Trump Lawyers Present Defense For ‘Dangerous’ Impeachment

 

President Donald Trump’s legal team presented Saturday its line of defense for his upcoming impeachment trial, a process they dismissed as unconstitutional and “dangerous.”

It was the first time the team presented its arguments, modeled on those put forward since December by Trump and his fellow Republicans.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone will be lead lawyer, backed by Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow. They will be joined by Ken Starr, who was at the center of Bill Clinton’s impeachment in the 1990s, and celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz.

In an initial response to the president being charged, written by Cipollone and Sekulow, the defense said that the articles of impeachment — passed by the majority-Democrat House of Representatives — “are a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president.”

READ ALSO: Britain’s Prince Harry And Meghan To Give Up Royal Titles

“This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election,” the team said in a statement.

Trump has been impeached on charges that he abused his office to try and force Ukraine into digging up dirt on leading Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden by withholding $400 million in military aid and a White House meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart President Volodymyr Zelensky.

He was also impeached for allegedly obstructing Congress.

“The articles of impeachment are constitutionally invalid on their face. They fail to allege any crime or violation of law whatsoever,” the defense team said.

In a call with reporters earlier Saturday, a source close to Trump’s legal team said the articles violate the Constitution because they are “the product of invalid proceedings that flagrantly denied the president any due process rights.”

The impeachment process risks doing “lasting damage to our structure of government,” the source said.

The sources added that Trump had met with Zelensky at the UN in September and that the military aid had been released, proving there was no quid pro quo with Kiev — although by that point, a whistle-blower within the administration had already triggered the impeachment proceedings.

The House managers, or prosecutors in the impeachment trial, filed their official brief on Saturday, in which they said that Trump’s conduct “is the Framers’ worst nightmare,” referring to the authors of the US Constitution.

“The case against the President of the United States is simple, the facts are indisputable, and the evidence is overwhelming,” the managers said in a joint statement after filing the brief.

“President Trump abused the power of his office to solicit foreign interference in our elections for his own personal political gain, thereby jeopardizing our national security, the integrity of our elections, and our democracy.”

AFP

US Debt Hits Record High Under Trump As Republicans Keep Mum

US President Donald Trump/ AFP

 

The national debt profile of the United States has hit a new record high of $22 trillion under President Donald Trump but Republicans who traditionally rail against debt and deficits have remained mum.

The sum of borrowing to cover chronic deficits as well as growing interest payments, this mountain of debt already stood at $19.95 trillion when Trump entered the White House, reaching the equivalent of US GDP for the first time since World War II.

By comparison, France’s debt, which also is about the same as its GDP, amounted to a little more than 2.3 trillion euros (about $2.6 trillion) in late September.

The massive corporate tax cuts that Trump pushed for at the end of 2017, and the surge in spending, especially in defense, have increased the fiscal deficit for the world’s largest economy.

“If we don’t have a strong military, you don’t have to worry about debt, you have bigger problems,” Trump told reporters last week.

READ ALSO: ‘He Missed His Time’: Trump Reacts To Sanders’ Presidential Bid

Administration officials continue to argue that the tax cuts, which are expected to widen the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years, will pay for themselves by boosting economic growth and thereby increasing tax revenues.

 Republican deficit hawks quiet 

But despite faster growth, the budget deficit climbed 17 percent to $779 billion last year, the worst since 2012. And according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the deficit is expected to widen further this year to $900 billion.

The United States saw a budget surplus for four years under Democratic president Bill Clinton, amid a booming economy, but the war in Iraq under Republican George W. Bush once again plunged federal finances into the red.

Democratic president Barack Obama had to deal with the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis that required a ramp up in government spending, causing the federal books to deteriorate badly.

That helped fuel the birth of the Tea Party, a populist political movement that contributed to Trump’s rise to power.

With the economic recovery and the standoff in the Republican-controlled Congress forcing cuts in public spending, the last few years of the Obama administration saw a decline in the deficit.

But when it started to surge again under Trump, the Republican deficit-hawks were strangely silent.

‘Unsustainable path’ 

Beyond the politics, however, the aging US population with the accompanying increase in health and pension expenditures is the structural issue that is the primary cause of chronic US deficit.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell frequently points out that while it is not his role to set fiscal policy, “it’s not a secret, it’s a long-known fact that the US federal government budget is on an unsustainable path and that needs to be addressed.”

Of course the Fed’s interest rate increases — nine in the past four years — have caused an increase in the debt service costs, and Trump has frequently lashed out at the central bank, calling it “crazy” and a greater economic threat than China.

Interest on the public debt cost the US government $13 billion more in December compared to a year earlier.

In addition to the US sovereign debt, which thanks to the strong dollar continues to be viewed worldwide as a safe investment, corporate and consumer borrowing are increasingly a source of concern.

US corporate borrowing has almost doubled in just over a decade, fueled by the Fed’s cheap money policy after the 2008 crisis, and now stands at $9 trillion. The Fed calls this “a macroeconomic risk.”

And household debt now stands at $13.5 trillion, well above the previous peak before the crisis.

While three-quarters of the total is home mortgages, student loans, which put the brakes on consumption of young people, last year hit a record of nearly $1.5 trillion.

And auto loans, which also set a record of just under $1.3 trillion, are seeing rising delinquency rates that have sounded some alarm bells at the Fed.

AFP

Trump Expected To Sign Stopgap Spending Bill – Republican Congressman

Supreme Court Revives Parts Of Trump Travel Ban Order

 

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a stopgap spending bill on Thursday and the House Republican leadership does not expect President Donald Trump to veto the measure, Republican Representative Chris Collins said.

Collins was speaking to reporters after a meeting of the House Republican caucus on Thursday.

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday passed legislation to fund several federal agencies through Feb. 8 and avert a partial government shutdown, but without including $5 billion for a U.S.-Mexico border wall that Trump demanded.

Republican Ted Cruz Re-Elected To Senate In Texas

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks to supporters during his election night gathering at the Hilton Houston Post Oak on November 06, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Sen. Cruz defeated democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) to keep his Senate seat. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP

 

Texas Republican Ted Cruz won re-election to a second term in the Senate, beating off Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke in one of America’s most expensive and closely watched midterm races, US news networks projected Tuesday.

Cruz — a 47-year-old who battled President Donald Trump for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination — overcame major deficits in fundraising to ultimately defeat his charismatic rival, whose campaign electrified Democrats across the country and was backed by a galaxy of stars from Beyonce to Jim Carrey and LeBron James.

A win for O’Rourke, 46, a three-time congressman and former punk rocker whose given names are Robert Francis but who goes by Beto, would have amounted to a political earthquake in the reliably Republican “Lone Star State,” but he ultimately fell short.

Cruz’s campaign meanwhile was given a late boost by his former rival Trump, who belatedly stumped for the Cuban American two weeks before the vote.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump infamously insulted the looks of Cruz’s wife Heidi, vaguely suggested Cruz’s father had played a role in John F. Kennedy’s assassination and tagged him with the nickname “Lyin’ Ted” — an insult used by O’Rourke.

Cruz’s victory represented a significant boost for the Republican party as it looked set to retain control of the upper chamber of Congress.

AFP

Republican Differs Ahead Of Royal Wedding

Britain’s Prince Harry and his fiancee US actress Meghan Markle greet wellwishers on a walkabout as they arrive for an engagement at Nottingham Contemporary in Nottingham, central England. Photo: Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

As a whirlwind of pomp descends on Britain for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, republican campaigner Graham Smith will heave a disapproving sigh.

Smith and other members of anti-monarchy campaign group Republic regard the May 19 event as just another showbiz sideshow.

“It’s not a lot different from the international fascination with the Kardashians,” Smith, Republic’s chief executive, told AFP this week in front of Buckingham Palace.

“It’s just another celebrity angle if you like, or another celebrity story,” he said, as tourists swarmed outside the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II.

Founded in 1983 as a niche group with only a handful of members, Republic was officially incorporated as a campaign group in 2006.

Today they claim a 40,000-strong following which has the forthcoming fuss over the royal wedding in their sights. Smith said they see it as the latest effort to “shore up” the future of the crown.

“I’m very happy for the couple and wish them all the best. But it is a private event which they have then turned into a major public spectacle, which is going to cost the taxpayer an awful lot of money.

“And it’s going to be used for saturation PR for the royal brand and I think that’s where the problem comes in,” he said.

Smith listed the grievances his group has with Britain’s monarchy: “It’s opposed by quite a lot of people. It’s fairly divisive and it is completely unaccountable, it’s very secretive.”

“And so it projects this sort of more benign brand as a way of protecting itself from scrutiny and criticism.”

“That brand is all about fairytale romances and weddings and babies.”

‘Co-opted by the royal machinery’ 

According to a poll published last year by market research agency Opinium, 65 percent of British adults want to keep the monarchy while 19 percent support a republican model.

Republic propose abolishing the monarchy and replacing the Queen with an elected head of state.

As an American, divorced, mixed-race former actress, Markle stands out among royal spouses past and has been seen as a breath of fresh air for the monarchy.

But Smith remains unconvinced.

“She’s allowed herself to be completely co-opted by the royal machinery,” he said.

“She’s had her social media closed down, she’s now very much managed by people that manage the public appearances of the rest of royals.

“This isn’t the monarchy opening up to the rest of us, it’s Harry marrying one person who is then subsumed into the royal brand and the doors are then closed behind her.”

On the wedding day itself, Republic will be hosting an international conference in London — featuring allies from similar movements across the world.

Its doors will be open to anyone fed up with the royal circus and the “bills for policing and disruption to businesses”.

“On the day of the wedding we’re going to be in the vast majority of people who aren’t going to be paying any attention to it,” Smith said.

AFP

Republican Quits US Congress After Explosive Surrogacy Claims – US Media

Gun Control, US Congress

Republican lawmaker Trent Franks offered a female staff member $5 million to bear his child, US media reported Friday as he abruptly resigned from Congress where he was facing an ethics probe over sexual misconduct.

Franks, an eight-term lawmaker from Arizona, had announced a day earlier that he would be stepping down from the House of Representatives on January 31.

In that statement, he acknowledged that he had discussed surrogacy with two female staffers, but he did not provide details about the discussions.

In a new statement Friday, he said he was vacating his seat in Congress immediately, US media reported.

The Washington Post, citing Andrea Lafferty, the president of the Traditional Values Coalition, said one of the women was told she would be given $5 million to “conceive” his child.

The woman rejected Franks’s offer but felt sidelined and later quit her job, added Lafferty.

Politico, citing congressional sources with knowledge of the complaints, said the two female staffers had been approached about acting as a potential surrogate for him and his wife — Franks says he and his wife have struggled with fertility for years.

The women, according to the sources, were concerned that the congressman was asking to have sex with them, and that it was unclear whether he was asking about the prospect of impregnating them through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization, Politico reported.

In his initial statement, Franks, a conservative Republican opposed to abortion rights, said he “absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan was told of the misconduct allegations on November 29, his office said, adding that Ryan believed the accusations were “credible” and that he told Franks he should resign.

Ryan’s office declined to comment on the latest accusations, or Franks’s immediate resignation.

The scandal comes as sexual harassment allegations have engulfed Capitol Hill.

Franks is the third member of Congress this week — following House Democrat John Conyers and Senate Democrat Al Franken — to announce his resignation in the wake of sexual misconduct accusations.

AFP

McCain Sinks Republican Effort To Repeal Obamacare

John McCain
Senator John McCain

United States Senator John McCain Friday announced his opposition to the latest Republican attempt to replace Barack Obama’s signature health care law, likely dooming the repeal effort.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” McCain said of the bill proposed by fellow Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy.

“I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” the senator said in a statement.

In July, McCain made a dramatic return to Washington from Arizona after a brain cancer diagnosis to become one of three Republican senators who helped sink their party’s earlier efforts to replace Obamacare.

Republicans have pledged to repeal Obama’s health care reforms, but have struggled to secure enough support to do so amid fears that proposed alternatives would dramatically increase the number of Americans without health insurance.

AFP

Soyinka Describes Critics Of ‘Green Card’ Statement As Illiterate

Soyinka Describes Critics Of ‘Green Card’ Statement As IlliteratesNobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has been explaining his decision to dump the green card following the emergence of Mr Donald Trump as U.S President-elect.

Soyinka, who was addressing a press conference at Freedom Park in Lagos, described those condemning his actions as illiterate, insisting that his action was purely a personal affair.

Osun Lawmakers Approve Reduction Of LGAs Management Committee


In his words, “we have too many illiterates in this country – for me, Trump is not really my business”.

The foremost playwright had promised to tear up his green card if Donald Trump won the U.S election.

He however told journalists in South Africa last week, that he had made good his vow, adding that he has relocated to Nigeria.

U.S Election: Data Analyst Predicts Less Favourable U.S Relations With Nigeria

U.S Elections, U.S, NigeriaThere would be favourable relations towards African countries excluding Nigeria, should Hillary Clinton emerge as winner of the U.S Presidential elections, a data analyst said on Tuesday.

While analysing the implications of either of the candidates – Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton – emerging winner, Babajide Ogunsanwo said that giving the general perception that Hilary Clinton could win, there was the need to look at the implications of a Hillary Clinton president, to Nigeria.

Considering Nigeria and Ghana, as the power houses of Africa, and Nigeria’s ranking as the 136th out of 167 on the corruption ladder, he said: “If Hillary does look at such reports, it might mean that her policies and government decisions, would be more bias towards Ghana.

Also following the latest reports from the ease of doing business in Africa, he said Ghana was ranked higher than Nigeria.

According to him Ghana is currently receiving more foreign direct investments than Nigeria hence, “a Hillary Clinton victory, means more favourable relations with other African countries excluding Nigeria.

Explaining further he said, an independent candidate running in the election, Ivan Macaulay, who was also an intelligence officer, had told CBS news that he thinks Hillary Clinton is corrupt while Donald Trump will divide the country.

Mr Ogunsanwo, however, opined that “if Clinton wins the elections, she will be cautious and conservative, especially as she is coming in as the first female President of the United States”.

This according to him would mean that she would probably want to avoid countries that are perceived as corrupt.

On his opinion about what Donald Trump’s victory would mean to Nigeria, he said his victory has potential negative implications on crude oil with highly volatile prices.

Furthermore, he highlighted a potential reduction in remittances from immigrant workers in the U.S. as some of the downsides should the Republican candidate emerges as winner.

Voting has however started in the United States of America to elect the new president who would lead the country for the next four years.

It is an election that is expected to either elect the first female president for the country or it will be the first time an outsider – a businessman – would become the leader of the world’s most powerful country.

 

Clinton Feels Much Better From Pneumonia Diagnosis

Hilary ClintonU.S. Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, says that her health is much better, a day after falling ill at a 9/11 commemoration.

Reports say she had kept her pneumonia diagnosis from most of her staff, but chose to tell only family and close aides.

In a telephone interview with the CNN, she said that she had not disclosed a recent diagnosis because she just did not think it was going to be that big a deal.

Mrs Clinton also confessed that she had ignored a doctor’s “wise” advice to rest for five days.

Her republican opponent, Donald Trump, noted that health had now become “an issue” in the campaign.

However, Mrs Clinton’s campaign team said they would be releasing new medical records to help ease concerns about her health.

On Monday, Mrs Clinton canceled a trip she was scheduled to take to California for fundraising and other campaign events.

Mrs Clinton fell ill at a September 11 memorial, an episode that renewed focus on her health less than two months before the election.

Reuters reported that Clinton, 68, was diagnosed on Friday but her condition only came to light several hours after a video on social media appeared to show her swaying and her knees buckling before being helped into a motorcade as she left the memorial early Sunday.

Hillary Clinton Vows To ‘Call Out bigotry’ As Feud With Trump Deepens

Hilary-Clinton-and--Donald-TrumpThe presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the United States of America, Hillary Clinton, has said she will keep “calling out bigotry and racist rhetoric”, as a feud with Donald Trump deepens.

The Democrat made the promise in a statement on Saturday where she apologised for suggesting half of the Republican’s supporters were “deplorable” people.

“Grossly Generalistic”

Mr Trump had responded by saying the comment was “insulting” to “millions of amazing, hard working people”.

Mrs Clinton accepted that she had been “grossly generalistic” and that it was never a good idea.

She made the apology in a statement tweeted on her Twitter handle.

Polls released earlier this week suggest Mr Trump is gaining on Mrs Clinton, and the rivals are neck and neck in the key battleground states of Ohio and Florida.

Also commenting on Mrs Clinton’s statement, Mr Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, said: “They are not a basket of anything. They are Americans & they deserve your respect.”

Reince Priebus, head of the Republican National Committee, said Mrs Clinton had shown “her outright contempt for ordinary people”.

Millions of Americans, he said, supported the Republican nominee because they were “sick of corrupt career politicians like Hillary Clinton”.

The BBC reporters that other Republicans mocked Mrs Clinton, sharing photos of the crowd in the Florida venue where Mr Trump spoke on Friday.

The hash tag #BasketOfDeplorables has been trending on social media as indignant Republicans attack Mrs Clinton.

“A candidate who writes off half the country as a #BasketOfDeplorables should be disqualified”, was one comment on Twitter.

Apologising, Mrs Clinton said: “Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic’ and that’s never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half’ – that was wrong.”

“As I said,” she added, “many of Trump’s supporters are hard-working Americans who just don’t feel like the economy or our political system are working for them.”

But for most of the statement, she attacked her rival, accusing him of building “his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia” and giving a national platform to “hateful views and voices, including by retweeting fringe bigots with a few dozen followers and spreading their message to 11 million people”.

“David Duke and other white supremacists see him as a champion of their values,” she said in the statement.

It was, she said, “really deplorable” that her Republican opponent was linked to people from the right-wing “alt-right movement”.

Trump Wins Christie Backing, Marches Towards Super Tuesday

trump2Republican candidate Donald Trump on Friday won the surprise endorsement of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the most prominent mainstream Republican to get behind the former reality TV star’s White House campaign.

Christie said the billionaire front-runner has the best chance of beating Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election – although Clinton has yet to secure her party’s nomination.

The endorsement gives Trump a further lift before next week’s Super Tuesday nominating contests. It comes just a day after he took a battering from his two main rivals at a televised Republican debate.

Trump’s unorthodox candidacy has stirred controversy and shaken the Republican Party at its roots, but an increasing number of senior Republicans are becoming resigned to the idea he will be their candidate in November.

Trump is “rewriting the playbook,” said Christie, 53, who until two weeks ago was himself a rival for the Republican nomination. Christie dropped out after failing to muster much support for his candidacy.

Trump, 69, who has never held public office, has campaigned as a political outsider. He is riding a wave of voter anger at the slow economic recovery, illegal immigration and what he says is America’s diminishing role in the world.

“The best person to beat Hillary Clinton in November on that stage last night is undoubtedly Donald Trump,” Christie told a news conference on Friday, a day after the last Republican candidates’ debate before Super Tuesday.

The debate marked a new, more aggressive approach for U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, 44, who has emerged as the Republican establishment’s challenger to Trump. The other main challenger at the debate was U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

Trump has unsettled mainstream Republicans by winning three straight nominating contests – in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Polls show he is likely to win big in key primaries on Tuesday.

“Since I started this whole thing I’ve been practically Number 1,” Trump said on Friday at a rally in Texas.

The 11 Republican nominating contests on Tuesday have a total of almost 600 delegates at stake, and could set Trump up to clinch the presidential nomination.

Reuters/Ipsos polling data on Friday showed Trump ahead nationally in the Republican race with support at 44.2 percent, followed by Cruz at 20.7 percent and Rubio in third place at 14 percent.