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Schiff brilliantly crushes Trump defense

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During the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that if American democracy falls it will be the autocrats who fill the void, stating Americans have less freedom this year than previously.

Posted: Jan 22, 2020 9:20 PM
Updated: Jan 22, 2020 9:20 PM

CNN Opinion is curating commentators' smartest takes on the second day of President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial. The views expressed below are their own.

Raul Reyes: He did not come to play

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff did not come to play. On Wednesday, he laid out a strong case for why senators should vote to impeach and remove Donald Trump from the presidency.

On a strategic level, Schiff's presentation was masterful: it was eloquent, thoughtful and -- most importantly -- restrained. While he invoked everyone from Alexander Hamilton to John F. Kennedy, he never slipped into histrionics or hyperbole, which any trial lawyer knows can backfire. Instead, he methodically went through a timeline of the President's alleged improper conduct.

Given the sheer amount of ground that Schiff covered in two-plus hours, no senator can honestly claim to not know or not have heard about most aspects of the impeachment inquiry. Schiff laid it all out for the Senate and for the public (of which 51% favors impeachment, per a recent CNN poll).

Very smartly, Schiff appealed to senators' and viewers' best instincts, saying: "The American people want a fair trial. They want to believe the system of government is still capable of rising to the occasion. They want to believe we can rise about party and do what's best for the country." This statement, by the way, is supported by national polling that finds most Americans want witnesses and new testimony allowed into the impeachment inquiry.

Notice that Schiff did not have to resort to demonizing those who perhaps did not agree with him (indeed, he comported himself with the dignity required in such a grave and consequential matter).

In fact, his presentation was especially strong when he played video clips of other people, including Trump, whose statements bolstered the House Democrats' case for impeachment. So just in case anyone had forgotten, we again got to see acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney basically admitting to a quid pro quo (regarding the withholding of Ukraine aid in exchange for an investigation into the Bidens) and telling reporters to "Get over it."

While the President is on trial in the Senate, Schiff was careful not to make his opening remarks all about Trump. Much more is at stake, Schiff noted, including America's national security interests, the integrity of our elections and the permissible conduct of future presidents.

One of Schiff's gifts is his ability to distill complex legal and constitutional arguments down to their essence. Should any president be allowed to solicit foreign interference in our elections? Is it okay for the President to refuse to cooperate with Congress? On both counts, Schiff clearly showed why the only reasonable answer is no.

Raul A. Reyes is an attorney and a member of the USA Today board of contributors. Follow him on Twitter @RaulAReyes.

Alice Stewart: The Democrats' case is weak sauce

As Americans attempt to see through the haze of President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial, one thing is clear: patriots and pettifoggers are conducting the process.

And, in the end, partisans will determine the verdict.

The Senate chaplain was right to say, "Patriots reside on both sides of the aisle." And Chief Justice John Roberts was correct in calling out both sides for their late-night use, Tuesday, of sniping, which was beneath the decorum demanded by the proceedings.

But the reality, beyond all the posturing, is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the ball, and McConnell remains firmly in Trump's court. Democrats need to realize they had their chance to make an overwhelming and bipartisan case for impeachment -- and they failed.

While Trump's July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president regarding the withholding of military aid in exchange for investigations into the Bidens was certainly inappropriate, it is not worthy of impeachment. And the House inquiry and Democrats' statements have yet to persuade otherwise.

House managers began their opening arguments Wednesday with an effective case for their side. But then Rep. Adam Schiff, lead impeachment manager, touting crushing evidence to support the two articles of impeachment -- abuse of power and obstruction of Congress -- said additional testimony and documents are needed.

If House Democrats had met their constitutional threshold for a conviction, they would not need additional information. They realize the only potential for an impeachment game-changer is additional evidence -- and, ideally, witnesses.

Here's the thing, though, House members could have subpoenaed Bolton already. They did not, and they should not expect the Senate to do the job they failed to do.

Beyond this, if witnesses were called in this Senate trial, the principle of reciprocity would only make sense. If the prosecution is allowed a witness, such as Bolton, the White House defense team should be allowed a witness, such as Hunter Biden. Would Democrats go along with this?

It'll be several more days before we know if or when witnesses will be introduced into the trial. For now, we will likely see more pettifogging before what seems more and more likely -- an acquittal.

Alice Stewart is a CNN political commentator, Resident Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University and former Communications Director for Ted Cruz for President.

Paul Callan: Schiff's Alexander Hamilton moment

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff woke up this morning and finally remembered he was a gifted former federal prosecutor, rather than a partisan politician angling for headlines. The chair of the House Intelligence Committee and lead House manager delivered a highly persuasive opening statement, outlining the case against President Donald Trump.

He quoted the nation's first Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who noted the young American democracy's need to control a man "bold in his temper...despotic in his ordinary demeanor" and whose "object is to throw things into confusion that he may 'ride the storm and direct the whirlwind." Any thoughts who Schiff might be alluding to?

For the best part of the remaining two hours, Schiff explained in detail why American democracy now and in the future needs to be on guard against a "despot" like Trump. More specifically, he argued that Trump was attempting to interfere in a democratic process in an effort to guarantee himself a second term. If the purpose of Trump's freeze on military aid to Ukraine was of a personal nature, such as extorting the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on a political rival, Schiff said it would clearly amount to the "high crimes and misdemeanors" foreseen by Hamilton and the other founding fathers.

Schiff offered slides of the text of President's incriminatory phone call with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and shared the video of acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney essentially admitting to a quid pro quo.

He even brought the entire Mueller investigation back into play, arguing that the Special Counsel's testimony to Congress July 24 that effectively closed the book on the probe could have unleashed Trump's reckless -- and impeachable behavior -- the very next day. Since Trump had gone unpunished for any improprieties related to the investigation of the 2016 campaign, Schiff reasoned, the President had been emboldened to tamper with the 2020 election. In short, the Mueller "exoneration," as Trump has referred to it, had become part of the motive for the Ukrainian shake down.

Overall, Schiff's presentation was focused, understandable and persuasive. Now all he needs is a jury—that is, the Senate-- willing to render "impartial justice" as required by oath. Unfortunately for him, this case was probably lost in jury selection during the last senatorial election.

Paul Callan is a CNN legal analyst, a former New York homicide prosecutor and of counsel to the New York law firm of Edelman & Edelman PC, focusing on wrongful conviction and civil rights cases. Follow him on Twitter @paulcallan.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 308737

Reported Deaths: 7139
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20931250
Hinds19961410
Harrison17562303
Rankin13369277
Jackson13156243
Madison9950212
Lee9890170
Jones8310161
Forrest7542148
Lauderdale7221237
Lowndes6289144
Lamar613384
Lafayette6072117
Washington5291133
Bolivar4776129
Oktibbeha457197
Panola4458103
Pearl River4437141
Warren4299119
Marshall4286102
Pontotoc417572
Monroe4062132
Union404675
Neshoba4005176
Lincoln3886109
Hancock373385
Leflore3471124
Sunflower331589
Tate325384
Pike3215105
Scott311472
Yazoo305069
Alcorn299465
Itawamba297877
Copiah293965
Coahoma290479
Simpson289586
Tippah285168
Prentiss276659
Marion266279
Leake261773
Wayne261541
Grenada256484
Covington255280
Adams246982
Newton245761
George238547
Winston226081
Tishomingo222567
Jasper220048
Attala213673
Chickasaw205457
Holmes187172
Clay183254
Stone179733
Clarke177776
Tallahatchie176140
Calhoun165431
Yalobusha160136
Smith159334
Walthall131043
Greene129633
Lawrence126623
Noxubee126534
Montgomery125742
Perry125238
Carroll120926
Amite120741
Webster113832
Jefferson Davis105532
Tunica103225
Claiborne101330
Benton97525
Kemper95628
Humphreys94632
Franklin82923
Quitman78916
Choctaw73917
Wilkinson65128
Jefferson64828
Sharkey49817
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 521623

Reported Deaths: 10739
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754061493
Mobile39067799
Madison34040496
Tuscaloosa25367444
Montgomery24019567
Shelby23186239
Baldwin20701302
Lee15589165
Calhoun14342311
Morgan14158271
Etowah13685346
Marshall11995220
Houston10404278
Elmore10011200
Limestone9852147
Cullman9503189
St. Clair9463234
Lauderdale9265228
DeKalb8757181
Talladega8115171
Walker7139275
Jackson6756110
Autauga6750103
Blount6519134
Colbert6229130
Coffee5424113
Dale4772111
Russell430038
Franklin420782
Chilton4101109
Covington4061114
Tallapoosa3907146
Escambia390174
Dallas3525149
Chambers3514122
Clarke347060
Marion3072100
Pike306176
Lawrence295995
Winston273172
Bibb256059
Marengo248361
Geneva246075
Pickens233259
Barbour226455
Hale218575
Butler212967
Fayette209460
Henry188044
Cherokee182644
Randolph177241
Monroe172540
Washington165238
Macon155648
Clay150155
Crenshaw149457
Cleburne146741
Lamar139734
Lowndes136553
Wilcox124427
Bullock121640
Conecuh109428
Perry107626
Sumter103232
Coosa99428
Greene91434
Choctaw58824
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