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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► The House Judiciary Committee today began its role in impeachment hearings by hearing testimony from prominent legal experts as to whether evidence unearthed thus far constitutes impeachable conduct by President Trump. Today’s hearings come one day after the House Intelligence Committee released a thorough report on findings from weeks of impeachment hearings and investigations. From The Washington Post:
“Ultimately the reason the Constitution provided for impeachment was to anticipate a situation like the one that is before you today,” Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman testified. “If we cannot impeach a president who uses his power for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy, we live in a monarchy or a dictatorship.”
The questioning had the air of an introductory constitutional law class focused on impeachment – including a featured chart listing the A, the B, and the C of high crimes and misdemeanors: Abuse of Power, Betrayal of National Interest, and Corruption of Elections.
House Democrats’ committee counsel Norm Eisen asked the law professors to explain whether it was necessary for Trump to have committed a statutory crime to be impeached. University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt said no. The scale of Trump’s obstruction was an abuse, he stressed, because it “torpedoes” the separation of powers in the Constitution.
“If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,” he said.
One of the more dramatic moments in early testimony came after Republican Rep. Doug Collins questioned the knowledge and preparation of the legal experts testifying today. Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan was incensed at the suggestion:
“That everything I know about our Constitution and its values and my review of the evidentiary record and here, Mr. Collins, I would like to say to you, sir, that I read transcripts of every one of the witnesses who appeared in the live hearing because I would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts, so I’m insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts.”
Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) are both members of the House Judiciary Committee and were in attendance this morning…though Buck must have had something more important to do later:
It was revealed last week that Buck, who also serves as the Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, blew off most of the prior impeachment hearings that he was invited to attend as a member of the House Judiciary Committee.
► President Trump is making a fool of himself and the United States at the NATO summit in London, and foreign leaders are having a hard time ignoring the circus. As CNN explains:
After President Donald Trump called him “two-faced,” Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, admitted Wednesday that he and other world leaders were talking about the US President when they were caught on camera at a Buckingham Palace event the night before.
The video, which has gone viral, shows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, Trudeau and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte appearing to have a laugh about Trump’s behavior during the summit. But none of the leaders explicitly named Trump.
“Last night I made reference to the fact that there was an unscheduled press conference before my meeting with President Trump. I was happy to be part of it but it was certainly notable,” Trudeau said during a Wednesday press conference.
As The Washington Post adds, Trump was clearly stung by the reaction of his counterparts:
Trump was later caught on an audio recording bragging to an unidentified summit attendee, “That was funny when I said that guy was two-faced.”
CLICK HERE to watch the video of foreign leaders expressing exasperation with Trump during a conversation at Buckingham Palace.
► North Korea is making vague threats toward the United States about expecting a “Christmas Gift” in the upcoming weeks. From CNN:
The ominous comments, which some have interpreted as a sign that North Korea could resume long-distance missile tests, comes as the clock ticks closer to the country’s self-imposed end-of-year deadline for nuclear negotiations with the Trump administration.
Talks between the two sides have appeared to be in a rut in recent months, with North Korea conducting several shorter-range missile tests.
In a statement translated on the state news agency, Ri Thae Song, a first vice minister at the North Korean Foreign Ministry working on US affairs, accused US policy makers of leveraging talks with Kim Jong Un for domestic political gain.
“The dialogue touted by the US is, in essence, nothing but a foolish trick hatched to keep the DPRK bound to dialogue and use it in favor of the political situation and election in the US,” Ri said, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“It is entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select to get,” added Ri.
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), the self-professed “leader in the Senate” on North Korea, STILL hasn’t said a public word about this or anything related to strained U.S. relations with South Korea.
Gardner also won’t comment on Trump’s claims of election interference by Ukraine, but he will still say that Russia should be labeled a “state sponsor of terror.”
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