in the impeachment trial, also denounced McConnell for saying that he would be in “lockstep with the White House.”

"It is inappropriate, in my judgment, for senators on either side of the aisle to prejudge the evidence before they have heard what is presented to us, because the each of us will take an oath, an oath that I take very seriously to render impartial justice," Collins said.
posted by katra at 9:57 AM on December 31 [8 favorites]


RE: The entry from December 27 - fascinating. Seems like another angle on the general global battle over limited resources.

The name drop of an aluminum factory in Kentucky makes me think of this old thread.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 10:17 AM on December 31 [6 favorites]


Interesting play from Susan Collins, who is up for a tough re-election campaign. Presumably she wouldn't want to endanger GOP financing with a vote against Trump. Maybe she's using "impartiality" to angle for more money?
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:35 AM on December 31


So, what happens if this drags out into the spring and suddenly the threat of primaries doesn't matter to a bunch of people? It looks like sometime on or after super Tuesday, Trump loses the substance of the threat of "I'll primary you!"
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:35 AM on December 31 [7 favorites]


Trump is openly calling for his trial to be as corrupt as possible (Greg Sargent, WaPo Opinion)
One of the thorniest challenges of this moment is the difficulty of finding language adequate to capturing President Trump’s actual, openly stated positions. They are often so profoundly ridiculous or nakedly corrupt, or so audaciously saturated with bad faith, that we struggle to find ways to clearly convey what he’s genuinely telling us.

Case in point: Trump is now openly calling for his impeachment trial to be converted into something that is purely devoted to serving his own political needs — one that only includes witnesses that will help him keep smearing potential 2020 opponent Joe Biden, but has no meaningful relevance whatsoever to the corrupt conduct for which he has been impeached.

Incredibly, this comes as Senate Republicans push for a trial that features none of the witnesses who actually do have direct knowledge of that very same corrupt conduct. [...] Trump is again suggesting he wants Biden to testify — he has repeatedly called for testimony from Biden and his son Hunter — and claiming Democrats don’t want a trial because they fear this outcome.

This is utter nonsense: House Democrats have not sent the impeachment articles to the Senate because they first want to see what sort of procedure Trump and his GOP enablers will accept.

The ones who actually fear witnesses are Senate GOP leaders, who are refusing Democratic demands for testimony from those with the most direct knowledge of Trump’s freezing of military aid to extort Ukraine into announcing an investigation of the Bidens. They are doing this to protect Trump — and themselves — because he’s guilty as charged, and they know it.
La, la, la, la, la...
posted by katra at 10:47 AM on December 31 [12 favorites]


Ex-Bush Aides Share Theory About Pelosi Delaying Donald Trump’s Senate Trial
Paul Rosenzweig, who served as the Department of Homeland Security’s deputy assistant secretary for policy under the Bush administration, tweeted Monday that Pelosi could want to ensure Trump “is still under impeachment” when he delivers a State of the Union address on Feb 4.

“Imagine what it would be like if he got to give the SOTU having been cleared by the Senate ― it would be a full-blown triumphal rant,” Rosenzweig wrote.

“But if the impeachment is still pending, it might, instead, be an unhinged narcissistic screed of almost unimaginable insanity,” he added. “Just think of how painful it would be for 53 Republican Senators to sit in the halls of Congress, watching a live meltdown on national TV. That, alone, would be worth the price of admission.”
If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the winter.

MetaFilter: an unhinged narcissistic screed of almost unimaginable insanity.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:19 AM on December 31 [42 favorites]


So, what happens if this drags out into the spring and suddenly the threat of primaries doesn't matter to a bunch of people? It looks like sometime on or after super Tuesday, Trump loses the substance of the threat of "I'll primary you!"

He might lose that leverage sooner than you think. The filing deadline for the primaries in the first seven states on the list has already passed. The deadlines for filing in Mississippi and Kentucky pass on January 10.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:22 AM on December 31 [12 favorites]


I think it's premature to decide who should be called until we see the evidence that is presented and get the answers to the questions that we senators can submit through the Chief Justice to both sides

There's no difference between her position on witnesses in an impeachment trial and Mitch McConnell's.
The Senate's top Republican pointed out that when Clinton went on trial in the Senate in 1999, the Senate - which included a newly sworn-in Chuck Schumer, who'd voted weeks earlier in the House against impeaching Clinton — voted unanimously for a procedure "to go through the opening arguments, to have a written question period, and then, based upon that, deciding what witnesses to call."
I predict they "decide" to call zero witnesses.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:32 AM on December 31 [4 favorites]


Yeah, no kidding. We've heard plenty of evidence. We know those witnesses need to be called.
posted by xammerboy at 11:54 AM on December 31


Schumer Defends Call for Senate Impeachment Trial Witnesses Despite Opposition Under Clinton: 'Totally Different Situation' (Newsweek, Dec. 16, 2019)
"The witnesses in '99 had already given grand jury testimony. We knew what they were to say," the New York Democrat told reporters of his prior anti-witness stance. "The four witnesses we called have not been heard from. That is the difference. And it's a difference that is totally overwhelming... There's no analogy."
Trump's impeachment trial clouded by Schumer-McConnell feud (Politico, Dec. 23, 2019)
[...] Schumer can force votes on motions even if McConnell doesn’t support them, putting senators on record about witnesses and documents. Republicans are entering 2020 with a real chance at losing the majority, and Democrats believe if GOP incumbents vote against gathering more information in the trial, it could affect tough races in Maine, Colorado, North Carolina, Arizona and Iowa.

[...] Schumer said the two scenarios are different because of the documents and testimony received by the House during Clinton’s impeachment. Schumer wants the Senate to simultaneously establish rules for the trial and agree to witnesses and documents, something McConnell appears unwilling to consider.

Schumer has also argued new emails released to the Center for Public Integrity showing OMB communications bolsters his case for more information. The Democratic leader urged his Senate colleagues to take the holiday recess “to reflect on whether it is possible for the Senate to conduct a fair trial and reach a just outcome without reviewing all of the existing evidence and considering all of the available facts.”
posted by katra at 11:59 AM on December 31 [9 favorites]


Yesterday's news already but: the Kupperman subpoena suit was dismissed as "moot".
Kupperman had pressed for a ruling despite the subpoena withdrawal, arguing that the House could reissue it at any time or punish him by holding him in contempt of Congress. But Leon cited repeated assurances by the House that it would do no such thing, as well as a guarantee by the Justice Department that it would not prosecute Kupperman for refusing to comply with the subpoena. Leon also noted that the House issued its final impeachment report in December, underscoring its lack of interest in pursuing Kupperman’s testimony
Politico cites the Kupperman suit as a proxy for Bolton's testimony, which I think is incorrect. My understanding is that Schiff intentionally did not subpoena Bolton et al., so that they wouldn't get tied up in court. This leaves the Senate free to do so.

The House may not have needed Kupperman's testimony, but Bolton's at a trial another thing entirely.

This ruling also leaves the lower court's ruling as the definitive word on Trump’s absolute immunity claim: it’s utterly bogus.
posted by Dashy at 12:58 PM on December 31 [5 favorites]


I fucking hate the framing of that Newsweek piece. Of all the supposed hypocrisy to focus on...
posted by Gadarene at 1:11 PM on December 31 [2 favorites]


Basically, Bloomberg is the Democrat’s somewhat more polished Trump. If he wanted to do something useful he’d employ his very talented ad creators in getting out the vote.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:26 PM on December 31 [4 favorites]


I think putting a couple three new Articles of Impeachment up like every couple weeks would be an interesting strategy.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:31 PM on December 31 [17 favorites]


Or even just having new article investigations and then maybe even deciding some are not fully supported while many are. At least investigate every single possible crime to Benghazi levels.
posted by srboisvert at 3:37 PM on December 31 [13 favorites]


The Republican talking point has long been that Democrats have wanted to impeach ever since the election. Instead of just ceding the point, I’d rather see Democrats counter it with the fact that Trump committed impeachable acts before he was ever elected, and has done so uninterrupted even during the impeachment hearings.
posted by box at 4:45 PM on December 31 [28 favorites]


Chief Justice John Roberts warns about dangers of fake news (Politico)
Chief Justice John Roberts — who’s on the verge of an extraordinarily high-profile balancing act presiding over the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump — issued a warning on Tuesday about the dangers of misinformation in the internet era.

“In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public’s need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital,” Roberts declared in his annual New Year’s Eve message summing up the work of the federal judiciary. Roberts was not explicit about whether his call for increased civics education was intended as a rebuke of Trump, although some quickly read it that way. Trump has been widely criticized for repeating false information released online and for retweeting messages posted by conspiracy theorists and racists.

[...] Roberts also used his four-page message to note that, in the early days of the republic, rumors sometimes drove citizens to riot. He pointed to a 1788 attack on founder John Jay, who was struck in the head with a rock while trying to quell a lawless mob whipped up by talk that medical students were robbing graves to experiment on corpses.

The episode appears to have limited Jay’s contributions to the Federalist Papers, leaving most of those writings to be prepared by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Roberts observed. “It is sadly ironic that John Jay’s efforts to educate his fellow citizens about the Framers’ plan of government fell victim to a rock thrown by a rioter motivated by a rumor,” Roberts wrote. “Happily, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay ultimately succeeded in convincing the public of the virtues of the principles embodied in the Constitution. Those principles leave no place for mob violence.”
posted by katra at 5:13 PM on December 31 [7 favorites]


Um. . . that lawless mob was likely to have been whipped up in a rage because of the truth of medical students robbing graves which was standard practice until the 1880s.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:43 AM on January 1 [8 favorites]


Um. . . that lawless mob was likely to have been whipped up in a rage because of the truth of medical students robbing graves which was standard practice until the 1880s.

And today, the lawless mob includes Guiliani and his OANN camera crew, without the constitutional safeguards that CJ Roberts seems to be imploring us to remember, regardless of what feels like the truth, because that's why we have courts and due process. The whole point seems to be a reminder to avoid the lawlessness and abuse of power that is encouraged and normalized by Trump.
“We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary, a key source of national unity and stability,” the chief justice wrote on Tuesday. “But we should also remember that justice is not inevitable. We should reflect on our duty to judge without fear or favor, deciding each matter with humility, integrity, and dispatch. As the New Year begins, and we turn to the tasks before us, we should each resolve to do our best to maintain the public’s trust that we are faithfully discharging our solemn obligation to equal justice under law.”
posted by katra at 7:35 AM on January 1 [4 favorites]


There is also an unfortunate racial element to Justice Roberts' ahistorical revision of the 1788 Doctor's Riot. After petitions to the city's Common Council were ignored, free and enslaved black people were protesting the removal of bodies from the cemetery reserved for New York's black people, now known as the African Burial Ground. The crowd was not acting on what Roberts calls "chatter" or "a rumor"; before John Jay was hit with a rock (which caused the militia to open fire and kill as many as 20 people), the crowd had forced its way into New York Hospital's dissecting room and was enraged at the discovery of "several" of their loved ones' bodies "in various states of mutilation". Roberts is exonerating the practice of white doctors stealing black bodies through his misguided comparison to fake news.
posted by peeedro at 8:37 AM on January 1 [54 favorites]




Not to get too far afield from impeachment news, but hopefully staying relevant to the point of the danger of relying on emotional appeals in lieu of examining the evidence:
The petitioners didn’t ask for a stop to the grave-robbing, only that it be “conducted with the decency and propriety which the solemnity of such occasion requires.” But the petition was ignored; many in the city were willing to turn a blind eye to grave-robbing as long as those bodies were poor and black. However, on February 21, 1788, the Advertiser printed an announcement saying that a body of a white woman had been stolen from Trinity Churchyard. With that, popular resentment began to boil over.

There are conflicting accounts of how the riot began, but most place the start outside New York Hospital, where a group of boys playing in the grass saw something that upset them—and then incensed the city. In some tellings, the boys saw a severed arm hanging out of one of the hospital windows to dry. In other versions, one of the boys climbed a ladder and peered into the dissecting room, where a surgeon waved the severed arm at him. In yet other versions, the boy’s mother had recently died, and the surgeon told the boy the arm had belonged to his mother.
I'm not trying to dissuade anyone from the horror of CJ Roberts failing to acknowledge the larger atrocities that are ignored when he focuses on the deprivation of due process and the resulting anarchy, but I'm not seeing anything that undermines the larger point about the danger of mob 'justice.' It's not an 'exoneration' to decry a flawed process that fails to achieve justice under the law.
posted by katra at 9:36 AM on January 1 [1 favorite]


Giuliani Says He’s Prepared to ‘Do Demonstrations’ at Trump’s Impeachment Trial
Rudy Giuliani is prepared to do more than just testify at President Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial. The former New York City mayor made clear in comments to reporters on Tuesday night that he’s ready to pull out all the stops to defend his client—and that apparently includes giving “lectures” and doing “demonstrations.” Asked if he would testify at the trial, Giuliani appeared unable to settle on a single, coherent answer.

“I would testify, I would, um, do demonstrations. I’d give lectures, I’d give summations. Or, I’d do what I do best, I’d try the case. I’d love to try the case. Well I don’t know if anybody would have the courage to give me the case, but, uh, if you give me the case, I will prosecute it as a racketeering case, which I kind of invented anyway,” Giuliani said at a New Year’s Eve gala at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:25 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


Is it just me or is Giuliani offering to prosecute his own client for racketeering?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 12:52 PM on January 1 [15 favorites]


I think he's saying he'd prosecute Biden for racketeering because he's a blowhard, a terrible lawyer, and doesn't understand what impeachment is.
posted by hydropsyche at 1:01 PM on January 1 [11 favorites]


if you give me the case, I will prosecute it as a racketeering case, which I kind of invented anyway,

These people just can't stop lying. IE: Rudy doesn't seem to be old enough for this to be true so a little searching around:

Leaving aside the long history of going after organized crime for racketeering stretching to prohibition (though the term wasn't used until 1927) at least, the federal RICO act came into force in 1970 at which time Giuliani was still clerking.

A clerkship so vital to prosecuting Selective Service violations that despite participating in ROTC he got an occupational deferment from the draft board to avoid Vietnam. Swear to god, not making this up. Learning of a clerk getting a draft deferment to pursue SS cases just blew my irony meter right of the wall.
posted by Mitheral at 1:13 PM on January 1 [28 favorites]


Is it just me or is Giuliani offering to prosecute his own client for racketeering?

And ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the prosecution is not gonna get that man today. No! Because I'm gonna get him! My client, President Donald J. Trump, should go right to fuckin' jail!
posted by kirkaracha at 1:48 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


Maybe the grave robbing discussion could get its own FPP. It's super interesting but seems a derail from impeachment.
posted by medusa at 2:09 PM on January 1 [9 favorites]


I think he's saying that he invented racketeering, which I'm kind of inclined to believe.
posted by sexyrobot at 2:42 PM on January 1 [11 favorites]


I think he is suggesting that he would use the president's impeachment trial as an opportunity to prosecute a case against his political opponent. That would be laughable in a functional system where some semblance of rule of law could be taken for granted, but I'm beginning to think Rudy might just have a clearer understanding than most of the context he's operating under. Who's going to stop him?
posted by contraption at 5:26 PM on January 1 [16 favorites]


From Just Security: Exclusive: Unredacted Ukraine Documents Reveal Extent of Pentagon’s Legal Concerns

"“Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold.”

"This is what Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), told Elaine McCusker, the acting Pentagon comptroller, in an Aug. 30 email, which has only been made available in redacted form until now."

ETA: "The documents reveal growing concern from Pentagon officials that the hold would violate the Impoundment Control Act, which requires the executive branch to spend money as appropriated by Congress, and that the necessary steps to avoid this result weren’t being taken. Those steps would include notifying Congress that the funding was being held or shifted elsewhere, a step that was never taken. The emails also show that no rationale was ever given for why the hold was put in place or why it was eventually lifted. "
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:14 AM on January 2 [24 favorites]


The documents also indicate that despite multiple warnings from the Pentagon about how the delays meant that they wouldn't be able to obligate all the money before the end of the FY, OMB threw the Pentagon under the bus and claimed that the Pentagon had never warned OMB about the possibility.

These fuckers.

Federal contracting is lengthy and tedious, and you simply cannot wait until the end of the fiscal year and spend hundreds of millions of dollars. It just doesn't work that way.
posted by suelac at 1:22 PM on January 2 [9 favorites]


Exclusive: Unredacted Ukraine Documents Reveal Extent of Pentagon’s Legal Concerns

Perhaps the bigger scandal is not what is revealed in the documents, per se, because they only confirm previous evidence, but more the fact that the Bill Barr Justice Department had redacted every incriminating statement in the documents previously released to the House investigators. They weren't redacting for national security. They redacted every real-time complaint by career bureaucrats about the illegality of the hold. This is Bill Barr executing a coverup for his personal client, Donald Trump.

Bill Barr should be impeached for obstruction of justice.
posted by JackFlash at 1:54 PM on January 2 [74 favorites]


My understanding is that appointed officials can't be impeached, but they can be indicted and sent to jail, a la John Mitchell.
posted by rhizome at 2:12 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Then Indict TMFA.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:32 PM on January 2 [19 favorites]


who could indict the attorney general?

Art. 2, Sec. 4: "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

wikipedia suggests attorney general is an executive branch "officer of the united states," for such purposes, citing to this 2015 congressional research service report (at 3-8), which, in turn recites buckley v. valeo and edmunds v. us as authorities.
posted by 20 year lurk at 3:25 PM on January 2 [6 favorites]


[A few comments deleted. If there's going to be Iran or Iraq military action, it should probably be a separate post - this thread is about the impeachment.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:40 PM on January 2 [6 favorites]


on consideration, while an attorney general seems to be such an officer of the united states as may be impeached, his impeachment runs into the same problems in the senate as the president's... plus no chief justice presiding and the added possibility of a committee consisting of fewer than all senators conducting the(ir non-)trial, if i might crib a nunes bit, in moscow mitch's secret bunker under the senate, way out of the limelight. i suspect, due to that subcommittee possibility, that it wouldn't gum up other senate business as thoroughly as a presidential impeachment promises to.

though i think it would be fantastic brinkscongresspersonship if house republicans, having passed articles of impeachment for barr too (i think there are other cabinet members and agency directors who merit impeachment, ross for sure), should make a show of carrying both those articles and the president's over to be presented to the senate, but even then, only presenting those articles impeaching barr to the senate and withholding, for the nonce, the president's. nyaa nyaa.

also, the house should make sure to hand-deliver all correspondence with senate members, until those presidential impeachment articles have been presented to the senate. make those press on stakeout earn it.
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:07 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


Isn't Barr still "acting" AG? Does that complicate or simplify his indictment and removal?
posted by sexyrobot at 3:54 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Barr was confirmed by the Senate.
posted by Gelatin at 6:11 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Explosive report indicates that Donald Trump's loans from Deutsche Bank were backed by Russia (Mark Sumner, Daily Kos Staff)
According to Forensic News, Trump’s loans from Deutsche Bank were underwritten by a Russian state-owned bank. That news reportedly comes from a whistleblower with access to documents from both Deutsche Bank and Russia’s state-owned VTB Bank. VTB Bank was also the proposed lender on the never-completed Trump Tower Moscow project.

The question of why Deutsche Bank would extend a series of huge loans to Trump has been dangling since before he ever announced his candidacy for president on a golden escalator ride. When Trump first went to Deutsche Bank, he was worse than broke. He had just finished bankrupting multiple casinos in New Jersey, and then had convinced investors to back a takeover of those casinos at a fraction of the original value. Then Trump deliberately allowed the investment group to go bankrupt so he could grab the whole deal himself at a fraction of what his investors had paid. Then he went bankrupt. Again. And along the way he was socked with a massive fine for money laundering at his now bankrupt (again) casino.

Trump was so fiscally radioactive that no American bank would let him in the door. But Deutsche Bank turned around and gifted Trump with loans that gave him a fresh start and an apparently miracle turnaround of his New York real estate empire. Those loans have always been the subject of head-scratching over just what Deutsche Bank could have been thinking. But if Forensic News is right, what Deutsche Bank was thinking was that it wasn’t risking a damn thing, because the Russian government was actually vouching for Trump through VTB Bank. If Trump didn’t come through, Vladimir Putin was offering to make it good.
I guess Trump is an expert at using multiple "Wag The Dog" scenarios to keep people distracted.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:46 AM on January 3 [34 favorites]


I guess Trump is an expert at using multiple "Wag The Dog" scenarios to keep people distracted.

I really really, really dislike the "wag the dog" thing because one its biggest applications was in the Republican and international response to Clinton's 1998 "Infinite Reach" missile strikes in Afghanistan and Sudan targeting.....drum-roll please....Al Qaeda bases and leadership. At the time I 100% believed that it was dog wagging. This "wag the dog" rhetoric cut short the planned strikes and left Al Qaeda largely intact and relatively unscathed. In retrospect Infinite Reach seems quite reasonable and if successful might have prevented the largest terrorist attack on American soil, 20 years of military folly, and saved hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.
posted by srboisvert at 8:23 AM on January 3 [15 favorites]


The Forensic News site is down at the moment. But there's a copy of the article available on Scribd.
posted by cosimoilvecchio at 10:31 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


I really really, really dislike the "wag the dog" thing because one its biggest applications was in the Republican and international response to Clinton's 1998 "Infinite Reach" missile strikes

This is the "genius" of projection -- by making preposterous bad-faith arguments, you can rob the arguments themselves of legitimacy when they are (appropriately) turned on you.

I mean, Republicans point to their own impeachment of Clinton as evidence that impeachment is nothing more than a political stunt.

Besides, the real problem with "wag the dog" is that it imputes far too much thought and planning to things. I think "burning down the house to distract from the dirty laundry inside" is much more apt here.
posted by bjrubble at 1:52 PM on January 3 [12 favorites]


Maybe the grave robbing discussion could get its own FPP. It's super interesting but seems a derail from impeachment.

FPP: The 1788 Doctor's Riot and Colonial White Nationalism

Although, Trump’s political fate could rest in the hands of the presiding judge – so what sort of role will the chief justice play? (Guardian) still seems relevant to impeachment...
Everyone knows what the New Year’s task before Roberts is. “This language from the Chief Justice is encouraging”, tweeted Larry Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard.
posted by katra at 2:19 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Judges struggle over Trump bid to block McGahn congressional testimony (Reuters)
U.S. appeals court judges on Friday appeared skeptical about broad legal arguments by President Donald Trump’s administration seeking to block a former White House lawyer from testifying to Congress as part of the impeachment effort against Trump, but also seemed wary about stepping into the heated political fight. [...]

House lawyers have said McGahn’s testimony remains vital to the impeachment proceedings and could affect strategy for the Senate trial. The House has not ruled out McGahn’s testimony or the Mueller grand jury material prompting additional articles of impeachment.

It was unclear whether the judges would rule in the two cases before the Senate impeachment trial. Their rulings could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately may decide the disputes. [...]

House lawyer Douglas Letter stressed the importance of courts deciding such disputes, saying it avoids further conflict between branches of government. Absent court action, he raised the hypothetical of a “gun battle” between the House sergeant-at-arms and Attorney General William Barr’s security detail if the Justice Department refused to hand over the material.
posted by katra at 2:48 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


Gun battle over a drug deal gone bad?

Right there, that's a quality metaphor.
posted by box at 2:55 PM on January 3 [8 favorites]


Indicted Giuliani associate close to sharing evidence with Intel Committee (Politico)
J. Paul Oetken, a federal judge in the Southern District of New York, on Friday authorized Giuliani associate Lev Parnas to begin providing materials held by prosecutors, including the contents of an iPhone taken during his Oct. 9 arrest.

The new files could add to the weight of evidence Intelligence Committee investigators uncovered as they probed President Donald Trump’s efforts to press Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rivals, including former vice president Joe Biden. [...]

The new stream of evidence underscores the precarious position lawmakers find themselves in on the precipice of the Senate trial. Just a day earlier, new documents obtained by online national security publication Just Security provided fresh evidence about Trump’s decision to withhold military aide from Ukraine — and the turmoil it provoked inside the administration — underscoring that significant evidence continues to emerge despite the rapidly unfolding impeachment process.
posted by katra at 3:24 PM on January 3 [7 favorites]


Democrats seize on report to press for key witnesses in Senate impeachment trial (WaPo)
Democrats on Thursday seized on a new report citing unredacted emails that bolster the case that President Trump was directly involved in withholding military aid to Ukraine as he was seeking investigations that could benefit his reelection bid. [...] The report by Kate Brannen, published by Just Security, referenced an email from Michael Duffey, [...] which followed a meeting with Trump that included senior administration officials, Duffey told McCusker, “Clear direction from POTUS to hold.” [...]

“The newly-revealed unredacted emails are a devastating blow to Senator McConnell’s push to have a trial without the documents and witnesses we’ve requested,” Schumer said in a statement Thursday. “These emails further expose the serious concerns raised by Trump administration officials about the propriety and legality of the president’s decision to cut off aid to Ukraine to benefit himself.” [...]

In a tweet, Pelosi said, “Trump engaged in unprecedented, total obstruction of Congress, hiding these emails, all other documents, and his top aides from the American people. His excuse was a phony complaint about the House process. What’s the excuse now? Why won’t Trump & McConnell allow a fair trial?”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a statement that the messages show that the White House “cannot argue that the aid was held for any reason other than to pressure Ukraine into helping the President’s re-election efforts.”
Schumer says Senate no closer to setting rules for trial; McConnell says chamber will continue with ‘ordinary business’ (WaPo)
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Friday that the chamber was no closer to setting rules for an impeachment trial of President Trump than it was before breaking for the holidays, as he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) traded barbs during floor speeches.
posted by katra at 3:33 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


So, just to put some context around this recently released information:

On December 12 and 20, 300 pages of emails were released, with redactions by the Justice Department, to The Center for Public Integrity following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

Then news breaks on January 2 that Just Security blogger Kate Brannan had reviewed unredacted versions of the communications and conveyed, in the words of WaPo writer Aaron Blake,
The big new takeaway is that there was significant concern within the Pentagon about the legality and sustainability of the hold. Despite that, according to one email from top OMB official Michael Duffey on Aug. 30, there was “clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold.”
The even bigger takeaway, though, may be how much this fact was obscured. The emails were previously released in redacted form, but many of the redaction choices are puzzling and even suspicious. The redactions include repeated references to legal problems with withholding the aid, basic questions about that subject, and warnings that waiting until too late in the fiscal year (which ended Sept. 30) might mean that some of the funds would never get to Ukraine.
Finally, these same documents constitute a part of the information that the House subpoenaed, and they did not receive them, in line with the Trump administration's pattern of stonewalling congressional investigations; see Adam Schiff's statement from January 2.
posted by Sublimity at 3:53 PM on January 3 [18 favorites]


John Bolton you say? Maybe you didn't know he had a Super PAC? Putting the screws to him to, let's say maybe, motivate a testmonial appearance? Cue...Cambridge Analytica
@AmbJohnBolton paid #CambridgeAnalytica for psychographic targeting via his SuperPAC in 2013-14. Ads targeted voters categorized in 5 groups. Look familiar? Then you were targeted
posted by rhizome at 5:58 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


Americans roughly divided on whether voters should decide Trump’s fate rather than the Senate (John Wagner, WaPo)
Nearly 6 in 10 Americans think President Trump has committed an impeachable offense, but the public is more evenly split on whether voters should decide his fate in this year’s elections rather than have the Senate remove him from office, according to a new poll.

The 538-Ipsos poll also finds that congressional Democrats, Republicans and Trump alike get low marks from the public for how they are handling the impeachment process.
Our Poll Finds A Majority Of Americans Think The Evidence Supports Trump’s Removal (Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux and Laura Bronner, FiveThirtyEight)
But in the latest installment of our survey with Ipsos, where we use Ipsos’s KnowledgePanel to poll the same group of respondents every two weeks, a majority (57 percent) of Americans said they think Trump committed an impeachable offense. Fifty-two percent said they think Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine or his refusal to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry constitute enough evidence to remove him from office.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:25 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


The voters already had their say in the 2018 election when they picked the senators that will decide his fate according to the Constitution.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:43 AM on January 4 [4 favorites]


The voters already had their say in the 2018 election when they picked the senators that will decide his fate according to the Constitution.

I wouldn't put it that way given that only a third of the Senate is elected every two years. Most of the Senate wasn't elected with any view to deciding Trump's fate in an impeachment trial.

The point that I would make is that if the Senate actually did their job, they would not only remove Trump, they would bar him from future public service, which is not something that the people can do directly by way of an election. That is, we can refuse to vote for Trump, but there's no referendum item that says, "We think Trump should never hold office again."
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 10:22 AM on January 4 [4 favorites]


But maybe there goddamn should be!
posted by VTX at 11:20 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't put it that way given that only a third of the Senate is elected every two years. Most of the Senate wasn't elected with any view to deciding Trump's fate in an impeachment trial.

Fair enough! But the whole "let the voters have their say" argument is dumb. The voters already chose their representatives and senators to perform the duties of their offices, among which are potentially impeaching the president in the House and trying him in the Senate.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:31 PM on January 4 [8 favorites]


And the core of the issue is trying to subvert the election process. Saying that the system under attack is the thing that will be used to rectify it is madness.
posted by Candleman at 4:45 PM on January 4 [14 favorites]


I'll believe "Let the voters have their say" when we get rid of the electoral college.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:55 PM on January 4 [26 favorites]


Trump's lawless thuggery is corrupting justice in America
Robert Reich/ The Guardian
posted by mumimor at 6:21 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]


Top Republican suggests changing Senate rules to begin Trump impeachment trial within days
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham suggested Sunday that Republicans should try to change Senate rules governing impeachment if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to withhold the charges against President Trump — an unlikely 11th-hour bid to begin a trial within days without the actual documents.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was unequivocal in a Senate floor speech on Friday that “we can’t hold a trial without the articles; the Senate’s own rules don’t provide for that.” But Graham (R-S.C.), a close ally of Trump, floated the idea of a unilateral GOP move, saying he would work with McConnell to allow the Senate to proceed without the two charges against Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
...
Senate rules suggest such a move would be difficult, if not impossible. It would take 60 votes to pass a resolution on impeachment outside a trial and 67 votes to change the impeachment rules. That threshold would require Democratic support, since McConnell has only 53 Republicans — and Democrats would be loath to undercut Pelosi.

The idea could be moot in a matter of days. Multiple Democratic officials expect Pelosi to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate as soon as this week — though Pelosi’s office said Friday that no decision has been made and declined to detail her plans.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:29 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


I just hope I live long enough to hear the revelations about what kompromat Putin has on Trump AND Graham...
posted by PhineasGage at 3:42 PM on January 5 [12 favorites]


I used to think that senior Republicans were falling into line behind Trump because they were compromised. Now I don't; there's too many of them for it to be a secret. I think they're just that nasty.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:01 PM on January 5 [6 favorites]


My drunk self sees this new push to undercut the impeachment trial as republicans pissing themselves in fear of a war with Iran. A) They cant get the rules changed much like the dems can't get the senate GOP to commit to removal. B) WTF prompted this in a news-cycle otherwise dominated by WW3? C) The potential for a war is starting off as deeply unpopular and will only further approach the crazification factor as the lack of evidence becomes apparent.

The GOP heads desperately don't want this war.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:13 PM on January 5


Although that might mostly be because its too early and too many body bags will be shipped home prior to November.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:14 PM on January 5


Flouting War Powers Act, Trump claims his tweets are sufficient notice to Congress that U.S. may strike Iran (WaPo)
President Trump claimed Sunday that his tweets are sufficient notice to Congress of any possible U.S. military strike on Iran, in an apparent dismissal of his obligations under the War Powers Act of 1973. [...]

“These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner,” Trump tweeted from his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., late Sunday afternoon. “Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!” [...]

Several congressional Democrats sharply criticized the president on Sunday afternoon for appearing to dismiss the War Powers Act.

“OMG, Trump thinks a crazed Tweet satisfies his War Powers Act obligations to Congress,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) tweeted. “Our President has taken us to the brink of war and is now vamping with no plan and no clue. Please, someone in the GOP, take the car keys - read the 25th Amendment.”

The 25th Amendment outlines a procedure by which the Cabinet can remove a president from office.
posted by katra at 5:31 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


Three Cheers for Speaker Pelosi’s Pause
As a constitutional matter, there is no special timetable that governs the transmittal of the House’s bill of impeachment to the Senate for trial. The Constitution merely provides that the Senate controls the procedures for trial, which cannot commence until the bill of impeachment is finalized and transmitted and House managers—prosecutors in the Senate trial—appointed. The gap between the House vote impeaching President Clinton and the Senate trial was five weeks; patience like empathy seems to be in short supply this season.
(Emphasis added)
posted by kirkaracha at 5:45 PM on January 5 [15 favorites]


Impeachment: Warren accuses Trump of 'wag the dog' strike on Suleimani (Guardian)
Warren told CNN’s State of the Union it was “reasonable” to ask if the strike was meant to be a distraction, “particularly when the administration, immediately after having taken this decision, offers a bunch of contradictory explanations for what’s going on.

“There was a reason that he chose this moment, not a month ago, not a month from now, not a less aggressive, less dangerous response.”

Echoing the terms of the articles of impeachment, Warren accused him of using foreign policy or “whatever he can to advance the interests of Donald Trump”.
posted by katra at 8:21 PM on January 5 [17 favorites]


Bolton ‘prepared to testify’ in Senate if subpoenaed (Washington Post)

The article gives no specific indication as to how Bolton would respond to a subpoena from the House.
posted by nickmark at 9:32 AM on January 6 [6 favorites]


John Bolton (Bolton's website) says he'll testify (NYT) if he's subpoenaed (CNN, autoplay video). From the NYT link:
Mr. Bolton declined to say on Monday precisely what he would be willing to tell Congress. But former White House officials and people close to Mr. Bolton have indicated that his testimony would likely be damning to Mr. Trump and put additional pressure on moderate Republicans to consider convicting him.
posted by box at 9:40 AM on January 6 [6 favorites]


Put him in front of the House for a new article of impeachment.
posted by rhizome at 10:31 AM on January 6


Pelosi's statement:

"The President & Sen. McConnell have run out of excuses. They must allow key witnesses to testify, and produce the documents Trump has blocked, so Americans can see the facts for themselves.

The Senate cannot be complicit in the President's cover-up. #DefendOurDemocracy"

Schiff's statement:

"Bolton is an important witness to misconduct involving Ukraine that he called a “drug deal.”

Bolton refused to testify in the House, following Trump’s orders.

Now he is willing to come forward. The Senate must allow testimony from him, Mulvaney and others. The coverup must end."

I can't understand why both of them are leaving it to the Senate to subpoena Bolton, when, as far as I can tell, the House could also subpoena him in pursuit of a new article of impeachment or as part of their oversight duties. It seems to me that Bolton doesn't have a good argument not to comply with the House if he's willing to do so in the Senate, and we know that McConnell is disinclined to call witnesses. Why not at least try?
posted by scarylarry at 10:39 AM on January 6 [10 favorites]


Why not at least try?

Because Bolton is playing a game. If the House subpoenas Bolton, he can go to a judge just like his associate and protege Kupperman did when subpoenaed. Then Bolton cannot be compelled to testify until the judge, all of the appeals courts and the Supreme Court rule on the case, which could take months or a year.

The only way you can get Bolton to testify in any reasonable time frame is if he voluntarily agrees to testify before getting the subpoena.
posted by JackFlash at 12:04 PM on January 6 [4 favorites]


You may wonder why the House last week rescinded their subpoena for Kupperman. For the same reason, if there is any hope of getting him to testify before the Senate, they have to take the issue out of the hands of the judge. The judge dismissed the case, allowing the Senate to request his testimony.
posted by JackFlash at 12:08 PM on January 6


via the Guardian:
Emma Dumain (@Emma_Dumain)

.@JohnCornyn tells reporters he would have no objection to calling Bolton to testify, saying it would prove Dems think their existing impeachment evidence is "thin gruel." He did pause when reminded Bolton referred to the Ukraine episode as a "drug deal." January 6, 2020
John Bolton willing to testify in Trump's impeachment trial (Politico)
“It is now up to four Senate Republicans to support bringing in Mr. Bolton,” Schumer said in a statement, renewing his demand for three other witnesses to appear for testimony: acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, top Mulvaney aide Robert Blair and senior budget official Michael Duffey. All three refused to appear for testimony before House impeachment investigators.

“If any Senate Republican opposes issuing subpoenas to the four witnesses and documents we have requested they would make absolutely clear they are participating in a cover up,” Schumer added, noting that Bolton’s lawyer has already said his client has information to share with investigators that has not been previously disclosed.
posted by katra at 12:13 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


The big question in my mind, prompted by some Twitter speculation, is whether Bolton is doing this so he can lie in Trump's defense as a way to repay the administration for finally giving him the Iran war he's always wanted.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:15 PM on January 6


The big question in my mind, prompted by some Twitter speculation, is whether Bolton is doing this so he can lie in Trump's defense as a way to repay the administration for finally giving him the Iran war he's always wanted.

Nope, that's too complicated. Bolton is holding out because he is a dramaqueen, and also because of his book deal.

Given that all hawks are chickens, he may also be scared of Trump, and waiting for the Republicans to change horses.
posted by mumimor at 12:19 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


Bolton is a snake. He only cares about his own warmongering interests. Do not assume that his interests align with your interests, ever.
posted by JackFlash at 12:24 PM on January 6 [9 favorites]


Bolton testimony would almost certainly be damaging to Trump, associate says (WaPo)
Bolton’s testimony would be almost certainly be politically damaging to Trump, according to a person close to him who was not authorized to discuss private conversations.

In recent months, Bolton has confided to friends that he was deeply troubled by his time at the White House and by the president’s behavior, but he has declined to offer many details, the person said, adding that Bolton’s support for Trump’s hard line on Iran would not influence any possible testimony.

“Those are different issues. One doesn’t affect the other,” the person said.
Bolton Is Willing to Testify in Trump’s Impeachment Trial (NYT)
Although Mr. Bolton never spoke with House investigators, his aides provided them with a portrait of how he viewed Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. The aides said that Mr. Bolton was deeply concerned about how Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, pressured the Ukranians to investigate Democrats. A top former deputy testified under oath that Mr. Bolton told White House colleagues that Mr. Giuliani was a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”

Others described a campaign by Mr. Bolton to marshal the administration’s top national security officials to convince Mr. Trump in August and September to release his hold on the military assistance for Ukraine. At one point, Mr. Bolton met privately with the president to press his case that it was in the United States’ best interest to unfreeze the funds, though the precise substance of the discussion is not publicly known.
posted by katra at 12:28 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


WaPo: "Bolton’s testimony would be almost certainly be politically damaging to Trump, according to a person close to him who was not authorized to discuss private conversations."

What kind of anonymous source bullshit is this? A person not authorized to discuss private conversations who nevertheless professes to be discussing private conversations?

This is the WaPo being played by a public relations flack. Tells us who it is or STFU.

And if Bolton is so "concerned", why didn't he voluntarily tell House investigators what he knows? Bolton is only concerned about himself.
posted by JackFlash at 12:37 PM on January 6 [8 favorites]


Maybe there is something much bigger going on (Guardian) that is compelling Bolton to act now: "The US military has sent a letter to the Iraqi military announcing the “onward movement” of American forces after the Iraqi parliament voted to expel the troops, indicating a withdrawal."
posted by katra at 12:52 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Trump demands hasty end to impeachment, accusing Democrats of a 'con' (Morgan Chalfant, The Hill)

In a series of tweets, naturally.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:53 PM on January 6


"The US military has sent a letter to the Iraqi military announcing the “onward movement” of American forces after the Iraqi parliament voted to expel the troops, indicating a withdrawal."

Via tweet:
Joint Chiefs Chair GEN Milley: “That letter is a draft it was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should not have been released…poorly worded, implies withdrawal, that is not what’s happening”

This is fucking humiliating.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:11 PM on January 6 [14 favorites]




I don’t think Bolton has some nefarious scheme at play. Yes, he wants to bomb the Mideast but he wants to do it by the book. And, while Trump wants to bomb it too, he doesn’t read books.

This puts Bolton in a bind — Trump can be manipulated into giving him what he wants, if Bolton is willing to ignore the process.

I don’t think he’s that kind of guy. He’s lawful evil, not chaotic evil.

So why doesn’t he just turn a dime on Trump? Two reasons, I think:

1. The Democrats aren’t his friends, so he won’t do anything that helps them unless he has to.
2. I’m sure Bolton is a believer in the theory of unitary executive power, so even though he wants to harm Trump, he doesn’t want to harm the presidency. There is no “out” to a subpoena issued in the context of impeachment, so he would have no choice but to comply.

Yes, this is a moment unprecedented in recent (all?) American history, so you would think loyalty to the Republic writ large would overcome the reasons I list above but if there’s anything the current crop of Republicans have shown us, it is their fondness for the view inside their colons.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:48 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Bolton thinks he's Jackie Brown but he's really Peter Brady.
posted by rhizome at 2:57 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


This puts Bolton in a bind — Trump can be manipulated into giving him what he wants, if Bolton is willing to ignore the process.

I don’t think he’s that kind of guy. He’s lawful evil, not chaotic evil.


Right, because politics is the art of compromise and Bolton sucks at politics. He's a hardliner, and hardliners by definition will not give an inch on whatever it is their imagination is masturbating over. Furthermore, all of this is a kind of "lawful," but there's no reason to ascribe black-letter law to his goals. He wants to beat up on people, and he's spent a career figuring out how to use the system against those people. "Just give me what I want or nobody gets hurt."
posted by rhizome at 3:01 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Susan Collins backpedaling like a champ on calling of witnesses when confronted with Bolton's offer. Sad and funny at the same time watching her try to handle the question.
posted by Harry Caul at 3:40 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


Bolton’s willingness to testify in Trump’s impeachment trial ramps up pressure on Senate Republicans (WaPo)
At least one Senate Republican, Mitt Romney (Utah), agreed Monday that it was imperative that Bolton testify, while Democrats insisted that Republicans’ refusal to allow him to tell his story would be tantamount to a “coverup.” [...] Two moderate Senate Republicans — Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — have said they’re open to hearing from witnesses. And Romney threw his support behind calling Bolton, increasing the likelihood that moderates may force McConnell’s hand eventually. [...]

Still, the same centrist Republican senators signaled that they were willing to start the trial without a deal for Bolton’s testimony, keeping McConnell in firm control for now as he works to delay any decision on additional witnesses until after House Democrats present their case and the president’s defense team rebuts it. “There are a number of witnesses that may well be appropriate for the stage three, of which he would certainly be one,” Collins said of Bolton.

[...] People familiar with Bolton’s tenure at the National Security Council expect him to corroborate other impeachment witnesses’ testimony that he was aghast that U.S. military aid was being held back as the president and his allies pressured Ukraine to open politically advantageous probes, according to people familiar with his views.

[...] Additionally, people close to him note that Bolton also has an expansive view of presidential power. As a result, it is unclear whether he would testify that he believes Trump overstepped his constitutional authority in his dealings with Ukraine.

[...] Bolton, Hill said, equated the discussions with a “drug deal” — and told her to immediately report it to John Eisenberg, the top lawyer for the National Security Council. Additionally, William B. Taylor Jr., the then-acting ambassador to Ukraine, testified that Bolton was “very sympathetic” when he expressed concerns to the then-national security adviser that military aid to Ukraine was being leveraged for political favors. Bolton recommended that Taylor send a “first person” cable to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about his worries to document the issue.
posted by katra at 6:57 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


prompted by some Twitter speculation, is whether Bolton is doing this so he can lie in Trump's defense as a way to repay the administration for finally giving him the Iran war he's always wanted.

Look, Bolton doesn't want a war with Iran like he would want a cookie or the complete set of Friends on DVD, because it would be a neat thing to have. To the extent that Bolton "wants" a war with anyone it's because he's an ideologue who believes in a sort of "Pax Americana" enforced at the end of a gun - that advancing America's interests via military actions (or the threat thereof) is both morally justified and far more efficient than most diplomacy or negotiation. Which means he thinks we should take down potential threats while they're still "potential." He pushed for military action against Iran because he saw them as a threat and since America's got the big stick we should use it. He's already spoken out in favor of Soleimani's assassination, because he thinks it will seriously weaken Iran along multiple axes.

All this speculation about some kind of quid pro quo of a war with Iran to buy Bolton's silence is making a category error about Bolton's worldview - an attack on Iran is not giving him personally as an individual a thing that he wants that he'd be willing to trade over, it's carrying out foreign policy in the way he thinks it should happen, regardless of any supposed personal satisfaction Bolton might get from it.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:54 PM on January 6 [9 favorites]


I mustache you a question.
posted by adept256 at 8:58 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


Defense secretary's chief of staff to step down (Politico)
Chewning was featured in a recently released trove of unredacted emails that show Pentagon officials' concerns with the legality of White House moves this summer to hold up military assistance to Ukraine, an issue at the center of President Donald Trump's impeachment.

In the emails reported by Just Security, Chewning in late August relayed to acting Pentagon comptroller Elaine McCusker questions from defense contractor L3Harris Technologies about the status of the Ukraine funding. McCusker criticized the Office of Management and Budget for saying the freeze wouldn't prevent the aid from being fully spent.

Chewning later wrote that a memo to OMB, which warned that the Ukraine aid was in danger of not being fully spent by the end of the fiscal year, will have to wait until after a September meeting between Vice President Mike Pence and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Poland.

“We expect the issue to get resolved then," he wrote to McCusker. "If not, I think we need to send the letter.”

His departure comes after a string of senior officials left the Pentagon last month or announced they were stepping down, including the director of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the acting undersecretary for personnel and readiness, the principal deputy undersecretary for intelligence, and the assistant secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs.
posted by katra at 10:08 PM on January 6 [7 favorites]


On MSNBC this morning they were sort-of speculating that Bolton turning on Trump would be a personal thing; Trump pushed him out and now Bolton wants payback. Also increased book sales, which will certainly happen now.

Whether that will end up having any substantial impact on what ultimately happens to Trump re: impeachment: shrug.
posted by emjaybee at 6:53 AM on January 7


Thanks to Sublimity for bringing Heather Cox Richardson's daily newsletter to my attention. Her analysis is invaluable.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:17 AM on January 7 [8 favorites]




The classic take of an abuser: "You made me do it."
posted by Gelatin at 8:34 AM on January 7 [19 favorites]


Guardian: "Congressman Justin Amash, a former Republican who left the party over his opposition to Trump, criticized Senate Republicans who have argued the eventual impeachment trial should only allow evidence collected by the House.
Justin Amash (@justinamash) What @marcorubio proposes here is not at all how a trial works. It’s how a double standard works: There’s one standard of justice for the people and another standard of justice for President Trump and other elites.

Worth repeating. https://t.co/eHNHoeAzXV
January 7, 2020

Marco Rubio and other Republican senators raised this objection after John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, said he would testify in the trial if he were subpoenaed.
McConnell’s coverup for Trump cannot make this one thing disappear (Greg Sargent, WaPo Opinion)
Here’s the bottom line. Even if Senate Republicans successfully head off witnesses and rush through an acquittal, the whole affair will be forever stained by the indelible fact that they could only exonerate Trump by refusing to permit a full reckoning — and refusing to hear the very sort of testimony they themselves claimed to want for months.

That’s one fact that McConnell’s coverup cannot make disappear.
posted by katra at 9:40 AM on January 7 [15 favorites]


Collins, Murkowski and Romney have all folded and declared they will vote with McConnell on impeachment proceedings. Apparently their "concerns" have evaporated into thin air.
posted by JackFlash at 10:56 AM on January 7 [12 favorites]


Politico: McConnell prepares to move forward on impeachment trial rules without Democrats (Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine)
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:13 AM on January 7


Have Collins or Murkowski ever cast a deciding vote on anything positive, except the ACA?
posted by benzenedream at 11:22 AM on January 7


Have Collins or Murkowski ever cast a deciding vote on anything positive, except the ACA?

I believe Murkowski also voted against Kavanaugh.
posted by joethefob at 11:51 AM on January 7


I believe Murkowski also voted against Kavanaugh.
She did not. When the vote was called she voted "present" in accordance with an arrangement that had been worked out in advance to allow her to not cast a vote to confirm but not jeopardize the confirmation, either. It's hard to identify a single moment of Peak Murkowski but that would certainly be a candidate.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:02 PM on January 7 [13 favorites]


That wasn't a deciding vote though. The pattern is that she only ever votes against the party line when it won't make a difference. If the GOP had a slimmer majority been slim enough that they needed every GOP vote to confirm him she'd have voted for him despite whatever noises she might have made about "grave concerns".
posted by VTX at 12:03 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Also, anybody who votes against a measure that passed by definition did not cast a deciding vote.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:03 PM on January 7 [9 favorites]


Guardian: "Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee, said leadership had not ruled out the possibility of issuing a subpoena to John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser.
Jesse Rodriguez (@JesseRodriguez) .@RepAdamSchiff tells @mitchellreports that House subpoenaing @AmbJohnBolton is not "off the table"
January 7, 2020

Bolton has said he would testify in a Senate impeachment trial if he were subpoenaed, but it’s unclear how he would respond to a House subpoena.
posted by katra at 1:34 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Real quid pro quo: McConnell keeps funds flowing to Collins' campaign, gets her vote on impeachment (Joan McCarter, Daily Kos Staff)
After a brief flirtation with principle, spine, and independence, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is back to form. She's providing cover for Sen. Susan Collins, as she always does, to be a Donald Trump toady.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:38 PM on January 7 [10 favorites]


How a Senate trial could work if Mitch McConnell gets his way
Here’s a look at how a Senate impeachment trial could go if McConnell gets his way — and how Democrats hope to override it.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:02 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Why Is Mitch McConnell So Afraid of John Bolton? (Neal K. Katyal and George T. Conway III, NYT Opinion)
Mr. Bolton himself has said that he possesses new information that has not been revealed. He even gave a speech saying that some of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy decisions were made in his self-interest, not in the interest of the American people.
New Ukraine revelations hang over impeachment trial (Politico)
New witnesses are volunteering evidence that the House was unable to obtain in its three-month investigation, which resulted in charges that Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress. And a series of lawsuits and disclosures has yielded new documents and emails that the Trump administration initially withheld. Even more releases are likely in the coming weeks, complicating an imminent Senate trial to determine whether Trump should be removed from office. [...]

As a result, the case has continued to evolve even weeks after the House’s impeachment proceedings formally concluded.

Former national security adviser John Bolton’s surprise offer Monday to testify at Trump’s impeachment trial — after refusing the House’s request to appear late last year — was the exclamation point. But it was only the latest in a string of revelations and promises of new information.
posted by katra at 6:52 PM on January 7 [10 favorites]


Remember when McConnell was 'fine' with Pelosi withholding impeachment articles? Not anymore (Kerry Eleveld, Daily Kos Staff)
How do you know when you have Senate Majority Leader over a barrel? When he starts accusing you of "shameless game-playing," [NY Post] as he did of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon. “The House Democrats’ turn is over," McConnell said, complaining about Pelosi’s refusal to transmit Trump’s impeachment articles to the upper chamber. "The Senate has made its decision. There will be no haggling with the House over Senate procedure." McConnell later tweeted a similar sentiment from his Twitter account.

Wow, seems like McConnell's pretty desperate to get those articles now. Remember in December when he rather smugly declared "fine with me" [MSN] after Pelosi announced she wouldn't immediately transmit the articles? Well, McConnell's antsy enough to get those articles now that Senate Republicans started pushing out quotes [WaPo] from congressional Democrats who signaled their interest in the articles' transmission too. Gee, Mitch, what's the hurry? Thought everything was just "fine."

The hurry is Trump's desperation to be acquitted. The hurry is all the new evidence coming to light that will make Senate Republicans' sham trial so much more obvious to the public. The hurry is Pelosi's strategy working just right—give the articles some time to breathe and more evidence of Trump's guilt will surface. Sure enough, former national security adviser John Bolton said he would testify in a Senate trial if subpoenaed, new emails emerged in fresh reporting from Just Security revealing Trump's direct role in ordering a hold on Ukraine security assistance, and a federal judge ruled [Daily Kos] that Giuliani associate Lev Parnas could start sharing new evidence with the House Intelligence Committee. Senate Republicans are suddenly feeling anxious because every day that passes could potentially produce another bombshell that will make their sham trial even more ridiculous.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:27 AM on January 9 [11 favorites]


Pelosi not budging on impeachment articles (Politico)
Pelosi, at a Thursday news conference, remained steadfast in her demand that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell first detail the framework for the trial before she relents.

“We need to see the arena in which we are sending our managers. Is that too much to ask?” Pelosi told reporters, adding that she won’t hold the articles “indefinitely.”

“I’ll send them over when I’m ready,” Pelosi said when pressed again about her timeline. “And that’ll probably be soon.” [...]

Pelosi brushed off McConnell’s taunting, saying it’s the Senate Republicans who are afraid of the trial, which is why they’re refusing to call other witnesses or demand documents withheld by the White House.
posted by katra at 10:13 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


NYC Bar Association Asks Congress to Investigate AG Barr for Bias (Bloomberg)
The New York City Bar Association has asked Congress to investigate U.S. Attorney General William Barr, saying his recent actions and statements have positioned the Justice Department and its prosecutors as “political partisans willing to use the levers of government to empower certain groups over others.” The request disclosed on Thursday appears to be the first time the New York bar or any comparable bar association has asked Congress to investigate a sitting attorney general. [...]

“The duties to act impartially, to avoid even the appearance of partiality and impropriety, and to avoid manifesting bias, prejudice or partisanship in the exercise of official responsibilities are bedrock obligations for government lawyers,” according to the letter, which was posted Thursday on the association’s website.

“Mr. Barr has disregarded these fundamental obligations in several public statements during the past few months,” the letter continued. [...] The letter also took issue with the attorney general’s rejection of the findings of an internal investigation into the FBI’s handling of contacts between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian officials.
The full letter is available here: http://bit.ly/2QAjsoF
posted by katra at 10:19 AM on January 9 [19 favorites]


“I’ll send them over when I’m ready,” Pelosi said when pressed again about her timeline. “And that’ll probably be soon.” [...]

If you weren’t ready, why hold the vote? Why preclude other avenues of investigation? Why not hold public hearings from other committees and investigate the issue from different angles to fully reveal the lawlessness of the president’s order to hold funding?

Why, why, why? Why was it so important to hold an impeachment vote if you didn’t intend to act on it?
posted by Big Al 8000 at 11:43 AM on January 9


She held the vote because she had the votes.

And because impeaching Trump in an election year looks bad.

Acquitting him in a senate trial with no witnesses also looks bad for the party that does it, in an election year, but Mitch McConnell doesn't have much choice now, does he?

Also this delay between impeachment and acquittal would be a good thing even if there weren't other reasons for the timing she is trying to arrange for each individually. An IMMEDIATE acquittal would have made the impeachment look trivial. This delay at least offers the illusion of due process, of the nation taking Trump's crimes as seriously as it should, even if we can't force Republicans to offer the reality of due process. Even the illusion might make some voters take those crimes more seriously.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:10 PM on January 9 [9 favorites]


And who knows, maybe she'll succeed at forcing McConnell to allow a couple of witnesses? It could still happen.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:10 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Also maybe she really is trying to force him to give the State of the Union in the House chamber while still under impeachment, because then his head might just explode, and we would end up with president Pence anyway if that happened...

I don't think she can really hold out another month, but part of me is hoping she does.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:13 PM on January 9 [9 favorites]


The State of the Union is scheduled for February 4.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:18 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


> Why was it so important to hold an impeachment vote if you didn’t intend to act on it?

I really don't understand this. Where are people getting the idea that Pelosi "doesn't intend to act" on the impeachment? She's been perfectly clear that she's going to send the referral to the Senate on her timetable, not McConnell's - why is that such a problem?

For reference, apparently Bill Clinton was impeached by the House on 19 December 1998, and his trial opened in the Senate on 7 January 1999, without a prior agreement about whether witnesses would be called. I don't recall a single pearl being clutched over that "delay". So if the Speaker of the House thinks that the process would be better served this time around by first figuring out if witnesses will be called or not, why are people so eager to second-guess her?
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:27 PM on January 9 [13 favorites]


Why not hold public hearings from other committees and investigate the issue from different angles to fully reveal the lawlessness of the president’s order to hold funding?

I just want to be 100 percent clear here: are you saying that you think more evidence would have convinced a single, solitary elected Republican that Donald J. Trump should be removed from office?
posted by Etrigan at 12:42 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Shelby Holliday, WSJ Reporter, via her twitter:

After saying "send them over," regarding the articles of impeachment, @SenFeinstein is out with a new statement backing @SpeakerPelosi's decision to hold them: [Screenshot of release, partially reproduced below for non twitterers]

Particularly given Amb. Bolton's willingness to testify, i am disappointed that the majority leader has said that he will attempt to pass a partisan resolution that defers the issue of witnesses and documents. . .

Today we know that certain key witnesses havent provided any testimony and that critical documents have been withheld.

Given the importance of this additional evidence, its understandable that Pelosi has delayed transmitting articles until the contours of a trial are known. I do not believe Speaker Pelosi is motivated by politics but by a sincere desire to ensure a fair process that allows the Senate to consider available evidence - a goal all of us should share.

After all its the Senates duty to conduct a full, fair trial. We should take steps at our disposal in order to fulfill this important duty. This includes obtaining documents and additional testimony the White House has obstructed.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:06 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


I just want to be 100 percent clear here: are you saying that you think more evidence would have convinced a single, solitary elected Republican that Donald J. Trump should be removed from office?

No. I am saying more investigation would have yielded more evidence (as has been uncovered over the last couple weeks by journalists working their beats). Whether they would admit to the nose on their face is up to the GOP to rationalize.

I truly, honestly don’t get this idea that the impeachment needed to be voted on before the election year. If that were true, why wouldn’t the articles of impeachment need to be submitted right away, as well?

The answer is, of course, that they don’t —because it’s a specious argument made in bad faith. The articles should be forwarded when the investigation is done, not a minute before nor a minute later. q

Yes, the votes were there to impeach. But nobody reasonably believes all evidence has been uncovered. Once the votes were cast, all of the relevant committees ceased action (as far as I can tell).

It seems to me is a better strategy would be to continue investigating and building pressure, rather than rushing a vote and then holding the articles while hoping the Republicans have a sudden change of heart about holding a fair trial.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 1:22 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Guardian: "Congressman Adam Smith, the Democratic chairman of the House armed services committee, said he was not “threatened” to walk back his earlier comments about it being time for Nancy Pelosi to transmit the articles of impeachment.
Scott Wong (@scottwongDC) “Nobody threatened me with anything” Armed Services Chair @RepAdamSmith says about his impeachment comments reversal. He says he didn’t convey his thoughts on impeachment properly, and that he proactively reached out to Speaker’s office and put out statement on Twitter January 9, 2020
Smith said on CNN this morning, “I think it was perfectly advisable for the speaker to leverage that, get a better deal. At this point, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, and yes, I think it is time to send the impeachment to the Senate.”

But Smith quickly walked that back in a pair of tweets, saying, “I misspoke this morning, I do believe we should do everything we can to force the Senate to have a fair trial.”
posted by katra at 1:27 PM on January 9


It seems to me is a better strategy would be to continue investigating and building pressure, rather than rushing a vote and then holding the articles while hoping the Republicans have a sudden change of heart about holding a fair trial.

Allow me to peer into the alternate universe where that was the strategy:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said today that the House should cease the latest round of impeachment investigations and "just vote on impeachment already, if they have the evidence".

Senate Republicans rushed to agree with McConnell, saying that it was unfair to the country for the House to "waste the nation's time and money", in the words of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida). Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said that she was "troubled" by the latest testimony in the House that President Donald Trump had personally profited from government contracts at the Trump International Hotel, but did not indicate whether she would vote to convict Trump on any of the sixteen different offenses that are under investigation.

Pulic support for impeachment and removal remains around 55 percent, with 40 percent opposing.
Huh. It's almost like the Republicans would adapt their strategy to oppose literally the fuck anything that the Democrats would do to bring Trump to heel.
posted by Etrigan at 1:32 PM on January 9 [14 favorites]


I don't recall a single pearl being clutched over that "delay".

Um, that was 3 weeks from impeachment to start of trial. The GOP tried to conduct the impeachment as quickly as they could during a lame duck session because they knew they had made a bad choice trying to win the ‘98 elections by promising impeachment. They knew they had a loser and tried to get it over as soon as they could.

Also, I don’t recall there being a question about evidence. All of the relevant information was known and the Senate was merely passing judgment.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 1:38 PM on January 9


Guardian: "Congressman Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee, said his panel has no plans of calling John Bolton to testify before the Senate impeachment trial.
Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) Adam Schiff told CNN that his committee has no plans to hear testimony from John Bolton before President Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate, arguing there's "little to be gained" by going that route. @mkraju January 9, 2020
Trump re-ups calls for Biden, Schiff testimony at impeachment trial (Politico)
But the president was less enthusiastic regarding a potential appearance by his former national security adviser John Bolton, who announced in a statement earlier this week that he is “prepared to testify” in the trial should the Senate issue him a subpoena.

“Always got along with him. He didn’t get along with some of our people, but that’s really going to be up to the Senate,” Trump said, repeatedly emphasizing the need to “protect presidential privilege.”
How to argue about whether a Senate trial should have witnesses (Amber Phillips, WaPo)
The Fix’s bottom line

McConnell is setting up the Senate trial to leave out any new information about Trump and Ukraine. It’s very difficult for Democrats to expect him to pick up the investigatory work, especially when it could be damaging to Trump.
posted by katra at 2:17 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Once the votes were cast, all of the relevant committees ceased action (as far as I can tell).

House counsel suggests Trump could be impeached again (Politico, Dec. 23, 2019)
House lawyers indicated in advance of last week’s committee and floor votes that the panel planned to push on with its impeachment-related investigations. Democratic lawmakers who led the House impeachment inquiry have long contended that their efforts to gather more evidence would continue and that the timing of the impeachment vote reflected the urgency of the matter, not the conclusion of the effort to obtain witnesses and documents.
Also: Cut out of impeachment, emoluments crusaders plot plan B (Politico, Dec. 6, 2019)
The House will continue to investigate Trump’s vast real estate company after impeachment, said three members of Congress and several staffers involved in the discussions.
posted by katra at 2:36 PM on January 9 [11 favorites]


Justice Dept. winds down Clinton-related inquiry once championed by Trump. It found nothing of consequence. (MSN/WaPo)
A Justice Department inquiry launched more than two years ago to mollify conservatives clamoring for more investigations of Hillary Clinton has effectively ended with no tangible results, and current and former law enforcement officials said they never expected the effort to produce much of anything. [...]

The effective conclusion of his investigation, with no criminal charges or other known impacts, is likely to roil some in the GOP who had hoped the prosecutor would vindicate their long-held suspicions about a political rival. Trump, though, has largely shifted his focus to a different federal prosecutor tapped to do a separate, special investigation: U.S. attorney in Connecticut John Durham, who Attorney General William P. Barr assigned last year to explore the origins of the FBI’s 2016 probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

That FBI investigation was being supervised by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in late 2017, when Trump and his supporters were pressuring senior law enforcement officials to appoint a second special counsel to pursue Clinton.

“Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary and the Dems,” the president tweeted at the time. [...] But from the start, senior officials inside the Justice Department viewed Huber’s task as unlikely to lead to anything of significance beyond appeasing those angry lawmakers and the president. [...]

Conservatives also demanded an aggressive investigation into whether wealthy individuals and governments may have made donations to the Clinton Foundation in the hopes of getting favors from the State Department. That investigation became the subject of escalating tensions within the FBI and Justice Department in 2016, and was restarted after the election, but has not gained traction, according to people familiar with the matter.
posted by katra at 7:43 AM on January 10 [8 favorites]


Impeachment live updates: Pelosi signals House will transmit articles of impeachment against Trump to Senate as soon as next week, setting stage for historic trial
BREAKING: “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,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues Friday.
Artist's rendering of transmission of articles to the Senate
posted by tonycpsu at 9:00 AM on January 10 [19 favorites]


The House Should Subpoena Witnesses Before Transmitting Impeachment Articles (Philip Bobbitt, Lawfare)
There is ample reason to believe that the former national security adviser, John Bolton, can provide first-hand information on this subject. Bolton should give testimony before any transmittal of the bill of impeachment to the Senate.

If he and others similarly situated—that is, persons with first-hand knowledge of the president’s actions and motivations such as the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—refuse to honor subpoenas for their testimony, the House should immediately seek an injunction directing their testimony. [...] Whether or not there was ample evidence to support a bill of impeachment without this testimony, it is senseless to proceed to a trial without the best evidence.

The courts are the proper place to resolve a dispute over a refusal to honor a subpoena. That is the constitutional precedent set by the Nixon and Clinton impeachment inquiries. There is no reason why a resolution of this matter cannot be handled with dispatch by the judiciary. There is a unanimous Supreme Court case on point—United States v. Nixon—and procedures in place for expedited appeals.

I recognize that there are mounting political pressures on the speaker to simply move on, and I am sorely aware that the political calculations of her colleagues are made by office holders with far better political judgment than I possess. Congressman Schiff, for example, has indicated wearily to CNN that he saw "little to be gained" by getting testimony by Bolton before the House Intelligence Committee. But I simply believe—and the speaker has indicated on several occasions that she shares this belief—that the best politics is to follow the Constitution. The impeachment clauses declare that the Senate proceedings are a trial, not a pure political event and they should be treated as such with regard to the gathering of evidence.
posted by katra at 9:24 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


Pelosi signals House will transmit articles of impeachment against Trump to Senate as soon as next week

I would prefer she wait until after Trump's State of the Union on February 2, but whatever.

If Trump is acquitted by the Senate before, his State of the Union will be one long campaign rally victory speech.
posted by JackFlash at 11:19 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


But his SOTU would be abominable regardless.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:09 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


The Iowa caucus is the day after SOTU. Nobody will care what he says.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 12:27 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Date of SOTU: February 4, 2020 (The Hill)

Date of Iowa Caucus: February 3, 2020 (USA Today)

At a time when local newspapers are struggling and misinformation is widespread, access to reliable information is the thread that keeps our democracy intact.
posted by katra at 12:37 PM on January 10 [16 favorites]


Impeachment live updates: Pelosi signals House will transmit articles of impeachment against Trump to Senate as soon as next week, setting stage for historic trial

Guardian: Pelosi to deliver articles of impeachment to Senate next week
In the letter, she outlined the “compelling evidence” that has emerged since the House voted to impeach the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

According to Pelosi, that evidence includes a report that a top Office of Management and Budget aide asked the Department of Defense to “hold off” on sending military aid to Ukraine less than two hours after Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president and the announcement from former National Security Advisor John Bolton that he would comply with a subpoena compelling his testimony.
posted by katra at 12:54 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Sigh.

Why give in like that for no reason?
posted by Gadarene at 3:54 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


Guardian: Susan Collins working to allow witnesses at Senate impeachment trial
US senator Susan Collins, who is facing a tough re-election race in Maine this cycle, is working with a “fairly small group” of Republican senators to allow witnesses to be called in the chamber’s impeachment trial against Donald Trump, according to the Bangor Daily News.
posted by katra at 4:01 PM on January 10


Big deal. If Collins achieves a moderate outcome in opposition to the rank-and-file Republican Senate, give me a call. Until then, expressing "concerns" or "working toward" a "bipartisan compromise" has no value if it's just talk.
posted by Gelatin at 4:05 PM on January 10 [11 favorites]


Sure, besides the value of reiterating the Democratic party line about the need for witnesses, and undercutting McConnell's insistence that there will be none. I'm sure McConnell is thrilled by the news of a "fairly small group" of Republican senators working to undermine his plans for the trial.
posted by katra at 4:24 PM on January 10


McConnell literally could not care less, I promise you that. What is the evidence that he does?
posted by Gadarene at 4:28 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


It appears more accurate at this point to characterize McConnell's current position (Politico) as:
McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to begin the trial with arguments from Trump’s counsel and the House impeachment managers, and make decisions on witnesses later. Democrats have sought to get an agreement on new evidence before the trial begins, but McConnell spurned them and locked up the votes to pass a trial blueprint without Democratic support.
My guess is that McConnell wants to dismiss the impeachment as quickly as possible, and to avoid, as noted in several sources listed above, the potential for further damaging testimony and evidence to emerge against Trump. The evidence, such as it is, is that it does not appear helpful to Trump to have witnesses at the trial, so I'm assuming that McConnell is against it.
posted by katra at 4:39 PM on January 10


George Conway and Neal Katyal: How Pelosi should play her impeachment cards
The first article of impeachment effectively charges the president with shaking down Ukraine; the second impeaches him for his unprecedented obstruction of Congress. That gives the speaker room to maneuver. She could choose to tweak her announcement and send only the second article, on obstruction, for trial. Or she could transmit them both — along with a House-approved provision advising the Senate that if it fails to obtain adequate witnesses and documents, the House will reopen the investigation into Article I and subpoena that material itself.

Separating the two articles — our preferred approach — would make perfect sense. When it comes to the second article, all the evidence about Trump’s obstruction is a matter of public record. There’s nothing more to add, so the second article is ripe for trial. But as to the first, although there is plenty of evidence demonstrating Trump’s guilt, his obstruction has prevented all of the evidence from coming to light.

Since the House voted to approve the articles of impeachment last month, new revelations of Trump’s involvement have emerged, including emails showing that aid was ordered withheld from Ukraine 91 minutes after Trump’s supposedly “perfect” phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, has said he is willing to testify before the Senate if subpoenaed, and Bolton’s lawyer has said he has new information, yet McConnell has balked at assurances that Bolton would be called.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:42 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Pelosi is sending impeachment to the Senate. Here’s what’s next.
“The Senate’s impeachment guidelines say this: ‘Upon such articles being presented to the Senate, the Senate shall, at 1 o’clock after noon of the day (Sunday excepted) following such presentation, or sooner if ordered by the Senate, proceed to the consideration of such articles and shall continue in session from day to day (Sundays excepted) after the trial shall commence (unless otherwise ordered by the Senate) until final judgment shall be rendered, and so much longer as may, in its judgment, be needful.’

“Remember: Next weekend is the three-day MLK weekend. The logistical elements of the trial will take a few days at the front end. The real trial won’t begin until post-MLK weekend in all likelihood. Senate GOP leadership has sent signals they intend to keep the trial going most weekends.”
posted by kirkaracha at 7:44 PM on January 10


Susan Collins working to allow witnesses at Senate impeachment trial

Susan Collins working to look like she wants a full trial with witnesses until she votes exactly like Mitch McConnell wants her to.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:45 PM on January 10 [8 favorites]


Susan Collins working to look like she wants a full trial with witnesses until she votes exactly like Mitch McConnell wants her to.

Pelosi Alerts House to Be Ready to Send Impeachment Articles Next Week (NYT)
Throughout the delay, the speaker had insisted that she was merely pushing for a fairer Senate proceeding after Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, promised publicly to collaborate with Mr. Trump’s legal team to secure a quick acquittal.
It still seems potentially helpful that Collins is boosting the Democratic party line when she works with other Republican senators to possibly undermine McConnell's reported plan for a "quick acquittal." It echoes what Schumer said recently (NYT):
Mr. Schumer, increasingly resigned to Mr. McConnell’s decision to blow past Democrats’ demands, offered the majority leader and Republican senators a warning in his own speech on the Senate floor. [...]

“If the Senate rushes through the president’s impeachment, if we actually fail to try the case, as the Constitution demands, then the true acquittal the president craves will be unobtainable,” he said. “The American people will see right through a partisan trial and understand that a rush to judgment rendered that moot.”
posted by katra at 8:26 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


What did Democrats get out of holding up the articles of impeachment for weeks? (Amber Phillips, WaPo)
They put pressure on moderate Senate Republicans to support witnesses, by allowing time for new White House emails to come out that further connected Trump’s holding back Ukraine aid to his desire for Ukraine to investigate his political opponents. And during the hold, Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton changed his mind and said he would testify if called.

A House Democratic leadership aide said Democrats finished the week with Senate Republicans “in an impossible position of refusing new evidence and key witness testimony.” Democrats point out that a majority of Americans do think Trump’s top aides should testify.

Pelosi directed her tweets Friday exactly to those moderate Senate Republicans.
By joining a resolution to dismiss, Sen. McConnell showed his true colors. Americans have now seen what is at stake in a fair trial with witnesses & evidence, and new evidence has emerged. Every Senator will have to vote: is their loyalty is to the President or the Constitution? — Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 10, 2020
posted by katra at 8:48 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


Susan Collins working to allow witnesses at Senate impeachment trial


Something something Charlie Brown something football ....

Encouraging false hope about Bolton (of all fucking people) coming thru for us is just irresponsible. How many times are we going to demobilize people with savior scenarios they can watch and hope for? And this is what those fantasies have sunk to? Bolton. Stop doing this y'all.

s/Bolton/Collins
posted by Dashy at 10:24 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Absurd.
posted by Gadarene at 10:37 PM on January 10


John Bolton impeachment testimony will be blocked, Donald Trump says (Guardian)
Trump claimed in an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Friday night he would “love everybody to testify”, including Bolton, secretary of state Mike Pompeo and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

But he went on to say “there are things that you can’t do from the standpoint of executive privilege”.

“Especially a national security adviser,” Trump added. “You can’t have him explaining all of your statements about national security concerning Russia, China and North Korea, everything. You just can’t do that.” [...]

There remains significant doubt, however, that the issue will come to a head, irrespective of Trump’s pronouncement. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has joined other leading Republicans in asserting that no witnesses should be called, and claimed on Thursday to have enough votes to start the trial on that basis.
posted by katra at 6:57 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]


I feel like we're seeing evidence that it would be good to have some legislation that reduces executive privilege. If it's just a bottomless pit as long as an administration can make an argument that hasn't been stated in exactly those words before, that seems bad. "Oh sure, the chief of staff would be able to testify no problem, but Joe Blow here is a deputy chief of staff, so you're out of luck."
posted by rhizome at 1:27 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


Executive privilege is a constitutional doctrine (Presidential Claims of Executive Privilege: History, Law, Practice, and Recent Developments, CRS, 2014):
Presidential claims of a right to preserve the confidentiality of information and documents in the face of legislative demands have figured prominently, though intermittently, in executive-congressional relations since at least 1792. Few such interbranch disputes over access to information have reached the courts for substantive resolution. The vast majority of these disputes are resolved through political negotiation and accommodation. In fact, it was not until the Watergate-related lawsuits in the 1970s seeking access to President Nixon’s tapes that the existence of a presidential confidentiality privilege was judicially established as a necessary derivative of the President’s status in our constitutional scheme of separated powers.
Further background on how it may apply to the current impeachment is offered here: Should the House Have Gone to the Courts on Obstruction Before Impeaching? (Jonathan Shaub, Lawfare)
posted by katra at 1:47 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Executive privilege isn't in the Constitution, and doctrine equals "uhhhh whatever," equals "not law," equals "subject to modification." There's no reason bright lines can't be drawn by legislation, and even the "separation of powers" argument that was successful in Nixon didn't create a legal standard, not to mention that Republicans of late have made short work of the wall between the executive and legislative branches in general (if not judicial, too).

Beyond that...hey, if Republicans want to contend that criminal procedure standards should be used in impeachment, let's rope in privilege claims to the party, too.
posted by rhizome at 5:07 PM on January 11


The right of privacy (Doug Linder, 2019) isn't expressly written into the US Constitution, but it has been found to constrain legislatures from infringing on a wide range of unwritten yet constitutionally-protected rights. Also, it's not because a constitutional protection is referred to as a 'doctrine' (Findlaw) that it is subject to modification, it's just the nature of the US Constitution, which can be amended or reinterpreted. The "right of privacy" is only an example of how, since the existential case of Marbury v. Madison (Wikipedia), courts have been empowered "to say what the law is."

And Aaron Blake at WaPo recently shredded the argument that impeachment requires a violation of the American criminal code: Rudy Giuliani’s amazingly bad column asking the Supreme Court to strike down Trump’s impeachment

But in related privilege claim news: Did the Trump Administration Abuse the Redactions Process? (Austin Evers, Just Security)
Redactions, the bane of FOIA requesters everywhere, are usually legitimate. But often, they are stretched to protect sensitive information (and sensitive people) from scrutiny. The so-called deliberative process privilege allows agencies to redact internal policy debates, such as discussions between the Office of Management and Budget and Defense Department personnel over how to draft appropriations hold language. But it is often abused — advocates routinely deride the government for treating the deliberative process privilege as the power to “withhold it because you want to.” [...] Unfortunately, many of the redactions in the recent Ukraine releases reveal the pliability of FOIA standards to indulge governmental instincts toward secrecy and self-preservation in ways that make it very difficult to challenge. [...]

FOIA releases will continue regularly throughout 2020, and Washington should brace itself. (American Oversight alone has six lawsuits pending on Ukraine issues, and additional suits have been filed by Protect Democracy, the New York Times, Public Integrity, and others.)
posted by katra at 7:18 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


The right of privacy (Doug Linder, 2019) isn't expressly written into the US Constitution, but it has been found to constrain legislatures from infringing on a wide range of unwritten yet constitutionally-protected rights.

Mleh, not really constrained. There's some bubble-wrap scattered throughout privacy-affecting business practices that gets stepped on once in a while. And don't be mistaken: if Target doesn't have to care about privacy breaches, none of the jurisdictions that touch you-the-reader don't either. Beyond that, privacy is like the same river never being stepped in twice, it's continually being chipped away by incuriously lazy (if not malicious) legislators. Commerce gets to do what they want, and the government is there to firewall them.

I'm reminded of the Illinois Nazi speech from The Blues Brothers. "The CEO is using the bureaucrat as muscle against you! And you are left there, helpless. Well? What are you gonna do about it, taxpayer? Just sit there?"

Unfortunately, many of the redactions in the recent Ukraine releases reveal the pliability of FOIA standards to indulge governmental instincts toward secrecy and self-preservation in ways that make it very difficult to challenge.

That's a fancy word-count-inflating way to say there are absolutely no consequences for the practice. They have nothing to lose by doing it, so why tf not?
posted by rhizome at 11:42 PM on January 11


The thing that's problematic about Trump's broad use Executive Privilege is the new idea that it allows, say John Bolton, to ignore a subpoena, instead of having to appear and -- after consultation with his attorney's seated with him -- assert EP to specific questions.
posted by mikelieman at 3:32 AM on January 12 [3 favorites]


The right of privacy (Doug Linder, 2019) isn't expressly written into the US Constitution

The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution says, and says only, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." That means that the implication that people enjoy certain rights can be interpreted that they do. A right to privacy does not have to be explicitly granted in the Constitution for it to exist -- the Constitution says so.

The Ninth Amendment does not say the President has powers not explicitly granted the office, nor does the Constitution say so anywhere else.

Courts may have found it a sensible doctrine to grant for certain circumstances, but it can't stand against the impeachment process that is explicitly granted in the Constitution.
posted by Gelatin at 6:14 AM on January 12


I don’t think rhizome is saying the right to privacy doesn’t exist - rather, since it isn’t codified in the constitution it is more malleable than if we had a section of the constitution with explicit definition and instructions.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:20 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


My point is that the side (not rhizome) that tries to pretend the right to privacy is made up of whole cloth, though there's an explicit provision in the constitution that the rights it grants aren't the only rights the people have, are the loudest about protecting Executive wrongdoing due to a doctrine of "executive privilege" that both doesn't exist in the Constitution and, more importantly, doesn't have a clause hinting that the President enjoys powers that aren't defined.

In conclusion, conservative so-called "dogma" is a land of contrasts.
posted by Gelatin at 8:40 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


I referenced the right of privacy (Cornell LII, noting the 14th Amendment) as an example of what so-called "strict constructionists" (Adam Cohen, NYT Opinion) want to deny because "it isn't in the Constitution." I've also posted several sources about executive privilege to support the perspective that it wouldn't be so easy to legislate a fix, and that the constitutionally-protected nature of the privilege means, similar to what happened in U.S. v. Nixon, that ultimately it is up to the US Supreme Court to determine the scope of executive privilege. Or as previously noted in Should the House Have Gone to the Courts on Obstruction Before Impeaching? (Jonathan Shaub, Lawfare), it is a very complicated question in the context of the current impeachment. As noted by Shaub:
The administration’s current positions reflect significant expansions of past precedents, and, in combination, they have resulted in an extreme view of the executive branch’s authority vis-a-vis Congress. Moreover, the wholesale application of these doctrines to an impeachment inquiry, coupled with the additional, expansive arguments in White House counsel Pat Cipollone’s Oct. 8 letter and elsewhere, is unprecedented—and, in my view, demonstrably at odds with the historical understanding of Congress’s impeachment authority and executive privilege.

But the Supreme Court has been silent on these issues. Perhaps the most famous line written by the Supreme Court is John Marshall’s statement that it is “emphatically the province and the duty of the judicial department to say what the law is”—and without any guidance from the courts, the executive branch has developed more and more aggressive formulations of its authority.
posted by katra at 9:50 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


Pelosi says she doesn't regret decision to hold articles of impeachment (Axios)
Trump on Sunday, just minutes before Pelosi's interview on ABC, called the speaker "Crazy Nancy" in a tweet and asked Stephanopoulos to ask her a question about House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). [...] "I'd like to talk about more pleasant subjects than the erratic nature of this president of the United States," Pelosi said. "But he has to know that every knock from him is a boost." [...] "Everything he says is a projection," Pelosi added. "When he calls somebody crazy, he knows that he is."
Impeachment: Trump fumes as Pelosi prepares to send articles to the Senate (Guardian)
“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.
Via Twitter, Trump submits questions for Pelosi interview (Politico)
“It's Sunday morning. Let's be optimistic about the future, a future that will not have Donald Trump in the White House one way or another.”
posted by katra at 11:40 AM on January 12 [9 favorites]


My understanding is that.
A) if subpeonaed, one is obligated to at least appear. (Before the crazy times)
B) In testimony - in order to not answer - a witness can plead the 5th.
C) Not answering regarding executive privilege - the president must assert a priori that a specific event is privileged. He can't just say, "yeah, everything having anything to do with me since inauguration is privileged." E.g. the absolute immunity farce.
D) Executive privilege does not apply to criminal activity.

Is this about right? Is the total breakdown due to the entire R 'yeah make me' philosophy of government?
posted by j_curiouser at 2:32 PM on January 12 [10 favorites]


I think this complete refusal to answer subpoenas was initially an Obama-era thing, probably originally just another means of treating him and his administration with maximum disrespect at all times, as was the default republican m.o from day one. Someone may be able to dig up prior examples but I think most roads lead to the notion that even Ollie North managed to show up. Now it's just how business is done for a lot of people elected to congress in Tea Party waves. Fundamentally, it does read to me as still being about disrespect, just now it's not purely racial in its motivation and has the basic concept of American democracy as its target. I guess this is pretty much "yeah make me."
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:10 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]




Ok, I just read all that lawfare. Congressional subpeonas and executive privilege are much more ambiguous than I thought. There's a lot of space for the executive branch to slow-walk documents and testimony. Congress definitely has the weaker hand.
posted by j_curiouser at 4:31 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


However, it looks like impeachment for contempt of Congress can operate as a check on the assertion of Trump's extreme position. For example, as noted in the McGahn case (USA Today, Dec. 19, 2019)
U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson rejected the White House's claims of absolute immunity, saying the president "does not have the power" to prevent his aides from responding to congressional subpoenas.

"Stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings," Jackson wrote. "This means they do not have subjects, bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control."

McGahn, however, could invoke executive privilege "where appropriate," Jackson said, citing a previous court ruling that concluded former President George W. Bush's White House counsel must testify before Congress. The judge added it is "widely accepted" that the president can assert executive privilege to protect potentially sensitive topics.
It's one thing to assert executive privilege under "widely accepted" reasons, but Congress can also decide that a claim of "absolute immunity" is worthy of impeachment. As noted by Jonathan Shaub in Should the House Have Gone to the Courts on Obstruction Before Impeaching?:
The House’s best response, I think, is that the wholesale obstruction of an impeachment inquiry rises above traditional oversight disputes and Congress can, and should, exercise its constitutional checks on the executive branch—including impeachment—to counter such extreme assertions of authority. That mirrors the point the Department of Justice made in support of its argument that the courts should not opine on McGahn’s immunity: that Congress has other constitutional means to ensure the executive branch provides necessary information, including impeachment.
posted by katra at 5:28 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]


There's just one hitch: A pact with Trump on impeachment? McConnell’s Kentucky backers demand it. (WaPo / reprint)
The 77-year-old is expected to face a vigorous challenge in November from a decorated Marine fighter pilot with a record of big-dollar fundraising. Yet McConnell has shown an unerring instinct for self-preservation across six Senate terms and a record stint as Republican leader.

Analysts say his impeachment strategy is just more evidence that he is playing to win. “It’s the safest move he could make,” said Ryan Salzman, a politics professor at Northern Kentucky University. “Anything that even appears he’s going against President Trump on impeachment, in any way, would be the worst thing he could do for his reelection.”
However, in theory: The Supreme Court can review an unfair impeachment trial (James Robenalt, WaPo Perspective)
While conceding that it was “extremely unlikely that the Senate would abuse its discretion and insist on a procedure that could not be deemed a trial by reasonable judges,” White wrote, the scenario was hardly unimaginable — and would provide grounds for judicial review. “Were the Senate, for example, to adopt the practice of automatically entering a judgment of conviction whenever articles of impeachment were delivered from the House it is quite clear that the Senate will have failed to ‘try’ impeachments,” White wrote

If the Senate were to convict “upon a coin-toss,” Justice Souter added, “or upon a summary determination that an officer of the United States was simply ‘a bad guy,’ judicial interference might well be appropriate.”

“In such circumstances,” he wrote, “the Senate’s action might be so far beyond the scope of its constitutional authority, and the consequent impact on the Republic so great, as to merit a judicial response despite the prudential concerns that would ordinarily counsel silence.” [...]

Yes, the founders provided that the House would have “sole power” over impeachments and the Senate “sole power” over trials of impeachment. But the Constitution also grants “all legislative powers” to the House and Senate, and still the Supreme Court exercises routine judicial review over laws. If McConnell and his Republican colleagues insist on setting rules that turn the trial into a farce, then the matter would be ripe for judicial review, as outlined by the various justices in Nixon v. United States. The House — through the speaker or the impeachment managers — could take the matter to court.
posted by katra at 7:58 PM on January 12 [12 favorites]


dude, are you a journalist? attorney? seems like you're tracking all the inside-baseball. thx for the great links
posted by j_curiouser at 8:35 PM on January 12 [8 favorites]


attorney, and former polysci instructor, just trying to make sense of what's happening, and thx u for your patience
posted by katra at 9:04 PM on January 12 [33 favorites]


In the (likely) event that the Senate abuses its power to try impeachments, who would have standing to sue? And who or what would be the defendant? Would the House sue the Senate? Would Pelosi sue McConnell? Would a Democratic Senator sue McConnell?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 10:48 PM on January 12


The possibility of the Supreme Court determining that a Senate trial was invalid is so remote as to be not worth considering. Even a very minimal trial would put the case into the category of non-justiciable matters, and the Senate could always make the case moot by holding a do-over - a new "trial" without the problems of the first, but with the same outcome. Also, a genuine doubt about whether a President remained in office would be a terrible thing. Imagine if half the army supported one candidate and another supported their replacement!
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:29 AM on January 13 [5 favorites]


Yeah, that's impeachment fanfic. If for no other reason than the SC has no particular remedy to grant. Even in the case of a clearly farcical Senate trial they would not, and should not, attempt to give themselves the power to summarily enter a judgement of conviction and remove the President.

Given there would be no remedy they aren't going to take a purely theoretical political position on the legitimacy of the Senate trial, given as JiA says even the most cursory fig leaf of process.
posted by Justinian at 5:21 AM on January 13 [4 favorites]


According to Robenalt, Pelosi and/or the House impeachment managers would have standing to bring the case, but 'impeachment fanfic' is a great way to put it. If the Supreme Court did feel that it was empowered to hear the case based on what appears to be dicta from Nixon v. US, and if CJ Roberts didn't feel like he had to recuse because he presided over the trial, then it would likely only result in a 'go back and do it again,' and it would likely have the same outcome, with as few relevant witnesses and documents as possible.

But as an allegory for McConnell's apparent plan for the Senate trial, it does seem to emphasize the "very unusual" nature of trying to acheive a "quick acquittal." I personally think it's possible that McConnell and the GOP Senate do not want to reach the ultimate constitutional questions in the impeachment, because refusing to convict after a full trial could create precedents that could empower presidents of either party in the future.

It's a big problem for them that the evidence has already been so clearly developed as to both articles of impeachment, but it looks like they are working extremely hard to make the case that it's not, so they can simply dismiss the impeachment as lacking in sufficient evidence and never actually have to vote on whether the president can abuse executive power in the ways described in the impeachment articles and demonstrated in the House proceedings. I may be overthinking the strategy and tactics, but beyond the risk of further damaging evidence emerging against Trump at trial, I think the real risk that they may be afraid of is actually having to vote on whether the authority Trump has exercised is legitimate.
posted by katra at 8:33 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]


I personally think it's possible that McConnell and the GOP Senate do not want to reach the ultimate constitutional questions in the impeachment, because refusing to convict after a full trial could create precedents that could empower presidents of either party in the future.

Mitch McConnell clearly does not give the slightest fart about precedent when precedent means he can't do what he wants, and he also clearly believes that Democrats will continue to be the adults in the room and govern reasonably when they return to power.
posted by Etrigan at 8:50 AM on January 13 [11 favorites]


Mitch McConnell clearly does not give the slightest fart about precedent when precedent means he can't do what he wants, and he also clearly believes that Democrats will continue to be the adults in the room and govern reasonably when they return to power.

I think that is a really good point, and why I'm cautious about trying to suss out their ultimate objectives, especially when there are so many other indications of more immediate concerns:

How Schumer might get the last laugh on impeachment trial (Politico)
Schumer will force a series of votes designed to squeeze vulnerable Republicans and harm them on the campaign trail if they side with Trump.

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. [...]

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. [...]

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.
posted by katra at 8:56 AM on January 13 [7 favorites]


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. [...]

I'm willing to bet 95% of those Republicans and 50% of those Independents are interpreting the question as asking "should McConnell haul Hunter Biden and Adam Schiff into the Senate to answer for high treason?"
posted by Room 101 at 9:56 AM on January 13 [5 favorites]


with Etrigan, i don't believe congressional republicans are acting like they believe there is a future. or a republic, governed by the constitution, in the future.

with j_curioser, appreciate katra's contributions to and stewardship of thread (as well as those of the company)
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:13 AM on January 13 [6 favorites]


i don't believe congressional republicans are acting like they believe there is a future. or a republic, governed by the constitution, in the future.

I think they definitely believe there is a future, hopefully under one-party rule. The Constitution, not so much, and so far there haven't been any consequences for pretending it doesn't exist anymore.
posted by rhizome at 12:32 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]


On consequences: They did lose the 2018 midterms in rather spectacular fashion, the House of Reps at least. I have to imagine some of these on-the-fence R Senators are watching their 2020 D opponent's polling numbers with mounting horror. In fact, let's check in with Lindsey Graham's latest poll numbers vs Jaime Harrison. Oh my! (Note: Change Research is graded "C" by 538 so...) Fundraising wise, Jaime is also doing very well, certainly relative to any of Lindsey's previous opponents.
Point being, there have been and continue to be consequences for supporting Trump. House R's are retiring in droves because they don't foresee their party regaining control of the House. They've held the line in the Senate thus far, but the widely-repeated idea that they've got the Senate on permanent lock-down going forward is more projective/protective/wishful thinking on their part. I've been periodically checking fundraising numbers on opensecrets.org, and you can see a definite trend of strong D fundraising in most of the crucial Senate contests (Toss-up and Lean R seats). I think the Senate is within reach, and for good reasons, not just wishes and dreams.
posted by ButteryMales at 1:12 PM on January 13 [12 favorites]


In McGahn Case, an Epic Constitutional Showdown (Adam Liptak, NYT / reprint)
“Has there ever been,” the judge asked, “an instance of such broad-scale defiance of a congressional request for information in the history of the Republic?”

It was the first Friday of the new year, and an appeals court was considering whether President Trump could order his advisers to refuse to comply with congressional subpoenas. The case concerned Donald F. McGahn II, the former White House counsel, but the questions from the judge, Thomas B. Griffith, made plain that the court was struggling with something more general and fundamental. [...]

The administration’s lawyer, Hashim M. Mooppan, gave an answer that underscored the significance of the case. “Not to my knowledge,” he said.

[...] Congress may have ways other than lawsuits to persuade or force the administration to comply, Judge Griffith said at the appeals court argument. “Congress has plenty of remedies,” he said, including cutting off money or refusing to confirm nominees. “Appropriations power. Confirmation power. Impeachment power. There are lots of remedies that have been used for a long time. What’s wrong with those?” Megan Barbero, a lawyer for the House, said those methods would not lead to getting the requested information in a timely fashion. [...]

Should the appeals court decide that it has a role to play in the McGahn case, it will have to decide whether Mr. Trump’s close aides have “absolute immunity” from congressional subpoenas. The theory has been pressed by administrations of both parties. An early articulation came in 1971 from William H. Rehnquist, then a Justice Department official and later the chief justice. He acknowledged that his views were “tentative and sketchy,” but he reasoned that it could not hurt the president to take a hard line. “In a strictly tactical sense, the executive branch has a head start in any controversy with the legislative branch, since the legislative branch wants something the executive branch has,” Mr. Rehnquist wrote. “All the executive has to do is maintain the status quo and he prevails.”
posted by katra at 1:14 PM on January 13 [5 favorites]


Go Ahead, Apply the Federal Rules of Evidence to the Senate Impeachment Trial (Samuel Morse, Lawfare)
Nine of the president’s most devout supporters in the House of Representatives last month penned a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. Chuck Schumer formally requesting that the Senate adopt the Federal Rules of Evidence for the impeachment trial of President Trump. [...] I was not asked to sign on to the letter, but I gladly would have.

Unlike the authors of the letter, I am not among the president’s defenders. In fact, I think it is abundantly clear that, at the very least, the president abused the powers of his office and has since sought to prevent Congress from investigating the affair. I do, however, know the Federal Rules of Evidence well enough to know that following them in the Senate would not have the effects the letter writers imagine—quite the opposite, in fact. Following the rules of evidence, rather, would guarantee that the House managers would get to hear from the witnesses that Mitch McConnell is currently seeking to block.

[...] under Rule 601, parties can call any and all witnesses they want to testify, as long as the witness has personal knowledge of the matter they are to testify about. Parties cannot object to the calling of certain witnesses. So the House managers would get to call John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, Michael Duffey and others. The president’s attorneys may then try to call Joe and Hunter Biden, as well as Rep. Adam Schiff. The president has repeatedly said that he would want these three men to testify during an impeachment trial. These men, however, are not likely to have any knowledge that would make it more or less likely that the president committed the acts he has been impeached for.

Since this trial would involve the president, he would generally be entitled to certain privileges that courts have determined the president may exercise. But as mentioned before, the rules also provide that if someone is unavailable to testify, then hearsay may be used to introduce evidence. So if in response to a subpoena directed toward someone in the White House, the president asserts executive privilege to prevent that person from testifying, that person would be “unavailable” under Rule 804 and someone else might be permitted to testify in their place. [...]

Then there’s Rule 801(d)(2), which provides that, in certain situations, a statement made out of court by an opposing party can be offered as evidence against the party. It is a means of introducing previous statements attributable to and offered as substantive evidence against a party opponent; here, that would be President Trump. This rule may enable House managers to enter Trump’s own statements into evidence. This would allow John Bolton or Gordon Sondland, for example, to directly testify about what they heard the president say.
posted by katra at 5:18 PM on January 13 [14 favorites]


Republican senators say they will not vote to dismiss charges against Trump ahead of trial (Reuters)
Trump appeared on Sunday to reverse his position on how the Senate should proceed, writing on Twitter that a full trial would give the Democrats who pursued impeachment undeserved credibility and signaling support for dismissal of the charges with no trial.

“There is almost no interest” among Republican senators for a motion to dismiss the House charges, Republican Senator Roy Blunt told reporters on Monday.
Guardian: At least four Republicans may vote to call witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial, White House officials tell CBS News
Read the full story from CBS News, as well as this caution from a Washington Post reporter:

Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake)

1) If this is true, it means we could be seeing Bolton testify

2) Feels like it could be expectation-setting from WH, which would then make it look like a "win" if GOP senators stay in line https://t.co/0oixUYgiLt
January 13, 2020
posted by katra at 5:40 PM on January 13 [4 favorites]


Lawmakers Tangle Over Calling Witnesses in Trump’s Senate Impeachment Trial (WSJ)
The president’s impeachment team doesn’t currently expect Republican senators to vote in favor of hearing from witnesses, a person familiar with the conversations said. [...]

In recent days, a lawyer for Mr. Parnas said he has turned over to the House Intelligence Committee a trove of messages from Mr. Parnas’s cellphones. Mr. Parnas was arrested in October on campaign-finance charges along with his associate, Igor Fruman, both of whom have pleaded not guilty to the charges. The two men for months assisted Mr. Giuliani in his push for investigations in Ukraine, an effort that helped set off the impeachment inquiry last fall.

Joseph Bondy, a lawyer for Mr. Parnas, said in a tweet that the messages given to the committee detail “interactions with a number of individuals relevant to the impeachment inquiry.” Mr. Bondy has for months been pushing for his client to testify on Capitol Hill, often tweeting “#LetLevSpeak.”

Among the messages Mr. Parnas’s lawyer has turned over to the committee are exchanges he had with Mr. Giuliani, former Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Hill columnist John Solomon, according to people familiar with the matter.
posted by katra at 7:12 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


The president’s impeachment team doesn’t currently expect Republican senators to vote in favor of hearing from witnesses, a person familiar with the conversations said.

The legal plan to stop senators from telling Trump: ‘You’re fired’ (Politico)
No matter their résumés, Democrats argue that the president’s attorneys should expect to face complications during the Senate trial that could cost them Republican votes. That includes working for a president who has shown little in the way of impulse control, despite the counsel of his lawyers.

“The best lawyers can only do so much with a difficult client and a difficult case,” said Ted Kalo, a Democratic strategist who briefly worked for Pelosi and the House Judiciary Committee on messaging during their December impeachment effort.

“That challenge is further exacerbated,” he added, “by a difficult client who appears to be set on a defense strategy that’s appealing to Fox News prime-time hosts but not necessarily moderates of the Senate.”
posted by katra at 7:49 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


WaPo: House to vote Wednesday to send articles of impeachment to Senate

Developing. No word on House case managers yet.
With some useful links listing which Reps and Senators support impeachment.
posted by martin q blank at 6:57 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


I’m not sure if McConnell can’t actually get the votes to immediately dismiss, or if this is just a dispute over how much cover to give to the vulnerable Senators.

I expect they will have a public trial with witnesses; and they will call the Bidens and the whistleblower.

There is a big potential upside for Joe Biden if he testifies. I can’t think of a better way to make the case that you are the best candidate to stand against Trump and fight for the Democratic Party’s agenda after election. Get Hunter up there too and have him say cry and apologize for letting his father down; it’s like Kavanaugh all over again — it is a sin is to make a white man cry and beg.
posted by interogative mood at 8:41 AM on January 14 [4 favorites]


White House spokesman: Trump 'not afraid of a fight' in impeachment trial (Politico)
“I hate to talk about hypotheticals, but let's be clear: The president is not afraid of a fight,” Gidley said in an interview on Fox News's “Fox & Friends." “And if you or anyone within the sound of our voices have been falsely accused of a crime, with no proof, and no evidence, for more than three years, you'd want every witness to come forward too, and say this man did nothing wrong.”

He continued: “We are not afraid of a fight. We are prepared and whether this thing goes to a full trial, whether it's modified or whether it's just dismissed out of hand for the sham illegitimate scam it has become, we will be ready.” [...]

Trump has repeatedly indicated that he would have no problems with Bolton testifying but would invoke executive privilege to block his appearance for precedent-setting purposes.

Gidley reiterated that stance Tuesday, telling the "Fox & Friends" hosts "we don't really care who comes forward" because in the White House's view, any witness called by Democrats would only exonerate the president.
Trump’s Impeachment Team Takes Shape as Trial Looms (Maggie Haberman, NYT, Jan. 12, 2020)
Indeed, for Mr. Trump, who is eager to be cleared and is angered by the fact that the impeachment vote ever happened, there is still a desire to see witnesses called, according to people close to him.

But he has also told advisers that he would follow Mr. McConnell’s advice on the best way to proceed. Mr. McConnell has told colleagues that witnesses can only complicate matters, and that they open up an avenue of uncertainty.
posted by katra at 9:03 AM on January 14


“I hate to talk about hypotheticals, but let's be clear: The president is not afraid of a fight”
...
[Trump] would invoke executive privilege to block [Bolton's]appearance for precedent-setting purposes


Buk! Buk-buk-buk! Buk!
posted by kirkaracha at 9:13 AM on January 14 [5 favorites]


How GOP senators are already pre-spinning their coverup for Trump (Greg Sargent, WaPo Opinion)
Trump’s media allies are also floating another related trick. They are calling for a “one for one” approach: If Democrats get to call former national security adviser John Bolton, then Trump’s defenders get to call, say, Hunter Biden. This is absurd on its face:

It’s also not how trials work in any court. You don’t get to call an irrelevant and spurious witness just because the other side calls a relevant and legitimate one. https://t.co/aG4CkKY4yQ — George Conway (@gtconway3d) January 14, 2020

Beyond that, it’s doubtful that Trump and McConnell would even want such an outcome. Trump cannot permit testimony from witnesses such as Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, because they have direct knowledge of his actual conduct — his freezing of military aid to Ukraine — even in exchange for Hunter Biden, since Trump’s entire narrative about the Bidens is mostly an invention.

Indeed, the idea is likely an obvious ruse: The goal, again, is to spin a no-witnesses outcome as a fair one. This banks on both-sidesing media coverage playing along: Not hearing from witnesses with direct knowledge of Trump’s extortion scheme will get placed on a plane of equivalence with not hearing from the Bidens. Neither side got its way!

Please get this right, media
posted by katra at 9:18 AM on January 14 [19 favorites]


Indeed, for Mr. Trump, who is eager to be cleared and is angered by the fact that the impeachment vote ever happened, there is still a desire to see witnesses called, according to people close to him.

But he has also told advisers that he would follow Mr. McConnell’s advice on the best way to proceed. Mr. McConnell has told colleagues that witnesses can only complicate matters, and that they open up an avenue of uncertainty.


Heh, preblaming McConnell if anything goes wrong while still claiming the tough guy front.

It’s fun to see the President lining up the Senate Majority Leader this way but eesh, what a cowardly, manifestly unfit tack to take.
posted by notyou at 11:00 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


Nancy Pelosi gamed the impeachment trial brilliantly
Pelosi’s act is best understood as an attempt to do what she excels at: managing intraparty tensions. Withholding the articles over the Christmas holiday season gave her three distinct wins in that never-ending battle.
...
Her biggest win will be among progressive activists and donors...Withholding the articles allowed her to show progressives that she would fight, not just acquiesce, to remove Trump from office.
...
She also wins by pinning the blame for Trump’s eventual acquittal on McConnell...By holding the articles and forcing McConnell to do what he was going to do — run the trial his way — Pelosi gives Democrats a scapegoat for their eventual failure to remove Trump.
...
Pelosi also wins by pushing the Senate trial’s timetable back. Had she sent the articles immediately after passage, the Senate could have started the trial after returning from the holiday break.
I don't know about "brilliantly," but I agree Speaker Pelosi did about as good as she could've with a weak hand.

I think the biggest win in pushing the Senate trial back is that it's less likely to finish before the State of the Union address on February 4.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:10 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


I think the biggest win in pushing the Senate trial back is that it's less likely to finish before the State of the Union address on February 4.

I hope so, if only because it'll ruin the moment for Trump. And I hope that his inevitable whining about it undermines his phony tough-guy image and turns off a few potential Trump voters. I'm sure it'll fire up Democrats.

(The lazy media has its narrative about how Trump fires up his base, so has mostly missed the story -- despite an unmistakable rebuke in the 2018 election -- that Trump is also firing up people to vote against him.)
posted by Gelatin at 11:22 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Trump impeachment trial could start next Tuesday, McConnell says (CNBC)
McConnell, R-Ky., announced the tentative schedule just a few hours after Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi revealed she will send the articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate on Wednesday.

If that happens, McConnell said at a press event on Capitol Hill, then his chamber will be able to move the process forward this week by having Chief Justice John Roberts swear in, along with ”some other kind of housekeeping measures.”

“We hope to be able to achieve that by consent, which would set us up to begin the actual trial next Tuesday,” McConnell said.
How Trump's Senate impeachment trial will work (Politico)
Clinton’s trial came to a close on Feb. 12, 1999, more than a month after it began. A similar trial for Trump, if it begins this week, would end on Feb. 21 — but could end much sooner if Senate Republicans take a different path.

WILDCARD: If the Senate trial starts this week, it’s all but guaranteed to be underway when a federal appeals court rules on Trump’s attempt to block former White House counsel Don McGahn from testifying to the House Judiciary Committee about his knowledge of potential obstruction of justice by Trump. Democrats have sought that ruling urgently and argued that it could become a factor in the impeachment trial if McGahn were made available prior to closing arguments. [...]

Clinton also delivered his State of the Union on Jan. 19, 1999 — the same day his lawyers began their three-day defense in the Senate. A protracted trial could conceivably put Trump in the same position when he delivers his address to Congress on Feb. 4.
posted by katra at 11:40 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Don't forget Pelosi also waited for Trump to blow his biggest distraction (look I killed the latest #1 threat) and for the news cycle to blow over it. Now the short attention span media is ready for another episode of Impeachment.
posted by benzenedream at 12:06 PM on January 14 [17 favorites]


As Gelatin notes above, Trump fires up both "bases," which is why I think many if not most of the Republicans in the Senate will ultimately vote to convict and remove him from office, so they have a better chance of keeping their own seats.
posted by PhineasGage at 12:08 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


But a lot of Senate Republicans are from red states and not really at risk from a Democratic challenger, Trump or no Trump. McConnell, for one, stands to lose a lot more by alienating his base by opposing Trump than by angering Kentucky's Democratic voters, and his actions show he's well aware of it.

And in red states, the Republican primary is tantamount to the election, so Senate Republicans are more motivated to avoid a primary defeat than a Democratic challenge.
posted by Gelatin at 12:18 PM on January 14 [5 favorites]


Filing deadlines for 2020 have already passed in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:28 PM on January 14 [4 favorites]


I wish McConnell will be personally defeated in the Senate elections, however unlikely that is. But, he will loose his power if three Republican Senators loose their seats, regardless of who they are. I can't see how his all-in Trumpist strategy can work in purple states.
posted by mumimor at 3:07 PM on January 14 [4 favorites]


Exactly, thanks kirkaracha. Still to come are filing deadlines in states with key Senate races where the Republican incumbent definitely wants to avoid a primary challenge from the right, including Arizona (April 6), Colorado (March 17), and Montana (March 9).
posted by PhineasGage at 3:36 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


House Dems release new impeachment evidence related to indicted Giuliani associate (Politico)
“Despite unprecedented obstruction by the president, the committee continues to receive and review potentially relevant evidence and will make supplemental transmittals,” Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) wrote Tuesday to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), whose panel is responsible for compiling the complete record of the investigation ahead of the Senate’s trial.

The material released on Tuesday contains several handwritten notes, emails, encrypted messages, and other documents that underscore the close relationship between Parnas and Giuliani, who was actively pursuing an effort last year to push the Ukrainian government to announce investigations targeting Trump’s political rivals.

A previously undisclosed May 2019 letter from Giuliani to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is among the tranche of documents the Democrat-led committee released on Tuesday. [...] One of the documents included in the disclosure is a handwritten note by Parnas that states: “Get Zelensky to announce that the Biden case will be investigated.” Another refers to Lanny Davis, the attorney representing Trump’s former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen: “Get rid of Lanny Davis (nicely!)” [...]

Schiff said the new evidence shows that Parnas “communicated extensively by phone and messaging applications” with Giuliani and senior Ukrainian officials. “These communications, often in Russian, demonstrate that Mr. Parnas served as a direct channel between President Trump’s agent, Mr. Giuliani, and individuals close to President Volodymyr Zelensky,” Schiff wrote.
posted by katra at 4:00 PM on January 14 [10 favorites]


Part of these documents include people tracking former Ambassador Yovanovitch and complaining about her security being upgraded. She was later recalled from Ukraine, and testified that she was told it was due to risks to her safety.
posted by lazugod at 4:23 PM on January 14 [7 favorites]


[One comment removed. Intent of sharing context on gross Trumper thing is fine, but maybe do it without quoting the gross misogyny directly into the thread.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:08 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


"She's going to go through some things"
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:12 PM on January 14 [4 favorites]


Daily Beast: Parnas Associate Tracked Ousted Ambassador’s Movements in Kyiv: Docs
In one exchange from March 2019, Robert F. Hyde, a Trump donor and Republican Congressional candidate whose involvement in the Ukraine saga has not been previously detailed, sent texts to Parnas that implied he had access to people spying on Yovanovitch in Kyiv, according to the newly released documents.
Hartford Courant: Who is the Robert F. Hyde who surfaced in House Intelligence Committee documents? (CW: misogyny)
Who is Robert F. Hyde?

Hyde is a 40-year-old Simsbury resident and a Republican who is running for Congress in Connecticut’s 5th District. The former owner of a landscaping company, he is a relative unknown who hopes to unseat Rep. Jahana Hayes, a Democrat. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

The Sen. Kamala Harris tweet

Hyde made headlines last month after he posted a sexist and vulgar tweet about California Sen. Kamala Harris.
The best people.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:18 PM on January 14 [12 favorites]


Heather Cox Richardson, the presidential historian who has been doing daily recaps of current events, never fails to point out that Lev Parnas gave money--probably Russian money-- to Republican Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader. IIRC, Devin Nunes is implicated in the Parnas and Fruman stuff as well. Super curious to see if anything plays out involving the two of them as the House Intelligence Committee gets its hands on material from Parnas.
posted by Sublimity at 5:29 PM on January 14 [15 favorites]


The most positive take I've seen on the Hyde thing -- though the news is ultra-new -- is that Hyde was unintentionally participating in an assassination plot.

Which just fits in perfectly, the way I see it. Just like Trump trying to pin the DNC hack on Ukraine when everybody knows it was Russia, he would have blamed Ukraine for any harm to Yovanovich. All of these things designed to open the door for Putin to stomp the place red. I wonder how many others there were. Where's Rudy, anyway?
posted by rhizome at 6:26 PM on January 14 [6 favorites]


> Where's Rudy, anyway?

There seems to be Rudy visibility waning and waxing cycles, and each time he slips into the dark he comes back even more batshit than before.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:31 PM on January 14 [8 favorites]


"stomp the place red" - nice.
"rudy visibility waning and waxing cycles" - so horrible, such parsage.

may he only wane.
posted by 20 year lurk at 6:43 PM on January 14


Rudy has to go back into the Lazarus pit after each cycle of neural degeneration.
posted by benzenedream at 6:45 PM on January 14 [7 favorites]


There seems to be Rudy visibility waning and waxing cycles

Some days he's positively gibbous.
posted by flabdablet at 7:25 PM on January 14 [13 favorites]


Dear President-Elect Zelensky:

I am private counsel to President [nope]. Just to be precise, I represent him as a private citizen, not as President of the United States. This is quite common under American law because the duties and privileges of a President and a private citizen are not the same. Separate representation is usual process.
(omission mine). might come in handy when some of those executive privilege claims arise.
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:33 PM on January 14 [8 favorites]


Giuliani: "This is quite common under American law because the duties and privileges of a President and a private citizen are not the same."

This goes to the essence of the impeachment. Contrary to Giuliani's statement, Trump acts as if there is no separation between Trump the president and Trump the private citizen. That's why he thinks it okay to use tax payer funds as a means of extortion to help his election. And why he thinks having foreign diplomats paying to stay at his hotel is okay.

"l'état, c'est moi"
posted by JackFlash at 7:52 PM on January 14 [9 favorites]


Rudy has to go back into the Lazarus pit after each cycle of neural degeneration.

The clones only last so long after decanting and the ones waiting in storage are getting further and further past their "best by" date.
posted by contraption at 10:51 PM on January 14 [6 favorites]


Possibly the biggest sign of Trump's unnerving level of incompetence is his apparently genuine belief that Giuliani is a good lawyer.
posted by jaduncan at 11:08 PM on January 14 [10 favorites]


his apparently genuine belief that Giuliani is a good lawyer

He's the best at what he does. When neither the facts nor the law are ever on your side, who could possibly be a better advocate than the world's leading exponent of table-banging?
posted by flabdablet at 2:56 AM on January 15 [4 favorites]


Wow, Hyde is a piece of work. New Figure in Ukraine Scandal Was Taken Into Police Custody at Trump Resort Last Year
The report noted that Hyde explained to the police officer that “he was in fear for his life, was set up and that a hit man was out to get him. Mr. Hyde spoke about e-mails he sent that may have placed his life in jeopardy. Mr. Hyde explained several times that he was paranoid that someone was out to get him.”
posted by nicwolff at 3:21 AM on January 15 [7 favorites]


I dunno, considering who he associates with, are his fears so unreasonable?
posted by Rykey at 3:41 AM on January 15 [6 favorites]


Those quotes from Hyde about his family court issues have a pretty strong "man going his own way" energy.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:29 AM on January 15 [4 favorites]


Tweet of the year:
Meg Massey @blondnerd
I said it last time and I will say it again: your choices in this election will be (1) the bowl of diarrhea with shards of broken glass in it or (2) the chicken. Let's not get hung up too much on the specific kind of chicken.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:21 AM on January 15 [46 favorites]


Schiff, Nadler are among the House members named to prosecute the case against Trump
Pelosi on Wednesday selected seven House members to serve as impeachment managers in the Senate trial, including Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).

The group will argue that Trump abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress and should be removed from office. Countering that argument will be Trump’s defense team, which is expected to be led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

Besides Schiff and Nadler, Pelosi named as managers Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Sylvia Garcia (D-Tex.), Val Demings (D-Fla.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Jason Crow (D-Colo.).
That's a strong and diverse group right there.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:28 AM on January 15 [12 favorites]


How does prosecution work if you can't call witnesses or submit evidence? Just speeches?
posted by emjaybee at 8:11 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


He's the best at what he does. When neither the facts nor the law are ever on your side, who could possibly be a better advocate than the world's leading exponent of table-banging?

Call me picky, but I'd pick one who doesn't table bang before saying in an unprompted aside that the client definitely did it.
posted by jaduncan at 8:29 AM on January 15 [4 favorites]


Lev Parnas and Rudy Giuliani have demolished Trump’s claims of innocence
Americans who have been wondering why President Trump has taken the extraordinary step of trying to block every document from being released to Congress in his impeachment inquiry need wonder no longer. The new documents released Tuesday evening by the House Intelligence Committee were devastating to Trump’s continuing — if shifting — defense of his Ukraine extortion scandal, just days before his impeachment trial is likely to begin in the Senate. These new documents demolish at least three key defenses to which Trump and his allies have been clinging: that he was really fighting corruption when he pressured Ukraine on matters related to the Biden family; that Hunter Biden should be called as a witness at the Senate impeachment trial; and that there’s no need for a real, honest-to-goodness trial in the Senate.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:47 AM on January 15 [12 favorites]


talkingpointsmemo: Meet the House Impeachment Managers
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:01 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Hey, Lofgren's my rep. Cool.
posted by tavella at 9:10 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


This thread from American Oversight that lines up the dates and times of the new messages between Parnas and Hyde released last night with other known events is pretty shocking even in our outrage-fatigued world.

For example, while Hyde is telling Parnas exactly where the Ambassador is and what she's doing, including those creepy, "She's talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off", messages you've probably seen, Parnas is at the Trump hotel in DC, celebrating with Guliani. We know this, because he's proudly Instagraming the event.
posted by bcd at 10:31 AM on January 15 [30 favorites]


Blown away we have evidence Trump's people were talking about killing Yovanovich and the media is like, "Ehh, they probably didn't mean it."
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:31 AM on January 15 [25 favorites]


Blown away we have evidence Trump's people were talking about killing Yovanovich and the media is like, "Ehh, they probably didn't mean it."

By pretending the controversy is about killing Yovanovich, they can ignore the fact that Trump's thugs kept her under surveillance.

The so-called "liberal media" uses this trick all the time, taking its cue from bad faith conservative commentary -- but I repeat myself. See also: Pretending Michelle Wolf criticized Sarah Sanders for her appearance (narrator: She didn't) so they could ignore that Wolf caller her a liar, in front of the media, not-so-subtly criticizing them for uncritically reporting her lies as if they might be true.
posted by Gelatin at 11:51 AM on January 15 [17 favorites]


Who are the impeachment managers prosecuting the case against Trump in the Senate trial?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) named the lawmakers who will prosecute the case in a Senate trial that will begin in earnest next week. In impeachment parlance, they are known as managers. They are tasked with persuading 67 senators to convict Trump and remove him from office on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Here’s who they are and why Pelosi probably picked them for the most consequential part of the entire impeachment process.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:01 PM on January 15 [3 favorites]


Trump's people were talking about killing Yovanovich

Does saying creepy things about her phone and computer being off constitute assassination discussion or is there a citation I'm missing here?
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:01 PM on January 15 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure I read it so specifically, but I think that inference is being made from the "They are willing to help if we/you would like a price" and "Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money... what I was told" tweets. The latter of which is hella ironic given the supposed Biden cover for their "investigation".
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 12:10 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Does saying creepy things about her phone and computer being off constitute assassination discussion or is there a citation I'm missing here?

A sampling of some of Hyde's texts to Parnas:

"She under heavy protection outside Kyiv"

"They are moving her tomorrow"

"They are willing to help if we/you would like a price"

"Guess you can do anything in the Ukraine (sic) with money...what I was told"

"she will not be moved special security unit upgraded force on the compound people are already aware of the situation my contacts are asking what is the next step because they cannot keep going to check people will start to ask questions."
posted by nubs at 12:37 PM on January 15 [13 favorites]


Have all of those messages been released, or is it possible there are even worse ones to come?
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:03 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Parnas will be interviewed by Rachel Maddow tonight. Everything about this seems bizarre to me.
posted by biddeford at 1:23 PM on January 15 [7 favorites]


is it possible there are even worse ones to come?

I believe the answer to this question, in this context, is always "yes".
posted by nubs at 1:32 PM on January 15 [15 favorites]


So I'm seeing indications that Hyde has a history of mental illness? That muddies the waters a bit (further).
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:36 PM on January 15


His mental illness doesn't muddy the waters at all, and that's a strawman argument. It doesn't matter if you are mentally ill if you're plotting an assassination of an ambassador.

I just wanna add that these texts are insane. Absolutely bonkers. To me, the scariest part is that this shows the kleptocratic mafia-government integration that Trump really wants to see happen.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 1:58 PM on January 15 [15 favorites]


Also, these texts really are making me wonder about all those Deutsche Bank suicides.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:04 PM on January 15 [19 favorites]


A step-by-step guide to what happens when the House sends the impeachment articles to the Senate
CNN spoke with former Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin, who is also a CNN contributor, to lay out the first steps of the impeachment trial now that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is sending over the articles. While there's a list of the steps below, Frumin stressed that there could be twists and turns along the way that will be dealt with in real time.

Frumin's guidance is based largely on the "Rules of Procedure and Practice in the Senate when Sitting on Impeachment Trials," which was last updated on August 16, 1986.
Here is Frumin's shorter take on what to expect in the early stages of a Senate trial, which -- like much of the congressional procedure in today's Washington -- is subject to change
How a Senate impeachment trial works
Here’s the nitty-gritty of how we believe each day will work, based on a reading of the Senate rules about how to hold trials, how President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial was run, and our current understanding of the expected schedule.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:08 PM on January 15 [3 favorites]


Impeached the motherfucker already.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:29 PM on January 15 [15 favorites]


Calls mount for investigation of possible surveillance on Marie Yovanovitch (Guardian)
As of midday on Wednesday, the state department had yet to issue a statement on the new revelations, and canceled two briefings to Congress, one of them on diplomatic security. [...]

“A threat on a US ambassador ... would be treated with the utmost urgency if it came from a foreign person,” tweeted Dana Shell Smith, former ambassador to Qatar. “But [attorney general William] Barr hasn’t opened an investigation and [secretary of state] Pompeo, radio silence.”

Eliot Engel, the Democratic chair of the House foreign affairs committee issued a statement saying: “This unprecedented threat to our diplomats must be thoroughly investigated and, if warranted, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Engel’s Senate counterpart, Bob Menendez put out a tweet demanding “immediate answers from the Trump [administration] on what they knew and what they’ve done since to ensure her safety.”

“This is not swagger, it’s thuggery,” Menendez said. [...]

The state department was due to brief congressional staffers from both parties on diplomatic security on Wednesday, but abruptly canceled on Tuesday afternoon. The cancellation, first reported by Politico, came before the Parnas-Hyde texts were published, according to a congressional aide. The aide said the state department had given no reason for the decision and had not sought to reschedule the briefing.
posted by katra at 2:46 PM on January 15 [14 favorites]


“A threat on a US ambassador ... would be treated with the utmost urgency if it came from a foreign person"

The call is coming from inside the house!
posted by JackFlash at 2:52 PM on January 15 [8 favorites]


Please tell me about those Deutsch Bank suicides
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:55 PM on January 15 [5 favorites]


https://www.lamag.com/citythinkblog/deutsche-bank-death/
A former Deutsche Bank executive who reportedly signed off on some of the institution’s unorthodox loans to Donald Trump killed himself in his Malibu home on November 19. Thomas Bowers, the onetime head of Deutsche Bank’s American wealth-management division, where he oversaw Trump’s private banker, committed suicide by hanging, according to Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office. Bowers was 55.
https://whowhatwhy.org/2019/11/28/another-banker-suicide-intriguing-parallels-between-us-and-estonian-deaths/
Bankers whose financial institutions are engulfed in scandal appear to be hanging themselves at an alarming rate. [...] One is known for laundering Russian money, including, allegedly, those tied to a cousin of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The other is the principal lender to US President Donald Trump; some of those loans have been termed unorthodox.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:37 PM on January 15 [21 favorites]




While we're on the Deutche Bank subject, let us remember how Trump's Supreme Court pick came about
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:31 PM on January 15 [7 favorites]


I can't see the fire for all the smoke!
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:42 PM on January 15 [6 favorites]


I'm not willing to believe that it's definitely assassination, but put a semi-literate Soviet and a small time hustler who has had public outbursts of the 5150 variety and the picture starts to look like patsies and operatives. You remember the parade scene in The Dark Knight?
posted by rhizome at 4:48 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


So I'm seeing indications that Hyde has a history of mental illness? That muddies the waters a bit (further).

A bunch of other people connected to Trump scandals have made statements or behaved in ways that made me feel that they were unwell, much more than I would have expected. There are lots of possible explanations other than mental illness, chief among which is that we're living in crazy times. None the less, I think there's a particular personality type that flourishes in this environment, one that relishes the drama and wants to be part of it.

A more normal administration wouldn't give so much access to outsiders, and would be better at relegating people who prove to be unsuitable. This isn't a normal administration, though, and Trump is personally unstable and frequently interferes with the usual mechanisms of administrative selection. Worse, he doesn't respect the boundaries of the Presidency or government generally. Consequently, there are many more opportunities for high-risk grifters to insert themselves into administrative or administration-adjacent roles.

So I wouldn't be at all surprised if Hyde has mental illness, but I think we need to recognise that he shouldn't have had access to Trump's inner circle; that the Administration's obsession with ambassador Yovanovitch was and is inexplicable; and that this widely-broadcasted desire to remove her without going through a normal bureaucratic process was inevitably going to inspire crazy plans from crazy people. That doesn't necessarily mean that they're mentally ill: the whole situation is crazy.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:03 PM on January 15 [17 favorites]


Could there maybe be a different thread for all this Deutche Bank suicide stuff?
posted by kirkaracha at 5:16 PM on January 15




New book portrays Trump as erratic, ‘at times dangerously uninformed’ (WaPo)
A Very Stable Genius” — a 417-page book named after Trump’s own declaration of his superior knowledge — is full of similarly vivid details from Trump’s tumultuous first three years as president, from his chaotic transition before taking office to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation and final report.

The story the authors unfurl, as they explain in the prologue, “is intended to reveal Trump at his most unvarnished and expose how decision-making in his administration has been driven by one man’s self-centered and unthinking logic — but a logic nonetheless.”

The book by the two longtime Post reporters — who were part of the paper’s team that won a 2018 Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on Trump and Russia — was obtained ahead of its scheduled release Tuesday.

Many of the key moments reported in the book are rife with foreign policy implications, portraying a novice commander in chief plowing through normal protocols and alarming many both inside the administration and in other governments. [...]

In spring 2017, Trump also clashed with Tillerson when he told him he wanted his help getting rid of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a 1977 law that prevents U.S. firms and individuals from bribing foreign officials for business deals.

“It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,” Trump says, according to the book. “We’re going to change that.”
posted by katra at 5:44 PM on January 15 [10 favorites]


How Giuliani’s outreach to Ukrainian gas tycoon wanted in U.S. shows lengths he took in his hunt for material to bolster Trump (WaPo)
The previously untold story of how Giuliani and his associates reached out to the Ukrainian tycoon — whom the former New York mayor had previously blasted publicly for alleged ties to organized crime — shows the lengths Giuliani went to in his campaign to defend Trump in the Russia investigation and undermine former vice president Joe Biden. And it highlights how details about his activities are still coming to light, even after weeks of testimony in the House impeachment proceedings.

The Firtash executive who met with Giuliani in Paris was an aspiring Ukrainian politician named Dmitry Torner, later accused by Ukrainian authorities of escaping incarceration in Moldova and living under a new name. The following month, Giuliani sat down in London with other Firtash representatives, according to Otto Dietrich, an attorney for Firtash. Later that summer, Firtash’s attorneys filed a court document that Giuliani touted publicly as support for his claims about Biden.
posted by katra at 5:57 PM on January 15 [5 favorites]


Democrats release more Parnas evidence, including voicemails with Trump associates (Politico)
House impeachment investigators released a new set of evidence that was obtained from Lev Parnas, an indicted former associate of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani — including voicemails, photos, and text messages between Parnas and high-level figures within Trump’s orbit.

The material includes voicemail messages Parnas received from Giuliani and Victoria Toensing, a prominent Trump-aligned lawyer, both of whom have been identified as players in an effort to force the removal of the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, during the spring. [...] The previously undisclosed documents, released late Tuesday night but not publicly noticed, were posted ahead of the House formally sending its impeachment articles to the Senate, underscore the evolving nature of an investigation that House Democrats say is ongoing — and was stifled in its early stages by Trump’s refusal to allow his aides and associates to comply with congressional subpoenas. [...]

The documents also include several photos of Parnas with members of Trump’s family and his administration — including Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions — further highlighting Parnas’ ties and access to the president and members of his inner circle. [...]

Among the newly released documents is a text message from Giuliani to Parnas, in which the former New York City mayor says he wants Parnas to get a message to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “stop acting like a boy” and arrest a Ukrainian oligarch who was under investigation.
posted by katra at 6:05 PM on January 15 [6 favorites]


Highlights of the first segment of Parnas interview with Maddow (transcription errors mine):

MADDOW: "Why do you want to testify?"

PARNAS: "Because it's important for the world to know exactly what transpired... there are a lot of things that are being said that aren't accurate..."

M: "What is the main lie being told that you want to correct?"

P: "That the president didn't know what's going on. He knew exactly what was going on. I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the President. Why would President Zelensky's inner circle meet with me? Who am I? .. I was on the ground doing their work."

M: "President said he didn't know you..."

P: "He lied. We're not friends.. We didn't watch football games together, we didn't eat hot dogs... but he knew exactly who we were.... I was in constant contact with him."

M: "Are you saying specifically... the President was aware that you and Mr. Giuliani were working on this effort in the Ukraine to hurt Joe Biden?"

P: "It was never about corruption, it was strictly about Burisma and Joe/Hunter Biden."

M: "Did anybody in the US government convey to officials that you were a representative of the US government?"

P: "Absolutely... the first thing I did was introduce myself and put Rudy on the phone, Rudy confirmed that I was speaking on behalf of the US."

M: "It has been reported as far as we understand from public reporting that you conveyed.. the quid pro quo. Is that accurate?"

P: "It was a little more than that. The message I gave Sergei Schaefer was a very hard message... that we would stop giving any kind of aid unless ... they accounced the Biden investigation... At our meeting ... it was a heated conversation from our point, telling him what needs to be done... Pence would not show up to inauguration... [unless he announced investigation into Biden]... "

M: "So VP Pence has trip to inauguration canceled... do you know if VP Pence was aware that this was quid pro quo"

P: "I'm going to use a famous quote by Mr. Sondland... 'everybody was in the loop.'"

M: "You believe VP Pence knew trip was contingent on investigations being announced."

P: "I know he went to Poland also to discuss this on Trump's behalf, so he couldn't have not known"

P: "Every meeting Giuliani or I would have with the Ukrainians, they would always agree that they would make an announcement, then they would walk it back. Trump was supposed to meet Zelensky in Poland, he used the excuse of the hurricane, but it wasn't the hurricane."

M: "How do you know that was an excuse?"

P: "I spoke to Rudy... We spoke about this every day, everything that was going on was discussed."

M: "When Pence went over in Trump's stead, you believe Pence was tasked at that meeting to announce investigations of Biden specifically."

P: "Yes... The aid itself was something the President decided to do... it was a reaction that there was no announcement made..."

M: "When you say that Mr. Bolton may have things to say about this, did Bolton know?"

P: "He was definitely in the loop because of the firing of Yovanovich... there was tension there.... he [Bolton] knows what happened there."
posted by tonycpsu at 6:30 PM on January 15 [64 favorites]


Thanks, tonycpsu.
posted by Dashy at 6:52 PM on January 15 [6 favorites]


More from the Parnas interview...

MADDOW: "This first note... 'Get Zelensky to announce that Biden case will be investigated'... that's Mr. Giuliani tasking you?"

PARNAS: "Yeah, that was always the main objective. Correct."

M: "Do you believe that part of the motivation to get rid of Amb. Yovanovich... was that she was in the way of getting the Ukraine government to announce investigations of Joe Biden?"

P: "That was only motivation... There was no other motivation."

M: "Who is Robert Hyde?"

P: (laughs)... "He's... I don't know howto explain it. He's a weird character."

M: "We have your text messages with Mr. Hyde... it seems that you were texting anti-Yovanovich information.... The text messages were disturbing... What was he trying to tell you?"

P: "I didn't take it seriously... I would respond 'LOL' or.. amuse him... I got disturbed, so I called up my SuperPAC contact.. I asked him is this guy (crazy)... he said yes, stay away from him."

M: "He couldn't have been drunk all the time."

P: "No, he was drunk all the time."

M: "So you believe he was making this up? You didn't believe he actually had Amb. under surveillance?"

P: *shakes head* "No. Absolutely not."

M: "So the exchange with Mr. Firtash was going to be... you provide material that's detrimental to the Muller investigation, and we, in turn, will get case dropped at DOJ."

P: "That's how it began."

M: "DiGenova and Toensing were going to become his lawyers.."

P: "Correct."

M: "And you were supposed to broker this."

P: "Correct."

M (narrating) :"So, a conservativer journalist, John Solomon, and two Fox News lawyers (DIGenova and Toensing) and Rudy, and Parnas, are all involved... to enlist the help of a billionaire, Kremlin-connected, allegedly mobbed-up oligarch to help them pressure the Ukrainian government that they must announce investigations of Joe Biden.... and the oligarch tells this motley crew that he can help them... and they tell him they can stop him from being extradited."

M: "Did you ever speak with or have any interactions with Barr?"

P: "I personally didn't speak to him, but I was involved in lots of conversations that Joe had with them front of me, Rudy had with them in front of me."

M: "Do you know if Giuliani was ever in contact with Barr specifically about Biden."

P: "Absolutely. Barr knew everything."

M: "Did Rudy tell you he spoke to Barr?"

P: "Not only Rudy... Barr was basically on the team."

M: "Do you know Congressman Devin Nunes?"

P: "We met several times at the Trump Hotel.... I was introduced to his aide Derek Harvey.."

M: "Were you surprised by Nunes investigating given that he was involved?"

P: "I was in shock.. I texted my attorney I said I can't believe this is happening because they were involved in getting all this stuff on Biden. Derek Harvey had several interviews that I set up with different (Ukrainian) prosecutors... So... it's hard to see them lying like that... he knew what was going on... he knows who I am."
posted by tonycpsu at 7:00 PM on January 15 [39 favorites]


Random thought - Pelosi's hold on sending the articles over happened to allow Senate Democrats in the Democratic debates to continue to attend them until they concluded.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:25 PM on January 15 [7 favorites]


Parnas used access to Trump’s world to help push shadow Ukraine effort, new documents show (WaPo)
The new materials made public by the House Intelligence Committee follow an initial trove released Tuesday night that showed Parnas directly involved with efforts to get the Ukrainian president to announce investigations related to former vice president Joe Biden. [...]

The new material indicates that Parnas played a central role in arranging an interview with a Ukrainian prosecutor who claimed there was a plot in his country to help Hillary Clinton — and then urging a senior contact at the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action to get Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., to tweet it.

Links to stories about Ukraine that Parnas sent to America First Action finance director John Ahearn were tweeted by both the president and Trump Jr., the material shows. [...]

The new materials released by House Democrats also include months of messages between Parnas and then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko in which the Ukrainian official provided Giuliani’s team with interviews and information in exchange for a pledge that Yovanovitch would be removed from her post.
posted by katra at 8:54 PM on January 15 [3 favorites]


P: "Absolutely. Barr knew everything."

This.
posted by bcd at 9:09 PM on January 15 [14 favorites]


Holy shit, that Parnas interview. Best watched for full effect because he expounds on what is basically the template for diplomacy in the trump administration. Shakedowns for quid pro quo while purging institutional people and operated out of trump properties, essentially.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:17 PM on January 15 [14 favorites]


Shakedowns for quid pro quo while purging institutional people and operated out of trump properties, essentially.

This morning NPR went out of its way to remind its listeners that Parnas was under indictment. It did not mention that Parnas' interview verified, yet again, a key contention (that Giulinani and Barr were freelancing foreign policy to benefit Trump's re-election) of the whistleblower complaint that kicked off the entire impeachment process.
posted by Gelatin at 4:35 AM on January 16 [9 favorites]


I heard that as well on NPR this morning, what a nice both-sidesy way to start the day.

NYTimes headline is "Lev Parnas, Key Player in Ukraine Affair, Completes Break With Trump and Giuliani", which of course is not the important bit.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:04 AM on January 16 [4 favorites]


Lev Parnas, Creator Of Echo Chambers (Marcy Wheeler)
Last night’s interview continued that grift, only he moved to spin an echo chamber for the left this time. He emphasized — and Maddow predictably responded — some of the key allegations Democrats most want to be true. Mike Pence is closely involved, Parnas revealed, and while nothing he revealed would amount to impeachable conduct, Democrats immediately latched onto the possibility it would be. Everyone was involved, Parnas confirmed, including Devin Nunes and Bill Barr. It was all about Biden, Parnas almost certainly lied.
[...]
But until we understand why Parnas is doing what he’s doing — why he inserted himself into the right wing echo chamber in the first place, and why he’s so insistent on telling us what we want to hear now — we would do well to exercise caution about the stories he’s telling.

posted by mikepop at 6:08 AM on January 16 [10 favorites]


I share that suspicion. The NYT interview had his lawyer present, though.
posted by Sublimity at 6:14 AM on January 16


Parnas's lawyer was also present during the interview with Rachel Maddow.
posted by XMLicious at 6:19 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Parnas didn't seem like an obviously raving nutter in the Maddow interview, and from what I've gleaned (not having watched the entire thing), what he's saying comports with what is already known from other sources.

It does seem prudent to exercise caution, as Marcy Wheeler suggests, but it's not as if the entire argument for impeachment is hanging specifically on what he has to say.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 6:30 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]


yeah parnas seemed tons more credible than id expected, for sure.

it is certainly not inconceivable that some of what he said is untrue, while other parts are totally accurate AND at the same time his story about the whole Hyde stalking thing and the guy always being drunk and joking/unstable/not really based in reality is so far fetched as to be an intentional way of signaling of course it was true but he isnt going to admit his part in it.

I may be reading a lot more into things than i should.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 6:34 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


White House violated the law by freezing Ukraine aid, GAO says (Politico)
The White House budget office violated the law when it froze U.S. military aid to Ukraine, the Government Accountability Office concluded in a new report.

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the GAO wrote in an eight-page report.

Several witnesses who testified before House impeachment investigators said President Donald Trump ordered the hold on the critical military assistance.
posted by katra at 7:19 AM on January 16 [16 favorites]


So I guess the question really is: what would Russia prefer that Parnas say and is that what he is saying? Hard to tell. A lot of the focus is on Giuliani still; very little being said about why getting rid of our Ukraine ambassador was so important to Trump, Putin's ongoing attempts to coerce/subvert Ukraine's government and so on.
posted by emjaybee at 7:26 AM on January 16 [4 favorites]


The Trump Impeachment and the Question of Precedent (Bob Bauer, Lawfare)
On Dec. 17 and Dec. 19, 2019, and Jan. 8 of this year, speaking from the Senate floor, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the case that the Trump impeachment was setting a “toxic” and “nightmarish” precedent “deeply damaging to the institutions of American government.” The House’s actions, said the majority leader, would ensure that impeachment became routine, a “constant part…of the political background noise” and of the “arms race of polarization.” It would be transformed into a weapon with which to “paralyze future Senates with frivolous impeachments at will.” The Senate, in his view, is now obligated to act as a brake to prevent a “constitutional crisis.” […]

McConnell did not speak directly or in much detail as to the merits of the case against Trump. He was more focused on defining in fundamental terms the constitutionally acceptable standards for impeachment, and it is this position that should not be overlooked as public and press attention are more naturally drawn to the specific charges against Trump and the question of whether the trial will include witnesses. […]

[…] McConnell is plainly imposing questionable constitutional boundaries around impeachment. […] McConnell asserts these particular limits within an umbrella principle that impeachments are undemocratic, an affront to the electoral process and an “undoing” of the president’s election.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:28 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


Trump administration violated the law by withholding Ukraine aid, Government Accountability Office says (NBC News)
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., tweeted that the ruling by the GAO demonstrates "without a doubt" that "the president himself ordered this illegal act."
GAO finds Trump administration broke law by withholding aid from Ukraine (The Hill)
The Trump administration violated the law by withholding appropriated security assistance to Ukraine, the Government Accountability Office said Thursday in a report. [...]

The withholding of the aid is central to the ongoing impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
posted by katra at 7:33 AM on January 16 [7 favorites]


very little being said about why getting rid of our Ukraine ambassador was so important to Trump

Chris hayes on twitter: As you read through the documents and notice how *intensely focused* they are on firing Yovanovitch, keep in mind it now appears that itself is a quid pro quo. Lutsenko will only play ball and give them Biden dirt if they get rid of Yovanovitch.

It was only important to him as a mechanism to shore up his illegal election rigging, because it was a precondition set by someone essential to that process. It had no external importance to trump beyond him seeming to enjoy treating women like shit in general.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:36 AM on January 16 [11 favorites]


New evidence against Trump is likely to emerge during Senate impeachment trial, Schiff says (LAT / MSN)
“There’s going to be new evidence coming out all the time. And if this is conducted like a fair trial, then that new evidence should be admitted. If it’s relevant, if it’s probative, if it sheds light on the guilt or innocence of the president, then it should be admitted,” said Schiff, who was appointed Wednesday the lead House manager prosecuting the case against President Donald Trump. [...]

“It will be hard, I think, for the senators to ignore new and probative evidence,” Schiff said. “What are they gonna say? ‘We’re not going to look at that. We don’t want to see it. We’re going to close our eyes and close our ears and just pretend it didn’t happen or (that) we didn’t learn this fact’?

“So there are limits I think to the ability of Sen. McConnell to prevent meaningful evidence from being considered,” he said.
posted by katra at 7:37 AM on January 16 [8 favorites]


How Will the Senate Get Away With Its Sham Trial Now? (Dahlia Lithwick, Slate)
"As more evidence pours out, Mitch McConnell’s position becomes increasingly untenable."

Quinta Jurecic and Ben Wittes argue persuasively at the Atlantic [The Senate Trial Will Be Totally Predictable] that in fact nothing about the impeachment trial in the Senate will be interesting, precisely because it’s not in anyone’s interest to be interesting, and also because everything Trump does around impeachment is now rote and predictable and boring. It’s useful to remind ourselves that “process is boring” is the enemy here—that as soon as one opens the door to “boring” or her snoozy cousin “Senate procedures,” you can be certain that the real outrages will buried in rules and footnotes and claims about what’s happened in prior arcane Senate processes, even as we try to process breaking news about the United States president possibly permitting a thug to intimidate his own ambassador. This impeachment story is not boring, but it has gone on a long while and is comprised of many facts, which might have been the fatal flaw of both Mueller’s report and his subsequent testimony, even while both were incredibly damning if you were applying pre-2016 objective-universe standards.

Here is a strange problem I have observed: Hiding behind boring process as a defense seems to favor only Republicans. When Garland faced a roadblock in the Senate, Democrats made Senate process arguments while Republicans did the Electric Slide. Democratic voters found it boring and tuned out. But when Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, confronted with deeply troubling facts and witnesses around the Ukraine scandal, made exclusively process arguments about witnesses locked in basements and wanting to subpoena a whistleblower, Republican voters tuned in and rallied.
Emphasis mine.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:38 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


Surely it is not a coincidence that the Parnas interview happens the day before the Impeachment Trial kicks off in the Senate, right?

It could be (not getting my hopes up at all ) the start of Republicans finding cover to support, if not removal, a trial that isn't dismissed outright.
posted by Tevin at 7:41 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Devin Nunes Now Remembers Call With Lev Parnas

So I guess the most charitable interpretation here is that he's working with so many shady intermediaries on so many criminal conspiracies that he couldn't remember this particular one. Cool.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:42 AM on January 16 [14 favorites]


The Senate Impeachment Trial: Call the Witnesses or Concede the Facts (Mieke Eoyang, Anisha Hindocha, Lawfare)
There’s just one issue with McConnell’s preferred approach. Unless Republican senators want to accept the facts laid out by the House leadership and restrict themselves to the legal question of whether those facts demonstrate impeachable conduct, they’re going to need to call witnesses.

As many have explained, the House impeachment investigation was analogous to a grand jury investigation, with the resulting impeachment vote akin to a decision to indict. Republicans are now acting as if the House proceedings were a full trial—meaning that the Senate is now acting as an appellate court that can only consider the closed record developed below. [...]

But the text of the Constitution, the Senate’s own powers and the weight of history all demonstrate that this is wrong. The impeachment clauses mandate that the Senate must conduct a trial—and while impeachment proceedings are not exactly a trial as would occur before a court, the principles of both criminal and civil law provide useful guidelines for how the Senate should act to fulfill its constitutional responsibility.

The Constitution is clear: The Senate has “the sole Power to try”—not review—“all Impeachments.” Unlike an appeals court, the Senate’s powers are not limited to review and remand; instead, it alone has the power to determine whether an impeached president should be punished by removal from office and disqualification from “any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States.” These are powers reserved for trial, not appellate, courts.

Senate Republicans’ logic implies that the trial has already occurred: In this reasoning, the House found Trump guilty and imposed on him the punishment of impeachment. But that cannot possibly be the case, because the Constitution explicitly reserves to the Senate the ability to punish someone who has been impeached with removal from office and, possibly, disqualification from holding future office. The very fact that the Senate is granted the authority to impose punishment on Trump means that the Senate cannot be an appellate court, which would generally be limited to reviewing and remanding a case back to a trial court—in this case, the House.
posted by katra at 7:56 AM on January 16 [17 favorites]


As someone who complained about the media narrative seeming to fault the Democrats for proceeding with impeachment despite knowing Senate Republicans would be in the tank for Trump, it's refreshing to see a growing narrative that Senate Republicans are orchestrating a sham and a cover-up now that the Democrats finally did impeach him.

The Senate will likely acquit Trump, but that'll be to the eternal shame of the Republican party. Democrats and other loyal Americans should neither forget nor forgive.
posted by Gelatin at 8:24 AM on January 16 [14 favorites]


Democrats seize on GAO report as they argue for documents (WaPo)
“President Trump and his top aides refused to cooperate with this independent investigation, just as they obstructed the impeachment investigation conducted by the House of Representatives,” Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

“Today’s report — issued by independent attorneys — erases any lingering question about whether the Senate must subpoena documents and witnesses in order to conduct a fair trial.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) made a similar point about the report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office report, arguing it reinforced the need for documents he sought in a letter last month to McConnell.

“The GAO opinion makes clear that the documents we requested in our letter last month are even more needed now because GAO confirmed the president broke the law,” Schumer said in a statement. “All Senators will get a chance to vote to obtain these documents next week.”
posted by katra at 8:31 AM on January 16 [11 favorites]





Surely it is not a coincidence that the Parnas interview happens the day before the Impeachment Trial kicks off in the Senate, right?


did you not believe what Parnas specifically said, in the interview, about how he was trying so hard to get his information released before certain impeachment deadlines, or
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:47 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


Ceremonies underway (12 PM Eastern) in the Senate to proceed with the trial. Live coverage from the usual news sources.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:08 AM on January 16




What are they gonna say? ‘We’re not going to look at that. We don’t want to see it. We’re going to close our eyes and close our ears and just pretend it didn’t happen or (that) we didn’t learn this fact’? (Schiff)

Ummm .... yes? I mean, denying the facts has pretty much been a hallmark of this administration. This is one of the first times I'm disappointed in Schiff, I'm really hoping that statement was for readers/viewers, not what he actually thinks.
posted by Bovine Love at 9:15 AM on January 16 [6 favorites]




Ummm .... yes? I mean, denying the facts has pretty much been a hallmark of this administration. This is one of the first times I'm disappointed in Schiff, I'm really hoping that statement was for readers/viewers, not what he actually thinks.

But there seems to be changing perception from the Republicans' preferred narrative -- that impeachment is simply a political process, the Democrats taking revenge for Trump's winning by a technicality in 2016 -- to the recognition that Trump has done and continues to do actual high crimes and misdemeanors and the Republicans are going to whitewash it for partisan reasons. McConnell -- and more importantly, Susan Collins and Mitt Romney -- really don't want that perception to take hold. Schiff's statement reinforces that narrative.

The whole charade about witnesses isn't about convincing Republican Senators to convict Trump, but about feeding the growing public perception that Trump is guilty, guilty, guilty and that Republican Senators are accessories after the fact by helping him cover it up.

Of course the Republicans are going to acquit Trump. But they want to do so without paying a political price. Loyal Americans and competent members of the media must ensure and work to see that they do.
posted by Gelatin at 9:31 AM on January 16 [18 favorites]


Rand Paul threatens fellow Republicans if they don't go along with impeachment trial cover-up (Laura Clawson, Daily Kos Staff)

Collins' true partisan hack colors are showing when it comes to impeachment witnesses (Joan McCarter, Daily Kos Staff)
Sen. Susan Collins has never really had to face hard scrutiny in her reelection campaigns, and boy does it show. The lies and obfuscations that roll so easily off the tongues of her fellow Republicans sound absolutely idiotic, naive, and ham-handed coming from her.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:01 AM on January 16 [7 favorites]


Ukraine probes possible surveillance of US ambassador (Politico)
Police in Ukraine are investigating the possibility that the country's former U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was under illegal surveillance before she was recalled from her post, the Associated Press reported Thursday. [...]

In a statement Thursday, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said "the published messages contain facts of possible violations of Ukrainian law and of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, which protect the rights of diplomats on the territory of another state."

The ministry also said it has asked the FBI to take part in the ongoing investigation "in accordance with the international legal mechanisms," and requesting "all the information and materials from the FBI about persons who may be involved in a possible criminal offense."
posted by katra at 10:04 AM on January 16 [15 favorites]


Some very worthwhile points from Seth Abramson,
I've said for months the Ukraine scandal is about more than Biden. And Clinton. And Manafort. More than Naftogaz, the Russian mafia, and Trump's John Solomon-led information war on his own people. It's about helping Putin in an ongoing invasion of Europe. A *literal* invasion.

Imagine what it'd take to be worth it for a Trump agent to discuss harming a U.S. ambassador. What would have to be at stake? Everyone knows a July phone call isn't enough. Everyone knows some provably false "dirt" on Biden isn't enough. That's why that's only 5% of the story.

At stake in the Ukraine scandal is the 2020 election. At stake in the Ukraine scandal is the future of NATO and the EU. At stake in the Ukraine scandal is the current (literal) battleground between the Kremlin and Europe and Putin's unchecked adventurism and thirst for empire.
...
If Democrats get all the witnesses they want, it'll simply let them open a *tiny* window into what Trump and his agents did in Ukraine. The public still won't have anything like a full picture. Yet Trump is pulling out every stop to keep even that window from opening. Ask why.

Here's what I mean: Trump isn't really contesting any of the core facts in the articles of impeachment; major media has already reported on everything we think the four witnesses Democrats want would say at the trial; and yet Trump is *terrified* of his trial opening up wider.
I think the amount of work, conspiracy, and high stakes over one country making one allegation of fraud (dubious at best from a notoriously corrupt govt) against one election competitor is .... mismatched. I agree that this is only a tip of an iceberg in a sea of them.
posted by Dashy at 10:07 AM on January 16 [19 favorites]


Sen. Susan Collins has never really had to face hard scrutiny in her reelection campaigns, and boy does it show. The lies and obfuscations that roll so easily off the tongues of her fellow Republicans sound absolutely idiotic, naive, and ham-handed coming from her.

In all fairness, the lies and obfuscations that roll so easily off the tongues of her fellow Republicans also sound absolutely idiotic, naive, and ham-handed; they just have had a lot more practice.
posted by Gelatin at 10:10 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Republicans held two years of hearings on Benghazi! claiming that Secretary of State Clinton did not do enough to protect an ambassador.

I wonder how many hearings Republicans will hold regarding a president actually putting a hit contract on an ambassador.
posted by JackFlash at 10:14 AM on January 16 [25 favorites]


If Democrats get all the witnesses they want, it'll simply let them open a *tiny* window into what Trump and his agents did in Ukraine. The public still won't have anything like a full picture. Yet Trump is pulling out every stop to keep even that window from opening. Ask why.

Here's what I mean: Trump isn't really contesting any of the core facts in the articles of impeachment; major media has already reported on everything we think the four witnesses Democrats want would say at the trial; and yet Trump is *terrified* of his trial opening up wider.


Which is also why Trump stonewalled (and likely liked to) Mueller. The Mueller investigation of Trump's misdeeds with Russia in the 2016 election are not separate from the Ukraine scandal, they're both part of the same set -- the "event horizon" that Josh Marshall described around Trump's election that delineates the edges of a massive scandal that Trump and his co-conspirators are working desperately to keep in the dark. Like a black hole, we can't see it, but we know from the size of the event horizon that it's there, and it must conceal something absolutely crushing.

Ukraine and the Mueller report are different parts of the same scandal.
posted by Gelatin at 10:16 AM on January 16 [20 favorites]


> Imagine what it'd take to be worth it for a Trump agent to discuss harming a U.S. ambassador. What would have to be at stake? Everyone knows a July phone call isn't enough. Everyone knows some provably false "dirt" on Biden isn't enough. That's why that's only 5% of the story.

No, Seth, "everyone" doesn't know this. One person who certainly doesn't know this is Lev Parnas, who clearly has no problem throwing very powerful people under the bus and driving said bus back and forth over them several times, yet dismissed any idea that Hyde's stalking and threats were anything other than delusions of grandeur from an alcoholic hanger-on who desperately wanted the Trump inner circle to notice him.

Abramson is, once again, working backwards from "how can I show that I was right all along?" instead of letting the very plain facts speak for themselves. Is there more to this than Burisma and Hunter Biden? Maybe! But a key player in the conspiracy is directly contradicting the idea that there was anything to these threats.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:17 AM on January 16 [11 favorites]


Bear in mind that regardless of how often we call the Hunter Biden and Crowdstrike fantasies "provably false," There are many many many well-sourced reports about how Trump absolutely believes them and will not be dissuaded.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:20 AM on January 16 [9 favorites]


Gelatin: "it's refreshing to see a growing narrative that Senate Republicans are orchestrating a sham and a cover-up now that the Democrats finally did impeach him."

I agree, and at least some Democrats are helping send that message (as well they should).

The latest email from Nancy Pelosi, entitled "Impeached Forever," ends with "The President and the Senators will be held accountable."

Sometimes when I call my legislators I ask them to talk about things to the public, in addition to working on legislation and oversight. If you're represented by Democrats in Congress, you can always call and ask them to talk about the Republican Senators who are covering up crimes, selling out the Constitution, and betraying their oath of office.
posted by kristi at 10:58 AM on January 16 [5 favorites]


Some very worthwhile points from Seth Abramson
The BLT Prime Team—so named by Parnas—was a salon for criminals. Its members met regularly to discuss a conspiracy they were executing..."BLT Prime" is the name of the restaurant in Trump's D.C. hotel. That's where the meetings happened.
"Forget the myths the media's created about the White House. The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand."
posted by kirkaracha at 11:19 AM on January 16 [14 favorites]


Ukraine probes possible surveillance of US ambassador

US State Department: *crickets*
posted by nubs at 11:24 AM on January 16 [8 favorites]


US State Department: *crickets*

That's not entirely true.

"BLT Prime" has to be the most postmodern (mostmodern?) restaurant name ever.
posted by rhizome at 11:46 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]


There are many many many well-sourced reports about how Trump absolutely believes them and will not be dissuaded.

He's self gaslighting?
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:02 PM on January 16


"BLT Prime" has to be the most postmodern (mostmodern?) restaurant name ever.

A BLT is a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. "BLT Prime" doesn't make any sense, and neither does its sibling restaurant, BLT Steak. (The food sounds good, though.)
posted by kirkaracha at 12:16 PM on January 16


Does BLT Prime still not serve BLTs
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:21 PM on January 16


BLT is named in honor of Trump's youngest son, Barron Luigi Trump. It has nothing to do with the sandwich.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:24 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Strange, since I’d expect the cheat-to-win evil plotting to take place in the restaurant named for Barron Waluigi Trump.
posted by stopgap at 12:36 PM on January 16 [16 favorites]


posted by Lentrohamsanin BLT is named in honor of Trump's youngest son, Barron Luigi Trump.

posted by stopgap Strange, since I’d expect the cheat-to-win evil plotting to take place in the restaurant named for Barron Waluigi Trump.

Barron's middle name is William and he's a kid and we should leave him alone.

posted by mattdidthat at 1:15 PM on January 16 [13 favorites]


Per New York Eater, BLT in this context stands for "Bistro Laurent Tourondel."
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:47 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


I'd hoped BTO was finally appreciating LaFrance's contributions.

Ukraine to probe possible surveillance of U.S. envoy as FBI approaches man who claimed to have tracked her (WaPo, January 16, 2020)

Ukrainian authorities announced a probe Thursday into the possible surveillance of U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch that a critic claimed to have orchestrated from the United States before President Trump dismissed her from the post, and the FBI visited the critic's home and business apparently seeking more information. [...] FBI agents on Thursday visited Hyde’s home and business in Connecticut, an official familiar with the case said, though the exact nature of their activities could not immediately be determined.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:11 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


Bear in mind that regardless of how often we call the Hunter Biden and Crowdstrike fantasies "provably false," There are many many many well-sourced reports about how Trump absolutely believes them and will not be dissuaded.

The millions of Fox News viewers feel the same way. My friend's aunt lectured me last night on Hunter Biden, apparently he's one of the most corrupt people in American history and this is all a big distraction ploy so Biden can beat Trump.
posted by chaz at 2:58 PM on January 16 [6 favorites]


Per New York Eater, BLT in this context stands for "Bistro Laurent Tourondel."

That's as BS a retcon as the Barron one! It's plain American English, you can't gaslight me.
posted by rhizome at 2:59 PM on January 16


I went to their website to get to the truth and got a '403 Forbidden' error message, so that's on-brand.
posted by mazola at 3:02 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


From Adam Serwer in The Atlantic, almost exactly one year ago:
Trump’s Inner Circle Keeps Violating the Stringer Bell Rule

Serwer brings many examples of this (and if he rewrote the article today he'd have many more) but the ending is a killer:
[...] Trump surrogates’ extensive documentation of their activities has given both federal investigators and the general public a trail to follow when attempting to discern the nature of the president’s relationship with the Russian government, and to prosecute those trying to obstruct the investigation. Which is the kind of thing Stringer Bell was worried about. If you’re going to engage in a criminal conspiracy, it’s a bad idea to take notes.

Just before the end of the meeting in The Wire, one of the distributors, Proposition Joe, expresses satisfaction at the outcome of the gathering.

“For a cold-ass crew of gangsters,” Prop Joe observes, “y’all carried it like Republicans and shit.”
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:11 PM on January 16 [5 favorites]


Only posting so I can find this thread again! Only found it by searching "Parnas"....
posted by jrochest at 3:11 PM on January 16


> Only posting so I can find this thread again! Only found it by searching "Parnas"....

There's an [add to activity] button underneath the FPP text that you can use to do this.

posted by tonycpsu at 3:17 PM on January 16 [10 favorites]


Per New York Eater, BLT in this context stands for "Bistro Laurent Tourondel."

As far as I can tell, Tourondel has nothing to do with "BLT Prime by David Burke", which is run by Esquared Hospitality.


Gordon Ramsay Will Be Picking Laurent Tourondel’s Replacement at BLT Steak
wrap your brain around the idea of Ramsay, who currently has nothing to do with the New York restaurant named after him, choosing the chef for a restaurant named after another chef who has nothing to do with that restaurant
posted by mikelieman at 3:20 PM on January 16 [8 favorites]


Not to abuse the edit window, the grifting never stops.

Reviewing DC's BLT Prime spirits menu, they list

“Pappy” Van Winkle 10yr {1 oz} $50
“Pappy” Van Winkle 12yr {1 oz} $60

while Pappy Van Winkle is only available in 23 Year, 20 year, and 15 year bottleings. They're selling Van Winkle Special Reserve (12 Year) and Old Rip (10 Year).
posted by mikelieman at 3:27 PM on January 16 [5 favorites]


The 10yr and 12yr Van Winkles retail at ~$40 and $55, respectively, for an entire bottle. $50 an ounce! That's something like a 2500% markup. I hope their meetings to destroy democracy felt worth it.
posted by mcstayinskool at 3:34 PM on January 16 [4 favorites]


[folks let’s steer it back please]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:40 PM on January 16 [12 favorites]


yet dismissed any idea that Hyde's stalking and threats were anything other than delusions of grandeur from an alcoholic hanger-on who desperately wanted the Trump inner circle to notice him.

Still, you have to wonder how this "alcoholic hanger-on" came up with this scheme months before anyone in the general public had even heard the name Yovanovich. He must have been privy to discussions as to what Trump wanted if his objective was to be noticed by Trump's inner circle.
posted by JackFlash at 3:46 PM on January 16 [11 favorites]


Still, you have to wonder how this "alcoholic hanger-on" came up with this scheme months before anyone in the general public had even heard the name Yovanovich. He must have been privy to discussions as to what Trump wanted if his objective was to be noticed by Trump's inner circle.

There used to be a cliché in gangster movies, when one would get collared by Johnny Law and tell their story about where they were on the night of the 25th, the detective would respond, "a likely story." Isn't "he's a crazy alcoholic tryhard" a predictable front? Sure, he's a crazy alcoholic tryhard that hangs out with them and shit, but he means nothing, baby!

We're not not in Parallax View territory. Executing plans with breakable connections in the chain of command seems like fairly standard spookwork.
posted by rhizome at 4:07 PM on January 16 [5 favorites]


My friend's aunt lectured me last night on Hunter Biden, apparently he's one of the most corrupt people in American history and this is all a big distraction ploy so Biden can beat Trump.

Oh, I hear ya. The MAGA True Believers are convinced Hunter Biden is the modern-day Teapot Dome scandal personified.

And yet, I have yet to hear anyone of those same people tell me what he’s actually accused of doing. Just furious hand waving and spittle-flecked shouts of “Corruption!”
posted by Big Al 8000 at 4:12 PM on January 16 [6 favorites]


Yeah, that was one area of Parnas' story that seems to stink because there is probably more to his involvement with the intimidation tactics. Also, unless I missed it there seems to be no explanation from how Hyde went from being a dude at the bar at Trump Hotel to actually tracking Yovanovitch. Unless he just overheard Rudy and friends yukking up their conspiracies and took it upon himself?
posted by Burhanistan at 4:12 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


My SO and i were just wargaming the "why would they even do it?" angle and came up with a theory.

On and after 9/11, Rudy did really nail it. If you lived in NYC then you know what I mean, mostly. He displayed courage, resolve, and not awful decision making. He was sure that his legend would make him prez, then he crashed and burned as a candidate.

He never got over it. And now that he is old and weird he wants to be at least around that kind of power. And he and Donnie shitstain come from a very narrow, very slim intersection of a cultural Venn diagram I'll call Johnny Goombahism. So they got together and did all this stupid shit.

They dodged a bullet with the Special Counsel and just could not resist launching another grifty strongarm scheme. Rudy needs the prez to feel important, and the shitstain needs a Roy Cohn-like fixer, operative, and I sure hope co-defendant.
posted by vrakatar at 4:30 PM on January 16 [9 favorites]


Oh, I hear ya. The MAGA True Believers are convinced Hunter Biden is the modern-day Teapot Dome scandal personified.

I'm pretty sure Hunter Biden cashed in on being his dad's son. Just like the Trump kids do, but they're demonstrably more corrupt. CAUTION: links may include photos of Trump children.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:30 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


> Also, unless I missed it there seems to be no explanation from how Hyde went from being a dude at the bar at Trump Hotel to actually tracking Yovanovitch. Unless he just overheard Rudy and friends yukking up their conspiracies and took it upon himself?

Parnas did sort of get into this obliquely. He said that Hyde was always at the bar (Parnas doesn't drink) and that he got a lot of access to members of TrumpWorld that way. Presumably the alcohol could have loosened some lips, and based on what we've seen from these clowns, it probably didn't take more than a drink or two.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:03 PM on January 16


The thing about Hunter Biden is that so far, there are no allegations that he or his father actually committed a crime; that the money he was paid was illicitly diverted from some other, nobler purpose; or that he somehow influenced US policy in an improper way.

If it's just a standard cashing-in-on-the-family-name, as kirkaracha noted, it doesn't seem like it would hold up under scrutiny as much of a scandal.

Also, since bringing it up provides a natural opportunity for Biden or other Democrats to talk about the worthless Trump spawn and how they've done nothing in their lives but cash in on their family name, it's not really a very efficient line of attack.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 5:44 PM on January 16 [5 favorites]


New Yorkers appreciated Giuliani's sheer visibility in September 2001, as the president was in the wind. Within a couple of years Giuliani was cashing in on his bolstered reputation, and helping Purdue Pharma dodge FDA measures to tighten OxyContin distribution: A Tale of Two Giulianis, Vanity Fair (Dec. 4, 2007).

Billionaire Oil Magnate Funded Travel by Lev Parnas (Mother Jones, Jan. 16, 2020) A billionaire Republican donor helped to bankroll travel by Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, as Parnas maneuvered to press the Ukrainian government to announce investigations that would help President Donald Trump politically. House Democrats on Wednesday released WhatsApp messages between Parnas and Harry Sargeant III, an oil and shipping magnate who lives in Florida, as part of a trove of material they recently obtained from Parnas. The messages show that Sargeant helped fund some of Parnas’ travel and was supportive of efforts by Parnas and Giuliani to convince Trump to remove US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.[...]

In a statement Wednesday, Chris Kise, an attorney representing Sargeant, confirmed the billionaire had loaned Parnas money for some of his travel costs. Kise said that Sargeant had expected to be paid back and suggested that Sargeant had been duped by Parnas.

[Harry Sargeant III, way back in October, with the same lawyer]: Profit, not politics: Trump allies sought Ukraine gas deal (AP News, Oct. 7, 2019) In early March, Fruman, Parnas and Sargeant were touting a plan to replace Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev with another senior executive at the company, Andrew Favorov, according to two individuals who spoke to the AP as well as a memorandum about the meeting that was later submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, formerly known as Kiev. [...]

According to Dale Perry and the other person, Favorov said Parnas told him Trump planned to remove U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and replace her with someone more open to aiding their business interests. [Bolded, from my original comment.]

Attorney says ‘Harry Sargeant has nothing to do with Ukrainian businesses’ (Miami Herald, Oct. 7, 2019) Sargeant, a major Florida GOP donor, did meet with the two entrepreneurs and a Naftogaz executive in Houston last March at an energy industry convention, his attorney said. But he said Sargeant never discussed “any role or participation in any Ukraine venture, nor any specifics regarding the potential business ventures of the other dinner participants.”

Kise, Sargeant’s attorney, confirmed that a conversation took place in March at CERAWeek, an industry gathering he described as “one of the largest energy industry trade events in the world.” But he said that while Sargeant’s attendance was requested for “an informal dinner” with Favorov, Fruman and Parnas, there was no discussion of any Ukraine ventures. [...] Regardless, Sargeant’s dinner with Fruman and Parnas broadens the duo’s connections to the GOP in Florida and Washington.

More on Sargeant, "the most powerful person no one knows."
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:14 PM on January 16 [6 favorites]


There's a suggestion in the Parnas interview with Maddow airing tonight that Trump seems to have a habit of attending private dinners at his privately owned D.C. hotel. Which wouldn't have the kind of requirement to record the names of attendees that an actual government location such as the White House would have. Maybe I'm making too much of that, but it seems to me there's been a running theme for a long time that Trump is not used to having his every move and meeting documented, as a POTUS should have since he's a public servant. He doesn't seem to like anyone knowing where he is and who he's talking to.
posted by dnash at 6:51 PM on January 16 [13 favorites]


Who's been visiting Trump at Mar-a-Lago? It's a secret. (Sun Sentinel, Dec. 15, 2017) The Trump administration has swatted down attempts by government watchdog groups to obtain White House and Mar-a-Lago visitor logs through the Freedom of Information Act.

posted by Iris Gambol at 8:43 PM on January 16 [7 favorites]


William Barr, Trump’s Sword and Shield (David Rohde, New Yorker)
Stephen Gillers[, a professor of legal ethics at New York University’s law school,] suggested that Trump’s attacks were part of a drive for increased power. “One way that Trump seeks to maximize control is minimizing the disclosure of information and undermining the credibility of information,” he said. “The Congress needs information to do its job, and the President has frozen it out—especially in the impeachment investigation. Another check is the media, and the President’s use of the term ‘fake news’ can cause people to lose faith in the media. What remains are the courts, which are slow and cumbersome.”

Donald Ayer, the former Bush Administration Deputy Attorney General, warned that Barr’s interpretations of executive power could be validated. “The ultimate question is what happens when these reach the Supreme Court, which has two Trump appointees,” he said. “There is a real danger that he succeeds.” Some legal analysts believe that Barr is overplaying his hand. Benjamin Wittes, of Lawfare, predicted that the Supreme Court would reject Barr’s extreme positions, creating precedents that ultimately reduce the power of the Presidency. “The idea that the President gets to assert executive privilege over material that has already been made public is laughable,” Wittes told me. “I think they are very likely to lose a lot of this.”

Chuck Cooper, the conservative litigator, disagreed. He said that Barr’s tenure represented the achievement of the legal project launched during the Reagan Administration. “He is building and extending on a foundation,” Cooper said. “It was popularized and very robustly advanced by the Meese Justice Department.” Last October, in the Oval Office, Trump awarded Meese the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor. Barr attended, and Meese thanked him for carrying on his legacy: “You’ve risen to continue the string of great Attorneys General in this country.”

As Barr insists on expanded Presidential power, Republican voters are starting to agree. According to the Pew Center, forty-three per cent of Republicans believe that “presidents could operate more effectively if they did not have to worry so much about Congress and the courts.” That number has increased from fourteen per cent when Trump took office. A House G.O.P. report about Ukraine endorsed his singular authority; slightly misquoting John Marshall, it argued that Trump was, “constitutionally, the ‘nation’s sole organ of foreign affairs,’ ” and thus had unlimited latitude in his dealings with Ukraine.

Ayer fears that Barr has combined a Reagan-era drive to dismantle government with a Trump-era drive to politicize it. As the White House succeeds in holding off congressional attempts at removing Trump from office, Barr is winning his long war on the power of the legislative branch. In the 2020 campaign, Trump will argue that he alone can protect the country from the dangers posed by the left, immigrants, and other enemies. And Barr’s vision of Presidential power will be the Party’s mainstream position. “Barr sought out the opportunity to be Donald Trump’s Attorney General,” Ayer said. “This, I believe, was his opportunity—the opportunity of a lifetime—to make major progress on advancing his vision of an all-powerful Chief Executive.”
posted by katra at 9:47 PM on January 16 [6 favorites]


It's interesting to see threats against Yovanovich casually dismissed, one week after Trump decided to murder an Iranian general in public as a distraction from impeachment.

The whole Yovanovich story doesn't make any sense from Trump's perspective if the Biden story was all he wanted. He could have moved Yovanovich and replaced her with another Trumpist like Sondland and nobody would have noticed. So why all the hate for her? If you assume Putin wanted her out of the way for her anticorruption efforts it makes a lot more sense, since she might use her contacts and skills to fight corruption even if she left the State department.
posted by benzenedream at 10:07 PM on January 16 [12 favorites]


G.A.O. Report Says Trump Administration Broke Law in Withholding Ukraine Aid (NYT)
The agency found that the White House violated the law because it did not notify Congress about the deferral in the spending, and the freeze did not appear to be motivated by a desire to find a more efficient way to spend the money, which might have been allowable, the report said. Instead, the administration was arguing that it had the right to determine the “best use of such funds,” ignoring Congress’s power to set spending requirements.

“When Congress enacts appropriations, it has provided budget authority that agencies must obligate in a manner consistent with law,” said the ruling, which was signed by Mr. Armstrong. “The Constitution vests lawmaking power with the Congress.”

The accountability office’s ruling was focused on the money controlled by the Pentagon, which had informed Congress that Ukraine had met the conditions for receiving it and that it intended to release it. It did not rule on the money controlled by the State Department, but expressed frustration at the administration’s unwillingness to respond to questions about it.

“We consider a reluctance to provide a fulsome response to have constitutional significance,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. The G.A.O.’s role, he said, was “essential to ensuring respect for and allegiance to Congress’s constitutional power of the purse.”
From the GAO report, with regard to the money controlled by the State Department:
As a result, we will renew our request for specific information from State and OMB regarding the potential impoundment of FMF funds in order to determine whether the Administration’s actions amount to a withholding subject to the ICA, and if so, whether that withholding was proper. We will continue to pursue this matter.

[...] All federal officials and employees take an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution and its core tenets, including the congressional power of the purse. We trust that State and OMB will provide the information needed.
posted by katra at 10:20 PM on January 16 [5 favorites]


There seems to be a lot of daylight between "casually dismissed" and "she was in danger, and this proves that there's something even bigger" a la Abramson.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:21 PM on January 16


Here’s what the Parnas revelations mean for Trump (Politico)
The documents released this week fill in more blanks about why Yovanovitch was specifically targeted.

Previously, sworn testimony from career diplomats and foreign service officers had shown that the Yovanovitch smear campaign was waged by Parnas, Fruman, Giuliani and the former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko. The circle was actually wider than that, though, according to the new Parnas materials. A lawyer with close ties to the White House, Victoria Toensing, was also eager to see Yovanovitch removed.

"Is the Wicket Witch gone?" Toensing wrote on March 23, 2019. Parnas replied with some images and said “the [Daily] wire and Breitbart are doing story's,” referencing the conservative media’s drumbeat of negative coverage about the ambassador.

Still, Toensing pressed: "And still no movement?"

Toensing and her husband, Joe diGenova, represent Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, who is fighting extradition to the U.S. and reportedly leveraged his network of sources in Ukraine to help pursue the political probes sought by Giuliani and Trump. Parnas told MSNBC on Wednesday that he tried to get the extradition order quashed in exchange for Firtash’s help undermining special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and digging up dirt on Biden.

Harry Sargeant III, an American businessman and influential GOP Trump donor, also appeared invested in Yovanovitch’s departure.

“She’s gone,” Parnas texted Sargeant on March 23. “AWESOME!!!” he replied.
Emphasis added. And from the Bloomberg article linked above: To Win Giuliani’s Help, Oligarch’s Allies Pursued Biden Dirt (Oct. 18, 2019)
If indeed Firtash’s camp aided the Trump political machine, that could be a problem. American politicians cannot accept foreign campaign contributions, and as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has laid out, even non-monetary assistance can have a value.
posted by katra at 11:30 PM on January 16 [8 favorites]


What I don't understand is, why would replacing a US ambassador be so important to anyone, particularly a businessman?
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:43 PM on January 16 [5 favorites]


Trump Ordered Ukraine Ambassador Removed After Complaints From Giuliani, Others (WSJ, Oct. 3, 2019)
President Trump ordered the removal of the ambassador to Ukraine after months of complaints from allies outside the administration, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, that she was undermining him abroad and obstructing efforts to persuade Kyiv to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, according to people familiar with the matter. [...]

Prior to Ms. Yovanovitch’s recall from Kyiv, her relations with some senior Ukrainian officials were fraught. Ms. Yovanovitch openly criticized the office of Mr. Lutsenko, then the prosecutor general, for its poor anticorruption record. “Lutsenko hated her because she pushed for reforms, especially in the judiciary sector,” said a former Western diplomat in Ukraine. [...]

The president’s supporters kept up criticism of Ms. Yovanovitch. In a March 22 interview on Fox News, Joe diGenova, a lawyer close to the president, accused Ms. Yovanovitch, without providing evidence, of having “bad-mouthed” Mr. Trump to Ukrainian officials and having told them “not to listen or worry about Trump policy because he’s going to be impeached.”
posted by katra at 12:02 AM on January 17 [7 favorites]


There’s a lot of daylight between how the world treats hard evidence of mafioso corruption by Trump and his entourage and how the world treated the previous Dem candidate’s campaign managers’s risotto recipe that was hacked by Russians and provided by Republican-aligned WikiLeaks to the NYT. Butterymales warranted 60+ consecutive front page headlines right before the 2016 election. In comparison to that performance, “casual dismissal” would be a polite way of describing how NYT has responded to recent evidence of Trump’s corruption.
posted by SakuraK at 12:08 AM on January 17 [19 favorites]


G.A.O. Report Says Trump Administration Broke Law in Withholding Ukraine Aid
Stellar, now do Lebanon.
(Domestically, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have had aid withheld)

Remember U.S. Orders Freeze of Foreign Aid, Bypassing Congress (NYT, Aug. 7, 2019)?
The Trump administration has ordered the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development to freeze much of the remaining money for foreign aid this year, in a move that suggests the funding could be cut altogether.

The decision, issued in a letter by the Office of Management and Budget, covers a broad range of foreign aid that Congress had already approved. [...] Critics say the freeze on an estimated $2 billion to $4 billion of funds jeopardizes U.S. national security.
Before that, there was the "decision in April by President Trump to freeze $450 million in U.S. foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — what's known as the Northern Triangle — over what he described as their failure to stem the outflow of northbound migrants." (NPR, Trump Froze Aid To Guatemala. Now Programs Are Shutting Down, Sept. 17, 2019)

The Wall Street Journal had it: Donald Trump Seen Bringing ‘Deliberate Chaos’ to the White House (January 20, 2017)
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:21 AM on January 17 [5 favorites]


Acting Ambassador to Ukraine (and key impeachment inquiry witness) Bill Taylor formally left the post two weeks ago. "Kristina Kvien, who was previously the deputy chief of mission, has taken over Taylor's role as the mission's interim head." (The Hill, Jan. 2, 2020) Kvien arrived in Ukraine in late May, to temporarily head the embassy after Yovanovitch's ousting. (Kyiv Post, May 31, 2019)

Kvien joined the Foreign Service in 1992, and her experience with economic policy and energy issues ought to come in handy in Ukraine: From 2001 to 2005, she served at the US Mission to the EU in Brussels as an Economics Officer and then was transferred to the US Embassy in Moscow, working on environment and energy issues. Kvien then became Director for EU Affairs, EU Economies and Caspian Energy, Ukraine and Belarus at the National Security Council. (Wikipedia bio)
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:41 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


I. Okay, it's like the writers are just throwing darts at the broad side of the barn now; when I copied "EU Affairs, EU Economies and Caspian Energy, Ukraine and Belarus" into Google, the third return was "Energy as a tool of foreign policy of authoritarian states, in particular Russia," requested by the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) (Policy Department for External Relations, Directorate General for External Policies of the Union, April 2018).

Abstract opening Russia and other energy-rich authoritarian states use their energy exports for economic gains but also as a tool of foreign policy leverage. This study looks at the ways and methods these states have used to exert political pressure through their energy supplies, and what it means for the European Union. Most energy-rich authoritarian states use their energy wealth to ensure regime survival. But, more than others, Russia uses its energy wealth as well to protect and promote its interests in its ‘near abroad’ and to make its geopolitical influence felt further afield, including in Europe.

Later, on Russian strategy, and the possibility of new pipelines : Russia’s development of a diversionary pipeline that bypasses Ukraine fits within this picture. It reduces transit risk and increases its freedom of manoeuvre in its foreign policy. It is to be expected that if Nord Stream 2 is built, gas transit through Ukraine will drop, harming its economy and increasing pressure on Kiev.

In a twist of irony, should Russia decide to terminate all gas transit through Ukraine, it will reduce, not increase, Moscow’s influence over Ukraine. Kiev would miss valuable transit fees, but could receive gas through Western European reverse-flow deliveries. Therefore, if Nord Stream 2 is completed, Russia should be expected to maintain some transit through Ukraine, if only to maintain a degree of leverage in its relationship with Kiev.

Turkish Stream would have a similar, but smaller, diversionary effect on gas flows through Ukraine. Its capacity is projected at 32 bcm. The pipeline is, however, a challenge to the commercial viability of the Southern Gas Corridor, a pipeline project that would bring non-Russian gas from the Caspian to the European market...
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:24 AM on January 17 [6 favorites]


II Russia, Ukraine finalize deals for gas transit to Europe (AP News, Dec. 8, 2019) Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy hailed the agreements that were signed late Monday, saying they will allow Ukraine to get at least $7 billion in transit payments from Russia over the next five years. Zelenskiy said on Facebook the documents ensured Ukraine’s “energy security and well-being” and let “Europe know that we won’t fail it when it comes to energy security.”

The deal that comes just 24 hours before the current transit contract expires on Tuesday will ease European fears of an interruption in Russian gas supplies. Russia ships about 40 percent of its European gas deliveries through pipelines that cross Ukraine.

U.S. Concedes Defeat on Nord Stream 2 Project, Officials Say (Bloomberg, Dec. 17, 2019) Senior U.S. administration officials, who asked not to be identified discussing the administration’s take on the project, said sanctions that passed Congress on Tuesday as part of a defense bill are too late to have any effect.

Trump Imposes Sanctions To Stop Nord Stream 2 – But It’s Too late (Forbes, Dec. 21, 2019) Donald Trump last night signed into law sanctions from the U.S. Congress against companies involved in constructing a new gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. But analysts say the Trump administration dithered too long for these sanctions to stop the project’s completion.

The U.S. says the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russian oil giant Gazprom, which follows the route of the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline under the Baltic Sea, would make the European Union even more dependent on Russian gas than it already is. It has been joined in these objections by Poland and other Eastern European countries. The bill describes the pipeline as a “tool of coercion”.

Erdogan, Putin launch new gas line, vow Mideast diplomacy (AP News, Jan. 8, 2020) Speaking at the opening ceremony, Putin hailed the TurkStream gas pipeline as a symbol of fruitful cooperation between Russia and Turkey and a “unique, unprecedented system for transporting gas” that would benefit all of Europe.

Putin says Nord Stream 2 to be completed by early 2021 (France 24, Jan. 11, 2020) "I hope that by the end of this year, or in the first quarter of next year, work will be finished and the gas pipeline will start operating," Putin told a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after talks at the Kremlin. [...] Washington believes the 9.5-billion-euro ($10.6-billion) project will give Russia too much influence over security and economic issues in western Europe.

Last month, the Swiss-Dutch company Allseas suspended pipe laying after Washington imposed sanctions against Nord Stream 2, saying the pipeline would make Europe too reliant on Russian gas. "We, of course, would be able to finish construction on our own and without involving foreign partners," Putin told a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday in Moscow. Russian state gas company Gazprom has two pipe-laying vessels which it could use to do the job. (Hart Energy, Jan. 14, 2019)
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:28 AM on January 17 [11 favorites]


I think it's wrong to dismiss Hyde as an alcoholic hanger-on because that describes most of Trump's inner circle. He likes it that way, no clear rules or hierarchy, everyone competing to please him. It has the effect of insulating him, and any two-bit grifter can be easily cut loose (Carter Page, Mike Flynn, et cetera ad infinitum).

"We can't take this guy seriously, he's just a blowhard conman with substance abuse problems and a sixth grade education!"

He's surrounded by them because he is one and he likes it that way
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:25 AM on January 17 [17 favorites]


A particularly American flavor of Kershaw's Working-toward-the-Fuhrer, I guess
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:26 AM on January 17 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure if this is truly impeachment news, but in a year of jaw-dropping stories, this is particularly astonishing, and it hints strongly that Tillerson and maybe Joint Chiefs chair Dunford at the very least were talking to the Post. So maybe one of them could step up in the next two weeks and testify on the importance of military aid to Ukraine (there's my ITMFA angle)?

‘You’re a bunch of dopes and babies’: Inside Trump’s stunning tirade against generals
posted by martin q blank at 6:50 AM on January 17 [12 favorites]


> I think it's wrong to dismiss Hyde as an alcoholic hanger-on because that describes most of Trump's inner circle. He likes it that way, no clear rules or hierarchy, everyone competing to please him. It has the effect of insulating him, and any two-bit grifter can be easily cut loose (Carter Page, Mike Flynn, et cetera ad infinitum).

Sure, but hierarchies emerge naturally when they don't exist formally, and it doesn't appear that Hyde was a key player. His communications and actions absolutely need to be investigated, as they certainly will be. What I'm pushing back against is merely the unfounded Abramson assertion that it was clearly an active plot to take someone out, and that this proves that there's some larger conspiracy. It may just be that this particular two-bit grifter was trying to make a name for himself in a crowded field of two-bit grifters rather than being part of a carefully orchestrated plot.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:27 AM on January 17 [3 favorites]


Trump expands legal team to include Dershowitz, Starr and Ray
President Trump has expanded his legal team to include three well-known lawyers, Harvard emeritus law professor Alan Dershowitz and former independent counsels Kenneth W. Starr and Robert Ray, according to person familiar with the development.
...
Trump’s team is being led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and will also include Jay Sekulow, a personal lawyer to the president, and Pam Bondi, a former Florida state attorney general.

Trump wanted Dershowitz and Bondi as part of the team because he believes they are talented on TV and convincing, a White House official familiar with the selections say.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:40 AM on January 17 [3 favorites]


Trump wanted Dershowitz and Bondi as part of the team because he believes they are talented on TV and convincing

and apparently Wapner wasn't available
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 7:46 AM on January 17 [8 favorites]


He could have moved Yovanovich and replaced her with another Trumpist like Sondland and nobody would have noticed. So why all the hate for her?

I think you are ignoring the obvious.
posted by JackFlash at 7:53 AM on January 17 [7 favorites]


Not remotely surprised that Trump has added someone to his legal team who also worked for O.J. Simpson.
posted by box at 8:00 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


Let's not forget that as Florida AG, Pam Bondi asked Trump for help with her re-election, took an illegal $25,000 campaign donation from the Trump Foundation "charity," and within a matter of weeks dropped the state-level investigation into Trump University.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:08 AM on January 17 [46 favorites]


So Ken Starr, the guy who tried his darnedest to nail Bill Clinton for minor perjury to Congress, is now defending Donald Trump from the consequences of obstruction of Congress.

What is the exact opposite of history repeating itself?
posted by FakeFreyja at 8:10 AM on January 17 [12 favorites]


History contradicting itself?
posted by HyperBlue at 8:36 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


So Ken Starr, the guy who tried his darnedest to nail Bill Clinton for minor perjury to Congress, is now defending Donald Trump from the consequences of obstruction of Congress.

Bill Clinton was certainly guilty of bad behavior as president, but it's reasonable to conclude that his impeachment was less about asserting the rule of law than an obviously partisan exercise, and the charges brought were all they had after Starr's Whitewater investigation came up with nothing on the Clintons (a pattern that would repeat itself with Benghazi!, the Clinton Foundation, and Hillary Clinton's email server). Given what we know know about Republican bad faith extending at least to Gingrich's tenure as speaker (and far earlier, actually), it's also reasonable to assume Republicans know on some level the case was bogus but support Bill Clinton's impeachment just because.

Starr's presence on Trump's defense team is therefore a signal to Republicans that of course impeachment is just a practice of partisan political payback, this time on the part of the Democrats. It's designed to excuse them from even bothering to look at the evidence Trump keeps claiming will exonerate him (Narrator: It doesn't).
posted by Gelatin at 8:37 AM on January 17 [12 favorites]


So Ken Starr, the guy who tried his darnedest to nail Bill Clinton for minor perjury to Congress, is now defending Donald Trump from the consequences of obstruction of Congress.

You mean the underwear sniffing pervert of the Whitewater investigation who subsequently resigned in disgrace as president of Baylor University for his part in covering up sexual assault allegations against football players. You would think journalists would mention this part of his resume whenever they speak his name as a defense lawyer for Trump.
posted by JackFlash at 9:20 AM on January 17 [46 favorites]


Guardian: "Dershowitz is one of the best known attorneys in the US after representing high-profile people including OJ Simpson and Jeffrey Epstein.
Axios reported that several White House officials had said they didn’t want Dershowitz on the team because of his ties to Epstein.

Starr also was involved with the Epstein case, as is noted in this Miami Herald article from Nov 2018:

"Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, Jay Lefkowitz, Gerald Lefcourt, Jack Goldberger, Roy Black, Guy Lewis and former Whitewater special prosecutor Kenneth Starr — reached a consensus: Epstein would never serve time in a federal or state prison."
posted by katra at 9:39 AM on January 17 [12 favorites]


A panty sniffer, a pedophile, and POTUS, all linked to Epstein. The GOP in a nutshell.
posted by Lyme Drop at 9:39 AM on January 17 [14 favorites]


I think the legal hires are all of a piece. From his demeanor yesterday It's possible that Mitch McConnell was just buffaloeing the past several months (and beyond...) and is not going to just spend the impeachment trying to call Roman Polanski as a witness, like we might have joked a month ago. Now that the Senate trial has opened, he's off the hook there and the hardline moves up the chain.

Trump/GOP is going to hire every Republican legal mind who will work for them, perhaps including many who'd rather not if they didn't have professional/political debts to the party (e.g. John Yoo). Still more won't want their participation publicized (David Addington, I'm sure). Bush 43 was a test run of the Unitary Executive and I imagine that is exactly what looks to be in play as the impeachment issues stumble into the courts, even if it isn't mentioned by name. "Unitary Executive theory" is a euphemism for "it's not illegal if the president does it."
posted by rhizome at 10:37 AM on January 17 [5 favorites]


Quote of the Day: Bill Kristol
This longtime Conservative says Martha McSally's "liberal hack" comment made him realize he's liberal.
Well then.
posted by Glinn at 11:41 AM on January 17 [11 favorites]


Too bad it didn't make him realize he's a hack.
posted by Gelatin at 11:47 AM on January 17 [61 favorites]


"Unitary Executive theory" is a euphemism for "it's not illegal if the president does it."

bonus add on "it might be illegal but its okay/unimpeachable for him to do illegal things."
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:24 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


House releases new impeachment evidence linking Nunes aide to Parnas (Politico)
A set of text messages released Friday evening by the Intelligence Committee show a top Nunes aide, Derek Harvey, in frequent contact with Lev Parnas [...]. In one exchange, Harvey appears to pass along Nunes’ contact information two days before the Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report indicated that a phone connected to Nunes made contact with a phone connected to Parnas.

The text messages, provided to investigators by Parnas, show Harvey in contact with Parnas throughout the spring of 2019 — the same time Parnas was working with Giuliani and other Trump allies to remove the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. [...] Previously released information suggested Harvey and Parnas began communicating at least as early as January 2019. [...]

The newly released text messages show Harvey asking Parnas to pursue several lines of inquiry with his Ukrainian contacts, including one regarding what Harvey calls “rumors” about coordination between the 2016 campaign of Hillary Clinton and the Ukrainian government to dig up dirt on Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Harvey asked a few days later whether Parnas was preparing to send documents or if he would “keep working through [John] Solomon,” a reference to a former columnist at The Hill who was working closely with Parnas and Giuliani on the effort.

Over the next few weeks, the pair attempted to arrange Skype interviews between Republican staff of the Intelligence Committee and senior officials in Ukraine, including former prosecutors Viktor Shokin and Yuri Lutsenko, who had been working to oust Yovanovitch and had offered up allegations of dirt on Biden. [...] It appears that at least one of the interviews ultimately occurred but Harvey then asked on April 19 to hold off on “any more interviews” until there were official letters exchanged and documents available. [...]

Schiff has declined to directly address Nunes’ possible involvement, but he suggested at a press conference in December that Nunes was “complicit” in what Democrats have described as Trump’s impeachable conduct. “It is deeply concerning that at a time when the president of the United States was using the power of his office to dig up dirt on a political rival, that there may be evidence that there were members of Congress complicit in that activity,” Schiff said on Dec. 3.
posted by katra at 6:34 PM on January 17 [15 favorites]


I smell resignations.
posted by vrakatar at 7:39 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


Nunes aide communicated with Parnas about Ukraine campaign, messages show (WaPo)
In April, Harvey sent Parnas contact information for the congressman, the messages show. And Harvey set up several in-person meetings, including with key individuals around Giuliani who were most involved in the Biden effort.

“We are at trump with Rudy and John Solomon and joe in private room,” Parnas wrote the Nunes aide on May 7, apparently inviting him to the Trump International Hotel to meet with Giuliani, as well as Solomon and Joe DiGenova, a lawyer working with Giuliani.

“Can you come now,” Parnas continued.

“Yes,” Harvey responded.
posted by katra at 8:22 PM on January 17 [3 favorites]


Hey, don't be me, seeing "Nunes aide" and thinking Harvey's another Kashyap Patel. Derek J. Harvey, the retired US Army Colonel? 26 years of Army service as an intelligence analyst?

Wikipedia: Associate Editor of Washington Post Bob Woodward wrote in his 2010 book titled Obama's Wars (Simon & Schuster, NY): Derek Harvey was "one of [the U.S. Lt. General and then Commander of CENTCOM, David] Petraeus' most trusted intelligence advisors in Iraq", who in January 2009 was at CENTCOM HQ in Tampa, FL, as part of a team of 80 intelligence specialists "drilling down on the Afghanistan component of [President Obama's National Security Council directed Strategic] review". (Harvey retired from the Army in 2006.)

Harvey was a Michael Flynn pick for the National Security Council (serving as Senior Director for Middle East and North African affairs) in January 2017. His old friend McMaster (they'd both been advisers to Petraeus) showed him the door, as part of a “Flynnstones” (Flynn hires) culling, by July 2017 (Politico, July 27, 2017). That September, Harvey joined the staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election until March 2018.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:18 PM on January 17 [15 favorites]


‘Shove it,’ Rep. Ted Lieu tells GOP colleague Devin Nunes in response to lawsuit threat (WaPo)
Rep. Ted Lieu (D) alleged in December that fellow California Rep. Devin Nunes (R) conspired with Lev Parnas, a former associate of President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, to undermine the United States. Parnas has pleaded not guilty to violating campaign finance laws.

Then a lawyer for Nunes, who is the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, sent a multi-page missive threatening to sue for damage to Nunes’s reputation, Lieu tweeted. The Democratic congressman replied with a letter of his own and posted a photo of the document online.

“I welcome any lawsuit from your client and look forward to taking discovery of Congressman Nunes,” he wrote. “Or, you can take your letter and shove it.”
posted by katra at 10:08 PM on January 17 [56 favorites]


When Trump’s Thugs Turn on Him
Lev Parnas has shown us Trumpism from the inside.

By Michelle Goldberg
Opinion Columnist, NYTimes
A willingness to associate with Trump is a sign of moral turpitude, so most witnesses to his venal schemes will necessarily be compromised.

Thus nothing that Parnas said in the Maddow interview should be taken at face value. Important questions remain unanswered, including who was paying all of the bills. (Remember — he was paying Giuliani, not vice versa.) Parnas’s decision to go public in the first place is hard to fathom.

None of that, however, means that his dramatic interview on the eve of Trump’s impeachment trial shouldn’t be taken seriously. That’s because much of what he says has been corroborated, and because the very fact that a person like Parnas was carrying out high-level international missions for the president shows how mob-like this administration is.
The whole column is good. At this point, the level of real crime that is either blatantly out in the open or described by both credible and less credible witnesses is astounding. Even someone like Berlusconi can't reach Trump's knees. And yet, the Republicans are silent, or lying to protect Trump.
There is so much talk about "a divided nation", but what does that even mean when the divide is between those who support a crime family and their mob, and those who support the rule of law? I believe that Barr is in on it, and with the Justice Department as part of the mob, who can and will defend the rule of law? There is only Congress, and thus, the voters.
posted by mumimor at 8:19 AM on January 18 [18 favorites]


Democrats Release More Material From Lev Parnas on Ukraine Campaign (NYT)
Friday’s release also included correspondence of an obscure Republican candidate for Congress in Connecticut who had suggested to Mr. Parnas that Marie L. Yovanovitch had been under surveillance while serving as the United States ambassador in Kyiv at a time when she had come under heavy criticism from Mr. Trump’s allies.

The newly released correspondence included WhatsApp messages between the congressional candidate, Robert F. Hyde, and an unidentified account with an avatar of a man and a number that began with Belgium’s country code, but was partly redacted in the release. Someone using the account sent Mr. Hyde an official government portrait of Ms. Yovanovitch, and indicated, “My contacts are checking,” adding, “I will give you the address next week.”

Mr. Hyde responded, “Awesome.”

The person using the account appeared to be familiar with Mr. Hyde, congratulating him “on your new business development” while sending updates suggesting knowledge of Ms. Yovanovitch’s whereabouts in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.

Mr. Hyde appears to have forwarded some of the contents of the messages to Mr. Parnas, and when the messages between the two men were released this week, they prompted concern from Ms. Yovanovitch, who was removed from her post last spring on Mr. Trump’s orders, and from others. [...] Mr. Hyde, who has a history of erratic behavior, initially claimed that the messages were a prank, saying on Twitter on Tuesday that he was “playing with” Mr. Parnas.

On Friday, though, Mr. Hyde posted a profanity-laced video and several messages on social media in which he identified Anthony de Caluwé as the source of the information about Ms. Yovanovitch. Calling him “some intel guy,” Mr. Hyde speculated that Mr. de Caluwé may have been manipulating him in an effort “to set Trump up.”
posted by katra at 8:57 AM on January 18 [6 favorites]


We are family
posted by mumimor at 9:20 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]




House Democrats, White House lay out arguments before trial (AP)
House Democrats say in a brief filed ahead of impeachment trial arguments that President Donald Trump “abandoned his oath to faithfully execute the laws and betrayed his public trust.” They also called his conduct the “worst nightmare” of the country’s founding fathers.

The brief Saturday came shortly after the White House sent the Senate a fiery response to its impeachment summons, outlining the defenses it expects to use in the upcoming trial.
House Democrats say Senate must ‘eliminate the threat that the President poses to America’s national security’ (WaPo)
The House legal filing reiterates the findings of the House Intelligence and Judiciary panels, which, after hearing from witnesses and experts, settled on charging Trump last month with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

“The evidence overwhelmingly establishes that he is guilty of both,” the managers wrote in the brief. “The only remaining question is whether the members of the Senate will accept and carry out the responsibility placed on them by the Framers of our Constitution and their constitutional Oaths.”

Trump’s legal team has prepared a six-page response to the charges against Trump. They will focus their defense on both procedural and legal issues that they say makes the Democrats’ case invalid, sources close to the legal team say. [...]

The Ukraine plot, the House managers argue, was compounded by Trump’s effort to obstruct the congressional probe to uncover it in what they portray as an effort to put off any consequences until after his re-election campaign. [...] The meat of the 111-page filing is a constitutional argument for Trump’s conviction and removal, one that frequently appeals to the nation’s founding fathers and their warnings about foreign influence on domestic matters.

“The Framers therefore would have considered a President’s attempt to corrupt America’s democratic processes by demanding political favors from foreign powers to be a singularly pernicious act,” the managers write, adding that “they would have viewed a President’s efforts to encourage foreign election interference as all the more dangerous where, as here, those efforts are part of an ongoing pattern of misconduct for which the President is unrepentant.”
posted by katra at 3:08 PM on January 18 [5 favorites]


'Brazen and unlawful': Trump team attacks House impeachment effort in first formal response (Politico)
Saturday’s initial reply will be followed by a more exhaustive trial brief that’s due on Monday.

In its first filing, the Trump legal team hammered what it calls “procedural irregularities” in the House’s impeachment process and the decision by Democrats not to accuse the president of committing a statutory crime.
Available here.
posted by katra at 3:25 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


TL;DR: Nuh-uh.
posted by Rykey at 1:55 AM on January 19 [5 favorites]


Trump, who wanted a TV legal team, is 'distracted' by impeachment trial, source says (Jim Acosta and Pamela Brown, CNN)
Donald Trump has appeared "distracted" by the impeachment trial that begins on Tuesday, according to a source close to the White House who speaks to the President regularly.

"Why are they doing this to me," the source quoted Trump as saying repeatedly, telling people around him this weekend at Mar-a-Lago that he "can't understand why he is impeached."
Robert Ray On Trump's Senate Trial Defense (Lulu Garcia-Navarro, NPR) In which Garcia-Navarro says Ray is not contesting the facts, and he tells her to not put words in his mouth.
posted by box at 6:53 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]


>TL;DR: Nuh-uh.

While most of the courts I've seen don't give the sovereign citizen level arguments from the Trump administration much credence, I'm worried this is enough of a fig-leaf for the cover-up to work.

Although their first point, "He didn't commit a crime", has been nicely refuted by the GAO's report that Donald Trump violated the Impoundment Act by withholding funds to ensure their spending didn't conflict with his own foreign policy objectives.

But for that to work, you have to accept that the Executive is not able to ignore Congress, and to many Trump supporters in Congress, that seems to be a feature, not a bug. Which is really weird, since they're in congress.
posted by mikelieman at 6:53 AM on January 19 [6 favorites]


If he seriously can't understand why he is impeached, I'm getting even more worried.
posted by Namlit at 7:55 AM on January 19 [5 favorites]


If he seriously can't understand why he is impeached, I'm getting even more worried.

It does seem he sincerely finds it unfair that American businesspeople can't bribe foreign officials.
posted by mumimor at 8:06 AM on January 19 [12 favorites]


But for that to work, you have to accept that the Executive is not able to ignore Congress, and to many Trump supporters in Congress, that seems to be a feature, not a bug. Which is really weird, since they're in congress.

Replying to myself, the answer is Racism. Cruelty to the Other takes precedence over everything else.
posted by mikelieman at 8:09 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]


He sincerely finds it unfair that American businesspeople can't bribe foreign officials.

Alleged: Trump Tried to Kill Anti-Bribery Rule He Deemed ‘Unfair,’ New Book Alleges (NYT, January 15)
“It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,” Trump said, according to a passage published by the [Washington] Post. “We’re going to change that.”
Confirmed: Kudlow says Trump 'looking at' reforming law on bribing foreign officials (The Hill, January 17) As headlines go, though, I prefer Vanity Fair's Not a Joke: Trump is Looking into Making Bribery Legal.
posted by box at 8:15 AM on January 19 [16 favorites]


If he seriously can't understand why he is impeached, I'm getting even more worried.

It's classic pathological narcissism. He really, seriously cannot conceive of a world he's not at the center of. He probably thinks when he dies the universe will cease to exist.
posted by Rykey at 8:27 AM on January 19 [10 favorites]


Catching senators who swear a false oath red-handed
Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post Opinion
The oaths required for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and for all senators are meant to convey moral seriousness, to break the pattern of ordinary politics and to impress upon all parties that an impeachment trial depends upon the honor and integrity of the senators who will vote on removal. Watching Roberts take his own oath and then administer the oath for all senators present made for gripping TV. But will an oath mean anything to senators already pledging to reject fairness?
By rejecting any new evidence (and the potential for new evidence), Republicans hope to avoid the unpleasantness of listening to damning witnesses and reading incriminating documents — pesky reminders that to back President Trump is to avoid facts, concoct baseless conspiracies and leave common sense behind. It requires them to violate the oath they just took.
posted by mumimor at 10:08 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]


Replying to myself, the answer is Racism.

The answer is power. For most of them, racism is just a means to that end. They want an imperial, unbound presidency when they control it and a tightly controlled, harassed, and limited one when they do not.
posted by Candleman at 12:44 PM on January 19 [8 favorites]


Andrew Peek The top White House official responsible for Russia and Europe has been put on administrative leave indefinitely amid a security-related investigation,
posted by adamvasco at 1:05 PM on January 19 [9 favorites]


Dershowitz distances himself from White House response to Democrats’ impeachment charges

It's a little late to avoid that stink, Al. Other interesting bits from that piece:

In a BBC interview on Saturday, Dershowitz said he does not plan to vote for Trump in November and declared that if the Senate votes to acquit the president, it would create “ambivalence in me as it does whenever I represent somebody whose acquittal would produce results that make me unhappy as an individual.” He added: “But I would never, ever allow my own partisan views to impact my views on the Constitution.”

On Sunday, Dershowitz argued that even if all of the facts presented by Democrats are true, Trump’s actions still do not constitute impeachable offenses — regardless of whether one believes Trump’s dealings with Ukraine were “wrong.”

“If the allegations are not impeachable, then this trial should result in an acquittal, regardless of whether the conduct is regarded as okay by you or by me or by voters,” he said on “This Week.” “That’s an issue for the voters.

posted by emjaybee at 2:07 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]


Impeachment: Trump wants Senate trial over before State of the Union address (Guardian)
Donald Trump wants his impeachment trial to end before his state of the union address in just two weeks’ time, Lindsey Graham said on Sunday.

“His mood is, to go to the state of the union [on 4 February] with this behind him and talk about what he wants to do for the rest of 2020 and what he wants to do for the next four years,” the South Carolina senator and close Trump ally told Fox News Sunday. That timeline is ambitious, given overwhelming public support for a fair airing of the charges against Trump at his Senate trial, in which opening arguments will be heard on Tuesday. Graham conceded that a swift dismissal of the charges, which he had hoped for, will not be possible. [...]

Speaking to ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Schiff noted that the White House did not attempt to rebut the case on its facts. “It’s surprising in that it really doesn’t offer much new beyond the failed arguments we heard in the House,” he said. “The facts aren’t seriously contested.”

Another impeachment manager, Jason Crow of Colorado, said the White House was in effect arguing that Trump was above the law. “If all of the president’s arguments are true, that a president can’t be indicted, and that the abuse of power, the abuse of public trust doesn’t count as an impeachable offense – if that is true, then no president can be held accountable,” he told CNN’s State of the Union. “Then the president truly is above the law.” [...]

On Sunday Alan Dershowitz, the controversial Harvard law professor who has joined Trump’s legal team, argued on CNN that the charges against the president were not impeachable because abuse of power does not constitute a “high crime and misdemeanor” as stipulated in the US constitution as grounds for impeachment. That view is an extreme outlier among legal scholars [...]
posted by katra at 2:15 PM on January 19 [4 favorites]


Seeing as how both Clinton and Nixon were impeached for obstruction of justice, claiming that Trump's obstruction of justice charge doesn't constitute a 'high crime and misdemeanor' seems like a tough sell, but I suppose we're at the pound-the-law stage.

If the Senate isn't finished by the SotU, I expect we'll see pound-the-table.
posted by box at 3:01 PM on January 19 [7 favorites]


I still can't believe NP invited him for sotu. "Why should we listen to him lie more?" [fake]. Seems like it only gives him a stage for self promotion. Woulda been a killer power play.
posted by j_curiouser at 3:27 PM on January 19


Battle over impeachment witnesses escalates (Politico)
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.” [...]

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.
Cornyn: Giuliani ‘not relevant’ to impeachment trial (Politico)
President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who's reported to have played a central role in trying to convince Ukraine to investigate a Trump political rival, is “not relevant” to the Senate impeachment trial, Sen. John Cornyn said Sunday.

“That's a relationship that causes some of us to sort of scratch our heads,” the Texas Republican said on CBS's “Face the Nation.” “But I'd say he's not relevant to the articles and what the Senate is going to be asked to do, impeaching a president for the third time in American history for a non-crime over events that never occurred.”
posted by katra at 3:43 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


The First Test for Chief Justice Roberts? McConnell's Organizing Resolution for Impeachment (Margaret Taylor, Lawfare)
If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has his way, no new evidence would be allowed. One question that will arise—as early as Tuesday—is whether Roberts agrees and how, exactly, he will handle the issue as the presiding officer. [...] The Clinton resolution states that “The presentation [by the House Managers] shall be limited to argument from the record” (emphasis added). Thereafter, the president’s defense team presentation must be “with reference to the House presentation.” Senators then had an opportunity to question the parties via written submissions to the chief justice. Only after these phases were complete was it in order to make a motion to dismiss, as outlined by the impeachment rules, or a motion to subpoena witnesses and to present any evidence “not in the record.”

So if McConnell is able to pass an analogous resolution, the House managers would be prohibited from presenting new evidence. [...] Here’s how this might play out: McConnell would introduce the organizing resolution and seek to pass it with 51 votes. If efforts to amend the resolution are unsuccessful, a Democratic senator would then make a point of order on the basis that 67 votes are required. And it would then be up to Roberts to rule on the point of order—presumably with the advice of the Senate parliamentarian, who will be at his side throughout the trial.

How Roberts handles this issue will likely be the first glimpse of what we can expect from Roberts in the trial going forward. He could rule with vigor—or timidity. Senators could accept the ruling—or any one senator could ask for a formal vote. Alternatively, Roberts could put the vote to members of the Senate without making a ruling or recommendation.

There has been a great deal of speculation on what role Roberts intends to play in the Senate trial. Will he engage actively, like Chief Justice Salmon Chase in the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson, or will he largely sit back and let the Senate do as it wishes, like Chief Justice William Rehnquist during Bill Clinton’s trial? Perhaps, thanks to McConnell, we may have an answer to that question as soon as the trial begins.
posted by katra at 4:22 PM on January 19 [5 favorites]


The Clinton resolution states that “The presentation [by the House Managers] shall be limited to argument from the record” (emphasis added).

As noted by Politico...
Previewing their arguments Saturday, the House managers in their own opening 111-page trial brief featured a slate of evidence that has emerged in the month since the House impeached Trump on Dec. 18. The new evidence, which continued to pour in even after the trial began last week, underscores the rapidly evolving case against Trump, a particularly acute risk for Republicans seeking a rapid dismissal of the charges.

Among the new evidence the House will rely upon: a Government Accountability Office report that found Trump illegally withheld military aid from Ukraine when he failed to notify Congress of the move, which came at the precise time he and his allies were pressuring Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden. The brief also cites emails recently unearthed by national security publication Just Security, indicating the legal turmoil that Trump’s hold on military aid caused inside his administration.

Democrats’ argument also includes one reference to Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who turned over multiple flash drives containing evidence to the House in recent days. Among Parnas’ documents: a May 2019 letter from Giuliani to Zelensky in which he requests to meet the newly elected president and indicates he’s working on Trump’s behalf.
posted by katra at 5:34 PM on January 19 [4 favorites]


I still can't believe NP invited him for sotu.

It has been suggested that Pelosi have him give it over twitter since that is Trump's preferred means of communication for official White House announcements.
posted by JackFlash at 5:49 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


If he seriously can't understand why he is impeached, I'm getting even more worried.

It's classic pathological narcissism. He really, seriously cannot conceive of a world he's not at the center of. He probably thinks when he dies the universe will cease to exist.


Not to indulge in the losing proposition of getting into trump's mind, but I think he knows very well what he did and why he's being impeached. He's just an emotional void and insincere to everyone around him, so he's feigning that to siphon off their sympathetic energy and further their loyalty.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:03 PM on January 19 [13 favorites]


Schiff says NSA, CIA withholding Ukraine info due to White House pressure (Politico)
“And I'll say something even more concerning to me, and that is the intelligence community is beginning to withhold documents from Congress on the issue of Ukraine,” Schiff said. “The NSA, in particular, is withholding what are potentially relevant documents to our oversight responsibilities on Ukraine, but also withholding documents potentially relevant that the senators might want to see during the trial.”

Schiff added: “There are signs that the CIA may be on the same tragic course. We are counting on the intelligence community not only to speak truth to power, but to resist pressure from the administration to withhold information from Congress because the administration fears that they incriminate them.”

An Intelligence Committee official later said, “Both the NSA and CIA initially pledged cooperation, and it appears now that the White House has interceded before production of documents could begin.”
posted by katra at 6:30 PM on January 19 [13 favorites]


Schiff added: “There are signs that the CIA may be on the same tragic course. We are counting on the intelligence community not only to speak truth to power, but to resist pressure from the administration to withhold information from Congress because the administration fears that they incriminate them.”

You mean CIA Director Gina Haspel, the one who destroyed the CIA's tapes of the human torture program she ran for GW Bush. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting on her cooperation. She knows exactly what you're supposed to do with incriminating evidence for the president.
posted by JackFlash at 7:18 PM on January 19 [24 favorites]


Justice Department releases 176 more pages of Mueller documents to CNN and BuzzFeed (CNN)
CNN has received another 176 pages of notes from major witness interviews during former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation -- this time spanning the interviews with more obscure but well-connected witnesses, as well as with some of Mueller's main targets, including George Papadopoulos, Carter Page and Paul Manafort.

This is the fourth time CNN has gotten documents like these from the Justice Department regarding the Mueller investigation, as part of a lawsuit in conjunction with BuzzFeed News.

RELATED: Read the documents [...]

Despite a court order, the Justice Department is holding back Mueller memos regarding the interviews conducted with the President's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. [...] It's still not clear why. CNN and BuzzFeed continue to fight for access to more documents from the Mueller investigation in court. [...]

Mueller also investigated a controversial change to the Republican Party platform during the 2016 convention. The report said Trump campaign officials had blocked a provision calling for the US to provide lethal weapons to the Ukrainian military for its war against Russian-backed proxies. The Mueller report said the investigation had been unable to establish that the change was made "at the behest of candidate Trump or Russia," appearing to rule out any collusion on the platform. [...] According to the new FBI memos obtained by CNN, Page said he wasn't involved in changing the Ukraine language but "suspected Manafort may be behind it." During the convention, suspicion fell on Manafort because of his long career as a consultant for corrupt Kremlin-friendly politicians in Ukraine. The Trump campaign aides also removed language that called for the US to financially support Ukraine's nascent anti-corruption bureau.

In a July 2016 interview with NBC News, Manafort falsely said the Trump campaign had no role in changing the GOP platform. He also said he learned about it only after the convention had ended. After Trump became President, he approved plans to give lethal anti-tank weapons to Ukraine.
posted by katra at 9:53 PM on January 19 [7 favorites]


On Sunday Alan Dershowitz, the controversial Harvard law professor who has joined Trump’s legal team, argued on CNN that the charges against the president were not impeachable because abuse of power does not constitute a “high crime and misdemeanor” as stipulated in the US constitution as grounds for impeachment.

This isn't the first time Dershowitz has played the "I am personally outraged by what this Republican has done but I find it my duty to see that he gets away with it" card. He's a bit more graceful about it now, but here's what he said in 1974:

Matt Novak @paleofuture
If you need the entire article where Dershowitz says "I’m not happy seeing Richard Nixon’s gang being tried by blacks and liberals in the District of Columbia" you can download it here [...]
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:22 PM on January 19 [14 favorites]


George Conway: Why Trump had to hire this legal odd couple
From Washington Post
In which Conway explains that Trump is too cheap to get good lawyers, and also too much of an incontrollable liar. Thus he is stuck with adding Dershowitz and Starr to his weak team.
As his former Harvard colleague Professor Laurence Tribe has put it, Dershowitz “revels in taking positions that ultimately are not just controversial but pretty close to indefensible.” Dershowitz’s recent assertion that the Supreme Court could order the Senate not to conduct an impeachment trial illustrates the point. Not only is that claim indefensible — it’s also ridiculous.
...
As if that were not enough, in the Clinton case, Starr argued that Clinton had committed an impeachable offense by blocking witness testimony and documents. Oops.
Conway thinks this will be a problem, but I can't see why, isn't he stuck in the old ways? Trump needs someone who can say outrageous rubbish on TV and someone who can make this look like a partisan witch-hunt, so he chose the best people for that. Maybe he isn't a very stable genius, but he does have very good instincts for how his whole racket works.
posted by mumimor at 2:25 AM on January 20 [17 favorites]


Agreed. Republicans figured out a long time ago that horrible white people want other horrible white people to be in charge, and all they needed to do was abuse the point-counterpoint method of journalism to provide the fig leaf of objectivity that would get their message out. They got these platforms in the form of conservative talk radio and FOX News, and Trump is evidence that once the fix is in, you can get up and vilify anything from Mexicans to dishwashers and nobody in your tribe will bat an eye.
posted by Rykey at 4:23 AM on January 20 [7 favorites]


Trump's Impeachment Brief is a Howl of Rage (MeFi favorites Lawfare's Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic for The Atlantic)
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 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.
posted by box at 9:12 AM on January 20 [18 favorites]


You think that's a howl of rage, wait til the State of the Union address, if the trial is still going on.
posted by Gelatin at 9:33 AM on January 20 [7 favorites]


Trump lawyers seek quick rejection of Democrats' impeachment case (Politico)
The lengthy 171-page brief filed by Trump’s attorneys to the Senate on the eve of the president’s trial suggests Democrats ran a “rigged” impeachment investigation that led to the House’s adoption of the two charges against Trump: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Their arguments largely ignored the growing body of evidence that Democrats have presented indicating Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, while withholding desperately needed military aid to the war-torn nation.

Instead, the Trump legal team, led by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, focused on broad, constitutionally questionable claims that the House’s process invalidates the articles of impeachment outright. The most prominent is that the House did not allege a violation of any specific statute.

[...] Democrats have emphasized that Congress and the courts have long agreed that impeachable offenses don’t require statutory crimes — in fact the House Judiciary Committee approved “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress" charges in past presidential impeachments, and the House considered but ultimately rejected an abuse of power charge against Bill Clinton.

But it appears Trump’s team plans to sidestep the substance of Democrats’ cases and focus instead on what they claim was a rushed investigation that offered no meaningful chance for Trump to participate. Democrats did offer Trump’s attorneys a chance to present a rebuttal and propose witnesses during the Judiciary Committee’s hearings in December, but the attorneys declined, claiming the process was unfair. Democrats also note that Trump’s allies in Congress had equal access to the hearings to question witnesses and push back on the allegations.

Democrats have also emphasized that they view the House’s function as analogous to a grand jury, while the Senate trial — which begins in earnest on Tuesday — is where the White House’s witnesses and evidence can be fully considered.
posted by katra at 9:55 AM on January 20 [2 favorites]


When McConnell speaks, Trump listens. Impeachment trial will test the unlikely bond. (Rachael Bade & Seung Min Kim, WaPo)
[...] Although the men are polar opposites — and initially had a rocky and somewhat awkward relationship — the president has come to view McCon­nell as an asset and reliable counselor, deferring to him on impeachment strategy, even at times against his own no-holds-barred instincts.

When the president last fall criticized Senate Republicans who chided his behavior toward Ukraine, it was McConnell who encouraged Trump to engage with those members to win their confidence, rather than striking back. When the president pushed to use his impeachment trial to target potential presidential rival Joe Biden, it was McConnell who persuaded him to embrace a no-witness strategy preferred by the majority leader and many rank-and-file senators.

The next few weeks will test that relationship, particularly because the men have opposing views of what the trial should be. McConnell and his more moderate GOP senators facing difficult reelection bids want the trial to be serious — a markedly different tone than the reality-TV-star-turned-president who prefers a brawl. It remains to be seen whether Trump goes with his gut, as he likes to do, or listens to the advice of the longtime Republican leader.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:38 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


It remains to be seen whether Trump goes with his gut

Ron Howard narrator voice: It does not remain to be seen.
posted by Rykey at 10:49 AM on January 20 [18 favorites]


Trump lawyers call for immediate acquittal in legal, political defense (Reuters)
In their own filing with the U.S. Senate on Monday, the House impeachment “managers” who will make the Democrats case for Trump’s removal to the Senate said he had “jeopardized our national security and our democratic self-governance.”

“President Trump maintains that the Senate cannot remove him even if the House proves every claim in the Articles of impeachment. That is a chilling assertion. It is also dead wrong,” they wrote, arguing that despite Trump’s “stonewalling” the House had amassed “overwhelming evidence of his guilt.”
The filing is available here.
posted by katra at 12:45 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


The Trump Impeachment and the Question of Precedent, Part II: The Trouble With Alan Dershowitz’s ‘Constitutional Argument’ (Bob Bauer, Lawfare)
Dershowitz has an additional problem in arguing this case while also disclaiming that he is not defending the president on the particulars. He actually is staking out a position in the fashion of a defense counsel rather than a constitutional expert purportedly having no attorney-client relationship with the president. The House Judiciary Committee crafted the “abuse of power” article without a reference to criminal conduct but issued a report expressing the committee majority’s conclusion, adopted by the House, that the constitutional offense did include criminal behavior: bribery and honest services fraud.
posted by katra at 1:01 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


The most prominent is that the House did not allege a violation of any specific statute.

Simple. Send up a Third Article, copy of the First Article, but citing the GAO's report saying that Trump violated 2 USC 686 when he failed to notify Congress that he wasn't disbursing the money allocated. Easy peasy.

I guess then what, there's a 2nd Senate trial on the 3rd Article of Impeachment? Or do the Republicans fold? Are the Republicans smart enough to fold?
posted by mikelieman at 3:08 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


Simple. Send up a Third Article, copy of the First Article, but citing the GAO's report saying that Trump violated 2 USC 686 when he failed to notify Congress that he wasn't disbursing the money allocated. Easy peasy.
In a process that is already dominated by the Trump camp's defenses of "nuh-uh" and "I know you are but what am I?" do we really want to open a third front over "no do-overs"?

[On edit: to be slightly less glib -- it's a mistake, I think, to treat the facile dismissals put forth by the Trump camp as being anything offered in good faith. Their goalposts will move to wherever they need them to be in order to justify their foregone conclusion.]
posted by Nerd of the North at 3:40 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Yeah, depends where sentiment is, though. If Senate quickly dismisses without considering evidence or witnesses, there's plenty of fodder to send up new evidence via new articles. The question is whether the senators are perceived as more guilty of procedural bullshit than the house.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:19 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Send up a Third Article, copy of the First Article, but citing the GAO's report saying that Trump violated 2 USC 686 when he failed to notify Congress that he wasn't disbursing the money allocated. Easy peasy.

This is probably better than my idea of Congress simply declaring war on Russia so that everything Trump does from then on has capital-t Treason hanging over it.
posted by rhizome at 4:26 PM on January 20 [13 favorites]


Impeachment resolution shortens trial's opening arguments to two days per side
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to give House impeachment managers and President Donald Trump's legal team each 24 hours divided over two days for their opening arguments in the Senate's impeachment trial, a move that indicates Senate Republicans are pushing to finish the trial as quickly as possible -- ahead of the President's February 4 State of the Union address.

The timeline laid out in the Kentucky Republican's four-page organizing resolution, which was obtained by CNN, is a break from the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, when the 24 hours were split over a four-day period.
...
McConnell's organizing resolution puts off the question of witnesses until after the two sides present their opening arguments and there are 16 hours of questions for senators, which they will ask through Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial.
Senate Republicans plan speedy Trump trial
The resolution needs a majority to pass the Senate and Republicans control 53 seats. Under the most aggressive implementation of the rule — and provided Republicans vote down the witness question — the trial could conclude late next week.

The speedy timetable prompted complaints from Democrats, who see the possibility of 12-hour days and midnight arguments as an attempt to cover-up the trial. A House Democratic aide indicated that 12-hour days or arguments beginning at 1 p.m. would ensure that arguments stretch deep into the night, possibly until 2 or 3 a.m. when breaks are factored in.
Trump’s lawyers, Senate GOP allies work privately to ensure Bolton does not testify publicly
While Republicans continue to express confidence that Democrats will fail to persuade four GOP lawmakers to break ranks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has opposed calling any witnesses in the trial, they are readying a Plan B just in case — underscoring how uncertain they are about prevailing in a showdown over witnesses and Bolton’s possible testimony.

One option being discussed, according to a senior administration official, would be to move Bolton’s testimony to a classified setting because of national security concerns, ensuring that it is not public.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:26 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


CNN poll: 51% say Senate should remove Trump from office
About half of Americans say the Senate should vote to convict President Donald Trump and remove him from office in the upcoming impeachment trial (51%), according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, while 45% say the Senate should vote against conviction and removal.

Nearly seven in 10 (69%) say that upcoming trial should feature testimony from new witnesses who did not testify in the House impeachment inquiry. And as Democrats in the Senate seek to persuade at least four Republican senators to join them on votes over allowing witnesses in the trial, the Republican rank and file are divided on the question: 48% say they want new witnesses, while 44% say they do not.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:28 PM on January 20 [10 favorites]


Ron Howard narrator voice: It does not remain to be seen.

McConnell Pushes to Speed Impeachment Trial as Trump Requests Swift Acquittal (NYT)
The White House also announced on Monday night that it had assembled a team of eight House Republicans to serve as part of the president’s defense team, including some of his fiercest defenders, like Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mark Meadows of North Carolina and John Ratcliffe of Texas. [...]

The White House announcement that it will add House Republicans to its defense team came despite objections from Mr. McConnell. In deference to him, they will not argue the case on the Senate floor, but will provide guidance and appear as surrogates, according to a person working with Mr. Trump’s legal team.

In addition to Mr. Jordan, Mr. Meadows and Mr. Ratcliffe, those joining the team include Representatives Doug Collins of Georgia, Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Debbie Lesko of Arizona, Elise Stefanik of New York and Lee Zeldin of Texas.
posted by katra at 6:41 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


I will be sad if the whole thing is over before the SOTU.
posted by rhizome at 7:04 PM on January 20 [6 favorites]


I think big mistake not holding the articles longer.
posted by j_curiouser at 7:21 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]




McConnell Doing To Impeachment What He Did To Garland:
The Senate is not going to automatically enter the House evidence into the trial record. A senior Republican leadership aide concedes this is a different provision from the Clinton impeachment proceeding because “the White House was denied due process throughout the 12 weeks of partisan House proceedings.”
1) Have they ever specified exactly how "the White House was denied due process"?
2) The House Democrats invited Trump to appear or have people appear in his stead. The Senate Republicans are trying to prevent this.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:02 PM on January 20 [6 favorites]


With Dershowitz on the Trump team, his past is rapidly coming back to haunt him. The Distribution connection came up right away, but today we saw 1974's “I’m not happy seeing Richard Nixon’s gang being tried by blacks and liberals in the District of Columbia ” followed by his Clinton-era opinion on impreachment, it "certainly doesn't have to be a crime" to be impeachable.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:15 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


McConnell Doing To Impeachment What He Did To Garland:
After the period for senators’ questions, the Senate will hold an up or down vote on whether to even allow witness subpoenas. If witnesses and document subpoenas are allowed, then the two sides may make motions to issue subpoenas which will also be subject to Senate votes.
'OBJECTION!'

'On what grounds?'

'That evidence is devastating to my client's case!'

Except in the movie, the judge immediately over-rules the objection and Jim Carrey agrees 'good call'.

Reality meets Liar Liar meets Dumb and Dumber.
posted by adept256 at 4:00 AM on January 21 [12 favorites]


As the minority in the Senate, what procedural tricks (good or bad) could Ds use to slow things down past the SOTU?
posted by Rykey at 4:16 AM on January 21


Continually suggest the absence of a quorum.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:38 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Moscow Mitch's rules for the Senate trial seem like a blatantly obvious way to further the cover-up, and now I'm wondering to what extent the media coverage will cooperate with the whitewash by making those rules seem "normal."

Also, the Treason Turtle's plan for marathon sessions of up to 12 hours or more will make for some very long days for Chief Justice Roberts, who's supposed to be spending mornings at the Supreme Court before presiding over the Senate trial.

I'm thinking Roberts can't be too happy about being forced to work for 16+ hours on consecutive days, but wonder if he will, or even can, do anything to force a more reasonable schedule.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 4:59 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


Josh Marshall points out Trump told everyone last summer he was colluding again, while he was doing it. The Ego Rampant. < tpm
posted by Harry Caul at 5:03 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Nobody can do their best work on a twelve-hour shift, whether you're a fast-food worker or a legislator. This is a transparent attempt to sabotage the process, and McConnell needs to be called out/recused/literally pilloried for this bullshit. Furthermore, labor rights activists should be up in arms about this, because if our elected officials are (ostensibly) willing to work twelve hours in a row, what will they expect from the rest of us?
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:11 AM on January 21 [19 favorites]


Even C-SPAN Is Piqued: Senate Puts Limits on Trial Coverage (Michael M. Grynbaum, NYTimes)
The Senate will control the cameras during the impeachment trial, limiting what viewers see, and reporters will be confined to roped-off areas.

Journalists are up in arms about new restrictions on their movement inside the Capitol, which they say will prevent them from easily interviewing lawmakers about the proceedings. The rules, negotiated by Republican Senate leadership, have yet to be written down, causing confusion among reporters and the Capitol Police expected to enforce them.

[A series of restrictions were] abruptly imposed on reporters shortly before the start of the trial, where opening arguments are set to begin Tuesday.

Instead of unfettered access to the hallways and corridors surrounding the Senate chamber — a tradition for decades — journalists will be confined to roped-off pens as senators come and go from the trial. Walk-and-talk interviews with senators, a staple of congressional reporting made famous by TV shows like “The West Wing,” will be curtailed.
Add to that magnetometers outside press galleries (all the better to slow down reporters), and C-SPAN being restricted (as usual) to government controlled cameras.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:41 AM on January 21 [7 favorites]


The evidence is mounting that while McConnell intends to help Trump in his cover-up, he really doesn't want to be perceived as doing so. The more obvious this desire becomes, will the so-called "liberal media" persist in helping him? (Like, for example, NPR arguing with Chuck Schumer this morning that McConnell said he'd consider calling witnesses, so how is that a cover up?)

Conversely, that's the obvious weak point for Democrats to hit, and Schumer tried, though in his usual milquetoast, uninspiring way.
posted by Gelatin at 6:48 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


Cutting through the ‘legalese’ of Trump’s impeachment (Jon Allsop, CJR)
Digest roundup of recent articles on the impeachment (and other things), from a media angle. Included the following today, on access to the Senate Press gallery:

Andrew Taylor (@APAndrewTaylor)
The press has had the right to walk, unfettered, through those doors and others to witness public sessions of the Senate since the 18th century. Tomorrow, there will be a police officer and a magnetometer in our way for the 1st time ever.

This is a bad idea
5:29 PM - 20 Jan 2020
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:53 AM on January 21 [22 favorites]


I'm wondering to what extent the media coverage will cooperate...

Well. Yesterday, comparing the McConnell resolution vs the Clinton rules, NPR's big takeaway was the 12+ hour days. Nothing about testimony or evidence. Nothing about putting House evidence in the record. Nothing about the Starr investigation vs the obstruction to the House. Nothing about the emerging new Parnas 'evidence'. No context.

"Wow, 12 hours is sure a long time." - 🐑
posted by j_curiouser at 7:43 AM on January 21 [9 favorites]


The Impoundment Control Act is not mentioned in the Articles themselves, probably because Democrats didn't want to turn this into an argument about the specific wording of that specific statute rather than the general pattern of abuse of power. But it IS mentioned in the House Intelligence Committee report which accompanied the articles.

In the "key findings of fact" summary:
"President Trump ordered the suspension of $391 million in vital military assistance urgently needed by Ukraine, a strategic partner, to resist Russian aggression. Because the aid was appropriated by Congress, on a bipartisan basis, and signed into law by the President, its expenditure was required by law. Acting directly and through his subordinates within the U.S. government, the President withheld from Ukraine this military assistance without any legitimate foreign policy, national security, or anti-corruption justification. The President did so despite the longstanding bipartisan support of Congress, uniform support across federal departments and agencies for the provision to Ukraine of the military assistance, and his obligations under the Impoundment Control Act."
There's a long discussion of it in the full document.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:59 AM on January 21 [8 favorites]


Yeah, NPR called it an 'ordeal' it sounded like they were referring to their own boredom in having to cover it.
I do wish that Justice Roberts had sworn in the senators individually rather than en masse, since several of them had already vowed to do the exact opposite of what they were swearing to. I'm almost sure I heard a few muttered 'fuck you's in response to Roberts reading of the oath.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 8:00 AM on January 21 [3 favorites]


Live Updates: Impeachment trial: Senate proceedings set to begin as rules come into focus (CBS)
Schiff: McConnell's proposal is a "profound departure from the Clinton precedent"

[...] Ahead of the Clinton trial, more than 90,000 documents were admitted as evidence before trial, including material from the independent counsel's investigation and grand jury proceedings. Schiff noted that many witnesses in Clinton's case had already testified in the House, with several eventually providing sworn depositions in the Senate trial. In order to follow the Clinton model, witnesses who did not appear before the House in the Trump impeachment inquiry should testify before the trial begins, Schiff said. [...]

The House Intelligence Committee chairman also decried the compressed timeline for the trial. These proceedings could conceivably go "well into the night," when most Americans aren't watching, he said.

"This is the process if you do not want the American people to see the evidence," he added.
posted by katra at 8:19 AM on January 21 [11 favorites]


House managers demand White House counsel disclose first-hand evidence (CBS)
The seven Democratic House impeachment managers are demanding White House counsel Pat Cipollone, the president's lead attorney in the impeachment trial, disclose first-hand facts and information related to the proceedings involving Mr. Trump.

In a letter to Cipollone on Tuesday, the managers wrote he is a "material witness" to the charges against the president and therefore must turn over first-hand evidence "so that the Senate and chief justice can be apprised of any potential ethical issues, conflicts, or biases."

"In light of your extensive knowledge of these key events, your personal representation of President Trump threatens to undermine the integrity of the pending trial," the managers said. "You may be a material witness to the charges against President Trump even though you are also his advocate."

The managers said that evidence the House compiled during its impeachment inquiry indicates Cipollone has "detailed knowledge of the facts" regarding the first article against Mr. Trump, abuse of power. They charge he "played an instrumental role in the conduct" detailed in the second article, obstruction of Congress.
posted by katra at 8:23 AM on January 21 [7 favorites]


Yeah, NPR called it an 'ordeal' it sounded like they were referring to their own boredom in having to cover it.

They're applying Trump rally rules to Senate proceedings and the best response NPR can manage is a shrug.
posted by benzenedream at 8:41 AM on January 21 [11 favorites]


McCaskill claims McConnell is going for a closed session today. No public record on the votes on the rules. Dark arts, indeed.
posted by Harry Caul at 9:09 AM on January 21


"...profound departure..." is weak tea. I revere Schiff, but the Democrats need a much more effective communicator at this stage of the proceedings, offering crisp, powerful soundbites on an hourly basis. This is a MEDIA and PUBLIC RELATIONS battle, and the Democrats are at best lightly armed.
posted by PhineasGage at 9:09 AM on January 21 [8 favorites]


McCaskill claims McConnell is going for a closed session today. No public record on the votes on the rules.

Gotta protect the Republican "moderates" from exposure as they go all in for their Dear Leader in the White House.
posted by JackFlash at 9:13 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


Top Senate Republican opposes private deliberations over Senate rules (WaPo)
Amid the partisan uproar over the trial rules proposed Monday by McConnell, senators might never actually debate them. That’s because they can’t, under Senate rules for impeachment trials, unless the Senate votes to deliberate in closed session.

A top Senate Republican, GOP Conference Chairman John Barrasso (Wyo.), said Tuesday that he would oppose any such move — signaling that Republicans are not willing to negotiate any changes to the McConnell rules.

“I have no interest at all in going into private session,” he said in a brief interview, adding that he thought Schumer would use any closed session to further the Democratic “coverup” narrative. “Senator Schumer had plenty of chances to negotiate in the last month and a half. … He had plenty of time, refused to do it, and it doesn’t sound like he is interested at all in coming to some fair and open process.”
McConnell rules make fair trial ‘impossible,’ Schiff says
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee chairman and lead impeachment manager, continued the Democratic broadside against proposed Senate rules governing the impeachment trial in remarks to reporters Tuesday.

The rules McConnell released Monday evening and a lack of witnesses would make it “impossible to have a fair trial,” Schiff said. “Not just difficult, but impossible.”
posted by katra at 9:22 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Schumer takes issue with compressed opening arguments (WaPo)
“His resolution creates a trial that is rushed, with as little evidence as possible and done in the dark of night,” Schumer said during an appearance on MSNBC. “Why are they trying to do things at 2 in the morning? … If their case is so strong, why are they afraid to present it in the light of day?”

More broadly, Schumer accused McConnell of “totally, totally, totally going along with Trump’s coverup, hook, line and sinker.”

He argued that a “farce” of a trial would embolden Trump and future presidents to engage in more misconduct.

“I worry about what this president will do in the next 10 months and what future presidents will do,” Schumer said. “This is very serious stuff, and to not have a fair trial is wrong.”
posted by katra at 9:26 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Guardian: Schumer: McConnell's proposed rules outline a trial on 'fast forward' mode
Echoing his earlier statement, Schumer said McConnell’s resolution was “nothing short of a national disgrace” and warned that its implementation would make the impeachment trial “one of the very dark days of the Senate.” He added that the resolution outlined an impeachment trial on “fast forward” mode.

The New York Democrat went on to say he would be introducing amendments to the resolution later today, starting with a proposal to subpoena White House documents related to the charges against the president.
posted by katra at 9:29 AM on January 21


It was as predictable as the sun coming up in the morning that McConnell would do this -- and just as predictable that Democrats would have no recourse but to complain about it -- but if your only option is complaining, don't bring this weak "dark days"... "fast forward" shit -- personalize it. Name McConnell and the rest of the GOP as active collaborators, sweeping the crimes and abuses of power under the rug. Break all of those rules about comity and civility. Get thrown off the fucking floor by the Sergeant-at-arms. Create some actually meaningful political theater that could at least show that this is important.

Schumer obviously doesn't have the personality to credibly pull something like that off, but someone in the Booker / Harris / Schatz / Gillibrand range might. Show the American people that the stakes matter here, and that the crooked party is protecting their crooked president. If the only tool you have left is symbolic gestures, use them to inflict some actual political damage, or at least fire up a demoralized base that wants some righteous anger.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:44 AM on January 21 [29 favorites]


And for goodness' sakes, hold the media's feet to the fire. NPR could maybe get away with pretending to believe McConnell when he said he might allow witnesses, but then you say "well, maybe, but if he doesn't, he's admitting the Republicans have something to hide."

Establish a narrative that doesn't give the Republicans or the media wiggle room, such as "the House hearings confirmed the whistleblower report, and the Republicans aren't even trying to deny it, because they can't."
posted by Gelatin at 9:54 AM on January 21 [3 favorites]


Dems should walk, hold up the entire proceedings. Point out the Russian assets in the room, and walk out en masse.
posted by Harry Caul at 9:59 AM on January 21 [14 favorites]


Break all of those rules about comity and civility. Get thrown off the fucking floor by the Sergeant-at-arms. Create some actually meaningful political theater that could at least show that this is important.

As a lawyer who has dealt with this kind of behavior in other arenas, I would caution against this as a model for action, because the consequences can be dangerous, and not just for the democratic institutions. And as noted earlier, the Democratic Party appears to be winning the PR battle, so there really doesn't appear to be any need to deploy tactics that include breaking democratic norms:

Guardian: "A solid majority of Americans believe the impeachment trial should include new testimony from witnesses who did not appear during the House inquiry, according to a new poll.
The CNN poll found that 69% of Americans, including 48% of Republicans, say the trial should feature new witness testimony. The poll also concluded that 51% of Americans support the Senate voting to remove Trump from office, compared to 45% who oppose it.
posted by katra at 10:08 AM on January 21 [7 favorites]


There was similarly strong support for hearings of Garland as well. To McConnell, it means nothing.
posted by Harry Caul at 10:12 AM on January 21 [25 favorites]


House managers: Senate should reject Trump's "bluster and evasion" (CBS)
The House's seven impeachment managers filed their reply to Mr. Trump's trial brief with the secretary of the Senate.

"The Senate should swiftly reject President Trump's bluster and evasion, which amount to the frightening assertion that he may commit whatever misconduct he wishes, at whatever cost to the nation, and then hide his actions from the representatives of the American people without repercussion," the managers wrote in their 34-page filing.

The House Democrats rejected the defenses offered by the president's legal team in their 110-page brief, including that he committed no impeachable offenses and that such offenses must involve criminal conduct.

"Mr. Trump's brief confirms that his misconduct is indefensible," the managers wrote, adding that it "entirely lacks a legitimate defense of his misconduct." The managers said if the Senate does not convict, Mr. Trump "will have succeeded in placing himself above the law."

"President Trump's view that he cannot be held accountable, except in an election he seeks to fix in his favor, underscores the need for the Senate to exercise its solemn constitutional duty to remove President Trump from office," they wrote.
posted by katra at 10:14 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Senate Impeachment Trial, Day 2 (C-SPAN) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Senators will consider the rules for the trial and other legislative work is possible.
posted by katra at 10:27 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Humiliation is the only thing that works. Humiliation and campaign donations. Trump only responds to money and fame, and he is much more publicly expressive when his fame is threatened. This is the street fight I'd like to see Democrats use.

Senate comity means proceduralism will be a necessary strategy, but in the press? Mitch is anti-press, which is anti-citizen, which is anti-Constitutional, which is anti-American. He is anti-truth, and anybody who falls in line gets the same criticism. Protests at each state's capitol: Your Senator Protects Criminals.

Everything Republicans do to shorten the process should be called out as a lack of due process. Republicans are desperately searching for technicalities, and if they can't find the loophole they'll rush the whole thing. It's a hustle.
posted by rhizome at 10:29 AM on January 21


Senate Impeachment Trial, Day 2 (C-SPAN)

I've found that YouTube works better for me, but either is better than network streams.
posted by rhizome at 10:34 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


538 is live-blogging and they say now it’s 3 session days instead of 2? McConnell must’ve gotten pushback from his super-old members who don’t want to stay up as late.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:35 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Senators will consider the rules for the trial and other legislative work is possible.

Seems like that would be breaking the rules.
Senate committees may hold hearings in the morning of each trial day, but doing any business such as sending bills, nominations, or other matters to the full Senate would require the consent of all senators.

The Senate impeachment rules provide that the chamber must suspend its legislative and executive business while the trial is under way.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:38 AM on January 21


> As a lawyer who has dealt with this kind of behavior in other arenas, I would caution against this as a model for action, because the consequences can be dangerous, and not just for the democratic institutions.

With all due respect to whatever law work you do, it seems unlikely that the "other arenas" you work in have such high stakes. This has escalated well beyond the realm of law to become a question of raw political power.

> And as noted earlier, the Democratic Party appears to be winning the PR battle

Do you truly believe that a bare majority in a nationwide poll for removing him from office says anything meaningful about who's winning the PR battle? As long as Mitch McConnell walks this earth, Trump is finishing his first term. Everyone needs to accept that at this point. The front to fight on now is to tie Moscow Mitch and the rest of his caucus to Trump, and to show voters that, despite the fact that Democrats don't have any means of overcoming McConnell's obstruction, that they know this is bullshit, and that everyone who voted with Trump is just as culpable as he is. Any minutes not spent doing that now are wasted minutes.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:41 AM on January 21 [9 favorites]


Another significant change from yesterday's version of the rules: the House record "will be admitted" into evidence, unless a majority of the Senate votes to strike particular portions of it. This means that the GOP hacks who want to ignore evidence have to affirmatively vote for that, rather than putting the onus on Senators who want to consider the evidence.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:58 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


CNN: In a significant change that was quietly made to Sen. Mitch McConnell's resolution, there are now three days of opening arguments over 24 hours. The initial language had just two days. McConnell's office confirms they made the change.

These changes just occurred prior to the start of the trial. There are also changes to the evidence section – evidence will be admitted unless there is a vote in opposition to it.

There were Republican senators who had issues with McConnell’s resolution, according to sources familiar. These last minute changes were meant to address those issues.


McConnell may succeed in obstructing Congress, but it isn’t smooth sailing.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:58 AM on January 21 [7 favorites]


McConnell may succeed in obstructing Congress, but it isn’t smooth sailing.

And McConnell has a toady deadline of wrapping up the impeachment before the State of the Union, so Trump can use it as a victory lap instead of a narcissistic meltdown.

He just lost two days off that deadline.
posted by Gelatin at 11:04 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


The nihilism of Mitch McConnell (Sean Illing, Vox)
"A Senate impeachment trial should be a solemn affair. It won’t be with McConnell at the helm."

[…]

Sean Illing

What do you think is the most important thing people should know about McConnell?

Alec MacGillis (author of The Cynic: The Political Education of Mitch McConnell).

That he really exemplifies more than anyone else in Washington the permanent campaign mindset, where everything is about winning the next election and nothing else matters. For McConnell, it’s not really about what he does while he’s in power to address problems or purse his party’s policy goals, whatever they might be. It’s really only about setting himself up to win the next race, the next election.

That’s the only game he’s playing.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:15 AM on January 21 [9 favorites]


With all due respect to whatever law work you do, it seems unlikely that the "other arenas" you work in have such high stakes.

It's technically my past practice, but I'm concerned both about the protection of democratic institutions as well as the example it could set for individual litigants at the trial court level. "High stakes" can be a relative consideration, and I also don't see a benefit for the Democratic case from stunts that have no legal significance and could turn this into more of a circus, especially under these current circumstances. I don't think there's a need to use political theater to communicate what is increasingly obvious about the sham trial being proposed by McConnell.

Do you truly believe that a bare majority in a nationwide poll for removing him from office says anything meaningful about who's winning the PR battle?

It's the polling on the nature of the trial, i.e. the witnesses, as Schiff is currently talking about, that I think suggests the Dems are winning the PR battle. Right now, Schiff is repeatedly tying McConnell to the sham trial and the consequences, so it sounds like he is doing what needs to be done in the context of the proceedings.
posted by katra at 11:15 AM on January 21 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's right that Senator McConnell should have so much power in an election year. The people of Kentucky deserve to have a say.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:18 AM on January 21 [30 favorites]


Jay Sekulow’s hands are shaking. Jay Sekulow looks like he’s about to chug a Monster Energy Drink and punch an ornate marble wall.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:22 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Trump's lawyer is talking to the most ignorant Americans right now. This is mumbo jumbo. It is very, very sad for me to watch this. Gotta work to flip the Senate...this is my reminder...
posted by zerobyproxy at 11:24 AM on January 21 [6 favorites]


Sekulow's way, way out of his depth. His job before Trump was as a third-rate radio host.
posted by Rykey at 11:25 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


I’m pretty sure Jay Sekulow just said Robert Mueller should be in jail, is that right?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:25 AM on January 21


The President cannot be indicted, Jay. That's why the due process of the courts don't work...or...is he saying that he should be indicted? Ha!
posted by zerobyproxy at 11:26 AM on January 21


This makes no sense at all. This is so close to the chewbacca defense it's eerie.
posted by FakeFreyja at 11:26 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


The Real Impeachment Trial (Julie Rodin Zebrak, Washington Monthly)
It’s not happening on the Senate floor. It’s happening on cable news and on social media.
In this sense, Trump has the right Fox News guests on his legal defense team.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:31 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Trump's second lawyer is not addressing the claims. More garbage. Terrible people, both of these guys.
posted by zerobyproxy at 11:31 AM on January 21


Now White House Counsel Cipollone says that the phone call can’t be incriminating because the President voluntarily released a phone call memo. This is the same judicial principle that means that any time a suspect voluntarily confesses, you have to let them go. Sad!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:31 AM on January 21 [6 favorites]


Can lawyers be disbarred for lying during an impeachment hearing?
posted by zerobyproxy at 11:32 AM on January 21 [10 favorites]


Can lawyers be disbarred for lying during an impeachment hearing? LOL, we're screaming this in our house right now.
posted by Harry Caul at 11:33 AM on January 21 [6 favorites]


He's a really bad liar, too
posted by mumimor at 11:35 AM on January 21


This lawyer reminds me of Jonah from Veep's last season.
posted by FakeFreyja at 11:36 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Schiff: Vote on trial rules "the most important decision in this case" (CBS)
Schiff: "If a president can obstruct his own investigation...then the president places himself beyond accountability, above the law. Cannot be indicted, cannot be impeached. It makes him a monarch." https://t.co/aQRBEKBWY5 pic.twitter.com/h7zBu4ucXU
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 21, 2020

The California Democrat said the resolution should allow the House managers to obtain documents that have been withheld and both sides to call witnesses. "Why should this trial be different than any other trial? The short answer is it shouldn't," Schiff said, adding that McConnell's proposed rules turn the trial process "on its head." Schiff added that waiting until the end of the trial for documents and witnesses will harm the American people and the Senate.
Schiff attempts to use Trump’s own words against him (WaPo)
As he continued a lengthy argument against McConnell’s resolution, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead impeachment manager, showed video clips of Trump in an attempt to turn the president’s own words against him.

In one clip shown to senators, Trump said that he would “love” to have several top officials testify, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

“The bluster of wanting these witnesses to testify is over,” Schiff said. He also showed a clip of Trump saying that Article II of the Constitution gives him “the right to do whatever I want as president.”

That was evidence, Schiff suggested, of Trump’s mind-set when it comes to preventing lawmakers from seeing documents relevant to his conduct toward Ukraine. “The trial should not reward the president’s obstruction,” Schiff said.
posted by katra at 11:39 AM on January 21 [9 favorites]


For McConnell, it’s not really about what he does while he’s in power to address problems or purse his party’s policy goals, whatever they might be. It’s really only about setting himself up to win the next race, the next election.

I disagree. If McConnell were only interested in winning elections, he might pursue policies that were popular with the public, but he doesn't -- he does the bidding of the ultra-rich. McConnell wants to stay in office as Senate Majority Leader, and he, like the rest of the Republican Party, sees the path to remaining in party as appealing to oligarchs, low-information voters, and a gullible media that buys -- or pretends to buy -- his pretense of good faith, more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger phoniness.

Now White House Counsel Cipollone says that the phone call can’t be incriminating because the President voluntarily released a phone call memo.

You mean the one the White House's first instinct was to fall all over itself in its haste to abuse the classification system to hide?
posted by Gelatin at 11:40 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


he does the bidding of the ultra-rich.
yes, aka he's only interested in winning elections.
posted by Harry Caul at 11:52 AM on January 21 [7 favorites]


Just listening to a podcast and one of the hosts complained that the press would be restricted to one pen. That this doesn't mean a single biro only shows Mitch's lack of imagination.
posted by adept256 at 12:02 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


I mean, banning phones and all electronic devices kind of says a lot.
posted by rhizome at 12:05 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


I mean, banning phones and all electronic devices kind of says a lot.

For the journalists?
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:13 PM on January 21


Trump attorney incorrectly claims Mueller report found ‘no obstruction’ (WaPo)
Jay Sekulow, an outside attorney for Trump, began his floor remarks with several inaccurate statements.

Sekulow incorrectly claimed that the report issued last year by former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III found “no obstruction” — when in actuality, Mueller declined to weigh in on the question of whether Trump obstructed justice, citing long-standing Justice Department precedent.

Sekulow also claimed that the White House was not allowed to have a counsel present during the impeachment hearings spearheaded by the House Judiciary Committee. In fact, the White House was allowed to participate but declined to do so.
posted by katra at 12:25 PM on January 21 [14 favorites]


Guardian: "A Yahoo News reporter sitting in the trial room said Republicans appeared uncomfortable as House impeachment manager Adam Schiff made the case for Trump’s removal from office.
Jon Ward (@jonward11) I sat in chamber for entire Schiff speech. That was a mauling. Trump team thought they were there to debate process and Schiff ambushed them with a full-throated case for impeachment. Republicans were visibly uncomfortable. Sekulow & Cippolone responses were rambling & bombastic January 21, 2020
posted by katra at 12:29 PM on January 21 [29 favorites]


Schiff's speech is movie material.
posted by mumimor at 12:32 PM on January 21 [7 favorites]


Sorry about the chatting. What I mean to say is that the Democrats are being very savvy today, and while I'm not entirely surprised, it is good work. It is always easier to tell the truth. And being well-prepared is even better.
The Republicans and the White House council cannot be truthful or well-prepared because of the nature of this impeachment case or their leader.
posted by mumimor at 12:36 PM on January 21 [9 favorites]


Schiff: Trump lawyers "made no effort" to defend resolution (CBS)
"They said nothing about the resolution," Schiff said about Sekulow and Cipollone, kicking off two hours of debate over Schumer's amendment. "They made no effort to defend it."

Schiff was animated as he criticized the president's legal team, although he said that he would not attack his counterparts.
Schiff points out that while Trump's team criticizes Democrats for not exhausting legal remedies, they're arguing against the House going to court to enforce subpoenas. He says the founders "didn't want to put the impeachment process in the courts" https://t.co/aQRBEKBWY5 pic.twitter.com/HUCuVixoYX
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 21, 2020
"I'm not going to do them the dignity of responding to them," Schiff said, but argued that Sekulow and Cipollone were seeking to attack him to distract from the real purpose of the trial. "When you hear them attack the house managers, what you're really hearing is, 'We don't want to talk about the president's guilt.'"

Schiff also said the resolution's proposal to hear opening statements and then decide on whether to call witness was "ass-backwards."
posted by katra at 12:53 PM on January 21 [7 favorites]


Schiff seems to have figured out that if McConnell and his co-conspirators are going to set the hearings up like this, then ok, we're going to present as much of our case right off the bat before you can bury it. He's gonna take em to the hoop.
posted by azpenguin at 12:57 PM on January 21 [31 favorites]


Republicans have spent months complaining that the House proceedings have been too opaque and insufficiently thorough. Now they control the constitutionally-designated "Trial", it's time to resolve the situation by making the trial as opaque and flimsy as possible. #winning
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:59 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


It's getting weird watching lawyer after lawyer get up here and tell the same lies to the Senate today.
posted by Harry Caul at 1:24 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Republicans operate in bad faith, always, and it's a serious mistake to evaluate them as if their arguments were ever sincere.

That the so-called "liberal media" pretends to be ignorant of this situation has been a serious flaw in their coverage of politics so far this century -- it got us into a lovely quagmire in Iraq, for example -- but it has left it utterly unprepared or unwilling to do their ostensible jobs in Trump's time.
posted by Gelatin at 1:25 PM on January 21 [16 favorites]


It's getting weird watching lawyer after lawyer get up here and tell the same lies to the Senate today.

Yes, and also that they look exactly like the liars in those youtube videos that teach you how to recognize a liar. They have dry mouths, they are stuttering, they are not really looking at the audience.

Unfortunately, the people who support Trump identify with that type of liars. They have stood there themselves, in their communities, and they are like Kavanaugh angry that it even could happen.
posted by mumimor at 1:44 PM on January 21 [7 favorites]


Guardian: Republicans kill Schumer's amendment to the impeachment trial resolution
Senate Republicans successfully killed minority leader Chuck Schumer’s amendment to the resolution outlining rules for the impeachment trial, which called for subpoenaing White House documents related to the charges against Trump.

Schumer is now introducing another amendment, which is aimed at subpoenaing State Department documents related to the impeachment. It will likely also fail along party lines.
posted by katra at 1:45 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


Schumer better have a punchline ready in the event that the amendments all fail such that no additional info winds up getting presented in the trial.
posted by rhizome at 2:23 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


CheeseDigestsAll: With Dershowitz on the Trump team, his past is rapidly coming back to haunt him.

East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94: Republicans have spent months complaining that the House proceedings have been too opaque and insufficiently thorough. Now they control the constitutionally-designated "Trial", it's time to resolve the situation by making the trial as opaque and flimsy as possible. #winning

Gelatin: Republicans operate in bad faith, always, and it's a serious mistake to evaluate them as if their arguments were ever sincere.

Bolded for emphasis. For Republicans, the past does not exist, except as described by Republicans. Their past actions and statements only matter now if they choose to repeat them today.

For Republicans, it is not history, but reality, that is dictated by the victors. They have the power to spout nonsense and lies and say it is clear and honest truth.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:34 PM on January 21 [15 favorites]


I'm thinking that from now on I'm totally ok with Dems 'going low'. Play dirty for democracy.
posted by j_curiouser at 2:54 PM on January 21 [10 favorites]


Vox comes out quick for Team Truth: Trump’s lawyers began the impeachment trial with a blizzard of lies
posted by Harry Caul at 2:58 PM on January 21 [16 favorites]


Sen. Klobuchar (D-Minn), to the NYT editorial board on Dec 10, 2019.

"Because I’m the ranking on the Rules Committee and I am, at this very moment, advocating with Senator Blunt to have laptops open during the impeachment hearing, which will be a big deal. I know you guys are on editorial so you don’t know about this, but your reporters can’t bring in any laptop into the Senate hearing room, and that’s just a little side note."

posted by phoque at 3:11 PM on January 21


Lawyer lawsuits, people

Lawsuits

by lawyers!
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:12 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


From the Guardian liveblog:
8m ago
23:57
Both parties have two hours to debate this amendment, and then, Senate leader Mitch McConnell indicated he’ll move to table it. After a vote, the lawmakers will get a 30-minute break — which, from the looks of everyone in the chamber is much needed.

Senator James Risch of Idaho was the first to nod off, according to Washington Post reporters. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand seemed to rest her eyes for a bit as well. And Senator Martha McSally had a blanket on her lap.
I've tried to find words for what this is, and I prefer the Italian expression - a bordello - but maybe that is demeaning to sex workers who at least provide a service.
Then again, it has been the same with the Clinton impeachment, and with all the various Potemkin hearings the Republicans have arranged during the last decades. They are making a mockery of democracy and they have been doing so for a lifetime, but this is the most extreme.
posted by mumimor at 4:11 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Senate rejects Democratic measure to subpoena State Department documents and records (WaPo)
On a 53-to-47 vote, the Senate on Tuesday rejected Schumer’s second amendment.

The amendment would have allowed the Senate to obtain State Department documents and records that the Trump administration refused to provide during the House impeachment probe of Trump and his dealing with Ukraine.

The Republican majority successfully moved to block Schumer’s measure.
Democrats will offer motion to subpoena OMB documents related to Ukraine aid (WaPo)
Schumer’s third amendment Tuesday will be a motion to have the Senate subpoena Office of Management and Budget documents regarding the suspension of military aid to Ukraine.

In a statement, Schumer’s office said the OMB “is in possession of highly relevant records and communications related to the charges against the president.”

Earlier this month, Just Security’s Kate Brannen reported on unredacted emails showing that OMB and the Defense Department discussed the withholding of aid to Ukraine.
posted by katra at 4:11 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


For Republicans, it is not history, but reality, that is dictated by the victors.

"Oceanic society rests ultimately on the belief that Big Brother is omnipotent and that the Party is infallible. But since in reality Big Brother is not omnipotent and the party is not infallible, there is need for an unwearying, moment-to-moment flexibility in the treatment of facts. The keyword here is BLACKWHITE. ... Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to BELIEVE that black is white, and more, to KNOW that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary." -- George Orwell, 1984
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:28 PM on January 21 [34 favorites]


It appears we’re headed for a party line vote at every step. For all their hand wringing Romney and other Republicans have voted in lock step with the rest of the traitors.
posted by interogative mood at 5:04 PM on January 21 [9 favorites]


The secret is using one hand *between wrings* to cast your vote real quick-like
posted by Rykey at 5:06 PM on January 21 [8 favorites]


On a 53-to-47 vote, the Senate on Tuesday rejected Schumer’s second amendment.

So much for "moderate" Republicans. Not a single one crossed the line and voted to subpoena evidence for the trial. Trump owns them all.
posted by JackFlash at 5:08 PM on January 21 [15 favorites]


3rd Schumer amendment on OMB records fails (CBS)
The Senate voted to table the third motion proposed by Democrats, a subpoena for records from the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The vote to table the amendment passed along party lines, 53 to 47.
Schumer introduces 4th amendment as Senate breaks for dinner (CBS)
After his third proposed amendment was rejected along party lines, Schumer introduced a fourth amendment to subpoena Mick Mulvaney. Impeachment managers and the White House legal team will each have an hour to debate the measure, which is almost certain to fail. McConnell moved to break for 30 minutes for dinner.
posted by katra at 5:11 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


4 House impeachment managers discuss trial on the "CBS Evening News" (CBS)
Four of the House impeachment managers — Adam Schiff, Val Demings, Zoe Lofgren and Jason Crow — discussed the impeachment trial with "CBS Evening News" anchor Norah O'Donnell in an interview that aired Tuesday evening.

Schiff, who is also chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said some intelligence agencies have "stopped cooperating" with an ongoing investigation in the House, possibly "on the instruction of others."
posted by katra at 5:31 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Is there a simple symbol we could use in MeFi threads, like the dot when we want to express our sadness about someone's death, to express our sadness/rage/despair/disbelief/fury on days of accelerating authoritarianism like this?
posted by PhineasGage at 5:31 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


..|.., maybe? For the bird flipping?
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:39 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


*

which, as kurt vonnegut pointed out, is an asshole
posted by pyramid termite at 5:54 PM on January 21 [18 favorites]


Trump impeachment team undercuts DOJ position in McGahn case (Politico)
After arguing in court for months that federal judges should stay miles away from disputes between Congress and the White House — for fear that they become political actors in a divisive impeachment probe — the president’s lawyers spent the first working day of Trump’s Senate impeachment trial arguing the exact opposite, and suggesting that those who disagree are hostile to the Constitution.

“The president’s opponents, in their rush to impeach, have refused to wait for judicial review,” said Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal lawyer, who is working alongside White House counsel Pat Cipollone on the president’s impeachment defense. [...] But that argument is in direct conflict with the Trump Justice Department’s own forceful arguments — some as recently as this month — that allowing courts to step into such battles between Congress and the White House would be an affront to the separation of powers. On Jan. 3, a Justice Department attorney fighting the House’s impeachment inquiry said “unelected” judges should not be “refereeing” such disputes. DOJ attorney Hashim Mooppan argued that the court should steer clear of “a purely political dispute.”

[...] In other words, Trump’s case against his removal from office on charges of obstructing Congress — the second article of impeachment that House Democrats adopted last month — relies on an argument that his Justice Department and White House lawyers have explicitly rejected.

“Other lawyers — maybe not the ones at this table, but other lawyers for the president — are in the courts saying the exact opposite of what they’re telling you today,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead impeachment manager, said in response to the claims during Tuesday’s session of the trial. “They’re saying you cannot enforce congressional subpoenas. You can’t do it.”
posted by katra at 6:01 PM on January 21 [13 favorites]


Justice Department backed Trump strong-arm of House impeachment probe (Politico)
The Justice Department secretly blessed President Donald Trump’s decision to stonewall the Democratic-led House over impeachment last year, the president’s legal team disclosed Monday.

The legal brief submitted to the Senate as part of Trump’s defense includes an opinion from the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel concluding that Trump was justified in categorically rejecting the House’s demands for information before lawmakers passed a formal impeachment resolution on Oct. 31. [...] The newly disclosed opinion is vague about precisely when OLC was first approached to give its advice on the topic, when the response was rendered or what form that early advice took. [...]

If Cipollone had the Justice Department’s advice before he wrote the Oct. 8 letter, it’s not clear why he didn’t mention that. One possibility is doing so might have caused a clamor for an immediate, formal DOJ opinion in a very fluid situation.

Another is that announcing that DOJ was staking out such an arguably extreme position on that point might have undercut the arguments Justice Department lawyers were presenting in various court fights related to demands for Trump’s financial records, grand jury records from the Mueller probe and testimony from former administration officials on various topics.
posted by katra at 6:28 PM on January 21 [5 favorites]


Jeffries displays chart showing every previous impeachment trial has included witnesses (WaPo)
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), one of the impeachment managers, displayed a chart Tuesday night emphasizing the Democratic request for witnesses during the Senate trial.

During his remarks outlining the case for the fourth Democratic amendment, Jeffries displayed a chart showing that witnesses were included in every one of the 15 impeachment trials of presidents, judges and others that have taken place in the Senate.

The number of witnesses ranged from three to 112, with the average number of witnesses per trial standing at 33, according to Jeffries.

“In at least three of those instances, including the impeachment of Bill Clinton, witnesses appeared before the Senate who had not previously appeared before the House,” Jeffries said.
posted by katra at 6:37 PM on January 21 [15 favorites]


Guardian: "For the fifth [sic?] time today, senators voted to kill a Democratic amendment to the impeachment trial resolution, deciding against calling Mick Mulvaney as a witness.
In October, Mulvaney admitted that Donald Trump froze nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine in part to pressure Ukranian officials into investigating Democrats. Almost immediately, he denied it.

Senate leader Mitch McConnell asked the Democrats to “stack” their amendments. Chuck Schumer refused, but said he’d be opening to having some of the votes tomorrow. “There will be a good number of votes. There’s no reason we have to do them tonight,” Schumer said.
posted by katra at 6:40 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


Schumer to offer amendment to subpoena Defense Department materials (WaPo)
Schumer is expected to offer a fifth amendment Tuesday night following the vote on the motion to subpoena acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

The latest amendment would allow the Senate to subpoena Department of Defense documents and records related to Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine.
posted by katra at 6:43 PM on January 21 [8 favorites]


For what it's worth, I love that Schumer is putting these forward, one at a time, and forcing the Republicans to go on the record against every single one. There's no wiggle room for them to say, Well, I would have approved documents but not witnesses, or, I would have supported seeing State Department documents but Defense Department documents should stay classified, blah blah blah.

Nope, they're having roll call votes on each and every one. So every Republican will forever be on record as opposing every single effort to get to the truth, even the most basic efforts that a majority of Americans support. It'll make for some great campaign ads this fall.
posted by martin q blank at 7:20 PM on January 21 [39 favorites]


I just got done working out. All the exercise bikes were taken, except one that was in front of the TV with Fox News on.

I didn’t do the bike tonight.
posted by azpenguin at 7:25 PM on January 21 [11 favorites]


5th Schumer amendment on subpoenaing documents from DOD fails (CBS)
The Senate voted to table the fifth motion proposed by Democrats, a subpoena request for documents from the Defense Department.

The vote to table the amendment passed along party lines, 53 to 47.
Schumer introduces 6th amendment to subpoena White House staffers Robert Blair and Michael Duffey (CBS)
After the fifth amendment proposed by Democrats failed, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed the sixth amendment of the day. This amendment is a move to subpoena White House staffers Robert Blair and Michael Duffey.

Blair is an adviser to chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Duffey is a senior official at the Office of Management and Budget who ordered the Pentagon to freeze aid to Ukraine.
posted by katra at 7:56 PM on January 21 [8 favorites]


*
posted by Gadarene at 8:10 PM on January 21


The session hasn't ended yet?
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:13 PM on January 21


From the Washington Post live blog: "Senators aren’t allowed anything but water, milk during floor proceedings". Time to clue my senators in on caffeinated water.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:16 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Sixth amendment proposed by Democrats fails (CBS)
The sixth amendment proposed by Schumer, a measure to subpoena White House staffers Robert Blair and Michael Duffey, failed along party lines, 53-47. The Senate has voted to table every amendment set forward by Schumer so far.
Senators appear to be losing patience (CBS)
When Chief Justice John Roberts said Democrats had 38 minutes left to debate the 5th amendment, people on the GOP side audibly groaned. Senator Cotton snorted when Representative Schiff said he would be brief in making his closing arguments.

Schiff did make the case for why we are all staying up so late to go methodically through these amendments; Schiff said that the purpose of the amendments is "to make it hard for you to say no" to a fair trial.

Essentially, Democrats are forcing Republicans again and again to go on the record about their opposition to calling for witnesses now.
posted by katra at 8:22 PM on January 21 [12 favorites]


Essentially, Democrats are forcing Republicans again and again to go on the record about their opposition to calling for witnesses now.

Sort of like the effect of a filibuster, with the added bonus that attendance is mandatory.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:24 PM on January 21 [12 favorites]


First, it was ‘Cocaine’ and ‘Moscow.’ Now, McConnell has a new nickname: #MidnightMitch (Brittany Shammas and Reis Thebault, WaPo)

Coined by, of all people, Carl Bernstein, during a Monday CNN interview.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:25 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


I heard Schiff on the radio saying "We're going to make it hard for you," and I thought it was brilliant.
posted by medusa at 8:26 PM on January 21 [7 favorites]


This latest amendment brought by Schumer is quite different than the previous six (or is it seven).
posted by bcd at 8:27 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


Guardian: "Schumer has proposed yet another amendment, “to prevent the selective admission of evidence and to provide for appropriate handling of classified and confidential materials”. When he asked for it to be read out loud before the break, he reassured everyone,“It’s short.”"
posted by katra at 8:27 PM on January 21 [5 favorites]


Trial sketches at CNN, with some liberties taken.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:34 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


NYTimes Sketch Artist.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:36 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Mr Schumer can just keep bringing amendments forever, with minuscule permutations, right? Or can McConnell just hold a vote to stop accepting amendments?

Either way, I’m here for this.
posted by snortasprocket at 8:43 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


Some smart person on TV said these votes are votes on rules, and there is a lot more pressure to vote the party line on rules votes. After the presentations by the two sides there might be a chance to vote on witnesses. That’s when we’d see any defections by the so-called moderate Republicans.
posted by marxchivist at 8:59 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


McConnell set to ram through Trump trial rules (Politico)
Schumer spent the day forcing Republicans to vote on ordering subpoenas for administration witnesses and documents related to the freezing of Ukraine aid and requests that the country announce a probe of former Vice President Joe Biden. Though Schumer has so far lost those efforts, it was Democrats’ best chance to force Republicans to take a position given the uncertainty of the road ahead.

"We need to put Republicans on record. We may not have another chance to offer amendments to get witnesses and documents before the Senate. This may be our only chance — tonight — in order to make this a fair trial,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). McConnell sought to speed up the votes, but Schumer declined his entreaties.
posted by katra at 9:00 PM on January 21 [5 favorites]


7th Schumer amendment fails (CBS)
The seventh amendment proposed by Schumer, a measure to prevent selective admission of evidence and provide for appropriate handling of classified and confidential material, failed along party lines, 53-47.
Schumer introduces eighth amendment (CBS)
Shortly after midnight, Schumer introduced an eighth amendment to subpoena John Bolton to appear before the Senate. It is also likely to fail.
posted by katra at 9:06 PM on January 21 [5 favorites]


Some smart person on TV said these votes are votes on rules

Where "rules" equals "i would like there to be a rule that we can call witnesses because currently we cannot," except listing each witness individually. Or, you know, any evidence at all.

TV pundits will not save us.
posted by absalom at 9:10 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Exasperated by Republican obstruction, Schumer in a symbolic tribute to the Obama Administration introduces three final amendments shortly after midnight EST:
1. Be cool.
2. C'mon.
3. Nice.
Unfortunately all three failed on party line votes.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:14 PM on January 21 [8 favorites]


Somewhere around amendment number 15 or so he should pull a Bugs Bunny and offer up one in favor of not failing to produce evidence and witnesses or something.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:16 PM on January 21 [25 favorites]


Guardian: Nadler: ‘Only guilty people try to hide the evidence’
ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) Rep. Jerry Nadler argues in favor of amendment to issue a subpoena for John Bolton: “The president and some members of this body are afraid to hear from Ambassador Bolton because they know he knows too much.” https://t.co/OKiSUs2kAc pic.twitter.com/mIbB0nhc93 January 22, 2020
Guardian: "In response, White House lawyer Jay Sekulow raised his voice and banged the podium for emphasis. He accused Nadler of trying to “shred Constitution on the floor of the floor of the Senate” by questioning Donald Trump’s executive privilege claim.
Pat Cipollone called the impeachment a “farce”.

“Mister Nadler, you owe an apology to the President of the United States and his family, you owe an apology to the Senate, but most of all you owe an apology to the American people,” he said."
Guardian: [...] Jeremy Art (@cspanJeremy) Chief Justice Roberts admonishing... pic.twitter.com/6pjioKTiRb January 22, 2020
John Roberts took an opportunity to rebuke both sides “in equal measure” for their language and personal attacks. He asked everyone to “avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse”.

“I do think those addressing the senate should remember where they are,” Roberts said.
posted by katra at 10:08 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


House votes to kill amendment calling for John Bolton's testimony (CNN)
The Senate voted 53-47 along party lines to kill a proposal from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that would have issued a subpoena for President Donald Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton's testimony. [...]

The Senate is now debating a ninth amendment, which requires a vote of the Senate on any motion to subpoena witnesses and documents. The current proposed rules have a procedural vote that must pass before any actual vote on subpoenas for witnesses and documents.
posted by katra at 10:16 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


In response, White House lawyer Jay Sekulow raised his voice and banged the podium for emphasis

so they're literally doing the thing when you know your client is guilty.
posted by valkane at 10:24 PM on January 21 [22 favorites]


Senate kills a ninth amendment to impeachment trial rules proposed by Democrats (CNN)
The amendment died on party lines, 53-47.

The amendment would have forced a vote of the Senate on any motion to subpoena witnesses and documents. The current proposed rules have a procedural vote that must pass before any actual vote on subpoenas for witnesses and documents.
posted by katra at 10:25 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


recently (here at 11:37:03, maybe two amendments ago?), roberts
i think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the house managers and the president's counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body. one reason it has earned that title is because its members avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse. in the 1905 swain (ph) trial a senator objected when one of the managers used the word "pettifogging" and the presiding officer said the word ought not to have been used. i don't think we need to aspire to that high a standard but i do think those addressing the senate should remember where they are.
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:28 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Senate votes to kill a 10th amendment proposed by Democrats (CNN)
The Senate just voted to kill the 10th amendment proposed to the rules for President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. This amendment dealt with the amount of time allotted for written motions and responses during the trial.

That amendment was -- like the previous nine -- defeated, but this one wasn't completely on party lines: It went down 52-48.
Guardian: "The rules provide each side [two] hours. Schumer’s amendment asked for 24."
posted by katra at 10:29 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Schumer announces his 11th proposed amendment to the impeachment trial rules will be the last (CNN)
The 11th amendment would allow Chief Justice John Roberts to decide on whether to allow motions on subpoenas for witnesses and documents.
posted by katra at 10:34 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Guardian: The Office of Management and Budget responded to a FOIA request by releasing a trove of documents on military aid to Ukraine.
American Oversight (@weareoversight)

BREAKING: Two minutes before midnight, OMB released 192 pages of Ukraine-related records to American Oversight, including emails that have not been previously released. https://t.co/yJ1IGn3nf7 pic.twitter.com/LZ8KRJoy1M January 22, 2020
posted by katra at 10:42 PM on January 21 [9 favorites]


Guardian: Senators kill 11th and last Democratic amendment
The final amendment proposed by minority leader Chuck Schumer would allow Chief Justice John Roberts — as a neutral party — to decide whether to allow motions to subpoena witnesses or documents.

Finally, the senators are voting on the rules themselves.
posted by katra at 10:45 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


the senate is adjourned. 1:51 by my clock.
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:51 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


The Senate adopts rules on a party line vote and adjourns for the night. Opening statements begin later today. (CNN)
The Senate has adopted the rules for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on a party line vote of 53-47.

The vote comes after nearly 13 hours of debate. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed 11 amendments to the rules, all of which were killed by Senate Republicans.
posted by katra at 10:54 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


WaPo: Senate Democrats privately mull Biden-for-Bolton trade
Publicly, most Democrats have scoffed at the growing GOP clamor to hear former vice president Joe Biden’s son testify, dismissing him as irrelevant to the charges against Trump and accusing Republicans of trying to distract from the allegations against the president.

But behind closed doors, a small group of Democratic senators and aides has begun to question that logic, sounding out colleagues on whether to back a witness deal that could lead to testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton or other administration officials with possible firsthand knowledge of the Ukraine controversy, according to multiple Democratic officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private discussions.
This seems pretty unlikely to happen and I hope it doesn't. Aside from lending plausibility to White House claims about the motivation for Trump's actions in Ukraine, any Biden testimony would definitely become the focal point for a large chunk of the media, who have consistently shown an inability to keep their collective eye on the ball.
posted by theory at 12:39 AM on January 22 [23 favorites]


This seems pretty unlikely to happen and I hope it doesn't. Aside from lending plausibility to White House claims about the motivation for Trump's actions in Ukraine, any Biden testimony would definitely become the focal point for a large chunk of the media, who have consistently shown an inability to keep their collective eye on the ball.

Totally agreed, + I wouldn't place any hope in a Bolton testimony, he is an evil person. He could think up something totally grotesque to "save" the Republicans.
posted by mumimor at 12:57 AM on January 22 [9 favorites]


Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed 11 amendments to the rules, all of which were killed by Senate Republicans.

I'm impressed that the Democrats voted as a bloc too, with no defections from red state senators like Doug Jones and Joe Manchin.
posted by Gelatin at 1:28 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


would definitely become the focal point for a large chunk of the media, who have consistently shown an inability to keep their collective eye on the ball.

Because it would be the only thing Republicans talk about, so that's all that the media would talk about.
posted by rhizome at 1:37 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


> think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the house managers and the president's counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body. one reason it has earned that title is because its members avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse.

i mean sure preston brooks was wrong to beat charles sumner with a cane but also sumner had said some very uncivil things about slavers so you know both sides. both sides.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 3:44 AM on January 22 [27 favorites]


What a sham
posted by growabrain at 4:28 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


Yeah, they’re not even pretending anymore. The body politic is dead, and the Republicans are pissing on its grave.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 4:33 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


No escape: Senators to be quiet, unplugged for Trump trial (AP)
The normally chummy senators won’t even be allowed to talk at length to people nearby or walk on certain areas of the Senate floor.
Hey I called it!
Last week: The rules to this process have been a ridiculous partisan sham!

This week: For our first rule, the senate floor is lava.
Though at this stage I don't expect any points for pointing out republican hypocrisy. If you want a detailed list, look at these rules they've made up, almost everything they accused the house investigation of is in there.
posted by adept256 at 4:33 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


Also, wtf is this rule: they're only allowed water or milk. I don't think they really need to tell anyone not to get drunk in the senate. Hey, maybe they do, it's beginning to look reasonable. This is so they can't have caffeine. I don't think that's too cynical, I think that's exactly why. Milk has tryptophan in it ffs.
posted by adept256 at 4:43 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I don't see that NoDoz* is not allowed.

*Or Vivarin or any other generic caffeine tablet.
posted by rochrobbb at 4:54 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Trump impeachment scandal emails released, moments before midnight deadline

They waited 'til 11:58pm, mouse cursor hovering over send. Seconds count I suppose, since the senate is currently holding the trial. Here's some irony, of the few unredacted parts is this:
One of the few emails to survive redaction reveals Mr Duffey telling Ms McCusker: “We have no interest in delaying any action up until just before the obligation event occurs and want those processes to proceed.”
Yeah, they'd never leave something 'til the last moment when they're forced to.
posted by adept256 at 6:16 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


"In equal measure." Fuck you, Roberts.
posted by Gadarene at 6:40 AM on January 22 [8 favorites]


The only Republican to vote for Schumer's amendment to allow twenty-four hours for written motions and responses, rather than McConnell's ridiculous two hours, was Collins. Even pseudo-moderates like Murkowski and Romney weren't willing to vote for such a reasonable accommodation to allow the appearance of a fair trial. That's not a great sign!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:41 AM on January 22 [9 favorites]


Ryan Goodman tweeted:
#ImpeachmentTrial Day 1

1 Cracks in McConnell’s control with changes to rules

2 Schiff performs masterclass for lawyers

3 GOP expert witness—Turley—pens article saying White House’s claim that impeachment requires a crime is bogus

4 Trump lawyers caught in “blizzard of lies”
5:22 PM - 21 Jan 2020
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:24 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


I have a different take -- by passing EVERYTHING as partisan votes, it shows this is a sham from the beginning. If the GOP had given the Dems anything, even to allow twenty-four hours for written motions and responses (which would likely be used to delay what Moscow Mitch wants to be a quick process, so that's a no-go for him), the GOP could say "hey, look -- we're not playing partisan politics," and then have even the slimmest of cover to say that they tried to work with the Dems, but "the Dems went back to partisan politics" in what we all foresee to be the final impeachment vote along party lines.

But that wasn't likely, given Moscow Mitch's prior public statement: "I'm not an impartial juror. This is a political process. There's not anything judicial about it. The House made a partisan political decision to impeach. I would anticipate we will have a largely partisan outcome in the Senate. I'm not impartial about this at all." (NPR, December 17, 2019)

In short, Mitch has been true to that statement. Hoping the GOP will fracture now a fool's errand, and/or a ploy by media to portray this as something other than a broken system, where the GOP places party over country.

But if they were to say that, the rabid right would say "MSM is biased!" because MSM has already tried so hard to be "fair and balanced" when there's nothing fair or balanced in what the GOP are doing. Until there's more media outcry from major outlets/ channels about how broken this is, the GOP has done more for themselves by portraying their efforts as an extension of "politics as normal." See also: John Roberts bullshit statement about "addressing the world's greatest deliberative body" where he'll only tolerate "civil discourse."

Because we know it's fine to destroy democracy, as long as you're not calling that asshole an asshole.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:29 AM on January 22 [19 favorites]


You Know We Can See the Apple Watches You Snuck Into the Impeachment Trial, Right? (Caitlin McGarry, Gizmodo)

Many Senators were seen with them on during the session. Wondering if this will get called out.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:31 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


ZeusHumms: Cracks in McConnell’s control with changes to rules
....
Trump lawyers caught in “blizzard of lies”


Wait, what? Where were the cracks? Oh, we went from 2 days to 3, and "he also allowed evidence from the House to be automatically entered into the record unless there were an objection" (NPR impeachment trial highlights, January 21, 2020, 7:50 PM ET)

Except the GOP stood fast and denied 11 proposed amendments from Schumer, so I don't see those as significant cracks.

And when have lies actually hurt Trump? Sure, he's had six associates sentenced for crimes and two more awaiting sentencing (Axios, updated Dec 17, 2019), but he's still another Teflon Don.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:40 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]




katra: Schiff did make the case for why we are all staying up so late to go methodically through these amendments; Schiff said that the purpose of the amendments is "to make it hard for you to say no" to a fair trial.
"Yeah, we're making it hard for you, we're making it hard for you to say no," lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff told senators who became increasingly tired and restless as the night wore on.

"We making it hard for you to say 'I don't want to hear from these people, I don't want to see the documents,' ... Our job is to make it hard to deprive the American people of a fair trial," Schiff said.
Bitter exchanges and incriminating evidence rock Trump's impeachment trial (CNN with auto-playing SUPER INTENSE IMPEACHMENT TRAILER VIDEO -- I hate that bullshit so much. They don't have to make it into a fooking action film, it's literally the fate of the presidency at stake.)
posted by filthy light thief at 7:44 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


Having the House evidence entered into the record won't have any effect on Senate Republicans' ultimately giving Trump a free pass to act as a king, not a president, because noting will. But it's nonetheless a concession -- that, along with the party-line refusal to look at any evidence, makes McConnell's and the Republicans' willing participation in a shame trial all the more obvious.

Anything that extends the trial timeline is welcome, because Trump's conduct during the State of the Union -- a nationally televised speech that will reach even many low-information voters -- will depend greatly on whether he takes a victory lap or has a petulant meltdown. The latter won't be great for his re-election chances and can weigh down Republican tickets nationwide.

(Memo to Democrats: Take any dilatory opportunity you can, and agree to nothing that shaves even one minute off the timeline.)
posted by Gelatin at 7:47 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


The rules provide each side [two] hours.

Four fucking hours. These people are taking less time than I spent researching my latest micro SD card purchase.
posted by Mitheral at 7:52 AM on January 22 [22 favorites]


by passing EVERYTHING as partisan votes, it shows this is a sham from the beginning.

I'll will have you know, kind sir, that is not true. The votes were bipartisan.

"The only Republican to vote for Schumer's amendment to allow twenty-four hours for written motions and responses, rather than McConnell's ridiculous two hours, was Collins."

Collins literally waited until the last minute of the last hour of the very last amendment, the least important amendment, to change her vote. This was an obvious plan by McConnell to be able to claim bipartisanship.

Collins is a genuinely shitty person.
posted by JackFlash at 7:54 AM on January 22 [14 favorites]


Collins literally waited until the last minute of the last hour of the very last amendment, the least important amendment, to change her vote. This was an obvious plan by McConnell to be able to claim bipartisanship.

No one has to acknowledge or pretend that Republicans weren't voting in orchestrated lockstep to cover Trump's ample ... guilt, and that this feeble gesture constitutes a fig leaf of "bipartisanship" -- not Democrats, not the voters of Maine, and not the so-called "liberal media."
posted by Gelatin at 7:58 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


How a Russian disinfo op got Trump impeached (Politico)
The theory that Ukraine was responsible for the DNC hack was first floated by Trump’s own campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, recently released documents from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation show. According to Trump’s deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, the idea was seeded by Manafort’s business partner in Ukraine, a dual Russian-Ukrainian citizen named Konstantin Kilimnik who U.S. officials have linked to Russian intelligence. Manafort had worked with Kilimnik for years in Ukraine to prop up the country’s pro-Russia politicians, including the ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. [...]

Once he was sworn in, Trump had unfettered access to the unclassified intelligence that informed the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia hacked the DNC and interfered to help him win. But he still refused to believe it, preferring the unsubstantiated rumors about Ukraine’s attempts to sabotage his candidacy. “He would almost never not bring it up,” one former White House official said of Trump’s fixation with the Ukraine conspiracy theory. “And that certainly continued the whole time I was there. It was Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine. You just couldn’t make him understand that’s not how it turned out.” [...] Early on in his presidency, Trump went as far as to ask the Justice Department, then helmed by Jeff Sessions, to investigate the issue of Ukrainian interference on several occasions, the formal official said. But DOJ would always decline, this person added, “because their sense was that Mueller was going to do it for them.” A DOJ spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

It would fall to Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to seek evidence implicating Ukraine in 2016 election meddling—a quixotic mission fueled by his client’s insistence on complete exoneration as his own administration deepened its probe into Russia’s very real involvement. [...] It was clear to many government officials early on, however, that the theory was rooted in Russian disinformation and could even be part of an intelligence operation, said another person close to the White House. And intelligence officials have since briefed lawmakers on their belief that the theory is Russian propaganda, according to a person familiar with the briefings.

But Trump’s advisers soon gave up on trying to convince him of Russia’s role, said the first former official. “Anything he associated with the intel community, he rejected pretty much out of hand because his sense was that the ‘Deep State’ had decided in some star chamber or secret meeting that they would feed intelligence to him that would cause him to make mistakes, and disprove a lot of his theories about what happened in the election,” the person said. [...] Trump evidently never let it go: In the infamous phone call with Zelensky last July that became central to his impeachment, the president asked Zelensky to work with Attorney General Bill Barr to “get to the bottom” of Ukraine’s supposed interference in 2016.
posted by katra at 8:41 AM on January 22 [9 favorites]


GOP Senators Representing a Minority of Americans Are Preventing a Fair Impeachment Trial (Mother Jones)
"Republicans who blocked a call for witnesses on Tuesday represent 15 million fewer people than Democrats who voted yes."

On Tuesday, senators representing 153 million Americans outvoted senators representing 168 million Americans.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:54 AM on January 22 [21 favorites]


‘Constitutional Nonsense’: Trump’s Impeachment Defense Defies Legal Consensus (Charlie Savage, NYT)
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.” [...] 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.” [...]

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.”
posted by katra at 9:08 AM on January 22 [9 favorites]


You may have heard about Trump lawyer Sekulow's meltdown ranting about "lawyer lawsuits." Nobody could figure out what his rant was about. Apparently this comes from his criticism of Democratic House manager Val Demings talking about attempts to get information from the White House using FOIA, the Freedom of Information Act, commonly spoken as "foiya."

Despite the fact that Demings literally said in her speech:
"FOIA lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act, AKA, foiya lawsuits" , just to make things clear, Sekulow either misunderstood or is deliberately mocking Demings African American speech.

And the White House is backing up Sekulow in his rant. They are claiming that that Demings literally said "lawyer lawsuits" and has transcripts to back it up.

You can hear the exchange yourself here.

It's astonishing the way the White House just rewrites history, denying what you can see with your own two eyes.
posted by JackFlash at 9:13 AM on January 22 [18 favorites]


Impeachment Trial Timeline
January 22, 23 and 24: House managers make their case
January 25, 27 and 28: White House defense
January 29 and 30: Questions from Senators
January 31: Vote on witnesses and new documents?
February 3: Iowa caucuses
February 4: State of the Union

It’s quite possible this will change, but that’s what we know now.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:18 AM on January 22 [9 favorites]


Sekulow either misunderstood or is deliberately mocking Demings African American speech.

The dogwhistles are defeaning.
posted by valkane at 9:23 AM on January 22 [15 favorites]


Ueland came back to the press pen and said Sekulow did not mistakenly refer to a phrase from Rep. Val Demings, an impeachment manager.

“When you read the transcript it says ‘lawyer lawsuit,’” he said


I'm sorry, the card says "Moops!"
posted by valkane at 9:36 AM on January 22 [10 favorites]


These people are taking less time than I spent researching my latest micro SD card purchase.

Yeah, but you hadn't already made up your mind three years ago.
posted by Etrigan at 10:05 AM on January 22 [7 favorites]


It's astonishing the way the White House just rewrites history, denying what you can see with your own two eyes.

They're nothing if not consistent.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:11 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Schiff acknowledges that the Senate listed attentively to each minute. Letting the GOP know that they own all of this. Hamilton quote with the straight line Trump analogy. Very clear.

I wish we lived in normal times.
posted by zerobyproxy at 10:15 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


I wish we lived in normal times.

I hope these times don't become the new normal.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:16 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


From 1/22 Opening Arguments (Daily Kos)
Hamilton quote used by Schiff in his opening …

When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanour—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:20 AM on January 22 [19 favorites]


Senate Impeachment Trial, Day 3 (C-SPAN) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues with opening arguments from House managers and the President’s defense team.
posted by katra at 10:27 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


Guardian: Schiff says impeachment managers will present 'factual chronology' of Ukraine controversy
The California Democrat also dismissed a suggestion that John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, could be called in to testify in exchange for calling Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, to Capitol Hill.

“This isn’t like some fantasy football trade,” Schiff said. “Trials aren’t trades for witnesses.”

He concluded by offering a somber note about the managers presenting their case for Trump’s removal to the American public. “We’re trying this case to two juries: the Senate and the American people,” Schiff said.
posted by katra at 10:30 AM on January 22 [8 favorites]


Full fantasy football quote:
This isn’t like fantasy football, here. We are not making trades or we shouldn’t be: We’ll trade you one completely irrelevant, immaterial witness that allows us to smear the President’s opponent in exchange for ones that are really relevant, that you should hear. Is that really a fair trial?
Ceterum autem censeo Trump delenda est
posted by kirkaracha at 10:32 AM on January 22 [13 favorites]


Trump team declines to file motion to dismiss impeachment articles (CBS)
The president's legal team did not file a motion to dismiss the articles of impeachment before opening arguments. The president has expressed support for dismissing the case in the past, but he has also said he wants to secure acquittal on the merits.

Asked why they didn't file a motion to dismiss the charges outright, Trump personal attorney Jay Sekulow told reporters they're prepared to see the process through. "Because we're prepared to proceed to acquittal. We want to try to win," Sekulow said.
Senate convenes for second day of impeachment trial (CBS)
Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, kicked off the House's opening arguments by invoking Alexander Hamilton and the constitutional basis for impeachment.

"The framers of the Constitution worried then, as we worry today, that a leader might come to power not to carry out the will of the people that he was elected to represent, but to pursue his own interests," lead House manager @RepAdamSchiff says in opening statement. pic.twitter.com/DyGhprSYE3 — CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) January 22, 2020
posted by katra at 10:35 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


JackFlash: "Despite the fact that Demings literally said in her speech:
"FOIA lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act, AKA, foiya lawsuits" , just to make things clear, Sekulow either misunderstood or is deliberately mocking Demings African American speech.

And the White House is backing up Sekulow in his rant. They are claiming that that Demings literally said "lawyer lawsuits" and has transcripts to back it up.
"

Whitey do that.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:36 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


Asked why they didn't file a motion to dismiss the charges outright, Trump personal attorney Jay Sekulow told reporters they're prepared to see the process through. "Because we're prepared to proceed to acquittal. We want to try to win," Sekulow said.

Also the Republicans may not have enough votes to sustain the motion. Some say they only have 45 votes for dismissal at this time.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:39 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


Demings says Trump ‘bragged’ about obstruction earlier Wednesday (WaPo)
Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), one of the House impeachment managers, argued Wednesday that Trump had provided more evidence of obstruction of Congress during a news conference he held in Davos, Switzerland, earlier in the day.

Responding to a question about the impeachment trial, Trump told reporters: “We’re doing very well. I got to watch enough. I thought our team did a very good job. But honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material.”

“The second article of impeachment was for obstruction of Congress: covering up witnesses and documents from the American people,” Demings said in a tweet. “This morning the president not only confessed to it, he bragged about it.”

In a subsequent television appearance, a clip of Trump’s comments was played for Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). “Well that was an obvious confession by the president of the United States,” Van Hollen said in response on CNN. “Here you have the president of the United States saying, ‘Hey, I have a lot more evidence, and I’m not going to give it to you.’ ”
posted by katra at 10:42 AM on January 22 [11 favorites]


that was not an evil racist dogwhistling by devilishly-subtle implication. it was a jackass exhibiting his meritless outrage by directing it at nonsense he misheard and pretending that nonsense has meaning and is offensive, when the actual, properly-heard statement was uncontroversial. i'm not saying sekulow isn't a racist or doesn't carry water for racists; i just don't think this occasion plausibly shows that and the lens is unnecessary. no need to view it as another racist attack when it is a perfect demonstration that, whatever the right wing tr*mpist outrage and offense, it is made-up outrage over made-up nonsense with no bearing in reality (except insofar as a significant proportion of people sharing reality seem to credit such performances). bright side: sekulow showed himself an ass and wasted his time shaking his fist at the clearly pretend offense of denying/asserting something or other about lawyer lawsuits in the constitution, and demings' point about foia lawsuits went unchallenged.
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:49 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Some say they only have 45 votes for dismissal at this time.

Paul says 45 GOP senators ready to dismiss impeachment charges (WaPo)
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a leading ally of Trump, told The Washington Post in an interview Wednesday that 45 Republicans are ready to dismiss the charges against the president and said he would keep pushing to rally a majority of GOP senators to end the impeachment trial. “There are 45, with about five to eight wanting to hear a little more,” Paul said. “I still would like to dismiss it, but there aren’t the votes to do it just yet.”
posted by katra at 10:50 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Just a word of caution that those are words being uttered publically by a republican. I assume these words to be lies until proven otherwise.
posted by VTX at 10:55 AM on January 22 [19 favorites]


"He would almost never not bring it up,” one former White House official said of Trump’s fixation with the Ukraine conspiracy theory.

Oh, nameless, hapless informant, the speech pattern that provided audible camouflage in Trump's WH is doing you no favors now.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:16 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


no need to view it as another racist attack when it is a perfect demonstration that, whatever the right wing tr*mpist outrage and offense, it is made-up outrage over made-up nonsense with no bearing in reality (except insofar as a significant proportion of people sharing reality seem to credit such performances).

His audience is well-programmed to believe that a Black person said something in a way that a "speaker of proper English" wouldn't understand. It may not have started as an explicitly racist attack, but it will be one soon enough.
posted by Etrigan at 11:18 AM on January 22 [7 favorites]


I assume these words to be lies until proven otherwise.

On point. To keep my thinking clear-headed, I go an extra step and add that I assume their words to be what they want me to think until proven otherwise.

The best lies are based in the truth: so I suspect that, while they don't yet have the votes to dismiss--if they could, they would (QED)--the reason(s) they don't have the votes are not as Paul is characterizing here.... One hopes that it's more 'you don't have the votes' than 'let's just keep up appearances for a bit before the sham trial is over'. We shall, unfortunately, soon see.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:21 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


valkane: “When you read the transcript it says ‘lawyer lawsuit,’” he said

valkane, your link was to The Week's article on Arizona's biggest energy provider is going coal free by 2031 and carbon free by 2050, and doesn't include anything about lawyer lawsuits. What did you mean to link to there?
posted by filthy light thief at 11:22 AM on January 22


Sorry, I meant to link to this tweet from Igor Bobic from The Week article that JackFlash linked to.
posted by valkane at 11:28 AM on January 22


No worries, I was trying to find out how the link related to things here :)


ZeusHumms: You Know We Can See the Apple Watches You Snuck Into the Impeachment Trial, Right? (Caitlin McGarry, Gizmodo)
Republican Sens. John Cornyn (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah), Tim Scott (South Carolina), Jerry Moran (Kansas), John Thune (South Dakota), and James Lankford (Oklahoma) were all seen in the Senate chambers going about their business wearing what are clearly electronic devices, according to Roll Call. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was also spotted wearing her watch.

This is kind of a big deal, because the Bluetooth version of the Apple Watch can connect on its own to a wifi network, which means senators will still get messages and app notifications that could interfere with the impeachment proceedings. The cellular version of the Apple Watch is basically a smartphone, though good luck to any senator who tries to keep cellular-enabled for an entire trial day—the watch’s 18-hour battery life is already not that great, and a constantly active cellular connection sucks up even more of it.

The Apple Watch also prompts you to stand 10 minutes til the hour, every hour. Are the watch-wearing senators going to respond to the device’s insistent vibrations and get up in sync? (The visual alone would be worth it.)
Senators are mischievously breaking the impeachment rules with smart watches and secret notes (The Week, Jan. 22, 2020)
The lawmakers are subject to a lot of rules over the course of the lengthy trial days — no coffee, no technology, no talking — but they were able to maneuver around some of them anyway. Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and David Perdue (R-Ga.) harkened back to their elementary school days by passing notes (Vanity Fair) to each other, eliciting (Politico) some stifled laughter.

Others stuck to 21st century methods by wearing their smart watches (Roll Call), including an aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Smart watches, of course, have cellular capabilities, so theoretically some of the lawmakers could have been shooting off text messages, although there's no evidence anyone took things that far. The Supreme Court's electronics ban includes such watches, but they're admittedly harder to notice than other devices.
Roll Call had an update: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of senators wearing Apple Watches. One senator pointed out his watch was simply square, but not an Apple accessory.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:29 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanour—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”
Wait. Are we impeaching Trump or Reagan?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:31 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


Republican Attorneys General are have a press conference now. All of them have their heads up Trump's ass. This is surprising as I wouldn't have guessed that there was room.
posted by zerobyproxy at 11:40 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Have you seen his ass?
posted by kirkaracha at 11:47 AM on January 22 [18 favorites]


Guardian: "Lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff is still speaking on the Senate floor, delivering his team’s opening arguments for why Trump should be removed from office.
ABC News (@ABC) Rep. Schiff on Pres. Trump's Ukraine call: "The counsel for the president would like you to think this is just about that call...They don't want you to look at the months that went into preparing for that call, or the months of pressure that followed." https://t.co/7Z5eOb25cx pic.twitter.com/jJnELnrqJH January 22, 2020

The California Democrat argued Trump’s misconduct stretched far beyond his July call to the Ukrainian president to include his efforts before and after the call to push for investigations into his political enemies.
posted by katra at 11:51 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


It's that intro-physics trick where you put pebbles in a jar, it's full. But you can add sand! Then it's full. But you can add water! Then it's full.

There is infinite room in his ass.
posted by Dashy at 11:59 AM on January 22 [7 favorites]


Schiff has an iron will and must be running on adrenaline and little sleep. I can't imagine the pressure he's under. Trump cultists are fond of calling him "pencil neck", though most of them aren't veterans and are intimidated by smart people just as their god-king is. I'm glad Schiff appears to have a very good personal support network.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:07 PM on January 22 [28 favorites]


Members of the House of Representatives typically don’t get to speak on the floor for more than like 5 minutes at a time, max. It’s a whole different experience for these guys.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 12:10 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


For A. Hamilton fans, and anyone who wants smart historical perspective on these current events, I recommend the Twitter feed of Yale historian Joanne Freeman, who is arguably the field's leading Hamilton scholar and offering daily insights.
posted by PhineasGage at 12:11 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


I would like to be able to see the Republican Senators as Schiff delivers this. Are they even listening? Because it is comprehensive and overwhelming.
posted by mazola at 12:22 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


Guardian:
Paul McLeod (@pdmcleod) Mitch McConnell's poker face finally broke. After 2 hours of talking and 15 mins after senators expected a break, Schiff seems to wrap up then says "now let me turn to the second article of impeachment."

McConnell threw his hands down and made a clear "are you kidding me?" face.
January 22, 2020
posted by katra at 12:33 PM on January 22 [28 favorites]


I have a very stupid question: are they physically required to be there? What if they have to pee? What if Roberts has to pee?

(Is this why there’s no coffee?)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 12:42 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


are they physically required to be there?

CBS: "Schiff spoke for more than two hours, and many senators, particularly Republicans, ducked out to the cloakroom for a while."

WaPo: "Schiff concluded his opening statement late Wednesday afternoon, more than two hours after he began. The seats of many Republican senators and a handful of Democrats were empty as Schiff wrapped up his remarks."
posted by katra at 1:02 PM on January 22 [7 favorites]


No fair! It should be like the movie theater scene from A Clockwork Orange
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:06 PM on January 22 [22 favorites]


Roberts admonishing managers and defense lawyers for rhetoric that insults the Senate is laughable when the Senator/jurors themselves are not staying in the room. Sad shenanigans.
posted by Harry Caul at 1:07 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


Why do you think they banned any cameras other than the one from cspan fixed on the podium.
posted by cmfletcher at 1:08 PM on January 22 [11 favorites]


Guardian: Nadler begins speaking for impeachment managers
The recess has ended, and impeachment manager Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House judiciary committee, has taken the Senate floor to continue presenting his side’s opening arguments.
posted by katra at 1:08 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


are they physically required to be there?

Yesterday: It appears Republican Senator Marcia Blackburn was just caught doing a live interview on Fox News instead of sitting in the Senate chamber.

(h/t Miranda Yaver, who noted: Senators are prohibited from doing this during the proceedings. Violating this rule is punishable by imprisonment. No one — not the President, not Senator Marsha Blackburn — can be treated as above the law)
posted by Dashy at 1:25 PM on January 22 [21 favorites]


It's my understanding that the cloakroom counts as part of the chamber, so senators who retreat out of the main room but not as far as the hallways are fine, but Blackburn decided to say "screw it" altogether.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:27 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Guardian: "Speaking on the Senate floor, impeachment manager Jerry Nadler incorporated tweets from Trump and his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, to argue the president and his allies participated in a “smear campaign” against Maria Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine.
Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) I believe we just witnessed the first two tweets featured in a presidential impeachment trial. Trump and Trump Jr. were on the screen simultaneously. https://t.co/2D8BeCpqoN January 22, 2020
Garcia details Giuliani's involvement in Ukraine policy (CBS)
Impeachment manager Sylvia Garcia picked up where Nadler left off, detailing Rudy Giuliani's involvement in developing Ukraine policy.

Garcia used clips from congressional testimony in November from former National Security Council official Fiona Hill and U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland. The two testified that the president had instructed certain officials to work with Giuliani, his personal lawyer, in pressuring Ukraine. Giuliani helped spread smears about the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
Guardian: "Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia has concluded speaking for now, and fellow impeachment manager Jason Crow has taken the Senate floor to continue presenting his side’s opening arguments."
posted by katra at 1:53 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Although he is no MeFi favorite, Thomas Friedman posted an interesting column ardently calling for the Democrats to keep it simple. I, too, am not a fan of these hours and hours of talking. The case is simple. Getting into an eye-watering level of detail is not a great way to focus and persuade the public, let alone any Senators.
posted by PhineasGage at 2:18 PM on January 22


More soundbites for us.
posted by j_curiouser at 2:26 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I, too, am not a fan of these hours and hours of talking. The case is simple. Getting into an eye-watering level of detail is not a great way to focus and persuade the public, let alone any Senators.

They can't win; if they keep it short, the complaint will be that they aren't laying out all the facts - so what are they trying to hide? WEAK CASE!! PERFECT PHONE CALL!

If they go into detail, then they are guilty of being boring and tedious and confusing the case.

I don't know what my point is beyond the fact that maybe I just need to tune out for a while.
posted by nubs at 2:31 PM on January 22 [24 favorites]


My take is that it seems more designed for viewers to be able to drop in and out, or watch a set of curated clips, and get a decent picture of the overall story. Which makes it tedious if you're dedicated to watch all 24 hours and hear them circle back over the same themes repeatedly.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:31 PM on January 22 [7 favorites]


What did the taxi driver say to Friedman this time.

Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. Don’t make it complicated. Just catch the Frisbee.
Oh, OK.

Seriously, it's not like anyone is following the trial and waiting to be convinced. And the trial procedure is such that it's impossible for the prosecution to make dramatic points about Republican complicity. I don't even know what Friedman wants: does he not realise that Democrats have been repeatedly making what Friedman considers to be the killer point, the “one weird trick” that will convince the American people?
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:32 PM on January 22 [10 favorites]


Although he is no MeFi favorite, Thomas Friedman posted an interesting column ardently calling for the Democrats to keep it simple.

Republicans rebuff Trump's advice on impeachment trial (Politico)
The president's suggestion to bring in new witnesses completely contradicts GOP strategy.
Senate Republicans have been publicly and privately maneuvering to give Trump as quick of an acquittal as possible while still keeping 51 GOP senators on board. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has largely thrown cold water on hearing from new witnesses and many of his members are eager to end the trial, not extend it.
posted by katra at 2:34 PM on January 22


Which makes it tedious if you're dedicated to watch all 24 hours and hear them circle back over the same themes repeatedly.

Good lord, please don't do this to yourself.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:37 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Yes, if Democrats would just listen to Tom Friedman, then Mitch McConnell would be instantly vaporized and replaced by the ghost of John McCain, who will implore his Republican colleagues to convict POTUS45 and remove him from office.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:38 PM on January 22 [19 favorites]


If only congressional Democrats would rinse their frisbees more. Or less? Not sure I'm cut out for the pundit game.
posted by echo target at 2:41 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


To Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish's comment above, I might prefer the House Managers nail it in a crisp, clear 15 minutes, and then take turns repeating that for 24 hours, so whenever someone tunes in they will get the distilled essence of the case. AGAIN, this isn't about persuading Moscow Mitch, it's about persuading some of the members of the public who are persuadable.
posted by PhineasGage at 2:47 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Which makes it tedious if you're dedicated to watch all 24 hours and hear them circle back over the same themes repeatedly.

😐
posted by mazola at 2:47 PM on January 22


5:15 P.M. Managers present Parnas evidence in trial (Politico)
The House impeachment managers introduced evidence to senators on Wednesday that was not available to lawmakers when President Donald Trump was impeached last month.

Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), one of the seven House prosecutors, presented a letter from Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In that letter, Giuliani asked for a meeting with Zelensky — a request the former New York City mayor said was being made with Trump’s explicit “knowledge and consent.”
posted by katra at 2:51 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]


Tom Friedman is always wrong, it's a law of nature. There was some guy back in the Bush era who set out to document it, and the consistency was truly impressing. (I tried to find that blog recently, but I'm not good at exploring the old net).
posted by mumimor at 2:53 PM on January 22 [7 favorites]


Garcia mentions Johnson’s role in Ukraine saga (WaPo)
Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Tex.), one of the impeachment managers, mentioned Sen. Ron Johnson’s role in key moments of the Ukraine controversy.

Garcia noted that Johnson (R-Wis.) attended Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inauguration in May with U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, then-Energy Secretary Rick Perry, then-special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official. [...]

The group returned from Ukraine and debriefed Trump and key aides at the White House. Sondland testified that Trump urged the group to talk to Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, about his concerns about corruption in Ukraine, guidance that opened the informal diplomatic channel used to facilitate the alleged quid pro quo.

Johnson also met last year with a former Ukrainian diplomat who has circulated unproven claims that Ukrainian officials assisted Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
posted by katra at 2:58 PM on January 22 [13 favorites]


Crow, Demings make case against Trump (WaPo)
Two more impeachment managers, Democratic Reps. Jason Crow (Colo.) and Val Demings (Fla.), took to the floor to make the case for Trump’s convictions.

Crow once again referenced his military experience to argue that U.S. military assistance “makes a real difference in the fight against Russia.”

He also argued that Trump’s efforts to withhold aid to Ukraine violated the law.

“Ukraine experts at DOD, the State Department and the White House emphasized that it was in the national security interests of the U.S. to continue to support Ukraine in its fight,” Crow said. “But it wasn’t just the national security concern, because many people thought that the hold was just outright illegal — and they were right, it was.”

Demings, meanwhile, focused on the White House meeting that Trump withheld from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in an effort to pressure him to announce an investigation into the Bidens.

“Senators, this body is entitled to see all of the evidence,” Demings said. “And you know what? The American people are entitled to hear all of the evidence. And while the nature of the ‘drug deal’ we’ve talked about was uncontested, it is important for the country to know that everyone was involved — because we’ve heard that everyone was in the loop.”
posted by katra at 3:20 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Some ruckus in the Senate gallery. I heard "Jesus Christ!" then some unintelligible screaming, and then more screaming in the hallway after the screamer was extracted.

Update
posted by Burhanistan at 3:22 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


Water or milk only? Caffeine is available in tablet form, I'm just sayin'. (As adhesive patches, too.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:23 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Jeffries zeroes in on Trump's request for 'a favor' on July 25 call (NBC News)
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., who took over after Demings, is using his time at the lectern to revisit and re-emphasize the significance of what occurred on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy.

"The president claims that his call was perfect. Nothing can be further from the truth,” Jeffries said. “The call is direct evidence of President Trump's solicitation of foreign interference in the 2020 election as part of a corrupt scheme."

Jeffries went on to read selections from the ["]transcript["] of the call, offering analysis along the way.

Seizing on Trump’s saying that “I would like you to do us a favor, though,”and Trump’s mentions of Crowdstrike and the Bidens that followed — Jeffries slammed the president for trying to net a “personal favor.”

"On the July 25th call, Mr. Trump could have endeavored to strengthen the relationship with this new Ukrainian leader. Instead, President Trump focused on securing a personal favor,” Jeffries said.

“He wanted Ukraine to conduct phony investigations designed to enhance his political standing and solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election,” he added.
posted by katra at 3:30 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


To mumimor's comment

"Tom Friedman is always wrong, it's a law of nature. "

I don't recollect the blog you mention but Belén Fernández has covered this same ground pretty thoroughly.
And yes - always.
posted by speug at 3:34 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Demings says Trump ‘bragged’ about obstruction earlier Wednesday (WaPo)

Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), one of the House impeachment managers, argued Wednesday that Trump had provided more evidence of obstruction of Congress during a news conference he held in Davos, Switzerland, earlier in the day.

Responding to a question about the impeachment trial, Trump told reporters: “We’re doing very well. I got to watch enough. I thought our team did a very good job. But honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material.”


There is absolutely no need to frame this as "Demings says." He did brag about it. It happened. Make that the headline. Do your fucking job, Washington Post.

And while we're at it, why not run a few articles about what the hell Trump meant when he said that Saudi Arabia had deposited $1 billion into a bank account in exchange for US military assistance?

The number of crimes that Trump has confessed to that the media is just letting slip blithely by is staggering. This is how the republic ends...not with a bang, but with a Gish Gallop.
posted by Gadarene at 3:50 PM on January 22 [32 favorites]


Who will Friedman use as a source when cab drivers are replaced by self-driving cars?
posted by Ahmad Khani at 3:53 PM on January 22 [9 favorites]


Does every Reputinbot have a direct line to C-SPAN?!? These poor older folks are so propaganda brainwashed. It's hard having great anger and compassion at the same time.
posted by riverlife at 4:23 PM on January 22


Schiff uses text messages to paint picture of shadow Ukraine policy (NBC News)
Schiff, the lead House impeachment manager, is using his time at the lectern to review text messages sent among and between Volker, Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to Zelenskiy, Sondland and Giuliani that he said paint a picture of the shadow Ukraine policy that several witnesses testified to in November.

"Think about how unusual this is. This is the president's personal lawyer who's on this personal mission on behalf of his client to get the investigations in Ukraine. The president of Ukraine can't get in the door of the Oval Office and who are they going to? Are they going to the Security Council? No. Are they going to the State Department? No. They tried all that, they're going to the president's personal lawyer,” Schiff said.

“Does that sound like an official policy to try to fight corruption?” he added.
posted by katra at 5:08 PM on January 22 [23 favorites]


Many updates to this thread. But just a fun idea, maybe someone should invite Trump to testify? That would be interesting.
posted by baegucb at 5:42 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Guardian: "Lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff once again appealed to senators to call more witnesses — especially national security adviser John Bolton.
“What did Bolton know about the freeze in aid?” Schiff asked, rhetorically. “He’s there for your asking.”

Schiff also contested claims by Donald Trump and his allies that Ukraine never felt any pressure to announce an investigation. “We’re to believe they felt no pressure? Folks, they’re at war, and they’re being told you’re not getting $400m in aid,” Schiff said. “That’s $400m of pressure.”
Schiff: Trump was trying to put his 'alibi out there' in key call with Sondland (NBC News)
Schiff pointed to a September phone call between Trump and Sondland as an example of the president's suspect conduct as his efforts in Ukraine were coming under more scrutiny.

The call Schiff highlighted was the one in which Trump insisted there was "no quid pro quo" with regard to pushing the Ukrainian president to investigate the Bidens and Democrats as he was withholding an official White House visit and nearly $400 million in military aid to the country.

"During this call between the president and Ambassador Sondland, without a prompt, President Trump told Sondland there's 'no quid pro quo,'" Schiff said. "Now, why would he do that? ... That's the kind of thing that comes up in a conversation if you're trying to put your alibi out there."
posted by katra at 5:57 PM on January 22 [12 favorites]


Schiff: "If things are perfect, you don't get told go talk to the lawyers time and time again" (CBS)
Representative Schiff pointed out instance after instance in which the Senate could compel more documents or witnesses to provide a fuller record of the president's actions with Ukraine. In one such instance, Schiff referred back to a conversation U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland had with Ukraine presidential adviser Andriy Yermak, in which Sondland said he didn't think aid to Ukraine would be released until Ukraine moved forward with an announcement of investigations.

In another example, former top National Security Council official Tim Morrison witnessed a conversation between Sondland and Yermak and, upon hearing it and even more from Sondland, reported back to Bolton. Bolton, Schiff noted, told Morrison to talk White House lawyers.

"You know, if you keep getting told you gotta go talk to the lawyers, there's a problem. If things are perfect, you don't get told go talk to the lawyers time and time again," Schiff said, pointing out that Morrison then did indeed speak to administration lawyers.

"That record exists within the White House. Would you like me to read you that record? I'd be happy to read you that record. It's there for your asking," Schiff said. "Of course, the president has refused to provide that record. Precisely why did Ambassador Bolton direct Morrison ... to talk to the lawyers? Would you like Ambassador Bolton to tell you why he said that? He'd be happy to tell you why he said that, he's there for your asking."

When Schiff made these comments, Schumer stared pointedly at McConnell, smiling. McConnell stared straight ahead and did not acknowledge Schumer.
posted by katra at 6:06 PM on January 22 [24 favorites]


“If you want a picture of the future, imagine Mitch McConnell staring straight ahead---forever."
posted by valkane at 6:10 PM on January 22 [10 favorites]


katra, I'd just like to thank you for the amazing gift you're giving all of us with the many relevant links and concise quotes you're posting.

From the bottom of my heart: thank you.
posted by kristi at 6:23 PM on January 22 [61 favorites]


Guardian: "Winding down today’s arguments, Schiff said the impeachment managers will be [back] tomorrow to present their first article of impeachment against Donald Trump: abuse of power.
[He] asked senators to consider the risks that Trump administration officials took in testifying in the impeachment inquiry. “They risked everything — their careers,” Schiff said. “If they could show the courage, so can we,” he told lawmakers.
posted by katra at 6:46 PM on January 22 [8 favorites]


And thank you, kristi! I also want to thank the moderators for all of their hard work, and to encourage everyone who can to help fund Metafilter!!!
posted by katra at 6:52 PM on January 22 [22 favorites]


An emotional Schiff closes by imploring senators to learn the ‘full truth’ (WaPo)
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) gave an emotional closing, rehashing the facts of the case as presented over the last eight hours, urging senators to learn the “full truth,” and warning that the “truth is going to come out.”

“More emails are going to come out. More witnesses are going to come forward. They’re going to have more relevant information to share,” Schiff said. “And the only question is, do you want to hear it now? Do you want to know the full truth?”

Schiff told the senators they have the evidence to prove Trump is guilty, but that senators should want to know “who else was involved in this scheme.”

“We can and will prove President Trump guilty of this conduct and of obstructing the investigation into his misconduct,” Schiff said. “But you and the American people should know who else was involved in this scheme ... You should want to know about every player in this sordid business.”

Schiff’s voice grew more emotional as he spoke of the people who risked their careers to come forward and testify. “They risked everything, their careers, and yes, I know what you’re asked to decide may risk yours too, but if they could show the courage, so can we.”
posted by katra at 7:03 PM on January 22 [48 favorites]


American Hero.
posted by PhineasGage at 7:56 PM on January 22 [9 favorites]


Trump will testify the day he takes a legitimate IQ test or we get a real health exam report from an honest doctor.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:00 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


> American Hero.

The word "hero" gets thrown around quite a lot, but in this case, I'd have to agree that katra's tireless efforts to document the impeachment proceedings for future generations of MeFites are indeed heroic.

That Schiff guy's pretty swell, too.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:05 PM on January 22 [16 favorites]


"Tom Friedman is always wrong, it's a law of nature."

Atrios and Kos have consistent takedowns throughout the Iraq debacle. The Poorman did too, alas. Pour one out for blogs of yesteryear.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:27 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


Trump will testify the day he takes a legitimate IQ test or we get a real health exam report from an honest doctor.

Or the day he manages to read the Constitution out loud.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:34 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


For A. Hamilton fans, and anyone who wants smart historical perspective on these current events, I recommend the Twitter feed of Yale historian Joanne Freeman, who is arguably the field's leading Hamilton scholar and offering daily insights.

Joanne Freeman herself recommends Heather Cox Richardson's "Letters from an American" (@HC_Richardson) for day by day summaries.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:57 PM on January 22 [16 favorites]


It's become too difficult for me to watch this sad show trial any longer.
Democratic candidates kept detained off the campaign trail right up to the Iowa primary. Republican Senators openly ignoring and mocking the proceedings (hidden off camera). An impeached President bragging of his obstruction on an international stage while it occurs. His South Carolina Renfield singing the praises of the Master in fear. The predictable vote-theater of Collins and co, mimed to paint partisanship as deniable.
10 years of Citizens United has finally broken this system, as it was designed.
posted by Harry Caul at 3:51 AM on January 23 [25 favorites]




‘S.O.S.! PLEASE HELP ME!’ The world’s greatest deliberative body falls to pettifoggery.
Dana Milbank/WaPo describes the atmosphere at the Senate yesterday. It's a depressing read:
Senate chaplain Barry Black began Wednesday’s session of President Trump’s impeachment trial by praying for God to give senators “civility built upon integrity.”
It was too much to ask.
Just minutes into the session, as lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) presented his opening argument for removing the president, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) displayed on his desk a hand-lettered message with big block letters pleading: “S.O.S.”
In case that was too subtle, he followed this later with another handwritten message pretending he was an abducted child:
“THESE R NOT MY PARENTS!”
“PLEASE HELP ME!”
Paul wrote “IRONY ALERT” on another scrap of paper, and scribbled there an ironic thought. Nearby, a torn piece of paper concealed a crossword puzzle, which Paul set about completing while Schiff spoke. Eventually, even this proved insufficient amusement, and Paul, though required to be at his desk, left the trial entirely for a long block of time.
posted by mumimor at 8:12 AM on January 23 [6 favorites]


Rand Paul is proof-positive that you can literally stomp a republican's ass into the ground and they still will learn nothing about being self-reflective empathetic human beings.
posted by valkane at 8:32 AM on January 23 [11 favorites]


*
posted by Reverend John at 8:32 AM on January 23 [8 favorites]


The Louisville newspaper has an article about Dandy Randy Paul's shenanigans during the trial.

That would have been commendable from one of the home state papers of Sen. Paul, until they did a yabbut with "Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, was reportedly playing a game on paper during the proceedings, according to ABC."

I should note that a quick google news search didn't confirm their Warren charge beyond a line in the ABC article.
posted by SteveInMaine at 8:34 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Because kidnapping is funny! doncha geddit?

He thinks he's so fucking clever, but how short-sighted he truly is. Trump won't be president forever. The demographics are changing irrevocably, and the truth will come out. So hyuck it up while you can, enjoy your fucking crossword, your days are coming to an end, and you'll be remembered for being a clown and a coward.

*spit*
posted by adept256 at 8:35 AM on January 23 [6 favorites]


*

(For those who missed the idea from Pyramid Termite, see above.)
posted by PhineasGage at 8:38 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Has Roberts taken him to task for this junior- high- school-level display? Has he taken any of those who are flagrantly misbehaving to task? I can’t watch at work but am following here.
posted by sundrop at 8:42 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Has Roberts taken him to task for this junior- high- school-level display? Has he taken any of those who are flagrantly misbehaving to task? I can’t watch at work but am following here.
Guess...
Nope.
posted by mumimor at 8:48 AM on January 23


Roberts is a partisan hack, as expected
posted by mumimor at 8:49 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Despite the warning, it’s unclear what punishments they can/will actually dish out. Anything can be overruled by a majority vote. Expect things to deteriorate further, especially during the days-long presentations.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:52 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]


One wonders who will stick around when the defense presents.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:02 AM on January 23


Let's dispel with this fiction that Rand Paul doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. It is in the GOP majority's interests for these proceedings to be viewed as a middle school cafeteria food fight. They know that the power of both-sides-ism is too strong for the press to resist. More time being spent discussing the passing of passive-aggressive notes means less time being spent discussing the criming of crimey crimes.

The Democratic response should not be to expect any help from the referees, but to escalate. Turn the food fight into a fistfight. Repeat ad nauseum that the GOP are complicit in the cover-up. To his credit, Nadler did say this, but the rest of the managers need to hammer on that point repeatedly. If the story is about how those mean Democrats are saying nasty things, so be it, as long as the press is forced to repeat the words "Republicans" and "cover-up".
posted by tonycpsu at 9:06 AM on January 23 [26 favorites]


Guardian: Schumer says Trump's lawyers are 'tending toward conspiracy theories'
Turning his attention to impeachment, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer praised the performance of the House impeachment managers yesterday as they began presenting their opening arguments.

The Democratic senator said Adam Schiff and his team were “setting the bar very high” for Trump’s legal team. “Schiff had such power in his speech that he almost forced [Republicans] to listen,” Schumer said.

Schumer also criticized the arguments so far from the president’s lawyers, who he described as “unprepared, confused and tending toward conspiracy theories.”
Guardian: "Before the trial ended, Democrats asked for a classified piece of evidence to be made available for Senators to review.
Manu Raju (@mkraju) The classified document that will be made available to all senators is supplemental testimony from VP aide Jennifer Williams. Schiff has been calling for the records to be declassified, something Pence has ignored January 23, 2020
posted by katra at 9:11 AM on January 23 [5 favorites]


Let's dispel with this fiction that Rand Paul doesn't know what he's doing.

To be properly applied, must be repeated four times in quick secession.
posted by JackFlash at 9:25 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Trump’s lawyers are also on trial (Politico)
It’s a theme that has been replayed throughout Trump’s life: The lawyers he brings in to authorize and defend his behavior end up in their own legal morass. Trump’s longtime legal fixer, Michael Cohen, is doing three years in federal prison for his election-season role in paying off women who alleged affairs with Trump. Former White House counsel Don McGahn ended up as a star witness for special counsel Robert Mueller after he had a front-row seat to Trump’s potential obstruction of justice. Rudy Giuliani has hired a team of criminal defense attorneys as the Justice Department investigates his recent behavior while serving as personal counsel to the president. [...]

Even before opening arguments, House Democrats warned White House counsel Pat Cipollone that they have evidence showing he’s a material witness in their impeachment case and that he should consider removing himself from the president’s defense team for ethical reasons or risk “seriously damaging the fairness of the trial.”

Cipollone made no such move. And by the end of the trial’s first day, a marathon debate that stretched into early Wednesday morning, the House Democrats prosecuting Trump had accused Cipollone and Sekulow of fudging facts to present a more sympathetic version of the Ukraine scandal that threatens to upend Trump’s presidency and his political future.

“The president’s counsel has no standing to talk about lying,” complained Rep. Jerry Nadler, the Judiciary Committee chairman whose exchange with the two Trump lawyers quickly spiraled downward and prompted Roberts to admonish all sides “in equal terms to remember they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body.” [...]

On Wednesday, House impeachment prosecutors name-dropped Giuliani more than 200 times during their opening presentations on the Senate floor. That was on top of nearly 60 mentions Tuesday as the Democratic lawmakers discussed the president’s efforts to get Ukraine to launch investigations into Trump’s political opponent, Joe Biden. And that’s in addition to 91 Giuliani references in the opening brief that the House filed last weekend.
posted by katra at 9:30 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]


The Democratic senator said Adam Schiff and his team were “setting the bar very high” for Trump’s legal team. “Schiff had such power in his speech that he almost forced [Republicans] to listen,” Schumer said.

If only.

That said, Republicans these days live in the alternate reality bubble of Fox News and Drudge Report-approved media sources. Republicans have their marching orders to execute and their talking points to repeat, but I've been hoping that the forceful presentation of the abundant evidence of Trump's guilt makes some Republicans realize for the first time that the House impeachment managers really do have the goods on Trump and they feel nervous about trying wishy-washy excuses about "not hearing anything new," as Indiana Senator Mike Braun tried this morning on NPR.

(To her credit, NPR's Noel King did point out that Braun was among the Republicans voting not to accept new evidence, and Braun didn't have a persuasive response to her pressing the point.)
posted by Gelatin at 9:31 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Murphy: Pence aide's testimony should be declassified "immediately" (CBS)
[Democratic Senator Chris] Murphy said the document includes details about a phone call between Pence and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on September 18, 2019, and accused the administration of improperly making it classified:

Just left the secure room having read the classified document regarding VP Pence’s Sept 18 call w Zelensky.

1. Nothing in it is classified. It should be made part of the public record immediately.

2. Hiding evidence of wrongdoing through bogus classification is unacceptable.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 23, 2020
Democrats zero in on State Department cable to call for documents (CBS)
Bill Taylor, a Marine veteran and career public servant for 50 years, transmitted the cable to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in August 2019 as he became increasingly alarmed that the delay in aid was tied to efforts to pressure Ukraine to open investigations. He testified about what he wrote when he appeared before House lawmakers in the fall, but the State Department refused to provide the cable to impeachment investigators.

Schiff brought up the document toward the end of the House managers' presentation on Wednesday, citing it as an example of a missing piece of evidence that the Senate should demand from the administration. "Taylor sent that cable on August 29," Schiff said. "Would you like me to read that to you right now? I would like to read it to you right now, except I don't have it because the State Department wouldn't provide it. But if you would like me to read it to you, we can do something about that. We can insist on getting that from the State Department."

Speaking to reporters in the Capitol before Thursday's proceedings, Democratic senators echoed Schiff's point, with Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania calling the cable "proof positive of how important a document can be."

"We're told by the evidence that Secretary of State Pompeo brought the cable with him to a meeting in the White House in the Oval Office with the president" to convince him to release the aid, Casey said. "[Republicans] know how important that cable is. They know how relevant it is to the underlying charges," Casey said.
posted by katra at 9:42 AM on January 23 [11 favorites]


The lawyers he brings in to authorize and defend his behavior end up in their own legal morass.

My Attorney Got Arrested
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:43 AM on January 23 [16 favorites]


Senate Impeachment Trial, Day 4 (C-SPAN) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues with opening arguments from House managers. Other legislative work is also possible.

U.S. Senate: Impeachment Trial (Day 4) (C-SPAN YouTube) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues with opening arguments from House managers and the President’s defense team.
posted by katra at 9:54 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Press Watch: Democrats lay out an epic narrative, and Team Trump has no rebuttal (Dan Froomkin, Salon/Press Watch)
Adam Schiff's team delivered reams of evidence of the president's guilt. Media can't escape "both sides" coverage.

[…] But now [the Washington Post's] leaders are apparently so locked into both-siderism and so addicted to conflict that they can't even recognize that when one side is making history, the other side's smack is not equally important.

In a story headlined "As Democrats unfold their case, GOP unloads" in the print edition, Seung Min Kim, Elise Viebeck and Colby Itkowitz focused on the trivial "news" of the day, which to their mind was mostly the Republican smack.
[…]

Maybe the Post covered the substance of the day in another story? Hardly. One sidebar was about how the impeachment managers have stepped into the spotlight, with a chance to boost their political careers. Online, the five-minute version of the day was glib and limp.

Coverage was disappointing elsewhere, too. The Los Angeles Times took a similar approach to the Post's, focusing on how "contentious" the trial has been; the Associated Press story was dutiful and heavy on process; USA Today called it a rehash.

And this matters beyond today, because what the Democrats did on Wednesday set a marker that journalists need to remember next week, when Trump's lawyers begin their defense.
[…]

We heard a story Wednesday about how this corruption played out step by step by step. If Trump's team responds simply with invective and attempts shrug the whole thing off, our newsroom leaders need to make it crystal clear to their readers and viewers that there aren't two equal sides to this story.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:10 AM on January 23 [18 favorites]


Here's a simple response to Republicans falsely claiming that impeachment requires the charging of a statutory crime. The United States has an entire branch of government that routinely works to decide whether people have committed statutory crimes. They are experts on this matter. They are the judges. Why didn't the founders place the impeachment power in the hands of the judiciary branch? Why did they invite the Chief Justice to oversee this Senate trial, while giving him no ability to override the will of the Senate? Because the founders were concerned that the President might commit high crimes and misdemeanors which had not yet been prohibited in legislation. Because they sought not to punish, fine or jail an impeached and convicted Federal official, but merely to remove and bar them from the privilege of office. Because they wanted the president, with his immense executive powers, to be subject to a HIGHER bar than a regular citizen. Because high crimes and misdemeanors against the constitution, and statutory criminal violations, are fundamentally different.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:18 AM on January 23 [21 favorites]


Fox News devised a way to cover the impeachment trial without covering it at all (Aaron Rupar, Vox)
Viewers were shown video without the audio, allowing hosts to spin the proceedings in real time.
I wonder what the closed captioner (if there is one) is working from then? Sound from the studio, or from the Senate floor?
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:19 AM on January 23 [5 favorites]


Democrats hammer constitutional case for Trump's removal (Politico)
Democrats may even cite the one Republican witness from the December hearing, Jonathan Turley, who was critical of the case against Trump but did not dispute that “abuse of power” is an impeachable offense, even if the president hasn’t broken any laws. Turley handed Democrats ammunition earlier this week when he wrote an op-ed criticizing Trump’s defense team for suggesting there must be a criminal violation to justify impeachment.

Schiff highlighted Turley’s position during his own remarks on the trials’ first working day Tuesday, suggesting Trump had to turn to Dershowitz rather than a mainstream constitutional law expert to make the case.

“He couldn't even go to Jonathan Turley, their expert in the House, for an opinion. No, they had to go outside of these experts, outside of constitutional law, to a criminal defense lawyer and professor,” Schiff said. “And why? Because they can't contest the facts.”
posted by katra at 10:21 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Washington Monthly: The Republicans Struggle to Keep Their Base in a Bubble (Martin Longman)
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:22 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Guardian: Nadler says Trump's conduct 'puts even President Nixon to shame'
Impeachment manager Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House judiciary committee, is beginning his team’s second day of opening arguments.

CBS News (@CBSNews) Rep. Jerry Nadler speaks as second day of opening arguments begins: "The articles of impeachment against President Trump rank among the most serious charges ever brought against the president" https://t.co/Av2C7OBnt7 pic.twitter.com/YSdA9hu9AM
January 23, 2020

[...] “This conduct is not America first. It is Donald Trump first,” Nadler added. “It puts even President Nixon to shame.”
posted by katra at 10:26 AM on January 23 [6 favorites]


12:35 P.M. Democrats message to the press: Pay attention (Politico)
A pair of Senate Democrats gaggled with reporters just before opening arguments in President Donald Trump’s trial resumed Thursday, urging reporters not to get distracted by the more frivolous aspects of the trial.

“They want to lull you into this view that there’s nothing new here, that it’s boring,” implored Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, standing before a bank of cameras and journalists tightly packed together due to the onerous Senate press restrictions. Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, standing next to Bennet, nodded along in agreement.

“‘Let’s talk about the candy drawer, let’s talk about who’s drinking milk.’ This isn’t about that, this is about whether our democracy is going to survive,” Bennet added.
12:21 P.M. Donuts, hamburgers and hot dogs — oh my! (Politico)
[...] Burr sent deliveries of Krispy Kreme donuts to GOP offices Thursday morning. The gesture, he said in an interview, was a gift ahead of the daily Republican lunch, which he’s sponsoring.

On the menu for lunch? Hamburgers and hot dogs, Burr said. But French fries? He’s not sure, he replied, before hopping on the underground train that whisks lawmakers from the Senate office buildings to the Capitol.
posted by katra at 10:33 AM on January 23 [12 favorites]


Can we send the Dems a nice charcuterie and crudité spread? Maybe some protein powder to mix in their milk?

No wonder the Republicans are falling asleep if they're running on Krispy Kremes.
posted by bink at 10:40 AM on January 23 [3 favorites]


This is your daily reminder that Ken Starr, Alan Dershowitz and the rest of the Republicans tried to impeach President Clinton for non-statutory "abuse of power", and the mere fact that the vote failed doesn't mean that impeaching a Republican president for non-statutory "abuse of power" has suddenly become an impossibility.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:43 AM on January 23 [9 favorites]


But French fries? He’s not sure, he replied

They might be Freedom fries
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:46 AM on January 23


Burr sent deliveries of Krispy Kreme donuts to GOP offices Thursday morning. The gesture, he said in an interview, was a gift ahead of the daily Republican lunch, which he’s sponsoring.

Wait, wait, wait. The AG, a presidential appointee, is sponsoring lunch for the majority of the jurors hearing evidence about his boss? This is ok?
posted by nubs at 10:48 AM on January 23 [23 favorites]


Schiff opens with acknowledgment of the House managers’ repetition (WaPo)
“I must ask you for some forbearance,” Schiff said. “There will be some repetition of information from yesterday’s chronology, and I want to explain the reason.”

Schiff said Wednesday’s presentation represented a detailed narrative of Trump’s misconduct toward Ukraine drawn from hours of depositions and live testimony in House proceedings. “We will now show you these facts and many others and how they are interwoven,” Schiff said. “You will see some of these facts and videos, therefore, in a new context, in a new light, in the light of what else we know and why it compels a finding of guilt and conviction. So there is some method to our madness.”
Nadler details abuse of power charge against Trump (CBS)
Nadler, the Judiciary Committee chairman, said he would focus on reviewing the legal context for the charge of abuse of power, including the constitutional basis for impeaching the president for the offense.

"Since President George Washington took office in 1789, no president has abused his power in this way," Nadler said. "Let me say that again: No president has ever used his office to compel a foreign nation to help him cheat in our elections. Prior presidents would be shocked to the core by such conduct, and rightly so." [...] Nadler indicated his colleagues will apply the law to the facts at hand, namely the president's dealings with Ukraine. The managers will take the same approach to address the second impeachment article, obstruction of Congress.
posted by katra at 10:48 AM on January 23 [5 favorites]


@nubs, not Barr, the AG, bur Burr, the Intelligence Committee chair.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 10:50 AM on January 23 [13 favorites]


Nadler played a clip of Lindsey Graham advocating for impeachment without statutory crime back in 1998.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:52 AM on January 23 [28 favorites]


@igorbobic: "Lindsey Graham walked out of the chamber moments before Nadler played a clip of him just now."

coward
posted by mazola at 10:56 AM on January 23 [45 favorites]


@igorbobic: "Lindsey Graham walked out of the chamber moments before Nadler played a clip of him just now."

coward


Republicans' gleeful displays of bad faith are a demonstration of power -- we don't care about the rules and you can't make us!

But their resolve is cracking. Of course they will still vote to acquit Trump, but they can see that, while Fox News will help them cover up their betrayal of their oath to their shrinking base, loyal Americans can see what spineless scumsuckers they all are.

And that's in real time. Those of them who care about the judgment of history are probably having some bad nights.

All of which means, loyal Americans must never forgive or forget these standardbearers of the Republican Party. Republican officials from dogcatcher on up should be made to apologize for belonging to such a corrupt organization for the rest of the century.
posted by Gelatin at 11:18 AM on January 23 [12 favorites]


@nubs, not Barr, the AG, bur Burr, the Intelligence Committee chair.

OK, I need some more caffeine. Thanks!

posted by nubs at 11:25 AM on January 23


There are donuts, allegedly.
posted by notyou at 11:28 AM on January 23


Guardian: "Impeachment manager Sylvia Garcia just played a clip of FBI director Christopher Wray saying he has seen “no information” indicating Ukraine interfered in the 2016 US election.
Some of Trump’s allies have pushed the baselss claim that Ukraine meddled in the election to justify the president’s alleged interest in preventing corruption in Kyiv.

ABC News (@ABC) NEW: Asked about Pres. Trump’s desire for Ukraine to investigate debunked conspiracy theory pushed by Rudy Giuliani and others, FBI Dir. Chris Wray tells @PierreTABC, “we have no information” supporting the theory. https://t.co/p7c3pf8zZj pic.twitter.com/DSAEZX8TNt
December 9, 2019

“We have no information that indicates that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 presidential election,” Wray told ABC News last month.

“As far as the [2020] election itself goes, we think Russia represents the most significant threat,” he added.
Guardian: "As impeachment manager Sylvia Garcia delivers a defense of Joe Biden’s conduct toward Ukraine, it appears some Senate Republicans -- including Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Joni Ernst of Iowa -- are openly laughing."
posted by katra at 12:06 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


love hearing garcia say "valdemir puddin"
posted by 20 year lurk at 12:20 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


This is going so much worse than I even imagined.
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:20 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


Schiff excepted, I have not been impressed by the House mangers so far. They don't seem to have been selected for their oratorical skills, which is a mistake. Once again the Democrats are treating this like a legal/constitutional matter, rather than a cutthroat media/communications war.
posted by PhineasGage at 12:26 PM on January 23 [23 favorites]


I don't think it was the best idea to spend this amount of camera time debating deep-weeds Biden and Crowdstrike points.
posted by FakeFreyja at 12:36 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


The demographics are changing irrevocably, and the truth will come out. So hyuck it up while you can, enjoy your fucking crossword, your days are coming to an end, and you'll be remembered for being a clown

Ya, they don't care. Remember when the biggest presidential scandal ever was Obama wearing a tan suit or taking a selfie?
posted by Mitheral at 12:47 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Is there anything to stop the House from saying "The Senate trial was a farce and thus we will refile the articles after another full evidentiary hearing where we will demand all evidence through the use of the House's full subpoena authority"?
posted by srboisvert at 1:07 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]


Maybe the fact that going the subpoena route would take months or even years to wend through the courts, which is why the House didn't do that before.
posted by PhineasGage at 1:12 PM on January 23


The House already demanded evidence using subpoena authority, and the White House told them to get bent.

Trump can do that because he knows the Republican Senate has his back. Something tells me those Republican Senators won't like the precedent much after January of next year.
posted by Gelatin at 1:16 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Speaking of rigged trials, I wish Schiff could get Roberts to switch the juries, Untouchables-style.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:20 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Schiff: Trump pushed conspiracy theory "brought to you by the Kremlin" (CBS)
The Senate reconvened shortly before 3:30 p.m., with Schiff continuing arguments for the impeachment managers.

Schiff said a conspiracy theory embraced by the president about Hillary Clinton's email server and Ukraine was "brought to you by the Kremlin" as part of a concerted disinformation campaign. Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, was a key player in the campaign to pressure Ukraine, Schiff said, but Mr. Trump was the driving force behind all decisions.

"You can say a lot of things about President Trump, but he is not led by the nose by Rudy Giuliani," he said.

Schiff says President Trump pushed a false conspiracy about Ukraine's election interference that was "brought to you by the Kremlin" https://t.co/Av2C7OBnt7 pic.twitter.com/rdktkL9XCw
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 23, 2020
posted by katra at 1:20 PM on January 23 [9 favorites]


Guardian: "Lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff cast doubt upon the idea that Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, pushed for investigations in Ukraine without Trump’s consent.
“Rudy Giuliani is not some Svengali here, who has the president under his control,” Schiff said. “You can say a lot of things about President Trump, but he is not led by the nose by Rudy Giuliani.”

ABC News (@ABC) Schiff: "Rudy Giuliani is not some Svengali here, who has the president under his control...And if [Trump] is willing to listen to his personal lawyer over his own intelligence agencies, his own advisers, then you can imagine what a danger that presents." https://t.co/7CO9n4TTiG pic.twitter.com/aqIdAdC5EB
January 23, 2020
posted by katra at 1:24 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


Impeachment trial should remove any lingering doubt: Republicans are beyond redemption (Amanda Marcotte, Salon)
"Let's face it: Republicans are beyond reason, evidence, reality and hope: All they care about is raw power."

[In] watching the impeachment trial unfold, and watching the perfectly-wrought arguments presented by Democrats evaporate into nothing as they hit the unbending wall of Republican opposition, one thing has become inarguably, distressingly clear: The only thing Republicans respond to is power. Even if some have pangs of conscience, and I have to imagine they do, they are stifling any remaining care for our democratic values and wholeheartedly running toward the siren call of authoritarianism. They are lost. They aren't coming back.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:31 PM on January 23 [26 favorites]


Is Schiff doing what I think he's doing? He seems to be implying that Republicans are saying that Rudy is telling Don what to do. If that message gets back to 45's ears, he's going to have a total meltdown, and it will be glorious. Nice work, Schiff!
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:32 PM on January 23 [14 favorites]


From the opinion posted by ZeusHumms, above:
Yet, as I watched the impeachment trial Wednesday, which featured the first day of Democratic House members arguing before the Senate in favor of removing Donald Trump from office, I was struck by the fact that Democrats were making a flawless case. Their evidence is overwhelming. Their arguments are airtight. The rhetoric was pitch-perfect. It was a tour de force of Enlightenment faith in the power of rhetoric and reason. Rep. Adam Schiff kept morphing, before my eyes, into Atticus Finch, as portrayed by Gregory Peck.

But let's not forget how "To Kill a Mockingbird" ends: Atticus loses his case and his innocent client, Tom, is killed. No matter how perfectly Democrats argue their case, Republicans plan to acquit Trump and their voters will be ecstatic about it.
posted by mumimor at 1:36 PM on January 23 [26 favorites]


Is Schiff doing what I think he's doing? He seems to be implying that Republicans are saying that Rudy is telling Don what to do. If that message gets back to 45's ears, he's going to have a total meltdown, and it will be glorious. Nice work, Schiff!

NBC News: "The point may be designed to pre-empt any effort by Trump's defense team to pin the whole Ukraine affair on Giuliani, and only Giuliani."
posted by katra at 1:40 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


"The point may be designed to pre-empt any effort by Trump's defense team to pin the whole Ukraine affair on Giuliani, and only Giuliani."

Okay, but that alone doesn't account for all the talk of "Svengali" and "leading by the nose." If Republicans say Rudy acted alone and 45 knew nothing, he might go along with it, but if he thinks his own team is calling him a patsy behind his back? Oh, boy.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:43 PM on January 23 [9 favorites]


Makes me wonder if there's any chance that the plan is to begin to taunt the prez into testifying. In the same way the Schiff has repeated that the evidence is there if only we could see it, and the answers are there if only we can hear it. Is he wily enough to goad the prez by implying he's a dupe, and say "the only person who can prove the prez isn't a stooge is the prez himself, right here in these chambers"...
posted by OHenryPacey at 1:55 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Johnson red-faced after mention of 2016 letter urging reforms of Ukraine prosecutor’s office (WaPo)
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) was red-faced as a House manager made her case by invoking a 2016 letter he and other senators sent urging reforms of the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Tex.) used the letter from Sens. Johnson, Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and other members of the Senate Ukraine Caucus to argue that Biden’s desire to see then-prosecutor Viktor Shokin removed reflected official U.S. policy and was not a sign of personal corruption.

As Garcia spoke, a visibly upset Johnson rose from his seat, approached Portman and whispered in his ear. Portman reacted impassively, but his comments did not appear to calm Johnson, who departed the floor for the Republican cloakroom moments later. When he returned, a still-agitated Johnson spoke again to Portman, who still appeared unmoved, before taking his seat.

Johnson, a fierce ally of Trump, said in October that he did not recall signing the letter. After reviewing it, he released a statement suggesting that Congress was “subjected to the same misinformation campaign against the Ukrainian prosecutor general, perpetrated by representatives of the U.S. government.”

“The Senate Ukraine Caucus’ 2016 letter was encouraging the Ukrainian government to vigorously pursue an anti-corruption agenda generally,” Johnson stated. On the Senate floor, Garcia had said: “Let’s be very, very clear: Vice President Biden called for the removal of this prosecutor at the official direction of U.S. policy, because the prosecutor was widely perceived as corrupt, and with the support of all our international allies. His actions were therefore supported by the executive branch, Congress and the international community.”
posted by katra at 1:58 PM on January 23 [28 favorites]


Guardian: "The California congresswoman started her presentation by outlining Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and the 2016 investigation.
Lofgren pointed to a letter Giuliani sent to the Ukrainian president-elect to demonstrate how the president’s personal lawyer acted with Trump’s “knowledge and consent.”
Rudy Giuliani threatens to go public with Biden corruption allegations (NY Post)
Rudy Giuliani, the personal attorney for President Trump, threatened Thursday to go public with information that would expose corruption by 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. “Everything I tried to tell the press last March is now coming out, and more. I will now start to reveal the evidence directly to you, the People,” the former New York mayor tweeted.
posted by katra at 2:05 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


Rudy Giuliani threatens to go public with Biden corruption allegations (NY Post)
Why is that headline not "Rudy claims he has been withholding evidence"?

I mean.. you know and I know that it takes time to just make shit up, but even if we were to accept his contention at face value how is it supposed to reflect positively on him that now, at last, he is willing to start revealing his amazing (unspecified, unverified) evidence? Also, what has he been doing up until now if not "going public with Biden corruption allegations"?
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:19 PM on January 23 [27 favorites]


Guardian: "Representative Val Demings of Florida has now taken the floor, presenting voicemails and text messages between Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Guiliani and Lev Parnas, as well as phone records showing that Guiliani was in touch with the White House.
Investigators don’t have a record of what was said in conversations between Guiliani and Trump, because the White House has refused to comply with subpoenas. “Of course the White hose has refused, as you already know, to cooperate in any more,” Demings said.

But the records House Democrats were able to access, including dove into new evidence acquired from Parnas, detail what appears to be a coordinated effort to remove Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, from her post.
posted by katra at 2:33 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


Impeachment managers cite new Parnas documents (CBS)
Lofgren highlighted excerpts which show Parnas acting as a conduit between Giuliani and current and former Ukrainian officials, including several close aides of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. One handwritten note reads: "get Zalensky to announce that the Biden case will be investigated" — a reference to the ongoing efforts to get Ukraine to announce probes to benefit Mr. Trump politically.

More documents provided by Parnas were released last week.
posted by katra at 2:37 PM on January 23


Schiff excepted, I have not been impressed by the House mangers so far. They don't seem to have been selected for their oratorical skills, which is a mistake. Once again the Democrats are treating this like a legal/constitutional matter, rather than a cutthroat media/communications war.

Demings has been awful, stumbling on almost every sentence.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:41 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


As Garcia spoke, a visibly upset Johnson rose from his seat, approached Portman and whispered in his ear. Portman reacted impassively, but his comments did not appear to calm Johnson, who departed the floor for the Republican cloakroom moments later.

I'm sure McConnell and Roberts reacted swiftly to chastise this breach of the impeachment rules, in which the Senators were supposed to remain in their seats and not talk.

One thing this trial reveals is how weak the Republicans are. Sure, we've known their arguments are weak -- it takes a so-called "liberal media" to give them equal weight, because balance. We know their policies are weak, because Democrats are getting close to at least a full century of having to clean up the nation from Republican messes.

But Reagan's phony bravado swindled a generation plus of voters, reporters, and sadly, Democratic politicians that Republicans represent strength and Democrats weakness.

Hogwash.

For all their schoolyard taunts and their bullying, we see over and over again that Republican weaklings can't take it. Trump's very election was a nationwide hissy fit thrown by a white male supremacist party aghast at the notion that they'd have to share power with, much less be ruled by, women and minorities. Hillary Clinton was absolutely correct -- if politically unwise -- to call Trump's supporters deplorable -- we now know that it's all of them, not just half.

And now, this contemptible behavior is compounded by the Republicans' craven abandonment of their oaths as impeachment jurors, as Senators, and as Americans. Out of fear or greed or both, they stand ready to make Donald trump -- Donald Trump, of all people! -- king.

It may well be into the next century before loyal Americans can even say the word "Republican" without reflexively spitting in disgust. To which I say, welcome to the club.
posted by Gelatin at 2:43 PM on January 23 [33 favorites]


Rudy Giuliani, the personal attorney for President Trump, threatened Thursday to go public with information that would expose corruption by 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. “Everything I tried to tell the press last March is now coming out, and more. I will now start to reveal the evidence directly to you, the People,” the former New York mayor tweeted.

Bring it. If Giuliani had anything credible, he'd have had it out in March. More hot air and nonsense from Giuliani isn't news.
posted by Gelatin at 2:45 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]


Thanks, ZeusHumms - that Amanda Murcotte piece you link to and excerpt is really resonating for me. A bit more:
Our problem isn't the Democrats and their "messaging." Our problem is the Republicans. Justice has no place in a society run by people who care only about domination and the will to power.

What used to be called the "authoritarian tendencies" of conservatives have grown unchecked, and the parasite has now completely taken over the host body. American conservatism is an authoritarian movement. The American right has become enthralled with the same idea that has motivated fascists for decades, which is that justice, reason and reality itself do not matter — all that matters is raw power.
Which sadly brings to mind a comment by Tadeusz Borowski, a Polish journalist who survived Auschwitz and wrote that he learned this lesson there: "The world is ruled by neither justice nor morality; crime is not punished nor virtue rewarded – one is forgotten as quickly as the other. The world is ruled by power."

I'm supporting Flip the West to try to win back the U.S. Senate majority. I don't know what else to do right now.
posted by PhineasGage at 2:55 PM on January 23 [30 favorites]


What used to be called the "authoritarian tendencies" of conservatives have grown unchecked, and the parasite has now completely taken over the host body. American conservatism is an authoritarian movement. The American right has become enthralled with the same idea that has motivated fascists for decades, which is that justice, reason and reality itself do not matter — all that matters is raw power.

We should neither forget nor forgive the fact that Jonah Goldberg, who is still welcomed on NPR and in various op-ed pages as a "serious, honest conservative," tired of conservatives being accused of their increasingly obvious fascist tendencies, wrote a book back during the George W. Bush presidency claiming liberals are the real fascists. Though his arguments were widely mocked, his claims were "out there," to use Cokie Roberts' phrase, and thus succeeded in deflecting attention from the real fascists whose policies he could never seem to muster an honest argument to defend.
posted by Gelatin at 3:41 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


Fidget spinners now. Fucking fidget spinners.

I could not be more disgusted with the behavior of Republican Senators. Every man and woman among them have thoroughly disgraced their office and their country. Not being re-elected and fading into an ignominious retirement would be far too good for any of them, and yet that's the absolute worst fate any of them will face, and most of them will be handily re-elected. The American experiment in self-government is over.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 4:02 PM on January 23 [13 favorites]


Something tells me those Republican Senators won't like the precedent much after January of next year.

Unfortunately, the only precedent being set is that Republican presidents can tell Democratic congresses to piss off. It's not like citing precedent or pointing out obvious hypocrisy are some sort of "one weird trick" to win an argument with a republican. They and their supporters simply don't value consistency or logic. They will employ precedent as a cudgel when it benefits them, and completely disregard it when it doesn't.
posted by mrgoat at 4:12 PM on January 23 [27 favorites]


OHenryPacey: Makes me wonder if there's any chance that the plan is to begin to taunt the prez into testifying. In the same way the Schiff has repeated that the evidence is there if only we could see it, and the answers are there if only we can hear it. Is he wily enough to goad the prez by implying he's a dupe, and say "the only person who can prove the prez isn't a stooge is the prez himself, right here in these chambers"...

Schiff (or whoever) should propose calling on Trump to testify, after which multiple Democrats should give a "Whoa, what?! No!" speech about how that's a thoroughly terrible idea because he'd wipe the smiles off their faces and make them look like morons for having ever thought his phone call was less than perfect.

(And they should say it in the same manner/tone that Trump himself often uses to openly explain the sort of thoughts, hopes, and fears that other people tend to keep to themselves -- i.e when he said Bolton can't testify because he might talk about bad, embarrassing things that Trump has told other world leaders.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 4:39 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


From Twitter:
@andylevy
absolutely unreal that there are still people who don’t get that the whole “have u no shame sir” thing doesn’t work when the answer is no
posted by PhineasGage at 4:49 PM on January 23 [37 favorites]


I want a picture in the style of a Wikihow illustration of Joni Ernst laughing, with the following text below:

I solemnly swear (or affirm) that in all things appertaining to the trial of Donald John Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.

Can anyone help me with this?*

*I think this works for any GOP senator, so feel free to cut, paste and repeat.

(Seriously. Shoot me a Memail if you can help.)
posted by Big Al 8000 at 4:52 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


Guardian: Democratic senators accuse Republicans of hypocrisy
As Republicans complain that the House managers were repeating themselves too much, Democrats are hitting back by accusing Republicans of hypocrisy. “You know what? [Republicans] spent all of Tuesday fighting back all of our efforts to present new evidence and new documents,” said Mazie Hirono, a Democratic senator from Hawaii. “As though the things that have already been presented isn’t damning enough of the president.”

Hirono added that Republicans: “don’t want to hear that this president that they’re so busy supporting did these things”.

“And as I put it, the truth hurts,” she said.
Link added for emphasis.
posted by katra at 5:07 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]




@andylevy: absolutely unreal that there are still people who don’t get that the whole “have u no shame sir” thing doesn’t work when the answer is no

It was "no" in the famous original context, too. It's not like Joseph McCarthy immediately broke down and told Joseph Welch "You're right, I'm a monster and my behavior has been inexcusable." The intended audience is the country at large, not the person being spoken to.

"I'm so well-informed about the shamelessness of Republicans that I don't even care about it" is certainly a sentiment I sympathize with, something I find myself feeling from time to time... but it's not actually a worthy goal in itself. I get how saying "The emperor isn't wearing anything, he's naked" can feel sort of stupid to say out loud if the emperor is indeed walking around openly nude. But it's still gotta be said, not just to inform the people who genuinely think he might be wearing invisible clothes, but to generate the common knowledge (in the logical sense of "everyone knows that everyone knows...") that no such clothes exist, and that nudity itself (for purposes of the metaphor) is still fundamentally wrong.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 5:33 PM on January 23 [16 favorites]


Uh, Dems? This ain't it.
Lighter moment during the #ImpeachmentTrial courtesy of Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who represents parts of Brooklyn & Queens: "Perhaps we can all agree to subpoena the Baseball Hall of Fame to try to figure out...who voted against Derek Jeter." http://bit.ly/2sQ4j9x
posted by tonycpsu at 5:57 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


Blackburn slams Vindman in tweets during trial (CBS)
Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted criticism of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman Thursday evening. Impeachment managers have used several video clips from Vindman's testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in December to bolster their argument during the Senate trial.

"Adam Schiff is hailing Alexander Vindman as an American patriot. How patriotic is it to badmouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America's greatest enemy?" Blackburn wrote in the first of several tweets slamming Vindman. She pinned a tweet from November to the top of her profile calling Vindman "vindictive."

Blackburn cited no evidence for her claim that Vindman badmouthed the U.S. in front of Russia. But the president's defenders have attempted to smear Vindman, who earned a Purple Heart medal while serving in the Iraq War in 2004.

Blackburn, a fiery defender of the president, was quickly criticized for her tweet. "It is insulting, embarrassing and disgraceful that this person sits as a U.S. senator, especially as a member of whistleblower caucus," Mark Zaid, who has been representing the whistleblower, posted to Twitter. "Vindman serves our country in uniform, risked his life in war zones, awarded purple heart, and is a lawful whistleblower. He honors America."
Vindman's attorney responds to Blackburn tweet (NBC News)
Vindman's attorney responded to Blackburn's criticizing him on Twitter:

"Senator Blackburn’s renewed attack on Lt. Col. Vindman reveals her true character — she has failed to follow her oath of impartiality while serving as a juror and she continues to attack Lt. Col. Vindman, a decorated war veteran, by smearing his service to our country and his courageous act of reporting President Trump's misconduct."
posted by katra at 6:14 PM on January 23 [14 favorites]


Guardian: "Once again, impeachment managers are using Donald Trump’s own words against him. Making the case that Trump was knowingly, intentionally withholding Ukraine aid, Zoe Lofgren referenced a TV appearance the president made.
On June 19, the day that White House officials contacted the Office of Management and Budget about holding up Ukraine aid, Lofgren said, Trump was on Fox News.

“We know what was on the president’s mind about Ukraine that day because president Trump gave a phone interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News,” she said. “During the interview, he mentioned the so-called Crowdstrike conspiracy theory that blames Ukraine rather than Russia for election interference.”

Trump brought up the same conspiracy theory in his infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
posted by katra at 6:19 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


I think a strategy should be to cast the Republicans simply as anti Democratic, if not anti American or anti Constitution.
posted by rhizome at 6:20 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Dems mount preemptive strike on Trump's defense (Politico)
They teed up old videos of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Alan Dershowitz arguing that impeachment doesn’t require a criminal offense; they aired footage of FBI Director Christopher Wray and former homeland security adviser Tom Bossert rejecting the notion that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election; and they systematically picked apart suggestions that Trump had legitimate reasons to ask Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

It was a clear strategic choice by House Democrats. Anticipating that Trump’s team would proclaim that the president had a genuine interest in fighting corruption in Ukraine — justifying his request that the country’s president announce an investigation of Biden — Democrats instead repeatedly used the words of Trump’s own advisers and allies to knock down the theory.

[...] Republican senators and Trump's own legal teams suggested Democrats' focus on the Bidens could motivate them to spend more time during their own portion of the trial digging into the Bidens' relationships in Ukraine. "What I don't understand is for the last five hours it's been a lot about Joe Biden and Burisma," said Sekulow. "They kind of opened the door for that response."
7:50 P.M. Graham: Bidens are fair game after Dems’ opening arguments (Politico)
“I don’t know why they chose to do that. Joe Biden – if he was not before going to have to answer questions, he sure will now because the way they’ve conducted this trial,” Graham told a gaggle of reporters as senators took a 30-minute dinner break Thursday night.
Sekulow, Republicans say Democrats ‘opened the door’ to go after Biden (WaPo)
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) also hinted that the White House defense would go hard against the Bidens, focusing on the fact that the Democrats didn’t allow Republicans to call Hunter Biden as a witness.

“Will the storyline by House managers about the Bidens and Burisma withstand scrutiny?” Graham tweeted.

Democrats spent considerable time Thursday making the case that Trump never cared about corruption in Ukraine, but instead wanted to undermine the former vice president, a formidable potential political opponent. Democrats point out there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens, and calling them as witnesses is irrelevant to the question of whether Trump abused power or obstructed justice.
posted by katra at 6:46 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


The 10 Things Dems Say Prove Trump Acted Corruptly in Ukraine Scheme
1. President Trump Cared Only About The Announcement Of Investigations
2. President Trump Cared Only About “Big Stuff”: Investigating Biden
3. President Trump Used His Personal Attorney: This Isn’t “Foreign Policy”
4. The Bogus Investigations Were Never Part Of Official U.S. Policy
5. The Bogus Investigations Were Outside Official Channels
6. Multiple Administration Officials Reported Concerns
7. Ukraine Expressed Concerns: Investigations Political
8. The White House Attempted To Bury The Call
9. President Told Us In His Own Statements
10. President Did Not Care About Anti-Corruption Efforts In Ukraine
posted by kirkaracha at 7:03 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


White House snubbed watchdog agency seeking info on Ukraine aid (Politico)
The White House declined to provide documents to a congressional watchdog investigating President Donald Trump's decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine, according to documents released Thursday by Sen. Chris Van Hollen.

The White House responded to the Government Accountability Office's inquiry with a one-page letter on Dec. 20, citing a legal memo from the Office of Management and Budget that defended the hold on military aid as necessary to ensure spending the funds wouldn't "conflict with the President's foreign policy." [...] The correspondence is part of what led GAO to accuse the Trump administration of blocking its inquiry and conclude last week that Trump's decision to withhold military aid violated federal law. [...]

The documents released by Van Hollen (D-Md.) indicate that GAO had asked the White House budget office for details on how the hold on military aid complied with the Impoundment Control Act, the law the GAO argues Trump violated.

The documents also included a response to the inquiry from the Pentagon, which suggested it couldn't respond to GAO's inquiry without first engaging in "coordination with the other agencies involved."

Van Hollen ripped the Trump administration for refusing to cooperate with GAO. "The White House refused to respond altogether and blocked DOD from providing an independent response as well," he said in a statement. "This is another example of the Administration's continued attempts to cover up their wrongdoing and unlawful actions."
Guardian: "Emphasizing that nearly $400m in congressionally-appropriated military aid to Ukraine was held up for no good reason, the impeachment manager Zoe Lofgren, with the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, sitting nearby, pointed out: “Even Senator McConnell has said ‘I was not given an explanation’ for the hold.” The evidence is clear that Donald Trump “knowingly, willfully violated the law when he withheld the aid to Ukraine”, Lofgren said. “It shows the great lengths the president was willing to go to in order to pressure Ukraine to do his dirty work.”"
posted by katra at 7:14 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Guardian: "Lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff is now presenting a closing summary. Responding to Donald Trump’s calls to “read the transcript” of the July 25th call with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Schiff is reviewing the memo of the phone call, and point out the bits that look suspicious.
First on that list: The fact that Trump asked Zelenskiy to “call Rudy” the president’s personal lawyer. Trump also encouraged the Ukrainian president to speak with Attorney General William Barr.

“I think there’s no one who comes up more in this call record than Rudy Guiliani, which tells us something,” Schiff said.

Later, he added: “Donald Trump chose Rudy Giuliani over his own intelligence agencies... that makes him dangerous to us, to our country.”
posted by katra at 7:36 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]


Schiff's closing: 'You can’t trust this president will do what’s right for this country' (NBC News)
In his final speech of the day, Schiff gave a detailed recitation of the facts, arguing that the evidence shows how Trump pressured Ukraine, a vulnerable U.S. ally, by withholding military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for investigations into former president Joe Biden.

Schiff then said that senators should consider the consequences of not holding Trump accountable and the dangers it could pose to American democracy.

"How much damage can he do between now and the next election? A lot. A lot of damage,” Schiff said.

He said that if Trump is not found guilty and removed, Russia or other foreign governments could interfere in the 2020 election. "Let's say they [Russia] start to blatantly interfere in our election again to help Donald Trump. Can you have the least bit of confidence that Donald Trump will stand up to them and protect our national interest over his own personal interest? You know you can't, which makes him dangerous to this country. You know you can't. You know you can't count on him, none of us can."

Schiff, speaking directly a packed and attentive Senate floor with every senator at his or her desk or standing in the back, repeatedly stated that Trump cannot be trusted and is inherently self-interested.

"If right doesn't matter we’re lost; if the truth [doesn't] matter we’re lost,” he said.
Guardian: Salvador Hernandez (@SalHernandez) The last part of Schiff's comments tonight are turning out to be quite an emotional plea to the Senate pic.twitter.com/FJlVvcXz67 January 24, 2020
posted by katra at 8:09 PM on January 23 [17 favorites]


Susan Collins confesses that she was the one who wrote the note to the teacher, er, Chief Justice, whining about Democrats being too mean to Republicans.
She says she was stunned that House Judicial Committee chairman Nadler said that senators were engaging in a coverup.

Nadler said "I see a lot of senators voting for a cover-up, voting to deny witnesses, an absolutely indefensible vote, obviously a treacherous vote."

Oh, my! Bring out the smelling salts to the fainting couch!

This prompted Roberts to say "It is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the president's counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body," Roberts said.

World's Greatest Deliberative Body
Pardon me while I barf.
posted by JackFlash at 8:19 PM on January 23 [35 favorites]


remember how, in school, there were those troublemakers who, while the teacher's back was turned, would make trouble, often by engaging an otherwise innocent so that noise was made by both troublemaker and innocent alike, and the teacher, still chalking the blackboard without turning, would say "settle down, class" to everybody?

i'm not saying it was courageous, or fair, or just, or what this moment in history seems to call for, but i think the hon. chief justice was going for something like that.

of all the court's conservatives, he's the one i'd want there, now; i'm not certain he's an aspiring unitary executive protofascist. i can't believe any justice could be a tr*mpist (save bart, who i can't believe is a justice). i expect he is cognizant of the weight of the history of the republic resting on his presiding-officer-of-impeachment-trialship, and will strive -- subject to his biases, temperament, and shortcomings -- to preserve the constitutional structure of the republic and (merely putative, i know) legitimacy of the judiciary to the best of his ability. i'm not sure what behavior this moment requires; i bet he isn't, too. but i'm sure he's been sweating the details more than i these three days. these three years, even.

if anyone can land that "have you no shame" line, i think it might be the chief justice of the supreme court presiding over the senate impeachment trial of the president of the united states.

while i'm dreaming, i dream that d*n, having a very bad and unfair day, calls up rudy and asks if they can just settle the impeachment, write a check, enter into an NDA and put it behind us, and rudy says yes and reaches for another phone.
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:58 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


Via @BillKristol:

President Pence
“Well, I Guess He'll Do”
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:59 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


What Sort of “Abuse of Power” Would Amount to an Impeachable Offense? (Philip Bobbitt, Just Security)
[...] It wasn’t simply that President Trump in his conversations with the Ukrainian president attempted to entice a “favor” that might prove helpful in Trump’s campaign for reelection. Rather it was what the president did to get that favor: the refusal of the president to disburse congressionally authorized military assistance is a violation of law that strikes at the heart of Constitutional government. To use that violation as the basis for securing a political advantage is an abject abuse of power. The fact that releasing the funds was conditioned on Ukraine doing a political favor to Donald Trump is what transmutes an ordinary bit of politics into the subversion of our most important constitutional structures. [...]

This is why the Impoundment Control Act of 1974 was adopted: to prevent the president from acquiring a super-veto over legislation by simply refusing to execute appropriated funds. And that is why the finding last week by the GAO that the president had violated that law is so salient to the ongoing impeachment proceedings, and should be a game changer of sorts at least for those not fully paying attention. The GAO was deliberate in saying that President Trump’s withholding the aid ran afoul of his constitutional duty. “Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the agency stated.

What’s more, this is not the only statutory (and constitutional) violation implicated by the president’s maneuvering to get the Ukrainians involved in our elections. Federal law makes it a crime to “attempt to cause any person to make a contribution of a thing of value (including services) for the benefit of any candidate…by means of the denial or deprivation, or the threat of the denial or deprivation, of…. any payment or benefit of a program of the United States,… if such…..payment, or benefit is provided for…by an Act of Congress” (emphasis supplied). It’s hard to imagine a statutory provision more closely matching the fact pattern in the Ukraine scandal than that provision.

My point is simply a clarifying one: abuse of power may indeed be the basis for the impeachment and removal from office of a president if he corruptly acts to further his political interest. This is not just a matter of perspective. To withhold funds of this magnitude in the context of active warfare in order to influence the reputation of a political adversary is a high crime of the highest constitutional importance. It is not merely a matter of politics as usual, and politics as usual do not constitute the abuse of office.

Philip Bobbitt is the co-author, with the late Charles L. Black, of Impeachment: A Handbook.
posted by katra at 11:43 PM on January 23 [11 favorites]


Just a friendly reminder -- Susan Collins of Maine is up for reelection this year. If you are sick of her stunt votes to appear moderate (when McConnell allows it), please donate to / volunteer for her opponent Sara Gideon and help replace Collins.
posted by benzenedream at 2:47 AM on January 24 [21 favorites]


Senate GOP warned not to vote against Trump (Nancy Cordes, CBS News)
Democrats are wrapping up their impeachment arguments on Friday, telling Senators they can’t trust President Trump. Nancy Cordes has learned that a Trump confidante reportedly told Republican Senators that “a vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.” She breaks down the implications on Capitol Hill.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:13 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


Nancy Cordes has learned that a Trump confidante reportedly told Republican Senators that “a vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.”

Then that "Trump confidante" would appear to share the perception that the Democrats' case is overwhelming. That the "Trump confidante" sees fit to threaten Republican Senators shows that they perceive a real risk of conviction.

I don't believe that Senate Republicans will actually convict Trump, but it's fascinating to see that the White House doesn't seem to share that confidence.
posted by Gelatin at 5:48 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


“a vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.”

Is that a credible threat of violence against a United States senator?
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:00 AM on January 24 [11 favorites]


It's a credible reminder that the Republican Party is the party of Trump.

Once Trump slithers out of office, Republicans from Mitt Romney to the local dogcatcher will try to pretend that they were never a Trumper, that they were one of the "good ones."

We should never, ever forget or forgive that they showed us all along that they weren't, and we should push back hard on the so-called "liberal media"'s inevitable instinct to pretend that there are credible Republicans out of a need for phony "balance."
posted by Gelatin at 6:22 AM on January 24 [25 favorites]


It seems like less a threat and more of a fearful projection.

The “confidante” is probably Senator Graham.
posted by notyou at 6:45 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


So, I'm listening to BBC World News right now, and they're doing a piece on the trial featuring person-on-the-street interviews (in the US) and, good grief, are the comments demoralizing. The predominant opinion was that they've grown bored by it already and have tuned-out (reflecting our modern age's attention span of a gnat, unless there's an army of CG super heroes fighting)

Most of them also opined that this was going to hurt the Democrats far more than the Republicans or Trump.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:05 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]


So, I'm listening to BBC World News right now, and they're doing a piece on the trial featuring person-on-the-street interviews (in the US) and, good grief, are the comments demoralizing.

Be aware, though, that European media and their viewers are very curious about how anyone can support Trump, so they tend to select areas and individuals who can represent that point of view for their interviews and voxpops. I hate it, because it gives a really bad impression of the US and people who don't know any Americans think they are all idiots.
posted by mumimor at 7:11 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]


Just a friendly reminder -- Susan Collins of Maine is up for reelection this year. If you are sick of her stunt votes to appear moderate (when McConnell allows it), please donate to / volunteer for her opponent Sara Gideon and help replace Collins.

I have no idea to what extent Mainers have already consolidated behind Gideon (ME hasn't held their Senate primary yet). But just as a principle, doesn't it seem like it would be better strategy to donate to a general flip-the-seat fund that doesn't put an out-of-state thumb on the primary scale? (This also applies to KY; the nation as a whole appears to have settled on Amy McGrath, but I'm unsure whether Kentucky has.)
posted by Jpfed at 7:42 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


“a vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.”

I'm old enough to remember a time when Senators would have voted the prick down just to prove that such talk would not result in their head on a pike, but his.
posted by Rykey at 7:42 AM on January 24 [17 favorites]


K Tully-McManus @ktullymcmanus
During the break, Sen. Susan Collins said loudly to Sens Murkowski, Thune & Tillis that she would like the first row of the press gallery to be kept empty and that reporters should only be seated from the second row back, motioning to the sparse remaining press (myself included)
3:36 PM - 23 Jan 2020
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:45 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Voting against Trump means he’s out of power and he has no fucking standing to put anyone’s head on a pike. In fact, threats of that nature by private citizen Donald J Trump will mean visits by the FBI.
posted by Sublimity at 7:46 AM on January 24 [13 favorites]


GOP's endless hissy fit won't change the truth — or history's verdict on Donald Trump (Heather Digby Parton, Salon)
"Republicans' phony outrage can't conceal their deep anxiety: History won't judge them kindly for letting Trump walk"

When you watch a trial, whether you're on a jury yourself or on the couch in front of the TV, the prosecution's presentation always seems airtight — until you see the defense. So I don't want to say at this stage that the House managers in Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial have made their case. But seriously, it's hard to see how the president's team can plausibly explain away this behavior. Their only choice will be to admit that all the evidence is true and tell the American people that it was perfect.
Am pretty sure Trump's defense won't be doing that, unfortunately.
This is a game I have written about many times. I call it "The Art of the Hissy Fit," in which the right uses faux outrage to get the media to press the Democrats to disavow or apologize for something they were perfectly entitled to say or do. Most often, it's something extremely mild, compared to what Republicans say and do every day.) […]

It is all heading toward exactly what Amanda Marcotte predicted here last week: jury nullification. As she pointed out, historically this was used by all-white juries to acquit white defendants who had committed crimes against blacks in the Jim Crow South. Considering Trump's history of calling for the death penalty for innocent young black men, a brazenly racist act which he defended as recently as last June in a White House interview, this isn't much of a stretch.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:56 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


Sublimity, I wish you were right, but have you chatted with anyone in the Republican primary electorate lately...?
posted by PhineasGage at 7:56 AM on January 24


Pro-Trump groups have a new impeachment enemy: Republicans (Politico)
For Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, conservative groups decided that ad buys attacking Democrats weren’t enough — they wanted Republicans to hear from the president’s supporters in person.

Their message: Acquit Trump now. Don’t call witnesses. [...] The effort is part of a blitz of moderate senators from conservative groups that involves office visits, phone calls, and TV and digital ads. The groups are hoping that by persuading a few Democrats to join an almost-lockstep Republican Party, they can show the country that there’s at least some bipartisan support for the notion that the impeachment process just needs to be over. Trump has already shown that he’s eager to pick up on such messaging, frequently boasting about the few Democrats who broke ranks to vote with a unified Republican party against impeachment in the House.

In the Senate, the targeted lawmakers are Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, as well as Democrats Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Gary Peters of Michigan and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. In addition to earning the “moderate” label by today’s standards, some of the lawmakers facing outside pressure are on the ballot in November in states where Trump is popular.

FreedomWorks is being joined by ideologically aligned groups like Heritage Action for America, Club for Growth, the Presidential Coalition and America First Policies. [...] The organizations are participating in a new war room on Capitol Hill designed to coordinate messaging with the House and Senate. They’re also receiving daily talking points and regular briefing calls from the White House Office of Public Liaison, the groups said. [...] The groups are supplementing efforts by the Trump campaign, which is raising money through fundraising texts, placing targeted Facebook ads and attacking House leaders on Twitter.
posted by katra at 8:02 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


Introducing ‘The Report, Season 2: The Impeachment’ (Lawfare)
Lawfare and Goat Rodeo are releasing a daily cut of the impeachment trial distilled to a manageable and accessible podcast. This abridged version will contain the compelling and substantial elements of the presentation throughout the day. No analysis. No punditry. Simply the unfolding events in the Senate. And you can already listen to the first two episodes.
The Report: Impeachment, Day Three (Lawfare)
Lawfare and Goat Rodeo boiled the House’s argument down to the most essential one hour and 38 minutes. No commentary. Nothing extra. It’s just the House’s side of the story that you need to hear.
posted by katra at 8:27 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


Guardian: Trump caught on recording pushing for Ukraine ambassador's ouster
ABC News has obtained a recording of Trump calling for the removal of then-US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, a year before she was recalled from Kyiv over what she called “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”

The president appears to have been recorded at a small 2018 gathering that included Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two former associates of Rudy Giuliani who have been indicted on campaign-finance charges and implicated in the Ukraine controversy. [...]

‘Get rid of her!’ is what the voice that appears to be President Trump’s is heard saying. ‘Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.’
posted by katra at 8:46 AM on January 24 [19 favorites]


Is Stupidity a Valid Defense for Trump? (Martin Longman, Washington Monthly)
The only difference between [the Ukraine] incident and the early Hawaii “investigation” is that Trump actually did dispatch an investigator in 2019.

But we’re still left wondering if Trump actually believes in the conspiracy theories that he promulgates or he just uses them cynically to confuse others. There’s actually evidence on both sides of that argument. […]

It hurts the brain to think that Ukraine would eagerly blame themselves for something that Russia did, but that was the demand Trump made of them. Did Trump know it was untrue? Was he asking for something legitimate in his own mind, as Lindsey Graham argues?

I suppose it is possible. But, if so, it makes a better case for his removal from office than if he actually knew what he was asking for was based on lies. After all, if he’s that gullible and stupid, it’s probably a bigger problem than him just being evil.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:50 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]


doesn't it seem like it would be better strategy to donate to a general flip-the-seat fund that doesn't put an out-of-state thumb on the primary scale?

Also, it's worth remembering that a US citizen may donate up to $2800 to each candidate for each election - and that counts the primary and the general election as separate elections.

I would suggest that, unless you were planning on donating more than $2800, it might be more prudent to save it for the general election.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:54 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Guardian: "The recording reviewed by ABC News, which appears to include Trump calling for the removal of then-US ambassador to Ukraine Maria Yovanovitch, was reportedly made by Igor Fruman."

Guardian: "Federal prosecutors in New York’s Southern District reportedly have a copy of the 2018 recording, which appears to include Trump calling for the removal of then-US ambassador to Ukraine Maria Yovanovitch, in their custody."
posted by katra at 9:01 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]


Bill Kristol: Mike Pence is a bland, boring, completely typical, ordinary conservative Republican from Indiana. And if the Senate does its duty, they’ll make him the next president of the United States.

The second sentence is true, the first sentence is false.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:03 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Trump could shoot someone in the Senate and still get acquitted 53-47. Unless he shot a Republican, then it would be 52-47.

h/t to @ManInTheHoody on Twitter, who has of course had his account suspended after flag bombing.
posted by jaduncan at 9:04 AM on January 24 [23 favorites]


Yeah, keep your head on a swivel if you're walking down 5th avenue any time soon.
posted by adept256 at 9:05 AM on January 24




ActBlue has “nominee funds” which go to whoever wins a primary. So you contribute to Collins’s opponent without picking a favorite.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:11 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


If they call Hunter Biden I hope he talks about Don Jr. and Eric for 8 hours
posted by OverlappingElvis at 9:18 AM on January 24 [15 favorites]


Republican senators receive stark warning about voting against Trump
Democrats are wrapping up their impeachment arguments on Friday, telling senators they can’t trust President Trump. Nancy Cordes has learned that a Trump confidante reportedly told Republican senators that “a vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.” She breaks down the implications on Capitol Hill.
A Senate with balls would remove this asshole from the presidency for the sheer gall of telling a Senator what to do.

It's amazing how fear makes them so fucking craven. Goodbye Gardner, goodbye Collins, goodbye Tillis, goodbye Ernst, goodbye McSally. Don't let the Senate doors hit you on the way out because we don't want your ass marks on them.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:18 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]


Trump caught on recording pushing for Ukraine ambassador's ouster

Which, if Parnas is to be believed (and the dates check out, I think), just wasn't structurally possible within the State Department's organization because Pompeo wasn't confirmed yet. So instead of having a functioning bureaucracy to serve at the pleasure of POTUS they instead just resorted to the smear and intimidation tactics.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:23 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


just wasn't structurally possible within the State Department's organization because Pompeo wasn't confirmed yet

A hilarious microcosm of how trump manages. He's so incompetent at the job that his incompetence got in the way of his criming. He's literally so bad at being president that he can't keep his incompetent fuck ups and his illegal fuck ups from fucking each other up.
posted by mrgoat at 9:35 AM on January 24 [11 favorites]


Nancy Cordes has learned that a Trump confidante reportedly told Republican Senators that “a vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.”

Names, Nancy, or GTFO. The press is worthless, participating in the coverup.
posted by JackFlash at 9:43 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]


Yes, Parnas is saying Pompeo hadn't been confirmed yet, but, according to the ABC story, he had been confirmed. Odd...
In a recent interview with MSNBC, Parnas publicly recounted his memories of the scene at the dinner and said that Trump turned to John [DeStefano], who was his deputy chief of staff at the time, and said "Fire her," he claimed.

“We all, there was a silence in the room. He responded to him, said Mr. President, we can't do that right now because [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo hasn't been confirmed yet, that Pompeo is not confirmed yet and we don't have -- this is when [former Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson was gone, but Pompeo was confirmed, so they go, wait until -- so several conversations he mentioned it again.“

However, Pompeo had been confirmed and privately sworn in days earlier.
posted by AwkwardPause at 9:45 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


Senate Impeachment Trial, Day 5 (C-SPAN) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues with opening arguments from House managers on the second article of impeachment that the president obstructed Congress.

U.S. Senate: Impeachment Trial (Day 5) (C-SPAN YouTube) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues with opening arguments from House managers and the President’s defense team.
posted by katra at 9:50 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Also: Lordy, there are tapes.
posted by AwkwardPause at 9:53 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Or, does 'privately' mean it wasn't widely know he had been sworn in? That can't be right, can it?
posted by AwkwardPause at 9:54 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


People have mentioned Heather Cox Richardson's "Letter from an American" before, but the most recent one, about Schiff's closing argument and whether it will ultimately make any difference, is really worth reading. All the way to the end.
posted by kristi at 9:59 AM on January 24 [18 favorites]


Pompeo was sworn in twice: first on April 26th, 2018, right after his confirmation, and again in a more formal "ceremonial" setting on May 2nd, 2018.

The "intimate dinner" during which this conversation is said to have been recorded was on April 30, 2018, according to the ABC story linked above.
posted by notyou at 10:19 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


wrt to the pompeo-not-sworn-in lie, it’s one of the things that makes me think that being donald trump must be the most unpleasant experience in the world. his inner circle are all people who are using him, and they mitigate the damage caused by his little joffrey-tantrums by systematically lying to him / denying him access to any actual knowledge of the workings of “his” administration. meanwhile the television is talking to him all the time, literally talking to him all the time, and also his mental acuity is slipping.

he’s a malignant narcissist, and his situation is the sort of thing the monkey’s paw would give to a malignant narcissist. his life is ripped directly from a philip k dick story. and not one of the comparatively happier ones like palmer eldritch or ubik. he’s from one of the really bleak ones from the 70s, one of the ones from right before dick was contacted by valis or whatever.

keep this in mind when assessing his motivations. the man has no window to reality whatsoever. he’s a little ball of dumb rage caught in a vast inescapable fogbank of lies. no wonder he retweets q conspiracy theories.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:28 AM on January 24 [16 favorites]


It's amazing how fear makes them so fucking craven. Goodbye Gardner, goodbye Collins, goodbye Tillis, goodbye Ernst, goodbye McSally. Don't let the Senate doors hit you on the way out because we don't want your ass marks on them.

If only one or two vote against Trump, it's a meaningless vote that brings down the wrath of the party faithful. If enough of the Senate Republicans vote against Trump (and get to a conviction), shouldn't it be harder for the party faithful to take revenge against all of them?
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:33 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


It seems somehow relevant that the Republicans have been deliberately avoiding the facts by not reading the documents and only watching Fox News for information. Not just ignoring them, but trying at any cost to not hear them. Regardless of their middle school antics in the Senate during this trial, some of them are now being forced to hear the facts and later in this year explain to their constituents what they heard and how they voted. For some of them, that isn't a problem. But I wonder wether there are more than the usual purple-state senators who are struggling with it already.
It sure seems to worry the White House, and Trump himself.
For millions of Americans, this is all new information. I bet a least some of them are quite stunned and still in the process of processing it.
I mentioned above that the European media love exposing stupid Americans. They always did that, but there is a real difference this time. Earlier on, there was a level of respect surrounding the presidency, and obviously the US as our strong ally. After Trump withdrew from the climate deal and the Iran deal, European leaders have not given a damn about the US, other than a lot of worrying. And the media have followed suit. So European media are saying directly that Trump is a liar and of course he did it, and the general public are taking their queue from that. What I'm trying to say is that when or if a larger majority of Americans begin to realize the truth of this administration, they will be shocked. But till now, they haven't known. How could they?
posted by mumimor at 10:35 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


being donald trump must be the most unpleasant experience in the world

It would be like a nightmare version of "Being John Malkovich".
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:38 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


What this episode illustrates is how people around the Toddler in Chief had learned to manipulate him for their own nefarious purposes. Parnas and Fruman, who were hired by oligarch Dmytro Firtash, had the job of getting rid of Yovanovich.

Parnas knew that all he had to do was make up some dirt about Yovanovich that appealed to Trump's petty vanity -- and the tape shows what happened. Trump flies of the handle exactly as planned and vows to destroy Yovanovich.

Trump is a very useful idiot.
posted by JackFlash at 10:43 AM on January 24 [24 favorites]


Yes, "take her out" could be a call for Yovanovitch's ouster. But why tell two people who, like Rudy, are not in the government and thus have no ability to fire any ambassadors? Did he want them to enable her being fired by muddying up her reputation in some way? Even then, Trump could just plain fire her himself; it's not normal institutionally (she's been in the civil service for many different administrations), but it's within his power. And it stretches credulity that this has zero to do with Robert Hyde's cryptic reference to a "price" for some kind of task accomplished in connection to her, something to do with her already being surveilled.

It's maddening that the press still has to operate within normal parameters against our "seriously but not literally" president, our "ain't I a stinker?" wannabe mobster. Alexandra Erin has a good analysis of the problem, referring instead to the differently-expressed threat (hyperbole rather than euphemism) of heads on pikes.

Do I think headlines should say he was expressing a desire for a diplomat to be assassinated? No, because that is indeed speculation. But there's gotta be a way to make it clear that, like Hyde, he was making an insinuation of something more threatening than unemployment. The most charitable way I can connect this info is that they hoped to do scare her in some way?
posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:46 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]


Trump’s impeachment trial countermessaging has been tasteless and incorrect tweets (Aaron Rupar, Vox)
"The president’s bad tweets reflect a broader toxicity."

So it’s not just Trump’s tweets that have become increasingly normalized as we get further and further away from having a president who is held to any sort of standards. It’s Trump’s behavior in general. And one wonders how bad things will get in the likely event that Trump is acquitted by the Senate and heads into his reelection campaign feeling even less constrained by any sort of oversight.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:10 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


And it stretches credulity that this has zero to do with Robert Hyde's cryptic reference to a "price" for some kind of task accomplished in connection to her, something to do with her already being surveilled.

It does not stretch credulity, however, that a President who has no understanding of how government actually works, who is in fact proud of his ignorance, and has no intention of even bothering to learn how to fake that understanding, and who might be subject to some sort of diminished mental capacity, would assume that he could just randomly yell "take her out" meaning "make sure she gets fired" at whatever random hangers-on happen to be in the room with him at the moment and think that it would get done.

Let's not go too far down the rabbit hole of parsing Trump language for nefarious hidden meanings when it is sufficient that an idiot who's spent his whole life having people jump when he says "Frog!" would not bother to follow any kind of procedure or even have it occur to him that he might want to or need to.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:17 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]


John Roberts comes face to face with the mess he made
by Dana Milbank, Washington Post
Roberts’s captivity is entirely fitting: He is forced to witness, with his own eyes, the mess he and his colleagues on the Supreme Court have made of the U.S. political system. As representatives of all three branches of government attend this unhappy family reunion, the living consequences of the Roberts Court’s decisions, and their corrosive effect on democracy, are plain to see.
Ten years to the day before Trump’s impeachment trial began, the Supreme Court released its Citizens United decision, plunging the country into the era of super PACs and unlimited, unregulated, secret campaign money from billionaires and foreign interests. Citizens United, and the resulting rise of the super PAC, led directly to this impeachment. The two Rudy Giuliani associates engaged in key abuses — the ouster of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, the attempts to force Ukraine’s president to announce investigations into Trump’s political opponents — gained access to Trump by funneling money from a Ukrainian oligarch to the president’s super PAC.
There is more. Much more.
If America wants to return to democracy, a big reckoning lies ahead.
posted by mumimor at 11:33 AM on January 24 [17 favorites]


It does not stretch credulity, however, that a President who has no understanding of how government actually works, who is in fact proud of his ignorance, and has no intention of even bothering to learn how to fake that understanding, and who might be subject to some sort of diminished mental capacity, would assume that he could just randomly yell "take her out" meaning "make sure she gets fired"

His tagline, the phrase most associated with him, is literally "You're fired." I think he understands how firing people, as a boss, works. I don't think it stretches credulity to assume a threat beyond ending her employment
posted by biddeford at 11:40 AM on January 24


His tagline, the phrase most associated with him, is literally "You're fired." I think he understands how firing people, as a boss, works.
You might think so but it has been amply demonstrated that outside of the context of a reality television show set he actually is quite bad at firing people; he has in fact been widely mocked for his inability to confront people face-to-face in these megathreads on many occasions.

So much of what has gone off the rails in the last few years has occurred in large part because people (his supporters, mainly) confused the reality-show image of Donald Trump with the real-world person. Let's not make that mistake ourselves.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:46 AM on January 24 [11 favorites]


Who gives a fuck about Trump's mental state or intent? We don't know it, we can't know it, analysis of it is boring and repetitive. Same for Giuliani's mental state. And McConnell's. And Collins'. And the mental state of literally everyone else in this ridiculous mess. Don't psychoanalyze them, that's just letting them take over your head.
posted by medusa at 12:03 PM on January 24 [18 favorites]


Guardian: "Concluding his team’s presentation about the abuse of power article of impeachment, lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff offered an explanation about the importance of the US-Ukrainian alliance.
The House intelligence committee chairman said Ukraine was a key ally in “fighting our fight against authoritarianism.”

“At least that used to be our fight,” Schiff said. “And God help us if it’s not our fight still.”
Guardian: Schiff quotes McCain to explain importance of US-Ukrainian alliance
To underscore the significance of the US-Ukrainian alliance, lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff quoted a Republican lawmaker who also appreciated the importance of Ukraine: the late senator John McCain.

“We are all Ukrainians,” McCain said in 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. “This is a chess match reminiscent of the Cold War and we need to realize that and act accordingly.”
Guardian: "Lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff warned that the Trump administration’s freeze on Ukrainian military assistance jeaopardized the crucial alliance between Washington and Kyiv.
“Colleagues, this is how alliances wither and die,” Schiff said. “This is how Russia wins.”

Schiff noted that the Trump administration backed Ukrainian military assistance in 2017 and 2018, but he said the White House had abandoned that support last year because officials were prioritizing the president’s electoral prospects.

“If our allies cannot trust us to stand behind them in a time of need, we will not have a single ally left,” Schiff warned.
posted by katra at 12:05 PM on January 24 [5 favorites]


Do I think headlines should say he was expressing a desire for a diplomat to be assassinated? No, because that is indeed speculation. But there's gotta be a way to make it clear that, like Hyde, he was making an insinuation of something more threatening than unemployment. The most charitable way I can connect this info is that they hoped to do scare her in some way?

Trump is a weak person's idea of a strong person, and his third-rate-mobster tough-guy act is pathetic, even if it isn't strictly criminal.
posted by Gelatin at 12:05 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


Roberts’s captivity is entirely fitting: He is forced to witness, with his own eyes, the mess he and his colleagues on the Supreme Court have made of the U.S. political system.

Should the Democrats retake both the Presidency and the Senate, Roberts should be forced to witness, with his own eyes, the mess he and his colleagues on the Supreme Court have made of the U.S. political system as Chief Justice of an expanded Supreme Court (and judiciary) in which the new Democratic president gets to pick five more justices.

And McConnell can watch his decades-long project to create a rear guard for neo-Confederate white male supremacy go up in smoke from the sidelines.
posted by Gelatin at 12:17 PM on January 24 [5 favorites]


Guardian: Pence defends Trump after report of recording calling for Yovanovitch's removal
Mike Pence defended Trump after a report emerged that a 2018 recording showed the president pushing for the removal of then-US ambassador to Ukraine Maria Yovanovitch.

“I have not heard the tape and would not be prepared to comment on it,” Pence told reporters in Italy, according to a pool report. “All of the ambassadors for the United States of America serve at the pleasure of the president of the United States.”

The audio, Pence added, “will only confirm what people already know: is that the President had concerns, and in his authority this president made a decision.“

Trump claimed in November that didn’t “know much” about Yovanovitch when he signed off on recalling her from Kyiv, but this recording clearly contradicts that.
Pence maintains he knew nothing about efforts to pressure Ukraine on Biden probe (WaPo)
Vice President Pence, during an overseas trip in Italy, told reporters confidently that “we fully expect the Senate will acquit the president.”

Pence denied allegations made by Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, that he knew about the efforts to pressure Ukraine to open an investigation into the Bidens.

“What he has said about me has been completely false. I don’t recall ever having met Mr. Parnas. But what I’ve said over and over again is I was never aware of the allegations that there was some pressure campaign for investigations against the Bidens that was underway until those matters became public,” Pence said.

Asked whether Giuliani exercised good judgment in bringing Parnas into Trump’s orbit, Pence said, “I hold Rudy Giuliani in the highest regard.”
posted by katra at 12:27 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Jpfed: Just a friendly reminder -- Susan Collins of Maine is up for reelection this year. If you are sick of her stunt votes to appear moderate (when McConnell allows it), please donate to / volunteer for her opponent Sara Gideon and help replace Collins.

ZeusHumms: Trump confidante reportedly told Republican Senators that “a vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.”

We’re Checking In On All Those 2020 Senate Races. A Few GOP Incumbents Look Vulnerable. (Five Thirty Eight, Nov. 1, 2019)

... Susan Collins (R-ME) Toss-up/Lean R race, but partisan lean is D+4.9.

If Susan votes in support of Trump, the electorate escort her from the room, come November, and this hearing is providing plenty of material for political ads against Collins and other Republicans, for those who don't reside solidly in the upside down of Fox/Breitbart spinlandia.


ZeusHumms: Is Stupidity a Valid Defense for Trump? (Martin Longman, Washington Monthly)

No. Full stop. You're POTUS? You can't claim stupidity, or you should resign.

Or get impeached.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:36 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Lindsey Graham looks haggard. His bombast isn't as bombastic today either.
posted by mazola at 12:36 PM on January 24


What he has said about me has been completely false. I don’t recall ever having met Mr. Parnas.
Literally the first thing that came up when I googled
posted by mumimor at 12:37 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


If there truly are GOP Senators who want to vote for conviction, you can bet your ass they’re afraid of their head being set on a pike. The Republican Party right now is not composed of good people. It’s not even composed of okay people. The best are moderately distasteful on a good day.

They (more accurately, the mythical, hypothetical “they”) will only vote for conviction if there are enough GOP votes but they can do math and they also know not to trust the toadies and bootlickers in their own party.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 12:39 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


Take her out.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 1:27 PM on January 24


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