Impeachment Trial Begins as Trump Himself Provides Obstruction Evidence

In 283 days, American voters will decide who they want to be president. Some voters will also decide who they want to represent them in Congress. GOP Congressional lawmakers appear to have let that, along with their fealty to Donald Trump, take precedence over even their oaths of office as they participate in the impeachment proceedings against Trump.

The impeachment trial in the Senate is far from over, however, and those Senators who are up for re-election may be finding themselves in quite a spot. As of this week, a CNN poll found that 51 percent of Americans say that the Senate should elect to remove Donald Trump from office during the Senate impeachment trial. Sixty-nine percent of Americans are in support of obtaining testimony from witnesses who did not appear during the House impeachment hearings. Fifty-eight percent of Americans surveyed said that Trump abused the power of his presidency for improper personal political gain (the first article of impeachment), and 57 percent say that Trump obstructed Congress in its impeachment investigation (the second article of impeachment).

As the impeachment trial began in the Senate on Tuesday, January 22, the first segment stretched until 2 am. Some speculate that the late hours were by GOP Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s design: How many Americans would be tuned in then to watch?

Democrat House managers prosecuting the case presented amendments in support of bringing witnesses and allowing new evidence that was uncovered after the impeachment took place in the House. Republican Senators voted each amendment down.

The Senate adopted ground rules, and a vote down party lines determined that the Senate will delay a decision as to whether to bring witnesses until after most of the proceedings. A key witness for the prosecution would include former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton. Each side will be allowed a total of 24 hours over three days to present their opening arguments.

Trump’s defense attorneys tried repeatedly to allege that the House impeachment managers, by asking to admit evidence and witnesses that were not part of the House hearings (mainly because Trump blocked witnesses from appearing and refused to provide any requested documents), showed that they were “not prepared” for the Senate trial.

House managers argued the absurdity of this claim, reminding them that the White House had in fact blocked evidence and witnesses in the House.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the second and third day of the impeachment trial, House Managers presented their opening arguments. Thursday was “Abuse of Power Day,” during which the House impeachment managers presented the case for Trump’s abuse of his presidential power in his dealings with Ukraine (one of two articles of impeachment against Trump). House impeachment managers will focus on the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress, on Friday.

Evidence supporting this second article was provided by Trump himself this week, when, from the World Economic Forum in Davos, he boasted (regarding the impeachment trial and the withholding of material from Congress), “We’re doing very well…Honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material.”

House manager Val Demings (D-Fla.) tweeted, “The second article of impeachment was for obstruction of Congress: covering up witnesses and documents from the American people. This morning the President not only confessed to it, he bragged about it.”

While offering no pithy defense of Trump, Republican lawmakers only appear able to stonewall, use false logic, and challenge the process instead of challenging the actual allegations. They seem to want the public to heed their message of “Move along folks. Nothing to see here…” It’s not that there’s nothing to see, it’s just that there’s nothing they want Americans to look at too closely.

Incidentally, Trump broke his Twitter record on Wednesday this week, with 142 tweets and retweets, mainly deriding the impeachment process.

Trump continued this week to set records by also setting one in the Lack of Fitness to Be Commander in Chief category. During a press conference in Davos, he downplayed the concussive head injuries 11 American soldiers had sustained from blasts during an Iran missile strike on the Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq. The strike was in retaliation for a Trump-ordered drone strike that killed Iran’s most powerful general, Qasem Soleimani.

In addressing the troops’ potential traumatic brain injuries (TBI), Trump said, “I heard that they had headaches, and a couple of other things… But I would say, and I can report, that it is not very serious.”

When a reporter pressed “So you don’t consider potential traumatic brain injury serious?”

Trump went on to say, “”I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I’ve seen.”

It should be noted that Trump has also mocked new NFL rules for preventing concussions, after research has shown the possible dire consequences of TBI. In 2016 at a campaign rally, Trump said, “We don’t go by these new, and very much softer, NFL rules. Concussions—’Uh oh, got a little ding on the head? No, no, you can’t play for the rest of the season’—our people are tough.”

As the week ends, Trump’s legal team is expected to begin its defense presentation on Saturday. Very few Americans hold out hope that the Senate will remove Donald J. Trump from office, but as the above survey results indicate, a small majority believes that the impeachment process was the right thing to do. The next opportunity for the right thing to do will come when Americans vote on November 3.

President Trump Minimizes Severity Of Troop Head Injuries In Iran Missile Attacks | TIME [2020-01-23]

Trump impeachment trial begins with witness battle | BBC News

Trump’s Holiday Tweet Storm, Lisa Murkowski Opposes McConnell’s Promise of Partiality

This week, with just a few days til 2020 and 311 days till the 2020 presidential election, Trump, though on holiday at Mar-a-Lago, nevertheless kept his impeachment and his ire at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi close by his side.
On Christmas night, Trump focused a significant amount of energy not on his family, but on his phone, sending out copious tweets attacking Pelosi, who led the impeachment charge against him, and who is currently withholding the articles of impeachment from the Senate until the GOP-dominated Senate lays out a clear plan as to what Trump’s trial in the Senate will look like.
 “Why should Crazy Nancy Pelosi…be allowed to Impeach the President of the United States?” Was the general flavor of Trump’s Christmas night tweet frenzy.
 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already proclaimed that he won’t be an impartial juror in Trump’s trial. 
“Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House counsel,” McConnell told Fox New’ Sean Hannity. “There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this.”
In the House, Republicans walked in lock step in their opposition to impeachment, presenting a defense of Trump that consisted largely of deflection. In the Senate, however, some Republicans are not comfortable with McConnell’s planned impartiality.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has voiced her concern this week. “In fairness, when I heard that, I was disturbed,” she said.
Referring to not only McConnell, but also to many GOP lawmakers who have already indicated they will not be impartial, Murkowski said, “For me to prejudge and say there’s nothing there or, on the other hand, he should be impeached yesterday, that’s wrong, in my view, that’s wrong.”
Elsewhere in the world this week, a Saudi court sentenced five people to death for the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi royal family. Khashoggi’s gruesome murder at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul brought global condemnation and cast suspicion on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Lawyers concluded that Khashoggi’s killing was not premeditated, though evidence had been found that a hit team was sent to the Consulate to dispatch Khashoggi. Outside Saudi Arabia, questions remain as to what Crown Prince bin Salman may have had to do with the killing.
In North Korea, a promised “Christmas gift” to the U.S., widely interpreted by the White House to mean a provocative North Korean weapons test, never came. U.S. intelligence remains watchful.
“Maybe it’s a nice present,” joked President Trump when asked how he would respond if North Korea fired a missile over the holidays. “Maybe it’s present where he sends me a beautiful vase as opposed to a missile test. … You don’t know. You never know.”

Back in the U.S., where health care has been ranked among the worst among the industrialized countries, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to fight for its life. This week, a court ruling that further jeopardizes the ACA by declaring it unconstitutional may actually empower Democrats. As the GOP continues its attempts to dismantle the ACA while offering no palatable replacement, more Americans are beginning to feel the crisis our health care is in.

Additionally, more Americans are discovering how the ACA benefits all Americans with protections such as for pre-existing conditions and full coverage for physical exams. This has given Democrats the opportunity to demonstrate their support for protecting the ACA, as well as their desire to create a health care system that works for more Americans, as Republicans appear to be working to restrict access even more. Democrats won the House majority in 2018 in large part on their message of protecting the ACA and its protection for preexisting conditions.

Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said “I think it’s an opportunity to reset with the new year to remind people that there’s a very real threat to tens of millions of Americans. We Democrats are always striving to improve the system, but, at a minimum, the American people expect us to protect what they already have.”

President Trump resumes lashing out against impeachment on Twitter | CBS Evening News [2019-12-26]

Lou Dobbs Tonight 12/26/19 SHOW| Breaking Fox News December 26, 2019 [2019-12-26]