Category: Politics

WSJ: Trump Knew About Whistleblower Complaint In August

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that President Donald Trump was briefed on the whistleblower complaint earlier than previously assumed. The Journal says that the briefing by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and National Security Council attorney John Eisenberg occurred in August, not September. That could offer significant support for the narrative of the Democrats in the ongoing impeachment effort.

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Wrong Guy: Former Pentagon Aide Fuels Speculation Before Admitting He Is Not “Anonymous”

Former Pentagon aide Guy Snodgrass has finally denied that he is “Anonymous” — the author of the book “A Warning.” That was however before he milked the speculation to awkwardly hawk his own less-than-sizzling book. In a Fox interview with Trace Gallagher, Snodgrass went out of his way to tease the speculation while shamelessly pitching his book to try to generate buzz. The curious effort seemed to do little to increase book sales but it certainly generated an abundance of criticism of the previously unknown former speechwriter to former Defense Secretary James Mattis.

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Court: McGahn Must Appear To Testify Before Congress

Federal District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson delivered a victory for Congress  in a 120-page decision that former White House counsel Don McGahn must appear for testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.  I previously wrote that the White House was wrong in blocking the appearance of witnesses like McGahn as opposed to invoking executive privilege over certain areas of testimony.  Accordingly, I believe the opinion is the correct one but this does not end the struggle with Congress. Indeed, it may be just the beginning of the real struggle over privilege as opposed to immunity. Update: As expected, McGahn is appealing the ruling which will certainly achieve the purpose of delay but ultimately magnify the loss in precedent for the White House.

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The Case For Impeachment All Living Presidents

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Below is my column in The Hill Newspaper on the new standard on impeachment emerging from the House hearings. Democrats continue to state an insistence on a vote by Christmas — the shortest period of investigation of an impeachment in history. If impeachment is to be reduced to such an impulse buy item, there are many other choices for voters.

Here is the column:

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Poll: Independents Shifting Against Impeachment

We previously discussed how polls do not show a shift in favor of impeachment after the much covered impeachment hearings in the House Intelligence Committee. Indeed, a poll in the key state of Wisconsin shows a shift against impeachment after the hearings. Now, a poll from Emerson College shows a surprising shift among independents with 49 percent now oppose to impeachment. Over all, Trump popularity have also shifted with a gain of five points to 48 percent favorability.

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Giuliani: I Am Not Worried Because “I Have Insurance”

I have repeatedly criticized President Donald Trump’s counsel Rudy Giuliani for his record of rampage as counsel. Even before the ruinous work in the Ukraine came to light, Giuliani has assembled a long line of harmful statements. Now, in what may be the worst possible way to respond to a question whether he is concerned that Trump will throw him under the proverbial bus, Giuliani has said that he is not worried because “I have insurance.” It is a statement that raises obvious images of what the Russians call kompromat, or “compromising material.” Whether a joke or serious, it is again a remarkably dim-witted response at the height of an impeachment process.

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Trump Goes All-In With Giuliani and Crowdstrike In Fox Interview

While virtually everyone in Washington is burning any Christmas card or note connecting them to Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump gave a rambling and at times baffling interview on Fox & Friends in which he not only doubled down on his faith in Giuliani but restated the importance of the widely discredited Crowdstrike server claims. Giuliani has been denounced for his role in the Ukraine scandal and portrayed as a universally despised individual in the State Department and national security agencies. Yet, Trump heralded Giuliani as “a great crime-fighter” and leader even though Fox co-host Brian Kilmeade questioned his role in the scandal and raised the fact that two of his associates are now under indictment. I have been critical of Giuliani’s representation of the President for years. The interview could be an effort to keep Giuliani, who is under federal investigation, in the fold or the President may genuinely still believe that Giuliani is not only blameless but praiseworthy. Either way, this is not good. Both Giuliani and the Crowdstrike theory have been discredited in prior testimony. Nevertheless, the interview offer a glimpse into a possible defense in the Senate.

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Democrats Seek To Redefine Crimes To Reframe The Trump Impeachment

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the three new crimes being alleged by the Democrats: bribery; extortion; and obstruction. There was a critical shift away from the abuse of power framework this week in favor of these criminal allegations. That may reflect the fact that the hearings have not resonated with voters, or at least have not caused a shift in public opinion. I have previously stated that a president can be impeached for abuse of power, including a quid pro quo. However, when alleging a crime, the elements of such a crime are relevant. Indeed, Schiff has referenced those elements in his comments in the hearings. The problem is that the case law falls far short of the rhetoric surrounding these crimes.

Here is the column:

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Rep. Blumenauer Under Fire For Calling For Boycott Of Sondland’s Hotels To Pressure Him

In the course of the impeachment hearings, many Democratic members repeatedly accused President Donald Trump of intimidating witnesses with tweets. Indeed, many of us have criticized Trump for his attacks on Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch. Yet, not a single Democratic member objected to the call of Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) for a boycott of the hotels owned by Gordon Sondland to pressure him in testifying before Congress. The tweet by Blumenauer was wildly inappropriate, particularly in a process with pressure on witnesses is a central theme. Yet, when asked, members like Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) simply dismissed the criticism by saying that Trump does worse things. It was a signature moment in our age of rage. There is no self-evaluation or self-awareness in engaging in the very acts that you are objecting to by the other side. The reason is that you are right so any means is viewed as righteous.

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DNA Test Proves Hunter Biden To Be Father Of Child With Former GW Student Despite His Denials

Former George Washington student Lunden Alexis Roberts has faced a long and drawn out fight to prove that Hunter Biden is the father of her child. According to The New Yorker, Biden denied ever having sex with Roberts. It was not until November 9th that Hunter allowed himself to be tested. That would make the birth immaculate because DNA testing just proved that he is the father and, despite receiving his controversial payments of $50,000 a month from Burisma as well as other deals, Hunter Biden has been effectively a deadbeat dad.

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Gallup: Trump’s Support Unchanged By Impeachment Hearings

A new Gallup poll shows that, despite damaging testimony on the Ukrainian controversy, President Donald Trump’s popularity has not fallen and his support among Republicans remains extraordinarily high. The President has held steady at 43 percent popularity overall and an astronomical 90 percent among Republicans. In addition, a Marquette Poll in the critical state of Wisconsin shows support for impeachment falling, not rising among voters. Indeed, Trump is now beating potential Democratic rivals.

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“The Gordon Problem”: Former Ambassador To Face Grilling Before House Committee

President Trump’s European Union ambassador, Gordon Sondland, will appear today before the House Intelligence Committee in what may be the most awaited testimony of the impeachment hearings. Indeed, Sondland has few options and none of them are good as a witness. He has been skewered by witness after witness — leaving the image of a dim-witted braggart with virtually no diplomatic experience and even less judgment. Former National Security Council aide Tim Morrison simply referred to him in clinical terms as “the Gordon problem.” While some of us have questioned whether the Democrats are building a viable impeachment case, they are clearly building a compelling case for a highly inappropriate and damaging campaign for a quid pro quo. Sondland was either a dupe or a designer of that ill-conceived strategy.

In his opening statement, Sondland states that there was a quid pro quo stated by Giuliani but he is less clear about President Donald Trump. However, he makes clear that he did not want to work with Giuliani but that it was clear that Giuliani was carrying out the wishes of the President. That may throw Giuliani under the bus but it is not likely to make this day any easier for Sondland. On page 5, Sondland makes clear that he came to understand that aid was conditioned on the investigations. That will not however make today any easier for Sondland as members delve into the Trump connections and directions.

I will be doing the coverage of the hearings today for CBS News and BBC.

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Harvard Study: Only 35 Percent Of Young Republicans Feel Comfortable Sharing Their Views On Campus

The Institute of Politics at Harvard University has released a poll that once again highlights the failure of universities to protect free speech on our campuses, particularly for religious and conservative students. The poll found that only 35 percent of young Republicans felt comfortable sharing their political opinions on campus. That is called a “chilling effect” and is the manifestation of a hostile environment to free speech.

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Senator Murphy’s Defense Of Hunter Biden Conspicuously Leaves Out One Word . . .

If, as expected, the House impeaches President Donald Trump on the basis of the Ukrainian controversy, the contract of Hunter Biden with the Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, will likely be a focus of the defense. That has made some members uneasy since the $50,000 paid every month to Biden is widely viewed as a classic scheme to influence his father, who was the key official in charge of Ukrainian aid and assistance. For that reason, the defense of the Bidens by Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) on CNN’s “State of The Union” drew many Beltway insiders. Murphy however may have highlighted the problem with the omission of a single word.

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Now For Your Moment Of Zen From The Trump Impeachment Hearings

Below is my column in The Hill on the unfolding impeachment hearings. As I have stated, the hearings have proved damaging for President Donald Trump — damage that was bizarrely magnified by Trump himself with an attack on Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. The move only pushed many Republicans on the Committee to avoid aggressive questioning of the diplomat. The tweet was unfair and remarkably self-defeating. As with the attacks by Trump on Taylor and Kent as “never Trumpers,” the tweet was wildly off base. While I have raised concerns over these allegations as a basis for impeachment, these diplomats strike me as people who have served our country with distinction and dedication. They are indeed the type of professionals that we need in our foreign posts.

That does not change the difficult questions that lie ahead. Perhaps this week’s testimony will materially change the zen-like questions discussed in this column.

Here is the column:

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