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Ex-Bush official: Australian diplomats give Trump-Russia probe a ‘new level of credibility’

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A former senior official in the George W. Bush administration said revelations about Australia’s role in the Trump-Russia probe opens a new set of problems for the White House.

Australian officials aren’t happy that U.S. officials had identified their British ambassador as playing a key role in launching the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, reported The Age.

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But they confirmed a bombshell New York Times report that Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos told British ambassador Alexander Downer over drinks in May 2016 that Russia had damaging information about Hillary Clinton that came from hacked emails.

After those emails were dumped online in July 2016, Australia’s ambassador to the U.S., Joe Hockey, personally contacted the FBI to report what Papadopoulos had revealed to the diplomat two months earlier in London.

The Age reported that Downer had conveyed the conversation to Australian officials via official cable, but apparently not immediately.

“(Downer) gives this story of Trump campaign collusion with Russia a new level of credibility that will be problematic for the White House,” said Michael Green, senior vice president for Asia and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is scheduled to visit the U.S. next month, but he’s “not at all” worried that new reporting on his nation’s role in launching the probe would damage his relationship with President Donald Trump.

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“Trump has attacked sources like this in the past,” said Green, a Bush foreign policy adviser and senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council, “and it would not be surprising if he did so this time — though I think the US-Australia alliance and intel relationship can easily weather this.”

Another foreign policy expert said Downer and the Australian government appeared to have handled the highly sensitive matter “entirely appropriately.”

“Given the febrile political environment in Washington, D.C., particularly when it comes to anything relating to Russian election interference and the [Robert] Mueller investigation, it’s regrettable but not terribly surprising that details of Downer’s encounter with Papadopoulos have become public,” said Andrew Shearer, a senior national security and foreign affairs adviser to former Australian prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott who is now with CSIS.

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‘The country got an education’: Nicolle Wallace explains why impeachment could move public opinion

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MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace offered her analysis after the day of televised hearings in the impeachment inquiry.

Wallace, who served as White House communications director under President George W. Bush, drew upon her experience as a top Republican strategist.

"Listen, I haven’t spent a nanosecond in a courtroom, but I’ve spent my career in the court of public opinion. And if you look at what the Democrats have set out to do and you look at why this has swung public opinion in a way the Mueller probe never did is that they have laid brick on top of brick on top of brick," Wallace explained.

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Room erupts in laughter as Democrat Peter Welch destroys Jim Jordan during impeachment hearing

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There was a moment of levity four-hours into the first televised hearing in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the bombastic Freedom Caucus member who was added to the committee at the last moment by Republicans, had argued that the White House whistleblower started the scandal.

"There’s one witness, one witness that they won’t bring in front of us, they won’t bring in front of the American people, and that’s the guy who started it all, the whistleblower," Jordan argued.

Unfortunately for the wrestling coach turned politician, Jordan was followed by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT).

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Constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe succinctly debunks Jim Jordan’s defense of Trump

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Constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe debunked the key defense of President Donald Trump that was offered by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) during the first televised hearing in the impeachment inquiry.

Jordan did not address the fact President Donald Trump solicited foreign election interference in violation of federal law, but attempted to debunk the additional charge that there was extortion/bribery.

The Ohio Republican argued that there could not have been a quid pro quo because the aid was eventually released.

But Tribe, who has taught at Harvard Law for half a century and argued three dozen cases before the United States Supreme Court, fact-checked the congressman who never passed the bar exam.

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