Discredit the witnesses, dismiss the accusations against President Donald Trump as hearsay, shift the focus to the Bidens, unmask the whistleblower.
The outlines of the White House defense are clear after Day One of the impeachment hearings in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
Trump claimed he was “too busy” to watch the first round of public hearings that could see him potentially removed from office for abuse of power.
But that didn’t stop him from firing off a string of tweets defending his actions and following it up with another tweetstorm on Thursday morning.
Most of the posts were links to television clips of Republican lawmakers mounting a robust defense of the president during the hearing in the House Intelligence Committee.
At a joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump dismissed the inquiry into his conduct as a “sham” and a “joke” and said it “shouldn’t be allowed.”
Top White House counselor Kellyanne Conway made the rounds of the television networks Thursday morning to hammer home the Republican talking points.
“We learned that the Democrats really have no case against the president,” Conway said on Fox News. “The president is being treated unfairly.
“If this was a real court of law and not Adam Schiff’s kangaroo court objections would have been flying from any reasonable attorney,” she said in a reference to the California congressman chairing the hearings.
– ‘Gossip girls’ –
Picking up the Republican argument that the charges against Trump are hearsay, Conway said: “You tune in and you’re either sound asleep or you can’t follow — he said, she said, she said, he said — it’s a bunch of gossip girls.”
Like Republican lawmakers did at the hearing, Conway took aim at the unidentified whistleblower who sounded the initial alarm about Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky.
During the call, Trump asked for an investigation into his potential 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma.
Trump’s request to a foreign counterpart to provide political dirt on an election opponent is at the heart of just the fourth attempt to impeach a president in US history.
“We want to know what the whistleblower said in the first place because we need to confront our accuser,” Conway said.
Jim Jordan, a Republican congressman from Ohio, echoed Conway’s preoccupation with the whistleblower in an appearance on the “Fox & Friends” show.
“We all want the whistleblower to hold up their right hand and testify so we can see what kind of motivations and bias they have,” Jordan said.
Jordan, a former college wrestler, has earned a reputation as a tough questioner and was added by the Republicans to the Intelligence Committee to play a leading role in Trump’s defense.
Jordan sought to chip away on Wednesday at the credibility of the first two witnesses — William Taylor, the acting US ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, a career State Department official.
Both witnesses acknowledged under questioning from Jordan that they were not listening to the Trump-Zelensky call and had never met the president.
“These are the first two star witnesses in this impeachment sham process they’ve got going and neither one talked to the president,” Jordan said.
– ‘Talking about process’ –
As for the Bidens, a lawyer for the Republican side made a point of mentioning during the hearing that Hunter Biden was paid $50,000 a month to serve on the Burisma board and questioned whether he had any qualifications other than being the son of the then-vice president.
Conway circled back to that Thursday morning in an interview with CNN.
“Vice president Biden had Ukraine in his portfolio,” she said, “and it does strike people as swampy, if not worse, that his son would have a seat on Burisma, an energy company being investigated.”
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, dismissed the Republican arguments as an attempt to divert attention from the “substance of what we have heard” — and the core accusations against Trump.
“The president abused power and violated his oath by threatening to withhold military aid (to Ukraine) and a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation into his political rival — a clear attempt by the president to give himself the advantage in the 2020 election,” Pelosi told reporters.
Trump fears his base will turn on him if he flips and calls for nationwide mask guidelines: CNN
On CNN Saturday, analyst Ron Brownstein outlined the key reason President Donald Trump is struggling to adapt his message to proper public health guidance on the coronavirus pandemic.
"Ron, there is a retail trade group that has asked President Trump to institute federal, nationwide mask guidelines at stores across the country as the country continues to re-open," said anchor Alex Marquardt. "Experts are saying that masks could save thousands of lives in the coming months. Do you see a scenario in which — any chance in which he would issue that?"
"I think the short answer is no, and for a revealing reason," said Brownstein. "He is in a trap of his own construction. On coronavirus, we talk all the time about how President Trump's base is bonded to him, immovably. He's also bonded to the base in the other direction, that he is very reluctant to get out crosswise with a base that includes the kind of people that showed up at the Michigan capital to protest lockdown without wearing masks and waving Confederate flags and carrying automatic weapons."
Trump and the GOP have become the party of the dead
There are few morbid topics subject to greater speculation than the religious loyalty of President Donald Trump's "base." Why an alarmingly large amount of Americans refuse even to entertain any criticism of Trump deserves scrutiny from political scientists, psychologists and perhaps horror novelists working in the school of Edgar Allan Poe.
This article first appeared in Salon.
What is abundantly clear is that no matter who votes for Trump, he and the Republican Party on the national level have no interest in governing on the behalf of living human beings — with the exception of ensuring that a tiny minority of billionaires and multimillionaires enlarge their investment portfolios. Trump evinces no concern for Americans dying of the coronavirus, racist violence or any other malady or injustice. He demonstrates no regard for health care professionals courageously trying to save their patients from dying, and appears cruelly indifferent to the struggles of millions of workers whose livelihoods have been destroyed by COVID-19. Needless to say, Trump also shows contempt for Black Lives Matter, immigrants and anyone who opposes his re-election, which at this moment (and throughout his presidency) is more than half of the American public.
As coronavirus seizes the state, Florida hospitals are in panic mode
This article first appeared in Salon.
There are 47,663 hospital beds in the state right now with 11,782 available (meaning a remaining capacity of 19.82 percent) and a total staffed bed capacity of 59,445, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration's Hospital Bed Capacity Dashboard. The state Department of Health also reported on Friday that, out of 95,300 individuals who received coronavirus test results over the course of the previous day, 11,433 tested positive for COVID-19 (all but 90 of whom were Florida residents), meaning that more than 12 percent of the new cases had positive test results. The state also reported 93 new deaths due to COVID-19. (Salon reached out to the Florida Department of Health for comment on this story.)