For Republicans in Trump’s cover-up it wasn’t about ‘heads on pikes,’ it was all about the money

In the latest Daily Kos/Civiqs poll, fully 60% of Americans disapprove of how the U.S. Senate conducted Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. The behavior of Senate Republicans following that trial probably won't get many cheers, either. The three most closely watched Republicans during the trial, those who pretended to be open-minded and committed to doing their jobs, have all popped up in the last few days with slathering praise for the Trump administration which let loose all the money once the trial was done. It turns out the issue wasn’t the threat of heads on pikes at all. It was all about the bribes.

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Retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander tweeted to thank Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Trump for the investment of "$9 million in Tennessee to provide and improve high-speed broadband infrastructure projects for 3,744 rural households, 31 businesses and 41 farms."

Sen. Lisa Murkowski had Transportation Secretary and Moscow Mitch spouse Elaine Chao to thank for "a $20M Port Infrastructure Development Program grant to the Port of Alaska to help offset the 1st phase costs of the Port’s desperately-needed modernization program, enabling safe, cost-effective, & reliable Port operations." That's a whole 1% of the estimated cost for the port. Was it worth a vote to keep the worst president ever to sit in the Oval Office?

You know, of course, who else is getting in on the action:

Great news! 19 Housing Authorities in Maine have been awarded more than $9.5 million to preserve & modernize affordable housing units that serve individuals with disabilities & low-income individuals and families.https://t.co/9FzNcL197P

— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) February 13, 2020

Could they be more blatant? No. The answer is no. 

Trump shows Collins a lesson he learned from impeachment: Don’t let anyone listen to your criming

Sen. Susan Collins has done her best to walk back her ridiculous statement that impeached president Donald Trump learned a lesson from the impeachment process, and to absolve herself of any responsibility for a now totally unfettered Trump. The thing is, though: She can't. Because Trump himself is yelling out the real lessons he learned every damn day. Like on Thursday, when he trashed another presidential norm meant to keep chief executives in check and to protect national security.

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In a radio interview with Geraldo Rivera, Trump talked about one of the lessons he’s learned: not to let officials listen in on his phone calls with world leaders. "Well, that's what they've done over the years," Trump said. "When you call a foreign leader, people listen. I may end the practice entirely. I may end it entirely." This came about in a discussion about Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who Trump was bitching about in the interview, calling him "insubordinate" for raising his concerns about Trump's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. "I'm not a fan of Vindman," Trump added. Surprise.

Given his cavalier attitude toward classified intelligence, this latest lesson learned by Trump has the national security community freaking out. "Right now, President Trump is a nightmare to every intel and [national-security] officer, and this is all stuff he's done with their knowledge," a former senior National Security Agency official told Business Insider. "Allowing him to conduct these calls in private would be catastrophic for us."

A former National Security Council senior director under President Barack Obama, Edward Price, told Business Insider that allowing intelligence and national security people to listen to calls "is indispensable to the coordination and implementation of sound foreign policy and national-security practices,. […] No president—but especially not this one—can or should be relied upon to backbrief senior advisers on details that can often be extraordinarily nuanced." Of course it has happened with this impeached president. And it wasn't just a phone call, but also face-to-face meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin: On several occasions, Trump has talked with Putin without U.S. staff present.

So the lesson he did learn from Collins and the rest of the Republicans who let him off the hook is that that's the way he should always conduct foreign policy, with no one around him who can alert the rest of the government—including Congress—about the crime-doing.

Susan Collins is so concerned about Trump that she’s going to make a sternly worded phone call

The White House better be prepared. It’s going to get a sternly worded phone call from Sen. Susan Collins over the impeached president’s interference in the sentencing of Donald Trump’s buddy Roger Stone after his conviction in federal court. She told reporters that Wednesday, saying that Trump should "play no role whatsoever when it comes to sentencing recommendations" and that he "should not have commented" and that she wished he "would not tweet." No word on whether she's also going to talk about the tweeting on the phone call. But boy, that's sure going to strike terror in Trump's heart.

She also has questions for Attorney General William Barr, she says, but she's not sure if there should be any hearings yet over Trump and Barr turning the Department of Justice into Trump's defense counsel. She wouldn't want to be hasty. Still, a sternly worded phone call might be happening. I'm sure she really wishes it would help. But don't worry, she says, about Trump being "emboldened" by being let off the hook by her and her Republican pals.

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He wasn't acting out because he knows now that there are no limits to his power, now that the Senate will let him do literally anything. It's just him acting like a toddler, she says. He "often acts in an impulsive manner," she explained in a USA Today interview. "I think the president was angered by impeachment and that is reflected in the personnel choices he made," she said. Because that makes it so much better, the fact that he's now a 4-year-old on speed, and it had absolutely nothing to do with her.

No, she's not responsible at all for his behavior now. She was doing her solemn duty and certainly, she told the Bangor Daily News, if the president had committed "treason or bribery," she would definitely have voted to impeach. The House, however, called Trump's treason and bribery in withholding aid to Ukraine in order to force that country to interfere in the presidential election on his behalf "maladministration." So they didn't meet her bar.

But boy, Trump, she better not catch you doing this again, or you'll be in big trouble.

Susan Collins really doesn’t want to talk about what lessons Trump learned in impeachment anymore

Following the Tuesday Night Massacre, which happened after last week's revenge binge from impeached president Donald Trump, intrepid CNN reporter Manu Raju caught up with Sen. Susan Collins to see what she's thinking about it all. She clearly did not appreciate the fact that Raju remembered what she said last week. The part about "I believe that the president has learned from this case," which she downgraded to "hopes" after Trump point blank said there was no lesson to be learned because "it was a perfect call."

Fast forward a week, and she really wants to be done talking about it. Asked by Raju if, after the actions Trump has taken, she still thinks there's "any lessons he heard from being impeached," she snapped. "I don't know what actions you're referring to. I've made very clear that I don't think anyone should be retaliated against." Then she launched into lecturing Raju: "That has nothing to do with the basis by which I voted to acquit the president, as I made very clear to you, Manu, on numerous occasions because his conduct, while wrong, did not meet the high bar established in the constitution for the immediate ouster of a duly elected president." Which had absolutely nothing to do with the question at all.

Collins has chosen her side, and Maine knows it. Please give $1 to help Democrats in each of these crucial Senate races, but especially the one in Maine!

Because she doesn't want to answer the question. She didn't want to answer it later, either, when she continued to insist that she bore no responsibility at all for Trump being totally unfettered now. Her vote against impeaching Trump, she told reporters, "wasn't based on predicting his future behavior." Which is a hell of a cop-out for the person who once said impeaching him would be enough to make him curb his future behavior.

Collins is completely abdicating responsibility for both her past and her future failures to do her goddamned most essential job of being a check on the president. What she does think is her job is not obvious (besides granting defense contracts to companies that in turn contribute tens of thousands of dollars to her reelection campaign).

Watch: 

catch that chyron: "GOP Sen. Collins Won't Say If Trump Learned Any Lessons After Acquittal." of course, last week she excused her vote by saying he did learn from impeachment & would be more cautious.....#mesen #mepolitics pic.twitter.com/QMTKd7g2TJ

— Lauren Passalacqua (@laurenvpass) February 12, 2020

MR: In light of the president's actions, do you think there's any lessons he heard from being impeached?

SC: I don't know what actions you're referring to. I've made very clear that I don't think anyone should be retaliated against. That has nothing to do with the basis by which I voted to acquit the president, as I made very clear to you, Manu, on numerous occasions because his conduct, while wrong, did not meet the high bar established in the constitution for the immediate ouster of a duly elected president. And that was the rationale for my vote to acquit him. That is the reason why….

MR: Do you think he learned any lessons?

SC: … In all the years that … since George Washington was inaugurated as our first president that we have never removed a duly elected president from office. It's because the conduct alleged should be so dangerous to our country and so egregious and proven by the House managers that the person should not remain in office one moment more. That was the standard established by the House managers. It was the standard that I used in acquitting President Clinton and that's the reason for my vote and I don't know why you're equating the two.

MR: Well you said the president learned his lesson. Do you think he learned any lessons?

[Collins’ office door slams shut.]

Trump cover-up achieved, Moscow Mitch returns Senate to acting as Trump’s conveyor belt for judges

This is some truly hilarious spin from Senate Republicans, pretending that they exist to do stuff for the nation post-impeachment. "Hopefully the better angels of people will begin to emerge, and we’ll see a willingness to focus on a common agenda. […] I think both sides have things they need to get done." That's Sen. John Thune, Moscow Mitch McConnell's No. 2, talking about all the bipartisan bills they're going to do now.

Of course that's not what is going to happen. "My preference I guess would be […] we start working on things that unite us," said Sen. Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota. "Not just as Republicans, but as a Senate, as a Congress, as Americans." Yeah, that's not happening either. Here's what's happening: According to The Hill"McConnell tees up five Trump judges after impeachment trial wraps." One of those judicial nominees is Andrew Brasher, nominated to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appellate court for Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, where he would be the sixth Trump nominee on the 12-member court. Yes, Trump will have half of this bench. Brasher is 38 years old.

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Brasher is opposed by leading national, state, and local racial justice organizations. A coalition of 29 advocacy groups called for a halt to his nomination pending Trump’s impeachment, and remain opposed to him now. "In his short career as a lawyer," the Alliance for Justice says, "Brasher fought against voting rights, rights for women, communities of color, and the LGBTQ community and zealously worked to dismantle consumer, worker, and environmental protections."

Par for the course for Trump and McConnell, in other words. And of course he's a Federalist Society member. But his presence on this court would be particularly scary looking ahead to the 2020 election. Georgia will have two Senate races, and Florida is always a presidential battleground. Republicans will try every voter suppression tactic in the book in those states, and now there'll be a federal court overseeing those states that will rubber-stamp them. That's McConnell—he'll never stop cheating now. But he won't be able to overcome a nation united against him and a vote swarm to take back the Senate.

Trump’s next retribution ax falls on European Union Ambassador Sondland

Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, was fired by impeached president Donald Trump Friday, hours after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was forced out of his national security job at the White House.

I was advised today that the president intends to recall me effective immediately as United States Ambassador to the European Union," Sondland announced in a statement issued soon after the Vindman firing. He thanked Trump "for having given me the opportunity to serve." The New York Times even sees this for what it is, "a campaign of retribution against those he blames for his impeachment." That campaign of retribution extended to family; Vindman's twin brother Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, who was also on the NSC staff, was fired Friday as well.

Trump's rendition of the Friday night massacre is on the heads of every Republican senator who voted to cover up his crime. That acquittal unleashed this monster, and in the case of the Vindman's made our nation that less secure.

Susan Collins, now a national laughingstock, has concerns

Congratulations, Sen. Susan Collins! You've become national figure! Unfortunately for you, it’s as a laughingstock. First she appeared in a Saturday Night Live skit and then in a Stephen Colbert monologue, in which he described her as "the senator who has most successfully talked herself into believing that she believes in something."

Proving Colbert’s point, Collins went on WMTW, Portland's ABC affiliate, to say she "did what I felt was right" in her votes in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, and that this was an even more consequential vote than the one on putting Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court because "removing a president from office" is "overturning an election and preventing the president from appearing in the ballot this fall." About this fall, and if she'll vote for Trump this time around? "You know, I'm not going to discuss presidential politics at a time like this." A time like this being before the filing deadline for Maine's primary. She already made her decision clear, however, in the only vote that really counts—on Trump’s impeachment.

Collins has chosen her side, and Maine knows it. Please give $1 to help Democrats in each of these crucial Senate races, but especially the one in Maine!

She's still trying to convince Mainers that she'll vote to "curb the president's powers." She left out the part about needing to have Mitch McConnell's permission to cast those votes. She also said that she would disapprove of retribution by Trump against anyone who testified. She will tell every reporter she can talk to that she is very concerned when Trump fires Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council after he testified in House impeachment hearings, or when Attorney General Bill Barr starts investigating House Democratic leadership.

She told Maine reporters after a Friday meeting of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association that she wished there had been witnesses in the Senate trial, proving that her wishes are about as effective as her hopes.

Trump finds new Senate favorite, because she’s been ‘downright nasty and mean’ for him

The newest Republican senator, Kelly Loeffler, has quickly risen to be a favorite of impeached president Donald Trump. The Georgia Republican, who was appointed to fill out retired Sen. Johnny Isakson's term, received high praise from Trump in Thursday's acquittal/Festivus "celebration." He gave Loeffler praise that her fellow Republican Sen. Martha McSally must be seething over. Loeffler has "been so supportive and she's been downright nasty and mean about the unfairness to the president," Trump said.

It probably also didn't go over too well with Rep. Doug Collins, the Republican who glued himself to Trump through the House impeachment process and has been counting on Trump to boost his own run for the Senate in the primary for Loeffler’s seat. He got another dagger to the heart today with the report that Loeffler kicked in $5 million to her own campaign this week. There's more where that came from, too. She's got so much money, she's charging her own campaign interest on that loan. She could make as much as $120,000 back in interest! No wonder Trump is impressed: That's the kind of grift he pulls every day, except of course he's doing it to the taxpayers. She's just doing it to potential donors. Charging yourself interest on your campaign loans isn't against the law, but as Beth Rotman, director of money in politics and ethics at Common Cause, says, it's awfully tacky.

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At his rally Thursday, Trump did give some props to Collins, calling him an "unbelievable" friend. He also said he's working on a compromise between the two. "Something's going to happen that's going to be very good. I don't know; I haven't figured it out yet," he said. Of course he hasn't, because the idea occurred to him right there on the spot.

But somebody who has no applicable qualifications to speak of is going to get a plum job from Trump any day now.

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Moscow Mitch heaped with praise by Trump in ‘victory’ rally for making it all possible

Moscow Mitch McConnell featured big in impeached-for-life president Donald Trump's unhinged White House campaign rally on Thursday. "And Mitch McConnell, I want to tell you, you did a fantastic job," Trump said. "He understood this was crooked politics. This was crooked politics." Yes, if there's one thing the destroyer of the Senate and beneficiary of Russian largesse understands, it's being crooked.

"This guy is great, and I appreciate it, Mitch," Trump said later. He's "the greatest poker player," said the guy who has no impulse control. "Somebody said, 'You know, Mitch is quiet.' I said, 'He's not quiet.' […] He doesn't want people to know him." That might be the closest thing to truth Trump said. McConnell has worked very hard at keeping the depth of his evil from public view. "And they said, 'Is Mitch smart?' And I said, 'Well, let's put it this way: For many many years […] people have been trying to take his place, and to the best of my knowledge, I've never even heard the subject come up because they've been wiped out so fast."

It's time to end McConnell's destructive stranglehold on the republic. Please give $1 to our nominee fund to help Democrats and end McConnell's career as Senate majority leader.

What's Moscow Mitch doing now, besides basking in the sickly orange glow of his Dear Leader? Advancing five more judicial nominations to make sure that even the courts won't be available to rein in the newly anointed dictator.

We need to make sure that Trump is defeated, but just as critical, we need to make sure that McConnell never again has the power to use the Senate to create another Trump.

Moscow Mitch completes his cover-up, but not without some hitches and real jeopardy ahead

Moscow Mitch McConnell has a poker face. It’s lipless and chinless, but it’s still a poker face. But he has a tell he can't control when he gets angry: His face gets red. His face was very red on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon after Republican Sen. Mitt Romney delivered an honest-to-God inspiring and moving speech explaining why he would vote to convict impeached president Donald Trump on the first article of impeachment.

That vote, and the impassioned, honest, and eloquent speech that grounded it, will haunt every Republican in the Senate for the remainder of their careers. "Were I to ignore the evidence what has been presented and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history's rebuke and the censure of my own conscience," Romney said. That's a soundbite that can be used in every campaign against each of the Senate Leader’s vulnerable Republicans, for the rest of the year—and by Moscow Mitch’s own challenger. That speech and vote from Romney blast a big hole in McConnell's most important message: The Republican-controlled Senate is safe.

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When McConnell trotted out that message after the vote today, it rang hollow. "Every one of our people in tough races is in better shape today than they were before the impeachment trial started," he said, knowing that it was absolutely not true. He also knows that this will not be the end of revelations about Trump's illegal and impeachable behavior. He knows that this will only embolden Trump to do more outrageous and dangerous things. And he certainly knows that the American people’s anger will land on the Republicans who protected Trump.

Especially the majority leader who orchestrated the entire sham of a trial.

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