Trump enters the stage

Mitt makes his move

The occasional Trump critic is in the middle of an internal GOP fight over the impeachment tri

01/27/2020 10:06 PM EST

After staying relatively quiet throughout the House’s impeachment inquiry, Sen. Mitt Romney now finds himself in the middle of an increasingly bitter debate in his own party.

The Utah Republican has long been open to hearing from former national security adviser John Bolton and other witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, a position shared by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). The trio has searched for a fourth crucial vote to win a majority, but up until Sunday, those appeals seemed to be going nowhere.

Yet following a New York Times report that Trump told Bolton that frozen Ukrainian aid would be restored only if officials in Ukraine announced an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Romney’s push for witnesses has some life — and some Republicans are displeased.

Romney “made a strong pitch” for witnesses during a closed-door lunch of Senate Republicans on Monday, according to Republicans familiar with the meeting. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged his colleagues to wait until after Trump’s defense team finishes its presentation and senators go through a lengthy question-and-answer session to make a decision on what’s become the biggest issue of the trial.

But Romney is already making his move. And though he serves on the Republican whip team, Romney is now effectively working against party leaders and arguing to colleagues that the proper way to test each side’s contention is to hear from people directly involved in the Ukraine saga.

“It has been pointed out so far by both the House managers as well the defense that there has not been evidence of a direct nature of what the president may have said or what his motives were or what he did,” Romney said on Monday evening. “The article in the New York Times I think made it pretty clear that [Bolton] has some information that may be relevant. And I’d like to hear relevant information before I made a final decision.”

Romney’s push for Bolton to testify is drawing blowback from some of his colleagues, with recently appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) asserting he wants to “appease the left.” Loeffler and her husband, New York Stock Exchange Chairman Jeffrey Sprecher, donated more than $1.5 million to a super PAC that backed Romney’s 2012 White House run. But now Loeffler is expected to face a challenge for her seat from GOP Rep. Doug Collins, and she’s eager to demonstrate her loyalty to Trump by taking on an occasional critic of the president.

Sen. Mitt Romney.

Still, Romney isn’t going full Trump resistance: He knows his group can’t bring in Bolton alone without enraging some of his colleagues. So any successful effort to hear new testimony would also likely have to include witnesses whom Trump wants to subpoena too.

“My expectation is that were there to be that testimony from Mr. Bolton, that there would be testimony from someone on the defense side as well in order to get some 50-plus people to agree,” Romney said. “I’m not going to be counting noses as to who would support or not support that at this stage, but I may down the road.”

A former governor of Massachusetts, 2012 presidential nominee and wealthy businessman, the 72-year-old Romney makes an unlikely freshman senator. But he’s mostly fit in with his colleagues — even hosting the party’s informal dinner on Monday with helpings of Chick-fil-A.

Yet Romney does get a rise out of Republicans when he challenges the president. Romney’s GOP colleagues remember his harsh rhetoric against Trump during the 2016 campaign, though tensions have ebbed and flowed in the past four years.

“I’d rather he not” push for witnesses, said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). “He isn’t all that close to the administration. … I don’t agree with him.”

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) has compared Romney to “Jeff Flake on steroids,” and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) asserted last fall that Romney “thinks the worst of the president.” Trump himself called Romney a “pompous ass” when he expressed concerns about asking other countries to investigate Joe Biden.

A senior administration official acknowledged Bolton’s book could hurt the GOP’s efforts to block witness testimony but said it wasn’t because of anything Romney is doing.

“He’s doing what he’s already doing. It’s personal" between him and Trump, the official said.

Romney, though, rarely engages on any insults or digs at him. Asked about Loeffler’s Monday diss, Romney praised the brand-new senator and said he was glad she’s serving.

“He’s a leader,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) of Romney. “I have respect for his views, not that I agree with him all the time.”

Romney’s proposal to include the president’s witnesses along with any Democratic-preferred witnesses like Bolton has been frequently discussed among Republicans, most recently on Monday. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania was among the Republicans broaching the idea, though it didn’t seem to be catching fire in the broader Senate GOP.

“I don’t think that’s going to go anywhere. I really don’t think so,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.). “I think it will get to the point of where you have a few considering it.”

Most Republicans are eager to dispense with the Trump trial and have argued that bringing in witnesses could drag it on for weeks if issues of executive privilege are raised in the courts.

Senate GOP leaders acknowledge that Romney is pushing his position, but so far, they publicly argue the dynamic inside the Republican Conference has not changed despite the Bolton revelations.

“It’s not a new position for [Romney]. He’s been on that position for quite a while,” said Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the No. 3 Senate Republican. “He didn’t say anything new at lunch that he hasn’t said before.”

If the effort to subpoena Bolton moves forward, Republican leaders will respond with their own explosive push to call Hunter Biden or another witness favored by the White House. Other Trump allies are also echoing this line, declaring that if Bolton is called, then “the floodgates are opened.”

“I don’t see the need to have more witnesses unless we have a lot more witnesses,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.). “I don’t know what the country would gain from that.”

Romney sent shock waves through the Capitol when he said on Monday morning that it’s “increasingly likely” that more Republicans would embrace his call for witnesses.

Among the senators most likely to join Romney, Collins and Murkowski are Toomey, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Rob Portman of Ohio or Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, according to GOP sources. But none have taken the public plunge.

Barrasso said the witness vote — set for Friday — “is still going to be close. They need four. And I haven’t seen anybody shift.”

Romney said later Monday evening that he didn’t base his earlier statement on any inside intel. He just thinks that if Bolton is willing to talk, logically, Republicans should be willing to listen.

“My sense was that based upon the fact that there was apparently relevant information, material information that others would say: ‘Yeah, OK, that’d be interesting to hear if we could,’” Romney said.

Impeachment: GOP leaders reportedly say they lack votes to block witnesses – as it happened

Republican Collins: ‘There’s some gaps that need to be cleared up’

White House counsel to senators: reject articles of impeachment

Schiff says Trump’s lawyers ‘cannot defend president on facts’


Trump lawyers urge senators to ‘end the age of impeachment’ and acquit Trump – video

Donald Trump’s attorneys concluded their opening arguments in the president’s impeachment trial.

Over the next two days, Senators will submit questions to both legal teams, and lawmakers are expected to debate and vote on whether to call witnesses on Friday.

As Senate Republicans wrestle with whether or not to call in witnesses, Trump’s lawyers argued that testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton was “inadmissible”.

Senate leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly told Republicans they don’t have the votes to block witnesses.

The administration unveiled an Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal, which Palestinian leaders had pre-emptively rejected.

‘Danger! Danger! Danger!’ Is Trump team’s alarm for their own case?

The question of whether or not the Senate will consider additional evidence and testimony loom over the impeachment trial, now that the president’s defense team has concluded its opening arguments.

Trump team’s opening arguments: the key takeaways

FOIA reveals Rick Perry’s talking points for Zelenskiy inauguration

NEW: The Department of Energy just released 139 pages of records to American Oversight in response to our FOIA lawsuit — including what appears to be Secretary Rick Perry’s briefing book for his May 2019 delegation to Ukraine.

— American Oversight (@weareoversight) January 29, 2020

A watchdog group’s FOIA request to the Energy Department yielded emails, messages, and notes as well as the talking point that former energy secretary Rick Perry took to attend the inauguration of Ukrainian president Vlodomry Zelenskiy.

Perry was one of the “three amigos” involved in Ukraine policy, and became a kew figure in the impeachment inquiry against Trump.

As Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders spar on the campaign trail, the former vice president’s campaign maintains that he’s committed to backing the Democratic nominee, whoever it is.

Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Jeno’s Little Hungary in Davenport, Iowa. Photograph: Matt Rourke/AP

The tension between the former vice president and the progressive Vermont senator has been building as the Iowa caucus approaches next week. Though Biden had previously committed to endorsing the Democratic nominee, “regardless” of who wins the primaries, he appeared to be vacillating on Sanders.

The two have clashed over foreign policy, trade, and social security. Last week, Biden’s campaign released an ad accusing Sanders of negative attacks on the former vice president’s and mischaracterizing his record on social security. Sanders’ campaign lobbed back that it was Biden who was going negative. Sanders did apologize after a supporter’s op-ed in The Guardian called Biden “corrupt”.

The two frontrunners are fighting off Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg ahead of the Iowa caucus.

“I’m not going to make judgments now,” Biden told reporters in Iowa, where he has been campaigning this week. “I just think that it depends upon how we treat one another between now and the time we have a nominee.” The Associated Press and other outlets interpreted this as vacillation.

But Biden’s campaign contested reports that he wouldn’t back the Democratic nominee, whoever it is.

What he actually said:

Reporter: Will the party unite behind Bernie if he’s the nominee? The whole party?

Biden: We have to. I’m not gonna make judgments now but I just think that it depends upon how we treat one another between now and the time we have a nominee.

Though Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly told senators privately that he doesn’t have votes to block new witnesses in the impeachment trial, per multiple reports, there are still several days till senators would vote on the matter.

Senate Republicans may still block witnesses, and some GOP lawmakers are confident they’ll be able to do so, according to CNN.

While the votes aren’t secured yet, GOP leaders are growing confident they can defeat a vote on witnesses following the initial alarm the Bolton book caused among Senate Rs. Many Rs amenable to argument that witnesses would drag it out with no clear end

Lev Parnas’ lawyer is expected to attend the Senate trial tomorrow.

Joseph Bondy asked Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer for gallery tickets, according to The Daily Beast, which first reported the news. Bondy’s co-counsel Stephanie Schuman is also expected to appear. Parnas himself may not be able to, as he wears an ankle monitor and electronics are banned in the trial chamber.

Lev Parnas attorney on attending Senate trial: “We are attending the trial w/ or w/o Mr. Parnas bc we believe our presence is important in reminding senators that indeed there should be witnesses heard and evidence taken and that anything short of that would not be a fair trial”

Republicans may not have enough votes to block witnesses, and they know it according to a Wall Street Journal report.

NEWS from @WSJ: GOP Leaders Say They Don’t Currently Have Enough Votes to Block Witnesses

McConnell told Republicans the vote total wasn’t where it needed to be…He had a card with “yes,” “no,” and “maybes” marked on it, apparently a whip count via @WSJ

Though most Senate Republicans have dismissed the need to call witnesses, a few key members, including Mitt Romney of Utah and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have indicated an openness to hearing new testimony.

Key Republicans signal openness to Bolton testimony in impeachment trial

Feinstein clarifies her statement: ‘It’s clear the president’s actions were wrong’

The LA Times misunderstood what I said today. Before the trial I said I’d keep an open mind. Now that both sides made their cases, it’s clear the president’s actions were wrong. He withheld vital foreign assistance for personal political gain. That can’t be allowed to stand.

— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) January 28, 2020

An Axios reporter who initially posed a question about acquittal to the senator today further clarified: Feinstein was open to potentially acquitting Donald Trump before, but is less so now.

I think the @latimes has this story backwards. I was the reporter who asked @SenFeinstein these questions. She told me she was initially going to vote against impeachment “before this”

But when I asked her to clarify, she said she’s changed her opinion

Is Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein open to acquittal?

Dianne Feinstein speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington. Photograph: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

After the president’s defense team concluded their arguments today, Feinstein, a Democrat of California, seemed to suggest she’s not entirely opposed to acquittal.

“Nine months left to go, the people should judge. We are a republic, we are based on the will of the people — the people should judge,” Feinstein told the LA Times. “That was my view and it still is my view.”

Per the LA Times:

Still, she indicated that arguments in the trial about Trump’s character and fitness for office had left her undecided. “What changed my opinion as this went on,” she said, is a realization that “impeachment isn’t about one offense. It’s really about the character and ability and physical and mental fitness of the individual to serve the people, not themselves.”

Asked whether she would ultimately vote to acquit, she demurred, saying, “We’re not finished.”

At 86, Feinstein is the oldest member of the Senate. She’s expected to retire after she completes the remaining four years of her term — so she doesn’t necessarily need to consider how going against the grain will affect her chances of reelection in Blue-state California.

Joe Manchin of West Virginia is the only other Senate Democrat whose vote to remove Trump from office isn’t assured. On Fox News, he said, “I am totally undecided,” on how he’ll vote.

Evening summary

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

Trump’s lawyers concluded their opening arguments in the impeachment trial, advising senators to vote for acquittal and “end the era of impeachment for good.”

The president’s lawyers argued that John Bolton’s manuscript was “inadmissible” for the impeachment trial because it included an “unsourced allegation,” a claim that impeachment managers said only emphasized the need for the former official to testify.

Senate Republicans continued to wrestle with whether to support calling witnesses in the impeachment trial, although Susan Collins reiterated that she was “very likely” to support the proposal.

John Kelly, the president’s former chief of staff, said he believes Bolton, who reportedly claimed in his forthcoming book that Trump directly tied Ukraine’s military assistance to investigations of Democrats.

The Trump administration unveiled its Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal, which was automatically rejected by Palestinian leaders.

Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Speaking to CNN, Jared Kushner, the president’s adviser and son-in-law who spearheaded the crafting of the administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal, warned Palestinians against rejecting the deal.

“The Palestinian leadership have to ask themselves a question: do they want to have a state? Do they want to have a better life?” Kushner said.

He then presented an ultimatum to the Palestinians. Kushner said, “If they do, we have created a framework for them to have it, and we’re going to treat them in a very respectful manner. If they don’t, then they’re going to screw up another opportunity, like they’ve screwed up every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.”

Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the President, says the White House’s Middle East plan is “a great deal” and if Palestinians reject it, “they’re going to screw up another opportunity, like they’ve screwed up every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.”

— CNN (@CNN) January 28, 2020

But the Palestinian president has already rejected any possibility of agreeing to the White House’s proposal.

“We say a thousand times, no, no, no to the deal of the century,” Mahmoud Abbas said. “We rejected this deal from the start and our stance was correct.”

Echoing her earlier comments, Republican senator Susan Collins told CBS News that she is “very likely” to support calling witnesses for the impeachment trial.

EXCLUSIVE: Republican @SenatorCollins says it’s “very likely” that she will vote to hear witnesses in the Senate Impeachment trial.

“I, for one, believe that there’s some gaps, some ambiguities that need to be cleared up”

— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) January 28, 2020

Collins said she and her Republican colleagues have had “a lot more conversations” about witness testimony since the publications of the report about John Bolton’s book, which reportedly includes an allegation that Trump directly tied Ukraine’s military assistance to investigations of Democrats.

Asked whether they were four Republicans who would support calling witnesses, Collins said, “I don’t know the answer to that question yet.”

But she added, “I, for one, believe that there’s some gaps, some ambiguities that need to be cleared up, and more information tends to be helpful when you’re making such a weighty decision.”

Exiting a meeting with fellow Republican senators, John Cornyn said the caucus had not reached a decision on calling witnesses to testify in the impeachment trial.

“No final decision” on witnesses, Cornyn says after GOP conference meeting

Three-quarters of registered voters support calling witnesses to testify in the impeachment trial, according to a newly released poll.

The Quinnipiac survey found that 75% of voters are in favor of calling witnesses in the Senate trial, a figure that includes 49% of Republicans and 75% of independents.

On the question of whether Trump should be removed from office, voters remain divided, with 48% opposing removal and 47% supporting it.

But a majority of voters, 53%, say Trump is not telling the truth about his actions toward Ukraine, and 57% say they would like the president to provide more details about those interactions.

© 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.



Trio of Dem senators considering vote to acquit Trump

A handful of moderate Democrats could deliver Trump a bipartisan impeachment vote

A trio of moderate Senate Democrats is wrestling with whether to vote to convict Donald Trump in his impeachment trial — or give the president the bipartisan acquittal he’s eagerly seeking.

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Doug Jones of Alabama are undecided on whether to vote to remove the president from office and agonizing over where to land. It’s a decision that could have major ramifications for each senator’s legacy and political prospects — as well shape the broader political dynamic surrounding impeachment heading into the 2020 election.

All three senators remain undecided after hearing arguments from the impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team. But they could end up with a creative solution.

One or more senators may end up splitting their votes, borrowing a move from Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine), who voted for the abuse of power charge but against the one on obstruction of Congress.

Manchin said he will do that only if he “can explain one and not the other.” Jones has been mildly critical of the obstruction impeachment article and says he’s “troubled” the House didn’t fight harder to hear from critical administration witnesses.

Manchin insisted Tuesday he hasn’t figured out where he will come down. And won’t until the trial ends.

“I know it’s hard to believe that. But I really am [undecided]. But I have not made a final decision. Every day, I hear something, I think ‘this is compelling, that’s compelling,’” Manchin said in an interview. “Everyone’s struggling a little bit.”

Many in the Capitol believed Manchin had run his last campaign in 2018, freeing him to vote however he wants. He insisted he still will, but also didn’t rule out running for the Senate again in 2024: “I have no idea. I swear to God. buddy. I don’t.”

“Every day I hear something, I think ‘this is compelling, that’s compelling.’ Everyone’s struggling a little bit.”

  • Sen. Joe Manchin.

However, the most immediate pressure is on Jones, an unlikely Democratic senator from the Deep South fighting for his political life this fall with no good options: Republicans will batter him if he votes to convict the president, Democrats will rebel if he votes to acquit. In his front office on Tuesday, his phone rang repeatedly as aides answered questions about impeachment witnesses.

Jones said he hears both from Trump voters and those who loathe the president, but admitted that he hears more from people who support Trump. And he indicated he’s beginning to reach a decision-making end game, though potential consideration of new evidence could scramble any conclusions he’d reached as of Tuesday.

“I don’t think I’ve totally decided. I certainly have [been] leaning one way or the other. That needle moves” depending on the day’s testimony, Jones said in an interview. “I am leaning in certain ways but I want to hear, I truly, honestly, want to hear the entire trial.”

Compared with the chatty Manchin and Jones, Sinema’s stance is a bit of a mystery.

Like those two Democrats, she has occasionally broken with her party, including by supporting the confirmation of Attorney General William Barr in 2019, a vote that demonstrated largely where the fault lines in the Democratic Caucus currently lie. She supported Democrats’ votes for new evidence last week to “make a more fully informed decision at the end of the trial,” a spokesman said, and is undecided during the impeachment trial.

Sinema has made no comments since the trial began. She’s close with many Republicans, and some Democrats privately believe that like Manchin, she leans toward Trump more than Jones does. Still, with no public comments it’s almost impossible to tell where she will land.

There’s no chatter in the caucus about anyone other than Jones, Sinema or Manchin possibly voting to acquit the president on one or both counts, although a number of other Democratic senators say they are still undecided. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana is one and said he’s “absolutely open to being swayed.” Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, the only other Democrat up in a Trump-held state this year other than Jones, also said he is undecided.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has made no comments since the trial began.

“I think you are seeing moderate Democrats taking the time to talk with their constituents, and in red states that means Trump voters, to hear their concerns and explain the gravity of the charges and need for witnesses and evidence,” said Jon Kott, a former Manchin aide who now runs a centrist advocacy group called Majority Makers. “I don’t think you’ll see any of them make up their minds until the trial is over.”

The Republican side of potential aisle-crossers is equally scarce on a final verdict. Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have been pushing to hear from witnesses and seem to be the only three Republicans who are considering bucking the president, but it’s not clear they’d ultimately vote to convict him .

The small number of wild cards mingled Tuesday on the Senate floor. In a break before the Trump team’s final arguments, Sinema and Manchin huddled for a few minutes and then walked out of the Senate together. After Trump’s defense finished, Manchin spoke to Murkowski and Collins for a few minutes; Sinema spoke to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), an undecided vote on witnesses.

Breaking with party leaders is becoming increasingly rare on big questions like impeachment and critical confirmation fights.

In the House, there were three divergent Democratic votes on impeachment: Golden’s split, a “present” vote from presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson’s rejection of both articles. Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey switched to the GOP after opposing impeachment as a Democrat while Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan went from Republican to independent and supported the impeachment articles.

A trio of Senate Democrats partially or completely voting to clear Trump of the two charges would be a win for Trump, who has crowed repeatedly about the bipartisan vote to reject the charges in the House.

“My largest, my biggest fear, and what I say to almost every Republican about this, is: If we all vote to acquit, Trump is going to get worse. He’s going to gloat. He’s going to be vengeful. That’s the way he thinks about the world and whatever he’s doing, he’s going to do more of it,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who won reelection in 2018 in a state that Trump won.

In the 1999 Senate trial votes, no Democrats supported removing President Bill Clinton from office, but five Republicans rejected the obstruction of justice charge and 10 opposed the perjury charge. That number of aisle-crossers seems exceedingly unlikely, but in today’s Washington, Republicans would be overjoyed to get any bipartisan support for clearing Trump.

“I think there will be a couple who may vote not to convict Trump,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “I’m guessing there’s an 80 percent chance that two Democrats will not vote to convict.”

Democratic senators say there’s been little discussion of the potential divisions within the party over Trump’s behavior. The party whip, Dick Durbin of Illinois, gestured to Manchin when asked if he’s worried about defections: “I don’t know. Ask somebody else.”

The most immediate pressure is on Sen. Doug Jones, an unlikely Deep South senator fighting for his political life this fall.

“I haven’t queried people. This is something you have to live with historically, yourself,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the No. 3 Democratic leader. “It’s important to have people come to their own conclusions.”

During the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in fall 2018, Democrats in tough races said they were pushing politics aside and making the decision on the merits. Only Manchin voted to confirm him, winning reelection narrowly a few weeks later.

And there’s still a variable at hand. All Senate Democrats have been pushing for a vote to hear from witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Jones said hearing from witnesses could make his mind “change in every number of directions.”

As for Manchin, he says he can’t vote for anything he can’t explain to West Virginians. He suggested that if Republicans reject the bid to add new evidence, it might be hard for him to explain: “I don’t know how you can call it a trial.”

He also broke pointedly with Trump’s description of his call with Ukraine President Volodymr Zelensky, in which Trump pushed for an investigation into Joe Biden: “Make no mistake about it. It was not a perfect call.”


///////////////// ////// ///////////////////////

Great economy?

President Trump claims the economy is the greatest ever, but many Americans aren’t personally feeling the benefits. Trump’s $2 trillion tax law has been a boon for billionaires and big corporations, but most working Americans haven’t seen their paychecks grow, despite the president’s promise that they would. In fact, as of August 2018, the average American wage had the same purchasing power as about 40 years ago.

Companies that benefited from the tax cut are making huge profits, but not boosting worker pay.

A recent study found that 62% of jobs do not support a middle-class lifestyle when factoring in today’s wages and cost of living, including things like health care, housing, education, and everyday expenses like groceries and gas. The majority of workers today are living paycheck to paycheck–one medical emergency, job loss, or divorce away from a personal financial crisis. In fact, 40% of Americans don’t have $400 to cover an emergency expense.

Health Care

Health care costs are rising faster than wages, causing families to decide between delaying care or going into debt to afford treatment. Half of working-age adults say they or a close family member has put off or postponed medical care because they can’t afford it. And in 2018 alone, Americans borrowed $88 billion to pay for health care.

Trump promised to fix this broken system by taking on the drug and insurance companies, but he has done the opposite. His policies have increased health care premiums by 16% to date.

Trump’s tax law has increased health care premiums while saving health insurance and drug companies billions in taxes.

The administration has rolled back key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that helped keep costs down.

Today, the president is still fighting to repeal the ACA, which would directly eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions like asthma and diabetes and increase health care premiums by 20-25%.

7 million Americans have already lost insurance because of Trump’s policies, with 13 million more set to be uninsured by 2027. Repealing protections for pre-existing conditions would endanger coverage for as many as 134 million Americans.

Premiums and deductibles are crushing families, leading to thousands in out-of-pocket costs.


Home prices have increased 60% while household income has risen only 30% during that same period. As a result, average Americans are unable to afford a home in 70% of the country. Trump’s tax law has made owning a home even more expensive for middle-class families by greatly reducing the amount homeowners can deduct in property taxes. The Treasury Department estimates 11 million taxpayers lost $323 billion as a result, while corporations and billionaires received billions in tax breaks.

The cost of rent has also outpaced wage growth under the Trump administration, with rental costs rising 3.6% in 2018. Housing expenses for both renters and homeowners drain more than 30% of income — a common metric for home affordability — in more than 20% of metropolitan areas.


Trump likes to say the economy is great, but it’s not working for everyday people. As health care, education, housing costs and everyday expenses continue to rise in Trump’s economy, millions of working families are falling behind. 40% of families don’t have $400 to cover an emergency expense. Americans are facing increasing levels of credit card debt and delinquency. While middle-class families struggle with debt and soaring interest rates, Trump’s tax law gave banks $29 billion in extra profits.

DEBT: U.S. household debt hit a record $13.54 trillion in 2018 — nearly $1 trillion higher than the peak of the financial crisis. Of that total debt, student loans constitute a record $1.5 trillion, doubling since the recession. The average student loan balance was $35,359 in the first quarter of 2019 — a 26% increase since 2014 alone. And while young Americans face soaring student debt, Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would actually cut programs that seek to keep college affordable for many Americans.

MISSED PAYMENTS: Under President Trump, interest rates reached their highest point in decades, and rising credit card and auto loan delinquencies caused economists at the New York Fed to warn, “The substantial and growing number of distressed borrowers suggests that not all Americans have benefited from the strong labor market.” 1 in 6 Americans have a past-due medical bill on their credit report. And in February 2019, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported a record 7 million Americans were 90+ days behind on auto loan payments, a total even higher than at the height of the financial crisis.

Child care

Without a pay bump under President Trump, millions of Americans are still struggling to afford even the basic costs associated with raising a family. The annual cost of child care has exploded to over $20,000 in some states, more than in-state college tuition.


Lagging wages and difficulty paying for everyday needs mean that many American families can’t afford retirement or worry about if they’ll retire at all. Only 36% of people say their retirement savings are on track, and 23% say they never plan to retire.

/// /////////////////////////////\\/////// \///




Trump gets the impeachment payback he wanted

The president’s defense team barely addressed the charges against him. Instead, they attacked his enemies.

President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense team knew they were likely to win — and they proceeded accordingly.

With a virtually negligible threat of conviction and removal by a Republican-controlled Senate, Trump’s legal team spent just a sliver of their 11-hour arguments rebutting the House’s charge that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

Instead, they tailored a defense that often mirrored the president’s pre-trial demands: to exact pain and revenge against his political enemies, all on the Senate floor.

What ensued was a Who’s Who of the president’s frequent Twitter targets: Obama, Comey, Mueller, Strzok, Page, Ohr — names that had little to no connection to the impeachment charges, but occupy a lot of space on Trump’s list of political enemies and whom Trump perceives as at least a part of the reason he will bear the stain of impeachment.

“That’s what the president’s been living with. And then we’re here today arguing about what — a phone call to Ukraine or Ukraine aid being held? Or a question about corruption?” Trump’s lead personal attorney Jay Sekulow said Tuesday. “I mean, is that what this is? Is that where we are?”

Of the 15 presentations made by Trump’s lawyers over three days, just two were entirely focused on House Democrats’ Ukraine allegations — and both were helmed by White House deputy counsel Michael Purpura.

Three presentations by Purpura’s fellow White House lawyer Patrick Phibin asserted that the House case was procedurally defective and should be rejected for process-related failures, a response to the House’s second impeachment article charging Trump with obstruction of the House impeachment inquiry. Two were high-level overviews by Trump’s lead lawyer Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel. And another two centered on the constitutional cases against removing the president from office, delivered by Kenneth Starr and Alan Dershowitz, two high-profile outside attorneys added for a bit of star power.

That left five speeches that seemed entirely intended to scratch Trump’s itch to drag his political rivals into the impeachment arena, something he repeatedly foreshadowed in the weeks before the trial. It was a consistent tactic for Trump, who has maintained for months that his July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president — the conversation at the center of Trump’s impeachment, in which he pushed for an investigation into 2020 challenger Joe Biden — was “perfect.”

Sekulow even echoed Trump’s language throughout his presentation on Tuesday.

“[Democrats] are talking about perfectly lawful actions on their face, but they want to make it impeachable if it’s just a wrong idea inside the president’s head,” he said. “It is our position legally, the president at all times acted with perfect legal authority inquired of matters in our national interest.”

One of Trump’s lawyers, Eric Herschmann, made an argument that former President Barack Obama committed an “abuse of power” akin to the allegations against Trump when Obama was caught on a microphone telling then-Russian President Dmitriy Medevedev he would have more “flexibility” on Russia policy after the 2012 election.

“The case against President Obama would have been far stronger than the allegations against President Trump,” Herschmann said.

Another Trump attorney, Pam Bondi, spent nearly an hour suggesting that Biden’s son Hunter was involved in a corrupt deal with a Ukrainian energy company. She presented no evidence that a crime had been committed but suggested it warranted investigation — into both Hunter and Joe Biden, who was spearheading the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy at the time.

Democrats have called the charge baseless and argued that Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate it could only be meant to tarnish a rival he viewed as a political threat. And they noted, with rueful irony, that Trump used his own high-profile impeachment trial to mount the innuendo-laden investigation he initially asked Ukraine to perform. A Ukrainian investigation into Biden was never announced, as allegedly sought by Trump’s allies; but all of the major networks spent hours airing the Trump legal team’s arguments.

And Jane Raskin, who also served on Trump’s defense team in the Mueller inquiry, used her speech primarily to sing the praises of Rudy Giuliani, a central figure in Democrats’ impeachment case. She contrasted him with the House’s lead impeachment manager, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), whom she portrayed as the loser in both the Mueller and impeachment cases.

“The score is, Mayor Giuliani 4, Mr. Schiff 0,” Raskin said.

But it was Sekulow’s final speech — the last full presentation in Trump’s entire defense — that became a sort of grand finale of Trump’s grievances, a speech that appeared geared toward his client as opposed to the audience of Senate Republicans looking for reasons to vote to acquit. Some senators left the chamber seemingly bewildered by the performance and tone.

Sekulow lashed out at the FBI over a recent inspector-general report that attorneys there abused their authority to obtain a warrant to surveil a former Trump campaign aide. He slammed former FBI Director James Comey for leaking memos to a New York Times reporter meant to spur the appointment of a special counsel that resulted in the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. And he devoted time to a complaint that Mueller’s team lost text messages between two agents who shared anti-Trump sentiments.

All of it, he said, should be factors in Trump’s acquittal — or else constitutional order in the U.S. would be permanently damaged.

“Danger. Danger. Danger,” he said, part of a refrain he repeated five times. “To lower the bar of impeachment, based on these articles of impeachment, would impact the functioning of our constitutional republic and the framework of that Constitution for generations.”

Democrats contended that the scattershot attacks on Trump’s perceived political enemies suggested a lack of confidence in their overall defense of the president on the Ukraine charge.

“The president’s lawyers today and in the prior presentations really did not, cannot defend the president on the facts,” Schiff told reporters Tuesday. “Instead they used their time on the floor today to go through a list of grievances which I’m sure the president was delighted to hear, but nonetheless, not particularly relevant to the charges against the president here today.”


Democrats are already bracing for a ‘hostile’ Trump transition

Donald Trump Is Not a Doctor. But He Plays One on Twitter.

Trump allies are handing out cash to black voters

Trump claims Bolton book is ‘classified national security risk


I’ll catch updates on Sky News later today… it sounds like it’s transpiring like I expected it to… well at this stage anyway.

Sky News UK

Sky News US

Trump’s lawyers rolled out a breathtaking new defense

Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN

Updated 11:13 PM EST, Wed January 29, 2020

A version of this story appears in CNN’s Impeachment Watch newsletter. To get it in your inbox, sign up for free here.

(CNN)President Donald Trump’s impeachment lawyer Alan Dershowitz on Wednesday rolled out a novel and very Trumpian legal argument in his client’s defense: The President’s personal interest is the national interest when he’s up for reelection.

The logic here is that Trump believes his reelection is what’s best for the country, so therefore whatever he does to secure a second term is, by definition, in the national interest. That’s despite the fact that what he did was hold up US aid, approved by Congress, as leverage to get the investigation he wanted into former Vice President Joe Biden, his potential 2020 rival.

Read the whole story.

Could any President be impeached under that standard? I talked on Wednesday’s podcast with CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin. Plus, CNN congressional reporter Lauren Fox describes the scene at the Capitol and whether former national security adviser John Bolton will be called as a witness. Listen here.

Trump explodes at Bolton and wavering Republicans

Agitated, under pressure and still unsure he has enough loyalty among Senate Republicans to dictate when his own impeachment trial will end, Trump lashed out Wednesday at his former national security adviser as his White House tried to halt publication of an unflattering book that confirms elements of the storyline that got Trump impeached by Democrats.

Rage on Twitter targeting Bolton

The President personally attacked John Bolton, who was fired by tweet in September just before the Ukraine scandal erupted. Bolton is apparently willing to testify at the impeachment trial and, apparently, spill the beans on their private conversations he has detailed in a forthcoming book. Dismissing Bolton as someone who “begged” him for a job, Trump said, “if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now, and goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book. All Classified National Security. Who would do this?”

Related: Trump’s pattern of turning on people he once hired

Trump’s millions of Twitter followers witnessed the President’s frustrations, but his real audience was the handful of Republican senators who won’t bend to his will and end his impeachment trial ASAP.

Bolton is already part of this trial

During the first day of Senate questions – which were read, deadpan, by Chief Justice John Roberts – Bolton played a big role.

The first question was posed by three Republican senators who’ve suggested they might be open to calling witnesses (Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski).

The second question, posed by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, was whether the Senate could return a “fully informed” verdict without testimony by Bolton and others.

It went on from there. Read what happened here: Senators ask questions with an eye to witness vote.

Worth noting

The President’s defense attorneys in his Senate impeachment trial have criticized the House impeachment managers for not producing any firsthand witnesses alleging that any quid pro quo came from the President himself.

Bolton got a formal threat, too

CNN’s Jake Tapper reports The White House has issued a formal threat to Bolton to keep him from publishing his book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.

From Tapper’s report:

In a letter to Bolton’s lawyer, a top official at the National Security Council wrote the unpublished manuscript of Bolton’s book “appears to contain significant amounts of classified information” and couldn’t be published as written. The letter, which is dated January 23, said some of the information was classified at the “top secret” level, meaning it “reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave harm to the national security.” Read the letter here.

And here’s Bolton’s response, via his lawyer Charles Cooper.

What’s in the book?

Reports from The New York Times and The Washington Post suggest that Bolton’s book details a time last August when Trump directly linked $391 million in security aid to Ukraine with that country’s government launching investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Trump has repeatedly made unfounded and false claims about Joe Biden relating to Ukraine.

Also: Bolton called Democratic congressman in September

Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement Wednesday that Bolton tipped him off way back in September – just as the Ukraine story was breaking and before the impeachment inquiry – to investigate the ouster of US Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Story here.

Democrats, get ready for the Hunter Biden debate

Play a little political chess in your head and you can envision a scenario where Democrats are the ones to ultimately kill the idea of hearing witnesses at the impeachment trial because they don’t want to call Hunter Biden.

If it emerges there are four Republican votes to hear from John Bolton – I am still extremely skeptical – Republicans will insist that Democrats suffer witnesses too. The number one GOP request could be Hunter Biden, whose appearance would be uncomfortable for his dad, Joe, who is in the top tier of Democrats vying for the party’s presidential nomination.

Should Roberts make the witness decision?

Both Collins and Romney have suggested both sides of the aisle should get witnesses. And now, even moderate Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia are sounding open to the idea, although he’d like to defer the decision-making to Roberts, who is presiding over the whole trial.

“I want witnesses,” Manchin told CNN. “I definitely want witnesses. The only thing I’ve said is that there should be an adult in the room and that’s Chief Justice Roberts. We should vote again on Chief Justice Roberts being able to determine who is pertinent… if Hunter Biden is one of the people who is pertinent to the evidence or to the trial then absolutely.”

In an interview Wednesday night on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time,” Manchin said he wants the process to be fair.

“What I meant to say was that I believe it has to be fair,” Manchin said. “If the Democrats get 1, 2, 3, 4 – shouldn’t the Republicans get the same amount? But they should be relevant to the charges made against the President.”

Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico doesn’t think Biden would have much to offer to the trial, but he told Bash he’d consider ceding authority to Roberts.

“I would be okay him making a decision on relevancy,” Udall said. “It’s a lot better than us fighting on these partisan things of this witness, that witness back and forth. Should there be a trade, all those kinds of things.”

If McConnell really wanted Hunter Biden to testify, he’d already have been subpoenaed

Other Democrats are extremely opposed to Biden appearing. And Schumer pointed out Republicans actually have the votes to call Biden right now.

“Trump and McConnell could call for Hunter Biden today. They don’t want to. They know it would turn things into a circus,” Schumer said.

And bookmark this piece for after the witness debate is over: Red state Democrats won’t rule out clearing Trump.


“The Lamar Alexander question. That is the whole ball game,” said Dana Bash on CNN after talking to senior Republicans about their effort to squash witnesses at the trial.

It’s well known that Romney and Collins want to hear from Bolton. Murkowski is on the bubble. But Alexander could be the necessary fourth Republican vote for Bolton testimony.

Why Alexander would support witnesses:

  1. He’s an old school pol who respects the deliberative properties senators like to talk about in their institution.

  2. He’s retiring and not beholden to voters.

Why he won’t:

  1. He’s not exactly a moderate, although he prizes bipartisanship.

  2. He’s very close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Bash reports Senate Republicans find it hard to believe that Alexander in particular would break with the party. That’s not saying he won’t, but they think he is less likely to do it at the end of the day.

The bad precedent argument

The argument Alexander’s colleagues are using with him, and others, is that if the Senate agrees to “do the House’s work for them” it would set a precedent such that the House – which can pass anything with a majority – can keep doing this with impeachment in the future, jamming the Senate and taking the body off course from its agenda.

Lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff hit back at this idea during question time at the trial Wednesday.

“Think about the precedent you will set if you don’t hear witnesses,” he said.

Extra credit: Known for his walking campaigns across Tennessee as a Senate candidate and across early primary states as a presidential candidate, here’s Alexander on C-Span when he walked across New Hampshire in 1995, wearing his red checkered lumberjack shirt. His signature campaign signs said, “Lamar!”

More from the proceedings

The Barr question – Bolton’s book could draw Attorney General William Barr into the impeachment political fight that Barr has deftly avoided for months, write CNN’s Evan Perez and David Shortell. Private conversations between Bolton and Barr, who have known each other for decades, are featured in Bolton’s draft manuscript for his book, appearing to lend credibility to some of Bolton’s sharpest critiques of the President who fired him.

Separately, given the role Barr played in Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, it’s remarkable to me that Barr has not been drawn more into the impeachment fight.

The John Roberts court – Roberts’ role in all of this is not unlike a clerk of sorts. His challenge today is reading the questions senators have written out. He played it straight. Like the umpire he promised to be!

Dershowitz v. Warren on the law – Dershowitz, s former Harvard law school professor, says Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a former Harvard law school professor, doesn’t understand the law after she criticized his defense of Trump at the impeachment trial.

Impeachment watcher – Lev Parnas, the indicted former associate of Rudy Giuliani, was on Capitol Hill to watch the proceedings at the invitation of Schumer, although it wasn’t clear if he’d be allowed in the Senate since he’s wearing an ankle tracker and electronic devices aren’t allowed in the chamber.

© 2020 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

What the XXxX!!!

{Can not be, yet it is, what it is!!!

The brazen naivete5 and the fugitive malice!!!
Can anyone believe it?

For the God fanned national interest, should not Trump and the rest of the gangsters get together to avoid such extreme deconstruction ad in infinitum!

The swamp is deliberit a my being used, instead of the alleged attempt of drainage!

They are minimizing cleverly their intelligent d, to promote a wholesome American transcendence, well in the know in how to skirt and simulate politi cal reality, to whip up fervent but false alliances between said god and Man!

How perfectly Nietzchean and demoralizing in actuality!!!}

And this is the actual brazen argument they are using::::::::

“Mr. Trump’s lawyers offered their most expansive defense of the president to date, effectively arguing that a president cannot be removed from office for demanding political favors if he believes his re-election is in the national interest.”

{{{{{{{{{Arminius and St.James predicted such outcome as well, basing their argument on something as ominous to happen, even coinciding with the nuclear war scenario that is brought into play by Tump’s tweet as well.}}}}}}}}}*

{The buildup of a new fascism here is implicit as in a kindergarten would understand! Astounding .}*

*{ } material that includes my narrative.

{St.James and Arminius had implied precisely this: a few years ago, will try to dig it up, and it would be informative now, to have them here to discuss it.

So , if You are reading this Armenius, as You had in our fairly recent correspondences, could You again briefly come back for a spell , or, Your wife?- or any theories out there, at.least to diminish a very apprehensive state of mind regarding credibility on the whole?

{The implications are quite obvious philosophically.

Throughout this long forum , interspersed throughout , the idea that Kant’s categorical argument of a synthetic approach may work, has finally been put to rest, by arrival into the realm of pure fascism. A fascism gently passed into the night and ultimate twilight of democratic process.

It is no longer the question of what interest brought us to this point, but the required revival of categorical conflict between the very basic antimony between idea and matter, of form and content, of being and nothingness.

There appears only one way that a no exit can be reversed, that of exit yes, but exiting from one into another room, all forbidding exit, yet compelled to create more and more parallel rooms of existence, in order to absolutely simulate cantor’s underground passage.

The birth of tragedy can be literally seen as taken up by Dostoevsky in ‘letters from underground’ and modern utilized by the metaphoric parallel of ‘Shining’

There is only one thing we men are absolutely terrified of , and that is the pure horror it’s self.}

MagsJ: some of the material You mentioned I sandwich between prior , and post Congressional Procedure here. and it might interest You to know, that as a pre-requisite reading, Both should be read to gain proper perspective. I am using both more ‘real’ and fictional accounts, mixed between hypothesis and hyperthesis, to exemplify the degree to which political acumen has disintegrated.

That is , Your time permitting

Senators , as expected, voted along party lines to block introducing Trump held evidence, and witnesses.
Will they follow suit with squirting him of wrongdoing?

Some observers came out and expressed the opinion, that Trump’s behavior will be closely watched.

If, for instance, he comes out with exuberant claims of being totally vindicated by both parties, some hesitancy on the senators’part may be noted, for they are keeping tabs on the way their constituency will react.

Will precedent be established, emboldening future presidents from corruption and non concern from Congressional oversight ?

This is a Constitutional concern as well.

The political future of the United States appears cloudy indeed.

/////// ////// ////////////////// ////////

Jan. 31, 2020, 8:18 PM EST

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial promises to leave him more powerful in Washington — and possibly more vulnerable to defeat on the campaign trail.

That’s in part because a handful of pivotal Senate Republicans chose to condemn Trump’s behavior in office while protecting him from both official sanction and the potential jeopardy of witnesses unraveling his impeachment defense under oath. As a result, Trump is on the verge of emerging from the trial with a tacit green light to defy Congress without fear of reprisal, and also safe in the knowledge that elected representatives will push only so far to find out whether he tells the truth to the public.

“It’s arguable that he’s the most politically powerful president in American history,” presidential biographer Jon Meacham said on NBC News during a break in the trial Friday.

But that power, demonstrated with the Senate’s 51-49 vote Friday against considering new evidence, combined with the mild rebukes from GOP senators to dilute the most compelling aspect of his political brand. It will be harder for Trump to cast himself as a victim of the system after allies in the Senate said he overstepped the bounds of his authority and then used their power to bail him out of trouble.

The more he looks like he’s rigging the system, the less it looks rigged against him.

So there’s a potential political silver lining for Democrats in their failure to win over enough Republicans to force White House officials to testify. They were quick to demonstrate how they will portray the Republican-led Senate as a tool Trump used to cover up his actions.

“How do you have a trial without witnesses?” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the polling leader ahead of next Monday’s first-in-the-nation Democratic presidential caucuses asked in a video posted online by his campaign Friday.

“This is outrageous, this is a mockery of justice and is sadly consistent with a president who believes he is above the law,” Sanders said. “He is the beneficiary of a show trial that refused to allow the American people to hear the evidence against him.”

In effect, the key group of GOP senators — Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Rob Portman of Ohio and Marco Rubio of Florida among them — accepted a White House defense that held there is nothing a president can do in pursuit of his own re-election, and little he can do short of flat-out treason or taking cash bribes, that would warrant removing him from office.

But while they gave Trump nearly a blank check to wield power over Congress for at least the nearly 12 months remaining in his current term, they also handed Democrats a separate cache of political ammunition to use against him in the 2020 election. Not only will the opposition accuse Trump of benefiting from a cover up, and Republicans lawmakers of executing it for him, but they now have a bank of statements showing some senators think what Trump did was wrong.

Portman said in a statement that Trump’s “actions in this case — including asking a foreign country to investigate a potential political opponent and the delay of aid to Ukraine — were wrong and inappropriate.” In doing so, he both criticized Trump and said in broad terms that the president had done what was alleged. Portman staked his decision to vote for acquittal on the very specific idea that Trump shouldn’t be removed “in the middle of an election” based on the charges for which he was impeached.

Rubio tiptoed around the particulars of the allegations against Trump in a Medium post. Rubio hinted that he believed the charges rather than stating that outright, saying his decision to vote against ousting Trump was based on a logical framework that assumed the allegations were true. “Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a president from office,” he wrote.

Rubio said he decided Trump should not be shown the door “because doing so would inflict extraordinary and potentially irreparable damage to our already divided nation.”

If the senators were trying to please all sides, it didn’t work.

“This kind of thing is why voters dislike politicians so intently,” said Reed Galen, a Republican strategist who sits on the advisory board of the anti-Trump super PAC The Lincoln Project. “Everyone knows they’re too chicken to do the right thing, so they say something mealy-mouthed and transparent.”

What’s clear from Trump’s brief time in the political arena is that he will understand Congress has no appetite to stand in his way at all. Even fellow Republicans who believe he did what the House charged, and that it was wrong, aren’t interested in hearing from witnesses who say he has misled the public.

At the same time, by helping him make such an ostentatious show of his power in the Senate, and by making clear they are uncomfortable with the way he used that power in the Ukraine affair, they have taken away some of his political magic — and given Democrats a better case to make to voters.

Jonathan Allen is a senior political analyst for NBC News, based in Washington.

{The republicans reduced the criminal issue to the optical prescription of political motives . Has it succeeded?
Was the Ukraine or the Russian contended collusion more credible? Or was either true but their relative value instigated by one or both sides?
Did indeed any if it impinge on national security issues?
The culpability versus the credibility issues interact in such a way as to exclude evidence in favor of interpretation?. Or does a political gamble is underneath all the song and dance?
Will next years election shed some light on this reality search? The fact is, that doubts have risen, relegating the search to a non material academic discussion. Perhaps Nietzhe’s search for the will’s power has been finally concluded.}

The New York Times

The Trump Impeachment

Republicans Block Impeachment Witnesses, Clearing Path for Trump Acquittal

The narrow vote came after Republican senators said they did not need to hear more evidence, and pressed toward acquitting President Trump next week.

Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, on Friday at the Capitol. All but two Republicans voted to block witnesses.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Jan. 31, 2020

WASHINGTON — The Senate brought President Trump to the brink of acquittal on Friday of charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress, as Republicans voted to block consideration of new witnesses and documents in his impeachment trial and shut down a final push by Democrats to bolster their case for the president’s removal.

In a nearly party-line vote after a bitter debate, Democrats failed to win support from the four Republicans they needed. With Mr. Trump’s acquittal virtually certain, the president’s allies rallied to his defense, though some conceded he was guilty of the central allegations against him.

The Democrats’ push for more witnesses and documents failed 49 to 51, with only two Republicans, Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, joining Democrats in favor. A vote on the verdict is planned for Wednesday.

As they approached the final stage of the third presidential impeachment proceeding in United States history, Democrats condemned the witness vote and said it would render Mr. Trump’s trial illegitimate and his acquittal meaningless.

“America will remember this day, unfortunately, where the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities, when the Senate turned away from truth and went along with a sham trial,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. “If the president is acquitted, with no witnesses, no documents, the acquittal will have no value because Americans will know that this trial was not a real trial.”

Even as they prepared to vote against removing him, several Republicans challenged Mr. Trump’s repeated assertions that he had done nothing wrong, saying they believed he had committed the main offense of which he was accused: withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Still, those Republicans said, they were unwilling to remove a president fewer than 10 months before he is to face voters.

“If you are persuaded that he did it, why do you need more witnesses?” said Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, a critical swing vote on the issue whose late decision to oppose considering new evidence all but sealed Mr. Trump’s swift acquittal. “The country is not going to accept being told that they can’t elect the president they want to elect in the week the election starts by a majority for a merely inappropriate telephone call or action.”

“You don’t apply capital punishment for every offense,” Mr. Alexander added.

The vote signaled the end of a saga that has consumed Washington and threatened Mr. Trump’s hold on the presidency for the past five months, since the emergence in September of an anonymous whistle-blower complaint accusing him of using the levers of government to push Ukraine to interfere on his behalf in the 2020 election.

President Trump on Friday at the White House. He will most likely be acquitted next week.Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

Senators recessed the trial for the weekend and will return Monday for closing arguments, with a vote on the verdict on Wednesday.

The timetable will rob Mr. Trump of the opportunity to use his State of the Union address scheduled for Tuesday night to boast about his acquittal, a prospect he has relished for several weeks. Instead, he will become the second president to deliver the speech during his own impeachment trial.

The senators adopted the plan by a partisan vote on Friday night, but only after Democrats tried once last time to subpoena four administration officials, including the former national security adviser John R. Bolton, and a collection of documents relevant to the case.

At the White House, Mr. Trump raged against a process he has dismissed from the start as a “witch hunt” and a “hoax,” preparing to make Democratic attempts to remove him a centerpiece of his re-election campaign.

“No matter what you give to the Democrats, in the end, they will NEVER be satisfied,” the president wrote on Twitter. “In the House, they gave us NOTHING!”

The outcome of the final vote was not in doubt. It would take a two-thirds majority — 67 senators — to convict Mr. Trump and remove him from office.

The president has insisted that he did nothing wrong, calling a July telephone conversation in which he asked the president of Ukraine to investigate his political rivals “perfect” and the impeachment inquiry a “sham.” For months, he has demanded that his allies deliver nothing less than an absolute defense of his actions. But while they were poised to acquit him, several Republicans offered words of criticism, instead.

Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, said that “some of the president’s actions in this case — including asking a foreign country to investigate a potential political opponent and the delay of aid to Ukraine — were wrong and inappropriate.”

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who challenged Mr. Trump for the Republican nomination in 2016, suggested that he did not necessarily consider the president innocent, either.

“Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a president from office,” he said. “I will not vote to remove the president because doing so would inflict extraordinary and potentially irreparable damage to our already divided nation.”

Not every Republican senator thought Mr. Trump acted improperly. “For three-plus years, Democrats have been trying to parse every one of his words, add their traditional view and find themselves often perplexed,” said Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota. “Part of the problem is that most of America likes the straight talk and occasionally forgives if he doesn’t say exactly the right thing.”

Senators rejected a call for additional witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial, dealing a fatal blow to efforts by Democrats to bring about new evidence.Credit…Image by Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Reflecting the depth of the country’s divisions, both sides were already looking past the trial to begin framing the fight over Mr. Trump’s conduct ahead of the November election. The first voting of the season is Monday in Iowa.

With the threat of conviction removed, Mr. Trump enters the election season as the first impeached president in modern history to face voters. But his expected acquittal is also likely to leave the president emboldened. He will argue that Democrats, unelected bureaucrats and the mainstream news media have targeted him because of their disdain for his supporters, and that his fight for political survival is theirs as well.

Democrats, too, planned to capitalize on the impeachment fight by urging voters to punish Republicans for refusing to demand a more thorough trial and for sticking with Mr. Trump despite evidence of his misdeeds. But they faced the risks of a potential backlash.

After resisting impeachment for months, Speaker Nancy Pelosi embraced it amid revelations of Mr. Trump’s actions toward Ukraine last fall. In doing so, she calculated that her party could not fail to act against a president whose actions it saw as clearly outrageous. But she confronted what she knew to be an unmovable reality in the Senate, where Democrats were certain to fall far short of removing him.

Senate Republicans made a wager of their own that it was better to withstand the short-term criticisms rather than to allow the proceeding to stretch on and risking damaging revelations. In doing so, they are strapping their political fate to that of a polarizing president who enjoys unparalleled loyalty among conservative voters.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, left, voted against witnesses, while Senator Susan Collins sided with Democrats.Credit…Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

The Republican victory was sealed on Friday just moments after the debate was gaveled open and Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, issued a statement saying that a vote for additional witnesses would only extend what she called a “partisan” impeachment. Still, she lamented that the Senate trial had not been fair and that Congress had failed its obligation to the country.

Ms. Murkowski did not indicate how she would vote on the final articles of impeachment, which she denounced as “rushed and flawed.” But she offered an unusually sharp rebuke of the institution in which she serves, appearing to cast blame on both parties and both chambers of Congress for letting excessive partisanship overtake a solemn responsibility.

The House impeachment managers, including Representatives Adam B. Schiff and Sylvia R. Garcia, on Friday in the Capitol. “The facts will come — out in all of their horror, they will come out,” Mr. Schiff said.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate,” she said. “I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything.
“It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed,” Ms. Murkowski added

Speaking from the well of the Senate before the vote, the Democratic House managers made a final, urgent appeal for additional witnesses during a two-hour presentation on Friday. They warned senators that a refusal to hear new evidence would ensure that Mr. Trump would never be held accountable and would undermine the nation’s democratic order and the public’s faith in the institutions of government.

Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead House manager, seized on a New York Times report published in the hours before the vote to hammer home his point. The article revealed that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Bolton last May to assist in his pressure campaign on Ukraine.

“The facts will come — out in all of their horror, they will come out,” Mr. Schiff said. “The witnesses the president is concealing will tell their stories,” he added. “And we will be asked why we didn’t want to hear that information when we had the chance. What answer shall we give if we do not pursue the truth now?”

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, on Friday in his office.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Time

Mr. Trump’s defense team vigorously argued the opposite view, telling senators they had all the evidence they needed to dismiss the charges before them, and warning that calling new witnesses would set a dangerous precedent by validating a rushed and incomplete case presented by the House.

“The Senate is not here to do the investigatory work that the House didn’t do,” said Patrick Philbin, a deputy White House counsel.

The Impeachment Trial

Alexander Says Convicting Trump Would ‘Pour Gasoline on Cultural Fires’

© 2020 The New York Times

{And finally as a fait accompli, the suggestion that the whole charade was pre planned to save the bastion of capital, by securing control over the New World Order, by vastly strengthening the executive powers of the U.S. hold much more water then previously? If this was an optical assessment, the answer must be a resounding affirmative.}

Hey Meno… I found the contrast between your posts and the Sky News UK/US coverage very interesting, and as it’s the first time that I’ve actually read up on the Impeachment trial in depth, I became immersed in the data… it’s what I do. :smiley:

I haven’t followed the trial since, so am due for a live Sky News/ catchup, before I can comment further.


I can’t but wait to hear how this comes down to more then a regional interpretation !

Donald trump is singularly responsible for making me believe presidents don’t exist.

I said a couple years ago “Donald trump is not my president”, but then I realized after that, that nobody is.

It’s an extremely high bar now for a human to be my “commander in chief”

I hope someone lives up to it.

{One thought to counter Your apprehension. This whole act is nothing more then an obvious attempt-so far winning, to exemplify the great overbearing fear of getting back a democratic administration.

They were, ( the republicans) willing to gamble republican political credibility, by adopting a no holds dirty contest over the Ukraine/Russia simplicity. They careemed toward the duping of all governmental institutions and even embroiled themselves in very shaky games plays, that they knew to be a winning hand, do to the republican control of the Senate.

Trump had to bark according to that gAme plan, carefully crafted with nuanced embellished rhetoric.

That this will be kept up , by stepped up propaganda is certain, if the past has any guidance to their methods.

From day 1 the snowball became more and more unstoppable, so pretty much, this winning hand shall certainly not be abandoned.}


The Downfall of the Republican Party

To see men and women who had a positive vision beaten down and broken by Trump is a poignant thing.


A statue representing “Grief” lays her covered face on the shoulder of the statue representing “History” outside the U.S. Capitol.MARY CALVERT / REUTERS

On Friday, Republicans in the United States Senate—with the exception of Mitt Romney and Susan Collins—voted to prevent John Bolton, Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, from testifying in the impeachment trial of the president.

The reason they did so is undeniable: They did not want to hear from the most credible fact witness of all, one whose account would further implicate the president in his corrupt scheme—his “drug deal,” in Bolton’s words—to pressure the Ukrainian government to open an investigation to harm Trump’s main political opponent.

Republicans, from beginning to end, sought not to ensure that justice be done or truth be revealed. Instead, they sought to ensure that Trump not be removed from office under any circumstances, defending him at all costs. The job of Senate Republicans was to make their acquittal of the president as quick and painless for them as possible. In this particular case, facts and evidence—reality—were viewed as grave threats, which is why they had to be buried.

This is simply the latest act in an unfolding political drama, one in which the party of Lincoln and Reagan has now become, in every meaningful sense, the party of Trump.

I have written before about the massive moral and ethical defects of the president; there’s no need to rehearse them here. The point I want to make is a somewhat different one, which is that Trump’s takeover of the GOP has happened not because he is widely loved or admired by Republican lawmakers but because he is feared; not because most of the people in the Republican Senate Conference aspire to be like him, but because they are too timid to challenge him.

From a certain perspective, their timidity is understandable. They know that to publicly challenge Trump—to call out his ethical transgressions, cruelty, and indecency even as they support his policies—invites impassioned attacks from Trump supporters and, in some cases, a primary challenge. No one likes to be under attack, particularly by the base of one’s own party, and no one wants to lose a job.

Moreover, they will argue, they must defend the president in public so they can have influence in private. They have also convinced themselves that they are essential to the project of repairing the Republican Party post-Trump, and that this requires that they not be viewed as disloyal to Trump while he’s serving as president. “What good does it do to attack Trump?” they will ask. He won’t change his ways, and they will only weaken themselves in the process. (Many of them are happy to attack Trump in private conversations, citing, chapter and verse, things he has said or done that alarm them, showing that they both know better and are playing a cynical game.)

That, at least, is the story they tell themselves. Some of what they say is worth taking into account. But what they don’t tell themselves, probably because it would be too psychologically shattering, is that they have become fully complicit in a corrupt enterprise called the Trump presidency. (Romney is the rare exception.) They are defending actions they know are wrong and that, if they had been done by a Democratic president, they would be outraged by. More than that, they are validating Trump’s approach to politics—the hyper-aggression, the lawlessness, the mendacity, the shamelessness—and therefore guaranteeing imitators. It also happens that their influence on the president is far smaller than they tell themselves. They have made concession after concession after concession, justifying each one along the way. Then you look back at the road they’ve traveled, and it’s breathtaking. Donald Trump has changed them far more than they have changed Donald Trump.

In 1991, when Václav Havel received the Sonning Prize for contributions to European civilization, he spoke about those “who are starting to lose their battle with the temptations of power.” It is an insidious thing, Havel warned, to become captive to the perks of power. Politicians, he said, soon learn how easy it is to justify staying in power even as they give up bits of their soul in the process. It is easier than they think, he said, to get “morally tainted.”

“Politics is an area of human endeavor that places greater stress on moral sensitivity,” Havel concluded, “on the ability to reflect critically on oneself, on genuine responsibility, on taste and tact, on the capacity to empathize with others, on a sense of moderation, on humility. It is a job for modest people, for people who cannot be deceived.”

To see men and women who in other spheres of their lives are admirable, who got into politics because they believed it was a noble profession and had a positive vision for the Republican Party, beaten down and broken by Trump is a poignant thing. Their weakness and servility, their vassalage to such a fundamentally corrupt man, is dispiriting to those of us who not only lament the injury Trump is inflicting on the nation as a whole but who still care about the Republican Party and worry that conservatism is in the process of being subsumed into angry, ethnic populism.

What Republicans who have rallied behind Trump don’t fully grasp yet is the toxic effect he’s had on the younger generation, and on college-educated, suburban, and nonwhite voters. (Trump is wildly popular among blue-collar and rural voters, who are shrinking as a percentage of the voting population.) The damage done by Trump won’t be limited in its reach. He has imperiled the future of the party he leads. And those who think the GOP will simply snap back to the best of what it was pre-Trump—who think the worst elements of Trumpism will vanish once he leaves the White House—are kidding themselves.

Those who fell in line behind Trump have empowered him (and his many acolytes and media propagandists) to redefine much of conservatism and the principles that once informed the Republican Party. I don’t think that is what they intended, but that is what they have helped achieve.

Few things in life are permanent, most of all in the realm of politics. The fight for the future of the Republican Party, post-Trump, will be an intense one. Those of us who are conservatives and those on the center-right who believe the soul of GOP is still worth fighting for will not go gently into the good night.

But for now, Donald Trump has an iron grip on the Republican Party—and Republican lawmakers who privately lament what he has done have publicly enabled what he has done. That is something that must haunt at least a few of them, at least in their private moments, when they lay aside their rationalizations for just a moment and reflect on the role they have played in this horror show.

PETER WEHNER is a contributing writer at The Atlantic, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Egan visiting professor at Duke University. He writes widely on political, cultural, religious, and national-security issues, and he is the author of The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump.

Copyright © 2020 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All Rights Reserved.

Fox News

2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONPublished February 03, 2020Last Update 3 hrs ago
As Joe Biden competes for a win in Iowa, one GOP senator is already talking about impeaching him

Joe Biden sits near the top of most polls ahead of the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, and his campaign is hoping for a win that could help propel Biden to the Democratic nomination and later the White House – but one Republican senator from the Hawkeye state is already talking about impeaching the former vice president if he gets there.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, told Bloomberg News on Sunday that Republicans could impeach Biden for his dealings in Ukraine, specifically his handling of foreign policy with the country as his son, Hunter, was on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings. Her comments come just before her constituents go to the polls Monday to cast the very first votes of the 2020 presidential election cycle.

“I think this door of impeachable whatever has been opened,” Ernst said in an interview, according to Bloomberg News. “Joe Biden should be very careful what he’s asking for because, you know, we can have a situation where if it should ever be President Biden, that immediately, people, right the day after he would be elected would be saying, ‘Well, we’re going to impeach him.’”

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, walks in the U.S. Capitol on the first full day of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, walks in the U.S. Capitol on the first full day of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)


Ernst claimed that Biden would be accused of “being assigned to take on Ukrainian corruption yet turning a blind eye to Burisma because his son was on the board making over a million dollars a year.”

Biden and his son Hunter found themselves caught up in the Trump impeachment proceedings because Trump specifically asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the pair during a July 25 phone call between the two leaders, which was at the heart of the impeachment investigation into Trump. The president is accused of holding almost $400 million in military aid to Ukraine as leverage to get Zelensky to announce investigations that would have allegedly been helpful to Trump in his reelection bid.

But Trump is almost certain to be acquitted by the Senate later this week after the body voted Friday not to hear witness testimony or subpoena additional documents in its trial of Trump after the House of Representatives impeached him for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

At a press conference last week, Ernst intimated that her constituents should take note of how often Biden was coming up in impeachment proceedings.


“Iowa caucuses are this next Monday evening and I’m really interested to see how this discussion today informs and influences the Iowa caucus voters, those Democratic caucus-goers,” she said. “Will they be supporting Vice President Biden at this point?”

In response, Biden said Ernst and Trump are “scared” that Republicans may have to face a Democratic ticket with him at the top come November.

“Iowa caucus-goers take note,” Biden tweeted. “Joni Ernst just spilled the beans. She and Donald Trump are scared to death I’ll be the nominee. On Feb. 3rd, let’s make their day.”


Ernst’s comments also come as Republicans cite the partisan nature of Democrats’ impeachment of Trump – specifically that there were some calling for Trump to be impeached before he was even inaugurated and before the Ukraine scandal happened – as one reason they are opting not to remove him from office.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, whose commitment to vote against witnesses Friday gave Republicans their 51st vote on the issue, guaranteeing the result, alluded to that dynamic in a statement explaining her vote.

“Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate,” she said. “I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed.”

Iowans will meet at their caucus locations at 7 p.m. Central Time on Monday.

Tyler Olson covers politics for broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2020 FOX News Network, LLC




Best-selling author Stephen King has slammed Republicans and called for the ouster of his state’s senator – Susan Collins of Maine – predicting that the GOP lawmaker will vote to acquit President Donald Trump in the ongoing impeachment trial.

King, whose well-known books have been developed into films and television series, has been a frequent critic of Trump and Republican lawmakers. The author was even previously blocked by the president on Twitter. As a Maine resident, King has strongly criticized Collins on multiple occasions in the past.

On Friday, the Republican majority of the Senate voted against calling for additional witnesses and evidence in the president’s impeachment trial, despite Democrats’ urging. Collins, as well as GOP Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, voted with Democrats to hear from further witnesses. It’s unclear whether Collins and Romney plan to vote to acquit or remove Trump from office.

“Whitewash. Shameful,” King tweeted on Saturday, referring to the impeachment trial. He then went on to predict that Collins would vote to acquit the president along with her Republican colleagues, calling for her to be voted out of office as she faces re-election this year.

“Republican [Lisa] Murkowski [of Alaska], not up for re-election, voted against witnesses. Republican Collins, up for re-election, voted for witnesses. Both will vote to acquit,” he tweeted. “It’s Moscow Mitch [McConnell] at his finest. Hey hey, ho ho, Susan Collins has to go.”

Murkowski had previously suggested that she would consider voting with Democrats to call for additional witnesses, but inevitably sided with her Republican colleagues against the measure. Democrats needed at least four GOP lawmakers to side with them in order for the vote to pass with a simple majority of 51 to 47 in the Republican-controlled Senate.

McConnell, the Senate majority leader from Kentucky, had repeatedly said ahead of the trial that he planned to coordinate closely with the White House. This led many Democrats, and some Republicans, to raise concerns about his lack of impartiality. McConnell has previously drawn significant criticism for blocking legislation to address foreign election interference – particularly from Russia – leading to critics calling him “Moscow Mitch.” U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election in favor of Trump.

Senator Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) walks during a break in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill on January 31 in Washington, D.C.BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GETTY

King has repeatedly called for Collins to be voted out of office.

“It’s time for Susan Collins to go,” the author tweeted last June, after Democrat Sara Gideon announced her intention to challenge the senator in 2020.

“Susan Collins has been there for about a thousand years,” he later lamented in September during an interview on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

Collins’ approval rating has dropped sharply since Trump took office in 2017. Morning Consult found that she has the highest disapproval (52 percent) of any senator nationally, dropping from 67 percent approval when the president took office to just 42 percent at the end of 2019.

© Copyright 2020 NEWSWEEK


Rebooting Trump

Will Trump use impeachment big time in his State of the Union message? -Republicans hope not.

Final vote on impeachment awaits senators as they state their pos…

Donald Trump may take early victory lap at State of the Union as impeachment winds down

DAVID JACKSON | USA TODAY | 3 hours ago.

With the vast majority of senators voting along party lines, a motion to call witnesses failed in the U.S. Senate in Trump’s impeachment trial.


WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will use Tuesday’s State of the Union address to tout his record on the economy and – perhaps – take an early victory lap with the Senate impeachment trial expected to wrap up this week.

Trump, who ran on the slogan “Make America Great Again,” has dubbed this year’s speech “the Great American Comeback.”

“We’re going to talk about the achievements that we’ve made,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity in a Super Bowl Sunday interview.

The address will take place before a joint session of Congress at 9 p.m. EST and offers Trump a high-profile platform to argue for his reelection. It comes a day after problems with the Iowa caucus left the outcome of the first contest in the Democratic nominating contest uncertain. Trump’s campaign blasted the Iowa Democratic Party over what it said was a “train wreck.”

While it was unclear whether Trump planned to mention impeachment or the election, there could still be moments of awkwardness in the House chamber where he will deliver his speech.

He will be introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Trump and the speaker have had a fraught relationship since the Democratic takeover of the House in the 2018 midterms, and the tensions have only grown after the House vote last year to impeach the president over his dealings with Ukraine.

Impeachment trial: House managers, Trump team make closing arguments – live updates

During Trump’s speech last year, Pelosi rose to her feet and clapped when the president called for an end to the “politics of revenge.” Video of her locking eyes with Trump while clapping went viral on social media.

Sitting in the audience during the speech will be 230 lawmakers – 229 Democrats and one independent – who voted in favor of an article of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of power over allegations he withheld military aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to investigate Joe Biden, the former vice president and a 2020 presidential candidate. A second article of impeachment, charging Trump with obstruction of Congress, got 229 votes.

Senators who are serving as jurors in the impeachment trial will also be in the audience, including several Democrats who are vying to replace him. The trial is expected to end Wednesday with a vote to acquit in the Republican-led Senate.

Iowa caucuses: Follow along for live coverage from across Iowa, and the world

Jessica Taylor, the Senate and governors editor at the non-partisan Cook Political Report, said the White House will look to use the speech as a “reset.”

The question, she said, is whether Trump “will take the bait and talk about impeachment and the Democratic primary. … Trump is just so unpredictable. Will he able to stay on script and stay on message?”

Aides said Trump will emphasize five themes in the speech.


Playing up the issue that will drive his reelection bid, Trump will stress what he calls a “blue-collar boom” and likely call for more tax cuts and reductions in government regulations. Trump has repeatedly said he wants to push new “middle-class tax cuts,” as well as breaks for businesses.

The economy has performed well under Trump, growing an average of about 2.5% annually during the three years of his term, more than the 2.2% post-recession average before he took office. And average monthly job gains of 191,000 in his tenure are similar to totals under President Barack Obama – after job losses from the Great Recession ended in February 2010. Under Trump, the unemployment rate has fallen to 3.5%, a 50-year low.

Trump is credited with spearheading federal tax cuts and spending increases that juiced economic growth to nearly 3% in 2018. But that stimulus during an economic expansion has swollen the federal deficit and could make it tougher for Congress to boost spending dramatically in the next recession.

Trade fights with China and other countries have created some uncertainty about growth in the year ahead.

Working families

Trump plans to discuss job training initiatives and child care – a signature issue of Ivanka Trump, his daughter and a senior adviser. He is expected to call for tax credits to benefit parents who want to send their children to private schools, the “school choice” issue.

Health care

While touting proposals on on drug pricing and medical billing, Trump is also expected to brand Democratic health care plans as “socialist,” a claim he has also made on the campaign trail.

While failing to repeal Obama’s health care law, Trump has said he wants to promote plans to reduce drug prices, make medical billing more transparent, and give people more flexibility in choosing doctors and health plans.


Trump will tout his plans to crack down on illegal immigration, including his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The president is expected to renew his call to discourage “sanctuary cities” that give shelter to undocumented immigrants.

Since taking office, Trump has touted a signature promise of his 2016 campaign: to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The administration said this month that it had built 100 miles of border wall, but virtually all of that construction has replaced barriers that existed during the Obama administration. That despite a government shutdown in 2018 over wall funding and an emergency declaration that allowed Trump to free up military funding for the wall.

National security

Trump will discuss a litany of foreign policy challenges, from the Middle East and Iran to North Korea and China. He is expected to promote his proposed Middle East plan, his hopes for more nuclear talks with North Korea, and a new trade deal with China.

On Iran, Trump is likely to tout his decision to authorize a strike killing Qasem Soleimani, a powerful Iranian general responsible for the deaths of many American soldiers.

Trump and his national security advisers say Soleimani’s death has made the U.S. safer. And they argue Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran has crippled that country’s economy and made it harder for Tehran to finance terrorism.

But some believe Trump’s actions, starting with his decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, have made Iran a more provocative and dangerous force across the Middle East.

Can he change minds?

As Trump starts his fourth year in office, it may be difficult for him to change many minds with a single speech, analysts said, even the nationally televised State of the Union.

“He’s compiled an extensive record of policy accomplishments, judicial appointments and animosity,” said Stuart Rothenberg, a nonpartisan political analyst. “I think people who like him will like what he says, and anybody who doesn’t like him will dismiss what he says.”

Contributing: Paul Davidson, Deirdre Shesgreen and Paul Davidson

Originally Published 4 hours ago



Republicans pray Trump shuns impeachment in SOTU

“Everyone should just know that Trump will be Trump," says GOP

Senate Republicans are praying President Donald Trump does something out of character during his State of the Union address — avoid talking about impeachment.

Trump will deliver his speech Tuesday, one day before the Senate ends its nearly three-week impeachment trial with a likely vote to acquit him. While the president is all but assured to take a victory lap Wednesday, Senate Republicans don’t want the State of the Union to turn into the type of speech he’d deliver at a campaign rally.

“My advice would be that in the State of the Union he should move on,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). “The president’s got a good record when you look at the economy and lower taxes and fewer regulations and higher incomes and I think he’d be well advised to focus on that and let the impeachment trial speak for itself.”

“We’re not done tomorrow and I don’t think it’s appropriate for him to bring it up,” added Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.). “He is his own person, obviously he can bring up things as he chooses to … but I’m not coming into that speech to be able to hear more about impeachment.”

The president has repeatedly tried to undermine the impeachment proceedings, either when speaking to reporters or on Twitter. Just on Monday, Trump reiterated the impeachment inquiry is a “hoax” and asked “where’s the whistleblower,” referring to the individual who triggered the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry by filing a complaint about the president’s call with his Ukrainian counterpart.

Trump was impeached in December on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden, and withholding almost $400 million in aid to the country.

Former President Bill Clinton also delivered a State of the Union address during the midst of his 1999 impeachment trial and famously didn’t bring up his ongoing trial. Richard Nixon, in his 1974 State of the Union address, asked Congress to end the Watergate investigations, saying “one year of Watergate is enough.” Nixon resigned months later after it became clear he’d be impeached and removed from office.

Senate Republicans advised Trump on Monday to focus his attention on other topics, like lowering the cost of prescription drugs, the economy, or even climate change, as well as outline his vision for a second term.

"We’ve got a great strong economy, our military is finally being rebuilt under this administration,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a member of GOP leadership. “There are a lot of really great things he should talk about — and stay away from maybe what the proceedings are. We’re not voting until Wednesday.”

But Senate Democrats aren’t holding their breath for a unifying message from the president and expect to get an earful about impeachment.

“I am almost certain he will” bring it up, said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) “Have you met the man … One of the core arguments is that he is utterly unrepentant, unlike President Nixon and President Clinton, who after their impeachments delivered formal apologies to the country and to the Congress.”

“Predicting what Donald Trump will say is a little bit like buying a lottery ticket,” added Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). “But I suspect he will talk about impeachment.”

Trump’s previous State of the Union addresses have made appeals to national unity and bipartisanship. But he’s also angered Democrats with his rhetoric. Last year’s speech left Democrats fuming after he asked for their help to build a border wall and called for a late-term abortion ban. He also urged House Democrats who had just taken the majority to skip “ridiculous partisan investigations.”

White House officials say Trump is viewing his state of the union speech as an official relaunch for his reelection bid. Last week, they said they did not expect Trump to mention impeachment and that he would instead focus on other issues like the economy or the trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, which the senate approved last month just before the start of the trial.

White House officials told reporters in a background briefing Friday that the speech would present “a vision of relentless optimism.”

Still, even Trump’s strongest Capitol Hill allies say that it’s impossible to predict what the president’s message will be until he actually delivers his speech.

“Everyone should just know that Trump will be Trump and that means we don’t know what he’s going to say,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.). “I don’t think that he needs to be pressured to be anything other than who he is. I’m not writing his speech. Whoever is knows that there’s a 50-50 chance he’ll read it as written.”


What impeachment, right?

The New York Times

State of the Union

Full Analysis

Fact Check

Key Highlights

Trump and Pelosi Exchange Snubs

Rush Limbaugh Honored

Updated 53 minutes ago

State of the Union Updates: Trump Adds Reality Show Flourishes to Address

On the eve of the final Senate votes in the impeachment trial, President Trump traded snubs with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and promoted a ‘Great American Comeback,’ pausing to award Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

By Peter Bake

President Trump declined to shake the hand of Speaker Nancy Pelosi before his State of the Union Address. The speaker then omitted the customary laudatory words from her introduction of him. After his address, she ripped up her copy of his speech.

Here’s what you need to know:

Mr. Trump dispensed with ‘carnage’ in favor of ‘comeback’ as he argued that he has revitalized America.

Returning to his roots, Trump peppered the address with reality show flourishes

Awaiting acquittal, Mr. Trump planned a low-key address, saving his views on impeachment for another speech.

Mr. Trump sought to show support for Venezuela’s opposition by inviting Juan Guaidó to the speech.

Rush Limbaugh was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Mr. Trump reveled in the Democratic dysfunction in Iowa, calling it ‘a fiasco that just plays right into us.’

Mr. Trump dispensed with ‘carnage’ in favor of ‘comeback’ as he argued that he has revitalized America.

With the November election just nine months away, President Trump used his speech to frame the choice as he sees it, claiming credit for what he called a “Great American Comeback” and revival of American spirit while defining the coming campaign against the Democrats as a battle to stop the rise of socialism in the United States.

Mr. Trump, who decried what he called “American carnage” when he was inaugurated in January 2017, described a different country on Tuesday night, saying the nation is one again making progress at home.

“In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny. We have totally rejected the downsizing,” he said. “We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago and we are never going back.”

The cited his tax cuts, deregulation, renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and a partial trade agreement with China, while arguing against Democratic plans to expand access to health care.

“To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know: We will never let socialism destroy American health care,” he said.

As Mr. Trump was calling for measures to lower the cost of prescription drugs, Democrats jumped to their feet, held up three fingers and chanted, “H.R. 3! H.R. 3!” They were referring to a bill the House passed last year to lower the cost of prescription drugs, which has languished in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Picking up another favorite theme, Mr. Trump reaffirmed his campaign to restrict the flow of new people into the country, assailing California, New York and other jurisdictions he calls “sanctuary cities” that limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities. He called for the enactment of legislation that would allow them to be sued by victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.

“The United States of America should be a sanctuary for law-abiding Americans, not criminal aliens,” he said, introducing a senior Border Patrol official and the brother of a man killed at a gas station.

Snubs: Trump declined to shake Pelosi’s hand. She omitted a ceremonial introduction and ripped up his speech.

It was a night of awkward encounters and pointed snubs. As he arrived at the rostrum, Mr. Trump turned to hand copies of his speech to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence but when Ms. Pelosi offered her hand to shake, he turned away without taking it. She shrugged.

Moments later, Ms. Pelosi announced Mr. Trump to the assembled lawmakers with the simple words, “Members of Congress, the president of the United States” — eschewing the more florid language that speakers, including her, have used in the past: “Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and the distinct honor of presenting to you the president of the United States.”

The snubbing continued right until Mr. Trump finished speaking, when Ms. Pelosi stood, an expression of vague disgust on her face, and tore up her copy of the speech — in full view of the television cameras, while Mr. Trump had his back turned.

Mr. Trump also came across another central figure in his impeachment drama on his way to the rostrum as he saw Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the Senate impeachment trial. The president paused to speak to the chief justice, to which the chief justice appeared to say “thank you” even as he kept a studiously neutral face.

And among the official escorts assigned to bring Mr. Trump into the chamber was Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, one of the seven House Democrats prosecuting the president in the Senate trial.

Republicans, by contrast, greeted Mr. Trump enthusiastically, chanting, “Four more years! Four more years!” as he took the rostrum, as if it were a campaign rally.

Mr. Trump returned their warmth, at one point acknowledging Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Republican leader who has ensured his acquittal in the impeachment trial. “Thank you, Mitch,” the president said.

Returning to his roots, Trump peppered the address with reality show flourishes

Ever the showman, Mr. Trump returned to his roots as a reality television star, peppering in flourishes and surprises meant to delight the viewing audience. Some of the moves seemed cribbed straight from daytime television: bringing home a soldier from Afghanistan and reuniting him with his family, awarding a nine-year-old girl with a scholarship, and awarding the conservative radio icon Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom — complete with a ceremony in the First Lady’s box.

Mr. Trump appeared to relish his role as the ringmaster in House Democrats’ own turf, and the antics seemingly thrilled Republicans in the chamber, who cheered Mr. Limbaugh — who was recently diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer — with cries of “Rush! Rush! Rush!”

But some Democrats walked away in disgust.

“It’s like watching professional wrestling,” Representative Tim Ryan of Massachusetts wrote on Twitter. “It’s all fake.
— Catie Edmondson

Awaiting acquittal, Mr. Trump planned a low-key address, saving his views on impeachment for another speech.

Mr. Trump’s appearance in the same House chamber where he was impeached nearly seven weeks ago marked a surreal moment in Washington as he addresses many of the same lawmakers still trying to remove him from office. Despite the fireworks, Mr. Trump all but ignored the battle over the future of his presidency, at least out loud. He told network anchors earlier in the day that he plans to save his thoughts on the matter for a separate speech he wants to give after the final vote on Wednesday, when the Senate is poised to acquit him.

The unusual confluence of the president’s annual speech with an impeachment trial was not a first. President Bill Clinton likewise delivered his State of the Union address in 1999 in the midst of a Senate impeachment trial that later acquitted him. Mr. Clinton made no mention of the trial either.

Mr. Trump sought to show support for Venezuela’s opposition by inviting Juan Guaidó to the speech.

For weeks, the Trump administration has fought speculation that it was no longer backing Juan Guaidó, the leader of Venezuelan’s opposition movement, frustrated that he has yet to push President Nicolas Maduro from power. On Tuesday, the White House gave Mr. Guaidó its most visible show of support yet: a seat in Mr. Trump’s guest box for the State of the Union address.

“Please take this message back that all Americans are united with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom,” Mr. Trump said, turning to face Mr. Guaidó as Ms. Pelosi and other Democrats joined Republicans in a standing ovation. “Socialism destroys nations. But always remember, freedom unifies the soul.”

Mr. Guaidó left Venezuela last month, defying a travel ban imposed by Mr. Maduro’s disputed government, to round up international support. More than a year ago, as president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Mr. Guaidó declared that because Mr. Maduro’s re-election in 2018 was under dispute, he could not claim power. Instead, under the Venezuelan constitution, Mr. Guaidó, declared himself the country’s interim leader.

More than 50 countries, including the United States, recognize Mr. Guaidó as the rightful president of Venezuela. The Trump administration has imposed dozens of economic sanctions against Mr. Maduro and his government to help Mr. Guaidó push him from office.

Another surprise guest in the first lady’s box, seated next to Melania Trump, was Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk show host who announced on Monday that he has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.

Mr. Limbaugh has been a strong supporter of Mr. Trump, even appearing with him at a campaign rally during last year’s midterm election, and the president offered a tribute to him in his speech.

“Thank you for your decades of tireless devotion to our country,” Mr. Trump said. “And Rush, in recognition of all that you have done for our nation, the millions of people a day that you speak to and that you inspire, and all of the incredible work that you have done for charity, I am proud to announce tonight that you will be receiving our country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

Mr. Limbaugh looked surprised and emotional, his mouth hanging open as he passed his hands across his face. In an unusual break from tradition, Melania Trump then stood and fastened the medal around his neck. Mr. Limbaugh mouthed “thank you” while he flashed a thumbs up toward the floor. Ms. Pelosi and other Democrats, who have been some of Mr. Limbaugh’s regular targets and fiercest critics, did not stand.

Also in the box were Carl and Marsha Mueller, who held up a picture of their daughter, Kayla, a humanitarian aid worker kidnapped, tortured and killed by the Islamic State. Sitting nearby were Kelli and Gage Hake, the wife and 13-year-old son of Staff Sgt. Chris Hake, a soldier killed in 2008 by a roadside bomb in Iraq blamed on Qassim Suleimani, the Iranian general killed by a drone strike ordered by Mr. Trump.

Present as well were Charles McGee, one of the last surviving of the Tuskegee airmen, along with his great-grandson, Iain Lanphier, who wants to join the Space Force that Mr. Trump has just created.

Even before heading in his motorcade to the Capitol for the big speech, Mr. Trump was enjoying the day, reveling in the dysfunction of the Iowa Democratic caucuses and relishing new polling that showed his public approval at the highest point of his presidency.

The long-delayed counting of the opening round of the Democratic presidential nomination race gave Mr. Trump ammunition for his efforts to sow dissension among Democrats by claiming, without proof, that the party establishment was trying to rig the race against Senator Bernie Sanders, the self-proclaimed socialist he would like to face in the fall.

“It’s a fiasco that just plays right into us,” Mr. Trump told the network anchors, according to people in the room.

Mr. Trump said he did not know who would win the Democratic nomination but said that Mr. Sanders is “nastier and smarter” than the other candidates and expressed amazement that former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., was doing so well. Mr. Pence, a former governor of Indiana, then interjected that South Bend was a troubled city.

The president noted that he was looking forward to another Democrat-on-Democrat showdown, predicting that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the first-term liberal firebrand from New York, would take on Senator Chuck Schumer, the party leader in the Senate, in a primary in 2022. “She will kick his ass,” Mr. Trump predicted.

After Trump finished, two Democrats responded, criticizing his policies and rhetoric about immigrants.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan delivered the Democratic response after President Trump’s State of the Union address.Credit…Image by Al Goldis/Associated Press

When Mr. Trump finished speaking, Democrats offered their rebuttal, featuring a midwestern governor from a state where the fall presidential contest will likely be waged most intensely and a Latina congresswoman who has taken him to task on immigration.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, who won her office in 2018 with a convincing 10-point victory over Mr. Trump’s favored candidate in a state that he had won in 2016, represents what party leaders consider the archetype for a successful candidate in the Trump era, a “fix the damn roads” pragmatist, to use her own words, who can work with Republicans on bread-and-butter issues.

She took on Mr. Trump’s rosy view of the economy, saying: “It doesn’t matter what the president says about the stock market. What matters is that millions of people struggle to get by or don’t have enough money at the end of the month after paying for transportation, student loans or prescription drugs.”

To deliver the party’s Spanish-language response, Democratic leaders tapped Representative Veronica Escobar of Texas, who declined to join Mr. Trump when he visited El Paso last August after a mass shooting by a gunman warning of a “Hispanic invasion.”

In her own remarks, Ms. Escobar said the shooter parroted some of the rhetoric used by the president. “Just before he began his killing spree, he posted his views online and used hateful language like the very words used by President Trump to describe immigrants and Latinos,” she said.

Peter Baker is the chief White House correspondent and has covered the last four presidents for The Times and The Washington Post. He also is the author of five books, most recently “Impeachment: An American Histo

Trump Claims End of ‘American Decline’ While Avoiding Mention of Impeachment

Assured of Acquittal, Trump Makes Case for a Second Term

Feb. 5, 2020

Iowa Democrats Release Partial Caucus Results, but No Winner Yet

Feb. 4, 2020

© 2020 The New York Times Company


Claims-true and false


State of the Union fact check: What’s true and what’s false in Trump’s address

Here’s what the president got right, wrong and in between in his third such address to Congress.

President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News; AFP via Getty Images

Feb. 4, 2020, 9:32 PM EST

President Donald Trump delivered his third State of the Union address Tuesday, mixing fact with falsehood in his address to the nation.

The president said the state of the union was “stronger than ever before,” offering a deeply partisan speech that celebrated the economy and his recent trade deals while warning against Democrats’ election promises to rework the health care system.

NBC News fact-checked his address in real time.

Claim 1

“Thanks to our bold regulatory reduction campaign, the United States has become the Number 1 producer of oil and natural gas in the world, by far,” Trump said, according to an excerpt of the speech released in advance.

The facts: Trump is taking undue credit here. The U.S. has been the largest natural gas and oil producer since 2011 and 2014, respectively, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the agency that tracks this information. Trump took office in 2017.

Claim 2

“After losing 60,000 factories under the previous two administrations, America has now gained 12,000 new factories under my administration,” Trump said, according to the remarks prepared for delivery.

The facts: Trump is mostly right, although his numbers are slightly off. The U.S. lost 53,659 factories during the two previous administrations, not 60,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. But he’s correct in saying the trend has reversed under his administration. From 2017 to the second quarter of last year, the U.S. added 12,074 factories, according to the most recently available data from the BLS.

Claim 3

“Since my election, we have created 7 million new jobs, 5 million more than government experts projected during the previous administration,” Trump said.

The facts: This number is misleading. Trump is taking credit for months of job gains that occurred during the administration of President Barack Obama. The economy, however, doesn’t move that quickly. Since Trump took office, the country has added 6.7 million job in 36 months. He also suggests that this is unprecedented success that no one could have predicted, but it’s not: In the 36 months before Trump took office, 8.2 million jobs were created during the Obama administration.

Claim 4

“If we had not reversed the failed economic policies of the previous administration, the world would not now be witnessing this great economic success,” Trump said.

The facts: Economists believe the current period of economic growth began during the Obama administration. Some say Trump’s tax cuts might have boosted it, but the economy was not on the decline when Trump took office.

Claim 5

“Unemployment rates for African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans has reached the lowest levels in history,” Trump said.

The facts: This is true. Unemployment rates for each group reached the lowest levels on record, although all three have since ticked up slightly.

Claim 6:

“I’ve also made an ironclad pledge to American families: We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions,” Trump said.

The facts: This is false. We’ve fact-checked this claim before, because Trump has been saying it for years. But the evidence doesn’t back him up: The Trump administration backed a lawsuit claiming that the Affordable Care Act’s protections for pre-existing conditions are illegal, and the White House has not proposed alternative legislation that would offer those with pre-existing conditions the same protections that Obamacare offers.

Claim 7:

“And I was pleased to announce last year that for the first time in 51 years, the cost of prescription drugs actually went down,” Trump said.

The facts: This is false. Prescription drugs costs are on the rise, particularly for name-brand drugs, according to an Associated Press analysis.

Claim 8:

“Before I took office, health insurance premiums had more than doubled in just five years. I moved quickly to provide affordable alternatives. Our new plans are up to 60 percent less expensive and better,” Trump said.

The facts: This is half-true. Health insurance premiums did, indeed, double in five years, according to a government report, and the plans Trump is talking about can be much, much cheaper. But they are cheap for a reason: They cover significantly less care and come with a slew of risks.

Claim 9:

“In sanctuary cities, local officials order police to release dangerous criminal aliens to prey upon the public instead of handing them over to ICE to be safely removed,” Trump said.

This is false. “Sanctuary cities” typically refers to cities that do not cooperate with detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which are requests for sheriffs and police officers to detain undocumented immigrants so ICE can arrest them later. But sanctuary cities still enforce their own — and other jurisdictions’ — criminal laws, and some police officers say these sanctuary policies actually help them fight crime.

Jane C. Timm

Jane C. Timm is a political reporter for NBC News, fact checking elections and covering voting rights.



Pelosi unloads on Trump in private meeting after SOTU standoff
“He shredded the truth, so I shredded his speech,” Pelosi told House Democrats in a closed-door meeting.

Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi heads to meet with fellow Democrats on the morning after a divisive State of the Union address.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped into President Donald Trump in a private meeting with Democrats Wednesday, just hours after the two jousted in a silent sparring match during his State of the Union address.

Pelosi, addressing her caucus Wednesday morning, said she felt “liberated” after defiantly ripping up Trump’s speech for the world to see, tearing up each page as she stood behind the president after he concluded his annual address.

“He shredded the truth, so I shredded his speech,” Pelosi told House Democrats, according to multiple sources in the room. “What we heard last night was a disgrace.”

Democrats gave Pelosi a standing ovation after she concluded her remarks, coming just hours before the Senate will vote to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial. The California Democrat then went on to salute all seven House impeachment managers by name, according to attendees.

“She said that he disgraced the House of Representatives by using it as a backdrop for a reality show,” Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said leaving the meeting.

Pelosi’s remarks follow the latest turn in the long-running feud between the two party leaders, which played out during Trump’s annual address in front of the Congress and millions of viewers.

Before Trump even started the hyper-partisan speech — which frequently resembled one of his campaign rallies — the two got off on a sour note when the president seemingly snubbed Pelosi by refusing to shake her hand.

For the next 80 minutes, Trump delivered a speech that included a highlight reel of his presidency with a few reality show twists thrown in. The move enthralled Republicans, who lavished Trump with praise and disgusted Democrats, who hissed and booed, later calling Trump’s speech a disgrace.

Pelosi’s dramatic gesture — tearing up the speech on national television — was in some ways uncharacteristic for the speaker, who is known for being publicly restrained and has urged her members to respect the office of the presidency.

But it’s also an indication that Pelosi has lost patience with Trump post-impeachment, with the president unwilling to acknowledge any wrongdoing even as some Republicans condemn his behavior.

Speaking to the caucus, some Democrats said Pelosi appeared distraught and frustrated by Trump’s speech.

Pelosi specifically called out Trump’s decision to award the divisive conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the middle of the speech.

“He dishonored the State of the Union as an institutional practice,” said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.). “It was kind of outright pandering to his base. It was just a disgraceful display.”

House Republican leaders were quick to condemn Pelosi — while offering no criticism of Trump’s handshake snub — calling her late-night response a petty tantrum. Trump himself weighed in in his own way, rapidly retweeting more than a dozen people criticizing Pelosi’s actions, many with the hashtag “PelosiTantrum” on Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, the speaker’s top lieutenants were quick to come to her defense.

“As far as I’m concerned, a shredder wasn’t available, so she did what she needed to do,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told reporters after the caucus meeting.

“When someone won’t even shake the hand of the speaker of the House, it tells you where their priorities lie,” added Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clark (D-Mass.)

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Pelosi unloads on Trump in private meeting after SOTU standoff


The New York Times

The Trump Impeachmen

Updated 3 minutes ago

Impeachment Live Updates: Senate Acquits Trump, Ending Historic Trial

President Trump was cleared of both impeachment charges. Only Mitt Romney crossed party lines, the lone Republican who voted to convict and remove the president from office.


The impeachment trial is over.

In a pair of historic votes, 52 to 48 and 53 to 47, senators acquitted President Trump of two charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.Credit…Image by Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The Senate acquitted President Trump on Wednesday of charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress, as Republicans turned back an election-year attempt by House Democrats to remove him from office for pressuring a foreign power to incriminate his political rivals.

The tally for conviction fell far below the 67-vote threshold necessary for removal and neither article of impeachment garnered even a simple majority. The first article, abuse of power, was rejected 48 to 52, and the second, obstruction of Congress, was defeated 47 to 53. Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, was the only member to break with his party, voting to remove Mr. Trump from office.

The votes, ending the third presidential impeachment trial in American history, were a resounding victory for Mr. Trump after five months of blaring scandal over Ukraine that embroiled Washington and threatened his presidency. But both sides agreed that the final judgment on Mr. Trump will be rendered by voters when they cast ballots in just nine months.

Mr. Trump’s campaign quickly declared that he had been “totally vindicated” and would win in November. “Since the president’s campaign only got bigger and stronger as a result of this nonsense,” said Brad Parscale, his campaign manager, “this impeachment hoax will go down as the worst miscalculation in American political history.”

Romney votes to convict Trump of abuse of power, the only Republican to support removing the president.

During a statement to his colleagues, Senator Mitt Romney said he would vote to convict President Trump of abuse of power, becoming the first Republican to break party ranks.Credit…Image by Senate Television, via Associated Press

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah voted to convict President Trump on one of the two impeachment charges, making him the only Republican to support removing Mr. Trump from office.

Mr. Romney said in an interview that he would vote against the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress, arguing that House Democrats had failed to exhaust their legal options for securing testimony and other evidence.

But he said that Democrats had proven their first charge, that the president had misused his office in a bid to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for political reasons.

Speaking slowly and at times haltingly from the Senate floor before the vote, Mr. Romney, who appeared to choke up at the beginning of his speech, said that his decision was made out of an “inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it.” He said Mr. Trump was “guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.”

Notwithstanding Mr. Romney’s position, the Senate acquit Mr. Trump of both impeachment charges. But the defection of Mr. Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, is a dramatic capstone on the evolution of a party that has thoroughly succumbed to the vise-grip of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Romney, who has been critical of Mr. Trump at various points since 2016, said he was acutely aware that he would suffer serious political ramifications for his decision, particularly in light of the strict loyalty the president has come to expect from elected officials of his own party. No House Republican voted to impeach Mr. Trump in December. (Representative Justin Amash, a former Republican of Michigan who fled the party over his differences with Mr. Trump, voted in favor of both articles.)

“I recognize there is going to be enormous consequences for having reached this conclusion,” Mr. Romney said. “Unimaginable” is how he described what might be in store for him.

The pushback from Mr. Trump’s camp started quickly. “Mitt Romney is forever bitter that he will never be POTUS. He was too weak to beat the Democrats then so he’s joining them now. He’s now officially a member of the resistance & should be expelled from the @GOP,” Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, wrote on Twitter.
— Mark Leibovich

Senator Doug Jones, Democrat of Alabama, is facing a tough re-election challenge.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Endangered Senate Democrats stick with their party and vote for conviction.

Three Senate Democrats from conservative-leaning states who had been targeted by the White House as possible defectors voted to convict Mr. Trump, depriving the president of the chance to claim a bipartisan exoneration despite the political risk.

Senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Doug Jones of Alabama all announced their decisions in the final hours before the vote ending the Senate impeachment trial, ensuring that all 47 Democrats would stick together in supporting the removal of Mr. Trump from office.

“After many sleepless nights, I have reluctantly concluded that the evidence is sufficient to convict the president for both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress,” Mr. Jones, who is facing re-election in a state that Mr. Trump won in 2016 by nearly 28 percentage points, said in a statement.

Mr. Manchin, whose state went for Mr. Trump with 70 percent three years ago, had urged a non-binding, bipartisan censure, only to be ignored, and told reporters that he struggled deeply over his decision. “It’s a tough one guys,” he said before announcing his decision. “It’s a tough one.”

Ms. Sinema, a freshman who was one of the few Democrats to enthusiastically jump to her feet to applaud Mr. Trump at points during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, said that in the end she could not condone Mr. Trump’s use of his office to leverage domestic political assistance from a foreign power.

“While White House attorneys claim this behavior is not serious,” she said in a statement, “it is dangerous to the fundamental principles of American democracy to use the power of the federal government for personal or political gain.”

House Democrats are ‘likely’ to subpoena John Bolton.

“When you have a lawless president, you have to bring that to the fore, you have to spotlight that,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Just because it is over does not mean it is actually be over. Hours before the Senate ended President Trump’s trial, a senior House Democrat indicated that he would continue the investigation on his side of the Capitol, starting with a subpoena for John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told reporters that he would “likely” subpoena Mr. Bolton, who has confirmed in an unpublished book that Mr. Trump conditioned security aid on Ukraine’s willingness to investigate the president’s Democratic rivals, the central allegation in the trial.

“I think it’s likely, yes,” said Mr. Nadler, one of the seven House managers prosecuting the charges against Mr. Trump. “When you have a lawless president, you have to bring that to the fore, you have to spotlight that, you have to protect the Constitution despite the political consequences.”

The House asked Mr. Bolton to testify before the December impeachment vote, but he did not agree and Democrats opted not to subpoena him because it could result in a lengthy court fight. When the articles of impeachment reached the Senate, however, Mr. Bolton publicly said he would comply with a Senate subpoena and testify if called. But Senate Republicans rushed to block any new evidence from being considered, and succeeded last week in holding together enough votes to beat back a bid by Democrats to seek new testimony and documents.

It was not clear whether Mr. Bolton would be willing to comply with a subpoena without a court fight if issued by the House outside the context of an impeachment trial. A spokeswoman for Mr. Bolton had no comment on Wednesday. Even if he did, Mr. Trump could assert executive privilege to try to block his testimony, provoking the legal battle Democrats hoped to avoid.

Trump avoided impeachment in his State of the Union address, but he may have his say after the votes.

President Trump delivered the State of the Union address in the Capitol on Tuesday.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Delivering an address from the rostrum of the House of Representatives that frequently sounded like a campaign stump speech, Mr. Trump nonetheless steered clear during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night of mentioning his impeachment trial.

That was a departure from last year, when Mr. Trump upbraided the House for what he called “ridiculous partisan investigations” and declared: “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.”

It is not clear if the restraint will hold on Wednesday, after the Senate’s votes to acquit him. Mr. Trump told television anchors at a lunch on Tuesday at the White House that he hoped to give a second set of remarks after the impeachment saga had ended.

Mr. Trump would like to hold a news conference or give a short statement. But most of his advisers have been urging him against it, wanting to ease pressure on senators for whom the vote was politically difficult.

‘It’s my hope we’ve finally found bottom.’ Senators lament a broken institution

Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, said in a speech on the Senate floor that the chamber “should be ashamed by the rank partisanship that has been on display here.”Credit…Jason Andrew for The New York Times

Normally a staid body, the Senate for the past two weeks has been roiled day after day by the impeachment trial, leaving several senators dejected and dug into their partisan corners.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, said in a speech on the Senate floor that the chamber “should be ashamed by the rank partisanship that has been on display here,” adding later: “It’s my hope that we’ve finally found bottom here.” She said she planned to acquit Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump’s likely acquittal has also left Democrats embittered about the future of the institution in which they serve. Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, said that while he wasn’t surprised by Mr. Trump’s abuse of power, he was surprised by the Senate’s “capitulation” to the president.

“Unchallenged evil spreads like a virus,” Mr. Kaine said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “We have allowed a toxic President to infect the Senate and warp its behavior.”

So where does that leave the Senate? Other senators sounded a more optimistic note.

“I think we heal in part by surprising the people and coming out from our partisan corners and getting stuff done,” Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, said, citing addressing the opioid crisis and crumbling infrastructure as examples. “Stuff that they care about that affects the families we were sent here to represent.”

Peter Baker is the chief White House correspondent and has covered the last four presidents

Trump Claims End of ‘American Decline’ While Avoiding Mention of Impeachment

Feb. 5, 2020

Assured of Acquittal, Trump Makes Case for a Second Term

© 2020 The New York Times Company



The New York Times


In Private, Republicans Admit They Acquitted Trump Out of Fear

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

By Sherrod Brown

Mr. Brown is a Democratic senator from Ohio.

Feb. 5, 2020

Fear of President Trump guides many Republicans in Congress. Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Not guilty. Not guilty.

In the United States Senate, like in many spheres of life, fear does the business.

Think back to the fall of 2002, just a few weeks before that year’s crucial midterm elections, when the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq was up for a vote. A year after the 9/11 attacks, hundreds of members of the House and the Senate were about to face the voters of a country still traumatized by terrorism.

Senator Patty Murray, a thoughtful Democrat from Washington State, still remembers “the fear that dominated the Senate leading up to the Iraq war.”

“You could feel it then,” she told me, “and you can feel that fear now” — chiefly among Senate Republicans.

For those of us who, from the start, questioned the wisdom of the Iraq war, our sense of isolation surely wasn’t much different from the loneliness felt in the 1950s by Senator Herbert Lehman of New York, who confronted Joe McCarthy’s demagogy only to be abandoned by so many of his colleagues. Nor was it so different from what Senator George McGovern must have felt when he announced his early opposition to the Vietnam War and was then labeled a traitor by many inside and outside of Congress.

Read another view by Ohio’s other senator, Rob Portman

Opinion | Rob Portman

Why I’m Voting to Acquit President Trump

Feb. 5, 2020

History has indeed taught us that when it comes to the instincts that drive us, fear has no rival. As the lead House impeachment manager, Representative Adam Schiff, has noted, Robert Kennedy spoke of how “moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle.”

Playing on that fear, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, sought a quick impeachment trial for President Trump with as little attention to it as possible. Reporters, who usually roam the Capitol freely, have been cordoned off like cattle in select areas. Mr. McConnell ordered limited camera views in the Senate chamber so only presenters — not absent senators — could be spotted.

And barely a peep from Republican lawmakers.

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

Fear has a way of bending us.

Late in the evening on day four of the trial I saw it, just 10 feet across the aisle from my seat at Desk 88, when Mr. Schiff told the Senate: “CBS News reported last night that a Trump confidant said that Republican senators were warned, ‘Vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.’” The response from Republicans was immediate and furious. Several groaned and protested and muttered, “Not true.” But pike or no pike, Mr. Schiff had clearly struck a nerve. (In the words of Lizzo: truth hurts.)

Of course, the Republican senators who have covered for Mr. Trump love what he delivers for them. But Vice President Mike Pence would give them the same judges, the same tax cuts, the same attacks on workers’ rights and the environment. So that’s not really the reason for their united chorus of “not guilty.”

For the stay-in-office-at-all-cost representatives and senators, fear is the motivator. They are afraid that Mr. Trump might give them a nickname like “Low Energy Jeb” and “Lyin’ Ted,” or that he might tweet about their disloyalty. Or — worst of all — that he might come to their state to campaign against them in the Republican primary. They worry:

“Will the hosts on Fox attack me?”

“Will the mouthpieces on talk radio go after me?”

“Will the Twitter trolls turn their followers against me?”

My colleagues know they all just might. There’s an old Russian proverb: The tallest blade of grass is the first cut by the scythe. In private, many of my colleagues agree that the president is reckless and unfit. They admit his lies. And they acknowledge what he did was wrong. They know this president has done things Richard Nixon never did. And they know that more damning evidence is likely to come out.

So watching the mental contortions they perform to justify their votes is painful to behold: They claim that calling witnesses would have meant a never-ending trial. They tell us they’ve made up their minds, so why would we need new evidence? They say to convict this president now would lead to the impeachment of every future president — as if every president will try to sell our national security to the highest bidder.

I have asked some of them, “If the Senate votes to acquit, what will you do to keep this president from getting worse?” Their responses have been shrugs and sheepish looks.

They stop short of explicitly saying that they are afraid. We all want to think that we always stand up for right and fight against wrong. But history does not look kindly on politicians who cannot fathom a fate worse than losing an upcoming election. They might claim fealty to their cause — those tax cuts — but often it’s a simple attachment to power that keeps them captured.

As Senator Murray said on the Senate floor in 2002, “We can act out of fear” or “we can stick to our principles.” Unfortunately, in this Senate, fear has had its way. In November, the American people will have theirs.

Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown), a Democrat, is the senior United States senator from Ohio and is the author of “Desk 88: Eight Progressive Senators Who Changed America.”

What Will Finally Defeat Donald Trump?

© 2020 The New York Times Company

The New York Times


What Will Finally Defeat Donald Trump?

He can do whatever it takes to win re-election, and the Republican Party will have his back.

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

Feb. 5, 2020

President Trump delivered the State of the Union address on Tuesday.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times


On Tuesday night, President Trump delivered the most harshly partisan State of the Union speech in memory.

He was not wrong about everything, as when he boasted about the overall strength of the economy or praised the selflessness of American troops. But when he was wrong, as he often was, he was poisonously wrong. He grotesquely caricatured the criminality of undocumented immigrants, rewrote the history of his assaults on Americans’ health care and drastically inflated the number of jobs expected to be created by the new trade bill.

Worse than the distortions and deceptions, which Americans have come to expect from this president, Mr. Trump hijacked the House chamber, turning what should be a unifying moment, or at least an attempt at a unifying moment, into a campaign rally, corrupting the role presidents have played there as representing the whole nation.

Republicans put the Senate chamber to similarly political use on Wednesday. With the lonely exception of Mitt Romney, who voted to convict Mr. Trump of abuse of power, all Republican senators voted to acquit Mr. Trump of extorting a foreign government in an effort to rig the 2020 election, and then obstructing Congress’s efforts to investigate him — the charges contained in the two articles of impeachment approved by the House of Representatives in December.

By the end, many Republicans had conceded that Mr. Trump did the things he was accused of. Some agreed that they were “improper,” “inappropriate” or even “wrong.” Yet rather than try to get to the bottom of his behavior, they joined the White House in covering up as much about it as they could.

Reasonable Americans may have concluded — after a full airing of the documents the White House has bottled up, of the witnesses it has smothered — that removal from office was too extreme a punishment. But the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, turned out to have too little regard for Mr. Trump’s ethics, or for the American people’s sense of justice, or perhaps both, to take that chance.

Under Mr. McConnell’s guidance, the impeachment trial in the Senate was a joke at the Constitution’s expense. Anyone hoping for a demonstration of responsible governance or the vindication of the separation of powers could only be dismayed.

It did illustrate, however, how beholden Republicans are to Mr. Trump and his destructive approach to leadership. In that sense, the trial provided an important service to Americans, clarifying the stakes in the coming election.

Against all evidence to the contrary, some Republicans claim Mr. Trump has been chastened by his impeachment. He will be “much more cautious,” said Senator Susan Collins, adding that she hopes the president has “learned from this.”

Indeed he has, but not the lessons that Ms. Collins seemed to think. Listen to Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer and Ukraine whisperer. “Absolutely; 100 percent,” Mr. Giuliani told NPR when asked whether Mr. Trump would continue to push for more foreign “investigations” into Joe Biden, a Democratic front-runner. “I would have no problem with him doing it. In fact, I’d have a problem with him not doing it.”

Even before the acquittal, the State of the Union address made clear that Mr. Trump — enabled, as in his business life, by his exceptional shamelessness — intends to deploy every power available to a president in pursuit of his re-election. If there remained any doubts on that score, they were dispelled when Melania Trump hung the Presidential Medal of Freedom around Rush Limbaugh’s neck.

The speech also demonstrated that Mr. Trump, unlike the Democratic Party, has a simple, powerful message: In three short years, he has brought America back from the disaster he claimed it was in and set it on a path to a glorious new future. From the “American carnage” he spoke of in his Inaugural Address, now, “America’s future is blazing bright.”

Given the dishonesty, if not downright absurdity, of some passages in the speech, it was perhaps a human reaction on the part of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to tear it to shreds. It was still disappointing to see her stoop to the kind of stunt the president himself would pull, and, as she certainly knows as well as anyone, a gesture like that won’t defeat the president’s argument. So what will?

Not the incoherent, if not to say chaotic, display the Democratic Party has mustered to date. A series of overcrowded debates has failed to clarify the choices confronting voters. The decision to stage the first vote in monochromatic Iowa was a bad idea even before the Iowa Democratic Party had a meltdown on live television. A recent poll found that 45 percent of the supporters of the leading progressive candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, said they weren’t sure they’d vote for any other Democratic nominee. Meanwhile, over in the party’s centrist camp, Michael Bloomberg appears to be trying to buy the nomination.

Given the stakes, anxiety is rightly running high. Yes, the Democratic voters can and should narrow the field over the next several weeks. But the fact that they’ll eventually pick a nominee isn’t enough. It matters how they get there. The 2016 election is a cautionary tale — too many Democrats felt so little allegiance to the nominee that they chose to vote for a third-party candidate, or not to vote at all. The task ahead for party leaders is ensuring that voters appreciate that the best chance to beat Mr. Trump is a unity of effort from political tribes that share far more in common than what divides them.

That’s important, because the November election is a critical opportunity to defend the Republic through the straightforward expedient of voting Mr. Trump from office and thereby issuing an essential rebuke to the leaders of today’s Republican Party. Republican officials in Washington and across the country have for years refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of political opponents, and have thus justified taking any and all measures to keep them out of power, or to nullify their power when they hold it.

The G.O.P.’s internal corrosion also made it ripe for takeover by an authoritarian like Mr. Trump, under whom it is morphing into a cult of personality. Don’t take it from us; take it from conscientious conservatives and former Republicans, including top advisers to the last two Republican presidential nominees before Mr. Trump. Take it from Joe Walsh, the former representative from Illinois and conservative radio talk-show host who is running in the Republican primary. On Twitter, Mr. Walsh described telling a crowd of thousands of Iowa Republicans that Americans deserve a president who is decent, who tells the truth and who doesn’t care only about himself. The crowd booed.

But the clearest measure of how far the Republican Party has strayed from good governance may be Mr. Romney’s explanation for his vote — the first time in history that a senator has voted to convict a president of his own party. Mr. Trump’s behavior in relation to Ukraine “was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security, and our fundamental values,” Mr. Romney said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.”

Given these facts, sticking with the other Republicans and voting to acquit “would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.” Just eight years ago, Mr. Romney was the Republican nominee for president; today, his vote will cast him as a pariah.

This election is about more, of course, than restoring sanity to the Republican Party, essential as that is. Mr. Trump’s speech was a fantasy. America is not thriving under his leadership. Far from “stronger than ever before,” the union is faltering under his divisive, corrupting politics. The chants of “four more years” that resounded from only one side of the House chamber on Tuesday night should ring as an alarm for all Americans who want their children to live in an even greater nation.

Sept. 27, 2019

In Private, Republicans Admit They Acquitted Trump Out of Fear

They Acquitted Trump. Make Them Pay!

Feb. 5, 2020

Think Trump’s Learned a Lesson? Hahahaha

© 2020 The New York Times Company

U.S. senator recall bill picks up steam in Utah after Mitt Romney votes to convict Trum

SALT LAKE CITY — As news of Sen. Mitt Romney’s vote to convict President Donald Trump spread, interest in a Utah lawmaker’s bill to allow Utahns to recall an elected U.S. senator began to catch fire at the state Capitol.

Rep. Tim Quinn, R-Heber City, said Wednesday he received more than 100 phone calls and 250 emails in just over an hour that were “100% positive to the bill.”

Though Quinn said the proposal was in the works before impeachment and is not about Romney, he picked up a half dozen House co-sponsors after Romney announced on the U.S. Senate floor that he would vote to find Trump guilty of abuse of power.

“Regardless of how you feel about the bill, regardless about how you feel about either one of our senators, I recognize this is a tough bill to be asked to vote on,” Quinn said.

Quinn wouldn’t say whether he believes Romney should be recalled, but said there ought to be a way for residents to remove a senator who they believe isn’t doing what he was elected to do.

Romney’s vote to convict and what a Christian conscience demands

Romney said it’s hard to know if his vote will hurt his chances for reelection, which he won’t be up for until 2024. He said he’s only talked to his immediate staff about possible consequences and doesn’t have a plan to deal with the fallout at this point.

“I don’t know what might happen in the Utah Legislature,” he said, acknowledging he is aware of Quinn’s recall bill. “I will accept whatever consequence is sent my way and recognize that is part of the job. People don’t expect me to be a shrinking violet.”

Romney isn’t naive to the fact that his vote will have serious political and personal consequences in Washington and in Utah.

“I know there’s going to be a lot of blowback from leaders in my party here. I presume I’ll receive the same reaction from leaders in my party in Utah,” Romney, R-Utah, told reporters in a conference call after his floor speech. “Of course, the animosity that might be leveled from people in the street is going to be real as well.”

Utahns reacted strongly on social media, including an Instagram post of a photo of a smiling Romney with “undocumented” across the bottom, and declarations on Facebook claiming embarrassment and anger over the vote.

But there was also support for the senator in the Beehive State. With cheers of “Thank you, Mitt,” about 50 demonstrators braved snowy weather to gather in downtown Salt Lake City at the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building in praise of Romney’s vote.

Sue Corth and others cheer Sen. Mitt Romney’s vote to convict President Donald Trump on one of the articles of impeachment during a rally outside of the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. Romney’s Utah office is located in the building.Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

People cheer Sen. Mitt Romney’s vote to convict President Donald Trump on one of the articles of impeachment during a rally outside of the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. Romney’s Utah office is located in the building.Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

“Mitt used to have a representation as kind of a guy without much spine. I think today he proved his spine, and it is made of steel,” said Joanne Slotnik, with Salt Lake Indivisible. “He is a true American, and it doesn’t matter whether he’s a Republican or a Democrat or anything else. We support him.”

“All eyes are on Utah tonight,” Slotnik added.

Laura Dupuy, of Salt Lake City, cheered as she held a white sign that said “We love Mitt.” She fought tears as she reflected on Romney’s vote, which she said made her proud to live in Utah.

“I never in a million years thought I’d be making a sign like this, but I just have to show my love,” said Dupuy, a 67-year-old Democrat and the retired executive director of the nonprofit Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy. “To have one Republican stand up for the integrity of our Constitution and our country, it’s a combination of joy, but also deep despair and sadness, that we’ve become so partisan.”

Romney said Wednesday he expects “abuse” from Trump and his supporters, including talking about him at political rallies.

By Wednesday evening, Trump had tweeted a minutelong video showing clips of ads depicting Romney as a “Democrat secret asset,” his loss to Barack Obama in 2012 and Trump’s own victory.

The Utah Republican Party Chairman Derek Brown rebuked Romney, saying, “We as a party strongly disagree with the vote cast today by Senator Romney, and firmly stand behind our President.”

Utah House Majority Leader Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, described GOP lawmakers’ reaction to Romney’s vote as a “mixed bag.”

Gibson wouldn’t say whether he personally believes Romney should be recalled were Quinn’s bill to pass.

“Listen, he’s my senator. He was elected by the state of Utah. He has a six-year term,” he said. “Should he be recalled? I’m not going to answer should he be recalled. Am I frustrated with him? Yes.”

Romney’s vote will likely anger conservative Republicans, while moderate Utah Republicans could stand by Romney’s decision. To Gibson, however, he doesn’t see Romney’s vote as possibly carving a deep divide between Utah’s GOP.

“I don’t know if this will create any more of a divide that what’s already there,” Gibson said, noting that while Utah Republicans are generally united on fiscal issues, conservatives and moderates generally clash more over social issues.

Senate Majority Whip Dan Hemmert, R-Orem, said “it’s so hard to know” whether Romney will pay a political price for his vote long term.

“Immediately, yeah, he’s going to rile up a bunch of people, but he’s not up for reelection for four more years, so the world will be very different in four years,” he said.

Asked if Romney’s decision would affect other Utah Republicans, Hemmert, who ran briefly for the 4th District seat held by Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams, said he wasn’t sure.

“I don’t know. If you look at Utah, we have, I think, a unique relationship with Trump relative to other states, even within the Republican Party, and so I think it’s hard to tell. This next election cycle will be very telling — how does Utah turn out for Trump this year.”

Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, said, “While I appreciate the senator’s right to do what he thinks is appropriate, I am very disappointed personally and I don’t think he is representing the majority of the citizens of our state.”

Samantha Zager, regional communications director for Trump’s reelection campaign, said Romney’s actions Wednesday were “wildly out of step” with his own constituents. Trump, she said, is more popular in Utah than Romney, according to recent polls.

Democrats in the state Legislature applauded Romney.

House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said he was “happy, happy, happy,” with Romney’s decision. “I think he’s a profile in courage.”

Romney “is going to catch flak like it’s nobody’s business from Trump supporters and from Republicans generally, but this reveals character. This reveals courage. And I am really gratified. This is important,” he said.

Senate Minority Caucus Manager Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, said he’s glad Romney “was able to acknowledge the reality of what happened with President Trump. A lot of the Republicans in Congress and in the Senate are more nervous about their reelection than they are about the reality of corruption in our government.”

Kitchen said he believes most Utahns will support Romney’s decision.

“The thing about Utahns is that they’re not a partisan bunch of people. Of course we have our persuasions, left or right. But at the end of the day, Mitt Romney did the right thing,” he said.

The fledgling United Utah Party, made up of disaffected Republicans and Democrats as well as independents, offered Romney a home if the GOP ostracizes him for his “willingness to put his country before narrow partisan interests.”

United Utah co-founder and former Republican Jim Bennett said the nation witnessed a “rare act of unparalleled political courage.”

“Sen. Mitt Romney’s decision to vote to convict the president on the charge of abuse of power was a powerful reminder that moral courage is sorely lacking in today’s political environment, but that there are individuals who still hold to a sense of the importance of their duty to the country,” according to Bennett.

Romney was the only Republican senator to vote to convict Trump on either article, saying the president is “guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust.” He did not find Trump guilty of obstruction.

Don Peay, who led Trump’s 2016 campaign in Utah and is a Trump family friend, called Romney’s vote “irrelevant.” He said he received many calls from people asking what they can do for the president.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who last week said Utah is lucky to have Romney and that he has his respect for the “thoughtfulness, integrity, and guts” he has shown during the Senate trial, wasn’t so quick with that sentiment Wednesday.

When Lee Lonsberry on KSL Newsradio’s “Live Mic” asked the Utah senior senator if he still felt that way, Lee replied that Romney’s vote surprised him and that he was “very disappointed.”

“I strongly disagree with his decision on this,” he said.

Pressed on whether Romney still has his respect, Lee said he likes Romney and considers him a friend.

“In the heat of this particular decision, it’s hard for me to see anything but that disagreement,” Lee said. “But tomorrow is a different day. Every day is a new day. I look forward to finding other issues where he and I agree.”

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, a member of the House Intelligence Committee that heard impeachment witnesses, said he has “great respect” for Romney but that he was wrong to vote to convict the president.

“I sat through hundreds of hours of hearings, listened to dozens of witnesses, and have reviewed thousands of pages of documents. There’s no way this president deserves a vote of conviction. I think Sen. Romney has reached the wrong conclusion,” he said.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said Lee and Romney neither lobbied him nor offered their opinion when he voted on impeachment and he extended them the same courtesy.

“However, had my opinion been asked I would have disagreed with Mr. Romney’s analysis and decision,” he said.

McAdams, Utah’s only Democrat in Congress, said Romney reaffirmed his belief that the senator is a person of integrity and principle.

“I came to Congress to do the right thing for Utah and our country. Like Sen. Romney, I believe what the president did was wrong. His actions warranted accountability,” McAdams said.

In announcing his vote to impeach Trump, McAdams said he knew his vote would not remove the president and that the Senate would likely acquit him.

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