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Donald Trump says he would ‘love to run against Bloomberg’

Trump told Fox News in a clip released Sunday before the pre-Super Bowl interview with Sean Hannity that he “would love to run against Bloomberg” in the general election.

“I would love it,” Trump said.

The President took a swipe at Bloomberg’s height in the interview, calling him “very little,” and making a claim that the former mayor would use a “box for the debates to stand on.”

There’s no evidence that Bloomberg is trying to get a box to stand on for the Democratic debate.

Bloomberg’s campaign responded, saying there is “no basis for this.”

“The President is lying,” Bloomberg campaign spokesperson Julie Wood said in a statement that also mocked the President’s weight and appearance.

Trump also tweeted Saturday night about Bloomberg, using a negative nickname about the former mayor’s height.

Bloomberg responded Sunday, saying, “Donald Trump knows I can beat him — and the fear of that keeps him up tweeting about me late into the night.”

As the other Democratic candidates ready for Monday’s Iowa caucuses, Bloomberg is skipping the Hawkeye State.

In bypassing the first nominating contests, Bloomberg is charting his own path among a crowded Democratic primary field, putting his focus on the multiple states that will vote in the Super Tuesday contest in March.

But the former New York mayor is leveraging his personal wealth to air a barrage of ads. Bloomberg has spent more than $286 million on television, digital and radio advertisements — including a $10 million spot focused on his work to combat gun violence that is set to run during the Super Bowl.

So far, the strategy has shown signs of working — the positive ads have vaulted Bloomberg nationally to 10% in a recent Fox News poll and to 8% in a Quinnipiac survey, allowing him to pull even or slightly ahead of former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

CNN’s Kristen Holmes, Nikki Carvajal, Daniel Dale, Dan Merica, Fredreka Schouten and Cristina Alesci contributed to this report.

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Iowa caucuses: Race to decide election candidates begins

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The spotlight is on Sanders in Iowa: will he shine?

The first event that will help decide the candidates for US president is to take place with Monday’s Iowa caucuses.

Democratic and Republican voters will choose their preferred nominees for the White House race.

While victory in Iowa doesn’t guarantee anyone the nomination, it can help give them crucial momentum.

The path appears clear for Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee, but there are still 11 people running for the Democratic nomination.

Many have spent the past few weeks vigorously campaigning in the Midwest state, which is always the first to vote. The primaries contest goes on until early June, and moves on to New Hampshire next Tuesday.

Here’s the story of what to expect in Iowa, broken down.

One person to watch

Polls suggest that Bernie Sanders has risen to be the favourite in Iowa (or – depending where you look – the joint-favourite, with former vice-president Joe Biden).

He is one of four senators running for president who have had to stay behind in Washington to attend Mr Trump’s impeachment trial, but his supporters, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have been energetically campaigning on his behalf in Iowa.

Four years after losing out to Hillary Clinton, could this be the 78-year-old’s time? He is backed by a huge pot of donations and a team of hundreds. But if he won the nomination, would moderate Democrats really rally around a candidate for the White House who identifies as a democratic socialist?

Some of the other big names including Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg will be hoping Mr Sanders doesn’t have it all his own way in Iowa.

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Media captionHow Iowa is like the luge: An unconventional guide to the caucuses

There are also Republican caucuses on Monday, and two people are running against Mr Trump, but the president’s popularity within his own party is such that his nomination is all but a formality.

One piece of context

Iowa, to some extent, provides a glimpse of what went wrong for Democrats in 2016.

In the last election, more than 200 US counties flipped from supporting President Barack Obama in 2012 to backing Mr Trump – and 31 of those counties were in Iowa.

Democrats will be hoping to lure back those floating voters in 2020. And while we won’t know until November whether they have been successful, we may get a glimpse of where the land lies on Monday.

Howard County in northern Iowa flipped by 41 percentage points in 2016, the largest change in the US. The BBC’s Angélica Casas and Marianna Brady went there to ask people whether they would vote for a Democrat in 2020.

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Media caption‘We voted for Obama, then Trump’

One key question

Does Iowa actually matter? It depends how you look at it.

As the primary season curtain-raiser, Iowa can help shape perceptions among voters. A win here can help give a candidate momentum early in the race (as it did in 1976 with Jimmy Carter) and erase any doubts about their viability.

While Iowans have a good record at picking the eventual Democratic nominee, their record when it comes to the Republican candidate is more mixed. When it’s an open Republican race (unlike this year, for example), none of the winners of Iowa has become the Republican nominee since 2000.

It’s worth pointing out that Iowa isn’t the most diverse of states either – the rest of America will vote very differently in upcoming primaries and caucuses.

One quote

Caucus captains gather around a mock official

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People in other states may not understand why you’d stand around for two hours for a caucus

So says Ann Anhalt, from Des Moines, who plans to vote for tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang on Monday. But this is exactly what a caucus involves – they are essentially internal party meetings, scattered across the state, that might last a few hours.

At some point during the meeting, you have to show your support for a candidate. You do this by standing next to others who also support that candidate, and a count takes place.

What’s at stake is delegates – 41 Democratic ones in Iowa – distributed according to how well candidates performed in the caucuses. If candidate A is awarded 10 delegates, those delegates would later vote for candidate A as the Democratic nominee at the summer convention – the aim for any candidate is to gain as many delegates as possible over the primary season.

One voter’s view

Gina Weekley, 36 – Youth advocate from Waterloo, Iowa

I’m married to a woman, so my livelihood and happiness is at stake in this election. My family’s future is at stake in this election. And our freedom as Americans is at stake.

We need a strong leader to emerge as the Democratic nominee. Someone with great passion and energy who can unify the United States.

The division and hate messages that we’ve seen under the Trump presidency needs to end. We don’t currently have a leader that works for all Americans.

I’m caucusing so that future generations can access quality education. We need a president who helps “at risk” youth get the proper services they need so they don’t fall victim to the school-to-prison pipeline.

One thing to look out for

At each of the 1,677 locations across the state, a candidate must have the support of at least 15% of voters in order to qualify for a chance to win Iowa delegates to the national convention in July – when the candidate is ultimately picked.

After a first round of tabulations, those who support a candidate that doesn’t reach “viability” have the opportunity to switch sides.

Complicating everything is the new reporting system the Democratic Party has instituted for the Iowa caucus results.

In the past, the party has only released one number – the final tabulation of support after all the caucus horse-trading and support swapping takes place. This time, however, there will be two sets of numbers – the final tally as well as a count of each candidate’s support in the first round of balloting.

That means two – or more! – candidates could be on stage declaring victory on Monday night.

It has the makings for a long, chaotic night – the first of what could be many for the candidates still standing after the Iowa dust settles.

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Media captionSurrogates campaign for Senators stuck in Washington

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2020 Democrats make closing arguments in final hours before Iowa caucuses

The rush highlights Iowa’s importance to the broader Democratic primary, and that the candidate who wins here on Monday night will enjoy a wealth of momentum heading into the New Hampshire primary next week.

Here’s how the top six candidates in Iowa are closing out their campaign in the state:

Biden

Keenly attuned to Democratic voters’ focus on electability, Biden spent his final sprint through Iowa playing up Republican attacks on him — showing voters that he’s already weathered the full force of Trump’s political machine, while his primary rivals have not.

In particular, he has played up Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst’s comments to reporters in Washington suggesting that Iowa Democratic caucusgoers might turn away from Biden after Republicans used President Donald Trump’s impeachment proceedings to attack Biden and his son Hunter.

“She kind of spilled the beans,” Biden told a crowd Friday morning in Burlington.

Then he asked the question Ernst had raised about Iowa Democrats: “Will they support Joe Biden at this point?” The crowd applauded and yelled “yeah!” “Seems so, right?” Biden said. “Seems so.”

Biden’s closing pitch is the same as the slogan on the side of his campaign bus: Restoring the soul of the nation.

“In Joe Biden’s America, the President’s tax returns won’t be a secret. Political self-interest will not be confused with the national interest. And no one — no one, not even the President of the United States — will be above the law,” Biden said Thursday morning in a speech in the Des Moines suburbs.

“I’m absolutely certain we can repair this country,” he said. “And we can repair our standing in the world. We can win the battle for the soul of America. The country’s ready.”

He rarely says his Democratic opponents’ names, but punctuated his stump speeches with clear jabs at his leading foes.

On Sunday in Dubuque, Biden said the next President “is going to have to face a nation that’s fundamentally divided, as well as a war in disarray. And with all due respect, there’s going to be no time for on-the-job training. You’d better know what you’re doing the first day.”

Minutes later, in a jab at Sanders and Warren, Biden brought up the axiom that talk is cheap. “In politics sometimes it’s very expensive,” he said. “Especially if you don’t tell people how you’re going to pay for what you want to do.”

Buttigieg

Buttigieg speaks during a campaign event held at the Loras College Fieldhouse on February 1, 2020 in Dubuque, Iowa.

The former South Bend, Indiana, mayor is closing his campaign by highlighting his uniqueness as the youngest candidate in the race: It’s time to “open the door to a new generation of leadership.”

Buttigieg has highlighted the message throughout the closing days of his Iowa campaign, one where the 38-year-old former mayor — more than most candidates in the field — needs a strong showing to legitimize his run and prove some semblance of electability.

Buttigieg has repeatedly used a campaign riff to explain why his age — something some Democrats see as a fault — has historically been useful to his party. Buttigieg tells audience that, in the last 50 years of the Democratic Party, the presidential nominees who won were “new on the scene”; “was opening the door to a new generation”; and “who did not have an office in Washington, or if they did, hadn’t been there for very long.”

“We had better make sure we win this time because the country can’t take another term of this President,” Buttigieg said this week.

As part of the strategy, Buttigieg has begun taking on two of his older opponents — Biden and Sanders — by name, suggesting they do not fit that historic mold.

Buttigieg, in response to an ad where Biden’s campaign argues that now is “no time to take a risk,” told voters in Decorah that “history has shown us that the biggest risk we could take with a very important election coming up is to look to the same Washington playbook and recycle the same arguments.” And at an event in Anamosa, Buttigieg cast Sanders as too unmoving, arguing that the senator feels “you’re either for a revolution, or you got to be for the status quo, and there’s nothing in between.”

This reflects a new consensus inside the Buttigieg campaign, where the former mayor’s top strategist view Biden and Sanders as their most formidable opponents. The Buttigieg campaign, people with knowledge of their strategy say, will be satisfied with a top two finish or beating Biden in Iowa.

Buttigieg, to make that case, has focused intently on winning over what the mayor has called “future former Republicans,” people who may have voted for Trump in 2016 but as disaffected with the President and willing to give a Democrat a chance.

“I was hopeful that he was somebody different,” Anne Wahl, a 49-year-old former nuclear medical tech from Marshalltown, said of her vote for Trump in 2016. “You learn from everything. I look at it that this next time around let’s start with somebody who starts out very presidential and intelligent. Let’s start their first and go from there.”

The question for Buttigieg’s team is whether those Iowans will come out Monday night, allowing the former mayor to expand the electorate with voters eager to, as he says, usher in a “new generation” of leaders.

Klobuchar

Klobuchar speaks during a campaign event at Crawford Brew Works, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, in Bettendorf, Iowa.

Klobuchar’s closing message can be summed up with two words: “Grit” and “charm.”

Klobuchar, who turned her snowy announcement speech into a sign of her toughness, is closing with some of that same messaging in Iowa, hoping that the culturally similar Democrats in Iowa will be drawn to a senator selling herself as pragmatic and tough.

Klobuchar has peppered her final events with nods to her Minnesota upbringing, her grandfather who saved money in a coffee can and her ability to win over Republican voters. Her ads have also fixated on this message, touting the fact that she has visited all 99 Iowa counties and referred to her “Midwestern charisma” and “grit.”

Klobuchar has also turned up the heat on one of her opponents, Buttigieg, in the closing days of the campaign, faulting him as dismissing the importance of the impeachment trial.

“I don’t have the luxury to switch the channel and watch cartoons, as one of my opponents suggested,” she said on Friday after Buttigieg suggested the chaos in Washington has led some voters to turn off the news and watch cartoons. “I’m here. I’m hoping that the people see it as a plus and I’m going to do my job.”

One dynamic Klobuchar supporters are hoping plays out Monday is that Iowans, many of whom like Klobuchar, will be moved to back her because they want her to stay in the race beyond the Hawkeye State.

And there are signs that is impacting voters across the state, with numerous undecided voters telling CNN they were considering Klobuchar because they wanted her to get further than Iowa.

“In my precinct, I think Pete will probably win it,” said Barbara Wells, a Des Moines resident. “So if I can go over to Amy and make Amy viable, that would be really important to me because it keeps her in the race.”

Klobuchar has played this up in recent days, all but pleading with Iowans to send her on to New Hampshire and beyond.

“This person deserves a ticket out of Iowa,” she said this week, “to be able to go forward, and I am asking you to do that for me.”

Sanders

Sanders’ closing pitch to Iowa voters sounds a lot like what he’s been saying all along: Rich corporate and establishment interests are aligned against working people. But his campaign has the grassroots power to win — there and around the country — if they can drive as many people out to the caucuses as possible.

The emphasis on expanding the electorate has been a central theme of every Sanders speech since he arrived back in the state for this final push.

“What this campaign in Iowa is about and what it is about nationally is about voter turnout,” Sanders said in Cedar Rapids on Sunday. “It is reaching forth to our friends and neighbors who have in many instances given up on political process.”

Sanders has also sought to use a late round of pushback, including one from an outside group that spent nearly $700,000 to run an ad here questioning his electability and health, as fuel for his supporters.

Calling in to an Iowa City rally this week from Washington, where he and the other senator-candidates have been stuck serving as jurors in Trump’s impeachment trial, Sanders cast the uptick in attacks on his campaign as a sign of its strength.

“Right now there are people with a lot of money (and) they are sitting around trying to figure out how they can defeat us,” Sanders said. “But at the end of the day, the reason that we will win is that we have the people, and we have an unprecedently strong, grassroots movement in Iowa and around the country that tonight are knocking on thousands and thousands of doors.”

In a campaign ad that began running this week, Sanders highlighted those volunteers, along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; a young, diverse group of supporters; and the climate activists from the Sunrise Movement, who appear in turns as Sanders’ voice, from a rally in New York last year, delivers the message.

“Take a look around you and find someone you don’t know, maybe somebody doesn’t look kinda like you,” Sanders says, then asks: “Are you willing to fight for that person as much as you’re willing to fight for yourself?”

Warren

Warren speaks during a campaign rally Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, in Iowa City, Iowa.

“Unite the Party.”

That was the message on posters at a Warren event in Urbandale on Saturday.

Warren is closing out her campaign in Iowa by pitching herself as the one candidate on the ticket with power to bring together warring factions inside the Democratic Party and beat Trump in November.

She made a similar case in three recent ads here that touted her ability to bring along voters who had backed Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Trump in 2016. Another spot highlighted her endorsement by the state’s largest newspaper, the Des Moines Register.

In an ad titled, “She Can Win,” a man who identifies himself as a former Trump voter says he will back Warren this year.

“The people that say that a woman can’t win, I say ‘nonsense.’ I believe a woman can beat Trump and I believe Elizabeth is that woman,” he says.

Another ad features three voters — each of whom backed different candidates in 2016 — attesting to Warren’s ability to forge a coalition.

“We can’t afford a fractured party in 2020,” a former Bernie supporter says.

The Clinton backer from 2016 adds: “In 2020, the person that can unite the party is Elizabeth Warren.”

And the erstwhile Trump voter delivers the closing message.

“If a former Trump supporter can be energized by Elizabeth Warren,” he says, “then Elizabeth Warren is doing something great for America.”

Yang

Yang speaks during a forum on gun safety at the Iowa Events Center on August 10, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Yang, the entrepreneur and first-time candidate, spent his final events on the campaign trail in Iowa hammering home the same message that launched him to stardom: A call for a universal basic income.

Yang’s proposal to give every American $1,000 per month — which he calls a “freedom dividend” — has been the animating cause of his candidacy.

“We’re living in a country — there are 78% of us are living paycheck to paycheck. Almost half can’t afford an unexpected $500 bill. Too many Americans are being left behind in the 21st century economy,” Yang said Sunday morning on ABC. “We need to put the gains of this economy directly into our hands, into families’ hands around the country, through a dividend of $1,000 a month.”

Yang has sought to appeal to disaffected voters — from Sanders’ supporters to Republicans. At events, he’s asked those that voted for Trump to raise their hands — and then asked the crowd to applaud them for being there.

But he’s also tried to show he’s having the most fun of any candidate in the race. On Sunday morning, he hopped off a chair in Ames and then told a small crowd around him, “Let’s see Bernie Sanders do that!”

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Impeachment trial heads to historic end in frenetic week

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial heads toward a historic conclusion this week, with senators all-but-certain to acquit…

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial heads toward a historic conclusion this week, with senators all-but-certain to acquit him on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after narrowly rejecting Democratic demands to summon witnesses.

There’s still plenty of drama to unfold before Wednesday’s vote.

The vote is expected to cap a months-long investigation spurred by a whistleblower complaint that Trump improperly withheld U.S. military aid from Ukraine in a bid to pressure it to launch investigations into 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden.

In the Senate, Republicans hold a 53-47 advantage and there’s nowhere near the two-thirds needed for conviction and removal. On Friday, Republicans blocked consideration of new witnesses and documents, setting up the speedy acquittal vote for the coming week.

It will be a frenetic next few days.

On Monday, House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team return to the Senate floor to make closing arguments in the trial, the same day the 2020 presidential election kicks off with the first votes cast in the Iowa caucuses.

On Tuesday, Trump will deliver his State of the Union address.

Will some Democratic senators join Republicans to acquit Trump, allowing him to claim a bipartisan “exoneration”? Will Trump gloat or express any regret over the Ukraine matter after key GOP senators during the trial criticized his actions as improper, but ultimately not impeachable? Will Wednesday’s Senate vote be the final say in the matter?

What to watch as the third impeachment trial in U.S. history heads to a close:

CLOSING ARGUMENTS

The trial resumes at 11 a.m. EST Monday for closing arguments by the two legal teams, with each side getting two hours. After the arguments, the Senate goes back into normal session to allow lawmakers to give speeches about impeachment on the floor from late Monday into Wednesday, before they reconvene as the impeachment court at 4 p.m. Wednesday and vote.

With Trump’s acquittal all but assured, one of the biggest questions may be whether any Democrats join with Republicans to clear him of charges. There is strong political significance.

Three Democratic senators hailing from states where Trump remains popular — Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — remained quiet over the weekend about their intentions.

They were among the 47 Democratic and independent senators who voted unsuccessfully to extend Trump’s trial by summoning additional witnesses.

If one or more of the Democratic senators votes to acquit Trump — even voting against one article of impeachment while supporting the other — it could alienate some Democratic voters, mark their legacies and let Trump spend his reelection campaign asserting that he was cleared by a bipartisan vote.

Manchin indicated to reporters Friday he probably won’t decide his vote “until walking in” to the chamber on Wednesday.

Jones has said he will announce his decision prior to Wednesday’s vote, making sure he gets it “right.” Sinema hasn’t indicated when she will signal her intentions.

___

WHAT WILL TRUMP SAY?

Trump gives his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, and with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., perched behind him during his prime-time address, the White House has been coy as to whether Trump will reference the impeachment trial.

Trump “is gratified the Senate will set a schedule for his acquittal as quickly as possible. We do not believe that schedule interferes with his ability to deliver a strong, confident State of the Union,” White House aide Eric Ueland said Friday.

A year ago, Trump made no direct reference to his shutdown of government spurred by a dispute with Democrats over border wall funding in the speech he eventually delivered to Congress. He used his address to call for a “new era of cooperation.”

Still, there were plenty of subtle digs at the time, including when Trump warned those gathered against pursuing “foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations.”

___

THE FINAL VOTE

It’s similarly unclear whether Trump could express regret or remorse over his Ukraine actions, though senators aren’t holding their breath.

The vote to convict or acquit Trump is scheduled for 4 p.m. EST Wednesday.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee was among several Republicans last Friday who voted to block additional witnesses and draw the trial to a close, even though he and others described Trump’s actions as “inappropriate” and “wrong.” Asked Sunday if he would want to hear Trump express regret, as President Bill Clinton did after his impeachment trial, Alexander said he doesn’t need to hear it.

“What I hope he would do is when he makes his State of the Union address, that he puts this completely behind him, never mentions it, and talks about what he thinks he’s done for the country and where we’re headed,” Alexander told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Alexander and other Republicans said that even if Trump committed offenses charged by the House, they are not impeachable — especially in an election year. They say voters should make that determination in November.

That leaves Trump’s fate still hanging in the balance.

A NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released last week found majorities of American voters believe that Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress, but split largely among party lines over whether he should be removed from office.

The poll, conducted Jan. 26-29, found 46% of registered voters believed Trump should be removed from office as a result of the trial, vs. 49% who said he should remain — basically unchanged from a 48-48 split in December.

___

NOT OVER YET?

An acquittal for Trump on Wednesday wouldn’t mean the end of the Ukraine matter in other respects.

Both Pelosi and Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, haven’t ruled out the possibility of compelling former national security adviser John Bolton to testify in the House should Trump be acquitted.

In an unpublished manuscript, Bolton has written that the president asked him during an Oval Office meeting in early May to bolster his effort to get Ukraine to investigate Democrats, according to a person who read the passage and told The Associated Press; Trump denies that. Bolton also wrote that Trump said he wanted to maintain a freeze on military assistance to Ukraine until it aided the political investigations. His book is due out in March. Senators ultimately voted against hearing his testimony.

“This is in the Senate now,” Pelosi told reporters last week. “We’ll see what happens after that.”

Republicans, for their part, aren’t pledging to fully close the case, either. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he planned to call Joe Biden as part of the congressional oversight process into possible corruption in Ukraine.

___

Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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John Bolton: Schiff won’t say whether the House will subpoena former national security adviser

“I don’t want to comment to this point on what our plans may or may not be with respect to John Bolton, but I will say this: whether it’s before — in testimony before the House — or it’s in his (forthcoming) book or it’s in one form or another, the truth will come out (and) will continue to come out,” Schiff said in an interview with CBS when asked if the chamber would subpoena the former Trump administration official.

The comments come two days after the Senate voted to block any witnesses from being called in the trial, thwarting Democrats’ efforts to include witnesses such as Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney in the proceedings. Calls to include Bolton in the trial increased last week in the wake of revelations from his draft book manuscript that alleged Trump told him US security aid to Ukraine was conditioned on investigations into Democrats.
Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine 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.
On Friday, new allegations from Bolton’s manuscript that Trump directed Bolton to help his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani get in touch with the Ukrainian President in May were reported by The New York Times, and Schiff cited them during Friday’s witness debate.
Schiff on Sunday also referenced a Justice Department court filing made public late Friday night that revealed it has two dozen emails related to Trump’s involvement in the withholding of millions in security assistance to Ukraine.

The California Democrat, who’s serving as lead impeachment manager in the trial, also called the President’s lawyers’ arguments “disingenuous” and said “they waited until midnight so that senators voting on whether to compel these documents would not have that information.”

“That shows you the lengths to which the President’s lawyers are going to cover this up,” he said, adding: “but they’re going to fail. Indeed, they’ve failed already.”

When asked about Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s statement last week that she would not vote in favor of the Senate subpoenaing witnesses and documents because the impeachment process was partisan from the beginning and the articles were rushed and flawed, Schiff turned the blame back on the senators, saying they are not “mere spectators” and that they could have had a fair trial if they decided to include witnesses and documents.

“It is within their power to make it a fair trial with four votes, with four courageous senators saying ‘no we’re going to demand a fair trial no matter what this president may say,'” he said, referring to the four Republican votes Democrats needed to include witnesses in the trial. “There would have been a fair trial. There would have been witnesses and testimony.”

Schiff also said the Republican criticism of the House for not waiting for litigation over a Bolton subpoena to play out in court before moving forward with impeachment is false, noting the House is still pursuing testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn, and that it’s unclear when their efforts will end.

“First of all, if we continue with litigation, as we are doing at this moment with Don McGahn, and we subpoenaed him nine months ago and we’re still nowhere near a final resolution, it would probably be one to two years before we would have had a decision on John Bolton,” he said. “That means the President would have been able to cheat in the next election with impunity because they could have simply delayed and played out the clock.

The chairman also said the President’s lawyers were “arguing out of both sides of their mouth,” noting the Justice Department’s argument in the McGahn case that the House doesn’t have any legal grounds to bring lawsuits to enforce subpoenas.
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US election 2020: What are the Iowa caucuses and how do they work?

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Reuters

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Iowa, where it’s never too cold to caucus

Four years after the world watched Donald Trump’s momentum build and build until he became the Republican nominee, America is again deciding who will run for the White House.

The nominees will be chosen through a series of primaries and caucuses in every US state and territory, starting in Iowa on Monday and ending in Puerto Rico in early June.

Short of a big shock, the Republican nominee will be Donald Trump. Even though technically he has two challengers, he is so popular among Republicans, he has a clear run ahead of him. With that in mind, the Democratic primaries are the only ones worth watching.

It’s an unusual process, not all of which makes sense, although we’ve tried.

Step one: The start line

A whole year before the primaries, the first candidates emerged from hibernation. Over the year, others woke up and eventually 28 people announced they were running to become the Democratic nominee for president.

But dwindling funds, luke-warm or (ice-cold) public reaction and campaign infighting have, to varying degrees, led to 16 candidates pulling out of the race.

Now, with primary season upon us, 12 people remain in the running. In theory, any one of them could become the nominee. In reality, only a few have a chance.

Step two: The Iowa caucuses

The first event of the primary season isn’t a primary at all – it’s a series of caucuses, in Iowa, on Monday 3 February. We’ll explain the difference between a primary and a caucus later.

What are caucuses?

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Media captionHow Iowa is like the luge: An unconventional guide to the caucuses

A caucus involves people attending a meeting – maybe for a few hours – before they vote on their preferred candidate, perhaps via a head count or a show of hands. Those meetings might be in just a few select locations – you can’t just turn up at a polling station.

As a result, caucuses tend to really suit candidates who are good at rousing their supporters to get out of bed. People like Bernie Sanders, for example.

Caucuses used to be far more popular back in the day, but this year, Democrats are holding only four in US states – in Nevada, North Dakota, Wyoming and Iowa.

If any candidate gets under 15% of the vote in any caucus, their supporters then get to pick a second choice from among the candidates who did get more than 15%, or they can just choose to sit out the second vote.

Why does Iowa matter?

A win here for any candidate can help give them momentum and propel them to victory in the primaries.

Why is Iowa first in the primary calendar? You can blame Jimmy Carter, sort of. Iowa became first in 1972, for various technical electoral reasons too boring to go into here. But when Carter ran for president in 1976, his team realised they could grab the momentum by campaigning early in Iowa. He won there, then surprisingly won the presidency, and Iowa’s fate was sealed.

Why does Iowa not matter?

Iowa doesn’t represent the entire US – it’s largely white, so the way people vote there will be very, very different than in other states.

Its record on picking the eventual nominees is a bit rubbish too, at least when it comes to Republicans – when there’s an open Republican race, Iowa hasn’t opted for the eventual nominee since 2000. Such names as Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz have won there in recent years.

Step three: The New Hampshire primary

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Getty Images

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New Hampshire: Intensely bucolic

Eight days after Iowa on Tuesday, 11 February, is the first primary, in New Hampshire. The tiny north-eastern state of only 1.3m people will once again become an unlikely hotbed of political activity.

What is a primary?

Unlike a caucus, where voters are expected to turn up at a few limited locations at certain times and stick around for a while, primary voters can just turn up at a polling booth and vote in secret. Then leave.

How does a primary work?

The more votes a candidate gets in a caucus or primary, the more “delegates” they are awarded, and all candidates will be hoping to win an unbeatable majority of delegates.

The number of delegates differs in each state, and is decided by a convoluted series of criteria. In California’s primary, for example, there are 415 Democratic delegates up for grabs this year. In New Hampshire, it’s only 24.

This year is a bit different. Any candidate would need to get at least 15% of the vote in any primary or caucus to be awarded delegates. There are still 11 candidates in the running – an unusually large number – so there’s a risk the vote share will be spread out and some of the candidates may struggle to reach 15%.

After New Hampshire, we could get a clear picture of who is struggling, but whoever has claimed the most delegates at this stage is still far from guaranteed to be the nominee.

And even those who are struggling may not drop out right after New Hampshire, because there is so much at stake on…

Step four: Super Tuesday

A few other states vote in between New Hampshire and the end of February, but this is when things really start to warm up: Super Tuesday, on 3 March.

What is Super Tuesday?

It is the big date in the primary calendar, when 16 states, territories or groups vote for their preferred candidate in primaries or caucuses. A third of all the delegates available in the entire primary season are up for grabs on Super Tuesday. By the end of the day it could be much clearer who the Democratic candidate will be.

The two states with the most delegates are voting on Super Tuesday – California (with 415 Democratic delegates) and Texas (228). California is voting three months earlier than in 2016, making Super Tuesday even more super than normal.

California and Texas are two states with very diverse populations, so we may see them going for very different candidates than those chosen in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Step five: The rest of the race

After hectic Super Tuesday, everyone gets to cool down for a week, before another busy day on Tuesday, 10 March, when six states vote, with 352 delegates available.

After that, the primary season still has three months left to run ,and at the end, the role of those delegates will become clear…

Step six: The conventions

Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

Hillary Clinton celebrates becoming the Democratic nominee at the 2016 convention. This is as good as things got for her campaign.

Donald Trump will almost certainly be sworn in as the Republican nominee at the party convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, between 24 and 27 August. The Democrats will confirm their candidate at their own convention between 13 and 16 July in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

What happens in a convention?

Here’s where those delegates come in.

Let’s say that during primary season, candidate A wins 10 delegates. During the convention, those 10 delegates would vote for candidate A to become the Democratic nominee. (Any party member can apply to be a delegate – they tend to be party activists or local political leaders.)

All through the Democratic primaries, there are 3,979 delegates available. If any one candidate wins more than 50% of those delegates during primary season (that’s 1,990 delegates), then they become the nominee in a vote at the convention.

But if we get to the Democratic convention and no-one has more than 50% of the delegates, it becomes what’s known as a “contested” or “brokered” convention. This could well happen this year. There are so many candidates that no one frontrunner emerges in the primaries, and they split the delegates between them. In that circumstance, a second vote would follow.

In that second vote, all the 3,979 delegates would vote again, except this time they would be joined by an estimated 771 “superdelegates”. These are senior party officials past and present (former president Bill Clinton is one, as is current Vermont senator and presidential contender Bernie Sanders), and they’re free to vote for whomever they wish.

If a candidate wins 50% or more in that vote – 2,376 delegates – then they become the nominee.

This is all thanks to a rule change in 2020: last time around, the superdelegates voted at the start of the convention, with the delegates. But many had pledged their support to Hillary Clinton even before the convention, leading her rival Mr Sanders to suggest the deck was stacked against him.

He’s the one who campaigned for the change – and it may benefit him in 2020.

Step seven: The presidency?

After inching past Iowa, negotiated New Hampshire, survived Super Tuesday and come through the convention, there is only one step left for the nominee: the presidential election, on 3 November.

We’ll explain how that one works a little closer to the time.

Full primary season calendar

(Primaries unless stated otherwise)

FEBRUARY

Monday 3

  • Iowa caucuses (Democratic, Republican)

Tuesday 11

Saturday 22

Saturday 29:

MARCH

Tuesday 3 (Super Tuesday)

  • Alabama (D, R)
  • American Samoa caucuses (D)
  • Arkansas (D, R)
  • California (D, R)
  • Colorado (D, R)
  • Maine (D, R)
  • Massachusetts (D, R)
  • Minnesota (D, R)
  • North Carolina (D, R)
  • Oklahoma (D, R)
  • Tennessee (D, R)
  • Texas (D, R)
  • Utah (D, R)
  • Vermont (D, R)
  • Virginia (D)
  • Democrats Abroad (D)

Tuesday 10

  • Idaho (D, R)
  • Michigan (D, R)
  • Mississippi (D, R)
  • Missouri (D, R)
  • North Dakota caucuses (D)
  • Washington state (D, R)

Thursday, 12

  • Virgin Islands caucuses (R)

Saturday 14

  • Guam caucuses (R)
  • Northern Marianas (D)

Tuesday 17

  • Arizona (D)
  • Florida (D, R)
  • Illinois (D, R)
  • Northern Marianas caucuses (R)
  • Ohio (D, R)

Tuesday 24

  • American Samoa caucuses (R)
  • Georgia (D, R)

Sunday 29

APRIL

Saturday 4

  • Alaska (D)
  • Hawaii (D)
  • Louisiana (D, R)
  • Wyoming caucuses (D)

Tuesday 7

Tuesday 28

  • Connecticut (D, R)
  • Delaware (D, R)
  • Maryland (D, R)
  • New York (D, R)
  • Pennsylvania (D, R)
  • Rhode Island (D, R)

MAY

Saturday 2

  • Guam caucuses (D)
  • Kansas (D)

Tuesday 5

Tuesday 12

  • Nebraska (D, R)
  • West Virginia (D, R)

Tuesday 19

  • Kentucky (D, R)
  • Oregon (D, R)

JUNE

Tuesday 2

  • District of Columbia (D, R)
  • Montana (D, R)
  • New Jersey (D, R)
  • New Mexico (D, R)
  • South Dakota (D, R)

Saturday 6

  • Virgin Islands caucuses (D)

Sunday 7

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Video Shows Chuck Schumer Chiding Kamala Harris for Impeachment Behavior

Prior to a news conference regarding President Donald Trump’s impeachment on Friday, Sen. Kamala Harris was caught on camera goofing around on stage in front of reporters.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer quickly rebuked her actions.

The reporter in the video was about to ask a question, but paused when she was interrupted.

Once Harris stopped laughing, the reporter started over with her question.

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The video quickly got the attention of many viewers who saw it as an opportunity to poke fun at Harris — a former contender for the Democratic presidential nomination — and the Democratic Party itself.

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The Daily Wire reported that this wasn’t the first time Harris has been caught acting goofy during a time of seriousness on camera.

Two weeks ago, after Harris was sworn in as a juror in the Senate impeachment trial, she was caught with a very cheerful smile on her face before her interview with MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt in regards to the seriousness of the trial.

Harris’ facial expression changed to appear somber as soon as the cameras started rolling.

“This is a solemn, serious moment,” Harris said during the interview.

Do Harris’ actions prove that Democrats don’t really view impeachment as seriously as they’re pretending?

“These are the most serious charges ever brought in the history of our country against a president. The moment we just experienced is, I think, highlighting the importance of doing impartial justice and taking seriously the importance of listening to the evidence and the importance of receiving evidence, both in terms of witnesses and in terms of documents.

“Because the American people and the Constitution of the United States, and in honor of the Constitution of the United States, require that we demand all evidence so that we can follow the facts and the evidence where they lead.”

Hunt asked Harris if she thought the Senate would run a fair trial.

“If the United States cannot conduct a fair trial, then we can talk about the beginning of the end to our democracy and our system of justice,” Harris answered.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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Brexit prompts rowdy London parties, quiet Scottish vigils and protesters demanding public housing residents ‘speak English’

Thousands of Brexit supporters waving the Union Jack, and others even dressed as the twelfth-century English King Richard the Lionheart, gathered in London’s Parliament Square Friday night for a massive celebration of the United Kingdom’s official exit from the European Union.

BREXIT IS OFFICIAL: UK LEAVES EUROPEAN UNION

Meanwhile, police in Norwich, England, investigated “racist” flyers telling residents in order to have a “Happy Brexit Day,” they should “speak English” or go back to their home country so the local government could let British people live in their public housing apartments. And anti-Brexiteers in Scotland, which voted to remain in the EU in 2016, held solemn vigils instead of the more rowdy celebrations in London.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage shakes hands with his supporters in London, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. The U.K. is scheduled to leave the EU at 23:00 GMT Friday, the first nation in the bloc to do so. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Following the historic departure, Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party, will travel to Washington Sunday in order to attend President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday.  In a London speech, he shot down speculation he’d be joining Trump on his 2020 campaign trail – telling the crowd he’ll spend most of next year in the UK to ensure Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers on Brexit policy proposals.

Brexit supporters celebrate during a rally in London, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Britain leaves the European Union after 47 years, leaping into an unknown future in historic blow to the bloc. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Brexit supporters celebrate during a rally in London, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Britain leaves the European Union after 47 years, leaping into an unknown future in historic blow to the bloc. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

“The war is over,” Farage said in his speech. “This is the single most important moment in the modern history of our great nation…We have to make sure that we watch every step of this journey over the next 11 months and more and we will do that.”

Three and half years after the British public voted to leave the EU, Brexit was finally set into motion Friday night. The historic referendum vote was held months before Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Now an 11-month transition period will allow the UK to negotiate new deals on trade and security while following the bloc’s rules.

Brexit supporters trample on a European Union flag during a rally in London, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Britain officially leaves the European Union on Friday after a debilitating political period that has bitterly divided the nation since the 2016 Brexit referendum. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Brexit supporters trample on a European Union flag during a rally in London, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Britain officially leaves the European Union on Friday after a debilitating political period that has bitterly divided the nation since the 2016 Brexit referendum. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

“We’re open for business from the rest of the world. We want unity, peace and stability,” Caroline Jones, of the Welsh Brexit Party, told the BBC. “That’s what we didn’t have because we were in limbo for three and a half years, so as well as it being exciting, it’s also a relief.”

The colors of the British Union flag illuminate the exterior of 10 Downing street, the residence of the British Prime Minister, in London, England, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Britain officially left the European Union on Friday after a debilitating political period that has bitterly divided the nation since the 2016 Brexit referendum. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

The colors of the British Union flag illuminate the exterior of 10 Downing street, the residence of the British Prime Minister, in London, England, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Britain officially left the European Union on Friday after a debilitating political period that has bitterly divided the nation since the 2016 Brexit referendum. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

A recording of Big Ben’s bells sounded when the departure became official at 11 p.m. London time when the clock struck midnight in Brussels, Belgium, where the EU is headquartered. The crowd belted “God Save the Queen,” as some were photographed setting fire to the European Union flag in the streets, others trampling on the bloc flag, covering it in a thick layer of mud and grass.

Meanwhile in Scotland, which voted to remain in the European Union during the 2016 referendum vote, solemn Brexit vigils were held in several cities, government buildings in Edinburgh were lit up in the EU’s blue and yellow, and the bloc’s flag continued to fly outside the Scottish Parliament.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Brexit was “a moment of profound sadness.” British flags were quietly removed from the bloc’s many buildings in Brussels.

Brexit supporters celebrate during a rally outside Stormont in Belfast, Northern Ireland as Britain left the European Union on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Britain officially left the European Union on Friday after a debilitating political period that has bitterly divided the nation since the 2016 Brexit referendum. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Brexit supporters celebrate during a rally outside Stormont in Belfast, Northern Ireland as Britain left the European Union on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Britain officially left the European Union on Friday after a debilitating political period that has bitterly divided the nation since the 2016 Brexit referendum. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

On Sunday, police in Norfolk, England, launched an investigation“Happy Brexit Day” notices stuck to the doors in a 15-story public apartment building demanding residents speak English or get out following Friday’s departure from the European Union.

“We finally have our great country back… we do not tolerate people speaking other languages than English in the flats,” the flyers posted on the doors in Winchester Tower, a public housing building for people ages 55 and up, reportedly said, according to BBC. “We are not our own country again” and the “Queens English is the spoken tongue here.”

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“If you do want to speak whatever is the mother tongue of the country you came from then we suggest you return to that place and return your flat to the council so they can let British people live here and we can return to what was normality before you infected this once great island,” the notices, which surfaced Friday before being taken down, read.

Residents and other demonstrators denounced the flyers as racist and protested outside the building Sunday, posting new notices reading: “Everybody is welcome in Norwich,” The Guardian reported.

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What Democrats need is a fighter like… Avenatti

Democrats can’t beat President Trump in the general election in November 2020 if they are not willing to go low, to play dirty, says HBO show host Bill Maher. To hear Maher talk, you’d think the Democrats are not already doing just that.

Maher spent some time laying out his case to the Democrats by insisting that they stop talking about getting tough and actually doing it. He wants them to stop abiding by Michelle Obama’s mantra of “When they go low, we go high.” That’s amusing to me since I never saw them actually doing that, but maybe that’s just me. He said Democrats have been bringing “a notion to a gunfight.”

“Ever since Democrats lost the 2016 election there’s been a backlash to the ‘when they go low, we go high’ approach,” Maher said on Friday’s “Real Time.” “But they never say what exactly it is we should do, just, ‘We gotta fight dirty.’ OK. But how?”

After recommending Democrats enlist “some reptilian scumbags of our own” to match the efforts of Republican “dirty tricksters on their payroll” — like Roger Stone, Karl Rove and Rudy Giuliani, Maher said — he then suggested focusing on Trump’s mental state.

Maher goes on to say Democrats need Michael Avenatti as their designated reptilian scumbag but he’s not available right now, being in jail and all. So, to encourage Democrats, Maher created a campaign-style ad as a template for them. He uses alleged Deep Fake ads from Team Trump as an example of what Democrats should do. He particularly is interested in running a fake pee tape, because, of course, he is.

It’s a crude and obnoxious segment of the show but it is standard stuff. I’ll note that the King of Never Trumpers, Rick Wilson, was a panel guest. He found it hilarious, if his laughter was genuine.

The focus on Trump as a “neurological mess” played out with a montage of video clips of Trump mumbling, slurring words, and using incomplete sentences. But wait, who does that sound like to at least half of the country? That’s right – good old Uncle Joe. No one can compete with Joe Biden in that category.

The ad showed the president mumbling and stumbling over his words, recalling how those who’ve known Trump in the past have said he’s “not the same person he was” and another saying he “may be having small strokes.” It ends with footage of the POTUS boarding Air Force One with toilet paper stuck on his shoe.

“No one wishes ill health on the president, but a country needs a leader to be there… a leader who is ALL there,” the ad concluded.

Maher added, “Make that go viral, would ya, because Democrats should really be running that for real.”

The easiest argument to be made against Maher’s accusation that Democrats aren’t fighting dirty is that little matter of impeachment. Where has Maher been? From the day Trump was inaugurated, even before that day, there have been Democrats crying out for his impeachment. This circus has been playing out for over three years. It’s still not over. Impeachment is a political exercise, not a legal one, and it is the ultimate political action. The impeachment process has been seen as a sham because it is being done on strictly partisan lines. Democrats hung their hats on impeaching and removing Trump from office in order to gain revenge over the 2016 election results. They are determined that Trump not win re-election. It is backfiring on them, though. Throughout all this time, all the years of Trump’s first term in office, his record is solid and he can legitimately claim historic victories. One of his biggest victories to date was done on a bipartisan basis – the USMCA trade agreement. That is a bitter pill for Democrats to swallow.

Maher admits that Trump has a loyal army of supporters that will likely carry him to re-election. Bernie, not the moderates running in the primary, has the same.

Maher began the show’s panel segment by saying he’s gone “back and forth” between progressives Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., but argued that moderates like former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., can “win more easily.”

“I’ll tell you why Bernie Sanders is attractive to me now because he’s the only Democrat who, like Trump, has an army, who when it gets to this other level, he’s got a bunch of bad— motherf—–s who will get in the streets,” Maher said.

He’s right about that and the BernieBros are still angry over the raw deal Bernie got in 2016 from the DNC. However, Trump will get the undecided Independent voters in a potential Trump – Sanders match-up in the general election. I don’t see Independents going to a far-left socialist over a populist on the right who is overseeing a strong economy. Bernie’s policies would be an economic disaster.

There is plenty of mud to go around. There always is in politics, especially in national politics and presidential elections. To say that Democrats are playing nice is absurd, though. And, what scares Democrats most is that Trump is the biggest streetfighter of anyone.

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If Bolton says Trump ‘wanted’ to freeze $391 million of military aid to Ukraine until investigations were announced, why was it never communicated to Ukraine?

By Robert Romano

“President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.”

That was the New York Times’ preview of potential testimony by former National Security Advisor John Bolton at the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, where the President allegedly told Bolton “he preferred sending no assistance to Ukraine until officials had turned over all materials they had about the Russia investigation that related to Mr. Biden and supporters of Mrs. Clinton in Ukraine.”

That, we are led to believe, if and when he ever testifies, will be Bolton’s description of the President’s intent with regards to the aid, which was ultimately released on Sept. 11, the same day Bolton was fired.

“Wanted.”

“Preferred.”

And yet, neither the White House nor the State Department never directly conveyed any such conditions to Ukraine, despite the aid being frozen in July, until after Politico broke the story of the aid being frozen on Aug. 28, undercutting the key part of the House’s prosecution — that military assistance to Ukraine was threatened unless investigations were announced.

Even then, the only official who conveyed such conditions, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, said in House testimony he was simply presuming the aid was being conditioned: “No one told me directly that the aid was tied to anything. I was presuming it was.”

According to both former ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor and former Senior Director for European Affairs at the White House and the National Security Council Tim Morrison’s testimony, Ukrainian officials were unaware of any pause in the funding until the Politico story was published a month after President Trump spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25.

Zelensky later said in September there was “no pressure.”

Yet, the Articles of Impeachment say Trump “conditioned two official acts on the public announcements that he had requested—the release of $391 million of United States taxpayer funds that Congress had appropriated on a bipartisan basis for the  purpose  of providing vital military and security assistance to Ukraine to oppose Russian aggression and which President Trump had ordered suspended.”

Now we learn from Bolton that Trump “preferred” it that way.

This amounts to a kind of thought crime. Kind of like that time the President “wanted” to fire former Special Counsel Robert Mueller but never actually did. Here, the government never told Ukraine there were conditions attached to aid.

 

But even if it had been conditioned, those are all things the President has the power to do constitutionally under Article II and legally under laws passed by Congress. That is, reviewing military assistance to a non-treaty partner to see if it serves U.S. interests, or whether Ukraine is simply too corrupt to deal with.

In this case, the question is on military assistance to Ukraine, which is not in NATO but is embroiled in a civil war with pro-Russian forces, that could lead to a wider regional war in Europe or a global one involving the U.S. and Russia, risking a nuclear exchange, raising national security concerns. Of course the President should be reviewing such a hotspot to ensure it doesn’t lead to a wider war. That’s his job to keep us out of wars.

The funds were initially frozen in July by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the agencies authority under 31 U.S.C. 1512 to conduct apportionments while the President considered whether or not to request a rescission of the funding under the Impoundment Control Act.

The Office of Management and Budget says it did nothing wrong, with OMB communications director Rachel Semmel issuing a statement saying, “As has been well documented, we fully complied with the law and decades of precedent with respect to these funds. Congress is notified if the administration intends to rescind, defer, reprogram or transfer funding, but in this case none of those things occurred and the funding was obligated as planned.”

Under 2 U.S.C. Section 684 or 2 U.S.C. Section 683, the Impoundment Control Act, the President has the power to propose deferring funds on a temporary basis or rescinding them altogether, subject to Congressional approval.

The hold on Ukrainian aid came amid a wider freeze and review of overall State Department and USAID foreign aid spending in August. The Articles of Impeachment do not allege this wider freeze constituted criminal conduct.

The President has discretion to ensure that all relationships with foreign governments — even treaties — continue to advance the administration’s foreign policy agenda.

If Bolton were to testify, Senators might want to ask him about his career of encouraging presidents to terminate treaties with foreign governments under the President’s inherent Article II executive powers. This is the same unitary executive legal doctrine under which presidential impoundment of monies has historically been exercised. The first presidential impoundment occurred in 1800 by then President Thomas Jefferson, available to subsequent presidents until the Impoundment Control Act was adopted in 1974.

During the administration of President George W. Bush, Bolton supported unilaterally withdrawing from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia, which Bush ultimately did in 2002. Bolton wrote in his memoirs, “it was absolutely critical to get out of the ABM Treaty unambiguously. Then, whether we succeeded or failed in broader negotiations with Russia, we would be free to pursue a missile defense system to protect Americans from current threats,” calling it mockingly a “sacred scroll” to arms control advocates.

The decision was legally justified with a Nov. 2001 Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel opinion from then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo and Robert Delahunty, who argued that the President could unilaterally withdraw from treaties without any Congressional action, including from the Senate, citing the 1793 Proclamation of Neutrality by George Washington, suspending a mutual defense treaty with France when it went to war with Great Britain, FDR’s decision to rescind a treaty with Japan in 1939 and Jimmy Carter’s withdrawal from a mutual defense treaty with Taiwan in 1979 as ample precedents.

Yoo and Delahunty wrote, “The President’s power to terminate treaties must reside in the President as a necessary corollary to the exercise of the President’s other plenary foreign affairs powers. As noted before, the President is the sole organ of the nation in regard to foreign nations. A President, therefore, may need to terminate a treaty in order to implement his decision to recognize a foreign government. Or, for example, the President may wish to terminate a treaty in order to reflect the fact that the treaty has become obsolete, to sanction a treaty partner for violations, to protect the United States from commitments that would threaten its national security, to condemn human rights violations, or to negotiate a better agreement.”

In 1793, Alexander Hamilton wrote of the President’s treaty withdrawal power in defense of the Proclamation of Neutrality: “though treaties can only be made by the President and Senate, their activity may be continued or suspended by the President alone.”

Bolton would later pen an oped with Yoo in the Wall Street Journal in 2014 arguing for unilateral presidential withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, which President Trump ultimately did in August 2019.

So, a good question would be why Bolton thinks presidents can unilaterally terminate treaties that require Senate ratification with military allies to keep us out of an unintentional war, but not pause appropriated military assistance to a non-treaty partner when it could drag us into one.

Either way, this boils down to a policy disagreement between Bolton and Trump, not a high crime or misdemeanor, and certainly not an act of bribery or treason. If this is all the House has, the President’s acquittal is all but certain.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.