February 4th, 2020

dara

Today's News (2020/2/4) Late Edition

I'm going to lead off by combing a couple of stories because they make the most sense with each other.

First, Senator Susan Collins says she'll vote to acquit on Wednesday because, and I quote: "I believe that the president has learned from this case... the president has been impeached, that's a pretty big lesson."

Three hours later:

Rush Limbaugh awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom at State of the Union

When he was asked about Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) saying he had learned a lesson during impeachment, the president said he’d done nothing wrong: “It was a perfect call.”

Some items are harder to take than others. This is one. It's not so much the idiotic, benighted, blindly stupid lying itself, as the sheer contemptuousness needed to think anyone would believe it. It's just absolutely monstrous on every level.

Anyway, here's the rest of today's news.

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Murkowski rebukes Trump, Senate, but says she will vote to acquit

https://www.axios.com/murkowski-senate-impeachment-trial-acquit-5310ebee-cf9e-4a2a-8aab-f87f3f6d4ebe.html

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said in a speech on the Senate floor Monday that she "cannot vote to convict" President Trump, but condemned his actions toward Ukraine as "shameful and wrong."

Why it matters: The moderate senator was thought to be among the likeliest of the Republicans to vote to convict Trump. During her speech Monday, which followed the conclusion of closing arguments in the impeachment trial, Murkowski also tore into the House for rushing through the process and the Senate for what she called "rank partisanship."

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GOP Strategist Says Trump Will 'Likely' Try to Imprison John Bolton After Impeachment Vote
By David Brennan On 2/4/20 at 6:23 AM EST

https://www.newsweek.com/gop-strategist-donald-trump-likely-imprison-john-bolton-impeachment-vote-1485558

A prominent Republican political strategist has warned that President Donald Trump may lean on the Justice Department to get revenge on former National Security Advisor John Bolton once the Senate has voted not to remove him from office this week.

Bolton has become a central figure in the impeachment debate surrounding Trump, with Democrats keen to have him testify in front of senators—while the political world eagerly awaits his tell-all memoir detailing his time in Trump's turbulent White House.

But according to a Vanity Fair article published Monday, Bolton's prominent role has put him squarely in Trump's crosshairs and at the top of an enemies list to be addressed once Republican senators acquit the president.

Rick Wilson, an author, analyst and long-time Republican operative, suggested that Bolton's only chance now was to leak his explosive book manuscript before the Senate vote, which is expected to take place Wednesday.

"As I predicted. Bolton blew his one shot," Wilson wrote. "Unless the manuscript leaks before the vote, he's f****d and Trump will likely use [Attorney General William] Barr to put him in prison. Just a reminder that knowing about grand strategy doesn't mean you know about political strategy."

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Democrats walk out of Trump's address: 'It's like watching professional wrestling'
By Tal Axelrod - 02/04/20 10:34 PM EST

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/481541-democrats-walks-out-in-middle-of-trumps-address-its-like-watching-professional

A handful of Democrats walked out of the chamber in the middle of President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday.

Reps. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) hammered the president in statements when explaining their decision to leave the address early.

“I just walked out of the #StateOfTheUnion. I’ve had enough. It’s like watching professional wrestling. It’s all fake,” Ryan tweeted.

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Nancy Pelosi rips up speech after Trump completes State of the Union

By Alix Martichoux, SFGATE Updated 8:32 pm PST, Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi didn't need to say a word to show what she thought of President Donald Trump's State of the Union on Tuesday night.

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Here's what Democrats were chanting in protest during the State of the Union

By Alix Martichoux, SFGATE Updated 7:47 pm PST, Tuesday, February 4, 2020

https://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/democrat-protest-chant-hr3-video-sotu-trump-15030773.php

There was much applause during President Donald Trump's 2020 State of the Union, but for at least a few seconds, Democrats interrupted the fanfare with chants of protest.

After Trump called on lawmakers to deliver him a piece of legislation to dramatically lower drug prices in order for him to sign it, many Democratic lawmakers stood, held up three fingers and chanted "H.R.3."

...

It passed the House with a 230-192 vote.

The bill was declared "dead on arrival" in the Senate, and the White House indicated the president would have vetoed the bill if it had landed on his desk, the Washington Post reported in December.

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‘He misled everyone!’ Israeli leader fumes at Kushner as Trump’s ‘peace plan’ spirals down the drain
By Brad Reed

https://www.rawstory.com/2020/02/he-misled-everyone-israeli-leader-fumes-at-kushner-as-trumps-peace-plan-spirals-down-the-drain/

Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner is taking heat from key allies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the “peace plan” he helped design spirals further down the drain.

While the plan had previously been praised by the Israeli government even as it was widely panned by neighboring Arab governments, the Washington Post reports that Yesha Council Chairman David Elhayani is furious about the White House’s efforts to discourage Netanyahu from immediately annexing large portions of the West Bank from the Palestinians.

“Kushner took a knife and put it in Netanyahu’s back,” Elhayani tells the Washington Post. “Kushner misled the prime minister. He misled everybody. He knew for a long time that Netanyahu wanted to declare sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea — he said it many times over the last year. Gentlemen just don’t act this way.”

Elhayani also worried that putting a temporary halt on the annexations could do political damage to Netanyahu and cause him to lose upcoming elections that are scheduled for next month.

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The Racism at the Heart of Trump’s ‘Travel Ban’

Adding Nigeria to the expanded list of excluded countries just makes it more obvious.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/04/opinion/trump-travel-ban-nigeria.html

It’s happening a little bit out of public consciousness — swamped by impeachment, the coronavirus and the Democratic presidential race — but on Friday President Trump announced further restrictions on immigration and foreign entry to the United States. Citing security concerns, the administration has slammed the door on immigrants from the African nations of Sudan, Tanzania and Eritrea, as well as Myanmar in Southeast Asia and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia. These countries, which have large Muslim populations, join seven others on the president’s ever-developing travel ban.

There’s one other country on the expanded list — Nigeria. Home to more than 200 million of Africa’s 1.2 billion people, Nigeria has the largest economy on the continent and has worked with the American military on joint operations. But given an “elevated risk and threat environment in the country,” administration officials say there’s a chance Nigeria could become a vector for terrorists who want to enter the United States. Nigeria’s government has long struggled with the Islamist group Boko Haram, which is responsible for multiple kidnappings and dozens of attacks that amount to mass slaughter.

But there’s little to no evidence that this group is a threat to Americans, nor is there any history of Nigerian terrorism on American soil. From 1975 to 2015, according to an analysis from the libertarian Cato Institute, just one Nigerian national was implicated in a terrorist attack against the United States. And, it should be said, the administration has not banned all entry from Nigeria — only applications for permanent residence. Tourists can still visit America, an odd loophole if the White House is actually worried about terrorism.

But I don’t think President Trump is actually worried about Nigerian terrorism.

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Top Navy SEAL commander resigns after apparent disagreements with Trump

https://news.yahoo.com/top-navy-seal-commander-resigns-140155604.html

* The officer responsible for US Navy special-operations forces will step down from his position in September, The Intercept reported over the weekend.

* Rear Adm. Collin Green's retirement follows the controversial court-martial of Special Warfare Operator Chief Eddie Gallagher.

* President Donald Trump, who supported Gallagher, disagreed with Green's pursuit of a peer review for Gallagher's case.

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Charities steered $65M to Trump lawyer Sekulow and family
By MICHAEL BIESECKER
January 31, 2020

https://apnews.com/9d2ed80ca912d18abd6650f55d2db935

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jay Sekulow, one of President Donald Trump’s lead attorneys during the impeachment trial, is being paid for his legal work through a rented $80-a-month mailbox a block away from the White House.

The Pennsylvania Avenue box appears to be the sole physical location of the Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group, a for-profit corporation co-owned by Sekulow. The firm has no website and is not listed in national legal directories. The District of Columbia Bar has no record of it, and no attorneys list it as their employer.

But Sekulow, 63, is registered as chief counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice, a non-profit Christian legal advocacy group based in an expansive Capitol Hill row house a short walk from the Senate chamber.

A half dozen lawyers employed by the non-profit ACLJ are named in recent Senate legal briefs as members of Trump’s defense team — including one of Sekulow’s sons. The ACLJ, as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, is barred under IRS rules from engaging in partisan political activities.

The Republican National Committee has paid more than $250,000 to Sekulow’s for-profit CLA Group since 2017, when he was first named to Trump’s legal team as special counsel Robert Mueller was leading the Russia investigation, according to campaign disclosures.

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Pompeo says denying credentials to NPR sends "perfect message about press freedoms"

https://www.axios.com/pompeo-press-freedom-npr-reporter-f28d0742-c71c-457a-841e-22b16b395e02.html

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the State Department's decision to deny NPR press credentials for his trip to Europe following his confrontation with reporter Mary Louise Kelly, stating in an interview in Kazakhstan Sunday that it sends "a perfect message about press freedoms" to the world.

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Rand Paul reads alleged whistleblower's name and Republicans 'fine' with it

The Kentucky Republican's comment on the Senate floor was met with shrugs by most Senate Republicans.

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/04/rand-paul-reads-alleged-whistleblowers-name-senate-floor-110684

By KYLE CHENEY and BURGESS EVERETT
02/04/2020 01:16 PM EST
Updated: 02/04/2020 08:28 PM EST

Sen. Rand Paul read aloud the name of the alleged whistleblower who first raised alarms about President Donald Trump's conduct toward Ukraine. And most Republicans didn’t seem to care.

After being denied by Chief Justice John Roberts last week, Paul used a period reserved for senators’ impeachment speeches to read aloud the name of an intelligence community official alleged to be the whistleblower.

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