Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, said late Thursday that he would vote against considering new evidence in President Trump’s impeachment trial, a strong indication that Republicans have lined up the votes to block a call for more witnesses and documents.
His opposition is a significant victory for Republican leaders. Though not all senators have announced their intentions, the vast majority of Republicans are expected to vote on Friday against allowing new evidence, and Mr. Alexander was a critical swing vote.
His announcement indicated that Republicans had fallen in line to push the trial into its final phase — reaching a verdict that is all but certain to be Mr. Trump’s acquittal — without delay.
Lamar Alexander has opted for cowardice. It is the new GOP way. We will remember. And I will never again call him "Senator. He had abdicated that title.
Speaking at a private event in Austin Thursday, Former National Security Advisor John Bolton defended government officials who testified in front of the U.S. House impeachment inquiry.
The United States Senate could soon decide whether to call Bolton to testify himself in the President’s impeachment trial.
Sources tell KXAN Bolton defended former diplomatic and state department officials Fiona Hill, Tim Morrison, Alex Vindman, Bill Taylor, and Marie Yovanovitch.
“All of them acted in the best interest of the country as they saw it and consistent to what they thought our policies were,” said Bolton, during the question-and-answer time after his keynote speech.
He went on to say members of the Trump Administration should “feel they’re able to speak their minds without retribution.”
“The idea that somehow testifying to what you think is true is destructive to the system of government we have — I think, is very nearly the reverse — the exact reverse of the truth,” said Bolton.
The audience applauded after his answer.
Bolton was in Austin at the invitation of Luther King Capitol Management, a Texas company that provides “investment management services to high net worth individuals,” according to its website.
Bolton was the keynote speaker for a private client luncheon Thursday morning at the Hyatt Regency on Barton Springs Road. The program was titled “Foreign Challenges Facing the Trump Administration.”
Bolton briefly mentioned his new book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” which reportedly supports accusations President Trump tied foreign aid to Ukraine for an investigation into the family of his political rival, Joe Biden. This week, the Trump Administration issued a letter to Bolton to keep him from publishing his new book, claiming it includes classified information.
Democratic Senators have called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to support calling Bolton to testify. Bolton said he would testify if subpoenaed.
Well, Mr. Bolton, put your money where your mouth is and make a detailed public statement now – tonight – telling us everything you know that is relevant to the impeachment proceeding. If you fail to do so, an acquittal in a sham trial will be as much on your head as on any of the Senators who vote for it.
Got to believe that the sentiment towards giving T’s malfeasance a green light by a subservient R majority will not sit well with many of us. So they get to keep their guy, not kick him out, hold on to power for a while…BUT there will be the November 2020 election to get him out.
I follow this Professor Heather Cox Richardson, Boston College who does some great round-ups of what the heck is going on historically on these impeachment hearings, both parties etc. She’s worth checking out. *
Today’s January 30, 2020
Today in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump, senators submitted questions to presiding Chief Justice John Roberts, who read them aloud for either the House impeachment managers or the president’s lawyers to answer.
Over the course of the day, it became obvious that the defense didn’t feel the need to defend the president; they knew they have the votes to acquit him. So Republican senators and his lawyers continued to attack the Democrats and the Bidens, while Democrats and the House impeachment managers tried to shame the Republicans into defending the rule of law. It did not work. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) illustrated the Republican approach when he tried to get the Chief Justice to read aloud the name of the alleged whistleblower and a staffer on the House Intelligence Committee, accusing them of plotting together to impeach the president. At that, Roberts balked and declined to read it. So Paul simply went outside—although he was not supposed to leave the chamber—and read it to reporters.
As pressure mounted for Republican senators to permit testimony, it was not the president on trial today; it was the Senate. Although the Republicans’ initial position was that the president had not done what he had been accused of, the House managers made such a convincing case—and the president’s defense team hardly a defense at all—that by the end of today it was entirely clear Trump had, in fact, tried to steal the 2020 election by withholding vital military aid from Ukraine until its leaders announced an investigation into the Bidens. Indeed, it was so clear that Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander conceded everything. He even said Trump’s behavior was “inappropriate” and “undermines the principle of equal justice under the law.”
Indeed, it was so clear, Alexander said, there was no need for more witnesses, including John Bolton, whose testimony would simply prove what we already know.
But, Alexander went on to say, the president’s actions “do not meet the Constitution’s ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors’ standard for an impeachable offense.” The answer, he says, is in the ballot box. (Since the whole point of the Ukraine Scandal was to cheat in the election, I am hugely suspicious of the Republican insistence on the ballot box as the solution to removing Trump.)
Alexander’s vote against allowing witnesses almost certainly means that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has the votes to reject witnesses and move quickly to acquit the president as soon as tomorrow or very early on Saturday morning, likely while most Americans are asleep. Tonight, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) said she would vote in favor of hearing witnesses, but this is almost certainly what they call a “hall pass,” meaning that because her constituents want witnesses and she is both up for re-election and vulnerable, McConnell is letting her vote yes and will not retaliate for that vote. It is possible, and I would actually guess likely considering the language Alexander used, that McConnell got Alexander to vote no so that Collins could vote yes. While the vote is not yet a done deal-- Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will not announce her decision until tomorrow morning—the outcome looks pretty certain.
This is where we are now. Few people thought the Republican-controlled Senate would convict the president, but I, anyway, thought they would acquit him after continuing to argue he was innocent. Instead, they have done something shocking. They have conceded that Trump did what he is accused of: he tried to smear his rival so he could win reelection in 2020, in a scheme that both apparently broke laws and also looks quite like what happened in 2016. But, they say, his actions do not constitute an impeachable offense.
While this might well have been the only way they could think of to get out from under the evidence the House had mustered, and away from calling witnesses after Bolton suggested he would testify that Trump had, in fact, done what the House alleged, the Senate has essentially said that Congress will not rein in the president no matter what he does. Trump, of course, has already said that the Constitution gives him “the right to do whatever I want,” and Senate Republicans have now agreed. As the president’s lawyers made claims for his expansive power during the Senate trial, House impeachment manager Adam Schiff warned that we are witnessing “a descent into constitutional madness.”
When will Trump ask another leader for a favor? What will he withhold or offer in return? What will he do to cheat in 2020? How will he undercut his opponent? To which countries will he turn for help to win reelection? It is not in his make up to be chastened; rather, he will be emboldened. Trade deals, treaties, the use of our soldiers, cyberwarfare from Russia or Saudi Arabia… it is now all on the table.
And, interestingly, while everyone was watching the trial today, Attorney General William Barr moved to solidify his control over lingering investigations from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election by naming Timothy Shea, one of his chief counselors, as the interim U.S. Attorney for Washington D.C. (Remember Barr also has appointed his own investigator, John Durham, to look into the origins of the Russia investigation.) This office is in charge of the cases against former Trump advisor Roger Stone, former Trump deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, and former national security advisor Michael Flynn. It is also in charge of the grand jury investigation into former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, and of an investigation into former FBI director James Comey, both of whom Trump saw as his enemies.
This means that Shea and Barr will be in charge of investigations that likely will make the news before the 2020 election.
Tonight, Adam Schiff tweeted: “After two and half centuries of our nation’s history, it’s come to this: The President’s lawyers argue on the Senate floor that he can withhold aid, coerce an ally, and try to cheat in an election, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Our Founders would be aghast.”
Our Founders certainly would be aghast. And the president’s lawyers are wrong that there’s nothing we can do about it. We can continue to insist on a free and fair vote and on the rule of law in America.
As 53 Killers prepare to exonerate Trump, the quid pro quo and extortion racket Trump sought with Ukraine is still ongoing.
Pompeo Says Trump Backs Ukraine on Russia, but Isn’t Ready for Zelensky Visit
The secretary of state met with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, during the impeachment trial of President Trump over a pressure campaign against Ukraine.
A thread by Senator Coons on the way Trump’s lawyers handled his question about foreign election interference and soliciting it.
An old but relevant article that gives us a window into what we can expect once Trump feels invincible:
Donald Trump’s Talent for Turning Wins into Losses
Like a gambler who can’t get up from the table, Trump’s life has been defined by manic overreaching whenever he feels he’s on top.
Adam Schiff speaks:
Trump Told Bolton to Help His Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Book Says
More than two months before he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents, President Trump directed John R. Bolton, then his national security adviser, to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton.
Mr. Trump gave the instruction, Mr. Bolton wrote, during an Oval Office conversation in early May that included the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, who is now leading the president’s impeachment defense.
Mr. Trump told Mr. Bolton to call Volodymyr Zelensky, who had recently won election as president of Ukraine, to ensure Mr. Zelensky would meet with Mr. Giuliani, who was planning a trip to Ukraine to discuss the investigations that the president sought, in Mr. Bolton’s account. Mr. Bolton never made the call, he wrote.
The previously undisclosed directive that Mr. Bolton describes would be the earliest known instance of Mr. Trump seeking to harness the power of the United States government to advance his pressure campaign against Ukraine, as he later did on the July call with Mr. Zelensky that triggered a whistle-blower complaint and impeachment proceedings. House Democrats have accused him of abusing his authority and are arguing their case before senators in the impeachment trial of Mr. Trump, whose lawyers have said he did nothing wrong.
The account in Mr. Bolton’s manuscript portrays the most senior White House advisers as early witnesses in the effort that they have sought to distance the president from. And disclosure of the meeting underscores the kind of information Democrats were looking for in seeking testimony from his top advisers in their impeachment investigation, including Mr. Bolton and Mr. Mulvaney, only to be blockedby the White House.
Charities steered $65M to Trump lawyer Sekulow and family
Jay Sekulow, one of President Donald Trump’s lead attorneys during the impeachment trial, is being paid for his legal work through a rented $80-a-month mailbox a block away from the White House.
The Pennsylvania Avenue box appears to be the sole physical location of the Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group, a for-profit corporation co-owned by Sekulow. The firm has no website and is not listed in national legal directories. The District of Columbia Bar has no record of it, and no attorneys list it as their employer.
But Sekulow, 63, is registered as chief counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice, a non-profit Christian legal advocacy group based in an expansive Capitol Hill row house a short walk from the Senate chamber.
A half dozen lawyers employed by the non-profit ACLJ are named in recent Senate legal briefs as members of Trump’s defense team — including one of Sekulow’s sons. The ACLJ, as a tax-exempt 501©(3) organization, is barred under IRS rules from engaging in partisan political activities.
The Republican National Committee has paid more than $250,000 to Sekulow’s for-profit CLA Group since 2017, when he was first named to Trump’s legal team as special counsel Robert Mueller was leading the Russia investigation, according to campaign disclosures.
Sekulow has been one of Trump’s most visible defenders, enduring as a trusted attorney for the president even as other of his lawyers have been sidelined or entangled in controversy.
Watch: Senate Impeachment Trial, Day 11
> The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump continues with debate and a vote on whether additional witnesses should testify.
There is a claim the trial will last into next week, but I am not certain why.
Tim Alberta on the Cult of Trump and why the GOP, even retiring members, fears it so:
Kate Oh on obstruction of the press:
Murkowski plans on voting no to having a real trial.
House Managers I hope can ignite a firestorm over Cipillone’s duplicity and make him testify. There are so many logjams within this process…
Pat A. Cipollone, White House Counsel, participated in the events leading up to the impeachment of Donald J. Trump. That makes him a witness, whom the House managers might want to call to testify. But Cipollone is also heading the Trump defense. A legal ethics rule – the “advocate-witness rule” — says that when a lawyer should be a witness at trial, she cannot also be an advocate in the courtroom. The Senate chamber is not, of course, an ordinary courtroom, but that should make no difference. The goal is the same – to get the facts and find the truth.
Citing the advocate-witness rule and abundant legal authority, the House managers wrote to Cipollone on January 21 demanding that “at a minimum, you must disclose all facts and information as to which you have first-hand knowledge that will be at issue in connection with evidence you present or arguments you make in your role as the President’s legal advocate so that the Senate and Chief Justice can be apprised of any potential ethical issues, conflicts, or biases.” The House managers are right.
The advocate-witness rule tells us that it is more important for a lawyer with first-hand information about the events on trial to testify than to work as an advocate. That will mean that a client will not be able to get the lawyer he wants to represent him in court. But when the client’s interests and the court’s interest clash in this way, the rule says quite clearly that the court wins.
It doesn’t matter whether the lawyer’s testimony would help the client or the client’s opponent. In either event, the court’s interest in the testimony will prevail over the client’s wish to hire the lawyer. And especially if the testimony could help the opponent, the rule prevents the client from blocking it through the expedient of hiring the lawyer. The rule has exceptions but none applies here.
From all that appears, Cipollone is what the law calls a percipient witness to the relevant facts. He has personal and significant experience with the events that form the basis for the articles of impeachment. His testimony would not be hearsay. If the impeachment trial were in a courtroom, Cipollone could not head, or even be part of, the defense team. The same should be true in the Senate trial because, at bottom, the senators have taken an oath to perform the same job that we ask of traditional jurors – i.e., decide the facts. To do that job, they need to hear from the witnesses to those facts.
There is, however, one difference between the Senate trial and a courtroom trial. The senators may choose to issue their verdict without hearing witnesses. They have the power to do so. In a courtroom, by contrast, jurors would not be allowed to deliver a verdict without hearing witnesses. In court, the litigants would have the right to call witnesses and the judge would protect that right. Here, however, the Chief Justice, who is presiding, appears unwilling to rule that the trial should include witnesses. Consequently, the senators are the judges and the jurors. If they forego witnesses, does the advocate-witness rule become irrelevant?
No. Because Cipollone participated in the underlying events, facts he implies in his advocacy can appear particularly credible. After all, he was there. Yet he will not have been placed under oath and he will escape cross-examination, traditional safeguards for ensuring that testimony is truthful. In this way, he gets advantages that hinder his opponents. He is both a witness and not a witness simultaneously.
With no real witnesses, the Senate will be moving into Alice in Wonderland territory. Following the trial of the Knave of Hearts, the Queen of Hearts pronounced “sentence first, verdict after.” In the Senate, with no witnesses, this sequence will change. It will be “verdict first, trial never.”
Some movement on getting T’s taxes with a March 31st date set for the Supreme Court to consider these 3 requests for T’s taxes.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday that it has scheduled oral argument on March 31 for three cases involving access to President Donald Trump’s financial documents.
His lawyers are challenging lower court orders, now on hold, that require his banks and accountants to turn over financial records to U.S. House committees and a local prosecutor in New York.
The cases could yield major rulings on the power of the House to demand records for its investigations and, on the other hand, the authority of a president to resist such demands. A decision will be announced by the end of June, just as the general election campaign heats up.
The court will decide whether Trump’s accounting firm must respond to a grand jury subpoena obtained by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance. It seeks nearly a decade’s worth of tax returns and other financial documents for an investigation of hush money payments made to two women who claimed they had affairs with Trump, allegations the president has consistently denied.
The justices will also hear Trump’s appeal of lower court rulings upholding subpoenas issued by the House Oversight Committee for documents from his accounting firm covering 2011 through 2018. The committee said it acted after former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testified that “Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”
Trump’s lawyers contended that the House had no authority to subpoena records unless it seeks information for the purpose of writing laws. In this case, they said, the House was improperly acting as an investigative body in an action that implicates the president.
In the third case, Trump appeals lower court rulings involving subpoenas issued by two other House committees for financial documents from President Trump’s accounting firms and two banks. The Financial Services Committee seeks a broad range of records from two banks that have done business with Donald Trump and members of his family — Deutsche Bank and Capital One.
The Intelligence Committee wants records from Deutsche Bank, explaining that it was investigating "potential leverage that foreign actors may have over President Trump, his family, and his businesses."
The president’s lawyers said the subpoenas were extraordinarily broad, because they seek more than a decade’s worth of documents and covering members of his family who have never held public office and ask for “virtually every financial detail that the institutions might have” about their private affairs.
Some comments from this legal eagle
Parnas, who is charged with breaking campaign finance law, has been turning over evidence in his case to the House Intelligence Committee in response to a subpoena he received before he was arrested in October. He has provided Congress with two sets of evidence produced by prosecutors from his iPhone and earlier this month sought permission to disclose a third set from his iCloud account.
Lev Parnas outside federal court in New York on Oct. 23, 2019.
Prosecutors and fellow defendants in his case objected, saying the new tranche could include information protected by attorney-client privilege.
The dispute has revealed a broader rift between the defendants over how they approach the case. Parnas has gone on to give national television interviews accusing Trump of a scheme – at the heart of the House’s impeachment inquiry and now the president’s Senate trial – to trade American military aid to Ukraine for political dirt on Joe Biden, one of Trump’s leading rivals in this year’s election. Parnas’s main co-defendant, Igor Fruman, has largely stayed out of the limelight.
Here is Rudy Giuliani pulling the GOP faux rage / angry white man card by pretending John Bolton hurting his feelings is the real crime and not his efforts to help Trump steal an election by blackmailing an allied nation.
Yes! This is a nest of vipers.
They’re all covering each others’ backs.
It’s also astounding that Pam Bondi is on the defense team since she is seriously implicated in the scandal. She wants to shut down investigations into Trump because that will help shutdown investigations into her own involvement. A direct conflict of interest – just like with Cipillone.
In an earlier post, I layed out how Parnas’s engagement with Trump at the Trump International Hotel dinner (the first one to be revealed) was much more extensive than you might have assumed from the media reporting at the time. During his conversations with Trump, Parnas mentioned that he had lunch with Pam Bondi. Bondi, until recently worked for Ballard Partners, a lobbying firm run by Trump’s close friend, Brian Ballard. That firm is now under indictment in the investigation of how Parnas allegedly funneled campaign donations to Republicans. Parnas scribbled “Brian Ballard” on the infamous hand-written notes which his lawyer recently released.
The following two articles from the Tampa Bay Times document these connections and more. Bondi, Ballard Partners, Parnas, and the Republican candidates who received illegal campaign contributions are all deeply entangled. It’s a murky mess right now and Bondi is strongly motivated to shut down any investigations that might clear it up.
Bottom line: Bondi should never have been part of Trump’s defense team – had this trial been held in a court of law, she would have immediately been barred from representing Trump.
From just before the Senate trial began:
You got that right…thanks for connecting the dots in this imbroglio, dialing-for-dollars Bondi who got noticed by all of us for her singular Hate-On-Hunter deliveries in the past few days. And Parnas who has completely sent up a flare and set a spotlight on all the underhanded T ‘players.’
It is just beyond belief. and a snake-pit for sure.
Dan Corn, editor at Mother Jones does a good job of highlighting the duplicity of the R’s and their role within the Impeachment hearing.
Recommend reading this…