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Trump’s weakest impeachment defense yet somehow blew up in his face

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- Commentary

When President Donald Trump said he was planning to release the record of his April 21 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, many observers yawned. In the controversy surrounding the July 25 call, some had raised questions about Trump’s only other call with the new leader, but interest in the April 21 conversation died down as the evidence against the president in the broader Ukraine scandal became so overwhelming and damning.

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It was easy to assume that since Trump was so eager this week to release the record of the April 21 call, it would likely be insubstantial and only amount to a distraction for the core issues at impeachment. Jokes were already circulating about the idea that Trump would claim that, since he didn’t commit any crimes on one call, he couldn’t have possibly committed other crimes.

Yet somehow, the release of the new records — again, a decision made largely of Trump’s own initiative — completely backfired.

The reason? The call transcript further undermines Republicans’ already implausible defense of Trump’s effort to induce Ukraine to investigate his political enemies: that he genuinely cares about fighting corruption.

Despite the fact that the original White House statement about the call claimed Trump and Zelensky discussed “reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and root out corruption” — the U.S. president didn’t mention corruption once on the April 24, according to the records. Likewise, Trump didn’t mention fighting corruption in his July 25 call, either — he only mentioned investigations of his opponents.

These two facts dramatically undercut the argument that Trump was pursuing legitimate anti-corruption policy, rather than his own craven interests. But it gets worse.

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Politico reported Friday night that “advisers suggested President Donald Trump raise the broad issue of corruption in his first call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on April 21, but Trump chose not to, according to a person familiar with the matter.”

So, instead of supporting the idea that Trump really cares about fighting corruption — which always sounded like a joke — the focus on the April 21 call just emphasizes that the president is, in fact, actively uninterested in this foreign policy objective.

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‘Blank-eyed propagandist’ Stephanie Grisham criticized for ‘cringeworthy’ claim Schiff has a ‘mental issue’

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Doubling down on Donald Trump's claim that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is "sick" -- before the president tweeted a threat at the California lawmaker -- White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham ran to the safe confines of Fox News where she claimed the Democrat appears to have a "mental issue".

Sitting down with Fox News Howard Kurtz the Trump spokesperson, who has yet to hold a press conference in 320 days since taking the job, was asked about the president's tweets and, after admitting she had not spoken to Trump about his comments, told Kurtz, "Quite frankly it seems like he’s having a little bit of a mental issue when you sit on the floor for hours and hours and hour. He’s obsessed with this president and trying to take him down.”

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‘They’re terrified’: MSNBC contributor reveals GOPer’s are running scared of Trump despite bogus ‘heads on pikes’ outrage

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Appearing on MSNBC's "AM Joy" Esquire editor-at-large Charles Pierce explained that he was in attendance when Republican lawmakers professed outrage at Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) after he noted a CBS report that stated they are under threat from Donald Trump aides that he will see their heads on "pikes" if they cross him.

According to Pierce, they are, in fact, "terrified" that the president might one day turn on them.

Speaking with host Joy Reid, the popular Esquire columnist ridiculed the Republican senators for the position they have found themselves in by supporting the president.

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Trump defense team’s two most ‘egregious constitutional claims’ blown up by law professor: They ‘have impeachment exactly backwards’

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Writing for Just Security on Friday, Frank O. Bowman III, a legal expert and professor at the University of Missouri School of Law, detailed two of the “more egregious constitutional claims” put forth by Donald Trump’s impeachment defense team in a trial brief filed last week.

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