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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}


These 14 GOP Senators Supported Clinton’s Removal, But Not Trump’s

Donald Trump is expected to to be acquitted in his Senate impeachment trial on Wednesday, with most Republicans predicted to vote in his favor.

Among those standing steadfast with Trump are 14 current GOP senators who voted to impeach or remove President Clinton from office in the late 1990s. Many of those senators have since shifted their reasoning on why a president can’t  be removed from office.

Seven Republican senators serving today voted in 1999 to remove Clinton from office: Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Pat Roberts of Kansas, and Richard Shelby of Alabama.

An additional seven Republican senators were members of the House of Representatives who voted to impeach Clinton: Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Rob Portman of Ohio, John Thune of South Dakota, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

All 14 senators who attempted to oust Clinton voted in January to protect Trump by preventing additional witness testimony during the Senate trial, and all are expected to vote against removing Trump from office.

Perhaps the most high-profile among them is Graham. Graham not only voted to impeach Clinton, but was one of the House managers attempting to persuade senators to remove him from office. During the Clinton impeachment, Graham called for witnesses to come before the Senate, demanded senators not make up their mind before the trial, and criticized past presidents for ignoring congressional subpoenas.

Two decades later, Graham reversed course.

“I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind,” Graham said in December 2019, weeks before the impeachment trial started in the Senate. “I’m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here.”

Others who voted previously to oust Clinton have also had a change of heart.

Crapo for his part released a statement last month arguing that the founders “expressly rejected a system in which the President serves at the pleasure of the legislative branch.”

And Shelby, who once declared that the charge of obstruction of justice against Clinton was proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” concluded in January that Trump’s actions “[were] not worthy of removal from office,” and announced he would not vote to remove him from office.

Trump was impeached in December on two counts, abuse of power related to his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, and obstruction of Congress for his decision to block crucial witness testimony and hide evidence from House investigators.

Blunt made a similar case against Clinton, stating in December 1998 that “no president can be allowed to … thwart the investigative responsibility of the legislature.” He argued that true punishment was warranted and warned that a simple “censure” was not strong enough. Yet this time around, Blunt has indicated he will be voting to acquit Trump, declaring the outcome of the trial “virtually certain” despite mountains of evidence showing Trump wanted to use his office for personal gain.

McConnell, who voted in February 1999 to convict Clinton and remove him from office, accused the former president at the time of lying deliberately to the American people. He claimed his vote was one of “honor,” “principle,” and “moral authority.”

In Trump’s impeachment trial, McConnell has openly admitted to coordinating with the White House on Trump’s defense and said in December he had no intention of being an impartial juror. He, too, has implied that he will vote to acquit.

Others have pledged similarly that they will stand by Trump, claiming that the impeachment proceedings against him have been solely politically motivated by Democrats seeking to overturn the 2016 election. Many of those same lawmakers previously said the opposite during Clinton’s impeachment trial, with a few arguing that overturning the will of the people was necessary for justice to prevail.

Thune stated in December that he had no intention of voting to convict Trump and accused Democrats of “overturning an election where they didn’t like the outcome.” Yet when he voted to impeach Clinton in 1999, Thune had no such misgivings, stating there was “one standard of justice that applies equally to all, and to say or do otherwise will undermine the most sacred of all American ideals.”

Burr, a former congressman who voted to impeach Clinton in 1999, echoed Thune’s thoughts at that time, saying he could not “ignore the facts or disregard the constitution so that the president can be placed above the law.”

In January, Burr also said he had no intention of convicting Trump because “the American people [had] duly elected” him.

Inhofe is also among those who voted to convict Clinton previously but has called the impeachment process against Trump “a political sham” and declared before the beginning of the Senate trial that Trump was “not going to be removed from office — period.”

Portman for his part concluded that Trump’s actions were “wrong and inappropriate,” but has said he will refuse to vote to remove Trump from office because it would entail “taking him off the ballot in the middle of an election.”

Portman voted to impeach Clinton based on “evidence of serious wrongdoing,” saying, “I believe the evidence of serious wrongdoing is simply too compelling to be swept aside … I believe the long-term consequence to this country of not acting on these serious charges before us far outweigh the consequences of following what the Constitution provides for and bringing this matter to trial in the United States Senate.”

Wicker also voted to impeach Clinton, but when the House impeached Trump, he released a statement critical of the House investigation, adding he anticipated Trump would be acquitted in the Senate.

“House Democrats made a historic mistake today,” he said at the time. “… Their effort has never been about the facts or accountability. It was always about politics and damaging a president they cannot tolerate.”

Some of the senators involved in the Clinton impeachment episode, like Enzi, Moran, and Roberts, have not made public statements about their intentions in the Trump trial.

Grassley, for instance, falsely criticized the House impeachment as partisan, but pledged to “examine the evidence of the charges presented before the Senate and uphold my oath and duty as a juror.”

The Senate is expected to hold a final vote on Wednesday to determine if Trump should be removed from office. There is little expectation that proponents of removal will attain the 67 votes necessary to do so.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Republicans Falsely Claim To Have Heard Witnesses In Trump Trial

The Senate Republican majority is all but set to vote to acquit Donald Trump in his impeachment trial, without hearing any witness testimony whatsoever.

Despite this, many senators have been misleadingly suggesting that witness testimony was in fact part of the trial.

The Senate Republican Communications Center, part of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office, posted a list of “Senate Trial Facts” Friday afternoon, intended to demonstrate why the GOP believed it was “time to move on.”

“13 witnesses testified,” they claimed in an infographic, adding that there were also “179 Senator questions.”

While testimony from fact witnesses from the House impeachment inquiry was presented as part of the impeachment managers’ and defense lawyers’ cases, no one testified as part of the Senate trial. And none of the senators’ questions were directed to any of those fact witnesses.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) made a similar misleading argument in a video Friday. “I’m a no vote on additional witnesses,” she said. “We’ve had the testimony of 17 people.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) also announced in a video that she would vote no when the Senate considers “whether we have a need to have more witnesses.” She reasoned, “We’ve already had 17 witnesses.”

In a written statement, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) agreed, saying he did not believe “additional witnesses are needed.”

Poll after poll has shown overwhelming popular support for a fair Senate trial that would include witness testimony.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Sister Simone Campbell Urges Senators: “Stop This Destruction Of Healthcare In Our Nation”

Sister Simone Campbell — executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby based in Washington, D.C. — on Thursday released a series of videos urging a handful of relatively moderate Republican senators to vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act.

In addition to targeted appeals — to Senators Bill Cassidy (LA), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Rob Portman (OH), Jeff Flake (AZ), and Dean Heller (NV) — Sister Campbell released another video in which she reads from a letter signed by 7,150 Catholic Sisters representing all 50 states and sent to the entire U.S. Senate earlier this week.

As Catholic women religious, we have witnessed firsthand the moral crisis of lack of quality, affordable healthcare in this country. We have seen early and avoidable deaths because of lack of insurance, prohibitive costs, and lack of access to quality care. We fought for the expansion of coverage in the Affordable Care Act because we saw the life-giving value of crucial healthcare programs such as Medicaid. This program covers over 70 million Americans, including children, pregnant women (and nearly half of all births in this country), people with disabilities, people struggling to get by, and senior citizens. Further, some of our fellow women religious rely on Medicaid in nursing homes when we can no longer care for our sisters at home.

Watch below and find the full letter — and 100 pages of signatures — here:

5 Ways Trump And The GOP Are Campaigning Like Losers

Nobody wants to jinx the defeat of the most singular threat to American democracy to ever crawl out of the WWE Hall of Fame. But something is going on.

Early voting hasn’t been uniformly good for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. But as tens of millions of voters have been making their way to the polls, the news has been getting progressively better out of the three key early voting battlegrounds — North Carolina, Florida, and Nevada.

If the Democratic nominee sweeps or even picks up two of these three bellwether states, it will be nearly impossible for Donald Trump to become our God Emperor Overlord, or whatever he thinks the president does.

North Carolina’s Republicans have surgically limited early voting sites to make getting a ballot more difficult for students and black voters. But signs still point to a Clinton lead in the state Barack Obama won in 2008 and lost in 2012. Florida was a worry for Democrats as Republicans led the early vote until Friday. But Saturday was the best day for the Clinton campaign, with Miami-Dade county, rich in Latino and left-leaning voters, delivering a 67 percent increase from 2012.

And in Nevada on Friday night, there was a nightmare scene for the right as Latinos waited on line for hours at the Cardenas Market to summon justice upon the man who has smeared them, their families and friends as “rapists and criminals.” They brought their best and if you do the math, as veteran Nevada reporter John Ralston does every election year, you might see that the chances of Trump winning the state “are about the same as Billy Bush anchoring the CBS Evening News.”

The Atlantic‘s Ronald Brownstein suggests that the focus on these states outside of Democrats’ “blue wall” may have “overestimated her hold on the states most central to her strategy.” But the seeming effectiveness of her ground game — which towers over her opponents’ Twitter plan of having people in red hats gathering to join their leader in yelling at the press — should allow a little optimism.

How much?

Well, are you a Bill, a Nate, a Nate, a Drew or a Sam?

Trump campaign mascot and conservative radio host Bill Mitchell is still preaching the Trump gospel that only the polls that show the Republican nominee winning can be correct. FiveThirtyEight‘s Nate Silver, the savior of Democratic nerves in 2012, isn’t willing to be your salve this time, after missing the rise of Trump in the GOP primary; he’s saying Clinton has a lead in the race but it’s “tenuous” at best, with a 60-70 percent chance of making history. The Upshot‘s Nate Cohn sees a “solid lead” for Clinton and an “unclear” map for Trump. Thus his paper’s model suggests Democrats’ hopes are in the mid 80s. Daily Kos Elections‘  Drew Linzer isn’t as well known as his modeling colleagues, but he was the most accurate forecaster in both 2012 and 2014. His model gives Clinton nearly a 90 precent chance of capturing the White House.

And then there’s Princeton Election Consortium’s Sam Wang, the man who can soothe any Clinton-backing nervous wrecks enough so they can join some “Get Out the Vote” operations. Wang has Clinton’s chances of carrying at least 270 electoral votes at almost 100 percent.

There’s still plenty to worry about, including the unprecedented way the FBI intervened in this election, which rocked the polls and hurt Democrats’ chances of taking the Senate and thus America’s chances of having a functioning Supreme Court.

As a member of Hillary Clinton’s inner circle told Newsweek, “You don’t overthrow 5,000 years of patriarchy without a fight.” But the most positive signs for Democrats may be the manner in which the GOP and Trump are campaigning.

Here are five ways Republicans and their nominee seem to be telegraphing a defeat on November 8.

  1. Back to building doubt in the system.
    Trump was jubilant over FBI Director James Comey’s intervention in the race for a few days, but the images of Latinos lining up to vote has shaken him back to reality. He sees voters being allowed to vote because they arrived in line before the polls closed as “rigged,” though it’s standard procedure. There are signs such rhetoric depresses his own supporters and possibly GOP turnout. To start “whining before the game’s over,” as President Obama calls it, sounds like you’re preparing to lose.
  2. Preparing a post-defeat game plan.
    Republicans have already started talking about Clinton’s impeachment, which is both ridiculously contemptuous of the voters’ will and also a sign that they expect her to win. Trump’s warnings of an “unprecedented Constitutional crisis” should he lose aren’t just fortune telling — it’s a preview of how his campaign to delegitimize his opponent and our democracy will continue after Election Day.
  3. Trump campaigning pretty much everywhere.
    The Clinton campaign’s surprise visits to Michigan — which Democrats have carried in presidential elections since 1992 — could hint at anxiety in holding a key state. But at least there’s some semblance of a strategy — activating black voters and improving her party’s down-ballot prospects. “Clinton has strategy and data,” Democratic strategist Reed Galen tweeted. “Trump has an airplane.” His travel schedule has him flying all around the country and back into the same states twice, canceling a visit to Wisconsin while hitting Minnesota, a state he has little-to-no chance of winning. These are the tactics of a man who sees no clear path to victory — or just doesn’t want to pay his pollsters. The campaign’s goal, Trump insiders have suggested, is to beat Mitt Romney’s total in 2012, not Hillary Clinton’s in 2016. When you’re trying to be the better loser, you’re still a loser.
  4. Down-ballot ticket-splitting strategy.
    One of the most effective Republican Senate campaigns of the year has been waged by Ohio’s Rob Portman and it was born out of a realization that Trump could lose the state. He’s spent the last year cultivating voters who back him and either major party nominee. This is an ominous sign, given Ohio is one of Trump’s best chances of picking up a state Obama won twice. And even worse for Trump is that ticket-splitting also has become the strategy of Pennsylvania’s GOP Senator Pat Toomey. If Trump can’t win the Keystone State, he probably won’t be president.
  5. Intimidating voters.
    If you have to stop people from voting in order to win, you’ve probably already lost. A federal judge issued a restraining order against the Trump campaign for what’s been called “voter intimidation.” And, of course, the Trump campaign appealed the decision. Intimidating citizens from exercising their right to vote, it seems, is their final hope.

IMAGE: U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign event in Wilmington, Ohio, U.S. November 4,  2016.   REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo