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GOP may hold START Treaty hostage over immigration reform, ‘don’t ask’ repeal

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As the repeal of the military’s gay ban and a crucial vote on immigration reform edge closer, Republicans are finding more and more ways to derail the effort and run out the clock on the Democrats’ lame duck session.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), speaking from the Senate floor Friday, said many of his Republican colleagues may vote against the New START nuclear treaty with Russia if Democrats move forward with a plan to vote on “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal Saturday. He suggested that Democrats were ineffectual in asking for Republican bipartisanship on START while also moving to force a vote on immigration reform and ‘don’t ask.’

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“I have to tell you what this has done,” Corker said. “I’ve been in three meetings this morning. What’s happening is it poisons the well on this debate on something that’s very, very important. I don’t want to see that happen. I’m not someone who comes down here and says fiery things to terrorize and divide. But I’m hoping that saner minds will prevail. I’m hoping that those will be taken down or I don’t think the future of the START treaty over the next several days is going to be successful based on what I’m watching.”

“These issues that have been brought forth are absolutely partisan political issues, brought forth to basically accommodate activist groups around this country,” he continued. “I’m hoping that those will be taken down or I don’t think the future of the START treaty over the next several days is going to be successful… I’m hoping that’s going to change.”

The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent noted that he has heard rumors for days that Republicans would use the repeal of the military’s discrimination policy as an excuse not to pass START.

“This isn’t really a threat on Corker’s part,” Sargent wrote. “Rather, he’s saying — in a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger way — that his GOP colleagues will be less likely to support START unless Reid drops his plan for DADT and DREAM votes right away.”

President Obama has insisted that passage of the New START treaty is a national security imperative, and that every day it takes to ratify the US lacks verification of the Russian nuclear arsenal.

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This video is from C-SPAN 2, broadcast Dec. 17, 2010.


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Laughter breaks out inside hearing room as Dem mocks GOP’s attempts to downplay smear campaign against Yovanovitch

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During the second public House impeachment hearing this Friday, Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL) took a dig at President Trump in light of testimony from former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who recounted how she became the target of a smear campaign orchestrated by Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, along with the help of the right-wing news media. After her ouster from her position, Yovanovitch returned to Washington and took up a role as a senior State Department fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.

"It's like a Hallmark movie -- you ended up at Georgetown. This is all okay," Quigley said sarcastically, prompting laughter from the room.

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Press secretary claims Trump tweet ‘not witness intimidation’ because it is ‘not a trial’ — but president says it is

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White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham says President Donald Trump did not engage in witness intimidation Friday morning when he, in real time, posted tweets attacking his former Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovich, during her testimony before a House impeachment inquiry hearing. Trump is being accused by Democrats and Republicans alike of witness intimidation or witness tampering, with even Fox News anchors saying Trump’s tweets constitute an additional article of impeachment.

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GOP lawmaker ducks question after Yovanovitch asks why it was necessary to smear her reputation

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Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) on Friday got more than he bargained for while questioning former American ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Toward the end of his questioning, Wenstrup argued that President Donald Trump has the power to hire and dismiss ambassadors as he sees fit in order to enact his preferred foreign policy.

"The president has the right to make their own foreign policy and to make his own decisions, and with that I yield back," he said.

Yovanovitch, however, was unwilling to let it end there and she asked to supplement her testimony.

"While I obviously don't dispute that the president has the right to withdraw an ambassador at any time for any reason, but what I do wonder is why it was necessary to smear my reputation?" she asked Wenstrup.

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