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There are plenty of ‘smoking guns’ in Trump’s impeachment inquiry: Watergate prosecutor

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Jill Wine-Banks/MSNBC screen shot

Republicans are already trying to muddy the waters to convince Americans that the upcoming impeachment hearings are part of a kind of televised trial for President Donald Trump’s political career. In fact, the trial doesn’t begin until it moves to the U.S. Senate, but conservatives are attempting to turn the investigation into the trial itself.

In an all-star MSNBC panel, former U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg and Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks explained that there are plenty of “smoking guns” in the case against Trump so far.

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“I think the key moment for Watergate was the final release of a smoking gun tape in which the president was heard discussing committing a crime,” said Wine-Banks. “Using the CIA to stop the FBI from investigating the original break-in. But here we have a lot of smoking guns. I would equate the conversation between [Ukraine President] Volodymyr Zelensky and Trump has another smoking gun. In obvious, plain sight, you have a commission of a request from a foreign power to help in his own personal benefit for his political gain. That, to me, is a crime.”

She also added that the crimes outlined in the Watergate investigation are remarkably similar to those of Trump’s.

“All three, by the way, would apply today to the same acts by Donald Trump,” Wine-Banks said of the charges against former President Richard Nixon. “The contempt of Congress is very important in refusing to cooperate with any investigation as well as the obstruction, as well as the abuse of power. All three apply to Donald Trump. That’s what we should be looking at. We can focus on the Ukraine phone call because America understands that. It’s important to bring the public into this conversation and to have them understand what’s going on. But to allow the Republicans to divert attention to things that have no factual basis would be a mistake.

She urged focusing on the evidence first and not allowing GOP members to go off on conspiracy theories.

“Many cases are built brick by brick, piece by piece and circumstantially,” Rosenberg said. “I agree with Jill. You have very compelling evidence in that phone call, if you want to call it a smoking gun, great. If you want to call it a big piece of evidence, great. I don’t think the terminology matters all that much. Going to have, though, are witnesses who corroborate the phone call, what they heard, what they heard from others, and the things they saw, including the back channel foreign policy that’s deeply disturbing. So, I wouldn’t be too focused on whether or not you have a smoking gun. I would look for credible, corroborative witnesses who are thoughtful and honest. I think that’s what the American public is going to see the lat either part of this week.”

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Watch the full discussion below:


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Trump’s most unhinged supporters paying $5 a pop to use special emojis on YouTube

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The pro-Trump cable network One America News is cashing in on QAnon conspiracy theorists on its YouTube channel.

OAN viewers can pay $4.95 a month to become "members" of the right-wing channel, which then allows them to use customized emojis to signal their recognition of the conspiracy theory's lore, reported The Daily Beast.

"It’s not clear how many people have signed up for the OAN YouTube membership, when OAN started offering the emojis, or how many of those sign-ups were driven by the opportunity to use QAnon emojis," writes The Beast's Will Sommer. "But the creation of the emojis reflects a decision to monetize, not expel, the conspiracy believers. If QAnon fans are going to spam QAnon in the OAN comments, it seems the network has decided they might as well get some money out of it."

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2020 Election

Former federal prosecutor explains how AG Barr could help Trump steal the election — and take the US to ‘a very dark place’

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Between the coronavirus pandemic, civil unrest in major U.S. cities, huge anti-racism protests, bitter political divisions, a heated Supreme Court battle and President Donald Trump’s ruthless voter suppression efforts, the United States’ 2020 presidential election is turning out to be even more chaotic than the elections of 2000 and 1968. Trump has a devoted loyalist in U.S. Attorney General William Barr, and former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade discusses the effect he could have on the 2020 election in a disturbing op-ed published in the Washington Post on September 22.

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You’d think Mitch McConnell would use RBG’s open seat to drive election turnout — but he has a different goal in mind

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President Trump repeatedly says that he's accomplished more than any president in history. I've never heard anyone ask him to lay out specifically what he means by that. He can try to take credit for signing big tax cuts for the wealthy, but that was passed by the Republican Congress with little input from him. It's true that his executive branch agencies have overturned many environmental rules and other regulations, but he hasn't been involved and clearly doesn't know the details.Trump's corruption has given his consigliere, Attorney General Bill Barr, the opportunity to further his own "powerful executive" theory. His craven pandering to white supremacists and the evangelical right has kept the base bonded tightly to the Republican Party. But beyond that his list of accomplishments is nil. He has literally done nothing but run his mouth and turn the U.S. into an object of fear and pity around the world
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