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Thread: The Impeachment, Trial and Acquittal of Donald John Trump

  1. #616
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    Trump and Rudy Giuliani slam Bolton, question his manhood after book excerpt report

    President Trump responded early Monday to revelations Sunday evening that former National Security Adviser John Bolton wrote in a unpublished book he witnessed first-hand Trump linking frozen Ukraine military aid to Kyiv helping investigate Trump's Democratic rivals, including Joe Biden. "I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens," Trump tweeted, adding that if "Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book."

    Trump may have a point there. Right after The New York Times reported on Bolton's recollection of Trump's Ukraine quid pro quo:

    Still, that doesn't mean Bolton is wrong. He says he is willing to testify about Ukraine in Trump's impeachment trial, and several observers noted that Trump could also volunteer to swear he didn't offer the quid pro quo under oath.

    The rest of Trump's tweeted statement held up the partial transcript of his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky as "all the proof that is needed." In the transcript, Trump directly followed Zelenksy's mention of U.S. miliary aid with "I would like you to do us a favor, though," the favor being an investigation into a baseless conspiracy theory about Crowdstrike and a hacked Democratic National Committee server; Trump then specifically asked Zelensky to "look into" Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

    Before Trump responded to Bolton's reported revelations, Rudy Giuliani — Trump's envoy and an undisputed central figure in Trump's Ukraine activities — said in a statement that he "used to like and respect John and tell people they were wrong about how irresponsible he was. I was wrong." He then suggested Bolton "wasn't man enough" to raise his concerns about Giuliani to his face.

    In Bolton's book, the Times reports, Bolton expressed concerns about Giuliani's Ukraine scheme with White House lawyers, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Attorney General William Barr; the Justice Department confirmed the latter conversation Sunday night.
    ___________

    Show us how much a man you are Donald. Swear an oath that you didn't offer a quid pro quo.

    As much of a slime that Bill Clinton is, he at least had the balls to be deposed by Ken Starr. And cooperate fully with Starr, including making thousands of documents available to him and Executive Branch witnesses requested by Starr.
    TwentyFiveFortyFive

  2. #617
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    Romney says Bolton revelations make it 'increasingly likely' Senate will call witnesses

    Mitt Romney told reporters Monday morning that he thinks new revelations from former Trump national security adviser John Bolton will increase the number of Republican senators who will vote in favor of calling at least Bolton to testify in the Senate impeachment trial.

    "I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton. Whether there are other witnesses and documents, that’s another matter,” Romney, a Republican senator from Utah, said in the Capitol.

    Romney, asked if he was making this comment based on conversations with other senators, said he had “spoken with others who have opined on this as well.”

    "I think the story that came out yesterday, it’s increasingly apparent that it would be important to hear from John Bolton,” Romney said.

    The New York Times reported Sunday evening that Bolton’s new book, due out in March, includes a firsthand account of Trump telling him he was holding back nearly $400 million in military and nonmilitary assistance to Ukraine until the government there announced investigations into Joe Biden and the 2016 election.

    Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, tweeted, “The reports about John Bolton’s book strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues.”

    Even one of the president’s staunchest defenders, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., indicated that momentum was building toward calling Bolton and potentially other witnesses whose testimony Democrats have been demanding.

    "If there is a desire and decision by the Senate to call Democratic witnesses, then at a minimum the Senate should allow President @realDonaldTrump to call all relevant witnesses he has requested,” Graham tweeted.
    ____________

    I'll believe it when Bolton is sworn in as a witness.

    Also I can't wait to see what kind of meltdown Trump has at these kinds of statements.
    TwentyFiveFortyFive

  3. #618
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    In wake of Bolton book news, White House allies say Trump lawyers bungled defense

    Reports that John Bolton has written a firsthand account of the president’s direct involvement in withholding aid to Ukraine has left some Republicans confused and angry over the legal strategy by the president’s defense team — which has devoted much of its arguments in the Senate impeachment trial to arguing that no such firsthand evidence existed.

    One Republican operative who advises the White House said he was “flabbergasted at how stupidly they have handled this.”

    Trump attorney Mike Purpura argued Saturday that “not a single witness testified that the president himself said that there was any connection between any investigations and security assistance, a presidential meeting or anything else.”

    Purpura repeated that claim on Monday afternoon, saying that “anyone who spoke to the president” said there was no pressure campaign on Ukraine.

    That assertion echoes what the president’s legal team argued in its legal brief filed a week ago: “House Democrats’ claims are built entirely on speculation from witnesses who had no direct knowledge about anything and who never even spoke to the President about this matter.”

    The disclosure in the New York Times Sunday night directly contradicts the arguments of the president’s lawyers, who said in their brief that this is “the central fact in this case.” Bolton, Trump’s former security adviser, has written in his forthcoming memoir about having just such a conversation with the president last August.

    “This just completely washes away Purpura’s whole argument,” the White House adviser said. “WTF. He misled the Senate.”

    The first of two articles of impeachment in the Senate trial accuses Trump of withholding military aid to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation that could discredit former Vice President Joe Biden.

    The House impeachment inquiry heard from numerous witnesses who testified that such a pressure campaign was undertaken by the administration, but none of them had direct evidence that implicated Trump personally.

    Bolton claims to have that firsthand knowledge, according to reports about his manuscript.

    Bolton’s lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, provided a manuscript of Bolton’s forthcoming book to the White House on Dec. 30, weeks before the Senate impeachment trial began.

    The Republican who advises the White House predicted there now may be no way for the White House to prevent Bolton from testifying. The adviser said the cardinal sin by the president's lawyers was not finding out what was in Bolton's book and addressing it in their opening remarks on Saturday.

    It is not known who at the White House had access to the document, but at least one former top executive branch attorney, Jack Goldsmith, said a presidential administration “often circulates manuscripts submitted for [prepublication] review widely, including to political officials, and it often asks for deletions for reasons having nothing to do [with] disclosure of classified info.”

    Another Republican operative who speaks regularly with the White House said the upshot of Bolton’s revelations will be to increase momentum toward calls for him to testify.

    “I think it pushes at least four GOP senators to vote to call witnesses. They were soft before this little bombshell,” the Republican operative said.

    There are 47 Democrats in the Senate. Together with at least four Republicans, they would make up a majority.

    On the question of why the president’s lawyers relied so heavily on the absence of a firsthand account tying the president to the pressure on Ukraine, this operative said: “They all represent a serial liar. [You] never know what is really going on. This is how he ran his businesses.”

    And indeed, the immediate reaction on Capitol Hill did seem to suggest that the Senate was moving toward the idea of calling at least Bolton to testify. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said it was “increasingly likely” that at least four Republicans would vote to call Bolton to appear before the Senate.

    _________

    Too much to hope that this becomes a Nixonian "smoking gun" but it sure is hilarious to see Trump's defense exposed as the fraud that it (and he) is.
    TwentyFiveFortyFive

  4. #619
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    TH,

    I think we both know that Trump could behead a 5 year old child on the Senate floor and still not get impeached.....or lose more than a third of his supporters. We have long since passed the point where legality, constitutionality, rule of law, morality or even just basic decency apply.

    The real question is whether or not any of this impacts enough voters to endanger Trump's EC majority.


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  5. #620
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    Well this seems to contradict everything written here about the Ukrainian investigation into H Biden, J Biden et al. Especial note should be taken over the dates she supplies



    and

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  6. #621
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    TH,

    I think we both know that Trump could behead a 5 year old child on the Senate floor and still not get impeached.....or lose more than a third of his supporters. We have long since passed the point where legality, constitutionality, rule of law, morality or even just basic decency apply.

    The real question is whether or not any of this impacts enough voters to endanger Trump's EC majority.
    No question about it, he's untouchable to his base. Which says a tremendous amount about his base. Hell even Nixon retained a 25% approval rating when he left office.
    TwentyFiveFortyFive

  7. #622
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    Quote Originally Posted by Parihaka View Post
    Well this seems to contradict everything written here about the Ukrainian investigation into H Biden, J Biden et al. Especial note should be taken over the dates she supplies
    Sure, as long as A.) You carefully ignore the points below, and B.) realize that nothing about the Biden's can excuse the fact that Trump violated the Impoundment Act (something confirmed by the GAO) which was written to prevent the very actions he took, nor does it excuse Trump's complete obstruction of the Congressional investigation.

    Here are four key facts Bondi omitted:
    1. Shokin's former deputy, Vitaliy Kasko, said the investigation into Burisma and company owner Mykola Zlochevsky was inactive at the time of Joe Biden's pressure in late 2015 and early 2016. A leading Ukrainian anti-corruption activist said the same.
    "Shokin was not investigating. He didn't want to investigate Burisma," Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of Ukraine's Anti-Corruption Action Center, told The Washington Post for a July article. "And Shokin was fired not because he wanted to do that investigation, but quite to the contrary, because he failed that investigation."

    2. Shokin was widely seen -- by Ukrainian activists, US diplomats, European governments and the International Monetary Fund -- as ineffective or corrupt. In a speech in 2015, Geoffrey Pyatt, then the US ambassador to Ukraine, castigated Shokin's office for impeding the investigation of Burisma's owner Zlochevsky. Pyatt called for people in Shokin's office to be fired, "at minimum."
    "Rather than supporting Ukraine's reforms and working to root out corruption, corrupt actors within the prosecutor general's office are making things worse by openly and aggressively undermining reform," Pyatt said.

    3. Biden was acting in accordance with official US policy. Because of Shokin's reputation, the US and its allies believed that removing him would increase, not decrease, the chances of people like Zlochevsky being pursued.
    "What former Vice President Biden requested of former President of Ukraine, (Petro) Poroshenko, was the removal of a corrupt prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin," George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, testified in the impeachment inquiry. Kent went on to say Shokin had "undermined" a US-funded program to try to investigate corrupt Ukrainian prosecutors.

    4. Some Republican senators had also demanded changes to the prosecutor general's office Shokin led.
    In a bipartisan 2016 letter, Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin joined Democratic colleagues in calling on then-President Poroshenko to "press ahead with urgent reforms to the Prosecutor General's office and judiciary."

    But you still think that Donald Trump was actually concerned about corruption in Ukraine.
    TwentyFiveFortyFive

  8. #623
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    I would add to that that neither Hunter Biden nor is Father is on trial here. Nor was this "corruption in Ukraine" in general that Trumpkin was so concerned about - it was specifically Burisma and this Muscovite allegation that the Crowdstrike server was located in Ukraine. So basically he wanted us to hurt a political opponent of his and admit that it was us not Muscovy that interfered in the 2016 US election which we did not do.

  9. #624
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    Trump's former chief of staff, John Kelly, sides with John Bolton and says the Senate should call witnesses in impeachment trial

    President Donald Trump's former chief of staff, John Kelly, said he believes former national security adviser John Bolton's allegations concerning Trump's Ukraine pressure campaign.

    The New York Times reported on Sunday that Bolton wrote in his forthcoming book that the president told him last year he would withhold military aid to Ukraine until the Ukrainian president acceded to his demands for investigations into his political rivals.

    Bolton's allegations contradict Trump's repeated claim that he didn't leverage the military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and other Democratic opponents.

    "If John Bolton says that in the book I believe John Bolton," Kelly, a retired general who previously served as Trump's secretary of homeland security, told a Florida audience on Monday night.

    Kelly described Bolton as honest and said he supports the Senate calling witnesses in its impeachment trial — something the president and Republican leaders have staunchly opposed.

    "Every single time I was with him ... he always gave the president the unvarnished truth," Kelly said of his former White House colleague, according to Florida's Herald-Tribune.

    Kelly's comments are an astonishing rebuke of the president, for whom he served as a close West Wing adviser for 18 months.

    Trump has denied Bolton's claims and argued his former top adviser is simply trying to sell his book.

    "I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens," the president tweeted on Sunday. "If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book."
    ___________

    Gen John F. Kelly
    USMC (Ret.) 1970-2016
    28th White House Chief of Staff - (July 31, 2017 – January 2, 2019 President Donald Trump)
    5th Secretary of Homeland Security - (January 20, 2017 – July 31, 2017 President Donald Trump)


    Just another libtard snowflake Deep Stater that Trump has never met, no doubt about it
    TwentyFiveFortyFive

  10. #625
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    Bolton, who may hold impeachment bombshell, has a history of settling scores

    Looks like Trump pissed off someone just as psychopathically vengeful as he is lol. And it looks like we'll be hearing from him soon.
    _________

    Mitch McConnell reportedly doesn't have the votes to block witnesses


    During a meeting of Republican senators on Tuesday afternoon, GOP leaders announced that they do not have enough votes to stop witnesses from being called at President Trump's impeachment trial, The Wall Street Journal reports.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not share any numbers, but did acknowledge the votes aren't where he needs them to be, people with knowledge of the meeting said. The senators will vote later this week on whether to allow witnesses in the trial, and a new Quinnipiac poll shows 75 percent of voters want to hear witness testimony.

    Trump's lawyers finished their opening arguments on Tuesday, and declared the trial should end "as quickly as possible" without any witnesses. On Sunday, The New York Times reported that in his forthcoming book, former National Security Adviser John Bolton contradicts the defense argument that Trump did not engage in a quid pro quo with Ukraine. The White House blocked Bolton from testifying during the House impeachment inquiry.
    __________
    TwentyFiveFortyFive

  11. #626
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    White House has issued formal threat to Bolton to keep him from publishing book
    Washington (CNN)The White House has issued a formal threat to former national security adviser John Bolton to keep him from publishing his book, "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir," sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.

    In a letter to Bolton's lawyer, a top official at the National Security Council wrote the unpublished manuscript of Bolton's book "appears to contain significant amounts of classified information" and couldn't be published as written.

    The letter, which is dated January 23, said some of the information was classified at the "top secret" level, meaning it "reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave harm to the national security."
    "The manuscript may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information," the letter read.

    The White House had no comment. Neither Bolton nor a spokesman for the publisher, Simon & Schuster, responded to a request for comment.

    The letter comes in the midst of President Donald Trump attacking Bolton on Twitter, and Bolton's lawyer accusing the White House of corrupting the vetting process for Bolton's book by sharing the contents of the book with those outside the National Security Council's Records Management Division.

    Trump's tweets attacking Bolton Wednesday morning suggested he knew the contents of the manuscript.

    Reports from The New York Times suggest that Bolton's book details a time last August when the President directly linked $391 million in security aid to Ukraine with that country's government launching investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

    The President has repeatedly made unfounded and false claims about Joe Biden relating to Ukraine.

    The President's defense attorneys in his Senate impeachment trial have criticized the House impeachment managers for not producing any first-hand witnesses alleging that any quid pro quo came from the president himself.

    Bolton has said he would be willing to testify in the Senate trial if subpoenaed. Trump has suggested that he might attempt to assert executive privilege and block Bolton's testimony, though legal experts say the President's tweets describing his conversations with Bolton about Ukraine might undermine any such assertion.
    ___________
    TwentyFiveFortyFive

  12. #627
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    Democrats’ Bid for Witnesses Gets Tougher With GOP Showing Unity

    (Bloomberg) -- Democrats face dwindling chances to get testimony from former National Security Adviser John Bolton and others in the Senate impeachment trial as the pool of Republicans willing to even consider defying President Donald Trump keeps shrinking.

    The possibility of new, potentially damaging revelations emerging from testimony or documentary evidence has always been the greatest unknown in a process where there’s little chance that two-thirds of the Republican-controlled chamber would vote to oust the president.

    It would take an extraordinary and unexpected effort by Republican senators to cross both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump on the question of witnesses. They would risk withering criticism from their colleagues as well as Trump’s scorn, especially as he addresses them from the House rostrum Tuesday night during the State of the Union.

    Even Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer conceded on Wednesday that it will be a struggle for Democrats to prevent the trial from ending without witnesses testifying.

    ”We’ve always known it will be an uphill fight on witnesses and on documents because the president and Mitch McConnell put huge pressure on these folks,” Schumer said during a break in the trial Wednesday, the first of two days that lawmakers had to question Trump’s defense and House prosecutors.

    Political Impact

    GOP senators face cross pressures unlike any previous impeachment trial, since the president will be at the top of the ticket in the November election and damaging revelations could depress GOP turnout in Senate races.

    Republican senators Cory Gardner of Colorado and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, both of whom represent politically competitive states important in 2020 -- and were thought to be potential votes in favor of new witnesses -- indicated Wednesday they would vote against seeking additional evidence.

    Only Utah’s Mitt Romney said he firmly backed hearing from Bolton. Maine Senator Susan Collins, who like Gardner faces a tough re-election battle in November, signaled that she is likely to support calling witnesses. Republican Lisa Murkowski, another potential vote for testimony, refused to discuss her latest thinking after leaving a meeting with McConnell Wednesday morning.

    Democrats would need at least four Republicans to vote with them to open the impeachment trial to witnesses. Schumer said the public is “overwhelmingly on our side for witnesses,” and polls back him up. A Quinnipiac University released this week found three-quarters of U.S. voters say the Senate should hear from witnesses, in line with several other polls over the past month.

    McConnell has been working behind the scenes to shore up support for bringing the trial to a quick conclusion, after he told GOP senators in a closed-door meeting Tuesday he didn’t yet have the votes to block witnesses.

    The majority leader had to scramble after the bombshell disclosure that Bolton, who left the administration in September over policy disputes, wrote in a yet-to-be-published book that Trump linked aid for Ukraine to getting the country’s new president to announce a probe of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

    Bolton has said he would testify at the Senate trial if subpoenaed. The key votes will be held Friday, first on whether to allow additional testimony and then to select witnesses. A simple majority -- 51 senators -- will decide.

    Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said there are witnesses he’d like to call, including House impeachment manager Adam Schiff, Joe and Hunter Biden and the intelligence community whistle-blower who triggered the House inquiry. But he warned that would create extended legal fights that would keep the trial in session for weeks, if not months.

    “If we get everybody we want we would be here for a very, very long time,” Sekulow said.

    Senator Questions

    The trial entered a two-day phase on Wednesday for senators to submit questions to House prosecutors and Trump’s defense, an opportunity Democrats used to bolster their argument for more witnesses.

    Schumer asked House impeachment managers whether senators could render an accurate judgment without hearing from Bolton, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and others.

    Schiff, who is leading the House impeachment managers, responded that they couldn’t, and he urged senators not to wait for Bolton’s book release to determine Trump’s real motives.

    ”Don’t wait for the book,” Schiff said, referring to leaked revelations in Bolton’s manuscript. “Don’t wait until March 17 when it is in black and white to find out the answer to your question.”

    Trump’s lawyers sought to give wavering Republicans an off-ramp on the question of whether they needed to hear Bolton’s testimony. Collins, Murkowski and Romney jointly submitted a question to the defense asking how they should consider various motives by Trump for his actions. As Collins rose to ask their question, other senators paid keen attention.

    Trump lawyer Patrick Philbin answered that if there are mixed motives, for both policy and political reasons, the House’s case “fails and you can’t possibly have impeachment.” He also argued that investigating Biden’s role and that of his son were “in the interests of the United States” because the Ukrainian company, Burisma Holdings, was owned by an oligarch embroiled in corruption investigations.

    The same trio of senators submitted other questions together, and Trump lawyers were unable to answer questions regarding facts not already known, like when exactly did Trump order the aid withheld and what was his justification at the time? And did he ever discuss probing the Bidens before Joe Biden announced his run for president?

    Those questions could be addressed by some of the witnesses Democrats suggested calling to testify.

    ‘Public Interest’

    Law professor Alan Dershowitz, speaking for Trump’s defense, asserted that a president’s power is expansive and he can’t be impeached for taking actions that are partly motivated by a desire to help his political prospects.

    “Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest,” Dershowitz said in response to a question from Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. “And 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.”

    Schiff said that argument “would have terrified the founders” of the country. He said that would be like Congress saying “that a president can abuse their power in a corrupt way to help his re-election.”

    Dershowitz sought to walk back that comment Thursday morning with a tweet saying the media distorted his answer.

    “They characterized my argument as if I had said that if a president believes that his re-election was in the national interest, he can do anything,” Dershowitz tweeted. “I said nothing like that, as anyone who actually heard what I said can attest.”

    A number of Republican senators, including John Barrasso of Wyoming, have taken the position that Bolton’s account wouldn’t change their view of the impeachment charges.

    GOP Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri said Trump’s motives for asking for an investigation were well within his authority.

    “Presidents have the authority to do certain things. You’re not asking a foreign leader to engage in illegal conduct,” Hawley said.

    Three Democrats — Doug Jones, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema — haven’t said how they will vote on Trump’s ultimate conviction or acquittal.

    “I’m open to acquit. I’m open to convict,” Jones said. “I want to hear all the evidence. I want to hear witnesses.”

    Classified Information

    Meanwhile, the White House worked to block or delay Bolton’s book, citing national security concerns.

    The National Security Council wrote to Bolton’s lawyer last week saying that his manuscript “appears to contain significant amounts of classified information” and can’t be published unless that material is deleted. The letter was obtained on Wednesday.

    A lawyer for Bolton said that he and his client “do not believe” that any of the material relating to Ukraine matters contained in a manuscript of his book “could reasonably be considered classified” -- and they told the White House that last week.

    Yet the lawyer, Charles Cooper, said there has been no response to that request sent on Friday for expedited pre-publication review in order to allow Bolton to testify about or publish the manuscript.

    Despite the lingering uncertainty on witnesses, South Dakota Republican Senator John Thune expressed confidence that the trial would get wrapped up quickly. He said Wednesday that GOP leaders will know where Republican votes are on the matter of more witnesses well before the tally is taken.

    North Dakota Republican Senator John Hoeven said he was confident enough that the Senate would finish with the trial by Friday that he booked airline tickets on Saturday as usual. Though he acknowledged things could change.

    ”We have some tentative reservations like we always do,” he said. “That’s the Senate. Tentative reservations and you see how the votes go.”
    ____________

    How easy it is to surrender yourself, your morals and loyalty to rule law to an authoritarian.
    TwentyFiveFortyFive

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    'Game over!' Trump likely to be acquitted as impeachment trial draws to a close

    After all that, it all could be over sometime on Friday.

    Donald Trump appears to be on a metaphorical bullet train to acquittal on charges of abusing the power of the presidency and unjustly stonewalling Congress. And one of his once most unlikely of allies, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is the conductor.

    The president appeared on Wednesday evening to sense the Senate could move by week's end to a final vote on the House's two articles of impeachment, tweeting simply: "GAME OVER!" Mr Trump's words were displayed over a video clip from last summer of John Bolton, his former national security adviser, echoing his then-boss about fighting corruption in Ukraine being in America's national interests.

    Democrats want Mr Bolton to testify in the trial after details of his coming book leaked on Sunday, including a portion in which the former White House official wrote he heard Mr Trump directly link a massive military aid package to the new Ukraine government to it announcing investigations of top US Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading 2020 presidential candidate.

    But there were growing signs on Wednesday evening that Mr McConnell, considered a masterful behind-the-scenes tactician, had swayed several wobbly members of his caucus to oppose joining Democrats in voting to subpoena Mr Bolton's testimony.

    "I'm ready to vote on final judgement," Senator John Barrasso told reporters. The Wyoming Republican is a member of Mr McConnell's leadership team (read: his inner circle), and has become a barometer of what the top Senate Republican is thinking.

    "Yes, that's the plan," Mr Barrasso replied when asked if Republican leaders intend to skip any votes on witnesses and go instead on Friday to final votes on the two House-passed articles of impeachment.

    Notably, a source familiar with Mr McConnell's thinking did not deny that is the leader's intention when pressed by The Independent.

    Senate Democrats used part of their questions for Mr Trump's legal team and House Democratic impeachment managers on Wednesday to make the case that a trial without witnesses is anything but. (The Trump defence team, however, argued that in the previous two presidential impeachment trials, the Senate heard only from witnesses the House had interviewed.)

    Despite the seemingly orchestrated questions and answers between House Democratic impeachment managers and Senate Democrats, their leaders by day's end appeared to signal defeat is near.

    "We've always known it will be an uphill fight on witnesses and documents because the president and Mitch McConnell put huge pressure on these folks," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Wednesday, during a break in the questioning.

    "Is it more likely than not?" the New York Democrat said of Bolton and other witnesses being called. "Probably no."

    Senator Ted Cruz earlier this week summarised the thinking of many Republican lawmaker-jurists, calling votes on witnesses and acquittal collectively an "easy and straightforward vote".

    "I don't think any additional witness testimony is necessary," the Texas Republican said, saying he does not believe House Democratic managers have "come close to proving their case". He added that many Republican senators believe the House prosecutors failed to prove their own case that Mr Trump's insistence on securing from Ukraine investigations of the Bidens was "phony" and "baseless" and a "scam" to help him win re-election.

    By Thursday morning, Democrats were acknowledging that Mr Trump by Friday likely will become the third sitting American president ever to be impeached and then cleared by the upper chamber.

    "We know he's not going to be removed from office. There aren't 67 votes ... to remove him," David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to former President Barack Obama told CNN. "It's not going to happen."

    That means the president's legal team's contention that a sitting chief executive's actions - unless clearly criminal - always are in the country's interests soon could become precedent.

    Representative Jason Crow, a House impeachment manager, said on Thursday that means the legal team will have successfully argued "that the president is above the law".

    "Since day one of this process, they've been saying a sitting president can't be indicted, that a sitting president can't be investigated," he said. "And now they're saying there's no impeachment power. So that truly, if you follow all that logic, would make the president above the law."
    _____________

    And that's what this is all about. The President will, in just a few days, have de facto immunity from the law, any law, including the United States Constitution.
    TwentyFiveFortyFive

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    Senators break into laughter as Schiff points out ironic difference between Trump's legal defense and DOJ arguments

    President Trump's impeachment defense team seems to be on a different page than lawyers in the Department of Justice.

    Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) noted this disparity while answering questions from senators in Trump's Senate impeachment trial on Thursday. Schiff said that while Trump's legal team argued the House should have gone to court to force witnesses like former National Security Adviser John Bolton to testify via subpoena, Justice Department lawyers were — nearly simultaneously — arguing in a separate case that it's up to Congress to enforce subpoenas through measures like... impeachment.

    "You can't make this stuff up," said Schiff. As CNN reports, a DOJ lawyer on Thursday said if the House needs to enforce a subpoena, one of its options is to use its impeachment powers. As a reminder, Trump was impeached on obstruction of Congress after ordering aides to defy subpoenas that would have brought them to the House floor as witnesses. During the court hearing (related to the Trump administration's efforts to change the census, not an impeachment-related hearing), DOJ lawyer James Burnham argued the House can't ask the courts to enforce subpoenas — precisely what Trump's impeachment lawyers are suggesting Democrats should have done. Trump's legal team says Democrats should have fought in court for further witnesses, while Trump administration lawyers say courts have no right to enforce congressional subpoenas.

    There were reportedly "audible gasps and laughs" on the Senate floor after Schiff pointed out the comedic timing of the opposing arguments.
    _____________

    "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose" ~ Donald Trump's defense
    TwentyFiveFortyFive

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