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Trump officials could not have been ‘completely clueless’ about what he was doing: CNN correspondent

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On Thursday’s edition of CNN’s “The Situation Room,” White House correspondent Abby Phillip highlighted how Fiona Hill’s testimony made the claim by other officials that they weren’t aware of the scheme to extort dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden from Ukraine much less plausible.

“The idea Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election is completely unfounded,” said Phillip. “This is important because it puts in context some of the other testimony we heard … from Ambassador [Kurt] Volker and another top NSC official, Tim Morrison, who replaced Fiona Hill, that the conspiracy theory was a legitimate function of the government, it was okay for President Trump to seek that kind of investigation, was perfectly normal to them. And it wasn’t until they learned ‘Burisma’ equaled ‘Biden’ they learned there was something weird or nefarious going on.”

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“She makes it very plain that the Ukraine conspiracy theory is not normal, that is not true, and that it is not a normal and appropriate function for the government to be pursuing an investigation into something that did not happen,” continued Phillip. “It really undermines this idea all these people were completely clueless what was going on for months and months, until finally they woke up and recognized Burisma investigation had to do with Biden. Both elements of this were inappropriate.”

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Trump’s Senate trial will be ‘riddled by hypocrisy’ with Ken Starr defending him: CNN legal analyst

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President Donald Trump's decision to tap former Whitewater special prosecutor Ken Starr for his impeachment defense team drew a sharp rebuke from former federal prosecutor Elie Honig on Friday.

"Whatever they do will be riddled by hypocrisy," Honig said of Trump's impeachment defense team during an appearance on CNN. "Ken Starr, the guy who spent years trying to throw a president out of office for lying about sex in a civil deposition, is now defending a president who has been impeached for trying to shake down a foreign country to interfere with an election. I don't know how you square that."

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Rick Santorum flattened by CNN’s Berman after calling Parnas bombshell revelations ‘extraneous’ to impeachment

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Rick Santorum and CNN's John Berman got into a frantic back-and-forth on Friday morning after the former Republican senator attempted to dismiss the revelations by former Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas as something that should not be submitted as evidence in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

Discussing the Senate trial expected to start next week, Santorum said the only testimony and witnesses that should be allowed are ones that came up in the earlier House hearings.

"The House's responsibility to bring to us a case," Santorum stated. "They're the one who is said these are offenses that are worthy of the president being removed from office; here is the record, here are the charges. The Senate didn't impeach, the House did, so we are going to look at the record the House presented us. We're going to look at the witnesses and say are there are questions that we have for the people that brought this case forward and relied on these witnesses and look at their testimony."

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Here’s why some Americans don’t appreciate ‘extraordinary’ accusations from Lev Parnas

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On Thursday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin broke down a key reason why indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas hasn't quite gotten across the severity of his accusations against President Donald Trump to the American people.

"Jeff, what do you think of Parnas as a witness?" asked Cooper.

"He has a distinctive style. He's very deadpan, very low-key," said Toobin. "You somehow don't realize how extraordinary story he is telling. The proprietor of a company called Fraud Guarantee, and he is going to the leadership of the government of Ukraine and saying, unless you announce an investigation of the Biden family,  you are not getting the money that Congress has authorized. you are not getting the visit from the president and you are not getting an Oval Office visit. And it's true. None of it happened."

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