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Trump administration reveals it’s blocking dozens of emails about Ukraine aid freeze, including President’s role

The filing, released near midnight Friday, marks the first official acknowledgment from the Trump administration that emails about the President’s thinking related to the aid exist, and that he was directly involved in asking about and deciding on the aid as early as June. The administration is still blocking those emails from the public and has successfully kept them from Congress.

A lawyer with the Office of Management and Budget wrote to the court that 24 emails between June and September 2019 — including an internal discussion among DOD officials called “POTUS follow-up” on June 24 — should stay confidential because the emails describe “communications by either the President, the Vice President, or the President’s immediate advisors regarding Presidential decision-making about the scope, duration, and purpose of the hold on military assistance to Ukraine.”

Trump’s decision to withhold nearly $400 million in US military aid to Ukraine as he pressed the country to investigate Hunter Biden and Joe Biden, his potential 2020 general election rival, are at the center of the President’s impeachment trial. Trump and his allies have repeatedly made unfounded and false claims to allege that the Bidens acted corruptly in Ukraine.
The Senate on Friday defeated an attempt to subpoena documents and witnesses, which could have revealed more about the actions of Trump and the officials closest to him related to Ukraine. Senate leadership on Wednesday plans to hold the final vote to acquit Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Government officials testified in the House’s impeachment inquiry to the existence of what appears to be some of the emails.

“The day after DOD issued its June 18 press release announcing $250 million in security assistance funds for Ukraine, President Trump started asking OMB questions about the funding for Ukraine,” the House outlined in its impeachment report.

The House noted that the OMB refused to turn over any documents when subpoenaed during the probe, and that emails may exist showing acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney passing along the President’s order to halt the aid to Ukraine.

“The Committees also have good-faith reason to believe that the Office of Management and Budget is in possession of and continues to withhold significantly more documents and records responsive to the subpoena and of direct relevance to the impeachment inquiry,” the House wrote before it voted to impeach the President for obstruction of Congress.

The filings from the executive branch came Friday to meet a court-ordered January 31 deadline. A judge had specifically asked for an email-by-email breakdown of what the Justice Department redacted or withheld in Defense Department and OMB emails about the aid, and why it did so, after the Center for Public Integrity sued and got access to them in December through the Freedom of Information Act.
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Tlaib boos Hillary at Bernie rally, Hillary slams Bernie

Rashida Tlaib attended a campaign rally for Bernie Sanders in Clive, Iowa Friday night. She participated in a panel discussion that included her sister squad members Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Ilhan Omar. During their discussion, Hillary Clinton’s name came up and Tlaib took the opportunity to boo her from the stage.

The panel moderator, Dionna Langford, is a Des Moines school board member. She teed it up for Tlaib, frankly. She brought up the fact that Hillary trashed Bernie recently as someone that nobody likes. Then she said, “We’re not gonna boo, we’re not gonna boo. We’re classy here.” She had to have known that Tlaib would do exactly that.

“No, I’ll boo. Boo!” Tlaib, who was seated onstage next to laughing Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., interrupted. “You all know, I can’t be quiet. No, we’re going to boo. That’s alright. The haters will shut up on Monday when we win.”

Of course, she was going to boo. Tlaib has no filter and is known for her crude outbursts. Remember during her celebration of being sworn into office that she told her supporters “We’re going to impeach the m*****f*****”. If she was quick to do that in public on that day, she certainly would have no problem booing Hillary after Clinton’s ugly remarks about Bernie. Most of the squad has endorsed Bernie in the primary (Rep. Ayanna Pressley endorsed Elizabeth Warren. There is a Massachusetts connection.)

Bernie and Hillary have a lot of bad blood between them. That’s not news. Hillary’s trash talking of Bernie so recently, though, just adds fuel to the fire that she is unable to accept the fact that she is not on the debate stage with the rest of the candidates. She even said she still has the urge to run again. She said that the BernieBros culture attacks women. In Hillary’s world, any time a woman doesn’t reach a goal she works for, it’s because of sexism.

So, with four outspoken women on stage in support of Bernie – the moderator wrote an op-ed in support of Bernie for the Iowa Starting Line – it was a reminder of accusations of how the DNC rigged the 2016 primary for Hillary. Bernie is having a moment and it is causing the more moderate wing of the party to panic. Hillary fans were not amused by Tlaib’s booing.

You’d think after Hillary stepped in it over her remarks of Bernie recently which brought so much backlash from other Democrats that she had to swallow her pride and backtrack that she’d be a bit more cautious in her remarks now. But, no. She did it again.

On Friday, Hillary was interviewed on Emily Tisch Sussman’s podcast “Your Primary Playlist.” She spoke about the 2016 Democrat convention and bashed not only Bernie but his supporters, too. His supporters were rightfully angry that Bernie was not treated well by the DNC and Hillary is suddenly now a voice for unity, apparently. Sanders’ supporters weren’t interested in party unity back then and she is holding a grudge.

Clinton said some of the behavior of Sanders’ supporters at the Democratic National Convention that year was “very distressing,” specifically mentioning how speakers Rep. John Lewis and then first lady Michelle Obama were booed.

“All the way up until the end, a lot of people highly identified with his campaign were urging people to vote third party, urging people not to vote,” she said.

She called it a contrast to how Democrats united after her loss to then Sen. Barack Obama in the 2008 primary, when she said she did 100 events for the eventual president.

Hillary even acknowledged how united Republican voters are for President Trump’s re-election and there is a bit of panic as she realizes that some “caring, smart, concerned Americans” may not unite to vote for the Democrat choice. In Hillary’s world, Trump supporters are not caring, smart, or concerned, you know.

She told Sussman she thinks the Democratic Party is “light years” better than the Republican Party, “but just look at the price we paid for a Trump presidency.”

Clinton said she can’t imagine how any “caring, smart, concerned American” who identifies on the party’s left would want four more years of “destructive” President Trump.

“That cannot happen again,” she added. “I don’t care who the nominee is. I don’t care. As long as it’s somebody who can win, and as long as it’s somebody who understands politics is the art of addition, not subtraction.”

Pretty ironic that Hillary Clinton sees herself as the person who must insist that the party unites, right? She is easily one of the most divisive political figures in my lifetime. Yet, here we are. It’s 2020 and she is still replaying the 2016 election and blaming everyone else but herself for her loss to Trump.

This won’t be the last time Hillary inserts herself into the conversation. Just wait until Bernie wins the Iowa caucuses. If he does pull it off, Hillary and her ilk are going to find themselves in for a very long primary process. And, the DNC will have to tread lightly this time in order to not appear to be rigging it all for Joe Biden, or another moderate candidate against Bernie.

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Bernie Sanders: Michael Moore Rips DNC at Bernie-Less Bernie Rally in Iowa

Michael Moore speaks at a rally for Bernie Sanders in Sioux City, Iowa, January 26, 2020. (Ivan Alvarado/Reuters)

Clive, Iowa — Even though he was not physically present due to impeachment trial votes in the Senate, Bernie Sanders drew a crowd in Iowa on Friday night many times the size of any other Democratic campaign event this week.

Sanders had a few advantages other candidates haven’t had: a free concert (headlined by the band Bon Iver) at a venue that had several cash bars selling beer and liquor. And while most of the attendees (who skewed young, as one would expect) plan to vote for Bernie, their enthusiasm for him should not be overstated. I watched one Sanders volunteer ask everyone standing in a long concessions line if they’d be willing to knock on doors for Bernie this weekend, and not a single person signed up.

Still, the Biden and Buttigieg campaigns have been drawing mere hundreds of Iowans this week, and the turnout of a few thousand people for the Bernie-less rally for Bernie was impressive. After some technical difficulties, Sanders spoke to the crowd by telephone to deliver a truncated version of his stump speech in which he promised his election would not merely remove Trump from office but “transform our country.” 

The political highlights of the night occurred when Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib led the crowd in booing Hillary Clinton (for which she later apologized) and when left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore delivered a stemwinder against “corporate Democrats” and the Democratic National Committee.

An enraged Moore told the crowd that the DNC was removing the debate qualification requirement that a candidate must have hundreds of thousands of small donors to benefit Michael Bloomberg. “They removed it so that he can be in the next debate! He doesn’t have to show he has any support amongst the American people, he can just buy his way onto the debate stage. And I’ve gotta tell you what’s so disgusting about this. I watched the debate in Iowa here two weeks ago, the all-white debate, and the fact that . . . the DNC will not allow Cory Booker on that stage, will not allow Julian Castro on that stage, but they’re going to allow Mike Bloomberg on the stage because he’s got a billion f***ing dollars!”

In addition to trashing the DNC, Moore hailed Sanders’s lifetime commitment to left-wing politics. “I’m pretty certain the term gay-rights didn’t even exist when he was already for gay-rights” in 1972, Moore said. He also highlighted Sanders’s support for an unlimited right to abortion before Roe v. Wade

Moore told his “fellow Boomers” in the crowd that the only way their generation could make amends for destroying the climate, strapping younger Americans with outrageous levels of student debt, and leaving them unable to afford to buy a home is to vote for Sanders. “You’ve got to listen to the children,” he said.

And to those concerned about Sanders’s ability to beat Trump, Moore, who correctly predicted Trump’s path to victory in 2016, said that Bernie Sanders is the Democrats’ “only chance to win” in 2020.

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This week on “Sunday Morning” (February 2)

COVER STORY: Campaign 2020: Democratic voters in Iowa decide on the party’s direction
As Iowa Democrats head to the state’s caucuses Monday, polls show a majority of Democrats have one thing on their minds: defeating President Trump in November. But just how to succeed at defeating the incumbent Republican is proving divisive. Will Iowans back a candidate who promises fundamental change – a progressive figure like Bernie Sanders of Elizabeth Warren – or one who will bring politics “back to normal” – a moderate such Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar? Nicholas Thompson, the editor-in-chief of Wired, talks with candidates on the trail; Waleed Shahid, of the progressive group Justice Democrats; and Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania, about matters of electability, practicality, and motivating people to get out and vote.

See also:

For more info:

Balto’s epic trek

A master picker
An archaeologist of antiques, Mike Wolfe has taken viewers on a nationwide scavenger hunt of historic finds via his History Channel series, “American Pickers.” But he’s not just about buying up the past; he’s also helping preserve it, by restoring old Main Street buildings in Le Claire, Iowa, and elsewhere. Lee Cowan talked with Wolfe about his passion for relics of history.

For more info:

“Jojo Rabbit”
New Zealand writer-director Taika Waititi’s rollicking World War II satire centers on a German boy, an aspiring young Nazi, who fantasizes about his best buddy Adolf Hitler while discovering his mother is harboring a Jewish girl in their house. Audacious and touching, the film has been nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Tracy Smith talks with Waititi and with Oscar-nominee Scarlett Johansson.

To watch a trailer for “Jojo Rabbit” click on the video player below:

JOJO RABBIT | Official Trailer [HD] | FOX Searchlight by
SearchlightPictures on

For more info:


The Vince Lombardi Trophy, on display during a press conference before Super Bowl LIV, at the Hilton Downtown, January 29, 2020 in Miami. 

Kirby Lee, USA Today Sports via Reuters

SPORTS: Tiffany trophies
In 1966, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and Oscar Riedner, head of design at Tiffany & Co., sketched on a cocktail napkin the design of what would become the Vince Lombardi Trophy, awarded to the winner of the Super Bowl. “CBS This Morning” co-host Tony Dokoupil talked to the Tiffany artisans and silversmiths who craft this shiny, seven-pound metal prize – and the championship trophies of 10 other sports – before they are hoisted by a winner.

For more info:

James Taylor on guitar. 

CBS News

MUSIC: James Taylor
Life these days is pretty sweet for James Taylor, the musician-songwriter famed for such hits as “Fire and Rain,” “Carolina In My Mind” and “Sweet Baby James.”  At 71 he is as busy as ever, looking back in a new audio memoir on his early days in North Carolina, and exploring the songs he loved growing up in an upcoming album, “American Standard.” Jane Pauley visited Taylor at his home in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, where he talked about his turbulent youth and the revitalizing rewards of going back on tour.

PREVIEW: At 71, James Taylor still finds live performance “revitalizing”

James Taylor performs “Teach Me Tonight,” from his upcoming album, “American Standard”:

James Taylor – American Standard: Teach Me Tonight (Official Music Video) by
JamesTaylorVEVO on

For more info:

Jim Lehrer

Mandy Patinkin
The Tony- and Emmy Award-winning actor, known for his intensity, admits he has earned a reputation as being “hard to handle” for walking out of shows. But in “Homeland,” Mandy Patinkin is in his element as CIA Agent Saul Berenson, the calm in the eye of the storm. Correspondent Holly Williams talked with Patinkin in Morocco where he was filming the series’ eighth season. They also discussed his years as an ambassador for the International Rescue Committee, and she joined Patinkin and his wife, actor-writer Kathryn Grody, as they visited a camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Watch a teaser for “Homeland” Season 8:

Homeland Season 8 (2020) Official Teaser Trailer | Claire Danes SHOWTIME Series by

For more info:

OPINION: Douglas Brinkley: Congress is to blame for an imperious presidency
The historian says the impending acquittal of President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial shows the Senate placing political party self-interest above the long-term integrity of the legislative branch.

Giraffes (Extended Video)
“Sunday Morning” takes us to Africa to witness a tower of giraffes. Videographer: Judith Lehmberg. 


The First Saturday Art Crawl in Nashville.

Nashville Downtown Partnership

TAKE FIVE: Arts & events around the U.S. (January 31)
Check out the “Sunday Morning” listings of events this coming week.

The Emmy Award-winning “CBS Sunday Morning” is broadcast on CBS Sundays beginning at 9:00 a.m. ET. Executive producer is Rand Morrison.

DVR Alert! Find out when “Sunday Morning” airs in your city 

“Sunday Morning” also streams on CBSN beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET and at 1 p.m. ET.  You can also watch a rebroadcast of “Sunday Morning” on the cable channel Pop TV beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET./9:30 a.m. PT.

Full episodes of “Sunday Morning” are now available to watch on demand on, and CBS All Access, including via Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon FireTV/FireTV stick and Xbox. 

Follow us on Twitter (@CBSSunday), FacebookInstagram (#CBSSundayMorning) and at  

You can also download the free “Sunday Morning” audio podcast at iTunes and at Now you’ll never miss the trumpet!

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Elizabeth Warren Runs Against Corruption Amid Trump Impeachment Trial

Chip SomodevillaGetty Images

CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA—Kohawk Arena at Coe College had something of a startling reporter-to-voter ratio when Senator Professor Warren came by to call on Saturday. It filled slowly, but it did fill. Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, who rapidly is building a following of her own as a rock-star surrogate, got them revved up in time for the main event, who showed up and immediately sought to make up for the time she’d lost as a juror in the moot court competition in Washington.

Warren had too many stops to make over the last three days of the Iowa caucus campaign to hang around for her trademark selfie line afterwards. However, Bailey the dog was available to step in and was certainly popular, especially with the service dogs in attendance, who looked on Bailey curiously, like basketball players when Michael Jordan stepped in for a pickup game. Warren—and Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar—are all burning up the highways and byways here this weekend because, as senators, they were obligated to spend two weeks in Washington listening to the grinding of Pat Cipollone’s interests as they conflicted with each other, grinding up the canons of legal ethics along the way. So if the homestretch here is more frantic than usual, blame the effort it takes on the part of this White House to turn the constitutional processes of government into a burlesque.

If nothing else, this obviously should be a good moment for Warren, whose campaign is based on her conviction that our government and our politics are so corrupt that Big Structural Change is needed to clean out the Augean Stables in the District of Columbia. On Saturday, she deftly connected decades of increasing corruption with the undeniable end product, which is this administration* and this president*.

“The good news is that I have the biggest anti-corruption plan since Watergate,” she said. “The bad news is that we need the biggest anti-corruption plan since Watergate. These problems, this corruption, started long before Donald Trump became president.

Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren Campaigns In Iowa Days Before State's Caucus

Bailey was in the building.

Chip SomodevillaGetty Images

“Some of the things we can do quietly. But that anti-corruption plan, there’s no way to do that quietly. We can’t keep doing this as a country. The one good thing about Donald Trump is that he’s got everybody off the sidelines. We run against that corruption. We run against the most corrupt administration in the history of this country. Have you been watching these trials? At the center of the whole thing was an ambassador [Gordon Sondland], and how did he get to be an ambassador? He had no qualifications, except that he cut a check to Donald Trump’s inaugural committee for a million dollars. He bought a public office. That is the height of corruption.”

Both Sanders and Warren have arrayed themselves strongly against the money power. However, Warren’s focus is more precisely aimed at the money power’s destruction of ethics and trust, while Sanders seems most concerned with a general critique of the money power’s influence. After two weeks in which the president*’s corruption was laid bare in the Senate, only to have the Republican Senate majority essentially decide that the corruption was an inherent part of the office of the president—Alan Dershowitz as much as said that—and prepare to give him a gentle warning and send him away, it can be argued that corruption of the office is the only issue that should matter.

Oh, and there was more of it revealed on Saturday, too. From CNN:

The Department of Justice revealed in a court filing late Friday that it has two dozen emails related to President Donald Trump’s involvement in the withholding of millions in security assistance to Ukraine — a disclosure that came just hours after the Senate voted against subpoenaing additional documents and witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial, paving the way for his acquittal. The filing, released near midnight Friday, marks the first official acknowledgment from the Trump administration that emails about the President’s thinking related to the aid exist, and that he was directly involved in asking about and deciding on the aid as early as June. The administration is still blocking those emails from the public and has successfully kept them from Congress.

Elizabeth Warren may or may not be the Democratic nominee for president, but she’s latched on to the issue beneath all the others.

Respond to this post on the Esquire Politics Facebook page here.

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Bloomberg’s $10M Super Bowl ad posts misleading stat on child gun deaths

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg’s $10 million 2020 Super Bowl ad includes a misleading statistic concerning the number of children killed in violent gun-related crimes, and inaccurately suggests that an adult victim of gun crime in Texas was a child, Fox News has found.

In the raw and emotional one-minute spot, Calandrian Simpson Kemp recalls her son’s death: “On a Friday morning, George was shot. George didn’t survive. I just kept saying, ‘You cannot tell me that the child that I gave birth to, is no longer here.’ Lives are being lost every day. It is a national crisis.”

A statistic immediately appears on the screen: “2,900 CHILDREN DIE FROM GUN VIOLENCE EVERY YEAR.” The number is not attributed to any source.

However, a recent report from the Bloomberg-founded group Everytown for Gun Safety came up with that same number — but only when it included teenagers ages 18 and 19 in the calculation. Bloomberg’s advertisement makes no mention of older teenagers and suggests that the statistic is referring to younger children only. Washington Free Beacon reporter Stephen Gutowski found that once adults were removed from the calculation, the number dropped by nearly half.

Additionally, court documents from a Texas state appellate court reviewed by Fox News show that the victim referenced in the advertisement, George Kemp, was 20 years old at the time of his death.


“On September 26, 2013, just before midnight, the police received a dispatch for shots fired,” the court wrote in its opinion, which denied an attempt to throw out evidence in the case. “When they arrived, they discovered a deceased male, later identified as George Kemp, age 20, lying face down in a pool of blood.”

The court said the case arose from a “gang-related shooting,” writing that “two groups of young men” had met that night “for a fight,” including a group led by “B. Dilworth, which included … Kemp.”

Those details were not disclosed in Bloomberg’s advertisement.

“It is regrettable but not surprising that salient facts didn’t make the ad,” Amy Hunter, director of media relations at the National Rifle Association (NRA), told Fox News. “Bloomberg cherry-picked aspects of the story to push his agenda. Bloomberg pushes for confiscation of guns and stripping regular Americans of our right to self-defense while he enjoys armed security 24/7. He sees America as his kingdom, and the rest of us as his peasants.”

Reached by Fox News Saturday afternoon, the Bloomberg campaign emphasized his gun-control efforts, but did not address the advertisement’s characterizations or statistics.

“Ask any grieving parent whose 18- or 19-year-old son or daughter was shot and killed, and they will tell you they lost a child,” Bloomberg spokesperson Julie Wood told Fox News. “There are simply too many of these deaths, and Mike has a plan to prevent them with common-sense gun safety laws.”

Bloomberg’s ad will air following the halftime show on Sunday.

“When I heard Mike was stepping into the ring, I thought, ‘Now we have a dog in the fight,’” the mother says in the advertisement. “Mike’s fighting for every child. Because you have a right to live. No one has a right to take your hopes and dreams.”

Bloomberg is a longtime backer of what he calls “common-sense” gun legislation and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars since his time as New York City mayor to combat gun violence, including founding Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which eventually merged with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

In 2013, he founded Everytown for Gun Safety, which has worked to pass gun control legislation, and in 2018, he spent $110 million to elect candidates who support gun safety in the midterm elections.


“Bloomberg cherry-picked aspects of the story to push his agenda.”

— NRA media relations director Amy Hunter

Bloomberg’s gun-rights push has occasionally hit public stumbles. In the wake of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Bloomberg suggested in a televised interview that he did not know the difference between semi-automatic and fully automatic firearms, that hunters should only be allowed to possess guns with “three bullet” chambers, and that the Second Amendment should protect only hunting rights.

“If it can fire a lot of bullets very quickly, that’s a good definition — a good place to start,” Bloomberg had said, when asked to define an assault weapon. “And then you can argue what a ‘lot is.’ Let’s pick it. Let’s say three [bullets]. If you haven’t hit the deer with three shots, you’re a pretty lousy shot. That deer deserves to get away. Let’s get serious here.”

He added, before being corrected by the interviewer: “Pistols are different. You have to pull the trigger each time. An assault weapon, you basically hold the trigger, it goes [and fires continuously].”

Simpson Kemp told The Associated Press that she first met Bloomberg in 2015 and was drawn to him because he was proposing solutions.

“When you have lost a child — when you have actually opened the earth and put your child in a hole and closed it up — you don’t have time to wait and play,” she said Wednesday. “This is urgent. And I knew Mike Bloomberg had a plan and had a plan that we can get behind.”

She will be attending the game Sunday on a ticket Bloomberg gave her. “When I walk into that stadium and sit in that seat,” Simpson Kemp said, she’ll be able to “tell my son that he made it. Indirectly, he has made it.”

While an ad featuring a grieving mother might seem out of place alongside spots advertising beer and sedans, Bloomberg campaign spokeswoman Julie Wood said the goal was to “make people take notice” and try to start a conversation about the issue during a rare day when so many Americans come together to watch something “and actually watch the ads and talk about the ads.”

“It’s not about selling corn chips and beer. It is a serious ad about an issue that I think the country does care about and should care about,” Bloomberg said during an appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” this week.

Bloomberg’s decision to buy the Super Bowl time is just the latest in his tit for tat with President Trump, whose campaign has bought a 30-second ad during the big game.


The candidates, who have been trading barbs since Bloomberg’s late decision to enter the race, both have near-limitless money to spend. Trump’s campaign has set fundraising records, with $46 million raised in the last quarter of 2019 alone. Bloomberg, a billionaire who is self-funding his bid for the White House, had already spent more than $225 million on television and digital advertisements as of mid-January, according to the tracking firm Advertising Analytics.

During his late-night interview, Jimmy Fallon observed that Bloomberg seemed to be getting under Trump’s skin with his nonstop television presence.

“Well, I sure hope so,” Bloomberg said. “I’m trying.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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A behind-the-scenes look at Senate floor vote and that phone call with Trump

It’s a coda to proceedings that neither side appears to particularly enjoy. Discussing the next steps over a GOP lunch on Friday, some Republican senators voiced misgivings at dragging the trial into another week, according to people familiar with the matter, particularly after it seemed the party’s leaders were intent on moving to a quick acquittal vote.

Across town, the White House made it known a vote before Trump’s yearly address to Congress — which would allow for a victory lap in the Democrat-led House — was their preference. Many of Trump’s allies were already betting on a Friday evening acquittal; a graphic on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News program Thursday proclaimed “24 Hours to Victory.”

But other Republican senators wanted an opportunity to express their views on the floor after sitting mostly silent — occupying themselves with fidget spinners and glasses of milk — for the duration of the trial. And Democrats, eager to avoid vindicating Trump any earlier than necessary, also appeared wary of allowing the impeachment to further impede on their party’s nominating process.

“I think most people would like to get it over like right now,” South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a top confidant of the President’s, said as Senate leaders worked to strike a deal. “The cake is baked. And we just need to go ahead and move on as soon as we can.”

But moving on, however popular among some, was not in the cards Friday.

Meeting with McConnell

During a midday break in the trial proceedings, a number of GOP senators — including Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Mitt Romney and Lamar Alexander — met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in his office to talk over how and when the trial would conclude. Collins, a source close to the Maine Republican said, was “trying to help come up with a solution” that would allow senators an opportunity to voice their reasoning on whether to convict or acquit Trump.

“She doesn’t care how much time members get,” the source said. “She thinks the speeches can be short.”

Other senators disagreed. Some agitated during the party’s lunch for a quick end to the trial that would prevent it from stretching into another week. Others expressed concern about another weekend being eaten up in Washington. And some voiced the White House view that Trump should be acquitted before delivering the State of the Union address scheduled for Tuesday.

By mid-afternoon, the dramatics of the procedural wrangling were on full display on the Senate floor. McConnell, fresh from a successful bid to block new witnesses being called, engaged in an intense discussion with the Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who had come to cameras earlier to denounce a rushed ending to the impeachment trial, saying he would wield his minority power “to prevent things from just being truncated in the dark of night.”

The conversation on the floor did not appear heated, but did look direct. The two talked directly for more than 10 minutes before each retreated to confer with aides. McConnell’s team huddled for several minutes with other Republican senators.

The extended pause in the proceedings stretched on as each side positioned itself for the trial’s next steps. While the leaders haggled, other senators ambled around the Senate floor engaging in small talk and awaiting word.

Behind closed doors

After casting votes on whether to call witnesses, the senators retreated behind closed doors to learn the decision: Republicans to the Strom Thurmond Room, near McConnell’s office and the Capitol Rotunda, and Democrats to the Lyndon B. Johnson Room, their normal meeting space just off the Senate floor.

There, they learned the trial would resume on Monday with closing arguments and allow for Senators to speak before a final vote on the two articles of impeachment scheduled for 4 p.m. ET, on Wednesday.

Republican senators said McConnell had no choice but to agree to the Wednesday acquittal vote because Democrats could have used their power under the rules to drag out the process. Republicans decided to cut the deal and spare themselves late nights and a weekend session.

“Democrats were willing to use any number of dilatory tactics, many of which would probably carry us into next week,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate Democrat.

Trump signs off on timeline

It fell to McConnell to inform Trump the trial wouldn’t wrap up by week’s end. Speaking by phone, the Republican leader walked the President through the timeline that will bring the impeachment era to a close. Trump signed off, but he wasn’t thrilled.

“No matter what you give to the Democrats, in the end, they will NEVER be satisfied. In the House, they gave us NOTHING!” he tweeted as he arrived in a torrential downpour to Palm Beach, Florida, where he is spending the weekend.

A senior Trump administration official acknowledged Friday that Trump’s State of the Union speech could come in the midst of his impeachment trial — the second time in American history a president will deliver the annual address after being impeached.

Trump administration reveals it's blocking dozens of emails about Ukraine aid freeze, including President's role

But the official said the speech will be “forward-looking” and “optimistic,” comparing the situation to last year when the government had just emerged from a long shutdown.

Rushing to flee the Capitol on Friday evening, few senators seemed overly triumphant at the prospect of returning to their role as jurors for another three days, even though the schedule was the result of compromise.

Instead, lawmakers seemed satisfied to at least have a weekend to decompress — or to campaign:

“I’ve had so much drama today,” Murkowski said as she departed, “I’m just going to chill.”

“I can’t wait to see my grandson,” Schumer, fresh from negotiations, told reporters as he left.

“I’m on my way to Iowa,” said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, sounding excited as he dashed from the Capitol.

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Vote To Acquit Trump Postponed as Moderate GOP Senators Rebel


The Senate vote that is expected to acquit President Donald Trump of the articles of impeachment against him will be held on Wednesday. This comes after Senate leaders received pushback from Democrats and moderate Republicans about holding the vote either Friday night or Saturday.

The Hill quoted unnamed sources saying moderate Republicans did not support a quick vote after Friday’s dramatic 51-49 vote to reject calling new witnesses in the trial.

The Hill quoted an unnamed Republican senator as saying a few GOP senators opposed the plan for a Friday or Saturday vote, threatening the unity needed to acquit Trump.

“For us to do to what we want to do, we all got to want to do it,” the senator said.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate who supported calling witnesses, reportedly wanted time for deliberations before the final vote.

TRENDING: In Landslide Defeat, Dems Lose Race That Was Supposed To Start Turning Texas Blue

Republican Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana, speaking of a meeting among GOP senators, said there was “some feverish discussion.”

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who also voted to call witnesses, did not object to a quick vote. “Other members have expressed concerns however,” a reported GOP aide said after a meeting among moderates Romney, Collins, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Murkowski rejected Democratic demands for additional witnesses on Friday.

“A fair trial would have been one where we could have remedied the defects that came out of the House. I think we got to a point where you just realize that [it] would never be sufficient to meet the demands of those who were seeking the results they wanted,” she said.

Do you think the trial should have ended by now?

“We started with a flawed product. I’m at that point where I’m frustrated and disappointed — angry at all sides,” she said, according to ABC News.

The Wednesday vote came together through a combination of factors.

“A lot of folks want to address the subject so that gives them a chance on Monday, Tuesday, and part of Wednesday to do that,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune of South Dakota said, according to Politico.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell consulted with Trump before the schedule was adopted. Trump, who gives his State of the Union address Tuesday, signed off on the delayed vote, according to The New York Times.

“The president is gratified that finally — at long last, after multiple delays — the Senate will set a schedule for his acquittals quickly as possible,” said Eric Ueland, Trump’s legislative affairs director, according to The Washington Post. “I do not believe that schedule interferes with his ability to deliver a strong and confident State of the Union message to the House of Representatives and the country next week.”

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The delay also addresses the concerns of Democrats. Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said Republicans “wanted to rush through an acquittal vote tonight” but Democrats wanted “ample time for every member to speak,” according to The Times.

The schedule calls for the Senate to reconvene at 11 a.m. Monday to hear closing arguments from each side and then deliberations in the form of speeches from senators who want to make them. The final vote is set for 4 p.m. Wednesday.

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PolitiFact answers the Senate’s impeachment questions

Chief Justice John Roberts presides over the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (C-SPAN)

Senators took control of their chamber’s impeachment trial this week, submitting questions to the Democratic House managers and President Donald Trump’s legal team.

The questions, provided to Chief Justice John Roberts in writing, gave a window into the senators’ thinking as they consider whether to remove a president from office for the first time. 

But House managers and the Trump team spun their answers to serve their perspective. So we decided to take on the questions ourselves, with the facts in mind.

On whether impeachment and removal requires a crime

The question (from Democratic senators): “Does the phrase ‘‘or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors’ in Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution require a violation of the U.S. criminal code or is a breach of public trust sufficient?”

Our answer: A criminal violation is not necessary. Federalist Paper 65, written by Alexander Hamilton, refers to impeachment as stemming from “offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.”

“There is little doubt that this argument has been accepted in the past as a statement of the framers’ intent,” said Stephen M. Griffin, a Tulane University law professor.

The actual phrase in the Constitution’s impeachment language, “high crimes and misdemeanors,” means “an affront to the state, to the people, the body politic,” said Jeffrey A. Engel, director of the Southern Methodist University Center for Presidential History and a contributor to the 2018 book “Impeachment: An American History.”

“A president, or any leader really, need not break any statute in order to break the public’s trust.”

The answer (from a House impeachment manager): “You could have activities that are so dangerous to our Constitution, that are not a crime, that would be charged as an impeachable offense because they are an abuse of power. That is what the framers worried about.”

Quid pro quos and foreign policy

The question (from Republican senators): “As a matter of law, does it matter if there was a quid pro quo? Is it true that quid pro quos are often used in foreign policy?”

Our answer: Quid pro quos are not unusual in foreign policy. They are a common way for countries to try to leverage desired actions by other countries. What’s at issue here is whether the exchange benefits the country’s broad policy goals, or whether it benefits the president’s personal interests.

Hamilton’s language in Federalist 65 means that violations of public trust are defined as things that hurt the body politic. Griffin said, “it can’t be true that the president gets to define that, especially when an election is on line.”

It’s not surprising that the incumbent will feel that way, he said, but “so does the competitor.”

The answer (from Trump’s defense team): “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected — in the public interest — that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”

On the Chief Justice’s role in evaluating witnesses

The question (from Democratic senators): “Isn’t it true that the chief justice, as presiding officer in this trial, has the authority to resolve any claims of privilege or other witness issues, without any delay?”

Our answer: The reach of Roberts’ authority remains an open question, with only two chief justices having ever assumed the role Roberts now fills. 

The current Senate rules for impeachment say the chief justice “shall direct all forms of proceedings” in the Senate trial. But Roberts is not all-powerful. A simple majority of senators can vote to overrule him, and Republicans hold 53 seats in their Senate majority.

On evidence, the rules say the chief justice “may rule on all questions of evidence including, but not limited to, questions of relevancy, materiality, and redundancy,” and that a single senator can ask the Senate to vote on any ruling Roberts makes, leaving the outcome up to the majority.

Some in support of a more active role for Roberts on the question of calling witnesses have pointed to a separate line in the rules giving the chief justice the “power to make and issue, by himself or by the Secretary of the Senate, all orders, mandates, writs, and precepts.”

But there’s not much precedent guiding Roberts’ role, experts told us. The chief justices in the trials of Johnson and Clinton tended to yield to senators. Chief Justice Salmon Chase did break two tied votes during Johnson’s trial, under different rules.

The answer (from a House impeachment manager): “The answer is yes.”

The answer (from Trump’s defense team): “The idea that the presiding officer of this proceeding could determine a waiver or an applicability of executive privilege would be quite a step,” without historical precedent.

The threshold for conviction in the Senate

The question (from Republican senators): “Is the standard for impeachment in the House a lower threshold to meet than the standard for conviction in the Senate, and have the House managers met their evidentiary burden to support a vote of removal?”

Our answer: The Senate trial is not a criminal trial, so, it doesn’t require the same, high standard for conviction as a criminal trial.

The Constitution in Article I, Section 3 decoupled impeachment from ordinary criminal law. 

“Impeachment can remove a federal office holder and perhaps ban him or her from holding federal office in the future, but that is all,” said Frank O. Bowman III, a University of Missouri law professor and author of the book High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump. “Any punishment of the criminal kind can only be imposed by a court in an entirely separate proceeding.”

The answer (from Trump’s defense team): The standards of criminal law apply in the Senate, “which means proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

On the timing of Trump’s pursuit of the Bidens

The question (from Republican senators): “Before Vice President Biden formally entered the 2020 presidential race in April 2019, did President Trump ever mention Joe or Hunter Biden in connection with corruption in Ukraine to former Ukrainian President Poroshenko or other Ukrainian officials, President Trump’s cabinet members or top aides, or others?”

Our answer: There’s no proof that Trump expressed concerns about the Bidens before Joe Biden announced he was running for president April 25, 2019. 

The minority report of the House Intelligence Committee, written by Republicans, noted testimony from senior State Department official George Kent that he raised concerns about Hunter Biden’s position with Burisma Holdings to Biden’s office in 2015. It said nothing about concerns Trump expressed in advance of Biden’s candidacy. 

Trump never tweeted about the Bidens and Ukraine between the day he was elected and the day Biden jumped in the 2020 race, either.  Searching’s database, we also found no Ukraine-related references to the Bidens in Trump’s public speeches and interviews during that same timeframe.

The answer (from Trump’s defense team): “It wasn’t thoroughly pursued in the record, so I can’t point to something in the record that shows President Trump, at an earlier time, mentioning specifically something related to Joe or Hunter Biden.”

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Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Rashida Tlaib: Boos, jabs, scars of 2016

Clinton’s comments come just before Monday’s first-in-the-nation caucuses in Iowa, where Sanders is bunched at the top of the polls with former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. The remarks are yet another reminder of the lasting scars, perhaps never to heal, of the 2016 primary battle between Sanders, whose supporters believe the contest was heavily biased in Clinton’s favor, and Clinton, who has begrudged Sanders for not supporting her candidacy quickly and strongly enough after she clinched the nomination.