U.K. Shadow Chancellor: Assange’s case biggest political trial of contemporary era

John McDonnell, member of the U.K’s Labour Party, has been Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Shadow Cabinet of Jeremy Corbyn since 2015. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo)

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UPDATED 7:15 PM PT — Friday, February 21, 2020

According to the U.K.’s Shadow Finance Minister John McDonnell, the prosecution of Julian Assange is the biggest human rights concern of the contemporary era.

McDonnell visited Assange at the U.K.’s Belmarsh Prison on Thursday and said the WikiLeaks founder must be granted whistleblower protections. The official added that Assange is working on his case and plans to return to journalistic work once his trial is finished.

“We have a long tradition in this country for standing up for journalistic freedom, and standing up for the protection of whistleblowers and those who expose injustices,” he stated. “If this extradition takes place I think it will damage our reputation — I’m hoping it doesn’t.”

McDonnell also added that people must have true information in the public domain and make their own judgments about certain reports.

Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange protest outside Belmarsh Prison, in London, Tuesday Feb. 18, 2020. Assange faces extradition hearings, to face charges in America, including conspiring to commit computer intrusion, over the publication of US cables a decade ago. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)

Meanwhile, supporters of Assange are planning a march to Parliament Square on Saturday in protest of him being extradited. Over 1,200 journalist as well as people in journalism-related fields have signed a global statement in defense of the WikiLeaks founder.

RELATED: Assange’s legal team plans to request asylum in France to avoid U.S. extradition

Original Article

Attorneys for Roger Stone request new trial

FILE – In this Nov. 6, 2019 file photo, Roger Stone arrives at Federal Court for the second day of jury selection for his federal trial, in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

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UPDATED 10:00 AM PT — Saturday, February 15, 2020

Roger Stone is requesting a new trial again. Stone’s attorneys did not say why they filed the motion on Friday.

However, the request came one day after his team was investigating whether there had been potential bias by a juror who voted to convict him in November.

Jury foreperson Tomeka Hart revealed her role in the trial over social media this week. Reports said she once ran for Congress as a Democrat and has a history of anti-Trump bias.

Her Twitter account is rife with negative stories and comments against the president and his party. She has called Republicans racist, participated in protests against the administration and, in one tweet, shared a quote referring to President Trump as the “Klan president.”

In a tweet, President Trump said the juror’s bias, combined with other issues, doesn’t make the department look good.

He previously criticized the trial, which he said is being run by “corrupt people.” The president also claimed Stone was treated unfairly and questioned why top FBI officials haven’t been charged in relation to the Mueller probe.

“They put a man in jail and destroy his life, his family, his wife, his children? Nine years in jail? It’s a disgrace. In the meantime, Comey walks around making book deals. The people that launched the scam investigation, what they did is a disgrace.” – Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Reports said it’s unclear if Stone’s request for a new trial will delay his sentencing, which is set for February 20th.

Stone, who was convicted of witness tampering and lying to Congress in November, had a prior request for a new trial rejected earlier this week.

READ MORE: President Trump On Stone Pardon: I Don’t Want To Talk About That Yet & President Trump Congratulates Attorney General Barr For ‘Taking Charge’ Of Stone Case

Original Article

Trump defense team: Acquittal is the only appropriate result of Impeachment trial

President Donald Trump walks to a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

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UPDATED 2:15 PM PT — Monday, February 3, 2020

President Trump is raising questions about the so-called whistleblower as well as House impeachment manager Adam Schiff. In a tweet Monday, the president blasted Schiff for making up details about his conversation with the president of Ukraine.

This comes after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) said in an interview over the weekend that the whistleblower would be called before the Senate Intelligence Committee after the impeachment trial.

Meanwhile, House managers and the Trump defense team delivered closing arguments on the Senate floor Monday. Lead Democrat manager Schiff urged lawmakers in the upper chamber to convict and remove the president from office based on their weeks-long case.

However, the president’s defense gave their rebuttal to the Democrat arguments. They said the House majority is looking for an excuse to nullify the votes of millions of Americans.

The closing statements came ahead of Tuesday’s last debate over the articles of impeachment before Wednesday’s vote to either convict or acquit President Trump.

RELATED: Republican senators lay groundwork for bringing impeachment trial to a close

Original Article

Republican senators lay groundwork for bringing impeachment trial to a close

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., pauses as he talks to the media outside the Senate chamber during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump at the Capitol Friday Jan 31, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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UPDATED 4:45 PM PT — Saturday, February 1, 2020

Republican senators are laying the groundwork for ending the impeachment trial. Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt said there will be no weekend session and senators will return on Monday for four more hours of closing arguments.

Lawmakers will then be able to debate the issues into Tuesday. Blunt added the final vote on the two impeachment articles will take place no later than 4:00p.m. EST on Wednesday.

“We decided the best thing for everyone involved is to come to that certain date, but try to eliminate any pain and suffering,” he said. “As if this hasn’t been painful enough.”

On Twitter, the lawmaker added the Democrats’ case used “two of the weakest articles of impeachment” to make a “half-baked case.”

“House Democrats can’t bring a half-baked case to the Senate and expect us to make something of it,” stated Sen. Blunt. “These are two of the weakest articles of impeachment you could possibly have.”

In this image from video, Senators cast their vote on the motion to allow additional witnesses and evidence to be allowed in the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. The motion failed with a vote of 51-49. (Senate Television via AP)

The announcement came after the Senate voted to block any witness testimonies on Thursday. In a 51 to 49 vote, senators shut down all attempts to introduce more evidence in the case.

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Lamar Alexander, among a few others, were considered key swing votes in the decision. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell previously predicted the outcome of the vote and has since weighed in with a new statement.

“There is no need for the Senate to re-open the investigation, which the House Democratic majority chose to conclude and which the Managers themselves continue to describe as ‘overwhelming’ and ‘beyond any doubt.’ Never in Senate history has this body paused an impeachment trial to pursue additional witnesses with unresolved questions of executive privilege that would require protracted litigation. We have no interest in establishing such a new precedent, particularly for individuals whom the House expressly chose not to pursue.” – Mitch McConnell, U.S. Senator

CONTINUE READING: Senate Votes Against Witnesses, Documents In Trial

Original Article

Senate votes against witnesses, documents in trial

In this image from video, the final vote total on the motion to subpoena and allow additional witnesses and documents, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. The motion failed by a vote of 51-49. (Senate Television via AP)

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UPDATED 4:37 PM PT — Friday, January 31, 2020

The Senate has moved to block additional witnesses and documents in the impeachment trial. Senators voted 51-to-49 on Thursday afternoon, shutting down any attempts to introduce more evidence in the case.

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Lamar Alexander, among a few others, were considered key swing votes in deciding if the trial would be prolonged.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell previously predicted the outcome of the vote and has since weighed in with a new statement.

Tally for vote to subpoena witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

“There is no need for the Senate to re-open the investigation, which the House Democratic majority chose to conclude and which the Managers themselves continue to describe as ‘overwhelming’ and ‘beyond any doubt.’ Never in Senate history has this body paused an impeachment trial to pursue additional witnesses with unresolved questions of executive privilege that would require protracted litigation. We have no interest in establishing such a new precedent, particularly for individuals whom the House expressly chose not to pursue.” – Mitch McConnell, U.S. Senator

The upper chamber is now in its very final stages of the trial. A vote on the two articles of impeachment is expected next week.

Republicans have signaled they want to get the trial over with as quickly as possible and added it’s very likely senators will vote to acquit President Trump.

President Donald Trump, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, waves as they walk on the South Lawn as they depart the White House, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, in Washington. Trump is en route to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Following the vote, the president reacted to the news on Twitter.

He added, “No matter what you give to the Democrats, in the end, they will never be satisfied.”

He earlier stated that they were “scamming America.”

Democrats reacted to vote by condemning the move as a “grand tragedy.”

“America will remember this day, unfortunately, where the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities, turned away from truth and went along with a sham trial,” stated Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “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.”

RELATED: McConnell Has Support Needed To Kill Impeachment Witness Vote

Original Article

Sen. Graham compliments Rep. Schiff on oral arguments, but wants trial to be over

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks to the media before attending the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

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UPDATED 3:10 PM PT — Thursday, January 23, 2020

Sen. Lindsey Graham is clarifying his interaction with lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff. While speaking to reporters on Thursday, the South Carolina senator said Rep. Schiff was well-spoken during Wednesday’s arguments.

“He’s well-spoken, did a good job of…making the email come alive,” said Graham. “Quite frankly, I thought they did a good job of taking bits and pieces of the evidence and creating a quilt out of it.”

Despite these compliments, Graham insisted he was not on board with calling for additional witnesses and evidence. He stated he wants to get the trial over with.

“They could have called all these people if they wanted to in the House. They denied the president his day in court and I’m not going to legitimize that. There are a bunch of people on my side who want to call Joe Biden and Hunter Biden. I want to end this thing sooner rather than later, I don’t want to turn it into a circus.” – Lindsey Graham, U.S. Senator (R-S.C.)

He added Biden isn’t above being investigated over he and his sons’ dealings with Ukraine.

RELATED: Sen. Graham: Voters Should Decide Presidency, Not Politicians

Original Article

Democrats seek creative ways to campaign amid impeachment trial

Democratic presidential rivals Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders link arms during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day march on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

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UPDATED 9:42 AM PT — Thursday, January 23, 2020

The ongoing impeachment trial has presented a challenge for 2020 hopefuls who are seeking to ramp-up campaign efforts before early voting begins next month.

This week, senators are stuck in Washington sitting in as jurors in the impeachment trial for President Trump. This means Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar will miss out on crucial campaign days during a key stretch in their campaigns.

“I would rather be in Iowa today, there’s a caucus there in two and a half weeks,” said Sen. Sanders. “I’d rather be in New Hampshire and in Nevada, and so forth.”

In an effort to make up for lost time, Democrats are forced to get creative with their campaign tactics. Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar are now deploying surrogates across early primary states.

Behind Sanders is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is set to appear in Iowa on his behalf. Meanwhile, the daughter of Klobuchar will be hosting so-called “hot-dish house parties” in the state. Plus, residents who endorse her campaign will even offer office hours for local supporters.

While candidates such as Bernie Sanders have said that they would rather be in Iowa, some voters believe the impeachment trial is more important.

“What we have to do is protect the Constitution of the United States, that’s more important, even in this moment, than what happens at the next elections because if we don’t protect that Constitution it won’t matter who the next president is.”

— Ann Valentine, retired higher education executive – Iowa

Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg arrives at the Iowa State Education Association Candidate Forum at the Sheraton West Des Moines Hotel, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, in West Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg appear to have the upper hand as they continue to campaign in early primary states. However, some supporters argue the creative efforts put forth by the other candidates are helping shed a different light on their campaigns.

RELATED: Rep. Gabbard defends Sen. Sanders amid Clinton criticism

Original Article

Biden dismisses idea of ‘witness swap’ deal in impeachment trial

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at the North Iowa Events Center, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Mason City, Iowa. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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UPDATED 7:21 AM PT — Thursday, January 23, 2020

2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden said the idea for a “witness swap” in the impeachment trial is off the table. When asked by voters Wednesday if he would consider testifying in exchange for the testimony of other Trump officials, Biden dismissed the idea.

He stated his reasoning for denying testimony is based on the fact that the impeachment trial is “a constitutional issue.” The Democrat said he wants no part of what could be turned into a “political theater.”

The former vice president went on to defend the actions of his son Hunter by saying other than his appearance in Ukraine, he did nothing “inappropriate”‘ or “wrong.”

Other Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have also ruled out the possibility after pushing for witnesses to testify in the Senate trial.

House managers are set to reconvene Thursday for another day of arguments in the impeachment trial.

RELATED: House prosecutors rehash old arguments on second day of Senate trial, cry corruption

Original Article

House prosecutors rehash old arguments on second day of Senate trial, cry corruption

Night falls on the Capitol, in Washington, Wednesday evening, Jan. 22, 2020, during in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. House prosecutors are outlining what they refer to as President Donald Trump’s “corrupt scheme” to abuse power and obstruct Congress as they open six days of arguments in his impeachment trial. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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UPDATED 6:45 AM PT — Thursday, January 23, 2020

Arguments and accusations from House prosecutors marked the second day of the Senate impeachment trial. The trial kicked off Wednesday with two-hours of opening statements.

Democrat House managers reportedly went into lengthy and worn-out arguments. In one instance, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) cited the founding fathers to accuse the president of corruption for allegedly pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political opponent.

“The framers of the Constitution worried then, as we worry today, that a leader might come to power not to carry out the will of the people that he was elected to represent, but to pursue his own interests,’ he stated. “They fear that a president would subvert our democracy by abusing the awesome power of his office for his own personal or political gain.”

Rep. Schiff went on reportedly suggesting removing President Trump from office is necessary to safeguard the 2020 elections from a Russian meddling.

In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., holds redacted documents as he speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)

Although House Democrats promised to create a “overwhelming and damning” picture of the president’s alleged misconduct they failed to appeal to their Republican colleagues. One of those GOP members is Sen. John Barrasso, (R-Wy.), who made the following comments following the trial:

“Well, we’ve just come out of listening to, what, about six hours of testimony so far today, six and a half. I didn’t hear anything new at all. We were here all day yesterday for about 13 hours. No new material presented. It still seems to me this this was an effort by the Democrats in a very partisan way to bring a case against President Trump because they weren’t happy with the results of the 2016 election and are concerned that they’re going to have real problems in the 2020 election when we look at the candidates running for president against President Trump.”

Meanwhile, President Trump seems to be unaffected by the trial against him and issued a response before leaving the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “They’re doing a very good job, we have a great case,” he stated.

As the trial concluded for the day, the president’s impeachment defense team echoed similar optimism.

“I want to let them try their case and we want to try our case, because we believe without a question that the president will be acquitted,” said Jay Sekulow, personal attorney for President Trump. “There is not a doubt.”

RELATED: Rep. Schiff misconstrued Parnas evidence

Original Article

Schumer doubles down on push for impeachment trial subpoenas, as McConnell declares ‘impasse’

closeSchumer defends request for impeachment witnesses: What are Republicans afraid of?Video

Schumer defends request for impeachment witnesses: What are Republicans afraid of?

Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer calls on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to give an explanation for why he rejects witnesses in a potential impeachment trial.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is making a renewed push for the Senate to issue subpoenas demanding testimony and documents as part of President Trump's expected impeachment trial, citing new emails related to the withholding of Ukraine military aid — even as Republicans reject the demands as premature.

In a "Dear Colleague" letter sent Monday to fellow senators, the Senate minority leader cited records including a newly revealed email that Office of Management and Budget Associate Director Michael Duffey sent to Defense Department officials roughly an hour-and-a-half after Trump's famous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The email showed a push to place aid on hold, after Trump made his request for Ukraine's help in political investigations.

TRUMP ACCUSES PELOSI OF 'CRYING FOR FAIRNESS' IN SENATE TRIAL AFTER 'UNFAIR' HOUSE IMPEACHMENT

"Based on guidance I have received and in light of the Administration's plan to review assistance to Ukraine, including the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, please hold off on any additional DoD obligations of these funds, pending direction from that process," Duffey said in the email, obtained by The Center for Public Integrity via a Freedom of Information Act request. Duffey concluded by stating, "Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute the direction."

With the email fueling allegations of a quid pro quo, which Trump denies, Schumer claimed that the known existence of this message shows a need to obtain other records.

"The December 21st release of partially-redacted versions of these communications in response to the FOIA lawsuit further underscores why the Senate must review all of these records in unredacted form," Schumer wrote.

Sen. Mitch McConnell calls Nancy Pelosi's decision to withhold articles of impeachment an 'absurd position'Video

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., meanwhile, has objected to Schumer's demands for subpoenas, claiming it is not the Senate's job to collect facts going into an impeachment trial — maintaining that was the role of the House impeachment inquiry.

While Democrats note that the White House instructed current and former officials not to comply with House requests, the House opted not to challenge the Trump administration's assertion of privilege in court.

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On Monday morning, McConnell told "Fox & Friends" that he has spoken to Schumer, but so far no progress has been made.

At the same time, he is waiting for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate, claiming he has no authority to move forward until that happens. Pelosi has stated that she will not appoint impeachment managers to represent the House until the Senate determines the trial's process. McConnell has argued the Senate should follow the Clinton impeachment model, proceeding with a trial while working out the details of potential witnesses and other matters later.

“We’re at an impasse, we can’t do anything until the speaker sends the papers over," McConnell said. "So everybody, enjoy the holidays.”

But Schumer countered in his letter that during the Clinton trial, the Senate "had the benefit of thousands of pages of documents from the Department of Justice investigation by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr."

He added: "There simply is no good reason why evidence that is directly relevant to the conduct at issue in the Articles of Impeachment should be withheld from the Senate and the American people. Relevant documentary evidence currently in the possession of the Administration will augment the existing evidentiary record and will allow Senators to reach judgments informed by all of the available facts."

For his part, Trump slammed Pelosi on Monday for making demands of the Senate regarding his pending trial.

"Pelosi gives us the most unfair trial in the history of the U.S. Congress, and now she is crying for fairness in the Senate, and breaking all rules while doing so," Trump tweeted Monday morning. "She lost Congress once, she will do it again!"

Original Article

Trump accuses Pelosi of ‘crying for fairness’ in Senate trial after ‘unfair’ House impeachment

closeSen. Mitch McConnell calls Nancy Pelosi's decision to withhold articles of impeachment an 'absurd position'Video

Sen. Mitch McConnell calls Nancy Pelosi's decision to withhold articles of impeachment an 'absurd position'

Speaker Pelosi seems to think she can dictate the rules of a Senate impeachment trial, says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

President Trump slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday for making demands of the Senate regarding his upcoming trial as she sits on two impeachment articles, accusing her of "crying for fairness" after leading an "unfair" process in the House.

Throughout the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry, Trump and fellow Republicans criticized elements of the process — including the initial closed-door sessions with witnesses, an invitation for him to participate in a hearing while he was overseas, and the decision to cite the president's assertion of executive privilege as evidence of obstruction as opposed to battling it out in court.

MCCONNELL RIPS PELOSI FOR IMPEACHMENT DELAY, SAYS DEMS 'AFRAID' TO TRANSMIT 'SHODDY' ARTICLES

"Pelosi gives us the most unfair trial in the history of the U.S. Congress, and now she is crying for fairness in the Senate, and breaking all rules while doing so," Trump tweeted Monday morning. "She lost Congress once, she will do it again!"

Both chambers of Congress are engaged in an unusual battle over the next steps in the historic process after the House accused Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for his actions concerning Ukraine, in the third-ever impeachment of an American president.

Pelosi is now indicating she will not turn over the articles of impeachment to the Senate or name impeachment managers until the upper chamber announces the process of how the trial will be conducted.

Coinciding with that position, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has demanded that the Senate be allowed to subpoena documents and witnesses who did not appear before the House. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., responded by saying that the Senate's role is not to do what the House failed to do during what he has called "the most rushed, least thorough, and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history."

PELOSI STANDS BY DELAY IN SENDING IMPEACHMENT ARTICLES TO SENATE, CALLS MCCONNELL A 'ROGUE LEADER'

Pelosi fired back Monday morning, tweeting: "The House cannot choose our impeachment managers until we know what sort of trial the Senate will conduct. President Trump blocked his own witnesses and documents from the House, and from the American people, on phony complaints about the House process. What is his excuse now?"

Pelosi has also faced criticism for pushing House Democrats to pursue articles of impeachment on a tight timetable, only to drop that sense of urgency after the final vote. McConnell has accused her and fellow Democrats of getting "cold feet."

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., defended Pelosi on "Fox News Sunday," noting that President Bill Clinton was impeached in mid-December and managers were not appointed until Jan. 6 of the following year after the House returned from the holiday break. She suggested that the current process would not move any faster, even if Pelosi took swift action.

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Earlier on the show, Marc Short, chief of staff for Vice President Pence, claimed that Pelosi would ultimately move forward and allow the Senate to conduct a trial.

"She will yield, there's no way she can hold this position," he predicted.

Original Article

Jeff Flake claims Senate Republicans, not just Trump, are on trial

closePresident Trump takes aim at House Speaker Pelosi for not sending articles of impeachment to the SenateVideo

President Trump takes aim at House Speaker Pelosi for not sending articles of impeachment to the Senate

Trump accuses Nancy Pelosi of 'playing games' with impeachment; chief White House correspondent John Roberts reports.

Former Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is warning his former colleagues in the Senate that they, along with President Trump, will be on trial when the articles of impeachment eventually move from the House to the upper chamber.

“President Trump is on trial. But in a very real sense, so are you. And so is the political party to which we belong,” Flake writes in an op-ed for The Washington Post Friday.

JEFF FLAKE SAYS 'AT LEAST 35' REPUBLICAN SENATORS WOULD PRIVATELY VOTE TO IMPEACH TRUMP

Flake, who left the Senate this year after having staked out a vocally anti-Trump stance, wrote after the House voted for two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The articles are expected to soon go to the Senate for a trial, although there are indications House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., may delay the articles being transmitted. In the Senate, Trump is almost certain of acquittal unless there is a sudden and dramatic shift of Republicans in favor of impeachment.

Flake urges Republicans to consider the evidence, but at the same time not to repeat House Republican assertions the president hasn’t done anything wrong: “He has.”

“The willingness of House Republicans to bend to the president’s will by attempting to shift blame with the promotion of bizarre and debunked conspiracy theories has been an appalling spectacle,” Flake argues. “It will have long-term ramifications for the country and the party, to say nothing of individual reputations.”

TOP DEMS IN CONTENTION TO PROSECUTE TRUMP IMPEACHMENT CASE — IF IT GOES TO TRIAL

He asks what Republicans would have done if President Barack Obama had engaged in the same behavior, in regards to Ukraine.

Breaking down media coverage of impeachment voteVideo

“I know the answer to that question with certainty, and so do you. You would have understood with striking clarity the threat it posed, and you would have known exactly what to do,” he says.

While Flake says he does not envy Republican senators’ task, he urges them to avoid “an alternate reality that would have us believe in things that obviously are not true, in the service of executive behavior that we never would have encouraged and a theory of executive power that we have always found abhorrent.”

“If there ever was a time to put country over party, it is now,” he writes. “And by putting country over party, you might just save the Grand Old Party before it’s too late.”

There have been no public signs so far of any mass defection against Trump by GOP senators. Despite rumors that a number of Republicans in the House may break off, no GOP members in the lower chamber voted for impeachment — while a few Democrats voted against.

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It isn’t the first time Flake has indicated he believes that a Senate conviction of Trump is in the realm of possibility. He claimed in September that close to three dozen Republican senators would back ousting the president if the vote was held in private.

"I heard someone say if there were a private vote there would be 30 Republican votes. That's not true," Flake said on Slate's "What Next" podcast. "There would be at least 35."

Fox News’ Joseph Wulfsohn contributed to this report.

Original Article

Top Dems in contention to prosecute Trump impeachment case – if it goes to trial

closeCongress leaves for Christmas break without sending articles of impeachment to the SenateVideo

Congress leaves for Christmas break without sending articles of impeachment to the Senate

Pelosi thanks Democrats for 'moral courage.' Fox News correspondent Todd Piro reports.

It’s the other 2020 horse race — who will make it on House Democrats' star legal team to prosecute the case against President Trump, presuming the newly adopted articles of impeachment go to a Senate trial?

The timetable for all of this remains up in the air, with Congress on recess and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sitting on the two articles alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in a controversial bid to extract favorable terms from the Senate.

But bipartisan sources told Fox News this week that several names have been floated to be Democrats' impeachment "managers" if and when the two chambers can resolve what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now calls an impasse.

Rep. Adam Schiff lays out House Democrats' case for impeachment of President TrumpVideo

DEMS' OWN WITNESS SAYS TRUMP NOT TRULY IMPEACHED UNLESS ARTICLES GO TO SENATE

Likely candidates include House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who led much of the impeachment inquiry out of his committee with dramatic hearings to develop the case against the president; House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., whose panel drafted the articles of impeachment; House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.; and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a constitutional lawyer.

GOP erupts over Nadler delaying impeachment voteVideo

Other possible candidates include Democrats who were more outspoken during the impeachment hearings like Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Eric Swalwell, D-Calif. Sources told Fox News that other names being floated include Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.; Val Demings, D-Fla., who served as the first female police chief in Orlando; and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who was involved in the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton and was a staffer during the congressional investigation into former President Richard Nixon.

During Clinton’s impeachment in 1999, there were 13 House impeachment managers. A source familiar with the planning told Fox News that Pelosi is expected to appoint fewer than that.

Meanwhile, it is unclear who could serve on President Trump’s defense team. According to a White House official familiar with impeachment planning, there has not yet been a decision on whether White House Counsel Pat Cipollone would run the defense of the president. Congressional sources have also suggested that top House Republicans could aid in the president’s defense.

But Pelosi, D-Calif., has not yet transmitted the articles of impeachment to the Senate, indicating she wants reassurances that the Senate would hold a fair trial, likely involving certain Democrat-sought witnesses, before sending over the charges.

MCCONNELL: 'IMPASSE' OVER IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, AS DEMS PART FROM PRECEDENT

McConnell, R-Ky., speaking on the floor Thursday, seemed baffled at Pelosi’s move to withhold the articles, arguing that the House speaker doesn’t have the leverage she thinks she does.

“Some House Democrats imply they are withholding the articles for some kind of leverage,” McConnell said. “I admit, I’m not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want. Alas, if they can figure that out, they can explain.”

He added: “Following weeks of pronouncements about the urgency of the situation, urgent situation, the prosecutors appear to have developed cold feet. Democrat prosecution seems to have gotten cold feet and be unsure about whether they want to proceed to the trial. Like I said, a very unusual spectacle, and in my view, certainly not one that reflects well on the House.”

Despite McConnell saying the Senate doesn’t actually “want” to receive the articles, President Trump has called for an immediate trial and is evidently looking for his day in court to be acquitted for the alleged crimes surrounding his efforts to pressure Ukraine to launch politically advantageous investigations. The request came after the administration had withheld millions in military aid to Ukraine, though Trump has denied any quid pro quo was at play.

“I got Impeached last night without one Republican vote being cast with the Do Nothing Dems on their continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but it’s the Senate’s call!”

Fox News' John Roberts contributed to this report.

Original Article

McConnell: ‘Impasse’ over Trump impeachment trial, Dems have ‘cold feet’

closeArticles of impeachment will sit in House until 2020 as lawmakers leave Washington for holiday recessVideo

Articles of impeachment will sit in House until 2020 as lawmakers leave Washington for holiday recess

Nancy Pelosi says she's holding out for assurances there will be a fair trial in the Senate; chief congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel reports from Capitol Hill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., incredulously declared on the Senate floor late Thursday that the Senate and House Democrats were at an "impasse" over whether the House would transmit its articles of impeachment against President Trump to the GOP-controlled Senate for a constitutionally mandated trial.

McConnell, speaking after a meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the top Democrat had insisted on "departing from the unanimous bipartisan precedent that 100 senators approved before the beginning of President [Bill] Clinton's trial" concerning logistics.

The back-and-forth rhetoric comes as Noah Feldman, the Harvard Law School professor who testified for Democrats at the impeachment inquiry earlier this month, wrote an op-ed asserting that if Democrats do not forward the impeachment articles to the Senate as dictated by the Constitution, then Trump was never even impeached at all.

MCCARTHY MOCKS PELOSI FOR SHOOTING DOWN IMPEACHMENT QUESTIONS FROM REPORTERS

Schumer had requested a "special pre-trial guarantee of certain witnesses whom the House Democrats, themselves, did not bother to pursue as they assemble their case," McConnell said. He noted that in 1999, "all 100 senators endorsed a common-sense solution" to divide the process into two stages: one laying the groundwork for rules on matters such as opening statements, with another handling "mid-trial questions such as witnesses."

Schumer accuses McConnell of plotting the most rushed Senate impeachment trial in historyVideo

"Some House Democrats imply they are withholding the [impeachment] articles for some kind of leverage," McConnell said. "I admit, I'm not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want. Alas, if they can figure that out, they can explain."

He continued: "Following weeks of pronouncements about the urgency of the situation, urgent situation, the prosecutors appear to have developed cold feet. Democrat prosecution seems to gotten cold feet, and to be unsure about whether they want to proceed to the trial, like I said, a very unusual spectacle. And in my view, certainly not one that reflects well on the House.

"So we'll see we'll see whether House Democrats ever want to work up the courage to actually take their accusation to trial," McConnell concluded, after slamming Democrats for advancing a "muddled" message on the topic. "Let me close with this, Mr. President. I am proud the Senate came together today to confirm more well-qualified nominees and pass major legislation for the American people."

Earlier in the day, McConnell delivered a separate address, which Schumer bashed as a "30-minute partisan stem-winder."

"This particular House of Representatives has let its partisan rage at this particular president create a toxic new precedent that will echo well into the future,” McConnell said on the floor.

IMPEACHMENT VOTE MAY UNDERCUT DEMS' COURT CASES AGAINST TRUMP ADMIN, DC APPELLATE COURT SUGGESTS

"Is the president’s case so weak that none of the president’s men can defend him under oath?" Schumer asked. "If the House’s case is so weak, why is Leader McConnell so afraid of witnesses and documents?"

President Trump takes aim at House Speaker Pelosi for not sending articles of impeachment to the SenateVideo

Feldman, in his op-ed, cautioned that impeachment "means the House sending its approved articles of impeachment to the Senate, with House managers standing up in the Senate and saying the president is impeached."

Therefore, "if the House does not communicate its impeachment to the Senate, it hasn’t actually impeached the president," Feldman said." If the articles are not transmitted, Trump could legitimately say that he wasn’t truly impeached at all."

Late Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., floated the possibility that the House would not send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, where McConnell likely would oversee a strong defense of the president that could prove politically damaging for vulnerable Democrats.

"We’ll make a decision… as we go along." Pelosi told reporters, adding that "we'll see what the process will be on the Senate side."

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On Thursday, Pelosi hastily shot down questions on impeachment and sending the articles to the Senate, prompting mockery from top GOP officials.

In 1998, after the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, the House sent the charges off to the Senate within minutes. This time around, the House may want to hold onto the articles as leverage to extract concessions from Senate Republicans — or to bury impeachment, as it proves increasingly unpopular among moderates in key battleground states.

Original Article

Reporter’s Notebook: Senate impeachment trial could be biggest reality TV show of all time

closeFitton on impeachment: Trump being abused, Constitution being attackedVideo

Fitton on impeachment: Trump being abused, Constitution being attacked

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton reacts to House vote on impeachment articles.

The Senate has a specific set of 25 rules which dictate operations for a Senate impeachment trial. But the Senate’s only conducted 17 impeachment trials in history. No one knows how President Trump’s prospective Senate trial may look. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have wrestled for days about the possibilities of a Senate trial. So far, neither side is giving any quarter.

Senate impeachment trial rules are vague. They only say the Senate holds the trial six days a week, starting at 1 in the afternoon, Saturdays included.

There are only a few things the Senate has to do with the trial. One of them is present the House’s impeachment articles to the Senate out loud. Former Senate Sergeant at Arms James Ziglar announced that the House was “exhibiting to the Senate of the United States, articles of impeachment against William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States” on January 7, 1999. On January 14, 1999, the late House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., laid out the House’s case to the Senate.

“We the managers of the House are here to set forth the evidence in support of two articles of impeachment against President William Jefferson Clinton,” said Hyde.

And after the managers speak to the Senate, pretty much anything can happen.

Clinton’s Senate trial ran about five weeks in January and February 1999 before the Senate voted to acquit. But no one is quite sure how long Trump’s trial could run. After the Senate verbally announces the charges and receives the House managers, anything can happen.

“Impeachment trials of the president of the United States are extremely rare. We really do not have a great deal of precedent on which to rely,” said former Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin, the body’s head referee. “The potential playing field is as yet defined. The lines are not on the field yet. I don't know if it's going to be 100 yards or 200 yards field and whether you can get a first down or a series of first downs and keep going.”

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over any Senate trial. But no one will have more influence over a Senate trial than McConnell.

“We don’t create impeachments. We judge them,” said McConnell.

But the Kentucky Republican says he’s coordinated with the White House about what the administration wants in a Senate trial.

THE LATEST FROM FOX NEWS ON THE TRUMP IMPEACHMENT

Nancy Pelosi speaks after House votes to impeach President TrumpVideo

Trump says he’s open to either a short or long trial. There’s been talk of the president appearing himself in a trial. Maybe calling the Bidens, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as witnesses.

Schumer tried to preempt GOP messaging on a Senate trial by making requests for when a trial should start, how much debate the Senate should allocate for closing arguments which witnesses the Democrats would like to see testify.

Schumer is executing an interesting gambit. Schumer and Democrats have long portrayed McConnell as keeper of the legislative “graveyard,” capitalizing on his self-assigned nickname as the “Grim Reaper.” Schumer essentially dared McConnell to say no to Democratic demands. The New York Democrat suspects McConnell would:

  1. Fail to implement any of the Democrats requests.
  2. Rush the Senate trial to the point that Democrats think senators never gave the House charges a fair hearing and abused the impeachment process.
  3. Conducts a trial which favors the president, since McConnell says he’s working with the administration to implement about what Trump wants from the GOP-controlled Senate.

Schumer then will attempt to add to the narrative that McConnell is indeed “the Grim Reaper.” Moreover, Democrats will weaponize such the Senate’s handling of a trial (and perhaps actual roll call votes in a Senate trial) against vulnerable Republicans facing challenging reelection bids in 2020: Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz.

Schumer wants Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton to testify – among others.

McConnell is cool to the idea.

“If the Senate volunteers ourselves to do House Democrats’ homework for them, we will only incentivize an endless stream of dubious partisan impeachments in the future,” said the majority leader.

A Senate trial with witnesses could produce one of the most surreal spectacles in American history.

That’s why even some key Republicans are leery of an unorthodox scene, and what it could mean for the integrity of the Senate.

Graham: Pelosi would lose her job if she didn't move toward impeachmentVideo

“I'm getting a lot of pushback from the right on this,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “You know everybody's dying to hear from Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and prove that there was corruption on their part, and to get Schiff. Shifty Schiff and all that good stuff. I'm really worried about where this could take the country.”

Like Graham, senators who served more than two decades ago also fretted about Clinton’s impeachment trial. Then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss. says there were concerns about publicly airing salacious details about Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

“There were some that wanted to have witnesses on the floor of the Senate in the well. Bill Clinton. Monica Lewinsky. And I said, no. We're not going to demean this institution to that degree,” said Lott.

That’s why Lott and then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., forged a pact. The leaders convened a conclave of all 100 senators in the Old Senate chamber. Lott and Daschle forged a pact on how to conduct Clinton’s trial. It’s unclear if senators can form a bipartisan accord for Trump’s trial in today’s toxic political climate.

“If they don’t do this in the right way and they have witnesses on the floor, I think it takes on a context that could be harmful,” observed Lott. “It's bad enough and if this turns into an absolutely mudslinging process, it'll make things even worse.”

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A Senate trial isn’t expected to begin until January. And, Lott and Daschle didn’t reach their agreement until just before Clinton’s trial started two decades ago. And if there’s no pact on a Senate trial, Trump could find himself in a familiar spot: the star in a Senate trial.

Perhaps the biggest political reality TV show of all time.

Original Article

Kellyanne Conway weighs in on looming Senate impeachment trial

closeFox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 18Video

Fox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 18

Fox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 18 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com

Top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway wouldn't confirm if the White House is hoping for a shorter Senate trial after the House of Representatives passed two articles of impeachment against President Trump on Wednesday night, instead likening the charges to those "on a Post-it note."

Conway said at a presser before the vote that the Senate could "breeze through" the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress lodged against Trump, "as opposed to meaty ones that actually appear in the Constitution like treason and bribery, high crimes and misdemeanor," which he was not charged with.

HOUSE IMPEACHES TRUMP OVER UKRAINE DEALINGS, AS PELOSI FLOATS HOLDING UP SENATE TRIAL

Still, Conway said she doesn't "have an endorsement for [a] short," trial, adding: "I have an endorsement for full and fair."

Conway met with members of the Senate ahead of the House vote to go over various aspects of the upcoming trial including judges, strategy, messaging, public opinion and precedent, she told reporters.

Although she declined to offer specific names of those on Trump's legal team who would be defending him, she reiterated that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone would be leading the charge.

Conway insisted that Hunter Biden, 2020 Democratic contender Joe Biden's son — whom Trump allegedly asked the leader of Ukraine to look into and which is the crux of the impeachment investigation — should testify in the Senate.

"He's definitely a fact witness here," she said.

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A staunch defender of Trump, Conway attempted to downplay the impact the impeachment vote was having on the president, saying he was "doing fine" and instead pivoted to the Democratic debates slated to take place on Thusrday night.

"If I were a 2020 Democrat, I'd be hopping mad," she added. "They're having a debate tomorrow, does anybody notice or care?"

Original Article

Could Dems defect in Trump impeachment trial? McConnell sees opening

closeVideo

<br>

Speaking on impeachment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says House Democrats are conducting

The Democratic senators who hail from states won by President Trump in 2016 are being eyed as possible acquittal votes in a Senate impeachment trial, as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he believes at least a Democrat or two could defect.

It comes as the House barrels toward a floor vote on impeachment planned for Wednesday. If articles of impeachment are approved as expected, the Senate would follow with a trial in early 2020 where senators act as jurors.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if we got one or two Democrats,” McConnell, R-Ky., said during a recent appearance on Fox News' “Hannity."

HANNITY EXCLUSIVE: MCCONNELL SAYS 'ZERO CHANCE' TRUMP IS REMOVED, 'ONE OR TWO DEMOCRATS' COULD VOTE TO ACQUIT

The most popular parlor game right now in Washington focuses on the House side — specifically, on which Democrats from Trump-won districts would vote to impeach, or defect, even though impeachment is widely seen as inevitable. On the Senate side, where Republicans hold the majority and the threshold for conviction is a steep two-thirds majority, Trump is expected to easily be acquitted. But Republicans nevertheless would like to peel off a Democrat or more in the upper chamber, which could make the vote bipartisan.

A source familiar with Senate impeachment trial plans told Fox News that Republicans believe the Democrats most likely to vote to acquit are Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., both of whom represent red states that went for Trump in 2016.

Manchin is still undecided, according to a source familiar with his thinking. In a recent appearance on CNN, Manchin said, "I'm very much torn on it. I think it weighs on everybody."

Another source said they believe Jones — who is up for re-election next year in the pro-Trump state and is often considered the most vulnerable incumbent — is likely to be the first Democrat defection.

Jones told a local interviewer this week that “I’m concerned that the impeachment inquiry is going to hurt the country," lamenting how it has become such "a partisan issue now."

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, and Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., are believed to be possible votes to acquit the president in an impeachment trial. (AP/Reuters)

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, and Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., are believed to be possible votes to acquit the president in an impeachment trial. (AP/Reuters)

Other Democratic senators believed to be in play are Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. Trump carried both states in 2016.

Sinema is the first Democrat elected to represent the typically red-leaning state in the Senate since 1995. Sinema has not signaled publicly which way she would vote on impeachment.

Peters recently told local journalists that, "It’s important to collect all of the facts regarding the situation, and certainly what facts are out there are very troublesome."

“Those four Democrats are damned if they do and damned if they don’t,” a senior GOP aide told Fox News, referring to Manchin, Jones, Peters and Sinema. “They will have to resist the Trump derangement syndrome that is consuming their Democrat colleagues.”

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are making the case that Republicans could join them in a vote to convict Trump. Those most often mentioned as possibilities are Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who has not shied from criticizing Trump; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who sometimes crosses party lines in votes.

But Republican sources told Fox News that none of those lawmakers have signaled any movement on the final Senate vote on whether to remove the president from office, and McConnell has said it has been his goal from the beginning to keep Republicans together on the issue.

The source also told Fox News that a recent letter penned by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., laying out his proposed parameters for what a Senate impeachment trial would look like and which witnesses should be included did not move the needle one way or the other for Republicans whose votes could be wavering.

IN TRUMP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, SENATE GOP COULD TURN TABLES ON DEMS

<br>Video

“My hope is that there won’t be a single Republican who votes for either of these articles in the House,” McConnell told “Hannity,” while also saying that the impeachment case is “so darn weak” and that the outcome is easy to predict.

“There is no chance the president is going to be removed from office,” McConnell said last week, noting that he has “no choice but to take it up” but the trial would be “in total coordination with the White House counsel’s office and the people who are representing the president.”

At the center of the impeachment inquiry is Trump’s efforts to press Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch politically related investigations—regarding former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s dealings in Ukraine, as well as issues related to the 2016 presidential election. The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats have argued shows a “quid pro quo” arrangement. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

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The House Judiciary Committee on Friday voted to adopt two articles of impeachment against Trump, alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, on a party-line vote of 23-17. A final roll call in the full House is expected Wednesday.

A massive impeachment report issued this past weekend by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., stated: "This continued solicitation of foreign interference in a U.S. election, as well as President Trump’s other actions, present a clear and present danger that the President will continue to use the power of his office for his personal political gain."

Original Article

McConnell slams door on impeachment trial witnesses

closeMcConnell rips Schumer's requests for Senate impeachment trial: This could set a 'nightmarish precedent'Video

McConnell rips Schumer's requests for Senate impeachment trial: This could set a 'nightmarish precedent'

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell accuses Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer's letter of misquoting the Constitution and misunderstanding the impeachment process.

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On the roster: McConnell slams door on impeachment trial witnesses – Congress readies rush vote on porky spending plan – Dems settle union hash to save debate – House GOP stalwart Walker quits after redistricting – Next time, stick with the little trees
MCCONNELL SLAMS DOOR ON IMPEACHMENT TRIAL WITNESSES
WaPo: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday rejected calls from his Democratic counterpart to subpoena new witnesses in a Senate trial of President Trump, calling it ‘a strange request at this juncture.’ McConnell was responding to a letter from Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) seeking testimony from senior administration officials, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who declined to appear in House impeachment proceedings. The House, meanwhile, was expected to move one step closer to impeaching Trump on Tuesday, as the Rules Committee prepared to meet to set the parameters for the historic debate on Wednesday over Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine. … Two Democratic aides said Tuesday that a procedural measure setting up debate on the articles will empower House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to name managers ‘at any point’ after the House votes to impeach Trump.”
Swing district Dems fall in, setting up Wednesday vote – WSJ: “More Democrats from competitive House districts said they will back the impeachment of President Trump, putting the effort on track to pass this week despite some fears that their position could put their seats at risk. The House plans to vote on Wednesday. With Mr. Trump’s impeachment looking likely, Democratic leaders are also to soon announce which members had been suggested as impeachment managers – essentially prosecutors – during the Senate trial, which is expected to kick off in January. Democrats have largely united behind impeachment. By Monday afternoon, at least 17 from the 31 Democratic-held districts that Mr. Trump won in the 2016 presidential race had announced they would support the abuse-of-power and obstruction of Congress charges, according to a Wall Street Journal survey, with two saying they are opposed.”
Voters not budging – WaPo: “As the House prepares to vote on two articles of impeachment against President Trump, Americans remain both deeply divided and locked into their positions over which course lawmakers should pursue, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. … Despite the stalemate, most Democrats and Republicans alike expect that a likely Senate impeachment trial will give Trump a fair hearing. Bipartisan majorities, including almost 2 in 3 Republicans, also say he should allow his top aides to testify, something he blocked during the House inquiry. On the eve of the House vote, 49 percent of Americans say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 46 percent say he should not. Those are essentially identical to findings at the end of October, when 49 percent favored impeachment and removal and 47 percent opposed.”
Q Poll: Independents oppose impeachment – Quinnipiac University: “Republicans say President Trump should not be impeached from office 95 – 5 percent, independents say the president should not be impeached and removed from office 58 – 36 percent, while Democrats say President Trump should be impeached and removed from office 86 – 11 percent. Nearly 9 out of 10 voters who have an opinion, 87 percent, say their mind is made up about impeachment, while 12 percent say they might change their mind.”
CONGRESS READIES RUSH VOTE ON PORKY SPENDING PLAN
AP: “House leaders on Monday unveiled a $1.4 trillion government-wide spending package that’s carrying an unusually large load of unrelated provisions catching a ride on the last train out of Congress this year. A House vote is slated for Tuesday on the sprawling package, some 2,313 pages long, as lawmakers wrap up reams of unfinished work — and vote on impeaching President Donald Trump. The legislation would forestall a government shutdown this weekend and give Trump steady funding for his U.S.-Mexico border fence. The year-end package is anchored by a $1.4 trillion spending measure that caps a difficult, months-long battle over spending priorities. … The bill would also increase the age nationwide for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21, and offers business-friendly provisions on export financing, flood insurance and immigrant workers.”
THE RULEBOOK: PEN OR SWORD?
“It is a singular instance of the capriciousness of the human mind, that after all the admonitions we have had from experience on this head, there should still be found men who object to the new Constitution, for deviating from a principle which has been found the bane of the old, and which is in itself evidently incompatible with the idea of GOVERNMENT; a principle, in short, which, if it is to be executed at all, must substitute the violent and sanguinary agency of the sword to the mild influence of the magistracy.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 15
TIME OUT: DNA FROM ABC GUM
Smithsonian: “Some of the first chewing gums, made of birch tar and other natural substances, have been preserved for thousands of years, including a 5,700-year-old piece of Stone Age gum unearthed in Denmark. For archaeologists, the sticky stuff’s longevity can help piece together the lives of ancient peoples who masticated on the chewy tar. The ancient birch gum in Scandinavia preserved enough DNA to reconstruct the full human genome of its ancient chewer, identify the microbes that lived in her mouth, and even reveal the menu of a prehistoric meal. … Birch pitch, made by heating the tree’s bark, was commonly used across Scandinavia as a prehistoric glue for attaching stone tools to handles. When found, it commonly contains tooth marks. Scientists suspect several reasons why people would have chewed it: to make it malleable once again after it cooled, to ease toothaches because it’s mildly antiseptic, to clean teeth, to ease hunger pains, or simply because they enjoyed it.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
SCOREBOARD
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 26.6 points (no change in points from last wk.)
Sanders: 18 points (↑ 0.6 points from last wk.)
Warren: 14.8 points (↓ 3.4 points from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 9.2 points (↓ 0.8 points from last wk.)
Bloomberg: 5.4 points (first listing)
[Averages include: Quinnipiac University, USA Today/Suffolk University, NPR/PBS/Marist, Fox News and IBD.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 44.4 percent
Average disapproval: 51.8 percent
Net Score: -7.4 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 2.2 points
[Average includes: CNN: 44% approve – 52% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 43% approve – 52% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk University: 48% approve – 50% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 43% approve – 53% disapprove; IBD: 44% approve – 52% disapprove.]
WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT?
You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. Go behind-the-scenes of your favorite political note as they go through the must-read headlines of the day right from their office – with plenty of personality. Click here to sign up and watch!
DEMS SETTLE UNION HASH TO SAVE DEBATE
Fox News: “A tentative agreement has been struck in a labor dispute between food service workers and their employer at Loyola Marymount University that threatened to derail Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate. The food services company Sodexo negotiated late into Monday evening with their employees at Loyola Marymount University to secure a tentative contract agreement. A formal vote is expected to take place on Tuesday. Unite Here Local 11 – the labor union representing the workers – said last Friday that they would picket the debate at the Los Angeles-area school if no agreement was reached with Sodexo. All seven Democratic presidential candidates who qualified for the debate said they wouldn’t cross a picket line to take the stage, which threw the debate into limbo. The three-year tentative agreement includes a 25 percent increase in salary, a 50 percent drop in health care costs, and increases in workers’ job security. All sides are expected to release more details at a Tuesday afternoon news conference in Los Angeles.”
Biden still rising in Q Poll – Quinnipiac University: “In the Democratic primary race for president, former Vice President Joe Biden leads the field with 30 percent of the vote among Democratic voters and independent voters who lean Democratic. Biden is followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 17 percent, Sen. Bernie Sanders with 16 percent, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 9 percent. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has 7 percent, while businessman Andrew Yang and Sen. Amy Klobuchar get 3 percent each. No other candidate tops 2 percent. There is still a lot of room for movement in the Democratic primary as 61 percent say they might change their mind, while 38 percent say their mind is made up.”
New scrutiny for old harassment claims against Bloomberg – ABC News: “Mike Bloomberg has on repeated occasions faced and fought allegations that he directed crude and sexist comments to women in his office, including a claim in the 1990s that he told an employee who had just announced she was pregnant to ‘kill it.’ …[O]ver the years a number of women have alleged in legal filings that Bloomberg’s use of lewd comments around co-workers fostered a frat-like culture at the company he founded and still owns. … Quotes attributed to him in court filings include, ‘I’d like to do that piece of meat,’ and ‘I would DO you in a second.’ Court records reviewed by ABC News indicate that at least 17 women have taken legal action against the company over the past three decades, with three of the cases specifically naming Bloomberg for his role in the company’s culture. None of the cases made it to trial…”
Can Warren and Sanders stay friendly? – NYT: “For center-left Democrats, that’s exactly their hope — that [Warren and Sanders] divide votes in so many contests that neither is able to capture the nomination. Moderates in the party fear that if Ms. Warren or Mr. Sanders pull away — or if they ultimately join forces — the ticket would unnerve independent voters and go down in defeat against President Trump. Interviews with aides from both camps — who spoke on the condition they not be named because they warn their own surrogates not to criticize the other — produce a common refrain. The two candidates are loath to attack each other because they fear negativity would merely antagonize the other’s supporters. The only way to eventually poach the other’s voters, each campaign believes, is by winning considerably more votes in the first caucuses and primaries.”
HOUSE GOP STALWART WALKER QUITS AFTER REDISTRICTING
Politico: “Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) won't seek public office next year, backing off after threatening to primary GOP Sen. Thom Tillis and two members of his own delegation. He announced his decision Monday, a stunning outcome for the ambitious politician just weeks after court-prompted redistricting turned his reliably Republican seat in north-central North Carolina into safe Democratic territory. Walker, a member of House GOP leadership and former chairman of the Republican Study Committee, was first elected to an open seat in 2014. In the statement, Walker said he would seriously consider running for Senate in 2022, when GOP Sen. Richard Burr is expected to retire after finishing his current term. Walker initially seemed desperate to remain on the ballot in 2020.”
Dems play favorites in Texas Senate primary – Texas Tribune: “The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is endorsing MJ Hegar in the crowded primary to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. The move by the DSCC, the political arm of Senate Democrats, is one of the biggest developments yet in the nominating contest, which has drawn a dozen candidates — some more serious than others but no decisive frontrunners. The endorsement drew pushback from at least four of Hegar's competitors, two of whom accused national Democrats of snubbing more diverse candidates for Hegar, who is white.”
PLAY-BY-PLAY
Walter Russell Mead
: A Burkean landslide in Britain – WSJ
GOP push to reform FISA gains momentum in wake of Horowitz report
Fox News
AUDIBLE: ICONOGRAPHY
“Obviously his hair, obviously just how big he is, and just his eyes. I mean just everything about him.” – NYT photographer Doug Mills in an interview with CBS News explaining why President Trump is the most iconic president he’s photographed.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I saw you on [Special Report with] Bret Baier discussing the upcoming Democratic debate, and the qualification rules that are preventing some minority candidates from appearing on the debate stage. Aren’t Cory Booker and Julian Castro just asking the Democratic Party for a little affirmative action? It seems hypocritical to me for the Democrats to push affirmative action for everyone else, but not themselves. Your thoughts?” – Kevin Cook, Farmers Branch, Texas
[Ed. note: I don’t know about that, but I do know that the main purpose of political parties is choosing candidates to compete in and, they hope, win elections. It’s reasonable to argue that Democrats would be ill-served in the election to have a white, male nominee in his late 70s when mobilizing younger, female and minority voters is a party. It’s equally reasonable to argue, though, that it’s important for Democrats to have a candidate who can connect with working-class, older white voters who shunned the party in 2016. But those are debates between candidates and campaigns, not for the party itself. I also think the DNC is getting a raw deal here. Their debate thresholds have been, if anything, far too permissive, as evinced by the fact that we’re only seeing fewer than 10 candidates on stage for the first time in December.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
NEXT TIME, STICK WITH THE LITTLE TREES
Fox News: “A driver in England accidentally blew up his car when he lit a cigarette after spraying air freshener inside, officials said. The unidentified man sprayed an ‘excessive’ amount of aerosol spray in his car, which was parked in Halifax, West Yorkshire, on Saturday when he decided to grab a cigarette. Witnesses told the Manchester Evening News they heard an ‘enormous bang’ — and saw the car's windows shatter and nearby buildings shake. The driver reportedly made it out of the car with minor injuries and was treated by first responders, but West Yorkshire Police said in a statement the situation ‘could have been worse.’ ‘The owner of a car parked on that street and had used an air freshener can but not ventilated his car before lighting his cigarette,’ West Yorkshire Police said in a statement. ‘The fumes exploded and blew out his windscreen, along with some windows at nearby business premises.’”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“A standardized math test was given to 13-year-olds in six countries last year. Koreans did the best. Americans did the worst, coming in behind Spain, Britain, Ireland and Canada. Now the bad news. Besides being shown triangles and equations, the kids were shown the statement ‘I am good at mathematics.’ Koreans came last in this category. Only 23% answered yes. Americans were No. 1, with an impressive 68% in agreement. American students may not know their math, but they have evidently absorbed the lessons of the newly fashionable self-esteem curriculum wherein kids are taught to feel good about themselves.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on Feb. 5, 1990.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Original Article

Schumer says he wants impeachment trial focused on facts, not ‘conspiracy theories’ as he balks at GOP calling witnesses

closeSen. Schumer: If Republicans refuse witnesses they’re 'engaged in a cover-up'Video

Sen. Schumer: If Republicans refuse witnesses they’re 'engaged in a cover-up'

Chuck Schumer makes his plea to Republicans for witnesses at the Senate trial for impeachment

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said during a news conference Monday that any Senate impeachment trial should be “focused on the facts that the House presented, not on conspiracy theories” – an apparent slight at Republican attempts to alleviate blame on President Trump by casting aspersions on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine.

“I think the trial should be focused on the facts that the House presented, not on conspiracy theories that some established liar puts forward,” Schumer said just hours after publically releasing a letter he sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., outlining how he would like a Senate impeachment trial to proceed.

Schumer added: “We ought to stick to the facts, and if there are other witnesses who might have witnessed what happened, who might have very strong evidence on the facts that the House presented. I'd certainly want to hear who they are.”

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In his letter to McConnell, the New York Democrat specifically asked that four witnesses be called during the trial: Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff; Robert Blair, a senior Mulvaney adviser; John Bolton, the former nation-security adviser; and Michael Duffey of the Office of Management and Budget.

“These are the four who have the most direct contact to the facts that are in dispute — most particularly, why was the aid to Ukraine delayed?” Schumer said. “There is no reason on God's green earth why they shouldn't be called and testify unless you're afraid of what they might say.”

Schumer: McConnell taking cues from White House; 'very partisan, very slanted, very unfair'Video

Republicans in the Senate, however, have signaled their interest in calling different witnesses in a Trump trial — such as Hunter Biden and former Democratic National Committee consultant Alexandra Chalupa, both of whom Republicans in the House tried to call only to be blocked by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

At the center of the impeachment inquiry: allegations that Trump tried pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch politically related investigations regarding the Bidens’ dealings in Ukraine, as well as issues related to the 2016 presidential election. The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats have argued showed a “quid pro quo” arrangement. Trump and the White House repeatedly have denied any wrongdoing.

The House Judiciary Committee last week voted to adopt two articles of impeachment against Trump, alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, on a party-line vote of 23-17. A final roll call in the full House is expected this week.

Sen. Chuck Schumer: Democrats are committed to having a fair trial in the SenateVideo

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Schumer also responded to criticism that during the Senate impeachment trial of then-President Bill Clinton in 1999, he had adamantly opposed calling witnesses to testify before the upper chamber of Congress.

“The witnesses in 1999 had already given grand jury testimony. We knew what they were to say,” he said. “The four witnesses we've called have not been heard from. That is a big difference.”

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

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John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney included in Senate Dems’ wish list for impeachment trial

closeEric Shawn: President Trump's impeachment edgeVideo

Eric Shawn: President Trump's impeachment edge

Judy Miller on the unexpected political impact of the proceedings.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Sunday sent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a letter outlining the parameters for a weekslong Senate impeachment trial, including the proposal that former National Security Adviser John Bolton and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney be subpoenaed to testify.

Bolton and Mulvaney were among four new witnesses whose testimonies Democrats were seeking for the impeachment trial over President Trump's actions toward Ukraine.

In the letter, Schumer proposed the structure for a "fair and honest'' trial, in an attempt to launch negotiations ahead of House voting this week.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., laid out his requests for an impeachment trial in a letter Sunday.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., laid out his requests for an impeachment trial in a letter Sunday. (AP, File)

Trump is accused of abusing his presidential power by asking Ukraine to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, while holding American military aid as leverage, and obstructing Congress by blocking the House's efforts to investigate his actions. Trump and the White House repeatedly have denied he did anything wrong.

An impeachment vote is widely expected in the Democrat-controlled House, but likely will be quashed in the Senate, where Republicans have held the majority. McConnell has signaled his preference for a speedy trial.

Schumer wrote in his letter that the trial must "be one that not only hears all of the evidence and adjudicates the case fairly; it must also pass the fairness test with the American people."

Schumer also proposed a detailed structure and timeline for a trial to begin Jan. 7, with the swearing-in of Chief Justice John Roberts to oversee the proceedings and stretching for several weeks as Democrats subpoena witnesses and testimony.

John Bolton returns to Twitter, asks whether White House is afraid of what he may have to sayVideo

A recent book claimed that Bolton labeled the alternative foreign policy being run by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and others as a "drug deal," and he wanted no part of it. He left his post in September.

TRUMP TAKES NASTY DIG AT PELOSI IN LATEST SLAM OF HOUSE DEMS

In addition to Bolton and Mulvaney, Schumer said Democrats also wanted testimony from two other White House officials: Robert Blair, a top Mulvaney aide, and Michael Duffey, a budget official who was tasked with handling the Ukraine issue.

Should Mick Mulvaney remain Trump's chief of staff amid impeachment probe?Video

Schumer additionally set out a specific schedule that would allow for 24 hours of opening arguments by the House Democrats' impeachment managers and then 24 hours for the White House lawyers to present their arguments, followed by days of witness testimony.

A spokesman for McConnell told Fox News that the Senate majority leader “has made it clear he plans to meet with Leader Schumer to discuss the contours of a trial soon. That timeline has not changed.”

McConnell has made clear in recent days his preference for a speedy trial without calling witnesses, as other Republicans said they feared it could become a spectacle.

Appearing on CBS News' “Face the Nation'' Sunday, top ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he also preferred a swift trial.

"I'd tell the president, if somebody is ready to acquit you, I'd sort of get out of the way," Graham said. He warned that calling witnesses could mean that Trump administration officials such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whom the White House previously blocked from appearing before investigators, could be forced to testify.

"I understand the president's frustration, but I think what's best for the country is to get this thing over with," Graham said. "I clearly made up my mind. I'm not trying to hide the fact that I have disdain for the accusations in the process, so I don't need any witnesses."

Trump has lashed out repeatedly against impeachment and has told confidants that even if he's acquitted in the Senate as expected, it will mark a stain on his legacy.

"The Impeachment Hoax is just a continuation of the Witch Hunt which has been going on for 3 years. We will win!" Trump tweeted Sunday.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Sunday on ABC News' “This Week” that Trump should be able to call witnesses, including Biden's son Hunter and the whistleblower who reported Trump's July telephone conversation with Ukraine's president.

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Hunter Biden was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company while his father was vice president, and Trump has alleged that Joe Biden got a Ukrainian prosecutor fired because the prosecutor was looking into the energy company. The U.S. and many other Western governments had pushed for the prosecutor's ouster, saying he was soft on crime.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article