Justice Dept Lawyers Contradict Trump Impeachment Team

Throughout the impeachment trial, Donald Trump’s lawyers have said that the House impeachment investigation should have played out in court. They’ve repeatedly said that subpoenas for witnesses and documents must take place in the courtroom because the judicial branch is an essential check on the legislative branch.

But House Manager Adam Schiff incited laughter in the Senate when he announced that Trump’s Justice Department argued in court today that judges have no place to enforce subpoenas because of the impeachment power.

According to reports, when the judge asked DOJ lawyers “If Congress can’t enforce its subpoenas, what remedy is there?,” the attorneys said, “Impeachment.”

As Schiff said in front of cameras today, “you can’t make this up.”

Trump Threatens Schiff: ‘He Has Not Paid The Price, Yet’

Prior to House Intelligence Committee Chairman and lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff’s appearance on NBC News’ Meet The Press this morning, Donald Trump took to Twitter to rant (and threaten?) Schiff.

From NBC News:

President Donald Trump on Sunday suggested House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., will pay a “price” for his role in the impeachment saga. “Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man,” Trump tweeted. “He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!”

The president posted those comments after writing earlier Sunday that his impeachment “is a massive election interference the likes of which has never been seen before.”

Speaking with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Schiff, the lead House impeachment manager, said he thought Trump’s tweet is “intended to be” a threat to him. Trump responded later Sunday by calling Schiff a “conman.”

Here’s Schiff’s full appearance on Meet The Press this morning:

Washington Post Sums Up Adam Schiff’s Breakdown Of Trump’s Abuse Of Power

Rep. Adam Schiff (screen capture)

Washington Post opinion writer Jennifer Rubin sums up impeachment manager and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff’s (D-Calif.) breakdown of the ways Donald Trump and his team abused his power:

  • Trump mentioned the Bidens and Burisma but not “corruption” during the July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
  • Trump followed up with a call to Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, on whether the investigations he demanded would happen.
  • A text by a Trump appointee to Zelensky’s top aide sent 30 minutes before the July 25 call stressed that Trump was looking for an announcement of an investigation into the Bidens.
  • When Trump, standing on the White House driveway, told the media that he wanted both Ukraine and China to investigate Joe Biden, he was not pursuing corruption in Ukraine, but rather looking for foreign countries to smear the former vice president.
  • The draft statement announcing that Ukraine would undertake corruption investigations was rewritten by Sondland and Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to specifically include Burisma and the 2016 election (i.e., Crowdstrike).
  • Giuliani openly bragged about interfering in an investigation in Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian officials threw Trump’s corrupt scheme back in our faces when asked not to investigate their political opponents.
  • Ukraine was confronted with a cut-off of vital aid in the middle of a hot war.
  • The aid was only released when Trump was caught (and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney confirmed it publicly).

Defense Secretary “Didn’t See” Specific Evidence Of Upcoming Attacks On US Embassies

L-R Defense Sec. Mark Esper, House Intel. Chairman Adam Schiff

During an appearance on CBS’ Meet The Nation, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he “didn’t see” specific evidence that top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani was planning attacks on four U.S. embassies, but added that he ‘believed’ such attack would have occurred.

“The president didn’t cite a specific piece of evidence. What he said was he believed,” said Esper.

“I didn’t see one, with regard to four embassies. What I’m saying is that I shared the president’s view that probably — my expectation was they were going to go after our embassies. The embassy is the most prominent display of American presence in a country.”

But later in the broadcast, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff says there was nothing shown to him in ‘Gang of 8’ intelligence briefings that showed any specific evidence regarding attacks on 4 U.S. embassies.

News Round-Up: December 7, 2019

Some news items you might have missed:

Instahunks: Fashion designer Daniel Sheehan calls his white t-shirt the ‘sexiest basic’ you’ll own, but I don’t see anything ‘basic’ in this pic (above).

Newsweek: The Hallmark Channel has yet to produce any gay-themed Christmas movies, but a petition launched by outraged evangelicals is aimed at thwarting any future attempts at making a film with LGBTQ themes or characters.

• The Hill: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) – “The President doesn’t give a shit about what’s good for our country, what’s good for Ukraine. It’s all about what’s in it for him personally and for his reelection campaign.”

Advocate: A Republican congressman has introduced a bill he positions as a compromise answer to the Equality Act, but it includes broad religious exemptions.

Twitter: Donald Trump said today that “it is wrong” that “laws allow a baby to be born from his or her mother’s womb in the 9th month.” #WhoWantsToTellHim?

Instinct Magazine: For the first time since the HIV/AIDS crisis began, 2019 saw more straight men in Western Australia diagnosed with HIV than their gay peers.

CNBC: Donald Trump has asked the US Supreme Court to void a subpoena from the House that seeks the president’s financial records from his accounting firm. #WhatIsHeHiding?

Playbill: Tony and Oscar nominee Adam Driver (Burn ThisBlacKKKlansman) sings “Being Alive” from Company in Marriage Story.

Driver sings the iconic Stephen Sondheim tune as his character, Charlie, is coming to terms with having to rely on himself, to stay strong, to be alone in the next phase of his life.

Giuliani Refuses To Testify Unless Adam Schiff Is ‘Removed’ As Chairman

Donald Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told the press today he will not appear before Congressional committee's unless Democrat Adam Schiff is removed as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Rudy Giuliani (screen capture)

Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told the Washington Post today that he would not appear before the House Intelligence Committee unless Chairman Adam Schiff is removed from his position.

Not. Gonna. Happen.

From the Washington Post:

Giuliani said Tuesday that he would not testify in front of the House Intelligence Committee and that he “can’t imagine” that anyone from the Trump administration would appear before the panel led by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) either.

“The position I’m stating is now the position of the administration,” Giuliani said in an interview in which he revealed that the administration has written a letter that will be released soon saying that Schiff’s committee is illegitimate.

“I wouldn’t testify in front of that committee until there is a vote of Congress and he [Schiff] is removed,” Giuliani said, referring to Republican calls for a full House vote on an impeachment inquiry and the removal of Schiff as the committee’s chairman.

That’s a little like saying, “I will play your team as long as LeBron does not play…”

In related news, three House committee chairmen announced that they will issue a subpoena to compel testimony from U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, hours after learning he failed to appear for a deposition. Sondland was apparently ordered by the State Department not to appear.

“We consider this interference to be obstruction of the impeachment inquiry,” the three committee chairmen said in a statement Tuesday. “We will be issuing a subpoena to Ambassador Sondland for both his testimony and documents.”

Shortly before he was scheduled to appear before Congress, Trump blocked Sondland’s testimony calling the committee’s “a kangaroo court.”

Although Sondland’s position does not involve Ukraine officially, recent reports of text messages indicate he was central to the conversations between the White House’s request to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and the newly-elected president of Ukraine.

Schiff: The GOP Has Become ‘A Cult Of Trump’s Personality’

House Democrats continue to wrestle within their own party regarding the idea of beginning impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump.

This was front and center today as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he’s ‘just not convinced, not yet,’ that it’s the best thing for the country right now.

“In terms of the impeachment process, it’s not mandated by the Constitution. We can avail ourselves of this when the president demonstrates acts that are high crimes or misdemeanors. It is certainly true that much of his conduct qualifies for that, but at the same time we have to recognize the reality that one party, the Republican Party, has turned itself into a cult of the president’s personality and is not likely to act consistent with its constitutional obligations. And we have to figure out in that context, is this the right thing for the country, and I’m just not convinced, not yet, that that’s the case.”

Several freshman rank and file Democrats are ready to dive into impeachment proceedings, but as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said earlier this week, even if articles of impeachment pass in the Democratic-controlled House, the GOP-led Senate (which acts as the judge and jury over such allegations) will never find Trump guilty.

That would then make Trump a martyr to his followers and could embolden them even more in the 2020 election.

Plus, were he to be found ‘not guilty’ by the Senate, that verdict could dissuade any charges being brought against Trump in the private sector once he’s out of office.

House Committee Considers Fining Those Who Refuse Subpoenas $25K

Rep. Adam Schiff

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, says House Democrats may consider fining those individuals who refuse to comply with House subpoenas.

Via Talking Points Memo:

“Much as I like the visual of (throwing people in jail), I think it’s far more practical to consider levying individual fines on the person — not on the office — until they comply. Courts use that practice, I think it’s quite successful,” Schiff told Axios Mike Allen. “You could fine someone $25,000 a day until they comply and that will probably get their attention. … You can do that. We’re looking through the history and studying the law to make sure we’re on solid ground.”

The White House has effectively stonewalled House Democrats’ oversight subpoenas. According to Axios, Schiff said Democratic leadership might have to think outside the box and take “extraordinary” action to make sure Congress’ authority is upheld.

“At the end of the day this isn’t just about this president, this isn’t just about these documents, it is whether Congress is a co-equal branch, a co-equal power that can enforce oversight,” he said. “Because if we can’t, it means any future president can act as corruptly or malfeasant as they want. And there’s simply no accountability.”

The House Judiciary Committee voted on Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress over his handling of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested the House might vote to hold others in contempt as well.

Adam Schiff: The Way To Deal With Trump Is “Vote His Ass Out Of Office”

Rep. Adam Schiff

During an appearance on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff told Bill Maher that impeaching Donald Trump may not happen but there is an eventual solution, “vote his ass out of office.”

“I’m not there yet on impeachment. I may get there, he may get me there. But here’s the awful dilemma that we face: if we don’t impeach him, that sends a message that this kind of conduct, this obstruction of justice, this kind of willing use of the help of a foreign adversary, all the lies and cover up, that this is non-impeachable.

“At the same time, if we do impeach him and he is acquitted as he would likely be acquitted, then the message is ‘those are not impeachable offenses.’

“At the end of the day Bill, there is only one way to deal with this problem, whether we impeach him or not, and that is to vote his ass out of office.”

Schiff also shared the opinion of his 90-something father, about Trump, that “if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, he’s probably a crook.”

I agree with Schiff on all of the above.

Trump Calls House Chairman Investigating Him A ‘Political Hack’

Donald Trump complained again today about so-called 'presidential harassment' when he was asked about the House Intelligence Committee moving forward with investigations into his finances and possible Russian ties.

Donald Trump complained again today about so-called ‘presidential harassment’ when he was asked about the House Intelligence Committee moving forward with investigations into his finances and possible Russian ties.

The ‘presidential harassment’ thing reminds me of the character in Mean Girls who keeps trying to get her invented catch-phrase to become popular. It’s not going to work.

Calling the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif), a ‘political hack,’ Trump added, “It’s just presidential harassment and it’s unfortunate and it really does hurt our country.”

Schiff announced Wednesday his committee would undertake a broad investigation “beyond Russia” into whether President Donald Trump’s financial interests are driving his actions.

The committee voted today to fulfill another priority of Schiff’s: releasing the transcripts of all witnesses before the House investigation to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The full, un-redacted transcripts will give Mueller the chance to ‘compare notes’ with his own interviews of Trump allies. Should he find discrepancies, Trump’s friends could be in big trouble. Lying to Congress is a felony.

For his part, Schiff issued his own statement saying, “I can understand why the idea of meaningful oversight terrifies the President. Several of his close associates are going to jail, others await trial, and criminal investigations continue. We’re going to do our job and won’t be distracted or intimidated by threats or attacks.”