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Efforts to eliminate the electoral college date back 50 years — and even Nixon was on board: CNN’s John Avlon

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With at least one presidential candidate calling for the elimination of the Electoral College, CNN’s John Avlon delivered a fact check that showed that the idea is hardly radical: efforts to get rid of it date back to the founding of the country, and even President Richard Nixon was on board.

“The Electoral College has been targeted for reform or abolition some 700 times,” said Avlon. “That’s more than any other part of the constitution.”

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Founding father James Madison declared the Electoral College “evil at its maximum” a year before Andrew Jackson won the popular vote but lost the presidency to John Quincy Adams. “Happening again in 1876 and 1888, which made incumbent Grover Cleveland so mad that he ran again 4 years later and reclaimed the office his supporters felt could be stolen from him,” Avlon said.

“This little glitch didn’t happen during the 20th century but reform efforts continued,” Avlon went on. “In fact, Indiana senator Birch Bayh, who just last week died at age 91, came within a few votes of advancing an amendment to abolish the Electoral College and replace it with a direct popular vote.” That effort eventually got the support of 80% of Congress.

“One year later, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly, to abolish the Electoral College,” Avlon said. “Even president Nixon was on board, but it was filibustered to death in the Senate by southerners led by Strom Thurmond.”

Avlon said that the Electoral College ceased to be an issue until the 2000 election, when George W. Bush lost the popular vote but won the presidency, as did Donald Trump in 2016.

Watch the video below.

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White House lawyers’ Trump defense ‘deteriorated’ as they tried to make the case for the president: CNN’s Toobin

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As President Donald Trump's legal team put forward their defense of the president's Ukraine scheme at the impeachment trial on Saturday, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin weighed in on the effectiveness of what they had presented.

"There was information put forth today that would allow Republicans to vote against witnesses and to vote for an acquittal," acknowledged Toobin, offering as an example that the team did a good job at creating doubt over when the Ukrainians knew the foreign aid was cut off. However, "after that I thought it deteriorated."

"I was surprised that Jay Sekulow, who I think is a very fine lawyer, seen him argue in the Supreme Court several times, wandered in the wasteland of the Mueller report, that didn't seem relevant," said Toobin. "Mr. Philbin, who is not a spellbinding performer, went on about how it was legitimate in their view not to respond to subpoenas, not to provide any witnesses by the Trump administration. I thought that was a particularly weak performance. But, you know, if you are inclined to the defense point of view, there were facts and arguments to justify your position this morning."

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Preet Bharara hints at ‘a whole bunch of Pandora’s boxes’ that could still be opened in Trump impeachment trial

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On CNN Saturday, in response to the new video evidence of President Donald Trump discussing fired U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara walked through a major remaining risk to Trump and Senate Republicans in the impeachment trial.

"Just to back up, one of the things that Lev Parnas has been publicly talking about, there's — seems like there's no appetite to have Lev Parnas or anyone else as witnesses on the Republican side," said anchor Anderson Cooper. "Does this tape matter at all?"

"I think it matters in terms of context," said Bharara. "I think it shows the language that Trump used, what his state of mind was. You know, if you look at the strict transcript of the tape, arguably, you could say, look, there was an ambassador, claimed to be bad mouthing the president and claimed he'll be impeached. They had a mission to get rid of the ambassador because they had a different political errand, I guess. So, it's not crazy to argue, if you're just looking at this in isolation, that someone is saying that the president is going to get impeached. She works for the president of the United States in an ambassadorial capacity. He might have a reaction to that."

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‘Fear and laziness’: CNN’s Avlon exposes Republican motives for blocking Trump impeachment witnesses

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On CNN Saturday, fact-checker John Avlon broke down all the reasons Senate Republicans still appear to be firmly in President Donald Trump's camp in the impeachment trial.

"This is a jump ball moment in American history," said Avlon. "Democrats have finished laying out all the evidence, and today the president's team will begin making its case. But there's a debate going on behind the scenes in the Senate that's just as important as what's in front of the camera. It's whether the Senate will agree that facts and evidence matter, or whether this will be the first Senate impeachment trial in history to never have witnesses. Now, the vast majority of Americans believe there should be witnesses, but this is a Senate that has a habit of putting party over country. Now, we're already hearing three arguments designed to convince Republican swing state senators to become supine."

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