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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "impeachment" (Page 45)

Impeachment Inquiry: Mulvaney Undercuts Trump’s Denials of Quid Pro Quo

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group 17dc-impeachbriefing-mulvaney-articleLarge-v2 Impeachment Inquiry: Mulvaney Undercuts Trump’s Denials of Quid Pro Quo Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, spoke to reporters during a press briefing Thursday at the White House.CreditLeigh Vogel for The New York Times

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told reporters that the release of military aid to Ukraine this summer was linked in part to White House demands that Ukraine’s government investigate what he called corruption by Democrats in the 2016 American presidential campaign.

It was the first time a White House official has publicly acknowledged what a parade of current and former administration officials have told impeachment investigators on Capitol Hill.

“The look-back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation,” Mr. Mulvaney told reporters, referring to Mr. Trump. “And that is absolutely appropriate.”

He said that the aid was initially withheld because, “Everybody knows this is a corrupt place,” and the president was demanding Ukraine clean up its own government. But Mr. Trump also told Mr. Mulvaney that he was concerned about what he thought was Ukraine’s role in the 2016 campaign.

“Did he also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the D.N.C. server? Absolutely. No question about that,” he said. “But that’s it, and that’s why we held up the money.”

Mr. Mulvaney was referring to Mr. Trump’s discredited idea that a server with Hillary Clinton’s missing emails was being held by a company based in Ukraine.

Mr. Mulvaney’s comments undercut the president’s repeated denials that there was a quid pro quo linking his demand for an investigation that could politically benefit him to the release of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine, which is battling Russian-backed separatists on its eastern border.

Video

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-pelosi-vid-videoSixteenByNine3000 Impeachment Inquiry: Mulvaney Undercuts Trump’s Denials of Quid Pro Quo Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

Speaker Nancy Pelosi honored Representative Elijah E. Cummings, describing him as a “revered and respected” colleague. Mr. Cummings, one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress, died on Thursday.CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

The passing of Representative Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, cast a pall over the impeachment inquiry. Mr. Cummings’ signature was one of three on the letters seeking witnesses and information, along with the names of Adam B. Schiff, the Intelligence Committee chairman, and Eliot L. Engel, the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman.

Moreover, his commanding voice and moral authority gave the effort a clarity it might not otherwise have achieved.

His death left practical questions for House Democratic leaders that will have to be answered almost immediately. Will proceedings take a break for mourning? Who will take the gavel at the Oversight Committee? Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York is next in seniority, and has been named the acting chairwoman. But she has not played a large public role in the oversight of the Trump White House. After her is Eleanor Holmes Norton, the nonvoting delegate of the District of Columbia.

Not until No. 6 does a prominent public figure in the impeachment inquiry emerge, Representative Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia, chairman of the subcommittee on government operations. Ultimately, it will likely be Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s call.

Moreover, Ms. Pelosi still must decide what will happen to the Oversight Committee’s main threads of investigation, including the push for financial records of President Trump and the Trump Organization. Will such efforts become a facet of impeachment, or will she focus on Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival, more the purview of the Foreign Affairs and Intelligence panels?

For Thursday, mourning was the order of the day. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, wrote, “As a member of the House of Representatives, Elijah was a leader for both parties to emulate, and someone to share a laugh with even amongst the most contentious times. His presence will be deeply missed.”

Republicans called off a vote to censure one of Mr. Cummings’ allies, Mr. Schiff. It would have failed.

In a news conference later in the morning, Ms. Pelosi said of Mr. Cummings, “He lived the American dream and he wanted it for everyone else. He spoke with unsurpassed clarity and moral integrity when he spoke on the floor.”

Read more: Elijah E. Cummings, Powerful Democrat Who Investigated Trump, Dies at 68

Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, will tell House impeachment investigators on Thursday that President Trump essentially delegated American foreign policy on Ukraine to his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Mr. Sondland, a Trump campaign donor who has emerged as a central figure in the Ukraine scandal, will testify that he did not understand until later that Mr. Giuliani’s goal may have been an effort “to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.”

According to a copy of his opening statement reviewed by The New York Times, Mr. Sondland will say that Mr. Trump refused to take the counsel of his top diplomats, who recommended to him that he meet with the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, without any preconditions. The president said that the diplomats needed to satisfy concerns both he and Mr. Giuliani had related to corruption in Ukraine, Mr. Sondland will say.

“We were also disappointed by the president’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani,” Mr. Sondland will say in an 18-page prepared statement. “Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine.

Read more: Ambassador to E.U. to Testify That Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani

At noon on Thursday, supporters of Mr. Trump gathered outside the Capitol to rally against Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

Some of headliners were to be expected: Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican in the House, Representative John Rutherford, Republican of Florida, and Matt Schlapp, head of the American Conservative Union and one of the president’s most dogged defenders,

Others? Well, they certainly have been in Mr. Trump’s orbit. Highlighted for the rally was Jack Posobiec, one of the most prominent promulgators of “Pizzagate,” which held that Hillary Clinton ran a child trafficking operation out of the back of a Washington pizzeria. He also promoted the conspiracy that a young aide at the Democratic National Committee, was murdered for leaking Mrs. Clinton’s emails. In 2017, he disrupted a production of “Julius Caesar” in Central Park, insisting it was promoting Mr. Trump’s assassination.

  • President Trump repeatedly pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate people and issues of political concern to Mr. Trump, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Here’s a timeline of events since January.

  • A C.I.A. officer who was once detailed to the White House filed a whistle-blower complaint on Mr. Trump’s interactions with Mr. Zelensky. Read the complaint.

Video

Westlake Legal Group vidxx-trump-ukraine-1-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 Impeachment Inquiry: Mulvaney Undercuts Trump’s Denials of Quid Pro Quo Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

President Trump’s personal lawyer. The prosecutor general of Ukraine. Joe Biden’s son. These are just some of the names mentioned in the whistle-blower’s complaint. What were their roles? We break it down.CreditCreditIllustration by The New York Times

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: Latest News

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162859620_e93f60f6-95fd-4ca0-a649-0da6f5f65de3-articleLarge The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: Latest News Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, spoke to reporters during a press briefing Thursday at the White House.CreditLeigh Vogel for The New York Times

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told reporters that the release of military aid to Ukraine this summer was linked in part to White House demands that Ukraine’s government investigate what he called corruption by Democrats in the 2016 American presidential campaign.

It was the first time a White House official has publicly acknowledged what a parade of current and former administration officials have told impeachment investigators on Capitol Hill.

“The look-back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation,” Mr. Mulvaney told reporters, referring to Mr. Trump. “And that is absolutely appropriate.”

He said that the aid was initially withheld because, “Everybody knows this is a corrupt place,” and the president was demanding Ukraine clean up its own government. But Mr. Trump also told Mr. Mulvaney that he was concerned about what he thought was Ukraine’s role in the 2016 campaign.

“Did he also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the D.N.C. server? Absolutely. No question about that,” he said. “But that’s it, and that’s why we held up the money.”

Mr. Mulvaney was referring to Mr. Trump’s discredited idea that a server with Hillary Clinton’s missing emails was being held by a company based in Ukraine.

Mr. Mulvaney’s comments undercut the president’s repeated denials that there was a quid pro quo linking his demand for an investigation that could politically benefit him to the release of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine, which is battling Russian-backed separatists on its eastern border.

Video

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-pelosi-vid-videoSixteenByNine3000 The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: Latest News Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

Speaker Nancy Pelosi honored Representative Elijah E. Cummings, describing him as a “revered and respected” colleague. Mr. Cummings, one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress, died on Thursday.CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

The passing of Representative Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, cast a pall over the impeachment inquiry. Mr. Cummings’ signature was one of three on the letters seeking witnesses and information, along with the names of Adam B. Schiff, the Intelligence Committee chairman, and Eliot L. Engel, the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman.

Moreover, his commanding voice and moral authority gave the effort a clarity it might not otherwise have achieved.

His death left practical questions for House Democratic leaders that will have to be answered almost immediately. Will proceedings take a break for mourning? Who will take the gavel at the Oversight Committee? Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York is next in seniority, and has been named the acting chairwoman. But she has not played a large public role in the oversight of the Trump White House. After her is Eleanor Holmes Norton, the nonvoting delegate of the District of Columbia.

Not until No. 6 does a prominent public figure in the impeachment inquiry emerge, Representative Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia, chairman of the subcommittee on government operations. Ultimately, it will likely be Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s call.

Moreover, Ms. Pelosi still must decide what will happen to the Oversight Committee’s main threads of investigation, including the push for financial records of President Trump and the Trump Organization. Will such efforts become a facet of impeachment, or will she focus on Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival, more the purview of the Foreign Affairs and Intelligence panels?

For Thursday, mourning was the order of the day. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, wrote, “As a member of the House of Representatives, Elijah was a leader for both parties to emulate, and someone to share a laugh with even amongst the most contentious times. His presence will be deeply missed.”

Republicans called off a vote to censure one of Mr. Cummings’ allies, Mr. Schiff. It would have failed.

In a news conference later in the morning, Ms. Pelosi said of Mr. Cummings, “He lived the American dream and he wanted it for everyone else. He spoke with unsurpassed clarity and moral integrity when he spoke on the floor.”

Read more: Elijah E. Cummings, Powerful Democrat Who Investigated Trump, Dies at 68

Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, will tell House impeachment investigators on Thursday that President Trump essentially delegated American foreign policy on Ukraine to his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Mr. Sondland, a Trump campaign donor who has emerged as a central figure in the Ukraine scandal, will testify that he did not understand until later that Mr. Giuliani’s goal may have been an effort “to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.”

According to a copy of his opening statement reviewed by The New York Times, Mr. Sondland will say that Mr. Trump refused to take the counsel of his top diplomats, who recommended to him that he meet with the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, without any preconditions. The president said that the diplomats needed to satisfy concerns both he and Mr. Giuliani had related corruption in Ukraine, Mr. Sondland will say.

“We were also disappointed by the president’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani,” Mr. Sondland will say in an 18-page prepared statement. “Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine.

Read more: Ambassador to E.U. to Testify That Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani

At noon on Thursday, supporters of Mr. Trump gathered outside the Capitol to rally against Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

Some of headliners were to be expected: Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican in the House, Representative John Rutherford, Republican of Florida, and Matt Schlapp, head of the American Conservative Union and one of the president’s most dogged defenders,

Others? Well, they certainly have been in Mr. Trump’s orbit. Highlighted for the rally was Jack Posobiec, one of the most prominent promulgators of “Pizzagate,” which held that Hillary Clinton ran a child trafficking operation out of the back of a Washington pizzeria. He also promoted the conspiracy that a young aide at the Democratic National Committee, was murdered for leaking Mrs. Clinton’s emails. In 2017, he disrupted a production of “Julius Caesar” in Central Park, insisting it was promoting Mr. Trump’s assassination.

  • President Trump repeatedly pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate people and issues of political concern to Mr. Trump, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Here’s a timeline of events since January.

  • A C.I.A. officer who was once detailed to the White House filed a whistle-blower complaint on Mr. Trump’s interactions with Mr. Zelensky. Read the complaint.

Video

Westlake Legal Group vidxx-trump-ukraine-1-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: Latest News Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

President Trump’s personal lawyer. The prosecutor general of Ukraine. Joe Biden’s son. These are just some of the names mentioned in the whistle-blower’s complaint. What were their roles? We break it down.CreditCreditIllustration by The New York Times

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Gordon Sondland, E.U. Envoy, Testifies That Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani

WASHINGTON — Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, told House impeachment investigators on Thursday that President Trump delegated American foreign policy on Ukraine to his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, a directive that he said he disagreed with but nonetheless followed.

Mr. Sondland, a Trump campaign donor who has emerged as a central figure in the Ukraine scandal, testified under subpoena that he did not understand until later that Mr. Giuliani’s goal may have been an effort “to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.”

According to a copy of his opening statement to investigators, which was obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Sondland said that Mr. Trump refused to take the counsel of his top diplomats, who recommended to him that he meet with the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, without any preconditions. The president said that the diplomats needed to satisfy concerns that both he and Mr. Giuliani had related to corruption in Ukraine, Mr. Sondland asserted.

“We were also disappointed by the president’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani,” Mr. Sondland said. “Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine.”

His account is at odds with testimony from some foreign policy officials who have portrayed Mr. Sondland who willingly inserted himself into Ukraine policy despite the fact that the country is not technically within the purview of his posting, and was a key player in Mr. Trump’s efforts to win a commitment from the new Ukrainian government to investigate his political rivals.

Some lawmakers who heard it said that Mr. Sondland’s story appeared to be designed to insulate himself from blame. As she emerged from the first two hours of questioning, Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California and a member of the Intelligence Committee, called his remarks “a lot of C.Y.A.”

Mr. Sondland arrived on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning to take his turn in the secure rooms of the House Intelligence Committee, as the latest top foreign policy official to appear before impeachment investigators who are digging into a whistle-blower complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. His testimony, which the Trump administration initially sought to block, is a matter of intense interest for the investigators as they try to fill out a picture of what transpired this summer as Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani ratcheted up the pressure on the Ukrainians to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Even as Mr. Sondland was answering questions, lawmakers and their aides were preparing for a crush of additional closed-door witness depositions in the coming days that will reach further into the diplomatic corps and the White House. They have sessions scheduled with two Pentagon officials, Laura Cooper and Kathryn Wheelbarger, and two top White House budget officials, Russell Vought and Michael Duffey, who could help address lingering questions about whether Mr. Trump’s decision this summer to freeze $391 million in security aid for Ukraine was tied to the pressure campaign.

Questions about the aid will also likely be put to William B. Taylor Jr., a career diplomat in Ukraine who raised concerns with Mr. Sondland about the aid freeze, and two National Security Council officials, Alexander Vindman and Timothy Morrison. And investigators also plan to interview Philip Reeker, a top European affairs official at the State Department and Suriya Jayant, a foreign service officer in Kiev.

Testimony from career diplomats and a former top White House foreign policy adviser in recent days have suggested that Mr. Sondland, a wealthy hotelier from Oregon who had no political experience, was at the heart of the effort to go around normal diplomatic channels to pressure the Ukrainians.

But his prepared remarks offer a more complicated account, casting him as a well-meaning and at times unwitting player who was trying to conduct American foreign policy with Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump standing in the way. He noted several times that he had “the blessing” of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Mr. Sondland said that Mr. Trump put him and top diplomats and administration officials dealing with Ukraine in an impossible position, as they tried to conduct diplomacy with an important European ally.

A person familiar with the ongoing deposition, who was not authorized to discuss it publicly, said that Mr. Sondland had not tried to shield his conversations with Mr. Trump from investigators, and was so far answering questions from Democratic and Republican staff.

“Please know that I would not have recommended that Mr. Giuliani or any private citizen be involved in these foreign policy matters,” he said. “However, given the president’s explicit direction, as well as the importance we attached to arranging a White House meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, we agreed to do as President Trump directed.”

Mr. Sondland testified that he; Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy to Ukraine, and Rick Perry, the energy secretary, began coordinating with Mr. Giuliani, who insisted the Ukrainians put out a statement committing to a series of investigations. The ambassador said that he failed to appreciate how Burisma, a company that Mr. Giuliani wanted the Ukrainians to look into, was directly tied to Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son.

Westlake Legal Group impeachment-investigation-tracker-promo-1570214529724-articleLarge-v3 Gordon Sondland, E.U. Envoy, Testifies That Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Presidential Election of 2020 Perry, Rick impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W European Union Burisma Holdings Ltd Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

Subpoenas and Requests for Evidence in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry

The status of the documents and witness testimony being collected by congressional investigators.

“Although Mr. Giuliani did mention the name ‘Burisma’ in August 2019, I understood that Burisma was one of many examples of Ukrainian companies run by oligarchs and lacking the type of corporate governance structures found in Western companies,” Mr. Sondland said. “I did not know until more recent press reports that Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma.”

Hunter Biden’s involvement with Burisma had been widely reported beginning in the spring.

Still, Mr. Sondland’s prepared testimony leaves unaddressed obvious questions that investigators are sure to press him to answer. It offers no real explanation of why Mr. Giuliani was involved in Ukraine policy in the first place or if Mr. Sondland took any steps to find out why.

Nor do the prepared remarks explain whether Mr. Sondland questioned why Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump repeatedly singled out two topics for investigation that would have benefited the president politically.

“I did not understand, until much later, that Mr. Giuliani’s agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign,” he told investigators.

Mr. Sondland sought to distance himself from other aspects of the unfolding scandal, as well. He said that Marie L. Yovanovitch, whom Mr. Trump abruptly removed as ambassador to Ukraine in May amid a smear campaign against her by the president’s allies, was an “an excellent diplomat” whose departure he “regretted.”

“I was never a part of any campaign to disparage or dislodge her,” he said.

Likewise, Mr. Sondland said that it was only because he deeply respected William B. Taylor Jr., a career diplomat who replaced Ms. Yovanovitch in Ukraine, that he tried to assuage his concerns that nothing untoward was being done with respect to the frozen security aid.

In previously released text messages between Mr. Sondland, Mr. Volker and Mr. Taylor, Mr. Taylor was deeply uneasy about what he saw as an effort by Trump aides to use the package of security assistance as leverage over Ukraine for political favors, calling the notion “crazy.”

After calling Mr. Trump directly, Mr. Sondland replied to Mr. Taylor that “The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind” and directed Mr. Taylor to stop texting and call him with any additional concerns.

Mr. Sondland insisted that he was never involved in any potential discussions with the White House about withholding the security aid in exchange for a pledge to investigate. He said that Mr. Trump was in a bad mood when he called him to ask about it, and told Mr. Sondland that he wanted “nothing” from the Ukrainians.

And he told the committees that he did not know the substance of a July 25 phone call in which Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden and matters related to the 2016 campaign until a reconstructed account of the call was released publicly in September. He said that he spoke with Mr. Trump a day after the call, before Mr. Sondland was to meet with Ukrainian leaders in Kiev, but that the conversation was not “substantive.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

John Yoo: The Framers never would have wanted to see impeachment happen within a year of a presidential election

Westlake Legal Group jy John Yoo: The Framers never would have wanted to see impeachment happen within a year of a presidential election year Trump The Blog President John Yoo ingraham impeachment high crimes Election

It’s strange to see a man of the right, which prides itself on following the constitutional text, divining a time constraint on impeachment that isn’t actually in the document. It’s not as if the Framers were unwilling to specify any limits on the impeachment power; it’s famously restricted to “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Nor has Yoo’s view been the view traditionally taken by Congress. Various politicos pointed out last night on Twitter after this bit aired on Fox that Andrew Johnson was impeached in February of a presidential election year. Mitch McConnell had precedent to point to when he roadblocked Merrick Garland’s confirmation on grounds that it was an election year and therefore voters should decide which party gets to fill Scalia’s seat. Yoo doesn’t even have that.

Besides, the nature of the impeachment process means that the will of the electorate will naturally be priced into the calculations made by Congress. For reasons of sheer self-preservation, the House won’t proceed with an impeachment which it has reason to believe would be strongly opposed by American voters. They have to face those voters every 24 months, after all. That’s been Pelosi’s fear all along — that House Democrats would indulge their id by impeaching Trump for flimsy reasons, Senate Republicans would swat them down during a trial, and then a voter backlash to Democratic overreach would lead to Trump being reelected to a second term and the House returned to Republican hands. If the people believe that the House has unfairly usurped their sovereign role in deciding who should lead the executive branch, they’ll deal with them accordingly. Soon.

It’s also easy to imagine worst-case scenarios in which a president would need to be removed immediately for the good of the country. Imagine that Rachel Maddow’s darkest Russiagate fantasy about Trump being a Kremlin-controlled asset had turned out to be true but somehow we didn’t discover it until January 2020. Should Americans be obliged to sit back and let the Kremlin steer U.S. policy for 10 months until the election because it’s somehow “too late” to impeach? Absurd.

The weirdest part of Yoo going this route is that there are much stronger arguments available for defeating an attempt to remove Trump from office. The GOP’s eventually going to settle on the ol’ “bad but not impeachable” defense, which in a sense is foolproof. Because “high crimes and misdemeanors” is vague, virtually anything short of outright treason can be said to have failed to clear the bar. Smart Republicans like Rob Portman and Lamar Alexander are already maneuvering towards that position:

Tim Miller has a piece out today arguing why “bad but not impeachable” is wrong in this case but his logic works even better to counter Yoo’s argument: You can’t leave it to an election to settle whether the president’s committed an impeachable offense if the offense might affect the election itself. If Trump really was withholding desperately needed military aid from Ukraine until they coughed up dirt on the Democratic frontrunner, Ukrainian leaders might have concluded they had no choice but to provide it. Maybe that would have meant a diligent investigation of Burisma, or maybe it would have meant fabricating something whole cloth to damage Biden and satisfy Trump. If American voters had chosen next fall between Trump and Biden based in part on a fake Biden scandal which Trump himself had helped engineer, in what universe would that be a fair referendum on whether Trump had done something impeachable? Again, it’s absurd.

The House gets to impeach when it likes and voters get to whack them hard for it if they agree with the president that this was a “witch hunt.” There’s no time limit and there shouldn’t be.

The post John Yoo: The Framers never would have wanted to see impeachment happen within a year of a presidential election appeared first on Hot Air.

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Sondland: Trump told us that Giuliani would run Ukraine policy — and also “no quid pro quo”

Westlake Legal Group trump-sondland Sondland: Trump told us that Giuliani would run Ukraine policy — and also “no quid pro quo” Ukraine-Gate Ukraine The Blog Rudy Giuliani quid pro quo Kurt Volker impeachment Gordon Sondland donald trump Burisma bidens

Did Gordon Sondland throw Donald Trump “under the bus” in his opening statement to House investigators this morning, or just point out the obvious? The ambassador didn’t spare Rudy Giuliani, at any rate, in expressing his “disappointment” over Trump’s decision to delegate Ukrainian diplomacy to his personal attorney. That’s not quite connecting any dots, however, and Sondland also soundly rejects the “quid pro quo” hypothesis being advanced by House Democrats:

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, will tell Congress that he was told by President Trump that he had to help his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani with his plan on Ukraine.

In his opening statement, which was obtained by The Daily Beast, Sondland will say: “I did not understand, until much later, that Mr. Giuliani’s agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the President’s 2020 reelection campaign.” …

“Please know that I would not have recommended that Mr. Giuliani or any private citizen be involved in these foreign policy matters. However, given the President’s explicit direction, as well as the importance we attached to arranging a White House meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, we agreed to do as President Trump directed,” Sondland wrote.

“Based on the President’s direction, we were faced with a choice: We could abandon the goal of a White House meeting for President Zelensky, which we all believed was crucial to strengthening U.S.-Ukrainian ties and furthering long-held U.S. foreign policy goals in the region; or we could do as President Trump directed and talk to Mr. Giuliani to address the President’s concerns.”

That claim might be a little difficult to credit. The briefing to which Sondland refers in which he and Perry were directed to work with Giuliani took place on May 23, 2019. By that time, Giuliani had already publicly declared his intent to personally investigate the Bidens’ role in Ukraine and Burisma, following a May 2 report in the New York Times that called Joe Biden’s intervention in corruption probes into question. By May 10, the blowback on Giuliani’s threats to personally travel to Ukraine to dig up dirt on the Bidens had gotten bad enough for Giuliani to retreat in an interview broadcast on Fox News. Sondland’s claims to be blindsided by Giuliani’s agenda less than two weeks later is curious, to say the least, although it’s fair to assume that Sondland had better things to do than follow Giuliani’s antics before that late-May briefing.

However, Sondland also says that Giuliani wasn’t the only one pushing back on arranging a call between Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky. Sondland, Rick Perry, and Kurt Volker saw a call as a critical step in solidifying a national-security relationship with Kyiv, but the National Security Council also opposed the idea by mid-July, Sondland says. However, no one on the NSC shared “any misgivings about the propriety of what we were doing” in Ukraine at the time.

Moreover, Sondland insists, the actual deliverable for Ukrainian relations is the same as it has been for “decades” — a greater commitment to fight corruption in general, not focusing on one particular aspect:

Westlake Legal Group sondland-1 Sondland: Trump told us that Giuliani would run Ukraine policy — and also “no quid pro quo” Ukraine-Gate Ukraine The Blog Rudy Giuliani quid pro quo Kurt Volker impeachment Gordon Sondland donald trump Burisma bidens

After meeting with Trump in late May, Sondland told Congress that he did have some contact with Giuliani as the president had directed. Giuliani brought up Burisma, Sondland notes, but as one example of the corruption that the Trump administration wanted to pursue — and Giuliani never mentioned the Bidens at all:

Westlake Legal Group sondland-2 Sondland: Trump told us that Giuliani would run Ukraine policy — and also “no quid pro quo” Ukraine-Gate Ukraine The Blog Rudy Giuliani quid pro quo Kurt Volker impeachment Gordon Sondland donald trump Burisma bidens

In fact, Sondland tells the investigators in this statement, he went directly to Trump once Bill Taylor began raising questions about the perception of a quid pro quo with the Ukrainians in early September. Sondland testifies that Trump, in a bad mood at the time, emphatically and repeated insisted that no quid pro quo was asked or desired:

Westlake Legal Group sondland-3 Sondland: Trump told us that Giuliani would run Ukraine policy — and also “no quid pro quo” Ukraine-Gate Ukraine The Blog Rudy Giuliani quid pro quo Kurt Volker impeachment Gordon Sondland donald trump Burisma bidens

We now have two of the “Three Amigos” on Ukraine insisting that they never got directed to support a quid pro quo. Assuming they’re testifying truthfully, they would have been passing that message along to their contacts in Ukraine as well, which means that they would have been eliminating the pressure to dig up dirt on the Bidens. They would have related Trump’s words about wanting “nothing” in exchange for the aid, and specifically, “There is no quid pro quo.”

That does not mean that Giuliani would have refrained from saying something different, of course. However, it would be strange indeed to pass along diametrically opposed statements when the point would have been to pressure Ukraine into a particular — and uncomfortable — action. The Ukrainians might well have concluded that the State Department represented the official US position and that Giuliani (assuming he communicated a quid pro quo, which he has denied) was a cowboy wandering off the ranch, so to speak.

Sondland’s criticism of using Giuliani in Ukrainian diplomacy makes sense for that reason. Using a personal attorney to run official diplomatic policy without an official portfolio is confusing at best for allies, who can’t be sure who actually matters in the equation. However — and this is critical — that delegation still falls within the purview of the president. It might be ill-advised (and certainly looks that way in this instance), but it’s not at all illegal. Presidents have used private citizens and friends as back-channel diplomats for many years, sometimes openly, usually not, with mixed results. It’s never been thought to be an impeachable offense, nor should it alone be in this case.

From Sondland’s statement, it doesn’t appear that Democrats can advance their hypothesis on impeachment. Bad practices? Sure, but if Trump had demanded an inappropriate personal quid pro quo for a probe into the Bidens, Sondland and Volker would have to have known about it at some point, if not from Trump then from their Ukrainian contacts.  There’s no evidence it exists, at least so far, which makes all of this oppo-research fodder and not much else.

The post Sondland: Trump told us that Giuliani would run Ukraine policy — and also “no quid pro quo” appeared first on Hot Air.

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Ambassador to E.U. to Testify That Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani

WASHINGTON — Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, will tell House impeachment investigators on Thursday that President Trump essentially delegated American foreign policy on Ukraine to his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, a directive that he will say he disagreed with but nonetheless followed.

Mr. Sondland, a Trump campaign donor who has emerged as a central figure in the Ukraine scandal, will testify that he did not understand until later that Mr. Giuliani’s goal may have been an effort “to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.”

According to a copy of his opening statement obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Sondland will say that Mr. Trump refused to take the counsel of his top diplomats, who recommended to him that he meet with the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, without any preconditions. The president said that the diplomats needed to satisfy concerns both he and Mr. Giuliani had related corruption in Ukraine, Mr. Sondland will say.

“We were also disappointed by the president’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani,” Mr. Sondland will say, according to the 18-page prepared statement. “Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine.”

His account is at odds with testimony from some foreign policy officials who have portrayed Mr. Sondland as a willing participant who inserted himself into Ukraine policy and was a central player in Mr. Trump’s efforts to win a commitment from the new Ukrainian government to investigate his political rivals.

Mr. Sondland arrived on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning to take his turn in the secure rooms of the House Intelligence Committee, as the latest top foreign policy official to appear before impeachment investigators who are digging into a whistle-blower complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. His testimony, which the Trump administration initially sought to block, is a matter of intense interest for the investigators as they try to fill out a picture of what transpired this summer as Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani ratcheted up the pressure on the Ukrainians to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Testimony from career diplomats and a former top White House foreign policy adviser in recent days have suggested that Mr. Sondland, a wealthy hotelier from Oregon who had no political experience, was at the heart of the effort to go around normal diplomatic channels to pressure the Ukrainians.

But his prepared remarks offer a more complicated account, casting him as a well-meaning and at times unwitting player who was trying to conduct American foreign policy with Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump standing in the way.

Mr. Sondland will say that Mr. Trump put him and top diplomats and administration officials dealing with Ukraine in an impossible position, as they tried to conduct diplomacy with an important European ally.

“Please know that I would not have recommended that Mr. Giuliani or any private citizen be involved in these foreign policy matters,” he planned to say. “However, given the president’s explicit direction, as well as the importance we attached to arranging a White House meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, we agreed to do as President Trump directed.”

Mr. Sondland will say that he; Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy to Ukraine, and Rick Perry, the energy secretary, began coordinating with Mr. Giuliani, who insisted the Ukrainians put out a statement committing to a series of investigations. The ambassador will say that he failed to appreciate how Burisma, a company that Mr. Giuliani wanted the Ukrainians to look into, was directly tied to Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son.

Westlake Legal Group impeachment-investigation-tracker-promo-1570214529724-articleLarge-v3 Ambassador to E.U. to Testify That Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Presidential Election of 2020 Perry, Rick impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W European Union Burisma Holdings Ltd Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

Subpoenas and Requests for Evidence in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry

The status of the documents and witness testimony being collected by congressional investigators.

“Although Mr. Giuliani did mention the name ‘Burisma’ in August 2019, I understood that Burisma was one of many examples of Ukrainian companies run by oligarchs and lacking the type of corporate governance structures found in Western companies,” Mr. Sondland will say. “I did not know until more recent press reports that Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma.”

Hunter Biden’s involvement with Burisma had been widely reported beginning in the spring.

Still, Mr. Sondland’s prepared testimony leaves unaddressed obvious questions that investigators are sure to press him to answer. It offers no real explanation of why Mr. Giuliani was involved in Ukraine policy in the first place or if Mr. Sondland took any steps to find out why.

Nor do the prepared remarks explain whether Mr. Sondland questioned why Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump repeatedly singled out two topics for investigation that would have benefited the president politically.

“I did not understand, until much later, that Mr. Giuliani’s agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign,” he will say.

Mr. Sondland will seek to distance himself from other aspects of the unfolding scandal, as well. He will say that Marie L. Yovanovitch, whom Mr. Trump abruptly removed as ambassador to Ukraine in May amid a smear campaign against her by the president’s allies, was an “an excellent diplomat” whose departure he “regretted.”

“I was never a part of any campaign to disparage or dislodge her,” he planned to say.

Likewise, Mr. Sondland planned to say that it was only because he deeply respected William B. Taylor Jr., a career diplomat who replaced Ms. Yovanovitch in Ukraine, that he tried to assuage his concerns that nothing untoward was being done with respect to the frozen security aid.

In previously released text messages between Mr. Sondland, Mr. Volker and Mr. Taylor, Mr. Taylor was deeply uneasy about what he saw as an effort by Trump aides to use a $391 million package of security assistance as leverage over Ukraine for political favors, calling the notion “crazy.”

After calling Mr. Trump directly, Mr. Sondland replied to Mr. Taylor that “The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind” and directed Mr. Taylor to stop texting and call him with any additional concerns.

Mr. Sondland plans to testify that he was never involved in any potential discussions with the White House about withholding the security aid in exchange for a pledge to investigate. He will say that Mr. Trump was in a bad mood when he called him to ask about it, and told Mr. Sondland that he wanted “nothing” from the Ukrainians.

And he intends to testify that he did not know the substance of a July 25 phone call in which Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden and matters related to the 2016 campaign until a reconstructed account of the call was released publicly in September. He will say that he spoke with Mr. Trump a day after the call, before Mr. Sondland was to meet with Ukrainian leaders in Kiev, but that the conversation was not “substantive.”

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Did Schiff try to bully a quid pro quo out of Volker?

Westlake Legal Group schiff-stare Did Schiff try to bully a quid pro quo out of Volker? whistleblower Ukraine-Gate The Blog quid pro quo Michael McKinley Kurt Volker impeachment donald trump adam schiff

If so, according to Byron York’s sources, it didn’t work. House Intelligence chair Adam Schiff pressed Ukraine ‘Amigo’ Kurt Volker to admit knowledge of an explicit quid pro quo demand from Donald Trump for dirt on the Bidens in exchange for suspended military aid. The State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine insisted that it didn’t happen, in part because the Ukrainians didn’t know until later that the aid had been suspended at all (via Jeff Dunetz):

“[The Ukrainians] didn’t want to be drawn into investigating a Democratic candidate for president, which would mean only peril for Ukraine, is that fair to say?” Schiff asked Volker.

“That may be true,” Volker said. “That may be true. They didn’t express that to me, and, of course, I didn’t know that was the context at the time.” (Volker has said he did not know that Trump had mentioned the Bidens on the July 25 call with Zelensky until the rough transcript of the call was released on Sept. 25.)

“Part of the other context is vital military support is being withheld from the Ukraine during this period, right?” Schiff asked.

“That was not part of the context at the time,” Volker said. “At least to my knowledge, they [Ukrainian leaders] were not aware of that.”

This did not sit well with Schiff, who wanted to connect dots through Volker. If the Ukrainians didn’t know that the aid had been withheld, of course, then it’s impossible for it to have been used in a quid pro quo by Trump, especially in the Zelensky phone call. That puts a serious dent in the impeachment hypothesis under which House Democrats have been operating since the exposure of the whistleblower complaint, and it leaves Schiff in particular out on a very shaky limb, having curated the complaint in the first place.

At one point, an exasperated Schiff remarked at Volker, “you’re making this much more complicated than it has to be.” That might be a case of projection, considering the box in which Schiff found himself in this exchange.

Making the problem worse, Volker testified that the idea of pursuing the Bidens had been dropped by both sides by the time the Ukrainians read that the aid had been held up. Schiff argued that the timing didn’t matter, but Volker said that the context of the US-Ukrainian relationship had shifted fundamentally by that time:

“Congressman, this is why I’m trying to say the context is different, because at the time they learned that, if we assume it’s Aug. 29, they had just had a visit from the national security adviser, John Bolton. That’s a high-level meeting already. He was recommending and working on scheduling the visit of President Zelensky to Washington. We were also working on a bilateral meeting to take place in Warsaw on the margins of a commemoration on the beginning of World War II. And in that context, I think the Ukrainians felt like things are going the right direction, and they had not done anything on — they had not done anything on an investigation, they had not done anything on a statement, and things were ramping up in terms of their engagement with the administration. So I think they were actually feeling pretty good then.”

To be fair, Schiff’s point is still hypothetically valid. If the Ukrainians thought things were going well, the news that the aid had been suspended might have been rather shocking. At that point, might they not have thought that reopening the Burisma probe would help get the aid unstuck? Republican Rep. Scott Perry revisited this with Volker, who said no one in Ukraine connected one to the other — and that he would have known if they did:

“In your conversation with Rep. Schiff, he kind of implied and wanted you to intimate that there was an agreement based on that conversation that: If you do the investigation, then you can have a meeting [with Trump] and maybe we’ll consider this military aid. If that were the case from the call, do you feel, because they had some trust in you, that they would have come to you and said, ‘Hey how do we handle this? Is this what the President of the United States is asking?’ Would they confide — would they ask you that?”

“Yes,” said Volker. “They would have asked me exactly that, you know. How do we handle this?”

Before calling this path to a quid pro quo entirely closed, though, remember that Volker made a surprise appearance yesterday while Michael McKinley testified in order to review his own testimony. That sometimes happens when witnesses need to correct their testimony in order to avoid perjury charges, although there may be other reasons to do it as well. If Volker does change this testimony, then perhaps Schiff might find some bread crumbs through Volker to the elusive QPQ. If it stands as York presents it, though, Schiff’s still way out on that limb.

Speaking of McKinley, it doesn’t sound like Schiff got much there either. The 37-year State veteran decried the Trump administration’s politicization of the department but apparently had little to do with Ukraine. He resigned because Pompeo refused to defend Marie Yovanovitch, but all he knew about Ukraine and quid pro quos is what he’s read in the paper:

Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, told House impeachment investigators Wednesday that he quit his job last week out of concern about the mistreatment of career U.S. diplomats and the alarming allegations related to efforts to pressure Ukraine’s president into investigating President Trump’s political rivals.

“I was disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents,” McKinley said, according to portions of his testimony obtained by The Washington Post. “I was convinced that this would also have a serious impact on Foreign Service morale and the integrity of our work overseas.” …

McKinley came to Capitol Hill with an intimate understanding of how Pompeo wielded power in the highest echelons of the State Department, but he said he was not particularly involved in Ukraine-related issues.

Democrats’ decision to hold these hearings behind closed doors is becoming more clear, Brit Hume snarked last night:

Yeah, well, don’t get cocky. Still, Schiff’s looking more and more like a buffoon, and Nancy Pelosi may need to rethink her strategy about getting a full House vote. She needs to peel Schiff and Jerrold Nadler away from the impeachment effort and find a more credible manager who won’t get laughed out of a Republican-controlled Senate. Elijah Cummings might have been a good choice, which makes his passing last night even more of a blow to Pelosi. Eliot Engel at Foreign Affairs might be the best option she has left.

The post Did Schiff try to bully a quid pro quo out of Volker? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Whoa: Rep. Elijah Cummings passes away at age 68

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Expect lots of eulogies today for 12-term congressman and House Oversight chair Elijah Cummings, who died overnight at the relatively young age of 68. Inboxes are already filling with statements from his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Cummings had run his committee while battling health issues related to complications of heart surgery in 2017, but it seems no one thought he’d succumb to them:

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and a key player in the ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, died early Thursday of complications from longtime health issues, his office said in a statement. The Maryland Democrat was 68.

Cummings had missed roll call votes since Sept. 11 and said in a Sept. 30 statement that he expected to return to the House by mid-October after having a medical procedure, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The 12-term congressman died at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Thursday at Gilchrist Hospice Care, a Johns Hopkins affiliate, due to “complications concerning longstanding health challenges,” according to his office’s statement.

Cummings was initially sidelined after receiving heart surgery to replace an aortic valve in May 2017. That procedure led to an infection, keeping him in the hospital through much of the summer session.

House Oversight has been the battleground for plenty of partisan fights, including the Benghazi scandal when Darrell Issa and Trey Gowdy chaired the committee. Cummings has chaired the committee through various issues related to Democrats’ impeachment push over the last two years. However, Cummings managed to avoid some of the nastier partisan antics that have erupted in the Judiciary and Intelligence committees. Roll Call notes that “Cummings has remained widely popular on both sides of the aisle,” and that’s likely a reflection of his careful tactics and strategies.

Of course, few people get to Congress by being non-partisan, and no one in either party ascends to leadership positions by being non-partisan either. Cummings fought against both Issa and Gowdy, but largely within the traditional boundaries of partisanship. Cummings managed to retain his overall credibility while pursuing House Democrats’ agenda, just as Gowdy in particular managed to retain his until his retirement last year.

That leaves the question of what comes next for Oversight and for House Democrats. Oversight is deeply involved in the testimony being taken in the impeachment “inquiry” by the House at the moment, with Adam Schiff in more or less a lead position despite his serious credibility issues. Cummings might have been an option for an alternate to Schiff if Nancy Pelosi wanted to put the inquiry on firmer footing; Jerrold Nadler wouldn’t have been any better than Schiff in that regard, although Judiciary would be a more natural home for the effort than Schiff’s Intelligence Committee. Katie Hill (CA) is currently vice chair for Oversight, but she’s a first-termer from a formerly Republican district, and it’s tough to see her as an option for quarterbacking impeachment when she’s the first Democrat to win that seat in 26 years. It’s also very difficult to believe that a freshman will rise to chair a House committee, let alone one as high-profile and powerful as Oversight. Perhaps it will end up going to Carolyn Maloney (NY), who got elected the same year Hill’s seat first flipped to the GOP.

Cummings is well beyond those considerations now, and well beyond any bonds of partisanship. Our condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Addendum: Here’s an example of the regard Cumming’s colleagues had for him:

And this is another notable reaction:

The post Whoa: Rep. Elijah Cummings passes away at age 68 appeared first on Hot Air.

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Rep. Elijah Cummings, Central Figure In Impeachment Inquiry, Dies At 68

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Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) died early this morning from complications of various health issues, according to his office. He was 68 years old.

A central figure in the impeachment inquiry in Congress, Cummings was the chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. He was one of three chairmen leading the investigation into President Donald Trump’s call with and actions regarding Ukraine. Cummings was an outspoken critic of the President, and was the target of a much-criticized tweet from Trump calling Cummings’ city of Baltimore a “rat-infested mess.”

The Baltimore native has received praise from both sides of the political aisle for his years of service in Congress.

From Democrat Joe Kennedy III:

To Republican Chip Roy:

The passing of Cummings will mean that Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have to pick a new chair for Cummings’ committee and a special election will eventually be held in his district, MD-07, which is a D+51 district and will likely feature several candidates vying for the job.

The post Rep. Elijah Cummings, Central Figure In Impeachment Inquiry, Dies At 68 appeared first on RedState.

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Whoa: Rep. Elijah Cummings passes away at age 68

Westlake Legal Group cummings Whoa: Rep. Elijah Cummings passes away at age 68 The Blog impeachment House Oversight Committee elijah cummings Benghazi

Expect lots of eulogies today for 12-term congressman and House Oversight chair Elijah Cummings, who died overnight at the relatively young age of 68. Inboxes are already filling with statements from his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Cummings had run his committee while battling health issues related to complications of heart surgery in 2017, but it seems no one thought he’d succumb to them:

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and a key player in the ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, died early Thursday of complications from longtime health issues, his office said in a statement. The Maryland Democrat was 68.

Cummings had missed roll call votes since Sept. 11 and said in a Sept. 30 statement that he expected to return to the House by mid-October after having a medical procedure, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The 12-term congressman died at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Thursday at Gilchrist Hospice Care, a Johns Hopkins affiliate, due to “complications concerning longstanding health challenges,” according to his office’s statement.

Cummings was initially sidelined after receiving heart surgery to replace an aortic valve in May 2017. That procedure led to an infection, keeping him in the hospital through much of the summer session.

House Oversight has been the battleground for plenty of partisan fights, including the Benghazi scandal when Darrell Issa and Trey Gowdy chaired the committee. Cummings has chaired the committee through various issues related to Democrats’ impeachment push over the last two years. However, Cummings managed to avoid some of the nastier partisan antics that have erupted in the Judiciary and Intelligence committees. Roll Call notes that “Cummings has remained widely popular on both sides of the aisle,” and that’s likely a reflection of his careful tactics and strategies.

Of course, few people get to Congress by being non-partisan, and no one in either party ascends to leadership positions by being non-partisan either. Cummings fought against both Issa and Gowdy, but largely within the traditional boundaries of partisanship. Cummings managed to retain his overall credibility while pursuing House Democrats’ agenda, just as Gowdy in particular managed to retain his until his retirement last year.

That leaves the question of what comes next for Oversight and for House Democrats. Oversight is deeply involved in the testimony being taken in the impeachment “inquiry” by the House at the moment, with Adam Schiff in more or less a lead position despite his serious credibility issues. Cummings might have been an option for an alternate to Schiff if Nancy Pelosi wanted to put the inquiry on firmer footing; Jerrold Nadler wouldn’t have been any better than Schiff in that regard, although Judiciary would be a more natural home for the effort than Schiff’s Intelligence Committee. Katie Hill (CA) is currently vice chair for Oversight, but she’s a first-termer from a formerly Republican district, and it’s tough to see her as an option for quarterbacking impeachment when she’s the first Democrat to win that seat in 26 years. It’s also very difficult to believe that a freshman will rise to chair a House committee, let alone one as high-profile and powerful as Oversight. Perhaps it will end up going to Carolyn Maloney (NY), who got elected the same year Hill’s seat first flipped to the GOP.

Cummings is well beyond those considerations now, and well beyond any bonds of partisanship. Our condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Addendum: Here’s an example of the regard Cumming’s colleagues had for him:

And this is another notable reaction:

The post Whoa: Rep. Elijah Cummings passes away at age 68 appeared first on Hot Air.

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