Headlines: January 24, 2020
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House impeachment managers are using their 24 hours of opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial of Donald J Trump through Friday. On Thursday, which was the second day of arguments, House Democrats laid out their case for Trump’s abuse of power – which was the basis of one of the two articles of impeachment that Representatives passed last year. Congressman Adam Schiff who is leading the impeachment team pleaded with Senators near the end of the day on Thursday to find the President guilty and to remove him from office.
Among the tactics that Democrats employed earlier in the day was to reflect back the words of Republican Senator Lindsey Graham in 1999 arguing on the floor of the Senate during the Clinton impeachment trial that a President did not need to have committed an actual crime in order to be removed from office. Today Mr. Graham appears to have changed his mind on the standards for removal. Speaking to reporters he said, “All I can tell you is from the president’s point of view, he did nothing wrong in his mind,” adding, “If I thought he was doing something wrong, he would probably shut up about it.” The Senator’s words appear to imply that Trump did indeed do all the things that Democrats are proving he did but did not realize he was violating laws and abusing his power or he would have kept his mouth shut.
Friday is the final day for House impeachment managers to make their case to all 100 Senators who remain seated silently through the proceedings. The focus has been Obstruction of Congress which is the basis of the second article of impeachment that the House passed last year and translates into how Trump took pains to hide his wrongdoing once Congress took notice. Then on Saturday President Trump’s legal defense team will have a chance to begin making their case. Millions of Americans have been tuning in to watch the historic proceedings although viewership dropped from about 11 million on Wednesday to 8.9 million on Thursday. The Pew Research Center released a study on Friday examining the correlation between which media outlet people consume and their view of the President. According to AP, “Roughly two-thirds of Republicans who got their news exclusively from outlets with a primarily conservative audience … believed Trump withheld aid from the Ukraine to advance a U.S. policy to reduce corruption there.” Additionally, “Republicans who avoided media with right-leaning audiences were more likely to say Trump was acting for his own political gain.”
In other news, President Trump is attempting to walk back comments he made about cuts to Social Security after Democrats called him out. While at the World Economic Forum in Davos he gave an interview to CNBC where he said this. Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer said at a press conference, “Even as the impeachment trial is underway, Trump is still talking about cutting your Social Security,” prompting the President to contradict himself and proclaim, “Democrats are going to destroy your Social Security. I have totally left it alone, as promised, and will save it!”
Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase slammed the idea of socialism and got some high-profile pushback from Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Mr. Dimon reportedly said that if socialism is in place, “you will have an eroding society.” H claimed that capitalism could, “fix inner-city schools, infrastructure, health care,” even though of course the US has had a capitalist economy. Mr. Sanders shot back on Twitter saying, “That’s funny. Jamie Dimon seemed fine with corporate socialism when his bank got a $416 billion bailout from American taxpayers.” Ocasio-Cortez said, “Saving this comment for the next time Wall Street asks for a $700 billion bailout from the federal government.” Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal reported a figure that explain why Mr. Dimon likes the current system – he remains one of the highest paid bank bosses in the US, with a whopping $31 million in compensation in 2019 alone.
In electoral news, another fabulously wealthy person, Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor and Democratic Presidential candidate has ramped up his campaign spending in ads targeting President Trump. Trump has reportedly noticed the ads and taken to calling Mr. Bloomberg “mini Mike,” an apparent reference to the former mayor’s height. And, as primary elections get closer, several states in the nation have already begun early voting more than a month ahead of Super Tuesday. California, which is the biggest early voting state, will begin sending out mail-in ballots to more than 12 million voters in early February.
President Trump attended the March for Life on Friday – a massive gathering of anti-abortion activists taking place in Washington DC. Trump has actively courted evangelicals offering them fervent support in their crusade against abortion in exchange for political support and he became the first sitting US President to ever directly address the yearly gathering. In an apparent gift to his anti-abortion constituency the Trump administration is suing California over the state’s requirement that health insurance plans cover abortion procedures. And Trump’s education secretary Betsy DeVos in remarks earlier this week said that being pro-choice was akin to being pro-slavery. Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts retorted on Twitter, “As a Black woman & the Chair of the abortion access task force, I invite you to come by the Hill and say this to my face.”
The trial over Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual assaults is well under way and the fallen movie mogul’s main defense strategy seems to be that the women who say he raped them remained friendly toward him even after the crimes took place. Now prosecutors are bringing in forensic psychiatrists to explain to jurors why victims of rape and sexual assault may remain in touch with their perpetrators.
A high school senior in Texas is garnering celebrity support after his school refused to let him walk for graduation unless he cut off his dreadlocks. Deandre Arnold, who is of Trinidadian heritage is fighting for his right to keep his hair long. An activist with Black Lives Matter contended at a local meeting on the matter, “The dress code is designed by white people for white people and is damaging to black bodies.”
In international news, tens of thousands of Iraqis marched on Friday demanding an end to US troops in their country. Protesters in Baghdad carried Iraqi flags and denounced American soldiers as occupiers. The protests have taken on new urgency after the US killed a top Iranian general in Iraq with a drone strike early this year. Meanwhile the Pentagon announced that 34 Americans are suffering from brain injuries after surviving the retaliatory Iranian attack on a US base in Iraq.