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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 311)

Andrew McCarthy: In Trump impeachment trial, Senate right to block new witness testimony

Westlake Legal Group image Andrew McCarthy: In Trump impeachment trial, Senate right to block new witness testimony fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/politics/elections/house-of-representatives fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc c4d4d79b-9328-5391-92d6-2beba643924b article Andrew McCarthy

The Senate was right to vote Friday against hearing new witness testimony at President Trump’s impeachment trial. The Democrats’ demand for new witnesses at the trial was a red herring – a talking point that had some surface appeal but, upon scrutiny, was nonsense.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and the other impeachment managers claim that there have been no witnesses in the trial. They said before the Senate voted 51-49 Friday to block more witnesses that if Republicans did note vote to approve subpoenas for former National Security Adviser John Bolton, among other top current and former administration officials, that the trial will be a “sham” – an exercise in “cover-up.” You can’t have a real trial, was their refrain, unless witnesses are called.

It is nonsense. There have been plenty of witnesses. Schiff’s problem is that the additional witnesses he wanted to call would not change what has already been proved in any meaningful way.

GOP BLOCKS WITNESSES IN SENATE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, AS FINAL VOTE COULD DRAG TO NEXT WEEK

Obviously, what’s happening in the Senate is not a trial in any familiar sense. We are used to judicial trials. Impeachment presents something completely different, a Senate trial. The Senate is a political body, not a law court.

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In the Senate, there are no trial procedures like those that govern judicial trials. The federal rules of evidence do not apply. Neither do the rules of criminal or civil procedure. You could not have a judicial trial without these rules.

In stark contrast, the Senate trial has featured a mountain of hearsay, press reports read into the record, witnesses testifying about their opinions on subjects they are utterly unqualified to opine on, and so on. None of that would be permitted in a judicial trial.

Even Chief Justice John Roberts – though he is a federal judge, is wearing his robe, and occupies a desk raised above the well – is not sitting as a judge in the usual sense. Under the Constitution, the Senate has the sole power over impeachment trials. The chief justice does not have power over the proceedings as he would in a court.

The Democrats’ problem is not that they’ve been stopped from proving their case. They did prove their case … but their case is, at best, a petty crime, while impeachment is akin to capital punishment

In the impeachment trial, Roberts is the presiding officer, not the judge. The Senate is the judge. For the sake of moving things along, the chief justice is ostensibly permitted to make rulings (for example, his refusal to allow a question from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., relating to the so-called “whistleblower”). But any ruling Roberts makes can be overruled by the Senate.

Remember, ordinarily the vice president is the presiding officer in Senate proceedings. But the framers realized that it would be inappropriate for the vice president to preside over an impeachment trial of the president. To avoid the obvious conflicts of interest, the chief justice was substituted for that purpose. But the task is ministerial, not judicial.

Just as the role of the judge and the governing rules in a Senate impeachment trial are night-and-day different from what takes places in a judicial trial, so too is the manner of presenting witness testimony.

In point of fact, there have been over a dozen witnesses at the impeachment trial. They have not physically come into the Senate and testified. Rather, they testified in the House investigation. Their testimony is all in the record of the Senate trial, and both the House managers and the president’s counsel relied on it in making their arguments.

That is actually not much of a departure from judicial trials. Routinely, in an effort to complete a trial expeditiously, opposing parties enter witness stipulations. These are agreements that, “if X were to be called as a witness, X would testify as follows” – with the two sides then summarizing what they mutually agree with witness would say.

The lawyers do not have to agree on why the testimony is relevant or whether it is true; just that their summary accurately reflects what the witness’ testimony would be if he or she came to court.

In effect, that is what has happened in the impeachment trial. Both sides are assuming that the many witnesses who testified before the House would give exactly the same testimony in the Senate that they gave in the House.

Another salient difference between judicial trials and the Senate impeachment trial is motion practice. In a normal criminal case, for example, there is no guarantee that any witnesses will testify. Instead, the defendant is permitted to make pretrial motions seeking dismissal of the charges – including on the ground that the indictment fails to state a cognizable offense.

When such a motion is made, the judge assumes for argument’s sake that all of the factual claims the prosecutors have made are true.

If the judge grants the motion, it means that even if all the testimony and documentary evidence came out precisely the way the prosecutors have alleged they would come out, the case still has to be dismissed because the charges are legally insufficient. There is thus no need to call witnesses – end of story.

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If that procedure had been available in the Senate trial, the case would have been thrown out without any witnesses.

The consensus position of Republican senators is what Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced as his conclusion on Thursday night: The Democratic House managers proved their case that the president pressured Ukraine to conduct investigations that might help him politically; but the allegation does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense – because there ultimately were no investigations, because Ukraine got its U.S. aid and was not harmed, because it was lawful (even if unwise) for Trump to ask Ukraine to look into the activities of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son for purposes of rooting out corruption, and so on.

Republicans have drawn that conclusion based on hundreds of hours of witness testimony set forth in thousands of pages of transcripts and available for viewing on video recordings. There has been plenty of witness testimony.

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The important consideration when it came to Bolton is not whether he would physically show up in the Senate chamber, take the oath, and give testimony. It was whether his testimony would change anything. It wouldn’t. If he testified in a manner that is consistent with press reporting about his soon-to-be-published memoir, it would prove that the president pressured Ukraine for investigations.

The House managers have already proved that.

There is no need to belabor the point. The Democrats’ problem is not that they’ve been stopped from proving their case. They did prove their case … but their case is, at best, a petty crime, while impeachment is akin to capital punishment. It’s not that we approve of petty crime; it’s that petty crime is not a capital case. And even if Bolton testified, it wouldn’t become one.

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Westlake Legal Group image Andrew McCarthy: In Trump impeachment trial, Senate right to block new witness testimony fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/politics/elections/house-of-representatives fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc c4d4d79b-9328-5391-92d6-2beba643924b article Andrew McCarthy   Westlake Legal Group image Andrew McCarthy: In Trump impeachment trial, Senate right to block new witness testimony fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/politics/elections/house-of-representatives fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc c4d4d79b-9328-5391-92d6-2beba643924b article Andrew McCarthy

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Trump Hotel Patrons Relish Impeachment Finale

Westlake Legal Group merlin_164582592_5e2a5601-6dc8-4ec2-b4fd-6e9bf05000bf-facebookJumbo Trump Hotel Patrons Relish Impeachment Finale United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Trump Organization Trump National Doral Miami (Doral, Fla) Trump International Hotel (Washington, DC) Presidential Election of 2020 Parnas, Lev Mar-a-Lago (Palm Beach, Fla) Hyde, Robert F Giuliani, Rudolph W Conflicts of Interest

WASHINGTON — The big-screen televisions beamed constant impeachment updates into the sprawling lobby of the Trump International Hotel near the White House on Friday afternoon, with Fox News declaring “high stakes vote looms on impeachment witnesses.”

But among the guests at this venue, which played a key supporting role in the impeachment drama, there was little question how this chapter would soon be ending: an acquittal of the hotel owner and commander in chief.

“They knew they did not have a case,” said Robert F. Hyde, a long-shot Republican congressional candidate and Trump hotel regular, who was suspected of having put Marie L. Yovanovitch under surveillance while she was the United States ambassador to Ukraine.

He was sitting at the bar, eating a chopped wedge salad and sipping on both a Diet Coke and a cup of coffee. “There is no treason, no bribery,” he said. “No abuse of power.”

Business was brisk on Friday, with a collection of more than two dozen Marines and their families assembled in the lobby, as well as business executives in town to make pitches to the federal government, and an assortment of other fans of President Trump.

Spending at the hotel by political groups has continued uninterrupted during the impeachment proceedings, including by the Republican National Committee, which has paid more than $440,000 to the hotel since Mr. Trump was elected. America First Action, a super PAC that supports Mr. Trump’s causes, has spent another $505,000 at the hotel since 2017.

“NEVER SETTLE,” read the screen on the cash register, the slogan of the Trump Hotels brand, and in a way a motto for Mr. Trump himself throughout the impeachment saga.

The hotel was the regular gathering place for many of the key players in the tale.

Lev Parnas, who pressured officials in Ukraine to investigate the Biden family, called it “our BLT office on the second floor,” referring to the BLT Prime steakhouse on the mezzanine overlooking the hotel lobby, which Mr. Trump frequents for dinner.

“It was like a breeding ground at the Trump hotel,” Mr. Parnas told Rachel Maddow recently.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and the architect of the pressure campaign, dines so frequently at BLT Prime that he has a regular table with a nameplate reading, “Rudolph W. Giuliani, Private Office.” He was there Thursday night, chatting with a lobbyist for the medical marijuana industry.

One of Mr. Trump’s most ardent congressional supporters, Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, as well as Corey Lewandowski, the president’s former political aide, were spotted at the hotel lobby earlier this week.

Kurt D. Volker, the former United States special envoy to Ukraine, scheduled so many meetings at the Trump’s hotel with figures at the center of the impeachment inquiry — including Mr. Parnas and Andriy Yermak, a close adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky — that investigators asked why he picked the venue so frequently.

“Because I was guessing that’s where Rudy was going to be staying, so that would be the easiest thing to do,” Mr. Volker said.

Mr. Hyde had his own moment of fame at Trump International, after he suggested to Mr. Parnas here that he had Ms. Yovanovitch under surveillance, something he now says he made up.

Mr. Hyde, who says he is running for a House seat in Connecticut, still hangs at the hotel when he is in Washington, as it offers him an opportunity to network with key players in the Trump administration, or at least the circle of people trying to influence Mr. Trump.

He walked up the hotel manager, Mickael Damelincourt, on Friday to say hello and do a quick fist bump, and greeted one of the bartenders by her first name, before ordering his lunch.

Mr. Hyde was wearing a jersey from Trump National Doral in Miami, a hotel and golf resort where Mr. Hyde said he is a member, a status that also gets him into Mar-a-Lago, the Trump family private club in Palm Beach, Fla., where he can also network.

He was passing out stickers and buttons from his congressional campaign, which continues even though Republican Party leaders in Connecticut have urged him to drop out. Nearby, a waiter took out a small blow torch to ignite a piece of rosemary that hangs above a $22 candied-bacon bar snack.

Patrons at the bar glanced up occasionally at the continued impeachment debate on Friday afternoon. (CNN was on the television on the left, and Fox News on the right.) But there was supreme confidence that this chapter of the Trump era was drawing to a close.

“It needs to be over with — done,” said Melissa Butler, from Columbia, S.C., who said she voted for Mr. Trump and intends to support him again, as she nibbled on a plate of tuna tartar and sipped on a glass of white wine. “It is ridiculous that they brought this up in the first place.”

As the Senate prepared to vote on the question of witnesses will be called, the hotel bar was packed with dozens of patrons, drinks in hand.

“Need popcorn,” said a woman at the bar who declined to be named as the votes were being counted. “Waste of time and taxpayer money.”

The Trump family has announced that it may sell the Washington hotel, which opened in late 2016 and quickly became one of the top sources of revenue for the Trump Organization. A company executive did not respond on Friday when asked how the bidding process was going or if a sale was still being considered.

Litigation continues over several lawsuits claiming that Mr. Trump is violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause that prohibits payments to the president from foreign governments or domestic government entities.

But politically connected business has hardly slowed down.

Jonathan Lubecky said he still comes to peruse the lobby and look for people of influence he can grab to press his cause, medical marijuana. That is how he ended up on Thursday speaking with Mr. Giuliani, who he was sitting at his regular table.

“I just go in and I get a drink and see who is there in the lobby that is a target of opportunity to talk to,” Mr. Lubecky said.

Big moneymaking events also continued to be scheduled at the Trump hotel, including gatherings of Texas, Florida and Oklahoma bankers, Texas truckers, as well as pipeline contractors, two doctors’ groups and a Greek-American association, according to a list compiled by 1100 Pennsylvania, a newsletter that tracks activity at the hotel.

“The hotel continues — it is going to roll on — until the president no longer has the hotel or the hotel no longer has the presidency,” said Zach Everson, who runs the 1100 Pennsylvania site. “The end of the impeachment saga means nothing here.”

Mr. Trump, at least, will not likely be at his Washington hotel this weekend. He flew out Friday afternoon for Mar-a-Lago, giving reporters a thumbs up as he left the White House.

Kenneth P. Vogel contributed reporting.

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As Senate Rejects Witnesses, House Considers A Subpoena For John Bolton

Westlake Legal Group 5e34aafc240000b60d64ef72 As Senate Rejects Witnesses, House Considers A Subpoena For John Bolton

WASHINGTON ― With the Republican-controlled Senate poised to acquit President Donald Trump on two articles of impeachment without calling a single witness, the Democratic-controlled House may take another look at subpoenaing additional Trump administration officials ― chief among them, former national security adviser John Bolton.

Bolton has practically been begging to be a witness in the Senate trial. He said at the beginning of January that he would testify if the Senate called him, and the explosive claims in his forthcoming book have demonstrated the need to hear him under oath.

Bolton’s manuscript states that he has firsthand knowledge of Trump’s scheme to withhold security aid to Ukraine until leaders of that country agreed to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Bolton claims that Trump explicitly told him he wouldn’t release the aid until Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced an investigation into the Bidens. In other words, his book says the president confirmed the quid pro quo.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been cagey about whether the House would subpoena Bolton. But she said Thursday that, while she hoped and prayed senators would listen to other witnesses ― specifically name-checking Bolton ― she also believed there’s “more truth for the American people to know.”

“We’ll see what happens after,” Pelosi said, at that point waiting for the Senate to decide whether to allow witnesses.

Since the Senate blocked a motion to call witnesses on Friday evening, subpoenaing Bolton is about to become a key priority of many House Democrats.

All week, Democratic lawmakers made clear that if the Senate didn’t call Bolton to testify, then the House should.

The speaker has not ruled that out, but It’s absurd if the Senate doesn’t call him,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) told HuffPost.

“I know others have been looking into it,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said of subpoenaing Bolton in the House.

And Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, was emphatic: “Oh, we absolutely should subpoena Bolton if they don’t. Yeah, no question. I mean, if we have to wait for a book to come out, that’s a pretty pathetic way for Congress to deal with this.”

Rather than a question of whether the House will subpoena Bolton, the real issue may be whether he will abide by the order to testify.

Bolton’s initial refusal to testify in the House impeachment investigation scared off Democrats from entering into a potentially long court battle to force him to appear. While the courts have previously ruled that other officials ― like former White House Counsel Don McGahn ― must comply with congressional subpoenas, Bolton’s lawyers indicated that a subpoena for him would require a separate court case because of the classified and national security implications of his testimony.

It’s unclear if Bolton would now agree to speak under oath to the House or if he’d still fight a subpoena. 

House Democrats have thus far avoided calling outright for a Bolton subpoena because they wanted to keep the pressure on the Senate. They didn’t want to give GOP senators the excuse to claim they didn’t need to hear Bolton testify because the House would.

“We shouldn’t be going to the ifs,” Progressive Caucus co-chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told HuffPost. “Because, well, sure, the House can do that, just like we can wait for Bolton’s book to come forward. But the responsibility is with the Senate to actually call him as a witness, and nobody should allow them to get away with shifting the attention to anybody else.”

With the Senate voting down witnesses, however, and the impeachment trial nearing its expected end, that dynamic in the House will shift significantly.

Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened,” is scheduled to be released on March 17, and it should provide some clarity on what he would testify. But Democrats argue that it’s important for Bolton to speak to Congress under oath, given that President Trump has disputed his account.

“I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens,” Trump tweeted earlier this week. “In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination.”

Trump claimed that Bolton was only providing this account “to sell a book” and that the rough transcript of his call with Zelensky was all the proof he needed to refute it.

According to notes from that July 2019 call, Trump asked Zelensky for a favor: look into alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election (a debunked conspiracy theory) and look into the alleged corruption of the Bidens.

At the same time, Trump was withholding aid to Ukraine. U.S. officials later conveyed to the Ukrainians that it was their understanding the aid would not be released and there would not be a White House meeting with Zelensky if he didn’t announce those investigations.

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Discussion Thread: Senate Impeachment Trial – Day 11: Closing Statements and Votes | 01/31/2020 – Part III

Westlake Legal Group Ij265Hq-H-Y7glZHrZ-Cd-n9VOePWCa9vnPM_KsShl8 Discussion Thread: Senate Impeachment Trial - Day 11: Closing Statements and Votes | 01/31/2020 - Part III r/politics

Today the Senate Impeachment Trial of President Donald Trump continues with the final rounds of debate and closing statements, followed by one or more votes. The Senate session is scheduled to begin at 1pm EST.

Today’s Session will consist of two or more components, depending on how votes are cast.


The Articles of Impeachment brought against President Donald Trump are:


You can watch or listen to the proceedings live, via the links below:

You can also listen online via:


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Super Bowl LIV: Peyton Manning’s advice to Chiefs, 49ers players battling long week before game

Westlake Legal Group Peyton-Manning Super Bowl LIV: Peyton Manning's advice to Chiefs, 49ers players battling long week before game Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nfl/san-francisco-49ers fox-news/sports/nfl/kansas-city-chiefs fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/news-events/super-bowl fox news fnc/sports fnc article a83b4a0d-ebda-57a4-934a-1e9b4f71ae8e

Peyton Manning knows a thing or two about winning Super Bowls.

The former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos star came away with two rings out of three tries during his career between the two teams. He made an appearance at the DIRECTV NFL Sunday Ticket Lounge in Miami Beach, Fla., on Friday and was asked by ESPN and ABC broadcaster Joe Tessitore what he did to manage Super Bowl week and the advice he can share to players on the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers.

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Manning said players participating in the Super Bowl are going through a challenging week, but it’s important for them to keep their schedules and not get entrapped in the chaos.

“The advice that I got was to do the same thing you normally did all season. If you took your wife out to eat on Friday night, do that now, here. Do the things that got you here,” Manning said. “For some reason, some teams and some players would be like, ‘OK I’m at the Super Bowl, I gotta do things [that] are totally different. I gotta stay out ‘til midnight watching film. I don’t need to lift weights’ … and then get totally out whack, and when they get to the game they don’t feel comfortable.”

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Manning said he was sure that both teams’ head coaches will have things under control.

“I really feel like Andy Reid, who’s been here before, and Kyle Shanahan, who saw his dad coach a Super Bowl-winning team, they’ll handle all of that,” he added.

ANDY REID WINNING SUPER BOWL LIV WOULD MAKE HIS FORMER PLAYER ‘ECSTATIC’

It will be the first Super Bowl for many players on Sunday.

Chiefs players Patrick Mahomes, Damien Williams, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are among the stars playing in their first big game, and 49ers players George Kittle, Raheem Mostert and Deebo Samuel are all getting their feet wet, as well.

Westlake Legal Group Peyton-Manning Super Bowl LIV: Peyton Manning's advice to Chiefs, 49ers players battling long week before game Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nfl/san-francisco-49ers fox-news/sports/nfl/kansas-city-chiefs fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/news-events/super-bowl fox news fnc/sports fnc article a83b4a0d-ebda-57a4-934a-1e9b4f71ae8e   Westlake Legal Group Peyton-Manning Super Bowl LIV: Peyton Manning's advice to Chiefs, 49ers players battling long week before game Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nfl/san-francisco-49ers fox-news/sports/nfl/kansas-city-chiefs fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/news-events/super-bowl fox news fnc/sports fnc article a83b4a0d-ebda-57a4-934a-1e9b4f71ae8e

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Inside the California Military Base a Coronavirus Evacuee Tried to Flee

Westlake Legal Group CORONAVIRUS-AMERICAN--facebookJumbo Inside the California Military Base a Coronavirus Evacuee Tried to Flee Riverside County (Calif) Quarantines Military Bases and Installations March Air Reserve Base (Calif) Evacuations and Evacuees Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China

LOS ANGELES — This week, a group of strangers came together under a warm Southern California sun. They played ball with their children. They took jogs down tree-lined paths. They watched movies in the afternoon.

They also had their temperatures taken several times a day by medical personnel. And they are not allowed to leave the premises.

This makeshift community on a military base in Riverside, Calif., is made up of evacuees from Wuhan, the city in China that is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. The 195 people, including diplomats, infants, a football player and a theme-park designer, are among Americans who have managed to leave Wuhan since a quarantine was imposed.

[Read about the latest developments in the coronavirus outbreak here.]

Now they find themselves stuck in place in the United States. The federal government on Friday imposed a 14-day quarantine, retroactive to when the plane left Wuhan. The patients were initially told they had to wait at least 72 hours for medical testing to be completed.

The group arrived in the United States on Wednesday aboard the only chartered plane the State Department has flown to carry evacuees from China. As they passed time on the March Air Reserve Base, waiting until they can be cleared to leave by medical officials, some recalled unsettling, eerie final days in Wuhan and a jarring scene as the plane finally carried them away.

“It was surreal,” said Matthew McCoy, a theme-park designer, recalling the airplane crew members in hazardous material suits tending to passengers in masks. “They were trying to keep us calm, but they had these guys covered from head to toe taking your temperature. It felt like a C.I.A. cargo plane.”

To contain the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 200 people and infected thousands, people have been quarantined on a cruise ship, in hospital wards and on an island.

Late Wednesday, hours after the plane arrived in California, a passenger tried to leave the base and was intercepted, local officials in Riverside County said. A quarantine order was issued to that passenger, a spokeswoman for the county said, because of “the unknown risks to the public should someone leave the base without undergoing a full health evaluation.”

With ample time on their hands, the passengers performed mundane tasks.

“I’m working out, watching movies, eating well,” said Jarred Evans, 27, a football player from New York City who has been living in Wuhan for two years, where he plays for the Chinese National Football League champions, the Wuhan Berserkers. He has also been through numerous checks. “I’ve never had my temperature taken so many times in my life,” he said.

From his room at an inn on the military base, Mr. McCoy said, “It’s not Club Med, but we’re fortunate to be here. I try to stay busy with my work, social media and my hotel workout regimen.” The Spanish-style hotel, which boasts stucco archways and a large courtyard, faces a verdant lawn.

After a stopover in Anchorage for refueling and medical screening, the passengers were greeted in California by experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who conducted medical tests and offered psychological counseling. Noses and throats were swabbed. Blood was drawn. Temperatures were taken, again.

Some recalled bleak, sometimes terrifying, last days in Wuhan.

Mr. Evans, a former quarterback at the University of Cincinnati, moved to Wuhan when he was recruited to play for the city’s American football team.

It had been a good season: His team had won the national championship in Shanghai on Jan. 8.

“I fell in love with Chinese culture,” he said, “and I got to be the face of American football in China.”

But when the coronavirus began spreading through Wuhan, Mr. Evans shut himself inside his apartment, stocked up with rice, noodles, eggs and disinfectant.

“I did exactly what every Chinese person did,” he said.

“I locked myself in. The city turned into a ghost town,” Mr. Evans said. But he felt isolated, he said, and his mother, back in the United States, was worried for his safety.

When he heard of a flight out of the country, he quickly filled out the online forms. An email from the United States Embassy in Beijing arrived, which read: “Space on this flight is extremely limited and we respectfully request that you not share details regarding the flight, including on social media.”

Mr. Evans learned that he was No. 171 on a flight that could accommodate about 200, he said. “I felt very lucky to be chosen out of all U.S. residents in Wuhan,” he said. Some Americans reported that they had tried to get a seat on the flight but were told there was no room.

Mr. McCoy, who lives in Shanghai, was in Wuhan working on a mall he is refashioning into a theme park when he got caught in the lockdown.

The atmosphere in the city was “just short of panic,” he recalled.

A former Marine who has run 12 marathons and stays in good shape, Mr. McCoy said he was convinced he had not contracted the virus. But he still took the outbreak seriously. He decided it was worth plunking down $1,100 for a one-way ticket to the United States.

When the American group left Wuhan, it had been made aware it would have to remain in an isolated location for at least 72 hours.

“This quarantine will occur for a minimum of 72 hours and may extend through 14 days or may be followed by conditional release with health monitoring,” said an email that he received before the flight. Mr. McCoy said that had not troubled most people. “Everyone was cool with that. We are trying to be patriots, trying to help,” he said. “We’re a captive audience here.”

On Thursday morning, their first full day back in the United States, the group downed breakfast burritos, juice and coffee. For lunch, they received a hearty taco salad with chicken.

An invitation slipped under the doors of the hotel rooms promised a “town hall discussion.” Federal health officials urged the group to remain on the base until receiving full medical clearance.

Now it was a matter of waiting.

Outside, there were refreshments, chips, cookies and toys. Scooters, footballs, soccer balls and Frisbees were available.

“People here have been really nice,” Mr. Evans said. “Everybody is in great spirits. Nobody is panicking or freaking out.”

There is no shaking hands or hugging, though, and most people were keeping on their masks.

Susan C. Beachy contributed research from New York.

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Republicans Are Twisting Themselves Into Knots Trying To Justify Acquitting Trump

Westlake Legal Group 5e34914224000069090b780e Republicans Are Twisting Themselves Into Knots Trying To Justify Acquitting Trump

WASHINGTON ― Republican senators are providing incredulous explanations of their views on President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign toward Ukraine and what sort of punishment he deserves over it ― if any ― as a final vote on whether to remove him from office looms in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The swift acquittal promised by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at the trial’s outset became all but certain Thursday night when Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a key swing vote, indicated he’d vote against calling witnesses in a vote on Friday. On Friday, the Senate followed through and voted to block witnesses from appearing ― a first in the history of presidential impeachment trials.

Alexander, in a statement explaining his decision, said he saw “no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven” ― i.e., that Trump pressured Ukraine to open investigations into a chief political rival, former vice president Joe Biden. The position contradicted Trump’s denial of that charge ― the crux of the impeachment case against him ― and the embrace of that denial by many other Republicans for months.

Alexander, who is not seeking another term this November, then argued that Trump’s actions, though “inappropriate,” do not meet the bar for an impeachable offense. And he said that the conflict over Trump’s actions ought to instead be remedied in November’s presidential election ― the very same election the president has tried to influence by seeking dirt on Biden, who may emerge as the Democratic nominee.

To top it off, Alexander told NPR in a Friday interview that Trump deserved re-election despite his disapproval of the president’s actions with Ukraine.

Alexander’s position confounded Democrats and other observers, who scratched their heads at his conclusion given that he believed what Trump did was wrong.

“I am encouraged that he at least was clear and forceful about how wrong and how inappropriate the president’s conduct was, but I have a hard time with the step from that conclusion to him saying we shouldn’t remove him,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said Friday.

But other Republicans said they welcomed Alexander’s ultimate conclusion that Trump did not deserve removal ― even if not all of them agreed with him on the underlying facts of the case.

“I think a lot of thoughtful people will come to the same ultimate decision with varying degrees of belief about the case the House made,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) told reporters on Friday, adding that he still believed Trump didn’t do anything inappropriate.

“Let me be clear; Lamar speaks for lots and lots of us,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) told reporters on Thursday, though he declined to answer a question whether he personally thought Trump’s actions were improper.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on Friday morning put a final nail in the coffin of the chance to hear from witnesses ― such as former White House national security adviser John Bolton, who essentially confirmed the House allegations against Trump in a new book ― when she announced that she would vote no on the witness issue.

Her statement made even less sense than Alexander’s. In essence, she threw up her hands in frustration at the whole process, which she denounced as rushed, partisan and incapable of producing any fairness at all. 

“I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed,” Murkowski said.

Her statement, which did not include a judgment on Trump’s actions, appeared primarily aimed at shielding Supreme Court Justice John Roberts from potentially having to vote to break a possible 50-50 tie on the witness issue ― a scenario Republicans wanted to avoid even if the conservative justice was ultimately unlikely to do so.

Murkowski denounced those who would “further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the Chief Justice” ― an apparent reference to a question asked by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) during Thursday’s question-and-answer portion of the trial.

A vote by Roberts would not have been unprecedented: The chief justice in the 1868 trial of President Andrew Johnson was allowed to cast a tie-breaking vote on two procedural motions.

Another argument in defense of Trump’s acquittal that raised questions was one offered by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), one of his rivals in the race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. The Florida Republican acknowledged that while Trump may have conducted impeachable offenses, he shouldn’t be removed because it would be divisive to the nation.

“Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office,” Rubio said in a lengthy statement.

The tortured arguments were summed up by Politico’s Tim Alberta on Twitter:

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GOP blocks witnesses in Senate impeachment trial, as final vote could drag to next week

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6123318513001_6123361064001-vs GOP blocks witnesses in Senate impeachment trial, as final vote could drag to next week Marisa Schultz fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/person/mitch-mcconnell fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/chuck-schumer fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox news fnc/politics fnc article Alex Pappas 2accc15c-a510-5aa4-9018-5d3a70cebe2f

Republicans in the Senate secured enough votes Friday evening to reject Democratic efforts to extend the Trump impeachment trial and call new witnesses, as the final vote on whether or not to remove President Trump from office could drag into next week.

After hours of debate during the day, the Senate voted 51 to 49 to block a Democratic motion to call new witnesses. The vote came after vehement demands from Democrats to call former national security adviser John Bolton to testify about the Trump-Ukraine saga.

MURKOWSKI APPEARS TO DING WARREN IN STATEMENT ANNOUNCING ‘NO’ VOTE ON IMPEACHMENT WITNESSES

Two Republicans — Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and Maine Sen. Susan Collins — voted with Democrats for new witnesses.

It’s unclear exactly what comes next. The final up-and-down vote — amid the widespread expectation that Trump will be acquitted in the end — could continue into next week, as senators must contend with motions and potential debate by senators on the floor or in closed session.

“Senators will now confer among ourselves, with the House managers, and with the president’s counsel to determine next steps as we prepare to conclude the trial in the coming days,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement after the vote on witnesses.

McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer have not yet hammered out a proposal on how to move forward, Schumer said Friday afternoon, but signaled that Democrats may try to force a debate and put senators in a position where they’d have to defend their votes.

“We are going to use whatever power we have… to prevent it from being rushed through, but right now there is no agreement,” Schumer said earlier Friday during a break in the trial.

The timing is especially fluid since the resolution senators passed to open the impeachment trial does not prescribe how to end it. That means the length of motions and timing for procedures are being developed on the fly.

Earlier Friday, it became apparent that Republicans had the votes to shut down any new witnesses from testifying in the trial, with Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, announcing they wouldn’t defect.

While they won’t get the witnesses, Democrats want to ensure senators take the time to debate the issue anyway — and in public.

“Mitch McConnell wants this over as fast as possible with as little attention as possible,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Friday. “That’s why today I’m going to fight to ensure the American people can hear our deliberations.”

Brown has teamed up with Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on two motions to prevent closed-door deliberations and force senators to explain their votes in public.

Unlike typical Senate votes, the rules for impeachment require that any debate among senators take place in secret. Each senator can speak for 10 minutes apiece on a vote on witnesses and 15 minutes each on the final question of whether or not to acquit the president.

Democratic senators will put forth two motions that will force a debate on the two big looming votes — witnesses and the articles of impeachment — which would automatically extend the time of the trial. They propose that the debate be out in the open, rather than in a closed session.

The motions would need the support of 51 senators to pass.

Blumenthal rejected any criticism that Democrats are trying to extend the trial until past the Iowa caucuses, which would keep four 2020 White House hopefuls away from the campaign trail and past Trump’s planned State of the Union address on Tuesday.

He said the timing of these events “are totally irrelevant.”

“Pardon me for seeming somewhat cavalier about it, but we’re talking about an impeachment trial. Nothing we do as senators will be more important,” Blumenthal said.

Democrats making the case for more witnesses in the trial were dumbfounded that Republicans wouldn’t sign on, especially as new information kept leaking out in real-time.

Shortly before the trial resumed on Friday, The New York Times broke another story on ex-national security adviser John Bolton’s manuscript. In it, Bolton claims Trump directed him to help with his pressure campaign to get damaging information on Democrats from Ukraine.

Trump gave the orders during a May Oval Office meeting that included White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who is spearheading Trump’s defense in the impeachment trial, the report said.

“How absolutely outrageous that The New York Times should be doing the investigative work that the Senate is too cowardly to do?” Blumenthal said. “You know we should be thankful we have a free press that is uncovering the truth… They are doing the job that the United States Senate should be doing, but it has abdicated its responsibility.”

Trump has denied Bolton’s claims and dismissed him as a disgruntled ex-employee trying to sell a book.

“I never instructed John Bolton to set up a meeting for Rudy Giuliani, one of the greatest corruption fighters in America and by far the greatest mayor in the history of N.Y.C., to meet with President [Volodymyr] Zelensky. That meeting never happened,” Trump said in a statement.

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Several GOP senators grumbled at the prospect of the trial continuing past Friday. Many expressed frustration that Trump got impeached on what they believe is a flimsy case and they want the trial to end as soon as possible.

“Let’s go and get this over with for the sake of the American people,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said.

Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., said Trump will be able to give a State of the Union address on Tuesday successfully even if he hasn’t been acquitted just yet.

“He would be able to do almost anything most other individuals couldn’t,” Braun said.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6123318513001_6123361064001-vs GOP blocks witnesses in Senate impeachment trial, as final vote could drag to next week Marisa Schultz fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/person/mitch-mcconnell fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/chuck-schumer fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox news fnc/politics fnc article Alex Pappas 2accc15c-a510-5aa4-9018-5d3a70cebe2f   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6123318513001_6123361064001-vs GOP blocks witnesses in Senate impeachment trial, as final vote could drag to next week Marisa Schultz fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/person/mitch-mcconnell fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/chuck-schumer fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox news fnc/politics fnc article Alex Pappas 2accc15c-a510-5aa4-9018-5d3a70cebe2f

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Senate Republicans Block Witnesses In Trump’s Impeachment Trial

The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump will be the first such trial in U.S. history to feature no witness testimony after Senate Republicans voted on Friday against hearing from any of the firsthand witnesses to the president’s conduct.

Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on Dec. 18 for withholding congressionally approved military aid from Ukraine in order to pressure the country into investigating a domestic political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and for refusing to cooperate with the House’s investigation into that action.

Senate Republicans blocked efforts to subpoena new witnesses. The 51-49 vote came despite a report on Jan. 26 that former national security adviser John Bolton would write in a forthcoming book that Trump specifically told him that he withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to obtain an investigation into Biden and his son Hunter. Bolton had said he would appear before the Senate to testify if subpoenaed.

But Senate Republicans had already planned to acquit Trump no matter the evidence before them. They refused to hear testimony from Trump’s closest aides. Before the trial even began, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he would not be an “impartial” juror.

Trump’s impeachment trial is now the only impeachment trial in U.S. history to feature no witnesses. Every previous Senate impeachment trial of a president, federal judge or Cabinet official featured witnesses.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said after the vote that “America will remember this day” as one that the Senate failed to live up to its responsibilities. “If the president is acquitted with no witnesses, no documents, the acquittal will have no value,” Schumer told reporters. “Because Americans will know that this trial was not a real trial.”

The failure to call witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial comes after he refused to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry, an act that led to the article of impeachment charging obstruction of Congress. While previous presidents fought congressional efforts to obtain documents during impeachment investigations, none made such a blanket denial of documents and witnesses as Trump did.

But enough Republicans stood by Trump to get him off the hook, making his acquittal almost certain. Two Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, said they would vote to hear from witnesses. But late Thursday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), also considered a swing vote, said he would vote against witnesses. Alexander said he didn’t need to hear from them to know the bar for impeachment hadn’t been met, even though he suggested it was clear Trump did what he was accused of. He said in a statement that it “was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation.” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), also a swing vote, announced Friday she would oppose calling witnesses. Even if Trump did it, it didn’t matter.

Westlake Legal Group 5e31bc2b1f0000200a8598b6 Senate Republicans Block Witnesses In Trump’s Impeachment Trial

ASSOCIATED PRESS Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress at the Capitol.

The Senate’s refusal to hear from new witnesses came after The New York Times reported that a manuscript of Bolton’s forthcoming book revealed that Trump told Bolton he was withholding aid from Ukraine in order to extract a promise to investigate Biden and a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee in 2016.

This revelation led Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) to call for Bolton’s testimony. 

Bolton “has relevant testimony,” Romney said on Jan. 27. It is “increasingly apparent it is important to hear” from him, Romney added.

The revelations from Bolton’s leaked book manuscript would “strengthen the case for witnesses,” Collins said on Jan. 27.

The votes of four Republican senators, however, were necessary to obtain a majority of 51 senators on a vote to call witnesses. That majority never materialized.

Bolton is the only remaining firsthand witness to Trump’s extortion scheme who has publicly stated a willingness to testify in the impeachment trial. Other firsthand witnesses to Trump’s scheme that the White House has prevented from testifying include acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman, State Department counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl and acting budget director Russ Vought. 

“I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,” Bolton said in a statement on Jan. 6.

The former national security adviser was reportedly opposed to the scheme that ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment. Fiona Hill, a former Russia expert on the National Security Council, testified that Bolton ordered her to tell White House lawyers that he was not involved in the effort by others, including Mulvaney, to link an official head of state visit to the White House by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the opening of investigations. Bolton referred to this scheme as a metaphorical “drug deal,” Hill told the House Intelligence Committee.

Bolton was a party to “many relevant meetings and conversations” about the president’s actions toward Ukraine, his lawyer said in November.

He could be the first witness to testify that the president explicitly said there was a link between the release of the military aid and an invitation to the White House and the announcement of investigations into the Bidens. Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, previously told the House impeachment inquiry that he inferred the existence of this quid pro quo arrangement, but said he never heard that explicitly from the president.

Trump fired Bolton on Sept. 10 after the two clashed over their conflicting views on a range of foreign policy issues including North Korea, Syria and Afghanistan.

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Billy Porter To Swing By ‘Sesame Street’ In His Oscars Tuxedo Dress

Westlake Legal Group 5e34935c1f0000fd0a85aafc Billy Porter To Swing By ‘Sesame Street’ In His Oscars Tuxedo Dress

Billy Porter dusted off his now-iconic velvet tuxedo dress for a forthcoming appearance on “Sesame Street.” 

The popular children’s program confirmed the news on social media Thursday, and posted photos of Porter on set. Some of the images showed the “Pose” and “Kinky Boots” star in the Christian Siriano-designed ensemble he wore to the 2019 Academy Awards. Others showed him grinning happily alongside Elmo and other characters. 

“An iconic day with an iconic person,” the tweet read.

Porter was quick to share his enthusiasm, too, writing, “Y’all, talk about iconic… I was tickled to meet Elmo and the gang.” 

Given Porter’s status as a gender-fluid fashion icon, response to the “Sesame Street” news was sharply divided. 

Some saw the actor and singer’s appearance as part of the show’s longtime efforts toward inclusivity. “If I had seen someone like you on TV when I was that age, coming out would have been so much easier and happier,” one person wrote in the comments. Another added: “This 62-year-old grandma loves it! Billy rocks whatever he’s wearing with confidence.”

Others, however, felt differently. After “Sesame Street” announced Porter’s appearance, right-wing news outlet LifeSite News launched a petition calling for the show’s producers to scrap the episode. 

“Parents are fed up with the hyper-sexualization of their children, and they expect children’s programming to be a neutral zone,” read the petition, which called Porter a “drag queen” and had more than 9,800 signatures as of Friday afternoon.

The Emmy-, Grammy- and Tony-winning star has yet to respond to the controversy. These days, however, he has little time for backlash. In addition to his forthcoming “Sesame Street” appearance, he has a slew of new projects in the works, including Jordan Peele’s “Twilight Zone” reboot and a musical adaptation of “Cinderella” with Camila Cabello and Idina Menzel. 

Porter told Allure magazine earlier this month that he felt “silenced” throughout his adolescence by the “heteronormative construct that masculinity is.”

The star, who made history as the first man to ever be featured on Allure’s cover, went on to explain his now-fearless approach with regard to his career. 

“I’m a part of the first generation of gay men, ever, who gets to be out loud and proud in the world,” he said. “My generation is the first. Bitches are scared. And they should be.”

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