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House Republicans have a plan to defend Trump during impeachment hearings – it’s all about his ‘state of mind’

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Rather than act as impartial investigators, dedicated to ascertaining the facts of the President’s actions, and whether or not those actions were legal, or are impeachable, House Republicans will stick to a plan that focuses on his “state of mind” and other intangible arguments.

“Confronted with a mountain of damaging facts heading into tomorrow’s opening of the public phase of impeachment, House Republicans plan to argue that ‘the President’s state of mind’ was exculpatory,” Axios reports, noting it has obtained an 18-page GOP memo that was sent out to House Intelligence Committee members Monday night.

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“To appropriately understand the events in question — and most importantly, assess the President’s state of mind during his interaction with [Ukrainian] President Zelensky — context is necessary,” the memo reads. “The evidence gathered does not establish an impeachable offense,” it insists, wrongly.

Also wrong, or immaterial, are these four critical points the memo directs Republicans to make during the hearings.

“The July 25 call summary — the best evidence of the conversation — shows no conditionality or evidence of pressure.” (False.)

“President Zelensky and President Trump have both said there was no pressure on the call.” (True, but immaterial.)

“The Ukrainian government was not aware of a hold on U.S. security assistance at the time of the July 25 call.” (False.)

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“President Trump met with President Zelensky and U.S. security assistance flowed to Ukraine in September 2019 — both of which occurred without Ukraine investigating President Trump’s political rivals.” (Immaterial. Doesn’t matter. Attempts to commit crimes are still crimes.)

You can read the full memo here.

The impeachment inquiry hearings with live, televised witness testimony, begin Wednesday.

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Two House Democrats push a clever plan that calls Republicans’ bluff on their Biden attacks

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Democratic Reps. Katie Porter of California and Max Rose of New York introduced a clever plan this week that will expose whether Republicans’ criticisms of former Vice President Joe Biden in the Ukraine scandal reflect good faith — or if, as many assume, they are just a shameful distraction and a bluff.

The lawmakers announced a bill on Wednesday called the Transparency in Executive Branch Officials’ Finances Act. It has two key components:

First, it would require all politically appointed executive branch officials, as well as the president and the vice president, to “disclose any positions they or any members of their extended families hold with foreign-owned businesses, any intellectual property they own that is protected or enforced by a foreign country, and whether any members of their families have stakes in companies that engage in significant foreign business dealings.”Second, it will “require the President and Vice President to disclose their tax returns for the previous five taxable years and prohibit political appointees from accepting payments from foreign entities.”

What’s clever about the proposal is that it latches on to two important issues, creating a wedge for Republicans. As part of the GOP’s defense of President Donald Trump in the Ukraine scandal, Republicans have argued that the president’s patently corrupt efforts to get a foreign country to investigate Biden, a political rival, were legitimate because the former vice president’s son created a conflict of interest by taking part in business in Ukraine.

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Giuliani’s potential witness tampering in Ukraine is impossible to separate from Trump: Judiciary Democrat

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On Thursday's edition of MSNBC's "The Beat," Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) broke down how Rudy Giuliani's misconduct in Ukraine is "inseparable" from President Donald Trump's.

"To everyone who asks whether we are moving too quickly, I say the president's lawyer is moving quickly to continue to ask a foreign government to cheat our elections, and doing nothing is completely off the table," said Swalwell, who sits on the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, the two most crucial committees in the impeachment inquiry. "We have to secure our elections. We have powerful, uncontradicted evidence now. And now is the time to hold the president accountable and determine just which impeachment articles we should proceed with."

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Financial groups gave $745 billion for 258 new coal power plants: Report

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Financial institutions have chaneled $745 billion over the past three years to new coal power projects worldwide despite effort to reduce fossil fuel use to fight climate change, a report released Thursday said.

The amount was calculated using data covering both lending and underwriting between January 2017 and September 2019 for all 258 coal plant developers identified in the Global Coal Exit List, drawn up by the Urgewald and BankTrack groups.

Altogether, the report cites more than 1,000 new coal power stations or units in the pipeline.

"Most of the top banks providing loans or investment banking services to these companies acknowledge the risks of climate change, but their actions are a slap in the face to the Paris Climate Agreement," said Greig Aitken, climate campaigner at BankTrack.

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