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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► And so it begins. From The Washington Post:
The historic impeachment trial of President Trump got underway Thursday with the arrival in the Senate of the seven House managers to formally present the two charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
John G. Roberts Jr., chief justice of the United States, is headed to the Senate later Thursday, where he is expected to be sworn in to preside over the trial focused on the president’s conduct toward Ukraine. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the trial will get underway “in earnest” next week.
Fallout also continued Thursday from new allegations by Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, that Trump knew of his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine that could benefit Trump politically. The impeachment charges — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — center on the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including former vice president Joe Biden.
The Washington Post has more on the latest allegations from Lev Parnas that do not look good for President Trump.
► The Government Accountability Office says the Trump administration broke the law in attempting to restrict foreign aid to Ukraine. From the New York Times:
The Trump administration violated the law in withholding security assistance aid to Ukraine, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency said on Thursday, weighing in on a decision by President Trump that is at the heart of the impeachment case against him.
The Government Accountability Office said the White House’s Office of Management and Budget violated the Impoundment Control Act when it withheld nearly $400 million for “a policy reason,” even though the funds had been allocated by Congress. The decision was directed by the president himself, and during the House impeachment inquiry, administration officials testified that they had raised concerns about its legality to no avail.
“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the G.A.O. wrote. “The withholding was not a programmatic delay.”
“Trump did nothing wrong” was never a sustainable argument, but it has become downright silly now.
► Ahead of the Senate impeachment trial, all 100 U.S. Senators will take an “oath of impartiality” given by Chief Justice John Roberts that will go something like this:
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to run in terror from reporter questions about impeachment and President Trump, though late Wednesday he veered away from pretending to have not seen the articles of impeachment so that he could pay lip service to the idea of being “an impartial juror.” Meanwhile, it seems even some of the more unflappable Republican Senators are starting to snap under the pressure of trying to support a corrupt President:
Sen. Martha McSally, a Republican facing a difficult election race, lashed out when I asked if she would consider new evidence as part of the Senate trial. “You’re a liberal hack – I’m not talking to you. You’re a liberal hack.” She then walked into a hearing room.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 16, 2020
► Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is getting lots of attention as one of the seven House impeachment “managers” appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday. You can read more from The Denver Post, The Colorado Sun/CBS4, Denver7, and Colorado Public Radio.
Elsewhere, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) played a part in the historic decision to transmit articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate.
Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)