Impeachment: Dems say ‘bogus’ Ukraine theory led to Trump’s actions

By Lisa Mascaro, Eric Tucker and Zeke Miller | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Democratic House prosecutors argued in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial Thursday that he was swept up by a “completely bogus” Ukraine theory pushed by attorney Rudy Giuliani that led to his abuse of presidential power and then impeachment.

As the Democrats pressed their case for a second day before skeptical Republican Senate jurors, they displayed video images of the nation’s top FBI and Homeland Security officials warning the public off the theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election.

It was just one of 10 separate ways, the prosecutors argued, that Trump abused power for his own personal political benefit ahead of the 2020 election — the first article of impeachment against him.

“That’s what Donald Trump wanted investigated or announced — this completely bogus Kremlin-pushed conspiracy theory,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who is leading the prosecution.

Trump is accused of seeking the investigation — and probes of political foe Joe Biden and Biden’s son — while holding back congressionally approved military aid as leverage. Schiff said, “You can imagine what a danger that presents to this country.”

Trump is facing trial in the Senate after the House impeached him last month, accusing him of abusing his office by asking Ukraine for the investigations while withholding the aid from a U.S. ally at war with bordering Russia. The second article of impeachment accuses him of obstructing Congress by refusing to turn over documents or allow officials to testify in the House probe.

Republicans, growing tired of the long hours of proceedings, have defended Trump’s actions as appropriate and cast the process as a politically motivated effort to weaken him in the midst of his reelection campaign. Republicans hold …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics

      

By day two of impeachment trial, Senate norms are being flouted

By Laurie Kellman | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — So much for the Senate’s quaint rules and tradition.

Almost immediately after Chief Justice John Roberts gaveled in Wednesday’s session of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, bored and weary senators started openly flouting some basic guidelines in a chamber that prizes decorum.

A Democrat in the back row leaned on his right arm, covered his eyes and stayed that way for nearly a half-hour. Some openly snickered when lead prosecutor Adam Schiff said he’d only speak for 10 minutes. And when one of the freshman House prosecutors stood to speak, many of the senator-jurors bolted for the cloak rooms, where their phones are stored.

“I do see the members moving and taking a break,” observed freshman Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, one of the House prosecutors, in mid-speech at the center podium. “I probably have another 15 minutes.”

The agony of the senator-jurors had begun to show the night before, with widespread but more subtle struggles to pay attention to opening arguments. Gum-chewing, snacking, yawning and alleged napping could be seen throughout the cramped chamber.

Around midnight, things got looser. Senators paced and chatted near the wall. Then the prosecutors and Trump’s defense team got into a back-and-forth over who was lying and making false allegations about Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to help him politically.

Roberts admonished everyone to tone it down. The Senate, he reminded those gathered, is the “world’s greatest deliberative body,” functioning, for now, as a court of impeachment. It has a tradition of civility — and for grave and rare impeachment trials, specific rules: No coffee or snacking on the floor. No pacing, note-passing, working on other matters or chit-chat.
Technically, only water is allowed in the Senate chamber, but there have been exceptions in years past for milk and even eggnog.

“There’s coffee, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics

      

Trump moves to weaken waterway protections

By Ellen Knickmeyer | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Thursday ended federal protection for many of the nation’s millions of miles of streams, arroyos and wetlands, a sweeping environmental rollback that could leave the waterways more vulnerable to pollution from development, industry and farms.

The policy change, signed by heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, narrows the types of waterways that qualify for federal protection under the half-century-old Clean Water Act.

Since his first weeks in office, President Donald Trump has targeted environmental and public health regulations that he says imposed unnecessary burdens on business. Speaking to farmers in Texas on Sunday, Trump repeated his frequent charge that an Obama-era attempt in 2015 to more clearly define what water bodies qualify for federal pollution protection was “one of the most ridiculous regulations of all.”

Thursday’s changes to the clean water rule have long been sought by builders, oil and gas developers, farmers and others. But environmental groups and public-health advocates say the rollback will allow businesses to dump pollutants into newly federally unprotected waterways and fill in some wetlands, threatening public water supplies downstream and harming wildlife and habitat.
EPA head Andrew Wheeler told reporters Thursday that states were still free to step in with state protections of newly vulnerable waterways if they chose.

“Our rule protects the environment and our waterways while respecting the rights of states and property owners,” Wheeler said. The rollback of the clean-water enforcement “strikes the proper balance between Washington, D.C. and the states,” he said.

Brett Hartl, a government affairs director with the Center for Biological Diversity conservation advocacy group, called the changes “a sickening gift to polluters.”

The administration’s action “will allow wetlands, streams and rivers across a vast stretch of America to be obliterated with pollution,” Hartl said, contending …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics

      

‘Bogus’ Ukraine theory led to Trump’s abuse, Dems tell trial

By LISA MASCARO, ERIC TUCKER and ZEKE MILLER

WASHINGTON (AP) —

Democratic House prosecutors argued Thursday in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial that the president was swept up by a “completely bogus” Ukraine theory pushed by attorney Rudy Giuliani and that led to his abuse of presidential power and then impeachment.

As the Democrats pressed their case for a second day before skeptical Republican Senate jurors, they displayed video images of the nation’s top FBI and Homeland Security officials warning the public off the theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election.

“That’s what Donald Trump wanted investigated or announced — this completely bogus Kremlin-pushed conspiracy theory,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who is leading the prosecution.

Trump is accused of seeking the investigation — and probes of political foe Joe Biden and Biden’s son — for his own political benefit while holding back congressionally approved military aid as leverage. Schiff said, “You an imagine what a danger that presents to this country.”

Trump is facing trial in the Senate after the House impeached him last month, accusing him of abusing his office by asking Ukraine for the investigations while withholding the aid from a U.S. ally at war with bordering Russia. Trump faces a second article of impeachment accusing him of obstructing Congress by refusing to turn over documents or allow officials to testify in the House probe.

Republicans, growing tired of the long hours of proceedings, have defended Trump’s actions as appropriate and cast the process as a politically motivated effort to weaken him in the midst of his reelection campaign. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and acquittal is considered likely.

The Democrats’ challenge is clear as they try to convince not just fidgety senators but an American public divided over the Republican …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics

      

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