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‘A train wreck for the GOP:’ Legal experts blast Republican attorney’s performance during impeachment hearing as a total embarrassment

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During the first public testimony in the House impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, one of the Republicans who questioned Ambassador William Taylor (top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine) and State Department official William Kent on Wednesday was attorney Steve Castor — who tried to discredit their testimony. But according to some well-known legal experts, he didn’t do a good job.

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Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry following a whistleblower’s complaint that during a July 25 phone conversation, he tried to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Castor, during his questioning on Wednesday, tried to make Hunter Biden look bad because of his involvement with the Ukrainian gas company Burisma — and according to Georgetown University law professor Carrie Cordero, Castor’s Biden-related questioning was an ineffective smokescreen that offered “no actual defense” of Trump’s “abuse of office.”

One of the Trump allies who hoped to see the Ukrainian government investigate the Bidens was Trump’s personal attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Castor tried to defend Giuliani during his questioning of Taylor, asking, “This irregular channel of diplomacy, it’s not as outlandish as it could be, is that correct?”— to which Taylor responded, “It’s not as outlandish as it could be, I agree.”

In other words, Castor admitted that Giuliani’s actions on behalf of Trump were “outlandish” — which is hardly a robust defense of Trump or his allies.

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When Asha Rangappa (a former FBI special agent) tweeted, “is Steve Castor really the best lawyer the GOP could get?,” CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti responded, “to be fair to him, he doesn’t have much to work with.

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Susan Hennessey, executive editor of Lawfare and a legal analyst for CNN, tweeted that Castor “generally faltered” on Wednesday and “all in all….. was a train wreck for the GOP.”

Preet Bharara, a former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, tweeted, “I don’t believe Mr. Castor is a former prosecutor. Does it show?” And writer Matt Naham, in an article for Law & Crime, notes that Castor “has largely worked behind the scenes for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee since 2005.”

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The second day of public impeachment hearings is set for this Friday, November 15, with testimony from Marie Yovanovitch (former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine).

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‘Dirty’ Jared Kushner should be targeted if GOP makes impeachment trial about Bidens: strategist

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President Donald Trump has signaled that he wants Senate Republicans to turn his impeachment trial around on Democrats by actually making it a trial of the Biden family.

The president on Thursday signaled that he wants former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, to testify at his impeachment trial in an effort to make the trial less about his own misconduct and more about purported misconduct by the Democrats.

However, Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg on Thursday proposed a plan to counter this kind of misdirection: Going after Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose shady dealings with world leaders have so far escaped significant scrutiny.

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Democrats crippled their own impeachment effort with a rushed timeline: columnist

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House Democrats made a conscious decision to keep impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump as short and efficient as possible. On one hand, they had sensible reasons for wanting to do so — they were concerned that a protracted impeachment battle that drags into the 2020 election would lose engagement with the American people and draw criticism for attempting to interfere with the election.

But Thursday, NBC News analyst Kurt Bardella argued that Democrats may also have caused problems for themselves by making the impeachment process too short and setting arbitrary deadlines.

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Trump’s former mistress is taking on Fox News for accusing her of extortion

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According to a lawsuit filed against Fox News by a former Playboy model who says she had an affair with Donald Trump before he was president, network host Tucker Carlson falsely accused her of extortion by claiming she “approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money," The New York Times reports.

"Now that sounds like a classic case of extortion," Carlson said during his show on Dec. 10, 2018. "Yet for whatever reason, Trump caves to it, and he directs Michael Cohen to pay the ransom. Now, more than two years later, Trump is a felon for doing this. It doesn't seem to make any sense."

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