Moscow Mitch continues pretense that he’ll run a fair impeachment trial

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he wants to work out an agreement with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for the conduct of Donald Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate. The thing is, he has yet to schedule a meeting to discuss it, and his fellow Republicans are meeting regularly with Trump's people at the White House to strategize.

So when McConnell says, as he did with reporters on Tuesday, that the "first thing Sen. Schumer and I will do is see if there's a possibility of agreement on a procedure," take that with a dollop or two of salt. This is the part to take to the bank: "That failing, I would probably come back to my own members and say: 'OK, can 51 of us agree how we're going to handle this?'" See, he's pretending like that's his "backup" plan—staging the whole thing with a Republican majority that cuts Democrats out of the loop. As usual.

There is no template for Senate impeachment hearings, beyond what it’s conducted before. But there are no constitutional restrictions on them either, and the majority has maximum flexibility in determining how it would proceed, needing just 51 votes to do so. There's an exceedingly slim possibility that McConnell loses a few votes—maybe Mitt Romney, maybe Susan Collins, maybe even Lisa Murkowski, who is, as always, staying pretty mum on the whole thing.

Meanwhile, however, two of those Republican supposed "jurors" in the trial—Romney and Collins—joined a handful of colleagues being courted by Trump, while another group has been strategizing with White House staff. The Republicans will be lunching with White House counsel Pat Cipollone in their weekly conference lunch Wednesday "as part of an ongoing effort to keep Senate Republicans informed about White House thinking," says Sen. Mike Lee's spokesperson.

The fix is most definitely in and has been for months. McConnell has baldly said that he "can't imagine a scenario" in which he abandons Trump. He is certainly not going to allow a Senate impeachment trial to be anything but a sham. That's why Democrats need to make a very, very strong case to the voters, to maximize pressure on McConnell's minions.

We have to shut this down. Please give $1 to our nominee fund to help Democrats and end McConnell's career as Senate majority leader.

Republicans increasingly parroting Putin’s Ukraine conspiracy theory to defend Trump

Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy now has company among Senate Republicans in his efforts to infest the impeachment debate with pro-Putin talking points that Ukraine was the real culprit in election interference in 2016. That's despite all the evidence. That's despite the entire intelligence community telling them otherwise. That's despite David Hale, the No. 3 official at the State Department, testifying Tuesday to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he is not aware of a single scrap of evidence that Ukraine had anything to do with the election.

But still they persist. Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican who is also a member of the Senate leadership and is close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, told reporters that Kennedy "has pointed out I think eight different stories" to show Ukraine and Russia "both meddled," but wouldn't elaborate on what he called meddling. "I'm not going to get in the middle of a fight that you want to have picked," he said when pressed for details.

McConnell himself refused to slap the conspiracy theory down. "The intelligence committees have the ability to look at any of these suggestions," he said Tuesday. "My view is that's something for Senate Intelligence to take a look at it, and I don't have a particular reaction to it." His particular reaction is deeds, not words—refusing to take up election security legislation from the House to protect the next election from malign foreign interference.

The most alarming comments, though, came from Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina. His committee has actually conducted an investigation that found, definitively, that Russia was the culprit in interference in the 2016 election, "that [Internet Research Agency] social media activity was overtly and almost invariably supportive of then-candidate Trump," and that the IRA worked "at the direction of the Kremlin."

Additionally, the report said that the "Committee found that the Russian government tasked and supported the IRA' s interference in the 2016 U.S. election." But on Tuesday, Burr said, “There’s no difference in the way Russia put their feet, early on, on the scale—being for one candidate and everybody called it meddling—and how the Ukrainian officials did it."

"No difference," he said. He also said, "Every elected official in the Ukraine was for Hillary Clinton. Is that very different than the Russians being for Donald Trump?" The ranking member on Burr’s committee, Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, was not amused. "The idea that any other country had that kind of effort is just plain false," he told reporters. "There is absolutely no factual basis for this Ukrainian election interference/CrowdStrike nonsense. None," he tweeted. "Spreading this discredited conspiracy theory only serves to advance Russia's ongoing disinformation campaign against the United States."

Not every Republican is doing Putin's bidding. Sens. Lindsey Graham, John Thune, and Mitt Romney all pushed back on the idea that Ukraine made any attempt to influence the election. But it's telling and frightening that their leader, Mitch McConnell, and their intelligence chair are leaving the question open. Just as Putin wants it. "Thank God," he told a group last month, "no one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore; now they’re accusing Ukraine."

Trump Blasts ‘Maniac’ Adam Schiff During Trip Overseas – ‘He’s A Deranged Human Being’

President Donald Trump let loose on Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., during his trip overseas to London on Tuesday, calling the head of the House Intelligence Committee a “maniac” and a “deranged human being” for the way the Democrat has handled the impeachment inquiry.

Trump Blasts Schiff

Fox News reported that while talking to reporters alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of a NATO summit, Trump was asked what he would learn from seeing Schiff testify in a possible Senate impeachment trial.

“I learn nothing from Adam Schiff, I think he’s a maniac,” Trump said. “I think Adam Schiff is a deranged human being. I think he grew up with a complex for lots of reasons that are obvious. I think he’s a very sick man, and he lies.”

The president went on to slam Schiff for his controversial move of reading out his own fictional account of Trump’s infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“I have a favor I want from you,” Schiff said during a hearing as he seemed to read from a piece of paper. “And I’m going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good. I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of it, on this and on that.”

Schiff Defends Himself

After coming under fire from conservatives for blatantly making up his own version of the call, Schiff claimed that he was joking.

“My summary of the president’s call was meant to be at least, part, in parody,” Schiff said. “The fact that that’s not clear is a separate problem in and of itself. Of course, the president never said, ‘If you don’t understand me I’m going to say it seven more times.’ My point is, that’s the message that the Ukraine president was receiving in not so many words.”

Trump blasted Schiff for this move during his comments on Tuesday.

“This guy is sick,” Trump said. “If he didn’t do that in the halls of Congress, he’d be thrown in jail.”

Republicans Make Their Move

This came hours after House Republicans sent a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., in which they accused him of making bipartisan cooperation “the exception, rather than the rule.”

“Under your leadership, bipartisan solutions to real problems affecting real Americans have been sacrificed in favor of Committee Democrats’ obsession with impeaching the president and undoing the 2016 election,” the letter stated.

The post Trump Blasts ‘Maniac’ Adam Schiff During Trip Overseas – ‘He’s A Deranged Human Being’ appeared first on The Political Insider.

Mark Levin Wants Senate to Dismiss Impeachment Trial

Conservative talk host Mark Levin said Monday that Senate Republicans should try to dismiss the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Making his comments during an interview on Breitbart News Daily hosted by Alex Marlow on SiriusXM, the Fox News host pulled no punches in laying out an outline for GOP senators.

‘Republicans should fight it’

“The Republicans should fight it,” said Levin of the possibility of articles of impeachment being passed. “(Democrats created their own disaster … and now they should be forced to live with it. If I’m (Chuck Schumer]) I don’t want it, because (Adam Schiff) put their best foot forward.”

RELATED: Trump and the Dems’ Impeachment Push: White House Hopeful They Will ‘Come to Their Senses’

“(Adam Schiff) controlled this like the Soviet Marxists, and so they had the witnesses they wanted, they could cut off questions, and so forth, and they have have protected this whistleblower throughout, who’s not even a whistleblower,” Levin continued.

“If it goes to the Senate, those Republicans better pull that whistleblower in,” added Levin. “We need the face, the name, the background…every single thing there is to know about this guy, because I think that’s the house of cards that’ll come down. You’ll see the conspiracy with (Adam Schiff)… in my view, (Alexander Vindman), and others. That’s crucial.”

 “On the other hand, (the Democrats’) base is so nuts,” Levin explained. “I don’t think they’d be happy with anything short of the president hanging from a telephone pole, so they have to deal with this, and my guess is they’re trying to figure out the best way.”

‘There’s nothing in the Constitution that supports censure’

That’s when host Marlow asked Levin about the House potentianlly censuring Trump, which was recently suggested by Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

“The only president to be censured was Andrew Jackson, and subsequently Congress reversed itself after he passed away,” replied Levin. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that supports censure. It doesn’t mean these knuckleheads can’t vote for censure, call this president a kumquat, or do whatever they want to do in that respect, but I think that’s their problem.”

“Our problem is to make sure the Senate is strong enough,” he added. “You’ve got some weak sisters in there in (Susan Collins) and (Lisa Murkowski), you’ve got (Mitt Romney). (Senate Republicans) have a very thin line. You’ve got McConnell — who other than judges — has shown himself to be terrible, and our friend Lindsey Graham, who talks a good game, but his actions are less so. So we’ve got our own weaknesses in the Senate.”

“This is why I disagree with the president and others who are saying, ‘I want a trial (in the Senate),'” Levin estimated. “My concern about that is, the motion to dismiss is perfectly legitimate in any other form. It ought to be legitimate here but for the fact that McConnell refuses to change the rules, or he doesn’t have the votes to change the rules.”

Levin believes that allowing Democrats to initiate an impeachment trial of Trump would undermine the the legal underpinnings of the Western legal tradition.

Impeachment Trial Would Undermine Western Civilization’s Legal Traditions

“You don’t give an unconstitutional process that undermines all notions of due process under Western Civilization’s norms your imprimatur if you’re the United States Senate,” said Levin. “The Senate is the only body that can truly check the House in this process. So if they’re not going to (dismiss) it and they’re going to go along with the trial, they surrender too much.”

RELATED: Fox News Launches Documentary Series Examining Clinton Impeachment

“Now, if they’re going to have the trial, then damn it, do it the right way, but my attitude about this is, ‘You’re a firewall against tyranny.’ You don’t have to say, ‘Okay, we’ll have a trial on tyranny,’” the conservative host said.

“So my attitude on this is they ought to make the effort to dismiss, and the senators who vote against changing the rules for that?” Levin concluded. “Okay, well the American people, once and for all, will speak, and if the American people are virtuous, they’ll deal with it. If not enough of us are, then we get what we get.”

The post Mark Levin Wants Senate to Dismiss Impeachment Trial appeared first on The Political Insider.

With Support for Impeachment Plummeting, Limbaugh Gives Pelosi ‘Way of Escape’

Recent polls show support for impeachment is going downward fast, but can Democrats really even entertain abandoning their efforts to oust President Trump at this point?

Talk host Rush Limbaugh is offering House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a way out.

Rush Lays It Out

“She could go on TV, call a press conference and tell a bunch of lies about how successful the hearings were,” Limbaugh said Monday on his radio program. “That we’ve got all of this evidence of bribery and extortion and praise to the hilt all of the civil servant left-wing liberal Democrat witnesses, extol their virtues to no end, praise them to the hilt, praise them by name.”

RELATED: Nancy Pelosi: It’s Too Dangerous to Let the American People Decide Trump’s Fate

“And then say that even if she were to get every Democrat in the House voting, the problem is that the process then goes to the Senate where the corrupt Republicans are in charge, where the Republican Party is going to not listen,” Rush continued. “This is Pelosi speaking, I’m making up the words, but this would be her message. The Republican Party will openly defy the wishes and will of the American people as represented in the vote to impeach in the House of Representatives.”

Not a bad idea. Limbaugh elaborated further.

“And in the trial, the Republicans will be able to call witnesses who will be able to distort and confuse and get away with it because the partisan Republicans who will do anything to protect Trump will be running the trial.” Rush said. “And she can continue to set it up as whatever happens in the Senate will be illegitimate because of Republican partisanship, and then present that as the greatest problem facing America. Republican partisanship, Republican defense of Donald Trump. The Republicans’ refusal to stand up for the Constitution.”

“I mean, just ladle it on the Republicans and don’t stop,” Rush continued. “And then tell her wacko, crazed base a truth, that the inherent problem of going to the Senate is that because of the partisanship of the evil Republicans, this president, who we have proven has violated his oath of office will be acquitted because of Republican partisanship, because Republicans will ignore the evidence just like they did with Kavanaugh.”

“They will see to it that this president is protected,” Rush added.

But he still wasn’t finished!

“And then she says, ladies and gentlemen, the last thing we want, the last thing this country needs, the last thing this country can put up with and tolerate is this president being acquitted,” Limbaugh explained. “That would be an outrage to the Constitution. That would be an outrage to the American people. I simply will not participate in a process that ends with this president, who is as guilty as any president has ever been, I will not be part of a process that finds him not guilty. I simply cannot do that to America.”

RELATED: Trump’s Campaign Says POTUS Raised $3 Million After Democrats Voted On Impeachment Inquiry

Is Rush Doing Nancy a Favor?

“And because of the partisan Republicans, because of the mean-spirited Republicans, because of racist, bigoted, sexist homophobic Republicans — just really ladle it on — this president will be found not guilty, and that is something our country cannot withstand,” Rush began to wrap up. “And I, your speaker, will not put this country through that. Even on the day, she could say, even on those days where we care about God, God knows the president is guilty. But the Republicans who also know he’s guilty will do everything they can to shield and protect him because he has corrupted them like he has our great country.”

Could this work? Possibly

But here’s a better question: Is the impeachment inquiry working for Democrats? NOPE.

If Nancy Pelosi actually took Rush Limbaugh’s advice, he would be doing her a favor.

The post With Support for Impeachment Plummeting, Limbaugh Gives Pelosi ‘Way of Escape’ appeared first on The Political Insider.

Watch Lindsey Graham run when a Marine veteran asks him about staying true to his oath of office

As many have already said, Donald Trump may be the most corrupt public official we have seen in our lifetimes. The current impeachment hearings have made it very clear that he attempted to put pressure on a foreign power by withholding already earmarked aid in exchange for dirt on a political opponent. To do this, he employed a legion of shady corrupt former officials and foreign actors. Sen. Lindsey Graham has been doing all that he can to defend Trump’s actions, shuffling through defenses of the current White House corruption, from saying that there was nothing corrupt in the transcript of Trump’s call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to arguing that Trump and friends are too stupid to be corrupt. It’s been difficult for Graham, since there are so many public statements, on video and elsewhere, of his original opinions on impeachment, and none of them match up with his current views.

A video has surfaced purporting to show a military veteran from Louisiana trying to speak with Graham in front of Graham’s office. The man is calm and soft-spoken, and even compliments Graham.

VETERAN: I see how you are berated in the press and I honestly believe that you believe in our democracy as I do.

GRAHAM: I do.

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But things change for Graham when he realizes that this Marine’s concept of believing in democracy means upholding the oath to defend the U.S. Constitution that both he and Lindsey swore.

VETERAN: I came to D.C. because I’m a Marine, I went to Iraq, and I believe, as I believe you do, that President Trump is not acting in accordance to his oath. The oath you took and I did, to defend the Constitution. You took an oath.

GRAHAM: Yeah, I did. I don’t agree with you. And I gotta go.

Graham beelines for the door to his office, never once looking the man in the face.

VETERAN: Is that it?

GRAHAM: Yep. That’s it.

Sen. Lindsey Graham: coward, corrupt politician, and worthless to the American people.

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After a day of courting Senate Republican ‘jurors,’ Trump says he’s fine with impeachment trial

Donald Trump, in his endless Fox & Friends rant Friday morning, told his "Friends" he welcomes a full Senate impeachment trial. "I want a trial," he told them, and said that he wants House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Joe Biden’s son Hunter to testify. Because of course he does.

After spending a good part of his day Thursday meeting with the Senate Republicans who would act as "jurors" in that trial, it's not surprising that he welcomes it. He had lunch with a group of Republican senators that included Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, the two who for some reason conventional wisdom says would be most likely to resist him. Conventional wisdom tends not to be well-informed.

While he was doing that, his closest advisers and family members were meeting with another group of Republican jurors to work out how the trial would proceed. They decided that two weeks would be the best time frame for it, because "they believe it would be long enough to have credence without dragging on too long." It would look like they were taking it seriously if it went for two weeks, would look like they're doing their constitutional duty, on their way to what they've already determined they're going to do: acquit.

So of course Trump welcomes a Senate trial. Has nothing to fear from it. Moscow Mitch McConnell has made sure of that.

Senate Republican ‘jurors’ plot with defendant Trump to limit trial

The House should definitely not be in any hurry to wrap its impeachment inquiry. Not without delving into every dark, stinky corner of Donald Trump's plots to both obtain and keep political office. Not without racking up every possible instance of obstruction by his administration. Because they'll need to go to the Senate with such an overwhelming mountain of evidence that Republicans will have to expose themselves to the American people as the total unprincipled partisans they are. The kind of people who would plot with the White House to limit Trump's impeachment trial.

A group of Republican senators—Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wisconsin), John Neely Kennedy (Louisiana), Lindsey O. Graham (South Carolina), Ted Cruz (Texas) and Tom Cotton (Arkansas)—met with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway. Just to be clear, these are the potential jurors in the forthcoming trial. They met on Thursday to "map out a strategy" or the impeachment, "including proceedings in the Senate that could be limited to about two weeks, according to multiple officials familiar with the talks." This is while Trump himself was wining and dining Mitt Romney and Susan Collins and other Republican soon-to-be jurors.

The Republicans have settled on a two-week trial because "they believe it would be long enough to have credence without dragging on too long." They'll pretend like they're doing their duty, but make absolutely no mistake: The fix is in. They've fixed it with Trump—right there in broad daylight. On the same day that testimony from former National Security Council Russia expert Dr. Fiona Hill and foreign service officer David Holmes in the House Intelligence Committee damns Trump's efforts to undermine U.S. foreign policy and national security.

This is something, by the way, that should be handled between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. They should be negotiating and determining the conduct and scope of the impeachment trial. Once again, McConnell has outsourced his job to Trump and team.

That's why the House has to send the strongest case possible to them. Not because it will convince them of Trump's guilt and bring enlightenment to them that they must remove him, but because it will expose them for what they are.

Please give $1 to our nominee fund to help Democrats and end McConnell's career as majority leader.

Susan Collins, impeachment ‘juror,’ cozies up to the defendant at lunch

Sen. Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who has so assiduously attempted to show she's above the fray of impeachment politics, is lunching at the White House Thursday, where she'll undoubtedly be subject to Donald Trump's efforts to bribe her.

Collins has been the first among Republicans to run to the cameras to say she can't possibly comment on impeachment because "my role would be to act as a juror so I'm not going to be prejudging the evidence and I’m not going to be commenting on the House's proceedings."

Collins, the juror who is supposed to remain impartial, is being wined and dined by the defendant along with fellow "principled" jurors like Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Rand Paul of Kentucky, John Hoeven of North Dakota, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia. But it's Collins and Romney that are really the targets of Trump's courting here.

Her attendance at Trump's lunch hasn't gone unnoticed by the press back home in Maine, which reports that she "has yet to comment publicly on impeachment and has cited her role as a potential ‘juror’ in a Senate trial as grounds for not commenting on the House proceedings."

It's also not gone unnoticed by Mainers. "Senator Collins says she can't 'comment' to the public about the impeachment inquiry or face constituents like me in a town hall to discuss the President's quid pro quo, but she will have lunch with the defendant," said Marie Follayttar, co-director of Mainers for Accountable Leadership, in a statement.

Collins hasn't held a town meeting in more than two decades. The Maine Democratic Party asks, "Is it appropriate for a juror to dine with a potential defendant prior to a proceeding?"

Not if you're a Republican, and boy oh boy, has Collins proven herself a Republican.

Maybe she'll finally agree to meet with Mainers. She'll have plenty of opportunities during recess next week, and has an invitation for next Tuesday at noon "in every single one of her offices: Augusta, Bangor, Biddeford, Caribou, Lewiston and Portland to discuss impeachment with her constituents."

Members of Mainers for Accountable Leadership will be there. Will Collins finally show up?

Collins has chosen her side, and it's not Maine anymore. Please give $1 to help Democrats in each of these crucial Senate races, but especially the one in Maine!

Senate passes funding for another month of government operations, bill goes to Trump

The government won’t shut down Thursday night at midnight, as the Senate approved a stop-gap bill Thursday, 74-20. This continuing resolution will keep government operating until December 20 at midnight, provided a raging Donald Trump signs it. There’s no indication from the White House that he is considering vetoing it, and he’ll undoubtedly hear from Republican senators lunching with him Thursday that he needs to sign it.

The work could have been done Wednesday, since the House passed the bill on Tuesday, but procedural headaches had the Senate considering amending the bill and forcing the House to take it up again. Senate Republicans reportedly “worried that the vehicle, a fiscal 2020 package used by the House for the short-term spending measure, would complicate the path to a conference committee on the larger funding bills later this year.” But the imminent deadline of midnight Thursday for funding drying up, and the possibility that hours of floor time would be involved in changing it made them decide just to take the House bill as is. 

That sets up the next funding battle. Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell say that they intend to have regular appropriations completed before this current continuing resolution expires before Christmas. The House has passed 10 of the 12 bills and the Senate has passed 4, but the chambers have not reached agreement on any of them. The largest sticking point in an overall agreement is the usual one: Trump’s border wall. The House has no funding for it. The Senate includes $5 billion in Homeland Security funding and allows Trump to reallocate an additional $3.6 billion from military funds.