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Donald J. Trump Senate Impeachment Trial Page 2
Trump's First Impeachment Trial:

ABC News

By Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha and Mike Hayes, CNN

President Donald Trump is suggesting that he fired the inspector general for the intelligence community in retaliation for impeachment, saying the official was wrong to provide an anonymous whistleblower complaint to Congress as the law requires

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump suggested that he fired the inspector general for the intelligence community in retaliation for impeachment, saying the official was wrong to provide an anonymous whistleblower complaint to Congress as the law requires. Trump called Michael Atkinson a “disgrace” after informing Congress late Friday night that he intended to fire him. In letters to the House and Senate intelligence committees, Trump wrote that he had lost confidence in Atkinson but gave little detail. A day later, Trump was more blunt, telling reporters at the White House: “I thought he did a terrible job, absolutely terrible.” The president added: “He took a fake report and he took it to Congress with an emergency, OK? Not a big Trump fan, that I can tell you.” The whistleblower report was not fake, but a detailed complaint written by an anonymous intelligence official who described Trump's pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrat Joe Biden and his son. Atkinson determined the complaint was urgent and credible and therefore was required by law to disclose it to Congress, but he was overruled for weeks by the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire. After a firestorm sparked by media reports of the complaint, it was turned over and made public. A congressional inquiry led to Trump's impeachment by the House in December. The GOP-led Senate acquitted Trump in February. On Saturday, Trump questioned why Atkinson didn’t speak to him about the complaint, though Atkinson’s role is to provide independent oversight. “Never came in to see me, never requested to see me,” Trump said. He added: “That man is a disgrace to IGs.” Atkinson’s removal is part of a larger shakeup of the intelligence community under Trump, who has always viewed intelligence professionals with skepticism. His ouster came under immediate fire from Democrats and a handful of Republicans. Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican who leads the Finance Committee, said that Congress has been “crystal clear” that written reasons must be given when inspectors general are removed for a lack of confidence. “More details are needed from the administration," Grassley said. Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a GOP member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she didn't find Trump's reasoning in his Friday letter to be persuasive, and said Atkinson's removal “was not warranted.” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said an inspector general "must be allowed to conduct his or her work independent of internal or external pressure.” Trump's criticism Saturday came after Atkinson's peers had rushed to his defense. Michael Horowitz, the inspector general at the Justice Department, said Atkinson was known for his “integrity, professionalism, and commitment to the rule of law and independent oversight." He said that included Atkinson's actions in handling the Ukraine whistleblower complaint. Asked during his daily coronavirus briefing about firing Atkinson, Trump returned to his attacks on the Democratic-led impeachment investigation and trial and his defense that his phone call with Ukraine’s president was “perfect” but had been inaccurately described in the whistleblower’s account. In fact, the partial transcript later released by the president largely supported the whistleblower’s account.

By Jeremy Herb, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump on Friday removed Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson -- who had told Congress about the whistleblower complaint that led to Trump's impeachment -- from his post, the President told Congress in a letter obtained by CNN. Atkinson will be fired in 30 days, Trump told the House and Senate Intelligence committees. He did not name a successor.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a star witness in the House impeachment inquiry, was removed from his position at the White House on Friday.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is asking that every agency inspector general investigate retaliation against whistleblowers who report presidential misconduct, after the firing of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council. Schumer’s letters to 74 inspectors general, which will be sent Monday, comes after Vindman, a star witness in the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, was removed from his position at the White House on Friday, along with his twin, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, an ethics lawyer at the NSC. Both brothers are active-duty Army officers and were reassigned to the Pentagon. Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union and another key witness, was also recalled from his post. In a letter to Acting Inspector General Glenn Fine at the Defense Department, Schumer described the NSC firings as “part of a dangerous, growing pattern of retaliation against those who report wrongdoing only to find themselves targeted by the President and subject to his wrath and vindictiveness.”

The senator said he made several phone calls to the White House before Sondland was removed to urge the president to not fire him.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) on Sunday criticized President Trump recalling Gordon Sondland as ambassador to the European Union, saying in an interview that he “would have handled it a different way.” Sondland, a key witness in the House’s impeachment inquiry, was fired on Friday, just days after a narrow Senate majority voted to acquit the president. During his public testimony, Sondland said he believed Trump held up military aid to Ukraine in expectation of political favors. “Gordon was pretty resigned he was going to be leaving the post anyway and I think it would have been nice to give him the ability to exit on his own terms and in his own time in a few weeks,” Johnson told POLITICO. Johnson did note that since Sondland was a political appointee who served at the pleasure of the president, firing him was ultimately Trump’s call. But the ambassador's ouster, which came the same day another impeachment witness, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, was removed from his post at the National Security Council, was widely seen as retaliation against those who provided damning testimony to House lawmakers.

Trump's lawyers also gave thousands to Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and Ted Cruz before the trial began
By Igor Derysh

President Trump's legal team made numerous campaign contributions to Republican senators overseeing the impeachment trial. Former independent counsels Ken Starr and Robert Ray, who both investigated former President Bill Clinton ahead of his impeachment, contributed thousands of dollars to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last year before they joined the president's team, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics (CFPR). Starr, who lamented that "we are living in … the age of impeachment" during the trial on Monday and accused Democrats of waging a "domestic war," gave $2,800 to McConnell in July 2019, according to CFPR. Ray, who wanted to indict Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair but now claims Trump has been vindicated by the transcript of his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, contributed the maximum $5,600 to McConnell in September 2019, according to the report. The contributions came months before McConnell bragged to Fox News host Sean Hannity that he would be in "total coordination with the White House counsel's office and the people who are representing the president in the well of the Senate." "Everything I do during this, I'm coordinating with the White House counsel," he said. "There will be no difference between the president's position and our position as to how to handle this." Starr also contributed $2,700 to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in 2017. Graham has been one of the most ardent Trump defenders in the Senate and previously pushed for Republicans to dismiss the impeachment charges against Trump without a trial. Trump's personal attorney Jay Sekulow has contributed to multiple Republican senators over the last two decades, according to CFPR, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. John Thune of South Dakota. The right-wing Washington Times noted that "no Republican has been more active in defense of President Trump during the impeachment trial than Sen. Ted Cruz." Thune has accused Democrats of presenting an "especially partisan" case and rejected calls for new witnesses, arguing the record is "pretty complete."

NBC News interviewed dozens of Utah residents to find out what they thought about their senator bucking the GOP on impeachment.
By Lauren Egan

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — Republican Sen. Mitt Romney's vote to convict President Donald Trump on one count of abuse of power didn't bother Kelsey Malin. "I have kind of come to terms that even though he hasn't voted in a way that people say represents his party, the fact that he voted true to his conscience and over his party is a great thing," Malin, 28, said as she entertained her two children at a local library two days after the impeachment trial concluded last week. Malin was not alone. NBC News spoke with dozens of voters in Utah in the days immediately following the Senate's vote to acquit the president. Most identified themselves as Republicans who had supported Romney in 2018 and said that regardless of their opinion of the president, Romney's decision to go against his party was one that they understood and respected for its honesty. Many said they would not hold it against the first-term senator when he faces re-election in 2024. Malin, who voted for Trump in 2016 and for Romney in 2018 and plans to support both again, said that Romney had been a topic of conversation among her family and friends, but the outrage coming from Washington did not square with the discussions she was having at home. "It's surprising because it seems like the louder voice says he's betrayed the party, he's betrayed the people of Utah," she said. "But the people in my circle don't feel that way." Alan Anderson, 41, a financial planner from Salt Lake City, supported Romney in 2018 and said he will probably vote for him again. "I was fine with Romney — he had his reasons for it," Anderson said of the vote. "Whether you agree or disagree with his reasons, at least he had the courage to say whatever he felt was right."

By Sarah Gray

Former National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was fired from the White House on Friday — two days after President Donald Trump's acquittal in his bitter impeachment trial. Vindman was a central witness, testifying publicly on November 19 before the House Intelligence Committee that Trump's behavior towards the president of Ukraine had troubled him deeply. As the top Ukraine expert at the NSC, Vindman listened in on the now-infamous July 25 call between Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, where Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate his political rivals, the Biden family. Vindman told Congress he was "concerned," and found the call "inappropriate" given its partisan political character, and the conspiracy theory which underpinned it. During his opening statement, Vindman drew a contrast between how somebody in his position might be treated in Russia, and how he believed he would be treated in the US. He moved to address his father, who left the Soviet Union with Vindman, then aged three, for a new life in America: "In Russia, my act of expressing my concerns to the chain of command in an official and private channel would have severe personal and professional repercussions and offering public testimony involving the President would surely cost me my life.

By Kaitlan Collins, Kristen Holmes, Katelyn Polantz, Gloria Borger, Kevin Liptak and Jim Acosta, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump fired two key impeachment witnesses Friday, dismissing Lt. Col. Alex Vindman, the top Ukraine expert at the National Security Council, and US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. An adviser to Trump said the firings of the major impeachment witnesses was meant to send a message that siding against the President will not be tolerated. "Flushing out the pipes," the adviser told CNN. "It was necessary." Vindman was pushed out of his role Friday months earlier than expected, according to a statement from his attorney. Vindman was not slated to leave until July, but had been telling colleagues in recent weeks he would likely leave soon. Sondland said in a statement Friday that he is being recalled from his post. "I was advised today that the President intends to recall me effective immediately as United States Ambassador to the European Union," Sondland said. "I am grateful to President Trump for having given me the opportunity to serve, to Secretary Pompeo for his consistent support, and to the exceptional and dedicated professionals at the U.S. Mission to the European Union. I am proud of our accomplishments. Our work here has been the highlight of my career." The dismissals appear to be retribution for Vindman and Sondland's explosive testimonies to the House impeachment probe late last year. Trump had continued to fume privately about Vindman's testimony during the impeachment inquiry and foreshadowed his dismissal earlier Friday. "Well, I'm not happy with him," Trump said. "You think I'm supposed to be happy with him? I'm not." And Sondland's ties to the White House and Trump had deteriorated since his testimony. A person familiar with the situation says Sondland's ties to the White House and Trump had frayed badly since he testified last year. He once had Trump effectively on speed-dial, or the presidential equivalent of it, but since his appearance he hasn't spoken with Trump. He was also pulled from overseeing the Ukraine portfolio, which wasn't directly related to his position as EU ambassador.

Vindman dismissed early
Vindman, a decorated veteran who was born in Ukraine, was escorted out of the White House by security and told his services were no longer needed, according to his lawyer, David Pressman. Pressman said in a statement that it is clear he was fired for testifying in the impeachment probe. "There is no question in the mind of any American why this man's job is over, why this country now has one less soldier serving it at the White House," Pressman said. "LTC Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful." He added, "Truth is not partisan. If we allow truthful voices to be silenced, if we ignore their warnings, eventually there will be no one left to warn us."

By Justine Coleman

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said former national security adviser John Bolton “refused” to submit an affidavit on his take of President Trump’s “Ukraine misconduct” when asked by House Democrats. The House Intelligence Committee chairman told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday that Democrats had approached Bolton’s counsel after the Senate voted last week not to include any additional witnesses or documentation in the impeachment trial. “We did approach John Bolton’s counsel, asked if Mr. Bolton would be willing to submit an affidavit under oath, describing what he observed in terms of the president’s Ukraine misconduct, and he refused,” Schiff told Maddow. “For whatever reason, he apparently was willing to testify before the Senate, but apart from that, seems intent on saving it for his book."

"...we did approach John Bolton’s counsel, asked if Mr. Bolton would be willing to submit an affidavit under oath, describing what he observed in terms of the President’s Ukraine misconduct, and he refused." -Rep. Adam Schiff pic.twitter.com/74uYvxFrqc
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) February 6, 2020

The California Democrat did reiterate that “absolutely” no decision has been made about whether the House will subpoena the former adviser following the Senate’s acquittal of the president Wednesday.

By Marshall Cohen, CNN

Washington (CNN)Impeachment is over. President Donald Trump has been acquitted. One bruising chapter has ended, but another phase of the Ukraine affair is only now beginning. Because Senate Republicans blocked all efforts to hear from new witnesses and subpoena documents, the complete story of what happened between Trump and Ukraine still hasn't been told. They calculated that it was better to acquit and move on, even if a smoking gun comes out later. Over the past five months, new information about the Trump-Ukraine scandal has emerged from the House investigation, public comments from key players, reporting from news outlets, and public records lawsuits. Disjointed as they've been, these revelations have nonetheless painted a damning picture of how Trump used his powers to pressure Ukraine to help his 2020 campaign. Information will continue flowing long after Congress returns to business as usual. Former Trump adviser John Bolton's bombshell book comes out next month, and transparency groups are getting more Trump administration documents from their lawsuits. Here are eight big questions that still haven't been fully resolved. The answers, whenever they come out, could dramatically reshape how the public looks back at Trump's presidency.

One journalist remarked to me, “How in the world can these senators walk around here upright when they have no backbone?”
By Sherrod Brown

Not guilty. Not guilty. In the United States Senate, like in many spheres of life, fear does the business. Think back to the fall of 2002, just a few weeks before that year’s crucial midterm elections, when the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq was up for a vote. A year after the 9/11 attacks, hundreds of members of the House and the Senate were about to face the voters of a country still traumatized by terrorism. Senator Patty Murray, a thoughtful Democrat from Washington State, still remembers “the fear that dominated the Senate leading up to the Iraq war.” “You could feel it then,” she told me, “and you can feel that fear now” — chiefly among Senate Republicans. For those of us who, from the start, questioned the wisdom of the Iraq war, our sense of isolation surely wasn’t much different from the loneliness felt in the 1950s by Senator Herbert Lehman of New York, who confronted Joe McCarthy’s demagogy only to be abandoned by so many of his colleagues. Nor was it so different from what Senator George McGovern must have felt when he announced his early opposition to the Vietnam War and was then labeled a traitor by many inside and outside of Congress.

By Christina Wilkie, Kevin Breuninger

WASHINGTON – The Senate on Wednesday voted to acquit President Donald Trump of both counts in his impeachment trial. Forty-eight senators, including one Republican, found Trump guilty of abuse of power, while 52, all Republicans, voted to acquit him. The president was also impeached on the charge of obstruction of Congress, in which all 53 Republicans found him not guilty and the remaining 47 senators voted to convict. The acquittal vote was the final step in a two-week trial marked by impassioned arguments from House Democrats that Trump was a danger to the nation, and stalwart support from Senate Republicans for a president who maintains a political stranglehold on their party. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who delivered a searing condemnation of the president’s actions earlier in the day on the floor of the Senate, broke with his party to vote to convict Trump on the abuse of power count.

By Dan Balz

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) sealed a place in history Wednesday with his announcement that he will to vote to convict President Trump of abuse of power, becoming a rare lone voice in a Republican Party that otherwise has marched in lockstep with the president throughout the impeachment proceedings. 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.” Romney said his decision to vote to convict the president was “the hardest decision” he has ever had to make and one that he hoped he would never have to make.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) says he will vote to convict President Trump at his Senate impeachment trial.

By Mike Ongstad, opinion contributor

House managers spent the last several days detailing a corrupt disinformation scheme in which President Donald Trump sought to leverage vital aid to Ukraine to force its leader to make a public declaration of a debunked conspiracy about Trump’s chief political opponent. Of course, that scheme came crashing down around the president’s head when a whistleblower alerted Congress to his machinations and he hurriedly released the aid he’d held without justification. But when life gives Trump investigations, he turns them into campaign ads. Far from being chastened at the exposure of his corruption, Trump pushes on, undaunted and as avaricious as before. So, of course his team of lawyers went to the Senate not so much to defend him, but to continue his campaign of falsehood against his leading challenger. The very same fake dirt which Trump abused his power to leverage Ukraine into spreading became the central exhibit presented as his defense. And how does it exonerate him? It doesn’t. Any fair reading of the facts leads to the conclusion that while Hunter Biden’s hiring by Burisma does seem unscrupulous of him, it was not illegal. Nor was there any evidence of any official act by the former Vice President to enrich himself or his son, or to illegally benefit the company he worked for. In place of such evidence, the president’s defenders insinuate nefarious influence in the firing of a prosecutor whose reputation for corruption was so renowned that Republicans, Democrats, allies and international organizations all wanted him fired. But the hushed tones and carefully curated timelines omitting key facts are enough to accomplish the real goal: hurting the reputation and campaign of Joe Biden.

By Editorial Board

REPUBLICAN SENATORS who voted Friday to suppress known but unexamined evidence of President Trump’s wrongdoing at his Senate trial must have calculated that the wrath of a vindictive president is more dangerous than the sensible judgment of the American people, who, polls showed, overwhelmingly favored the summoning of witnesses. That’s almost the only way to understand how the Republicans could have chosen to deny themselves and the public the firsthand account of former national security adviser John Bolton, and perhaps others, on how Mr. Trump sought to extort political favors from Ukraine. The public explanations the senators offered were so weak and contradictory as to reveal themselves as pretexts. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she weighed supporting “additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings” of the House’s impeachment process, but decided against doing so. Apparently she preferred a bad trial to a better one — but she did assure us that she felt “sad” that “the Congress has failed.”

The newspaper said Americans “can take some comfort in the prospect that most or all of the evidence the White House is hiding will eventually come out.”
By Lee Moran

The Washington Post editorial board has called out “the cringing shamefulness” of Republican senators’ decision on Friday to block witnesses from testifying in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. The board wrote in an editorial ― titled “The cringing abdication of Senate Republicans” ― that GOP lawmakers who voted “to suppress known but unexamined evidence” of Trump’s Ukraine misconduct must have calculated “the wrath of a vindictive president is more dangerous than the sensible judgment of the American people” who polls showed wanted to hear testimony.

The famed Watergate journalist accused the GOP Senate majority leader of setting a dangerous precedent.
By Lee Moran

Carl Bernstein on Friday lamented “the violence done to the Constitution” by Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) after Republican senators voted to block witnesses in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, all but ensuring his acquittal over the Ukraine scandal. McConnell and “his craven Republicans” established a precedent “in which the president of the United States can do almost anything without being held accountable,” the famed Watergate journalist told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

The Kentucky Republican's comment on the Senate floor was met with shrugs by most Senate Republicans.

After being denied by Chief Justice John Roberts last week, Paul used a period reserved for senators’ impeachment speeches to read aloud the name of an intelligence community official alleged to be the whistleblower. Sen. Rand Paul read aloud the name of the alleged whistleblower who first raised alarms about President Donald Trump's conduct toward Ukraine. And most Republicans didn’t seem to care. After being denied by Chief Justice John Roberts last week, Paul used a period reserved for senators’ impeachment speeches to read aloud the name of an intelligence community official alleged to be the whistleblower. "They made a big mistake not allowing my question. My question did not talk about anybody who is a whistleblower, my question did not accuse anybody of being whistleblower, it did not make a statement believing that someone was a whistleblower. I simply named two people's names because I think it's very important to know what happened," Paul said on the floor. It’s the type of move that might have prompted a backlash from within his own party not too long ago, and several senators said they would not have done it. But after three weeks of the impeachment trial and with Trump’s firm grip over the party, there was little blowback from his colleagues on Tuesday. “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.”

By Jeremy Herb, CNN

(CNN) The House impeachment managers and President Donald Trump's legal team took their final shots Monday to pitch to any senators still on the fence in the President's impeachment trial, even if the outcome is a foregone conclusion. The impeachment managers and defense counsel made their closing arguments, ahead of the final vote on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET. The Senate is poised to acquit Trump, as a conviction would require a two-thirds majority, but there still is some uncertainty over the margin of the vote — and whether any senators cross party lines. One of the possible fence-crossers, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, said on the Senate floor Monday evening that she would vote to acquit the President. The endgame of the trial is set this week after the Senate voted last week to defeat a motion for subpoenaing witnesses and documents, which would have extended the proceedings. In that vote, which failed 49-51, two Republicans, Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, joined with Democrats. In his closing arguments, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff acknowledged that the votes wouldn't be there to remove the President from office. But the California Democrat focused on the Senate Republicans who believe the core of the House's case — that the President withheld a White House meeting and $400 million in security aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden — charging they must vote to remove the President. "If you find that the House has proved (its) case and still vote to acquit, you'll name will be tied to his with a cord of steel and through all of history," Schiff said, warning "history will not be kind to Donald Trump."

By Robert Costa and Mike DeBonis

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), a moderate who is friendly with the White House, on Monday asked his colleagues to consider censuring President Trump as the Senate moves toward votes on impeachment. “I do believe a bipartisan majority of this body would vote to censure President Trump for his action in this matter. Censure would allow this body to unite across party lines,” Manchin said in a speech on the Senate floor. “His behavior cannot go unchecked by the Senate and censure would allow a bipartisan statement condemning his unacceptable behavior in the strongest terms.” It is an effort that could put pressure on some Republican senators as they mull whether to reprimand Trump in coming weeks, even if they vote Wednesday to acquit him on the House’s two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. But Manchin’s proposal will face obstacles as lawmakers in both parties resist the idea and hew to their leadership’s position on how to respond to Trump’s conduct. Manchin has prepared a censure resolution for fellow senators to review in coming days, which would be a less severe rebuke than removal from office for Trump’s involvement in pressuring Ukraine to investigate a domestic political rival, former vice president Joe Biden. “What the president did was wrong,” Manchin said in his speech.

By Jonathan Chait

Toward the end, the impeachment trial’s strategic purpose narrowed into an obsessive quest to produce evidence. Democrats have defined victory not as removal, but as winning a procedural vote to allow more testimony, especially by John Bolton. The House managers have designed their arguments not to reinforce Trump’s guilt but to underscore the need for more testimony. They seem to have given little attention to the question of whether such a victory would actually serve their larger strategic purposes at all. Republicans may have succeeded in blocking all new evidence and driving toward the rapid conclusion they seek, bu the tactical victory may well become a strategic defeat. If the several days that have passed since the Bolton revelation have proved anything, it is just how uninterested Republicans are in holding Trump to account for his misconduct. Initially, even Trump’s staunchest supporters conceded that pressuring Ukraine to investigate Trump’s rivals would be, if true, unacceptable. (Lindsey Graham: “very disturbing”; Steve Doocy: “off-the-rails-wrong.”) As evidence of guilt accumulated, their denial that this unacceptable conduct took place narrowed to a tiny, highly specific claim: No witness testified that Trump personally ordered them to carry out a quid pro quo. Bolton is the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

By Daniel Politi

Republicans are getting ready to flip the tables and launch their own investigations after the Senate acquits President Donald Trump. Sen. Lindsey Graham warned that the Senate Intelligence Committee will call the whistleblower whose complaint ended up launching the impeachment inquiry against Trump while the Foreign Relations Committee will investigate Joe Biden. “The Senate Intel committee under Richard Burr has told us that we will call the whistleblower,” Graham said on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures. “Why is it important? I want to know how all this crap started.” Graham went on to say that he wants to know what ties the whistleblower who first raised a red flag regarding Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has with Democrats. “If the whistleblower is a former employee of, associate of, Joe Biden, I think that would be important. If the whistleblower was working with people on Schiff’s staff that wanted to take Trump down a year and a half ago, I think that would be important. If the Schiff staff people helped write the complaint, that would be important. We’re going to get to the bottom of all of this to make sure this never happens again,” Graham said. - Republicans are the party of hypocrites, Republicans are ready to impeach Biden but refused to impeach Trump even while saying Trump did it and that the Democrats proved their case against Donald J. Trump.

Republicans are already hinting they'll impeach Biden — as a way to justify their shameless Trump cover-up
By Sophia Tesfaye

There's a decent chance that former Vice President Joe Biden will win the Iowa caucuses on Monday night, cementing his status as Democratic frontrunner. The Republican-controlled Senate will then vote to acquit Donald Trump, probably two days later, after blocking witnesses and direct evidence at his impeachment trial. Instead of paying attention to the case outlining Trump's public corruption, however, several Republican senators have spent the last two weeks slagging Biden in an effort to tarnish the potential Democratic nominee — using almost exactly the same playbook used to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016. Demonstrating exactly why it's bad to have foreign governments smear a political opponent on your behalf, Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican who faces a tough re-election battle this fall, appeared before reporters after a day of impeachment hearings last week and casually suggested that the airing of Trump's misdeeds might actually result in Biden's defeat. "Iowa caucuses are this next Monday evening. And I'm really interested to see how this discussion today informs and influences the Iowa caucus voters, those Democratic caucus goers. Will they be supporting VP Biden at this point?" the first-term Republican asked. The question came just before the GOP Senate voted to cover up Trump's crimes by refusing to hear witnesses. For months, Republicans argued that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine and pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into the activities of Joe and Hunter Biden because he was earnestly trying to root out corruption. In a classic case of projection, Republicans still vaguely deny that Trump's actions were politically motivated but now insist that Biden, not Trump, is the one who deserves impeachment. - Republicans are the party of hypocrites Republicans will not impeach Trump for what he did; but will impeach Biden for what Trump did.

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst said Republicans may not waste any time trying to impeach Joe Biden if he wins the White House. “I think this door of impeachable whatever has been opened,” Ernst told Bloomberg News on Sunday. “Joe Biden should be very careful what he’s asking for because, you know, we can have a situation where if it should ever be President Biden, that immediately, people, right the day after he would be elected would be saying, ‘Well, we’re going to impeach him.’” Ernst, 49, said the grounds for potentially impeaching Biden, 77, would be “for being assigned to take on Ukrainian corruption yet turning a blind eye to Burisma because his son was on the board making over a million dollars a year.” - Republicans are the party of hypocrites Republicans will not impeach Trump for what he did; but will impeach Biden for what Trump did.

By David Knowles

House impeachment manager Adam Schiff called out President Trump’s defense team lawyer Pat Cipollone Friday, saying that in his capacity as White House counsel he was “in the loop” in the effort to persuade Ukrainian officials to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden. That allegation originated in a forthcoming memoir by former national security adviser John Bolton. Details from Bolton’s manuscript have leaked over the past week. In an article published Friday, the New York Times reported on Bolton’s account of an Oval Office meeting in early May at which Trump directed him “to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials.” Bolton claims that Cippolone, who has led Trump’s defense team during the impeachment trial, attended the Oval Office meeting with the president, along with acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. “You will recall Mr. Cipollone suggesting how the House managers were concealing facts from this body. He said all the facts should come out. Well, there’s a new fact which indicates that Mr. Cipollone was among those who were in the loop. Yet another reason why we ought to hear from witnesses,” Schiff, D-Calif., said as the Senate debated whether to call witnesses like Bolton and Mulvaney during Trump’s impeachment trial.

If made public, the emails would offer a rare glimpse into the president’s thinking on a central tenet of the House’s impeachment case.

The Justice Department revealed in a midnight court filing that two dozen emails shielded from Congress detail President Donald Trump’s decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine — an acknowledgment Democrats said further vindicates their unsuccessful push to subpoena those documents in the Senate impeachment trial. The Justice Department filing contains the most detailed description to date of the documents the Trump administration continues to withhold from congressional investigators. Specifically, the emails reveal Trump’s justification at the time for ordering a hold on nearly $400 million in security assistance to the beleaguered U.S. ally. If made public, they would offer a rare glimpse into the president’s thinking on a central tenet of the House’s impeachment case. Heather V. Walsh, a lawyer in the White House Office of Management and Budget, wrote in the filing that the emails, which span from June to September 2019, “reflect communications by either the president, the vice president, or the president’s immediate advisers regarding presidential decision-making about the scope, duration, and purpose of the hold on military assistance to Ukraine.” The acknowledgment also came hours after Senate Republicans blocked Democratic-led efforts to subpoena additional witnesses and documents as part of the Senate’s impeachment trial, which concludes on Wednesday, “Every single Republican senator voted to endorse the White House cover-up of these potentially important truth-revealing emails,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “Make no mistake, the full truth will eventually come out and Republicans will have to answer for why they were so determined to enable the president to hide it.”

By Kevin Liptak, CNN

(CNN) The end seemed imminent -- until it wasn't anymore. Internal disputes and a "clash of competing priorities" interrupted expectations that the all-but-certain acquittal vote in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial would come late Friday. Debate over lunch, intense huddles on the Senate floor and a final phone call to Trump instead produced a schedule that extends the five-month saga into another week, overlapping with the Iowa kickoff of Democrats' presidential contest and Trump's State of the Union address. It's a coda to proceedings that neither side appears to particularly enjoy. Discussing the next steps over a GOP lunch on Friday, some Republican senators voiced misgivings at dragging the trial into another week, according to people familiar with the matter, particularly after it seemed the party's leaders were intent on moving to a quick acquittal vote. Across town, the White House made it known a vote before Trump's yearly address to Congress -- which would allow for a victory lap in the Democrat-led House -- was their preference. Many of Trump's allies were already betting on a Friday evening acquittal; a graphic on Laura Ingraham's Fox News program Thursday proclaimed "24 Hours to Victory." But other Republican senators wanted an opportunity to express their views on the floor after sitting mostly silent -- occupying themselves with fidget spinners and glasses of milk -- for the duration of the trial. And Democrats, eager to avoid vindicating Trump any earlier than necessary, also appeared wary of allowing the impeachment to further impede on their party's nominating process.

By Brendan Cole

CNN host Chris Cuomo used a famous line from an Oscar-winning film from the 1970s to rail against the Senate vote which decided that witnesses would not be called in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. Only two Republicans, Susan Collins (Maine) and Mitt Romney (Utah), backed the Democrat motion on Friday calling for evidence and witnesses The 51-49 defeat is likely to hasten the acquittal of Trump. Cuomo appeared to be angry and started his monologue on Friday night with an appeal to his viewers. "You should be mad as hell and you need to show these people you will not take it any more," he started, using a line from the 1976 film Network, in which a TV news anchor calls on people to fight against the political system. Cuomo said he could see there may have been a case for an acquittal for Trump, but that the American people had been denied a fair trial now that it would be the first in history where the public would not hear from witnesses. He criticized the Republican senators Lamar Alexander (Tennessee), Marco Rubio (Florida), and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), who voted along party lines despite indicating they had misgivings about Trump and the charges that he abused his office to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals.

By Dahlia Lithwick

Last year, I wrote that the United States is suffering from a collective action problem. The full extent of that problem should now be much clearer. One version of the Senate impeachment circus that has transpired these past two weeks holds that the greatest deliberative body in the world has now duly aired and considered the impeachment case against Donald J. Trump, and stands poised to issue a final decision on the merits. The better characterization of this whole sad spectacle is that in the world’s saddest game of constitutional chicken, nearly every single important player failed utterly to show up. Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton will say that he offered to testify before the Senate, but the Senate refused to call him. According to leaked details of his book that has been climbing up the Amazon charts, Bolton has material evidence of the conspiracy to withhold aid from Ukraine to bolster the president’s electoral fortunes, information the Republican-controlled Senate is refusing to hear. Bolton will enjoy very much his book tour, royalties, and talk show circuit this spring—if the White House’s efforts to cover up Trump’s high crimes don’t extend to blocking publication of that book, as the administration has suggested it will. Former chief of staff John F. Kelly, who now says he believes Bolton’s account of the conspiracy, will continue to live large off child detention policies he no longer oversees. Chief Justice John Roberts, who might have inserted himself into the proceedings to chide breaches of truth as opposed to lapses in civil discourse, will have a fun story to tell on the D.C. cocktail party circuit about the time he narrowly avoided having to break a tie or otherwise allow the stink of the political branches to sully his robes. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who was briefly held out to be the last independent-thinking, old guard institutionalist, could have held out for witness testimony, as opposed to proclaiming that nobody needed to hear from witnesses to know that the president had engaged in misconduct that isn’t impeachable. Sen. Lisa Murkowski courageously grounds her refusal to stand up for the proposition that trials ought to have witnesses in the fact that John Roberts should not have to courageously stand up for the proposition that trials ought to have witnesses. All of this chatter for the goal of producing a trial unrecognizable as such, with even Murkowski herself acknowledging “there will be no fair trial in the Senate.”

By Jeremy Stahl

As Donald Trump’s impeachment trial drew towards a close on Friday with a 51-49 vote against the Senate hearing from witnesses or seeking documents, Republican Senators were coming out of the woodwork to explain why they’d refused to try to obtain any new evidence. Ultimately, only Sens. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney broke party lines to vote with the 47 members of the Democratic caucus in favor of calling witnesses. This will be the first Senate impeachment trial in American history without witnesses called, and opinion polls show broad public support for witnesses, so the Republican decision to cut the proceedings short would seem to be hard to defend. Still, these Senators tried their best! Here are the five most pathetic excuses Republican senators have offered to avoid calling witnesses according to cravenness.

5. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado
Gardner, who is up for re-election in Colorado this Fall, came out against witnesses already on Wednesday. His statement to Colorado Politics was: I do not believe we need to hear from an 18th witness. I have approached every aspect of this grave constitutional duty with the respect and attention required by law, and have reached this decision after carefully weighing the House managers and defense arguments and closely reviewing the evidence from the House, which included well over 100 hours of testimony from 17 witnesses. While this statement doesn’t appear too craven, you have to recall that Gardner represents a state with the greatest opposition to Trump of almost any represented by a Republican in the Senate and that his coming out early against witnesses helped Majority Leader Mitch McConnell close ranks on the subject. Framing the question as whether to go from 17 witnesses to 18—rather than whether to go from zero to one—neatly captures the Senate’s majority’s decision to pretend it was the House’s job to gather all the facts, and that they were helpless to try to learn anything more on their own.

4. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida
Rubio, who was dubbed “Lil’ Marco” by the president the Florida senator now seeks to exonerate, released a video and issued a lengthy blog post on Friday explaining his decision. That statement read:  [N]ew witnesses that would testify to the truth of the allegations are not needed for my threshold analysis, which already assumed that all the allegations made are true. And from the video: Removing the president would in my opinion inflict extraordinary trauma on our nation, which is already deeply divided and polarized. Half the country would view his removal as nothing less than a coup d’etat and I ask you what scheme could Vladimir Putin come up with that would divide us more than that removal would. So I’m not going to vote in favor of tearing this country apart any further, or fueling a raging fire that already threatens our country.

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