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Goodwin: Impeachment trial is the ace up President Trump’s sleeve

 

Here’s my slam-dunk choice for the Quote of the Year: “I want a trial.”

The President of the United States said that Friday morning, and his title alone would be reason enough to make it the most significant thing said in 2019. But there’s much more to it because Donald Trump’s demand highlights the historically unique set of circumstances he and the nation face in 2020.

As of now, the new year will feature an impeachment trial in the Senate followed by the presidential election. If Trump survives Democrats’ effort to remove him, he would be the first impeached president to face voters again.

Andrew Johnson, impeached in 1868, was later denied his party’s nomination for a second term. Bill Clinton won his second term before he was impeached.

While there’s some skepticism that Trump really wants to put everything on the line over allegations involving his dealings with Ukraine, I’m convinced he’s ­serious.

I’m also convinced he’s crazy like a fox. Given the flimsy allegations and the unfair, one-party nature of the House process, beating impeachment in the Senate seems close to a sure thing. And doing so would dramatically boost Trump’s chances of getting four more years.

Indeed, it’s probable that as impeachment goes, so goes the election.

Of course, there’s no question Trump would much prefer the House not brand him with the “I” word, but that’s a pipe dream.

If Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff can’t muster 218 votes on a set of articles after five long days of public testimony and hyperbolic assertions that the president is an existential threat to the world, Trump will claim he’s been exonerated. Who could blame him?

Pelosi can’t let that happen, having picked her poison by embracing the whistleblower complaint before she saw the transcript of Trump’s call with the president of Ukraine. Turning back now is not an option, so she’ll beg, bribe and twist the arms of any reluctant Dems to get to 218.

That vote will probably come in December, with a Senate trial starting in January.

There, the president will enjoy all the advantages Schiff denied him in the House’s kangaroo court. Most important, Trump starts with 53 GOP senators in the jury, and with a super-majority of 67 votes required for conviction, Dems need to flip 20 of them. That assumes they can hold all Democrats, which is not certain.

In addition to Trump having home-field advantage, a Senate trial, presided over by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, would be expected to follow federal rules on evidence and procedures.

One clear change from the House: no hearsay testimony. Thus, much of what passed for evidence there — and spurred the most sensational headlines — would not be permitted in the ­Senate.

For another, Trump’s lawyers would have wide latitude in a witness list and would use it to turn the tables on Democrats, the resistance and the Bidens. Trump likes nothing more than being on offense, and his aim would be to put his accusers on trial.

Already the president has named three people he wants grilled, starting with Hunter Biden and his lucrative gig on the board of Burisma, a corrupt Ukrainian energy company, while his father was vice president.

Some sample questions Hunter Biden can expect:

  • Is it true you were discharged from the Navy for cocaine use months before being named to Burisma in 2014?
  • Do you speak Ukrainian?
  • What do you know about energy exploration and markets?
  • How many board meetings did you attend?
  •  Is it true you were paid more than $3 million over five years?
  • How much more?
  • Did you discuss the job with your father?
  • Did you ask your father to intercede in Ukrainian politics to help Burisma?

Joe Biden is already showing the strains, blasting Sen. Lindsey Graham for asking the State Department for documents relating to Joe Biden’s calls with Ukraine’s then-president and his own documented efforts to oust a prosecutor.

“Lindsey is about to go down in a way that I think he’s going to regret his whole life,” Joe Biden told reporters.

Actually, you would assume Biden might be filled with regret, given the shameful way his son profited from his father’s position.

Moreover, there are legitimate questions about the 2016 anti-Trump campaign waged by Ukrainian officials and oligarchs, which included millions of dollars in contributions to the Clinton Foundation. Were the payments to Hunter Biden and the foundation aimed at buying Democrats’ silence over Ukrainian corruption? What does Joe Biden know about that effort?

Trump also wants to call Schiff, and GOP lawyers believe there is ample precedent. They note that Bill Clinton’s lawyers grilled independent prosecutor Ken Starr during Clinton’s Senate trial.

Schiff acted as chief prosecutor against Trump and his dealings with the whistleblower would make him a key witness to the initial allegations.

Trump also wants the whistleblower to be named and forced to testify because he had no first-hand knowledge of the president’s Ukraine call. Some of the initial allegations were proven false by the transcript and some of the whistleblower’s sources might have broken the law. His links to Dems could also undermine his assertions about Trump.A fourth possible witness would be Mark Zaid, one of the whistleblower’s attorneys. Zaid tweeted in January 2017 that a “coup has started” and that “impeachment will follow ultimately.” Trump has called Zaid a “disgrace” and suggested he should be sued for treason.Naturally, a trial poses risks to Trump as well. New evidence and witnesses could emerge, chief among them John Bolton, the former national security adviser Trump fired. Bolton is writing a book on his time in the White House and dropping hints he’s eager to air dirty laundry.There is also the danger that, even if Trump beats back the effort to remove him, a trial could dirty him enough that he loses at the ballot box next November.For now, though, the president has picked a path that appears to give him the upper hand. As he likes to say, we’ll see what happens.

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Latka has a taxi problem.

……”Stand beside her, and guide her, through the night with A light from above”……

The DNC Caught in their Frame Up of Our Elected President

Devine: Democrats should eat a big serving of humble pie

By: Miranda Devine

It was ironic that Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland used the word “humble” to describe himself in his opening statement on the fourth day of public impeachment hearings.

This was a virtue he said his parents took care to instill in him, and kudos to him for recognizing its importance at least enough to mention it.

But humility is the one quality missing from this impeachment process and the one quality most essential to a functioning society.

Only a profound absence of humility on the part of the Democrats would have allowed them to follow up their three-year Russia-collusion failure with another shameless attempt to overturn the 2016 election for no reason other than that they are deranged with Trump hatred.

Humility would have caused a moment’s introspection after the Mueller probe flopped, remorse that lasting damage had been done to the nation on a pointless witch hunt, and a realization that what goes around comes around.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and his boss, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, certainly affect an air of humility, stifling glee at the trouble they’re causing President Trump and pretending they are “prayerful.” But they fool no one.

Humility would have Schiff understand that when witness after witness testifies to nothing that amounts to impeachable evidence against the president, it’s time to fold the tent and admit you’ve failed.

On Wednesday, for example, Sondland was supposed to be Schiff’s smoking gun. But he was a dead duck by 10:20 a.m.

Schiff had promised that Sondland would confirm Trump had demanded military aid be withheld from Ukraine until President Volodymyr Zelensky committed to investigating Ukrainian meddling in our 2016 election and corruption at Ukrainian company Burisma, including dodgy dealings of the Biden family.

But when Schiff asserted that Trump wanted Ukraine to perform investigations “that would help his re-election campaign,” Sondland replied, “I can’t characterize why he wanted them.”

Over and over, Sondland disappointed: “I never heard from President Trump that aid was conditioned on an announcement of an investigation.”

“Trump never told me directly … He did not ever have a conversation with me about the aid.”

“When I asked him, ‘What do you want from Ukraine,’ he said, ‘I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelinsky to do the right thing.’ ”

It was before noon and Trump knew he had won. On the South Lawn, before he jumped on Marine One, the president repeated Sondland’s words at a mocking press conference.

He knew Sondland’s testimony was a disaster for the Democratic project, not that you’d know it from Schiff’s triumphal bathroom break press conference, or the online headlines.

That’s what a lack of humility does: It destroys your judgment.

It also makes you pompous and preposterous, as Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was Tuesday, another Democratic star who fizzled fast, despite his best efforts.

Vindman’s hubris was so great that he even chastised Republican ranking member Devin Nunes for addressing him as “Mr.” and not by his military title. The unnecessary act of dressing up in his uniform was another prideful act.

Vindman testified that he advised the Ukrainian administration to ignore the US president, and he overstated his importance in the chain of command, claiming he was the “principal adviser” to the president when he’d never even met him.

He admitted that he bypassed his boss to go straight to the lawyers with concerns that Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky was “improper,” and he all but confirmed that it was he who tipped off the so-called whistleblower and set off the chain reaction that led to this impeachment hearing.

Vindman’s beef with Trump was that the president’s foreign policy was “undermining the consensus policy” of unelected bureaucrats like him.

The arrogance had to be seen to be believed, and yet people with no concept of humility fell over themselves to praise Vindman.

The corrosive absence of humility among Washington bureaucrats has been the hallmark of these hearings.

They “have never accepted President Trump as legitimate and resent his unorthodox style and his intrusion onto their ‘turf,’ ” said Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, in a letter submitted to the inquiry.

“They react by leaking to the press and participating in the ongoing effort to sabotage his policies and, if possible, remove him from office. It is entirely possible that Vindman fits this profile.”

Johnson isn’t speaking through his hat. He is integral to this story as he went to Ukraine, met with Zelensky and saw Vindman and most of the other witnesses in action, and was not impressed.

“American foreign policy is what the president determines it to be, not what the ‘consensus’ on unelected foreign-policy bureaucrats wants it to be.”

That is humility and it used to be a hallmark of the Washington establishment, those grand personages who wore bow ties without irony, the restrained men and women who never sought to exceed their power, whose wisdom helped keep the republic on course.

Humility has been the mainstay of Christian societies, and central to the Protestant ethic of the American Midwest of the last century that fueled the greatest period of prosperity the world has ever seen.

Humility was the core value of people who created the moral capital for generations to come.

Humility was what made America great, and without it we are lost.

Mayor’s cycle of madness

The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. That’s Mayor Bill de Blasio in a nutshell.

After years of forcing the city to absorb unwanted bike lanes, which slow traffic, have done nothing to reduce cyclist fatalities or rule-breaking, and have probably contributed to a rise in pedestrian deaths, the mayor this week decided we need more of the same.

He signed a law requiring the Transportation Department to implement another 250 miles of protected bike lanes.

“All in a good day’s work,” he said.

Of course, de Blasio’s definition of “work” is different from most people’s. It’s the first time he’s signed anything since March because he’s been AWOL on his joke presidential bid.

But we were better off when he was goofing off.

Chick-fil-A chickens out

Now that Chick-fil-A has capitulated to the bullying of rainbow activists, it will learn that cowardice is a lose-lose proposition.

The chicken chain’s profits soared in the seven years since it was targeted over its boss’ comments opposing same-sex marriage. Its sales reportedly rose 12 percent, not because chicken lovers are homophobic but because no one likes a bully telling you what to believe.

Now the company has gone woke by announcing it won’t be “financially supporting anti-LGBTQ organizations,” which apparently means the Salvation Army and other Christian outfits with a traditional view of marriage.

Catholic writer Rod Dreher has a word for these craven chicken surrender merchants: “Cluckservatives.”

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Silent Coup: The Frame Up of An Elected President

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 …Stand beside her, and guide her, through the night with A light from above”…