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Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider

    In the first legal submissions of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, Democrats on Saturday said the President had violated his oath and should be removed from office, while the White House denounced the impeachment charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress as 'constitutionally invalid.' In their 111 page legal brief, Democrats said the President had abused his power by trying to pressure the government of Ukraine into announcing investigations against Joe Biden, all in an effort to help Mr. Trump's 2020 re-election bid. Democrats said the very public effort by President Trump to block top White House officials from testifying before Congress - as they defied subpoenas for the impeachment investigation - was a violation of the Constitution. 'In exercising its responsibility to investigate and consider the impeachment of a President of the United States, the House is constitutionally entitled to the relevant information from the Executive Branch concerning the President's misconduct,' Democrats wrote. 'The Framers, the courts, and past Presidents have recognized that honoring Congress’s right to information in an impeachment investigation is a critical safeguard in our system of divided powers,' that trial brief added. In their initial answer to the Senate summons for this impeachment trial, the White House delivered a seven page legal rebuke to Democrats. 'The Articles of Impeachment are constitutionally invalid on their face. They fail to allege any crime of violation of law whatsoever,' wrote White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and the President's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow. 'In the end, this entire process is nothing more than a dangerous attack on the American people themselves and their fundamental right to vote,' the President's legal team concluded. 'The notion that President Trump obstructed Congress is absurd,' said sources close to the President's legal team. The White House has until 12 noon on Monday to file a trial brief to the Senate; Democrats would have until 12 noon on Tuesday to file a rebuttal. The Senate will reconvene as a court of impeachment on Tuesday afternoon. Senators must still approve rules to govern the first phase of the trial. Senate Republicans have said they would base that rules plan on one approved by the Senate for the start of the Clinton impeachment trial in 1999. That rules resolution gave each side 24 hours to make their opening arguments - which would likely be split up over three or more days on the Senate floor. Like 1999, it's possible the Senate may also take an early vote to dismiss the case entirely, an outcome preferred by President Trump.
  • With opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump expected to begin in coming days, the White House on Friday unveiled a team of legal experts including former Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr, and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz to defend the President on Capitol Hill. 'President Trump has done nothing wrong and is confident that this team will defend him, the voters, and our democracy from this baseless, illegitimate impeachment,' White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a written statement. 'The President looks forward to the end of this partisan and unconstitutional impeachment,' Grisham added. The Trump legal team members will join White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and the President's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow in defending Mr. Trump. Here is the list provided by the White House: + Ken Starr, Former Independent Counsel, Whitewater investigation + Alan Dershowitz, Professor of Law, Emeritus, Harvard Law School + Pam Bondi, Former Attorney General of Florida + Jane Serene Raskin, Private Counsel to President Donald J. Trump + Eric D. Herschmann, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres LLP + Robert Ray, Former Independent Counsel. While Dershowitz is a famous legal mind, Starr is the more political figure, given that his Whitewater investigation launched the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1999. And his appearance immediately drew the evil eye from allies of the former President. Democrats mocked the choices. 'If President Trump is looking to turn the impeachment trial into a reality TV show, he chose the right team with Alan Dershowitz, Ken Starr, and Robert Ray,' said Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). But this is the U.S. Senate, not the People's Court.  'Well, that's their choice,' Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said of Starr during a Friday interview on MSNBC. 'But it's a weird choice.' The choice of Starr also drew a profane response from Monica Lewinsky, who was the focus of Starr's investigation. The Senate impeachment trial resumes on Tuesday with votes expected on the rules to govern the initial phase of the Trump impeachment trial.
  • President Donald Trump said Thursday that he did not know Lev Parnas, an indicted business associate of Rudy Giuliani who claims the President knew all about Giuliani's efforts to oust the U.S. Ambassador in Ukraine, as well as behind the scenes work to get Ukraine to announce investigations related to Joe Biden, in order to help Mr. Trump's 2020 re-election bid. 'I don't know him. I don't know Parnas,' the President said a number of times to reporters at the White House. 'I don't know him at all. Don't know what he's about,' Mr. Trump added. But in interviews with MSNBC, CNN, and the New York Times, Parnas has said the President is not telling the truth about his efforts to put pressure on the leader of Ukraine. Documents and electronic messages provided by Parnas to the House Intelligence Committee in recent days included a letter that Rudy Giuliani wrote in May 2019, asking for a meeting with the newly-elected Ukraine President, in which Giuliani said he was 'private counsel to President Donald J. Trump.' 'I don't know anything about the letter,' President Trump said, praising Giuliani's time as mayor but not addressing what he did for Trump in Ukraine with Parnas and others. Also denying any knowledge of Parnas's claims was Vice President Mike Pence. 'I don’t know the guy,' Pence told reporters during a visit to Florida on Thursday, as the Vice President said the claim by Parnas that Pence knew about pressure being put on the Ukraine leader was 'completely false.' Democrats used those denials to question why Pence's office has refused to declassify further impeachment answers from a State Department official detailed to his office. Some Democrats have raised the possibility of asking to hear testimony from Parnas in the Trump impeachment trial, though any request for witness testimony must get a majority of Senators. As of now, most Republicans remain hotly opposed to any new witnesses, arguing the Senate should not have to find evidence which the House did not uncover. 'That's not our job,' said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). 'Our job is to look at what they brought us and decide if that rises to the level of impeachment.' Perdue was part of the ceremonial first day of the Senate impeachment trial - just the third time a President has faced such a challenge in U.S. history. Opening arguments will take place next Tuesday.
  • Just before the official start of the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, the Government Accountability Office said Thursday that the White House had broken federal law by withholding over $200 million in military aid for Ukraine, as Democrats said the new findings should be aired before the Senate in coming days. 'Faithful executive of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,' wrote Thomas Armstrong, the General Counsel of the GAO. Democrats immediately latched on to the government watchdog opinion to reinforce their impeachment arguments. 'This is an important ruling that deserves a thorough hearing in the impeachment trial,' said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) on the floor of the Senate. 'GAO confirmed the President broke the law,' said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer. 'When President Trump froze congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine, he did so in violation of the law and the Constitution,' said Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT). 'The GAO has confirmed what we’ve always known: President Trump abused his power,' said Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME). 'Another fact for the Senate to consider.' 'The hold Trump ordered was illegal,' said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). The law in question is known as the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974,' which was passed after President Nixon had refused to release money approved by Congress.
  • Hours after Speaker Nancy Pelosi named seven Democratic lawmakers to act as the prosecutors for the House impeachment case against President Donald Trump, the House on Wednesday evening gave the Senate official notification that it was ready to proceed with a trial of the President on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 'A few minutes ago, the Senate was notified that the House of Representatives is finally ready to proceed with their articles of impeachment,' said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The historic trial - only the third of a President in U.S. history - will officially begin on Thursday with the arrival of Chief Justice John Roberts and the swearing-in of Senators. Opening arguments in the case are expected to begin on Tuesday. The official moves came four weeks after the House had voted to impeach the President on two charges, as Democrats delayed in hopes of forcing Senate Republicans to call witnesses who refused to testify in House impeachment hearings. While that gambit did not work, new evidence did surface over that time period, including documents and messages gathered by Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of the President's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Parnas worked with Giuliani in Ukraine, helping in his effort to force out then-U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. The new materials, which included texts and other electronic messages involving Parnas, Giuliani, and others, also held notes which mentioned getting Ukraine to announce 'that the Biden case will be investigated.' It was the President's withholding of military aid - combined with an effort to ask for the Ukraine government to announce investigations of the Bidens and the 2016 elections - which prompted Democrats to convene impeachment hearings. Republicans greeted the official arrival of the impeachment charges with scorn and ridicule. 'Democrats have politicized impeachment and denied President Trump his fundamental right to due process,' said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). 'It’s clear Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives failed to make their case.' 'By delaying the process, Speaker Pelosi confirmed that this impeachment is a partisan political exercise,' said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).
  • Four weeks after the House approved two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named a team of seven Democrats to lead the prosecution's case in a Senate impeachment trial, led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. “The emphasis is on litigators.  The emphasis is on comfort level in the courtroom,” Pelosi told reporters at the U.S. Capitol.  “The emphasis is making the strongest possible case to defend and protect the Constitution,” Pelosi added. Here is the list of the impeachment managers: + Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). Schiff led the impeachment hearings and is Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Speaker Pelosi said Schiff will serve as the lead manager. + Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY). Nadler is the head of the House Judiciary Committee. + Rep. Val Demings (D-FL). A former police chief in Orlando, Florida, Demings serves on both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. + Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO). A lawyer and Army Ranger who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, Crow won a GOP seat in the Denver suburbs in 2018. He was not involved in any of the impeachment hearings, and is the only impeachment manager who is not from a safe-Democratic seat. + Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). The head of the House Democratic Caucus, Jeffries is a member of the House Judiciary Committee. + Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). A veteran Democrat who was a staffer during the Nixon impeachment investigation, and also served during the Clinton impeachment. + Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX). Garcia is a freshman Democrat from the Houston area, and former judge. She is a member of the Judiciary Committee. In a statement, the White House Press Secretary belittled the Speaker's announcement. The ceremonial start to the trial will come on Thursday, as Chief Justice John Roberts will swear in Senators. Opening arguments are expected to begin next Tuesday.
  • As the Congress inched closer to the start of a Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, new evidence emerged on Tuesday night related to actions in Ukraine by the President's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, including electronic messages which seemingly involved people tracking the movements of the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine who was the target of allies of the President. The materials released by the House Intelligence Committee came from Lev Parnas, a business associated of Giuliani who was arrested on October 9, 2019, just before he was to board a flight to Austria. Parnas was later charged with illegally funneling foreign money into U.S. election campaigns. Along with text messages, the Parnas information included handwritten items on notepads from the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Vienna, which seemingly were related to the genesis of the Ukraine investigation involving President Trump's May 25 phone call with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. 'Get Zalensky to announce that the Biden case will be investigated,' one note says. Also included in the release was a letter from Giuliani to Zelensky. In the letter, Giuliani says he is the 'private counsel' for President Trump, and asks for a half-hour to meet with the Ukraine leader, but does not reveal the subject matter. That letter was dated 15 days before President Trump's 'perfect' call with the leader of Ukraine, where Mr. Trump asked Zelensky to look into 'the Bidens.' The materials made public on Tuesday also included electronic messages involving Robert Hyde, a GOP candidate for Congress in Connecticut, who seemed to have been involved in some type of surveillance and tracking of then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Yovanovitch was the target of what she later described as a 'smear campaign' started by Giuliani, which ultimately led to her ouster as Ambassador. In the newly-released messages from late March of 2019 - just as a media campaign against Yovanovitch was underway - Hyde said he was surprised the President 'hasn't fired this bitch.' Over the next few days, Hyde messages that Yovanovitch is 'next to the embassy,' 'Not in the embassy,' and seemingly gives detailed updates on what the Ambassador has been doing.  'She's talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off,' one message from March 25, 2019 reads. 'They will let me know when she's on the move,' another message reads, not indicating who the 'They' is. With the consent of federal prosecutors in New York, the attorney for Lev Parnas said the information had been shared with the House Intelligence Committee, which then forwarded the materials to the House Judiciary Committee. The notes quickly attracted the attention of Democrats. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) said on Twitter, “these notes are legitimately insane and damning and hard to fathom.”
  • After delaying the move to send a pair of impeachment charges against President Donald Trump to the U.S. Senate, Democrats announced today that the House would vote Wednesday to approve a slate of impeachment 'managers' for the case against the President, a move which will trigger the start of a historic impeachment trial. 'In America, no one is above the law, not even the President of the United States of America,' said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). In a closed door meeting, Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not reveal the names of the House prosecution team, as most expect Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) to lead the House managers in the Senate trial. Once the House approves the names of the trial managers, then the impeachment papers will finally be walked across the Capitol, and presented to the Senate. As Democrats set out their next steps in the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was again knocking the idea that an impeachment trial of President Trump should have extra witnesses who were not a part of the House inquiry. “If the existing case is strong, there's no need for the judge and the jury to reopen the investigation,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor, as GOP leaders have tried to dissuade Republicans from joining with Democrats to call extra witnesses. But there do seem to be Republicans willing to do just that, especially when it comes to testimony from President Trump's former National Security Adviser, who labeled the hold on military aid for Ukraine a 'drug deal.' “I would like there to be witnesses, and to be able to hear from someone like John Bolton,” said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). At some point, the Senate will have to vote on whether to call certain witnesses - 51 Senators is all it would take to authorize testimony from a specific individual. Democrats cast it as a choice between a fair trial, and a cover up. In a statement issued later on Tuesday morning, the Speaker confirmed the House would act on Wednesday. 'The American people deserve the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial,' Pelosi said in a written statement.  'The President and the Senators will be held accountable.”
  • As the Justice Department announced Monday that a December mass shooting by a member of the Saudi air force was a 'terrorist act,' U.S. Attorney General William Barr issued a public plea to Apple to help unlock the phones of the shooter, in order to further explore the gunman's motivations and any possible contacts. 'We have asked Apple for their help in unlocking the shooter’s iPhones,' Barr said at a Justice Department news conference about the attack at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. 'So far Apple has not given us any substantive assistance.' Barr said even with a court order, the feds are not able to crack into the suspects iPhones without the password, a situation which is presenting itself with increasing frequency for law enforcement investigators. 'We call on Apple and other technology companies to help us find a solution so that we can better protect the lives of Americans and prevent future attacks,' Barr said. Barr said the investigation revealed that the shooter, Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani of the Royal Saudi Air Force, actually put one of his phones on the ground during his shooting rampage in order to damage it. 'During the gunfight with first responders, the shooter disengaged long enough to place one of the phones on the floor and shoot a single round into the device,' Barr said. The Attorney General told reporters that Alshamrani's other phone had also been damaged, but that the feds had been able to get both devices to work - but could not crack them open because of the password barrier.
  • Unable to break out of the bottom tier of candidates in the race for the Democratic Party nomination for President, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced Monday that he was ending his bid for the White House, just three weeks before the first votes are to be cast in the Iowa Caucuses. 'I've made the hard decision to suspend my campaign for President,' Booker told supporters in an email, as he announced that he is suspending his campaign. While Booker has maintained an active campaign schedule, his poll numbers nationally have been in low single digits for months, as he has been unable to qualify for recent debates, making it even more difficult for him to attract support. Six Democrats will debate on Tuesday in the final Iowa debate - but Booker was not going to be on the stage. Booker had tried hard in recent weeks to continue organizing in Iowa as he made campaign stops around the Hawkeye State. 'If you’re interested in volunteering with our campaign—everything from calling voters from home to knocking doors in Iowa—please join our team!' Booker's campaign tweeted over the weekend. “I can't wait to get back on the campaign trail,” Booker said, as he vowed to strongly support his party's nominee.

The Latest News Headlines

  • Police in Fayetteville, North Carolina, said a man broke into a home and forced a woman and a 1-month-old boy into a car at gunpoint, according to WTVD. The home invasion and kidnapping happened Monday at 1:12 a.m. Wani Thomas broke into a home on Tangerine Drive and forced Jasmine Livermore and the baby boy, Nathaniel Thomas, into a vehicle, police said. Authorities are currently searching for all three. Thomas is considered armed and dangerous and last seen wearing a brown jacket with blue jeans. Livermore, 20, was last seen wearing gray pants, a brown shirt and a camouflage jacket. Anyone with information should call Fayetteville police at (910) 676-2597 or Cumberland County Crimestoppers at (910) 483-8477.
  • The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department rescued a man that was stuck in a tree in Atlantic Beach Sunday afternoon.  Video taken from the scene shows a ladder truck ascending into a large oak tree.   JFRD tweeted that the man was rescued from the tree safely and was taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.
  • As many as six people were shot in a violent weekend across Jacksonville. And the common thing in all these cases, no arrests. Two of the shootings happened within a block of each other on Justina Road in Arlington.  A man was sitting at a bus stop by when he was shot by someone in a red SUV on Saturday afternoon.  Hours later a person was shot nearby and hospitalized with injuries.  Late Sunday night a man was shot in the leg on Old Kings near Edgewood. The man was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.  On Friday night two men in their 20's were injured in a shooting off Kings Road on the northwest side.  One man was hit in the lower leg and the other was struck in the upper torso. Both were taken to a local hospital for treatment.  JSO says the shooting happened in a Shot Spotter area, and the technology system captured three gunshots.  On Friday around 8pm, a man in his 30’s was shot and killed on Brooklyn Road in the Moncrief area. JSO detectives were trying to locate any witnesses or video surveillance. 
  • Coming off a weekend in the 70's, a strong cold front brought drenching rain on Sunday afternoon, followed by a chill. Action News Jax Meteorologist Corey Simma is tracking temps well below average.  “Mostly sunny and cold with temperatures in the 50’s all day. And then clear and cold Monday night and Tuesday morning with some patchy inland frost”, said Simma.   Tuesday looks to be the coldest day this week, as we’ll struggle to reach 50 degrees. A breeze will keep it feeling even colder. We stay below average on Wednesday, with temperatures only in the 50’s.  The mid-60’s return on Thursday, and on Friday we’ll be near 70 but with scattered showers. 
  • The Jacksonville Humane Society and Animal Care and Protective Services announced the city of Jacksonville, once again, earned the no-kill designation for the year of 2019. According to Best Friends Animal Society, “A no-kill community is a city or town in which every brick-and-mortar shelter serving and/or located within that community has reached a 90% save rate or higher and adheres to the no-kill philosophy, saving every animal who can be saved.'  According to a release put out by the JHS, the save rate for APCS was 90 percent and for JHS it was 95 percent, making a citywide save rate of 93 percent.  In total, 16,874 animals entered the JHS shelters in 2019, which is a significant decrease from 19,366 animals in 2018, according to the JHS.  According to JHS, Jacksonville earned the distinction of being the largest city in the United States to earn a no-kill status. The city has maintained that status until last year when ACPS save rate fell to 86 percent.  “Examining the data and trends in 2017 and 2018 resulted in our renewed focus on cats and kittens in 2019,” said Deisler. “As a community, we had to take a look at ourselves ask – what can we do to save those lives? We knew that with the help of our community, a return to no-kill was possible. We are excited about the results from 2019 and even more excited for 2020. Thank you, Jacksonville!”

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