GOP throwing sand in the gears of impeachment

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CNN's Manu Raju reports.

Posted: Dec 4, 2019 4:00 AM
Updated: Dec 4, 2019 4:00 AM

Two congressional committee reports released in the last 24 hours—a "prebuttal" issued by Republicans Monday to head off the scathing impeachment report dropped on Tuesday by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee--reflect the fundamental political strategies of the two parties.

The Republican report ignores two months of depositions, public testimony and evidence collected by the Intel Committee and spends more than 100 pages saying President Donald Trump didn't do a thing wrong and that impeachment is an attempt to overturn his election.

The Democrats' report relies completely on the information gathered during the Intelligence Committee's inquiry and concludes there is "overwhelming evidence" of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. (It also teases to more evidence possibly forthcoming by releasing call logs between Rudy Giuliani and others--including his indicted associate Lev Parnas, Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, the Office of Management and Budget and the White House.)

The two strategies--from the Republicans and the Democrats-- are about to collide again in the House Judiciary Committee.

Republicans will try to confuse with process and the Democrats will try to persuade with evidence. At stake—the power of the presidency and whether Congress has any legitimate oversight authority as a guardrail against presidential abuse of power.

Going forward there is no reason to expect either side to change its approach, nor is there any particular reason to think that any partisans will change their minds. Having said that, the Democrats' historic document outlines allegations that the President abused his power by strong-arming Ukraine in order to help his re-election campaign efforts. So, think Richard Nixon's Watergate scandal, but instead of breaking into the Democratic National Committee's headquarters for purposes of political espionage, this time it's a presidential administration withholding $400 million in congressionally authorized military aid to a vital US ally fighting Russian aggression.

The Democrats' case is that the President allegedly stood at the top of a conspiracy to pressure Ukraine into helping manufacture political dirt on his potential opponent: former Vice President Joe Biden. Their report details the President's drawing government officials into the effort-- including his vice president, chief of staff, attorney general, secretary of state and secretary of energy—and using private channels opened by his personal lawyer, Giuliani.

Importantly, the report expands this beyond the simple and consequential July 25th phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Using the testimony of career diplomats and even some Trump supporters, the report paints a picture of a months-long "campaign" to pressure Ukraine, using multiple levers, to launch an investigation of Biden.

But the Intel committee report goes further. It makes the case this is a test of America's democracy. Indeed, the case it lays out suggests that impeachment is the appropriate and necessary mechanism to protect the integrity of the nation. This is particularly resonant when one considers that Trump's call with Zelensky came just one day after Special Counsel Robert Mueller faltered in his testimony on Capitol Hill, declining to charge the President with obstruction of justice in connection with the Trump-Russia probe of the 2016 election. Democrats believe this emboldened President to further abuse the power of his office.

The Intelligence Committee report also lays out evidence of "unprecedented stonewalling" in the obstruction of Congress section. The main players in this political drama, Trump himself, Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Giuliani all were ordered by the President not to testify. While it will take months to sort out in the courts whether they should be compelled to give testimony, the Democrats have concluded that this stonewalling may already be a reason to remove the President from office.

Now we can expect Republicans to continue to shift their argument and their defense, depending on what works that day. Remember, first they wanted the hearings conducted in public and then objected when they were.

Then they argued there was no first-hand evidence, but when first-hand evidence was introduced they claimed it was from biased, deep-state sources.

Then they said the process was going too slow, only to argue this week that it's going too fast. There was also the argument that there was nothing wrong because the aid was ultimately delivered, and no investigation of Biden was launched. That left out that the Republicans knew that a whistleblower had filed a complaint about the infamous phone call shortly before the aid was miraculously freed up.

Finally, they argued it was Ukraine that was behind the 2016 election interference only to have the Republican-run Senate Intelligence Committee reject that theory completely.

The Republicans will seek to sow confusion at every turn, hoping voters will throw up their hands and give up.

Let's get back to those voters. Support for impeachment grew significantly during the Intel Committee process, but has capped at just under 50%. Partisans from both sides are dug in and there is no reason to believe either report will change minds. Those in the middle likely will take note of the report's conclusion that the President put his interests above the national interest, and this could leave more Americans supporting impeachment as this goes to the full House.

Ultimately, though, the will of the voters will not likely influence the Republican majority in the Senate. They need Trump voters to get re-elected and they are willing to ignore the potential damage to our democracy by turning a blind eye to the President's behavior. And that's the real damage that will be done here. The message to future Presidents will be that there are no longer consequences.

The Trump doctrine going forward will be anything goes, even if you get caught.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 147382

Reported Deaths: 3763
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto973199
Hinds9668197
Harrison6898109
Jackson6178119
Rankin5319100
Lee487695
Madison4666106
Forrest371386
Jones346788
Lauderdale3355144
Lafayette317549
Washington3122107
Lamar283449
Oktibbeha240861
Bolivar240184
Lowndes229763
Neshoba2177115
Panola215849
Marshall209650
Leflore201490
Pontotoc196128
Monroe191477
Sunflower190555
Lincoln186865
Warren172657
Tate165451
Union163925
Pike160658
Copiah159540
Yazoo152039
Scott150729
Coahoma148743
Itawamba148234
Pearl River146567
Alcorn146327
Simpson145153
Prentiss141230
Adams137949
Grenada137745
Leake131943
Holmes126561
Tippah123030
George122324
Covington119737
Winston119124
Wayne116223
Hancock115939
Marion111646
Attala109833
Tishomingo106542
Chickasaw104132
Newton103629
Tallahatchie96327
Clarke88853
Clay87127
Jasper81222
Walthall75328
Stone73114
Calhoun72913
Montgomery72125
Carroll70614
Lawrence70314
Yalobusha70027
Noxubee69717
Smith69616
Perry65426
Tunica59619
Greene58422
Claiborne57616
Jefferson Davis55017
Humphreys52918
Amite51814
Benton48717
Quitman4816
Webster42114
Kemper41918
Wilkinson38722
Jefferson34211
Franklin3265
Choctaw3117
Sharkey30717
Issaquena1124
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 239318

Reported Deaths: 3532
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson31391491
Mobile19562361
Tuscaloosa12813154
Madison12741146
Montgomery12198235
Shelby1000577
Baldwin847398
Lee764466
Morgan634348
Calhoun6112115
Marshall607954
Etowah606565
Houston517038
DeKalb474736
Cullman428038
Limestone413744
St. Clair409055
Elmore400762
Lauderdale393653
Walker3588108
Talladega343453
Jackson307624
Colbert301941
Blount285539
Autauga268641
Franklin247833
Coffee239715
Dale230354
Dallas224531
Russell22053
Chilton219638
Covington216833
Escambia197431
Chambers173749
Tallapoosa173391
Pike157514
Clarke156319
Marion136535
Winston129923
Lawrence124836
Geneva12028
Pickens119418
Marengo119124
Barbour117010
Bibb116217
Butler114441
Randolph100921
Cherokee100824
Hale94531
Clay90223
Washington90219
Fayette87316
Henry8496
Lowndes79129
Monroe78111
Cleburne75714
Macon72321
Crenshaw70730
Bullock69119
Conecuh68314
Perry6756
Lamar6508
Wilcox63118
Sumter57122
Choctaw41913
Greene41418
Coosa3374
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