Republicans explain why Trump is innocent

CNN's Chris Cuomo dissects Sen. John Kennedy's (R-LA) doubling down on his claim that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election, despite backtracking on his comments a week ago.

Posted: Dec 3, 2019 8:30 AM
Updated: Dec 3, 2019 8:30 AM

As Democrats finish up their official report on the impeachment investigations, to be released Tuesday, Republicans have issued a 123-page document -- in DC terms, a "prebuttal" -- that argues everything you've seen so far is being misrepresented.

It is a direct refutation of just about everything you've seen in the public hearings and the facts obvious from the transcript of Trump's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Republicans who watched the hearings and read the transcript see no pressure placed by Trump on Zelensky, despite Zelensky's desperate need to satisfy Trump. They see no strings attached to the military aid or a meeting for Zelensky with Trump. They say Trump's concerns about former Vice President Joe Biden and Burisma were warranted. And, despite days of testimony refuting this assertion in particular, they say there's evidence Ukraine meddled in the US election in 2016. (Read more on that in a second.)

"The evidence presented does not prove any of these Democrat allegations and none of the Democrats' witnesses testified to having evidence of bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor," according to a copy of the report reviewed by CNN.

CNN's reading team was poring over it as lawmakers were reviewing the Democrats' impeachment report in a secure Capitol Hill room. Our reporters will bring you details of the main impeachment report from Democrats when it comes out Tuesday.

GOP-led panel found no Ukraine interference, sources say

CNN's Jake Tapper reports that the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee looked into allegations that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 US election and found no evidence to support the claims, according to sources familiar with the matter.

This squares with the overall conclusion of officials who have looked into the matter.

Politico on Monday was first to report the committee's exploration of Ukraine's actions in 2016.

The committee looked into any Ukrainian interference because the investigation was to examine a number of measures, including "any collusion by either campaign during the 2016 elections," Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said in 2017.

'But you have to understand. We are at war.'

This quote from Zelensky -- the man on the receiving end of Trump's pressure campaign, who still needs US help and therefore Trump's help even as all this unfolds -- is interesting. In an interview with Time and also several European publications he again rejected the idea of quid pro quo while making clear that Ukraine's need of military aid supersedes all other considerations.

"Look, I never talked to the President from the position of a quid pro quo. That's not my thing. ... I don't want us to look like beggars. But you have to understand. We're at war. If you're our strategic partner, then you can't go blocking anything for us. I think that's just about fairness. It's not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying," Zelensky said.

Laundering lies

Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana has come full circle in a week. Last Sunday on Fox News he pushed doubt on the US intelligence community's conclusion that Russia had interfered in the 2016 US election and wondered about the conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine -- one that, as we noted above, numerous impeachment witnesses debunked. Here's a roundup.

After public shaming for pushing the idea, which senators were expressly told by the intelligence community was Russia trying to pass the blame to Ukraine, Kennedy said on CNN that he was wrong.

Then, Sunday on NBC, he was back to pushing it. The confusion feeds the conspiracy theory and mutes the truth. CNN's Jim Sciutto laid out the facts on TV. This is a good summation of why pushing these theories can be so dangerous. (It's because the 2020 election is not currently safe from Russian interference, either.)

Giuliani associates back in play

Associates of Rudy Giuliani charged with violating campaign finance law could face additional charges, a government lawyer said during a hearing in federal court in New York. The men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, have drawn a lot of attention for their ties to Giuliani, who CNN has reported is also under federal investigation.

Impeachment tie-in

Parnas' lawyer told the judge that his client "has indicated that he wishes to comply with the House Intelligence subpoena," and asked prosecutors to give him copies of material they took from Parnas for their case, so that he can turn it over to Congress.

Podcast: Go big or go home?

As this process moves to the House Judiciary Committee and Democrats eye their goal of impeachment by Christmas, we're going to spend a lot more time talking about what the articles of impeachment will look like.

A lot of Democrats will want to include the obstruction of justice charges outlined in the Mueller report. Others will say the public has moved on from Mueller and including those accusations will only cloud the more easily understood Ukraine scandal.

We spent a lot of time talking about this on the Daily DC Impeachment Watch, with David Chalian back at the helm. Does not including obstruction mentioned in the Mueller report somehow make it OK? Will including Mueller accusations hurt Democrats with moderates and is that even something they should be considering?

The next hearing will be completely academic

With the fact-gathering portion of the inquiry closed, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday to consider the issue of impeachment. Considering the witness list, it'll be something like a constitutional law class in which the students repeatedly interrupt and argue with one another.

You can check out their Twitter feeds below, except for Karlan, who doesn't appear to have one.

The list of law professors:

Noah Feldman from Harvard

Pamela Karlan from Stanford

Michael Gerhardt from the University of North Carolina

Jonathan Turley from George Washington University

Impeach Trump one day, avert another shutdown the next?

One more note: Let's not forget there's still a government to run. And it's currently running out of money. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer officially notified lawmakers Monday that they'll be in session the week of December 16 and ready to cast votes until Friday, December 20, when the government funds dry up.

That means impeachment and government funding may both come to a head at the end of the year. At the same time.

What are we doing here?

The President has invited foreign powers to interfere in the US presidential election. Democrats want to impeach him for it. It is a crossroads for the American system of government as the President tries to change what's acceptable for US politicians. This newsletter will focus on this consequential moment in US history.

Keep track of congressional action with CNN's Impeachment Tracker. See a timeline of events. And get your full refresher on who's who in this drama.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
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Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
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Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
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Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
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George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
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Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
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Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
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Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
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Stone365666
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Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844594

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1160612006
Mobile741651379
Madison53255732
Shelby38313368
Baldwin38061589
Tuscaloosa35996641
Montgomery34473781
Lee25541263
Calhoun22582518
Morgan22441406
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Marshall18771316
Houston17723425
St. Clair16863358
Limestone16123218
Cullman16032303
Elmore15902294
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Talladega14186299
DeKalb12957269
Walker12011380
Blount10700192
Autauga10512157
Jackson10151194
Coffee9412192
Colbert9325208
Dale9013191
Tallapoosa7248201
Russell707465
Chilton7015170
Escambia6951143
Covington6926195
Franklin6337108
Chambers5778142
Marion5400130
Dallas5283209
Pike5114109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4777110
Geneva4640136
Bibb434094
Barbour369180
Butler3433100
Marengo342393
Monroe336666
Randolph334067
Pickens333188
Fayette329885
Henry320566
Hale317989
Cherokee316963
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254360
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184647
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
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Perry141840
Sumter139041
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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