Jan 19, 2020

Trump's concede-nothing defense

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump's lawyers plan to make an aggressively dismissive case when the Senate impeachment trial opens this week.

Driving the news: "President Trump categorically and unequivocally denies each and every allegation in both articles of impeachment," Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal lawyer, wrote in a seven-page response to Democrats released yesterday.

  • The document calls the articles of impeachment "constitutionally invalid on their face," and "a dangerous ... brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election."

The length and tone contrast with the 111-page, 319-footnote "Trial Memorandum" by the seven Dems who are House impeachment managers.

  • "The evidence overwhelmingly establishes that he is guilty," the Democrats write. "The only remaining question is whether the members of the Senate will accept and carry out the responsibility placed on them by the Framers of our Constitution and their constitutional Oaths."
  • "President Trump's conduct is the Framers’ worst nightmare."

Why it matters: The Trump lawyers' blanket statements, and the brevity of their arguments, suggest they have confidence that the Senate Republicans won’t let the president down when their big loyalty test comes.

  • Smart brevity on the strategy: Concede nothing, admit nothing, apologize for nothing. Talk for TV. And don’t get into the weeds.

🥊 The most extraordinary line from the document, "THE HONORABLE DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, HEREBY RESPONDS":

  • "The President's actions on the July 25, 2019, telephone call with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine ... were constitutional, perfectly legal, completely appropriate, and taken in furtherance of our national interest."

Reality check: The Government Accountability Office found that the administration broke the law by withholding Ukraine aid — funds that impeachment witnesses said were in the interest of U.S. national security.

  • Witnesses argued that the campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens was a "domestic political errand," as Fiona Hill put it.
  • Rudy himself has said he was acting as the president's personal agent.

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U.S. enters 6th day of nationwide protests over George Floyd's killing

A protest in Philadelphia on May 31. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The D.C. National Guard is being called to assist police with protests, per AP, as protests continue past the city's 11 p.m. curfew.

What's happening: Police fired tear gas into a crowd of over 1,000 people in Washington, D.C.'s Lafayette Square across from the White House one hour before Sunday's 11 p.m. curfew, AP reports. Earlier in the night, protestors held a stand off in Lafayette Square, after previously breaking through a White House police barricade. A fire in the basement of the city's historic St. Johns Church was extinguished.

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Dozens of journalists across the country tweeted videos Saturday night of themselves and their crews getting arrested, being shot at by police with rubber bullets, targeted with tear gas by authorities or assaulted by protesters.

Driving the news: The violence got so bad over the weekend that on Sunday the Cleveland police said the media was not allowed downtown unless "they are inside their place of business" — drawing ire from news outlets around the country, who argued that such access is a critical part of adequately covering protests.

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The tanker after plowing into protesters on the shut-down bridge in Minneapolis on Sunday evening. Authorities said it appeared protesters escaped injury. Photo: Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Minnesota authorities said in a statement they're investigating as a criminal matter what happened with a truck that "drove into demonstrators" on a Minneapolis bridge Sunday evening while the eight-lane road was closed for a protest.

What they're saying: Minnesota Department of Public Safety tweeted, "Very disturbing actions by a truck driver on I-35W, inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators. The truck driver was injured & taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He is under arrest. It doesn't appear any protesters were hit by the truck."