⚖️ Trump’s Senate Impeachment Trial:

What happened today? The Senate reconvened for the final day of written questions to House managers and Trump’s defense team in his impeachment trial. Mitch McConnell indicated to Republican senators he believes he has the votes to defeat any Democratic motion that the Senate consider new witnesses. However, three Republican senators — Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Mitt Romney — have indicated they’re open to voting to subpoena former Trump national security adviser John Bolton. Sen. Lamar Alexander has said he hasn’t made up his mind. While attention has focused on the Republicans, three Democrats — Sens. Joe Manchin, Doug Jones, and Kyrsten Sinema — could also break ranks. Manchin has complained about what he has called the “hypocrisy” of both McConnell and Senator Chuck Schumer; Jones, facing a re-election in Alabama, has hinted he might vote to acquit Trump on obstruction of Congress; and, Kyrsten Sinema hasn’t said anything public since the start of the trial other than to say she was taking her obligation seriously. Adam Schiff, the lead House impeachment manager, offered to limit witness depositions to one week after Trump’s defense warned that calling witnesses could delay the trial. Democrats, meanwhile, are attempting to undermine an expected Trump acquittal, saying that Trump cannot be truly exonerated without a fair trial in the Senate. Schumer also suggested that Democrats would use parliamentary procedures to stall a quick acquittal, saying “The minority has rights, and we will exercise those rights.”

What’s next? There will be four hours of debate and then a vote on whether the Senate should seek witnesses and documents. If Democrats fail to convince at least four Republicans to join them in calling for witnesses, the Senate could move to a final vote on acquittal as soon as Friday.


1/ Trump’s legal team contradicted Trump’s Justice Department, making the opposite argument in court on the same day. In federal court, a Justice Department attorney argued that a possible remedy for an administration defying congressional subpoenas is impeachment. Meanwhile, during Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, his legal team argued that Trump was lawfully protecting the executive branch in a dispute with Congress over documents and testimony when he ordered his aides to defy subpoenas. House manager Adam Schiff later addressed the contradiction in the Senate, saying: “We’ve been debating whether a president can be impeached for essentially bogus claims of privilege for attempting to use the courts to cover up misconduct. [And] The judge says if the Congress can’t enforce its subpoenas in court, then what remedy is there? And the Justice Department lawyer’s response is impeachment. Impeachment.” Members of the Senate laughed. “You can’t make this up,” Schiff continued. “I mean, what more evidence do we need of the bad faith of this effort to cover up?” (CNN)

2/ Chief Justice John Roberts rejected Sen. Rand Paul’s question, which identified the alleged whistleblower. Roberts told Senators on Tuesday that he would not allow the whistleblower’s name to be mentioned or publicly relay any questions that might unmask the official during the question-and-answer session. Paul then held a news conference in which he read his question, naming the person referred to in conservative media as the possible whistleblower and an acquaintance who works for the House Intelligence Committee. [Editor’s note: Rand Paul is a dipshit.] (Politico / CNN)

3/ John Bolton’s lawyer contends his book does not contain classified material, pushing back against the White House’s assessment while asking for an expedited review of a chapter about Ukraine in case the former national security adviser is called to testify in the Senate impeachment trial. The National Security Council warned Jan. 23 that the manuscript contained “significant amounts” of classified material that could not be disclosed publicly. Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, claims that Trump told him in August that he was tying Ukrainian investigations of his political opponent to continuing foreign aid to that country. (Washington Post)

4/ A new recording shows Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, and a small group of Republican Party donors meeting with Trump at Mar-a-Lago in April 2018 – ten days before they dined with Trump at his Washington hotel. During the dinner at Trump’s Washington hotel, Parnas told Trump that the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was agitating against him, prompting Trump to abruptly call for her firing. The Mar-a-Lago event was also attended by former Republican Rep. Pete Sessions, who has been subpoenaed as part of the ongoing criminal investigation involving Parnas and Fruman, and Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman. Trump’s has repeatedly claimed that he doesn’t know Parnas or Fruman. (Washington Post / Daily Beast)

  • 📌 Day 1103: A video made public captures Trump saying he wants to “get rid” of the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine during an April 2018 meeting that included Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. The video, recorded on Fruman’s phone, contradicts Trump’s statements that he didn’t know Parnas or Fruman, who both worked with Rudy Giuliani to push for the ousting of Marie Yovanovitch, who was ultimately removed from her post in April 2019. Trump also asked how long Ukraine would be able to resist Russian aggression without U.S. assistance during the dinner. (New York Times / Associated Press / PBS NewsHour / CNN / BuzzFeed News)

5/ The Department of Energy released more than 100 pages of documents related to former Secretary Rick Perry and Ukraine. The documents show the Department of Energy pushing for energy reform and supporting Ukraine’s handling of corruption in May 2019, when Perry led a delegation to meet new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The new documents, however, don’t cover how Trump had Perry later work with Rudy Giuliani to supplant his work and pursue a different Ukrainian corruption crackdown. (CNN)

poll/ 66% of Democrats report being anxious about the 2020 election, compared with 46% of Republicans. (Associated Press)


Notables.

  1. The Trump administration will allow states to cap Medicaid spending, which covers about 1 in 5 low-income Americans. The new block grant program – now called “Healthy Adult Opportunity” – was rejected by Congress three years ago and will effectively reduce health benefits for millions who gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Democrats, health care providers, and consumer groups warned that capping federal funding for adults on Medicaid and giving states more freedom to decide who and what the program covers would jeopardize medical access and care for some of the poorest Americans. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

  2. Trump’s commerce secretary said the Chinese coronavirus “will help to accelerate the return of jobs” to the U.S. and North America. Wilbur Ross said he didn’t want to “talk about a victory lap,” but there are “a confluence of factors that will make it very, very likely more reshoring to the U.S. and some reshoring to Mexico.” Meanwhile, the CDC confirmed the first case of person-to-person transmission of the Wuhan coronavirus in the U.S. (Washington Post / NBC News / Politico)

  3. A section of Trump’s new border wall in California fell over during high winds and landed on a row of trees on the Mexico side of the border. (KYMA / CNN)

  4. The U.S. economy missed Trump’s 3% growth target for the second year in a row. The economy grew by 2.3% last year. Annual growth in 2019 was the slowest it’s been in three years and the drop in business investment deepened amidst ongoing trade tensions. (Reuters / CNBC)

  5. Trump administration is expected to loosen restrictions on the military’s ability to use landmines, which have been banned by more than 160 countries due to their history of killing and wounding civilians. (CNN / The Guardian)

  6. The House approved two measures aimed at reigning in Trump’s war powers following recent aggression between Iran and the U.S. The White House opposed the measures, which limit Trump’s ability to use military force without congressional authorization. (Politico)

  7. Lawyers for a woman who accused Trump of raping her in the 1990s are asking for a DNA sample to determine whether his genetic material is on a dress she wore during the encounter. E. Jean Carroll accused Trump last summer of raping her in a Manhattan luxury department store dressing room in the mid-1990s. Carroll filed a defamation suit against Trump in November after he denied her allegation. (Associated Press)


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