ITMFA V: Carry On, Wayward Senate
January 27, 2020 8:05 AM   Subscribe

As Trump’s lawyers begin their defense in the impeachment trial and Republicans rally around the president, an unpublished draft book by John Bolton asserts Trump tied Ukraine aid to the inquiries he sought (reprint), and provides an outline of what Mr. Bolton might testify to if he is called as a witness (reprint). Depending on what comes next, a final vote on whether to remove Donald Trump from office could happen before his State of the Union address on February 4.

PSA: Lawfare offers "compelling and substantial elements" of the Senate proceedings in podcasts. "No analysis. No punditry." 1 & 2, 3, 4, 5.

Previously: ITMFA, ITMFA II, ITMFA III, ITMFA IV

Want to chat? The politics room of MeFi Chat and the Unofficial PoliticsFilter Slack are available. • Thanks to Kansas for helping create this post.
posted by katra (1460 comments total) 87 users marked this as a favorite
 
Depending on what comes next, a final vote on whether to remove Donald Trump from office could happen before his State of the Union address on February 4.

As I said in the previous thread, Senate Republicans acquitting Trump before the SOTU could mean the difference between the speech being a victory lap for Trump or a public meltdown. The latter won't help his re-election chances any, so Democrats much use whatever leverage they can -- little as it may be -- to keep the trial going.
posted by Gelatin at 8:13 AM on January 27 [15 favorites]


Senate Impeachment Trial, Day 7 (C-SPAN) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues with opening arguments from the President’s defense team. Other legislative work is possible. Jan 27, 2020 | 1:00pm EST | C-SPAN 2

U.S. Senate: Impeachment Trial (Day 6) (C-SPAN YouTube) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues with opening arguments by the President’s defense team. Scheduled for Jan 27, 2020
posted by katra at 8:15 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Calendar update, since I messed it up a couple of threads ago.
February 2: Super Bowl LIV
February 3: Iowa caucuses
February 4: State of the Union address
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:15 AM on January 27 [11 favorites]


(3 cheers for katra!)
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:16 AM on January 27 [57 favorites]


I'd hope that Romney and Collins finally grow spines and work with Dems to call Bolton to testify. Either Bolton testifies, or Trump uses "national security" as a pretense to keep him from testifying — either way, that makes him look guiltier, perhaps to a point that even cowardly Republicans can no longer ignore.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:25 AM on January 27 [8 favorites]


I'd hope that Romney and Collins finally grow spines and work with Dems to call Bolton to testify.

They would do so only so long as 1) McConnell knows he has the votes to block Bolton's testimony anyway and b) McConnell perceives more value in protecting their re-election campaigns than in displaying yet another raised middle finger of Republican lockstep voting.
posted by Gelatin at 8:27 AM on January 27 [15 favorites]


perhaps to a point that even cowardly Republicans can no longer ignore

Maybe this time she won't jerk the ball away.
posted by flabdablet at 8:28 AM on January 27 [103 favorites]


That said, the trick is going to be using public pressure and the increasing perception that Republicans are aiding Trump in his cover-up to at least drag the debate past the SOTU. McConnell wants Senate Republicans to acquit Trump without looking like the partisan exercise we all know it to be. That's why Republicans deploy people like Collins to make phony more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger comments like "I was going to vote for witnesses, but then Schiff was mean in mentioning Trump's head-on-a-pike threat."

Republicans are desperate for a fig leaf that will make their inevitable vote to acquit Trump look legitimate. The question is, do the so-called "liberal media" cooperate and do loyal Americans see thru the ruse?
posted by Gelatin at 8:31 AM on January 27 [7 favorites]


It could also be a play to get more campaign financing or other concessions from the GOP. But maybe Roberts himself could sidestep that and call Bolton as a witness. By doing what he can to keep Trump from becoming a king, he might even save his own job, in the process.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:31 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


But maybe Roberts himself could sidestep that and call Bolton as a witness.

Why would Roberts do anything that leads to more evidence of Trump's guilt? Why would Roberts care if Trump, who basically shares his agenda, is king? (He'd care if a Democrat was, of course, but Trump being king reduces the likelihood that the majority of the American people get to pick the president, thus bolstering Republican rule.)

In short, what evidence is there that Roberts approaches his role with any more good faith than any other Republican? All Roberts cares about, like McConnell, is preserving the perception that he isn't totally in the tank for Trump, and he doesn't have to call witnesses to do that.
posted by Gelatin at 8:44 AM on January 27 [27 favorites]


John Bolton’s bombshell gives the GOP a glimpse of its nightmare scenario (Aaron Blake, WaPo) (reprint)
The nightmare scenario for the GOP is that they give Trump the quick and witness-free acquittal that he apparently desires, but then information like Bolton’s keeps coming out. Bolton now suggests Trump was indeed telling people privately that the withheld military aid was part of a quid pro quo — a quid pro quo that Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified that he communicated to the Ukrainians. This is something Trump’s team has strenuously denied, including at the impeachment trial. What if Bolton isn’t the only person Trump told this to who might suddenly contradict them? However closely this has already been tied to Trump, it can always be tied more closely. Bolton’s upcoming book — slated for March 17 — is a great example of how the hastily assembled walls the Trump team have built around its defense can quickly crumble and, in some cases, already have. [...]

Imagine if Republicans vote against entertaining Parnas’s evidence or putting Bolton on the stand, and then the information comes out anyway. If it proves damning, it will look like they engaged in the coverup that Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) accused them of last week.

And at the least, if Trump is saying Bolton is lying, what better way to hold him accountable than to make him say all of this under oath? He’s indicated he’s willing. Now it’s in the Senate GOP’s hands, and you can bet it’s a tougher call now.
posted by katra at 8:45 AM on January 27 [29 favorites]


Yeah, that book is never coming out. WH will supress it on national security grounds and Trump already leaked that strategy by saying "Bolton knows what I'm thinking, and we can't let other leaders know that", ironic as that statement is.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:54 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Speaking of nightmare scenarios, there's no doubt that Trump will be acquitted long before the 2020 presidential campaign season starts in earnest. Republicans make no secret of using the impeachment to fire up Trump's base, but I wonder how effective that tactic will be given the inevitable acquittal and Trump's equally inevitable crowing about it.

But Democrats and other loyal Americans will be incensed and fired up over this miscarriage of justice, and highly motivated to vote these crooks out of office, especially as more evidence of Trump's misdeeds is indeed bound to emerge -- in no small part because an acquitted Trump will perceive, rightly, that Congress doesn't constrain him at all.

Recall that Trump, the Republicans, and the so-called "liberal media" were all prepared to put the Mueller investigation, with all its documented wrongdoing, behind them, and then the whistleblower report emerged. Who among us believes that the Ukraine scandal was Trump's only crime? The only question is when the evidence will emerge.
posted by Gelatin at 8:54 AM on January 27 [16 favorites]


Bolton doesn't have to wait to be subpoenaed by the Senate. He could voluntarily go to the House Judiciary committee and testify today, no subpoena necessary. He refused to do so in November. He could also go onto Fox News or CNN and tell his whole story today. He could walk into the Washington Post and tell his whole story.

He isn't doing that because he doesn't give a shit about the country or anything else except his book money.
posted by JackFlash at 9:14 AM on January 27 [78 favorites]


He isn't doing that because he doesn't give a shit about the country or anything else except his book money.
I read that as blood money at first. I wonder why . . .
posted by Tabitha Someday at 9:15 AM on January 27 [10 favorites]


I may be pretty jaded and cynical about it but I just can't see any evidence at any time being enough to cause Republicans to decide to vote against Trump, even Romney. The only hope that I have is that the more evidence that comes out will be enough to convince enough of the American people to vote against him in the next election.
posted by Justin Case at 9:17 AM on January 27 [15 favorites]


Counting on Republicans to do the right thing? OMG that ship sailed before the ink on the Contract on America was dry.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:17 AM on January 27 [38 favorites]


My only hope, and it's a slim one, is that the GOP will feel uncertain enough in their ability to tip the scales far enough in the 2020 election and decide it's time to dump Trump. If they did that now they could come out claiming to have done the right thing in putting country over party and likely retain the Senate. Public memory is short and too many people want any excuse to continue voting GOP despite all their misdeeds.

I wish that even evil SOBs like McConnell would realize that the longer Trump stays in office, the less he needs them and the more likely it is he'll eventually turn on them. Trump isn't a "share the spoils" kind of guy, and King Trump isn't a good scenario for anybody whose last name isn't Trump.
posted by jzb at 9:17 AM on January 27 [13 favorites]


Executive Privilege Cannot Block Bolton’s Testimony (Harold Hongju Koh, Rosa Hayes, Annie Himes, Dana Khabbaz, Michael Loughlin and Mark Stevens, Just Security)
President Donald Trump has said that he would take the unprecedented step of invoking executive privilege “for the sake of the office [of president],” should former National Security Advisor John Bolton or other national security officials be called to testify in his Senate impeachment trial. But for four reasons, the presiding judge, Chief Justice John Roberts, should reject any such executive privilege claim if proffered and require Bolton’s testimony.

First, judicial precedent does not condone the extension of executive privilege to former officials like Bolton in the context of a Senate impeachment trial. Second, Trump may not invoke national security privilege with respect to Bolton’s and others’ information regarding the president’s conversations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Third, even if Trump could, any such claim of privilege has now likely been waived by the actions of the president, Bolton and others. Finally, this uncontroversial legal issue should not be litigated in courts. Chief Justice Roberts should simply cite the precedent detailed here to require the testimony as part of his judicial management of the impeachment trial. [...]

Nor, finally, is there any legal basis for appealing the Chief Justice’s evidentiary ruling to any other court. The Constitution decrees that the Senate “shall have the sole power to try all impeachments” and “[w]hen the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.” Simply put, an evidentiary ruling by the Chief Justice is textually committed to the Senate impeachment trial process. Accordingly, any effort to challenge in court an evidentiary ruling by the Chief Justice in the ongoing impeachment trial should be summarily dismissed as a nonjusticiable political question.
posted by katra at 9:19 AM on January 27 [12 favorites]


I am working through what the next steps are when Republicans acquit him despite the evidence. IMO, it is well past time to stop hoping that there are any uncompromised Republicans, so it makes very little sense to treat the discussions around what they're likely to do in any light other than that they will all be forced into some uncomfortable position where they acquit the president and somehow manage to keep their jobs intact.

Calling witnesses should mean the end of Drumpf's presidency.
Not calling witnesses should mean the end of their tenure as Senators in 2020.

Cornered animals are unpredictable, but everyone knows they're dangerous.

None of this gets any better from here on, but I think that people who consider that to be favorable to removal or justice are going to be wondering what to do next when it all collapses around them. An entire political party is compromised, and has stronger self-preservation instincts than their opponents have determination to put them into jail.
posted by Chuffy at 9:19 AM on January 27 [13 favorites]


Bolton threatening to upend the Trump Presidency after Trump allowed US-Iran tensions to cool post-Suleimani/revenge missile strikes?

I wonder what he could possibly want in exchange from Team Trump.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:22 AM on January 27 [6 favorites]


My only hope, and it's a slim one, is that the GOP will feel uncertain enough in their ability to tip the scales far enough in the 2020 election and decide it's time to dump Trump. If they did that now they could come out claiming to have done the right thing in putting country over party and likely retain the Senate. Public memory is short and too many people want any excuse to continue voting GOP despite all their misdeeds.

That was the Republican Party's hope in pressuring Nixon to resign in favor of Ford, and at least in the short term, it didn't work. That's one reason the Republicans set up an entire alternate media structure.
posted by Gelatin at 9:23 AM on January 27 [15 favorites]


Calling witnesses means the end of Drumpf's presidency.

Respectfully, but wholeheartedly disagree.
NYT article on this subject
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:25 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


He isn't doing that because he doesn't give a shit about the country or anything else except his book money.

I would imagine that his testimony would only boost book sales. The sales are going to be driven by public awareness. I guess there will be a few people who will think "Well, he testified and there's literally nothing else in that 400 page book worth reading", but I would imagine they would be swamped by the "What else is in there?" crowd.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:29 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


the Contract on America
ISWYDT!
posted by Don Pepino at 9:31 AM on January 27 [7 favorites]


John Roberts Can Call Witnesses to Trump’s Trial. Will He?
This isn’t a matter of Democrats needing four “moderate” Republicans to vote for subpoenas and witnesses, as the Trump lawyers have been claiming. Rather, the impeachment rules, like all trial systems, put a large thumb on the scale of issuing subpoenas and place that power within the authority of the judge, in this case the chief justice.

Most critically, it would take a two-thirds vote — not a majority — of the Senate to overrule that. This week, Democrats can and should ask the chief justice to issue subpoenas on his authority so that key witnesses of relevance like John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney appear in the Senate, and the Senate should subpoena all relevant documents as well.

The Senate rules for impeachment date back to 1868 and have been in effect since that time. They specifically provide for the subpoenas of witnesses, going so far in Rule XXIV as to outline the specific language a subpoena must use — the “form of subpoena to be issued on the application of the managers of the impeachment, or of the party impeached, or of his counsel.”
posted by kirkaracha at 9:32 AM on January 27 [16 favorites]


(I changed that after I read it again to "should mean")

Also, too, the NYT published hundreds of front page articles about emails and a certain charity during the 2016 campaign. A) I don't have any free articles left and don't want to bother getting past their paywall and B) I don't want to read any political analysis from a paper that relegated Clinton's exoneration, again, to page 16 after blasting us relentlessly about her emails daily for months. I am not interested in the NYT's opinion. I am fully willing to hear other peoples' opinions about it. From them, of course.
posted by Chuffy at 9:32 AM on January 27 [7 favorites]


Couple thoughts:

1. There need to be 4 GOP votes for witnesses. By my count, you might get Collins, Romney and Murkowski but without a 4th I don’t see them risking the wrath of the MAGA crowd. Collins might vote on her own if she gets assurance from McConnell that her vote will be meaningless. Figure out who the 4th vote is. Schumer needs to work a deal on the DL — perhaps some sort of electoral non-funding agreement for the next election, as distasteful as I find that idea.
2. Stop rejecting a Biden “deal”. Point out that the GOP already has the votes to call the Bidens if they wish. Point out the reason they don’t is because they already know it’s a bad faith diversion from Trump’s crimes. Make the GOP back up their bullshit rather than accepting equal responsibility by discussing a “deal”.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 9:33 AM on January 27 [21 favorites]


I am working through what the next steps are when Republicans acquit him despite the evidence. IMO, it is well past time to stop hoping that there are any uncompromised Republicans

Which is why Democrats need to maximize whatever opportunities they have to take power away from Republicans, just like Republicans have been doing to Democrats for years. Assuming the Democrats take both the White House and Senate in 2020, they need to change the century-old 1911 Apportionment Act, which caps the number of representatives at 435. Increasing the number of Representatives both makes continued Democratic control of the House more likely and favors Democrats in the Electoral College by adding electoral votes to high-population states. They then must expand the Supreme Court, undoing McConnell's blocking of Garland and the Republicans' decades-long project to control the Judiciary. To do those, the Senate will have to eliminate the legislative filibuster, but given that McConnell has shown no deference at all to the minority, its value seems to have been greatly reduced if not ended.

The next trick would be passing laws to codify a number of the norms that Trump has broken, and restoring the independent counsel statute, so the President is no longer subject to investigation by a Justice Department he controls. The latter two would involve a Democratic President willing to see his or her own power constrained, so it's anyone's guess if they might happen.
posted by Gelatin at 9:38 AM on January 27 [53 favorites]


I would imagine that his testimony would only boost book sales.

That's the point. That's why he has waited until now instead of November to leak this information. He didn't want to waste his publicity on a piddly House hearing months before his book release. He wants center stage, Ollie North style, in the biggest show in government, an impeachment trial in the Senate.
posted by JackFlash at 9:39 AM on January 27 [7 favorites]


Just heard an interesting conversation on the radio about NDAs that could explain why the POTUS is doubling down on ignoring subpoenas...Bolton has to get his book cleared by the White House. If he is subpoenaed, the NDA is overruled and any classified testimony can be handled behind closed doors. If he violates his NDA, then he has to go through a bunch of legal hoops and be bogged down in lawsuits.

We really need to clean house.
posted by Chuffy at 9:41 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


Big Al 8000, I've heard a lot of commentary lately that, while the Ds need only 4 votes to force witnesses technically speaking, the reality is that no R wants to be the 4th vote, so in order to provide cover, the Ds actually need more than 4 votes. Lamar Alexander's name gets mentioned, on account of his retiring, for what it's worth.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:42 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I don't think the Senate Republicans are being held back merely by thoughts of re-election campaigns and partisanship. The only thing that explains their ride or die loyalty at this stage is complicity in something criminal. Given the nature of things, it's probably a massive financial crime related to campaign funds. In that scenario, they're not backing Trump just to keep their positions secure, they're backing Trump because if he loses there's a good chance it all blows up and people start losing entire fortunes and going to prison.
posted by Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin at 9:43 AM on January 27 [27 favorites]


There are no Trump personal NDAs that are legally binding on government employees. That's just nonsense.

Trump had NDAs for people working for him privately before his election. But those NDAs cannot cover government employment.
posted by JackFlash at 9:45 AM on January 27 [24 favorites]


katra: President Donald Trump has said that he would take the unprecedented step of invoking executive privilege “for the sake of the office [of president],”

Fixed that, for reality.

kirkaracha: John Roberts Can Call Witnesses to Trump’s Trial. Will He?

No. He called out both sides to be more civil (transcript in prior thread from 20 year lurk) because, as JackFlash noted, 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.

Roberts wants civility, not to hold Trump accountable.


A reminder that this is crazy fast -- Dec. 5, 2019: Speaker Pelosi asks House to draft articles of impeachment against President Trump (ABC News). January 21, 2020: Senate Democrats win 2 key changes to Trump impeachment trial rules (CNBC), but GOP shot down 11 proposed amendments (Newsweek).

In comparison, after spending more than two years and $7 million, the House Select Committee on Benghazi released a report Tuesday that found — like eight investigations before it — no evidence of wrongdoing by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or other members of the Obama administration. (HuffPo, June 29, 2016) [Also: Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) Admits House GOP Cut Funding For Embassy Security: ‘You Have To Prioritize Things’ (HuffPo, Oct. 11, 2012)]
posted by filthy light thief at 9:54 AM on January 27 [23 favorites]


Given the nature of things, it's probably a massive financial crime related to campaign funds.

For instance the Russian money laundered through the NRA?
posted by sjswitzer at 9:54 AM on January 27 [30 favorites]


I'm with Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin on the ride-or-die Republicans. Kompromat, real or perceived, is what's holding them all together.
posted by jasondigitized at 9:56 AM on January 27 [8 favorites]


The NDAs are largely considered to be meaningless in legal terms, but they have been weaponized. Just another lawsuit, to be held up in court for months, if not years. So maybe not nonsense in reality, considering his abuse of power and direct threats to government employees. That is very much real.

Atlantic article on NDAs
posted by Chuffy at 10:05 AM on January 27 [6 favorites]


I've heard a lot of commentary lately that, while the Ds need only 4 votes to force witnesses technically speaking, the reality is that no R wants to be the 4th vote, so in order to provide cover, the Ds actually need more than 4 votes.

Thinking back to the "head on a pike" threat conveyed to Republican Senators, one suspects that Trump's narcissism won't let him tolerate any Republican dissenters. I predict that Collins, Romney, Murkowski, and the rest will bow to the threat of a tirade of Trump tweets and vote in lockstep with the rest of their rotten party, definitely for acquittal and probably against witnesses (after all, they all know, as does Trump, that inviting witnesses will only embarrass Trump and make the case for acquittal more difficult to justify).

Fine. Hang him around all their necks. We're going to have to listen to Republicans protest that they opposed Trump all along for the next decade at least, and our response has to be to reject such nonsense out of hand. The only Republicans that really oppose Trump aren't Republicans any more.

Hang their moral cowardice around their necks for all time. They deserve it.
posted by Gelatin at 10:11 AM on January 27 [16 favorites]


Romney says Bolton's testimony is important to hear.
Romney says Bolton “has relevant testimony” and it is “increasingly apparent it is important to hear” from him.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:14 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


"Increasingly apparent"? So it was apparent before, just now more so? Asshole.
posted by notsnot at 10:17 AM on January 27 [22 favorites]


Romney says Bolton “has relevant testimony” and it is “increasingly apparent it is important to hear” from him.

Big deal. Let's see how Romney votes, not what he says to a gaggle of reporters. So-called "moderates" like him have played this game for years, making reasonable bipartisan noises for the cameras and then voting lockstep with the rest of their party when it matters. Feh.
posted by Gelatin at 10:18 AM on January 27 [37 favorites]


From the Atlantic article:
If Trump believes that he can enforce his nondisclosures agreements against former White House or campaign employees who speak about the improprieties they witnessed, then he is wrong. His broad NDAs are unenforceable under contract law, under whistleblowing and anti-retaliation protections, under freedom of information laws, and under constitutional law.

Bolton has absolutely nothing to fear from an NDA. Dragging it into the discussion is just a distraction.

Further, Bolton has nothing to fear from Trump's orders not to testify. The House has already heard testimony from Fiona Hill, Ambassador Yovanovich, and Colonel Vindman. All of who Trump ordered not to testify.

Absolutely nothing happened to them. Trump's threats are toothless. Bolton is just using excuses not to testify until now.
posted by JackFlash at 10:21 AM on January 27 [16 favorites]


Executive Privilege Is No Reason for the Senate to Ignore John Bolton (Jonathan Shaub, Lawfare)
There are a great deal of questions flying around regarding what would, could and should occur if the Senate subpoenaed Bolton and the president tried to prevent his testimony through executive privilege—and what role, if any, the courts should play and how fast they could settle the dispute if it arose.

The real answer is that no one knows. No president has attempted to use executive privilege to block testimony or evidence in a Senate impeachment trial. There are no Senate precedents dealing with executive privilege in impeachment. And executive privilege itself is so widely disputed and poorly understood that anyone who purports to provide the answer about its operation, particularly in these unprecedented circumstances, is either deluding herself or deceiving everyone else.

There are only analogies, constitutional theories, judicial precedents and historical examples on which to draw to try and discern potential answers or frameworks for decisions. Former executive branch officials, constitutional and congressional scholars, historians, experts on congressional oversight, and journalists approach the question from different perspectives—and many, myself included, have offered their opinion about what could or should happen and how executive privilege should operate in the Senate trial. But these are nothing more than that: opinions, educated guesses and theories, each reflecting, unavoidably, the author’s own background and views.

This is uncharted territory. And the publication of details from Bolton’s draft book pushes the controversy further afield from anything that has previously been seen in this country, even in related contexts such as congressional oversight. [...]

Senators’ refusal to request the evidence does not protect executive privilege. And attempting to withhold the information does not protect the presidency. A Senate subpoena for specific, relevant information in an ongoing impeachment trial would not inhibit any president from asserting or relying on executive privilege in the future, and it certainly would not prevent a president—including this one—from raising privilege on the basis of specific, identifiable harms that disclosure of particular information could create. Assertions by both the White House and its Republican allies that the Senate should or must refrain from seeking evidence directly relevant to an ongoing impeachment trial because of a potential claim of executive privilege do nothing other than diminish the Senate’s authority going forward. Those assertions elevate undifferentiated claims of executive branch confidentiality interests above the Senate’s solemn constitutional duty to consider whether to remove the president from office.

If the Senate does not want to hear from Bolton, that is its choice—and a valid exercise of its constitutional prerogative to try impeachments. But it should not attempt to justify that action by a need to “protect” executive privilege or the presidency.
posted by katra at 10:22 AM on January 27 [5 favorites]


Bolton’s upcoming book — slated for March 17 — is a great example of how the hastily assembled walls the Trump team have built around its defense can quickly crumble and, in some cases, already have. [...]

This would imply the Trump team has built any "walls"—i.e., a strong coherent argument—in the first place. They haven't because they don't care. At best they have erected a semi-opaque shower curtain. Everyone can see what is happening, albeit with a few details obscured. Because it doesn't matter. We keep finding more witnesses, just this weekend there has been audio tapes, video and this book leak. No Republican is budging. The team is going through the motions of defense while the Senate goes through (some of) the motions of the trial. No matter what happens, when it is over they are ready to vote and basically install Trump as dictator.

The Republicans should should just go ahead and call witnesses. Call Bolton up, let him read from his book and throw whoever he wants under the bus for whatever his motives are. Then, they'll call him a liar who wants to sell books. Let more bad stuff come up from more witnesses and discredit them with personal attacks and flood the zone with conspiracy theories. It's what they have been doing for years and it has worked.

They won't, because for every minute this goes on Trump gets angrier and harder for his handlers to control. Honestly, I think the only hope at this point is for Trump to work himself up so much that he causes himself to have some sort of major medical episode. For this reason alone, the Senators/trial team should do whatever procedural stalling is available to them to drag this out, to beyond the SOTU at minimum. If we can get witnesses called that's great because it will prolong the trial, not because it will change the outcome.

As the blogger Atrios notes, there is no "Celestial Hall Monitor" coming to save us. Not Mueller, not Roberts and certainly not Bolton.
posted by mikepop at 10:30 AM on January 27 [15 favorites]


There's a big difference between Trump invoking executive privilege (and indirectly admitting the obstruction of Congress charge) and the Senate declining to call witnesses because they expect him to invoke executive privilege.

It's a cover-up either way; the only question is will Senate Republicans participate in it (Narrator: They will).

And either way, Democrats and other loyal Americans need to keep asking the question, "What is Trump hiding?" No one refuses to allow the testimony of witnesses that will exonerate them.
posted by Gelatin at 10:30 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Executive privilege is also a red herring. Executive privilege can only be used to prevent the Senate from asking a witness questions. Executive privilege does not prevent Bolton from going on Fox News or CNN and voluntarily giving his testimony. There is no "Executive Privilege" law. There is no penalty for a witness who violates the president's order. None at all.

Executive privilege only works for an employee currently working for the president who is cooperating with the president. The worst that the president can do is fire them. He can't keep them from testifying if they wish to do so of their own volition.
posted by JackFlash at 10:33 AM on January 27 [11 favorites]


The more I think about it, the more it doesn't seem like anyone's going to jail, let alone getting removed from office, for any crime. Even if it's proven clear as day that Trump did a quid pro quo, that the NRA has been laundering dark money, that the entire republican legislature has essentially set the constitution alight and is dancing in the ashes, it won't matter because the ruling party can always claim, as they already are, that the ends justify the means. "We had to withhold aid to Ukraine to save them from corruption, we had to take any money we could to save American's rights to bear arms, we had to rig elections to save Real Americans. "We had to suspend elections after the reichstag fire to save this country from its enemies within and without!" I can honestly see that horrific perspective becoming a-ok with at least 40% of the Americans currently, which is more than enough to end the American experiment.
posted by Philipschall at 10:33 AM on January 27 [11 favorites]


Why does anyone thing Bolton --or any other Republican stooge--will actually tell the truth?

I'm glad impeachment is happening, just so it's on the record that someone tried, but all these bastards will walk. Just like the rich bullies always do.

We only got Social Security and the New Deal because they were afraid for their lives.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 10:33 AM on January 27 [12 favorites]


As the blogger Atrios notes, there is no "Celestial Hall Monitor" coming to save us. Not Mueller, not Roberts and certainly not Bolton.

But there are the voters. If a disgusted electorate ousts four Republican senators in 2020, there goes Mitch McConnell's majority (and possibly even his Senate seat!). His task, again, is to conduct a kangaroo court exonerating Trump without making it too obvious. Our task, and the task of every loyal American, is to make it hard for him to get away with it, and make him pay a cost for doing so.
posted by Gelatin at 10:34 AM on January 27 [9 favorites]


Executive privilege can only be used to prevent the Senate from asking a witness questions.

It can't even do that; the Senate (or House) can ask all they please, and the witness can decline to answer by invoking executive privilege. Before the Senate, there would be no repercussions, and that'd be all she wrote, but again, it'll stink of a cover-up. Republicans don't want those optics to happen.
posted by Gelatin at 10:36 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Starr is choosing not to defend Trump, but to attack the concept of impeachment. Yes, that’s Kenneth Starr, one of the chief architects of the previous presidential impeachment, arguing that we should really not be impeaching people as a matter of course. He even cited British parliamentary committees who decided that impeachment in that country was “insufficiently fair” and therefore “obsolete”.

Apparently, defending Trump is actually a more embarrassing option then choosing to undermine the entire premise of your career.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:37 AM on January 27 [66 favorites]


Given the nature of things, it's probably a massive financial crime related to campaign funds.

For instance the Russian money laundered through the NRA?


Just echoing these excellent points—this looks much more like survival and self-preservation to me, than ideology or mere greed.

The more I think about it, the more it doesn't seem like anyone's going to jail, let alone getting removed from office, for any crime

I have also come to this conclusion, and am starting to think that part of the discourse and analysis devoted to following this in real-time probably ought to be shifted to devising a realistic set of responses for when this happens.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:38 AM on January 27 [11 favorites]


Guardian: Starr criticized for warning of impeachment becoming 'normalized'
Ken Starr, one of Trump’s lawyers, warned that impeachment has become “normalized” and could soon be turned into a weapon against every administration. “Democrats will regret it when Republicans are handing out the pens,” predicted Starr, who spearheaded the investigation of Bill Clinton that led to his impeachment. Starr’s warnings were met with incredulity from Democratic commentators and strategists, including this former Clinton adviser:

Paul Begala (@PaulBegala) Ken Starr calls this period “the Age of Impeachment,” and asks, “How did we get here?” He then whips out a hand mirror and says, “Oh, right. It was me. My bad.” January 27, 2020
posted by katra at 10:39 AM on January 27 [20 favorites]


But there are the voters.

This assumes the existence of free and fair elections (or an election at all) come November, nine months after Trump & company are basically given free rein to do anything they want.

But I agree with you - voters are all we have at this point.
posted by mikepop at 10:40 AM on January 27 [9 favorites]


Dems should be pushing for witnesses because there’s no downside and there is a huge potential upside. There’s no realistic chance of the Senate convicting after closing arguments. But there is a realistic chance that a cascading series of witnesses would reveal some new Trump scandal, or a whole tree of them, which could wear down popular support for the President even further, and change the calculus.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:43 AM on January 27 [8 favorites]


The Onion had this right 3 months ago: GOP Lawmakers Watch Silently As Trump Strangles Each Of Their Loved Ones In Turn

...every Republican in both the House and Senate stated that while killing off their families in cold blood might not be entirely proper, it was certainly not an impeachable offense, no matter how the media tried to spin it.

Or, in other words to steal this from someone online, Trump will win acquittal by 53-47, unless he shoots a Republican Senator. Then it will be 52-47.

The goal is to get to the non Fox News watching people who might change their vote from Trump or who didn't vote last time. No President has lost an impeachment trial and that's not about to change.
posted by Hactar at 10:47 AM on January 27 [22 favorites]


Someone needs to write a book about the pantheon of complete mediocrities who will argue whatever you pay them to that dominate this era (Starr, Turley, Dersh, etc)
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:52 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


The House has already heard testimony from Fiona Hill, Ambassador Yovanovich, and Colonel Vindman. All of who Trump ordered not to testify.

Absolutely nothing happened to them. Trump's threats are toothless. Bolton is just using excuses not to testify until now.


Fiona Hill resigned her government position in 2019, testified and yes, so far, has not had anything "happen" to her. (outside of, you know, no longer working for the government)

Ambassador Yovanovich testified, and was threatened while she was testifying. It was later discovered that the president and a gang of his boys were tracking her movements. She had to leave on the next plane, and feared for her life at the time, and was being threatened by the POTUS while she was testifying. Maybe not toothless. (also no longer an Ambassador, so there's that)

Col. Vindman - maybe you aren't up to speed on current events.

Stormy Daniels was visited in a parking garage.
Adam Schiff hasn't "Paid the price, yet"

These threats may seem toothless, but you know he has plenty of teeth when it comes to Republicans. If he can issue open threats to these people who disobey his orders, imagine what leverage he has over people he has real blackmail over...Lindsey Graham clearly doesn't think he's "toothless."
posted by Chuffy at 10:52 AM on January 27 [21 favorites]


“Democrats will regret it when Republicans are handing out the pens,”

In case you missed the thing about the pens (and there's a good chance you did, because it seems like only shouty right-wingers (see also Mike Gallagher (link to his site), who replayed the Gutfeld thing the next morning) give a shit about it): Nancy Pelosi gave out souvenir pens after signing the impeachment documents.

They're not 18-karat gold, they didn't cost $2,025, or $15,000, and there were also souvenir pens at the Clinton impeachment. Not that any of these facts matter one bit to people who want to talk about anything, anything, but the facts of the case.
posted by box at 10:55 AM on January 27 [15 favorites]


The more I think about it, the more it doesn't seem like anyone's going to jail, let alone getting removed from office, for any crime

Obviously much -- indeed, all -- depends on the outcome of the 2020 elections. But as much as Obama was faulted for letting George W. Bush and crew, and the architects of the housing crisis and Great Recession, get away with various crimes, this time loyal Americans will not be in a forgiving mood at all. Of course Republican operatives like David Brooks and the more milquetoast members of the so-called "liberal media" will call for "looking forward, not backward" and not "criminalizing politics," but Trump and his crew already did the crimes, and we've already seen, from Watergate to Iran-Contra to the bogus case for the Iraq war and Bush's torture regime, the damage our nation endures from not purging the rot. If the rot is solely Republican, well, that's their choice, and if it isn't, let justice be done though the heavens fall.
posted by Gelatin at 11:01 AM on January 27 [9 favorites]


These threats may seem toothless

We're not yet a month away from Trump ordering the assassination of a high-ranking Iranian official in Baghdad via drone strike. Comparatively speaking, the people who testified to Congress have gotten off pretty un-toothed.
posted by Etrigan at 11:06 AM on January 27 [6 favorites]


Sometimes, it takes a while for the bite to take effect...
posted by Chuffy at 11:13 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Sekulow just showed the pen thing as an exhibit in the trial.
posted by Chuffy at 11:15 AM on January 27 [5 favorites]


Republicans seem pretty upset that the Speaker’s pen is more voluminous than theirs
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:25 AM on January 27


Sekulow just showed the pen thing as an exhibit in the trial.

Sekulow and Starr are playing to an audience of one. But other than Trump, and his rabid base, is anyone really being convinced by their arguments? More than will be outraged and motivated by the House managers' case -- which was designed to play to the American public at least as much as the Republican Senators who as much as declared they weren't going to honor their oaths of impartiality -- and the Republican rubber-stamping of Trump's corrupt acts?

After the Democrats regained the House, much of the political press seemed to sneer at the idea that they'd impeach Trump when his acquittal was guaranteed in the Senate. But now that the House has actually done so, everyone is forced to confront the reality that the Republicans are really going to let him get away with it. (Had they stood pat, the Democrats would instead have borne the blame and the shame.) I don't see this outcome as good for the Republicans, but between that and the "heads on pikes" threat, I don't see why the Senate Republicans are kowtowing the way they are. It takes some doing to look more feckless than Democrats, but they're doing it.
posted by Gelatin at 11:26 AM on January 27 [7 favorites]


Trump defense team: Bolton who? (Politico)
“We deal with transcript evidence. We deal with publicly available information. We do not deal with speculation, allegations that are not based on evidentiary standards at all,” Jay Sekulow, Trump’s lead personal attorney for the trial, said as he opened up the second day of his team’s opening arguments at the Senate’s trial. [...] Trump's lawyers, led by Sekulow and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, indicated early on that instead of addressing Bolton’s reported account of his conversations with Trump, they would continue presenting a defense of Trump's conduct toward Ukraine — batting aside the House's charges that Trump pressured Ukrainian officials to launch baseless investigations of his Democratic adversaries.
'Torture,' 'excruciatingly boring': Starr blasted for opening with long discussion of history of impeachment (NBC News)
Quoting centuries-old law school deans and what he dubbed the “Rodino Rule,” and citing the minutiae of the Iran-Contra scandal and the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, Starr, despite a 30-minute-plus discussion so far, has yet to mention Trump by name. His lecture is beginning to attract the ire of its watchers — even among Trump allies. [...]

Ken Starr litigation strategy: Torture the senate with such an excruciatingly boring presentation that they cannot take another minute of this trial. — Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) January 27, 2020
posted by katra at 11:27 AM on January 27 [6 favorites]


Defense team expected to address Bolton allegations (WaPo)
White House lawyers are expected to raise the Bolton allegations as part of their argument on the Senate floor Monday afternoon and are likely now to extend their arguments until Tuesday, according to White House aides.

White House aides are still pushing against the idea of testimony from Bolton and others but are beginning to prepare for the possibility, according to the aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and legislative affairs director Eric Ueland, among others, are telling other aides in the building and on Capitol Hill that they had not seen Bolton’s manuscript, even though they knew that Bolton’s opinion of the president was negative and that his testimony was unlikely to help the president.

Before reports of Bolton’s allegations Sunday night, White House officials had expected to wrap up their opening arguments Monday after only two hours of arguments on Saturday.
posted by katra at 11:32 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


For reference, in the unlikely event there are any witnesses:
Witnesses would be subpoenaed, then deposed. Unclear how long this would take. Then testify, (on video or live) if the Senate decides to. This does not necessarily happen in the chamber. Then, potentially, written questions from senators, read by the Chief Justice.

If there are no witnesses the Senate will probably be done by Friday. If there are witnesses this could extend for quite some time, though not continuously.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 11:37 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Guardian: "Angus King, an independent senator who caucuses with Democrats, predicted that up to 10 Republicans would eventually vote in favor of allowing new witness testimony during the impeachment trial.
Burgess Everett (@burgessev) Sen. Angus King to @npr on how many GOP Senators might call for witnesses: “I think there'll be more than four. My bold prediction will be five or 10." January 27, 2020
posted by katra at 11:37 AM on January 27 [7 favorites]


‘Time to move on’: Most GOP senators dismiss Bolton revelations (USA Today, Jan. 27, 2020) Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, chair of the GOP conference, dismissed the “so-called blockbuster report” as “selective leaks” that don’t change the underlying facts of the case.

“There’s nothing new here that John Bolton didn’t know before the House managers rested their case and stopped calling witnesses, and they never chose to call John Bolton,” he said. Bolton had followed a White House directive not to respond to the House’s request that he voluntarily testify.

[...] Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., cast doubt on the veracity of Bolton’s account. “Well, I don’t know. Is he a firsthand witness? I’m not sure,” he told reporters as he entered Republicans’ daily lunch meeting.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Bolton is “an angry disgruntled employee and I think he'll say anything.”

posted by Iris Gambol at 11:39 AM on January 27 [6 favorites]


Sekulow says no witness tied investigations and aid. Bolton revelations allege link (NBC News)
Arguing before the Senate on Monday, Sekulow listed as noteworthy one of the Trump legal team's "six facts" about the president's efforts in Ukraine.

Sekulow said that "no witness" testified to a direct link between the investigations Trump wanted Ukraine to announce and the withholding of nearly $400 million in aid to the country.

However, ex-national security adviser John Bolton reportedly would say just that if the Senate voted in favor of calling him to testify before the trial. He reportedly alleges in his upcoming book that Trump linked the two things — Ukraine aid and an investigation into Democrats, including the Bidens — in an August conversation with him, which the president has denied doing.

Several other Trump administration witnesses testified that they believed there was a link between the aid and the investigations Trump sought.
posted by katra at 11:46 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Bolton is “an angry disgruntled employee and I think he'll say anything.” sure to deliver damaging testimony.

We knew that, but thanks for the confirmation, jackass.
posted by Gelatin at 11:46 AM on January 27 [12 favorites]


Sekulow said that "no witness" testified to a direct link between the investigations Trump wanted Ukraine to announce and the withholding of nearly $400 million in aid to the country.

Sekulow is gloating about Trump's successful obstruction of Congress as if his doing so wasn't confirmation of the second impeachment charge. (Not that Senate Republicans care, but again, I doubt playing to Trump and his base and not the wider audience of loyal Americans is good for the Republicans in the long run -- not that I mind.)
posted by Gelatin at 11:53 AM on January 27 [8 favorites]


Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Bolton is “an angry disgruntled employee and I think he'll say anything.”

You have to admire the nerve it takes to defend a guy whose entire public image was founded on being a proudly cruel boss by saying "Anyone who was turned off by his management style doesn't count."
posted by Etrigan at 12:15 PM on January 27 [15 favorites]


If there are no witnesses the Senate will probably be done by Friday. If there are witnesses this could extend for quite some time, though not continuously.

We should note that while this might inconvenience senators running for the presidency, there will surely be many days without an active trial where they will be able to campaign personally.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:16 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Ken Starr, one of Trump’s lawyers, warned that impeachment has become “normalized” and could soon be turned into a weapon against every administration. “Democrats will regret it when Republicans are handing out the pens,” predicted Starr, who spearheaded the investigation of Bill Clinton that led to his impeachment.

Absolutely. We should handle impeachment proceedings with lead-lined gloves, lest they become so commonplace that they become partisan tools that are wielded carelessly by the other side, rather than the somber measure of last resort that the Founders intended.

Also, hey, remember 2009-2016, when the GOP made something like a hundred separate calls for the impeachment of Barack Obama, for reasons ranging from "wore a tan suit on television" to "ratified a bill giving health care to poor people"?
posted by Mayor West at 12:16 PM on January 27 [40 favorites]


I find all the callers on NPR saying "I used to be a democrat but I switched because they won't support our President" to be kind of fishy.
posted by mazola at 12:18 PM on January 27 [29 favorites]


Republicans struggle to get on message after Bolton rocks trial (Politico)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has put a premium on keeping his caucus united amid an often unpredictable political environment and a pressure campaign from Democrats demanding a “fair trial” that they say must include witnesses and documents. GOP lawmakers are likely to appear more on message after a Senate GOP caucus lunch Monday afternoon, which is certain to feature a discussion of how to handle the Bolton news.

In the meantime, though, the GOP message was scattered. A daily GOP press conference to discuss the trial, expected to feature Sens. John Barasso (R-Wyo.), Braun, Mike Lee (R-Utah), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.), was abruptly postponed Monday morning, only to be rescheduled with just Barrasso and Braun in attendance.
posted by katra at 12:20 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


NYT headline: “Republicans in Disarray”
posted by Sublimity at 12:35 PM on January 27 [18 favorites]


Schumer: White House lawyers making case for documents and witnesses (CBS News)
Speaking to reporters during a brief recess in the impeachment trial, Schumer said Mr. Trump's lawyers "keep making the case for witnesses and documents."

Schumer said comments from Starr emphasizing that the Senate is sitting as a court bolster the argument in favor of additional testimony and documents.

"Whoever heard of a court proceeding without witness and documents? Whoever heard of a trial without witnesses and documents?" he said. "If we are a court, all the more reason we have to hear the evidence."

Schumer also refuted comments from Sekulow who said not a single witness in the House's impeachment inquiry testified they heard from the president himself. [...] "We want Bolton. We want Mulvaney. They heard from the president himself," Schumer said. "We can solve Mr. Sekulow's problem of not having witnesses who heard from the president himself by having Bolton, by having Mulvaney, by having [Robert] Blair and by having [Michael] Duffey and the documents underneath what they said."
posted by katra at 12:37 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


I find all the callers on NPR saying "I used to be a democrat but I switched because they won't support our President" to be kind of fishy.
posted by mazola at 2:18 PM on January 27 [2 favorites +] [!]


Next you'll impugn the honor of the C-SPAN "independent" voters who immediately begin speaking in verbatim Republican talking points! These are the old person equivalent of Russian troll farms.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:37 PM on January 27 [28 favorites]


I don't see why the Senate Republicans are kowtowing the way they are.

I think they have no choice at this point. If they dump Trump, then the obvious question is "Why did you wait so long?" The only difference about Bolton's reveal is that he's not some poor civil servant who can be stuffed in a closet. The information has been there all along, and now they're in a lose-lose situation.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 12:38 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


The GOP has weaponized, I think kind of accidentally, their base. If you do not follow along, you will lose your primary race. At this point, I'm not sure how a Republican would realistically court many Democrat votes (though moderates of both sides exist and it could happen on a local level). So Republicans could certainly stand up but then they'd lose their next election, and I think they'd lose those sweet, sweet connections they're using to make money and have power.

It's like a shield wall in an army. If the wall holds, it's very strong. An individual trying to run away would be completely defenseless, but it weakens the wall... I expect it either holds or breaks all at once. Given all the sunk-cost and shady dealings, I'm not sure it will ever "break" except by a decisive election and Republicans can ease off. You can see an example of fracturing in how many people "retired" in advance of 2018 and 2020.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:47 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


Guardian: "After offering a robust defense of Rudy Giuliani, Jane Raskin ended her presentation by describing the president’s personal lawyer as “a minor player” and “a shiny object meant to distract you.”
The defense of the former New York mayor may come as a surprise to Republican lawmakers, many of whom have expressed unease about Giuliani’s role in pushing Ukraine to investigate Democrats.
::coughs:: John Bolton Reportedly Called Rudy Giuliani a ‘Hand Grenade’ (NY Mag)
posted by katra at 12:54 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


2018 *was* a decisive election. A decisive Democratic victory in 2020 would be another data point in a trend line that isn't favorable to Republicans at all -- and, note, was predictable and predicted by the Republicans after Romney's loss. The Republicans didn't have to double down on being the party of angry white men; they were urged by their own strategists to open up to a bigger tent that at least somewhat welcomed immigrants, and they just couldn't do it.

A decisive Democratic victory in 2020 would be yet another step on the Republican Party marching itself into irrelevance and evidence that Trump's victory was just a fluke. The question is, is Trump's fire-up-the-base strategy the genius move he thinks it is or a recipe for disaster? Judging by the impeachment trial so far (and Pompeo's infamous meltdown in his NPR interview), even Republicans don't seem confident -- just afraid.
posted by Gelatin at 1:01 PM on January 27 [19 favorites]


And that's when they are the most dangerous. They are going down fighting.
posted by sjswitzer at 1:07 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


These threats may seem toothless, but you know he has plenty of teeth when it comes to Republicans.

Sorry for the confusion. We were discussing legal consequences that people have used as excuses for refusal to testify -- NDAs, and executive privilege, and subpoenas.

Of course it has always been true that Trump can sic his twitter mob on anyone who doesn't toe the line. But that isn't why Bolton and Mulvaney have refused to testify. They have refused because they simply don't want to and are using bogus legal excuses to justify it.
posted by JackFlash at 1:16 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Guardian: "Congressman Justin Amash, who left the Republican Party over his opposition to Trump, criticized the president’s lawyers for ignoring news reports as they present their opening arguments.
Justin Amash (@justinamash) The defense team’s strategy rests on pretending that news doesn’t exist. January 27, 2020
Trump lawyer: Giuliani was "minor player" in Ukraine affair (CNN)
This ignores testimony from several witnesses, who said the President directed them to coordinate with Giuliani on Ukraine policy. It also ignores the fact that Giuliani’s name came up six times during Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Here are all the times Giuliani was mentioned in the call:

Zelensky: "I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine."
Trump: "Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what's happening and he is a very capable guy."
Trump: "I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it."
Trump: "Good. Well, thank you very much and I appreciate that. I will tell Rudy and Attorney General Barr to call."
posted by katra at 1:17 PM on January 27 [21 favorites]


I mean fuck Rand Paul, but I absolutely agree that Bolton will say anything, whether out of vindictiveness, fame-mongering, or self-preservation. Paul should know that better than anyone, really.

Bolton was a professional idiot before he went on the wingnut circuit that landed him in the Trump cabinet, and he continues to be an idiot now. If his testimony manages to get some airplay undermining Trump's approval among the dittoheads who empowered him, it might be worthwhile. But let's not kid ourselves that anything the man says has anything more than a passing relationship with fact, unless by accident.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:22 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


I think they have no choice at this point. If they dump Trump, then the obvious question is "Why did you wait so long?"

Which is the scariest scenario of all, in some ways. For every loyalty test these craven cowards pass by praising the emperor's clothes, they're that much more committed to the next loyalty test. There's a whole lot that could get a whole lot worse, on multiple fronts, if they ride this rabid horse all the way to the end.

Did I say if?
posted by Rykey at 1:42 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Trump counsel just revealed that another member of the Burisma board was apparently a friend of John Kerry’s stepson and this is outrageous and I’m not even kidding
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:45 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Well of course there's that conflict of interest.

I mean, the appearance of conflict of interest.

I mean, the *potential* appearance of conflict of interest.
posted by mazola at 1:51 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


I don’t know why the Republicans bothered going after John Kerry’s war record when they could have just maligned his step-children’s friends 🤷‍♂️
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:53 PM on January 27 [25 favorites]


Oh, I see Pam Bondi is speaking... good thing there's no conflict of interest ever clouding around her related to Trump before he was president. It would be shocking at this point if someone somehow wasn't nakedly corrupt.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:01 PM on January 27 [15 favorites]


Bondi was a Florida elector for 2016, BTW
posted by ocschwar at 2:03 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


At this point it's easier to list the people on the defense team who don't have photos with Lev Parnas. Pam Bondi + Lev Parnas
posted by ryoshu at 2:04 PM on January 27 [22 favorites]


Trump defense team focuses on the Bidens (CNN)
Pam Bondi, former Florida attorney general and a member of President Trump’s defense team, outlined the issue of Hunter Biden’s involvement on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company, during her 30-minute presentation. This was the first direct reference to the Bidens during the defense team’s presentations.

House managers, she said, “repeatedly referenced” Biden and Burisma more than “400 times” during their presentations last week, “but they never gave you the full picture.”

“We would prefer not to be talking about this,” she claimed, “But the House managers have placed this squarely at issue, so we must address it.”

Citing multiple news reports and testimony from State Department official George Kent and other witnesses, Bondi cast the company as corrupt and Biden’s involvement as a conflict of interest. She questioned his qualifications to serve on the board, an opportunity she called “nepotistic at best, nefarious at worst.”

There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden.

Bondi noted that then-Vice President Joe Biden sought to remove Ukrainian prosecutor Victor Shokin, who was investigating Burisma. However, she did not note that Shokin was widely accused of corruption and a Shokin deputy has said the Burisma probe was dormant.
Lawyers begin their assault on Joe Biden and his son Hunter. (NYT)
Democrats say the activities of the Bidens are irrelevant to the president’s actions regarding Ukraine, and insist there is no legitimate evidence that either Hunter Biden or the former vice president did anything improper. They accuse Mr. Trump of trying to smear the elder Mr. Biden because he is a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.
posted by katra at 2:23 PM on January 27 [10 favorites]


The Paper of Record would know whether there was any evidence of either Bidens' improper dealings, legitimate or otherwise. It would be nice if they'd have noted that their august institution was not aware of any.
posted by sjswitzer at 2:32 PM on January 27 [12 favorites]


Well this is heartening: "Mitch McConnell is angry at White House over John Bolton manuscript, report says." I still think McConnell will soon conclude that Trump is more a danger and a trouble to the Republican Senate majority while he is in office rather than out, and the Senate will vote to convict.
posted by PhineasGage at 2:33 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


Senator Toomey has proposed some inane witness swap as the hillside dirt continues to saturate under heavy rains. Pennsylvania voters like me can disapprove of this chicanery at any of these telephone numbers. Takes only a minute.
posted by Chef Flamboyardee at 2:37 PM on January 27 [8 favorites]


Toomey, who is not up for reelection until 2022, is close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). He is not close with the president or top aides in the White House.
I might just be a lowly non-Senator Pennsylvanian, but I do understand math a little bit, and 87.3% seems rather close to me.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:42 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


FYI, 5 Calls is an excellent resource for getting hold of your Senators and Representative.

As I said above, if the GOP wants witnesses, there is nothing preventing them from calling any witness they want. They have the votes and don’t need a deal. The Democrats need to make this point clear.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:47 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


They're really pushing the "souvenir pens" thing, lol. So far, it's all about process and timing. Watching Eric Hershcmann talking about everything else besides the facts of the case, which he glossed over as "impeachment over a phone call about corruption."

Everything else is whaaaaaa
posted by Chuffy at 3:00 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


The two before Herschmann also didn't talk about anything related to the impeachment. Just a noun, a verb, and Hunter Biden.
posted by bink at 3:02 PM on January 27


Their greatest defense is still "Look out behind you! It's a tiger!" and yet... there has never been a tiger behind us and we're aware of that. In fact, the idea of a tiger was made up by Russians/conspiracy theory people.

Who fucking cares about the Bidens in an impeachment with two articles listing Trump's specific crimes? I know I'm speaking the choice, but I can't even with the level of nonsense they have.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 3:02 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


“We would prefer not to be talking about this” ... but that Zelenskyy announces investigation into the Bidens shaped hole in the planned campaign ads requires a ton of infill.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:05 PM on January 27 [9 favorites]


Im sorry if this was covered but did the defense counsel really just claim that we cant prosecute Trump's abuse of power because Obama got away with it? The central thesis of that defense is that Trump did the fucking crime.
posted by Slackermagee at 3:09 PM on January 27 [12 favorites]


Yes, it appears to be the, "Of course he did it, so what?" defense, coupled with, "The House didn't get witness testimony from the people who refused to appear, so their case can't be tried."

It's a farce, and we all need to figure out how we're going to deal with it. There's an alternate reality bubble that seems to be impenetrable.
posted by Chuffy at 3:21 PM on January 27 [10 favorites]


The GOP has weaponized, I think kind of accidentally, their base. If you do not follow along, you will lose your primary race.

Filing deadlines for primary candidates have already passed in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, California, Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, Mississippi, Kentucky, Maryland, and West Virginia.

Class 2 senators are up for reelection this year. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) don't have primary challengers. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is essentially running unopposed. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) are retiring.

Class 3 senators are up for reelection in 2022 and Class 1 senators are up for reelection in 2024.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:28 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


I may be naive, but I place a certain amount of hope in the fact that "The book that brought down a President" will sell more copies as a tagline than "The book that certainly ruffled some feathers that time."
posted by Sparx at 3:28 PM on January 27 [11 favorites]


Trump lawyer: Giuliani was "minor player" in Ukraine affair

Not up on my procedure, but does Schiff & Co. get to say "You're lying, and here's the proof." to this shit at any point?
posted by mikelieman at 4:28 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Trump team braces for deeper impeachment drama after Bolton surprise (Politico)
[...] White House officials and Trump lawyers are preparing for the possibility that the Senate impeachment trial will summon witnesses — dragging out the trial for days or weeks, cutting into plans for the State of the Union address and delaying Trump’s pivot to his reelection campaign.

The “only good news for Trump is this f---- up the campaign schedule for the Senate [2020] candidates for weeks to come,” said one Republican close to the White House. [...]

“This opens up a can of worms because the senators don’t get to vote on calling individual witnesses,” said a former senior administration official. “If Bolton testifies, then what does that mean for Pompeo or Mulvaney and assertions of executive privilege? It gets complicated and uncertain really fast.”

Trump lawyers are already thinking through which witnesses would be best to rebut potential testimony from Bolton and are eyeing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Bolton has said he will testify if the Senate subpoenas him. [...]

In an interview, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) called the Bolton book disclosures a “bombshell with political shrapnel going in all directions toward the Republican Party to figure out how to handle this.”

The White House press office did not respond to a request for comment.
posted by katra at 4:33 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


The “only good news for Trump is this f---- up the campaign schedule for the Senate [2020] candidates for weeks to come,” said one Republican close to the White House.

Not for "Sleepy Joe" Biden tho.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:36 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Guardian: "Lawyer Eric Herschmann has accused Barack Obama of soliciting interference in the 2012 election by asking Russia to give him “space” on missile defense. Herschmann characterized a 2012 communication between Obama and former Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev as “unquestionable quid pro quo”.

Guardian: Fact Check: What Trump’s defense mischaracterized about Barack Obama’s conversation with Moscow
Trump’s legal team tried to turn the tables, characterizing a conversation between Barack Obama and Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev as “unquestionable quid pro quo”.

The conversation they were referring to was caught on a “hot” microphone during what the two leaders believed was a private moment during a 2012 nuclear summit in South Korea. Obama asked Medvedev to tell incoming Russian president Vladimir Putin to give him time to negotiate contentious issues like missile defense: “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility,” Obama said.

The former president wasn’t offering or withholding anything; at the time, Republicans criticized what they saw as a lack of resolve to keep Putin in check. But Obama never offered or withheld anything from the Russians in exchange for a personal favor, as Trump’s legal team tried to claim.
posted by katra at 4:37 PM on January 27 [16 favorites]


I hope they do documents and witnesses. And I'm waiting on Lev Parnas's lawyer to suffer a second rate burglary. Parnas's phone(s) is probably the most wanted item in the US. Photos, audio, video of Trump, by the guy who Trump doesn't know.
posted by baegucb at 4:38 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


After his embarrassing performance on NPR, it would be surprising if the WH would choose to put Pompeo on the stand.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:38 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


DTMFA
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 4:42 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


Schiff: Trump and allies want to suppress Bolton testimony because they are "deathly afraid" (CNN)
Asked about GOP Rep. Mark Meadows’s suggestion that the New York Times story on John Bolton was a coordinated leak from Democrats and if he was in any way involved in the leak, House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff said he was not.

“Of course not,” Schiff said, “It came as quite a surprise to all the House managers when the New York Times story came out, but I guess that’s the best Representative Meadows has right now. Look I can understand the reasons why — and I think we knew these already — why the President and his allies have wanted to suppress John Bolton’s testimony. They evidentially had this manuscript, they understood what John Bolton had to say and they were deathly afraid the American people would find out."

Schiff continued: "There seems to be a real shift in where the Republican senators are and I think it’s very hard for them to maintain that they wanted a fair trial, wanted to know all the facts when there’s a witness who said I’m ready, I’ve got something to say, we have an outline of what he has to say, it’s really hard to say we’re not going to hear that.”
posted by katra at 4:45 PM on January 27 [13 favorites]


Is there a list anywhere of witnesses and documentation that have been presented -- especially under oath in the House or Senate up to this point, but not necessarily limited in that way -- in support of impeachment articles?

I'm seeing a lot of "Adam Schiff is lying" and "But Hunter Biden on a BOARD." Some people are saying this because they don't have anything else to bring to politics. But some people are saying these things either have absolutely no idea who Vindaman or Hill or Yovanovitch or even Bolton are or what the hell is going on and *might* pause for some reflection if someone they trust delivers a summary.

I talked through the basic impeachment issues as I see / understand them with a relative recently even though I didn't have this summary at hand. This person didn't know who their Senators are, or how many votes it would take to compel testimony or removal, or what the impeachment brouhaha was about. They regularly vote, though. There is such an incredible disconnect. Part of it is on them, but then again *I* only know where to look for things like daily reports and running commentary, not for overarching summaries, and I am not sure I'm as much a part of the solution as I'd like to be.
posted by wildblueyonder at 5:03 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]




Dershowitz appears to be making the case for why we should ITMFA in his attempt to explain why we shouldn't be ITMFA. It's ludicrous.
posted by Chuffy at 5:14 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Is there a list anywhere of witnesses and documentation that have been presented -- especially under oath in the House or Senate up to this point, but not necessarily limited in that way -- in support of impeachment articles?

https://intelligence.house.gov/defendourdemocracy/
Pursuant to House Resolution 660, we are now releasing transcripts of these witness interviews so every American can see the facts and decide for themselves: is this conduct acceptable?

Jump to: Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch | Ambassador Michael McKinley | Ambassadors Kurt Volker & Gordon Sondland | Ambassador Bill Taylor| George Kent | Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman & Dr. Fiona Hill | Laura Cooper, Catherine Croft & Christopher Anderson | Timothy Morrison & Jennifer Williams | David Holmes and David Hale | Mark Sandy & Ambassador Philip Reeker
https://intelligence.house.gov/report/
This report reflects the evidence gathered thus far by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, in coordination with the Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, as part of the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States.
posted by katra at 5:15 PM on January 27 [11 favorites]


Introducing ‘The Report, Season 2: The Impeachment’
Arguments in the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump began on Jan. 21, 2020. As was the case in the Mueller report, covered in the first season of “The Report” podcast, the central factual questions at issue in the trial are: Did Donald Trump solicit foreign interference in the upcoming presidential election? And did he obstruct investigations into his conduct?
...
For six days a week until the trial concludes, the parties will make their arguments on the floor of the U.S. Senate and answer senators’ questions. During this trial there will be dozens of hours of speeches, testimony and procedure. Impeachment is one of the most consequential actions taken by our government. And while the proceedings of the impeachment trial should be carefully heard by each and every American, the reality is that most do not have the luxury of sitting through the daily grind of lengthy testimony.

Which is why 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.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:17 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]




just security's public document clearinghouse: ukraine impeachment trial is also a good resource (though i haven't checked it since the house judiciary proceedings).
posted by 20 year lurk at 5:20 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


The Republicans are doing their best to smear Schiff because he has made a brilliant and devastating case against the president. It's like everything in the right wing bubble - watch Schiff for 10 minutes and you simply cannot come to the conclusion that he is unhinged, loony and hysterical - especially when being accused of such things by Drumpf, Hannity or Jeanine Pirro. It's like Rush Limbaugh saying that Bill Moyers is a shock jock.
posted by Chuffy at 5:24 PM on January 27 [18 favorites]


As usual, they're not saying what's true, they're saying what would have to be true to justify the conclusion they want.
posted by mrgoat at 5:38 PM on January 27 [37 favorites]


Guardian: "In his constitutional argument against impeachment, Alan Dershowitz is arguing that nothing short of a “serious crime” is ground for impeachment.
The House’s articles of impeachment against Donald Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress,— are “outside the scope of impeachment”, he said. It’s only, for example, “if a President committed extortion”, Dershowitz said, he could be impeached for it. It’s with [noting] here that Congress’ abuse of power article lays out what could be described as an extortion scheme.

Dershowitz’s argument here contradicts the consensus of most legal scholars and lawmakers. Both the Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton impeachment arguments hinged on “abuse of power” charges.
posted by katra at 5:38 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


Since we're going all the way back to the Constitution, I found some interesting stuff in Madison's log of the Federal Convention debating the powers of the executive:

FRANKLIN: ... He had had some experience of this check in the Executive on the Legislature, under the proprietary Government of Pena. The negative of the Governor was constantly made use of to extort money. No good law whatever could be passed without a private bargain with him.

MASON: ... Will not the same door be opened here. The Executive may refuse its assent to necessary measures till new appointments shall be referred to him; and having by degrees engrossed all these into his own hands, the American Executive, like the British, will by bribery & influence, save himself the trouble & odium of exerting his negative afterwards.

I didn't go to Harvard, but it sounds like they would have impached this guy.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:56 PM on January 27 [14 favorites]


The latter two would involve a Democratic President willing to see his or her own power constrained, so it's anyone's guess if they might happen.

Based on the backstory of past nominees for President, the next Democratic President is likely a Democratic Senator at this moment and was probably in the the previous congress as well. Anyone who drummed their fingers waiting to talk to Merrick Garland probably already has experienced having their power constrained.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:02 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


watch Schiff for 10 minutes and you simply cannot come to the conclusion that he is unhinged

don't want to amplify the juvenile criticism, but there is a characteristic of rep. schiff's appearance that suffices, for a particular regular interlocutor of mine (and, i assume, their cohort in the population at large), to permit them to derail by making fun of how he looks any time the content of his statements or behavior are commended to their attention. and "crazy" is a touchstone of their evaluation of that characteristic of his appearance. certain other democratic public figures are dismissed in a similar fashion. i think it is common. i think these are conditioned responses, not the results of reasoning, but i imagine they think it is fair to disregard liberals partisanly, as i (who read as a democrat to conservatives) am routinely evaluating certain republican and conservative persons, not to mention 4/5 of each scandalous headline they share, as stupid or mendacious, or, like pompeo, both. that said, i'm not certain that interlocutor could get through 10 mins with that programming in effect. (usually, though not w/ pompeo, i am not judging them based on their appearance or some feature thereof).

can't stand hearing dersh. but especially can't stand to hear him use "criteria" as a singular noun.

hey: has anybody seen copies of the house managers' slides in the public domain? i don't care about all the media clips, but would like to see the bold outlines of the case that appear, consistently across the presentations, framed within graphical elements depicting i think architectural columns and (lack vocab for neoclassical roof/floor; graphically, these are thick maybe double lines).

wait: i think dersh just asserted that he invented the "shoe test" wherein one considers what it would be like if the shoe were on the other foot, an idiom i suppose he also coined. but wait! cippolone just invented something he calls "the golden rule" which sounds a lot like be nice to nazis or they'll nazi harder in context.
posted by 20 year lurk at 6:03 PM on January 27 [15 favorites]


Guardian: "Alan Dershowitz broached a topic that members of Trump’s defense team have largely avoided: John Bolton. [...]
“Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense,” Derschowitz said, referring to reports that Bolton, a former national security adviser, had written a book in which he recounts that Trump told him in an August 2019 meeting that he did not want to send aid to Ukraine until that country delivered material relating to Joe Biden and to supporters of Hillary Clinton.
Guardian: Senate trial adjourns amidst new Bolton revelations
Advocating that the “golden rule of impeachment” should be that Democrats “do unto Republicans” as they want done unto them, White House counsel Pat Cipollone concluded today’s oral arguments.

But even as Donald Trump’s defense team wrapped up for the night, the New York Times revealed more excerpts from John Bolton’s unpublished book. The former national security advisor reportedly told Attorney General William Barr last year that he was concerned the president was granting personal favors to Turkey and China. From the Times:

Mr. Barr responded by pointing to a pair of Justice Department investigations of companies in those countries and said he was worried that Mr. Trump had created the appearance that he had undue influence over what would typically be independent inquiries, according to the manuscript. Backing up his point, Mr. Barr mentioned conversations Mr. Trump had with the leaders, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Xi Jinping of China.

Mr. Bolton’s account underscores the fact that the unease about Mr. Trump’s seeming embrace of authoritarian leaders, long expressed by experts and his opponents, also existed among some of the senior cabinet officers entrusted by the president to carry out his foreign policy and national security agendas.
posted by katra at 7:26 PM on January 27 [8 favorites]


foxnews.com
<ctrl-f>witn
Sen. John Kennedy says Senate impeachment trial could last 'through April or May' if new witnesses are called

Biden pushes for witnesses in impeachment trial but says of his Ukraine role, 'What is there to defend?'

Sen. John Cornyn says adding witnesses will ensure the Senate impeachment goes on 'forever and ever and ever'

<dermatophagia intensifies>
posted by Rat Spatula at 7:33 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


White House works to contain damage from allegations in forthcoming Bolton book (WaPo)
Officially, the administration continued to push its previous message that Trump did nothing wrong in his July 25 phone call with Zelensky — a call at the heart of the whistleblower complaint that ultimately launched the impeachment inquiry — and the disclosures in Bolton’s book do not change those basic facts.

[Senior adviser Tony] Sayegh[, who was brought back into the administration to help with impeachment messaging,] traveled Monday morning to Capitol Hill to address a meeting of Republican Senate communications aides, where he reiterated that pitch.

Some Republican senators, however, remained frustrated, privately pushing the White House to find out just when the president’s legal team learned of the allegations in Bolton’s manuscript — and whether there are other bombshells that might emerge. [...]

Two Justice Department officials familiar with Bolton and Barr’s conversation, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s political sensitivity, conceded that Bolton had called Barr in late July or early August but claimed the two talked only about Giuliani’s Ukraine-related efforts.

[...] The revelation in Bolton’s book caught at least some top level Justice Department officials by surprise. Their immediate concern, though, seemed not to be the revelation that Bolton had connected Trump to withholding military aid to pressure Ukraine’s leader to launch political investigations, but that Bolton was undercutting a previous assertion of the attorney general. Officials clamored Sunday night and Monday to make sure that Barr’s side of the story was out, attempting to keep a separation between him and the scandal.
posted by katra at 8:45 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


Republicans seem to be disturbed to find out that Bill Barr is a lying sack of shit.
posted by JackFlash at 8:55 PM on January 27 [17 favorites]


Republicans seem to be disturbed to find out that Bill Barr is a lying sack of shit.

I wonder if they're just disturbed to find that he's just as happy to lie to them as he is to lie to the American public.
posted by bardophile at 9:03 PM on January 27 [21 favorites]


Don’t Be Confused by Trump’s Defense. What He Is Accused of Are Crimes. (Nikolas Bowie, NYT Opinion)
Watching CNN last week, I learned that I’m partly responsible for President Trump’s legal defense.

On the screen was one of the president’s lawyers, Alan Dershowitz, explaining his new position that impeachment requires “criminal-like behavior.” When the legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin interjected that “every single law professor” disagreed with him, Mr. Dershowitz rejoined that one professor — me! — was “completely” on his side.

Mr. Dershowitz encouraged Mr. Toobin to read a law review article I wrote on the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, in which a former Supreme Court justice, Benjamin Curtis, successfully argued that no one should ever be punished for doing something that wasn’t a crime. Mr. Dershowitz apparently thought my article supported his view that even if Mr. Trump did everything the House has accused him of doing, the president shouldn’t be convicted because he hasn’t been accused of criminal behavior.

As an academic, my first reaction was to be grateful that someone had actually read one of my articles.

But as a legal academic, my second reaction was confusion. Even if you think impeachment requires a crime, as I do, that belief hardly supports the president’s defense or Mr. Dershowitz’s position. President Trump has been accused of a crime. Two in fact: “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress.” [...] American legal treatises and judicial opinions have long recognized the criminal offense of “abuse of power,” sometimes called “misconduct in office.” In 1846, the first edition of the pre-eminent treatise on American criminal law defined this common-law offense as when “a public officer, entrusted with definite powers to be exercised for the benefit of the community, wickedly abuses or fraudulently exceeds them.” The treatise noted that such an officer “is punishable by indictment, though no injurious effects result to any individual from his misconduct.” [...]

As for “obstruction of Congress,” that’s not only a common-law crime. Versions of the crime have also been listed in the federal criminal code since the 19th century. [...] Abuse of power may be “unwritten” in any code, and obstruction of Congress may be “implied” by statutes, but these crimes are now as well established, well defined and destructive of the public trust as bribery or treason. If the president did what the House accuses him of doing, he can and should be punished.
posted by katra at 9:28 PM on January 27 [39 favorites]


I mean, it all depends on what you understand as a crime, I guess? When the constitution was ratified there was little or no federal criminal law. To the extent that there was, it was an informal holdover from English common law. Yet the constitution must have meant something by "high crimes and misdemeanors." In fact what it means is well documented and it clearly has nothing to do with federal criminal statutes. It means abrogating the duties of the office.
posted by sjswitzer at 9:42 PM on January 27 [11 favorites]


Some Republican senators, however, remained frustrated, privately pushing the White House to find out just when the president’s legal team learned of the allegations in Bolton’s manuscript — and whether there are other bombshells that might emerge.

Some Republicans just realized that Trump doesn't care about their party. If remaining president means none of them get re-elected, fine.
posted by xammerboy at 9:59 PM on January 27 [17 favorites]


Yeah, the more this impeachment has played out, the more I'm convinced that impeachment charges shouldn't be compared to crimes so much as to fireable offenses, or grounds for firing, since that's more or less the nature of the process. The only "punishment" is the loss of the job that was given to them.

Maybe the fireable offenses should be more explicitly defined (good luck with that), but always talking in terms of crimes and punishments just adds more confusion to an already somewhat opaque process.
posted by p3t3 at 10:03 PM on January 27 [10 favorites]


“Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense,” Derschowitz said

10 INPUT "TYPE OF CRIME? "; CRIME$
20 PRINT "CLEARLY "; CRIME$ ;" DOES NOT RISE TO THE LEVEL OF AN IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE"
30 GOTO 10
40 END

Did I get that right? It's been a while. K-POWER REPRESENT
posted by Rykey at 12:11 AM on January 28 [23 favorites]


Former President Gerald Ford, when he was Speaker of the House, had a mad on against Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and tried unsuccessfully on multiple occasions to get the House to vote to impeach him basically on the grounds that Ford hated him. At one point a reporter asked what, exactly, Douglas had done that was impeachable. Here's the official answer from a former Republican President on what counts for impeachment:
An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history; conviction results from whatever offense or offenses two-thirds of the other body considers to be sufficiently serious to require removal of the accused from office
That's what the Republicans think an impeachable offense is when they want to impeach someone. They have no grounds at all to object to abuse of power as the basis for the Democrat's impeachment of Trump.
posted by sotonohito at 4:24 AM on January 28 [25 favorites]


Did I get that right? It’s been a while

Runs code through an online JavaScript basic interpreter. Yip you’ve created a realistic Derschowitz AI.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 6:12 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]


Gerald Ford was Minority Leader, not Speaker.

Also, a lot of Ford's impeachment talk was purely, cynically, and obviously performative: Douglas was a keystone of the Supreme Court's defense against much of Nixon and the GOP's agenda. The "bipartisan" coalition against him was an illustration of the Southern Strategy, with Dixiecrats lining up to express "concern" about Douglas because he was firmly in favor of civil rights.

Republicans have always believed in angrily demanding impeachment as a nakedly political tool. What they can't wrap their minds around is using it to actually punish high crimes and misdemeanors.
posted by Etrigan at 6:41 AM on January 28 [33 favorites]


I've now thought a great deal about Bolton. He is a vain, resentful man who is also deeply conservative and hawkish. But we've have several conservative, hawkish men being humiliated by Trump and either kissing the dust under his shoes or speaking out, and nothing changed. Now, there is a palpable sense of unease in the White House and among Republicans.
I'm thinking that perhaps they are looking at this huge old rat leaving the sinking ship and thinking that maybe he knows something they don't. The Barr thing is already as big as the Ukraine drug deal thing (not in the media but in reality). That book could be shock-full of exposures of cabinet members and other top Republicans, and it is different when Bolton says it because you just know he is real in the sense that he really believes the shit he says. A liar calling someone a liar doesn't have a lot of effect. Bolton believes so much in killing brown people, he has lost several jobs for his convictions. *
posted by mumimor at 7:09 AM on January 28 [7 favorites]


Poppycock, pettifogging, and foul calumny: Trump's team tries it all in Senate trial (Mark Sumner, Daily Kos Staff)
(Definitions: Poppycock, pettifogging, and calumny).
Overall, the day was an embarrassment top to bottom. Much of it, particularly Dershowitz, wasn’t even the fun kind of embarrassment. It didn’t rise to the ranks of so-bad-it-was-good. It was just bad. It was so bad that—other than the GOP- and Trump-pleasing section of Biden-smearing—it’s difficult to recall a single salient point, just hours after they stopped talking.

In any case, the real case on Monday wasn’t happening in front of Mitch McConnell’s carefully aimed camera. It was happening offscreen, where Republicans were trying desperately to calculate whether giving Trump the quick acquittal that he wants—a move that had seemed like a sure thing on Friday, despite a crackerjack case from the House managers—was still such a slam dunk. Republicans always knew that going along with Trump was going to make them part of the conspiracy. They just didn’t know it was going to be this damn obvious.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:18 AM on January 28 [16 favorites]


This whole thing is pettifogging crazy.
h/t Stephen Colbert
posted by kirkaracha at 7:22 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


Every president has has to recite the oath of office: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Setting aside the particulars of Trump and just imagining hypothetical bad presidents, surely it's possible for someone to violate that oath without breaking a single law? The example I've seen before is a president who refused to do anything whatsoever, just watched TV all the time (yes, that sounds like Trump, except he also does crimes now and again). There's no law broken, yet it doesn't sound like "faithfully executing" much of anything.

So if a president fails to follow those words, then does any real remedy exist? Or is it precisely equivalent to a political promise, something the voters alone can punish (as with Bush Sr losing in 1992 partly thanks to his broken "read my lips" pledge)?
posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:35 AM on January 28 [8 favorites]


It was just bad. It was so bad that—other than the GOP- and Trump-pleasing section of Biden-smearing—it’s difficult to recall a single salient point, just hours after they stopped talking.

As Rykey pointed out, Trump's defense basically consisted of denials that Trump's conduct was an impeachable offense -- which, by the way, is a tacit admission that Trump did everything he's alleged to have done.

It was also a display of calculated bad faith -- complaints of an impeachment fishing expedition by master fisherman Kenneth Starr, allegations of Democratic corruption by the corrupt Pam Bondi, appeals to enduring Constitutional norms by the malleable Alan Dershowitz, and denunciations of partisanship by the partisan Jay Sekulow.
posted by Gelatin at 7:42 AM on January 28 [33 favorites]


Guardian: Schumer compares 'drip, drip, drip' of information to Watergate
Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer described the ongoing revelations from the manuscript of John Bolton’s book as a “drip, drip, drip” of information.

“In that sense, this is reminiscent of Watergate,” Schumer said, referring to the scandal that led to Richard Nixon’s resignation.

The New York Democrat pointed to Bolton’s willingness to testify as evidence of his higher level of credibility over Trump, who has tried to block officials from testifying.
Guardian: "Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer described Republicans’ demands to have Hunter Biden as a “diversion” meant to deflect attention away from the allegations against Trump.
“What can Hunter Biden tell us about the president’s conduct with Ukraine?” Schumer asked. “What can Hunter Biden tell us about the president’s obstruction of Congress? Nothing obviously.”

Schumer argued Republicans’ insistence that Biden testify proved “they have no one to defend the president on the merits.”
posted by katra at 8:24 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]


So if a president fails to follow those words, then does any real remedy exist?

Yes, impeachment, conviction, and removal from office. Be warned, however, that no matter what this hypothetical Republican president has or has not done, you will be deluged with bad-faith arguments that their action or inaction is not impeachable by the hypothetical members of this hypothetical president's hypothetical political party, hypothetically.

There is a pretty good chance that after the Senate fails to convict Trump and he remains in office, yet more crimes will be uncovered and they'll be even more brazen than this Ukraine scandal. It won't matter if the evidence is obvious and the details of the crimes were described in the current proceedings by Trump's defense team as an example of a crime that IS impeachable. They will go through the whole narcissist progression all over again. At first they'll claim he didn't do it, then they'll claim the evidence shows something else, then they'll tacitly admit he did it but it doesn't matter because "it's not a crime and it's not an impeachable offense even if it was."
posted by VTX at 8:30 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]


Democrats should play by Mitch’s rule book and promise to call Biden to testify after their witnesses are called. And then just not call him.
posted by mrzarquon at 8:32 AM on January 28 [38 favorites]


Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer described the ongoing revelations from the manuscript of John Bolton’s book as a “drip, drip, drip” of information.

“In that sense, this is reminiscent of Watergate,” Schumer said, referring to the scandal that led to Richard Nixon’s resignation.


Nicely played by Schumer, speaking to Republican fears that more damaging revelations will crop up just after they've fully committed to Trump's cover-up conspiracy.

Remember, Republicans want to acquit Trump, but they don't want to pay any political price for doing so. By invoking their well-founded fears that evidence of Trump's abundant guilt will continue to emerge -- like it has his entire presidency -- Schumer isn't persuading any Republicans to convict him, but it's probably giving them some rotten nights, and they may decide that at least agreeing to witnesses will make them look less culpable (Narrator: It won't).
posted by Gelatin at 8:38 AM on January 28 [10 favorites]


Guardian: Schumer mocks proposal to read Bolton's manuscript in 'classified setting'
ABC News (@ABC) Sen. Chuck Schumer: Reports about Bolton manuscript "should be a warning sign to any Republican in the Senate: If you vote with the White House to suppress and cover up evidence, the odds are strong that the truth—the truth!—will eventually come out." https://t.co/qO2aC5p4ID pic.twitter.com/zTMLQvi3Kg January 28, 2020

The Democratic leader also mocked the “absurd proposal” from Republican senator Lindsey Graham that John Bolton’s manuscript be made available to the Senate in a classified setting.

“It’s a book,” Schumer said. “There’s no need for it to be read in the SCIF unless you want to hide something,” he added, referring to the secure area in the Capitol where classified information is shared.
posted by katra at 8:47 AM on January 28 [22 favorites]


Senate Impeachment Trial, Day 8 (C-SPAN) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues with opening arguments from the President’s defense team. Other legislative business is also possible. Watch LIVE On January 28 | 1pm ET | C-SPAN2

U.S. Senate: Impeachment Trial (Day 8) (C-SPAN YouTube) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues with opening arguments by the President’s defense team. Scheduled for Jan 28, 2020

The Report: Impeachment, Day Six (Lawfare) "Arguments by the President’s lawyers unfolded over eight hours on Monday afternoon and evening. And while this trial is important for each and every American to hear, most do not have the luxury of fully engaging with the entire proceeding. So Lawfare and Goat Rodeo bring you the sixth day of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial boiled down to the most essential one hour and 29 minutes."
posted by katra at 9:22 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


As far as Republicans saying they want to hear from Hunter Biden: since they have the majority, can't they vote to make that happen? No witnesses other than him? They could call him something other than a witness, if they want. Yeah, it'll look awful to sensible people, but they don't care.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:56 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


As far as Republicans saying they want to hear from Hunter Biden: since they have the majority, can't they vote to make that happen? No witnesses other than him?

yep, precisely. They have all the power, to make anything happen or not. Any other argument is bluffing on their part, for whatever McConnellish reason.
posted by Harry Caul at 10:02 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


There is a pretty good chance that after the Senate fails to convict Trump and he remains in office, yet more crimes will be uncovered and they'll be even more brazen than this Ukraine scandal.

Nothing prevents the House from impeaching again for other reasons. (AFAIK, nothing prevents them from impeaching again for the same reasons, potentially on the grounds there's new evidence this time, but I can't see that being their choice.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:06 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


As far as Republicans saying they want to hear from Hunter Biden: since they have the majority, can't they vote to make that happen? No witnesses other than him?

McConnell Impeachment Rules Modify Clinton Precedent (NYT, Jan. 20, 2020)
As expected, the draft resolution does not incorporate Democratic demands that the trial guarantee witness testimony or requests for new documents. This was also the case in the Clinton trial, but Mr. McConnell’s proposal still differs slightly.

It says that after senators conclude their questioning, they will not immediately entertain motions to call individual witnesses or documents. Instead, they will decide first whether they want to consider new evidence at all. Only if a majority of senators agree to do so will the managers and prosecutors be allowed to propose and argue for specific witnesses or documents, each of which would then be subject to an additional vote.
White House planning for Friday vote on witnesses and documents, official says (CBS)
If this scenario plays out as currently imagined, the senior official said, the key vote on whether to seek additional documents or depositions of additional witnesses would occur Friday. It is worth noting that vote is a debatable question and under the organizing resolution there would be four hours of debate, equally divided. On that question, House managers would advocate in favor, White House lawyers would oppose and House managers would be allowed to close — similar to the process on amendments offered to the organizing resolution.
'You can't predict him': Lamar Alexander key in vote for witnesses at Senate trial (NBC News)
Now, all eyes are on Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., as he could be a pivotal vote on whether there are witnesses in President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial. Alexander hasn't tipped his hand and no one is totally sure of which way he'll go. 'You can't predict him," Tom Ingram, Alexander's former chief of staff, told NBC News. "He will hold his counsel, make his own decision and you won’t be sure of it until he makes it known in due course."
posted by katra at 10:15 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Here's hoping Alexander makes a John McCain-esque, last-second thumb gesture in whatever the correct direction is...
posted by PhineasGage at 10:21 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


I know Lamar personally and what I would say is don't count on it.
posted by all about eevee at 10:25 AM on January 28 [18 favorites]


Agreed, Alexander is quite fond of the Kool Aid.
posted by Harry Caul at 10:27 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Well, as a constituent, I've been calling and emailing Lamar since impeachment started. Marsha Blackburn is the devil, but he might be getable.
posted by vibrotronica at 10:38 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]




> all eyes are on Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., as he could be a pivotal vote on whether there are witnesses in President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial.

To reiterate: there are 53 Republican senators, and while it only takes 4 of them to join the 47 Democrats and call witnesses, there's no reason to let the remaining 49 off the hook. This is a shocking dereliction of duty, a betrayal of their oath, and the shame should follow them to their graves.

"Hi, I'm (Joni Ernst | John Thune | John Barasso | John Boozman | John Cornyn | John Hoeven | Johnny Isakson | John Kennedy), and I voted to deliberately not be informed of the evidence in the most consequential case of my entire senate career."

Shame on all of them.
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:06 AM on January 28 [45 favorites]


It says that after senators conclude their questioning, they will not immediately entertain motions to call individual witnesses or documents. Instead, they will decide first whether they want to consider new evidence at all.

I mean... good? If Rs were going to just vote down everything item by item anyhow—or even worse, only vote to call witnesses they wanted to hear from, I'd rather see them go on record as refusing to hear testimony or see documents at all, just on principle. 'Cause that's one fucked up principle, and most Americans don't like it, and such a refusal is easy to grasp for most people.
posted by Rykey at 11:06 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]


Jay Sekulow sure is odious.


Just think about that.
posted by mazola at 11:07 AM on January 28


Hey, maybe Lamar will surprise me and emulate Howard Baker. We will see. But I think this sort of move is hard for him. He fears Trump's reprisal.
posted by all about eevee at 11:09 AM on January 28


Not to mention many of his constituents.
posted by all about eevee at 11:13 AM on January 28




Doesn't matter whether he's retiring or not. Corker and Flake got death threats.
posted by all about eevee at 11:17 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


More than just politics, trump threatens actual violence against people who act against him. Lamar might be retiring, but it's totally possible he wants to live out the rest of his life... alive. Assuming trump leaves office through one or another means, he's still going to be a literal terrorist controlling much of the republican party through twitter. Investigating his veiled threats is going to have to be a priority for the next Democratic justice department.
posted by mrgoat at 11:22 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


In addition to Alexander, 16 Republican senators are either retiring, running unopposed, or are running in states whose filing deadlines have passed. So that's 17, plus Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Mitt Romney equals 20 Republican senators who could defy Trump with minimal electoral consequences. They could vote with the Democrats and Independents and remove Trump from office.

Isn't it pretty to think so?
posted by kirkaracha at 11:24 AM on January 28 [33 favorites]


Plus, Trump is likely not as rich as he pretends to be, but many of his backers are. They control lucrative lobbying and media gigs -- the so-called "wingnut welfare" circuit. If Alexander (or any other Republican) stands up to Trump's authoritarianism, he doesn't have to fear electoral defeat, but he does stand to forego a lot of money.
posted by Gelatin at 11:26 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


I sometimes wonder if all the public discussion about not needing witnesses, blah blah blah, is to give them cover from the President, not an actual indicator of what they will do.

I also sometimes wonder if I can talk my local chicken into being my chicken ninja. I think that has a better chance of coming true for me.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 11:27 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Also, he has to hold his head up in East Tennessee after his time in the Senate, and most people in East Tennessee are rabidly pro-Trump.
posted by all about eevee at 11:28 AM on January 28


WTF do these GOP senators think that their loyalty to Trump is going to buy them in real life? What? Is he blackmailing all of them?

I get that some of the Tea Party and/or explicitly Trumpist newer elected Republicans don't give a shit about anything except populist rabble-rousing and metaphorically bulldozing any sort of governance structure.

But what about the ones who have built their entire professional careers in elected office, that spent years actually knowledgeably participating in the United States government -- albeit working toward a more conservative vision than I would ever, ever desire. What on earth are they doing just abdicating their actual jobs? WHY?
posted by desuetude at 11:32 AM on January 28 [16 favorites]


Guardian: Schiff: Trump's team 'further made the case for calling John Bolton'
During his presentation, Jay Sekulow repeatedly dismissed the manuscript of John Bolton’s book as “inadmissible” and “unsourced,” while questions continue over whether the former national security adviser will be called to testify in the impeachment trial.

But lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff said the argument from Trump’s lawyers actually underscored the need to call Bolton as a witness so that questions about his allegations can be addressed.

“Once again, the president’s team - in a way that only they could - have further made the case for calling John Bolton,” Schiff said.
posted by katra at 11:35 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


ANALYSIS: Philbin acknowledges limits on Trump’s power (NBC News)
Philbin noted that the laws passed by Congress limit the president’s power and he sets policies “within those constraints.” One of the laws passed by Congress was a spending measure directing the president to provide aid to Ukraine on a specific timetable. Administration officials urged him to act consistent with that law, which he signed, rather than outside its constraints. The Government Accountability Office has found that the administration violated the law in withholding the funds.
posted by katra at 11:37 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


I wonder if Senate Democrats could make some kind of public statement to Republicans: "We know you want to do the right thing for America, but you're afraid of Trump sending his goons after you like the mob boss he is. We understand that, and we recognize you're in a difficult position. But we promise, once Trump is removed from office and a responsible government replaces his regime, we will ensure that you are protected and kept safe, even if that means creating new identities for you and your families."
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:37 AM on January 28 [36 favorites]


1:25 P.M. House Dems flag Ken Starr remarks in Mueller case (Politico)
A two-page letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals from the House counsel sent Tuesday urges a three-judge panel to weigh what Starr, a personal attorney for Trump, had argued Monday in the Senate: That senators don’t sit as jurors — rather the Senate in the context of an impeachment trial was indeed a “court.”

That position stands in contrast to what the Justice Department has argued when describing the Senate as a “legislative chamber” rather than a court in its fight against Democrats’ attempts to immediately be allowed access to the blacked-out redactions in Mueller’s final report. The former special counsel was tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Arguing the Senate impeachment trial is a judicial proceeding could strengthen Democrats hand in seeking Mueller’s material. “Because DOJ’s position in this case cannot be reconciled with President’s position in the impeachment, DOJ may wish to withdraw its argument that a Senate impeachment trial does not qualify as a judicial proceeding,” House counsel Doug Letter wrote to the D.C. Circuit, which is expected to rule any day in the Mueller case.

House Democrats made only a glancing reference to the Mueller probe when bringing articles of impeachment against Trump over his attempts to pressure Ukraine into launching investigations into his political rivals. Even so, Letter has argued in court that the Mueller grand jury case could still yield new information to back up the Democrats in the Senate impeachment trial or in drafting additional articles of impeachment against Trump.
posted by katra at 11:41 AM on January 28 [9 favorites]


Recall that Susan "Reasonable Moderate" Collins complained to John Roberts that Adam Schiff was a big meanie for referring to the "head on a pike" threat by Trump's surrogate. Explicitly calling out Trump for his mobster intimidation tactics would cause Republicans to pretend that the Democrats' "incivility" just forced -- forced! -- them, more in sorrow than in anger, of course, to vote against witnesses.
posted by Gelatin at 11:43 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


Arguing the Senate impeachment trial is a judicial proceeding could strengthen Democrats hand in seeking Mueller’s material. “Because DOJ’s position in this case cannot be reconciled with President’s position in the impeachment, DOJ may wish to withdraw its argument that a Senate impeachment trial does not qualify as a judicial proceeding,” House counsel Doug Letter wrote to the D.C. Circuit, which is expected to rule any day in the Mueller case.

Oh, snap! Despite playing a weak hand, the Democrats have consistently shown themselves to be smarter than the Republicans -- small wonder, really, given their leader.

As hilarious as it is when the good guys pants the Republicans (see also: NPR giving Pompeo an opportunity to embarrass himself in public), though, it's also infuriating, because they could be doing so much good if not for having to contend with the neo-Confederates' stupidity and malevolence.
posted by Gelatin at 11:54 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


point of order:

roberts admonishes: wee hours of the morning 1/22
collins confesses she wrote the note 1/23
stark head on pike story breaks morning 1/24
schiff's closing argument reference evening 1/24

moreover, while collins' note may be among precipitating factors, i was listening, 1/21 into 1/22, and, shortly before roberts' admonition, there were a fair amount of reciprocal "how dare you call me a liar sir" dudgeon and umbrage expressed between house managers and defense counsel, with notable pique all around. nothing unfamiliar to viewers of newsmagazine panel discussions on tv, nothing unusual from defense counsel, but notable to this viewer too on the senate floor.
posted by 20 year lurk at 12:09 PM on January 28 [5 favorites]


What on earth are they doing just abdicating their actual jobs? WHY?

Their actual job, the way they see it, is to keep the party in power. At the moment the party leadership sees less harm in raising than in folding. They may even be proven right.
posted by hat_eater at 12:16 PM on January 28 [9 favorites]


[One comment deleted; let's stick to actual impeachment stuff please and put other stuff into its own thread if needed. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:21 PM on January 28


(I believe the Collins complaint and Chief Justice Roberts' admonition were in response to Nadler's assertion that GOP senators who vote against hearing evidence were "complicit in the cover-up", or something to that effect. The Schiff "head on a pike" thing came later, as 20 year lurk points out. It may well be possible that Collins DID later complain about that, too, at least to the media, but as far as I've seen from reporting the only time we know she passed a complaint to Roberts was for the Nadler thing.)
posted by kprincehouse at 12:26 PM on January 28 [9 favorites]


I stand corrected on the "head on a pike" comment. When none of the Republican statements or actions are made in good faith, it's hard to keep track.

Collins did complain that Shiff pointed out that Senate Republicans were planning to participate in Trump's cover-up. Now it's just going to be more costly for them to do so. Good.
posted by Gelatin at 12:37 PM on January 28 [4 favorites]


More than just politics, trump threatens actual violence against people who act against him. Lamar might be retiring, but it's totally possible he wants to live out the rest of his life... alive.

I can't tell if this is intended to be a joke or an exaggeration, because taken at face value this statement would seem to signal the end of American democracy is already here.
posted by chrominance at 1:09 PM on January 28


Whatever fight over having an actual trial is ever going to happen, is happening right now in GOP backrooms. We won't know the outcome til Friday's vote. So much for democracy.
posted by Harry Caul at 1:13 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


would seem to signal the end of American democracy is already here.

I have bad news...
posted by Rykey at 1:41 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, my statement was neither joke nor exaggeration. Elected representatives have already gotten actual death threats for opposing trump. Also, death threats and murder and attempted murder have been part of the american political process for a long time - just ask doctors who perform abortions, ask POC fighting for civil rights, ask Native American people fighting oil pipelines, ask most women involved in political anything, this is probably the least exhaustive list I could make up, but you get the idea.

If threats of domestic terrorism signal the end of American democracy, we've been living in the end of American democracy from the very beginning. But trump's been bringing it to the fore and directing it. ("knock the crap out of them", "she is going to go through some things", "take her out", "head on a pike" etc.) It would not be surprising for anyone to take into account the very real possibility of being personally attacked by someone who thinks this president is telling them to do it. Yes, he legitimately threatens the American democratic order. He also didn't invent the idea, we've been dealing with it for a long time.
posted by mrgoat at 1:44 PM on January 28 [35 favorites]


For big, specific examples, consider the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre or the El Paso WalMart one. Those were instigated by Trumpian rhetoric. Being a visible target of hatred from that whole echo chamber is absolutely, physically dangerous.
posted by bcd at 1:58 PM on January 28 [7 favorites]


I don't think Trump himself could ever have uttered "head on a pike." That would require erudition that he does not possess. More menacingly, it would have come from one of his enthusiastic acolytes to colorfully express the sentiment. More menacingly, because these things get amplified as they propagate outward. "Going to go through some stuff" -> "heads on pikes" -> "actual violence." That's how stochastic violence works.
posted by sjswitzer at 2:03 PM on January 28 [4 favorites]


Guardian: "Lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff stressed that senators needed to hear from John Bolton, whose book about his time in the Trump administration will be published in March.
“Are we really going to require the country to wait until his book comes out to find out information the senators could use?” Schiff asked.

The lead impeachment manager was also asked about the possibility that he could be called to testify if the Senate approves calling new witnesses.

“I can tell you what my testimony is,” Schiff replied. “He’s guilty, and he should be impeached.”
Guardian: "Angus King, an ind[e]pendent senator who caucuses with the Democrats, has downgraded his prediction for how many Republican senators will support calling new witnesses to testify in the impeachment trial.
King said yesterday that he thought Democrats would win over more than four Republicans, which is the minimum needed to get the proposal approved. “I think there’ll be more than four,” King told NPR. “My bold prediction is there’ll be five or 10.”

But speaking to CNN just now, King adjusted that estimate, calling it “naive.” “I think it’s going to be really close,” King said of the vote on witnesses.
Guardian: "Three-quarters of registered voters support calling witnesses to testify in the impeachment trial, according to a newly released poll.
The Quinnipiac survey found that 75% of voters are in favor of calling witnesses in the Senate trial, a figure that includes 49% of Republicans and 75% of independents.
posted by katra at 2:08 PM on January 28 [8 favorites]


NBC rumors of an afternoon whip count by McConnell being at 50-50. I'm guessing he's letting 3 candidates vote for witnesses, and has Manchin ready to vote against.
posted by Harry Caul at 2:11 PM on January 28 [4 favorites]


Naive is one way to put it, Angus. If you don't know by now that the most likely outcome is a bare majority with free passes issued for "concerned" (read: electorally vulnerable) Republicans to vote their "conscience" (read: continued employment), then maybe this Senate thing isn't for you.

Can't wait to watch up-to-his-eyeballs-in-the-scandal-that-he's-voting-on Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to acquit.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:13 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I am not sure that Mike Pence—the VP—has the tie-breaking vote in an impeachment.
posted by bz at 2:14 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


OK then, I'm an idiot.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:16 PM on January 28


Actually, I may be the idiot.
posted by bz at 2:17 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Senate Republicans calm down after Bolton panic (Politico)
Senate Republicans have regained their footing and are once again pushing for a quick end to President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, newly confident they can squash the question of whether to hear new evidence.

The GOP conference emerged cautiously optimistic from a critical meeting on whether to defeat the call witnesses. The meeting marked the caucus' first gathering since Trump's defense finished its opening arguments on the Senate floor.

“The consensus is: That we’ve heard enough. And it’s time to go to a final judgment vote,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the No. 3 leader. “We’ve all heard enough and the articles don’t rise to the level of impeachable offenses.” [...]

Still, Republicans privately cautioned that they expect more revelations to follow the New York Times report on former national security adviser John Bolton that seemed to rattle Republicans. The vote on witnesses is expected on Friday after two days of question and answer.

“We’ll make our decision on Friday. We’ve got questions to go through yet,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).
posted by katra at 2:21 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]




Welp, thanks Diane!
posted by flamk at 2:28 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


For everyone else shitting themselves over the Feinstein stories - myself included - the headline is just not supported by the quotes:

“Nine months left to go, the people should judge. We are a republic, we are based on the will of the people — the people should judge,” Feinstein said Tuesday, after the president’s team finished a three-day presentation in his defense. “That was my view and it still is my view.”

Still, she indicated that arguments in the trial about Trump’s character and fitness for office had left her undecided. “What changed my opinion as this went on,” she said, is a realization that “impeachment isn’t about one offense. It’s really about the character and ability and physical and mental fitness of the individual to serve the people, not themselves.”

Asked whether she would ultimately vote to acquit, she demurred, saying, “We’re not finished.”


It also says her office is tracking pro-removal letters coming in at a 4:1 rate to anti-removal ones.

I guess what I am saying is that if she really did vote to acquit him, id be without any remaining shred of hope in our country or what i know about the fucking world.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:28 PM on January 28 [5 favorites]


So, rather than wallow I decided to call Senator Feinstein and... good news maybe? I got a busy signal. Guess folks aren't too happy with her right about now.
posted by flamk at 2:32 PM on January 28 [4 favorites]




Sen. Feinstein says L.A. Times got it wrong.
posted by PhineasGage at 2:47 PM on January 28 [10 favorites]


Sen. Feinstein is backtracking. Her comments as quoted in the article are indefensible on their own merits.
posted by Gadarene at 2:55 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


WSJ: McConnell Says GOP Doesn’t Have Votes to Block Impeachment Witnesses
Senate majority leader makes remarks in private Republican meeting
posted by Devonian at 2:58 PM on January 28 [12 favorites]


Meanwhile, Politico and CNN say the same meeting produced a consensus against new witnesses. Excellent reporting this afternoon, everyone!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:04 PM on January 28 [8 favorites]


Okay, now AP seems to have given us the needed nuance by saying that McConnell doesn't have the votes yet to block witnesses.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:17 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]




flamk, in my experience Feinstein‘s number is always busy. Call her Fresno Office number. Because a real human being will pick up and will listen to you. And if it’s the same person I have spoken to quite a bit, she is normally gracious and polite. Open until 5 PM Pacific; apologies, I am on my phone and it’s just too damn hard to copy and paste.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:22 PM on January 28 [7 favorites]


Wow, I couldn’t get through to Diane Feinstein’s Fresno number either. Guess it is time to fax.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:25 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]


American Oversight is expecting a release of Dept of Energy docs tonight.

Oh, good. Rick Perry up next. He was with Pompeo when they met with Giuliani in Warsaw just before their side meeting with Zelensky. Expect more backpedaling on previous denials.
posted by JackFlash at 3:25 PM on January 28 [4 favorites]


NBC rumors of an afternoon whip count by McConnell being at 50-50. I'm guessing he's letting 3 candidates vote for witnesses, and has Manchin ready to vote against.

History shows Chief Justice John Roberts could cast tie-breaking votes at Trump's impeachment trial
...Democrats could reach the simple majority threshold with just three Republican members if the presiding officer breaks the resulting 50-50 tie. In normal Senate business, that job would fall to Vice President Mike Pence, the president of the Senate. But the rare instance of an impeachment trial is presided over by the chief justice...
posted by kirkaracha at 3:31 PM on January 28


Nine months left to go, the people should judge.

The people already had their fucking say in the 2018 elections. They elected representatives and senators to do their jobs, one of which is for senators to judge impeachment trials. The Constitution literally says this is her job.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:35 PM on January 28 [24 favorites]


I'll believe McConnell doesn't have the votes to block witnesses when the final roll call tally comes out with 51 votes in favor of witnesses. Not a second earlier.
posted by azpenguin at 3:35 PM on January 28 [33 favorites]


Sen. Feinstein is backtracking. Her comments as quoted in the article are indefensible on their own merits.

FWIW, Axios reporter Alayna Treene posted up a transcript of her audio recording of that Feinstein exchange in this tweet. Unfortunately, it's in the form of a jpg screenshot of a wall of text.
posted by mhum at 3:59 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Well I did get through to the Fresno Office and left a message with the person who answered explaining that I wanted the senator to vote to impeach the President of the United States for his high crimes. She took my ZIP Code and promised to pass along my message. Honestly, I am so fucking outraged that how to vote would even ever have been a question in her mind.

I did not vote for her last time and I will never vote for her again and please please please let there be a strong person to replace her as Senator because this is rank bullshit that is not representative of California voters. Apologies. Rant over.
posted by Bella Donna at 4:10 PM on January 28 [18 favorites]


Politico: Trio of Dem senators considering vote to acquit Trump
Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Doug Jones of Alabama are all undecided on whether to vote to remove the president from office and agonizing over where to land. It’s a decision that could have major ramifications for each senator’s legacy and political prospects — as well shape the broader political dynamic surrounding impeachment heading into the 2020 election.
With Dems like these...
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:53 PM on January 28 [20 favorites]


Where we are now is that the polity is divided between those who trust in democracy and those who would prefer a modern feudalism (there is another f-word for that). The Republicans have made their stance clear. The Democrats, for the most part, have too but it is disappointing that there are cowards (Manchin, Sinema, Jones) and idiots (Feinstein) among the ranks.
posted by sjswitzer at 5:03 PM on January 28 [7 favorites]


I ran the Feinstein transcript image through an OCR:
Me: “Have you had any conversations, Senator, with any of your Republican colleagues about...”

Senator Feinstein: “No, no. We really haven't had big conversations on it. And maybe that's a good thing,
because you're able just to — this is probably, in many respects, the biggest vote we cast. Now it's not war
or peace for this country, but for all of us who have run elections and served in public life for periods of
time, it's a real assault on it. And so — just the act of impeachment itself throwing — that’s why it's been
used so rarely, because we all have political concerns about our opponents, and we mix it up. But to go to
the level of impeachment, it has to be something pretty substantial. And I think, | think there's one point
that we haven't discussed that I'd like to mention. That it’s not just one thing. And it's not just one, it’s not
the law. It's the character, it's the judgment, it’s the ability, it's — and the problem with this is, because |
was gonna to vote against it — but the problem with this is...”

Me: “You were going to vote against what?”

Senator Feinstein: “Impeachment. Before this. But, the problem with it is, it is such a window that opens
you to the thinking of the man in charge. That is rather profound, that he could do this, and pick up the
phone and calf the head of another country, in a war, and we supported that other country with almost
$400 million, and the other country’s Russia, and this country is Ukraine, and they're an ally, and what
does that say? So it's more than just the act. It's what does it say about the man?”

Me: “Just to clarify, when you said you were going to vote, before this, against impeachment — what do
you mean, before the trial?”

Senator Feinstein: “Well, nine months left to go. The people should judge. We are a republic. We are
based on the will of the people, the people should judge. That's my view, and it still is my view. And so this
is—"

Me: “What made — what changed your opinion?”

Senator Feinstein: “Well, what changed my opinion was — as this went alo — and | don't want to go into
any more of it, but really thinking about it, as this unfolded, and what it meant. Because, you know,
impeachment isn't about one offense. It's really about the character, and ability and physical and mental
fitness of the individual to serve the people, not themselves.”

Another reporter: “Senator as it stands now, do you still plan to vote against impeachment?”

Senator Feinstein: “You'll see when we vote. ... Well look, we're not finished. So let me finish before | say
anything, OK?”

Another reporter: “But you certainly haven't made up your mind that you would vote for impeachment?”

Senator Feinstein: “I’m in the process of so doing. That's why I'm going through this mental exercise.”
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 5:21 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]


Sounds like impromptu comments from an actual adult thinking deeply about the issues involved.
posted by PhineasGage at 5:26 PM on January 28 [4 favorites]


Sounds like impromptu comments from an actual adult thinking deeply about the issues involved.

Really? Nobody should need to think at this point. He's staggeringly and obviously unfit by a million measures to spend another day in the Oval Office.
posted by Gadarene at 5:32 PM on January 28 [36 favorites]


Perhaps the issue is serious enough that a more appropriate time for deep thought about issues is before an ad-hoc conversation with journalists.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 5:36 PM on January 28 [20 favorites]


She is unambiguous that until recently she “was going to vote” to acquit Trump. I say “recently" because her stated rational was, “Well, nine months left to go. The people should judge.” (Note: The election is still more than nine months away. When the impeachment inquiry began, it was more than a year away.)

So, while knowing all the facts that came out during the House investigation, she still thought that Trump should remain in the White House.
posted by mbrubeck at 5:37 PM on January 28 [9 favorites]


appropriate time for deep thought about issues is before an ad-hoc conversation with journalists.

Trial jurors have that problem all the time! Oh, wait...
posted by Burhanistan at 5:38 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


If you're not onboard with impeaching and removing trump by now you're not a fucking Democrat.
posted by odinsdream at 6:03 PM on January 28 [40 favorites]


I want to push back on this idea that Democrats should convict Trump. The other side of that coin is that Republicans should exonerate him. If facts matter, every Senator should convict him.

Yes, it's easier for Democrats to do the right thing and much much harder for Republicans. But this isn't a matter of partisan loyalty. It's just a matter of doing the right thing.

But, yeah, if you're a Democrat and you're having a hard time deciding to convict, you need to examine your issues.
posted by sjswitzer at 6:14 PM on January 28 [8 favorites]


Energy Department Releases Ukraine Documents to American Oversight (American Oversight)
On Tuesday evening, the Department of Energy released 139 pages of records in response to American Oversight’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking documents regarding the Trump administration’s Ukraine pressure campaign. These are the first impeachment-related documents publicly released by the Department of Energy. You can view and download the documents here.

The records include schedules, talking points, and background materials prepared for former Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s briefing book for the May 2019 delegation he led to the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Perry, along with Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland and former Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, was one of the “three amigos” tasked by the White House to run the irregular foreign-policy channel in Ukraine centered on getting the country to announce an investigation of Joe Biden.

The talking points for Perry’s meeting with Zelensky reference energy sector reforms, including the statement “[Y]ou must be committed to make the hard choices on corruption and good governance reforms.” But serious discussion of the White House’s purported concern about Burisma and the Bidens seems to have been absent from the official briefing materials — a reminder of the parallel, “irregular” diplomatic efforts being made in the shadows, including by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Also absent from the documents is the list of recommended energy advisers that Perry reportedly passed to Zelensky during one of their meetings, as well as any email communications regarding the White House meeting that Perry attended with the rest of the “three amigos” immediately upon his return to Washington.

One document lists attendees at a May 20 meeting in Kyiv whose participation in the delegation had not previously been reported: Assistant Secretary Ted Garrish, public affairs officer Dirk Vande Beek, and Deputy Press Secretary Jessica Szymanski. Former Trump campaign staffer Sam Buchan, a Perry senior adviser, was also present at many of the meetings. Other notable names in the documents are those of Sens. Ron Johnson and Rob Portman — two lawmakers who could have relevant information and have not committed to calling key witnesses in the ongoing Senate impeachment trial.
posted by katra at 6:21 PM on January 28 [15 favorites]


Why Trump Might Not Dare Claim Executive Privilege Over John Bolton’s Ukraine Testimony (Ryan Goodman and Andrew Weissmann, Slate)
[...] What both sides ignore is a reason that the White House might never truly want to litigate the executive privilege question. That’s because it could cause a federal court (or the chief justice) in short order to make the determination that the president committed a crime. Those advising the president would be wise to think hard before taking the actual step of asserting executive privilege to block the testimony of John Bolton or others.

As a threshold question, the judge will most probably look to whether an exception to executive privilege applies. The court could find that the privilege does not apply, for example, in those instances where the privilege has been waived by the president or his agents having spoken about the contents of the conversation. But there is another threshold issue: if the proposed testimony involves evidence of criminal activity (more commonly understood as the “crime-fraud” exception in the context of attorney-client privilege). As former State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh and his co-authors explained in a thorough analysis of executive privilege and its exceptions, “government officials cannot use constitutional privileges to hide evidence of crimes” (citing United States v. Nixon, United States v. Myers, Comm. on Judiciary, In Re Sealed Case).
On the other hand, this is Trump we're talking about here.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:48 PM on January 28 [10 favorites]


McConnell Says GOP Doesn’t Have Votes to Block Impeachment Witnesses

Don't do that. Don't give me hope.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:52 PM on January 28 [19 favorites]


Trump's legal team closed out his 'defense' by showing that it had no defense (Mark Sumner, Daily Kos Staff)

One thing led to another, which led to this comment:
Thanks Mark… now I’m singing this to the tune of “We Didn’t Start the Fire”

James Comey, Nellie Ohr, FISA warrant, Senate floor
Foreign agent, Robert Mueller, Crossfire Hurricane
Peter Strzok, phone text, Crowdstrike, what’s next?
Whistleblower, Lisa Page, they don’t know in Ukraine
Adam Schiff, Hamilton, “Danger” is back again,
John Bolton, Manuscript, Inadmissible
Trump’s shoes, FBI, investigate the sad guy
Dossier, filed away, what else there left to say?

[chorus: Sekulow, Dershowitz, Starr]

Trump is a dumpster fire
He was always burning
We find it unconcerning
Trump is a dumpster fire
No we didn't light it
But we sure won’t fight it


angry marmot January 28 · 03:35:24 PM
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:15 PM on January 28 [17 favorites]


Metafilter: I ran the Feinstein transcript image through an OCR
posted by kingless at 2:02 AM on January 29 [11 favorites]


oh man it just occurred to me that "Pierre Delecto" has perfect klunky internal rhythms to be an ideal We Didn't Start The Fire lyriclet.

am proud to have thought of this but am now desperately trying to unimagine it
posted by Sauce Trough at 2:12 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


NBC interview this morning w Manchin had his refusal to answer on whether he will split his votes to remove/aquit on the articles.
posted by Harry Caul at 5:45 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


y'know, a stopped megalomaniac asshole is right occasionally.....

Twittler this morning re:bolton

".....gets fired because frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now"
posted by lalochezia at 6:33 AM on January 29 [20 favorites]


Trump's defense: If he did it that's okay, the other guy had it coming, and also you can't prove it (Mark Sumner, Daily Kos Staff)
If a legal defense team in a murder trial came into a courtroom to argue, Murder is not a crime, the victim deserved it, there were good reasons for the death, and hey, those knife wounds could have come from anywhere … that wouldn’t be regarded as a particularly acceptable defense.

Especially if the wrap-up was, “And your honor, that’s why we can’t allow in any firsthand witnesses.”
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:55 AM on January 29 [15 favorites]


Twittler this morning re:bolton

".....gets fired because frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now"


I will never cease to be amazed at his arguing that he is the only thing that can save us from the idiots that other people keep making him hire.
posted by Etrigan at 7:35 AM on January 29 [18 favorites]


This Twitter thread from Ezra Klein gutted me.
posted by PhineasGage at 7:44 AM on January 29 [7 favorites]


That Ezra Klein thread parallels the thinking of a lot of people anymore. It boils down to this. If the GOPers in the Senate are going to acquit regardless of the facts, then that is a very dangerous step for the future of America. They are the ones that can hold the president accountable for lawbreaking. They KNOW he broke the law, and not in a minor way, or in a way that came from not understanding a certain obscure law. They KNOW he is corrupt. Allowing him to continue is a dangerous step on the way to full-blown fascism, because he knows no one will stop him from doing anything he wants.

Also, with the way tRump is attacking Bolton on Twitter this morning, that just makes me believe that there is a "there" there with the Bolton manuscript. He's basically saying the stuff is true, writing "All classified national intelligence" right after saying the book is "untrue." If you're claiming it's classified, then you're pretty much saying it's true.
posted by azpenguin at 7:51 AM on January 29 [16 favorites]


From that thread (threadreader):
McConnell's move in all this has been to create such certainty around acquittal that it's tiring for people to pay attention because it's so clear how the story ends.


That certainty McConnell created is the tiger the Republicans have by the tail, because the more obvious Trump's guilt, the more corrupt the Republicans look. And the ongoing revelations of new evidence of Trump's guilt counteract the boredom McConnell hoped to create in the press -- to the contrary, the series of new revelations and new questions have given reporters something to do, not just whine about the dull process like some fools did for the House hearings.

Democrats seem confident in their case and confident that Republicans will betray their oaths (both accurate, and adding to the pressure on Republicans). Republicans are the ones who seem to be scared about this process now.

See you in November, Republicans.
posted by Gelatin at 7:52 AM on January 29 [19 favorites]


Just a reminder to folks. Trump has already been impeached. Even Senators get this wrong. The current trial is for conviction and removal from office.
posted by baegucb at 8:05 AM on January 29 [24 favorites]


Pelosi shares editorial supportive of calling Bolton as a witness (WaPo)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) widely shared a USA Today editorial that argues for hearing from Bolton and other witnesses.

“[T]he senators sitting in judgment of the president have an obligation to do more than close their eyes and cover their ears to new evidence,” says the editorial, which Pelosi’s office sent to reporters in an email. “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was well on his way to engineering a ‘trial’ that races to acquittal without so much as a single witness being called. While expedient for Trump, that would be laughable to most Americans who know what a trial should look like.”
posted by katra at 8:14 AM on January 29 [8 favorites]


At this point I'll settle for pushing the end of the trial past the Feb 4 State of the Union.

At this point.
posted by Rykey at 8:31 AM on January 29 [16 favorites]


NBC interview this morning w Manchin had his refusal to answer on whether he will split his votes to remove/aquit on the articles.

I had forgotten that senators vote on each article of impeachment separately. This allows the wobbly Democrats to claim that they voted both for impeachment and against impeachment. It's a win-win.
posted by JackFlash at 8:39 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


At this point I'll settle for pushing the end of the trial past the Feb 4 State of the Union.

If Trump is still on trial in the Senate during the SOTU -- with witnesses describing his wrongdoing on a daily basis, no less! -- his anticipated victory lap will probably devolve more than once into a self-pitying, angry rant. I doubt loyal Americans will like what they see.

If Trump loses the November election (TTTCS), he will spend the rest of his life tweeting about how he was cheated out of the presidency by the mean Democrats and their phony impeachment. That's a deal I'll happily accept.
posted by Gelatin at 8:51 AM on January 29 [11 favorites]


White House at "DEFCON 2" over witness testimony (CBS News)
Should any vote end in a 50-50 tie, Roberts would be called on to cast the deciding vote. The White House is confident Roberts would not break the tie in favor of hearing witness testimony, but would prefer the vote fail outright, the official said.
McConnell explains process for senators to ask questions (CBS News)
The next phase will last two days beginning Wednesday, when the Senate will reconvene at 1 p.m. Senators will have up to eight hours during that session to submit written questions to each side. Questions will alternate between the Republicans and Democrats, McConnell said. [...] Questions must be in writing and submitted to the chief justice. McConnell urged his colleagues to be "thoughtful and brief," as they were during the impeachment trial for President Bill Clinton in 1999, and encouraged the House managers and president's counsel to be "succinct" with their answers.
The cards senators will use to pose questions (CBS News)
McConnell wasn't kidding when he asked senators to be "thoughtful and brief" with their questions. Senators who wish to ask questions of the House managers or president's defense team will have a spare six lines to write questions for Roberts to read aloud during the 16-hour Q&A period.
Trump falsely claims Republicans weren't allowed witnesses in House inquiry (CBS News)
Mr. Trump tweeted, inaccurately, that no Republican witnesses were allowed to testify during the House proceedings. That simply isn't true.

"Remember Republicans, the Democrats already had 17 witnesses, we were given NONE! Witnesses are up to the House, not up to the Senate. Don't let the Dems play you!" the president wrote Wednesday morning.

But Republicans called several witnesses during the House proceedings — lawyer Jonathan Turley, former National Security Council official Tim Morrison, State Department official David Hale and former diplomat Kurt Volker were all called to testify at the request of Republicans.
posted by katra at 8:53 AM on January 29 [15 favorites]


...he will spend the rest of his life tweeting about how he was cheated out of the presidency by the mean Democrats and their phony impeachment. That's a deal I'll happily accept.

do they allow inmates to use twitter in NY state prisons these days?
posted by logicpunk at 8:53 AM on January 29 [6 favorites]


I've been wondering if, in retrospect, the best strategy for Republicans would have been argument in the alternative set to maximum strength: The president has total authority over foreign policy, if he wants to withhold Congressionally-approved funds he may do so for essentially any reason, including behavior that may affect elections but is not otherwise either illegal or to his personal benefit. As it is, they've been drawing lines they should have known perfectly well would eventually be crossed, e.g by saying that if a quid pro quo happened, sure, that would be impeachable.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 9:03 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


Yeah, they're republicans though so no matter what was said yesterday they're expected to forget all that the very second something said today contradicts it.
posted by VTX at 9:08 AM on January 29 [9 favorites]


Madison, Hamilton, Dershowitz: One of these men is not like the others, but for the GOP he’s a better quote (Fred Barbash, WaPo Analysis)
On Monday, Dershowitz, the Harvard Law professor emeritus who is part of Trump’s legal team, delivered what quickly became the most favored speech for quoting among GOP senators. It provided them cover, should they need it, for refusing to allow witnesses in the trial of Trump, for voting to acquit him and, in the event damaging evidence emerges after the trial, for slamming it as irrelevant. [...]

“Let’s say it’s true, okay?” Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) told reporters Tuesday, referring to the Ukraine quid pro quo. “Dershowitz last night explained that if you’re looking at it from a constitutional point of view,” it is “not something that is impeachable.”
Guardian: Graham says witness testimony is 'unnecessary'
[...] echoing the president’s team, Graham said Trump’s actions would not be impeachable even if he did directly tie Ukraine’s military assistance to investigations of Democrats, as Bolton has reportedly alleged. “For the sake of argument, one could assume everything attributable to John Bolton is accurate and still the House case would fall well below the standards to remove a president from office,” Graham said.
Political Self-Interest and the Impeachable Offense: A Reply to Professor Bobbitt (Bob Bauer, Just Security)
Professor Phillip Bobbitt harbors no doubt that President Donald Trump committed an impeachable “high crime of the highest constitutional importance” when, to induce Ukraine to help him injure “the reputation of a political adversary,” he withheld aid that Congress had appropriated for that country. But Bobbitt also calls for stating with care the case for this “abuse of power.” [...] On Bobbitt’s view, what’s damning in Trump’s case is that, as the Government Accounting Office found, Trump violated the law in refusing to release the aid. Bobbitt writes that the violation GAO identified is a “game changer of sorts” in understanding the precise grounds for impeachment: Trump’s disregard of the law undermined the “constitutional law of congressional appropriations.” [...] Would the case be less persuasive if, as some argue, only so much weight can be placed on the GAO finding, which is not a binding or final say on the legal question?

No, I don’t believe so. It is possible, in fact imperative, to identify egregious cases of political self-interestedness that constitute “abuse of power” warranting impeachment and removal—even in the absence of a violation of law. [...] Those who fear the runaway expansion of impeachment as a political weapon worry that the approach involved in a case-by-case factual inquiry cannot work, because any incendiary political conflict will quickly move to calls for impeachment. They would like to lay down hard and fast doctrinal lines. Alan Dershowitz is taking this idea to extremes by arguing on behalf of the president that only a crime, and then only certain kinds of crimes, may justify impeachment and conviction. [...]

Setting aside any statutory violation such as the Impoundment Act, a strong and sufficient case for impeachment would certainly rest on any showing that a president put personal and political self- interest front and center in the decision making of matters of vital importance to the conduct of his office and the national welfare. The factors described previously—context and subject matter, questions of degree and kind, and the compromising of institutional processes—help guide and discipline the analysis. The case for an abuse of power may be clinched by the finding of a serious violation of law. It does not depend on it.
posted by katra at 9:17 AM on January 29 [4 favorites]


Republican Senators are getting sheet cakes asking them to let Bolton testify.

No, really.
posted by RakDaddy at 9:21 AM on January 29 [14 favorites]


VTX: Yeah, they're republicans though so no matter what was said yesterday they're expected to forget all that the very second something said today contradicts it.

I don't dispute the existence and relevance of such factors as the cultishness and bad faith of the party, and the news media constantly making room for that bad faith by not always calling it out. I'm just saying that that my mental model of the few up-for-grabs voters is one of sufficient ignorance about matters of state that they could probably have bought the "Democrats aren't alleging a single actually-bad thing, period" argument from the get-go.

Whereas I can't figure out what kind of voter is persuaded -- as in, had their mid changed -- to support Republicans now, or at least to not vote for Democrats, after this mess. Like, last November, which Republicans would have balked at a collective agreement that "Even quid pro quo is okay, yes we are going to say those exact words to the voters" was the party line? Which voters do they lose by doing so?

So in a way, the contradictions give hope -- for whatever reason, they went for that instead of an un-contradictory "He can do what he wants here" argument.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 9:23 AM on January 29


Even now the Republicans are getting bogged down in "it's okay because it was for a good reason" when (a) people paying enough attention know that's a lie, and (b) people who are just paying cursory attention are seeing this pitted against the Democrats' arguments on why it's a bad reason instead of getting a "fuck you, it's good no matter what" argument that would preemptively shut down future revelations.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:25 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Senate Impeachment Trial, Day 9 (C-SPAN) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues as Senators ask House impeachment managers and the President’s defense team questions. Watch LIVE On January 29 | 1pm ET | C-SPAN2

U.S. Senate: Impeachment Trial (Day 9) (C-SPAN YouTube) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues as Senators ask House impeachment managers and the President’s defense team questions. Scheduled for Jan 29, 2020

The Report: Impeachment, Day Seven (Lawfare)
On the seventh day of the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump, the president's team of lawyers wrapped up their arguments in his defense. The defense, led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, continued their case for Trump’s acquittal focusing on arguments related to constitutional interpretation, the facts of the case and what the defense asserts is at stake with the impeachment of this president. [...] Lawfare and Goat Rodeo bring you the seventh day of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial boiled down to the most essential 48 minutes.
posted by katra at 9:27 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


Republican Senators are getting sheet cakes asking them to let Bolton testify.

I can think of no more fitting image to serve as the epitaph for #Resistance than this.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:28 AM on January 29 [12 favorites]


Whereas I can't figure out what kind of voter is persuaded -- as in, had their mid changed -- to support Republicans now, or at least to not vote for Democrats, after this mess.

The problem for Republicans is, while they're banking on firing up the MAGA-hat crowd about the mean Democrats' impeachment witch hunt, their base is not enough. They need to persuade other voters, and the impeachment process isn't exactly covering Trump or the Republicans with glory. It looks like McConnell's goal of acquitting Trump without looking like an accessory after the fact is getting harder by the day.
posted by Gelatin at 9:29 AM on January 29 [6 favorites]


Guardian: White House reportedly threatens Bolton not to publish book
According to CNN, the White House has threatened John Bolton not to publish his book, which reportedly includes an allegation that Trump directly tied Ukraine’s military assistance to investigations of Democrats.

Trump has been tweeting about the former national security adviser’s book today, confusingly arguing that the unpublished memoir includes both false and classified information.
White House has issued formal threat to Bolton to keep him from publishing book (CNN)
The letter comes in the midst of President Donald Trump attacking Bolton on Twitter, and Bolton's lawyer accusing the White House of corrupting the vetting process for Bolton's book by sharing the contents of the book with those outside the National Security Council's Records Management Division.

Trump's tweets attacking Bolton Wednesday morning suggested he knew the contents of the manuscript.
posted by katra at 9:33 AM on January 29 [6 favorites]


Exactly as an innocent person does, dontcha know.
posted by Rykey at 9:41 AM on January 29 [19 favorites]


That will absolutely not backfire because no portions of the manuscript have already leaked and there is no reason to expect that more will come out if formal publication is blocked. After all, the retail publishing world is completely secure and there's absolutely no way for a copy of a book to hit the market or the Internet before its street date.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:50 AM on January 29 [22 favorites]


I have to think that pissing off Bolton even more, and challenging him to give out more info is not the right approach for his personality type.
posted by Bovine Love at 9:54 AM on January 29 [11 favorites]


Republican Senators are getting sheet cakes asking them to let Bolton testify.

I can think of no more fitting image to serve as the epitaph for #Resistance than this.

Grimmest of all is the Hamilton quote.

If you want a vision of the future of liberalism, imagine Mike Pence being told "we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us" - forever.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:02 AM on January 29 [10 favorites]


January 28, 2020 - Letters From An American (Heather Cox Richardson)
There were a lot of stories, but two of the key ones seemed to have a subtext that we don’t know, so the meaning of the stories is not clear.

After Trump’s lawyers finished [on Tuesday], Republican senators conferenced about what to do about Bolton and other witnesses, and tonight the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the senators that he did not have the votes to prevent testimony.

[…] I am very skeptical of anything McConnell says or does; he is one of the slyest politicians in our history. I am sitting here wondering what or who he is trying to signal by letting this information leak. If McConnell really were on the losing end of a vote, he would never let that information be public. So what’s he up to?
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:02 AM on January 29 [14 favorites]


confusingly arguing that the unpublished memoir includes both false and classified information

To be fair, false, classified information is standard practice. Ask anybody who paid attention during the leadup to any of the US's recent imperial adventures.
posted by flabdablet at 10:03 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Eliot Engel just now revealing that Bolton asked him and his office to look into the removal of Amb, Yovanovitch, on Sep 23rd. Whistleblower plus.
posted by Harry Caul at 10:03 AM on January 29 [8 favorites]


Guardian: Senior House Democrat says Bolton raised concerns about Yovanovitch ouster
Eliot Engel, the chairman of the House foreign relations committee, has just put out a statement contradicting Trump’s claim that John Bolton did not raise concerns about Ukraine when he left the administration in September.

President Trump is wrong that John Bolton didn’t say anything about the Trump-Ukraine Scandal at the time the President fired him,” Engel said in the statement. “He said something to me.

“On September 19, shortly after Ambassador Bolton’s departure as national security advisor, my staff reached out to him at my request. ...

“He and I spoke by telephone on September 23. On that call, Ambassador Bolton suggested to me—unprompted—that the committee look into the recall of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. He strongly implied that something improper had occurred around her removal as our top diplomat in Kyiv.”

[...] “It’s telling that, of all people, John Bolton is now the target of right-wing ire,” Engel concluded. “It underscores just how important it is that the Senate subpoena Ambassador Bolton as a witness.”
posted by katra at 10:04 AM on January 29 [28 favorites]


“He and I spoke by telephone on September 23. On that call, Ambassador Bolton suggested to me—unprompted—that the committee look into the recall of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. He strongly implied that something improper had occurred around her removal as our top diplomat in Kyiv.”

[...] “It’s telling that, of all people, John Bolton is now the target of right-wing ire,” Engel concluded.


It's telling that of all people, John Bolton raised concerns about Yovanovitch's ouster while her own boss, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, lost his temper publicly in part because he was challenged to back up his claims that he'd gone to bat for her.
posted by Gelatin at 10:09 AM on January 29 [12 favorites]


GOP strains to contain Bolton fallout in impeachment trial (AP)
White House officials privately acknowledge that they are essentially powerless to block the book’s publication but could sue after the fact if they believe it violated the confidentiality agreement Bolton signed.
posted by katra at 10:18 AM on January 29


21 Hours With Alan Dershowitz
Over the course of one week, Tom Chiarella watched Donald Trump’s TV-loving lawyer prepare for his biggest argument to date. He still can’t make sense of it.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:20 AM on January 29 [5 favorites]


So John Bolton is a whistleblower?
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:20 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


How a judge's ruling foreshadowed the White House's Bolton threat (CNN)
The now-well-known "presidents are not kings" ruling from federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson forcing former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify to Congress almost seemed to foreshadow the White House threat to former national security adviser John Bolton today to keep him from publishing his memoir.

Jackson wrote about how presidents cannot control the free speech of their underlings, especially "for the remainder of their natural life."

"As citizens of the United States, current and former senior-level presidential aides have constitutional rights, including the right to free speech, and they retain these rights even after they have transitioned back to private life," Jackson wrote in November.

The judge, sitting in Washington, DC, acknowledges that sometimes presidential aides have confidential, classified or privileged information they cannot share. "But, in this Court's view, the withholding of such information from the public square in the national interest and at the behest of the President is a duty that the aide herself possesses."
posted by katra at 10:27 AM on January 29 [6 favorites]


Ugh, that Esquire article is the worst. (But thank you for posting it!)
posted by Gadarene at 10:29 AM on January 29


> Questions will alternate between the Republicans and Democrats, McConnell said

So what happens if only one Republican asks a question?
posted by lazugod at 10:31 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


White House has issued formal threat to Bolton to keep him from publishing book

That's going to make an excellent book jacket blurb.
posted by mikepop at 10:32 AM on January 29 [24 favorites]


I'm guessing Serious Patriot® Bolton took umbrage at being treated like a third-rate pitboss at a failing* Trump casino; ignored, humiliated, dismissed.

*Reminder: almost all Trump properties fail.
posted by valkane at 10:37 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


BREAKING: Gardner says he doesn't want to hear from more impeachment witnesses

Earlier reporting wasn't very clear on who the noes and maybes were, but the fact that an electorally-vulnerable Republican is coming out with this suggests Moscow Mitch will probably get the votes he needs.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:54 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't want to hear from more witnesses, either, were I a Republican. That doesn't mean it isn't going to happen, though.
posted by wierdo at 10:58 AM on January 29 [5 favorites]


So John Bolton is a whistleblower?

26 Sept 2019: I'm actually expecting it to be Bolton

Bolton, an ideological war-monger, has no compatibility with the current administration. He was brought in on the tail end of the exodus of Bolton-like forces (Kelly, Mattis, etc.), and then witnessed the malignant narcissist go directly against his (Bolton's) ideology. Since it was done so in a brazenly criminal fashion, I don't think anyone should be surprised he was covertly working against it. He's a completely different flavor of evil than the sycophants.

By all means call him as a witness. But JFC do not trust him, or worse commend him.
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:16 AM on January 29 [10 favorites]


> I wouldn't want to hear from more witnesses, either, were I a Republican. That doesn't mean it isn't going to happen, though.

Er, is it not obvious from the linked article that he's not just saying he doesn't want to hear from witnesses, but will vote against hearing from them? There would be no other reason for him to put out a statement now unless it were an indication of how he intends to vote. He's not a bystander here.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:17 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Well, now we can label him Coverup Cory.

Seriously, how do you campaign on this if you're in a swing state? There's no way to come across as anything but a participant in a coverup.
posted by azpenguin at 11:28 AM on January 29 [3 favorites]


Seriously, how do you campaign on this if you're in a swing state?

Maybe he figures staying in good with team R will lead to lucrative lobbying gigs particularly if he thinks his seat is strongly in danger of being lost anyway.
posted by willnot at 11:32 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


I doubt this is a surprise to anyone but I think the way you campaign on voting to acquit if you're in a swing state is by simply claiming this whole process exonerated Trump and that since he has been acquitted he is therefore totally innocent. Obviously, this is the plan, aided by the mass manufacture of whatever follow-on scandals are possible. Expect further investigations into the Bidens to follow closely on the heels of acquittal in order to perpetuate the totally-innocent storyline.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:33 AM on January 29 [5 favorites]


The Republicans are reduced to arguing that listening to witnesses just takes too long. Sadly, “impeachment is a bad use of Congress’s time” is a message that is convincing to a lot of people (51% in a recent Ipsos poll).
posted by mbrubeck at 11:36 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


Expect further investigations into the Bidens to follow closely on the heels of acquittal in order to perpetuate the totally-innocent storyline.

Two can play at that game. There is nothing stopping the House from opening more investigations.
posted by azpenguin at 11:48 AM on January 29 [4 favorites]


Guardian: Dershowitz stretches definition of 'public interest'
Asked whether a quid pro quo matters in deciding to remove a president from office, Dershowitz argued Trump was acting in the public interest by pushing for investigations of Democrats because an officeholder’s reelection can be in the public interest. [...]

Many commentators warned that this sweepingly broad definition of the public interest could justify almost any action of a sitting president.

Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) This is absurd. Dershowitz is arguing that as long as you believe that you winning an election will be a good thing for the country, you can do pretty much whatever you want — including using public money for personal gain — to help you win. That’s not how democracy works. https://t.co/agfT01l9uy January 29, 2020

Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) The president lawyers are arguing that if the president ordered his election opponent arrested that would be fine because he’s pursuing the national interest in order to get re-elected. January 29, 2020
posted by katra at 11:51 AM on January 29 [11 favorites]


Republicans fear Bolton domino effect: ‘More Witnesses = Hindenburg.’
With the critical vote looming on Friday on whether to call new witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial, Senate Republicans are coalescing around the idea that it is better to risk looking like they ignored relevant evidence than to plunge the Senate into an open-ended inquiry and anger President Trump.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:52 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


According to CNN, the White House has threatened John Bolton not to publish his book, which reportedly includes an allegation that Trump directly tied Ukraine’s military assistance to investigations of Democrats.

They don't really expect to stop him. They're just going to delay the book until after the election.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:53 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Guardian: "Responding to the question about whether a quid pro quo matters, lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff criticized Alan Dershowitz argument that Trump acted out of “mixed motives.”
Schiff asked the senators to imagine a scenario in which Barack Obama asked a foreign country to investigate Mitt Romney, the former president’s 2012 election opponent who is now sitting in the Senate chamber.

“Does any of us have a question that Barack Obama would be impeached?” Schiff asked.

The House intelligence committee chairman concluded by saying that not all quid pro quos are the same. “Some are legitimate; some are corrupt,” Schiff said. “And you don’t need to be a mindreader to figure out which is which.”
posted by katra at 11:54 AM on January 29 [3 favorites]


Sadly, “impeachment is a bad use of Congress’s time” is a message that is convincing to a lot of people (51% in a recent Ipsos poll).

This is a bad survey question. Impeachment can be a bad use of Congress's time and also utterly necessary.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 11:54 AM on January 29 [19 favorites]


Republicans fear Bolton domino effect: ‘More Witnesses = Hindenburg.’
Except the best strategy in a potential Hindenburg situation is not to cozy up as close as possible to the explosive gasbag.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:55 AM on January 29 [25 favorites]


It's called a trial balloon. Politicians often say shit for the express purpose of testing the waters to see if they can get away with something.

Do I have confidence that witnesses will eventually be called? Nope. However, I don't think Cory Gardner's statement is a meaningful indication of anything except his desire to find some way to avoid pissing off enough people in either direction to lose his seat. It's entirely possible the statement is meant as a sop to the base allowing him to claim that he was forced into voting to call Bolton to testify.

The point being that meaningless mouth noises are meaningless. We often place far more importance on them than they deserve. What matters more is that the media isn't letting go of this particular bone. I still have little confidence that there will be witnesses, much less a conviction, but the more it looks like there will be widespread electoral consequences in the Senate the less likely it is that they will have the stones to hold fast.
posted by wierdo at 11:57 AM on January 29 [6 favorites]


Even Nixon didn't have the gall to argue that his activities were actually legal -- "not illegal" was as gar as he would go, and that years after he resigned knowing his impeachment was inevitable.

With the critical vote looming on Friday on whether to call new witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial, Senate Republicans are coalescing around the idea that it is better to risk looking like they ignored relevant evidence than to plunge the Senate into an open-ended inquiry and anger President Trump.

In other words, Republican Senators are accepting a certain risk to their own careers in order to protect Trump. It's baffling, but again, it hints at an "event horizon" of a scandal or series of scandals so massive Republicans will do anything to conceal it.

Democrats, of course, should take the Republicans up on their offer to [look] like they ignored relevant evidence [rather] than to plunge the Senate into an open-ended inquiry and anger President Trump, and help bolster that (correct) perception whenever they can.
posted by Gelatin at 11:58 AM on January 29 [6 favorites]


This is a bad survey question. Impeachment can be a bad use of Congress's time and also utterly necessary.

It isn't as if the Senate has been spending its time passing bills that benefit the American people -- the ones the so-called "do nothing" Democrats in the House have been passing. All they've been doing is appointing Republican judges, so keeping them from that task for a month is a Good Thing.
posted by Gelatin at 12:01 PM on January 29 [29 favorites]


I don't know if it's correct to assume that the fear of witnesses is a fear of threads being pulled that reveal even worse stuff. It could be almost totally a hedge that voters have short memories; if having witnesses meant 1 more week of a trial but not having them somehow meant 2 more months of it, then they'd prefer to have witnesses. Relatedly, there's a desire give Trump his chance to crow in the State of the Union address. (Plus the business of confirming judges, a Gelatin points out.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 12:04 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


Dem. senator asks if Roberts has authority to rule on witnesses, executive privilege (NBC News)
A recent question from Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., aimed at the House managers, touched on the Chief Justice Robert's ability to help resolve issues regarding witnesses in an impeachment trial in the Senate.

"Some have claimed that subpoenaing witnesses or documents would unnecessarily prolong this trial. Isn't it true that depositions of the three witnesses in the Clinton trial were completed in only one day each? And isn't it true that the Chief Justice as presiding officer in this trial has the authority to resolve any claims of privilege or other witness issues without any delay?" Carper asked in a question read by Roberts.

"Mr. Chief Justice, the answer is yes," Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.

Roberts, as the chief justice, could in theory break a tie among senators on the issue of calling witnesses, legal experts have said. Some experts have also said that Roberts has the authority to make rulings that pertain to executive privilege.
posted by katra at 12:11 PM on January 29 [6 favorites]


Somehow I'd hoped that, after days of disconnected arguments, the Q&A period would offer a chance to confront the Trump lawyers with uncomfortable questions (and for the House managers to directly parry weak attacks). But it's looking like every question so far is on the form of "R senator asks Trump team" or "D senator asks House managers." World's greatest deliberative body, folks.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:11 PM on January 29 [6 favorites]


As for Cory Gardner, the Republican primary in Colorado is set for June 30th, and the filing date for that primary is March 17th. Maybe he's avoiding being primaried.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:14 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


I still have little confidence that there will be witnesses, much less a conviction

Me too, but for now let me indulge in the fantasy that there's currently a non-zero possibility that Trump could be removed from office. (Sure, excruciatingly close to zero, but still technically not exactly zero.)
posted by kirkaracha at 12:14 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


But it's looking like every question so far is on the form of "R senator asks Trump team" or "D senator asks House managers." World's greatest deliberative body, folks. Same as it ever was, re: Clinton impeachment.
posted by Harry Caul at 12:15 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]




As for Cory Gardner, the Republican primary in Colorado is set for June 30th, and the filing date for that primary is March 17th. Maybe he's avoiding being primaried.

We said that about the Republicans who were prostrating themselves in front of Trump in 2018, that it had to be primary calculus and they'd try to moderate ahead of the general-election backlash, and they just kept bowing and scraping. This. Is. Who. They. Are.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:16 PM on January 29 [15 favorites]


Has anyone seen a diagram or a list of the all the men working to defend Trump - beyond Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz - who had connections with Jeffrey Epstein?
posted by PhineasGage at 12:27 PM on January 29 [10 favorites]


House manager argues there's no evidence proving Trump was acting in America's interest (CNN)
House manager Rep. Jason Crow argued today on the Senate floor that there is currently no evidence proving that President Trump was acting in the interest of national security as it relates to Ukraine.

"There are well-established processes, mechanisms and agencies in place to pursue valid and legitimate national security interests of the United States. Like the National Security Council, like the national security adviser as in ambassador John Bolton, and many other folks within the State Department and the Department of Defense. And as we have well established over the last week, none of those folks, none of those agencies that would have been involved in having that deliberation, reviewing that evidence, having that discussion, or incorporated into any type of interagency review process during the vast majority of the time that we are talking about here," Crow said.

Crow went on to add: "From the time of the President's call on July 25 to the time the hold was lifted, those individuals, those agencies were in the dark. They didn't know what was happening. And more so, not only were they in the dark, but the President violated the law by violating the Impoundment Control Act to execute his scheme. None of that suggests a valid, legitimate policy objective."
posted by katra at 12:29 PM on January 29 [17 favorites]


Trump’s impeachment team offers the Trumpiest possible argument in his defense (Philip Bump, WaPo)
Over the course of two responses to those questions [submitted by Senators], Trump’s legal team made a remarkable claim. First, that if an action includes any element of public interest, it can’t be impeachable under the terms set by the House. And, second, if Trump thinks that his own reelection is in the public interest — which he certainly does — that’s a valid claim.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:31 PM on January 29 [10 favorites]


First, that if an action includes any element of public interest, it can’t be impeachable under the terms set by the House. And, second, if Trump thinks that his own reelection is in the public interest — which he certainly does — that’s a valid claim.

If that were true, then the president couldn't be bound to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed," as required by Article 2 of the Constitution. He could ignore anything Congress passed and spend money on anything he pleased, regardless of how Congress appropriated it.

Trump's lawyers insist the president is a King. Not so.
posted by Gelatin at 12:36 PM on January 29 [8 favorites]


Dershowitz seems to be trying to out-Giuliani Giuliani. It's hard to suppress the suspicion that they're slyly trying to tank Trump from the inside. But no: everything that Trump touches dies.
posted by sjswitzer at 12:36 PM on January 29 [4 favorites]


The question posed by Cruz and Graham about Obama hypothetically asking for an investigation of Romney's son seemed like they knew it would play two different ways. For trump/fever swamp it was just more Obama shade with some fresh Romney kicking, but sophist politicians like those two should've known how Schiff was going to pivot the question so handily back to constitutional/office violation. Or they just pulled that out of a hat like the rest of the stupid fucking questions the republicans are asking. Who knows.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:48 PM on January 29 [4 favorites]


By the way, once again, "what he did isn't impeachable" is a tacit concession that Trump did the things the House Managers' case said he did.

It's a foolish defense -- practically a surrender -- unless you're playing to an audience of one malignant narcissist who can't accept that any of his actions weren't perfect.
posted by Gelatin at 12:56 PM on January 29 [18 favorites]


Dershowitz seems to be trying to out-Giuliani Giuliani. It's hard to suppress the suspicion that they're slyly trying to tank Trump from the inside. But no: everything that Trump touches dies.

My working assumption is that the Dershbag is desperate to get a pardon ready.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:59 PM on January 29 [6 favorites]


The President could shoot all but one American Citizen on 5th Avenue and then point the gun at the Final Citizen and order them to vote for him and it would be in the National Interest
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:05 PM on January 29 [6 favorites]


My working assumption is that the Dershbag is desperate to get a pardon ready.

I don't think it likely that he'll be in the crosshairs of an Epstein investigation.

He could have been hanging out in Martha's Vineyard or the Cote d'Azur or whatever makes him happy to the end of his days. But it turns out that what makes him happy is to be a provocateur and to bask in the media spotlight. It's a foreign feeling to me, but it must be very addictive to be the center of attention.
posted by sjswitzer at 1:13 PM on January 29 [10 favorites]


My working assumption is that the Dershbag is desperate to get a pardon ready.

For himself or his boss?
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:16 PM on January 29


I don’t get the line of thinking that Trump somehow has dirt on the entire GOP and they’re desperate to keep it hidden and are therefore stonewalling for a man they actually hate.

They are doing this because regardless of how they feel about Trump personally, he has given them almost everything they want. They don’t want to give that up — that’s why they’re fighting so hard.

To dump Trump is to jeopardize their ability to overturn Row v Wade, redistribute wealth to the top 1% via low taxes and pro-business labor policy, openly shit on minorities, send other people’s children to die to protect their wealth, and make the nation in general conform to their religious bigotries.

Trump showed them that to win, they had to stop playing nice. They had to read the Constitution like they read the Bible (selectively, if at all). They had to drown in their insecurities and rule from the fear it generates. Once you do that, it’s near impossible to come back to reality.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 1:19 PM on January 29 [63 favorites]


I love how Alan Dershowitz keeps insisting what Trump did was not impeachable, despite the fact Trump was impeached. Shine on, you crazy diamond!
posted by mattdidthat at 1:25 PM on January 29 [10 favorites]


So now we are going to tiptoe toward outing the whistleblower. Cool.
posted by all about eevee at 1:28 PM on January 29


East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94: "The President could shoot all but one American Citizen on 5th Avenue and then point the gun at the Final Citizen and order them to vote for him and it would be in the National Interest"

That's.... not even an uncharitable interpretation of their argument.
posted by schmod at 1:29 PM on January 29 [20 favorites]


I've said it upthread, but I think it bears repeating: the idea that impeachment requires a statutory crime is sheer nonsense.

When the constitution was written, there was little to no federal criminal law. Criminal law was understood to be a competency of the states. It took ages before the commerce clause was used to justify a body of federal criminal law. Impeachment cannot have required a violation of (federal) criminal law because it basically did not exist. The meaning of "high crimes and misdemeanors" was clear at that time and is well documented.
posted by sjswitzer at 1:30 PM on January 29 [27 favorites]


Has anyone seen a diagram or a list of the all the men working to defend Trump - beyond Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz - who had connections with Jeffrey Epstein?

Nope, but don't forget that Bill Barr's dad Donald hired college-dropout Epstein to teach at the Dalton School back in the day.

It's hard to suppress the suspicion that they're slyly trying to tank Trump from the inside

I had a similar thought, when he added Jane Raskin to his legal team, in 2018, during the Russia investigation (her familiarity with Mueller was a point in her favor: "She prosecuted Mafia underbosses for a federal Organized Crime Strike Force in Boston when Mueller held supervisory positions in the U.S. attorney’s office there") -- once upon a time, Raskin was so principled that she resigned from the DOJ over Ed Meese's shenanigans. (WaPo, April 25, 2018)
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:33 PM on January 29 [8 favorites]


Today would be an excellent day to plan something to help with your self care for post-Monday. Keep yourselves safe and healthy for the future fights.
posted by Harry Caul at 1:37 PM on January 29 [11 favorites]


House manager argues there's no evidence proving Trump was acting in America's interest (CNN)

This is a fantastic rhetorical argument against Trump. Pound the lack of evidence that Trump is even doing anything as a president. All he has done is tainted with corruption or has been entirely done by cronies. To prove he is even doing anything himself as a president they will have to bring his crimes to the table. Plus it's an in your face dunk on his ego which even if it isn't effective legally is always good for the soul.
posted by srboisvert at 2:14 PM on January 29 [14 favorites]


Republicans fear Bolton domino effect: ‘More Witnesses = Hindenburg.’
Except the best strategy in a potential Hindenburg situation is not to cozy up as close as possible to the explosive gasbag.


Also nobody will say "Oh the humanity"
posted by srboisvert at 2:16 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


They are doing this because regardless of how they feel about Trump personally, he has given them almost everything they want. They don’t want to give that up — that’s why they’re fighting so hard.

If that were the case, what is left that Trump would give them that Pence wouldn't?
I think Pence is messed up in this too, but his involvement isn't currently at issue.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:32 PM on January 29 [4 favorites]


Today would be an excellent day to plan something to help with your self care for post-Monday.

I just confirmed that BevMo will deliver bourbon directly to my house, so I got that covered.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:34 PM on January 29 [8 favorites]


I think Vladimir would prefer his victory be toasted with Stoli.
posted by Dashy at 2:39 PM on January 29 [3 favorites]


The idea that Putin has Epstein tapes featuring Trump, Dershowitz, Starr, et al. may not quite align with Occam's Razor, but it isn't entirely outrageous, either.
posted by PhineasGage at 2:45 PM on January 29 [4 favorites]


If that were the case, what is left that Trump would give them that Pence wouldn't?

Four more years.
posted by tllaya at 2:48 PM on January 29 [10 favorites]


what is left that Trump would give them that Pence wouldn't?

They learned with Ford that a VP stepping in after impeachment is weakened, and probably won't get re-elected. Whereas there's still a real chance they can get Trump re-elected.

Plus it's just your typical sociopathic inability to ever admit that you were ever wrong about anything.

"Why are Republicans doing this?" does not have one answer; there is an ugly knot of overlapping reasons. Some definitely is fear of exposure or even of retribution. Some is just Eff You, That's Why. Politicians are herd animals and no one wants to be the first to break rank, either. The Republicans have definitely selected for party members who are more compliant and respectful of authority; everyone else got primaried.
posted by emjaybee at 2:50 PM on January 29 [15 favorites]


Gelatin: If that were true, then the president couldn't be bound to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed," as required by Article 2 of the Constitution. He could ignore anything Congress passed and spend money on anything he pleased, regardless of how Congress appropriated it.

The defense is an exquisite corpse: Each part is drawn such that, if you squint, it connects with the preceding part, but the whole is a monstrous absurdity.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 2:50 PM on January 29 [13 favorites]


Humor me for a moment. I had this nutty idea that the inevitable non-removal of Trump isn't even the worst possible outcome!

The worst outcome, though vanishingly unlikely, would be for him to be removed from office without being barred from office. Pence would be a caretaker president for the remainder of the term and Trump could go into an aggrieved re-election campaign immediately on the basis that the presidency was stolen from him.

It's almost certainly not going to happen and I guess that's evidence that we're not on the worst possible timeline.
posted by sjswitzer at 2:55 PM on January 29 [7 favorites]


I guess that's evidence that we're not on the worst possible timeline.

Sure, tempt fate. I wanted to scream into the void in the company of people in the politics slack but couldn’t get access for tedious reasons. And watching these lying liars lying theI wanted to scream into the void in the company of people in the politics slack but couldn’t get access for tedious reasons. And watching these lying liars lying their fucking heads off is just too stressful on this particular afternoon. America is fucked. It’s been fucked for a really really really long time. I am glad this impeachment is taking place but won’t save our democracy. Hang in there, dear MeFites. Time for me to take a break.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:01 PM on January 29 [11 favorites]


I can’t remember - are there closing arguments before the Senate goes behind closed doors for “debate” or is the Q&A period it?
posted by Big Al 8000 at 3:11 PM on January 29


Q: Why are the Republicans doing this?

A: Crush the fascist fucks and dump them in a river of excreta. Sorry, I didn’t hear the question.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:14 PM on January 29 [23 favorites]


Questions the Ds should be asking Trump’s lawyers:

1. What evidence have you provided that contradicts [WITNESS STATEMENT “X”].
2. What evidence have you offered in support of your claim that Joe/Hunter Biden engaged in corrupt behavior?
3. Explain why [INSERT TRUMP TWEET HERE] appears to contradict [LAWYER STATEMENT “X”].
4. Explain why [LAWYER STATEMENT “X”] appears to contradict [RECORD OF CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION/ FEDERALIST PAPER #XX / MISC. DOCUMENT FROM FOUNDERS].

I’m not a lawyer but these sorts of questions seem simple to me - ask them questions that reveal a)their failure to provide exculpatory evidence and b)their ahistorical arguments about impeachment.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 3:24 PM on January 29 [16 favorites]


5. Why evidence exists that that Trump, fined 2 million dollars for defrauding his own charity, cared about any potential corruption other than that of his political opponent?
posted by mikelieman at 3:49 PM on January 29 [8 favorites]


Give them an enumerated list of Trumps crimes. Ask them why they presented no evidence that he did not do these things. Ask them if they are agreeing that he did do those things.
posted by njohnson23 at 3:49 PM on January 29 [4 favorites]


[opens cockpit door] I just want to tell you all good luck. We're all counting on you. [closes cockpit door]
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:51 PM on January 29 [24 favorites]


So now we are going to tiptoe toward outing the whistleblower. Cool.

There's currently a concerted effort by Trump staffers and paid supporters to retweet their name and image in violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:52 PM on January 29


Outing the whistleblower is pointless in relation to issues of fact. The whole reason to do it is to punish him (or her) and to send a signal that any stepping out will be punished.

I don't have a lot of faith in John Roberts, but I hope he will not allow that to happen in these proceedings.
posted by sjswitzer at 4:04 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


You would think that the growing list of Trump's associates and water-carriers being convicted would give the underlings pause, but apparently even the threat of prison time worries them not a bit. It's not as if the pardons have been flowing freely, either.
posted by wierdo at 4:08 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


ermm "hearing from more witnesses? What witnesses?
posted by baegucb at 4:20 PM on January 29


Schiff hints at new "body of intelligence" relevant to impeachment (CBS News)
Senator Mark Warner, the Democratic vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, submitted a question asking whether additional information exists related to Russia's dissemination of conspiracy theories embraced by Mr. Trump and Giuliani — and whether the Senate should have that information before deliberating a verdict.

Schiff, who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, replied that senators should take the time to review supplemental testimony by an aide to Vice President Mike Pence that remains classified. But he added that the House and Senate committees have been provided a "second body of intelligence" that is "relevant to this trial that you should also read." [...]

Schiff, however, also noted that the intelligence community has failed to produce other material he said is relevant to the case. He said the NSA "been advised not to provide" evidence it has collected, which he called part of "a deeply concerning and new phenomenon."
posted by katra at 4:20 PM on January 29 [6 favorites]


Guardian: "As senators mull the merits of calling John Bolton as a witness, an attorney for the former national security adviser has issued a statement.
“I have received no response whatever to my urgent request for the NSC’s immediate guidance as to any concerns it may have with respect to the chapter of the manuscript dealing with Ambassador Bolton’s involvement in matters related to Ukraine,” said Charles Cooper, an attorney for Bolton.

Cooper also shared his reply to a National Security Council letter saying Bolton’s manuscript contained classified information. “We do not believe that any of the information could reasonably be considered classified,” he wrote in an emailed response.

The lawyer requested “urgent” guidance from the NSC given that Bolton may be called to testify in the Senate trial. “If he is asked to testify, it seems certain he will be asked questions that will elicit much of the information contained in the chapter of the manuscript dealing with his involvement in matters related to Ukraine,” Cooper wrote.
posted by katra at 4:27 PM on January 29 [3 favorites]


Senate GOP Will Move to Acquit Friday Night
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WV) told NBC News says the GOP’s plan would be to move to immediately acquit President Trump on Friday night if in fact the U.S. Senate votes against calling additional witnesses.

The Hill: “It was clear to Senate Republicans on Wednesday after a morning meeting between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that the question of having additional witnesses is settled, and the Senate will vote Friday to wrap up the impeachment trial of President Trump.”
bevmo.com
posted by kirkaracha at 4:29 PM on January 29 [3 favorites]


4:18 P.M. Rand Paul not allowed to ask question (Politico)
Sen. Rand Paul is not being allowed to ask a question about the origins of the House impeachment trial, according to a source familiar with the matter.

It's not exactly clear what the Kentucky Republican is trying to ask, though he's been a proponent of naming the whistleblower behind the Ukraine probe and is a close ally of the president.
posted by katra at 4:38 PM on January 29 [3 favorites]


Lessons for Life: The Obituaries of Republicans Who Opposed Nixon’s Impeachment
What will the future think of President Donald Trump and two historic votes senators must take on his impeachment? The obituaries of the Republicans who voted in favor and against the articles of impeachment for President Richard Nixon could provide some insight. How these GOP members of Congress voted in 1974 featured prominently in all of their obituaries.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:44 PM on January 29 [6 favorites]


Schumer calls the possibility of the whistleblower being named on Senate floor "despicable" (CNN)
During a 45-minute break today, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke about a question GOP Sen. Rand Paul attempted to ask that would have revealed the whistleblower's identity.

Schumer called that potential scenario “despicable."

“I thought this question period again was just so good for our side. So many different instances where our arguments prevailed," Schumer added.

More on what happened with Paul's question: Chief Justice John Roberts essentially said no to reading it, a source told CNN. It is not clear how this is going to be resolved at the moment, but it doesn’t appear to have de-escalated yet.
posted by katra at 4:47 PM on January 29 [4 favorites]


4:15 PM EST Republican senators ask specific question about whistleblower identity (WaPo)
Republican Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.) sought confirmation of identifying information about the intelligence agency whistleblower who first launched a complaint against Trump, but Trump’s lawyer — while repeating the alleged details — said he couldn’t confirm the information. [...]

“The only knowledge that we have, that I have of this, comes from public reports,” said White House Deputy Counsel Patrick Philbin. “I gather there is a news report in some publication that suggests a name for the whistleblower, suggests where he worked, that he worked at that time while detailed to the NSC staff for then-Vice President Biden. … We have no knowledge of that other than what’s in those public reports. And I don’t want to get into speculating about that.”
posted by katra at 4:56 PM on January 29 [4 favorites]


Sen. Rand Paul is not being allowed to ask a question about the origins of the House impeachment trial, according to a source familiar with the matter.

I feel almost like a seer when I wrote,

I don't have a lot of faith in John Roberts, but I hope he will not allow that [outing the whistleblower] to happen in these proceedings.

The whole thing is a terrible mess, but at least it isn't going to be used as a beat-down.
posted by sjswitzer at 5:01 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


7:20: Van Hollen will file motion to require Chief Justice Roberts to rule on witnesses (WaPo)
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) intends to file a motion on Friday that would give Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the trial, the job of deciding on witnesses and use of new evidence.

“No Republican can question the fairness of this approach — the Chief Justice oversees the highest court in our land and was nominated by a Republican President. And, given his authority to rule on questions of privilege, they should not fear a drawn-out process. I urge my colleagues to seek out the truth and the facts and to vote in support of my motion. Anything else constitutes an effort to hide the truth,” Van Hollen said in a statement.

The text of the motion is: “I move that for this trial the presiding officer shall issue subpoenas of any witness or any document that a Senator or a party moves to subpoena if the presiding officer deems them likely to have probative evidence relevant to either article of impeachment, and, consistent with his authority to rule on all questions of evidence, shall rule on any assertion of privilege.”
posted by katra at 5:07 PM on January 29 [19 favorites]


Trump's lawyer claims impeachment trial will go on for "months" if witnesses are called (CNN)
White House counsel Jay Sekulow believes the impeachment trial will go on for "months" if witnesses are called, in part because President Trump's legal team will subpoena "anybody we want," he said tonight on the Senate floor.

"I want Adam Schiff. I want Hunter Biden. I want Joe Biden. I want the whistleblower. I want to also understand there may be additional people within the House Intelligence Committee that have had conversations with that whistleblower. I get anybody we want. By the way, if we get anybody we want, we'll be here for a very long time. The fact of the matter is, we're not here to argue witnesses tonight, but obviously it is an undercurrent.

Sekulow went on to suggest the trial could go on for "months."
posted by katra at 5:18 PM on January 29 [6 favorites]


White House counsel Jay Sekulow believes the impeachment trial will go on for "months" if witnesses are called, in part because President Trump's legal team will subpoena "anybody we want," he said tonight on the Senate floor.

Okay. Fine. Let it.
posted by nushustu at 5:22 PM on January 29 [27 favorites]


So essentially he's hinting at more obstruction of congress by some sort of fillibuster via witnesses.?.
posted by p3t3 at 5:23 PM on January 29 [7 favorites]


Fiat justitia ruat caelum

Ceterum autem censeo Trump delenda est
posted by kirkaracha at 5:23 PM on January 29 [9 favorites]


White House counsel Jay Sekulow can hopefully ask questions from Nunes's cow as well. That might take months.
posted by baegucb at 5:32 PM on January 29 [11 favorites]


That's cool. If there were witnesses out there with exonerating testimony, republicans would have had them testify back in the House when they had the chance, then in the Senate they would have voted up front to allow witnesses.

trump will flip his lid if the trial isn't over by the SOTU, and the longer it goes on the worse it gets for him. Every witness called can only be bad for trump. Jay Sekulow is threatening to produce an unending stream of bad press and evidence of criminality for his own client right up into the election. He'd be disbarred if he tried this in a regular trial.

Jay Sekulow is bluffing, and he fucking sucks at it. So, Jay, Proceed.
posted by mrgoat at 5:35 PM on January 29 [26 favorites]


Republicans fear Bolton domino effect: ‘More Witnesses = Hindenburg.’

Q: What's the difference between Donald Trump and the Hindenburg?
A: One is a flaming Nazi gasbag, the other's just a drigible.

joke credit: Garry Trudeau
posted by mattdidthat at 5:39 PM on January 29 [28 favorites]


Also, the House impeachment managers ought to jump on that statement. They want witnesses, the defense wants witnesses, it's not even in contest anymore! Get Bolton's ass in a chair already!
posted by mrgoat at 5:44 PM on January 29 [12 favorites]


Sekulow went on to suggest the trial could go on for "months."
If the trial goes on for months, it's not great for any Democratic senator with a presidential bid and it's not great for Biden's campaign if he gets called as a witness; I think that's Sekulow's angle with this particular bluster.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:50 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


White House counsel Jay Sekulow believes the impeachment trial will go on for "months" if witnesses are called, in part because President Trump's legal team will subpoena "anybody we want," he said tonight on the Senate floor.

Presumably, the idea is that the American public would get so frustrated and just want the whole thing over? Meaning, it hurts Dems in the coming election to have a "never-ending impeachment".

I don't possibly see how having a president under impeachment as close to an election is a good thing. But, I have also not understood any of the defense in the impeachment to be anything beyond "throw it to the wall. see what sticks. i don't care if it contradicts. throw it on a different wall and see if it sticks."
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 5:55 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


If Biden gets a subpoena, he should refuse to show and let the republicans fight it out in court, which is the appropriate action and venue according to... *checks notes from today's questioning* Jay Sekulow.
posted by mrgoat at 5:56 PM on January 29 [22 favorites]


If the trial goes on for months, it's not great for any Democratic senator with a presidential bid

I'll take that bet for a dollar, Johnny.
posted by Etrigan at 5:57 PM on January 29 [13 favorites]


Republicans’ damaging new line of defense (WaPo Editorial Board)
The former national security adviser is reported to have written that Mr. Trump directly connected his freeze on military aid to Ukraine with his demand that the country’s president launch politicized investigations, including of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the former vice president. The result is that some Republican senators who previously insisted that there was no evidence of such a quid pro quo have now retreated to a new line of defense: Maybe there was but, if so, there is nothing wrong with it. [...]

“We basically know what the facts are,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) told Fox News on Tuesday. Yet Mr. Cornyn and other GOP senators are now arguing that the behavior is not an abuse of power, merely a routine presidential act. “Presidents always leverage foreign aid,” said Mr. Cornyn.

That contention is as dangerous as it is wrong. Presidents do occasionally wield U.S. assistance to advance foreign policy ends. But Mr. Trump was manifestly seeking a personal gain. An investigation of Mr. Biden was not a goal of U.S. foreign policy. There was no domestic probe of his actions and no evidence that he was guilty of wrongdoing. On the contrary, the proof that the then-vice president was pursuing official U.S. policy when he intervened in Ukraine is overwhelming. [...]

The implications of this position are frightening. If Republicans acquit Mr. Trump on the basis of Mr. Dershowitz’s arguments, they will be saying that presidents are entitled to use their official powers to force foreign governments to investigate any U.S. citizen they choose to target — even if there is no evidence of wrongdoing. Mr. Trump could induce Russia or Saudi Arabia or China to spy on Mr. Biden, or on any other of the many people subject to his offensive tweets. In exchange for any embarrassing information, the president might offer official favors, such as arms sales or a trade deal or the lifting of sanctions. Do Republicans really wish to ratify such presidential authority? Will they not object if the next Democratic president resorts to it?

Republicans are finally beginning to accept the facts of what Mr. Trump did — though all the facts will not be known unless they allow Mr. Bolton and other witnesses to testify. They must now draw the necessary conclusion from those facts: that what Mr. Trump did was wrong. After doing so, they could argue that the offense does not merit impeachment, or that any sanction should be delivered by voters. But a conclusion that the president did nothing wrong would inflict grave damage on our political system.
posted by katra at 6:00 PM on January 29 [14 favorites]


Point-counterpoint on how long the trial could last (Politico)
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead House manager, lit into the White House lawyers, accusing them of threatening the Senate with endless court battles if they dared to request a single witness who might offer derogatory information about Trump. Schiff said if the House really wanted to tie up the Senate for weeks, he would ask for Sekulow to disclose his contacts with Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, or White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s involvement in blocking documents from going to the House.

Schiff said the solution is to rely on Roberts to make decisions in camera about what evidence is relevant and whether it’s appropriate for the White House team to identify the whistleblower.

“They’re doing the same thing to the Senate they did to the House, which is, ‘You try to investigate the president, we will tie you and your entire chamber up in knots for weeks and months,’” Schiff said.

[...] Sekulow ignored the House managers’ call to allow Roberts to adjudicate questions about privilege and disputes over witnesses.
Would it be OK if Obama did it? (Politico)
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead impeachment manager, said it was “remarkable to me that we even have to have this conversation,” and he took issue with the hypothetical itself, saying that Trump only wanted the investigation of the Bidens to be announced — not conducted.

Leveraging official political acts “to target their political opponent is wrong and corrupt,” Schiff said, adding: “I can’t imagine any circumstance where that’s justified.”
posted by katra at 6:07 PM on January 29 [12 favorites]


Former Nixon WH counsel: 'Dershowitz unimpeached Richard Nixon' (NBC News)
Alan Dershowitz unimpeached Richard Nixon today. All Nixon was doing was obstructing justice and abusing power because he thought he was the best person for the USA to be POTUS. When POTUS does it... etc. Seriously, that was his motive! Agree with Alan and impeachment is gone! — John Dean (@JohnWDean) January 30, 2020
posted by katra at 6:09 PM on January 29 [19 favorites]


I’m starting to get the feeling that there are probably a decent quantity of Republicans that didn’t understand just how foolish this was all going to make them look.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 6:35 PM on January 29 [15 favorites]


I expect Roberts to rule against witnesses. But... I’m pretty sure this is not a position he wants to be in. Hey, he was a huge part of creating this problem. Obama was prescient when he called out the SC over Citizens United.
posted by azpenguin at 6:38 PM on January 29 [9 favorites]






Eventually, when you subscribe to an identity, there becomes no greater drive than preserving that identity. That usually only lasts so long before being denounced by people outside of it who are like hey wait stop being insane bro, but the world has the technology and is teetering on the brink of climate disaster to where I think we can't fuck around forever.

Then again, maybe I would've had the same thought in the Weimar Republic.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:00 PM on January 29 [6 favorites]


Dershowitz’s power play and a Trump team stumble: The moments that mattered in the Senate Q&A (Politico)
Alan Dershowitz, the former Harvard law professor and prominent criminal defense attorney, took his expansive view of presidential power to an entirely new level.

Dershowitz, a member of Trump’s legal team, said a president could do virtually anything — including engaging in a quid pro quo for a purely political benefit — as long as it's in service of winning reelection. “Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest,” Dershowitz said on the Senate floor, responding to a question about how presidents conduct foreign policy. “And if a president did something that he believes will help him get elected — in the public interest — that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”

Dershowitz’s argument cuts at the heart of the House managers’ case against the president: that Trump sought to leverage official U.S. government acts in order to boost his re-election bid, and that he improperly solicited foreign interference in an American election.

But his contention is well outside the mainstream of legal scholars — and one that the House impeachment managers said would put the president above the law and the Constitution. Schiff said Dershowitz’s view gives a president “carte blanche” to use his or her office to further his or her own political interests, rather than the interests of the nation.

Dershowitz’s remarks underscore the extent to which Trump has surrounded himself with lawyers who believe in the so-called unitary executive theory — the idea that the president’s power is all but absolute and rarely subject to congressional oversight or investigation. But Dershowitz’s justification of all presidential quid pro quos goes even further than some of the most vocal proponents of expansive presidential power and quickly raised eyebrows on and off Capitol Hill.
posted by katra at 9:09 PM on January 29 [6 favorites]


Fox News Has Blocked and Unfriended John Bolton (vice)

Fox News is now indistinguishable from a clique of tweenage girls.

You can't sit with us!
posted by adept256 at 9:19 PM on January 29 [12 favorites]


After all the threats from Starr, Dersh, Sekulow and the Epstein Dream Team about weaponizing impeachment, I'll just leave this here:

Barack Obama Impeachment Efforts (wiki)
posted by benzenedream at 10:21 PM on January 29 [14 favorites]


“Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest,” Dershowitz said on the Senate floor, responding to a question about how presidents conduct foreign policy. “And if a president did something that he believes will help him get elected — in the public interest — that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”
--
"you don't have to be crazy to work (t)here, but it helps" is an old saw
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:22 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Quite fond of the variant that appears on the wall of one of my local eateries, which seems equally apposite: you don't have to be crazy to work here, we'll train you.
posted by flabdablet at 11:57 PM on January 29 [23 favorites]


Conservative Pastor Says Jesus Would Have 'Beat The Crap' Out of John Bolton

We found the guy that started the Rambo meme! It's funny because Rambo wasn't a draft dodger and Jesus isn't really in the ass-kicking business. What's not funny and pretty scary is that this guy has actually met John Bolton in the oval office, because Trump invited him.

Rodney Howard-Browne has a wikipedia page. He's a total peice of shit.

He may have called the Christchurch shooting a hoax, but he gets the votes, so to the White House he must come! An honor not extended to Zelensky, the democratically elected leader of Ukraine, who isn't doing his part for team Trump.

There's been a parade of reprehensible ass-kissers marching through the oval office. There really is no excuse for excluding Zelensky, except he wouldn't cooperate with the smear campaign.
posted by adept256 at 4:11 AM on January 30 [17 favorites]


Trump Administration: a parade of reprehensible ass-kissers

Sums it up really well.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:11 AM on January 30 [7 favorites]


Jesus Would Have 'Beat The Crap' Out of John Bolton

Wait 'til you see the rest of Jesus' list, Rodney.
posted by Rykey at 6:28 AM on January 30 [19 favorites]


Guardian: Dershowitz backtracks on 'public interest' argument
Many commentators reacted with confusion and outrage when Dershowitz said Trump was acting in “the public interest” by pushing for Ukrainian investigations of Democrats because the president considers his reelection to be in the public interest.

“If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment,” Dershowitz told senators as part of the question-and-answer session. [...] The president’s lawyer is now trying to walk back that argument, blaming the media for distorting his point. (But the video above clearly shows otherwise.)

Alan Dershowitz (@AlanDersh) They characterized my argument as if I had said that if a president believes that his re-election was in the national interest, he can do anything. I said nothing like that, as anyone who actually heard what I said can attest.
January 30, 2020
posted by katra at 7:20 AM on January 30 [6 favorites]


I'll believe it when he clarifies that at trial. I hope this buries his academic reputation (more).
posted by j_curiouser at 7:39 AM on January 30 [8 favorites]


Shouldn't telling verifiable lies* in public be the kind of ethical violation that gets a lawyer disbarred?

It's good to see that this the=president-is-a-king claim was too obvious for many Republicans to embrace publicly; even Fox News' Mara Liasson was incredulous on NPR this morning.

*Not just plausibly deniable falsehoods or statements of dubious opinion, but whoppers on the order of "I did not say what the video clearly shows me saying," as Dershowitz is doing here.
posted by Gelatin at 7:40 AM on January 30 [11 favorites]


Schiff explains why Trump was not charged with bribery (CBS News)
Towards the end of the first day of the Q&A session, Senator Collins submitted a question to House impeachment managers asking why President Trump was not charged with bribery, even though the managers continue to insist there is overwhelming proof he is guilty of the offense.

"We could have charged bribery," Schiff said in response. "In fact, we outlined the facts that constitute bribery in the article, but abuse of power is the highest crime ... The facts we allege within that do constitute bribery. But had we charged bribery within the abuse of power article, I can assure you the counsel here would be arguing, 'you have charged two offenses within the same article. That makes that invalid.' ... If we split them into two separate articles, one for abuse of power and one for bribery, they would have argued, 'you've taken one crime and made it into two.'"
Philbin says trading information with foreign actors is also okay (WaPo)
Dershowitz was nabbing headlines for much of the day for the way he broadened Trump’s defense, but Philbin near the end of Wednesday’s proceedings made another bold claim. He responded to a question from Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) about whether Trump considers foreign interference illegal, and Philbin pushed a legal defense we haven’t heard before.

“Mere information is not something that would violate the campaign finance laws,” Philbin said. “And if there is credible information, credible information of wrongdoing by someone who is running for a public office, it’s not campaign interference for credible information about wrongdoing to be brought to light.”

At the next break, Democratic senators responded in awe that a White House lawyer just suggested this. Receiving “a thing of value” in a campaign from foreign actors is illegal, and House managers brought it up quickly on the floor after that.

“I’m stunned,” said Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Mark R. Warner (D-Va.).

“I was stunned to hear that now, apparently, it’s okay for the president to get information from foreign governments in an election,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), one of the House managers. “That’s news to me.”
posted by katra at 7:50 AM on January 30 [8 favorites]


it’s not campaign interference for credible information about wrongdoing to be brought to light

Where are the credible allegations? How does this not get serious pushback!?
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:00 AM on January 30 [5 favorites]


At the next break, Democratic senators responded in awe that a White House lawyer just suggested this. Receiving “a thing of value” in a campaign from foreign actors is illegal, and House managers brought it up quickly on the floor after that.

52 USC 30121, in case you feel like looking it up. ( And a hearty Fuck You to the writers of 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 for creating a world where I can cite this off the top of my head... )
posted by mikelieman at 8:00 AM on January 30 [34 favorites]


“I was stunned to hear that now, apparently, it’s okay for the president to get information from foreign governments in an election,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), one of the House managers. “That’s news to me.”

Trump's defense is playing to an audience of one. Trump has been saying right along that of course he'd accept information on a rival from a foreign source ("If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer," as Donald Trump Jr. put it), and he keeps saying it, so his lawyers are arguing, to paraphrase Dershowitz, that Trump isn't openly admitting that he'd break the law, but rather the media is mischaracterizing his statements.

Republican Senators accept these arguments to the diminishment of their own power, as it'd allow a President to ignore duly passed laws as he pleases and then claim his state of mind shields him from any consequences. But accept it they are indeed likely to do.
posted by Gelatin at 8:11 AM on January 30 [2 favorites]


To conflate Trump's self interest with public interest, you must first concede there is an interest. An interest in influencing the election. It's a 'Yes he did it, but...' argument.

The conflation is a fallacy, the concession is an admission of guilt.
posted by adept256 at 8:15 AM on January 30 [10 favorites]


Since animals tend to avoid pain (this is a Donald Judd quote) I haven't seen the defence argument, just followed it here. But I watched a bit of The Late Show with a clip from Dershowitz' presentation, and now I am convinced that he is (not very) secretly arguing for Trump's removal from office. Nothing makes sense otherwise. Obviously Trump can't get good lawyers and prefers TV lawyers anyway, but if that was supposed to be a defence, I have a bridge, etc.
posted by mumimor at 8:55 AM on January 30 [2 favorites]


Senate Impeachment Trial, Day 10 (C-SPAN) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues as Senators ask House impeachment managers and the President’s defense team questions. Watch LIVE On January 30 | 1pm ET | C-SPAN2

U.S. Senate: Impeachment Trial (Day 10) (C-SPAN YouTube) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues as Senators ask House impeachment managers and the President’s defense team questions. Scheduled for Jan 30, 2020

The Report: Impeachment, Day Eight (Lawfare) "On the eighth day of the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump, the question-and-answer session began. [...] It was a marathon day in the Senate, with questions proceeding well into the night. [...] Lawfare and Goat Rodeo boiled the first day of Q&A down to the most essential one-hour and 47 minutes."
posted by katra at 9:07 AM on January 30 [3 favorites]


On the eighth day of impeachment
My true love gave to me
Eight lawyers lying
Seven managers saying
Six Romney waffles
Five grifting Trumps
Four shots of bourbon
Three "moderates"
Two impeachment counts
And a whistleblower in a pear tree
posted by kirkaracha at 9:33 AM on January 30 [11 favorites]


They characterized my argument as if I had said that if a president believes that his re-election was in the national interest. I said in the public interest. Totally different.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:49 AM on January 30 [4 favorites]


I think his dodge is that he was talking about when a "quid pro quo" would be acceptable, rather than "anything" such as the Watergate break-in, mass arrests of likely Democratic voters, or having the other candidate killed.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:53 AM on January 30 [2 favorites]


GOP senators know Trump’s defense is based on lies. Here’s proof. (Greg Sargent, WaPo Opinion)
As President Trump’s trial hurtles toward a vote on new witnesses, his lawyers have based his defense in part on the notion that Trump’s demand that Ukraine investigate the Bidens was legitimate. A core claim from Trump’s team has been that Trump had at least some reason to suspect there was something untoward about Joe Biden’s efforts as vice president to oust a Ukrainian prosecutor.

They’ve cited two facts — that Biden threatened to withhold loan guarantees from Ukraine to leverage that ouster and that Biden’s son Hunter sat on the board of Ukrainian company Burisma — which they claim presented a potential conflict of interest. That made Trump’s suspicions reasonable, they say.

But Republican senators themselves know this argument is nonsense. And here’s how we can be certain they know this.

At a Senate hearing in 2016, a number of GOP senators who are still in office today sat in attendance during discussions of the Obama administration’s approach to Ukraine. At those hearings, officials and outside experts repeatedly discussed the need to remove the prosecutor in question — Viktor Shokin, the prosecutor general — describing this imperative as central to official U.S. policy.

What’s more, Joe Biden’s own role in prompting this ouster came up repeatedly, and it was openly and explicitly discussed that the loan guarantees were being used as leverage to bring it about — as U.S. policy.

None of this was treated as remotely controversial at the time. [...] Indeed, it’s even more absurd than this. As James Risen has detailed, in 2015, U.S. officials criticized the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office for failing to assist with a British investigation into Burisma’s owner, which cuts directly against the nonsense that this was a corrupt effort to help Burisma (or Hunter).
posted by katra at 10:06 AM on January 30 [18 favorites]


I think his dodge is that he was talking about when a "quid pro quo" would be acceptable, rather than "anything" such as the Watergate break-in, mass arrests of likely Democratic voters, or having the other candidate killed.

Not much of a dodge. What if the quid pro quo had been "I'll release aid to Ukraine if Ukraine sends agents to break into the DNC headquarters"? Or breaking into Biden's office?

Similarly, the argument that it's okay to receive something of value as long as that something is information about a crime (e.g. supposed corruption on the part of one's political opponent) doesn't hold water either. The Fourth Amendment prevents the government from using evidence that it obtained illegally. The obvious rationale is that otherwise the government would be tempted to say the ends justify the means and run roughshod over people's rights in the pursuit of "justice". It would be absurd to say that the President is free from such constraints and can engage in that kind of perverse incentive, particularly if it means involving a foreign government pursuing its own agenda.
posted by jedicus at 10:07 AM on January 30 [4 favorites]


I'm not saying it isn't! When your argument boils down to "Watergate was fine, actually, but I know I'd get yelled at for saying those exact words so let me get a thesaurus" no hair is going to go unsplit.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:10 AM on January 30 [6 favorites]


Oh, I'm definitely only critiquing Dershowitz and Trump here, not you.
posted by jedicus at 10:12 AM on January 30


I think I need to stop following current events. Maybe for good. The idea that by Saturday morning Trump could be acquitted and then the news cycle moves forward and everyone goes back to business as usual...it's Kavanaugh all over again. It makes me soulsick.

I don't know what to do.
posted by Gadarene at 10:22 AM on January 30 [39 favorites]


Guardian: "Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell thanked senators for being “respectful” with their questions, which are read by Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts, and expressed hope that today would follow that pattern.
The comment was clearly directed at Rand Paul, the Republican senator who has tried to include the name of the alleged whistleblower in a question, even though Roberts has said he will not read the whistleblower’s name aloud.
Guardian: Roberts declines to reads Paul's question
Rand Paul has submitted his question, which appears to have included the name of the alleged whistleblower, as the Republican senator threatened to do. But Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts, who previously said he would not say the name of the alleged whistleblower aloud, refused to read the question.

“The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted,” said Roberts, who then turned to take the next question from Senate Democrats.
posted by katra at 10:30 AM on January 30 [6 favorites]


I don't know what to do.

Vote against every Republican in every election for the foreseeable future, and urge your friends to do the same. Work to get Democrats elected -- canvass, write postcards, donate money, whatever works for you. Share on social media that awesome rap video / civics lesson about the importance of voting.

Those kinds of activities worked in 2018, which is why Trump's ability to damage the United States has been constrained, if not eliminated. The power of the majority of loyal Americans is constrained too, yes, by the compromises the Founders made to appease a bunch of slavers who would go on to betray their country anyway.

But while Republicans like to swagger to intimidate the media and people of good faith, they are in the minority, they're getting more so with every election cycle, and they know it. Like Pompeo's childish tantrum over NPR having the temerity to ask him questions Fox News softballs left him unprepared to answer, these people are weak and incapable and they know it. They try to pretend, and their base likes bullying, but -- while 2016 was a nasty surprise -- many vastly underestimate how unpopular Trump is, and how very much so. Trump depends on firing up his base, but for more than three years, good people from across the country have been equally fired up to get rid of him, and they've won.

Yes Trump has left much damage to be undone and yes, even in victory we will have to contend with politicians who never grew out of the defensive crouch they learned under Reagan to make the word "feckless" synonymous with "Democrat." But with the Presidency at least, and perhaps even the Senate, it's within the ability of loyal Americans to take power away from Republicans.

And we start by not letting them fool us into giving away our own power -- the power that they fear.
posted by Gelatin at 10:36 AM on January 30 [47 favorites]


Pelosi: "You cannot be acquitted if you don't have a trial" (CBS News)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says acquitting Mr. Trump would not be legitimate because the ongoing impeachment trial has not allowed for additional evidence.

"He will not be acquitted," Pelosi told reporters during her weekly press conference Thursday. "You cannot be acquitted if you don't have a trial, and you don't have a trial if you don't have witnesses and documentation."

[...] Pelosi said she prays "senators will have the courage and the ability to handle the truth instead of blocking the truth."

"No matter what the senators have the courage to do, he will be impeached forever," she said.
posted by katra at 10:37 AM on January 30 [32 favorites]


Pelosi throwing shade at Republicans' cowardice lampshades the fact that Republicans are panicky and, while they seem prepared to rubber-stamp Trump's authoritarian ambitions, they obviously do not like their choices. But they, too, have power, and if they choose not to use it wisely, they deserve to suffer the public shame that results.

Forever.
posted by Gelatin at 10:41 AM on January 30 [18 favorites]


Guardian: "While holding a press conference about his question that named the alleged whistleblower, Rand Paul was asked why he had left the Senate chamber where the impeachment trial is taking place.
Kadia Goba (@kadiagoba) Reporter asks @RandPaul “with all do respect, shouldn’t you be in the impeachment hearing right now?” pic.twitter.com/Qir0z0dds0
January 30, 2020

Each day of the impeachment trial begins with the sergeant-at-arms instructing senators, “All persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment.”
posted by katra at 10:49 AM on January 30 [10 favorites]


He wouldn't do it, of course, but wouldn't you love to hear Roberts rule that anyone who has left the chamber during the proceedings is disqualified from any further voting?
posted by bcd at 11:25 AM on January 30 [16 favorites]


I don't know what to do.
In addition to the excellent advice offered by Gelatin, never forget that despite all their bluster the Republican officials who are debasing themselves during this process know, however much they pretend otherwise, that what they are doing is legally unsupported, unpopular even with many among their diminishing base, and ultimately likely to stain their party for a generation or more to come. Think how many times they have had to move their own goalposts. They know that they would lose in any objective judgement (and so they muster the power they have to prevent any such judgement.) Their power is indeed considerable but they're on the defensive and losing ground, which is the best we can currently hope for.

Now is exactly the time not to give up hope.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:29 AM on January 30 [17 favorites]


The next time lying and cheating in support of wealthy, white, male, powerful criminals (and in opposition to minorities, women, and the powerless) stains the Republican Party for any significant time, or in any meaningful manner, at all will be the first.
posted by Gadarene at 11:36 AM on January 30 [18 favorites]


Watching the U.S. Senate (or at least the current Republican majority) move towards voting to make themselves an irrelevant adjunct to an authoritarian, omnipotent Executive Branch, the phrase "to fall on one's sword" came to mind. The Senate is on the verge of committing institutional suicide.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:40 AM on January 30 [20 favorites]


Guardian: "Lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff pointed out that a Justice Department lawyer said in court earlier today that the House can impeach a president for defying congressional subpoenas, sharply contradicting Trump’s lawyers in the impeachment trial.
Schiff’s answer elicited laughter from the senators sitting in the chamber where the trial is being held.

CNN has more on the case that Schiff referenced:

Asked by a federal judge what the House can do to enforce its subpoenas, Justice Department lawyer James Burnham said without hesitation that the House can use its impeachment powers, among other options, like withholding appropriations.
posted by katra at 11:49 AM on January 30 [14 favorites]


Rand Paul's "one weird trick to publicly reveal the whistleblowers name" failed and he's furious about his fantasy being wrecked again by reality.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:52 AM on January 30 [4 favorites]


Who is paying Giuliani’s legal fees? (WaPo)
Democratic senators asked the House managers and Trump’s legal team who is paying Rudolph W. Giuliani in his capacity as the president’s personal attorney.

Neither side could say.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead impeachment manager, said he doesn’t know, but that it “raises profound questions.”

“I don’t know who’s directly paying the freight for it, but I can tell you the whole country is paying the freight for it because there are leaders around the world who are watching this, and they’re saying the American presidency is open for business,” Schiff said.

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow ignored the question and instead repeated talking points about the Bidens and their dealings in Ukraine.
posted by katra at 11:57 AM on January 30 [10 favorites]


The Republicans remind me of nothing more than cowardly children. Like, kids who want to curse, but fear punishment, so they try to trick someone else into saying something dirty.

If Rand Paul had actual conviction in his righteousness, he'd have just blasted it onto Twitter or on a live interview on TV. Some way that is irrevocable. Instead, he's hoping to hide behind "the Chief Justice said it, not me," because he *knows* he's in the wrong.
posted by explosion at 11:57 AM on January 30 [17 favorites]


Their power is indeed considerable but they're on the defensive and losing ground, which is the best we can currently hope for.

Well, said, and consider: McConnell is, for whatever reason, using his power and influence over his caucus to conduct a kangaroo court, and an obvious kangaroo court, even though he wanted very much to avoid that perception. To do so, he has had to force purple-state senators to abandon their usual phony pose as a "reasonable moderate," as when he announced there would be no vote to call witnesses after meeting with (read: leaning on) Murkowski. He isn't giving them any cover for their vote, because any reasonable, moderate course of action makes Trump and the Republicans look bad, and the Republicans are now in the position where they look bad anyway.

McConnell has clearly calculated that, if such is to be the case, better to participate openly in Trump's cover-up and hope nothing too damaging emerges later. But if 2020 is another blue wave election as collective disgust by loyal Americans has them tell him "you're fired!" (TTTCS), it's likely that some of those phony purple-state senators, like Collins, also get the boot. (I don't dare hope McConnell loses his seat as well as his gavel, but it'd be sweeeeet!)

In any case, Republican losses due to voter backlash over this disgrace of an impeachment trial will mean Trumpism will have committed the one unforgivable sin to Republicans: It'll make them losers. Without the White House and/or the Senate majority, Republicans will be in no position to enact any agenda, and if they lose the Senate, they won't even be able to stand in the Democrats' way (if Democrats are smart and eliminate, or at least reform, the legislative filibuster). If Republicans see that their embrace of Trump is poison at the voting booth, they will pretend they never supported him at all.

We must never forget -- or forgive.
posted by Gelatin at 12:01 PM on January 30 [14 favorites]


Who's paying Rudy? Giuliani's compensation brought up in Senate trial (NBC News)
Democratic Sens. Jack Reed, Tammy Duckworth and Kamala Harris asked who is paying Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who is doing unpaid legal work for the president.

Reuters has reported Giuliani's indicted associate Lev Parnas paid him $500,000 for consulting related to Parnas' firm. Parnas and another indicted associate, Igor Fruman, worked with Giuliani is Ukraine as part of his efforts there.
Democratic senators want to know who's paying Giuliani (CBS News)
Giuliani told "CBS This Morning" in an interview [January, 29, 2020] he is still Mr. Trump's personal attorney and remains in contact with him. In a May 2019 letter revealed by the House Intelligence Committee earlier this month, Giuliani requested a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and said he had the president's "knowledge and consent" to meet.
posted by katra at 12:02 PM on January 30 [6 favorites]


Watching the U.S. Senate (or at least the current Republican majority) move towards voting to make themselves an irrelevant adjunct to an authoritarian, omnipotent Executive Branch, the phrase "to fall on one's sword" came to mind. The Senate is on the verge of committing institutional suicide.

It isn't, though, because a Republican-held Senate will have no trouble reversing itself and exercising aggressive oversight over the next Democratic president, while a Democratic-held Senate will fall over itself to restore norms and comity. This theory of unchecked executive power over the legislature is absolutely a one-way street.

Meanwhile they get away with it. Trump, Pence, Mulvaney, Barr, McConnell...they all get away with it. And any further institutional investigation of Trump by the Democrats between now and the election will be seen as pointless or redundant because they decided to pick a single clear thing amidst a sea of shit to try and hold Trump accountable for and were prevented from doing so by lawyers who we know are lying and a Justice Department that we know is lying and senators who we know are lying (aided by a media who won't say that any of them are lying) .

The fact that there are call readouts with MBS and Erdogan and Putin KNOWN to be illegally stashed on a classified server and we will in all probability never know what they say or be able to mete out any measure of justice regarding them, for example, is just absolutely insane to me.
posted by Gadarene at 12:09 PM on January 30 [23 favorites]


So... what if a bunch of liberals register as Republican and work to invent/advance a "liberal Republican" insurgency within that party that has so many structural advantages? Particularly in places where the Democratic party has failed to compete?
posted by another_20_year_lurker at 12:14 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


A Trump lawyer just called Suleimani a terrorist from the floor, so Im anticipating Bolton doing an about-face now.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:17 PM on January 30


So... what if a bunch of liberals register as Republican and work to invent/advance a "liberal Republican" insurgency within that party that has so many structural advantages?

The conservatives change the rules to prevent it, just like they do whenever they seem to be losing.
posted by Etrigan at 12:25 PM on January 30 [9 favorites]


what if a bunch of liberals register as Republican and work to invent/advance a "liberal Republican" insurgency within that party that has so many structural advantages?

So, like a green tea party? Gonna need some serious astroturfing. Maybe crowdfund that shit?
posted by flabdablet at 12:26 PM on January 30 [4 favorites]


Think how many times they have had to move their own goalposts. They know that they would lose in any objective judgement (and so they muster the power they have to prevent any such judgement.) Their power is indeed considerable but they're on the defensive and losing ground, which is the best we can currently hope for.

Since this Congress began session, the so-called "liberal media" has defaulted to an attitude of smug cynicism -- why bother investigating the President, Democrats, when even if you impeach him, the Republican Senate will just acquit?" To their shame, they criticized Democrats for the universal and utterly correct assumption that Republicans would of course put party before country.

But now that Donald Trump is impeached -- and let's pause again to thank the whistleblower, whom Rand Paul is at least correct in recognizing is responsible for Trump and the Republicans being in the painful position they are after having successfully gulled the media into ignoring Mueller's ample findings -- the media is confronting the actual rapacity and dishonor of the Republicans as it plays out against a case that the Democrats can easily make because Trump, after all, did it, as even his own defense basically concedes.

Trump doesn't want to be here. Mitch McConnell doesn't want to be here. Senate Republicans don't want to be here. All of them live in fear of the next news cycle and the next round of revelations, because they are all dirty, and the number of retirees suggests that many Republicans expect their party to lose the coming elections. The best they can do makes them look like corrupt jackasses, to avoid even more damaging information -- look at them; they all act like they're hiding something even worse -- from coming to light.

McConnell may bury the impeachment this weekend and Trump may get his victory lap at the SOTU after all, but while not as damaging as a petulant meltdown would have been, there is no way he would use the opportunity, as a smarter politician would, to "heal the nation's wounds" and "put the past in the past." I predict he will still lash out with grievances and further the partisan divisions that serve him so well (with the so-called "liberal media" dutifully providing false equivalence over any perceived Democratic slight). And he's unlikely to win any converts.

Trump's entire style of politics is tailor-made for a party that knows it isn't a majority, but in a democratic system, it's still a serious weakness that can be and has been defeated by loyal Americans uniting to oppose it.
posted by Gelatin at 12:26 PM on January 30 [15 favorites]


a Republican-held Senate will have no trouble reversing itself and exercising aggressive oversight over the next Democratic president, while a Democratic-held Senate will fall over itself to restore norms and comity.

I disagree. Yes, Democrats will work hard to return government to a sense of normalcy after Trump's abuses, but they are also very much aware that their electorate is not in a forgiving mood. Nancy Pelosi -- who is hardly the liberal firebrand conservatives characterize her as -- has been relentless in winning what victories she can and rubbing Trump's nose in his ... inadequacies. Even Chuck Schumer is standing up to Trump, if not as masterfully.

Of course Republicans will act in bad faith. Of course they don't really mean what they say. Of course their power is an obstacle to be worked around and diminished. But Democrats, as are all loyal Americans, are thoroughly disgusted with Trump and unlikely to forget now craven and openly depraved the Republican Party has revealed itself to be. (And that's entirely discounting the outrage of Republicans stealing Garland's SCOTUS seat, which Democrats are also rightly furious about.)
posted by Gelatin at 12:37 PM on January 30 [4 favorites]


So... what if a bunch of liberals register as Republican and work to invent/advance a "liberal Republican" insurgency within that party that has so many structural advantages?

Republican gerrymandering, financial backing from wealthy interests, and control of a potent propaganda arm encourages extremism to the right. Liberal Republicans are a thing of the past (not so conservative Democrats, even today) because they can't prevail a well-funded primary opponent.

As a result, Republicans get to be extremely conservative -- and have gotten more so -- in ways that the more big-tent Democrats can't afford to (even the more liberal of the 2018 House are generally New Deal Democrats). But the media's phony, view-from-nowhere sense of "balance" (and fear of being called "liberal" by Republicans who will do so anyway) distorts this picture, which also tilts to the Republicans' advantage.
posted by Gelatin at 12:48 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: I think his dodge is that he was talking about when a "quid pro quo" would be acceptable, rather than "anything" such as the Watergate break-in, mass arrests of likely Democratic voters, or having the other candidate killed.

I have felt very mildly frustrated by the widespread characterization of his words as licensing any illegal action. His argumentation has been demented and extreme, and there's no question he intends the pro-dictator subtext, but the surface intent is just that a personal-political-gain motive can't be what makes something illegal or wrong.

This is still nonsense because of course it can. I have difficulty seeing how it doesn't excuse, for example, the diversion of money to his campaign funds.

One larger point of these tricks is to take advantage of the number of degrees involved; today's Republicans might not, verbally and to a man, excuse the break-in of the Watergate Hotel... but they would absolutely characterize the cover-up as so much gobbeldygook, wholly within the prerogative of the executive branch. (And the cover-up, rather than the burglary, is all Nixon was ever generally believed to have been invovled in anyway!)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 12:51 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


I agree, Gelatin, and didn't mean to daydream about anything like a "liberal Republican" existing today. Instead, I meant to speculate more along the lines of what flabdablet phrased as a "Green Tea Party". Suppose a bunch of liberal Democrats in somewhere like, say, North Carolina all decided to coordinate and register as Republicans so they could participate in primaries and give some cover for a more moderate Republican politician than currently exists to run (and then all voted Democratic in the general, of course). Like, actually go to caucus meetings or whatever the process is, and campaign actively for any less-crazy Republicans.
posted by another_20_year_lurker at 1:04 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


The time is better spent working towards open primaries or same-day registration in your state.
posted by cmfletcher at 1:08 PM on January 30 [16 favorites]


The time is better spent working towards open primaries or same-day registration in your state.

And competitive districts created without gerrymandering, which will encourage moderate candidates and not extreme ones.

Which, by the way, is why turnout everywhere and running up the score is so essential this year. YelloPain, in his rap / civics video, is quite correct in pointing out that Democrats being asleep at the switch in 2010 not only deprived Obama of a Congress he could work with but also allowed for more gerrymandering and voter suppression at the state level.

We have an opportunity to revers all that this year, and seriously cripple Republican power by doing nothing more than drawing fair districts.
posted by Gelatin at 1:13 PM on January 30 [17 favorites]


From the states that have open primaries for congressional and state-level races, the strategy of working towards open primaries doesn't seem to have been effective at moderating political partisanship and Republican extremism so far. (And though I would _really_ like to explore this idea and appreciate your engagement, I fear this is a derail, so we should probably not go too far down this path.)
posted by another_20_year_lurker at 1:22 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


[Folks, let's maybe not stay off in the weeds about general political strategy. This is a thread about the impeachment proceedings, not US politics now and future writ large.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:26 PM on January 30 [13 favorites]


Guardian: "A bipartisan group of senators -- Democrats Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin and Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski -- have asked a question that appears to center on Rudy Giuliani.
The four senators asked Trump’s lawyers if the president could assure the American people that he would not deploy private citizens to carry out foreign policy unless sanctioned by the State Department.

Deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin responded by pushing back against the notion that Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, was carrying out US foreign policy, insisting he was only a source of “information” about Trump’s thinking.

Philbin went on to argue the president was acting “within his authority” under Article II of the Constitution in regards to Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine.
Guardian: "Deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin argued that Rudy Giulaini was not carrying out US foreign policy in Ukraine but was rather considered a mere source of “information” about the president’s thinking.
However, the White House’s own memo on Trump’s July phone call with Volodymyr Zelenskiy clearly shows the US president asking his Ukrainian counterpart to confer with Giuliani about potential investigations of corruption.

Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) PHILBIN: "The first is I just want to make clear that there was no conduct of foreign policy being carried on here by a private person. "

THE PRESIDENT to Zelensky on July 25: pic.twitter.com/UiZ1Smp4d7 January 30, 2020
Schiff just referred to Philbin's statement as a "startling" admission that undermines the entire defense argument.
posted by katra at 1:26 PM on January 30 [22 favorites]


Lawyer says Trump not 'necessarily' pushing Biden investigation. Call summary shows otherwise. (NBC News)
Trump lawyer Patrick Philbin argued on Thursday that Trump wasn't "necessarily" asking for a probe of the Bidens, he just wanted to look into the firing of former top Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin

"All the president says is 'so if you can look into it, that sounds horrible, it sounds like a bad situation,'" Philbin said, pointing to the White House summary of Trump's July 25 call with Zelenskiy. "That's not calling for an investigation necessarily into Vice President Biden or his son, but the situation in which the prosecutor had been fired, which affected anti-corruption efforts in the Ukraine.'

"And President Zelenskiy responded by saying 'the issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty, so we will take care of that,'" Philbin added.

Shokin, who had investigated the energy company that Hunter Biden sat on the board of, was seen as ineffective by the international community and pushed out for not more aggressively tackling corruption. Trump and allies have accused Biden of acting with his son's interest in mind when, in 2016, he called on Ukraine to oust Shokin, threatening to withhold loan guarantees if Ukraine did not remove the prosecutor.

His call, on behalf of the Obama administration, was backed by a number of other countries and international authorities. [...] In the call summary, Trump said to Zelenskiy: "The other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great."

"Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it ... It sounds horrible to me," he continued.
posted by katra at 1:32 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


Large number of GOP senators just submitted another whistleblower fishing expedition. And insulted some of Schiff's staff with innuendo.
posted by Harry Caul at 1:41 PM on January 30 [6 favorites]


Schiff just referred to Philbin's statement as a "startling" admission that undermines the entire defense argument.

ALSO: Those Senators are pleading for a way out of this and Philbin just let them know there's no way out that goes through the White House.
posted by notyou at 1:50 PM on January 30 [12 favorites]


White House's Philbin suggests president will keep using Giuliani as international 'confidante' (NBC News)
Philbin said, "There was no conduct of foreign policy being carried on here by a private person," and "many presidents have relied on people who are trusted confidantes." Philbin added "there would not be anything improper" about continuing to use a private citizen in the same way in the future.

As for the senators' concern that conduct could potentially violate the Logan Act, which bars private citizens from intervening without authorization in disputes between the United States and foreign governments, Philbin said, "the president's policy is always to abide by the laws."

House manager Adam Schiff called Philbin's comments a "breathtaking admission," given Trump's lawyers have maintained the president withheld aid to Ukraine as a matter of policy.

"What president's counsel said was that no foreign policy was being conducted by a private party here. That is, Rudy Giuliani was not conducting U.S. foreign policy. Rudy Giuliani was not conducting policy," Schiff said. "The investigations Giuliani was charged with trying to get Ukraine to announce into Joe Biden, into this Russian propaganda theory, they just admitted, was not part of policy."

It was, Schiff said, "a domestic political errand," referring to the testimony of ex-White House Russia expert Fiona Hill.
posted by katra at 2:11 PM on January 30 [12 favorites]


Schiff says Trump team's claim that Giuliani wasn't conducting foreign policy "undermined their entire argument" (CBS News)
Philbin said he assumed that question referenced Giuliani. "Ambassador Volker was clear that he understood Mr. Giuliani just to be a source of information for the president," Philbin claimed.

Schiff: “They have now acknowledged that the person in charge of this [Rudy Giuliani] was not conducting policy. That is a startling admission.” https://t.co/kfaqEJJajc pic.twitter.com/078mN8Nojk
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 30, 2020

Philbin would not commit the administration to keeping private citizens out of foreign policy, but said the president's "policy is always to abide by the laws." Schiff seized on Philbin's words, asking what Giuliani was doing if not conducting foreign policy. "They have just undermined their entire argument," Schiff said, adding that Giuliani must have then been conducting a "personal political errand."
posted by katra at 2:18 PM on January 30 [12 favorites]


Schiff just referred to Philbin's statement as a "startling" admission that undermines the entire defense argument.

Schiff also explicitly referred to consideration of the SOTU in suggesting witness testimony be limited to one week. He's arguing rings around Team Trump, but I predict Dershowitz will remain a TV personality for some reason despite being pantsed on live TV.
posted by Gelatin at 2:55 PM on January 30 [5 favorites]


We, or at least I, have focused more on the drumming up false investigations into a competitor angle, but this news puts some extra focus on the whole 2016 disinfo parallel goal.

Seems Furman and Manafort go way back.
posted by bcd at 3:07 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain to me like I’m stupid what the GOP obsession with the whistleblower is? I assume they know who it is at that point and want to “out” them so they can then claim that they are a never-Trump dirty democrat. But then what? How is the whistleblower even relevant at this point in that everything they reported has been verified by multiple first-hand witnesses? I’m just confused by the end game with this strategy.
posted by misterpatrick at 3:16 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


They want to send a message to any future potential whistleblowers.
posted by Rykey at 3:18 PM on January 30 [29 favorites]


Can someone explain to me like I’m stupid what the GOP obsession with the whistleblower is?

It's a beat-down as an example to any others who might feel so bold.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:19 PM on January 30 [7 favorites]


At the same time, it's echoing Trump's stated policy that if you come at me, I come back at you ten-fold. In that sense, it's a message to the master that you are his servant.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:21 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


want to “out” them so they can then claim that they are a never-Trump dirty democrat.

That’s always been their strategy. Literally any fact can be nullified by blaming the liberal media.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 3:22 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


What's fascinating to me is that the GOP senators probably hate each other more than they hate the Democrats. I mean, that's just the game, right? But surely every GOP senator hates Rand Paul almost as much as they hate Ted Cruz. So there's an aspect of this where Rand Paul is preening himself to get more respect from his peers. It's pathetic, really.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:27 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


Can someone explain to me like I’m stupid what the GOP obsession with the whistleblower is?

They think that by exposing the whistleblower they’ll prove that the person is a liberal plant intent on taking down Trump at any cost.

What not a single one of these morons has thought through is that punishing snitches is exactly what drug dealers and mobsters do when they’re trying to cover up a crime.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 3:27 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


They have totally thought of that, and it's the point of what they're doing.
posted by odinsdream at 3:31 PM on January 30 [22 favorites]


If logic had anything to do with it, the politics of the whistleblower would have no bearing. It kicked off the events but all of the charges are based on other evidence than the whistleblower's complaint. If it had not been amply corroborated, we would not be here. This is sheer thuggish BS and I applaud John Roberts for having no part of it.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:32 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


NPR, November 2019: The Whistleblower Complaint Has Largely Been Corroborated. Here's How
...as this annotation shows, most of the complaint has been corroborated during closed-door depositions of administration officials, through public statements and from a rough transcript of the call itself, released by the White House.
Ceterum autem censeo Trump delenda est
posted by kirkaracha at 3:34 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


Re: whistleblower reveal attempts.
Per katra's WaPo link above, "The only knowledge that we have, that I have of this, comes from public reports,” said White House Deputy Counsel Patrick Philbin. “I gather there is a news report in some publication that suggests a name for the whistleblower, suggests where he worked, that he worked at that time while detailed to the NSC staff for then-Vice President Biden."

Sure, Republicans and their leader want to punish this particular person for coming forward, and to dissuade future whistle-blowers, but they'd also love to cast doubt on this person's impartiality. Biden is the specific "liberal" association, and the Republicans are using their trial time to campaign against him.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:35 PM on January 30


Overwhelming Confirmation of Whistleblower Complaint: An Annotation
As the following analysis clearly demonstrates, an overwhelming percentage of the whistleblower’s complaint in Ukrainegate has been confirmed by U.S. government documents, witness statements, and independent investigative reports. We highlight all the key portions of the complaint that have been confirmed or corroborated, and we include links to the sources confirming or corroborating the information.
Ceterum autem censeo Trump delenda est
posted by kirkaracha at 3:36 PM on January 30 [10 favorites]


Schiff also explicitly referred to consideration of the SOTU in suggesting witness testimony be limited to one week. He's arguing rings around Team Trump

It's funny how when one actually has convictions and has spent the time to consider the actions they are taking that they can make showboaters just look embarrassing.

In either intro to Philosophy or.... Ethics, maybe?... Philosophy vs. Rhetoric was discussed/defined.

Philosophers, literally by that title, were considered lovers of wisdom. Plato (or Socrates. that distinction is a derail) said the best argument they had was always the one they lost because they learned something.

Rhetoricians, on the other hand, were lovers of winning the argument. They used rhetoric (duh) and any trick in the book to prove they were smarter than every one else in the room.

When one looks at it through those lenses, it seems pretty clear who is standing behind their words and who is saying, "I am going to win this argument because I can."

I have also never been a fan of High School debate for this reason. memail me if I am wrong.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 3:47 PM on January 30 [6 favorites]


Rhetoricians is a kind word for Sophists. :) Which I prefer, as Sophists used rhetoric and any other "trick in the book" not so much to "prove they were smarter" (an acceptable side-effect) but to win the argument in service of wielding more power.

Republicans are today's Sophists, some Sith-level, many decidedly ... not.
posted by riverlife at 3:57 PM on January 30 [12 favorites]


Roberts reads Warren's question asking whether presiding over a sham trial contributes to the loss of legitimacy of the Chief Justice. Schumer parlays that to impugn the GOP rather than the Chief Justice.

Twitter is all, "Warren pantsed Roberts" but I disagree. He's already rejected questions, asking that they at least be reworded. He could have asked that this one be reworded. Instead he just read it. It's as if Warren gave him the words to speak that he would not have been allowed to speak for himself.

I don't agree with the man's politics, but he must be nauseated to have to preside over these sham proceedings. This must be excruciating for him. And, FWIW, I hope and expect that it will steel him to do what is necessary in the future.
posted by sjswitzer at 4:04 PM on January 30 [17 favorites]


Highlights from Alan Dershowitz’s interview on CNN:
  • Alan Dershowitz has not been misunderstood; he has been deliberately quoted out of context by people like you, Wolf Blitzer, and your network should be ashamed
  • Alan Dershowitz didn’t say what he said (presidents can do anything if they think it will help with re-election in the public interest), he made the eminently reasonable and entirely hypothetical observation that just because a president might be slightly and partially motivated by his political prospects, it doesn’t turn legal and benign conduct into criminal and impeachable conduct
  • Alan Dershowitz made this observation because the House Managers had claimed the opposite, but you won’t play that clip will you Wolf
  • Alan Dershowitz has no political bias and despite slapping Mike Pompeo on the back for harassing an NPR journalist earlier this week, Alan Dershowitz is a liberal Democrat who is even more left-wing than you, Wolf
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:07 PM on January 30 [10 favorites]


Once I saw the rumor that the whistleblower was on Biden's staff when he was VP it became crystal clear to me why they want to reveal their identity so badly. If this is true, it's just the kind of thing that would be a great subhead 1 immediately after the headline SENATE DECLARES TRUMP INNOCENT.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:08 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


If Rand Paul had actual conviction in his righteousness, he'd have just blasted it onto Twitter or on a live interview on TV. Some way that is irrevocable. Instead, he's hoping to hide behind "the Chief Justice said it, not me," because he *knows* he's in the wrong.

This helped me figure out the whole 50 for 50 nay vote possibility.

I did not (and still remain) largely unconvinced that it will become 50-50. Maybe 1 R senator is allowed to vote no.

But, eruption's comment about hiding behind Roberts made me see a no lose situation:

In the case of a 50-50 vote, where Roberts gives the final ruling on whether witnesses should be alloweed, any of these may apply:

1. 3 "moderate" Republicans in purple states get to vote for witnesses, come across as bipartisan, to help their election.

1a. Roberts says no witnesses, in which those Rs that voted yes say, "we voted for the interests of the nation. Roberts, rightfully, chose otherwise. We thought it should be his call."

1b. Roberts says yes to witnesses. Rs immediately scream "NOW EVEN THE SC IS PARTISAN/POLITICAL" neglecting to mention that he was nominated by GWB and, when appointed, was immediately appointed as CSCJ. This offers cover for pretty much every R and is my hellfire scenario.

2. From either of these, R senate does what they intend, which, obviously, is to acquit. Either way they have justification:

2a: Roberts agreed no witnesses. Therefore our case is proven. Let's vote.
2b: Roberts disagreed, so let's follow his rules. Ok. We heard the testimony. Do we have 67? (I would be curious if they could do it as a voice vote.) No? Ok. We even followed the partisan/political AND STILL acquit.

I am distressed. My only hope is this lasts at least through SOTU bc who the hell knows what happens then.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 4:13 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


Now we know Dershowitz is a self-described “liberal Democrat” it’s not too late for him to win the Iowa caucus on Monday
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:16 PM on January 30 [8 favorites]


In the case of a 50-50 vote, where Roberts gives the final ruling on whether witnesses should be allowed

Even that is unclear. The Constitution gives tie-breaking votes to the President of the Senate (Pence), not specifying if they are also provided to the Chief Justice.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:21 PM on January 30


If Rand Paul had actual conviction in his righteousness, he'd have just blasted it onto Twitter or on a live interview on TV. Some way that is irrevocable. Instead, he's hoping to hide behind "the Chief Justice said it, not me," because he *knows* he's in the wrong.

Rand Paul has in fact "blasted" his question onto Twitter, in which he names two individuals.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:26 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


Speaking of the SOTU, why does a House that has impeached the President invite said Impeachee to speak to them--and the nation on live telestream--about the state of the union, or anything else? They've impeached him, he has been found, ahem, lacking, for what on earth do they need to have him come to their House and viciously preen? Let him submit his SOTU as a Mad Lib, or tweet it.
posted by riverlife at 4:28 PM on January 30 [9 favorites]


On the one hand, it's being bigger than him. On the other hand, it's letting him feed on his shoe. It's win-win, really.
posted by sjswitzer at 4:35 PM on January 30




GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander says he will announce decision on witnesses tonight (CNN)
Key GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander, a swing vote, told CNN he's going to announce his decision on witnesses tonight, a decision that will make clear whether the Senate trial will come to a swift conclusion or if it will lead to an unpredictable phase over witnesses and documents.

"I'm going to make my decision after the last question tonight," Alexander said.

Asked if he would announce it tonight, he said, "Yes."
posted by katra at 4:36 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


[Couple deleted; let's please stick to impeachment in here, if there's other big news worth discussing it can get its own thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:44 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


Trump lawyer says Pence aide's classified testimony relates to conversation with foreign head of state (NBC News)
A classified document containing testimony from an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, Jennifer Williams, was classified because it related to a conversation with a foreign head of state, a Trump defense lawyer said Thursday.

"My understanding is that that document is derivatively classified because it refers to another document a transcript that was originally classified,” said lawyer Patrick Philbin in response to a question from Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. [...]

Democrats have been calling on the White House to declassify the document, but they haven’t done so.

Williams, a State Department aide detailed to Pence's office, "requested in writing an early departure," Pence chief of staff Marc Short said Thursday evening. "Ms. Williams’ original scheduled departure date was the end of March. The Office of the Vice President is evaluating her request."
Pence aide who testified in impeachment inquiry to leave VP's office (Politico)
Williams was one of the few White House officials who listened to the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that led to Trump’s impeachment. She said that Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political opponents were “unusual and inappropriate,” and “shed some light on possible other motivations” for the president’s order to freeze military aid to the U.S. ally.

She also provided investigators with a firsthand account of Pence’s Sept. 1 meeting with Zelensky, and testified that the very first question Zelensky asked Pence was about the military aid. Williams also submitted additional classified evidence to House impeachment investigators about a phone call between Pence and Zelensky, according to House impeachment manager Adam Schiff. [...]

Schiff brought up Williams’ supplemental testimony again on Wednesday, confirming that it contains information about Russia’s role in promoting the unsubstantiated theory that Ukraine rather than the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election.
posted by katra at 4:45 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


Democrats seek to ease concerns over time needed for testimony, documents (CBS News)
Schumer submitted a question for the House managers asking them to elaborate on Schiff's suggestion that additional witnesses be deposed in one week and reassure senators that having witnesses and documents will minimally impede on the business of the Senate.

Schiff, speaking on behalf of the managers, said the documents House Democrats have subpoenaed have already been collected and could be "readily provided" to the Senate. The California Democrat also said House managers and Mr. Trump's lawyers would agree on a finite number of witnesses who are "relevant and probative of the issues" to depose during the one-week period.

"Neither side would have an endless capacity to call witnesses," he said.

Schiff said that if there was dispute over a witness, the decision on whether to hear from that individual would fall to the chief justice. Additionally, if there was a dispute over a passage in a document and the White House sought to invoke a privilege, that, too, would fall to the chief justice.

"This can be done very quickly," Schiff said. "This can be done I think effectively."

Schiff called for a "reasonable accommodation," that being the one week during which senators would "continue with the business in the Senate."

Then, once depositions are completed, both the House managers and Mr. Trump's legal team would present their findings from the testimony and the Senate could decide to call witnesses to appear in person.
posted by katra at 5:09 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


Murkowski asks Trump defense: why not call Bolton? (WaPo)
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who is being closely watched as one of the most potentially pivotal GOP senators on the question of witnesses, asked Trump’s defense point-blank Thursday night: “Why should this body not call in Ambassador Bolton?” [...]

“This dispute about material facts weighs in favor of calling additional witnesses with direct knowledge,” her question stated, as read by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., challenging Trump’s team to argue against that assumption.

Defense attorney Patrick Philbin gave a procedural answer, arguing that the Senate shouldn’t set a precedent that the House can deliver a “half-baked, not finished” impeachment case to the Senate and expect it to fill in the holes.

“The primary consideration here is, the House could have pursued Ambassador Bolton… They chose not to subpoena him,” Philbin said. “It will do grave damage to this body to say that the proceedings in the House don’t have to really be complete, you don’t have to subpoena the witnesses that you think are necessary to prove your case, you don’t really have to put it all together before you bring the package here.”

Philbin also tried to dismiss the seriousness of Bolton’s allegations — while also effectively acknowledging that there was reason to verify them.

“It’s simply alleged that the manuscript says that,” Philbin said. “Ambassador Bolton hasn’t come out to verify that to my knowledge.”
posted by katra at 5:45 PM on January 30 [8 favorites]


The Ukrainian “Drug Deal” and All the President’s Lawyers (Kathleen Clark, Just Security)
A drug deal, by definition, is illegal. So when former National Security Adviser John Bolton directed Fiona Hill on July 10 to tell Deputy White House Counsel John Eisenberg that Bolton was “not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” it was to get the lawyer to protect Bolton – and the U.S. government – from the illegal scheme he believed Amb. Gordon Sondland and Mick Mulvaney were concocting.

There’s a distinction between appropriate professional zeal — helping a client achieve lawful goals — and unethical conduct — assisting a client in a crime or its cover-up. This is a distinction that has tripped up high-level officials in the past, as illustrated by the 14 lawyers disbarred or suspended and the 11 lawyers convicted of crimes in Watergate.

Today, the emerging picture of how key lawyers in the Trump administration are operating bears a striking similarity. Eisenberg – along with other lawyers in the White House, the Office of Management of Budget (OMB) and the Department of Justice (DoJ) – appear to be acting more like operatives helping to facilitate an illegal scheme, rather than lawyers with an obligation to end it.

When these lawyers were asked to address potentially illegal conduct by government officials, they took steps to cover it up. When they were called upon to act as a legal gatekeeper, they gave their blessing to violations of law or ignored persistent warnings. When they were approached for legal advice, they distorted the law rather than explain how it actually works. Acting more like Trump’s co-conspirators than lawyers, they failed to protect their true client, the federal government. Government lawyers, like corporate lawyers, owe a duty of loyalty to the organization — the city, state or federal government they serve — not to its mayor, governor or president.

White House Counsel

Let’s start with the White House lawyers.
posted by katra at 6:07 PM on January 30 [7 favorites]


Defense attorney Patrick Philbin gave a procedural answer, arguing that the Senate shouldn’t set a precedent that the House can deliver a “half-baked, not finished” impeachment case to the Senate and expect it to fill in the holes.

If heard other GOP shills use this "defense", too, but in this case it really begs the follow-up question, "Are you asking the House to go back and submit additional articles of impeachment?"
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:31 PM on January 30 [7 favorites]


Former senator calls on Republicans to allow witnesses. (NYT)
John Warner, a Republican elder statesman who served for 30 years in the Senate, called on his fellow Republicans on Thursday night to bring “relevant witnesses and documents” into President Trump’s impeachment trial.

“As a lifelong Republican and retired member of the U.S. Senate, who once served as a juror in a presidential impeachment trial, I am mindful of the difficult responsibilities those currently serving now shoulder,” Mr. Warner, 92, wrote in a statement.

“I respectfully urge the Senate to be guided by the rules of evidence and follow our nation’s norms, precedents and institutions to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law by welcoming relevant witnesses and documents as part of this impeachment trial,” he added. [...]

“Not long ago, senators of both major parties always worked to accommodate fellow colleagues with differing points of view to arrive at outcomes that would best serve the nation’s interests,” he wrote. “If witnesses are suppressed in this trial and a majority of Americans are left believing the trial was a sham, I can only imagine the lasting damage done to the Senate, and to our fragile national consensus.”
posted by katra at 6:32 PM on January 30 [10 favorites]


SOTU

The Dems own the chamber. Given what's going on with the trial, the Dems in the House should just boo and jeer at him and laugh at every applause line until he leaves. It won't take too long, there's nothing that unravels Trump faster than being treated like the farce he is.

Sadly, they lack the gumption, there's still this weird shared falsehood that rancor and conflict have never prevailed in Congress at various points in US history, and Pelosi still has delusions that a high road exists in this axe fight.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:33 PM on January 30 [29 favorites]


Guardian: "With the trial back in session, House manager Adam Schiff said that the Trump team’s justification for not calling witnesses makes no sense.
The argument that “‘if their case is so good, let them try it without witnesses,’ is not a valid argument,” Schiff said. “That wouldn’t fly before any judge in America and it shouldn’t fly here either.”

The Trump administration made clear that it wouldn’t cooperate with Congress’ impeachment investigation, Schiff said — making a case for the Senate to get the evidence the House wasn’t able to.
Moderate Democrats ask why House managers didn’t negotiate with White House on documents (WaPo)
Democratic senators from conservative states, Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Doug Jones (Ala.) and Krysten Sinema (Ariz.) pressed the House managers on why they didn’t launch formal negotiations with the White House over documents and witnesses.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said plainly that the president made it clear the White House wasn’t going to participate and would fight all subpoenas, calling it a “blanket obstruction.”

“The president’s marching order were, ‘go pound sand,’ ” Schiff said.
posted by katra at 6:58 PM on January 30 [9 favorites]


Murkowski, Alexander and Sullivan sign onto question suggesting Trump's actions aren't impeachable (CBS News)
The senators submitted a question asking, "Assuming for argument's sake that Bolton were to testify in the light most favorable to the allegations contained in the articles of impeachment, isn't it true that the allegations still would not rise to the level of an impeachable offense, and that therefore, for this and other reasons, his testimony would add nothing to this case?" The White House counsel, as would be expected, argued the president's actions would not be impeachable.
Key GOP swing votes ask if Bolton's testimony would change trial (NBC News)
"Assuming for the sake of argument that ambassador Bolton would come and testify the way "The New York Times" article alleges, the way his book describes the conversation," Philbin said, referring to an unpublished Bolton book in which he alleged that Trump linked aid for Ukraine to Biden investigations. "Then it is correct that even if that happened, even if he gave that testimony, the articles of impeachment still wouldn't rise to an impeachable offense."

He added, "Even if everything you allege is true, even if John Bolton would say it's true, that is not an impeachable offense under the constitutional standard. Because the way you've tried to define the constitutional standard, this theory of abuse of power is far too malleable."

Schiff fired back that Bolton's testimony would undeniably be pertinent because it would underscore the House's evidence alleging a link between the withholding of military aid and Ukraine investigating the Bidens. "The truth is staring us in the eyes. We know why they don't want John Bolton to testify. It's not because we don't really know what happened here. They just don't want the American people to hear it in all of its ugly graphic detail," Schiff said.
posted by katra at 7:37 PM on January 30 [4 favorites]


Collins to vote in support of witnesses (CNN)

Murkowski: “I am going to reflect on what I’ve heard” (CNN)

Key Republican says he'll announce his decision on witnesses within the hour (CNN)
Sen. Lamar Alexander said his statement will come within the hour. He said he has told Mitch McConnell his decision.

Asked if it was a difficult decision, he said he will let it speak for itself.
posted by katra at 8:03 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Well, there it is, Alexander's a "no". Barring something completely miraculous, that's the end of it. No witnesses, sham trial wraps up tomorrow, SotU victory lap next on the agenda.

Time for a drink.
posted by bcd at 8:04 PM on January 30 [8 favorites]


Here's Alexander's bullshit spin.
posted by bcd at 8:05 PM on January 30 [4 favorites]


Let us note that arguing a key witness shouldn’t testify because they surely won’t say anything incriminating is a novel legal position that would be treated somewhat differently in a traditional trial
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:05 PM on January 30 [20 favorites]


Collins to vote in support of witnesses (CNN)

Well, that clinches it. There absolutely will not be witnesses. McConnell has taken his head count and given his blessing to Collins, who is facing a tough re-election. She would not be announcing tonight, this far in advance, if she hadn't first cleared it with McConnell.
posted by JackFlash at 8:07 PM on January 30 [25 favorites]


I suppose it's still technically possible we get Romney, Collins and Murkowski and no defections from, say, Jones and it comes out 50-50 with Roberts to decide. But I think JackFlash has called it correctly above. Collins wouldn't be announcing her 'yes' unless McConnell has the votes.
posted by bcd at 8:11 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


Maybe they will have a John-McCain-thumbs-down moment. Certainly the three of them have nothing to lose but their dignity.

lol, "dignity"
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:15 PM on January 30 [10 favorites]


Collins and Murkowski take a long time to negotiate relection payola with McConnell.
posted by benzenedream at 8:23 PM on January 30 [5 favorites]


Lamar Alexander, a key GOP swing vote, will vote against witnesses in impeachment trial (Li Zhou, Vox)
Alexander made his announcement late Thursday — effectively deciding the outcome of a vote on witnesses.
See the twitter thread linked by bcd.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:25 PM on January 30


Lamar?
posted by notyou at 8:45 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


it comes out 50-50 with Roberts to decide.

Roberts doesn't cast deciding votes. Any ties are resolved in the negative. (p.22)
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:49 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


Roberts doesn't cast deciding votes. Any ties are resolved in the negative. (p.22)

Your citation says that the Chief Justice would not be expected to vote. That's a long way from a flat negative. There's a footnote to this which says
95 During the trial of President Andrew Johnson, the Chief Justice voted on two occasions to break a tie. This was controversial at the time, and he did not vote in all instances of ties.
So, there's no barrier to the Chief Justice voting on a tie, and in fact there is precedent for it. It's a moot point, however, because the Republicans will not let there be a tie.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:59 PM on January 30 [4 favorites]


Witness Deadlock in Senate Could Put Roberts in Tiebreaker Spot (Bloomberg)
Roberts has largely shied away from action that could sway the outcome of the impeachment, and casting the tiebreaking vote on witnesses would be one of the most consequential moments of the trial. There is historical precedent for a trial’s presiding officer to rule on a draw: in 1868, Chief Justice Salmon Chase twice cast votes to resolve procedural deadlocks in the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson. The Senate twice voted down efforts to strip Chase of that power. [...]

The Senate’s impeachment rules, adopted in 1986, leave open the possibility that Roberts could decide in the case of a draw. Usually the vice president casts the tiebreaking vote in Senate draws on legislation or confirmations.

If Roberts does weigh in, the impeachment rules allow the Senate to overrule him with a simple majority vote. That could create a situation in which a senator votes to call witnesses, but then votes against Roberts’ tiebreaking decision, effectively moving the trial to a speedier resolution. [...]

Roberts is likely to consult Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, on any decision regarding his authority in the trial.
posted by katra at 9:01 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


The senators submitted a question asking, "Assuming for argument's sake that Bolton were to testify in the light most favorable to the allegations contained in the articles of impeachment, isn't it true that the allegations still would not rise to the level of an impeachable offense, and that therefore, for this and other reasons, his testimony would add nothing to this case?" The White House counsel, as would be expected, argued the president's actions would not be impeachable.

So am I reading this right that Murkowski, Alexander, Sullivan, and friends are effectively saying that even if we believe all of the allegations from the House (what the most favorable Bolton testimony could potentially amount to), then it still wouldn't rise to an impeachable offense, hence we don't need to bother with the conviction trial? Meaning it's OK to block congressionally approved aid for allies at war, and then use it to extort the ally for election favors. WTF is wrong with these people?!?!?
posted by p3t3 at 9:10 PM on January 30 [14 favorites]


That's right, and in so-doing they implicated themselves in the conspiracy.
posted by sjswitzer at 9:22 PM on January 30 [4 favorites]


Once again, Collins proves she can always be counted on to do the right thing when it doesn’t matter.
posted by darkstar at 9:27 PM on January 30 [13 favorites]


So in the end, it's up to Roberts?
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:07 PM on January 30


No. The end already happened.
posted by kerf at 10:25 PM on January 30


This makes me feel sick. The senate has ruled its ok to break the law if the president thinks in the nations interest that he remain president.

So how exactly will he be removed from office now? Vote him out? He will stay because even though he’s breaking the law, he thinks he should still be president. And unless we get a significant margin of the senate so in theory they take office before he’s supposed to step down and even that’s slim given that the justice department is just as corrupt.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:42 PM on January 30 [9 favorites]


The senate has ruled its ok to break the law if the president thinks in the nations interest that he remain president.

Never thought suspension of elections seemed possible, back in 2016. Maybe the gun nuts are right and we need to arm ourselves — it does seem to be getting that serious.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:38 PM on January 30 [4 favorites]


Never thought suspension of elections seemed possible, back in 2016.

Who would stop him?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:55 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


It did seem there were more checks on power in his first year with the career officials on staff, Jeff Sessions recusing himself, the courts knocking down early iterations of his worst policies, and the Senate at least appearing more cool-headed than the GOP House.

There were at least a bare minimum of checks, but those seem to have fallen apart in the past year. For all the right's talk of letting voters/elections decide things, they still took a hard right turn after the '18 blue wave.
posted by p3t3 at 12:13 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Not fallen apart. Been disassembled.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:39 AM on January 31 [16 favorites]


Maybe the gun nuts are right and we need to arm ourselves

That argument might have more legs were it not for the indisputable fact that we are the ones the gun nuts have always seen a need to arm themselves against.

The gun nuts have always seen government as The Problem, and they correctly perceive Trump and his gang of enablers and sycophants as fundamentally opposed to the whole notion of government.
posted by flabdablet at 12:52 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


The gun nuts are also going to have the upper hand if it ever does come to the firefights they've been having wet dreams about fighting, because they've been training for that for longer.

The way we beat this pack of fucking clowns is with our superior ability to work together and organize for the common good. Because the defining characteristic of the Right is an obsession with gaining power at the expense of every other purpose. They have no fucking clue what to do with power once they have it, so instead of wielding it for good ends they just burn it all on making up imaginary enemies to blame for the consequences of their own incompetence.

No enterprise composed entirely of people who believe in their own bullshit has any kind of long term future, and the present US administration does appear to be composed entirely of people who do exactly that.

The abuses they will find ways to perpetrate by using the very power structures they're busily trying to dismantle will do incalculable amounts of damage before they manage to tear them apart altogether, but tear them apart they surely will. Trump has been trying to saw off the yardarm he's perched on for his whole life, and he will inevitably run his administration aground on the rocks of reality just as he's done with his businesses and just as every fascist before him has always done as well.

We don't need a revolution any more, because the work of dismantling existing power structures is already being done for us by the idiots in charge. What we need is the ground-level, grass roots organizing work that is always what it takes to rebuild a civil society after a revolution. If we just take the losses and get on with that work, we can surely achieve something like a workable politics again for the three generations it will take for most of us to forget once again that fascism is even a thing.

So, take socialism as a given. Act as if it's already been achieved. Because the consensus for it really has been, at least amongst those who have the motivation and ability and the numbers to implement it; all that remains is the long and difficult work of the actual implementation.

Let a million grass roots run in under the astroturf as it burns and rots and falls to pieces under the sun.
posted by flabdablet at 1:27 AM on January 31 [36 favorites]


Never thought suspension of elections seemed possible, back in 2016.

Who would stop him?


the states are responsible for the holding of elections, so those states that didn't want to cancel them would simply proceed
posted by pyramid termite at 2:06 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


Once again, Collins proves she can always be counted on to do the right thing when it doesn’t matter.

Collins is facing a real challenge for her seat this year. Democrats need to make sure this message is heard loud and clear -- Collins' announcement came as Alexander announced his opposition. McConnell may have given her a "hall pass," but only because he didn't need her vote. The question is, do the voters of Maine want a senator who basically votes the way Mitch McConnell tells her to?
posted by Gelatin at 2:55 AM on January 31 [15 favorites]


The idea that anyone would "cancel" an election is, in a perverse way, a kind of wish fulfillment on at least two levels. First, that they may cross a line so bright that anyone can see it; like a film where a child has been unable to convince adults about a monster, but in act three the monster finally shows himself. (But if the monster's powers include invisibility, why do so?) Second, a canceled election will implicitly let us off the hook for action -- no getting out the vote when no vote is to be had at all, right? It would seem like the next step is grabbing muskets, and most of us are gun-shy, so there you go, no difficult choices ahead, just collective knowledge of dystopia.

Far more plausible is interference with basically no upper limit. In addition to a repeat of what Russia did in 2016, Republicans might tear up registrations for all naturalized citizens (just as they've been de-naturalizing them), summon the national guard to "protect" elections in major cities, or even hack votes electronically where possible (the most effective way being to hack the databases of registrations to prevent votes in the first place).

But I guarantee that after November has come and gone, it will remain Republican orthodoxy that something called "an election" happened, and the news media will agree. None of them are going to tear down the curtain and show us the little man behind it. Putin, Saddam, and other dictators held and hold elections; countries without even the pretense of democracy can probably be counted on a single hand.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 6:24 AM on January 31 [17 favorites]


The appearance of democracy seems to have worldwide appeal.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:30 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Shorter Senator Alexander: Yes, he’s guilty. Yes, he’s unrepentant. Yes, he’s still trying to steal the election. Now let’s act responsibly and move on from this distasteful business!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:30 AM on January 31 [31 favorites]


Shorter Senator Alexander: Yes, he’s guilty. Yes, he’s unrepentant. Yes, he’s still trying to steal the election. Now let’s act responsibly and move on from this distasteful business!

Yeah, the incredible thing about Trump's so-called defense is that it now admits everything and then pretends the Senate isn't responsible for imposing any consequences.

The media is often bamboozled by moving goalposts, but I wonder if this frank admission of corruption will play as well with loyal Americans.
posted by Gelatin at 6:41 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


Collins is just going by her usual playbook. Make sure that things will go right for the GOP and then cast a meaningless vote against it. Remember that she was the deciding vote to get DeVos out of committee and then voted against her on the final confirmation vote when there were enough votes to confirm.
posted by azpenguin at 6:42 AM on January 31 [15 favorites]


Trump Claims ‘This Is A Happy Period,’ Tries To Water Down His Impeachment To ‘Impeachment-Lite’ (Cristina Cabrera, TPM)

As overheard at a rally in Des Moines last night.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:12 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


By June of 2016, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign had illegally solicited campaign donations from foreign nationals, according to a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission. The complaint also charged that even after reports had emerged about Mr. Trump’s “Icelandic fundraising appeals,” “Donald J. Trump for President continued to send email fundraising solicitations to the official email accounts of multiple members of the British, Scottish, and Australian parliaments.”

How were these crimes punished? They were not.
Also in June of 2016, after receiving a promise of incriminating information about Hillary Clinton plainly said to be from the Russian government, two of Trump’s close family members and his campaign chief agreed to take a meeting to discuss it. In Trump Tower.
Donald Trump Jr. even wrote, “If it’s what you say I love it.” After many interviews blocked, and investigations by Mueller and co. and admission by Don Jr. himself, in public . . how were these crimes punished? They were not.

DJT came in with apparent permission to steal elections. It was so effective it even surprised him and his family.

Today will just be a continuation of this baffling mechanism in our presidential election system. Smashing norms, ignoring laws, inviting foreign interference, behaving without shame and signaling domestic terrorists, crypto-evangelicals and racists that their homicidal dreams can come true . . turns out to be one of the best strategies for becoming president.
Because apparently there is no accountability.
posted by Harry Caul at 7:12 AM on January 31 [13 favorites]


You know what? I agree with Trump on something. He is the best Republican. Beyond him, you get both Trump and cowardice.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:40 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


Our best hope is that someone tells the President that Senator Alexander says he did something wrong, and Trump angrily tweets that the Senator's dad was Jack the Ripper or something
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:43 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


Meanwhile, in Ukraine: Pompeo meets the president but does not invite him to visit. (NYT)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that the Trump administration was committed to supporting Ukraine in its defense against aggression by Russia, though he did not offer President Volodymyr Zelensky the one thing he has sought since last May: an invitation to meet President Trump at the White House.

Mr. Pompeo’s visit was aimed at calming unease among Ukrainian officials about the relationship between Washington and Kyiv, which has been thrust into the spotlight because of the impeachment of Mr. Trump.

An invitation to meet Mr. Trump at the White House would be an important signal to Russia of American support for Ukraine. Mr. Pompeo’s message that Mr. Trump had no immediate plans to receive Mr. Zelensky at the White House was a blow to the Ukrainian president’s national security efforts.

Ukrainian officials are angry that the Americans have granted Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, two visits with Mr. Trump in the White House, most recently in December.

In renewing his request for a meeting Friday, Mr. Zelensky said, “If there is anything we can negotiate and discuss, and if I can bring something back home, I am ready to go straight away.”
posted by katra at 7:54 AM on January 31 [6 favorites]


Guardian: "Even though the impeachment trial is expected to wrap up soon if the witness vote fails, it will likely still be a long night before Trump is acquitted.
If Senate Democrats cannot wrangle enough votes to secure witness testimony in the trial, they are expected to introduce a number of procedural motions to delay the final vote on the two articles of impeachment.

Senators on both sides of the aisle are predicting the vote on acquittal will not take place until the early hours of tomorrow morning.

Addy Baird (@addysbaird) Re-upping this flow chart for today. We are (barring a wild twist) going with the witness vote fails path. And let me tell you, it’s going to be a long night. Rumor is the vote on final judgement is going to be between 3 and 5 am Saturday morning. https://t.co/KFuIsXH1Wc January 31, 2020
Guardian: Romney spokesperson confirms he will vote for witnesses
If Romney and Collins are the only Republican senators who support calling witnesses, the final vote will likely be 51-49 against witness testimony. If Lisa Murkowski, another closely watched Republican in this vote, joins Romney and Collins, the final vote could be 50-50.

Some Democratic senators have called on Chief Justice John Roberts to break the tie if the vote is 50-50, but it seems unlikely Roberts would take such a step. In that case, a tie vote will be a failed vote, and the trial will move toward a rapid end.
posted by katra at 8:03 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


the states are responsible for the holding of elections, so those states that didn't want to cancel them would simply proceed

This is true. But the President is elected by counting the electoral college votes in the Congress. Let us hope that Trump's loss is sufficiently massive to overcome whatever skullduggering ratfuckery his minions are inevitably devising.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:05 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Some Democratic senators have called on Chief Justice John Roberts to break the tie if the vote is 50-50, but it seems unlikely Roberts would take such a step.

Unlikely is putting it mildly. I'd love to be wrong.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:11 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


It's simultaneously unthinkable that Roberts would impose himself on the process like that, and that he would want his crowning achievement to be overseeing the first impeachment trial with no documents and no witnesses.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:12 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


Roberts did vote to keep Obamacare once upon a time.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:13 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


Monica Lewinsky weighs in with some levity on allowing witnesses (WaPo)
Anti-bullying activist Monica Lewinsky, who knows a thing or two about impeachment trials, offered this commentary on the Senate’s likely decision not to allow new witnesses:

“gee,” she tweeted, “too bad i had to give that videoed witness testimony for the senate trial in the clinton impeachment. (i mean, talk about unflattering lighting and having a bad hair day.)”
posted by katra at 8:15 AM on January 31 [18 favorites]


Some Democratic senators have called on Chief Justice John Roberts to break the tie if the vote is 50-50, but it seems unlikely Roberts would take such a step.

Excluding witnesses to Trump's guilt is a Republican cover-up, so Democrats must make clear that if Roberts helps shield Trump from exposure of his wrongdoing, he will also be party to the cover-up.
posted by Gelatin at 8:17 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


But the President is elected by counting the electoral college votes in the Congress.

Specifically the House of Representatives, which the Democrats control.
posted by Gelatin at 8:19 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


The impeachment trial is a reminder: our democracy is fragile. Civil rights activists already know that (Reverend William Barber, Guardian Opinion)
The coordinated cover-up we are witnessing as 53 senators conspire to facilitate Trump’s obstruction of Congress is deeply troubling to anyone who knows the long history of southern courthouses where district attorneys openly coordinated with all-white juries and corrupt judges to cover up acts of racial terror. With patience and decorum, Mitch McConnell has brought southern justice to the US Senate. [...]

People like John Lewis, who voted as a member of the House to impeach Donald Trump for seeking foreign help to rig the 2020 election, went to jail and faced beatings in the 1960s to ensure free and fair elections. Half a century later, we have fewer voting rights protections in America than we did in 1965, when the Voting Rights Act was signed into law. As the majority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell covered up the voter suppression efforts that guaranteed him a Senate majority long before he was called upon to cover up Donald Trump’s efforts to rig the next election.

Americans remember from the Nixon impeachment that the cover-up is evidence of the crime. But it is more than that. Time and again, the civil rights movement has learned that the cost of the cover-up is democracy itself. When the people who have power can abuse that power to influence elections and suppress the electoral power of those who would challenge them, we do not have a representative democracy. We have southern justice covering for minority rule.

But if we who have been denied full citizenship in this nation know the cost of a cover-up, we also know the power of moral movements to tap a greater power and push America toward a more perfect union. Slaveholders invested everything they had to cover up the crimes of human bondage. Jim Crow did everything it knew to cover up the immorality of separate but equal. And for a long time, it looked like they had all the votes. But movements of people committed to the truth did not give up. They kept believing and building on the conviction that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice. And they uncovered the lies that crippled democracy in their day. Our present moral crisis demands nothing less of us.
posted by katra at 8:22 AM on January 31 [27 favorites]


I tuned in to the end of the questions last night and heard the White House Counsel actually say that Trump was not impeachable but Biden was because only Biden did whatever the fuck they say he did because of pure self interest.

The hubris and magnitude of their mind twisting is really something.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:22 AM on January 31 [7 favorites]


The hubris and magnitude of their mind twisting is really something.

Which says to me that this rat fucking will never end. If Biden were to win we're going to have Republican Bengazi-like investigations for 4 years. If Bernie wins, we'll have not only investigations but also every piece of legislation he signs dragged through the courts with the supreme court siding with Republicans again and again. The next 4-12 years are going to be an endless shit show if the Dems can't take the house, senate and presidency. And I have zero faith of that happening.
posted by photoslob at 8:40 AM on January 31 [12 favorites]


It's simultaneously unthinkable that Roberts would impose himself on the process like that, and that he would want his crowning achievement to be overseeing the first impeachment trial with no documents and no witnesses.

His crowning achievement was Citizens United. Everything else flows from that.
posted by azpenguin at 8:44 AM on January 31 [27 favorites]


Senate Impeachment Trial, Day 11 (C-SPAN) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues with debate and a vote on whether additional witnesses should testify. LIVE On January 31 | 1pm ET | C-SPAN2

U.S. Senate: Impeachment Trial (Day 11) (C-SPAN YouTube) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues. Scheduled for Jan 31, 2020

The Report: Impeachment, Day Nine (Lawfare) "On the ninth day of the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump, the Senate continued the question-and-answer period of the trial. [...] Lawfare and Goat Rodeo bring you the final day of Q&A in the impeachment trial of President Trump in one hour and 40 minutes."
posted by katra at 8:57 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


If the Senate is going to hold a sham trial, then I think it's actually better that it's obviously a sham. In recent polls, 70–80% of Americans want the Senate to call witnesses. If the Republican senators refuse to call witnesses, it looks bad for them and for Trump.

Given that the evidence produced by the House is already about as damning as anyone could ask for, I doubt any witness has a significant chance of changing the outcome of the trial or public perception of Trump’s guilt. So if our only options are “trial with witnesses, then vote to acquit” or “trial without witnesses, then vote to acquit,” then I think the former helps Trump more, and the latter is more damaging to Republicans in November. Especially since Republicans can’t offer a convincing excuse not to hear from witnesses. (Schiff succinctly refuted their “takes too much time” argument by offering to limit testimony to one week.)

I believe pressure to block witness testimony is coming more from the White House than from the Senate majority leadership, and is about protecting Trump’s pride rather than any greater strategic concern.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:59 AM on January 31 [10 favorites]


Trial could extend into next week, officials say (WaPo)
A senior administration official and two congressional officials said Friday it was unlikely that senators would rush immediately to a verdict after the witness vote fails. They requested anonymity to speak candidly about internal discussions.

The administration official and a congressional official raised the possibility that the Senate could take up a new procedural resolution laying out rules for the trial’s endgame — which could include time for closing arguments, private deliberations and public speeches by senators.

The Senate passed such a supplemental resolution in the middle of the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. Even passing that resolution could be a lengthy process: When senators debated the initial rules resolution last week, it took more than 12 hours of floor time to process debate on Democratic amendments to the GOP proposal, which ultimately passed unamended just before 2 a.m. on Jan. 22.

Should the Senate embark on this process, the senior administration official said, a final verdict could be delayed as late as Wednesday — after the Iowa caucuses on Monday and Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.

But a congressional official noted that much depends on what a majority of senators want to do: A 51-vote majority could choose to hasten the final verdict at any point.
posted by katra at 9:02 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


The next 4-12 years are going to be an endless shit show if the Dems can't take the house, senate and presidency. And I have zero faith of that happening.

The Senate is about to give Trump a pass to do whatever he wants to win the election.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:03 AM on January 31 [11 favorites]


Watching even the "moderate" Republicans cave to Trump as part of this slow, creeping slide toward authoritarianism, I am glad Mike Godwin gives license to say this feels like how things were moving in Germany in, oh, maybe 1934 or 1935.
posted by PhineasGage at 9:07 AM on January 31 [18 favorites]


The New York Times: More than two months before he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents, President Trump directed John R. Bolton, then his national security adviser, to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton.

Mr. Trump gave the instruction, Mr. Bolton wrote, during an Oval Office conversation in early May that included the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, who is now leading the president’s impeachment defense.
If they're unwilling to call new witnesses, maybe they could ask the White House counsel to testify under oath?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:11 AM on January 31 [9 favorites]


Some Democratic senators have called on Chief Justice John Roberts to break the tie if the vote is 50-50, but it seems unlikely Roberts would take such a step.

It's not going to be a 50-50 vote. McConnell would never have given his permission for Collins to vote yes if it were going to be 50-50. McConnell knows how to count votes and he knows how to enforce discipline. Collins knows that if her vote were to make a difference, Trump and McConnell would cut her off at the knees in Maine.
posted by JackFlash at 9:14 AM on January 31 [11 favorites]


What will we do when the president decides it's in the best interest of the people for him to remain in office indefinitely? He already feels he's owed extra time on the clock, due to having to deal with investigation and impeachment...
posted by dreamling at 9:15 AM on January 31 [6 favorites]


Collins knows that if her vote were to make a difference, Trump and McConnell would cut her off at the knees in Maine.

That would be pure Misery
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:17 AM on January 31 [33 favorites]


Breaking: Trump Told Bolton to Help His Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Book Says (NYT)
More than two months before he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents, President Trump directed John R. Bolton, then his national security adviser, to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton.

Mr. Trump gave the instruction, Mr. Bolton wrote, during an Oval Office conversation in early May that included the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, who is now leading the president’s impeachment defense.

Mr. Trump told Mr. Bolton to call Volodymyr Zelensky, who had recently won election as president of Ukraine, to ensure Mr. Zelensky would meet with Mr. Giuliani, who was planning a trip to Ukraine to discuss the investigations that the president sought, in Mr. Bolton’s account. Mr. Bolton never made the call, he wrote.

The previously undisclosed directive that Mr. Bolton describes would be the earliest known instance of Mr. Trump seeking to harness the power of the United States government to advance his pressure campaign against Ukraine, as he later did on the July call with Mr. Zelensky that triggered a whistle-blower complaint and impeachment proceedings. [...]

The account in Mr. Bolton’s manuscript portrays the most senior White House advisers as early witnesses in the effort that they have sought to distance the president from. And disclosure of the meeting underscores the kind of information Democrats were looking for in seeking testimony from his top advisers in their impeachment investigation, including Mr. Bolton and Mr. Mulvaney, only to be blocked by the White House.
posted by katra at 9:55 AM on January 31 [7 favorites]


mbrubeck: I believe pressure to block witness testimony is coming more from the White House than from the Senate majority leadership, and is about protecting Trump’s pride rather than any greater strategic concern.

I'm not sure this is quite true; at least some weeks back, it seemed the other way around (with Trump hoping for the spectacle and McConnell wanting to get it over with fast). But I can definitely imagine a flip having occurred, with Trump preferring the opportunity to crow on Tuesday, while at least some senators feel increasing heat from constituents.

In both cases, I think the fallacy is simple tunnel vision; they don't want the short-term pain of Bolton (or whoever) making a devastating case on every major network, despite the fact that the book will come out in March anyway.

But regardless, despite having called my own senator Toomey's office that he should support having witnesses... a big part of me has agreed that it would only dignify what is a sham anyway, and could easily mislead more people into thinking the result was legitimate than would be swayed the other way, by watching testimony, into seeing him as guilty.

(This was always my fear about impeachment: millions of voters thinking "He got acquitted so I guess it was a big nothing", where they otherwise would have thought, as many did about Hillary, "Huh! Dark clouds! Questions raised!". But, ta-da, a witness-free trial manages to undercut that thinking substantially, even among those with low news literacy.)

We went into this with at least half of Americans thinking the president should be convicted. I consider that close to a ceiling, because even if Trump can get more unpopular, you will have a very hard time shaking out the "decorum!" mentality from an additional 10% or even 5%.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:00 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Bolton is a snake. If he cared about democracy he could have voluntarily provided this information to the House investigative committees months ago. He is saving his leaks to the last minute for maximum drama and bigger book sales.
posted by JackFlash at 10:03 AM on January 31 [19 favorites]


If the Senate is going to hold a sham trial, then I think it's actually better that it's obviously a sham. In recent polls, 70–80% of Americans want the Senate to call witnesses. If the Republican senators refuse to call witnesses, it looks bad for them and for Trump.

Which means Republican senators have good reason to believe that witness testimony would look even worse for them and for Trump.
posted by Gelatin at 10:05 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


And shame on the New York Times for participating in this "anonymous" leaking.
posted by JackFlash at 10:05 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


... I am glad Mike Godwin gives license to say this feels like how things were moving in Germany in, oh, maybe 1934 or 1935.

It's small comfort that Godwin's Law invocations seem to have dwindled to nothing. The people who so predictably called it out never did pay much attention to its actual content.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:08 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Lamar Alexander and the power of right-wing political correctness (Zack Beauchamp, Vox)
"A top reporter explained Lamar Alexander’s impeachment trial vote on witnesses. Here’s what that reveals. "

The best explanation I’ve seen comes from Tim Alberta, Politico’s chief political correspondent and a deeply sourced reporter among congressional Republicans. He suggests that Alexander was afraid — not of losing his job, but of threats to his future income and social status:

[Twitter thread]

To put it another way, many Republicans exist in a social world where criticizing Donald Trump is an act of cultural treason. Bucking Trump doesn’t merely risk their congressional seat, but also their ability to find future employment and live comfortably in their communities even after retiring. Alberta describes profound fears of Trump’s “cult,” of “harassment of their families, loss of standing in local communities, [and] estranged relationships.”

I agree with Alberta that, when the stakes are as high as impeachment, this is a form of “weak-ass excuse-making.” And not all Republican officials live in social worlds as Trumpy as the ones described in his thread. But those qualms aside, I think it’s also worth making two additional points about the significance of the phenomenon he’s describing.

[Partisanship] In a country defined by two mega-identities, defeat for your side isn’t merely a political loss, but an existential threat to your entire way of life. When Republicans feel this way about politics, then it makes sense that they’d see a vote against their president as an act of deep betrayal — and treat the person responsible accordingly, even in private life. This kind of extreme identity polarization poisons politics in ways often invisible in day-to-day observation that, nonetheless, contribute to the fundamental dysfunction of our political system.

[Right Wing Political Correctness] In conservative cultural spaces, even a very long right-wing record like Alexander’s doesn’t immunize you from the consequences of violating the community’s political standards. Stalwart conservative legislators are, according to Alberta, terrified of what people in their communities think of them. Imagine the ways in which many ordinary people in red areas, who have far less financial and social capital than the Lamar Alexanders of the world, feel about expressing anti-Trump sentiment!
Bolded, inserted terms are mine.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:12 AM on January 31 [13 favorites]


this feels like how things were moving in Germany in, oh, maybe 1934 or 1935

To continue the comparison, most of the early mischief at that time was directed towards suppressing the communist and socialist threat, fully supported by much of the citizenry.

Here's hoping we can skip this phase after Bernie wins the nomination.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 10:14 AM on January 31


This is a small annoyance in the grander scheme of things, but how dare Bolton call his book The Room Where it Happened. Can't Lin Manuel shut that down somehow?
posted by jokeefe at 10:17 AM on January 31 [13 favorites]


He suggests that Alexander was afraid — not of losing his job, but of threats to his future income and social status:

I call bullshit. Alexander is 79 years old and has over $15 million dollars. The last thing he should be worried about as an old man is future income and social status.

He's doing this because he is a shitty Republican -- just like all the other shitty Republicans.
posted by JackFlash at 10:17 AM on January 31 [35 favorites]


Per CNN, Murkowski is indicating she will vote no on witnesses. These people need to go.
posted by Bacon Bit at 10:24 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


... as John Roberts wipes a bead of sweat from his brow.
posted by sjswitzer at 10:28 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


McConnell didn’t want to mess with a Roberts tiebreaker so he only gave two hall passes.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:29 AM on January 31


Per CNN, Murkowski is indicating she will vote no on witnesses.

I hope the chyron says "The Fix Is In."

These people need to go.

And for much more than their participation in Trump's cover-up, but it is now indeed up to loyal Americans to see that Republicans' betrayal leads to genuine consequences at the ballot box.
posted by Gelatin at 10:38 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


I like to imagine that Roberts could declare a mistrial.
posted by sjswitzer at 10:44 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


Rubio just said, "Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office."

So, that's nice to know.
posted by bcd at 10:45 AM on January 31 [28 favorites]


And Murkowski is trying to spin a "more in sorrow than in anger" schitck with, "I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed", as she announces she's a 'no' on witnesses.
posted by bcd at 10:49 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


That shit works both ways Marco.

I mean, they're republicans so it won't because the subtext to that comment is "and a GOP president will always be in the best interest of the country."
posted by VTX at 10:51 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


"I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed"

That's some pretty phenomenal projection, or at least telling on one's self.

Knowing that Pelosi and Schumer are no idiots, I am hoping that they have a media blitz planned for the aftermath of the impeachment trial, including targeting vulnerable GOP Senators on their complicity with the coverup, and pointing to the 2020 election as the only way to stop a president who now believes that nothing and no one can stop him.

Pelosi's comments from yesterday about there being no acquittal without a fair trial lead me to believe that they are already working on this.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 10:54 AM on January 31 [13 favorites]


I also hope Schumer is whipping the hell out of the Dems to ensure that Manchin or Sinema or Jones don't vote with the GOP on witnesses or acquittal. You just know that the Republicans would call it a "bipartisan" acquittal otherwise.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 10:57 AM on January 31 [12 favorites]


And Murkowski is trying to spin a "more in sorrow than in anger" schitck with, "I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed", as she announces she's a 'no' on witnesses.

Did...did she just blame her fellow Republicans for her own complicity in Trump's cover-up?

I mean, she isn't wrong, but it's astonishing what these people are saying out loud. Even Republicans have basically admitted -- in the face of the Democratic case that left no doubt -- that Trump did what he's accused of doing.
posted by Gelatin at 11:07 AM on January 31 [24 favorites]


If anyone's here that was of the perspective that there wouldn't be a vote to impeach but the process itself would lay the corruption of the administration bare for the public to see, do you feel that the process up until the witness suppression has been sufficient to do so, or not? To me the Dershowitz argument and the vote against witnesses despite clear relevance looks #really# bad, but I'm not independent or undecided.
posted by Selena777 at 11:12 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


You know that thing where the lowest person on the corporate ladder has to make the coffee, but they're really bad at it, so finally, someone else says "FINE, I'll make the coffee.", but everyone knows that Stu was intentionally fucking it up because he didn't want to have to do it anymore?

53 percent of the U.S. Senate is making bad coffee right now and hoping someone else says "FINE."
posted by Etrigan at 11:15 AM on January 31 [19 favorites]


Ken White/popehat has translated Murkowski's statement into more colloquial English for us:

I must declare this church picnic closed on the grounds that my friends and I have fucked this goat, which is extremely regrettable and demonstrates the failure of the church and church picnic as institutions.
posted by bcd at 11:20 AM on January 31 [48 favorites]


Impeachment Was the Right Call. Doing It This Way Was Not.
First, the decision not to subpoena key witnesses during the House investigation on the theory that it would take too long to litigate Trump’s obstruction in the courts was inexcusable. Had Democrats taken this very rudimentary legal step, the incessant Republican argument that Democrats should bear the fallout for failing to use their subpoena power when they had it would have been off the table during the Senate trial.
...
Second, aside from failing to push for fuller facts during the House inquiry, it’s clear that Democrats left themselves unnecessarily vulnerable in their drafting of the two articles of impeachment now being debated in the Senate.
...
In the first article of impeachment, identifying even one of the legal violations embedded in the Ukrainian quid pro quo—such as Trump’s plain violation of the Impoundment Control Act, which mandated that he alert Congress to his freeze on appropriated aid—would have forced Republican senators to cast an affirmative vote on whether it’s okay for presidents to blatantly violate acts of Congress.
...
Obstruction of Congress—the charge in the second article of impeachment—is in fact a crime under the U.S. Code. Simply including that citation in the text of the second article might have staved off a major defense swirling around abuse of office as a basis for impeachment and removal.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:22 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


Did...did she just blame her fellow Republicans for her own complicity in Trump's cover-up?

The Republican Party is a party of nihilists, and that Constitution really tied the room together
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:27 AM on January 31 [6 favorites]


Had Democrats taken this very rudimentary legal step, the incessant Republican argument that Democrats should bear the fallout for failing to use their subpoena power when they had it would have been off the table during the Senate trial.

... Obstruction of Congress—the charge in the second article of impeachment—is in fact a crime under the U.S. Code. Simply including that citation in the text of the second article might have staved off a major defense swirling around abuse of office as a basis for impeachment and removal.


Shit, why didn't they think of pre-emptively removing Republican excuses in advance? If only that had happened, the Rs would basically have to go with a bold, truly outrageous defense like "He can do whatever he wants, screw you", instead of what I assume was a more respectable-sounding blather.

Democrats are So. Bad. At. This.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:30 AM on January 31 [8 favorites]


Fire up soundbites of GOP Senators supporting the "5th Avenue" doctrine instead of firing in a circle.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:34 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Ken White/popehat continues a bit later:
[at the Session Meeting the next month]
All the discussion about how I held down the goat has deeply divided this church community and I call upon my colleagues to move past it instead of sowing hatred.
You should just follow him directly, of course.
posted by bcd at 11:36 AM on January 31 [14 favorites]


If I didn't know she had an (R) after her name, I'd think Murkowski is planning to ultimately vote to convict! The Republicans can certainly afford a lot of hall passes there since they only need 34 votes to acquit. But I doubt any hall passes at all will be handed out because of the optics of having over 50 votes to convict while still letting him skate. That would be an even bigger asterisk after Trump's name.
posted by sjswitzer at 11:37 AM on January 31


> Simply including that citation in the text of the second article might have staved off a major defense swirling around abuse of office as a basis for impeachment and removal.

I'm sorry, but this is magical thinking on par with Moon Law and gold fringes on flags implying that income taxes are illegal.
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:38 AM on January 31 [15 favorites]


Trump won't tolerate any Republicans voting to convict him. As was pointed out in Lamar Alexander's case, Trump and his base would see any deviation as a betrayal.

I hope Democrats are leaning on their own senators not to vote to acquit. Having this kangaroo court end on a party line vote would spotlight how illegitimate the Republicans' cover-up is.
posted by Gelatin at 11:40 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


> I'm sorry, but this is magical thinking on par with Moon Law and gold fringes on flags implying that income taxes are illegal.

Murc's Law meets Moon Law. If only the Democrats (and *only* the Democrats, because they, as the Senate minority, hold all of the power) had invoked ONE WEIRD TRICK.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:47 AM on January 31 [12 favorites]


If only the Democrats had somehow proven their case, as Senator Alexander (R-TN) freely admits they did
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:53 AM on January 31 [31 favorites]


the "5th Avenue" doctrine

Newscasters should just sub this in wherever they would usually put 'unitary executive'.
posted by j_curiouser at 11:56 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Impeachment Was the Right Call. Doing It This Way Was Not.

Meh. There is no good and sufficient way to deal with bad faith. Had they done those things the problem would have been something else.
posted by mazola at 12:00 PM on January 31 [34 favorites]


I have absolute faith that if the House had specified specific statutory laws which were broken, the Republicans would have spent the trial offering expert in-the-weeds analysis of how those specific statutory laws were NOT broken, or at least you can't PROVE they were broken beyond a reasonable doubt, so we must acquit. Instead, Republicans have been forced to say, we don't think this behavior, which most of the country thinks is worthy of removal from office, is a serious problem, nor even worthy of further investigation by way of allowing witnesses or documents. By eschewing unnecessary technical debate, the Democrats have forced the Republicans to put their vile narcissistic cowardice on the record.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:00 PM on January 31 [21 favorites]


If only the Democrats had somehow proven their case, as Senator Alexander (R-TN) freely admits they did


Yeah, Monday morning quarterbacking is irrelevant given that Trump was always going to stonewall and Republicans were always going to acquit. There is no "one weird trick" that would have resulted in any other outcome given that Republicans were never operating in good faith.

The Democrats in charge of impeachment never expected a conviction. They evidence of Trump's guilt is overwhelming, to the point where even the Republicans basically admit it. The Democrats knew they would place this evidence before the American people and watch the Republicans fall all over themselves to help Trump cover it up. (They were probably surprised only by the extend to which Dershowitz would argue that the President can do whatever he pleases and the Congress can butt out.)

The Democrats have done so, and going into Trump's inevitable acquittal, it's the Republicans who look guilty. The American people may not have had an opportunity to suss out all the details or the full extent of Trump's guilt, but they can see that the entire Republican Party stinks on ice. Lamar Alexander can say it's best to leave it to the voters, since he won't have to face them, and so his statement is a tell as to how much of a bind the Republicans feel. Let's help them feel that bind all the way to November.
posted by Gelatin at 12:07 PM on January 31 [14 favorites]


Any chance this all a lot of bluster and they’ll vote him out, they’re just making sure he doesn’t see it coming?

When it’s time to vote for removal, they all just vote right? It’s not like the voting takes days.

There have to be enough Rs who see it’s terrible and either aren’t up for re-election or have constituents who also see it’s a terrible. Right?

Could really use a good “season finale, baddies see the light” thing here.
posted by affectionateborg at 12:13 PM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Even if twenty Republican senators managed to secretly agree to convict, how would they know they could trust each other to follow through and not leave them hanging? These are Republican senators we are talking about. You can't trust them!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:15 PM on January 31 [11 favorites]


McConnell, Schumer reach deal to wrap up trial on Wednesday (NBC News)
Sens. Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell told their members at their respective closed-door lunches that the two leaders have agreed to a proposal that would culminate in a Wednesday vote to acquit the president, according to two Democrats in the room and two Republican aides familiar with the matter.

Since the proposal requires the buy-in of senators of both parties and the president, the details and timeline could shift. The White House and some Republicans are still hoping for an acquittal vote before Trump's State of the Union address on Tuesday night. A White House official told NBC News that the White House would prefer acquittal on Tuesday but would accept Wednesday. [...]

If the proposal is approved by all parties, the trial would not be in session this weekend. It would resume Monday with six hours of closing arguments divided between the House managers and the White House defense. If accepted by all parties, Tuesday would allow senators 10 minutes each to make a statement.
posted by katra at 12:17 PM on January 31 [5 favorites]


McConnell, Schumer reach deal to wrap up trial on Wednesday (NBC News)

Wow. As I said before, Trump still being under impeachment during the SOTU is pretty much the best outcome the Democrats could hope for, and an undeniable narcissistic injury to Trump. I hope the Democrats stand fast with whatever leverage Schumer had to get McConnell to agree.
posted by Gelatin at 12:23 PM on January 31 [12 favorites]


Maybe Collins, Murkowski et al didn't want POTUS to be able to spend the speech thanking them for their undying adulation
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:25 PM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Why is the fucking president's desire even a part of this?

The longer I live, the more I recognize that people in general really like being ruled by kings.
posted by maxwelton at 12:26 PM on January 31 [24 favorites]


Maybe Collins, Murkowski et al didn't want POTUS to be able to spend the speech thanking them for their undying adulation

Given the inviolable rule of trumpishness, he will assuredly do this now, right?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:27 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


"Senator Alexander, where are you? Stand up! Oh, Senator Alexander, you're a tricky one, but you voted the right way didn't you? You're on Team Trump! Sit down now. Thanks."
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:28 PM on January 31 [10 favorites]


I have absolute faith that if the House had specified specific statutory laws which were broken, the Republicans would have spent the trial offering expert in-the-weeds analysis of how those specific statutory laws were NOT broken, or at least you can't PROVE they were broken beyond a reasonable doubt, so we must acquit.

They tried to do this all the way along in the House, trying to push the political process into the courts, where a) they have judges in their pocket; and b) they can say statutory laws don't apply to the president. Hobson's choice. I wonder if the Dems have fallen in with the criminal-procedure proponents, due process, yada yada, instead of saying "it's political, of course it's political, it's designed to be political." Trump's people don't even cite the Constitution except to opine on its "design" or "plan," before moving on to some Federalist Papers quote. I'd like to see Dems calling them out as shitty lawyers, but comity is a double-edged sword.
posted by rhizome at 12:28 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


I'd agree if there were still witnesses to come and shoes to drop, but when it's a done deal like this, and everyone knows the acquittal will be hours later, I expect he will just treat it as having already been acquitted. Let's hope that ruffles some feathers, but that's more just enjoying knowing the Republican senators will hate it than any hope of changing their votes.
posted by bcd at 12:29 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


The impact of the trial extending past the SOTU is severely undercut by the fact that it's only a formality at this point. He's already acquitted, everyone knows it, and he'll get his victory lap despite the fact that he's not technically acquitted until the following day.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:29 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


Given what's happened in the last few days and that Mitch wanted it to be finished today, I don't think all is lost. The fact that removal will be hanging over the SOTU is a big big win for Dems, I feel, and there's still four days until Tuesday. Congresspeople in general are pros at dragging shit out, and I don't think the moving parts have stopped moving by any means.

News has still been happening on the weekends, so I'm still bullsh on popcorn futures.
posted by rhizome at 12:33 PM on January 31 [8 favorites]


It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed

Republicans as a whole are a craven, despicable lot — their Senators especially so — but I wonder if House Democrats could have done more by enforcing subpoenas for witnesses they called. Putting some key people into jail until testifying, instead of letting Trump staff continually thumb their noses at the law, instead of House Dems crossing their fingers and hoping a few Republican Senators would have done the right thing during the trial, might have resulted in a different outcome.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:34 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


The longer I live, the more I recognize that people in general really like being ruled by kings.

I sense a similarity between Trump supporters and Putin supporters. Neither group truly believes that their leader is not corrupt. They believe that ALL politicians are corrupt, by definition. They want a corrupt leader who is, sometimes, corrupt in their favor, or at least allows them to be part of a #Winning Team, punishing the Other.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:35 PM on January 31 [17 favorites]


If House Democrats had let the subpoena fight play out in court for weeks or months, Republicans would be crying that the Democrats were purposely dragging out this partisan witch hunt to interfere with the election.
posted by sporkwort at 12:37 PM on January 31 [6 favorites]




The U.S. Congress does not arrest and detain people for ignoring its subpoenas anymore

Ah yes, one of those "unwritten yet immutable institutional norms" I hear so much about. How are those doing these days?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:50 PM on January 31 [7 favorites]


> Ah yes, one of those "unwritten yet immutable institutional norms" I hear so much about. How are those doing these days?

Is this a suggestion that, because the GOP doesn't give fuck-all about norms of government, Democrats should abandon norms of not jailing people without clear legal justification?
posted by tonycpsu at 12:52 PM on January 31


Defying a subpoena is a clear legal justification.
posted by Gelatin at 12:53 PM on January 31 [24 favorites]


Jailing people until they comply with a Congressional subpoena is a clear legal justification, just as clear as jailing people for contempt of court. The idea is that by choosing to comply, and by being provided a reasonable ability to comply, they can end their imprisonment at any time.

Congress's ability to jail people until they comply with subpoenas has been upheld by SCOTUS.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:53 PM on January 31 [14 favorites]


> Defying a subpoena is a clear legal justification.

The courts haven't decided that, as discussed in the article.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:54 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


(Which is not to take a position on the House unilaterally jailing people, but if it did so, it wouldn't be without clear legal justification.)
posted by Gelatin at 12:54 PM on January 31


"The Supreme Court said in an 1821 case that Congress has the “inherent authority” to arrest and detain recalcitrant witnesses.

In a 1927 case, the high court said the Senate acted lawfully in sending its deputy sergeant-at-arms to Ohio to arrest and detain the brother of the then-attorney general, who had refused to testify about a bribery scheme known as the Teapot Dome scandal.

It has been almost a century since Congress exercised this arrest-and-detain authority, and the practice is unlikely to make a comeback, legal experts said."
Old precedent is still precedent.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:56 PM on January 31 [9 favorites]




> Old precedent is still precedent.

Not when John Roberts will be deciding. cf. Shelby County v. Holder
posted by tonycpsu at 12:57 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


Schiff seizes on new New York Times report in arguing for witnesses (WaPo)
As he opened the House impeachment manager’s arguments for calling witnesses, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) seized on a New York Times report Friday, which said that the unpublished manuscript of a book by Bolton claims Trump asked him to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from the Ukrainians.

According to the report, Bolton wrote that Trump directed him to call the recently elected president of Ukraine to ensure he would meet with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who was planning a trip to Ukraine to discuss the investigations that the president sought.

“Yet another reason why we ought to hear from witnesses just as we predicted,” Schiff said. “And it didn’t require any great act of clairvoyance. The facts will come out. They will continue to come out. And the question before you today is whether they will come out in time for you to make a complete and informed judgment as to the guilt or innocence of the president.”

Schiff also pointed out that Bolton alleges that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, Trump’s lead defense lawyer, was present when the directive was given. “Well, there’s a new fact which indicates that Mr. Cipollone was among those who are in the loop,” Schiff said and showed a video of Cipollone during the trial stressing the need for facts.
House managers target Trump defense team's top lawyer after latest Bolton report (NBC News)
Another manager, Rep. Sylvia Garcia, played video from earlier in the trial showing Cipollone telling the senators "impeachment shouldn't be a shell game. They should give you the facts."

Garcia responded, "Let's be very clear. We are not the ones hiding the facts."
posted by katra at 1:10 PM on January 31 [9 favorites]


Schumer says he and McConnell have no agreement on trial timing (CBS News)
Schumer, speaking briefly to reporters during a break, said he and McConnell have not reached any agreement on the timing of the trial. As CBS News has previously reported, the trial might not conclude until Wednesday.

Schumer said Democrats don't want the trial to take place in the dead of night. The Senate minority leader declined to take any reporters' questions.

Schumer, referencing the new New York Times report on Bolton, said information will continue to spill out into the public domain, no matter what happens in the Senate chamber.
posted by katra at 1:13 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Explainer: Congress no longer runs a jail, so just how powerful are its subpoenas?

House seeks to make Trump lawyers’ impeachment stand a liability in court (Politico, Jan. 30, 2020)
Earlier in the hearing, [Justice Department attorney James] Burnham repeated Justice Department arguments that the House isn’t powerless to enforce its subpoenas because of its ability to pass legislation, withhold appropriations or pursue impeachment.

However, [U.S. District Court Judge Randolph] Moss said it was “not a very good state of affairs for the country” to resort to impeachment in every subpoena fight.

Burnham’s argument that one remedy open to Congress for defiance of subpoenas is impeachment quickly traveled the few blocks to the Capitol, where Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead impeachment manager and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, suggested that the White House was engaged in a disingenuous shell game.

“The judge says, ‘If the Congress can’t enforce its subpoenas in court, then what remedy is there?’ and the Justice Department lawyer’s response is ‘impeachment.’ Impeachment,” Schiff said incredulously. “You can’t make this up. I mean, what more evidence do we need of the bad faith of this effort to cover up? I said the other day: They’re in this court making this argument [and] they’re down the street making the other argument. I didn’t think they’d make it the same day.”
posted by katra at 1:18 PM on January 31 [7 favorites]


Sekulow says White House lawyers would call witnesses who testified in the House (CBS News)
Even though it seems unlikely Democrats will have enough votes to call witnesses, Sekulow argued the president's legal team should have the opportunity to cross-examine all witnesses who testified in the House, and said they would seek to do so if new testimony is allowed.

Sekulow went through the list of individuals who testified before the House. The White House declined to participate in hearings before the House Judiciary Committee.
With the votes against him, Schiff makes one final appeal for witnesses. (NYT)
Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead House manager, rose one final time on Friday to appeal to a Senate that had already essentially made up its mind against him. Vote for additional witnesses and documents, he implored them, or risk “long lasting and harmful consequences long after this impeachment trial is over.”

Mr. Schiff’s warning to senators was threefold: First, he said, it would set a dangerous precedent for every future impeachment trial that witnesses and evidence were not necessary; second, the facts about Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine will come out regardless; and third, Americans will see that for the president, there is a double standard of justice.

“The witnesses the president is concealing will tell their stories,” he said. “And we will be asked why we didn’t want to hear that information when we had the chance. What answer shall we give if we do not pursue the truth now?”

Mr. Schiff connected the trial to the enforcement of laws across the country.

“Only Donald Trump out of any defendant in America can insist on a trial without witnesses,” he said. “The importance of a fair trial here is not less than in any courtroom in America. It is greater than in any courtroom in America, because we set the example for America.”
posted by katra at 1:28 PM on January 31 [18 favorites]


There are lots of woulda, coulda, shoulda situations that may or may not have changed things vis a vis impeachment. I have said previously that the House should still be investigating right now — I didn’t (and don’t) see why the House had to impeach before Christmas.

But truthfully, impeachment can only succeed when it is a bipartisan effort. Bipartisanship requires courage, not more evidence or a more clever legal argument. It needs people to say “This is wrong.” — even when saying so will hurt their own careers and even the party at large. And they would need to be explicit in saying that very thing, too. And they would need to trust that others, who agree with them but aren’t as courageous would be emboldened to follow their example.

Instead, Lamar Alexander and Lisa Murkowski said “What Trump did was wrong but I don’t have the courage to do anything about it.”
posted by Big Al 8000 at 1:28 PM on January 31 [11 favorites]




I don't really see anything that justifies handwringing as far as how the Dems have handled this. Why is it that they have to do everything absolutely impeccably sparkling perfectly, and the GOP doesn't? Furthermore, there is no way the Dems can do things "perfectly" because no matter what they do, the GOP will move the goalposts. Every. Damn. Time. And they don't care if it's grounded in reality. They'll lie through their teeth. They'll invent justifications. In the case of Rubio, he basically said Trump is guilty but he's not voting to remove. They call impeachment an invalid use of the House's power. They say that the president can decide his re-election is in the public interest. They don't care. Don't try to nitpick things that could be done differently. The only solution is voting as many of them as possible out of office.
posted by azpenguin at 1:49 PM on January 31 [54 favorites]


I think the sotu invite was the only obviously bad move. I could be wrong!
posted by j_curiouser at 2:04 PM on January 31


I just had lunch at a blue-collar fried chicken joint here in St. Louis. Very white crowd, though the place is definitely in an area you'd call "the hood". The impeachment trial was on one TV, mostly being ignored. One guy came in and asked if it was over yet. (I stiffened up, expecting a bunch of MAGA horseshit...hey, the chicken is amazing, ok?)

The bartender told him not yet, and he announced that he thinks all politicians - D or R - are crooked. But not calling witnesses at something called a trial? That's bullshit, man. The bartender and another patron agreed. Someone else piped up that even if you're an R, this is a bunch of nonsense.

Just an interesting vignette.
posted by notsnot at 2:05 PM on January 31 [47 favorites]


Former G.O.P. lawmakers call for witnesses. (NYT)
Claudine Schneider, a Republican who spent 10 years in the House representing Rhode Island, warned on Friday that by barring witnesses from testifying in President Trump’s impeachment trial, Senate Republicans would push the United States “closer than ever to authoritarian one-man rule.”

Ms. Schneider, who runs a group of moderate Republican former members of Congress called Republicans for Integrity, was joined in her call for witnesses by four other Republican former members of Congress: David Durenberger, a former senator from Minnesota, and three retired congressmen, Jim Kolbe of Arizona, David Emery of Maine and Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland.

Mr. Emery, whose home state senator, Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, intends to vote in favor of witnesses, said the founding fathers created the Senate “as a grand arbiter, able to envision the long-term consequences of our actions and measure them against the Constitution and the public interest.”

“So far,” he said, “Republican Senate leaders have failed that test.”
posted by katra at 2:40 PM on January 31 [6 favorites]




Is it possible that the Republican party is crammed full of secret Dominionists (alongside the blatant ones), and all 'voters won't forget / history will judge you' pleas go nowhere because they don't believe that there is a future (here, in this earthly realm, at least)?
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:49 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


I'm trying not to get too discouraged, because we knew this was coming, and the election was always the only real hope. Eye on the ball.

In the spirit of "the House will keep investigating" and "the truth with will out"... I spent the morning updating my web site. I feel like it's not well understood that the Russia scandal and the Ukraine scandal are fundamentally the same scandal, so I re-wrote the Ukraine section to emphasize the connections more.

Just in case anyone's not already familiar with it -- the website is a set of notes I've been taking and updating since 2017, first about the Russia scandal, and now about Ukraine. Everytime I learn an important fact from any link shared on MeFi or on social media or in a paper I read, I document that fact on my site, and link the page I learned it from. So it also serves as a link collection which includes almost every Russia or Ukraine related Trump-story ever shared on MeFi, plus some.

The page for the Ukraine scandal:The 2019 Ukraine Scandal

And the (still being actively updated) page for the rest of the Russia scandal: 2016 Active Measures
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:56 PM on January 31 [84 favorites]


Thank you, OnceUponATime. Your work matters.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:59 PM on January 31 [18 favorites]


Seconding: OnceUponATime's site is an outstanding resource.

Indeed, may I recommend to anyone who spends more than half an hour a day refreshing these threads, that you spend 20 minutes a day reading Active Measures and then quizzing yourself on your understanding? The whole catastrophic mess is big enough and complex enough that it's hard to distill things, even for yourself. The Active Measures site is a great reference to pass along to your friends - but it can be an excellent knowledge check even for those of us who are trying to keep up.

OnceUponATime, thank you so much for all the work you put into your excellent website.
posted by kristi at 3:13 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


The bartender told him not yet, and he announced that he thinks all politicians - D or R - are crooked. But not calling witnesses at something called a trial? That's bullshit, man. The bartender and another patron agreed. Someone else piped up that even if you're an R, this is a bunch of nonsense.

When Rubio said "Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office", on the surface, he was talking about Trump, but what he was really dogwhistling was "Just because Senate Republicans made some awful votes today doesn't mean it's in the best interest of the country to vote us out of office." A bunch of people, D's and R's, will say that not allowing witnesses was straight-up bullshit, but that might not matter to Repub voters come November.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:16 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Does the Speaker of the House introduce the President before the State of the Union address? If so, it would be lovely if she could thank him for making time for them while the Senate deliberates on removing him from office based on his impeachment...
posted by mabelstreet at 3:20 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


Is there anything that can be done about this besides the election in November? This should be an outrage. The brazenness of these craven individuals. Yes, we can vote in our local elections and become more involved but is there anything that can be done now? Protest? We can't give up or lose hope.
posted by VyanSelei at 3:27 PM on January 31 [4 favorites]


They better be figuring that they won't need to win another election because after this precedent setting omnishambles no President will ever be convicted for anything ever again. America will have an elected monarchy. Imagine what a hardened progressive with nothing to lose will have the executive doing.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 3:29 PM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Like if President Sanders or Warren woke up Jan 21st, 2021 and decided to declare the big four banks to be terrorist organizations and seize their assets, what are the GOP going to do? The Senate GOP have sowed this field and god only knows what the may reap.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 3:31 PM on January 31 [5 favorites]


> Like if President Sanders or Warren woke up Jan 21st, 2021 and decided to declare the big four banks to be terrorist organizations and seize their assets, what are the GOP going to do?

Laugh as the bill to prevent them from doing it passes 100-0. Let's not waste time with fantasies where Democrats adopt the GOP's ruthless killer mentality and indifference toward intellectual consistency.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:36 PM on January 31 [10 favorites]


Like if President Sanders or Warren woke up Jan 21st, 2021 and decided to declare the big four banks to be terrorist organizations and seize their assets, what are the GOP going to do?

If they have enough votes, they'll block it. They've never cared about being hypocrites.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:36 PM on January 31 [7 favorites]


The vote to end Trump's impeachment trial without documents or witnesses coincides almost perfectly with the UK finally achieving Steven Bannon's dream of leaving the European Union. The writers are laying it on a bit thick again
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:40 PM on January 31 [12 favorites]


Actually, I don’t think they’ll do anything drastic like seizing the banks. However... there is now zero to stop a President Sanders from declaring a national emergency on climate change or a President Warren from declaring a national emergency on gun violence.
posted by azpenguin at 3:50 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


There is a lot to stop it. The rules only apply to Democrats. IOKIYAR.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:52 PM on January 31 [15 favorites]


For instance, as soon as a Democrat is elected, suddenly deficits will matter.

All the while, the Sunday morning analysis shows will continue to be full of Republican daddies and think-tankers explaining why the Democrats are coloring outside the lines.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:54 PM on January 31 [8 favorites]


Steven Bannon's dream of leaving the European Union

He was never in the Union.
posted by srboisvert at 3:55 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Azpenguin I wish you were right but there’s this thing called the Democratic Party and they love corporations and big business and lobbyists etc.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 4:01 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


It will be unfortunate if any Democratic senators vote to acquit. I suggest every single Democrat votes "Present", to protest the illegitimacy of the first-ever impeachment trial with no documents and no witnesses. The President won't be genuinely acquitted because he hasn't had a genuine trial.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:09 PM on January 31 [17 favorites]


Romney was just officially cancelled from the CPAC convention in February. (CPAC is the Conservative Political Action Conference hosted by the American Conservative Union).

Also, CPAC just invited Nigel Farage.

Given today's events, it all makes sense.
posted by JackFlash at 4:15 PM on January 31 [17 favorites]


East Manitoba, you are a genius. Democrats should all vote "present" as a protest.

This would also bury any Gabbardesque "present" votes, should they occur.
posted by sjswitzer at 4:21 PM on January 31 [7 favorites]


Symbolically, it would mean, "yes, we were there and we saw what you did."
posted by sjswitzer at 4:23 PM on January 31 [6 favorites]


Guardian: Senators will vote Wednesday on whether to acquit Donald Trump
In a statement, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that a vote on whether to acquit Trump will happen on Wednesday, Feb 5th at 4pm ET.

“Sen. McConnell and Republicans water to rush through an acquittal vote tonight. But Democrats wanted votes and witnesses and documents, for the House Managers to be able to make closing arguments, ample time for every member to speak, and to prevent GOP from rushing this through,” he said.

He continued: “Democrats will still oppose this McConnell resolution as it does not include witnesses and documents.”

This will be the first impeachment trial in the history of the Senate to have no witnesses.
posted by katra at 4:27 PM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Is there anything that can be done about this besides the election in November?

The House could continue to investigate and impeach him again on new charges. They could also investigate Pence and impeach him. But realistically, probably neither will happen.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:33 PM on January 31 [5 favorites]


Guardian: Chief Justice John Roberts said it would be “inappropriate for me, an unelected official from a different branch of government” to break a 50-50 tie. If Senators tie on any votes, the motion will fail, Roberts said.
Roberts was responding to a question from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who pointed out that the Supreme Court Justice presiding over the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson broke two ties. “I do not regard those isolated episodes 150 years ago as sufficient to support a general authority to break ties,” Roberts responded.
Schumer announces four amendments (CBS News)
7:29 p.m.: Democrats are introducing four amendments on Friday night, according to Schumer's office. The amendments are not expected to pass, given the previous vote against witnesses and documents. [...] Here are the amendments, as described by Schumer's office:

• An amendment from Schumer to subpoena Mulvaney, Bolton, Duffy, Blair and White House, OMB, DOD and State Department documents.
• An amendment from Schumer to subpoena John Bolton.
• An amendment from Schumer to subpoena Bolton; provided further that there be one day for a deposition presided over by Chief Justice, and one day for live testimony before the Senate, both of must occur within 5 days of adoption of the underlying resolution.
• An amendment from Van Hollen to require the Chief Justice to rule on motions to subpoena witnesses and documents, and to rule on any assertion of privilege.
Guardian: "Senators have swiftly moved to vote on Chuck Schumer’s first of four anticipated amendments, to subpoena Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, Michael Duffey and Robert Blair as well as documents from White House, OMB and the Defense and State Department.
The amendment was defeated by a party-line, 53-47.
Guardian: "Chuck Schumer’s second amendment, to subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton, whose unpublished book reportedly contains shocking allegations that Donald Trump directly oversaw a pressure campaign in Ukraine.
Senators voted it down, once along on party lines.
posted by katra at 4:35 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Does it stick out to anyone else how the phrasing of the vote to conclude all this has - from whatever source I've seen - been "vote on whether to acquit" or "the vote to acquit" and not "to convict"? I mean, yes, we all know the outcome and I assume that is from where that phrasing is subconsciously arising but it's disappointing coming from, say, the Guardian or WaPo with whom we putatively agree and who would be cognizant of the way speech reinforces ideas.
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 4:41 PM on January 31 [7 favorites]


Would this be considered a 'miscarriage of justice'?
posted by lunastellasol at 4:42 PM on January 31


Never mind, just searched and technically, it seems this is the opposite. Carry on.
posted by lunastellasol at 4:42 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Does it stick out to anyone else how the phrasing of the vote to conclude all this has - from whatever source I've seen - been "vote on whether to acquit" or "the vote to acquit" and not "to convict"?

Pelosi calls Senate Republicans ‘accomplices to the President’s cover-up’ (WaPo)
In a blistering statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Republican senators who voted against witnesses and documents are “accomplices to the President’s cover-up.”

“The President was impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress,” Pelosi said. “He is impeached forever. There can be no acquittal without a trial. And there is no trial without witnesses, documents and evidence.”

She called it “a sad day for America to see Senator McConnell require the Chief Justice of the United States to preside over a vote which rejected our nation’s judicial norms, precedents and institutions to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.”
posted by katra at 4:43 PM on January 31 [14 favorites]


A third amendment from the Democrats was just tabled (CNN)
The Democrats' third amendment has been tabled. This amendment called for the Senate to subpoena John Bolton, and spend one day on his deposition and one day on live testimony — both of which must occur within five days.

The vote to table passed 51 to 49. Republican senators Mitt Romney and Susan Collins voted for a second time tonight with the 47 Democrats against tabling the amendment to subpoena Bolton.
Motion to table Democrats' second amendment passes (CNN)
The vote to table passed 51 to 49. Republican senators Mitt Romney and Susan Collins voted with the 47 Democrats against tabling the amendment to subpoena Bolton.
posted by katra at 4:49 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Senate votes to table Democrats' fourth amendment (CNN)
A motion to table — or effectively kill — the Democrats' fourth amendment just passed.

The vote was 53-47.
posted by katra at 4:55 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


“I do not regard those isolated episodes 150 years ago as sufficient to support a general authority to break ties,” Roberts responded.

"I do not regard precedent to count as precedent unless it helps my team," Roberts barfed.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:06 PM on January 31 [21 favorites]


I just resistbotted to my Senators about voting Present. I recommend everyone contact their senators about this.
posted by njohnson23 at 5:08 PM on January 31 [4 favorites]


So the House can just subpoena Bolton next week and resume their investigation. Bolton has obliterated any claim of executive privilege by publishing his book and leaking excerpts.
posted by JackFlash at 5:11 PM on January 31 [9 favorites]


...why can't the House subpoena Bolton now?
posted by MrVisible at 5:12 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


ITMFAgain
posted by tonycpsu at 5:19 PM on January 31 [15 favorites]


She's obviously not wrong but, arguably, there's a difference in the way we receive a quote from Nancy Pelosi versus semi-latently from a WaPo writer. Either way, excellent work, katra. Thank you!
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 5:20 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Charlotte Clymer on Twitter
Friends, it's a demoralizing day for our democracy, so I'm gonna tell you a quick story that will hopefully cheer you up and put things in perspective. It's about the simultaneous absurdity and rage and beauty of our democratic system. Let me take you back to 1789.(thread)
posted by Glinn at 5:27 PM on January 31 [9 favorites]


Do it all again, now.
posted by odinsdream at 5:42 PM on January 31 [5 favorites]


it's time for a 2nd republic
posted by pyramid termite at 6:01 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


it's time for a 2nd republic

So New York, California and Scotland?
posted by JackFlash at 6:11 PM on January 31 [9 favorites]


ITMFAgain

The Mueller report is a pre-packaged article of impeachment, and should still kicking around the House somewhere. It would be encouraging if the House voted on moving them forward on say, Tuesday morning.

And keep the emoluments thing on-deck.
posted by mikelieman at 6:19 PM on January 31 [5 favorites]


And keep the emoluments thing on-deck

I still don't get why the House hasn't done anything with this. It's specifically mentioned in the Constitution and should be possible to prove conclusively. Also, "The President is taking bribes and stealing from taxpayers" seems clear enough for almost any voter to understand.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 6:29 PM on January 31 [12 favorites]


Just reflecting on what has happened in the last six months:

It became clear that the Russians interfered in the 2016 US election to favor Trump, and this help was welcomed by the Trump campaign.

It then became clear that Trump then explicitly sought interference in the 2020 election to favor Trump’s re-election.

And in both cases, the Republican Party was complicit in covering up the crimes and preventing Trump from being held accountable for his role in them.

Setting the precedent in stone: if your party controls both the White House and Senate, then the President of the United States is truly above the law.
posted by darkstar at 6:32 PM on January 31 [22 favorites]


I think a lot of people don't grok the magnitude of the emoluments violations. They see it like stealing office supplies or getting a free lunch from a supplier.

Is there some reason none of these amendments ever attempt to subpoena the president? It seems like it would at somewhat spike the Cheeto's cannon on being able to claim he wanted to testify but the democrats wouldn't let him. A strong soundbite directed at Magas against McConnell in his re-election campaign.

Explainer: Congress no longer runs a jail, so just how powerful are its subpoenas?

I realize this is talking about the legalities but from a practical point of view it's not like they need a super max facility. Any 20th floor hotel room and an armed guard is pretty much all that is needed to physically hold these people.
posted by Mitheral at 6:33 PM on January 31 [5 favorites]


Any 20th floor hotel room and an armed guard is pretty much all that is needed to physically hold these people.

Or a cooperative governor who can spare a room in their state prison. I hear Virginia is close to DC.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 6:36 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


I realize this is talking about the legalities but from a practical point of view it's not like they need a super max facility. Any 20th floor hotel room and an armed guard is pretty much all that is needed to physically hold these people.

This is magical thinking.
And there would be less than 30 minutes before a habeas corpus hearing and a federal judge would put them on release pending a year of court rulings and appeal rulings and supreme court rulings.
posted by JackFlash at 6:39 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


Senators say they’ve settled on a schedule that would end the trial on Wednesday. (NYT)
“I’d rather conclude it right away,” said Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri. But the rules allowed for more time and Democrats insisted, he added. [...]

“The president is gratified that finally — at long last, after multiple delays — the Senate will set a schedule for his acquittals quickly as possible,” said Eric Ueland, Mr. Trump’s congressional liaison. “I do not believe that schedule interferes with his ability to deliver a strong and confident State of the Union message to the House of Representatives and the country next week.”

But people close to Mr. Trump said he was unhappy about the prospect of giving the speech before the Senate acquits him, and is mystified as to why Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, could not force an end to the proceeding before his address. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose Mr. Trump’s thinking.
Senate set to acquit Trump next week after bid for witnesses in impeachment trial is defeated (WaPo)
House Democrats have promised to continue investigating Trump, and new, potentially damaging information could emerge as it has at times during the trial from an indicted former associate of Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani and a forthcoming book by John Bolton, the former national security adviser.
posted by katra at 6:41 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


Lamar Alexander Just Gave Democrats What They Wanted (David A. Graham, The Atlantic)
Initially, the party line held in the Senate as well. With the notable exception of Mitt Romney of Utah, most Republicans declined to even tut-tut the president’s behavior, scared of either his wrath or that of his supporters.

Alexander broke that stasis. His statement split the difference, acknowledging Trump’s error while also concluding that it didn’t meet the standard for removal. Notably, he said he didn’t think there was a need to call witnesses, because the Democrats had already proved the facts of their case against Trump—even if he was not prepared to endorse the remedy they demanded. [...]

Weak though it is, Alexander’s statement still placed him outside the mainstream of Senate Republicans. But this expression of disapproval from a retiring elder statesman of the caucus seems to have given some other members the courage to take a similar stand. The result is several senators who acknowledge or imply that the president is guilty of the charges against him but don’t think they merit removing him from office.
Giving implicit permission to express disapproval while voting to acquit doesn't seem like much of a stand, but here, in the middle of the long game, it's something that might be useful. Cold comfort though.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:45 PM on January 31 [4 favorites]


NYT: They spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose Mr. Trump’s thinking.

This crap has to stop. There is absolutely no excuse for providing anonymity to a Trump press person or Trump himself to make anonymous press releases to the public. They are not protecting a whistleblower. They are anonymizing an authorized spokesperson for the president so that they cannot be cross-examined by the press.
posted by JackFlash at 6:47 PM on January 31 [26 favorites]


NYT: They spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose Mr. Trump’s thinking.

And even worse, the NYT has lectured us over and over again that it is improper to calls Trumps lies "lying" because it is impossible for anyone to know Trump's true thoughts. Yet here they are telling us what Trump is "thinking".

Nobody knows what Trump is thinking. They can only know what Trump said to them in words. In which case they should just say "Trump says" and tell us who he said it to. Then the public can evaluate both the message and the messenger for veracity.
posted by JackFlash at 6:56 PM on January 31 [25 favorites]


Get a load of this shit, from CNN:
Washington (CNN) In announcing that she would vote against the Senate calling witnesses, Sen. Lisa Murkowski suggested that her decision was made in part to spare Chief Justice John Roberts from having to face a 50-50 tie, allowing him to avoid a legal and political storm.

"It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the chief justice," the Alaska Republican said Friday afternoon.

Her statement appeared to be a direct response to Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a Democratic presidential candidate who had essentially forced Roberts to speculate about his credibility on national television.
So, set aside whether Warren's question was appropriate or tactically sound. Are we supposed to to believe that Murkowski was dying to convict but mean Liz Warren had to force her hand by saying nasty things about her friend? Of course not. It's an obvious "outrage off ramp", and CNN is laundering it, making us think it's Warren's fault. The fact that it hurts a Democratic presidential candidate is the cherry on top of CNN's "Democrats in disarray" sundae.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:16 PM on January 31 [22 favorites]


Efforts to stop anonymous sources clash with 1st Amendment (AP, Feb. 24, 2017)
President Donald Trump railed against the news media Friday, saying reporters shouldn’t be allowed to use anonymous sources. He said he’s been a target of unrelenting criticism by unnamed people, and he predicted that negative stories would “dry up like you’ve never seen before” if anonymous sources were jettisoned. [...]

[Gabe Rottman, a lawyer at the Center for Democracy & Technology,] said Trump’s comments about anonymous sources could have a chilling effect on people who want to tell reporters about waste, fraud or something worse in government.

“The use of anonymous sources has been essential in drawing back the veil of secrecy from an overstepping government,” Rottman said.
posted by katra at 7:17 PM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Murkowski shivving Warren was not on my impeachment bingo card. I mean, god damn.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 7:21 PM on January 31 [15 favorites]


I’m just glad Murkowski found her backbone, and boldly stepped up to hold accountable the real malfeasors in this whole situation.
posted by darkstar at 7:42 PM on January 31 [4 favorites]


NYT: They spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose Mr. Trump’s thinking.

I don't think that these anonymous sources were making a statement that is friendly to Trump's messaging, which is part of why I included it - ultimately though, my point is to push back on what appears to be the emerging narrative, e.g. Senate punts final vote in Trump trial to next week (Politico)
The Senate impeachment trial for Donald Trump will drag into next week, with a vote set for Wednesday afternoon on two articles of impeachment against the president, according to a bipartisan resolution negotiated by party leaders.

Before agreeing to the delay, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) phoned Trump to get the president's approval, according to a source familiar with the conversation. Trump then signed off on the decision. [...]

Senate Republicans suggested scheduling concerns related to the Iowa caucuses on Monday and Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday were behind the possible delay in ending the proceedings. [...] White House officials also wanted more time to prepare their closing arguments in the case, said several sources close to the issue.
The point, such as it is, is more clearly stated by CNN:
Republican senators said tonight that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had no choice but to cut the deal for the Wednesday acquittal vote.

That's because, the senators said, Democrats could have used their power under the rules to drag it out past the State of the Union. And Democrats had no desire to let Trump be cleared by the time of the Tuesday SOTU as the White House wanted, according to senators from both parties.

So they decided to cut the deal, spare themselves late nights and a weekend session, and agree to have the vote on Wednesday.

"Democrats were willing to use any number of dilatory tactics, many of which would probably carry us into next week," Sen. John Thune said, adding that it could delay the vote until "potentially" beyond the State of the Union if Democrats used their "full arsenal of tools."
posted by katra at 7:50 PM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Before agreeing to the delay, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) phoned Trump to get the president's approval, according to a source familiar with the conversation. Trump then signed off on the decision.


Ah yes. Fair trial. Impartial jurors.
posted by darkstar at 7:55 PM on January 31 [22 favorites]


Not that we can hold out a ton of hope, but any delay is good. Suppose there’s a bombshell from Lev or Bolton over the weekend that two more senators just can’t ignore. We probably won’t be so lucky, but we’re in “so you’re saying there’s a chance” territory.
posted by azpenguin at 8:27 PM on January 31 [7 favorites]


Giving implicit permission to express disapproval while voting to acquit doesn't seem like much of a stand, but here, in the middle of the long game, it's something that might be useful. Cold comfort though.

I got at this in an earlier post, but it bears restating: Ultimately, this impeachment will fail because it is not bipartisan. But that is not the Democrat's fault! They made a good argument and history will affirm this, I am sure. Alexander admits they are right in his statement, as does Rubio. I'm sure with the coming 10 minute speeches explaining their votes, we'll get at least 20 Senators who give some variation on the "Trump was bad, but not that bad, mmkay?" theme. When they give that speech, they are admitting the Democrats were correct in bringing these articles of impeachment and their case was solid.

No, this impeachment was never going to be bipartisan because no Republican had the courage to agree with the Democrats. When one steps out of line, they are crushed (see: Justin Amash, also CPAC's disinvitation to Mitt Romney). Bipartisanship requires courage -- a trait that is lacking in the GOP party today.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:49 PM on January 31 [10 favorites]


Wow. There’s craven and then there’s craven.
So I guess Citizens United was a roaring success.
Maybe someone should organize a citizen’s SuperPac, one working for the best interests of the people.
posted by From Bklyn at 10:41 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


He said he’s been a target of unrelenting criticism by unnamed people

Yeah, well. When the entire world outside your own cocoon of sycophants and enablers can see at a glance what a complete shithead you are, that's gonna happen.
posted by flabdablet at 11:56 PM on January 31 [9 favorites]


No, this impeachment was never going to be bipartisan because no Republican had the courage to agree with the Democrats. When one steps out of line, they are crushed (see: Justin Amash, also CPAC's disinvitation to Mitt Romney). Bipartisanship requires courage -- a trait that is lacking in the GOP party today.

Does no one among Mr. Capone's associates have the courage to step forward and discuss his business dealings?
posted by benzenedream at 2:23 AM on February 1 [2 favorites]


"Democrats were willing to use any number of dilatory tactics, many of which would probably carry us into next week," Sen. John Thune said, adding that it could delay the vote until "potentially" beyond the State of the Union if Democrats used their "full arsenal of tools."

Good on the Democrats for sticking together and getting what they could out of this stinking process -- denying Trump his victory lap at his last (TTTCS) State of the Union address.

It's telling -- so much so that even NPR seemed to notice -- that Republicans insisted on speech time to justify their votes. Personally I think they don't deserve it, but I also expect that those speeches are going to come back to haunt them. Nothing at all about the impeachment process has made the Republicans look good, so it won't help any of them come November.
posted by Gelatin at 4:45 AM on February 1 [5 favorites]


They’re senators. If they have to sit in silence for 2 weeks listening to other people without getting to talk, they starve to death.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:02 AM on February 1 [7 favorites]


~"Democrats were willing to use any number of dilatory tactics, many of which would probably carry us into next week," Sen. John Thune said, adding that it could delay the vote until "potentially" beyond the State of the Union if Democrats used their "full arsenal of tools."

~Good on the Democrats for sticking together and getting what they could out of this stinking process -- denying Trump his victory lap at his last (TTTCS) State of the Union address.


Mitch isn't going to let this extend into the SotU address. Just as there are rules and tools for the Democrats to use to extend the process, I'm pretty sure there are tools in McConnell's box to shut things down.

I'm not sure what Democrats thought the outcome of this was going to be. Has this gone anywhere close to whatever plan they thought they had formulated? Did they even have a game plan? Or, did they honestly believe "we're doing our constitutional duty" would sway minds?

They can't possibly have been so naive as to think any Republicans were going to be (publicly) swayed, let alone enough to actually vote for witnesses. Sure, there's probably a good number of them who will privately admit to being disgusted by Trump, but, if recent history has taught us anything, it's that today's Republican party is a monolithic power that broaches no disloyalty. You march in-step with the party leader, and, today, that's the Orange One.

So, now we are to endure Trump's year-long victory lap, starting with what will possibly be the most unhinged SotU speech ever. I expect direct, in-name, personal attacks against Pelosi, Schiff, and the Dems in general. The big question is whether the Dems will sit there and take it, or respond back, or even walk out. I kind of doubt they'll do anything. Even now, they're still trying to be adults and play by the rules.

Sorry if this sounds like a rant. It wasn't meant to be. I'm just so frustrated and depressed by the way this system has been undermined over the past three years (well...let's be honest...this is just the culmination of roughly 40 years of effort and planning on the part of conservatives.) It's so hard to keep any flame of hope alive in me anymore. It's probably best I bow-out of these threads from now on. Sorry.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:31 AM on February 1 [6 favorites]


And that, my friends, is exactly the Republican game plan. By frustrating us, they hope to demoralize those who would vote against them and bait those who are inclined to believe (and promote) the "feckless Democrats" narrative.
posted by wierdo at 7:45 AM on February 1 [12 favorites]


But, echoing an article that I can't find now over in the Brexit thread: If you vote for the Democratic Party, it's because you like and want a rules-based society. Because rules protect normal people who aren't super-rich. So the Democrats have to keep on acting as people that believe in that. Even as they lose, they win.
The big question is whether the US can have a free and fair election where every vote counts equally. There's the structural unfairnesses built into the Senate and the Electoral College, and there are the politically controlled unfairnesses known as gerrymandering. Add in voter intimidation and actual cheating, and there is a lot to deal with.
posted by mumimor at 7:46 AM on February 1 [6 favorites]


Did they even have a game plan? Or, did they honestly believe "we're doing our constitutional duty" would sway minds?

Lack of resistance is worse than failed resistance. It is their job to impeach him, they did it because it was important to do their job, even knowing that it would sputter out. There certainly wasn't going to be an opportunity more likely to yield results later: that's how salami slicing works.
posted by PMdixon at 8:18 AM on February 1 [37 favorites]


While the weaponized trolling and microtargeted lies are new, all the rest is something we've overcome before. Don't let the bastards get you down. That is how they win, which is why so much of the news is calibrated to do precisely that.

Yes, our votes count less. That makes it all the more important we do it, no matter how pointless it seems. They wouldn't bother to put in the effort suppressing votes if it really didn't matter.
posted by wierdo at 8:24 AM on February 1 [18 favorites]


Because rules protect normal people who aren't super-rich. So the Democrats have to keep on acting as people that believe in that. Even as they lose, they win.

The problem is that people don't believe that anymore. 2008 we didn't see a single banker go to jail for basically blowing up the economy. Events like those are huge catalysts. If we live in a rules based system that doesn't actually do what we want or need it to, why do we have it?

The rules that Americans have been living by have not only hollowed out the middle class but also keep down the people who want to move up. The underclass (rightfully) want to change the rules, the remaining middle class liberals are clawing desperately to the rules that have kept them comfortable, the white working class just want to break it all thinking that's what it will take to bring America back to the days of Eisenhower, and the white male conservatives want to break it all thinking that's what it will take to bring America back to the antebellum. If someone has a delusional sense of self superiority in some imagined "natural hierarchy", of course rules based systems are an anathema to them.

The rules based liberal world order is breaking down because not enough people still perceive a benefit from it.
They're both right and wrong. The past 50 years have basically seen capital fuck everyone bar 5% of the first world but it's no doubt better being a poor person today than a poor person back in the 1960s. Hopefully we can rework the system and restore belief in it before something truly awful happens but I get a little less hopeful with each populist boulder rolled into the way of progress.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:48 AM on February 1 [10 favorites]


I'm not sure what Democrats thought the outcome of this was going to be. Has this gone anywhere close to whatever plan they thought they had formulated? Did they even have a game plan? Or, did they honestly believe "we're doing our constitutional duty" would sway minds?

They did their fucking jobs. That was their game plan.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 8:57 AM on February 1 [49 favorites]


Public service announcement: if you are posting any form of lamenting about Democrats failed strategy, their tactical ineptitude, their lack of a "game plan", then the burden of proof is on you to articulate some other path not taken that would have led to a better outcome.

I am on record above wishing Democrats turned the proceedings into more of a spectacle, with less comity and more heated rhetoric, but I was never deluded into thinking this was going to change anything about the path toward conviction. I think they went in fully expecting acquittal, but knowing that predictions are hard, especially about the future, so they took their best shot. Master tactician McConnell didn't see McCain's thumbs down on skinny repeal coming, and while it's a much longer shot for someone to cast the decisive vote to convict a sitting president, it's a shot you need to take when none of your other options lead to conviction.

Setting aside who's going to Win The Messaging War (tm) at the State of the Union address, what the Democrats got out of this process is proof, in recorded votes and on video, that the GOP is complicit in a cover-up of POTUS45's abuses of power. The campaign ads write themselves, and may be enough to significantly impact some Senate races. It's a bad map for the Democrats, but having Senators affirm that they don't even want to see first-hand evidence of the crimes that are obvious to anyone watching will hurt these Senators in tight races. This is not the conviction we wanted, but it's not nothing.

The response to playing out the very shitty hand they were dealt is starting to remind me of the "Didn't. Even. Try" rhetoric around Obamacare circa 2009, wherein people thought there was some magical incantation that Democrats could utter that would have suddenly changed the minds of recalcitrant Republicans. That's not how any of this works, so if you're going to do the Murc's Law thing and blame Democrats, you owe it to everyone else to make a compelling case for how you think this could have played out differently.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:59 AM on February 1 [37 favorites]


2008 was a huge mistake in every aspect, but I totally understand why it happened. If it happens again in 2021, I will take to the streets.
The new EU parliament and commission seem to be dedicated to not repeat 2008, for what it's worth. That gives me a bit of hope.
I really have no clue about the US equivalent. It depends a lot on the senate, I think. Get those evil people out now, if you want change, and that means GOTV in red states.
posted by mumimor at 8:59 AM on February 1 [3 favorites]


Poll: Support for Trump's removal remains steady (Politico)
As the Senate impeachment trial goes into its third week, support for removing President Donald Trump from office remains steady, with half of voters registering approval for his conviction despite his all-but-certain acquittal, according to the latest POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

The new poll conducted Jan. 29-30 and released Saturday shows minimal change in public opinion about the trial. While 50 percent approval and 43 percent disapproval for a Senate conviction represent a slightly wider gap than the last POLITICO/Morning Consult survey, both numbers remain within the poll’s margin of error. [...]

The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll was conducted online between Jan. 29-30 among a national sample of 1,992 registered voters. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
posted by katra at 8:59 AM on February 1 [6 favorites]


I really don't get why so many people seem to think there was a way for the Democrats to sufficiently out-strategize the Republicans to win here. Sometimes the bad guys win. You keep showing up and doing your part, but it's harder to build things than to break them. Building things requires cooperation. Breaking things does not. Impeachment could not succeed in securing a conviction without Republican cooperation. And nothing was going to get them to cooperate. Impeachment was still the absolutely right thing to do.
posted by bardophile at 9:04 AM on February 1 [33 favorites]


Dana Milbank/WaPo: The Senate impeachment trial was rigged!
In the end, they didn’t even pretend to take their oaths seriously.
Senators were instructed “to be in attendance at all times” during President Trump’s impeachment trial. But as the Democratic House managers made their last, fruitless appeals Friday for the Senate to bring witnesses and documents, several of the body’s 53 Republican senators didn’t even bother to show up.
“A trial is supposed to be a quest for the truth,” lead manager Adam Schiff pleaded.
Thirteen GOP senators were missing as he said this. Sens. Kevin Cramer (N.D.), Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Ron Johnson (Wis.) chewed gum.
Manager Val Demings (Fla.) reminded them that this would be the “only time in history” that an impeachment trial was held without witnesses or relevant documents.
Twelve Republican senators were missing. Josh Hawley (Mo.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska) and Tom Cotton (Ark.) joined in the chewing.
posted by mumimor at 9:17 AM on February 1 [12 favorites]


Or, did they honestly believe "we're doing our constitutional duty" would sway minds?


I deleted paragraphs of stuff from my last comment in order to make my point clear. Of the the things I deleted was discussion of the above quoted sentence.

Throzdad, if I am reading your comment correctly, I am assuming you are saying it would sway elected Sen R minds? I don't think that was ever in the equation.

Yet, all the Dems involved in the impeachment process seem to have done their constitutional duty. I believe the farce of this "trial" has swayed some voters minds (as indicated upthread from someone having a good chicken fried steak in stl).

Is it enough to make a difference? November is long way away to find out... (*sigh*)

eta: added the word voter.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 9:24 AM on February 1 [2 favorites]


mumimor: ...rules protect normal people who aren't super-rich.

Your Childhood Pet Rock: The problem is that people don't believe that anymore. 2008 we didn't see a single banker go to jail for basically blowing up the economy. Events like those are huge catalysts. If we live in a rules based system that doesn't actually do what we want or need it to, why do we have it?

Ooo, ooo, I know this one!

Trick question! We don't have it! Because the cheating, conniving richies worked that sweet arms for hostages gambit and used it to unseat Carter, the last entirely decent US president who played by the rules and did not cheat. They brought in Reagan and began systematically breaking all the systems that used to work for us, all the while howling that the systems are broken. Unions are busted, public health is busted, education is busted, the list is long of the things they deliberately broke because they worked for the public and kept rich people from taking EVERYTHING for themselves. In the process, they made it impossible to succeed without cheating. And they were able to do this because one of the most busted things is the criminal justice system. That it is broken and no longer works to protect the public from rapacious whitecollar sociopaths means that they are free to work their various perfidious games pretty much with impunity--the southern strategy, the savings and loan moneygrab, gerrymandering, voter suppression, making obscene profits off of every foreign war, and now snuggling up to Putin: basically whatever vileness floats into their evil minds while they're pounding pricey scotch on Epstein's jet on their way to the various Caligulan lawless skyhells they inhabit.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:39 AM on February 1 [42 favorites]


Trump's lawyers during the trial give a preview of how its going to go if Biden wins the nomination. The new "but her emails" is going to be non-stop "Hunter Biden" every day until the election.

And you can expect Maggie the Trump Whisperer and her accomplices to go right along with it.
posted by JackFlash at 9:50 AM on February 1 [7 favorites]


POLITICO Playbook: The two Senate trials
BREAKING … REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-Calif.) raised a stunning $2.5 MILLION in the fourth quarter of 2019, a new filing showed. He has $8.1 MILLION in the bank. This is a massive, massive haul and pile of cash for a member of the House. [...]

ON IMPEACHMENT … THERE WERE TWO TRIALS GOING ON THIS WEEK in the Senate: One was an argument among a couple of Ivy-educated lawyers about who did what in Ukraine, who sent what email, when, why and how. This was important. But there was another trial. That one was about raw power, and the structural incentives that rule modern American politics. That was the trial the Republicans won — and many would argue it’s a temporary and hollow victory.

WHAT’S RIGHT AND WRONG is not what rules American politics in the modern era -- and it’s especially irrelevant in Congress. The parties are geographically sorted. The Republican Party is nearly entirely homogeneous racially and uniform in its fealty to President DONALD TRUMP. The simple reality is this: With rare exception, you cannot win in today’s Republican Party without complete loyalty to the president.

CONGRESSIONAL POLITICS is not the place for political finesse or fancy legalese. It’s a game of brute political force -- just ask NANCY PELOSI and MITCH MCCONNELL, two longtime players of this game.

HERE’S THE TRUTH: REPUBLICANS are not comfortable with the president’s behavior. They say it privately, some say it publicly on their way out. But they have no incentive to say this aloud no matter how egregious they believe the president’s behavior to be. To win as a Republican in any seat that’s at all marginal, you need to appeal to Republicans to vote.

THOSE DYNAMICS, perhaps more than anything else, explain what just happened on Capitol Hill.
posted by katra at 9:54 AM on February 1 [7 favorites]


I don’t blame democrats so much as the one last Democratic president, who failed to call McConnell’s bluff at least two times.
posted by Harry Caul at 9:56 AM on February 1 [9 favorites]


U.S. Officials Warn of ‘Real Security Consequences’ if Trump’s Acquitted (The Daily Beast, Feb. 1, 2020)

Trump impeachment trial: What acquittal would mean for 2020 election (BBC.com, Feb. 1, 2020)

I'd like the Dem House Reps to walk out before the SOTU address begins (or not show up at all), and take questions outside as cameras pan the half-empty chamber. They impeached him, and he won't have the acquittal by then.

I'm poking around for any takes on what an acquittal means for Ukraine, and/or which countries are likely to endure the same treatment now that the blueprint's established. There was something putridly fishy going on with Lebanon's withheld aid (Exclusive: U.S. withholding $105 million in security aid for Lebanon - sources Reuters, Oct. 31, 2019, & Trump administration lifts hold on Lebanon security aid, Reuters, Dec. 2, 2019). He did ask China to "investigate" Biden, back in October (The Guardian, Oct. 3, 2019, & Lawfare blog, Oct. 10, 2019) but the US doesn't have a tenth of the leverage there (China rejects Trump's request to investigate Joe Biden, hoping to steer clear of U.S. politics, USA Today, Oct. 8, 2019).
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:04 AM on February 1 [5 favorites]


The rules based liberal world order is breaking down because not enough people still perceive a benefit from it.

I'm an old. Please feel free to "ok, boomer" me. That said, this really strikes to the core of my current despair for liberal society here and abroad. As late as ten years ago, I believed that the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice. But everything that has happened since undermined that faith. Racism is far, far more common than I believed. Ignorance and irrationality are rewarded by clicks and views. More and more, capitalism looks like a prototype of Roko's Basilisk.

It absolutely kills me that here, at the end of my life, the world is regressing into old evils that I once thought vanquished. (Why the hell do I have to explain that the Nazis were bad?!) I want to encourage young people, tell them everything will be OK if you just work hard and follow the rules (as I did as a young, idealistic fool). But I can't look them in the faces and lie; I can only look down and apologize.

When did I become Gandalf the Grey, asking innocent young heroes to step up and save the world from the evils I failed to vanquish because of my folly?
posted by SPrintF at 10:09 AM on February 1 [54 favorites]


SPrintF, look at people turning their noses up at vaccines. 50 years of not dealing with childhood communicable diseases has made us ignorant, arrogant, and complacent.

I was talking about this sort of thing to my therapist the other day. I personally believe this is the other side of the coin that lets human beings experience hope and faith. That we can purposefully remain ignorant of a situation, be irrational about our response, and still be confident? That's hope and faith and faith in a nutshell.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:15 AM on February 1 [8 favorites]


Don Pepino, I totally agree with you. But I also believe that the cure is a return to a rules-based society and that the Democrats must stand for that. Both during the 1930's and in my own lifetime, the militant left has unfortunately served to strengthen the fascists. If both sides are against rules and for violence, a lot of people will choose to be with the rich. (Still, I have resisted before and will resist again if there is an actual fascist takeover, and I acknowledge that right now we are on a thin line).
posted by mumimor at 10:25 AM on February 1 [4 favorites]


[Friendly nudge against generalized doomsaying; let's steer toward updates and more concrete impeachment stuff in here.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:28 AM on February 1 [9 favorites]


Trump impeachment: Republican Senate 'coverup' prompts backlash (Guardian)
Outraged by what they see as a coverup in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, grassroots activists are planning a massive “payback project” designed to punish Republican senators at the ballot box.

Even as key Republican senators acknowledged Trump’s guilt on charges of abusing power and obstructing Congress, they defied public opinion on Friday by voting to block witnesses and documents, paving the way for the president to be acquitted and claim exoneration.

The party’s fealty to Trump has long wearied liberals but the senators’ move appeared to cause a new level of anger. The Indivisible Project, a progressive group, announced it would target nine senators, among them the majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Trump loyalist Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, in November’s elections.

Indivisible said it would next week call out one of the “nine Payback Project senators for their participating in a coverup by placing a full page newspaper ad in one of their biggest state papers”. It also urged members to start text messaging. “Because rage is good for recruiting. Hello. Are you pissed about impeachment too?”

“These senators thrive on disenfranchisement,” it added, “so it’s our job to make sure voters show up to kick them out.”
posted by katra at 10:35 AM on February 1 [21 favorites]


Justice Department acknowledges 24 emails reveal Trump’s thinking on Ukraine (WaPo)
Hours after the Senate voted against seeking new evidence in the impeachment case against President Trump, the administration acknowledged in a midnight court filing Friday the existence of two dozen emails that reveal the president’s thinking about withholding military aid to Ukraine.

The Department of Justice filed a response to a lawsuit seeking access to unredacted copies of those communications. Heather Walsh, a lawyer for the Office of Management and Budget, wrote to the court that 24 of those emails were protected under “presidential privilege.” [...] Heavily blacked out versions of the emails were released in two batches in December in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Public Integrity. The filing Friday asked the court to deny the organization’s request for unredacted copies.
Trump administration reveals it's blocking dozens of emails about Ukraine aid freeze, including President's role (CNN)
The filing, released near midnight Friday, marks the first official acknowledgment from the Trump administration that emails about the President's thinking related to the aid exist, and that he was directly involved in asking about and deciding on the aid as early as June. The administration is still blocking those emails from the public and has successfully kept them from Congress.

A lawyer with the Office of Management and Budget wrote to the court that 24 emails between June and September 2019 -- including an internal discussion among DOD officials called "POTUS follow-up" on June 24 -- should stay confidential because the emails describe "communications by either the President, the Vice President, or the President's immediate advisors regarding Presidential decision-making about the scope, duration, and purpose of the hold on military assistance to Ukraine." [...]

Government officials testified in the House's impeachment inquiry to the existence of what appears to be some of the emails. "The day after DOD issued its June 18 press release announcing $250 million in security assistance funds for Ukraine, President Trump started asking OMB questions about the funding for Ukraine," the House outlined in its impeachment report.

The House noted that the OMB refused to turn over any documents when subpoenaed during the probe, and that emails may exist showing acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney passing along the President's order to halt the aid to Ukraine.
posted by katra at 11:20 AM on February 1 [9 favorites]


Winning back the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate is the most important task for America in the next (gulp) nine months. Once again, I recommend (and am actively supporting) Flip the West as one of the groups actively and effectively working toward that goal.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:40 AM on February 1 [17 favorites]


Trump administration reveals it's blocking dozens of emails about Ukraine aid freeze, including President's role (CNN)
Like Schiff said: the information will keep on coming. Do you want it now, or do you want it to trickle on during the whole election year. I think it was McConnell who misjudged this. If they had ousted Trump now and had president Zealot, they wouldn't have won the next presidency, but the Senate would have been safe. Now, a very good Democratic campaign can flip the Senate.
posted by mumimor at 11:47 AM on February 1 [10 favorites]


Do you want it now, or do you want it to trickle on during the whole election year

I hope you're right. I can certainly imagine Republicans having a problem explaining their behavior through the impeachment when they let Trump off and the stories just keep getting worse and worse. Heck, we still have emails about Yovanovich being surveilled to look forward to.

There are many ways that this story can still have a happy ending, but it's going to take a lot of work, a lot of thinking, and a lot of mistakes on the GOP's part. I'm sure they've been gaming this out for ages by now.
posted by rhizome at 12:25 PM on February 1


How do SOTUs generally go? Does the Speaker deliver an introduction? If so, I hope it's something special.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:46 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


The sergeant-at-arms of the House of Representatives announces the president, he walks up to the podium, shakes hands with the Vice President (as president of the Senate) and the Speaker of the House, and starts his speech. There isn't an introduction.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:01 PM on February 1


No, there usually is an introduction by the Speaker: "Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you the President of the United States," and then the whole chamber applauds (the office). Pelosi notably skipped introducing him last year, though.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:22 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


Oops.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:33 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


Can she give him a down-low-too-slow or something like that?
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:35 PM on February 1 [19 favorites]


"I present to you the President of the United States, Rufus Dingledong."
posted by rhizome at 1:37 PM on February 1 [11 favorites]


The sergeant-at-arms of the House of Representatives announces the president yt , he walks up to the podium, shakes hands with the Vice President (as president of the Senate) and the Speaker of the House, and starts his speech. There isn't an introduction.
You're back to norms again? I thought norms were out this year.
There's nothing in the constitution about the president giving a speech- it says "...from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union..."
No reason not to turn it into a question and answer period.
(or to try out the House jail idea...)
posted by MtDewd at 1:52 PM on February 1 [5 favorites]


You're back to norms again? I thought norms were out this year.

Wait til you see Dems applauding and being cordial all night.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 2:29 PM on February 1 [19 favorites]


My fantasy (not gonna happen but it would be SO satisfying) would be for Trump to walk up to the podium and for Pelosi to turn and say to him: "Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?" and for Adam Schiff to step down to the floor of the chamber with a hand full of notes.
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:39 PM on February 1 [36 favorites]


Trump administration reveals it's blocking dozens of emails about Ukraine aid freeze, including President's role (CNN)
Like Schiff said: the information will keep on coming. Do you want it now, or do you want it to trickle on during the whole election year. I think it was McConnell who misjudged this. If they had ousted Trump now and had president Zealot, they wouldn't have won the next presidency, but the Senate would have been safe.


Republican Senators are going to protest that they had no idea Trump could be this corrupt, but if the fact that they voted not to hear another word of evidence isn't convincing, there's the fact that McConnell boasted he'd be coordinating with the White house to get him acquitted.

Well, maybe. And the whole pack of you voted out of office, let's hope.
posted by Gelatin at 3:35 PM on February 1 [5 favorites]


If you look at this like a ten-story condominium building, we were only in the Ukraine room, and when you turn on the lights, you saw rats everywhere. Who knows what's going on in the Turkey room, or the Saudi room, or the Russia room, and so, yes. We have a duty to protect our country, and explore further what claims John Bolton may have, and what other dealings this president may have been involved in, and we're not gonna stop just because the Senate didn't do their job. -- Eric Swalwell
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:59 PM on February 1 [37 favorites]


"I don’t blame democrats so much as the one last Democratic president, who failed to call McConnell’s bluff at least two times"

As much as I detest the timeline we are in today, I don't relish the idea that President Obama is to blame. He had zero good options once McConnell and crew abandoned the constitution. Seriously, what should be have done? Keeping in mind a Senate full of obstructionist?
posted by kiwi-epitome at 5:38 PM on February 1 [13 favorites]


"I present to you the President of the United States, Rufus Dingledong."

I present to you, impeached President of the United States, and current defendant in a Senate trial to remove him from office, Donald Trump.

They can't possibly have been so naive as to think any Republicans were going to be (publicly) swayed, let alone enough to actually vote for witnesses.
[...]
So, now we are to endure Trump's year-long victory lap


At some point you just have to do your job because it is the right thing to do. Doing otherwise is condoning all the illegal activity. Actual fights against corruption (and not the Cheetos' drain the swamp bullshit) have to start somewhere. And they will fail until the situation flips and honest is expected.

That switch happens very fast. IE: there is a sort of bimodal distribution where corruption (however you want to measure it) effects 75% of transactions and in a very short period of time that can flip to 25%. In a way say 20% of people are inherently honest and 20% inherently dishonest and the vast majority of of people and institutions can go either way to varying degrees. Having high profile honesty floating around can flip the middle 60% from allowing corruption to demanding honesty.

PS: We'll know the tide has really turned when Fox makes a big deal out of The Cheeto's former registration as a Democrat.
posted by Mitheral at 5:49 PM on February 1 [16 favorites]


CNN headline: Trump not expected to apologize or admit any wrongdoing after anticipated acquittal

No shit, Sherlock. It took you three years to figure this out?

Trump never apologizes for anything. It was a lesson his personal lawyer Roy Cohn taught him. Always attack, never admit blame or apologize. An apology is a sign of weakness.
posted by JackFlash at 6:40 PM on February 1 [9 favorites]


I still maintain that Trump is our incarnation of Baron Harkonnen.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:05 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


Trump is Beast Rabban.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:57 AM on February 2 [8 favorites]


Republicans tainted Joe Biden with the Ukraine scandal. It’s what Trump wanted all along. (WaPo Editorial Board)
[...] with the dishonorable help of some Republican members of Congress, the president may yet achieve his original goal: sliming Mr. Biden with absolutely no basis in fact.

“There is a mountain of evidence to suggest the Bidens’ behavior was harmful to the United States,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted last Wednesday. [...] As Congress has considered whether to impeach and remove Mr. Trump from office, Republicans rallying to his defense have argued that it is Mr. Biden who should be scrutinized. [...] Congress was thoroughly briefed at the time about the prosecutor general and the then-vice president’s activities. And there is nothing to indicate Joe Biden did anything on behalf of his son in Ukraine.

Yet now, even though Mr. Biden fought corruption in Ukraine, Republicans insist he should receive scrutiny for allegedly enabling corruption there. [...] Mr. Graham’s behavior has been particularly shabby as he has threatened to misuse his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate the former vice president. He has announced a formal probe and asked the State Department for documents. “We’re not going to live in a world where only Republicans get looked at,” he said in December, indulging in a toxic (and unwarranted) display of grievance and implying that Mr. Biden’s demonstrably benign activities in Ukraine are equivalent to Mr. Trump’s corruption.

But there is no moral equivalence. There is no reasonable case against Mr. Biden. [...] That Mr. Graham would suggest that the two belong in the same universe shows that he is so poisoned by partisanship, he either does not understand or has lost all moral direction.
posted by katra at 9:32 AM on February 2 [7 favorites]


By denying witnesses, Republicans made clear even a smoking gun would not be enough (Julian Borger, Guardian Opinion)
The 51-49 vote had been all but certain since 11pm the previous night, when the wobbliest Republican waverer, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, announced which way he would vote, by tweet. He conceded that the Democrats had proven their case that Donald Trump had used his office to try to bully Ukraine into investigating the president’s political opponents. But Lamar explained while this was “inappropriate”, it was not an impeachable high crime or misdemeanour. So why drag out impeachment?

“So if you’ve got eight witnesses saying that you left the scene of an accident, you don’t need nine,” Alexander told National Public Radio on Friday, using a revealing parallel. Leaving the scene of an accident you cause is normally a crime, and this was of course no accident.

On Friday morning the New York Times reported that John Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser, had described a damning scene in his forthcoming memoir in which the president directly ordered him to commit the act at the heart of the impeachment case. Trump told Bolton to call the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and tell him to meet Trump’s lawyer and fixer, Rudy Giuliani, with the aim of arranging investigations into the former vice-president Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

It appeared to be the smoking gun the president’s lawyers had long claimed did not exist. The Republican response was, in effect, that the president had every right to a recently fired weapon. It was plainly evident from the start of the day that evidence was unlikely to play a major part in the majority’s deliberations. On each Democrat’s wooden desk there was a bulky white binder, detailing the articles of impeachment presented by the House of Representatives. The 53 Republican desks in contrast, were tidy and empty. [...]

When the vote came, the outcome was prosaic and expected, and the chamber adjourned for dinner and put off a final vote on Trump’s acquittal until Wednesday. But Friday’s decision ensured next week’s denouement will be largely a display of party loyalty. By any substantive measure, the trial is already over. [...] The right’s hopes are high that Trump – having shrugged off impeachment – will coast to re-election buoyed by tides that for now, seem to be moving inexorably in his favour.
posted by katra at 9:54 AM on February 2 [6 favorites]


Heather Cox Richardson, February 1, 2020
People are saying this is the end for American democracy, but I see the opposite. Radical ideologues who want the government to do nothing but protect property, build a strong military, and advance Christianity took over the Republican Party in the 1990s. They have been manipulating our political system to their own ends ever since. They want to destroy the government regulation of business and social safety net we have enjoyed since the 1930s. But they have done so gradually, and not enough people seem to have noticed, even when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took the shocking step of refusing to permit a hearing for a Supreme Court nominee named by a Democrat. Now they have gone too far, out in the open, and it looks to me as if Americans are finally seeing the radicals currently in charge of the Republican Party for what they are, and are determined to take America back.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:02 AM on February 2 [20 favorites]


katra: Republicans tainted Joe Biden with the Ukraine scandal. It’s what Trump wanted all along. (WaPo Editorial Board)

I think the tarnishing of Biden has had some success but not nearly as much as they'd hoped, because (thanks mainly to the impeachment! Hooray Pelosi/Schiff/Nadler!) it's so inextricably tied in voters' minds to Trump, his cronies, and their ratfucking. By and large, you will only "fall" for the Hunter/Burisma thing if your impression of Trump isn't too negative.

This differs from emailz in that (a) many people were convinced Trump had no chance, so indulging in anti-Hillary narratives seemed low on risk, and (b) even among people who ostensibly understood it to be a Republican smear, there was still a sense that it had to be something there. Democrats often used the image of HRC withstanding hours and hours of questioning as a testament to her stamina (the thing Donald specifically claimed she lacked), and that may have been somewhat effective. But because no Republicans were ever indicted or impeached or tried for their pursuit of the case, it had an inherent "both sides" quality, i.e yes she messed up and yes the Rs overreached in going after her, so there she is on the stand, both sides politicking away. You weren't going to get 50%+ of voters thinking that Republicans should be literally punished for the Beghazi/emailz stuff.

Plus, there was at the time no high-profile story of Republicans breaking the same private-server rule, hence highlighting hypocrisy (Pence's equivalent only emerged later and never got much press, and I guess Colin Powell as well? But again, never a widely-known thing). Meanwhile, the only "there" to this Biden scandal is the appearance of nepotism, and that's extremely hard to ignore on the part of the Trump family. Even if you're not enough of a news junkie to know about (e.g) Ivanka's use of private email servers, you definitely know that Ivanka, Jared, and Don Jr all exist and that in some sense they blur the lines between government, business, and family. Of course you might just throw up your hands that "they're all corrupt" but if you still do so after this no-witness trial, you were probably impossible to convince regardless.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:03 AM on February 2 [8 favorites]


I also believe that the cure is a return to a rules-based society and that the Democrats must stand for that.
Me, too, very much so! I do wish we'd been able to start that return in 2008 and not bailed out the banks without putting a single solitary banker in jail, but that's water under the bridge: I am one hundred percent behind all attempts to enforce the rules now. I am an enthusiastic fan of the effort to remove Trump, which effort I cannot find fault with. I'm pleased with all the work the House has done, and was particularly delighted with that strategic delay that offered Trump many more days to crime his head off in front of TV cameras and more evidence to come out. That it's probably doomed does not make me love this effort any less. I'm relieved that the entire body politic is not bending over for a gang of obviously criminal jackals. Many, many people are trying to do the right thing, and it's a balm to the soul.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:17 AM on February 2 [13 favorites]


Schiff: Senators who fail to convict Trump will not be ‘off the hook’ (Politico)
“I'm not letting the senators off the hook. We're still going to go into to the Senate this week and make the case why this president needs to be removed,” Schiff said on CBS’s “Face the Nation." “It will be up to the senators to make that final judgment, and the senators will be held accountable for it.”

Although the president will most likely remain in office, the lead House impeachment manager said, “I still think it’s enormously important that the president was impeached.”

“By exposing [the president’s] wrongdoing, we are helping to slow the momentum away from our democratic values until that progress away from democracy can be arrested and we can return to some sense of normalcy and support for the founders' ideal,” the California Democrat continued.

Schiff also said calling the president’s actions “inappropriate” does not go far enough in what he calls misconduct that “undermined our national security, as well as that of our ally, and threatens the integrity of our elections.”
posted by katra at 12:12 PM on February 2 [12 favorites]


Law firm representing Rudy Giuliani beset by sordid allegations, partner exodus (NBC News) (CW: sexual assault)
The firm, Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht, has faced an exodus of lawyers as the litigation stretches on, including two who were defending Giuliani amid a criminal probe launched by New York federal prosecutors.

Those partners, Eric Creizman and Melissa Madrigal, spent their last day at Pierce Bainbridge on Friday and are set to join the New York office of a different firm, Armstrong Teasdale, later this month, the lawyers confirmed to NBC News. Their departures were first reported by the New York Law Journal.

Giuliani will continue to be represented by Pierce Bainbridge, the firm's managing partner, John Pierce, told NBC News. [...] Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, is under scrutiny for his dealings in Ukraine where he led an effort to damage Joe Biden and force out the U.S. ambassador. Giuliani’s conduct is among the threads at the heart of the impeachment proceedings.

[...] just this week, Pierce Bainbridge announced that it also represents Carter Page, the former Trump campaign adviser who filed a defamation suit against the Democratic National Committee and the law firm Perkins Coie related to the Steele dossier. Pierce Bainbridge has another high-profile client in Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic presidential candidate who is suing Hillary Clinton for defamation after the former secretary of state called her a "Russian asset."

[...] Giuliani, meanwhile, has launched a podcast focused on his discredited claim that Biden forced out a Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, to end an investigation into a state-owned gas company that employed the former vice president’s son Hunter Biden. "In tonight’s episode we will show you the documents that prove there was an attempt to murder Viktor Shokin, our first witness in the Biden-Poroshenko double bribery case," Giuliani tweeted on Wednesday.
posted by katra at 12:28 PM on February 2 [8 favorites]


Republicans tainted Joe Biden with the Ukraine scandal. It’s what Trump wanted all along. (WaPo Editorial Board)

My cakeworthy prediction is that to whatever degree Trump did want it, it'll be a pyrrhic victory. I've been saying for a long time that Biden is supposed to be a firewall, and all this focus on Joe, who is a problematic Democrat anyway, means that Trump/GOP has not been devoting that energy to candidates who will be running against him. Once Joe falls away, what's the GOP going to have? "Pocahontas?" Yeah I'm not sure that's a strong angle. Does Trump even talk shit about Bernie?

Maybe the GOP knows that and the idea is that the Democratic Party is tarred by the association with him, but that existed anyway. Not only that, but no other Democrat candidate seems to be expressing any overlap with him, so Joe is kind of out on an iceberg every way I look at it.

Lastly, we haven't seen Joe cut loose on Trump and I think he can make some deep cuts once the gates are open. Biden is an all-star US politician and is definitely smarter than Trump and quicker on his feet, post DNC is going to be open season on Trump and I am positively giddy about the possibilities. I expect Joe to weather controversies over it, probably involving ableist rhetoric. Bernie and Joe tag-teaming on Trump in public?
posted by rhizome at 12:35 PM on February 2 [5 favorites]


With the primaries beginning, I think we need a special post for those, and as a not-American, I don't feel I can do it right. Is anyone up for the task?
That said, today while walking the dog I realized that Biden probably will be the Democratic candidate, and he probably will get elected in spite of the smear campaign. It doesn't make me happy. I don't believe Biden is the right person for the task ahead. I feel that this is the result of the enormous influence the boomers have had on the last 50 years of world politics, for good and bad. I am a boomer, albeit at the very end of the cohort, and I certainly share many boomer values. I like Biden and Warren, and not so much Sanders. But I find it depressing that any person who is firmly anchored in the past should be the person to bring the world's richest nation into the future. I don't feel any of the boomer candidates have any understanding of the reality of climate change, and how we need to change everything because of it. Actually I don't see any candidate really taking this on, but I have the experience from my long life that younger people are better at adapting to change that +70 year olds. Even conservative, stupid young people.
posted by mumimor at 12:56 PM on February 2 [10 favorites]


The Report: Impeachment, Day 10 (Lawfare) "Lawfare and Goat Rodeo bring you the arguments for and against calling new witnesses and subpoenaing new evidence in one hour and 12 minutes."

The Authoritarian Arguments for Trump’s Acquittal (Quinta Jurecic, Alan Z. Rozenshtein, Lawfare)
The one thing that can be said for Philbin’s argument is that it doesn’t derive from the same l’état c’est moi thinking as does Dershowitz’s. But it’s no less authoritarian in effect. There are just as many noncriminal ways for the president to harm the nation and violate his oath as there are criminal ones. Walling off presidential motive as impenetrable from congressional scrutiny would gut the impeachment power as a check on the presidency.

Without a majority of senators throwing their votes behind calling witnesses, the Senate appears ready to speed toward acquittal of the president. Unless it can somehow manage to acquit Trump while condemning his team’s legal arguments, it will be providing a dangerous grant of approval—not just to Trump, but to his successors—that, when it comes to the presidency, the personal isn’t just political. It’s the only thing that matters.
posted by katra at 2:18 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


At Pierce Bainbridge, we hate Clinton as much as you do.
posted by benzenedream at 3:02 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]


That said, today while walking the dog I realized that Biden probably will be the Democratic candidate, and he probably will get elected in spite of the smear campaign.

That's incredibly not how Iowa is about to go just FYI. Overperformers: Bernie (win), Klobuchar, Yang. Underperformers: Biden, Buttigieg (did I even spell that right), Warren.

Our caucus is a shitshow. It's unlikely Yang really gets anything but he WILL overperform the polls. Klobuchar has a strange hold on so many on the ground local politicians.

I live here in case that's not obvious.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:25 PM on February 2 [11 favorites]


I have to admit that the Republican efforts to make Biden look bad have been having an affect on my view of Biden. Not because I believe there's any merit to their fabrications but because they've made a complete mockery of the position he's staked out that a big reason to elect him is that through the unspecified power of serious gravitas he will bring "both sides" into working together for the good of the nation.

Wake up and smell the horseshit, Joe, and get ready for your good friends and former colleagues to be slightly less civil than you're counting on: "Lindsey Graham Warns GOP Will Investigate Whistleblower, Biden After Impeachment Trial"

His reaction to Trump's onslaught has been weak, evasive, and unconvincing and the only reason he may survive it is that it's so obviously manufactured and there's enough history of contemporaneous reporting on the affairs of that time that the documentation is all on his side. But for Pete's sake it's time to abandon the "they'll work with beloved Uncle Joe" shtick. I want a nominee who can and will fight back, hard, against Republican bad-faith and dirty tricks. Because I've got a funny feeling we ain't seen nothin' yet..
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:57 AM on February 3 [44 favorites]


Before the way this trial went down, I thought Bernie was going to flame out somewhere after Super Tuesday. Now I think he has a real shot at getting the nomination. I still would place my money on Biden, but the amount of sheer disgust I’m seeing with Trump and the republicans in general, plus stronger poll numbers, has me thinking that more and more people are deciding they want to go all in on Dem policies. (FWIW, I’m voting Warren, but you bet you sweet ass I’m voting for whoever the nominee is.) This mockery of a trial in the senate has stripped bare the craven nature of the GOP and while that will play perfectly fine with their base, the voters that can be convinced one way or another are sickened by what they see.
posted by azpenguin at 6:13 AM on February 3 [16 favorites]


Senate Impeachment Trial, Day 12 (C-SPAN) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues with closing arguments. Senators will also debate the articles. February 3, 2020

U.S. Senate: Impeachment Trial (Day 12) (C-SPAN YouTube) The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues.
posted by katra at 8:57 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


There may be an ITMFA VI reason: as L'affaire Ukraine gets shuffled under the rug, L'affaire Halkbank crawls out. Wyden Presses DOJ For Evidence Of Trump Meddling Described In Bolton Manuscript < TPM

All the usual suspects: Trump, Giuliani, Erdogan, Mnuchin, Halkbank, DOJ and Barr.
posted by Harry Caul at 10:27 AM on February 3 [7 favorites]


I have the experience from my long life that younger people are better at adapting to change that +70 year olds

I just don't think the White House is a place for aging from your late 70's to your mid-80's. It's notoriously demanding , with a crushing work burden, (well, it was) and really ought to be a job for people who are at most in their 70s. (Note that doing push-ups is not actually relevant to the job).
posted by thelonius at 10:31 AM on February 3 [6 favorites]


Lamar Alexander's starring role: Why a retiring Tennessee senator took the fall for Trump (Heather Digby Parton, Salon)

Aside from being a close friend of McConnell, he may have thought that history would forgive him the way it did his mentor Howard Baker. Baker in the end managed to help Nixon, but not suffer politically for his association with him.
Everyone acknowledges that impeachment is a political process. If senators can take Trump's so-called record into account as a positive side, then they certainly could have taken into account all the rest of Trump's crimes. From obstruction of justice to epic-scale corruption to an administration rife with cronyism and nepotism, they know what he is. Republicans had a chance to break from him, at least symbolically, and send a message by hearing witnesses even if they weren't going to convict him. They had a chance to make a statement that the Republican Party does not endorse this president's criminality. They didn't do that.

Republicans aren't just covering up for Trump's inept Ukraine plot. They are now full accomplices in everything he has already done and everything he will certainly do in the upcoming presidential campaign.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:33 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


Aside from being a close friend of McConnell, [Lamar Alexander] may have thought that history would forgive him

I want him to live a long life, alone with his cowardice.
posted by Gelatin at 10:44 AM on February 3 [4 favorites]


Could Cipollone’s Actions Be Cause For A Mistrial? (Mystic54, Daily Kos Community)

And if so, is it worth making the motion to call for a mistrial to get that on the record, knowing that it would be voted down?
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:48 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


It would be a serious tactical error to move for a mistrial based on Cipollone's undisclosed conflict. That's the sort of stuff that law nerds take seriously (justifiably!) but to a huge part of the population the only takeaway would be "gee, I guess the Democrats really are sore losers who will do anything to remove the president," which is exactly the narrative the Republicans have worked so hard to push.

Nobody will truly believe that the outcome of the trial was changed by Cipollone's misbehavior (nor should they) and any hypothetical second trial that could be granted if the mistrial motion were somehow upheld would be dismissed even more quickly by the Senate majority, except that this time they would have a much larger chunk of the population agreeing with their rush to make it go away.

Honestly it's hard to think of a tactic which is more likely to squander the only solid benefit that the Democrats have wrested from the impeachment struggle so far.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:23 AM on February 3 [5 favorites]


Nobody will truly believe that the outcome of the trial was changed by Cipollone's misbehavior (nor should they)

Ultimately it's not an important point, but I think the outcome totally could have been different if Cipppolone was not involved.

All in all, I know Democrats want to preserve process, comity, and all that, but they need some bite.
posted by rhizome at 11:35 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Wow Schiff. This close is great. He is doing everything he can to make the vote to acquit very uncomfortable. Good.
posted by mazola at 12:00 PM on February 3 [23 favorites]


'Crimes...remain in progress': Democrats' closing case for why Trump must be removed (NBC News)
Allowing Trump to get away with using the power of his office to try to get Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election, "putting foreign interference between the voters and their ballots,” would render Trump “above the law," [Rep. Jason] Crow said.

Another of the House managers, Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., said another reason the Senate needs to take action is because the president has been "unapologetic and unrestrained," and will only be more so if the Senate closes his eyes to his misconduct.

"President Trump's constitutional crimes, his crimes against the American people and the nation, remain in progress," Demings said.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., alleged Trump has continued his misconduct despite being impeached for it. "Donald Trump hasn't stopped pressuring Ukraine," Jeffries said, noting Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani recently "returned to the scene of the crime" to continue his efforts to get dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. And, Jeffries said, Trump "hasn't stopped obstructing Congress."

He "is a clear and present danger to our national security," Jeffries said.
Rep. Schiff quotes late congressman Elijah Cummings (WaPo)
Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, quoted the late congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) as the House managers wrapped up the first hour of their presentation.

“When the history books are written about this tumultuous era, I want them to show that I was among those in the House of Representatives who stood up to lawlessness and tyranny,” Schiff quoted Cummings as saying at the outset of the impeachment inquiry.
posted by katra at 12:22 PM on February 3 [15 favorites]


‘You will not change him,’ Rep. Schiff tells GOP of Trump in closing statement (WaPo)
In a blistering closing argument, Schiff made an appeal to Senate Republicans to stand up for the truth, arguing that even if it matters “little” to Trump, it “matters to you.”

“A man without character or ethical compass will never find his way, even as the most recent and most egregious misconduct was discovered,” Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, said of Trump. “He was unapologetic, unrepentant — and more dangerous.”

Over the weekend, some Senate Republicans have defended Trump by claiming that while the president may have made mistakes in the past, he has learned from them and won’t do the same in the future. Schiff appeared to implicitly rebut those statements Monday, arguing forcefully that the president will not change.

“He has betrayed our national security, and he will do so again,” Schiff said about Trump. “He has compromised our elections, and he will do so again. You will not change him. You cannot constrain him. He is who he is. Truth matters little to him. What’s right matters even less, and decency matters not at all.”

As he closed his remarks, Schiff made a direct appeal to Senate Republicans. “I do not ask you to convict him because truth or right or decency matters nothing to him, but because we have proven our case, and it matters to you,” he said. “Truth matters to you. Right matters to you. You are decent. He is not who you are.”
posted by katra at 12:26 PM on February 3 [26 favorites]


Has any of the House managers said the word "king," to remind Senators even more pointedly of a core principle of American history?
posted by PhineasGage at 12:27 PM on February 3


Guardian: Impeachment trial adjourns: 'Is there one among you who will say: enough?'
Schiff is now comparing Trump’s impeachment trial to Nixon’s and Clinton’s, saying the findings which led to the Trump case were more harmful than the other two cases. What has changed since those cases, then, asks Schiff. “We have,” he says. [...]

Schiff says it must have been a “pleasant shock” to Trump to learn “our norms” have shifted so much. “I hope and pray we never have a president like Donald Trump in the Democratic party,” Schiff says. And if we do, “I hope we would impeach him,” he says.

“History will not be kind to Donald Trump – I think we all know that,” Schiff says.

Schiff says this isn’t because “never-Trumpers” will be writing the history books, but because history doesn’t reflect well on people who violate norms. The president’s collective violations of norms, not just the Ukraine business, is a running theme of Schiff’s statement.

“What we do here, in this moment, will affect its course and its correction. Every single vote, even a single vote, by a single member, can change the course of history.”

“Is there one among you who will say: enough?” [...]

In his final sentences, Schiff says: “They gave you a remedy and they meant for you to use it.”

The trial is adjourned.
posted by katra at 12:29 PM on February 3 [40 favorites]


Has any of the House managers said the word "king," to remind Senators even more pointedly of a core principle of American history?

> 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
posted by katra at 12:46 PM on February 3 [7 favorites]


> Schiff: Vote on trial rules "the most important decision in this case" (CBS)

Which indicates yet another way Trump is breaking the way the Framers intended the government to work. They presumed the Senate would at least be jealous of its own prerogatives, and check a president that tried to ignore Congressional subpoenas. But Senate Republicans are basically about to vote Trump for king, which will eliminate their power to do anything except function as a rubber stamp at best.

Many people have compared the current situation to the election of Palpatine by the Senate in Star Wars, and they do not seem to be far wrong. (Except, of course, that Palpatine was competent.)
posted by Gelatin at 12:53 PM on February 3 [8 favorites]


“Truth matters to you. Right matters to you. You are decent. He is not who you are.”

No one tell him about Merrick Garland.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:01 PM on February 3 [19 favorites]


Nationwide protests planned for Trump’s expected acquittal (WaPo)
A coalition of groups, including Public Citizen, the Women’s March, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, has announced plans to hold rallies on Capitol Hill and across the nation on Wednesday to denounce Trump’s expected acquittal.

Public Citizen, a left-leaning watchdog group, said in a Monday news release that more than 160 “Reject the Cover-up” protests are being planned for Wednesday evening, when the Senate is expected to vote. The protests are aimed at holding Trump and Republican lawmakers “accountable for betraying the American people and the Constitution,” according to Public Citizen.

“Protestors will send a clear message: Any acquittal made after blocking key evidence is not an exoneration — it’s a cover-up,” the group said.
posted by katra at 1:02 PM on February 3 [6 favorites]


No one tell him about Merrick Garland.

Merrick Garland might well have been confirmed if his nomination had ever come up for a vote, even in the Republican Senate. Which is why McConnell made sure he got not so much as a hearing.

But while the outcome was certainly preferable to Senate Republicans, they can at least pretend it was all McConnell's fault. Schiff's appeal reminds them that this time they have no such cover.
posted by Gelatin at 1:08 PM on February 3 [10 favorites]




Schiff's appeal will be heard by many Republican Senators but listened to by none. They are all-in for Trump-McConnelism. The primary purpose of Schiff's rhetoric at this point is to preach to the choir and soak up floor time until after the SOTU.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:14 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


‘You will not change him,’ Rep. Schiff tells GOP

There's absolutely no evidence they want him to change. None whatsoever. Other than that Schiff's statement sounds good.
posted by JenMarie at 1:14 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


‘You will not change him,’ Rep. Schiff tells GOP

There's absolutely no evidence they want him to change. None whatsoever. Other than that Schiff's statement sounds good.


A few Senators have been claiming it, though. Obviously, they're lying, but Schiff isn't really talking to them. He's just making it abundantly clear what the ads are going to look like against those people in particular.
posted by Etrigan at 1:24 PM on February 3 [8 favorites]


Republicans say Trump has learned his lesson on impeachment. The evidence suggests otherwise. (Aaron Blake, WaPo)
As President Trump’s impeachment trial winds down, the argument from some Senate Republicans is trending in a very specific direction: What he did was perhaps wrong, but it wasn’t impeachable. The message to Trump seems to be: Please don’t do it again.

They sound awfully certain that he won’t, though, despite plenty of reasons to be skeptical Trump will be chastened by this. Appearing on the Sunday news shows this weekend, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) indicated that Trump mishandled the Ukraine situation. But they both also said they believed Trump won’t make the same mistake again. [...] But you don’t need to read a Trump biography to see the potential folly of such a prediction; you only need to look at the timeline of the Russia investigation and how it bled into the Ukraine scandal.

It has been noted often that the July 25 call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch those politically advantageous investigations happened literally the day after former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III testified to Congress. [...] That’s not all: Even after the Mueller report came out in April, Trump suggested in a June ABC News interview that he would accept information from foreign sources in the 2020 election. [...] Trump on Oct. 3 solicited a third country for something that could help in an election, when he urged China to investigate Hunter Biden. This suggestion came just one week after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) launched the impeachment inquiry. [...]

For his part, lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is predicting the opposite of Alexander and Ernst, and on Monday he warned them against the stance they were taking. [...] Then he warned them even more directly, referring to Alexander’s comments about the House having proved its case. “If you find that the House has proved its case and still vote to acquit,” Schiff said, "your name will be tied to his with a cord of steel and for all of history.”
posted by katra at 1:24 PM on February 3 [8 favorites]


Schiff's appeal will be heard by many Republican Senators but listened to by none. They are all-in for Trump-McConnelism. The primary purpose of Schiff's rhetoric at this point is to preach to the choir and soak up floor time until after the SOTU.

If "choir," you mean loyal Americans, i agree. The Republicans have worried all along that their inevitable acquittal of Trump would make them look like accessories after the fact, and by laying out the stakes inherent in their betrayal, Schiff is giving them nowhere to hide. He's setting a high bar for their weasely speeches trying to justify their votes, and likely will make many Republicans look worse by contrast.
posted by Gelatin at 1:45 PM on February 3 [4 favorites]


I still don't get why the House hasn't done anything with [emoluments]. It's specifically mentioned in the Constitution and should be possible to prove conclusively. Also, "The President is taking bribes and stealing from taxpayers" seems clear enough for almost any voter to understand.

To paraphrase the Wire: "You start to follow the money, you don’t know where the fuck it’s gonna take you."
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:46 PM on February 3 [8 favorites]


Finally watched Schiff. Man, that was powerful.
I can see how Republican politicians and voters can invent some reason it wasn't. But Republicans are a minority of the electorate.

I specially like how he was clear that the house has demonstrated that Trump is corrupt. There was (rightly) not a shade of doubt in his presentation. Trump is corrupt. Say it again.
posted by mumimor at 2:19 PM on February 3 [6 favorites]


Could Cipollone’s Actions Be Cause For A Mistrial?

A suggestion like this ought to be the end of the author's career. It shows an utter unwillingness to engage with the situation at even the most fundamental level. This trial is being conducted by the legislature. It isn't being conducted by the judicial system, in which there are such things as rules of evidence and prohibitions against apprehended bias, breaches of which may lead to an appeal. There is no such thing as a "mistrial", because there is no guarantee of due process except in the most technical sense. It is ultimately just a bunch of senators taking a vote. What does the author think they should do, discharge themselves and appoint new senators?
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:59 PM on February 3 [12 favorites]


The Most Serious Obstruction of All: The Vote to Block Witnesses and the Public’s Right to Know (Ryan Goodman, Just Security)
Many criticized the Senate’s vote “to deprive itself of information” by blocking John Bolton and other witnesses from testifying in the impeachment trial of President Trump. What makes the matter worse is that the Senate choked off the American public from hearing that information too, and at the time it mattered most.

Democracy is made up of more than just elections. We’ve designed our system of self-government so that citizens can communicate their views to their representatives before enormous decisions are made final. The impeachment of a president is, most certainly, one of those decisions. Open hearings allow the public to form their own views and for their congressional representatives to take those views into account. In both the Nixon and Clinton impeachments, members of Congress were influenced, in part, by the shape and direction of public opinion. Our system of participatory democracy worked.

That’s what makes the Republican-controlled Senate’s trampling on the public’s right to know and to inform their congressional representatives of their views especially offensive. The Republican leadership’s action came at a point when citizens’ exercise of these rights would have counted most. That was no accident. It wasn’t that these Senators personally did not want to hear more before deciding on the final verdict. They apparently didn’t want the public to hear any more either. [...]

What makes the Republican leadership’s actions particularly galling is that they wrapped their rush to acquittal in the cloak of “letting American voters decide.” That was a reference to the November 2020 elections, and a firm back-of-the-hand to the participatory democracy our system was designed to respect. Voters weren’t given the opportunity to reach a truly informed decision on whether Trump was guilty of the most serious allegations against him, and what consequences should then follow if he was. That’s exactly the way President Trump, Sen. McConnell, and vulnerable Senate Republicans like Cory Gardner and Thom Tillis wanted it.
posted by katra at 3:09 PM on February 3 [10 favorites]


"It's payback time": With acquittal certain, Trump plots revenge on Bolton, impeachment enemies. (Gabriel Sherman, Vanity Fair).
Trump, says a source, wants Bolton to be criminally investigated for possibly mishandling classified information. Romney, Schiff, and Nadler are also in West Wing crosshairs.
posted by adamg at 3:16 PM on February 3 [6 favorites]


He always doubles down, right up to the moment he declares bankruptcy and leaves everyone else to pick up the pieces while he enjoys his fraudulently acquired gains.
posted by wierdo at 3:39 PM on February 3 [26 favorites]


This trial is being conducted by the legislature. It isn't being conducted by the judicial system, in which there are such things as rules of evidence and prohibitions against apprehended bias, breaches of which may lead to an appeal. There is no such thing as a "mistrial", because there is no guarantee of due process except in the most technical sense. It is ultimately just a bunch of senators taking a vote. What does the author think they should do, discharge themselves and appoint new senators?

To me it was a significant mistake for the Democrats to adopt the criminal procedure language and logic that Republicans were pushing all through the House process. The Republicans are great at the descriptivist/prescriptivist battle and I'll say again that the Democrats need to learn how to have an edge.
posted by rhizome at 3:44 PM on February 3 [12 favorites]


He’s not the only one, although she claims she was misquoted.

As always, they say exactly what they mean until you call them out on it.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 3:54 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Trump, says a source, wants Bolton to be criminally investigated...

So, approximately now is when we step into the next phase, where all of the people who like 12 hours ago were defending Trump's acquittal by saying he's learned his lesson and is behaving like an upstanding moral president are going to be asked to defend his reprisals, too. This is the moment where I think we're really teetering on the brink of something truly catastrophic because if the same shrugging rules are applied to the reprisals that we just saw applied to the impeachment defense, Trump can literally do anything he wants.

I mean, obviously, it's in the national interest to silence the people who impeached him, since that transferred self-interest is literally what the United States Senate will have used to acquit him. Why not start disappearing people to gitmo or wherever?
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:27 PM on February 3 [18 favorites]


Manchin starts his acquittal vote cover story tonight with the word ‘censure’.
posted by Harry Caul at 4:33 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Trump, says a source, wants Bolton to be criminally investigated for possibly mishandling classified information.
Oh, man that would be great. Because unlike the Senate, courtroom trials have witnesses, a discovery process, and other things that would bring a lot of information into public record.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:45 PM on February 3 [13 favorites]


I would normally agree, but aren't we in the phase where all of the laws have been cut down flat, the devil is turning around on us, and we have nowhere left to hide? They are literally about to acquit him on the basis that his personal self-interest and the national interest are one and the same. I try not to be super alarmist, but why on earth would this be the first instance where Trump wins with class rather than acting out in narcissistic rage? Why would these be normal criminal investigations with the possibility of embarrassing information leaking? His dictator idols knew/know how to run a good show trial. He's been exonerated and the government must get to the bottom of this awful slander, after all.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:58 PM on February 3 [10 favorites]


Republicans pray Trump shuns impeachment in SOTU (Marianne Levine, Politico)
Senate Republicans are praying President Donald Trump does something out of character during his State of the Union address — avoid talking about impeachment.
Senate Democrats are pretty sure he won't do that.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:04 PM on February 3 [5 favorites]


Senate choked off the American public from hearing that information too, and at the time it mattered most.

Yeah, that was the point. Their inevitable, somewhat delayed, capitulation to Trump would look worse if the process let Americans learn more of the details.
posted by notyou at 7:33 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


My quixotic hope is that President Brainworms loses his fucking mind during the SOTU, like, a full on, pounding the table, red faced, wife beater freak out. I mean, if we're lucky, he strokes out, the end. But if not, so many people watch the SOTU, I want them to see behind the mask. I want them to see the man every woman knows is under the toupee that keeps trying to escape.

Will it change how Republicans vote? No. They're riding this tiger.

As to history not being kind to them, remember that the victors write the history books. This glorious democratic experiment is so perilously close to ending. There are but a few ways we can stop this juggernaut trying to return us all to feudalism, vassals and debtor's prisons. Many of those ways would be catastrophic on a level of the civil war. One of the most hopeful ways is that we somehow manage to overcome voter suppression, voter list purges, gerrymandering, and election hacks and win at the ballot box and there's a peaceful transfer of power. I mean, it's a dream, but let's try and make it happen.

I'll be honest though, I'm rooting for the brain worms to explode.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:56 PM on February 3 [22 favorites]


Maybe he'll go Full Khrushchev and start banging his head on the podium.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:00 PM on February 3 [5 favorites]


The Republicans wanted a show trial intended to find the guilty innocent; somewhere the vile Stalin is spinning in his grave.
All spectacle all the time and the MAGA type folk have a seemlingly endless appetite for it.

And, my god what a contrast between Schiff and the senators across the aisle and the president.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 9:06 PM on February 3 [5 favorites]


My quixotic hope is that President Brainworms loses his fucking mind during the SOTU, like, a full on, pounding the table, red faced, wife beater freak out. I mean, if we're lucky, he strokes out, the end.

Same, honestly.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:14 PM on February 3 [8 favorites]


My quixotic hope is that President Brainworms loses his fucking mind during the SOTU, like, a full on, pounding the table, red faced, wife beater freak out. I mean, if we're lucky, he strokes out, the end.
That would make him the newest Supreme Court Justice.
posted by Harry Caul at 9:20 PM on February 3 [7 favorites]


The thing about those brain worms is that they're catching. Trump and his supporters are now all in a state where, like him, they have become literally unable to perceive what's happening in their surroundings; they occupy a cartoon world inside their own minds instead. A cartoon world where Donald Trump really is the smartest man in the world and this is what Those Horrible Democrats are trying to do to their boy.
posted by flabdablet at 9:32 PM on February 3 [6 favorites]


Pelosi hinting on a contentious SOTU tonight. NYT: Pelosi Says Democrats Have ‘Pulled Back a Veil’ on Trump’s ‘Unacceptable’ Behavior

“Whatever happens, he has been impeached forever. And now these senators, though they don’t have the courage to assign the appropriate penalty, at least are recognizing that he did something wrong.”
posted by Harry Caul at 5:38 AM on February 4 [7 favorites]


Pelosi needs to trigger Trump multiple times during the SOTU so he goes off script and America can witness his shortcomings in full display.

I am really hoping she instructs someone to yell "You lie!" each time he lies and watch him detonate. She is obviously above such tactics, but you love to see it, especially at the SOTU.
posted by jasondigitized at 6:42 AM on February 4 [15 favorites]


Can ddale just be there to live fact check on a chryon above Trump's head? like that thing at operas so you know what the heck they're saying.
posted by affectionateborg at 6:46 AM on February 4 [9 favorites]


I am really hoping she instructs someone to yell "You lie! " each time he lies and watch him detonate.

(Like Clare McCaskill‘s tweet reply -“It’s Missouri you stone cold idiot”. Refreshing!)

I would donate to that Senator‘s re-election campaign. I think I’m not alone in thinking.

Or Presidential campaign.

What would be ... impressive is if after every massive fib all the self-respecting Senators said it in unison, “That’s false.” Or maybe just, “Lie!”

Sigh. The saddest shit-show.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:23 AM on February 4 [4 favorites]


It's a joint session, the house members can make some noise too.
posted by cmfletcher at 7:34 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


While we are dreaming why doesn't the Speaker just have a Democratic member of the house or senate stand for each lie he tells during the SotU? It's likely to be a fairly long speech, I'm sure he could get every one of them standing by the end.
posted by cirhosis at 7:59 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Speaker Pelosi is very much a she/her pronoun user.
posted by bardophile at 8:03 AM on February 4


I think each of the "he"s there referred to Trump.
posted by Etrigan at 8:06 AM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Senate Session (C-SPAN) Senators will speak for up to 10 minutes each on the articles of impeachment against President Trump - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. February 4, 2020

U.S. Senate: Debate on Articles of Impeachment (C-SPAN YouTube) Senators will speak for up to 10 minutes each on the articles of impeachment against President Trump - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
posted by katra at 8:11 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


My quixotic hope is that President Brainworms loses his fucking mind during the SOTU, like, a full on, pounding the table, red faced, wife beater freak out. I mean, if we're lucky, he strokes out, the end.

I have this deep feeling that that is exactly what his supporters dream of happening (well, except for the stroke, of course.) I think they seriously jones for Trump to go ballistic and scream at Pelosi and the Democrats for an hour. His supporters will lap it up like sweet, sweet librul tears. It would be a solid hour of campaign commercial sound clips.

In reality, I think Trump will be suitably chemically sedated (as he seemingly has been on occasion, when looking "presidential" is of utmost importance.)
posted by Thorzdad at 8:16 AM on February 4 [11 favorites]


I think each of the "he"s there referred to Trump.

Ah. My bad.
posted by bardophile at 8:45 AM on February 4


Ah. My bad.

No worries it's not the clearest sentence I've ever written.
posted by cirhosis at 9:07 AM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Best WaPo comment of the day, describing the “chaos” in Iowa: “Chaos? Debacle? Really? We are in the verge of acquitting a president who everyone knows is guilty, and a delay in reporting the results of the caucus is what gets that kind of adjectives? People in the media, please, help us here, we’re trying to save our democracy. Put the need for instant-gratification news in pause for a second and try to focus on what really matters.”
posted by Melismata at 9:41 AM on February 4 [32 favorites]


The thing about those brain worms is that they're catching. Trump and his supporters are now all in a state where, like him, they have become literally unable to perceive what's happening in their surroundings; they occupy a cartoon world inside their own minds instead.

Joe Walsh gets a closer look at this as he attempts to campaign against Trump.
posted by Jpfed at 9:46 AM on February 4 [8 favorites]


Funny how the tabulation problems are front page news, yet the strongarm tactics and counting irregularities in the Republican caucuses get nary a mention, much less a headline.
posted by wierdo at 9:57 AM on February 4 [6 favorites]


The Incomprehensibly Weak Case for Acquittal Without Witnesses (Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare)
The contradictions between these positions are so inherent and deep that it becomes convenient at some point for the senators to change the subject. Instead of focusing on the conduct the House investigated, senators choose to focus on the conduct of the House’s investigation instead. This is a time-honored diversionary tactic in defense lawyering. In a criminal proceeding, after all, showing that the police erred in the conduct of a case can lead to suppression of the evidence against the defendant.

But there is no exclusionary rule in impeachment trials. Nor is the nature of the House’s supposed errors the sort that would lead to exclusion of evidence in a criminal proceeding anyway; the failure to call a witness before a grand jury would not preclude calling that person to testify at trial.

Yet the president’s lawyers and many senators argue with apparently straight faces that the House’s failure to call John Bolton and others before impeachment—and to litigate the matter to exhaustion—should preclude the Senate’s calling them now. Why? [...]

When smart people, capable people, advance arguments so resoundingly and pervasively terrible—when they advance a proposal for a trial that offends the very idea of a trial—you have to ask what role the argument is playing other than seeking to persuade people. That these arguments persuade nobody is clear from the poll data, in which support for hearing from witnesses reached as high as 75 percent and did not decline over the period in which the president’s lawyers made their case.

But persuasion, I think, is not the point. The point, rather, is tribal affiliation. This is a credo of sorts, a public affirmation of the party line designed to ensure that one is not Romneyed—that the leader’s tyrannical rage is directed elsewhere, that his self-appointed enforcers do not deprive one of the benefits of being in the herd.

Yes, inside the herd, life is abusive. But outside, it is very very cold and one is very exposed.
posted by katra at 10:04 AM on February 4 [17 favorites]


The Report: Impeachment, Day 11 (Lawfare)
"On the eleventh day of the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump, the House Managers and the president’s defense team presented their closing arguments. [...] Lawfare and Goat Rodeo bring you the most essential one hour and 32 minutes of those final arguments."
posted by katra at 10:10 AM on February 4


William Barr: A Failed Attorney General Unfit to Serve (Fred Wertheimer, Just Security)
On January 17, Democracy 21 filed a complaint with the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility and the Departmental Ethics Office that detailed Barr’s pattern of biased actions and his failure to comply with Justice Department norms, rules and standards of conduct. The complaint requested these offices to investigate and take appropriate action regarding Barr’s improprieties. (You can read the most recent complaint as well as previous complaints filed by Democracy 21 against Barr here, here and here).

Similar concerns about Barr were raised by the New York City Bar Association in a Jan. 8 letter to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate. [...]

In sum, Barr, as attorney general, engaged in a pattern of biased actions to support and validate repeated false claims and improper actions by Trump, and Barr failed to comply with the norms, rules and standards of conduct of the Justice Department.

Barr’s actions have been in stark conflict with his duty to administer the “impartial administration of justice on behalf of all Americans.” He has seriously and repeatedly undermined the integrity and credibility of the Justice Department.

William Barr has failed the American people and is unfit to serve as attorney general.
posted by katra at 10:17 AM on February 4 [23 favorites]


Rand Paul had his question revealing his suspected name of the whistleblower rejected twice by the Chief Justice.

So today he gave his little 10-minute allotted speech with a giant poster behind him with the suspected whistleblower's name printed on it. Live on CSPAN.

Republicans. They are all awful.
posted by JackFlash at 10:59 AM on February 4 [35 favorites]


I'm sure Ludwig von Mises or Murray Rothbard or some other great libertarian thinker devoted a chapter of one of their books to the idea that when a citizen goes against the wishes of the state, it is the duty of all good libertarians to make sure that the full force of the state's power is brought down upon that citizen.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:27 AM on February 4 [22 favorites]


The most libertarian-y thing about Paul's dick move is that he knows that unlike a private citizen, he's protected by the Constitution's speech and debate clause.
posted by Gelatin at 11:35 AM on February 4 [7 favorites]


The most libertarian-y thing about Paul's dick move is that he knows that unlike a private citizen, he's protected by the Constitution's speech and debate clause.

In a just world the Department of Justice would pursue a case against Paul and argue that the Framers meant literal speech and debate. If you're too much of a coward to say it yourself, then it's not covered.
posted by jedicus at 11:41 AM on February 4 [8 favorites]


I would love for Pelosi to greet Trump with something like "good evening, Mr. Impeached President" right before his speech.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:45 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


I'd love for Pelosi and co. to boycott the SOTU altogether as the sham that it is, not giving Republicans the Leni Riefenstahl-esque victory parade they want. But Dems can't even caucus properly without fucking it up, much less get a conviction of a brazen criminal like Trump — someone who brags openly about breaking the law while the trial is going on. As Michelle Wolf said a few years ago, no matter what Dems do, they'll manage to find some way to "lose by 12 points to a guy named Jeff Pedophile Nazi Doctor."
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:45 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Unfair. Jeff Pedophile Nazi Doctor was elected because we neglected the feelings of rural Nazi Pedophiles.
posted by benzenedream at 12:51 PM on February 4 [8 favorites]


Dems can't even caucus properly without fucking it up, much less get a conviction of a brazen criminal like Trump

I'm upset about these things too, but seriously, what else could the House Democrats have done to get 20 GOP Senators to flip and vote to convict? Making a statement like this implies that there was something they overlooked. If you know what what that is/was, please share. Lots of people would like to know the answer, and you probably could get booked on a lot of cable news shows to talk about it.

Did Michelle Wolf have any comments on the 2018 election? Seems like Democrats did OK there, retaking the House. Also, didn't they beat pedophile Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate election?

The Democratic Party has plenty of problems & shortcomings, but exaggerating them and/or ignoring positive things that don't fit the catastrophe narrative doesn't seem like a path to victory.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 1:06 PM on February 4 [27 favorites]


But Dems can't even caucus properly without fucking it up, much less get a conviction of a brazen criminal like Trump — someone who brags openly about breaking the law while the trial is going on.

Blaming the Democrats only works if the Republicans are acting in good faith and there's something that would make them vote to convict. They are not acting in good faith and there is no such thing, no argument, no evidence the Democrats could present that would make the Republican Senate remove Trump.

And the Democrats did as good a job as possible of making that fact abundantly clear. Even NPR noticed, for crying out loud. The object of impeachment was not to convict Trump, because that goal was impossible, but rather to impeach the reputation of the entire Republican Party by shining a light on their willful participation in Trump's cover-up.

It worked.
posted by Gelatin at 1:07 PM on February 4 [43 favorites]


Jeff Pedophile Nazi Doctor was elected because we neglected the feelings of rural Nazi Pedophiles.

Hah! Fair enough. To his credit, Schiff seemed to work hard in his speech to reach out to the other side. I suspect we'll see a very sore winner at the SOTU, but maybe Schiff's words will have made a little impact on the Republicans in the audience.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:20 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Collins now announcing she will vote to acquit - "hes learned from this"

I hope there is a 10,000 foot tall stack of requests that she speak on behalf of incarcerated people seeking clemency waiting at her office doorstep tomorrow. Surely if the president can be rehabilitated without even being convicted then anyone whose served even a minute of time must be good to go, right?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:33 PM on February 4 [27 favorites]


Collins now announcing she will vote to acquit - "hes learned from this"

He has learned that he can do anything he wants and nothing will happen! Nobody is going to whistleblow again after this travesty. God I think i hate Susan Collins more than any other contemporary politician. Can we finally stop treating her like she might do something courageous?
posted by dis_integration at 1:41 PM on February 4 [28 favorites]


Collins now announcing she will vote to acquit - "he's learned from this"

Recall that Collins also announced she would vote for Bret Kavanaugh because he personally promised her that he would respect judicial precedent -- shortly before he overturned 40 years of judicial precedent for labor unions.

I don't think Collins' personal evaluations are worth a bucket of warm spit.
posted by JackFlash at 1:43 PM on February 4 [34 favorites]


Nobody is going to whistleblow again after this travesty.

The Money Behind Trump’s Money (David Enrich, NYT)
Last April, congressional Democrats subpoenaed ­Deutsche Bank for its records on Trump, his family members and his businesses. The Trump family sued to block the bank from complying; after two federal courts ruled against the Trumps, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, with oral arguments expected in the spring. State prosecutors, meanwhile, are investigating the bank’s ties with Trump, too. The F.B.I. has been conducting its own wide-­ranging investigation of ­Deutsche Bank, and people connected to the bank told me they have been interviewed by special agents about aspects of the Trump relationship.

If they ever become public, the bank’s Trump records could serve as a Rosetta Stone to decode the president’s finances. [...] And it has records about internal deliberations over whether and how to do business with Trump — a paper trail that most likely reflects some bank employees’ concerns about potentially suspicious transactions that they detected in the family’s accounts. [...]

If Trump cheated on his taxes, ­Deutsche Bank would probably know. If his net worth is measured in millions, not billions, ­Deutsche Bank would probably know. If he secretly got money from the Kremlin, ­Deutsche Bank would probably know. [...]

I have spent the past two years interviewing dozens of ­Deutsche Bank executives about the Trump relationship, among other subjects. Quite a few look back at the relationship with a mixture of anger and regret. They blame a small group of bad bankers for blundering into a trap that would further damage ­Deutsche Bank’s name and guarantee years of political and prosecutorial scrutiny. But that isn’t quite right; in fact, the Trump relationship was repeatedly blessed by executives up and down the bank’s organizational ladder. The cumulative effect of those decisions is that a German company — one that most Americans have probably never heard of — played a large role in positioning a strapped businessman to become president of the United States.
posted by katra at 2:05 PM on February 4 [16 favorites]


At least seven House Democrats will boycott State of the Union (WaPo)
The group includes several lawmakers who have skipped Trump’s annual speech to Congress in previous years. The two “Squad” members — Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) — cited Trump’s conduct as their reason for staying away from the House chamber Tuesday night.

“After much deliberation, I have decided that I will not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet. “None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it.”

Pressley pointed to Trump’s rhetoric and policies, which she said stoke “fear in people of color, women, healthcare providers, LGBTQ+ communities, low-income families, and many more.”

“On the eve of Senate Republicans covering up transgressions and spreading misinformation, I cannot in good conscience attend a sham State of the Union when I have seen firsthand the damage Donald J. Trump’s rhetoric and policies have inflicted on those I love and those I represent,” she said in a statement.

Another member of “the Squad,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), said she will attend “on behalf of all of those targeted by this President to say, ‘We are greater than hate.’ ”

“My presence tonight is resistance,” she said in a tweet.

[...] Others boycotting Tuesday’s proceedings include Democratic Reps. Al Green (Tex.), Steve Cohen (Tenn.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Hank Johnson (Ga.) and Frederica S. Wilson (Fla.).
posted by katra at 2:55 PM on February 4 [12 favorites]


Tracking The Main Excuses GOP Senators Are Offering Trump Ahead Of Acquittal
  • Trump did nothing wrong
  • House didn’t prove allegations
  • Inappropriate, but not impeachable
  • Bash the House
posted by kirkaracha at 3:12 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


At least seven House Democrats will boycott State of the Union (WaPo)

That's awesome. It's too bad that they include Dems who have been occasionally marginalized by their own party!
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:21 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Pelosi extended a hand to president brainworms. He pointedly ignored her. Because he’s a toddler.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:18 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


Given the GOP's chosen framing, I wonder how Collins would feel about a bill authorizing jury nullification for every accused criminal defendant who can show they have "learned from" their very liberty being jeopardized by their prosecution, rather than just their job.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:21 PM on February 4 [8 favorites]


Proceed at your own peril, brainwormed toddler.
posted by Rykey at 6:22 PM on February 4


Hey! Rush Limbaugh got a freedom medal for being one of the biggest voices of lies, hate and divisiveness for the past 30 years!
posted by valkane at 7:14 PM on February 4 [8 favorites]


That's when anyone with a sense of history was supposed to get up and leave.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:22 PM on February 4 [10 favorites]


and he wept. not the only tough looking patriot (or grieving family member) to weep on camera in that room tonight. also a number of improbable coincidences: that scholarship, that guy's deployment ending...
what a horrific spectacle.
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:23 PM on February 4


And Nancy tore the speech.
posted by HyperBlue at 7:25 PM on February 4 [13 favorites]


Guardian: Pelosi rips up copy of Trump's speech after he finishes
Right after Trump concluded his speech, House speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared to rip up the paper copy of his speech.

CSPAN (@cspan) .@SpeakerPelosi tears up of State of the Union speech.#SOTU #SOTU2020 pic.twitter.com/sIpi4G7KsL February 5, 2020

The State of the Union was bookended by Trump appearing to reject a handshake from the speaker and then Pelosi literally tearing apart his remarks.
posted by katra at 7:44 PM on February 4 [17 favorites]


Too little too late, when the Dems could have denied him the forum and the ability to do his despicable victory lap, replete with the Rush Freedom Medal. Trump literally can't afford that kind of advertising at this point.

Kudos to Nancy for figuring out something performative to do before the broadcast terminated, but this is one more Democratic own-goal.

There is no Constitutionally mandated interval for SOTU, and Trump would have had no remedy had the House declined to invite him pending the election, so the Garland-McConnell rule should have been applied.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:58 PM on February 4 [13 favorites]


Yeah, but the local news here is leading with Pelosi tearing up the speech, which suggests that a lot of other media outlets will be following suit. "Trump says Trumpy things" isn't newsworthy, while the imagery of her coldly tearing up his speech is.

Individual 1 is going to be livid that she's getting attention instead of him, so this could end up being even better for Democrats' messaging efforts than boycotting.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:13 PM on February 4 [27 favorites]


I hope so.

I feel like Pelosi's reaction will be digested and forgotten with the 24 hour news cycle, whereas Trump bought and paid for votes in states that mattered last time around with that Rush medal.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:17 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


When asked about why she ripped up the speech, Pelosi responded, "Because it was the courteous thing to do, considering the alternatives."

That was a perfect answer in my books.
posted by bcd at 8:38 PM on February 4 [52 favorites]


I mean, I hate to say it, but this is the best political theater, ever.
posted by valkane at 8:43 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Interestingly, the NBC News YouTube channel led with a headline about Trump blaming Obama for something. Nearly four years later, still blaming Obama isn't a great look to anyone but the full throated racist MAGAhats.
posted by wierdo at 8:54 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I don't normally start screaming at the TV but that Rush Limbaugh moment caused me to emit a very verbal reaction, followed up by a quick jump into the chat room to rant at anybody who would listen.

As bad and partisan and infuriating as that speech was, presenting that honour to that talk show hack was a thumbing of the nose to Pelosi and the House to a degree I could never imagine. Here Trump is on Pelosi's turf, the place where she is in control and where her party has the majority, and he pulls a stunt that brings him and Melania (since when does the First Lady hand out that medal?) and Rush international attention--Rush who has spent his entire career attempting to dump garbage on the heads of anybody who isn't a Republican.

Yes, Trump has ego and will do anything for ratings, and I know this, but every once in a while the sheer, unmitigated gall of that man still throws me into a loop of disbelief. This was one of those times and probably one of the worst.
posted by sardonyx at 8:56 PM on February 4 [10 favorites]


Trump awards Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom (WaPo)
Oddly enough, Limbaugh used to be considered the bane of congressional GOP leadership’s existence, blasting bipartisan bills and even Republican policy proposals he did not find conservative enough.

But in a sign of how Trump has united the party — and the new camaraderie among House Republicans in the minority — on Tuesday night, even moderate GOP lawmakers stood.
posted by katra at 9:01 PM on February 4


even moderate GOP lawmakers stood


Those are all retired or dead.

So, that would've been quite the feat.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:05 PM on February 4 [17 favorites]


Book reveals Trump effort to persuade Justice Kennedy to step aside for Kavanaugh
Dark Towers will be published on 18 February. The Guardian obtained a copy.

Justin Kennedy was part of the US branch of Deutsche Bank from 1998 to 2009. Drawn to Trump’s risk-taking and glamour, he became a Trump confidant, sitting with the real estate impresario at the US Open tennis or in Manhattan nightclubs, and chaperoning huge loans to finance Trump’s real estate spending sprees.

Kennedy, who ran the bank’s commercial real-estate team, continued to lend to Trump even though Deutsche clients had suffered severe losses when Trump’s casino business collapsed and he declared bankruptcy.

After Kennedy set up his own finance and property firm in Florida, Enrich writes, he continued to help other members of the Trump family – Ivanka, Kushner and Donald Trump Jr – arrange financing for projects in New York. The New York Observer, which was owned by Kushner, put Kennedy on a list of the 100 most powerful people in New York real estate.

Once Trump was in office, he went out of his way to congratulate Justice Kennedy on his son, calling him a “special guy” and saying how much his own children loved him.

“Trump’s flattery,” Enrich writes, “was part of a coordinated White House charm offensive designed to persuade the ageing justice – for years, the court’s pivotal swing vote – that it was safe to retire, even with an unpredictable man in the Oval Office.”

Dark Towers describes how Ivanka Trump befriended the judge, sitting next to him at an inaugural lunch, regaling him with accounts of her close friendship with his son, then visiting the elder Kennedy at the supreme court, bringing her five year-old daughter to hear a case about arbitration agreements.

When Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement in June 2018, it gave Trump an opportunity to tip the court right with his nomination of Kavanaugh, in turn solidifying support among conservatives otherwise sceptical about Trump’s character.
posted by mumimor at 9:24 PM on February 4 [16 favorites]


Interestingly, the NBC News YouTube channel led with a headline about Trump blaming Obama for something. Nearly four years later, still blaming Obama isn't a great look to anyone but the full throated racist MAGAhats.

His main selling point was "Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it." Why hasn't he fixed it yet?
posted by kirkaracha at 9:25 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


every once in a while the sheer, unmitigated gall of that man still throws me into a loop of disbelief

Sheer unmitigated gall is President Manbaby's stock in trade. It's his only stock in trade, but he has it in quantities not seen in normal human beings; so much so that it functions as a kind of superpower.

The part I find the scariest is watching how many people are wholly and genuinely impressed by that and consider it worthy of both praise and attempted emulation.

Why hasn't he fixed it yet?

The fix has been in since before he got elected.
posted by flabdablet at 9:29 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Trump awards Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Next up: Congressional Medal of Honor for Tom Cruise for his gallantry in the face of the Hollywood enemy in the Battles of Top Gun I and II.
posted by rhizome at 9:43 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


I wonder how much bribing a Presidential Medal of Freedom costs these days? Perhaps it is denominated in Oxycontin or Desoxyn. Limbaugh was whining about Trump less than two weeks ago, so you can be sure that the man child didn't do it without some external pressure.
posted by wierdo at 10:45 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


I mean, I hate to say it, but this is the best political theater, ever.

While Rome the world burns. No, it's literal, this time around! And a pill-popping scrap of human garbage got a Medal of Freedom! Humanity has never been more awesome.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:04 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]



Trump awards Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom

The hate filled thrice divorced junkie should be buried face down, so at least he can see where he's going when he dies.

What a disgrace; Cheeto seems determined to shit all over anything that might be construed as good in America. My gosh I hope he's a single term president and he and his offspring rot in prison.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:05 AM on February 5 [9 favorites]


It’s like he thought about what would make liberals the incoherently most angry and did that.

He could have launched missiles on any country in the world, he could have declared martial law, he could have done any number of things we’re afraid he will.

But he is a troll. And he tv personality. He goes for effect.

He doesn’t think Rush deserves that. But he knows it will makes liberals angry. I bet he has been laughing about this.
posted by affectionateborg at 12:34 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


Dark Towers describes how Ivanka Trump befriended the judge, sitting next to him at an inaugural lunch, regaling him with accounts of her close friendship with his son, then visiting the elder Kennedy at the supreme court, bringing her five year-old daughter to hear a case about arbitration agreements


There's no fool like an old fool.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:24 AM on February 5 [12 favorites]


Can we just abolish the entire "Medal of Freedom" bullshit? It's never really been a great idea, and the Republicans have always given it to their favorite scumbags.

Is there some law or something we can pass revoking the power of the President to hand them out?
posted by sotonohito at 3:40 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


Rush Limbaugh recently announced that he has advanced lung cancer.

Given that the whole talk-radio-sphere feels like Rush is their godfather (not inaccurately), this is a big deal. Between now and... you know, expect to hear a lot more hagiography about excellence in broadcasting, and very little about the First Dog, 'take the bone out of your nose,' pills, sex tourism, etc.
posted by box at 5:07 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Given that the whole talk-radio-sphere feels like Rush is their godfather (not inaccurately)

When in fact, Limbaugh was merely ripping off Morton Downey Jr.
posted by mikelieman at 5:31 AM on February 5 [15 favorites]


Is there some law or something we can pass revoking the power of the President to hand them out?

The medal is an executive order. There is no legislation, it's basically the President's opinion and the prestige is because it comes from the President. Congress could try to make a law preventing the President giving out awards but they'd have to overcome a veto and they would then get dragged straight into court because of separation of powers. Congress holds the purse strings not a leash.

They could try prohibiting the President from using his discretionary funding towards the awards in their appropriations bills but should the President then ignore Congress, what then? The remedy for a President acting out of line is impeachment. For a medal? They can't even get the current one convicted for massive, open corruption because of a craven Senate.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:16 AM on February 5 [11 favorites]


the prestige is because it comes from the President.

was
posted by Etrigan at 6:28 AM on February 5 [32 favorites]


Let's not forget that Rush Limbaugh obtained a prescription for Viagra under an assumed name and then went to the Dominican Republic, child sex slavery capital of the western hemisphere, with a couple hundred boner pills.

Did he go there to rape children? We dont know for sure, but if he'd wanted to fuck adults there is legal prostitution in Nevada. Instead he elected to go to a place where rich white men like him go to rape children.

That's the founder of right wing hate radio.
posted by sotonohito at 6:31 AM on February 5 [49 favorites]


Let's not forget that Rush Limbaugh obtained a prescription for Viagra under an assumed name and then went to the Dominican Republic, child sex slavery capital of the western hemisphere, with a couple hundred boner pills.

Even without the creepy child sex parts, the juxtaposition of a man who screams the abandonment of law and order and the decline of family values taking a sex drug that was obtained illegally to his stag party. How the fuck do people look at that and unironically say "well that makes perfect sense".

I hate this country sometimes.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:43 AM on February 5 [13 favorites]


Senate Impeachment Trial Vote (C-SPAN) The impeachement trial of President Trump concludes with votes on the articles. Legislative work is also possible. February 05, 2020

U.S. Senate: Debate on Articles of Impeachment & FINAL VOTE (C-SPAN YouTube) Senators will speak for up to 10 minutes each on the articles of impeachment against President Trump - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
posted by katra at 8:34 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


> How the fuck do people look at that and unironically say "well that makes perfect sense".

Limbaugh was a pioneer of hypocrisy being a feature, not a bug. We call it "owning the libs" now, and back in the GWB/Karl Rove days it was referred to as accusing your opponent of your own weakness, but it started with Rush. "Feminazi" as a slur from a Nazi sympathizer. Deficits mattered when Democrats were in power, but not for Trump (cw: reason.com). Sandra Fluke was a "prostitute" for advocating for contraception coverage, but he was curiously silent about paying for boner pills.

His greatest trick was showing that the media could be bullied and intimidated into not crossing the rabid right, which means there was no penalty for dishonesty. With that, the dishonesty became a weapon. And here we are. Rush was Trump before Trump.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:38 AM on February 5 [39 favorites]


That's the founder of right wing hate radio.

Then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert went on the Limbaugh show to decry calls for his resignation after the Mark Foley Senate page scandal of October 2006, saying Foley's victims were "out to get him" and it was a "liberal conspiracy:"

Limbaugh, taking Hastert's call early in the afternoon, got right down to business. "The Washington Times' admittedly conservative editorial page has asked for you to step down," he pointed out.

"Well, yeah, I'm not going to do that," Hastert said casually, as if the Washington Times had suggested he order grapefruit for breakfast.

Limbaugh set about making the case for Hastert. Democrats and the media, he said, are making the speaker look more "interested in holding the House rather than protecting children."

"Yeah" was the entirety of Hastert's reply.

"I like what you said yesterday," Limbaugh continued, when Hastert "asked for an investigation into who knew what when."


Media Matters: Limbaugh and Hastert baselessly suggested that Democrats orchestrated Foley scandal. (Audio embedded in the story.)

Rush's reaction: "Nancy Pelosi should resign" over "planted emails" and the "deep IMs," and the entire matter was somehow "the Democrats' fault."

In 2016, Hastert was sentenced as a "serial child molester" and for illegally structuring withdrawals to make hush payments to a former student of his who he victimized.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:39 AM on February 5 [22 favorites]


Trump Goes On Twitter Tear Over Pelosi Ripping Up His Speech (Matt Shuham, TPM)
He appears to have been deeply affected by the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), ripping up his State of the Union speech after he delivered it.

Trump expressed his frustration in his native tongue — retweets.
To the exclusion of any other topic, apparently.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:51 AM on February 5 [9 favorites]


Your Childhood Pet Rock right wing people look at that, and his drug addiction while simultaneously calling for harsh penalties for other drug addicts, as fine because they fundamentally do not believe in equality and equal treatment for all.

The right is literally defined by the belief that society is, should he, or inevitably is, hierarchical and that those closer to the top should be protected by the law but not bound by it, and that those further from the top should be bound by the law but not protected by it.

You aren't witnessesing hypocracy. You are seeing a belief in aristocracy. They truly believe that people like Limbaugh are better than them and deserve differential treatment by the authorities. Lesser people need harshness to keep them on the righteous path, greater people deserve mercy and exceptions because they are superior.

That's why they're fine with Trump's utter immorality and are baffled by our insistence that this means they arent moral. To them morality is for little people. The great and powerful are held to different standards.
posted by sotonohito at 8:52 AM on February 5 [33 favorites]




You aren't witnessesing hypocracy. You are seeing a belief in aristocracy.
And a good deal of mindless rah rah team, their team sucks, our team rules classic american political tribalism. What the GOP have mastered is the concentrated constant stoking of the base's hatred of their enemy . . .while dogwhistling, eye-rolling, defaming and straight up pointing out who they want the base's enemy to be.
It's the bullying power gestures that count to them. Not reason, logic, ethics or rules.
posted by Harry Caul at 9:22 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]


How do we know Limbaugh really has cancer? Have we seen the medical reports? He's probably just faking it for sympathy, like he accused Michael J. Fox of doing with his Parkinson's.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:29 AM on February 5 [14 favorites]


I seem to remember from the Bush years that hypocracy would literally mean "government from below".

I don't offer that as pedantry, but rather to invoke Brian Eno's aphorism "honour thy mistake as a hidden intention".
posted by Grangousier at 9:41 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]


The State of the Union Was an Elaborate Troll (Peter Nicholas, Atlantic)
"Trump’s speech turned what’s typically a unifying civic ritual into a glorified campaign rally."

After a wrenching national trauma like impeachment, a president might use a State of the Union speech to deliver a healing message. Perhaps he would express contrition for what got him impeached in the first place. Maybe even pledge not to repeat the same behavior that got him into the mess. Then again, nah.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:45 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


WATCH: Sen. Doug Jones says he will vote to convict Trump (PBS / YouTube)
“After many sleepless nights, I have reluctantly concluded that the evidence is sufficient to convict the president for both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress,” Jones said in a written statement.

Jones’ announcement was significant for Democrats, who are hoping their party will present a united front by unanimously voting to remove Trump from office. That would deny Trump and his GOP allies a campaign season talking point that the Senate’s virtually certain acquittal of Trump was bipartisan. [...]

Jones said the impeachment article accusing Trump of obstructing Congress’ investigation of his behavior gave him the most trouble. He said Wednesday that while he wished House investigators had pushed harder for more documents and witnesses, “I believe the president deliberately and unconstitutionally obstructed Congress by refusing to cooperate with the investigation in any way.”

He said he believes “the evidence clearly proves” that Trump was guilty of the first count of abusing his power.
posted by katra at 9:47 AM on February 5 [14 favorites]


It's a sad indictment of our media that Trump can get up and lie, troll and shamelessly posture knowing all the while that the most stinging rebuke to his malfeasance will be for his lies to be repeated in most places as "Trump claims..." with no additional pushback or attempt to point out his dishonesty. It's an even sadder indictment that the only way for Democrats to combat this in th heir clickbait world is to engage in the danger behavior he does knowing that they'll be held to a different standard. See all the Republicans so concerned about norms and decorum come scurrying out from under Trump like roaches from a particularly filthy refrigerator!

Good for Pelosi. I'm glad she wrecked his big night. I'm just sad that the truth isn't enough of a weapon to smack him down.
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:49 AM on February 5 [19 favorites]


It's a sad indictment of our media that Trump can get up and lie, troll and shamelessly posture knowing all the while that the most stinging rebuke to his malfeasance will be for his lies to be repeated in most places as "Trump claims..." with no additional pushback or attempt to point out his dishonesty.

Even worse, some media outlets -- I'm looking at you, NPR -- feel the need to frame assertions of objective, verifiable facts with "critics say...", implying that the dispute is a matter of opinion in which neither side has claim to the truth.
posted by Gelatin at 9:53 AM on February 5 [14 favorites]


The best response to Limbaugh's award would have been to have people tear up with laughter, point, and bray at the 2nd grade turd joke level of the trolling.
posted by benzenedream at 9:59 AM on February 5 [8 favorites]


Parkland dad thanks Pelosi, apologizes for letting Trump’s lies get to him at State of the Union (Lauren Floyd, Daily Kos)

He was a guest of Pelosi's at the SotU.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:08 AM on February 5 [10 favorites]


Guardian: "There might still be room to hear from former national security adviser, John Bolton, in the halls of Congress.
[...] Manu Raju (@mkraju) House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler tells us that House Dems will “likely” subpoena John Bolton and continue with investigations to follow after today. “I think it’s likely yes,” he told me of issuing a Bolton subpoena. February 5, 2020

When asked the same question on Sunday, House Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff was more circumspect and would not confirm or deny a plan to subpoena Bolton. “I don’t want to comment to this point on what our plans may or may not be with respect to John Bolton, but I will say this: whether it’s before -- in testimony before the House – or it’s in his (forthcoming) book or it’s in one form or another, the truth will come out (and) will continue to come out,” Schiff told CBS.
posted by katra at 10:28 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


After being denied his opportunity to get Justice Roberts to say the name of the suspected whistleblower Senator Rand Paul has used his 10 minute commentary period to read the name into the public record.

What effect this will have on future whistleblowers or on the life and health of this one is unknown. Senate Republicans did not condemn or even criticize Paul for his attempt to provoke stochastic terrorism against the whistleblower.
posted by sotonohito at 10:30 AM on February 5 [22 favorites]


Rand Paul reads alleged whistleblower's name and Republicans 'fine' with it (Politico)
“I was glad we didn’t put the chief justice in a bad situation,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of the GOP leadership. “I have some sympathy for [Paul’s] view on this. The whistleblower law should protect the whistleblower’s job and future opportunity and not necessarily hide who the whistleblower is.”

“It’s fine,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.). “Had there been a vote on it, I probably would have voted to override the chief justice.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who has long touted his reputation protecting whistleblowers, said simply: “If it’s the same name everybody else used, then it’s kind of out there.” [...]

But some Republicans did seek to gently put distance between themselves and Paul, a longtime troublemaker within the Senate GOP who has single handedly caused brief shutdowns of the government and the Patriot Act in his two terms in the Senate.

“I still believe in whistleblower protection. I think the fact that the chief justice wouldn’t read it is an indicator of the sensitivity of it,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). “So I probably wouldn’t have done that.”

“I wouldn’t have done it,” agreed Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), who said he would have voted down Paul if he had contested Roberts on the Senate floor. “I would have said that we’ve asked the chief justice by constitutional directive to oversee this and I’m going to respect his wishes.”
posted by katra at 10:36 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


When in fact, Limbaugh was merely ripping off Morton Downey Jr.

You misspelled "Wally George". Rebecca de Mornay's dad was the pioneer in conservative shitposting!
posted by rhizome at 10:48 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


Romney's talking like he might do the right thing.
posted by mazola at 11:07 AM on February 5


Romney is definitely voting against trump, and speaking more sincerely than I've ever seen him.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:09 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


Republican talk of doing the right thing is worthless (see Collins, Susan). Romney deserves credit if he does the right thing and not before.
posted by Gelatin at 11:09 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]


On lack of preview, if Romney does break the solid Republican vote to acquit, kudos to him, genuinely.
posted by Gelatin at 11:10 AM on February 5 [11 favorites]


Guardian: Romney says he will vote to convict
In an emotional speech on the Senate floor, Republican senator Mitt Romney announced he would vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial.

ABC News (@ABC) Romney: "The president's insistence that [the Bidens] be investigated by the Ukrainians is hard to explain other than as a political pursuit." "There's no question in my mind that were their names not Biden, the president would never have what he did." https://t.co/pZ46hjTyU1 pic.twitter.com/UONT1TpWlw February 5, 2020

“My faith is at the heart of who I am,” Romney said, choking up for several seconds. “I take an oath before God as consequential.”

Romney said this was “the most difficult decision I have ever faced” but had concluded that Trump was “guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.”

“The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the President committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a ‘high crime and misdemeanor,’” Romney said. “Yes, he did.”

Romney’s decision robs Trump of a key talking point -- that every Republican senator supported his acquittal. Instead, Democrats will be able to claim the push to convict Trump was (barely) bipartisan.
posted by katra at 11:13 AM on February 5 [32 favorites]


Let's not forget that Trump publicly humiliated Romney with that 'recruiting dinner' where he dangled the Secretary of State post in front of him, just to prove that Romney's 'never trumper' comments would be repudiated as soon as there was a major post potentially available. This is payback as much as principle.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:26 AM on February 5 [9 favorites]


Romney to vote to convict Trump on charge of abuse of power, becoming the first Republican to break ranks (WaPo)
Romney said he will vote against the second article of impeachment, which accused the president of obstruction of Congress. But on the first article, the Utah senator said in a telephone interview that he found the evidence against Trump overwhelming and the arguments by the president’s defense ultimately unconvincing.

“There’s no question that the president asked a foreign power to investigate his political foe,” Romney said ahead of the floor statement he delivered Wednesday. “That he did so for a political purpose, and that he pressured Ukraine to get them to do help or to lead in this effort. My own view is that there’s not much I can think of that would be a more egregious assault on our Constitution than trying to corrupt an election to maintain power. And that’s what the president did.”
posted by katra at 11:28 AM on February 5 [8 favorites]


Among other benefits, Romney voting convict will also somewhat reduce the harmful impact of a possible Manchin vote the other way, because the story won't be as simple as bipartisan acquittal with partisan conviction.

Note also that no senator in history has ever voted to convict a president of their own party -- Romney is going to be the first. At the same time, all impeached presidents have had at least some opposing senators choose acquittal, and this time that "some" is not going to be more than one or two. The partisanship of the process (combined with a bias toward acquittal on that basis that it's extreme) isn't exactly new. The breaking of that precedent tells us a little something about the severity of the man's unfitness.

And even if impeachment becomes more frequent in future years, I don't think it's ever going to happen that a political party's previous presidential nominee votes to remove the same party's president. Lots of people will claim that he's not a "true" Republican or something, but that's obviously preposterous.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:32 AM on February 5 [9 favorites]


This is payback as much as principle.

Any basis for that other than just disliking Romney? It doesn't appear that way to me, bad people can make good decisions for the right reasons, Romney does this sort of thing now and again.
posted by skewed at 11:34 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


This is payback as much as principle.

Based on my hatefollows on Twitter, this is Republican talking point A in response to Romney's vote (seeing lots of variations on "Romney did this because he hates Trump so bad"). Talking point B is that Romney wanted the "liberal media" to give him love.

Anyway.
posted by prefpara at 11:37 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


To be clear:
- No, I have no access to the inner workings of Romney's mind. Metafilter would be a much less trafficked site if we weren't allowed sarcastic speculation about the motives of public figures.
- I would be delighted if Romney were 100% motivated by payback. I hear it's a bitch.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:42 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Hell, more R senators should be seeking payback. Get with the program, former presidential candidates Cruz and Rubio!
posted by Huffy Puffy at 11:43 AM on February 5 [18 favorites]


Gentle reminder that Trump did not win a majority of votes in Utah in 2016 and the general animosity between Utah culture and Trumpian culture and Romney's decision to represent his constituents should not be discounted.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:44 AM on February 5 [25 favorites]


Hell, more R senators should be seeking payback. Get with the program, former presidential candidates Cruz and Rubio!

I truly do not understand patriarchal authoritarian culture, because it is bazonkers to me that Cruz' support didn't just wither and die when he rolled over after what Trump said about him and his wife. It's pathetic how easy it is to keep your cred in that culture as long as there's someone for you to punch down at.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:48 AM on February 5 [12 favorites]


The political calculus is definitely different for Romney because of Utah (congrats mormons at not being as craven as evangelicals), but Romney voting to convict on an article is a good thing, period. It's a bit b.s. that he thinks obstruction of congress is a whatever, but...whatever.
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:50 AM on February 5 [9 favorites]


...the pioneer in conservative shitposting!

WRT electronic mass media, that (dis)honor likely belongs to radio broadcaster Father Charles Coughlin, who had a large U.S. audience in the 1930s. The media may change, but the mindset won't: who will take up Rush's mantle?
posted by cenoxo at 11:54 AM on February 5 [7 favorites]


Before the vote I can still enjoy some last-minute fantasies:

1) All the Republicans who claim in private that they hate Trump actually vote him out.

2) Since the president can be convicted by "two thirds of the Members present," enough Republicans no-show that the Democrats and some Republicans can vote him out.

Hey, I said they were fantasies.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:54 AM on February 5 [26 favorites]


Got to get back!
Need some get back! Revenge!
I'm Mitt!

You got down on my Bain fees, and that ain't right!
Hollerin', cussin', all your Twitter fights
LDS -- that's what Utah's gotta be, hey
So that ol' Mitch, he can't do any damn thing to me

You sold me out, for a scallop plate (yes you did!)
Told me that the Cabinet, it was all arranged
You had me down, and that's a fact
Now you punk, You gotta get ready
For the Biblical payback!

posted by snuffleupagus at 12:05 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


Mitt's more of a 'Living in America' kind of James Brown fan.
posted by box at 12:24 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Call me naive, but I think Romney’s vote here is sincere and based in his ethics (which for him stem from his religion). Anyone who watched 2012 knows he’s not much of an actor. Organized religion has its extensive drawbacks, but one of its pluses is knowing that even if everyone else abandons you and condemns you, God will always be there beside you. For someone as devout as Romney, that can lend you all the courage you need to do the tough but right thing.
posted by sallybrown at 12:27 PM on February 5 [21 favorites]




Yes, with all the craven prosperity gospel hypocrites getting all the attention these days, it can be hard to remember that there do exist people who take their religion seriously rather than using it to try to hide their shameful amorality.
posted by wierdo at 12:35 PM on February 5 [9 favorites]


It would be great if Romney's statement shamed a few more Republican senators who purport to be Christian into doing the right thing. Unlikely, but it would be great.
posted by Sublimity at 12:37 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Guardian: Sinema to reportedly vote to convict
Democratic senator Kyrsten Sinema will reportedly vote to convict Trump on both articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Arizona Republic reports:

The decision by Sinema, a moderate Arizona Democrat who was seen as a swing vote, was one of the last remaining questions hanging over Trump’s impeachment trial. [...]

The last remaining Democratic senator whose stance remains unknown is Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has declined to say how he will vote.
posted by katra at 12:42 PM on February 5 [7 favorites]


The important thing about impeachment is we all had fun and learned a lesson (Alexandra Petri, Washington Post Opinion)
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:46 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


I think Romney will face a deluge of mean tweets and maybe some cold shoulders in the Senate gym for a few weeks but honestly that's it. His seat is safe if he wants to stay in the Senate and if he wants to leave he has millions of dollars to coast on. He can probably get another book deal based on this one vote and a permanent TV or think tank/consulting/lobbying gig if that's what he would prefer. Once the election race heats up that's where all the focus will be along with whatever craziness happens in the next few months.
posted by mikepop at 12:51 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


If Manchin votes to acquit, I will pee on my desk.
posted by delfin at 12:53 PM on February 5 [6 favorites]


McConnell doing the gloating and trolling thing to full effect. Ugh.
posted by Harry Caul at 12:54 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Manchin will vote to convict. (Delfin's desk is safe.)
posted by PhineasGage at 12:59 PM on February 5 [19 favorites]


Guardian: Republican senator Susan Collins, who has said she will vote to acquit Trump, walked back her comment yesterday, “I believe that the president has learned from this case.”
The Maine Republican told a reporter that it was more accurate to say she “hopes” Trump has learned from the impeachment trial. [...] During an off-the-record luncheon with news anchors yesterday, Trump reportedly dismissed the notion that any of his actions toward Ukraine were inappropriate.

“It was a perfect call,” Trump told the anchors of his July conversation with the Ukrainian president, during which he asked for a “favor” from the foreign leader and went on to discuss potential corruption investigations.
posted by katra at 1:00 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


sallybrown > ...I think Romney’s vote here is sincere and based in his ethics (which for him stem from his religion)....

From The Conversation, Luke Perry, March 26, 2019; Romney’s Mormon religion helps explain his criticism of Trump:
Mitt Romney has been one of few prominent Republicans to criticize Donald Trump, beginning with the 2016 presidential campaign. He did so again recently in response to Trump’s critical comments about John McCain.

“I can’t understand why the President would, once again, disparage a man as exemplary as my friend John McCain,” Romney tweeted.

Why is Romney staking out a lonely position as a Republican Trump critic?

Among the answers floated by observers are that he still wants to be president or he fundamentally misunderstands how to influence Trump’s political behavior, or both.Why is Romney staking out a lonely position as a Republican Trump critic?

Among the answers floated by observers are that he still wants to be president or he fundamentally misunderstands how to influence Trump’s political behavior, or both.

To date, though, there has been little mention of Romney’s religion. I’m a scholar who has studied the role of religion in U.S. politics, and I believe Romney’s Mormon faith is central to understanding his concerns about Trump’s character and leadership.

Donald Trump is arguably the least religious president in U.S. history and has displayed a penchant for moral relativism over bedrock beliefs.

Had he won the 2012 presidential campaign, Romney would have arguably been the most religious president ever.

Of course, Romney is personally motivated, politically calculating and pragmatic, like most national political figures. But he is also immensely devout. You cannot fully understand Mitt Romney without recognizing this.
...
Links and examples in the article above, and more about Trump's [ongoing] Mormon problem, Salt Lake Tribune, Jana Riess, 2/4/2020.
posted by cenoxo at 1:03 PM on February 5 [7 favorites]


Every other Senate GoPinhead who has even had a _hint_ of "centrism" or "moderate politics" associated with them could have voted with Romney on this without changing the end result at all.

Every one of them could have sent a message to Trump that, no, they are not going to actually remove him but they are also not blind.

And every one of them knows that.

Up yours, Sen. Collins.
posted by delfin at 1:04 PM on February 5 [26 favorites]


“I believe that the president has learned from this case.”

*chokes on lunch* I'm guessing that even the MAGAest of MAGAs do not believe this.
posted by Melismata at 1:07 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Honestly shocked that Manchin didn't cave.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:07 PM on February 5 [12 favorites]


Guardian: McConnell criticizes Pelosi in final speech before impeachment vote
McConnell criticized Democrats like House speaker Nancy Pelosi, who have said Trump’s expected acquittal will be illegitimate because there was no “fair trial.”

“Perhaps she’ll tear up the verdict like she tore up the State of the Union address,” McConnell said.
posted by katra at 1:12 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Organized religion has its extensive drawbacks, but one of its pluses is knowing that even if everyone else abandons you and condemns you, God will always be there beside you. For someone as devout as Romney, that can lend you all the courage you need to do the tough but right thing

Whether that's a plus or a minus is entirely contingent on the individual's beliefs. This is the same sentiment that gives rise to religious violence.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:13 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


It would be great if Romney's statement shamed a few more Republican senators who purport to be Christian into doing the right thing.

That would be Mitt Romney, serial liar? Please proceed. Pretty sure Mitt's decision is based on political calculation rather than his "ethics."
posted by SPrintF at 1:15 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


with Romney, Sinema, and Manchin does that make it 49 for impeachment? Getting to 51 I think would have been a big deal, even though obviously just symbolic.
posted by skewed at 1:17 PM on February 5




Guardian: Trump is acquitted of abuse of power
It’s official: Trump has been acquitted on the first article of impeachment, abuse of power.

The final vote, as expected, was 52-48, with all Democrats and Mitt Romney supporting conviction.
posted by katra at 1:21 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Bipartisanship!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:23 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


Damn, we're a divided country.
posted by Melismata at 1:23 PM on February 5


With the additional problem that the division of the government does not accurately reflect the division of the electorate.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:25 PM on February 5 [15 favorites]


Monday's Iowa caucus was an embarrassing moment for the Democratic Party; today's unity among Democratic senators is a moment to be proud of.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:28 PM on February 5 [11 favorites]


All 47 Democratic caucus senators voted for conviction on BOTH counts. Romney voted only for Article I, abuse of power.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:33 PM on February 5 [6 favorites]


Guardian: Trump acquitted of obstruction of Congress
Trump has officially been acquitted of both articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The votes -- 52-48 and 53-47 -- fell well short of the two-thirds majority needed to remove the president from office.
posted by katra at 1:33 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Obstruction of Congress went 53-47 to acquit--the only person to change their vote from the first charge was Mitt Romney.
posted by box at 1:33 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Tonight, 5:30 local time, Reject the Cover Up rallies

posted by Sublimity at 1:35 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


That would be Mitt Romney, serial liar? Please proceed. Pretty sure Mitt's decision is based on political calculation rather than his "ethics."

I DON'T FUCKING CARE! Just like I don't care what your motivations are if you're doing something racist, it's racist and needs to stop. On the flip-side, I don't care what your motivations are for doing the right thing, just keep on doing the right thing.

Here is your cookie Mitt, good boy. Keep it up and I will give you more cookies. Do bad things and it's still the can full of pennies for you.
posted by VTX at 1:36 PM on February 5 [24 favorites]


If nothing else, this impeachment process got a leading currently-serving Republican to admit that Donald Trump should be removed from office. That is something that has been rather difficult to achieve.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:37 PM on February 5 [11 favorites]


came here expecting to find perfidy from manchin, am both surprised and relieved that manchin was in fact not perfidious.

good job manchin!

also though romney can eat a bag even though he voted to convict on one charge. like whatever he took a “stand” but nevertheless i have never seen anyone so thoroughly fail to fulfill the white horse prophecy as mitt romney has.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:39 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Romney, ever the weasel, can safely claim that he both voted for impeachment and voted against impeachment.
posted by JackFlash at 1:40 PM on February 5 [8 favorites]


so now can roberts go back to his seat at the head of the highest court in the land, and, as he comes to consider those executive privilege cases that may arise on the docket, carry with him the understanding that a majority of the senate of the united states have blessed inchoate assertions of absolute privilege by the chief executive?
posted by 20 year lurk at 1:42 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Plus he gets to be the first senator in US history to vote to convict a president from the same party in an impeachment trial. So he gets a medal I suppose.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 1:42 PM on February 5 [7 favorites]


So he gets a medal I suppose.

Nope, that went to Rush.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 1:44 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


So he gets a medal I suppose.

I'd say along with a presidential run or two and a by-now almost thoroughly-erased gubernatorial stint, as far as history goes Mitt has at most achieved footnote status. So, y'know...huzzah.
posted by rhizome at 2:10 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


I owe Manchin an apology, I'd been sure that he'd vote to acquit and I was wrong.

Sorry about that Sen Manchin.
posted by sotonohito at 2:25 PM on February 5 [8 favorites]


Man, there was one principled republican and it turned out to be Mitt Romney


How sad is that
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:27 PM on February 5 [22 favorites]


I'm guessing that even the MAGAest of MAGAs do not believe this.

Only because, in MAGAland, it is impossible for Trump to do wrong. There's nothing to learn.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:45 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Man, there was one principled republican and it turned out to be Mitt Romney
Before we get all carried away, let's at least remember that two weeks ago Romney voted in lockstep with every other member of his party to reject every amendment to the impeachment procedures proposed by the House impeachment managers in an effort to introduce more evidence.

Once the outcome was a foregone conclusion he made a politically expedient vote to hear witnesses and was the beneficiary of a national pity party after the meanies at CPAC chose to disinvite him from their convention.. but at any juncture where his vote might have mattered Mitt Romney voted in lockstep with his party.

The bar is so low now that I'm seeing people and pundits all over the internet try to bestow the "last honorable Republican" title upon him. But boy, let me tell you.. that's not what we're looking at here.
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:46 PM on February 5 [29 favorites]


I'm not sure what, exactly, it says about the whole situation but it appears noteworthy that the two most significant (well Mittens vote today is arguably not very significant) anti-Trump votes cast in the Senate . . . were cast by the 2008 and 2012 GOP presidential nominees, respectively.

GOP is clearly party of trump, its moderately interesting that the people who last carried that mantle dont want it to appear to be that way.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:47 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]




DOJ reviews allegation that Erik Prince misled Congress in Russia probe (Politico)
The Justice Department has begun reviewing a 10-month-old allegation by the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), that Erik Prince, an ally of President Donald Trump, repeatedly misled lawmakers during the panel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In a Feb. 4 letter to Schiff from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, obtained on Tuesday by POLITICO, Boyd expressed regret for the lengthy delay in responding to the chairman’s April 30, 2019, request. [...] Schiff initially referred Prince to the Justice Department and sought “prompt” action for what he described as a series of “manifest and substantial falsehoods.” In that letter, delivered to Attorney General William Barr, Schiff said that Prince, the billionaire founder of a military contracting firm, intentionally misled the House Intelligence Committee and impaired its investigation of Russian links to the 2016 Trump campaign.

It’s unclear what led the Justice Department to return to Schiff’s request 10 months later on the eve of the Senate’s decision to acquit Trump on two impeachment charges. The department and a Prince attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment. [...] In his April 30 letter, Schiff highlighted six instances in which information revealed about Prince in Mueller’s report diverged from his testimony in November 2017 before the committee. He homed in on Prince’s meeting, in the Seychelles in January 2017, with a Russian banker who is reportedly close to President Vladimir Putin of Russia, an encounter Prince later told congressional officials took place purely by chance.

Prince told Schiff’s committee in late 2017 that he had no “official or, really, unofficial role” with the Trump campaign. [...] But a succession of news reports indicated that Prince’s relationship with the campaign was deeper than he let on. According to a New York Times report last May, Prince helped facilitate meetings for high-level Trump campaign staff.
posted by katra at 2:52 PM on February 5 [7 favorites]


So, what happens now?
posted by dreamling at 2:58 PM on February 5


In Private, Republicans Admit they Acquitted Trump Out of Fear by Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Well, thank fuck that at least one of my senators penned an op-ed for the NYT today that wasn't a handjob-in-print for the fuckface-in-chief.

(I'm really looking forward to throwing some energy and money into backing any viable opponents for Rob Portman in 2022.)
posted by palomar at 2:59 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]


So, what happens now?

Well, Trump responded to the Mueller hearings by waiting one day to extort Ukraine.

Don't forget to duck tomorrow.
posted by delfin at 3:03 PM on February 5 [7 favorites]


I'm looking forward to a fresh round of articles of impeachment!
posted by ButteryMales at 3:09 PM on February 5 [8 favorites]


So, what happens now?
The "A" in "ITMFA" changes so that it represents the word "Again"
posted by Nerd of the North at 3:16 PM on February 5 [38 favorites]


Fuck this. From now on Republicans pay double.
posted by Catblack at 3:29 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


I guess this also means the end of the impeachment threads. Thanks, katra, for keeping them going.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:53 PM on February 5 [25 favorites]


Every single miserable piece of spineless filth that voted to acquit should never be allowed to forget that they did so. Just my 2¢.
posted by caution live frogs at 4:10 PM on February 5 [12 favorites]


In Private, Republicans Admit they Acquitted Trump Out of Fear by Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Sherrod, my man! (And he quotes Lizzo.)

Well, thank fuck that at least one of my senators penned an op-ed for the NYT today that wasn't a handjob-in-print for the fuckface-in-chief.

Yeah, not gonna waste a (an?) NYT click on whatever mealy-mouthed bullshit Portman is churning out. I will definitely take your word for it that it was a stroke-job of the highest order.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:23 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


I guess this also means the end of the impeachment threads. Thanks, katra, for keeping them going.

Ongoing House Investigations Of Trump Will Outlast Impeachment Trial (WBUR, Jan. 30, 2020)
“That is everything from Oversight in terms of taxes, to Financial Services and Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank,” said Rep. Ayanna Pressley, referring to the two House committees she serves on.

“So yes, our work continues regarding the corruption and abuse of power of this administration,” Pressley said, referring to charges against the president outlined in the two impeachment articles the Senate is currently weighing. [...] “It’s a signal to the next president and future presidents that this type of activity will lead to your impeachment,” [Rep. Stephen Lynch, who also serves on both the Oversight and Financial Services committees] said. “We have the hope that the rule of law will prevail here.”

Lynch acknowledged that some may believe it better to let the voters decide Trump’s fate with their ballots rather than engage in prolonged investigations. But there is more at stake than who should be president in 2021, he said.
Donald Trump Still Faces Dozens of Ongoing Lawsuits, Investigations After His Impeachment Trial (Newsweek, Jan. 24, 2020)
Last year, House Democrats sent letters to 81 Trump-connected individuals and entities seeking records and testimony from the White House, as well as Trump's businesses, charity and family, as part of a broad inquiry into potential obstruction of justice and corruption.

"Over the last several years, President Trump has evaded accountability for his near-daily attacks on our basic legal, ethical, and constitutional rules and norms," Democratic Representative Jerry Nadler said at the time. "Investigating these threats to the rule of law is an obligation of Congress."

There's also the issue of the Trump administration's apparent violation of the emoluments clause, which prohibits federal officials from receiving gifts from foreign or state governments without the consent of Congress. There are several lawsuits circulating in the lower courts that accuse Trump of failing to comply with the clause by profiting from domestic and foreign officials who visit his hotels and restaurants.

Other noteworthy congressional investigations include Trump's communication with Russian President Vladimir Putin, alleged abuses with the White House security clearance system, and the president's tax returns.
I do like the idea of changing the "A" in "ITMFA" so that it represents the word "Again"...
posted by katra at 4:25 PM on February 5 [14 favorites]


And if you were waiting for the worst possible take on all of this... it's here.

David Brooks: "Instead of spending the past 3 years on Mueller and impeachment suppose Trump opponents had spent the time on an infrastructure bill or early childhood education? More good would have been done."
posted by delfin at 4:33 PM on February 5 [15 favorites]


And seriously, thank you all for participating and contributing in these threads, and many, many thanks to the moderators who help us keep our discussions focused, and thanks to Nancy Pelosi, for so expertly getting under the GOP's skin:
House Republicans have introduced legislation to register disapproval of Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she ripped up a copy of Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech.

“Whereas, the conduct of Speaker Pelosi was a breach of decorum and degraded the proceedings of the joint session to the discredit of the House,” the resolution reads. “Resolved, That the House of Representatives disapproves of the behavior of Speaker Pelosi during the joint session of Congress held on February 4, 2020.”

The resolution, introduced by Texas Representative Kay Granger is unlikely to get anywhere — Representatives are expected to vote to table it tomorrow.
posted by katra at 4:34 PM on February 5 [11 favorites]


Yes, that was classic David Brooks. As Matt Yglesias points out, "House Democrats released their infrastructure plan less than a week ago."
posted by PhineasGage at 4:39 PM on February 5 [17 favorites]


So, what happens now?

Well, that didn't take long. Minutes after the acquittal, Senators Grassley and Johnson have requested Hunter Biden's travel records from the Secret Service.

You see, Republicans have given a free pass to Trump to decide which documents he wants to produce and which he wants to obstruct (Article 2 of impeachment). Using the power of his office to investigate his political rivals is perfectly okay (Article 1 of impeachment).

As Collins said, Trump has learned his lesson. And he has learned it very, very well and taking full advantage of it.
posted by JackFlash at 4:42 PM on February 5 [41 favorites]


The thing is they have nothing on Hunter Biden. If they did it’d be out already. They’re just going to make noise noise noise and try to Benghazi the shit out of this. All depends on how the media covers it. Hopefully they give it the legitimacy it deserves, which is zero. Not holding my breath though.
posted by azpenguin at 5:47 PM on February 5 [7 favorites]


Is there any place I can go to see what my Senators said to justify their abdication and cowardice? I’m sure it won’t be a pleasant 20 minutes but I feel it’s my responsibility as a citizen to view their malfeasance for myself.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 5:53 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Grassley and Johnson only have until February 29th to make those fantasy molehills into rumors of a mountain. After SC, harassing Bidens to please Trumps will be pointless.
posted by Harry Caul at 6:03 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Is there any place I can go to see what my Senators said to justify their abdication and cowardice?

Which senators support removing Trump (WaPo, Updated Feb. 5 at 4:51 p.m.)
You can read more of what each senator has said and how they are expected to vote on Trump’s removal below.
posted by katra at 6:06 PM on February 5


“I believe that the president has learned from this case.”

Sure, that he actually IS above the law and can literally do anything he wants without anyone stopping him.

I saw the impeachment rally in my town on the way home, but I was just too tired to join them. I can't even feel anything any more.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:24 PM on February 5 [8 favorites]


After SC, harassing Bidens to please Trumps will be pointless.

Don't count on it. It's not about proving Biden wrong so much as proving Trump right, that Trump was persecuted by corrupt Democrats for his perfect Biden investigation.

Trump is still running against the 2016 DNC server. He's certainly not going to drop the Hunter Biden thing, ever.

Plan on hearing about Hunter Biden every day right up to the election.
posted by JackFlash at 6:53 PM on February 5 [15 favorites]


Trump wins acquittal, but Ukraine saga far from over (AP)
A full accounting of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, stemming in large part from the foreign policy entanglements pursued by personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, remains unfinished despite Trump’s acquittal Wednesday in the Senate.

As the president launches into his reelection campaign, pushing past the charges that threatened his legacy, it’s only a matter of time before fresh details, documents and eyewitnesses emerge, including revelations in a new book from John Bolton, the former national security adviser.

The result could be the start of a prolonged investigation with no clear endpoint, keeping questions about the president’s conduct alive through the election in November. It’s the kind of prolonged fallout that Trump and his GOP allies sought to avoid as they rejected a lengthy impeachment trial.

“More is going to come out every day, indeed it has come out every day and every week,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press. [...]

And it’s not just Bolton. Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, a Florida businessman who claims to have been working for Trump on Ukraine, has said he is eager to testify before Congress and tell his side of the story. Indicted on campaign finance charges last year, he has been providing documents and messages to impeachment investigators.

Meanwhile, thousands of pages of Ukraine-related documents are slowly emerging in response to Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed by watchdog groups. The Justice Department disclosed in a court filing last weekend that it has 24 emails related to Ukraine that it has not produced.
posted by katra at 7:03 PM on February 5 [8 favorites]


Trump's done with impeachment. Here are his next legal challenges. (Politico)
The next nine months before the 2020 presidential election are packed with landmines that can cause all manner of embarrassing headlines, adverse legal rulings and other politically risky decisions for Trump and his administration.

Watch for more House Democratic subpoenas. Watch for several big Supreme Court rulings on Trump’s power to ignore subpoenas for his financial records. And watch for growing pressure on the president to pardon former aides and advisers caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
posted by katra at 7:06 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]




Schiff: Bolton refused to give sworn statement on Ukraine to House Democrats (Axios)
Former national security adviser John Bolton "refused" to submit a sworn affidavit "describing what he observed in terms of the president's Ukraine misconduct" to House Democrats after the Senate voted not to hear witnesses in President Trump's impeachment trial, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told MSNBC on Wednesday. [...]

""For whatever reason, [Bolton] apparently was willing to testify before the Senate, but apart from that, seems intent on saving it for his book," Schiff told host Rachel Maddow. "He'll have to answer for that, but at this point we have not made a decision about whether or not to move forward with a subpoena, but it is certainly something that we will be discussing."
posted by katra at 10:04 PM on February 5 [6 favorites]


Well, that didn't take long. Minutes after the acquittal, Senators Grassley and Johnson have requested Hunter Biden's travel records from the Secret Service.

Why would the Secret Service have Hunter Biden's travel records? What are "travel records?"
posted by rhizome at 12:27 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


TPM: Republican Senators Laugh Off Trump Jr.’s Cry To Boot Romney From The Party
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:13 PM on February 5 [3 favorites +] [!]


I didn't notice before now that what Jr posted was:
He’s now officially a member of the resistance

By now the "are we the baddies?" sketch has been through so much that it has given up. There was an article in my feed this morning with the desperate title: Are Americans (Really) So Dumb They Don’t Know Fascism When They See It? I think most people are that dumb, Americans and non-Americans alike. It's impressive that the majority of Americans disapprove of Trump at this point.
posted by mumimor at 12:37 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


Presumably he would have had Secret Service protection while his father was vice president.
posted by bardophile at 1:00 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


*
posted by HyperBlue at 5:51 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Trump has learned his lesson much in the same way velociraptors learned to open doors.
posted by emelenjr at 6:07 AM on February 6 [38 favorites]


"Trump has learned his lesson much in the same way velociraptors learned to open doors."

If I may steal this comment, I'll illustrate it with a Trump/velociraptor hybrid tonight.
posted by mikepop at 6:30 AM on February 6 [15 favorites]


Romney said this was “the most difficult decision I have ever faced”

For fuck's sake. Difficult? It really shouldn't be.

I believe that the president has learned from this case.

For fuck's sake. She "believes" this. Government by the unqualified and uninformed. What could go wrong?
posted by juiceCake at 6:33 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Collins is neither unqualified (in the classic sense) nor uninformed.

She’s a blood-red Republican and completely in the tank, and politically shrewd enough to frame her behavior in just enough plausible deniability to provide a fig leaf for her behavior to allow conservative Democrats in her state to keep voting for her.

It’s worked to keep her in power for decades.
posted by darkstar at 6:41 AM on February 6 [14 favorites]


Sen. Sherrod Brown: In private, Republicans admit they acquitted Trump out of fear (Sherrod Brown, OpEd - NYT via Salt Lake Tribune)
Of course, the Republican senators who have covered for Mr. Trump love what he delivers for them. But Vice President Mike Pence would give them the same judges, the same tax cuts, the same attacks on workers’ rights and the environment. So that’s not really the reason for their united chorus of “not guilty.”

For the stay-in-office-at-all-cost representatives and senators, fear is the motivator. They are afraid that Mr. Trump might give them a nickname like “Low Energy Jeb” and “Lyin’ Ted,” or that he might tweet about their disloyalty. Or — worst of all — that he might come to their state to campaign against them in the Republican primary. They worry:

“Will the hosts on Fox attack me?”

“Will the mouthpieces on talk radio go after me?”

“Will the Twitter trolls turn their followers against me?”

[…]

I have asked some of them, “If the Senate votes to acquit, what will you do to keep this president from getting worse?” Their responses have been shrugs and sheepish looks.

They will not say that they are afraid. We all want to think that we always stand up for right and fight against wrong. But history does not look kindly on politicians who cannot fathom a fate worse than losing an upcoming election. They might claim fealty to their cause — those tax cuts — but often it’s a simple attachment to power that keeps them captured by fear.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:49 AM on February 6 [14 favorites]


Impeachment Witnesses Who Testified Publicly Are Angry with John Bolton (Colin Kalmbacher, Law & Crime blog)
[One witness] singled out Bolton and his decidedly theatrical role throughout the messy impeachment imbroglio, saying the forever war hawk was “trying to have it both ways” by dishing on Trump while ignoring Democratic Party requests to step forward and testify—like 17 witnesses who weren’t selling books actually had the courage to do.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:55 AM on February 6 [20 favorites]


But history does not look kindly on politicians who cannot fathom a fate worse than losing an upcoming election.

And when "history" funds their re-elections and bankrolls their post-election consulting and media careers, they'll give a shit about its unkind looks.
posted by Rykey at 6:58 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


"Like each member of this deliberative body, I love our country. I believe that our Constitution was inspired by Providence". Full Transcript

This part of Romney's speech makes me despair for the future of the US. The system is broken. It needs to be fixed. And if you think your 230+ year old Constitution was inspired by God, there's little to no chance it will be substantially overhauled. You can't change a word in the Bible. The US has become a very strange theocracy indeed.
posted by Omon Ra at 7:57 AM on February 6 [29 favorites]


And when "history" funds their re-elections and bankrolls their post-election consulting and media careers, they'll give a shit about its unkind looks.

I believe that this is covered by 'attachment to power'.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:03 AM on February 6


Trump appears to swipe at Romney and Pelosi at the National Prayer Breakfast (Michelle Boorstein and Sarah Pulliam Bailey, WaPo)
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:06 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Romney said this was “the most difficult decision I have ever faced”

For fuck's sake. Difficult? It really shouldn't be.


Not unlike you or me, Romney views himself as a good person. By extension, he joined the GOP because it shares his “good guy” values. I’m sure the idea that the party isn’t therefore comprised of all good guys or that the guy who is helping you deliver so much good for the American people is actually a petty crook is extraordinarily difficult to accept.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:11 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


If you've ever stood up to friends (or as it were, former friends) against anything, you know it is hard.

He just went against very long term friends and colleagues. Yes it was for only one charge and not all. But he is facing quite a bit of censure.

I'd rather have someone who grapples internally with what is right and in line with his values than someone who only thinks in terms of votes and has no inner conscience. He's 77, he's probably not gonna run again. So maybe it was safe. But he stood up when no other Rs would.

I'm not going to vote for him ever, but I can respect what he's done. Craven is all that comes to mind about the rest of the Rs who heard what he said and still voted to acquit.
posted by affectionateborg at 8:26 AM on February 6 [16 favorites]


Or less charitably, it also means he has to give up forever on his dream of being president (however distant that possibility was up until this point). So he had to sacrifice his ego for his values, which can be a hard choice.
posted by Candleman at 8:26 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Trump appears to swipe at Romney and Pelosi at the National Prayer Breakfast

"A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression." – Proverbs 19:11
posted by kirkaracha at 8:40 AM on February 6 [7 favorites]


I don't know whether it's ironic or not that the one class that really, really understands class solidarity in the very fibre of their being is the upper class.
posted by Grangousier at 9:01 AM on February 6 [24 favorites]


Trump appears to swipe at Romney and Pelosi at the National Prayer Breakfast

Pelosi has been standing up to much worse from Trump, right to his face, for three straight years. Threats. Name calling. Belittling. Demeaning.
Yet they say it's Romney who is the courageous one.
posted by JackFlash at 9:39 AM on February 6 [40 favorites]


Guardian: Trump on Russia probe: 'It was all bullshit'
Trump’s remarks after his Senate acquittal is turning into a screed against all of the probes into his administration, starting with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.

“We first went through Russia, Russia, Russia,” Trump said. “It was all bullshit.”

That last comment will likely rankle the television networks who are carrying Trump’s remarks live.
Guardian: "For comparison, when Bill Clinton addressed the public after his Senate acquittal in 1999, he began by expressing how “profoundly sorry” he was for actions.
Alana Abramson (@aabramson) For comparative purposes, Clinton began his speech this way after acquittal:
"Now that the Senate has fulfilled its constitutional responsibility, bringing this process to a conclusion, I want to say again to the American people how profoundly sorry I am...." pic.twitter.com/hymlSJECi8 February 6, 2020
posted by katra at 9:45 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


“It was all bullshit.”

That last comment will likely rankle the television networks who are carrying Trump’s remarks live.


Yes, the worst thing this President has done was to use a mild profanity on live television. The horror.
posted by tivalasvegas at 9:49 AM on February 6 [15 favorites]


Guardian: Trump attacks Romney in his impeachment remarks
The Utah Republican said of his decision yesterday, “As a senator-juror, I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential.”

But Trump was completely dismissive of that rationale. “Then you have some who used religion as a crutch,” Trump said at the White House. “They never used it before. Never heard him use it before. ... But you know it’s a failed presidential candidate, but things can happen when you fail so badly.”

The president’s allies were silent as Trump criticized Romney and only cheered when he turned his attention to other Republican senators.
Guardian: Trump attacks Pelosi and Schiff as 'horrible' people
“Adam Schiff is a vicious, horrible person,” Trump said. “Nancy Pelosi is a horrible person.”

Trump also once again scoffed at Pelosi’s repeated comments about praying for the president.

“I doubt she prays at all,” Trump said.
posted by katra at 9:54 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


That gathering in the White House looks like a gathering of minor pathetic demons in the Bad Place.
posted by riverlife at 9:55 AM on February 6 [16 favorites]


‘It’s been a very unfair situation,’ Trump says, opening White House remarks (WaPo)
The crowd in the East Room of the White House gave Trump a standing ovation as he entered the room.

“We’ve all been through a lot together, and we probably deserve that hand for all of us, because it’s been a very unfair situation,” Trump said.

The president’s legal team members, too, received a standing ovation as they entered shortly before Trump did.

“This should never, ever happen to another president, ever,” Trump said of his impeachment by the House.

Many Republican lawmakers were in the crowd, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), Reps. Devin Nunes (Calif.), Mark Meadows (N.C.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Jim Jordan (Ohio) and others.

Trump’s Cabinet members were also present. There were lots of smiles and backslapping as guests milled around ahead of Trump’s remarks, with scores of journalists herded toward the sides and back of the room.
posted by katra at 9:59 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


fullfash.gif
posted by Rykey at 10:05 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


“This should never, ever happen to another president, ever,” Trump said of his impeachment by the House.

The House should just pick another of the many crimes and start new a new impeachment process today. Clearly, this is one thing they can do that actually seems to get to him.
posted by mikepop at 10:07 AM on February 6 [37 favorites]


Guardian: "While speaking at the White House, Trump appeared to raise the possibility that he could be impeached again.
“We’ll probably have to do it again,” Trump said, claiming that his critics “have gone stone cold crazy.”
posted by katra at 10:08 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Trump raises possibility he will be impeached again (WaPo)
As his remarks continued, Trump raised the spectre that he could be impeached again by Democrats and equated his conduct toward Ukraine with jaywalking.

“Because if they find that I happen to walk across the street and maybe go against the light or something, let’s impeach him,” Trump said. “So we’ll probably have to do it again, because these people have gone stone cold crazy. But I’ve beaten them all my life, and I’ll beat them again if I have to. But what they’re doing is very unfair, very unfair.”
posted by katra at 10:10 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


But I’ve beaten them all my life, and I’ll beat them again if I have to.

Says the first-time president, who used to claim he was a Democrat.
posted by Harry Caul at 10:27 AM on February 6 [14 favorites]


The "go against the light" comment is so revealing, and reminds me a lot of when he said "I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI" in response to George Stephanopoulos asking about what to do when a foreign agent says they have dirt on an opponent. Or when Don Jr said in a Fox interview: "There are no actual crimes. There’s only things that people did in past lives, in 2006 before we even thought we ever get into this crazy world."

It's a world where following rules or laws is for lesser people, and supposed infractions are "just business". And most significantly, that this is obvious to everyone else, and hence anyone who objects is just manufacturing their outrage (something Trump of course has experience with, but with no internal distinction from non-manufactured outrage), or virtue-signaling.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:34 AM on February 6 [11 favorites]


Trump's acquittal offers glimpse of America's imploding empire (David Smith, Guardian), Impeachment didn't remove Trump. But what if elections won't either? (Lawrence Douglas, Guardian Opinion), Impeachment was a health-check for American democracy. It is not well (Andrew Gawthorpe, Guardian Opinion)

Marie Yovanovitch: These are turbulent times. But we will persist and prevail. (WaPo Opinion)
I have seen dictatorships around the world, where blind obedience is the norm and truth-tellers are threatened with punishment or death. We must not allow the United States to become a country where standing up to our government is a dangerous act. It has been shocking to experience the storm of criticism, lies and malicious conspiracies that have preceded and followed my public testimony, but I have no regrets. I did — we did — what our conscience called us to do. We did what the gift of U.S. citizenship requires us to do.

Unfortunately, the last year has shown that we need to fight for our democracy. “Freedom is not free” is a pithy phrase that usually refers to the sacrifices of our military against external threats. It turns out that same slogan can be applied to challenges which are closer to home. We need to stand up for our values, defend our institutions, participate in civil society and support a free press. Every citizen doesn’t need to do everything, but each one of us can do one thing. And every day, I see American citizens around me doing just that: reanimating the Constitution and the values it represents. We do this even when the odds seem against us, even when wrongdoers seem to be rewarded, because it is the right thing to do.

[...] These are turbulent times, perhaps the most challenging that I have witnessed. But I still intend to find ways to engage on foreign policy issues and to encourage those who want to take part in the important work of the Foreign Service. Like my parents before me, I remain optimistic about our future. The events of the past year, while deeply disturbing, show that even though our institutions and our fellow citizens are being challenged in ways that few of us ever expected, we will endure, we will persist and we will prevail.
posted by katra at 10:45 AM on February 6 [27 favorites]


What really amazes me: "Dr. Arthur Brooks, the conservative religious leader in charge, made the mistake of referring to the obscure Christian concept of loving your enemies, the president* had a ready response to that heretical notion. [Trump replied, ]'Arthur, I don't know if I agree with you.'"

I mean, say what you will about false Christians, but denying the central tenet given by Jesus of Nazareth is...wow.
posted by notsnot at 10:58 AM on February 6 [41 favorites]


For The First Time, An Impeached President Is Running For Reelection. What Happens Now? (Perry Bacon Jr., Five Thirty Eight)
5. The impeachment process put on full display deeper problems with America’s democracy.

There’s an active debate among scholars and journalists about whether to describe American politics by focusing on polarization (the two sides are really divided) or by focusing on the radicalization of the Republican Party (so one side is really causing the division). Another disagreement is whether American voters are really divided or if the division exists mainly among political elites.

The impeachment process shows how these ideas are all interconnected — and how it’s hard to tell a simple story about what’s wrong with America’s democracy and who is to blame.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:59 AM on February 6 [15 favorites]


“This should never, ever happen to another president, ever,” Trump said of his impeachment by the House.

And that's why we'll never, ever have another president ever, he continued.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:22 AM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Hey, we can all look forward to a push to repeal the 22nd Amendment when he's re-elected so he can keep on being POTUS forever (and avoid all statutes of limitations).
posted by Burhanistan at 11:29 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Stephen Colbert monologue: "Thank you for taking your oath seriously Mitt Romney.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:31 AM on February 6 [9 favorites]


Pelosi laces into Trump, defends tearing up his State of the Union speech (WaPo)
An indignant House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled Thursday she was in no mood to reconcile with President Trump and his congressional Republican allies a day after the Senate voted to acquit him of impeachment charges.

Instead, Pelosi launched into a fierce attack on Trump’s State of the Union address, his economic and health care record, his response to the months-long impeachment process, and the swipes he leveled Thursday morning at the National Prayer Breakfast at the faith of his political enemies.

And she defended her own decision to publicly tear up a copy of Trump’s speech Tuesday night in the moments after he concluded his speech, saying she did not “need any lessons from anybody, especially the president of the United States, about dignity.”

“It’s appalling the things that he says. And then you say to me: ‘Tearing up his falsehoods, isn’t that the wrong message?’ No, it isn’t,” she said, adding: “I feel very liberated. I feel that I’ve extended every possible courtesy. I’ve shown every level of respect.”

Those remarks came as the GOP continued using Pelosi’s shredding of the speech to fuel political attacks. House Republicans forced a vote Thursday afternoon reprimanding Pelosi for her conduct; the resolution failed on a 224-193 votes. One Republican congressman, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, said he would file an ethics complaint.

[...] “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong. Nor do I like people who say, ‘I pray for you,’ when they know that that’s not so,” Trump said.<