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Impeachment and a path to redemption for Trump

Impeachment and a path to redemption for TrumpPresident Trump’s most effective path forward, not only to prevail in the impeachment proceedings but to end this ordeal and create a strong position from which to govern, is to follow the Clinton model rather than the Nixon path. 


Date : Thu, 16 Jan 2020 12:23:01 -0500

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FBI Busts Members of Neo-Nazi Group ‘The Base’ Days Before Richmond Gun Rally

FBI Busts Members of Neo-Nazi Group ‘The Base’ Days Before Richmond Gun RallyThe FBI arrested three members of a neo-Nazi group called “The Base” on Thursday morning, days ahead of a pro-gun rally in Richmond that is attracting fringe figures and has already prompted a state of emergency declaration. The three suspects—Brian Mark Lemley, William Garfield Bilbrough, and Canadian fugitive Patrik Mathews—face a variety of gun charges. Lemley and Bilbrough are also accused of illegally harboring Mathews, a former Canadian military reservist who fled his home country after being accused of being a recruiter for The Base. The trio is expected to face a federal judge in Maryland on Thursday afternoon. The suspects had discussed traveling to Richmond, Virginia, for a Jan. 20 rally  in front of the state Capitol to protest new gun control legislation, The New York Times reported. The rally has become a flashpoint for the fringe right, prompting Gov. Ralph Northam  to declare a four-day state of emergency and ban guns from the Capitol complex.Lemley and Mathews had allegedly built an assault rifle and amassed hundreds of rounds of ammunition before their arrest, according to the FBI. On a recording, Lemley said he had made the gun into an illegal machine gun and made plans to hide it from federal agents, according to the FBI.“Oh oops, it looks like I accidentally made a machine gun,” Lemley, a former cavalry scout in the U.S. Army, said, according to the affidavit. “I’m going to stow it here until next week, just in case the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms] shows up tomorrow,” he told Mathews.“Um, if they show up here, we got other problems,” Mathews replied.Missing Canadian Bomb Expert With Neo-Nazi Ties May Be in U.S.The Base, which is derived from the English translation of the name of radical Islamic terrorist group al Qaeda, is a white supremacist paramilitary group committed to race war. In an affidavit filed with an application for the arrest warrants, the FBI described how Base members discuss their racial terrorism plans online.“Within The Base’s encrypted chat rooms, members have discussed, among other things, recruitment, creating a white ethno-state, committing acts of violence against minority communities (including African-Americans and Jewish-Americans), the organization’s military-style training camps, and ways to make improvised explosive devices,” the affidavit reads. Mathews allegedly crossed into Minnesota from Canada around Aug. 19, according to the FBI. After learning that Mathews was hiding in Michigan, Lemley and Bilbrough allegedly drove from Maryland to pick him up, then allegedly drove him back to the mid-Atlantic area on Aug. 30.On Nov. 4, according to the FBI, Mathews and Lemley rented an apartment in Delaware, according to the FBI. They ordered a part for the gun and ammunition, according to the affidavit, and made regular trips to a Maryland gun range with the functional assault rifle they had assembled. At one point, Bilbrough visited the pair, and the three allegedly discussed the Base’s membership and tried to make the hallucinogen DMT. On Jan. 11, Lemley picked up hundreds of rounds of additional ammunition and components for body armor, according to the FBI. Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


Date : Thu, 16 Jan 2020 13:02:32 -0500

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Countries demand Iran compensate relatives of plane-crash victims

Countries demand Iran compensate relatives of plane-crash victimsFive countries whose citizens died when Iran shot down an airliner last week said on Thursday that Tehran should pay compensation to families of the victims, and warned that the world is watching for its response. Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan and Britain said Iran should hold a "thorough, independent and transparent international investigation open to grieving nations," in a statement issued after a meeting of officials in London. Iran admitted on Saturday it had shot down the Ukraine International Airlines plane in error, after initially denying it had a role in the incident.


Date : Thu, 16 Jan 2020 14:53:43 -0500

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Bureaucracy to brutality: New evidence reveals IS hierarchy

Bureaucracy to brutality: New evidence reveals IS hierarchyDocuments compiled by a U.S.-based Syrian rights group reveal how Islamic State militants used one of their most powerful bureaucratic bodies to regulate daily life and impose and execute penalties. The Washington-based Syria Justice and Accountability Center said Thursday that the evidence — documents produced by IS itself — could help identify individuals responsible for atrocities during the militants' four-year reign of terror and lead to criminal prosecutions. The 24-page report, called “Judge, Jury and Executioner,” is based on dozens of documents obtained by SJAC from inside Syria and collected by a local activist from abandoned IS offices in Raqqa province, where the militants also had their self-declared capital in a city that carries the same name.


Date : Thu, 16 Jan 2020 14:13:28 -0500

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Texas carries out first US execution of 2020

Texas carries out first US execution of 2020Texas on Wednesday carried out the first execution of the year in the United States, putting to death by lethal injection a man convicted of killing his wife 15 years ago because she wanted a divorce. John Gardner, 64, was sentenced to death in 2006 for killing his fifth wife, who had left him after multiple incidents of physical violence and filed for divorce. Tammy Gardner died two days later.


Date : Wed, 15 Jan 2020 20:40:59 -0500

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This Harvard-educated, NASA-qualified, Navy SEAL gives his kids this simple advice every day

This Harvard-educated, NASA-qualified, Navy SEAL gives his kids this simple advice every day"It wasn't as simple as, 'I want to do this because it's an accomplishment,'" Jonny Kim told Insider. "It's never been that shallow for me."


Date : Thu, 16 Jan 2020 10:29:53 -0500

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The TSA apologized after an agent pulled a Native American passenger's braid and said "giddyup!" during a pat down

The TSA apologized after an agent pulled a Native American passenger's braid and said "giddyup!" during a pat downTara Houska was going through security at the Minneapolis airport on Monday when she said an agent humiliated her by whipping her braids.


Date : Fri, 17 Jan 2020 12:43:20 -0500

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Republican tells female reporter 30 schoolboys ‘could have a lot of fun’ with her

Republican tells female reporter 30 schoolboys ‘could have a lot of fun’ with herA Republican lawmaker is facing calls for a sexual harassment investigation after he told a young female reporter that a group of high school boys “could have a lot of fun” with her.Peter Lucido, a Michigan state senator, has been accused of making inappropriate comments to local reporter Allison Donahue during a tour of the state Capitol.


Date : Thu, 16 Jan 2020 08:09:00 -0500

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Former U.S. Marine: Suleimani’s Killing Is the Apotheosis of American 'Strategy'

Former U.S. Marine: Suleimani’s Killing Is the Apotheosis of American 'Strategy'A strategy that has achieved the opposite of its promises is a failure. Before another moment is wasted, Americans need to ask their leaders the same question General David Petraeus plaintively asked at the height of the Iraq War: “Tell me how this ends.”


Date : Thu, 16 Jan 2020 08:06:00 -0500

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Postpone the Impeachment Trial until the House Finishes Investigating

Postpone the Impeachment Trial until the House Finishes InvestigatingTwo things happened simultaneously on Wednesday: (a) The House of Representatives transmitted to the Senate two articles of impeachment approved on straight partisan lines a month ago, and (b) the House’s impeachment inquiry — yes, it’s still very much alive — highlighted new, relevant evidence it has turned up about the activities in Ukraine of President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Giuliani’s associates.The Democrats’ strategy is coming clear.The House provided the Senate with two half-baked impeachment articles. House Democrats rushed through the investigation, forgoing salient witnesses and evidence, because of the political calendar. The charges are weak and the inquiry was needlessly short-circuited, so Democrats have continued investigating the premature allegations. Now they are publicly disclosing newly acquired evidence, with the promise of more to come. Transparently, their goal is to pressure the Senate not merely to conduct a trial but to complete the investigation that the House failed to complete — calling witnesses and gathering evidence, as if a trial were nothing more than an extension of an open-ended grand-jury probe.Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans should not let them get away with it. No trial court would allow itself to be whipsawed this way. A federal judge would tell prosecutors to go back to the grand jury, finish the investigation, and come back to the trial court when they have a case ready to be tried, not investigated.That is not to say new evidence may not be serious. It may be very serious. It could make the case worse for President Trump. But in any event, there should be just one trial, and it should occur when the investigation is complete. This is not supposed to be a non-stop grand jury, with an ever-hovering prospect of new articles of impeachment, in addition to an endless stream of newly emerging materials that the Senate is expected to sort out rather than judge.Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans should hold the two pending articles in abeyance, or vote to dismiss them without prejudice to the House’s revoting them when its impeachment inquiry is finally concluded.The new information that has emerged underscores a strategic error by the president and House Republicans, which I have outlined several times since the Ukraine controversy emerged. They have insisted on fighting the Ukraine allegations on the impossible theory that the president’s communication with his Ukrainian counterpart, President Volodymyr Zelensky, was “perfect,” and that there was no quid pro quo — i.e., no indication that the president was withholding official acts sought by Kyiv ($400 million in defense aid and a White House visit) until its government met his demands (the public announcement that Ukraine would conduct an investigation of the Bidens and into Ukraine’s role in the Trump-Russia investigation).I have contended, to the contrary, that the president’s best defense is that nothing of consequence happened. I have been prepared to assume that the president pressured Ukraine, as alleged. But it was much ado about nothing: Ukraine got the defense aid (and barely knew it had been briefly delayed); Zelensky did not have to make any commitment about investigations; and he got his high-profile audience with President Trump (albeit at the United Nations in New York City, not at the White House). The president’s defense should be that, while there may have been improprieties, nothing here approaches the egregious misconduct required to trigger impeachment.This would be the best strategy in any event. It is an imperative strategy, however, in a situation such as this one, where the investigation is continuing and new information is coming out continuously. Under my approach, if new evidence emerged about the president’s knowledge of or complicity in the pressure campaign on Zelensky, it could be dismissed as mere confirmation of what was already obvious. But because the president and Republicans have taken the tack that nothing inappropriate happened and no pressure was asserted, any evidence of impropriety and pressure can be framed as a bombshell — even though it doesn’t actually change the bottom line.Giuliani associate Lev Parnas is under indictment in the Southern District of New York (SDNY), in a case that has factual overlap with events that were the focus of the House impeachment inquiry. Parnas wants to use his potential value as a witness in the impeachment inquiry as leverage against his SDNY prosecution. So he has begun sharing information from the SDNY case with House investigators. They, in turn, are releasing the information to the media, which are reporting it as ground-shaking revelations.That information (texts, notes, and the like) indicates that Giuliani, representing that he was acting with the president’s knowledge and approval, and in his official capacity as Trump’s private lawyer, sought a meeting with Zelensky in mid May 2019. The implication is that this was part of a then-ongoing plan to push Ukraine for an investigation of the Bidens.Moreover, there are communications between Parnas and Yuriy Lutsenko, a Ukrainian prosecutor who was helping Giuliani investigate possible Biden corruption, about their desire for the ouster of Marie Yovanovitch — the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who was eventually removed by the president at the urging of Giuliani (among others). There is enough detail in Parnas’s correspondence about Yovanovitch’s activities that it raises the disturbing specter that he was monitoring an American ambassador.The allegedly unjustified removal of Yovanovitch was extensively covered in the House hearings, which included the ambassador’s testimony. It was mainly atmospheric, rather than substantive. The president does not need a reason to dismiss an ambassador. And while it was vaguely suggested that Yovanovitch was removed because she was seen as an obstacle to pressuring Ukraine for an investigation of the Bidens, that was not established. There are no impeachment articles tied to her removal.If I am right, and Parnas is trying to use his potential value as an impeachment witness as a chip in plea negotiations with the SDNY, that could take time to work out. (The SDNY, whose job is prosecution, not impeachment, would want a guilty plea and full cooperation; Parnas would want immunity.) Meanwhile, the other major storyline is that John Bolton, formerly the president’s national-security adviser, has indicated that he is willing to testify if called. He is patently a relevant witness to the internal administration discussions over delayed defense aid to Ukraine. So is acting chief of staff and budget director Mick Mulvaney. So may be Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, if the House’s continuing investigation is focusing on Ambassador Yovanovitch’s dismissal.Plainly, there are loose ends here that the House should have tied up and that, importantly, the House is continuing to investigate. Note that Democrats have been caterwauling that the impeachment trial will not be fair because Senate Republicans are too in-the-tank for Trump to do their duty as impartial decision-makers (as if Democrats were not rabid anti-Trump partisans). But what could more undermine the fairness of a trial than a continuing, very public investigation of the same defendant while that trial is proceeding?No trial judge would put up with that. Prosecutors would not be permitted to present the case before a trial jury while, outside the courtroom, they were prejudicing the trial by continuing to investigate and publicize their findings.There is a very simple solution, one that judges in federal court deal with all the time in cases that are still under investigation when an indictment is initially filed: Don’t schedule the trial until the prosecutors acknowledge to the court that the investigation is over and no further charges are anticipated.It is worth bearing in mind: Impeachment is not just any trial. It stops the legislative business of the United States cold. There will be no movement of bills, no consideration of appointments, no hearings on vital issues such as Iran and the use of force. The impeachment trial will impede the work of the Supreme Court, since the chief justice must preside. In this instance, the impeachment trial will even wreak havoc on the Democratic nomination campaign, as senators — including top-tier contenders Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — must sit as jurors for six days a week.These are costs that must be borne. There has been an impeachment, so the Constitution calls on the Senate to act. But for the sake of our governance, that should mean a single trial, and it should represent the Democrats’ best, most complete case for the president’s removal. That trial should not happen until the investigation is done and the charges are fully ripe. By contrast, if Republicans allow Democrats to engage in the ongoing gamesmanship — in which the Senate trial would open, but House Democrats plan to throw new evidence into the mix every few days or weeks, demanding that the Senate trial be expanded to investigate what it all means — we would be looking at weeks, maybe months, of governmental paralysis. There is, moreover, basic fairness: The accused is supposed to know what the allegations are before the trial starts — the charges are not supposed to evolve as the trial proceeds.The importance of preserving impeachment as a viable constitutional remedy for presidential misconduct transcends the current administration and Congress. If impeachment must be done, it should be done right. It should not be done as a partisan game of investigative ping-pong between congressional chambers.


Date : Wed, 15 Jan 2020 17:34:55 -0500

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