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Trump’s decision to cut off Ukraine aid is something ‘you would expect to read about in a dictatorship’: Ex-Obama official

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On Monday’s edition of CNN’s “The Situation Room,” former Obama administration official and national security analyst Samantha Vinograd excoriated President Donald Trump for his decision — further laid out in newly released House transcripts — to suspend military aid to Ukraine.

“This process that is described and echoed in other depositions is a process that you would expect to read about in a dictatorship, where a leader rules by fiat and his national security team scrambles to find a legal justification and to sell a bill of goods to legislators and the American people about why the president has made a certain decision,” said Vinograd.

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“I was in NSC meetings for four years. Never have I ever heard a room of deputies, deputy cabinet officials, struggling to find a legal justification after the president decides to freeze assistance,” continued Vinograd. “As Deputy Assistant Secretary Cooper notes, there’s a process if you’re going put a hold on security assistance. For example, if Ukraine had failed to meet anti-corruption benchmarks, there’s an entire process that the Department of Defense would have gone through, they would have notified Congress. This was the opposite of that. And what we saw is the national security team having to spend their time finding a legal justification for the president using foreign assistance as an extortion slush fund, rather than doing their actual jobs, which is using this foreign assistance and allocating it to deterred Russia, in Ukraine’s case.”

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Trump adviser admits president ‘will come out of this impeachment process unhinged’: report

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CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta learned from a top adviser to President Donald Trump that he will likely come out of the impeachment completely "unhinged."

"I think it's starting to sink in that he's about to be impeached," Acosta told CNN's John Berman Friday evening. "Impeachment is coming. He was asked about these issues earlier today. He was asked about the prospect of a Senate trial that comes after he's impeached in the House. There's been a debate going on back and forth between the White House and Republicans up on Capitol Hill about whether or not a Senate trial is a good idea. I will tell you, I talked to a source familiar with discussions going on inside the White House who said the president is starting to listen to the counsel coming from his attorneys saying a shorter trial would be better. It would obviously remove the possibility there would be unforeseen bombshells emerging and you heard the president sounding open to that idea."

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It’s hard to argue Trump was innocent when Rudy Giuliani is in Ukraine to keep it going: Former US Attorney

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Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara explained Friday that it's difficult for President Donald Trump to claim he is innocent of attempting to bribe Ukraine when his own lawyer just returned from trying to dig up more dirt on the son of his opponent.

"Isn't this what got the president in trouble in the first place?" CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Bharara.

"Yes, it actually is," Bharara said simply. "I don't know exactly what's going on here. I think Rudy Giuliani wants to be close to the president and help the president and argue on behalf of the president. There are a lot of implications that Rudy Giuliani is doing going on forays back to Ukraine, which some people would call the scene of the crime. It causes more scrutiny to be brought upon him. We've seen reported he's under investigation himself, and I think it raises eyebrows in the political sphere. But I think something important about it relates to impeachment."

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GOP shamed by a presidential historian for not taking impeachment seriously

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Following the House Judiciary Committee's historic vote, sending two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump to the House floor, presidential historian Tim Naftali broke down why this impeachment was both important and different from previous ones.

Sitting on the panel with host Wolf Blitzer and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, Naftali began, "Impeachment is the last best defense against those who would abuse their power. In our history, four times the Congress has turned to that tool to deal with a president that for one reason or another they felt was a challenge to the constitutional order."

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