Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows two-thirds of voters want the Senate to call new impeachment witnesses

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Nearly two-thirds of registered voters (63 percent) agree with Democrats that the Senate should call new witnesses to testify during President Trump’s impeachment trial, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll. Only 26 percent of voters disagree.

Conducted on Jan. 21 and 22 as the Senate trial was getting underway, the poll suggests that broad majorities of Americans side with Democrats in the pitched partisan battle over whether new witnesses should be allowed to testify or whether they should be blocked, as Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has maintained.

In the survey, 85 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of independents said the Senate should call new witnesses. Among Republicans surveyed, 43 percent said the Senate should not call new witnesses, while 35 percent said witnesses should be called and 22 percent indicated they were unsure on the question.

When asked about specific possible witnesses, majorities of voters said they wanted to hear from each of the four Trump allies Democrats have formally identified. Sixty percent of voters said they wanted to hear from Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani; 57 percent said they wanted to hear from Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo; 53 percent said they wanted to hear from Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton; and 50 percent said they wanted to hear from Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. In each case, only about a quarter of voters said they did not want to hear from these figures. Both Giuliani and Bolton have said they would testify if summoned or subpoenaed.

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Registered voters were slightly less interested in Giuliani’s Ukraine fixer Lev Parnas, but a plurality (47 percent) still said they wanted to hear from him. Lest Democrats get too excited about those numbers, registered voters also support summoning both Joe Biden (52 percent in favor vs. 36 percent against) and Hunter Biden (50 percent in favor vs. 34 percent against) to testify.

Either way, the Americans surveyed expressed a lack of confidence in the Senate trial, with a plurality (42 percent) saying it will not be conducted fairly — 10 points higher than the percentage who say the trial will be fair. Among Democrats, the “unfair” response number rises to 63 percent, and a plurality of independents (40 percent) agree. Only Republicans (57 percent) believe the Senate will conduct a fair trial. A December Yahoo News/YouGov poll found that a plurality of Americans (49 percent) believed that House impeachment hearings had been fair to Trump.

Overall, registered voters remained divided over whether the president should be removed from office, with 46 percent saying he should, 45 percent saying he shouldn’t and nine percent saying they’re not sure. Three-quarters of registered voters, however, predict that the Republican-controlled Senate will decline to convict and remove Trump.

That said, a full 64 percent of registered voters in states holding an election for a Senate seat this November say that their senator’s vote on impeachment will be a “very important” factor in how they vote on Election Day, and 67 percent of voters nationwide say they are either following the trial “very closely” (35 percent) or “somewhat closely” (32 percent). Even if the outcome of Trump’s trial seems preordained, the stakes remain high.

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Ahead Of Arguments, Trump’s Legal Team Asserts He Did ‘Absolutely Nothing Wrong’

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The filing says the two articles of impeachment brought against the president don’t amount to impeachment offenses.

President Donald Trump’s legal team asserted Monday that he did “absolutely nothing wrong,” calling the impeachment case against him flimsy and a “dangerous perversion of the Constitution.”

The brief from Trump’s lawyers, filed ahead of arguments expected later this week in the Senate impeachment trial, offered the most detailed glimpse of the lines of defense they intend to use against Democratic efforts to convict the president and oust him from office over his dealings with Ukraine. It is meant as a counter to a brief filed two days ago by House Democrats that summarized weeks of testimony from more than a dozen witnesses in laying out the impeachment case.

The 110-page filing from the White House shifted the tone toward a more legal response but still hinged on Trump’s assertion he did nothing wrong and did not commit a crime — even though impeachment does not depend on a material violation of law but rather on the more vague definition of “other high crimes and misdemeanors” as established in the Constitution.

It says the two articles of impeachment brought against the president — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — don’t amount to impeachment offenses. It asserts that the impeachment inquiry centered on Trump’s request that Ukraine’s president open an investigation into Democratic rival Joe Biden was never about finding the truth.

“Instead, House Democrats were determined from the outset to find some way — any way — to corrupt the extraordinary power of impeachment for use as a political tool to overturn the result of the 2016 election and to interfere in the 2020 election,” Trump’s legal team wrote. “All of that is a dangerous perversion of the Constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn.”

The prosecution team of House managers was expected to spend another day on Capitol Hill preparing for the trial, which will be under heavy security. Ahead of the filing, House prosecutors arrived on Capitol Hill to tour the Senate chamber. Opening arguments are expected within days following a debate over rules.

The White House brief argues that the articles of impeachment passed by the House are “structurally deficient” because they charge multiple acts, creating “a menu of options” as possible grounds for conviction.

The Trump team claims that the Constitution requires that senators agree “on the specific basis for conviction” and that there is no way to ensure that the senators agree on which acts are worthy of removal. Senior administration officials argued that similar imprecision in the articles applied to the multi-part article of impeachment for perjury in the Bill Clinton impeachment trial.

They accused Democrats of diluting the standards for impeachment, an argument that echoed the case made Sunday by one of Trump’s attorneys, Alan Dershowitz, who contended on a series of talk shows that impeachable offenses must be “criminal-like conduct.” That assertion has been rejected by scholars, and Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, called it an “absurdist position.”.

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Are we really listening to what MLK had to say?

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In 2020, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday falls in a national election year, one that reminds us of the importance of voting rights, citizenship and political activism to the health of our democracy. King imagined America as a "beloved community" capable of defeating what he characterized as the triple threats of racism, militarism and materialism.

 

The passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act, alongside the 1954 Brown Supreme Court decision, represents the crown jewels of the civil rights movement's heroic period. Yet King quickly realized that policy transformations alone, including the right to vote, would be insufficient in realizing his goal of institutionalizing radical black citizenship toward the creation of the "beloved community." King argued that justice was what love looked like in public.
2020 also marks the 55th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act, legislation that proved transformative for black citizenship, at least until the 2013 Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision that has helped enable the increase of voter suppression nationally. The most powerful way Americans can honor King now is through the pursuit of new national voting rights legislation that ends voter suppression and ID laws, allows prisoners to vote and automatically registers every 18-year-old citizen to vote.
    Contemporary voting rights protection in America represents a failure of imagination and a threat to democracy. Grassroots movements, such as Moral Mondays in North Carolina, have worked to show how state legislatures have utilized the post-Shelby landscape to ensure anti-democratic majorities at the expense of genuine democracy and active voter participation. Proposed legislation, such as the the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019, seeks to restore the power of voting rights enforcement and other protections by establishing new rules that cover all states and allow for federal intervention in places with histories of active suppression over the previous 25 years.
     
    Additionally, the VRAA bill would offer increased protection for indigenous voting populations such as Native Americans and Native Alaskan populations. Democrats in the House of Representatives successfully passed the VRAA (H.R.4.) in December, although the bill has virtually no chance of approval in a Republican-dominated Senate where elected officials pay lip service to King's dreams even as they actively thwart their tangible political manifestations.
    Voting rights for black Americans, for King, represented an important step toward reimagining a nation free of racial violence, segregation, poverty and hate. Civil rights demonstrations in Selma, Alabama in 1965 galvanized support for voting rights legislation, which was finally passed on August 6 of that year. Less than a week after the passage of this landmark legislation, the Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles erupted in violence in the aftermath of police brutality. Racial violence in Watts shattered King, who visited the riot torn streets of Los Angeles.
    King came to increasingly believe that the "beloved community" represented not simply the absence of racial oppression but the presence of justice in every facet of American life. There is a cruel irony in national celebrations of King's legacy at the very moment where voter suppression is thriving across the landscape of American politics. The proliferation of voter ID laws, the purging of voter rolls and the passage of laws expressly designed to prevent blacks and people of color from exercising their franchise directly contradicts one of King's greatest legacies.
    Yet the radical citizenship that King advocated meant more than just voting rights. King defined citizenship as including voting rights, a living wage, adequate housing, access to health care, and excellent and racially integrated education. In contemporary America voting is one of the keys to opening up opportunity to racially segregated and economically impoverished communities of color. White Americans who disproportionately enjoy the positive benefits of citizenship are more likely than anyone to vote. Voting rights continue, well into the 21st century, to be one of the defining civil rights issues of our time, over a half century after that battle had been thought to have been won.
    America's celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. rests on the flawed understanding of his historic and contemporary legacy. Political leaders of varying ideological stripes embrace the most seemingly non-threatening aspects of King's legacy, namely his Christian religious faith and philosophy of non-violence. Turning King into a sanctified figure shorn of rough political edges allows us to celebrate the civil rights movement as a children's bedtime story, one with a happy ending.
      That story demands simple heroes, villains, defeats, and ultimate victories. In popular culture, autobiographies, and media it plays out as a thrilling narrative but makes for poor history, lacking the subtlety, nuance, and ambiguities that in fact shaped King's era and our own.
      Such ambiguities help explain how we can commemorate King on the one hand even as we eviscerate his legacy on the other. The Martin Luther King Holiday too often serves as an acknowledgment of past achievements rather than recognition of the contemporary battles that King would be waging in our own time. Unfortunately, voting rights remain a major part of the unfinished social justice business of the present.
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      Ex-RNC Chair Exposes ‘Un-American’ Hypocrisy Of GOP Senators In Donald Trump Trial

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      Michael Steele ripped Republican lawmakers who raised “their damn hand to swear an oath that they know they’re not going to defend nor uphold.”

      Michael Steele tore into the GOP senators who on Thursday took an oath to serve as honest jurors in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump despite previously claiming they don’t care about the evidence against the president in the Ukraine scandal.

      “Don’t stand in the chamber today and take the oath,” Steele, the former chair of the Republican National Committee, said in an interview with MSNBC’s Brian Williams and Nicolle Wallace.

      Continued Steele:

      Take your behind out of the chamber when it’s time to swear in, because you will be lying to the American people. Because you’ve already told us you plan not to be an honest juror. So, this is almost a joke in the sense that you have some of these senators walking into this room, standing in front of the country, standing in front of the chief justice of the United States, raising their damn hand to swear an oath that they know they’re not going to defend nor uphold.

      Steele, the RNC’s chair from 2009 to 2011, said it would signal to the American people that the rule of law “doesn’t matter, at least for some.”

      “It would matter for you,” said Steele, who has become a frequent Trump critic. “Don’t try that when you get called for jury duty the next time. Don’t try that when you’re sitting in front of a judge under indictment because the rules, when applied to you, will come crashing down around your head.”

      “That’s the responsibility at this moment that I think a lot of these members are going to let slip by,” Steele added, describing the actions of the Republican senators as “disgusting” and “un-American.”

      “They should be embarrassed to stand there and take the oath when they’ve already told us they plan to lie when they do so,” he concluded.


      Sen. Cory Booker suspends presidential campaign

      Sen. Cory Booker suspended his presidential campaign Monday, the final act of a bid for the Democratic nomination defined by a persistent struggle to catch fire with voters and donors despite his relatively high profile and long-standing presidential ambitions.

      The news of the senator’s decision came weeks before the Iowa caucuses, where, despite a large field organization Booker, D-N.J., was expected to finish outside of the top tier of candidates, based on recent polling. His announcement also comes on the eve of the seventh Democratic debate which he did not qualify to participate in due to a lack of qualifying polls towards Democratic National Committee polling thresholds, according to ABC News’ analysis.

      "It’s with a full heart that I share this news -- I’ve made the decision to suspend my campaign for president," Booker wrote supporters in an email, echoing the sentiment in a video. "It was a difficult decision to make, but I got in this race to win, and I’ve always said I wouldn’t continue if there was no longer a path to victory."

      He went on, "Our campaign has reached the point where we need more money to scale up and continue building a campaign that can win -- money we don’t have, and money that is harder to raise because I won’t be on the next debate stage and because the urgent business of impeachment will rightly be keeping me in Washington. So I’ve chosen to suspend my campaign now, take care of my wonderful staff, and give you time to consider the other strong choices in the field.

      Booker, 50, who has served in the U.S. Senate since 2013 following two terms as mayor of Newark, New Jersey’s most-populated city, centered his presidential campaign around an optimistic message of unity and love, aiming to counter the division and “hate” he maimed had come to characterize politics under the presidency of Donald Trump.

      "I think a lot of folks are beginning to feel that the forces that are tearing us apart in this country are stronger than the forces that tie us together. I don't believe that," Booker said on “The View” in February 2019, during his first television interview after announcing his presidential run. "So, I'm running to restore our sense of common purpose, to focus on the common pain that we have all over this country."

      While the senator’s extensive resume — including degrees from Stanford and Yale and a Rhodes scholarship — media savvy and bipartisan achievements, including on criminal justice reform, led observers to believe he would be a formidable presidential candidate, Booker quickly found himself mired in the low single-digits in national polls of the crowded field shortly after launching his campaign.

      Those anemic numbers would ultimately lead to the senator’s exclusion from debates in both December and January, due to Democratic Party rules requiring candidates achieve numbers above specific thresholds in order to participate. Following Sen. Kamala Harris', D-Calif., decision to drop out of the race in December, Booker became increasingly outspoken about the lack of diversity in the presidential debates and decried the circumstances that allowed the field's billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer to build name-recognition by purchasing television advertisements using their personal fortunes.

      Though he previously turned in debate performances throughout the summer of 2019 that were almost universally well-reviewed, they weren’t enough to bolster the Booker’s position in the field nor boost his fundraising numbers — which he openly acknowledged last fall when his campaign embarked on a transparent push to remain in the race.

      The remaining 2020 Democratic presidential field lauded Booker for working on issues of justice, equality and trying to ensure diverse coalitions work together.

      The 10-day, $1.7 million late-September sprint was ultimately successful in keeping the senator in the race, and he’d go on to eventually increase his fundraising numbers in 2019’s final months, but Booker’s totals continued to pale in comparison to those of candidates in the race’s top tier, in some cases by as much as $20 million per quarter.

      "Thank you, @CoryBooker. You've always been a powerful voice for justice and equality, and you've made this primary stronger," Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts wrote on Twitter. "I know you will continue to be a leader in the fight to defeat Donald Trump and build a stronger future for America.

      “Cory, you campaigned with joy and heart, and instead of just talking about bringing people together, you did it every day. You made our politics better just by running. Grateful to you and looking forward to your continued leadership,” former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted.

      Despite his exit from the race, Booker’s center-left platform, strong stump presence and relative youth are likely keep him in the campaign conversation as a potential running-mate for the eventual Democratic nominee. In 2016, he was vetted by the Hillary Clinton campaign for the role that was ultimately filled by his Senate colleague Tim Kaine, D-Va. The senator will appear on the New Jersey ballots regardless come November as he is up for re-election for a second full-term.

      “I can’t wait to get back out on the campaign trail and campaign as hard as I can for whoever is the eventual nominee and for candidates up and down the ballot,” Booker said in the video.

      Booker’s team said he will run for re-election in the Senate.

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