Thursday, January 30, 2020

Last Call For Impeachment Reached, Con't

Here in sixty seconds, Adam Schiff sums up the absolute ridiculousness of the Trump defense team.

The almost inevitable outcome is that by this time tomorrow we will live in a country where there is no longer any direct check on the Executive branch, with a lawless despot who will issue whatever executive orders to do an end run around Congress, and who will ignore direct federal court orders, because enough members of the Judicial and Legislative are content to let this unitary monstrosity continue in order to reshape the country for generations.

There will be no witnesses, Trump will not be convicted and removed for his crimes, and the brutal oppression of those who tried to stop him will begin in earnest.

There is no reason to believe that Trump will leave office if he loses the election in November, let alone there being any reason to believe the election itself will be either free or fair.

January 31 is looking like the day we go over the cliff, folks.

Coming back from this will take decades, if if ever happens, and history assures us that in no way will that journey back to where we were even five years ago be peaceful.

The bad guys are about to win.

I don't know what happens next.

That should terrify all of us.

The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

Georgia is shaping up to be an opportunity for not one, but two Democratic pickups for the Senate as Team Blue already has their sights set on David Perdue's seat, and the fight over the special election for retiring Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson's seat is heating up on the GOP side.  The damage could put both seats in play as Republicans have to split their resources to defend two Senate seats in the same state on the same day.

The conservative Club for Growth plans to air a massive ad campaign attacking Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), adding fuel to the intraparty battle that kicked off after the GOP congressman launched a Senate campaign this week.

Collins announced Wednesday he is challenging Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), who was sworn in this month to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson after he resigned due to health issues. Collins is a top ally to President Donald Trump, but his decision to run for Senate sparked significant blowback among some Republicans who expressed concern it could jeopardize their hold on the seat and cause problems elsewhere on the Senate map.

The Club for Growth is the first group to launch an ad war aiming to knock down Collins' image as he gears up for the statewide run. The anti-tax organization plans to spend $3 million on TV, starting next week, with issue-based ads going after Collins' record. The flight will run for five weeks, according to details shared first with POLITICO. Content for the planned ads was not yet available.

"Over the next month, Club for Growth will educate Georgia voters about Doug Collins’ record on economic issues and demand that he change his ways," David McIntosh, the Club's president, said in a statement.
The advertising blitz comes after the Club publicly chastised Collins for having a 57 percent score on their legislative scorecard last year, though he has an 80 percent lifetime score with the Club.

Along with the Club, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and several top allies to Republican leadership, including a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, rallied around Loeffler and panned Collins' run as a selfish move that was harmful to the party.

Collins pushed back against the NRSC response on Twitter and brushed off any concerns about creating an intraparty rift when he announced his bid in an interview on "Fox and Friends" Wednesday morning.

"I think we fought for the president, we fought for our state and we fought for this country," Collins said. "And we're going to continue to do that. I look forward to a good exchange of ideas and look forward to this election."

While Loeffler has significant support from Senate Republicans, Collins' campaign has some clear signs of strength. An internal poll conducted in December showed him leading Loeffler by 21 percentage points in the all-party race in November, holding a significant edge among Republican voters. He also had a positive image among all voters statewide — and an overwhelmingly positive image among Trump supporters, according to the poll.

Republicans spending millions to attack each other in Georgia can only help the Democrats in an increasingly purple state.   Mitch and the GOP establishment want Loeffler to remain, but Collins wants that Senate seat and he's willing to burn down anyone in his way to get it.

Bring the popcorn.  I predict things will get so ugly in the Peach State for Republicans that Dems might surprise everyone come November.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

US Attorney General Bill Barr continues to be the clean-up man for the Mueller indictments, and it looks like the fix is in for Michael Flynn now that Mueller's gone.

Attorney General William Barr on Thursday named Timothy Shea, one of his closest advisers, to be the next top prosecutor in the nation’s capital.

Shea will lead the largest U.S. attorney’s office in the country, which has been historically responsible for some of the most significant and politically sensitive cases the Justice Department brings in the U.S.

He is a senior counselor to the attorney general and was Barr’s right-hand man helping institute reforms at the federal Bureau of Prisons after Jeffrey Epstein’s death at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City.

As the U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia, Shea would oversee some of the lingering cases from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, along with a number of politically charged investigations. The office is also generally responsible for handling potential prosecutions if Congress finds a witness in contempt.
“Tim brings to this role extensive knowledge and expertise in law enforcement matters as well as an unwavering dedication to public service, reflected in his long and distinguished career in state and federal government,” Barr said in a statement. “His reputation as a fair prosecutor, skillful litigator, and excellent manager is second-to-none, and his commitment to fighting violent crime and the drug epidemic will greatly benefit the city of Washington.”

Prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office had been investigating former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, a frequent target of President Donald Trump’s wrath, and the prospect of charges seemed likely in the fall after his lawyers failed to persuade senior Justice Department officials that he didn’t intentionally lie to internal investigators. Little has been said about the case in recent months.

Shea is replacing Jessie Liu, who oversaw the case against Michael Flynn.  And wouldn't you know it, the same week a new US Attorney is named, the case against Flynn and his guilty plea suddenly turns into a slap on the wrist.

Just hours after former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn argued in a court filing that prosecutorial misconduct in his case had been so egregious that it warranted dismissing the case entirely, prosecutors backed away from the harsh language they’d used in months past and said probation would be a “reasonable” sentence for Flynn.
Still, they maintained, sentencing guidelines allowed for the former Trump official to serve up to 6 months in prison for lying to the FBI.

It was just the latest bizarre back-and-forth in the government’s years-long effort to pin Flynn for lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States just before the Trump administration began. Flynn’s turn against prosecutors has been fueled by his new defense team, hired last June and led by the prominent critic of Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, Sidney Powell.

In a lengthy set of filings Wedensday, Powell argued that prosecutors as well as Flynn’s old lawyers had hopelessly biased the case against him. The only answer, she said, was for Judge Emmett Sullivan to throw out the case entirely.

That followed another motion, earlier this month, to withdraw Flynn’s guilty plea. (Judge Sullivan, as it happens, has not been especially sympathetic to Flynn’s antagonistic and at times conspiratorial accusations against the government.)

In its sentencing memo Wednesday, prosecutors acknowledged Flynn’s motion to withdraw his plea — though they noted the several times in writing and in court that he had acknowledged his guilt — and said they would respond to it in a separate filing of their own.
“The task at hand is to impose an appropriate sentence for the defendant’s criminal conduct in lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador,” they said.

On that front, the sentencing memo was slightly different than the memo prosecutors filed earlier this month.

In that filing, they pointed to other cases of defendants who had lied to the FBI and served prison sentences. No mention was made of a potential probation sentence. And though they mentioned Flynn’s extensive record of public service, that was followed by the caveat that Flynn’s national security past “should have made him particularly aware of the harm caused by providing false statements to the government.

Again just a few weeks ago, Flynn was facing serious prison time for his guilty plea.  Now he's facing probation if anything, and the very real possibility that the Barr Justice Department will drop the case entirely.

And this is going on while Trump's impeachment trial is happening.

If you think this rotten mess is bad now, wait until next week when a fully unleashed Trump starts taking open revenge and committing open acts of corruption in a nation that no longer has a guaranteed way to contain him.

A Supreme Balancing Act

There's the very reasonable chance that a vote in the Senate impeachment trial on Friday dealing with whether or not to call witnesses, which witnesses to call, and whether to move to dismiss the articles against Donald Trump outright could result in a 50-50 tie, with presiding Chief Justice Roberts as the tiebreaker.

Ahead of a tight vote on whether to hear new witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, the Senate is preparing for the possibility that this crucial roll call has an asterisk in the history books: It ends in a tie.

And it's a scenario that would suddenly put a spotlight on Chief Justice John Roberts. 
For weeks, Republicans and Democrats alike have been confident that Roberts would not break a tie vote during Trump’s impeachment trial, citing past precedent, the Constitution and their own gut feelings about how it would play in a polarized nation.

But ahead of Friday's widely anticipated showdown over whether to call new witnesses and with GOP leaders moving to lock down on-the-fence Republicans, the Senate is newly abuzz over the uncertainty of what happens if the chamber deadlocks and what Roberts might do in the event of a stalemate.

“That is a great unknown. There’s no way to know procedurally what he would do. Or if he’ll do” anything, said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.).

Some Democrats are beginning to opine that Roberts could save the Senate from itself and force consideration of witnesses if there's a tie. As Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) put it: “If he wants a fair, impartial trial and get the evidence out, I think there’s a fair shot he would vote for witnesses.”
It's a hypothetical that Democratic leaders have privately considered for months, as soon as it became clear the House was going to send impeachment articles over to the Senate, according to Democratic aides. They have sought guidance from the Senate parliamentarian's office on the issue, although so far, that hasn't been forthcoming as it hasn't formally arisen during the Trump trial.

Yet the smart money is still on Roberts staying out of it, or GOP leaders muscling through a 51-49 vote that avoids placing responsibility for the course of the trial on Roberts. Because if the vote is tied, no matter what the chief justice does, it will be hotly debated for years to come.

“It would go down as a historical anomaly and ultimately he would be remembered as declining to break a tie. It’s the safer course in the short term to avoid intervening,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) predicted. Breaking a tie “would be a pretty daring and brave thing to do. And I think history would judge him well. But in the short term there would be a lot of blowback.”

In the short term there would be volcanic rage from the right, rage that would certainly call for Trump to remove him from office, or court-packing, or something worse.  Certainly the GOP counter-stroke would involve a flood of witnesses, the Bidens, the whistleblower, Adam Schiff, who knows.

I don't think Roberts has the courage to weather this kind of hatred, hatred that he'll have to live with for decades.  My guess is that he'll decline the deadlock and that witnesses won't be called.

It would be nice if he was willing, but there's no evidence to the contrary that he plans to interfere.


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