Friday, January 31, 2020

Hundreds of lawyers protest lack of justice in impeachment trial on steps of Supreme Court

McKenzie Sadeghi
USA Today 

Hundreds of lawyers joined together in silence as they marched in a single file line from the U.S. Capitol to the steps of the Supreme Court to demand senators carry out their “duty to do impartial justice" in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

The lawyers gathered at the Supreme Court to hear remarks from Barbara Arnwine, former executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law.

“We have come here today even though it’s cold outside, but we’ve come here today because the burden in our hearts is a desire for justice,” Arnwine told the crowd.

Traci Feit Love, founder of Lawyers for Good Government, said she was proud of the large turnout and those who traveled long distances on short notice to make their voices heard.

Rebecca Young was one of the long-distance travelers who came from Massachusetts “to hold senators accountable to the oath they swore.”

“It’s incredibly important to me and to future of this country to do everything we can to try and ensure that the U.S. Senate actually holds a meaningful impeachment trial,” Young said.

Following the silent march and press conference, the lawyers delivered signed letters to Senate offices.  Participants of the protest included Lawyers for Good Government, Lawyers Defending American Democracy, Lawyer Moms of America and Demand Justice.

- McKenzie Sadeghi

Harvard professor repeatedly cited by Dershowitz in impeachment trial calls Trump defense a 'joke'

Donald Trump’s impeachment defense team has about as much integrity as a fishing net made out of toilet paper. On Wednesday, lawyer Alan Dershowitz provided one of the most truly wicked and specious arguments in the history of law when he explained during Trump’s Senate impeachment trial that a public official, no matter how corrupt, could not commit a crime if they believe that their corrupt action is in the public interest. His exact quote was, “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.” 

Dershowitz, like the toadstool of a person he is, later tweeted that he didn’t say what he said and that people saying he did were misunderstanding what he said. He went on to say he stood by what he didn’t say, but he didn’t say it … so don’t say he said it. A large part of Dershowitz’s theatrical display of intellectual dishonesty was dedicated to citing fellow Harvard Law professor Nikolas Bowie as someone who agreed with the argument that abuse of power does not warrant impeachment.

Bowie then spoke with Anderson Cooper and Jeffrey Toobin on CNN to clear up what he actually wrote and believes.
Abuse of power is a crime. There are people around the country who have been convicted of it recently. It's a crime that’s existed since this country was founded. And it's a criminal offense. To equate it with "maladministration," as my colleague professor Dershowitz does, is the equivalent of saying that criminal corruption is the same thing as getting a bad performance evaluation. “Maladministration” is just an 18th-century term for doing a bad thing at your job, for, you know, not filing papers correctly. And I think he’s right: A president shouldn’t be impeached for getting a bad performance evaluation. But to equate that with criminal corruption? That’s a joke.
He’s right. But, like everything in this current authoritarian climate, it’s a terrible, terrible joke.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Senate Republicans make clear: It's not about Ukraine. It's about ending American democracy

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 24: Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) shrugs as he answers questions from reporters during a recess in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on January 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. Democratic House managers conclude their opening arguments on Friday as the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump continues into its fourth day. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Nice republic you had there. Shame you couldn't keep it.
On Wednesday, the Senate conducted the first of two days of question-and-answer in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, with the House managers and Trump’s legal team. Throughout the sessions, Trump’s team made it clear that any attempt to get at the truth of what happened would result in retaliation in the form of asking for an endless stream of witnesses, fighting every request in court, and holding up activity in the Senate “for a very long time.” Meanwhile, the House managers continued to swing for the fences with a number of stirring moments, sharp responses, and ringing calls for the Senate to do its job for the country.

From the start of this session, it was clear that Republicans were not taking the day seriously. Confident that enough of their members had fallen in line to suppress any possibility of subpoenaing a witness, the Republican side indulged in question after question written for no other reason than to promote conspiracy theories and smears by having Chief Justice John Roberts read them aloud. But even that wasn’t the worst damage done during the course of the evening.

As the night wore on, Trump legal team member Alan Dershowitz rose repeatedly to make it very clear what Republicans were authorizing: They were not just embracing foreign interference, but literally allowing Donald Trump to do anything in pursuit of reelection.

Much of the evening seemed to be the Ted Cruz Show. Having abandoned any pretense that they were seeking information, Republicans allowed the Texas assassin to have a hand in at least eight questions, all of them designed to spread ridiculous, corrosive smears against the whistleblower, Rep. Adam Schiff, and former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump’s defense team joined in eagerly, citing information from the worst of right-wing sites as “public information” to justify repeating claims. By the end of the night, Senate Republicans had endorsed every aspect of the conspiracy theory that Trump had tried to extort from Ukraine, and they had gone on to indict the whistleblower as having a hand in the “double bribery.”

Again and again, Republicans such as Cruz and Josh Hawley demonstrated that they were laughing up their sleeves, playing the “Roberts will repeat anything” game. That included using questions to make statements that Adam Schiff had collaborated with the whistleblower, long after Schiff had explained—again—that he had not met the whistleblower, that he did not know the whistleblower, and that no member of his staff was involved in preparing the whistleblower’s complaint. It didn’t matter, because for Cruz, getting out the facts was never the point of the exercise.

A special award goes to Kentucky Republican Rand Paul. At one point in the late afternoon, he managed to concoct a question so vile that Roberts refused to read it—the only time that happened, even though some of the questions from Cruz included recitations of multiple false charges.

Trump’s team leaned into the chance to spread unfounded information. Despite hours and days of chest-beating over “hearsay” or “second-hand information,” Trump’s attorneys relished every word of the beyond-Q conspiracies that came their way (including a rare appearance from benchwarmer Pam Bondi so bad that it’s already gathered more than two million views). And when not rolling in vile claims with absolutely no foundation, they used much of their time to directly threaten the Senate, stating again and again that any attempt to call a witness would be met with an unending string of requests, privilege claims, and court fights.

In the middle of the evening, Schiff made a major play and said that, to expedite the process, the House managers would agree to be bound by decisions from Roberts when it came to validating subpoenas, authorizing witnesses, and requesting documents. Citing the way that the House had taken as many as five depositions in a week, Schiff made it clear that there was no reason that a process involving witnesses had to be lengthy. But Trump’s legal team said that it would not agree.

Instead, it continued its threat to respond to any call for witnesses by wrecking the Senate, drowning the trial in frivolous requests, and demanding a string of witnesses (including every member of the Biden family, every House manager, the whistleblower, people cited in right-wing media … an unending parade). And Republicans on both sides of the table pretended that this threat wasn’t simply an argument that any legal process can be crushed by the power of the White House.

But it wasn’t the cudgel of delay, or the giggling efforts of Cruz, Hawley, Paul, and others to place their hands under Robert’s robe and make him talk that did the most damage. The worst damage to the evening, the trial, and America’s future came from doddering Alan Dershowitz, who used the evening to expand his previous defense to a degree that didn’t just exonerate Trump in this case, but also exonerated him in any possible case.

In a pair of appearances, Dershowitz expanded on his theory that abuse of power isn’t a permissible cause for impeachment. Deliberately and directly contradicting the historical sources he cited, Dershowitz called every constitutional expert in America a “never Trumper” for daring to disagree with him. And while claiming to be the only reasonable man in the country, he said he didn’t stand alone … because he had found a single attorney in 1867 whose views were similar. And 1867 is closer to when the Constitution was written, so that view wins. If you ignore all the people involved in the writing of it.

Then, having literally made up dictionary entries to support his redefinition of legal terms, Dershowitz went not just all-in, but completely overboard. According to Trump’s finest legal mind, there is nothing that Trump can’t do in pursuit of reelection. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. So long as Trump believes that his reelection would be good for the nation, he can extort foreign governments for made-up dirt. He can directly threaten an ally. There is no limit.

Along the way, Dershowitz also argued that there is absolutely nothing wrong with launching an investigation into a political opponent. In fact, he asserted that a run for office itself can be justification for investigating an opponent. He directly embraced the idea that a president launching investigations of his political opponents using domestic or foreign sources wasn’t just fine; it was desirable. He argued that daring to run against Trump painted a target on anyone’s back, and that Trump had all the power he needed to shoot at it.

If there was any doubt going into the evening, Dershowitz removed it: voting to acquit Trump means voting not just to dismiss this charge, but to embrace the idea that Trump trumps the law. He didn’t hint that Trump could do anything he wanted in pursuit of reelection; that was the core theme of his whole presentation. That was the point. That was what he said.

The Senate listened to a presentation from Trump’s legal team according to which there is nothing Trump can do in pursuit of reelection that isn’t justified. There is no limit to how Trump can use his power to persecute political opponents. 

According to the theory that was put forward on the floor of the Senate, Trump could simply lock up every Democratic opponent, or suspend elections indefinitely, and that would be just fine—not only an impeachable offense, but a good thing.

Republicans are going to vote for that. Republicans are going to press the button on not just a step toward autocracy, but a full-on embrace of it. They’re going to do it with a smile.

'Right matters and the truth matters': Read Adam Schiff's history-making impeachment trial speech

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 23: In this screenshot taken from a Senate Television webcast, House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks during impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol on January 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Senate Television via Getty Images)
Thursday evening marked the end of a second long day on the Senate floor in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. Democratic officials presented the evidence to America, detailing how and why Donald Trump must be removed from office. The highlight was lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff's powerful 30-minute argument that closed out the day.

Schiff once again detailed some of the steps Trump and his White House took to obstruct the inquiry into his abuses of power. He underlined how the Trump White House went to his handpicked attorney general, William Barr, and got him to refuse to release evidence to Congress. “I know what the law says and it says you shall, doesn't say you may, doesn't say you might, doesn't say you can if you like to, doesn't say if the president doesn't object—it says you shall.” Just like at every other turn in this saga, it’s only because of the Democratic Party’s insistence that a whistleblower’s warnings be heeded that we even discovered how deep our executive branch’s corruption goes. 

Finally, Rep. Schiff finished with the powerful, already often-quoted conclusion of his argument, where he tied together why Donald Trump must be removed from office with what’s at stake for America. The final nine minutes of Schiff’s speech is transcribed below.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF: But even now, our ally can’t get his foot in the door.
Even now, our ally can’t get his foot in the door. And this brings me to the last point I want to make tonight, which is, when we’re done, we believe that we will have made the case overwhelmingly of the president’s guilt.
That is, he’s done what he’s charged with. He withheld the money. He withheld the meeting. He used it to coerce Ukraine to do these political investigations. He covered it up. He obstructed us. He’s trying to obstruct you and he’s violated the Constitution. But I want to address one other thing tonight. Okay, he’s guilty. Okay, he’s guilty. Does he really need to be removed? Does he really need to be removed? We have an election coming up. Does he really need to be removed? He’s guilty. You know, is there really any doubt about this? Do we really have any doubt about the facts here? Does anybody really question whether the president is capable of what he’s charged with? No one is really making the argument “Donald Trump would never do such a thing,” because of course we know that he would, and of course we know that he did. It’s a somewhat different question though to ask, okay, it’s pretty obvious whether we can say it publicly or we can’t say it publicly. We all know what we’re dealing here with this president, but does he really need to be removed? And this is why he needs to be removed.
Donald Trump chose Rudy Giuliani over his own intelligence agencies.
He chose Rudy Giuliani over his own FBI director. He chose Rudy Giuliani over his own national security advisers. When all of them were telling him this Ukraine 2016 stuff is kooky, crazy Russian propaganda, he chose not to believe them. He chose to believe Rudy Giuliani. That makes him dangerous to us, to our country. That was Donald Trump’s choice. Now, why would Donald Trump believe a man like Rudy Giuliani over a man like Christopher Wray? Okay. Why would anyone in their right mind believe Rudy Giuliani over Christopher Wray? Because he wanted to and because what Rudy was offering him was something that would help him personally. And what Christopher Wray was offering him was merely the truth. What Christopher Wray was offering him was merely the information he needed to protect his country and its elections, but that’s not good enough. What’s in it for him? What’s in it for Donald Trump? This is why he needs to be removed.
Now, you may be asking how much damage can he really do in the next several months until the election? A lot. A lot of damage. Now, we just saw last week, a report that Russia tried to hack or maybe did hack Burisma. Okay. I don’t know if they got in. I’m trying to find out. My colleagues on the Intel Committee, House and Senate, we’re trying to find out, did the Russians get in? What are the Russian plans and intentions? Well, let’s say they got in and let’s say they start dumping documents to interfere in the next election.
Let’s say they start dumping some real things they hack from Burisma.
Let’s say they start dumping some fake things they didn’t hack from Burisma, but they want you to believe they did. Let’s say they start blatantly interfering in our election again to help Donald Trump. Can you have the least bit of confidence that Donald Trump will stand up to them and protect our national interest over his own personal interest? You know you can’t, which makes him dangerous to this country. You know you can’t. You know you can’t count on him. None of us can. None of us can. What happens if China got the message? Now you can say, he’s just joking of course. He didn’t really mean China should investigate the Bidens. You know that’s no joke.
Now maybe you could have argued three years ago when he said, “Hey Russia, if you’re listening, hack Hillary’s emails.” Maybe you could give him a freebie and say he was joking, but now we know better. Hours after he did that Russia did, in fact, try to hack Hillary’s emails. There’s no Mulligan here when it comes to our national security. So what if China does overtly or covertly start to help the Trump campaign? You think he’s going to call them out on it or you think he’s going to give them a better trade deal on it? Can any of us really have the confidence that Donald Trump will put his personal interests ahead of the national interests? Is there really any evidence in this presidency that should give us the iron-clad confidence that he would do so?
You know you can’t count on him to do that. That’s the sad truth. You know you can’t count on him to do that. The American people deserve a president they can count on to put their interests first, to put their interests first. Colonel Vindman said, “Here, right matters. Here, right matters.” Well, let me tell you something, if right doesn’t matter, if right doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter how good the Constitution is. It doesn’t matter how brilliant the framers were. Doesn’t matter how good or bad our advocacy in this trial is. Doesn’t matter how well-written the Oath of Impartiality is. If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost. If the truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost. Framers couldn’t protect us from ourselves, if right and truth don’t matter. And you know that what he did was not right.
That’s what they do in the old country that Colonel Vindman’s father came from. Or the old country that my great grandfather came from, or the old countries that your ancestors came from, or maybe you came from. But here, right is supposed to matter. It’s what’s made us the greatest nation on earth. No Constitution can protect us, right doesn’t matter any more.
And you know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump. He’ll do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months. He’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to. This is why if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters. Because right matters and the truth matters.
Otherwise, we are lost.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

‘He’s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot’: Lindsey Graham speaks out against Trump—in 2015

In the olden days of December 2015, Sen. Lindsey Graham had some seriously strong opinions about Donald Trump. Appearing on CNN at the time, Graham remarked that he was “disgusted” by then President-elect Trump’s remarks that he wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. Just in case you don’t remember the old Sen. Lindsey Graham, here are his exact words:
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: I want to talk to the Trump supporters for a minute. I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you like about this. I think what you like is he appears to be strong, when the rest of us are weak. He’s a very successful businessman and he’s going to make everything great. He’s going to take all the problems of the world and put them in a box and make your life better. That’s what he’s selling.
Here’s what you’re buying: He’s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. He doesn’t represent my party. He doesn’t represent the values that the men and women that wear the uniform are fighting for. I‘ve been in the Air Force for 33 years—I retired this June. He’s the ISIL man of the year, by the way. I just got back from Morocco a week ago this Monday—
It is here that Sen. Graham talked about military personnel he met with who were concerned by Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric.
SEN. GRAHAM: I don’t think he has a clue about anything. He’s just trying to get his numbers up and get the biggest reaction he can. He’s putting our soldiers and diplomats at risk. He’s empowering the enemy. And this ban, if actually enacted, would take people who have been interpreters, who came to our side in Iraq and Afghanistan—who are under siege in their own countries—and basically becomes a death sentence for them.
December 2015 Sen. Graham finished by saying that if viewers wanted to “Make America Great again, tell Donald Trump to go to hell!”

2015 Sen. Graham was right … to a degree. Donald Trump, it turns out, does represent the Republican Party. Donald Trump is stronger than the rest of you. Also, Donald Trump wasn’t a very successful businessman. He was a bankrupt and corrupt businessman. But: potatoes, tomatoes.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Dan Rather: "Our Nation Is On Trial"

Dan Rather. (photo: Christopher Patey)
Dan Rather. (photo: Christopher Patey)
By Dan Rather, News and Guts
27 January 20
ith each vote Tuesday, with each unchanged tally, with each public mark of two political parties voting in their own lockstep about perhaps the most serious charges ever leveled against a president of the United States, it was as if I heard a bell toll. The echoes sweep from Capitol Hill across a nation divided and unsure.

With each bell strike comes another moment of cumulative reckoning. The carefully prepared and detailed presentations of the House managers, bolstered by reams of serious evidence, stand in stark contrast to the President’s defenders who have no facts with which to mount their case. They are playing an inside game, with the complicity, to date, of the entirety of the Republican caucus. But the bell strikes again, and the names are called. These votes, on fairness, justice, and the integrity of our democracy cannot be taken back when the winds of political expediency have shifted. These are statements of values and honor that will last a lifetime.

What about the politics of all this? What about the polls? What does it mean for swing state swing voters? To all that I say, frankly, I don’t give a damn. We were not a nation founded by tepid and cautious men who focus-grouped their actions. No, we are a nation based on big, bold statements of principle. We have not always lived up to those ideals, far from it. But our heroes today are the women and men who spoke with the most forceful moral courage. And they were not always popular at the time.

President Trump is on trial. The Senate is on trial. The Republican Party is on trial. Our nation is on trial. We, the citizens, are the jury.

The bell tolls again, and again. It will toll many more times. Who will listen? Who will rise to the moment?

We have a cover-up. The senators who are voting against documents, those who wish to hide witnesses, those who wish to whistle past the truth they surely know, have made their bargain with their conscience. The question is where the conscience of the nation will fall.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Trump's Inner Mob Boss Emerges with Alarming New Threats to Politicians and the Press

One of the most prominent and disturbing elements of Donald Trump's character (or lack thereof) is his tendency to embrace the language and behavior of mafia dons. He regards himself as an infallible and unchallengeable force who demands total obedience and blind loyalty. This weekend Trump displayed that mob boss fixation on several occasions. 

The recording of him telling Lev Parnas to "take out" U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovich was chilling to hear. Trump gave orders to Parnas, a shady figure with ties to Rudy Giuliani and Ukrainian politicos, to "Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it." 

Trump's apologists in Congress and on Fox News dismiss this as being within the President's power to fire an ambassador. That's true, but then either he fires her or he instructs his Secretary of State to do so. Parnas has no government role or authority to terminate the employment of an American diplomat. So what did Trump mean and why would he assign this mission to such a fringe player who is currently under felony indictment? 

Similarly, Trump threatened the whistleblower who reported Trump's extortion of Ukrainian President Zelensky, as well as the whistleblower's White House source[s]. Trump alleged that they could be considered spies and warned "You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now." That's an overt death threat aimed at someone who legally protected from such retaliation.

On Sunday morning Trump also aimed a threat at House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Adam Schiff, saying that he "is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price, yet..." Here Trump is baselessly alleging that Schiff is both "corrupt" and "sick," two traits that are more recognizable in Trump himself. And what "price" does Trump have in mind that he's implying Schiff will soon be paying?

This is typical behavior from Trump. And it manifested again in another Sunday tweet wherein he implied his interest in sabotaging National Public Radio (NPR) by eliminating their federal funding. This attack was triggered by an NPR reporter's interview with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mary Louise Kelly asked Pompeo a couple of perfectly fair questions about Ukraine that he wanted to avoid. He became angry and erupted in a profanity laced outburst which she reported. 

This led to Fox News host Mark Levin tweeting his disapproval of Kelly and asking "Why does NPR still exist," and "Why are we paying for this big-government, Democrat Party propaganda operation?" Trump replied that it was "A very good question," setting the stage for potential budget cuts to the public radio broadcaster. 

First of all, NPR is not a "big-government, Democrat Party propaganda operation." In fact, it receives very little federal funding. According to its latest financial report, just one percent of its annual operating budget consists of public monies. By far, most of its funding comes from corporate sponsorships, dues paid by member stations, and listener donations. The greater harm would come to radio stations that air NPR programming, most of which serve rural communities in what Trump would call his base.

What's more, it's simply ignorant to accuse NPR of being politically slanted to the left. If anything the opposite is true. After all, the board of its governing agency, the U.S. Global Media Agency (USGMA), is headed by Kenneth Weinstein, a Trump appointee. Also on the board ... Mike Pompeo. That's right. The Secretary of State is an ex officio member of the board of directors of the USGMA. And this is what Trump and Levin believe is a "Democrat Party propaganda operation." It must be another department within the "Deep State" that is staffed by Trump loyalists. 

Trump's foul and menacing behavior is notable not only for its similarity to that of a mob boss. It represents an imminent danger to innocent people in politics and the press. Past episodes of this rhetoric has resulted in actual bomb threats and other attempted violence. And the scary part is that that is precisely what Trump wants.

He is a bully who believes that he can get his way through threats and intimidation. It actually fits the legal definition of terrorism.

If he isn't stopped he will only get worse. That's why his impeachment is so urgent.

Even if he were to be defeated at the ballot box in November, that would give him 77 days to exact revenge on those he deemed to have betrayed him. That's a risk that American can't afford.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

SURPRISE! Trump's FOX News Impeachment Defense Team Begins with 6 'Facts' that Are All Lies

Donald Trump
News Corpse 
Community (This content is not subject to review by Daily Kos staff prior to publication.)
The day that Donald Trump has been waiting for (and whining about) has finally come. It's the day that marks the commencement of his Fox News Legal Team's presentation of his case against removing him from office now that he has been irrevocably impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Of course, everyone has already heard the case that Trump's lawyers will be making. They have been making that case relentlessly on Fox News for weeks. The case that Fox viewers haven't heard is the one by Democrats. That's because Fox News chose to shield their snowflake viewers from any exposure to reality.

Instead, they aired their own regularly scheduled, Trump-fluffing programs during prime time rather than the Senate hearings. They even admonished their viewers not to watch the hearings at all because Fox's shills would watch for them. 

To no one's surprise, Trump's defense was littered with familiar lies. His White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, led off by falsely characterizing the House impeachment hearings, saying that Democrats "lock[ed] everybody out of it from the President's side." In fact, Democrats invited the White House to participate, but the invitation was rejected in a letter from Cipollone himself. And all Republican members of the three committees holding hearings — Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight — participated and were given equal time.

Following Cipollone's flagrant fictionalization of events, his deputy, Mike Purpura took center stage with what he said were the "six key facts that have not, and will not, change." (video below) Let's take a look, shall we? 

FIRST: "The transcript shows that the President did not condition either security assistance or a meeting on anything."

Actually, there has been no transcript released, only a memo purporting to summarize the phone call between Trump and Zelensky. And in that memo Trump is plainly seen to condition aid with a demand that Zelensky "do us a favor, though."

Trump then stated his interest in a conspiracy theory about a a Democratic computer server, and the Biden family. There was no discussion of corruption whatsoever.

SECOND: "President Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said that there was no quid pro quo and no pressure on them to review anything."

In fact, Zelensky had to be careful not to upset Trump at the risk of losing the aid.

You can't ask a hostage if he's under pressure and expect a candid answer.

Zelensky told an interviewer that he didn't "want us to look like beggars." Then went on to say that "If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying." 

What's more, Trump himself confessed on national television that he did condition aid on a demand that Zelensky help him smear Joe Biden. When asked directly what he hoped to get from Zelensky, Trump said "I would think that if they’re honest about it they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens. It’s a very simple answer. They should investigate the Bidens." 

Third: "President Zelensky and other high ranking Ukrainian officials did not even know the security assistance was paused until the end of August, over a month after the July 25 call."

Not according to the Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister who said that Ukraine was aware of a U.S. freeze in military aid as early as July.

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

Not true. Several witnesses (i.e. Gordon Sondland, Alexander Vindman) said that Trump had made a such a connection. But if Trump's attorneys are concerned that there wasn't sufficient testimony from first-hand witnesses, then why is Trump prohibiting staffers like Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, etc., from testifying? Why would he block testimony from those he says would exonerate him?

Fifth: "The security assistance flowed on September 11, and a presidential meeting took place on September 25, without the Ukrainian government announcing any investigations."

What Trump's team isn't saying is that those things occurred only after he got caught. They were an attempt to paper over his criminal behavior after the fact.

Finally: "The Democrats blind drive to impeach the President does not, and cannot, change the fact, as attested to by the Democrats' own witnesses, that President Trump has been a better friend and stronger support of Ukraine than his predecessor [President Obama]."

You can hardly call threatening a country with the loss of critical military aid during a war as "friendly." And even if there were cursory signs of friendship, that doesn't excuse Trump's unlawful behavior. Furthermore, Trump has been a far better friend to Vladimir Putin and Russia, the country that is invading and annexing parts of Ukraine. 

If this is any indication of how the Trump defense is going to go as it proceeds through next week, we are in for some hefty heapings of falsehoods and misdirection. They haven't even even gotten to the Bidens yet, as Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow promised to do.

But rest assured, that will come. And the whole of the Trump defense will be built on distortion and deception. But that's only because they can't defend Trump on the facts.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Mr. 'Grab 'em by the pussy' spouts off about 'the majesty of God's creation' at anti-abortion rally

US President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the 47th annual "March for Life" in Washington, DC, on January 24, 2020. - Trump is the first US president to address in person the country's biggest annual gathering of anti-abortion campaigners. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
The young attendees at the right know exactly what parts of their bodies they need to protect when the president is in the room.
Donald Trump’s speechwriters really pulled out all the rhetorical flourishes for his remarks at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Mr. “Grab ‘em by the pussy” was spouting line after line about “the majesty of God’s creation” and “the splendor that radiates from each human soul” and “all of the blessings that will come from the beauty, talent, purpose, nobility, and grace of every American child.”

Sure, dude.

Trump was introduced with a spiel that must have been a big part of how he was sold on becoming the first president to appear at the march, focusing strongly on how young the marchers are (gotta get that youth vote). Trump then paced the stage, basking in the attention, for the duration of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA,” with chants of “Four more years” occasionally breaking through.

Then it was on to the high-flown rhetoric about how “every child is a precious and sacred gift from God. Together we must protect, cherish, and defend the dignity and the sanctity of every human life.” This from a man who has made tearing children out of their parents’ arms and imprisoning them in dangerous conditions with inadequate health care a high-priority policy.

He wants “every child born and unborn to fulfill their God-given potential,” said the man who has repeatedly sought to slash the nutritional assistance that allows so many children to go to school and think of their lessons rather than their hunger.

No Trump speech, even one meticulously crafted for inspirational oomph like this one, would be complete without a turn to attacking Democrats with a series of lies, of course. You know, “Democrats have embraced the most radical and extreme positions,” said the head of the party that has enacted a series of massively restrictive abortion bans, following that up with the “Democrats back executing babies after birth” lie, a vicious one aimed at increasing the suffering of dying babies.

But I guess that’s what Trump meant when he went back to inspirational mode to conclude, telling the crowd, “You make it your mission to spread God’s grace.” And I guess that’s what they call it when old men shriek threats at scared young women outside a clinic’s doors.