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The Impeachment of President Donald J. Trump

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#2231

At least Senator Romney is willing to let known his inclinations towards listening to witnesses.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney ® said Saturday that it is “very likely” he will be in favor of calling witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial against President Trump.

However, the GOP lawmaker said he will hold off on making his final decision until after Democratic impeachment managers and the president’s defense lawyers conclude their opening arguments.

I think it’s very likely I’ll be in favor of witnesses, but I haven’t made a decision finally yet and I won’t until the testimony is completed,” the Utah Republican said Saturday after the first day of the Trump team’s opening arguments, CNN reported.


#2232

Bolton’s revelations now coming out are going to become more of a political football which T and McConnell hope to manipulate starting right now.

T claims Dems never called on Bolton (no subpoena) but the Dems were stymied by getting to Bolton, as his former deputy, Charles M. Kupperman subpoena* was sent back to the courts. Note: Bolton and Kupperman shared same lawyer so Dems would have been also been sent back through the courts if Bolton was given a subpoena.

The truth of it is that the manuscript was sent to NSC to be vetted within the last month…so it has only been in their hands. NSC is a direct report to the WH. The WH was fully aware of the kinds of claims that Bolton would be making, but naturally have kept it under wraps.

Axios is also reporting that NYT’s also had seen the manuscript so they knew bombshells would be coming.

It is the Repunlican Senators (and public) who must decide to call T’s bluff and ask for witnesses. And per Maggie Haberman, NYT they feel blindsided.

President Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton alleges in his forthcoming book that the president explicitly told him “he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens,” the New York Times first reported.

Why this matters: The revelations present a dramatic 11th hour turn in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial. They directly contradict Trump’s claim that he never tied the hold-up of Ukrainian aid to his demands for investigations into his political opponent Joe Biden. Trump strongly denied Bolton’s claims early Monday.

  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has already seized on the story, tweeting: “John Bolton has the evidence. It’s up to four Senate Republicans to ensure that John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, and the others with direct knowledge of President Trump’s actions testify in the Senate trial.”
  • The seven House impeachment managers echoed those sentiments, saying in a joint statement: “There is no defensible reason to wait until his book is published, when the information he has to offer is critical to the most important decision senators must now make — whether to convict the president of impeachable offenses.”

What’s new: Sarah Tinsley, an adviser to Bolton, told me: “The ambassador’s manuscript was transmitted to the White House for pre-publication review by the NSC. The ambassador has not passed the draft manuscript to anyone else. Period. It was sent over there, to the NSC, several weeks ago.

  • Tinsley would not comment on the Times’ report of the contents of the book that’s slated for release on March 17.
  • Bolton’s attorney Charles Cooper said in a statement he submitted a manuscript on behalf of his client on Dec. 30 to the National Security Council’s Records Management Division for standard prepublication security review for classified information, along with a cover letter.

"[W]e submitted the manuscript notwithstanding our firm belief that the manuscript contained no information that could reasonably be considered classified and on the assurance that the ‘process of reviewing submitted materials is restricted to those career government officials and employees regularly charged with responsibility for such reviews’ and that the 'contents of Ambassador Bolton’s manuscript will not be reviewed or otherwise disclosed to any persons not regularly involved in that process.

“It is clear, regrettably, from The New York Times article published today that the prepublication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript.”
— Cooper’s statement to Axios

Behind the scenes: The New York Times learned about the contents of the Bolton manuscript before the White House press shop, per a source with direct knowledge.

Mr. Bolton had previously said he would abide by the ruling of a federal judge in a separate lawsuit by his former deputy, Charles M. Kupperman, over whether to appear as requested in the House impeachment inquiry or comply with a White House directive to stay silent. But House Democrats withdrew their subpoena for Mr. Kupperman, arguing that they did not have time to await the outcome of a potentially yearslong lawsuit before moving to impeach Mr. Trump.

The judge ruled late last month that the issue was moot, which Mr. Bolton said left him no choice but to make his own decision.


(David Bythewood) #2233

The fact the NYT knew of this before the WH further highlights how on the outs with this WH Bolton is.

Republicans fear “floodgates” if Bolton testifies

National Security Council says no other White House staffers saw Bolton manuscript


#2234

Here’s Lawrence Tribe, Constitutional lawyer and revered scholar in these matters weighing in on how Chief Justice Roberts could help influence whether witnesses and documents do get called and viewed, if there is a stalemate within the Impeachment trial (as we are expecting.)

Yet Republican members of the Senate have signaled that they intend to uphold Mr. Trump’s unprecedented decision to block all of this material.

But turns out they don’t get to make that choice — Chief Justice John Roberts does. This isn’t a matter of Democrats needing four “moderate” Republicans to vote for subpoenas and witnesses, as the Trump lawyers have been claiming. Rather, the impeachment rules, like all trial systems, put a large thumb on the scale of issuing subpoenas and place that power within the authority of the judge, in this case the chief justice.

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

The Senate rules for impeachment date back to 1868 and have been in effect since that time. They specifically provide for the subpoenas of witnesses, going so far in Rule XXIV as to outline the specific language a subpoena must use — the “form of subpoena to be issued on the application of the managers of the impeachment, or of the party impeached, or of his counsel.”

As you can see, there is no “Senate vote” requirement whatsoever in the subpoena rule. A manager can seek it on his own.

The rules further empower the chief justice to enforce the subpoena rule. Rule V says: “The presiding officer shall have power to make and issue, by himself or by the Secretary of the Senate, all orders , mandates, writs, and precepts authorized by these rules, or by the Senate, and to make and enforce such other regulations and orders in the premises as the Senate may authorize or provide.” The presiding officer, under our Constitution, is the chief justice. As such, the chief justice, as presiding officer, has the “power to make and issue, by himself,” subpoenas.

President Trump’s allies have tried to distort a separate rule (also still in effect), hoping that it could be stretched to say that a majority of senators can override the chief justice’s decision. Rule VII reads, in the relevant part: “the presiding officer on the trial may rule on all questions of evidence including, but not limited to, questions of relevancy, materiality, and redundancy of evidence and incidental questions, which ruling shall stand as the judgment of the Senate, unless some Member of the Senate shall ask that a formal vote be taken thereon, in which case it shall be submitted to the Senate for decision without debate.” So President Trump’s allies are hoping that last clause authorizes a majority of Senators to overrule the chief justice on matters including subpoena issuance.

@MissJava - Can you place this one back into the Impeachment area please? Reached my limit Thank you… :smile:


📝 Must Read Op-Ed and Profiles
#2235

Watch: Senate Impeachment Trial, Day 7

The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues with opening arguments from the President’s defense team. Other legislative work is possible.

Listen


#2237

Trump’s Defense: A Simple Fact Check Reveals It Is Based on Lies

Since the link is to a live feed (at about 3:10pm ET, 2020-01-27) it may not take you to the relevant section, so I’ve reproduced the text in full.

The Trump legal team is going all in on just 6 points of defense. The team introduced the 6 points on Saturday and then repeated them again today. I’m actually glad they’re being very specific about this because now we have a clearly defined battlefield. When we demolish those 6 points, we will have destroyed Trump’s case. We need to memorize those points and hammer at them over and over.

It’s immediately apparent how weak this 6-point defense plan is. Most of the points defy the test of common sense, but I’m setting that aside here and just focusing on fact checking. Are these points based on the truth or lies? Here they are as reiterated by Sekulow today:

Trump’s legal team is centering its case around these 6 arguments

From CNN staff


Senate TV

President Trump’s legal team is centering its case against impeachment around six key facts they say “have not and will not change.”

Deputy White House counsel Mike Purpura introduced them on Saturday and the President’s attorney Jay Sekulow repeated them on Monday.

  1. “The transcript shows that the President did not condition either security assistance or a meeting on anything. The paused security assistance funds aren’t even mentioned on the call,” Sekulow said.

  2. “President Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials repeatedly said there was no quid pro quo and no pressure on them to review anything.”

  3. “President Zelensky and high-ranking Ukrainian officials did not even know the security assistance was paused until the end of August, over a month after the July 25 call.”

  4. “Not a single witness testified that the President himself said that that there was any connection between any investigation and security assistance, a presidential meeting or anything else.”

  5. “The security assistance flowed on September 11 and a presidential meeting took place on September 25th without the Ukrainian government, without Ukrainian government announcing any investigations.

  6. “In the blind drive to impeach the president, President Trump, in reality, strategically has been the best friend and supporter of Ukraine certainly in our recent history. These are the facts.”

CNN’s fact-check team went through each of these claims on Saturday. You can read the full break down here .

And here’s CNN’s in-depth fact checking. I’ve added my own assessments which I’ve labeled so it will be clear they are my words, not CNN’s.

President Donald Trump’s legal team kicked off their opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial Saturday morning. In defending the President, Deputy White House Counsel Mike Purpura said the case is based on “six key facts that have not and will not change.”

Here’s a break-down of these six “facts” and other claims made by Trump’s legal team Saturday.

1. The transcript doesn’t show a quid pro quo

Purpura said “the transcript shows that the President did not condition either security assistance or a meeting on anything. The paused security assistance funds aren’t even mentioned on the call.”

Facts First: While no specific conditions for a quid pro quo were mentioned on the call, the exchange Trump had with Zelenksy raised eyebrows among some officials who listened to the phone conversation – because the US was withholding military aid from Ukraine at the time.

In the memo of the call, Trump discusses US aid to Ukraine and how the relationship between the two countries was “not reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine.” He then says he would like Zelensky “to do us a favor though.” Trump goes on to discusses a conspiracy theory related to the 2016 election and later, a potential Ukrainian investigation into the Bidens.

The Trump administration has argued that the military aid was entirely separate and being held because of concerns about corruption in Ukraine. Purpura’s point holds, as the transcript does not specifically outline an exchange of one for another, but Democrats argue a quid pro quo was implicit given Ukraine’s dependence on the US.

@Keaton_James Point 1 is an outright lie. The transcript does show a quid pro quo. Trump uses “mob speak” to clearly convey his extortion threat. The Business Insider lays it out:

  • “We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps, specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes,” Zelensky went on to say.

  • Trump immediately replied, “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.”

  • He then went on to push Zelensky to open an inquiry into the debunked conspiracy theory on the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe before urging his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate the Bidens.

Barbara McQuade, law professor at the University of Michigan Law School and former US attorney, said in a recent Washington Post op-ed what’s revealed in the White House summary on the call is “precisely a quid pro quo, or ‘this for that,’ and it alone is sufficient to form the basis of a charge of bribery, one of the specified grounds for impeachment in the Constitution.”

Returning to the CNN article…

2. Zelensky and Ukrainian officials say there was no pressure

Purpura said “President Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said there was no quid pro quo or no pressure on them to review anything.”

Facts First: Ukraine’s president and foreign minister have made comments that bolster Trump’s argument that he did not pressure Ukraine to investigate his opponents in order to receive US military aid .

President Zelensky in particular has said, on several occasions, that he felt no pressure from Trump to investigate the Bidens or the 2016 election. In a joint press conference with Trump in late September, after the memo of the phone call was released by the White House, Zelensky first said “nobody pushed me” while Trump was also saying “there was no pressure.”

During an interview with Time magazine, Zelensky was asked to “clarify this issue of quid pro quo.” “Look, I never talked to the President from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing,” Zelensky said.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko, has also said Trump’s July phone call with Zelensky was “friendly” and that “I think there was no pressure.”

Republicans have used these comments to support their argument that the President didn’t pressure Zelensky into doing anything he didn’t want to do. However, Democrats have claimed Zelensky’s assertions may indicate the opposite.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler described Zelensky’s situation as "he has a gun to his head. The gun is the fact that the President of the United States, upon whom he depends for military aid, for help in many different ways, has shown himself willing to withhold that aid based on what he says, based on what he’s willing to play along with the President for his own personal political goals."

Zelensky and his team also discussed the pressure they were already feeling to publicly launch investigations that would benefit Trump, according to a source familiar with discussions at the meeting which occurred two weeks after Zelensky and Trump spoke for the first time in April.

@Keaton_James Point 2 has no merit since victims of extortion are strongly motivated to deny they are being extorted. Mobster: “Nice little grocery store you have here. Too bad if it should burn to the ground. Do us a favor and pay us $100 every month and I’m sure that won’t happen. Oh, and by the way if you mention this conversation to the police, your house may also burn down.”

As Nadler said, Zelensky basically has a gun to his head. Just as in the mob example above, Zelensky desperately needs Trump’s “protection” (in the form of aid) to save his country (in this case from Russian attacks). If Zelensky rats on Trump he knows that he is putting all future aid at risk. What would Zelensky gain from admitting that Trump is extorting him? Nothing. What could he lose? Everything. So we really cannot give any credence to his statement that he didn’t feel under pressure.

I addition, there are other sources maintaining that Ukrainians did feel pressure. AP report from November:

In early May, staff at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, including then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, were briefed on a meeting Zelensky held in which he sought advice on how to navigate the difficult position he was in, according to two people with knowledge of the briefings.

He was concerned that Trump and associates were pressing him to take action that could affect the 2020 U.S. presidential race, the people said. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic and political sensitivity of the issue.

The briefings show that U.S. officials knew early that Zelensky was feeling pressure to investigate Biden, even though the Ukrainian leader later denied it in a joint news conference with Trump in September. The officials said in their notes circulated internally at the State Department that Zelenskiy tried to mask the real purpose of the May 7 meeting–which was to talk about political problems with the White House–by saying it was about energy, the two people said.

Returning to the CNN article…

3. Ukraine did not know about the hold on military aid

Purpura claimed Ukraine did not know military aid was being withheld at the time of the phone call, so there could effectively be no quid pro quo between the parties. “President Zelensky and high-ranking Ukrainian officials did not even know,” Purpura argued, “the security assistance was paused until the end of August, over a month after the July 25 call.”

Facts First: It’s unclear when exactly top Ukrainian government officials knew that nearly $400 million in military and security aid was being withheld. But there is evidence that some of them suspected there was an issue with the funding as early as July 25, the same day as President Trump’s phone call with Zelensky.

According to testimony from Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, some members of her staff told her that they had received queries about the aid from Ukrainian officials on July 25.

Cooper did not, however, know if the Ukrainian officials were aware of a hold on the aid or were just checking in.

The New York Times reported that, according to Olena Zerkal, an ex-top official in Kiev, members of the Ukrainian government knew the aid was being held up at some point in late July, but Zerkal could not recall the exact date.

As Purpura noted, the withholding of military aid was not brought up in meetings between Ukraine and US officials. It wasn’t until Politico reported in late August that Trump was withholding military aid to Ukraine that top Zelensky adviser, Andrey Yermak, texted Kurt Volker, Trump’s special envoy for Ukraine, with a link to the article and a message “we need to talk.”

This could be due to the unusual process of how the aid was withheld.

The Office of Management and Budget has declined to turn over documents to investigators related to the withholding of the aid.

@Keaton_James Point 3 must be thrown out because it can never be proven. It is possible to know what someone does know (e.g., we told them, we see a text where they discuss the subject, etc.). However, it is absolutely impossible to know what someone doesn’t know. Maybe we can show that Person A or Person B did not tell them, but Person C could have – or for that matter any one of billions of other people on earth could have told them. Unless we know every document Zelensky read and every conversation he had, we cannot be sure that he didn’t know the aid was being held up.

Here’s just one of many examples of how Zelensky could have found out. On June 4, 2019, 6 weeks before the call, Zelensky sat next to Jared Kushner at a dinner in Brussels. It would only take Kushner a few seconds to confidentially relate this information to Zelensky. I’m not saying Kushner did relate it, but the fact that he could have (and the fact that many, many other people also could have informed Zelensky), destroys point 3 of Trump’s defense.

I wish Democrats would show this photo on the Senate floor when rebutting point 3.


Zelensky and Kushner, Brussels – June 4, 2019

Returning to the CNN article…

4. No witness testified the President acknowledged [he would not release the aid to Ukraine until they announced an investigation of the Bidens]

The fourth key fact Purpura claimed was that “not a single witness testified that the President himself said that there was any connection between any investigations and security assistance, a presidential meeting or anything else.”

Facts First: It’s true witnesses did not testify the President said anything about a quid pro quo, but other administration officials have testified to the existence of one.

Gordon Sondland, the Trump-appointed US Ambassador to the European Union, made things even more explicit during his public testimony in November before the House Intelligence Committee.

“I know that members of this committee frequently frame these complicated issues in the form of a simple question,” Sondland said. “Was there a quid pro quo? As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney confirmed the existence of a quid pro quo but hours later denied he had admitted such a thing.

@Keaton_James Point 4 is an outright lie. The Bolton revelations have completely blown it out of the water. And “Bolton’s bombshell” on Sunday comes on top of the other facts that have already debunked this point – as CNN described a day earlier on Saturday (above).

Intriguing question: In the face of Bolton’s Bombshell, will Trump’s defense team actually drop this point altogether? After all, it’s now downright embarrassing to keep trotting it out when it has so thoroughly been shown to be a lie. And, far more importantly, this just provides Democrats with powerful ammunition to demand that Bolton testify, along with other witnesses that he has implicated. The simple and irrefutable argument from Democrats is now: “Hey, Republicans, if you’re going to claim that no witness ever tied Trump to the extortion scheme, then you must allow Bolton to testify because he is contradicting your claim – otherwise, you must drop the claim.”

Returning to the CNN article…

5. Ukraine never announced an investigation into Biden or the 2016 election

Aiming to make the case that Trump did not engage in a quid pro quo because the Ukrainians got what they wanted without ever announcing an investigation into the 2016 election or the Bidens, Purpura argued “a presidential meeting took place on September 25 without the Ukrainian government announcing any investigations.”

Facts First: This is misleading. While an announcement of investigations never took place, it was planned and discussed between representatives of both the US and Ukraine. The plan was only halted after the withheld aid was released.

In November, the New York Times reported that Ukrainian President Zelensky had planned to announce an investigation into Trump’s political rivals during a September interview on CNN. The Ukrainians canceled the interview and announcement once Trump released the promised security aid on September 12.

During the July 25 call, Trump also suggested his personal attorney, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, be a point of contact, given that Giuliani had previously lobbied Ukraine to investigate Biden’s call in 2016 to remove the country’s top prosecutor.

During the conversation, Zelensky appeared to agree with the President’s request. Zelensky said, “The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case.”

@Keaton_James Point 5 has no merit. Of course the investigation was never announced – that’s because Trump’s extortion scheme was exposed before it could be carried out. Once Trump was caught in the act he had no choice but to cancel his extortion demand – had he followed through with it, it would have compounded the evidence against him. He’s like a bank robber who throws the bags of stolen loot over the wall when cornered by the police. “What robbery? I don’t have any stolen money.” Same as: “What extortion? I don’t have any extorted investigation announcement.”

And just as important: Extortion is still a crime even if the criminal doing the extorting never got what he was demanding.

Returning to the CNN article…

6. Trump’s track record on support for Ukraine

Purpura argued that Trump has "been a better friend and stronger supporter of Ukraine then his predecessor" while Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow noted that Trump, not Obama, took the “concrete step” of “actually providing Ukraine with lethal weapons, including javelin missiles.”

Facts First: This is true, the Trump administration did provide lethal aide to Ukraine while the Obama administration did not. President Barack Obama was criticized for his refusal to provide lethal assistance to Ukraine – though it did provide more than $100 million in security assistance, as well as defense and military equipment.

By March 2015, the US had committed more than $120 million in security assistance for Ukraine and had pledged an additional $75 million worth of equipment including UAVs, counter-mortar radars, night vision devices and medical supplies and armored Humvees according to the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

While it never provided lethal aid, some of the items that the Obama administration did provide were seen as critical to Ukraine’s military. Part of the $250 million assistance package that the Trump administration announced (then froze and later unfroze) included many of the same items that were provided under Obama, including medical equipment, night vision gear and counter-artillery radar.

The Trump administration, however, did approve the provision of arms to Ukraine, including sniper rifles, rocket launchers and Javelin anti-tank missiles, something long sought by Kiev.

@Keaton_James Point 6 is a lie. I realize CNN doesn’t actually call this a lie, but I believe they are way off the mark here. First, whether or not you’ve been a “friend” to someone is an entirely subjective judgement: you, your “friend,” and other witnesses will likely have very different opinions on the matter. Obama, unlike Trump, never extorted Ukraine. Are you a friend to someone if you’re extorting them? I don’t think so.

Plus: Trump’s defenders have wildly exaggerated his support for Ukraine. Once and for all, everyone should understand that the Javelin missiles Trump sent were basically just for show – they came with restrictions that prevented Ukraine from actually using them to stop Russian aggression. @Windthin posted on this.

And finally there’s this: From the WaPo, Nov. 20:

The president “doesn’t give a s— about Ukraine,” E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland told colleagues in Kyiv after getting off a July 26 phone call with Trump, according to closed-door testimony given to Congress last week by diplomat David Holmes. Sondland added that the president only cared about politically motivated investigations, like having Zelensky launch a probe into former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, according to ­Holmes.

Four former administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations, shared Sondland’s view and said Trump’s main contention was that Ukrainians had “tried to take me down,” in the words of one former senior administration official.


(David Bythewood) #2238

An addendum to this:

There’s a huge loophole in the GOP’s claim that Trump’s sale of Javelin missiles to Ukraine shows his support for the country

It undercuts their frequently touted “we gave them lethal aid but Obama didn’t” line. There is also ample evidence those missiles were sold to Ukraine to convince them to back out from helping Mueller’s investigation, something I don’t think we’ve heard enough about.


#2239

Faced with the “Bolton Bombshell,” Trump’s defense team makes zero adjustments

First, here’s an excellent accounting from CNN of why the Bolton Bombshell is so earthshaking:

New revelations about the Ukraine scandal from former national security adviser John Bolton dealt a significant blow to President Donald Trump’s defense strategy, contradicting key elements of the case his attorneys presented to senators in his impeachment trial.

According to a bombshell report from The New York Times, Bolton wrote in a draft for his upcoming book that Trump explicitly said he was withholding nearly $400 million in US military assistance until Ukraine helped with investigations into his Democratic rivals. A source with direct knowledge told CNN that the Times’ article accurately described the draft manuscript.

Bolton was already considered a key witness to important events in the Ukraine scandal, and Democrats have pleaded with their Republican colleagues to buck the White House and support a subpoena for Bolton. Earlier this month, Bolton even said he’d be willing to testify if he received a subpoena.

The details from Bolton’s book create an immediate problem for Trump: They contradict what he and his legal team has been saying, including in arguments on the Senate floor just two days ago when one White House lawyer said there was “no evidence anywhere” of Trump endorsing the quid pro quo.

Here are three ways Bolton’s bombshells undermine Trump’s case against impeachment.

Quid pro quo confirmed, again

According to The New York Times, Trump told Bolton directly that he didn’t want any US aid flowing to Ukraine until Zelensky helped out with the investigations. Trump also used this rationale to rebuff nearly a dozen attempts by Bolton and others to unfreeze the aid package.

That account flies in the face of repeated denials from Trump and his lawyers. Trump has tweeted the phrase “no quid pro quo” more than a dozen times since the inquiry began.

From the beginning, Trump and his allies rejected the notion that he sought a “quid pro quo” with the Ukrainian government. They denied that Trump withheld meetings or foreign aid from Ukraine, and that he didn’t pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to do anything.

"We know there was no quid pro quo on the July 25 call," deputy White House counsel Michael Purpura said Saturday, referring to Trump’s call with Zelensky. “We know the Ukrainians did not know that security assistance had been paused at the time of the call. There was simply no evidence anywhere that President Trump ever linked security assistance to any investigations.”

In a legal filing last week, Trump’s lawyers said, “The evidence squarely refutes the made-up claim that the President leveraged security assistance in exchange for Ukraine announcing an investigation into either interference in the 2016 election or the Biden-Burisma affair.”

These arguments were already on shaky ground. That’s because multiple witnesses already confirmed the quid pro quo. Gordon Sondland, the Trump-appointed US ambassador to the European Union, directly implicated Trump during his shocking House testimony in November.

Trump pushed back in an overnight Twitter thread. He said, “I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens,” and accused Bolton of trying to pump up book sales.

No policy reason for aid freeze

Bolton’s account makes it clear that the reason for freezing US assistance to Ukraine was rooted in Trump’s desire for Ukraine to announce the investigations into his political rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden, a top Democrat vying for his party’s nomination this year.

But Trump’s lawyers maintained that he imposed the Ukraine freeze for legitimate policy reasons. A five-page section of their trial brief was labeled: “The Administration Paused Security Assistance Based on Policy Concerns and Released It After the Concerns Were Satisfied.”

Their brief argued that Trump didn’t freeze the aid for political purposes, but because he was genuinely concerned about corruption in Ukraine and wanted to ensure that European nations were also contributing funds. They pointed out that some White House emails, obtained through public records lawsuits, indicate that Trump inquired about burden-sharing early in the process.

This explanation, though, ignored relevant facts that were publicly available even before the Bolton bombshells. For instance, Trump never mentioned the word “corruption” during his July 25 call with Zelensky, and his “anti-corruption” efforts were only focused on one person – Biden.

Firsthand accounts of Trump

The details of Bolton’s manuscript cemented the reality that there are still witnesses who didn’t testify to the House but have firsthand knowledge of what happened inside the White House.

The House inquiry was a speedy process, perhaps propelled by Democratic fears that public support for impeachment would slip if they slowed things down and took a more methodical approach. House Democrats invited Bolton to voluntary testify, but they didn’t do anything after his lawyer announced he wouldn’t appear without a subpoena, and a lengthy court fight loomed.

Without testimony from Bolton or other White House aides, Democrats wrapped up the House inquiry without a smoking gun that Trump explicitly told anybody about the quid pro quo. (House Democrats blamed Trump for these gaps in the evidence, charging him with obstruction of Congress for blocking witnesses and documents.)

Purpura, the White House lawyer, threaded the needle Saturday on the Senate floor, saying: "Not a single witness testified that the President himself said that there was any connection between any investigations and security assistance, a presidential meeting, or anything else."

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow repeated that carefully worded statement while speaking Monday on the Senate floor.

Their comments are backward looking, at the body of evidence from the House inquiry. But now, a new witness looks ready to testify that Trump himself connected the investigations to the military aid. It’s true that this evidence wasn’t obtained in the House, but it’s now available to the Senate, if they want it.

Bolton’s revelations are truly game-changing, yet Trump’s defense team has not changed their game strategy one iota. Saturday, they presented the 6 core points of their defense. Sunday, the Bolton Bombshell hit, but on Monday, the defense team simply slogged onward, repeating the exact same 6 points. In a post above, based on CNN fact checking, you can see how weak their defense was to start with and how it sustained additional major hits after the Bolton revelations on Sunday.

The best example of the defense team’s inability to “float like a butterfly” is this quotation given first by Purpura on Saturday, and then repeated verbatim by Sekulow today:

Not a single witness testified that the President himself said that there was any connection between any investigations and security assistance, a presidential meeting, or anything else.

How is this not an outright lie when we now have Bolton’s record of the events? Well, as devious Republicans will point out, the statement says “Not a single witness testified…” So, yes, Bolton has not testified, so this statement is technically correct, yet is so deceptive that it really should be classified as a lie. On top of that, by hinging this statement on the word “testify” the defense team has just drawn a target on its back: knowing that Bolton is now making public statements (in the form of a soon-to-be-released book manuscript) that directly contradict Trump’s defense, how can we not call him in to testify under oath?

The only argument that the Republicans seemed to respond with is that Bolton is saying this only because he wants to sell books:

Again, they’re making a big mistake since, having said that, it only makes sense to call in Bolton and find out if he’s telling the truth by placing him under oath. Does anyone really suppose that, once under oath, Bolton would risk going to prison for some additional publicity on his book? No way. He might dance around all he wants with his public statements, but while sworn in, he’s going to make a credible and knowledgeable witness. He’ll be telling the truth because he will be under penalty of incarceration for lying.

My favorite video of the day is this 2-minute gem from Jeffrey Toobin in which he expresses his utter astonishment that Trump’s defense team is thick-headedly ignoring the Bolton Bombshell, plus his amazement that Ken Starr, the architect of Clinton’s impeachment, would have the audacity to whine that “we use too much impeachment”:


#2240

:100: For whoever else needs a good laugh. Click tweet for video :point_down:


#2241

Thanks, I needed that. Had a blast watching the other videos in the thread. I’ll be back for more any time I need a pick-me-up. :smile:


#2242

Today I had a bunch if errands to run so I mostly listened in the car. Thanks NPR. I want to hear what you guys thought before I finish catching up with @matt ‘s amazing update. Which has been top notch, everyday, BTW. :raised_hands:


(David Bythewood) #2243

Ari Melber: ‘We just watched Ken Starr punch himself in the face’



#2244

Omg he wrote an opposing argument about abuse of power in his book?! Haha haha :joy:

Published 2018! :joy:


(David Bythewood) #2245

The hypocrisy is so thick I could take it to a state fair and deep fry it.


(David Bythewood) #2246

More on how much the GOP wants us to forget Giuliani.

A ‘minor player’ and a ‘shiny object’: Trump’s legal team tries to explain away Rudy Giuliani

Jane Raskin: Giuliani is the house managers ‘colorful distraction’

https://www.politico.com/video/2020/01/27/raskin-giuliani-is-the-house-managers-colorful-distraction-069481

Trump Lawyer Defends ‘Colorful Distraction’ Giuliani at Trial: He’s a ‘Minor Player’ Being Used as ‘Shiny Object’

I think Giuliani might wish the rest of the world forgot him as well:


#2247

And here’s a brief clip from Raskin’s speech with sound effects. I don’t know why I get such a kick out of these. Thanks @Pet_Proletariat for pointing us to that Twitter feed. :smile:


#2248

Part of the Break-it-all down strategy…or as Steve Bannon put it…"an unending battle for “deconstruction of the administrative state.”*

The Washington Post: Bannon vows a daily fight for ‘deconstruction of the administrative state’


#2249

Watch: Senate Impeachment Trial, Day 8

The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues with opening arguments from the President’s defense team. Other legislative business is also possible.

Listen

Live blogs:

New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / The Guardian / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / CBS News


#2250

House Foreign Relations committee should subpoena Bolton. This is a big deal.

Bolton Was Concerned That Trump Did Favors for Autocratic Leaders, Book Says

John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, privately told Attorney General William P. Barr last year that he had concerns that President Trump was effectively granting personal favors to the autocratic leaders of Turkey and China, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton.

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

Mr. Bolton’s account underscores the fact that the unease about Mr. Trump’s seeming embrace of authoritarian leaders, long expressed by experts and his opponents, also existed among some of the senior cabinet officers entrusted by the president to carry out his foreign policy and national security agendas.

Mr. Bolton recounted his discussion with Mr. Barr in a draft of an unpublished book manuscript that he submitted nearly a month ago to the White House for review. People familiar with the manuscript described its contents on the condition of anonymity


#2251

So Jay Sekulow is just ranting about the deep state conspiracy theories… when will this nonsense end?