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What Now?! – February 1, 2020

The U.S. Senate voted 51 to 49 to reject calling new witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the decision makes this a “sham trial.”

Congressional officials told NBC News that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have agreed to a proposal that would wrap up the impeachment trial on Wednesday.

A Trump administration official echoed that prediction to the Washington Post raising the possibility that the Senate “could take up a new procedural resolution laying out rules for the trial’s endgame — which could include time for closing arguments, private deliberations and public speeches by senators.” “The Senate passed such a supplemental resolution in the middle of the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.”

Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly again weighed in on the impeachment proceedings, telling NJ Advance Media that a trial without witnesses should be considered “half a trial.” Said Kelly: “In my view, they kind of leave themselves open to a lot of criticism. It seems it was half a trial.”

Meanwhile, the bombshells keep dropping, making these corrupt Senate Republicans look criminally complicit and absurdly evil.

“More than two months before he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents, President Trump directed John Bolton, then his national security adviser, to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Trump gave the instruction, Mr. Bolton wrote, during an Oval Office conversation in early May that included the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, who is now leading the president’s impeachment defense.”

“The previously undisclosed directive that Mr. Bolton describes would be the earliest known instance of Mr. Trump seeking to harness the power of the United States government to advance his pressure campaign against Ukraine.”

“As the Senate marched toward the final phase of President Trump’s impeachment trial, a handful of Republicans coalesced around a common position: Mr. Trump did what he was accused of — pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival — but should not be removed for it,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Trump has repeatedly insisted that he did nothing wrong with regard to Ukraine, calling his telephone call with the country’s president ‘perfect’ and insisting that the impeachment inquiry was a ‘hoax.’”

“But even as they were poised to acquit him, several Republican senators were rejecting that assertion, saying his actions were wrong and inappropriate — just not grounds for the Senate to oust him.”

Josh Marshall: “To my mind, Democrats have done a good job on this. Their job hasn’t been to remove the President from office because Senate Republicans have made clear they are inflexibly opposed to removing Trump from office literally no matter what he does. What the Impeachment Managers can do and I think have done a decent job of is to make the extent of that commitment and its implications absolutely as clear as possible. That to me is clearly what we’ve seen.

There’s always a strong tendency to take consistent and insistent misbehavior as a baseline. It’s presumed and people look for someone else to blame. So isn’t it Democrats’ fault that Republicans have decided that they will back Donald Trump absolutely no matter what he does? We already see efforts to do just this and paint this as some kind of Democratic failure.”

The answer to that stupidest of all questions is no. Democrats are not to blame for the criminality and corruption of Republicans. No reporter or pundit should be asking any Democrat why Republicans didn’t move. They should be asking Republicans why they ignored the evidence.

Nancy, right on topic, below:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to directly dispute allegations reportedly contained in an unpublished manuscript of former national security adviser John Bolton’s forthcoming book, telling ABC News that he would not comment on press reports “off in the lands of the hypothetical.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the United States will deny entry into the country to any foreign national who poses a risk of transmitting the coronavirus, Axios reports.

New York Times: “The action will restrict all foreign nationals who have been to China — other than immediate family of American citizens and permanent residents — from entering the United States.”

“Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine until last spring when she was ousted following a disinformation campaign by the president’s private lawyer, is retiring — not resigning,” NPR reports.

“Many of the most endangered Republicans have concluded that fully embracing President Trump is their only credible path to victory in November, rallying to his side in the final days of the Senate impeachment fight and indulging his most controversial actions and statements,” the Washington Post reports.

“At-risk Republicans — including those in battlegrounds such as Arizona, Colorado and Georgia — are calculating that a strong economy and an energized pro-Trump base will be enough to carry the party as it works to retain the White House and its Senate majority in 2020, according to interviews and private discussions with more than a dozen Republican senators, Senate aides and veteran strategists and officials.”

“The United Kingdom has left the European Union,” The Guardian reports. “As the clock struck 11pm GMT, the nation officially enacted the biggest constitutional change in living memory and, in doing so, became the first member state ever to leave the EU.”

“The momentous shift follows more than three years of political wrangling that has seen off two prime ministers and brought about radical change within the two main political parties.”

Wall Street Journal: “Citizens from Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan won’t be allowed to apply for visas to immigrate to the U.S. under the policy, which the Trump administration said was designed to tighten security for countries that don’t comply with the U.S. minimum security standards or cooperate to prevent illegal immigration.”

“The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the landmark separation of powers fight over access to President Trump’s financial records on March 31,” The Hill reports.

“A blockbuster ruling on the extent of presidential immunity in the face of congressional oversight and state prosecutorial power is expected by late June, just months ahead of Election Day.”

John Harwood: “Republican hopes of blocking former national security adviser John Bolton’s impeachment testimony highlight the Trump-era GOP’s defining characteristic: its refusal to defy the President under almost any circumstances.”

“President Trump’s vituperative attacks, regularly trained on critics through his vast social media following, make every Republican politician wary of crossing him. But that represents the lesser factor in the party’s fealty.”

“More significantly, decades of American political realignment have tightened the bonds holding Republicans together in any high-stakes fight with Democrats. The ongoing diversification of American society further unites an overwhelmingly white GOP around a shared fear of impending doom.”

“U.S. farm bankruptcy rates jumped 20% in 2019 – to an eight-year high – as financial woes in the U.S. agricultural economy continued in spite of massive federal bail-out funding,” Reuters reports.

George Conway: “Corruption, for all the Trump lawyers’ attempt to muddy the waters with tortured interpretations of the Constitution, is what this impeachment is all about. Trump acted with corrupt intent to damage a political opponent. Testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton seems certain to underscore that point.”

“Which is precisely why Republican senators seem so desperate not to hear it and so willing to entertain a false reading of the Constitution that would effectively render the impeachment clause a nullity. Should they do that, they will have sacrificed their own oaths to protect their own electoral prospects, and the country and the Constitution will have been saddled with a terrible precedent. The Senate will have told Trump that, indeed, he can do whatever he wants.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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