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The Republicans’ impeachment lawyer made 2 huge mistakes in questioning Gordon Sondland

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Ambassador Gordon Sondland delivered complex and convoluted impeachment testimony on Wednesday about his involvement in President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal. He gave detailed evidence recounting the president and the rest of the administration’s involvement in his effort to get Ukraine to launch investigations of Trump’s political opponents — including by leveraging a potential White House meeting and a hold on military aid.

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But he also, to the Republicans’ delight, left some ambiguity about how much Trump had been involved in the effort to leverage the aid, saying that he had “presumed” Ukraine’s announcement of the investigations would release the hold. And he noted that, in one phone call the president — as the scheme was slowly being uncovered — Trump angrily denied there was a quid pro quo.

Republican counsel Stephen Castor, serving for the minority party on the House Intelligence Committee, tried to exploit this apparent distance between Sondland’s push and the president as a defense against impeachment. But at two points in his questioning, he made a key cross-examination error: he asked questions he didn’t know the answer to.

The answers he got were not good for Trump’s case.

First, he tried to suggest that Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer who worked with Sondland and others in the State Department on the Ukraine pressure campaign, may not have actually been representing the president’s interests. If this were true, it might have placed greater distance between Trump and the apparent bribery scheme.

“You testified that Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president, correct?” Castor asked.

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“That’s our understanding,” Sondland replied.

“But how did you know that?” pressed Castor. “Who told you?”

“Well,” began Sondland, “when the president says, ‘Talk to my personal attorney,’ and then Mr. Giuliani — as his personal attorney — makes certain requests or demands, we assume it’s coming from the president.”

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Then, when Sondland was discussing his conversation with Trump, he recounted the president saying: “‘I want nothing! I want no quid pro quo! I just want Zelensky to do the right thing, to do what he ran on,’ or words to that effect.”

“And you believed, the president, correct?” Castor asked.

Then Sondland, who wasn’t hesitant to speculate or draw conclusions when it suited him, replied: “You know what? I’m not going to characterize whether I believed or didn’t believe. I was just trying to characterize what he said on the phone.”

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The most plausible inference from that claim is that Sondland wasn’t buying Trump’s spin.

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Lev Parnas’s lawyer declared ‘open war’ on AG Bill Barr during Maddow interview: attorney

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The attorney for Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas appears to be using a novel legal strategy, attorney Luppe Luppen explained on Friday.

Joseph Bondy, the attorney for Parnas, was interviewed Friday evening by Rachel Maddow, following the day's end of the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Luppen, who offers legal analysis on his popular @nycsouthpaw Twitter account, came to a conclusion that seemed to surprise him after watching the interview.

"I’ve never seen a lawyer sit on a cable panel show and make that much news," Luppen wrote.

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Democratic prosecutors wrap up case against Trump

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Democratic prosecutors on Friday wrapped up three days of arguments for seeking Donald Trump's removal from office, as the US president's lawyers prepared to take their turn presenting his defense in the Senate's historic impeachment trial.

For a final eight-hour stretch, the 100 senators listened as Democrats argued that Trump abused the power of the presidency in pressuring Ukraine to launch investigations that would help him politically and then sought to block efforts by Congress to investigate.

Democrats said they had met the burden of proof as they warned Republicans that Trump would remain a grave danger to the nation if left in office.

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‘Give me a break’: Internet unleashes on ‘snowflakes’ Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski for complaint about Schiff

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CNN's Manu Raju revealed after the Senate adjourned that Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) audibly disputed Rep. Adam Schiff's (D-CA) quotation of a CBS News report threatening senators.

"She shook her head and said, 'No they didn't. No, that's not true,'" Raju reported.

Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Jim Risch (R-ID) Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and John Barrasso also said that the report was false.

https://twitter.com/GriffinConnolly/status/1220891285910892544

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