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Bolton: White House Counsel Joined In Ukraine Pressure Campaign

Yet another bombshell about Donald Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine has dropped, just hours before Republicans prepare to vote to block witnesses and end the impeachment trial.

According to a New York Timereport published on Friday afternoon, former national security adviser John Bolton alleges in his forthcoming book that White House counsel Pat Cipollone witnessed Trump’s attempts to force Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

Cipollone is currently defending Trump’s conduct with regards to Ukraine in the Senate impeachment trial.

According to guidance from the American Bar Association, if Bolton’s claims are true, Cipollone’s involvement in any meetings surrounding the pressure campaign would constitute a direct conflict of interest that would throw into question his membership on Trump’s impeachment defense team.

“Combining the roles of advocate and witness can prejudice the tribunal and the opposing party and can also involve a conflict of interest between the lawyer and client,” the ABA writes in its rules of professional conduct.

Cipollone also plays a major role in the second impeachment charge Trump faces: obstruction of Congress.

In a letter in October, Cipollone told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic committee chairs in charge of the impeachment probe that the Trump White House would not cooperate in their inquiry, an effort that ultimately led the House to impeach Trump for obstruction.

“Given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections, the Executive Branch cannot be expected to participate in it,” Cipollone wrote in the letter.

The new revelation comes hours before the Senate plans to vote on whether to call witnesses like Bolton in Trump’s impeachment trial.

It is likely Republicans will vote to block witnesses and acquit Trump, even though a number of Republicans admit Trump’s behavior was inappropriate and wrong.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

George Conway Rips Trump Lawyers’ Arguments To Shreds

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In the right-wing media bubble, so-called “legal analysis” of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial often involves mindlessly echoing the assertions of Alan Dershowitz, Jay Sekulow, or former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (all of whom are part of Trump’s impeachment defense team). But not everyone on the right has been reciting Trumpian talking points on impeachment, and conservative Never Trump attorney George Conway tears some anti-impeachment arguments to pieces in a scathing Washington Post op-ed.

“The president’s lawyers this week floated their catch-all impeachment defense, one tailor-made for President Trump,” Conway explains. “It is, in essence, that a narcissistic president can do no wrong. Like most of the president’s arguments, it’s erroneous.”

The spouse of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway takes aim at Dershowitz’ assertion that if Trump believed his actions with Ukraine were “in the public interest,” those actions couldn’t be impeachable. That argument, Conway asserts, is “a lie” and an “example of how Trump corrupts all around him.”

“It’s just not true that good motives, when mixed with bad ones, compel acquittal under the law,” Conway writes. “If a politician takes a bribe to do what he thinks would have been best for the public anyway, he still goes to jail. If he’s president, under a Constitution that refers to impeachment specifically for ‘bribery,’ as well (as) other ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ he should still be removed.”

Another bogus claim of Trump’s attorneys, according to Conway, is that “abuse of power” — one of the two articles of impeachment he is facing — is not impeachable under the U.S. Constitution.

‘It’s not true, as Dershowitz argued Wednesday, that the Framers’ rejection of ‘maladministration’ as a basis for impeachment means that abuse of power isn’t impeachable,” Conway notes. “The Framers rejected the word ‘maladministration’ because it covered mistakes and incompetence, not because it also could mean abuse of power. In fact, they swapped ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ into the final document precisely because it does cover such abuse.”

Conway goes on to explain that while U.S. presidents can certainly promote policies they believe are in the country’s best interests, they cannot do corrupt, unethical things in pursuit of those policies.

If a president, Conway points out, “cuts taxes because he has an agreement with a major backer that, in exchange for tax cuts, the backer will fund a huge super PAC to support his reelection, that’s impeachable — because that’s a corrupt quid pro quo for his personal benefit. So, too, if a president conditions another official act — releasing security assistance to a foreign country — on a requirement that the foreign country smear the president’s political opponent. That’s not politics; that’s corruption.”

Trump, Conway adds, “acted with corrupt intent to damage a political opponent.” That opponent, of course, is former Vice President Joe Biden, who Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate during their now-infamous July 25 phone conservation.

Conway wraps up his op-ed by emphasizing that if Senate Republicans “entertain a false reading of the Constitution,” it would “render the impeachment clause a nullity.”

“Should they do that,” Conway warns, “they will have sacrificed their own oaths to protect their own electoral prospects — and the country and the Constitution will have been saddled with a terrible precedent. The Senate will have told Trump that indeed, he can do whatever he wants.”

Dershowitz: Trump Crimes Are Excusable If His Re-election Is ‘In Public Interest’

Donald Trump’s defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz raised eyebrows on Wednesday when he argued that Trump has free reign to cheat in an election if he believes his victory would be in the best interest of the American people.

“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,” Dershowitz said on the Senate floor, during the question-and-answer period of the impeachment trial against Trump.

Dershowitz’s argument got immediate pushback by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a House impeachment manager, who has been arguing that Trump has to be removed from office because his cheating cuts at the very heart of the Constitutional right to free and fair elections.

“Bear in mind that efforts to cheat in an election are always going to be in proximity to an election,” Schiff said. “So if you say you can’t hold a president accountable in an election year, where they’re trying to cheat in an election, then you are giving them carte blanche.”

Others pointed out that Dershowitz’s argument means that former President Richard Nixon could’ve made the same argument against his impeachment and removal from office for covering up the break-in of the Democratic National Committee office.

“Using Dershowitz’s logic, couldn’t Nixon have justified that both the break-in and the cover-up of Watergate (which were both purely for his political interest) as ‘in the national interest,’ and therefore not impeachable?” Mo Elleithee, a former DNC official who now teaches at Georgetown University, tweeted.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Fox News Judge Eviscerates Trump On Impeachment

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Judge Andrew Napolitano has been one of the political wild cards at Fox News: like his colleague Chris Wallace — but unlike so many others at the right-wing cable news outlet — Napolitano doesn’t see it as his job to reflexively defend everything President Donald Trump says and does. And Napolitano, in an op-ed published on Fox News’ website this week, takes issue with Trump’s assertions that his impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate is a “hoax.”

“His trial is not a charade or a joke or a hoax,” the libertarian judge emphasizes. “It is deadly serious business based on well-established constitutional norms.”

Trump, Napolitano notes, was indicted by the U.S. House of Representatives on two articles of impeachment: one for abuse of power, the other for obstruction of Congress.

“The abuse consists of his efforts to extract a personal political ‘favor’ from the president of Ukraine as a pre-condition to the delivery of $391 million in military aid,” Napolitano notes. “The favor he wanted was an announcement of a Ukrainian investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son, Hunter.”

Napolitano poses a question: “did Trump act criminally?” But he goes on to explain that in the U.S. Constitution, the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” as used by the Founder Fathers isn’t actually a reference to criminal law.

“The Constitution prescribes the bases for impeachment as treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” Napolitano points out. “However, this use of the word ‘crimes’ does not refer to violations of federal criminal statutes. It refers to behavior that is so destructive of the constitutional order that it is the moral equivalent of statutory crimes.”

Napolitano elaborates on his point, writing, “If the president moved to Russia and ran the executive branch from there, or if he announced that Roman Catholics were unfit for office, he would not have committed any crimes. Yet surely, these acts would be impeachable because, when done by the president, they are the moral equivalent of crimes and are so far removed from constitutional norms as to be impeachable.”

The judge concludes his op-ed by with an assertion that is seldom expressed at Fox News: there is plenty of “evidence” that Trump committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” as described in the U.S. Constitution.

“What is required for removal of the president?” Napolitano writes. “A demonstration of presidential commission of high crimes and misdemeanors, of which in Trump’s case, the evidence is ample and uncontradicted.”

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore