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Donald J. Trump Senate Impeachment Trial Page 7
ABC News

By Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha and Mike Hayes, CNN
By John Haltiwanger

President Donald Trump appeared to order associates to "get rid of" then-US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in a newly unearthed recording reviewed by ABC News, which was first reported on Friday. "Get rid of her!" a voice that sounded like Trump said in the recording, according to ABC. "Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it." Trump was reportedly speaking with a group that included Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Both Parnas and Fruman have been indicted in New York and entangled in the impeachment inquiry. The president has repeatedly claimed he does not know Parnas, including after Parnas offered damning details of the smear campaign he was involved in against Yovanovitch in recent interviews. Trump and Parnas have been photographed together.

Trump apparently heard discussing firing Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
By Katherine Faulders, John Santucci, Allison Pecorin and Olivia Rubin

Trump has said repeatedly he does not know Parnas, a Soviet-born American who has emerged as a wild card in Trump’s impeachment trial, especially in the days since Trump was impeached. "Get rid of her!" is what the voice that appears to be President Trump’s is heard saying. "Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it." During the conversation, several of the participants can be heard laughing with the president. At another point, the recording appears to capture Trump praising his new choice of secretary of state, saying emphatically: “[Mike] Pompeo is the best.” But the most striking moment comes when Parnas and the president discuss the dismissal of his ambassador to Ukraine. Parnas appears to say: "The biggest problem there, I think where we need to start is we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She's still left over from the Clinton administration," Parnas can be heard telling Trump. "She's basically walking around telling everybody 'Wait, he's gonna get impeached, just wait." (Yovanovitch actually had served in the State Department since the Reagan administration.)


CNN's Chris Cuomo says that House impeachment managers successfully debunked conspiracy theories that have been broadcast on Fox News programs.

Lev Parnas was once so close to Rudy Giuliani, he named Giuliani his son's godfather. Now Parnas is cooperating with the Trump impeachment inquiry.
By Kevin McCoy, USA TODAY

The state funeral for former President George H.W. Bush in 2018 featured a who's who of U.S. political heavyweights. The nation's four living former presidents and their wives were in the first row of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Alongside were President Donald Trump and his wife. Bush's eldest son, former president George W. Bush, sat nearby with his wife and extended family. Among the mourners was the man once known to millions as America's Mayor and now Trump's personal lawyer: Rudy Giuliani. He was accompanied by — who?

The chubby man in the dark suit was Lev Parnas, a Soviet-born businessman known to few at the time. Now, the 47-year-old Florida resident is famed as Giuliani's associate in pressing for an investigation that could discredit former Vice President Joe Biden, a Trump rival in the 2020 presidential race, by digging up dirt in Parnas' native Ukraine.

By Marshall Cohen, CNN

(CNN) House Democrats asked a federal appeals court on Thursday to swiftly order former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify in the House, saying arguments made by President Donald Trump's legal team during the impeachment trial have undercut the Justice Department's position in the long-simmering legal battle over McGahn's testimony. The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed McGahn in the wake of the Mueller report, before Trump's infamous call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Recently, House lawyers said they'd use McGahn's testimony to boost their impeachment case.

The Justice Department has previously argued in court that the House doesn't have any legal grounds to bring lawsuits to enforce subpoenas. But Trump's lawyers argued this week in the impeachment trial that the House should have fought harder in the courts to enforce their subpoenas and the Senate shouldn't condone their negligence by bringing in new witnesses. The lawsuit revolves around McGahn's potential testimony to the House Judiciary Committee. Separately, congressional Democrats are pushing for the Senate to issue subpoenas for testimony from new witness for Trump's impeachment trial.

"President Trump's arguments in the impeachment trial contradict DOJ's assertion in this case that the (House Judiciary) Committee may not seek to enforce its subpoenas in court," the House's top lawyer, Doug Letter, wrote in a letter to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

By Jason Lemon

Republican Senator Rick Scott came out in support of possibly calling additional witnesses to testify in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. Several GOP senators have already expressed a willingness to hear from further witnesses, a key demand of Democratic lawmakers. In order for such a motion to pass, at least four Republicans would need to vote with the Senate's 45 Democrats and two independents. An amendment to guarantee witnesses was voted down on Tuesday, along partisan lines, but there will be another opportunity following opening arguments.

Asked by CNN's Dana Bash whether he was "open" to hearing from new witnesses, Scott, who represents Florida, said, "Oh absolutely." Pressed by the journalist, Scott insisted that witnesses were an option.

   Im open to witnesses, but I think we ought to go through the right process,” Republican Sen. Rick Scott says when @DanaBashCNN asks him if wouldd like to see John Bolton as a witness in the impeachment trial. https://t.co/re052XbVva pic.twitter.com/xzpsCeelIG
   — CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) January 22, 2020

"I'm open to witnesses, but I think we ought to go through the right process," he said, explaining his belief that the vote yesterday was not the appropriate time to make the decision. Scott also said, as other Republicans have previously, that he'd like to hear from former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter, if witnesses are called.

The Maine Republican said in an interview that she believed a violation of Senate rules had occurred during a heated exchange on the floor.

Sen. Susan Collins was “stunned” by Rep. Jerry Nadler’s late-night diatribe this week against what he deemed a “cover-up” by Senate Republicans for President Donald Trump — so much so that she wrote a note to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. But the Maine Republican said it will not affect her votes during the Senate’s impeachment trial.

In an interview on Thursday, Collins confirmed that she had jotted down a note that eventually made its way to Roberts via Secretary for the Majority Laura Dove. Collins said she believed the back and forth between House Judiciary Chairman Nadler (D-N.Y.) and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone violated Senate rules and felt compelled to point that out, even though senators are required to stay at their desks and not speak during the trial.  

The Judiciary Committee chairman’s comments also sparked criticism from Chief Justice John Roberts.

Senate Republicans are fuming after Rep. Jerry Nadler accused them on the Senate floor of engaging in a “cover up” to protect the president, seizing on his remarks Wednesday as a significant misstep that they say undercuts Democrats’ impeachment case. The GOP criticism came as the House impeachment managers, including Nadler, began their opening arguments in the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump on Wednesday, a presentation that could stretch over three days if Democrats use the entire 24 hours allotted to them.  "If the Democrats are smart, they won't put Jerry Nadler on the field again," said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). "He was so out of line. It's offensive accusing us of a cover-up."

"To my Democratic colleagues, you can say what you want about me, but I'm covering up nothing," added Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close Trump ally. "I'm exposing your hatred of the president." Chief Justice John Roberts admonished both the House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team early Wednesday after a tense exchange between the two sides on the Senate floor, a reprimand that capped a day of florid speeches by both sides. - The truth hurt Republicans feelings.

By Jeremy Herb and Lauren Fox, CNN

(CNN) Democratic impeachment managers turned their attention on Thursday to the constitutional case for removing President Donald Trump from office for abuse of power, seeking to convince skeptical -- and often weary -- Republican senators that the Senate trial needs witnesses and documents. Democrats are focusing Thursday's presentation on the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, one of two that was passed by the House last month. They plan to lean into evidence they gathered in their investigation to argue the President used his office to try to extract investigations into his political rivals while withholding US security aid and a valued White House meeting -- and why that conduct merits impeachment and removal.

Setting up the day's presentation, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, explained why there was repetition to the House's argument -- a rebuttal to criticisms from Senate Republicans. "Of necessity, there will be some repetition of information from (Wednesday's) chronology," Schiff said. "We will now show you these facts, and many others, and show you how they are interwoven. You will see some of these facts and videos in a new context, and a new light, in the light of what else we know, and why it compels a finding of guilt and conviction. "So there is some method to our madness." But the challenge for presenters is growing more arduous as senators struggle to stay engaged in a narrative many feel they've heard before.

By John Kruzel

Senators on Wednesday night agreed to admit a classified document from an aide to Vice President Pence into the impeachment trial following closed-door deliberations. The one-page document relates to a phone call that took place between Pence and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a week before Zelensky met with President Trump last fall at the United Nations.

This latest development is a win for House Democrats who have unsuccessfully pressed the White House to declassify the document, which Pence aide Jennifer Williams submitted to the House in late November to supplement her public testimony earlier that month. House managers who function as prosecutors in Trump’s Senate trial continued to criticize the White House’s refusal to declassify the evidence and urged senators on Wednesday to review its contents. “I've read that testimony. I will just say that a cover-up is not a proper reason to classify a document,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), one of the managers. “In case the White House needs a reminder, it's improper to keep something classified just to avoid embarrassment or to conceal wrongdoing.”

Opinion by Anne Milgram

(CNN) At President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial on Wednesday, the House managers stressed, as they did Tuesday, the need to subpoena relevant witnesses and documents for the trial. But their arguments took on a new power and urgency on the heels of Tuesday's release of critical new evidence showing that White House officials were preparing to halt the release of almost $400 million in military aid to Ukraine on July 24, the day before the President's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

During the July 25 call, Trump pushed the Ukrainian President to "do us a favor" by investigating one of the President's leading political rivals in the 2020 election, Joe Biden, and looking into a discredited conspiracy theory surrounding the 2016 election hack. This telephone call, which the President and his attorneys have repeatedly called "perfect," is at the heart of the President's impeachment for abuse of power.

While it has been previously shown that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent an email to the Department of Defense instructing them to withhold military aid to Ukraine roughly 90 minutes after the President's July 25 call, the new documents provide the first concrete evidence that the White House was preparing to withhold aid to Ukraine prior to the call. They also provide a road map of efforts led by Michael Duffey, the associate director of OMB, to coordinate the halting of the aid with the White House Counsel's office and the Department of Defense. This revelation follows just days after the non-partisan General Accounting Office declared that the withholding of Ukrainian military aid by the White House was unlawful. Tuesday night's evidence comes from almost 200 pages of heavily redacted documents turned over by the Office of Management and Budget pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request by a watchdog group, American Oversight.

By Eugene Kiely, Lori Robertson and D'Angelo Gore

White House lawyers distorted the facts on the impeachment process and other issues during the Jan. 21 Senate trial:

White House counsel Pat Cipollone falsely suggested Republicans were barred from the closed-door depositions conducted by the House intelligence committee. But members of three committees — both Democrats and Republicans — participated.

Jay Sekulow, President Donald Trump’s attorney, falsely said, “During the proceedings that took place before the Judiciary Committee, the president was denied the right to cross-examine witnesses … the right to access evidence and … the right to have counsel present at hearings.” The committee chair invited Trump and his lawyers to participate, but they declined.

Cipollone claimed Rep. Adam Schiff, the House intelligence committee chairman, “manufactured a false version” of the July 25 phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president and “he didn’t tell” the American people “it was a complete fake.” Schiff indicated he was giving “the essence” of Trump’s remarks and about an hour later said it was “at least part in parody.”

Sekulow said the special counsel’s report on Russian interference during the 2016 election found Trump committed “no obstruction.” That’s not what the report said. While the report “does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” it said, citing “multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence.”

In addition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said his resolution outlining the impeachment trial procedures “tracks closely” with the rules of trials for other presidents. How closely McConnell’s resolution tracks with the procedures used in the past may be a matter of opinion. However, there are some differences between the rules for Trump’s trial and President Bill Clinton’s.

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

Washington (CNN) Can't get a new witness? Call Donald J. Trump. Republicans might be blocking new testimony in the Senate trial but Democratic impeachment managers keep returning to the person who makes their case better than anyone: the President himself. Trump, of course, is not literally in the Senate chamber -- though he said Wednesday he'd "love" to be in the front row to stare at his "corrupt" accusers. But for Democrats, there's no better evidence with which to paint a picture of what they say is a self-dealing, obstructive leader with a kingly view of his own powers than the highlight reel already compiled by the most television-obsessed president in history.

"I have, in Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as President," Trump says in one clip aired on Tuesday by lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California. The Trump tapes not only break up hours of dense legal arguments. They also put the President at the center of the action, portraying him as the ringleader of the scheme to pressure Ukraine for political favors, and not an outsider player. They also confront the Republican senators, serving as jurors, with the direct evidence of what Democrats say is outlandish, impeachable behavior in a way that may not change their minds but is deeply uncomfortable.

(CNN) CNN Opinion is curating commentators' smartest takes on the second day of President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial. The views expressed below are their own.

Raul Reyes: He did not come to play

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff did not come to play. On Wednesday, he laid out a strong case for why senators should vote to impeach and remove Donald Trump from the presidency. On a strategic level, Schiff's presentation was masterful: it was eloquent, thoughtful and -- most importantly -- restrained. While he invoked everyone from Alexander Hamilton to John F. Kennedy, he never slipped into histrionics or hyperbole, which any trial lawyer knows can backfire. Instead, he methodically went through a timeline of the President's alleged improper conduct. Given the sheer amount of ground that Schiff covered in two-plus hours, no senator can honestly claim to not know or not have heard about most aspects of the impeachment inquiry. Schiff laid it all out for the Senate and for the public (of which 51% favors impeachment, per a recent CNN poll).

Very smartly, Schiff appealed to senators' and viewers' best instincts, saying: "The American people want a fair trial. They want to believe the system of government is still capable of rising to the occasion. They want to believe we can rise about party and do what's best for the country." This statement, by the way, is supported by national polling that finds most Americans want witnesses and new testimony allowed into the impeachment inquiry. Notice that Schiff did not have to resort to demonizing those who perhaps did not agree with him (indeed, he comported himself with the dignity required in such a grave and consequential matter).

In fact, his presentation was especially strong when he played video clips of other people, including Trump, whose statements bolstered the House Democrats' case for impeachment. So just in case anyone had forgotten, we again got to see acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney basically admitting to a quid pro quo (regarding the withholding of Ukraine aid in exchange for an investigation into the Bidens) and telling reporters to "Get over it."

James Madison wanted the Supreme Court to try impeachments. Maybe he was right.
By Noah Feldman

President Donald Trump is on trial in the Senate. But the Senate is on trial, too — to see if it’s capable of fulfilling its constitutional duty to hold a credible impeachment trial.

James Madison thought the Supreme Court, not the Senate, should try presidential impeachments. Until now, the other framers’ rejection of Madison’s idea seemed to have been wise. Yet the unprecedented degree of partisanship in Trump’s “trial,” and the possibility that for the first time there will be no witnesses, raises the possibility that the framers’ impeachment design has hit a dead end.

The Supreme Court trial option wasn’t an afterthought at the constitutional convention in 1787. To the contrary, it was the first idea about where impeachments should be tried, and prevailed throughout most of that long, hot Philadelphia summer. As late as August 27, some three months into the convention, the working draft of the Constitution’s impeachment provision called for “removing the President on impeachment by the House of Reps. and conviction in the supreme Court, of Treason, Bribery or corruption.”

By Kate Sullivan and Sarah Mucha, CNN

(CNN) Former Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he would not make a deal where he would testify at the impeachment trial in exchange for the testimonies of former and current top Trump officials. "The reason why I would not make the deal, the bottom line is, I, this is a constitutional issue. And we're not going to turn it into a farce, into some kind of political theater," Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate, said at an event in Osage, Iowa. The Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is underway in Washington. Democrats allege Trump abused his office by directing a pressure campaign for Ukraine to announce an investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter, in exchange for $400 million in US security aid and a White House meeting. Trump, Democrats say, then stonewalled congressional investigators to cover up the misconduct.

A voter asked Biden at the event in Iowa if the former vice president had considered agreeing to testify in exchange for procuring testimony from acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. "Have you ever thought of just calling (the Republicans') bluff, and maybe even you and your son (testify)? And that might just take the gas right out of them," Steve Delgado, a voter who said he had driven to Iowa from Arizona, asked Biden. Biden responded, "I don't think they've got much gas in the tank to begin with."

Schumer accused McConnell of "totally, totally, totally going along with Trump’s cover-up, hook, line and sinker."
By Allan Smith

Democrats on Tuesday called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's initial proposal for President Donald Trump's impeachment trial "appalling," a "national disgrace," and "deliberately designed to hide the truth." "This is just appalling," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told MSNBC's "Morning Joe," adding that McConnell, R-Ky., was seeking to turn the trial into "a farce" and that under this proposal it would be a "national disgrace." The rules were later on Tuesday revised amid pressure from Democrats and some Republicans. Schumer had pledged to offer amendments to change the "most egregious things" McConnell proposed, pleading for four Republicans — the number needed to form a majority — to vote with the Democrats.

By Sara Murray, Marshall Cohen and Katelyn Polantz, CNN

(CNN) Officials at the White House's Office of Management and Budget were laying the groundwork to freeze military aid to Ukraine the night before President Donald Trump's controversial phone call with the Ukrainian President, newly released, heavily redacted emails show. On the evening of July 24, the night before the call, OMB officials shared a "Ukraine Prep Memo" with Michael Duffey -- the office's associate director of national security programs, a political appointee and the budget official who would play a direct role in carrying out Trump's funding freeze. "We will be standing by to answer any questions that you have and are happy to schedule time to discuss if you like," OMB official Paul Denaro wrote to Duffey that evening. The contents of the Ukraine memo are redacted, as are many other parts of most of the emails released publicly early Wednesday morning.

The disclosure of the flurry of emails came just before midnight Tuesday, when the Office of Management and Budget gave the transparency group American Oversight nearly 200 pages of records related to the Trump administration's handling of aid to Ukraine. The documents depict the back-and-forth at OMB and with the Department of Defense and others as the holdup on more than $200 million of congressionally appropriated military assistance to Ukraine dragged on from late summer, until around the time a whistleblower came forward in September about the President's political pressure on Ukraine. Most of the emails in the batch of records publicly released early Wednesday morning are sent to or from Duffey. Tuesday's disclosure, part of a public records access lawsuit from American Oversight, comes as Democrats hammered the Trump administration throughout the day and night for stonewalling their subpoenas for documents related to the President's impeachment and handling of Ukraine.

Barry Goldwater had the power to tell Nixon it was all over. But don’t expect a repeat this time.

At the end for Richard Nixon, after all the mounting evidence in the Watergate scandal, after both special prosecutors, after all the White House indictments, after the guilty pleas, after the obstruction efforts fell apart, after all the court fights, after all the damaging revelations in outlets like the Washington Post, Time and the Los Angeles Times, after all the impeachment hearings, it all came down to Barry Goldwater.

It’s easy, nearly 50 years after Watergate, to forget that Nixon’s ignominious departure from the White House was hardly a foregone conclusion. The Republican Party had stuck closely with Nixon even through the darkest days of the Watergate scandal; even as its lawmakers whispered behind closed doors about his guilt and even as public opinion polls showed Nixon dragging down their party, they had toughed it out—past the indictments of his top aides, past the courts batting back one attempt at obstruction after another, even after Nixon’s attacks on and ultimate firing of the special prosecutor targeting him.

It wasn’t until August 6, 1974, at the regular Senate Republican Conference lunch that Barry Goldwater fumed to his colleagues: “There are only so many lies you can take, and now there has been one too many. Nixon should get his ass out of the White House—today!” Hours later, he ventured to the White House to tell Nixon to resign. And, amazingly, Nixon did. For Nixon knew that when Goldwater threw in the towel, it really was over.

By Emma Tucker

President Trump appeared to admit Wednesday that he is comfortable with how his impeachment trial is playing out in the Senate—because the White House is withholding evidence about his dealings with Ukraine. “Honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material,” the president told reporters in Davos, Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum, regarding the documents the White House has refused to turn over. “When we released that conversation, all hell broke out with the Democrats because they say, wait a minute, this is much different than shifty Schiff told us, so we’re doing very well. I got to watch enough, I thought our team did a very good job,” Trump said, referencing House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), who has spearheaded the House impeachment inquiry against the president.

By Eric Litke

Witnesses have been a key point of debate in the lead up to President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial before the U.S. Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., delayed sending the Senate the articles of impeachment while seeking —among other things — a commitment to call witnesses from Republicans who control the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has vowed to force votes on witnesses and documents in the Republican-controlled chamber.

Democrats say avoiding witnesses would be tantamount to a cover-up. And Wisconsin’s Democratic senator, Tammy Baldwin, said it would also be breaking with centuries of tradition. "Every other impeachment trial the Senate has ever had, including those for other federal officials aside from the two presidential impeachments … has included witnesses," Baldwin said in a Jan. 19, 2020, appearance on WISN-TV’s ‘UpFront’ program.

The president’s impeachment narrative is divorced from reality and impervious to correction.
By Aaron Rupar

Hours after his lawyers began his impeachment trial with a blizzard of lies, President Trump held a news conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in which he repeated many of those falsehoods and struggled to reconcile inconsistent statements he’s made about whether his aides should testify. In so doing, the president offered yet another illustration of how he and his team intend to not only to bluster their way through the impeachment trial, but even go as far as taunting Democrats who have so far been stymied in their efforts to compel testimony and document production.

Continuing a strategy his lawyers used on Tuesday, Trump largely declined to defend his dealings with Ukraine on the merits during his news conference, but instead twisted facts to portray Democrats as obsessed with taking him down. The most notable egregious example of this came in the context of Trump’s comments about House Intelligence Committee chair and impeachment manager Adam Schiff. To hear Trump tell it, Schiff intentionally falsified comments Trump made to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during their July phone call, only to be subsequently corrected when the president took the bold step of releasing a call summary.

By Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, CNN

(CNN) House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff detailed the House's case for removing President Donald Trump from office on Wednesday as the Senate's trial shifted to opening arguments following a contentious first day spent debating the rules of the impeachment trial. Schiff argued to senators that the House had overwhelming evidence showing that Trump abused his office and obstructed Congress, but that the case would be even more clear to both the Senate jurors and the public if senators voted to obtain additional witnesses and documents. The California Democrat, who is the lead impeachment manager for the House, invoked Founding Father Alexander Hamilton in his opening statements, that kicked off the House's 24 hours for arguments.

"We are here today -- in this hallowed chamber, undertaking this solemn action for only the third time in history --because Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States, has acted precisely as Hamilton and his contemporaries had feared," Schiff said. "President Trump solicited foreign interference in our democratic elections, abusing the power of his office by seeking help from abroad to improve his reelection prospects at home. And when he was caught, he used the powers of that office to obstruct the investigation into his own misconduct."

Schiff's presentation marked a new phase of the trial, after a marathon debate on Tuesday where Republicans repeatedly rejected motions to subpoena witnesses and documents related to the Ukraine scandal. The House's 24 hours of arguments, which will be spread over three days, are intended to hammer home its case but also to try to convince moderate GOP senators that the trial should include additional testimony and documents.

Senators have a duty to conduct a fair and full trial. The Republican leader is trying to make sure they can’t.
By Noah Bookbinder

The removal of a sitting president is the last line of defense provided by the framers of the Constitution against the abuse of power by the leader of our country. When senators take an oath to uphold the Constitution, they assume the grave responsibility to conduct a thorough and fair trial on behalf of the American people. Dismissing this process set out in the Constitution, President Trump has called the impeachment process a “scam.” That’s his opinion, of course — but this week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is doing everything he can to ensure that the Senate trial actually is a scam. An impeachment trial is only meaningful if the American people can have confidence in the fairness of the process; only then will the trial’s verdict be worthy of respect. Mr. McConnell is advocating trial procedures that would undercut any possibility of that.

Americans understand the basic contours of a fair trial: Each side presents relevant evidence, in the form of documents and witnesses. But Mr. McConnell and President Trump’s allies in the Senate appear to think that the president should be allowed to play by his own rules. The impeachment procedural resolution that the Senate adopted early Wednesday morning appears designed to, among other things, prevent either side from introducing testimony and evidence about President Trump’s alleged abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The opening statements from Trump’s lawyers indicated that gaslighting will be a key part of their strategy.
By Aaron Rupar

The opening debate of the Senate impeachment trial on Tuesday afternoon was supposed to be merely about the trial rules. But in quintessential Trump fashion, members of President Donald Trump’s legal team wasted no time telling a number of lies before things really got going. Though getting facts wrong might be somewhat understandable in the context of extemporaneous statements, these falsehoods came in the context of prepared remarks read by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and personal Trump attorney Jay Sekulow. And if that approach is indicative of how the rest of the trial will go, casual watchers may end up with an understanding of the timeline of Trump’s Ukraine dealings and ensuing impeachment that’s at odds with reality.

Falsehood No. 1: Trump’s lawyers claimed Republicans didn’t have access to key information during House impeachment inquiry

As part of an effort to portray the process that resulted in Trump’s impeachment and trial as a partisan witch hunt, Cipollone at one point complained that “not even [House Intelligence Committee chair and impeachment manager Adam] Schiff’s Republican colleagues were allowed into the SCIF,” or Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, which is basically the secure facility that members of Congress used to review classified information pertinent to the impeachment inquiry.

   "Not even Mr. Schiff's Republican colleagues were allowed into the SCIF" -- this is a blatant lie from Cipollone pic.twitter.com/A4cWhwRSUo
   — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 21, 2020

This assertion is not true. As a number of reporters pointed out, not only did Republicans involved in the impeachment have access to the SCIF, but many of them also used it.

   Cipollone says “Not even Mr. Schiff’s Republican colleagues were allowed into the SCIF” during impeachment investigation.

   That’s 100% false. Any member of the three investigating committees could attend, and many Republicans did!
   — Garrett Haake (@GarrettHaake) January 21, 2020

As part of a made-for-TV stunt, House Republicans did storm a SCIF in October to protest Democrats not providing Republicans who were otherwise uninvolved in the impeachment inquiry with access to closed-door depositions. However, Republicans who are members of one of the three committees involved in the process had the same access as Democrats. When the trial resumed after a brief pause following Sekulow and Cipollone’s statements, Schiff noted that Cipollone made “a false statement” about access to the SCIF, saying, “I will tell you this: He’s mistaken. He’s mistaken ... [Republicans] got the same time we did.”

By Louis Jacobson

On the first full day of President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone claimed that House Democrats had run roughshod over the president’s procedural rights by denying Republicans access to key parts of the investigation. Cipollone had several complaints, but one stood out to us as clearly wrong. "Not even (House Intelligence Chairman Adam) Schiff’s Republican colleagues were allowed into the SCIF" during the House impeachment investigation, Cipollone said on the Senate floor Jan. 21. (A "SCIF," which stands for "sensitive compartmented information facility," is a secure government facility where classified intelligence can be discussed without eavesdropping.)

Cipollone’s assertion echoed one made by, and on behalf of, a group of Republicans who staged a sit-in at the House Intelligence committee, to protest what they argued were unfair ground rules for the Republican minority during the House impeachment inquiry. On Oct. 23, more than 40 Republican lawmakers disrupted witness testimony by storming the SCIF where depositions were under way, chanting, "Let us in!" There are nine Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, 17 on the House Oversight Committee, and 21 on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

All 47 of those Republicans have been able to participate and ask questions in the interviews and depositions held to this point, Ashley Etienne, Pelosi’s communications director, told PolitiFact last October. Independent experts told us the same thing. Some Republican House members, such as Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who organized the Oct. 23 protest, were kept out of the hearings not because of their party affiliation, but because they did not sit not on the relevant committees. (Democrats who weren’t on the committees were kept out as well.) Some, such as Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida, chose not to attend despite being able to do so.

President Trump’s impeachment trial began with acrimony as lawyers for the president and House members known as impeachment managers clashed in personal and bitter arguments over the rules that will govern the trial.

The Senate voted to block attempts by Democrats to subpoena documents and witnesses for the impeachment trial that the White House has refused to provide to the House investigators. The votes were cast along party lines.

Under the rules, orchestrated by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the House managers and Mr. Trump’s lawyers will each have 24 hours starting Wednesday afternoon to argue their cases for and against the articles of impeachment. Senators will have 16 hours to ask questions, submitted in writing, most likely early next week. After that, the Senate will again consider the matter of whether to subpoena witnesses or documents, at which point a few Republicans have signaled they may be open to doing so.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. early Wednesday morning delivered an extraordinary admonishment of Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, an impeachment manager, and Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, after the two men traded insults in a particularly biting exchange.

By Phil Mattingly, CNN

Washington (CNN) The Senate will consider, and vote on, the rules of the road for the opening stages of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.
The resolution dictating the trial rules is partisan. The fight over it will be heated. Democrats will try to change it and highlight its deficiencies. Every single Republican will vote for it, and it will be locked into place. If the Senate was going to be different than every other step of the impeachment process in terms of tone and tenor, Tuesday certainly won't look that way. Bottom line: The stage is set. The Republican resolution is public. The briefs are (mostly) filed. The workspaces for the House managers and White House defense team are prepped. The walk-throughs of the Senate floor (including a how-to in utilizing the four television screens both sides can deploy for their presentations) have concluded. Buckle up. It's time for the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump.

His Clinton probe was one of the sleaziest episodes in recent American political history, at least until Trump came along.
By Michael Tomasky

I had to chuckle over the weekend as pundits tried to square the circle of Ken Starr, who led the impeachment crusade against Bill Clinton in 1998, defending Donald Trump on impeachment charges in 2020. Why, it seems so inconsistent on its face! But for Starr, it’s 1,000 percent consistent. It’s who he is.

He’s a political hack. A total partisan hatchet man. One of the most poisonous political figures of our time. No—worse. One of the most poisonous public figures. Not just in politics, but in any realm. I’d sooner have O.J. over for dinner. He’s another one of those men who started his adult life as a Democrat—even a Vietnam protester!—but got yucked out by something along the way and became a Reagan man. Like Rudy Giuliani, another historically poisonous figure (I wouldn’t have said this of him, by the way, until the last couple of years).

But let’s just go back to the pivotal moment, when Starr became known by the nation at large. This was 1994, when he was appointed to replace Robert Fiske as independent counsel investigating Clinton. This was one of the sleaziest episodes in recent American political history, at least until Trump came along.

By Editorial Board

SENATE REPUBLICANS on Tuesday were laying the groundwork for a truncated trial of President Trump that would be a perversion of justice. Proposals by Democrats to obtain critical evidence were voted down. Unless several senators change their positions, votes to acquit Mr. Trump on the House’s charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress could come as soon as next week without any testimony by witnesses or review of key documents. That would be unprecedented compared with previous presidential impeachments. It would gravely damage the only mechanism the Constitution provides for checking a rogue president.

Yet the rigging of the trial process may not be the most damaging legacy of the exhibition Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) is orchestrating in full collaboration with the White House. That might flow from the brazen case being laid out by Mr. Trump’s lawyers. The defense brief they filed Monday argues that the president “did absolutely nothing wrong” when he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch investigations of Joe Biden and a Russian-promoted conspiracy theory about the 2016 election. It further contends that Mr. Trump was entirely within his rights when he refused all cooperation with the House impeachment inquiry, including rejecting subpoenas for testimony and documents. It says he cannot be impeached because he violated no law.

In a memo for the Trump team during the Russia investigation, the attorney general wrote that presidents who misuse their authority are subject to impeachment.
By Charlie Savage

WASHINGTON — Scholars have roundly rejected a central argument of President Trump’s lawyers that abuse of power is not by itself an impeachable offense. But it turns out that another important legal figure has contradicted that idea: Mr. Trump’s attorney general and close ally, William P. Barr.

In summer 2018, when he was still in private practice, Mr. Barr wrote a confidential memo for the Justice Department and Mr. Trump’s legal team to help the president get out of a problem. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was pressuring him to answer questions about whether he had illegally impeded the Russia investigation.

Mr. Trump should not talk to investigators about his actions as president, even under a subpoena, Mr. Barr wrote in his 19-page memo, which became public during his confirmation. Mr. Barr based his advice on a sweeping theory of executive power under which obstruction of justice laws do not apply to presidents, even if they misuse their authority over the Justice Department to block investigations into themselves or their associates for corrupt reasons.

By Tara Subramaniam, CNN

Washington (CNN) The day before opening statements in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, his lawyers submitted a lengthy trial memorandum responding to the charges against him. Here are the facts around three of their main arguments in the President's defense.

The first article of impeachment, 'abuse of power,' is not an impeachable offense
Memo: "House Democrats' Made-Up 'Abuse of Power' Standard Fails To State an Impeachable Offense Because It Does Not Rest on Violation of an Established Law"
Facts First: Not only is there precedent for abuse of power as an article of impeachment, this argument ignores evidence that came to light prior to the submission deadline for the White House's response.

"Abuse of power" is not a made-up standard; it was part of the initial articles of impeachment drawn up against Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon. However, the full House never voted on the articles of impeachment against Nixon, as he resigned beforehand, and abuse of power was not among the articles approved by the full House for Clinton.


(CNN) The Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump began in earnest on Tuesday, and Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, led the House managers in arguing to Trump's impeachment. Read his opening statement below:

Both sides are debating the proposed rules before the Senate votes.
By Katherine Faulders, Trish Turner, Stephanie Ebbs and Quinn Owen

On a party line vote, 53-47, the Senate votes to put aside -- or kill -- Schumer's amendment to subpoena witnesses and documents from the White House. Schumer proposes a new amendment to subpoena documents from the State Department related to calls between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelenskiy.

By Lauren Fox, Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb, CNN

(CNN) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to give House impeachment managers and President Donald Trump's legal team each 24 hours divided over two days for their opening arguments in the Senate's impeachment trial, a move that indicates Senate Republicans are pushing to finish the trial as quickly as possible -- ahead of the President's February 4 State of the Union address. The timeline laid out in the Kentucky Republican's four-page organizing resolution, which was obtained by CNN, is a break from the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, when the 24 hours were split over a four-day period.

Democrats oppose McConnell's schedule, which House Democratic aides said Monday was an effort to "conceal the President's misconduct in the dark of night." "It's clear Sen. McConnell is hell-bent on making it much more difficult to get witnesses and documents and intent on rushing the trial through," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said in a statement. "On something as important as impeachment, Senator McConnell's resolution is nothing short of a national disgrace."

The condensed timeline for opening arguments raises the prospect that the trial will have 12-hour days and go late into the night, as the trial begins at 1 p.m. ET each day. The Senate will debate and vote on McConnell's resolution on Tuesday, kicking off the trial in earnest after the ceremonial proceedings last week. Schumer said he would offer amendments on Tuesday "to address the many flaws in this deeply unfair proposal and to subpoena the witnesses and documents we have requested."

By Cat Schuknecht

On Friday, President Trump added former independent counsel Ken Starr to the legal team that will defend him in the Senate impeachment trial. Starr is best known for leading an investigation into President Bill Clinton's affair with a White House intern during the 1990s. The investigation was aggressive, lengthy, and offered a window into Starr's approach to holding the powerful to account. But in the years that followed the Clinton impeachment, a different type of scandal provided another picture of Starr's approach. In 2016, almost two decades after Starr investigated the Clinton scandal, Starr was fired from his job as president of Baylor University, accused of ignoring sexual assault issues on campus.

"It seems very clear that he governed over a policy that was, at best, indifferent to what was happening to Baylor women," Jim Dunnam, a lawyer representing 15 women in an ongoing case against the university, told NPR. When Starr took over the presidency at Baylor University in 2010, he appeared to have quickly grasped the importance of athletics at the Division I school. As president, he oversaw the opening of the university's $250 million football stadium. Before some games, he even ran onto the football field and cheered alongside students. However, shortly after Starr's arrival on campus, Baylor athletics became marred by sexual assault allegations and convictions.

By Robert Costa and Rachael Bade

President Trump’s legal defense team and Senate GOP allies are quietly gaming out contingency plans should Democrats win enough votes to force witnesses to testify in the impeachment trial, including an effort to keep former national security adviser John Bolton from the spotlight, according to multiple officials familiar with the discussions.

While Republicans continue to express confidence that Democrats will fail to persuade four GOP lawmakers to break ranks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has opposed calling any witnesses in the trial, they are readying a Plan B just in case — underscoring how uncertain they are about prevailing in a showdown over witnesses and Bolton’s possible testimony.

One option being discussed, according to a senior administration official, would be to move Bolton’s testimony to a classified setting because of national security concerns, ensuring that it is not public.

By Caroline Kelly

(CNN) Constitutional lawyer and Trump impeachment legal team member Alan Dershowitz said Monday that he is "much more correct right now" in his current views on what qualifies a president for impeachment than his near-opposite views during the Clinton impeachment. Dershowitz, a recent addition to President Donald Trump's team, said Sunday that the framers of the Constitution intended for impeachable conduct to mean "criminal-like conduct" and that both of Trump's charges of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power do not meet the constitutional criteria for impeachment.

But in 1998, Dershowitz said that a president could be impeached even without being accused of a crime. "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," he said on "Larry King Live" at the time. When asked by CNN's Anderson Cooper on "Anderson Cooper 360" on Monday whether he was wrong back then, Dershowitz replied, "I was saying that I am much more correct right now having done all the research, because that's the issue."

"I didn't do research back then, I relied on what professors said ... because that issue was not presented in the Clinton impeachment," Dershowitz said. "Everybody knew that he was charged with a crime, the issue is whether it was a hard crime. Now the issue is whether a crime or criminal-like behavior is required." He continued, "I've done the research now -- I wasn't wrong (at the time), I am just far more correct now than I was then. I said you didn't need a technical crime back then. I still don't think you need a technical crime."

New Day

In an interview from 1998 about the Clinton impeachment, attorney Alan Dershowitz says it "certainly doesn't have to be a crime" to be impeachable. This is opposite of his defense of President Trump over the weekend. Source: CNN

By Robyn Dixon, David L. Stern and Natalie Gryvnyak

KYIV — Lev Parnas, the Ukrainian American businessman at the heart of the Trump impeachment, adopted a tone of hearty bonhomie when exchanging messages with Ukraine’s political elite, calling them “my brother” or “my friend,” or telling them “I missed you” or “I embrace you.” The Florida businessman whose family moved to the United States from the Soviet Union when he was a child, has said he was part of a multipronged effort led by former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R), to help President Trump’s reelection campaign and damage a political opponent, former vice president Joe Biden. Parnas has said he and his associate, Igor Fruman, used their deep knowledge of a Ukrainian government known for functioning on secret inside deals — a reputation it is trying to change — to support Giuliani’s efforts. The two face federal charges over alleged campaign finance violations.

Lev Parnas pointed his finger at Dmytro Firtash.
By Franklin Foer

Somewhere near the heart of the Ukraine scandal is the oligarch Dmytro Firtash. Evidence has long suggested this fact. But over the past week, in a televised interview and in documents he supplied to Congress, Rudy Giuliani’s former business partner Lev Parnas pointed his finger at the Ukrainian oligarch. According to Parnas, Giuliani’s team had a deal with Firtash. Giuliani would get the Justice Department to drop its attempt to extradite the oligarch on bribery charges. In return, according to Parnas, the oligarch promised to pass along evidence that would supposedly discredit both Joe Biden and Robert Mueller.

Parnas’s account, of course, is hardly definitive. Throughout his career, he has attempted to inflate his importance to make money. (Firtash apparently paid him $1 million for his services, though it’s still not totally clear what those services were.) And his description of Firtash’s involvement raises as many questions as it settles. Still, the apparent centrality of Firtash should inform any assessment of Giuliani’s escapades and the entire Ukraine story.

By Clare Foran, CNN

Washington (CNN) The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump will be an unusual event in more ways than one. It will mark only the third time in American history that a President faces a Senate impeachment trial. The trial is expected to interfere with -- if not halt entirely -- the usual business of the Senate and senators will have to comply with a set of rules that are not usually enforced and that may test their patience. To start, lawmakers used to giving lengthy speeches on the Senate floor to weigh in on the issues of the day will instead have to be quiet. Official decorum guidelines for the trial released by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's offices say that senators must refrain from speaking while the case is being presented.

"That's going to suck," Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida told CNN when asked about the no-talking rule. "I guarantee you it's going to be hard," he said, adding sarcastically, "but I think we'll survive." "It's going to be devastating for some," Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana said with a smile about the fact that senators won't be able to talk. But Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii said the no-talking requirement "shouldn't be that difficult." "The rules are there for a reason. We spend the lion's share of every day yammering. The least we can do in order to respect this process is abide by the requirement that we sit there and keep our mouths shut," Schatz said.

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