• Schiff’s warning for GOP: Enough!
• Sen. Murkowski: ‘I would concur’ Trump’s actions inappropriate
• Analysis: If you thought President Trump was wild before, just wait
• Jill Biden: Lindsey Graham used to be a friend
President Trump broke Adam Schiff.
This may be Schiff’s most insane rant ever.
Impeachment manager Adam Schiff said Monday in his closing argument that if Trump is not removed from office he may offer Alaska to the Russians in exchange for help in the next election.
Schiff also said that Trump may escape to Mar-a-Lago permanently and let his son-in-law Jared Kushner run the country.
Schiff needs to be mentally evaluated after this impeachment charade is over.
“Trump could offer Alaska to the Russians in exchange for support in the next election or decide to move to Mar-a-Lago permanently and let Jared Kushner run the country, delegating to him the decision whether they go to war,” Schiff said as he argued for Trump’s removal.
If Trump isn’t removed he “could offer Alaska to the Russians in exchange for support in the next election or decide to move to Mar-a-Lago permanently and leave Jared Kushner to run the country, delegating to him the decision whether they go to war.” pic.twitter.com/VBzkonqpmH
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) February 3, 2020
GOP senators on Friday voted 51-49 to block additional witnesses in the impeachment trial.
Murkowski put the final nail in the coffin when she announced she would not be voting in favor of new witnesses.
The senate will cast the final vote on Wednesday to acquit President Trump.
Hillary Clinton sold 20% of US Uranium to Russia in exchange for $150 million to the Clinton Foundation.
If anyone sold the US out to Russia, Ukraine, Iran, China and other foreign countries, it was the Clintons, the Bidens, Obama and other dirty Democrats.
The Democratic and Republican caucuses are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET (7 p.m. CT), when doors close at caucus sites.
For the Democratic caucuses, voters will split up into different sections of the room dedicated to their presidential candidate of choice. Typically, a candidate needs 15% of the vote to remain viable, as determined by the amount of people participating in the precinct location. Smaller locations may have different viability thresholds.
If a candidate is not viable, their voters can realign to another viable candidate or join together to create a group in support of another candidate that meets the threshold.
Iowa Republican caucusgoers will vote by secret ballot, not by standing up in different groups like Iowa Democratic caucusgoers.
The Democratic “entrance poll” estimates how much support a presidential candidate has at the start of the caucus process. It does not estimate the final Democratic caucus result.
This year, the Iowa Democratic Party will release three numbers: first preference, final preference and state delegate equivalent results:
CNN will report each of the totals. As in previous cycles, CNN will project the winner by the candidate who receives the most state delegate equivalents.
There are 41 Democratic delegates and 40 Republican delegates up for grabs Monday night.
Hillary Clinton won the 2016 Democratic Iowa caucuses by a razor-thin margin over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Clinton went on to become the Democratic nominee for president that year. Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz won the Republican Iowa caucuses, but now-President Donald Trump ultimately became the party’s nominee.
Eleven candidates are running for the Democratic nomination:
Three candidates are running for the Republican nomination:
The latest Iowa poll from Monmouth University found Biden and Sanders making up the top tier of candidates, with Biden receiving 23% support among likely Democratic caucusgoers and Sanders with 21%. Buttigieg landed at 16%, Elizabeth Warren at 15% and Amy Klobuchar at 10% as the other candidates in double digits.
Biden and Sanders are at the front of the field for the Democratic national primary, according to the most recent CNN Poll of Polls released Friday.
Democrats will have 1,678 regular caucus precinct locations, and will have an additional 87 satellite caucuses in Iowa and around the world. Republicans will have 1,682 precinct locations.
Only registered party members may participate in their own party’s caucuses. But anyone may register with either party on caucuses night.
The Republican Party of Iowa and the Iowa Democratic Party run and organize their own caucuses. The state government does not play a role in this process.
From Amy Qin, a China correspondent, and Elsie Chen, a researcher, on the ground in Wuhan:
Weak with fever, An Jianhua waited in line for seven hours outside the hospital in the cold, hoping to be tested for the new coronavirus, which doctors suspected she had contracted.
Ms. An, 67, needed an official diagnosis from a hospital to qualify for treatment, but the one she and her son raced to last week had no space. The next hospital they were referred to in Wuhan, the city of 11 million people at the center of the outbreak, was full, too, they said. They finally got an intravenous drip for Ms. An’s fever, but that was all.
Since then, Ms. An has quarantined herself at home. She and her son eat separately, wear masks and are constantly disinfecting their apartment. Ms. An’s health is declining rapidly, and even keeping water down is a struggle.
“I can’t let my mom die at home,” said her son, He Jun. “Every day I want to cry, but when I cry there are no tears. There is no hope.”
For some people, like Gan Hanjiang, the city’s new hospitals for treating the coronavirus cannot be built fast enough.
Last month, his father came down with a severe fever and cough. He was tested for the coronavirus, but the results were negative. Ten days after the onset of symptoms, however, his father died, Mr. Gan said.
The hospital classified the cause as “severe pneumonia,” Mr. Gan said, but he believes it was the coronavirus. Several experts have conceded that several rounds of testing may be needed for an accurate diagnosis.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Even with acquittal seemingly assured, the Democrats prosecuting U.S. President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial unleashed a blistering attack on him on Monday with a forceful appeal for conviction, calling him a man with no ethical compass who must be removed from office to protect American democracy.
Representative Adam Schiff wrapped up closing arguments for the seven House of Representatives lawmakers who prosecuted Trump in the historic proceedings after the Republican president’s lawyers in their own arguments called the case against him politically motivated, reckless and baseless.
“We have proven Donald Trump guilty. Now do impartial justice and convict him,” Schiff told the 100-member Republican-controlled Senate, which is due to vote on Wednesday on whether to remove Trump from office.
Trump has called the impeachment effort an attempted coup by Democrats.
The Democratic-led House impeached Trump on Dec. 18 on charges of abuse of power for asking Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden and obstruction of Congress for blocking testimony and documents sought by lawmakers in their investigation.
“This was the first totally partisan presidential impeachment in our nation’s history. And it should be our last,” Trump personal lawyer Jay Sekulow told the Senate. “What the House Democrats have done to this nation, to the Constitution, to the office of the president, to the president himself and to this body (the Senate) is outrageous. They have cheapened the awesome power of impeachment.”
Schiff told the senators that the nation’s founders wrote impeachment into the U.S. Constitution to give Congress the power to remove a president for committing “high crimes and misdemeanors” as a remedy to constrain evil.
“They meant it to be used rarely, but they put it in the Constitution for a reason. For a man who would sell out his country for a political favor. For a man who would (undermine) the integrity of our elections. For a man who would invite foreign interference in our affairs. For a man who would undermine our national security and that of our allies. For a man like Donald J. Trump,” Schiff said.
Schiff assailed Trump in usually personal terms.
“He has not changed. He will not change. He has made that clear himself without self-awareness or hesitation,” Schiff added. “A man without character or ethical compass will never find his way.”
Sekulow called the impeachment drive reckless, said neither of the charges brought against Trump represent an impeachable offense and accused Democrats of seeking to negate the 2016 election won by Trump and to subvert the will of the American people.
“The answer is elections, not impeachment,” Sekulow said.
“The president has done nothing wrong,” added White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. “We can, together, end the era of impeachment.”
The Senate seems certain to acquit Trump. A two-thirds majority is required to remove the president. None of the 53 Senate Republicans has indicated support for conviction.
Schiff said that Trump, if left in office, would continue to seek foreign interference in the Nov. 3 election in which he is asking voters to give him four more years as president. Biden is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump.
“A president free of accountability is a danger to the beating heart of our democracy,” Schiff said.
The Senate voted on Friday not to hear any witnesses such as Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton, who in an unpublished book manuscript depicts Trump as playing a central role in pressuring Ukraine, despite Democratic demands and opinion polls showing most Americans wanted to hear from them. Only two Republicans, moderates Mitt Romney and Susan Collins, voted to hear witnesses.
When the closing arguments are complete, the senators will be able to make speeches on the matter until Wednesday, when a final vote is scheduled at 4 p.m. EST (2100 GMT) on whether Trump is guilty of the charges and should be removed. Several Republican senators have called Trump’s actions wrong and inappropriate but not impeachable.
During the trial, Trump’s lawyers offered an expansive view of presidential powers and argued that he could not be thrown out of office for abuse of power.
“The logical conclusion of this argument is that the president is the state, that his interests are the nation’s interests, that his will is necessarily ours,” Crow said.
“Allowing a president to get away with conduct based on this extreme view would render him above the law,” Crow added.
Trump is only the third U.S. president to be impeached.
The first contest in the state-by-state battle to determine the Democratic candidate who will challenge Trump was taking place on Monday in Iowa, a stern test for Biden as he seeks his party’s nomination. Three senators are seeking the Democratic nomination: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar.
Trump was scheduled to deliver his annual State of the Union speech to Congress on Tuesday night.
Reporting by David Morgan, Richard Cowan, Makini Brice, Patricia Zengerle and Susan Cornwell; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Ross Colvin, Daniel Wallis and Paul Simao
Trump will deliver his speech Tuesday, one day before the Senate ends its nearly three-week impeachment trial with a likely vote to acquit him. While the president is all but assured to take a victory lap Wednesday, Senate Republicans don’t want the State of the Union to turn into the type of speech he’d deliver at a campaign rally.
“My advice would be that in the State of the Union he should move on,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). “The president’s got a good record when you look at the economy and lower taxes and fewer regulations and higher incomes and I think he’d be well advised to focus on that and let the impeachment trial speak for itself.” Read the full story. — Marianne LeVine
The closing arguments have finished in Trump’s trial. And Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) left Republican senators with a warning that a deluge of new evidence is poised to emerge in the Ukraine saga, even if they follow through with their plans to acquit Trump.
“It is midnight in Washington,” Schiff said, a refrain he repeatedly returned to as he argued that the Senate ignored new evidence at its own peril. “How did we get here?”
Schiff argued that a Senate acquittal — a decision to leave the matter to the 2020 election — would risk endangering that election to a president who has solicited foreign interference in 2016 and 2020. Read the full story. — Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio
A Senate vote to convict President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial is now a mathematical impossibility.
More than 34 senators have indicated they intend to acquit the president, or have declared the House’s two impeachment charges against him to be insufficient to merit a conviction, according to a POLITICO analysis of public comments and official statements from Republican senators, as well as confirmation from Senate aides about their boss’ intentions.
Those declarations confirm what was already expected: that supporters of Trump’s conviction will fall short of the two-thirds majority required to remove the president from office. Read the full story. — Kyle Cheney, Andrew Desiderio, John Bresnahan
Dr. Jill Biden on Friday called Sen. Lindsey Graham’s Trump-era transformation “a little bit hurtful,” lamenting the South Carolina senator’s shift from a onetime friend to one of President Donald Trump’s top attack dogs accusing the former second family’s son of wrongdoing in Ukraine.
The former second lady said the Bidens and Graham used to be “great friends,” traveling together with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when former Vice President Joe Biden was a long-serving senator from Delaware. But she said the South Carolina senator, a staunch Trump ally, has changed. Read the full story. — Myah Ward
House Democrats and President Donald Trump’s legal team will make their final pitches on Monday to a Republican-controlled Senate that has all but decided the president will be acquitted later this week.
Monday’s closing arguments in the nearly three-week impeachment trial are little more than a formality, given the Senate’s party-line decision Friday to shut down the pursuit of new witnesses or evidence to bolster the House’s case that Trump abused his power and obstructed the impeachment inquiry. Read the full story. — Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio
Yes, the impeachment process ends this week; but the Ukraine scandal is likely far from over.
Case in point: it remains possible that former national security adviser John Bolton tells his story before the release of his book in March. House Democrats have swatted away questions about whether they will move to subpoena Bolton. As long as it was still possible that the Senate could subpoena him as part of the trial, the House was staying out of it.
But the evidentiary record for the trial is closed, and there are no more opportunities for Democrats to force votes on witnesses for the remainder of the trial. It’s not a matter of if we hear from Bolton; it’s just a matter of when. Read today’s Huddle newsletter. — Andrew Desiderio
The first event that will help decide the candidates for US president takes place on Monday with the Iowa caucuses.
Groups of voters will gather across the state and vote for their preferred candidate to represent their party in November’s election.
For the first time, the Democratic Party will hold international satellite caucuses – and one of the three outside the US is to take place in Glasgow.
International satellite caucuses will also be held in Paris and Tbilisi.
Colyn Burbank is from Des Moines, Iowa.
He said he was looking forward to “hosting the first ever Iowa satellite caucus here in Glasgow”.
Mr Burbank is in Scotland studying for a post graduate degree at Strathclyde University.
The social work student moved to the UK for two years with his wife and daughter.
When he initially made the request to host the caucus he was expecting about six Iowan Democrats he knew to attend.
But the number of attendees has grown to 23 people – “much bigger than what I was originally expecting”, he said.
He said it was “exciting” that Iowans were travelling from around the UK to come.
Speaking to the BBC on Monday afternoon, Mr Burbank said he was decorating his flat to give it the vibe of “nostalgic Iowa” – he said this involved “a lot of corn, that’s kind of what we’re known for”, and pictures of famous Iowans, including the actor John Wayne, former President Herbert Hoover, the band Slipknot and the author Bill Bryson.
Mr Burbank said “every state does it differently”, but an Iowan Democratic caucus was “a very public way of voting”.
The satellite caucus in Glasgow will follow the same format as the 1,677 caucuses taking place in the Midwest state will.
Registered Iowa Democrats meet – sometimes in someone’s home, like what Colyn has organised in Glasgow, or in larger public areas like schools, libraries and church halls across the state – to vote for who they want to be the Democrats’ candidate on the ballot paper in November.
They organise themselves into groups supporting each candidate – and try to convince others to switch sides.
Some of the big names attendees can support include Bernie Sanders, who ran against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016, and former vice-president Joe Biden, as well as Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg.
If any candidate gets under 15% of the support, their supporters then pick a second choice from among the candidates who got more than 15%, or they can choose to sit out the rest.
Mr Burbank explained what would happen at his flat: “We [will] all get together – the 23 of us or whoever shows up – and we stand under a sign of the candidate that we’re supporting.
“So once we do our first alignment we’ll look at the numbers and see who’s viable, who’s not.
“We will call for a second realignment and at that time people will try to convince people from this candidate to come to their candidate instead.
“Then we’ll count the numbers,” he said.
The process in Iowa involves four stages (precinct caucuses, and then county, district and state conventions).
If he was hosting his caucus in Iowa, it would nominate someone to go to the county convention.
He will offer the attendees the option to go, but does not expect anyone to make the trip from the UK.
Instead, they will get someone else who is already at the convention to represent their votes.
The number of delegates each candidate sends to the convention is based on the proportion of support they receive in the state.
Iowa will send 41 delegates to the Democratic National Convention in July. A candidate needs more than 1,900 delegates to win the nomination.
At the convention, the candidate who wins the most delegates receives the nomination to be the Democrat’s candidate for president.
The Midwest state is always the first to vote, and can help shape perceptions among voters.
A win here can help give a candidate a solid start early in the race (as it did in 1976 with Jimmy Carter) and erase any doubts about their viability.
While victory in Iowa doesn’t guarantee anyone the nomination, it can help give them crucial momentum.
But the state isn’t representative of the US as a whole – it’s largely white, so the way people vote there will be very, very different than in other states.
President Donald Trump once bragged that if he ever ran for president, he’d be the first person to make money off it. According to his campaign’s filings with the Federal Election Commission, that prediction appears to be coming true.
Groups supporting Trump’s reelection have funneled about $1.7 million back into Trump-owned properties, businesses, and to the president’s family members, according to analysis from the New York Times. The Times report tracked the spending of the Trump campaign, the Trump Victory committee, the Republican National Committee, and a fourth entity called the Trump Make America Great Again Committee.
According to FEC filings, the Trump campaign steered $194,247.57 toward Trump’s private interests in the fourth quarter of last year. The other three groups supporting Trump’s re-election campaign made 150 separate payments to Trump-owned properties and businesses, totaling $600,000 over the three-month period.
New @FEC filing: Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign paid $194,247.57 to Trump family members, properties & businesses in the final quarter of last year alone—steering over $1.8 MILLION in donations from presidential campaign donors to @realDonaldTrump‘s private interests. pic.twitter.com/ell9EtWkDH
— Anna Massoglia (@annalecta) February 1, 2020
According to Brendan Fischer, director of federal and FEC reforms at the Campaign Legal Center, the Trump campaign’s spending is nothing new. And the main problem is that Trump has refused to divest himself from his own business interests, opening the door to profiting off regular campaign operations.
“When there is a substantial amount of money that is going to properties owned by the candidate, it could raise questions about personal use,” he told Vox.
But, he says, just because it’s concerning doesn’t necessarily mean that the FEC will determine that the spending is illegal — and proving as much would be difficult.
To prove that campaign finance law has been violated, you’d have to show that payments to Trump’s properties exceeded fair market value for the expenditure. “The FEC’s approach to this kind of thing has generally been pretty hands off,” Fischer said. “That unless the amount of the payment is so oddly excessive, they’re not going to scrutinize whether the campaign could have gotten a better deal elsewhere.”
The FEC filing also showed that the campaign’s biggest expenditure in the quarter was digital advertising, for about $6 million. The campaign also spent about $1.24 million on legal fees as he’s battled back against several charges. In total, the Trump campaign has spent nearly $12.4 million on cases that include matters involving impeachment, porn actress Stormy Daniels, fraud lawsuits against Trump University, and the Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
FEC data show some of those legal fees were paid to the Trump Organization.
Trump has been able to raise large sums of money as he gears up to defend his position in the White House. The four campaign organizations together raised about $154 million from October through December last year, and report $194 million in cash on hand.
Trump launched his 2020 reelection campaign just after taking office, the earliest of any modern president. Former President Barack Obama, for example, launched his re-election campaign in April 2011 and George W. Bush came under criticism for waiting until just 12 months before election day to officially launch his bid. As a result, Trump has enjoyed an early leg up on fundraising, as Vox’s Aaron Rupar explained last year:
According to the New York Times, at this point in the 2012 presidential election cycle, Barack Obama — who launched his reelection campaign on April 4, 2011 — had less than $2 million in the bank. Trump, by contrast, currently has a war chest of $41 million.
Trump’s strong fundraising is also reflected in the numbers for the Republican National Committee, which raised $45.8 million in the first quarter. The Democratic National Committee lags well behind that pace and was $4.6 million in debt at the end of January. When Trump’s fundraising is combined with the RNC’s pro-Trump efforts, he has a total of $82 million.
By contrast, Democrats running for president lag far behind Trump in the numbers. Bernie Sanders raised the most in the fourth quarter last year, coming in at $34.5 million. According to his campaign, Sanders had $18.2 million in cash on hand as of the end of 2019. Pete Buttigieg followed with a $24.7 million haul.
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has declined to solicit donations, and his self-funded campaign ad spending has dwarfed his Democratic rivals, totaling about $200 million on advertising. Both Bloomberg and Trump each spent approximately $10 million for a Super Bowl ad Sunday night.
The Democratic candidates will be forced to continue spending what they’re raising in order to win over primary voters. Trump’s 2016 election win proved he has enough electoral support to win, and starting Monday in Iowa, the Democrats will be out to prove they can put together their own winning coalition. Even with Trump and Bloomberg currently dominating the ad wars, you can’t necessarily buy an election without broader support, but it certainly helps.
President Donald Trump’s expected acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial won’t just serve as an indictment of the American political system, it will also deal a body blow to US foreign policy efforts to curb global corruption and promote the rule of the law.
For decades, a fixture of American diplomacy has been to get other nations to follow America’s example. There’s a top-level official at the State Department and multiple bureaus there that work on these very issues.
The Ukraine scandal at the center of Trump’s impeachment saga was initially part of those efforts. The administration would only send nearly $400 million in military aid as long as Kyiv had made strides in tackling its corruption problems. The Pentagon last May certified Ukraine had done enough defense-sector reforms to merit the support.
But despite this, Trump personally held up the money to extract something else from Ukraine: an announcement that it would open an investigation into the Bidens.
That clear abuse of power for Trump’s own political gain led the Democratic-majority House to impeach the president. Afterward, the Republican-held Senate chose not to investigate further by declining to call any witnesses in its trial of the president and is expected to acquit him.
This means that, ultimately, the impeachment system designed to keep the top levels of the US government from descending into lawlessness has failed.
That, as former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and others say, will make it harder for the US to tell other nations to follow America’s lead.
“Great! No more tedious US lectures on rule of law, fair trials, evidence, equality before the law, transparency, corruption, free and fair elections” — some 130 governments around the world right now.
— toomas hendrik ilves (@IlvesToomas) January 31, 2020
If that’s the case, Trump’s acquittal will do immense damage to America’s “soft power,” Washington’s ability to convince other nations to do what the US wants without using military force.
It would essentially kneecap a key aspect of US foreign policy, and all because of the president’s misbehavior and Republicans’ refusal to break with him over it.
“Trump represents the greatest destruction of American soft power in history,” Luis Rubio, the president of the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations, told me.
In 2017, the Center for Global Development senior fellow Kimberly Ann Elliott wrote about the problems corruption can wreak on the world.
“When it is pervasive and uncontrolled, corruption thwarts economic development and undermines political legitimacy,” she wrote. “Less pervasive variants result in wasted resources, increased inequity in resource distribution, less political competition, and greater distrust of government.”
The solution? “The spread of democratization and market reform should reduce corruption in the long run,” she argued, while noting that the exposure of widespread corruption could lead to widespread public anger at first.
Pushing countries to be more democratic and liberalize their economies has been a core tenet of US foreign policy for years, one followed by Republican and Democratic administrations alike.
One reason is that it makes America look good to get another country to run its government and treat its people well. The other reason is that it benefits America to have more stable countries with fewer security problems to trade with.
But many nations, particularly more autocratic ones, are loath to change their ways. The US could use its military might to force governments to do what it says, but that would be dangerous and costly, and other countries would surely turn on America. The US, then, hopes the power of its example at home can inspire corrupt governments that flout the rule of law to reform.
The problem is, the “soft power” America wields is dwindling thanks to Trump and his allies.
One clear example of this was a situation George Kent, a top State Department official on European affairs, described in his closed-door deposition to the House during the impeachment inquiry. He discussed the Trump administration efforts to stop Ukraine’s government from opening an investigation into former President Petro Poroshenko. Per Kent, a top Ukrainian official looked back on the Americans and said, “What? You mean the type of investigations you’re pushing for us to do on Biden and [Hillary] Clinton?”
In an ideal America, Trump would receive a severe reprimand for abusing his power and his corrupt practices, like using the presidency to enrich himself and his family. Even if short of impeachment, Republicans could’ve placed severe political pressure on Trump by showing him their support has limits.
That’s not what happened. Instead, Trump’s party will be responsible for letting him get away with the Ukraine scandal basically unpunished.
He has been formally impeached, and that in itself is significant regardless of whether or not he’s removed from office, but given that no House Republicans voted for impeachment, Trump and his allies can argue (and have) that it was merely a partisan political ploy and not the serious rebuke for his behavior it is supposed to be.
It’s worse when considering one of the arguments Trump’s legal team has made: that a president can basically do whatever he wants in order to get reelected if he believes his reelection is good for the country.
“Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest,” Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz contended in front of the Senate last week. “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.”
He went on:
It would be a much harder case if a hypothetical president of the United States said to a hypothetical leader of a foreign country, ‘unless you build a hotel with my name on it, and unless you give me a million dollar kickback, I will withhold the funds.’ That’s an easy case. That’s purely corrupt and in the purely private interest.
But a complex middle case is, ‘I want to be elected. I think I’m a great president. I think I’m the greatest president there ever was. If I’m not elected the national interest will suffer greatly.’ That cannot be impeachable.
That’s a deeply troubling message to send to the rest of the world, particularly autocrats who want to remain in power for years. Now when US diplomats tell their foreign counterparts to be less corrupt, fix partisan problems, and adhere to the rule of law, there’s a greater chance those talking points won’t resonate.
“Toxic partisanship and deepening ideological fault lines in America, without question, has a significant impact on America’s role as a promoter of democracy and beacon of human rights,” Richard Javad Heydarian, an expert on US-Asia relations at the National Chengchi University in Taiwan, told me. “The damage is really to the glitter of America’s supposed exceptionalism.”
And should Trump be reelected despite all this, Heydarian continued, it would send a strong message to foreign governments that a leader can disregard the law while not losing public support, especially since he’ll have fewer restrictions on his behavior during a second term.
This is why most Democrats running for president are pushing for anti-corruption measures to be even more central to US foreign policy. Progressives say they are horrified by how Trump has cozied up to dictators and authoritarians from Saudi Arabia to Russia to North Korea. His “America First” style has also led him to ignore human rights and democracy around the world, values the US historically stood for (at least in theory), in favor of the economy and trade.
The way to reverse Trump’s damage? Stopping corruption worldwide. The theory, as progressive foreign policy proponents tell me, is that authoritarians benefit from corrupt practices — like having access to dark money or putting sycophants in positions of power. Thus, by curbing that behavior, the US will help democracy flourish and raise its soft-power standing.
But it’s unclear whether a new Democratic administration would be able to reverse the damage Trump’s acquittal will have on America’s global standing.
In fact, the US actually has become a more corrupt country on Trump’s watch. According to the watchdog group Transparency International, the US was tied for the world’s 16th-least corruption nation in 2017. As of 2019, America slipped to 22nd.
The world, without question, has taken notice — and it’s already hurting US foreign policy. “This severely undermines America’s credibility and moral ascendancy,” says Heydarian.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said Sunday that he and other Republicans will begin calling witnesses within weeks for hearings related to Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine, as well as the FBI’s surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
“We’re going to get to the bottom of this,” Graham pledged in an interview on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”
Graham urged Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to call the chief of staff to former Secretary of State John Kerry to testify about concerns he reportedly raised about Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company where Biden served as a director.
Biden joined the firm in 2014, shortly after his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, took over as the Obama administration’s main liaison to Ukraine following the overthrow of its pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovych.
Republicans have questioned whether Joe Biden, as vice president in 2016, improperly pressured the Ukrainian government to shut down an investigation into Burisma. The elder Biden and Democrats have accused Republicans of using the Burisma issue to distract from impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
Democrats allege that Trump pressured Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to open investigations into the Bidens in exchange for U.S. military aid.
The Senate is poised this week to vote to acquit Trump on two articles of impeachment related to his actions toward Ukraine.
Graham said he also wants to hear from Kerry’s stepson, Christopher Heinz, who was a business partner of Hunter Biden. State Department emails show that Heinz contacted officials at Foggy Bottom on May 13, 2014, to raise red flags about Hunter Biden’s relationship with Burisma, which has been investigated for corruption.
The South Carolina senator said he also wants to hear from George Kent, a State Department official who testified in the Trump impeachment hearings that he raised concerns about Burisma in 2016.
Graham said Republicans will “eventually get to Hunter Biden” after the first round of witnesses are called. He also said he “can prove beyond any doubt” that Joe Biden’s efforts to root out corruption in Ukraine were undermined by his son’s position on Burisma’s board.
“We’re not going to give him a pass on that,” Graham said.
Graham said his committee expects to call former top FBI officials James Comey and Andrew McCabe and former Justice Department officials Rod Rosenstein and Sally Yates to testify about warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, that they signed in order to wiretap Page.
“When it comes to FISA, I’m going to call Rosenstein, Sally Yates, McCabe, and Comey to find out how a warrant was issued to [surveil] Carter Page on four different occasions without adequate foundation and find out about how the Department of Justice and FBI became so out of bounds when it came to Trump,” Graham said.
The Justice Department inspector general issued a report Dec. 9 that found the FBI submitted false and misleading information about Page to obtain the four warrants. The Justice Department conceded Jan. 7 that two of the warrants were “not valid.”
The inspector general’s report said FBI agents failed to inform the secretive court that issues FISA orders about exculpatory information related to Page.
The report also said that investigators failed to disclose numerous problems with the so-called Steele dossier, which the FBI cited extensively in its FISA applications.
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