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Trump Impeachment Trial: Republicans Block Chuck Schumer’s Attempt to Subpoena White House Witnesses, Documents

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer holds his weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol, December 17, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

After Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) proposed an amendment Tuesday to the rules for President Trump’s impeachment trial in order to subpoena witnesses and documents from the White House, it failed in a party-line vote.

All 53 Republicans in the GOP-controlled Senate voted against Schumer’s amendment, which asked for any records created by former national-security adviser John Bolton, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and Mulvaney aide Robert Blair regarding the White House’s dealings with Ukraine.

The current rules proposed by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) mirror those of President Bill Clinton’s trial, with a vote to call witnesses occurring only after hearing opening arguments. On Tuesday, McConnell submitted a last-minute change to increase the length of opening arguments from two days to three, as well as to include evidence from the House.

“We’re very glad they moved to three days instead of two so we won’t be hearing arguments at two in the morning, it’s good that they admitted evidence, but the real test will be witnesses and documents,” Schumer said in an impromptu statement to reporters following the vote. “Will our Republican senators put pressure on McConnell so that we really have witnesses and documents?”

It still looks unlikely that Republicans, who have been united in planning a vote for witnesses after opening arguments, will vote for any of Schumer’s amendments before then. Moderate Republican Susan Collins of Maine said in a statement Tuesday that she would “vote to table any attempts by either side to subpoena documents or witnesses before that stage in the trial.”

Following the defeat of his amendment, Schumer proposed another amendment to subpoena State Department witnesses and documents, which is also expected to fail in a party-line vote.

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Trump impeachment trial live updates: Senate rejects Democrats’ effort to subpoena witnesses

-Heated arguments over Senate rules resolution that now calls for 24 hours of arguments over three — not two — days after GOP’s Collins objects

-McConnell, in opening remarks, says, ‘finally, some fairness’

-House managers complain about proposed trial rules, claiming McConnell is orchestrating a cover-up

-On party-line vote, Senate rejects Schumer amendment to subpoena White House witnesses and documents

This is how the day is unfolding. Please check back for updates.

5:20 p.m. Democratic Rep. Val Demings argues Senate must subpoena State Department documents

House manager Val Demings is now making an argument in favor of an amendment to subpoena to State Department for documents related to Ukraine.

Demings, 62, made an impression in questioning witnesses when the testified before both the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.

Unlike the other House managers, Demings doesn’t have a background as a litigator but she did work in the criminal justice system as the first female police chief in the Orlando Police Department, where she served for 27 years.

A Florida State University and Webster University graduate, Demings is the only member of the managing team without a law degree, and the only member with a law enforcement background.

– ABC’s Ben Siegel

4:40 p.m. Senate rejects Schumer amendment calling for a subpoena for White House witnesses and documents

On a party line vote, 53-47, the Senate votes to put aside — or kill — Schumer’s amendment to subpoena witnesses and documents from the White House.

Schumer proposes a new amendment to subpoena documents from the State Department related to calls between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelenskiy.

There will be another two hours of debate on that amendment. McConnell says he will move to table that amendment as well.

He says the White House did respond to subpoena requests with a letter laying out why it saw the subpoenas were invalid – primarily that the House had not voted to authorize an official impeachment inquiry.

“All of those subpoenas were invalid,” he says.

“And that was explained to the House, to manager Schiff and the other chairman of the committees at the time in that October 18th letter. Did the House take any steps to remedy that? Did they try to dispute that? Did they go to court? Did they do anything to resolve that problem? No.”

After Philbin finishes, Schiff speaks again.

“Let’s get this trial started, shall we?” Schiff says in response to the president’s lawyers’ claim that Democrats are pushing for more evidence because the House’s case isn’t strong enough.

“We are ready to present our case. We are ready to call our witnesses. The question is will you let us?” he asks.

As arguments conclude, McConnell makes a motion to put Schumer’s amendment aside.

3:42 p.m. Former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake watches from Senate Gallery

Former Sen. Jeff Flake is in the chamber. He is seated in the upper level that is reserved for staff and guests. He looked over to the press area where reporters are seated and smiled.

The former senator and fierce Trump critic announced in 2017 that he would not seek reelection.

Flake notably has said that if the Senate held a secret ballot to remove Trump from office, more than 30 Republicans would vote to oust him.

3:34 p.m. House manager Zoe Lofgren says documents Democrats want subpoenaed would reveal ‘the truth’

House manager Zoe Lofgren argues Schumer’s amendment to subpoena key evidence from the White House would circumvent President Trump’s efforts to block the House impeachment investigation by refusing to release documents or blocking officials from cooperating.

She says evidence released through Freedom of Information Act requests and messages from Ruddy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas made public after the House impeachment vote show that the White House documents could further implicate the president in wrongdoing concerning the withheld aid to Ukraine.

“The documents include records of the people who may have objected to this scheme, such as Ambassador (John) Bolton. This is an important impeachment case against the president. The most important documents are going to be at the White House. The documents Senator Schumer’s amendment targets would provide clarity and context about president Trump’s scheme,” Lofgren says.

“We don’t know with certainty what the documents will say. We simply want the truth … whatever that truth may be. So, so do the American people. They want to know the truth. And so should everybody in this chamber regardless of our party affiliation,” she adds.

Lofgren points out that multiple witnesses in the House investigation testified they took detailed, handwritten notes around relevant events like the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelenskiy.

She says documents like those notes would provide a first-hand look at how Trump’s behavior was perceived by those around him at the time.

3:26 p.m. Schiff argues the president’s lawyers didn’t even mention the rules resolution

After the break, Schiff pushes back on accusations from the president’s lawyers that the House impeachment proceedings were unfair and that Republicans and representatives of the president weren’t allowed to participate. He says it is “just plain wrong” to say Republicans weren’t allowed in the depositions with witnesses or that the president wasn’t allowed to send a representative to Judiciary Committee proceedings.

“I’m not going to suggest to you they are being deliberately misleading here, but it is just plain wrong. You have also heard my friends at the other table make attacks on me and chairman Nadler. You will hear more of that. I am not going to do them the dignity of responding to them, but I will say this. They make a very important point, although it’s not the point I think they’re trying to make,” Schiff said.

“When you hear them attack the House managers, what you are really hearing is “we don’t want to talk about the president’s guilt. We don’t want to talk about the McConnell resolution and how patently unfair it is.”

2:55 p.m. Inside the Senate chamber, senators taking notes, exchanging messages

As the Senate took a break, ABC’s Mariam Khan reports senators, for the most part, were sitting quietly at their desks while Cipollone, Sekulow, and Schiff took turns speaking.

Senators seem to be paying close attention, maintaining eye contact with the speakers, and taking notes.

As Schiff spoke about the charges against the president, Trump’s key allies – GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham, David Perdue, Jim Risch, James Inhofe, and several others, stared stoically ahead.

Moderate GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — who are seated next to each other — are taking copious amounts of notes, their faces expressionless.

While Schiff was speaking, Graham started to look a little bored, shifting in his seat constantly. While senators cannot speak to one another during the proceedings, he scribbled out a note on his legal notepad and shared it with his seat mate, Sen. John Barrasso.

Barrasso read the note, exchanged a knowing look with Graham and the two quietly chuckled.

When Schiff went on about the need for witnesses, Graham appeared to smirk.

When Schiff played a video of Trump saying he wanted to hear from witnesses – Minority Leader Schumer began to grin widely. He looked pleased.

Meanwhile, senators are still getting messages from the outside world. Aides are discreetly walking on to the floor to hand deliver paper messages to senators. Senate pages are walking around filling up water glasses.

2:39 p.m. President Trump’s lawyers argue the Democrats failed to pursue their case in the courts

President Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow begins his argument by slamming the process in the House impeachment inquiry.

“And what we just heard from manager Schiff, courts have no role, privileges don’t apply, what happened in the past we should just ignore. In fact, manager Schiff just said try to summarize my colleagues defense of the president,” Sekulow says.

“He said not in those words of course, which is not the first time Mr. Schiff has put words into transcripts that did not exist. Mr. Schiff also talked about a trifecta,” Sekulow says.

“I’ll give you a trifecta. During the proceedings that took place before the Judiciary Committee, the president was denied the right to cross-examine witnesses. The president was denied the right to access evidence. And the president was denied the right to have counsel present at hearings. This is a trifecta that violates the Constitution of the United States. Mr. Schiff did say the courts really don’t have a role in this. Executive privilege, why would that matter? It matters because it is based on the Constitution of the United States,” Sekulow continues.

The president and his counsel could not participate in person during the depositions that House Intelligence, Judiciary and Oversight committees held but once the hearings moved to the House Judiciary Committee, the White House and the president chose not to participate even though they were invited to present a defense.

Pat Cipollone also says that Schiff was keeping Republicans out of the impeachment depositions. That is not true. Republicans on the committees mentioned participated in the depositions.

Sekulow argues that the only reason we are here is because Democrats want the president removed from office.

“What are we dealing with here? Why are we here? Are we here because of a phone call? Or are we before a great body because, since the president was sworn into office, there was a desire to see him removed.”

He says that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed her impatience and contempt for the proceedings and waiting for the courts to rule when she said “we cannot be at the mercy of the courts.”

“That is why we have courts … to determine constitutional issues of this magnitude,” he said, although it should be noted that the administration has argued that the courts should not have a role here,” he says.

-ABC’s Katherine Faulders

2:13 p.m. GOP’s Collins pressed to have arguments take place over 3 — not 2 — days

ABC’s Trish Turner on Capitol Hill reports aides to moderate GOP Sen. Susan Collins say she and others raised concerns about trying to fit the 24 hours of opening statements in two days under the proposed rules and the admission of the House transcript of the evidence into the Senate record.

Her position has been that the trial should follow the Clinton model as much as possible, the aides say. She thinks these changes are a significant improvement, they say.

Later, during a break, a Republican senator – who asked not to be quoted – said the discussion of the tweaks to McConnell resolution was the topic of discussion at the GOP lunch today.

Some of the key senators, like Collins, “were clearly concerned about the topics around which changes were made,” this senator said, reports ABC’s Trish Turner.

”It was clear there was quite a bit of concern,” so it was changed, the senator said.

Sen. Ron Johnson said, “There was pretty strong feeling which is why it got changed,” saying the concern extended even beyond moderate senators. Republicans wanted to take an argument away from Schumer, he said. “We are not trying to hide testimony in the wee hours of the morning.”

2:08 p.m. Trump tweets from Switzerland

President Trump appears to be monitoring the Senate trial from his trip to Davos, Switzerland, to attend the World Economic Forum, reports ABC’s Elizabeth Thomas.

A few minutes after he left a dinner with Global Chief Executive Officers, the last scheduled event of the day in Davos, Trump tweeted, “READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!” — one of his favorite defenses, as he has often said before, referring to his calls with Ukraine’s president — calls which he calls “perfect.”

1:34 p.m. Schiff says Trump is arguing there is nothing Congress can do about his conduct

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff makes his first remarks in Tuesday’s session, speaking on behalf of the House impeachment managers against McConnell’s resolution.

He says Trump is arguing that there is nothing Congress can do about the behavior in question in the trial and the trial won’t be fair if both sides are blocked from introducing new evidence.

“If a president can obstruct his own investigation, if he can effectively nullify a power, the Constitution gives solely to Congress and indeed the ultimate power, the ultimate power the Constitution gives to prevent presidential misconduct, then the president places himself beyond accountability, above the law,” Schiff says.

“It makes him a monarch, the very evil which against our Constitution and the balance of powers the Constitution was laid out to guard against,” he says.

Schiff continues to focus on the ability for the Senate to immediately hear from witnesses and receive additional documents before continuing with the trial.

“If the Senate votes to deprive itself of witnesses and documents the opening statements will be the end of the trial,” Schiff says.

Earlier on the Senate floor, McConnell said votes on subpoenas and witnesses should not happen until later in the trial, as outlined in the procedural resolution his office announced Monday.
Most Americans, Schiff said, don’t believe there will be a fair trial and that Trump will be acquitted.

“Let’s prove them wrong! How? By convicting the president? No.” Schiff says. “By letting the House prove its case.”

Schiff makes the case for additional evidence and witnesses in the Senate trial, with the help of the president’s own words.

While speaking on the Senate floor, Schiff plays several clips of President Trump. The first shows Trump saying he wants witnesses, and another featuring the President saying Article II of the Constitution gives him the right to do “whatever I want.”

“The innocent do not act this way,” Schiff says.

This trial, he added, should not “reward” the president’s obstruction by letting him determine what evidence is seen by the Senate.

He also pushed back on the criticism that the House had not exhausted its legal efforts in court to obtain access to witnesses and evidence.

Continuing to mount a legal case, Schiff argues, would encourage Trump to “endlessly litigate the matter in court on every judgment,” essentially filibustering the impeachment process.

Schiff spoke after White House counsel Pat Cipollone spoke briefly on behalf of President Trump, in support of the rules and calling on the Senate to acquit the president as soon as possible.

1:20 p.m. Senate considers rules resolution that now calls for 24 hours of arguments over 3 days

With Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, the Senate begins considering the rules resolution proposed by McConnell that Democrats strongly object to as unfair.

The trial resumed at 1:17 p.m. after being scheduled to resume at 1 p.m.

In a major change, the proposed rules would now allow each side to make their case in a total of 24 hours over three — not two — days.

It also means the whole trial will likely take longer.

McConnell’s team is expected to confirm that evidence from the House inquiry will now be admitted but not new evidence obtained since the House vote to impeach the president on Dec. 18.

Someone can OBJECT to that evidence being admitted, according to the proposed change.

12:35 p.m. McConnell says ‘finally, some fairness’ in opening remarks

Majority Leader McConnell begins his opening remarks — before the formal start of the trial at 1 p.m. — by saying, “finally, some fairness.”

“This is the fair road map for out trial,” he says of the proposed rules resolution he will soon formally introduce, saying it will bring the “clarity and fairness that everyone deserves.”

Minority Leader Schumer calls McConnell’s rules “completely partisan” and “designed by President Trump and for President Trump,” adding they would mean “a rushed trial with little evidence in the dark of night.”

Schumer says the McConnell rules are “nothing like the Clinton rules,” saying that includes allowing a motion to dismiss the case to be made at any time.

As the senators argue, Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the Senate trial, arrives on Capitol Hill.

12:25 p.m. Key GOP senators say they’re on board with McConnell’s proposed rules

Heading in their weekly closed-door GOP lunch, key senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska say they’re on board with the McConnell’s rules resolution, both indicating that it looks the same to them as the Clinton trial rules resolution.

Romney calls the difference between the Trump trial and Clinton resolutions “insignificant,” while Democrats have said there are major differences, accusing Republicans of using the rules to engineer a “cover-up.”

“You’ll get what you need in eight-hour blocks or 12-hour blocks,” Romney says, referring to the length of each of the two days Democrats would have to present their case.

Murkowski echoes Romney, saying,“It’s the same 24 hours (as in Clinton), so what’s the difference if it’s eight hours or 12?”

Earlier, in a statement, Romney says, “If attempts are made to vote on witnesses prior to opening arguments, I would oppose those efforts.”

— ABC’s Trish Turner and Devin Dwyer

11:31 a.m. Schumer says McConnell’s proposed rules will force debate into the ‘dead of night’

Ahead of the Senate trial, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sharply criticizes the procedural rules outlined by McConnell Monday night.

Schumer takes issue with provisions he says would force debate into “the dead of night” and warns GOP moderate senators he will force an initial vote on whether to allow senators to review documents and question witnesses.

“Right off the bat, Republican senators will face a choice about getting the facts or joining leader McConnell and President Trump in trying to cover them up,” Schumer tells reporters.

“A trial with no evidence is not a trial at all. It’s a cover-up,” Schumer says.

“This is a historic moment,” Schumer adds. “The eyes of American are watching. Republican senators must rise to the occasion.”

When asked if he plans to force votes to oppose McConnell’s decision to split the 24 hours designated for opening arguments over two days, Schumer says “wait and see.”

Schumer says he will ask that White House documents be subpeonaed. including phone records between Trump and Ukraine’s president, and other call records between administration officials about the military aid meant for Ukraine that Trump directed be withheld.

— ABC’s Mariam Khan

10:15 a.m. House managers complain about proposed trial rules

About three hours before they will appear on the Senate floor, House impeachment managers, led by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, hold a news conference to complain about McConnell’s proposed rules, which would give them 24 hours over just two days or present their case, possibly meaning their arguments going past midnight.

“This is a process where you do not want the American people to see the evidence,” Schiff says.

“We could see why this resolution was kept from us and the American people,” he says, calling it “nothing like” the Clinton resolution in terms of both witnesses and documents.

“It does not prescribe a process for a fair trial and the American trial desperately want to believe that the Senate … will give the president a fair trial.”

Without documents, Schiff said, you can’t determine which witnesses to call and what to ask them.

He was joined by the full managing team.

He also said McConnell is “compressing the time of the trial,” citing the extended 12-hour days for arguments.

Schiff says managers will appeal to the senators today to “live up to the oath that they have taken.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, who along with Schiff, will take the lead for the Democrats. Nadler said “there is no other conceivable reason the deny witnesses.”

Nadler adds that all the Senate is doing is to “debate whether there will be a cover up,” accusing Republicans of “being afraid of what the witnesses will say.”

Schiff wouldn’t say if the House would use all 24 hours for their arguments and a full 12 hours each day but said that should be up to the House, and not the Senate in the trial rules.

— ABC’s Benjamin Siegel

9:19 a.m. House managers claim “ethical questions” about White House counsel Cipollone

House managers send a letter to a member of Trump’s legal team Tuesday morning stating that he was a “material witness” to the impeachment charges brought by the House. The managers, led by Schiff, claim there are “serious concerns and ethical questions” surrounding White House counsel Pat Cipollene’s role as Trump’s top impeachment lawyer.

“You must disclose all facts and information as to which you have first-hand knowledge that will be at issue in connection with evidence you present or arguments you make in your role as the President’s legal advocate so that the Senate and Chief Justice can be apprised of any potential ethical issues, conflicts, or biases,” the House managers write in a letter to Cipollone.

ABC News reported Friday that Cipollone would continue to lead the president’s defense through the impeachment trial along with the president’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow.

They’re joined on Trump’s defense team by former independent counsel lawyers Ken Starr and Robert Ray who were both involved in investigating and prosecuting the impeachment case against President Bill Clinton.

— ABC’s John Parkinson

For a president who likes a good show and seems to thrive on chaos, the opening of his impeachment trial Tuesday could give him exactly that.

Sources on Capitol Hill expect the first full day of the trial to be something of a political food fight. At the heart of that debate is whether or not to call witnesses who Democrats claim have first-hand knowledge of the president’s alleged pressure campaign against Ukraine.

Rather than the staid proceedings of Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999 — which followed a close script known to the public, with opening arguments by the House impeachment managers — the choreography of President Donald Trump‘s trial is something of a question mark that could see the chamber, known for its decorum and heady debate, run entirely off script, if not off the rails.

Ahead of Tuesday’s trial, sources close to the president’s legal team argued the articles of impeachment against Trump are “deficient on their face” because they fail to state any violation of law.

In the 110-page trial brief, lawyers for the president rejected the articles as a “brazenly political act” and argued that even if the president did raise the issue of the Bidens and/or Burisma in the course of engaging with Ukraine, there would be nothing wrong with that so long as the president was seeking to advance the public interest.

“Importantly, even under House Democrats’ theory, mentioning the matter to President Zelenskyy would have been entirely justified as long as there was a basis to think that would advance the public interest. To defend merely asking a question, the President would not have to show that Vice President Biden (or his son) actually committed any wrongdoing,” the brief argues.

For now, much of what will happen Tuesday hinges on how long this political slugfest continues. A senior administration official predicted it is “highly unlikely” opening arguments happen Tuesday, and that could complicate the push by GOP leaders and the White House to compress the schedule.

However, the White House has said it’s “extraordinarily unlikely” the trial goes beyond two weeks.

Once Chief Justice John Roberts gavels the trial to order, and the opening prayer is given by Senate Chaplain Barry Black and impeachment proclamation by Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to make a motion to take up his majority-only resolution that lays out the guidelines for the first phase of the trial.

The McConnell measure, released Monday night, condenses opening arguments by the managers and Trump lawyers to 24 hours each over two days per side, followed by up to 16 hours of questioning, via written special submissions by senators.

Democrats say a setup involving 12-hour days amounts to GOP efforts to “conceal” the president’s alleged misconduct by conducting the trial in the “dead of night” when the American public is less likely to be paying attention.

On the crucial issue of whether or not to call witnesses, senators will vote up or down — after the questioning period — immediately following a four-hour period of debate on the issue. Key GOP senators, like Susan Collins of Maine and Utah’s Mitt Romney, who have expressed interest in subpoenaing certain witnesses, insisted that this language be included.

“If the Senate votes no at that point, no party or Senator will be permitted to move to subpoena any witness or documents. If the Senate votes yes, both sides will be free to make motions to subpoena witnesses, and the Senate can debate and vote on them,” according to a senior Senate GOP leadership aide.

Democrats were riled up by the GOP leader’s exclusion of evidence not in the record at the time of the Dec. 18 House impeachment vote. It appears that any evidence related to Lev Parnas, a key associate of Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, would not be permitted.

Parnas has been turning over evidence to congressional investigators that he argues is pertinent to their impeachment investigation. Democrats, who have been releasing the evidence publicly, argue that Republicans saying no new evidence should be included is “completely out of sync with how trials are done” and say any evidence that is in the public record should be considered.

“Impeachment rules do not automatically admit evidence from the House into the Senate trial,” said a senior Senate GOP leadership aide. This is an important fact specific to this trial because the White House was denied due process throughout the 12 weeks of partisan House proceedings.”

Democrats are expected to try to amend McConnell’s trial rules with a request for witnesses and documents, according to sources familiar with their plans. But because of impeachment rules, no senator is allowed to debate anything in public.

That leaves the debate before cameras to both the House managers and the newly minted Trump legal team. Each side would likely get up to an hour to speak.

It will be the first time the public will see both sets of opponents on the Senate floor, seated at tables specially arranged for the occasion.

“We are going to demand votes — yes or no, up or down — on the four witnesses we’ve requested and on the three sets of documents we’ve requested. … Make no mistake about it, we will force votes on witnesses and documents,” Sen. Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a press conference Sunday evening.

“It’s going to be total chaos. No one knows what they’re doing,” said one former Senate aide with experience in impeachment trials.

McConnell’s resolution is expected to include time for a motion to call witnesses after senators have had a chance to ask their questions of both sides, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, confirmed.

This was important to middle-of-the-road GOP senators like Susan Collins of Maine and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, as well as Romney. Collins signaled in a statement Thursday night that she is “likely” to support calling witnesses.

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Joe Biden’s ‘conspiracy theory’ memo to U.S. media doesn’t match the facts

Former vice president Joe Biden’s extraordinary campaign memo this week imploring U.S. news media to reject the allegations surrounding his son Hunter’s work for a Ukrainian natural gas company makes several bold declarations.

The memo by Biden campaign aides Kate Bedingfield and Tony Blinken specifically warned reporters covering the impeachment trial they would be acting as “enablers of misinformation” if they repeated allegations that the former vice president forced the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor, who was investigating Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden worked as a highly compensated board member.

Biden’s memo argues there is no evidence that the former vice president’s or Hunter Biden’s conduct raised any concern, and that Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin’s investigation was “dormant” when the vice president forced the prosecutor to be fired in Ukraine.

The
memo
calls the allegation a “conspiracy theory”  (and, in full disclosure, blames my reporting for
the allegations surfacing last year.)

But
the memo omits critical impeachment testimony and other evidence that paint a
far different portrait than Biden’s there’s-nothing-to-talk-about-here rebuttal.

Here
are the facts, with links to public evidence, so you can decide for yourself.

Fact: Joe Biden
admitted to forcing Shokin’s firing in March 2016
.

It
is irrefutable, and not a conspiracy theory, that Joe Biden bragged in
this 2018 speech
to a foreign policy group that he threatened in March 2016
to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid to Kiev if then-Ukraine’s president Petro
Poroshenko didn’t immediately fire Shokin.

“I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be
leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said:
‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting
the money,’” Biden told the 2018 audience in recounting what he told Poroshenko

“Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place
someone who was solid at the time,” Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations
event.

Fact: Shokin’s prosecutors were actively investigating
Burisma when he was fired.

While some news organizations cited by the Biden memo have reported
the investigation was “dormant” in March 2016, official files released by the
Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office, in fact, show there was substantial investigative
activity in the weeks just before Joe Biden forced Shokin’s firing.

The corruption investigations into Burisma and its founder began
in 2014. Around the same time, Hunter Biden and his U.S. business partner Devon
Archer were added
to Burisma’s board
, and their Rosemont Seneca Bohais firm began receiving regular
$166,666 monthly payments, which totaled nearly $2 million a year. Both banks
records seized by the FBI
in America and Burisma’s
own ledgers in Ukraine
confirm these payments.

To put the payments in perspective, the annual amounts paid by
Burisma to Hunter Biden’s and Devon Archer’s Rosemont Seneca Bohais firm were 30
times the average median annual household income for everyday Americans.

For a period of time in 2015, those investigations were stalled as Ukraine was creating a new FBI-like law enforcement agency known as the National Anti-Corruption Bureau ((NABU) to investigate endemic corruption in the former Soviet republic.

There was friction between NABU and the prosecutor general’s office for a while. And then in September 2015, then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt demanded more action in the Burisma investigation. You can read his speech here. Activity ramped up extensively soon after.

In December 2015, the prosecutor’s files show, Shokin’s office
transferred the evidence it had gathered against Burisma to NABU for investigation.

In early February 2016, Shokin’s office secured a court order
allowing prosecutors to re-seize some of the Burisma founder’s property, including
his home and luxury car, as part of the ongoing probe.

Two weeks later, in mid-February 2016, Latvian law enforcement sent
this alert
to Ukrainian prosecutors flagging several payments from Burisma
to American accounts as “suspicious.” The payments included some monies to Hunter
Biden’s and Devon Archer’s firm. Latvian
authorities recently confirmed
it sent the alert.

Shokin told both me and ABC News that just before he was fired under pressure from Joe Biden he also was making plans to interview Hunter Biden.

Fact: Burisma’s lawyers in 2016 were pressing U.S.
and Ukrainian authorities to end the corruption investigations.

Burisma’s main U.S. lawyer John Buretta acknowledged in this
February 2017 interview
with a Ukraine newspaper that the company remained under
investigation in 2016, until he negotiated for one case to be dismissed and the
other to be settled by payment of a large tax penalty.

Documents
released under an open records lawsuit
show Burisma legal team was
pressuring the State Department in February 2016 to end the corruption allegations
against the gas firm and specifically invoked Hunter Biden’s name as part of
the campaign. You can read those documents here.

In addition, immediately after Joe Biden succeeded in getting
Shokin ousted, Burisma’s lawyers sought to meet with his successor as chief
prosecutor to settle the case. Here
is the Ukrainian prosecutors’ summary memo
of one of their meetings with
the firm’s lawyers.

Fact: There
is substantial evidence Joe Biden and his office knew about the Burisma probe and
his son’s role as a board member
.

The New York Times reported in this December 2015 article that the Burisma investigation was ongoing and Hunter Biden’s role in the company was undercutting Joe Biden’s push to fight Ukrainian corruption. The article quoted the vice president’s office.

In addition, Hunter Biden acknowledged in
this interview
he had discussed his Burisma job with his father on one
occasion and that his father responded by saying he hoped the younger Biden
knew what he was doing.

And when America’s new ambassador to Ukraine was being confirmed
in 2016 before the Senate she was specifically
advised to refer questions
about Hunter Biden, Burisma and the probe to Joe
Biden’s VP office, according to these State
Department documents
.

Fact: Federal
Ethics rules requires government officials to avoid taking policy actions affecting
close relatives.

Office
of Government Ethics rules
require all government officials to recuse
themselves from any policy actions that could impact a close relative or cause
a reasonable person to see the appearance of a conflict of interest or question
their impartiality.

“The impartiality rule requires an employee to consider appearance
concerns before participating in a particular matter if someone close to the employee
is involved as a party to the matter,” these rules state. “This requirement to
refrain from participating (or recuse) is designed to avoid the appearance of favoritism
in government decision-making.”

Fact: Multiple
State Department officials testified the Bidens’ dealings in Ukraine created the
appearance of a conflict of interest
.

In House impeachment testimony, Obama-era State Department officials declared the juxtaposition of Joe Biden overseeing Ukraine policy, including the anti-corruption efforts, at the same his son Hunter worked for a Ukraine gas firm under corruption investigation created the appearance of a conflict of interest.

In fact, deputy assistant secretary George Kent said he was so
concerned by Burisma’s corrupt reputation that he blocked
a project
the State Department had with Burisma and tried to warn Joe
Biden’s office
about the concerns about an apparent conflict of interest.

Likewise, the House Democrats’ star impeachment witness, former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovich, agreed the Bidens’ role in Ukraine created an ethic issue. “I think that it could raise the appearance of a conflict of interest,” she testified. You can read her testimony here.

Fact: Hunter Biden acknowleged he
may have gotten his Burisma job solely because of his last name
.

In this
interview last summer
, Hunter Biden said it might have been a “mistake” to
serve on the Burisma board and that it was possible he was hired simply because
of his proximity to the vice president.

“If
your last name wasn’t Biden, do you think you would’ve been asked to be on the
board of Burisma?,” a reporter asked.

“I
don’t know. I don’t know. Probably not, in retrospect,” Hunter Biden
answered. “But that’s — you know — I don’t think that there’s a lot of
things that would have happened in my life if my last name wasn’t Biden.”

Fact: Ukraine
law enforcement reopened the Burisma investigation in early 2019, well before
President Trump mentioned the matter to Ukraine’s new president Vlodymyr
Zelensky
.

This may be the single biggest under-reported fact in the impeachment scandal: four months before Trump and Zelensky had their infamous phone call, Ukraine law enforcement officials officially reopened their investigation into Burisma and its founder.

The effort began independent of Trump or his lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s legal work. In fact, it was NABU – the very agency Joe Biden and the Obama administration helped start – that recommended in February 2019 to reopen the probe.

NABU
director Artem Sytnyk made
this announcement
that he was recommending a new notice of suspicion be opened
to launch the case against Burisma and its founder because of new evidence
uncovered by detectives.

Ukrainian officials said that new evidence included records suggesting a possible money laundering scheme dating to 2010 and continuing until 2015.

A month
later in March 2019, Deputy Prosecutor General Konstantin Kulyk officially
filed this
notice of suspicion
re-opening the case.

And
Reuters recently quoted Ukrainian officials as saying the ongoing
probe was expanded
to allegations of theft of public funds.

The implications of this timetable are significant to the Trump impeachment trial because the president couldn’t have pressured Ukraine to re-open the investigation in July 2019 when Kiev had already done so on its own, months earlier.

For a complete
timeline
of all the key events in the Ukraine scandal, you can click here.

Posted on

Trump impeachment trial live updates: Heated arguments over McConnell’s Senate rules resolution

– Heated arguments over Senate rules resolution that now calls for 24 hours of arguments over three — not two — days after GOP’s Collins objects

– Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says ‘finally, some fairness’ in opening remarks

– House managers complain about proposed trial rules, claiming McConnell is orchestrating a cover-up

– Proceedings formally get underway when Chief Justice John Roberts gavels the trial into session

– McConnell lays out resolution on rules for the trial

– Schumer offers an amendment regarding witnesses and documents, possible Senate could go into closed session

– Two more hours of debate before a possible vote

4:14 p.m. Trump’s lawyers argue all the Democrats’s subpoenas have been invalid

Patrick Philbin, one of the lawyers on President Trump’s defense team, pushes back on the Democrats’ argument that the White House refused to cooperate with the inquiry.

He says the White House did respond to subpoena requests with a letter laying out why it saw the subpoenas were invalid – primarily that the House had not voted to authorize an official impeachment inquiry.

“All of those subpoenas were invalid,” he says.

“And that was explained to the House, to manager Schiff and the other chairman of the committees at the time in that October 18th letter. Did the House take any steps to remedy that? Did they try to dispute that? Did they go to court? Did they do anything to resolve that problem? No.”

After Philbin finishes, Schiff speaks again.

“Let’s get this trial started, shall we?” Schiff says in response to the president’s lawyers’ claim that Democrats are pushing for more evidence because the House’s case isn’t strong enough.

“We are ready to present our case. We are ready to call our witnesses. The question is will you let us?” he asks.

3:42 p.m. Former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake watches from Senate Gallery

Former Sen. Jeff Flake is in the chamber. He is seated in the upper level that is reserved for staff and guests. He looked over to the press area where we are all seated and smiled.

The former senator and fierce Trump critic announced in 2017 that he would not seek reelection.

Flake notably has said that if the Senate held a secret ballot to remove Trump from office, more than 30 Republicans would vote to oust him.

3:34 p.m. House manager Zoe Lofgren says documents Democrats want subpoenaed would reveal ‘the truth’

House manager Zoe Lofgren argues Schumer’s amendment to subpoena key evidence from the White House would circumvent President Trump’s efforts to block the House impeachment investigation by refusing to release documents or blocking officials from cooperating.

She says evidence released through Freedom of Information Act requests and messages from Ruddy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas made public after the House impeachment vote show that the White House documents could further implicate the president in wrongdoing concerning the withheld aid to Ukraine.

“The documents include records of the people who may have objected to this scheme, such as Ambassador (John) Bolton. This is an important impeachment case against the president. The most important documents are going to be at the White House. The documents Senator Schumer’s amendment targets would provide clarity and context about president Trump’s scheme,” Lofgren says.

“We don’t know with certainty what the documents will say. We simply want the truth … whatever that truth may be. So, so do the American people. They want to know the truth. And so should everybody in this chamber regardless of our party affiliation,” she adds.

Lofgren points out that multiple witnesses in the House investigation testified they took detailed, handwritten notes around relevant events like the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelenskiy.

She says documents like those notes would provide a first-hand look at how Trump’s behavior was perceived by those around him at the time.

3:26 p.m. Schiff argues the president’s lawyers didn’t even mention the rules resolution

After the break, Schiff pushes back on accusations from the president’s lawyers that the House impeachment proceedings were unfair and that Republicans and representatives of the president weren’t allowed to participate. He says it is “just plain wrong” to say Republicans weren’t allowed in the depositions with witnesses or that the president wasn’t allowed to send a representative to Judiciary Committee proceedings.

“I’m not going to suggest to you they are being deliberately misleading here, but it is just plain wrong. You have also heard my friends at the other table make attacks on me and chairman Nadler. You will hear more of that. I am not going to do them the dignity of responding to them, but I will say this. They make a very important point, although it’s not the point I think they’re trying to make,” Schiff said.

“When you hear them attack the House managers, what you are really hearing is “we don’t want to talk about the president’s guilt. We don’t want to talk about the McConnell resolution and how patently unfair it is.”

2:55 p.m. Inside the Senate chamber, senators taking notes, exchanging messages

As the Senate took a break, ABC’s Mariam Khan reports senators, for the most part, were sitting quietly at their desks while Cipollone, Sekulow, and Schiff took turns speaking.

Senators seem to be paying close attention, maintaining eye contact with the speakers, and taking notes.

As Schiff spoke about the charges against the president, Trump’s key allies – GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham, David Perdue, Jim Risch, James Inhofe, and several others, stared stoically ahead.

Moderate GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — who are seated next to each other — are taking copious amounts of notes, their faces expressionless.

While Schiff was speaking, Graham started to look a little bored, shifting in his seat constantly. While senators cannot speak to one another during the proceedings, he scribbled out a note on his legal notepad and shared it with his seat mate, Sen. John Barrasso.

Barrasso read the note, exchanged a knowing look with Graham and the two quietly chuckled.

When Schiff went on about the need for witnesses, Graham appeared to smirk.

When Schiff played a video of Trump saying he wanted to hear from witnesses – Minority Leader Schumer began to grin widely. He looked pleased.

Meanwhile, senators are still getting messages from the outside world. Aides are discreetly walking on to the floor to hand deliver paper messages to senators. Senate pages are walking around filling up water glasses.

2:39 p.m. President Trump’s lawyers argue the Democrats failed to pursue their case in the courts

President Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow begins his argument by slamming the process in the House impeachment inquiry.

“And what we just heard from manager Schiff, courts have no role, privileges don’t apply, what happened in the past we should just ignore. In fact, manager Schiff just said try to summarize my colleagues defense of the president,” Sekulow says.

“He said not in those words of course, which is not the first time Mr. Schiff has put words into transcripts that did not exist. Mr. Schiff also talked about a trifecta,” Sekulow says.

“I’ll give you a trifecta. During the proceedings that took place before the Judiciary Committee, the president was denied the right to cross-examine witnesses. The president was denied the right to access evidence. And the president was denied the right to have counsel present at hearings. This is a trifecta that violates the Constitution of the United States. Mr. Schiff did say the courts really don’t have a role in this. Executive privilege, why would that matter? It matters because it is based on the Constitution of the United States,” Sekulow continues.

The president and his counsel could not participate in person during the depositions that House Intelligence, Judiciary and Oversight committees held but once the hearings moved to the House Judiciary Committee, the White House and the president chose not to participate even though they were invited to present a defense.

Pat Cipollone also says that Schiff was keeping Republicans out of the impeachment depositions. That is not true. Republicans on the committees mentioned participated in the depositions.

Sekulow argues that the only reason we are here is because Democrats want the president removed from office.

“What are we dealing with here? Why are we here? Are we here because of a phone call? Or are we before a great body because, since the president was sworn into office, there was a desire to see him removed.”

He says that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed her impatience and contempt for the proceedings and waiting for the courts to rule when she said “we cannot be at the mercy of the courts.”

“That is why we have courts … to determine constitutional issues of this magnitude,” he said, although it should be noted that the administration has argued that the courts should not have a role here,” he says.

-ABC’s Katherine Faulders

2:13 p.m. GOP’s Collins pressed to have arguments take place over 3 — not 2 — days

ABC’s Trish Turner on Capitol Hill reports aides to moderate GOP Sen. Susan Collins say she and others raised concerns about trying to fit the 24 hours of opening statements in two days under the proposed rules and the admission of the House transcript of the evidence into the Senate record.

Her position has been that the trial should follow the Clinton model as much as possible, the aides say. She thinks these changes are a significant improvement, they say.

Later, during a break, a Republican senator – who asked not to be quoted – said the discussion of the tweaks to McConnell resolution was the topic of discussion at the GOP lunch today.

Some of the key senators, like Collins, “were clearly concerned about the topics around which changes were made,” this senator said, reports ABC’s Trish Turner.

”It was clear there was quite a bit of concern,” so it was changed, the senator said.

Sen. Ron Johnson said, “There was pretty strong feeling which is why it got changed,” saying the concern extended even beyond moderate senators. Republicans wanted to take an argument away from Schumer, he said. “We are not trying to hide testimony in the wee hours of the morning.”

2:08 p.m. Trump tweets from Switzerland

President Trump appears to be monitoring the Senate trial from his trip to Davos, Switzerland, to attend the World Economic Forum, reports ABC’s Elizabeth Thomas.

A few minutes after he left a dinner with Global Chief Executive Officers, the last scheduled event of the day in Davos, Trump tweeted, “READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!” — one of his favorite defenses, as he has often said before, referring to his calls with Ukraine’s president — calls which he calls “perfect.”

1:34 p.m. Schiff says Trump is arguing there is nothing Congress can do about his conduct

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff makes his first remarks in Tuesday’s session, speaking on behalf of the House impeachment managers against McConnell’s resolution.

He says Trump is arguing that there is nothing Congress can do about the behavior in question in the trial and the trial won’t be fair if both sides are blocked from introducing new evidence.

“If a president can obstruct his own investigation, if he can effectively nullify a power, the Constitution gives solely to Congress and indeed the ultimate power, the ultimate power the Constitution gives to prevent presidential misconduct, then the president places himself beyond accountability, above the law,” Schiff says.

“It makes him a monarch, the very evil which against our Constitution and the balance of powers the Constitution was laid out to guard against,” he says.

Schiff continues to focus on the ability for the Senate to immediately hear from witnesses and receive additional documents before continuing with the trial.

“If the Senate votes to deprive itself of witnesses and documents the opening statements will be the end of the trial,” Schiff says.

Earlier on the Senate floor, McConnell said votes on subpoenas and witnesses should not happen until later in the trial, as outlined in the procedural resolution his office announced Monday.
Most Americans, Schiff said, don’t believe there will be a fair trial and that Trump will be acquitted.

“Let’s prove them wrong! How? By convicting the president? No.” Schiff says. “By letting the House prove its case.”

Schiff makes the case for additional evidence and witnesses in the Senate trial, with the help of the president’s own words.

While speaking on the Senate floor, Schiff plays several clips of President Trump. The first shows Trump saying he wants witnesses, and another featuring the President saying Article II of the Constitution gives him the right to do “whatever I want.”

“The innocent do not act this way,” Schiff says.

This trial, he added, should not “reward” the president’s obstruction by letting him determine what evidence is seen by the Senate.

He also pushed back on the criticism that the House had not exhausted its legal efforts in court to obtain access to witnesses and evidence.

Continuing to mount a legal case, Schiff argues, would encourage Trump to “endlessly litigate the matter in court on every judgment,” essentially filibustering the impeachment process.

Schiff spoke after White House counsel Pat Cipollone spoke briefly on behalf of President Trump, in support of the rules and calling on the Senate to acquit the president as soon as possible.

1:20 p.m. Senate considers rules resolution that now calls for 24 hours of arguments over 3 days

With Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, the Senate begins considering the rules resolution proposed by McConnell that Democrats strongly object to as unfair.

The trial resumed at 1:17 p.m. after being scheduled to resume at 1 p.m.

In a major change, the proposed rules would now allow each side to make their case in a total of 24 hours over three — not two — days.

It also means the whole trial will likely take longer.

McConnell’s team is expected to confirm that evidence from the House inquiry will now be admitted but not new evidence obtained since the House vote to impeach the president on Dec. 18.

Someone can OBJECT to that evidence being admitted, according to the proposed change.

12:35 p.m. McConnell says ‘finally, some fairness’ in opening remarks

Majority Leader McConnell begins his opening remarks — before the formal start of the trial at 1 p.m. — by saying, “finally, some fairness.”

“This is the fair road map for out trial,” he says of the proposed rules resolution he will soon formally introduce, saying it will bring the “clarity and fairness that everyone deserves.”

Minority Leader Schumer calls McConnell’s rules “completely partisan” and “designed by President Trump and for President Trump,” adding they would mean “a rushed trial with little evidence in the dark of night.”

Schumer says the McConnell rules are “nothing like the Clinton rules,” saying that includes allowing a motion to dismiss the case to be made at any time.

As the senators argue, Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the Senate trial, arrives on Capitol Hill.

12:25 p.m. Key GOP senators say they’re on board with McConnell’s proposed rules

Heading in their weekly closed-door GOP lunch, key senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska say they’re on board with the McConnell’s rules resolution, both indicating that it looks the same to them as the Clinton trial rules resolution.

Romney calls the difference between the Trump trial and Clinton resolutions “insignificant,” while Democrats have said there are major differences, accusing Republicans of using the rules to engineer a “cover-up.”

“You’ll get what you need in eight-hour blocks or 12-hour blocks,” Romney says, referring to the length of each of the two days Democrats would have to present their case.

Murkowski echoes Romney, saying,“It’s the same 24 hours (as in Clinton), so what’s the difference if it’s eight hours or 12?”

Earlier, in a statement, Romney says, “If attempts are made to vote on witnesses prior to opening arguments, I would oppose those efforts.”

— ABC’s Trish Turner and Devin Dwyer

11:31 a.m. Schumer says McConnell’s proposed rules will force debate into the ‘dead of night’

Ahead of the Senate trial, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sharply criticizes the procedural rules outlined by McConnell Monday night.

Schumer takes issue with provisions he says would force debate into “the dead of night” and warns GOP moderate senators he will force an initial vote on whether to allow senators to review documents and question witnesses.

“Right off the bat, Republican senators will face a choice about getting the facts or joining leader McConnell and President Trump in trying to cover them up,” Schumer tells reporters.

“A trial with no evidence is not a trial at all. It’s a cover-up,” Schumer says.

“This is a historic moment,” Schumer adds. “The eyes of American are watching. Republican senators must rise to the occasion.”

When asked if he plans to force votes to oppose McConnell’s decision to split the 24 hours designated for opening arguments over two days, Schumer says “wait and see.”

Schumer says he will ask that White House documents be subpeonaed. including phone records between Trump and Ukraine’s president, and other call records between administration officials about the military aid meant for Ukraine that Trump directed be withheld.

— ABC’s Mariam Khan

10:15 a.m. House managers complain about proposed trial rules

About three hours before they will appear on the Senate floor, House impeachment managers, led by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, hold a news conference to complain about McConnell’s proposed rules, which would give them 24 hours over just two days or present their case, possibly meaning their arguments going past midnight.

“This is a process where you do not want the American people to see the evidence,” Schiff says.

“We could see why this resolution was kept from us and the American people,” he says, calling it “nothing like” the Clinton resolution in terms of both witnesses and documents.

“It does not prescribe a process for a fair trial and the American trial desperately want to believe that the Senate … will give the president a fair trial.”

Without documents, Schiff said, you can’t determine which witnesses to call and what to ask them.

He was joined by the full managing team.

He also said McConnell is “compressing the time of the trial,” citing the extended 12-hour days for arguments.

Schiff says managers will appeal to the senators today to “live up to the oath that they have taken.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, who along with Schiff, will take the lead for the Democrats. Nadler said “there is no other conceivable reason the deny witnesses.”

Nadler adds that all the Senate is doing is to “debate whether there will be a cover up,” accusing Republicans of “being afraid of what the witnesses will say.”

Schiff wouldn’t say if the House would use all 24 hours for their arguments and a full 12 hours each day but said that should be up to the House, and not the Senate in the trial rules.

— ABC’s Benjamin Siegel

9:19 a.m. House managers claim “ethical questions” about White House counsel Cipollone

House managers send a letter to a member of Trump’s legal team Tuesday morning stating that he was a “material witness” to the impeachment charges brought by the House. The managers, led by Schiff, claim there are “serious concerns and ethical questions” surrounding White House counsel Pat Cipollene’s role as Trump’s top impeachment lawyer.

“You must disclose all facts and information as to which you have first-hand knowledge that will be at issue in connection with evidence you present or arguments you make in your role as the President’s legal advocate so that the Senate and Chief Justice can be apprised of any potential ethical issues, conflicts, or biases,” the House managers write in a letter to Cipollone.

ABC News reported Friday that Cipollone would continue to lead the president’s defense through the impeachment trial along with the president’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow.

They’re joined on Trump’s defense team by former independent counsel lawyers Ken Starr and Robert Ray who were both involved in investigating and prosecuting the impeachment case against President Bill Clinton.

— ABC’s John Parkinson

For a president who likes a good show and seems to thrive on chaos, the opening of his impeachment trial Tuesday could give him exactly that.

Sources on Capitol Hill expect the first full day of the trial to be something of a political food fight. At the heart of that debate is whether or not to call witnesses who Democrats claim have first-hand knowledge of the president’s alleged pressure campaign against Ukraine.

Rather than the staid proceedings of Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999 — which followed a close script known to the public, with opening arguments by the House impeachment managers — the choreography of President Donald Trump‘s trial is something of a question mark that could see the chamber, known for its decorum and heady debate, run entirely off script, if not off the rails.

Ahead of Tuesday’s trial, sources close to the president’s legal team argued the articles of impeachment against Trump are “deficient on their face” because they fail to state any violation of law.

In the 110-page trial brief, lawyers for the president rejected the articles as a “brazenly political act” and argued that even if the president did raise the issue of the Bidens and/or Burisma in the course of engaging with Ukraine, there would be nothing wrong with that so long as the president was seeking to advance the public interest.

“Importantly, even under House Democrats’ theory, mentioning the matter to President Zelenskyy would have been entirely justified as long as there was a basis to think that would advance the public interest. To defend merely asking a question, the President would not have to show that Vice President Biden (or his son) actually committed any wrongdoing,” the brief argues.

For now, much of what will happen Tuesday hinges on how long this political slugfest continues. A senior administration official predicted it is “highly unlikely” opening arguments happen Tuesday, and that could complicate the push by GOP leaders and the White House to compress the schedule.

However, the White House has said it’s “extraordinarily unlikely” the trial goes beyond two weeks.

Once Chief Justice John Roberts gavels the trial to order, and the opening prayer is given by Senate Chaplain Barry Black and impeachment proclamation by Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to make a motion to take up his majority-only resolution that lays out the guidelines for the first phase of the trial.

The McConnell measure, released Monday night, condenses opening arguments by the managers and Trump lawyers to 24 hours each over two days per side, followed by up to 16 hours of questioning, via written special submissions by senators.

Democrats say a setup involving 12-hour days amounts to GOP efforts to “conceal” the president’s alleged misconduct by conducting the trial in the “dead of night” when the American public is less likely to be paying attention.

On the crucial issue of whether or not to call witnesses, senators will vote up or down — after the questioning period — immediately following a four-hour period of debate on the issue. Key GOP senators, like Susan Collins of Maine and Utah’s Mitt Romney, who have expressed interest in subpoenaing certain witnesses, insisted that this language be included.

“If the Senate votes no at that point, no party or Senator will be permitted to move to subpoena any witness or documents. If the Senate votes yes, both sides will be free to make motions to subpoena witnesses, and the Senate can debate and vote on them,” according to a senior Senate GOP leadership aide.

Democrats were riled up by the GOP leader’s exclusion of evidence not in the record at the time of the Dec. 18 House impeachment vote. It appears that any evidence related to Lev Parnas, a key associate of Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, would not be permitted.

Parnas has been turning over evidence to congressional investigators that he argues is pertinent to their impeachment investigation. Democrats, who have been releasing the evidence publicly, argue that Republicans saying no new evidence should be included is “completely out of sync with how trials are done” and say any evidence that is in the public record should be considered.

“Impeachment rules do not automatically admit evidence from the House into the Senate trial,” said a senior Senate GOP leadership aide. This is an important fact specific to this trial because the White House was denied due process throughout the 12 weeks of partisan House proceedings.”

Democrats are expected to try to amend McConnell’s trial rules with a request for witnesses and documents, according to sources familiar with their plans. But because of impeachment rules, no senator is allowed to debate anything in public.

That leaves the debate before cameras to both the House managers and the newly minted Trump legal team. Each side would likely get up to an hour to speak.

It will be the first time the public will see both sets of opponents on the Senate floor, seated at tables specially arranged for the occasion.

“We are going to demand votes — yes or no, up or down — on the four witnesses we’ve requested and on the three sets of documents we’ve requested. … Make no mistake about it, we will force votes on witnesses and documents,” Sen. Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a press conference Sunday evening.

“It’s going to be total chaos. No one knows what they’re doing,” said one former Senate aide with experience in impeachment trials.

McConnell’s resolution is expected to include time for a motion to call witnesses after senators have had a chance to ask their questions of both sides, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, confirmed.

This was important to middle-of-the-road GOP senators like Susan Collins of Maine and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, as well as Romney. Collins signaled in a statement Thursday night that she is “likely” to support calling witnesses.

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GOP Must Stand Firm Against Dems Reckless ‘Impeachment’ Sham

There is nothing more obvious than a person trying to make sense of a bad argument. That’s what’s been happening with Democrats as they struggle to make sense of the most ‘ridiculous’ impeachment in U.S. history and continually search for crimes against President Donald Trump that don’t exist.

In fact, all one needs to do is watch the Democratic lawmakers as they struggled month, after month trying to find any reason to impeach Trump. The Democrats made their struggle public and failed to deliver any provable crime to support their assertion that Trump should be impeached. What they have done is stretch the truth, protect the non-whistleblower and now are attempting to re-try Trump in the Senate with more witnesses, which they alone did not attempt to question during the House impeachment trial.

It’s been a Democratic run circus since Trump took office in November, 2016. All one needs to do is watch interviews of Democrats on election night after their lives were turned upside down when they realized America voted for Trump and not candidate Hillary Clinton. Of course, the anger didn’t end there but instead, got worse.

Democrats, along with deep state supporters, have done everything in their power to remove a duly elected president. That’s exactly what’s happening now.

Trump has denied unequivocally every claim Democrats have lobbed against him during the impeachment trial in the House. There is no evidence – not even one iota of evidence that Trump has done anything impeachable. The Democrats claimed through their non- whistleblower that Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president was riddled with threats, extortion and compared Trump, through a disinformation campaign, to the likes of a mafia boss.

Guess what, like all the previous Democratic claims, it fell flat on its face. The transcript of the phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, 2019 was nothing what the Democrats claimed it to be and America could see it for themselves. Why? Because Trump released the summary of the transcript. BOOM! There was nothing.

From the transcripts it was obvious there was no threat, no attempt to extort money, no quid pro quo. There was no attempt to withhold $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son. Still, it isn’t enough so the Democrats, well mainly led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, found a group of disgruntled former Obama officials still working in the State Department and National Security Counsel and used them in a hearing. Except, the Democrats excluded the non-whistleblower who wrote the original report on Trump’s phone call and stated there was a ‘quid pro quo.’

Mind you, none of the witnesses in the House hearing that testified on behalf of the Democrats had any direct knowledge or evidence that Trump did anything wrong. There was nothing there but hurt feelings. Many of these State Department and NSC officials are angry at Trump, who isn’t playing ball with them like past presidents did. He’s questioning their every move and is holding them accountable.

The Washington D.C. swamp doesn’t like this one bit and is fighting back with everything they have.

What Americans have also seen is an attempt by Democrats to use anti-Trump witnesses to manufacture a false narrative against Trump both in the impeachment hearing and in the media.

President Trump is up for the battle against the swamp and will win the war against those trying to remove him from office, say those closest to him. I believe they are right because he isn’t backing down – not one bit and he shouldn’t. The truth is on his side.

The impeachment sham, however, is dangerous to our constitution and democracy. Why? Because in the end this is the swamp’s way of attempting to remove a duly elected president and weaponizing our own system against office of the president.

The articles of impeachment are not constitutional and in fact, do not offer Trump his basic due process. Further the first article of impeachment contains no high crime, or even a mis-demeanor, as needed by the Constitution to proceed. Moreover, the Ukrainian president said no threats were ever made to withhold aid and the Ukrainian government received more financial and lethal military aid than ever offered under President Obama’s administration.

As to the second article of impeachment on “Obstruction of Congress,” one wonders how this is even possible. Trump asserted his legitimate constitutional and privileges when it came to Democrats requests for interviewing former and senior White House executive staff.

House Democrats could have taken the battle to the courts in an effort to enforce their subpoena’s and get the witnesses to testify but they didn’t. Now they want a retrial with new witnesses in the Senate.

The Senate should reject this demand from the Democrats and do what’s best for America and the constitution.

The Senate Republicans must expose this brazen attempt by the Democrats to use impeachment as a way of interfering with the 2020 election. There should be no more witnesses – only a speedy trial that will exonerate the President and allow our nation to heal from the wounds the Democrats keep inflicting on the American people.

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NYT’s Lukewarm, Wrong, and Ultimately Useless Endorsements

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) (R) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)) walk on the stage after the Democratic presidential primary debate at Loyola Marymount University on December 19, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A few times in the Tony-winning musical Hadestown, characters raise their glasses “to the world we dream about, and the one we live in now.” This folksy retelling of an ancient Greek myth seethes with progressive energy, holding out the hope that the hippy poet Orpheus will overthrow the greedy capitalist Hades and free the summer goddess Persephone to usher in an endless summer. In the end, his success is only partial. The normal cycle of the seasons is restored, but Orpheus is exiled, and the pragmatic Hades, having softened just the tiniest bit, remains on the throne of the Underworld.

In a venue as pie-in-the-sky progressive as Broadway, it was refreshing to see a synthesis of utopian radicalism and status quo realism, a mixture of Plato pointing up to the realm of the Forms and Aristotle extending the horizontal hand of inductive moderation. Striking a balance between the two is difficult, but necessary.

It’s also exactly what the New York Times Editorial Board failed to do with its perplexing dual endorsement of Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Board’s first failure is its most obvious: it is definitionally absurd to “endorse” two candidates for a nomination only one of them can secure. When Gollum found himself stumped as to what Bilbo had in his pocket, he used his third and final attempt to guess “String, or nothing!” which the narrator observed was “not quite fair—working in two guesses at once.” I quite agree—and I’m tempted to echo Bilbo’s response: “Both wrong.”

These endorsements are not “wrong” because Warren is, as Michael Warren Davis put it, “the very avatar of a screechy, preachy schoolmarm” and “the most unlikeable candidate to seek the White House since Walter Mondale.” Plenty of members of the Board expressed concerns about Warren’s condescending manner during the episode of Hulu’s The Weekly that chronicled this uniquely transparent endorsement process.

Nor are they “wrong” because Klobuchar’s poll numbers are currently in snowball-in-hell territory. The Board is well within its rights to pick the candidate whose policy proposals and leadership style they admire most and who they think has the best shot in the general election. I didn’t complain in 2016 when the NYT endorsed a struggling John Kasich for the GOP nomination as a protest vote against Trump and the Tea Party.

They aren’t even wrong because they just conveniently happened to endorse the only two female candidates still onstage. (Even if, by ending the endorsement with “May the best woman win,” the Board invited that criticism.)

These endorsements are wrong by the Times‘ own criteria. The Board writes:

On the Democratic side, an essential debate is underway between two visions that may define the future of the party and perhaps the nation. Some in the party view President Trump as an aberration and believe that a return to a more sensible America is possible. Then there are those who believe that President Trump was the product of political and economic systems so rotten that they must be replaced. Both the radical and the realist models warrant serious consideration. If there were ever a time to be open to new ideas, it is now. If there were ever a time to seek stability, now is it.

After grouping the candidates into those who want to return to the status quo ante Trumpus (Biden, Buttigieg, Bloomberg, Klobuchar, and—weirdly—Yang) and those who want a revolution (Sanders and Warren), the Board decides to abdicate its responsibility and instead choose an inferior example of each. Rather than endorsing the most authentic representative of each camp, the Board chooses the most moderate radical and the most radical moderate.

If the Board wanted a utopian vision, Bernie was clearly their guy. In his interviews at the NYT headquarters, he came off as populist to the core, promising to be an “organizer-in-chief” who would force Mitch McConnell to play ball or get him kicked out of office by mobilizing a groundswell of opposition among Kentucky voters. Maybe not the most realistic plan, but Warren didn’t handle the question of how she would get things done any better. “So what do you want to do?” she asked a Board member, clearly exasperated. “You want to just give up?! Say, ‘Oh damn! Mitch McConnell has the Senate!’?”

Bernie was notoriously shafted by the DNC in 2016. Now it’s beginning to look like, thanks to Democratic establishment organs like the DNC and the New York Times, the fix is in for Warren this time around. Just look at the ridiculous fake scandal surrounding the supposedly sexist remarks that Bernie supposedly made in 2018 and that Warren conveniently remembered to be mad about just last week. And why? If you want my opinion, it’s because Bernie committed the sin of populism.

When asked whether he thought Trump was the disease (the “realist” position) or a symptom (the “radical” position), Bernie’s response was to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable in a way that made the Board visibly uneasy: “I think it speaks to something that I talk about a lot and that is the fact that the — not everybody, but tens and tens of millions of Americans feel that the political establishment, Republican and Democrat, have failed them. Maybe The New York Times has failed them, too.” They edited that last sentence out of the episode of The Weekly, by the way. “Dishonest media” indeed.

“That explains the appeal of racism?” Board member Brent Staples shot back. And there it is. Bernie had dared to suggest that Trump voters were something other than reprehensible, backward hicks. For that reason alone, he was unworthy of the endorsement. After all, someone who can sympathize with Trump voters is himself suspect. Or as the Board put it, “Three years into the Trump administration, we see little advantage to exchanging one over-promising, divisive figure in Washington for another.” You heard it here, folks: Bernie is basically Trump (which, by the transitive property, makes him basically Hitler too).

Warren, of course, is too ivory tower to sympathize with the disaffected white working class and nowhere near charismatic enough to be any sort of demagogue. She’s willing to retain enough of the establishment status quo to keep the NYT elites happy. For the Editorial Board, she was the perfect faux-radical.

In Klobuchar, they found their perfect faux-moderate, rejecting the obvious choice: Joe Biden. If the Board’s intention was to endorse a moderate to balance out Warren, they could have hardly done better than Biden, who seems to be running on a platform that consists entirely of nostalgia for the relative normalcy of the Obama administration. Instead the Board rejected him in favor of Klobuchar because his agenda “tinkers at the edges of issues like health care and climate” and “will not get America where it needs to go as a society.”

In other words, the Board committed to endorsing a moderate and then rejected the most moderate of the moderates for being too moderate. Perhaps after more than a decade of playing hype man for Hillary Clinton, they’re nervous about backing another old, white establishment type with a long track record, strong name recognition, and all the baggage that goes with it. If Biden got the endorsement and lost to Trump (despite Biden’s insistence that he would win the Midwest “in a walk”), the Democratic left wing would be furious, perhaps to the point of fracturing the party

It is true that Klobuchar is more moderate than Warren. She favors free community college, for example, while Warren wants to make all public colleges free. The more significant difference between them, though, is one of brand positioning. Klobuchar portrays herself as a unifier who can succeed in red districts, while Warren has trouble making any sort of argument for her own electability. Plus Klobuchar voted for the bombing campaign that reduced Libya to a failed state with literal slave markets, which makes her presidential material in the eyes of the New York Times. The Board seems to have selected Klobuchar as a way of hedging their bets, a sort of Warren-lite. She certainly isn’t an existential threat to the Warren campaign.

In summary, the two candidates on offer are an ivory tower “radical” who offers elements of Sanders’ agenda without the distasteful flaw of treating Trump voters like human beings and a “moderate” who isn’t so moderate after all. We’re left with a less populist Bernie and a more progressive Biden. The Board has watered down both the “radical” and “realist” visions by rejecting the candidate who most fully embodied each. The endorsement claims that the American people deserve to see a no-holds-barred debate between those two visions, but what the Board’s members really want is to ensure that this debate takes place within parameters that they find acceptable.

The Board, by failing to commit to one candidate and splitting the endorsement, proved itself to be “lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot.” By failing to choose the candidate who best represented each of their two categories, it proved that a second time.

This decision by one of the most prestigious gatekeepers of the Democratic establishment reveals the extent to which the American left-liberal coalition has fragmented. It also reveals the lengths to which those gatekeepers are willing to go to preserve their influence, playing both sides of the radical-realist divide while simultaneously working to shift the definitions of those two camps back toward some sort of consensus.

But will the Board and their ilk succeed in forging a new Democratic consensus somewhat further to the left? Or will populism and factionalism fracture the party irreparably?

Grayson Quay is a freelance writer and M.A. at Georgetown University.

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Bernie Sanders Campaigner Says ‘Guillotine the Rich’

A purported staffer for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) presidential campaign says he’s ready for the United States to undergo a “revolution” and wants to see the elites guillotined, according to undercover footage released Tuesday by Project Veritas.

The scene begins with a man identified by Project Veritas as Martin Weissgerber, a field organizer in South Carolina, claiming that he is following numerous accounts on Twitter calling for French-style Yellow Vest protests to take place in the U.S. and says he stands ready to help make it happen. “If Bernie was to lose, I would like to see Yellow Vest protests here, stateside,” the Project Veritas journalist says to Weissgerber.

“I’m already following on Twitter, following numerous groups around the country that are ready to organize Yellow Vest protests. I’m ready.”

“I’m ready to start tearing brings up and start fighting,” the Sanders staffer continues. “I’m no cap bro. I’ll straight up get armed, I want to learn how to shoot, and go train.”

“Guillotine the rich,” he adds.

In another part of the video, Weissgerber attempts to downplay the horrors of the Soviet Union’s gulags and fantasizes about Republicans being imprisoned in “re-education camps.”

“What will help is when we send all the Republicans to the re-education camps,” he says. “Can you imagine Mitch McConnell? Lindsey Graham?”

“The gulags were founded as re-education camps,” he explains in another cut. “People came from America to work on the Belomorkanal, the Soviet project, for the communist project. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Weissgerber’s comments echo those made by another Sanders field organizer Kyle Jurek, who was also exposed in an undercover sting by Project Veritas.

 Jurek, a Sanders staffer in Iowa, was caught arguing that gulags were beneficial for the Soviet Union and suggesting they could be used to re-educate both Trump voters and billionaires.

“In Nazi Germany, after the fall of the Nazi Party, there was a shit-ton of the populace that was fucking Nazified,” says Jurek. “Germany had to spend billions of dollars re-educating their fucking people to not be Nazis,” said Jurek. “We’re probably going to have to do the same fucking thing here. That’s kind of what all Bernie’s whole fucking like, ‘hey, free education for everybody’ because we’re going to have to teach you to not be a fucking Nazi.”

“[The] greatest way to break a fucking billionaire of their privilege and their idea that they’re superior, go and break rocks for 12 hours a day. You’re now a working class person, and you’re going to fucking learn what the means, right?” he added.

The undercover videos come as 2020 Democrats are two weeks out from the Iowa caucus. Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe has said the videos are part of several upcoming stings to be released for the group’s “Expose2020” campaign.

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Hillary Clinton attacks Bernie Sanders in Hulu documentary and interview

It’s somehow Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary again, even though she isn’t even on the ballot.

The former secretary of state stirred up controversy on Monday with remarks reinforcing that there is no love lost between her and her 2016 Democratic primary challenger. The Hollywood Reporter published new details of a forthcoming documentary about Clinton in which she says “nobody likes [Sanders], nobody wants to work with him” and declares him a “career politician.” In a subsequent interview with the publication, Clinton stood by her words and declined to say whether she would endorse and campaign for Sanders if he were to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020. “I’m not going to go there yet,” Clinton told THR. “We’re still in a very vigorous primary season.”

Clinton’s remarks, both in the documentary and in the interview, predictably kicked up tensions that have, at this point, been simmering for years. The Sanders camp views themselves as slighted in 2016 by a Democratic establishment that stacked the deck for Clinton, tilting everything from the debate schedule to delegate structures against them. The Clinton camp views Sanders and those around him as sore losers who did not wholeheartedly back her in 2016 and who can’t play well with others on the left.

According to a Clinton spokesperson, the interviews in the documentary go as far back as mid-2018 and stretched into the spring of 2019, but it’s not clear exactly when in that time frame she made the Sanders-specific comments. Regardless, the THR interview in which she stood by her assessment and elaborated took place in January.

Who would have thought that with the Iowa caucuses two weeks away, we would still be talking about Hillary versus Bernie? But here we are. The 2016 election appears to be the one that won’t die, and the pair seems destined to clash again and again and again, revealing that emotions over the last White House race remain very raw.

What Hillary said about Bernie this time

On March 6, Hulu will release Hillary, a new documentary about the former first lady, senator, and secretary of state and 2016 presidential nominee. And in it, she has some less-than-flattering things to say about Sanders. Namely, per the Hollywood Reporter, this:

He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.

In a follow-up interview in January, Clinton told THR she stands by her assessment and, when asked, declined to say definitively that she would endorse him if he became the nominee. She went on to explain some of her issues with Sanders and his backers:

I will say, however, that it’s not only him, it’s the culture around him. It’s his leadership team. It’s his prominent supporters. It’s his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women. And I really hope people are paying attention to that because it should be worrisome that he has permitted this culture — not only permitted, [he] seems to really be very much supporting it. And I don’t think we want to go down that road again where you campaign by insult and attack and maybe you try to get some distance from it, but you either don’t know what your campaign and supporters are doing or you’re just giving them a wink and you want them to go after Kamala [Harris] or after Elizabeth [Warren]. I think that that’s a pattern that people should take into account when they make their decisions.

In the THR interview, Clinton pointed to recent clashes with Warren after a report that Sanders told the Massachusetts Democrat in a 2018 private dinner that he didn’t believe a woman could win the White House in 2020. Warren has confirmed the report, while Sanders has denied it, and supporters of both have dug in. His backers filled Warren’s Twitter mentions with snake emojis, and the hashtags #NeverWarren and #WarrenIsASnake started to trend. Clinton described the incident as a “very personal attack” on Warren and “part of a pattern” from Sanders.

It appears Sanders at least is not taking the bait. “My focus today is on a monumental moment in American history: the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. Together, we are going to go forward and defeat the most dangerous president in American history,” he said in a statement. Trump’s impeachment trial kicks off on Tuesday in the Senate.

A spokesperson for Clinton did not return a request for comment.

While Sanders and Clinton, beyond what they’ve already said, appear to be determined to let this one lie, the internet has made no such determination. Hillary Clinton, #NobodyLikesHim, and #ILikeBernie trended on Twitter on Tuesday, and plenty of people weighed in.

What Hillary has to say about Bernie does and doesn’t matter

There are two sides to the Hillary-Clinton-said-a-controversial-thing coin: On the one hand, she is past her political prime and will likely never run for office or hold a major political position again; on the other hand, she has deep ties to the Democratic establishment, and she’s been a prominent figure in the party for years.

Clinton, at this point, has nothing to lose — she’s been vilified basically forever — and so in criticizing Sanders, she may be saying something in public that others in the establishment are saying in private. Establishment fears of Sanders have become a trope in political journalism. Just two weeks ago, the Associated Press published a story along those lines. How the establishment feels about a particular candidate doesn’t matter as much as it used to, but it still makes a difference.

Clinton is still an important figure among Democrats, and while she’s not the most beloved, she’s also not as hated as the coverage of her would have you think. A September 2018 poll from Gallup shows 77 percent of Democrats had a favorable opinion of Clinton — that’s higher than Sanders, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren in a Gallup poll looking at favorability of 2020 presidential candidates from last year. Her assessment that nobody likes Sanders, however, is off base: According to a Morning Consult tracking poll, he’s the most popular senator in the country.

And while Clinton may be largely out of the game, many of her allies are not. Last year, her former aides attempted to undercut Sanders’s current campaign, including pushing the media to look into his record on gun control and same-sex marriage and highlighting his use of a private jet while campaigning for Clinton in 2016.

It’s also worth noting that Clinton appears pretty determined to poke the bear every few months or so. In October, for example, she sparred with Tulsi Gabbard after saying in an interview that the Hawaii Congress member was “the favorite of the Russians” as a third-party spoiler for Democrats in 2020.

It’s not always easy to say whether Clinton intentionally causes a media firestorm. She has been held up by conservatives as a boogeywoman for 30 years, and she’s taken on a similar aura for some on the left post-2016 as well. But she must have known her Sanders remarks would kick up dust. And with the primaries about to begin and tensions among Democrats already on the rise, her timing is maybe not great. That being said, her endorsement probably wouldn’t help Sanders anyway — if anything, this latest tiff will fire up his supporters even more.

2016 is the election that will never die

There’s plenty of arguing to be done about what happened in 2016 between Clinton and Sanders, as evidenced by Twitter on Tuesday.

Both sides have important points to make. As Vox’s Ezra Klein wrote in 2017, Democratic leaders did really shape the race in a way that was favorable to Clinton in 2016. Some of that was negative for Sanders — few and oddly scheduled debates, early pledged superdelegates — but some of it was also positive, as Klein notes, because the sense that the DNC was behind Clinton also kept other politicians out of the race.

And while the Bernie Bro trope of white, young, very online males isn’t exactly accurate — Sanders has a very diverse coalition behind him — Clinton isn’t wrong in her assessment that the weight of his supporters’ attacks can be pretty harsh and outsize, especially on the internet. Dare to breathe a bad word about Sanders and you risk an onslaught of attacks.

Whatever the details of the back-and-forth, or the arguments on either side, what’s clear is that we’re not yet over 2016. Even the recent dustup between Warren and Sanders felt eerily similar to the last race. Democratic politicians, aides, operatives, and voters want desperately to defeat Trump in 2020, and the persistent what ifs of 2016 heighten anxieties around that. There’s also a lot of concern about unity whoever the nominee is — and Clinton’s comments don’t help that.

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China Travel To And From Wuhan To Stem : Goats and Soda : NPR

Staff in biohazard suits hold a metal stretcher on Tuesday by the inpatient department of Wuhan Medical Treatment Center in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where some people infected with a novel coronavirus are being treated.

Dake Kang/AP


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Staff in biohazard suits hold a metal stretcher on Tuesday by the inpatient department of Wuhan Medical Treatment Center in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where some people infected with a novel coronavirus are being treated.

Dake Kang/AP

Chinese authorities are trying to control the flow of people in and out of the eastern city of Wuhan, where a strain of the coronavirus was discovered last month. About 300 cases of the virus and six deaths have been reported in China, and health officials there and around the world are ramping up precautions to stem the spread.

Wuhan’s mayor has asked residents to stay in the city to try to prevent the spread of the virus, which can cause respiratory symptoms such as pneumonia. “Cars may be randomly tested in case wild animals, a potential source for the virus, are transported, and tour groups are prohibited from leaving the city,” NPR’s Amy Cheng reports from Beijing.

Cases of coronavirus, named 2019-nCoV, have also been confirmed in Japan, Thailand and South Korea.

Many airports around the world, including three in the U.S., are setting up added security screenings for passengers coming from infected areas.

“Russia, India and North Korea have all started checking people for fever on inbound flights from China,” NPR’s Jason Beaubien says. Australia and the Philippines are also checking passengers and have quarantined some suspected cases.

The rising international concern about the coronavirus comes ahead of Lunar New Year, which is a major holiday in China where millions of people travel around the country and internationally.

Wuhan authorities are testing whether passengers have fevers at transportation terminals around the city using 35 stationary infrared thermometers and more 300 handheld ones, according to China’s Xinhua news agency. Passengers set to travel to Wuhan are also being offered free ticket cancellations or changes.

“The Wuhan airport, it’s like a war zone because it’s all controlled with all the security, all the medical staff,” Linfa Wang, a virologist at Duke-National University of Singapore, tells NPR. “You line up and then you go through group by group.”

The World Health Organization says the virus likely first spread to humans through transmission from an animal.

On Monday, a Chinese government epidemiologist appeared on television and stated that there was evidence the virus could be transmitted from human to human. “The concern with that is that it can basically go viral,” Beaubien reports. The coronavirus is also raising concerns because it has shown to spread in medical environments – among people who are likely taking appropriate precautions to avoid infection.

People wear face masks as they ride an escalator on Tuesday at the Hong Kong International Airport.

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Chinese authorities have come up with a new test for diagnosing the virus, Beaubien says, and are calling on people to take measures to prevent its spread such as covering their mouths when coughing or wearing face masks. These masks are reportedly selling out in stores and online retailers in the country.

Wang says this virus is also concerning because there are still many aspects that aren’t well understood by health officials. “The enemies are in the dark, and we don’t know them,” he said. “This new coronavirus is in the same family as SARS, but it’s different from SARS.” SARS, which is short for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, killed nearly 800 people during an outbreak in 2003.

The World Health Organization has scheduled a meeting Wednesday to weigh whether the coronavirus should be declared an international public health emergency.

Wang is invited to that meeting, and expects the idea of travel restrictions to be discussed. “It’ll be a tough decision, and I don’t want to be the person to make that decision,” he says, given the sheer number of people on the move during the [Lunar New Year] holiday.

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How Many Tariff Studies Are Enough?

Shipping containers are stacked at the Port of Long Beach in Long Beach, California, Dec. 17, 2019.


Photo:

Ringo Chiu/Zuma Press

The evidence of economic harm from tariffs keeps piling up. Two studies out this month from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) indicate—again—that U.S. tariffs are paid almost entirely by American consumers, while illustrating how they also act as a drag on U.S. exports.

The first paper is by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Princeton and Columbia. They examined data on U.S. customs through October 2019. By then, as they calculate, the average U.S. duty had more than tripled, from 1.6% to 5.4%. But foreign firms generally did not cut prices to compensate. Instead, “approximately 100 percent of these import taxes have been passed on to U.S. importers and consumers.”

The exception was steel imports, for which the tariff pass-through rate “falls to around 50 percent a year after the tariff was applied.” This cuts both ways: On one hand, at least American steel users bear only half the extra cost. But then how will President

Trump

revive steel jobs? “The fact that foreign steel producers have lowered their prices,” the economists say, “may help explain why U.S. steel production only rose by 2 percent per year between the third quarter of 2017 and the third quarter of 2019.”

The second paper is by economists at the Federal Reserve, the University of Michigan and the Census Bureau. Their focus is the weakness in U.S. exports, where growth has been flat or negative, even when excluding “exports to China or products facing retaliation.” What gives? One factor, as they wryly explain: “Firms’ reliance on global supply chains can complicate the application of traditional mercantilism.”

By value, the items on Mr. Trump’s many tariff lists are mostly—57%, the study says—intermediate goods. Hence the boomerang effect, since American companies use these inputs to make their own products. The authors add that “84% of total U.S. exports were by firms facing at least one import tariff increase.”

Those companies represent 65% of manufacturing employment, another big concern for Mr. Trump. “For all affected firms,” the economists estimate, “the implied cost is $900 per worker in new duties.” For manufacturers, it’s even higher: $1,600 per worker.

This fits with the rest of the evidence. A study from the Federal Reserve, which we recently wrote about, said: “A small boost from the import protection effect of tariffs is more than offset by larger drags from the effects of rising input costs and retaliatory tariffs.” An NBER paper in March said that “the full incidence of the tariff falls on domestic consumers, with a reduction in U.S. real income of $1.4 billion per month.” Don’t forget the duties on washing machines, which researchers say raised prices on washers—and also on dryers—by about 12%.

Protectionists may defend their policies on political grounds, but that means ignoring the mounting evidence of economic harm.

As the impeachment trial of Donald Trump gets underway in the Senate, Paul Gigot, Kim Strassel, Bill McGurn and Jason Riley discuss possible scenarios as Democrats present their case against the President. Image: Steve Helber/Associated Press

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