The saga continues as the Trump team makes their case for a dismissal……what magic has his managers worked on the process?
There seems to be NO end to the blame game……on Obama.
So how did the day go?
Much of the second day of President Trump’s impeachment defense focused not on the president’s actions, but on the previous administration. In what Politico calls “an alternate-reality impeachment of his political rivals,” Trump lawyers Pam Bondi and Eric Herschmann argued that former President Obama and Joe Biden should be the ones under investigation for abuse of power. They claimed that Obama had engaged in a quid pro quo with Russia under then-President Dmitry Medvedev and argued that Joe and Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukraine should be the target of a corruption probe. Joe Biden led the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy. More:
- Biden rejects “conspiracy theory.” Bondi, a former Florida AG, argued that Trump had good reason to seek an investigation of the younger Biden’s role on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma, and of his father’s actions as VP during that time, the Washington Post reports. A rep for Biden, who is on the campaign trail in Iowa, said Bondi was talking about a discredited “conspiracy theory.” Biden told reporters he saw no reason to testify. “The reason he’s being impeached is because he tried to get a government to smear me and they wouldn’t,” he said.
- “We do not deal with speculation.” While John Bolton’s Ukraine claims led to renewed calls for more witnesses to be allowed, with GOP Sen. Mitt Romney calling the move increasingly likely, the Trump team dismissed them as speculation, Fox reports. “We deal with transcript evidence, we deal with publicly available information,” Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow. “We do not deal with speculation, allegations that are not based on evidentiary standards at all.”
- Trump blasts Bolton. Trump’s commentary on the impeachment trial Monday included retweets of remarks from Bolton critics, including this retweet from Sen. Rand Paul: “Why didn’t John Bolton testify to the US House? Apparently his book wasn’t quite finished yet for presales!”
- Dershowitz condemns process. Celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz was Monday’s final speaker, and he argued that “purely non-criminal conduct, including abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, are outside the range of impeachable offenses.” He also addressed the Bolton issue, saying “nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense,” the AP reports.
- Dershowitz vs. Dershowitz? Vox notes that Democrats pushing back against Republican arguments that no crimes have been committed have pointed to a Government Accountability Office decision last month that found holding up aid to Ukraine violated the Impoundment Control Act of 1974. They have also brought up some of Dershowitz’s previous opinions. “It certainly doesn’t have to be a crime if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don’t need a technical crime,” the lawyer said in 1998. He said Monday that he had changed his mind on the issue.
- What to watch for Tuesday. On the final day of Trump’s defense, the president’s lawyers will “seek to drive home the argument that the House made a shoddy case, and the Senate need not reach in and bolster it by hearing new evidence,” the New York Times reports.
- The next step. Senators will now get a voice in the process for the first time. In a 16-hour question-and-answer session, written questions from senators from both parties will be answered by House impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers. Only one of the 150 questions in Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial came from a bipartisan pair of senators and it’s not clear whether there will be any at all this time, the Hill reports.
The argument portion of the trial is now over with the Trump teams closing statements…..
The arguments in President Trump’s impeachment trial are over, even as the debate on whether John Bolton should be called as a witness rages on. Trump’s defense team wrapped up its three days of arguments Tuesday; next up, senators will be allowed to ask the House managers and Trump’s legal team questions for a total of 16 hours. That will take place during two sessions Wednesday and Thursday during which “the questions alternate between the majority and minority sides for up to eight hours,” Mitch McConnell announced before adjourning the trial until 1pm Wednesday. Questions must be submitted in writing in advance to Chief Justice John Roberts, who will ask them; five minutes will be allowed per answer. Tuesday’s big developments, including an update on page 2 regarding the vote on whether witnesses will be allowed, below.
- Bad precedent? This is “the trial of the leader of the free world and the duly elected president of the United States,” said Trump attorney Jay Sekulow, per the Washington Post. “It is not a game of leaks and unsourced manuscripts. … To lower the bar of impeachment based on these articles of impeachment would impact the functioning of our constitutional republic and the framework of that Constitution for generations.”
- Defend the Constitution: White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrapped up the defense team’s arguments with a call to senators: “What they are asking you to do is to throw out a successful president on the eve of an election with no basis and in violation of the Constitution. It would dangerously change our country and … weaken forever all of our democratic institutions. You all know that’s not in the interests of the American people. Why not trust the American people with this decision. Why tear up their ballots, why tear up every ballot across this country. You can’t do that. You know you can’t do that. So I ask you to defend our Constitution, to defend fundamental fairness, to defend basic due process rights, but most importantly—most importantly, to respect and defend the sacred right of every American to vote and to choose their president.”
- Bolton book: Sekulow downplayed the significance of the Bolton book, referring to “an unpublished manuscript that maybe some reporters have an idea of maybe what it says.” The resulting evidence, “if you want to call that evidence,” is “inadmissible,” he added.
- Bolton testimony: There is no resolution yet on whether Trump’s former national security adviser will be called to testify about Trump’s Ukraine dealings. On Tuesday, Trump ally Lindsey Graham backed the idea of senators reading Bolton’s manuscript in a classified setting, reports Mediaite. Democrats want Bolton to testify publicly instead.
- Hypocritical? Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said the GOP idea to read Bolton’s manuscript privately is a “laugh out loud” one: “They spent days criticizing us going into a secret bunker, and now they want to take a public document and put it in a secret bunker? Whiff of desperation is what I’ll call it.” Adam Schiff echoed that: “After all the complaints they made about the depositions, it’s very ironic that they’re making such a strong case” for a closed-door deposition with Bolton, he said.
- The decision: When the senators’ 16-hour question period ends, the chamber will have up to four hours of debate on whether to call witnesses, reports NBC News. Senate Republicans met after Tuesday’s session adjourned to discuss the issue internally. Just four Republicans could give Democrats the votes they need for witnesses to be called.
- Speaking of those votes: Late Tuesday afternoon, news broke that during that closed-door meeting, McConnell told GOP senators they do not yet have the votes to block witnesses. That doesn’t mean they won’t have them by the time the vote takes place, as several senators are still undecided.
- A slight shift: CNN notes that since Bolton’s upcoming book started making headlines (it reportedly reveals that Trump told Bolton he was indeed withholding military aid from Ukraine until the country announced an investigation of the Bidens), Republicans are increasingly acknowledging the president may indeed have leveraged the aid—but that doing so is not impeachable, and that the Bolton revelation does not require witness testimony since it simply confirms what has already been established. It also doesn’t change the fact that Democrats don’t have the votes to remove the president from office.
- A challenge: On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted a criticism of Fox News for giving air time to Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen. The Maryland senator responded via Twitter himself: “Glad you tuned in, Mr. President,” he wrote. “Now that I have your attention, how about coming down to the Senate to share your side of the story under penalty of perjury?”
I know a lot to take in….but we are talking about the future of the presidency……this trial will determine how the country is run by the next generation of people.
Yes it is that goddamn important!
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