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‘That’s the calculation they made’: MSNBC panel says Trump decided obstruction was less incriminating option

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Section Two of the draft impeachment report by the House Intelligence Committee contains 90-pages of evidence that President Donald Trump obstructed Congress.

The executive summary of the report detailed Trump’s actions obstructing the House of Representatives:

  • refusing to produce to the impeachment inquiry’s investigating Committees information and records in the possession of the White House, in defiance of a lawful subpoena;
  • directing Executive Branch agencies to defy lawful subpoenas and withhold the production of all documents and records from the investigating Committees;
  • directing current and former Executive Branch officials not to cooperate with the Committees, including in defiance of lawful subpoenas for testimony; and
  • intimidating, threatening, and tampering with prospective and actual witnesses in the impeachment inquiry in an effort to prevent, delay, or influence the testimony of those witnesses.

For analysis, MSNBC chief legal correspondent Ari Melber interviewed former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner and former DOJ spokesperson Matt Miller.

Kirschner likened the difficulty of prosecutions to shooting basketball shots.

“So, Ari, if the abuse of office allegation is a bit of an outside jump shot, then I think the obstruction allegation is going to be a layup,” he explained.

“You have the president, who is often his own worst enemy, who stood up on camera and said I will comply with exactly zero congressional subpoenas,” he explained. “That is a charge, obstructing the congressional inquiry, that I think you can make in your sleep, given the evidence we have.”

Miller agreed.

“There’s a few things that strike me about the obstruction portion of this report,” he said. “Number one, just how far-reaching and wide-ranging the president’s obstruction was. It wasn’t just any one thing, it was withholding documents, blocking witnesses from testifying and when some witnesses came forward, actually trying to attack them on Twitter and keep them from testifying.”

“How much of this comes down to the fact that as bad as defiance looks even to this day, it might be impeachable, cooperating for some of them looked even worse?” Melber asked.

“I think that’s exactly right, I think that’s the calculation that they made,” Miller replied. “That’s why you don’t see Rudy Giuliani or any of these other witnesses from the administration, because if they came forward and testified truthfully, their answers would be incredibly damning to the president.”

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Prosecutors didn’t believe Lev Parnas claim he wasn’t operating on behalf of Ukraine: CNN

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Buried in a piece about the recent revelations that President Donald Trump was recorded demanding someone "take out" former Ukraine Ambassador Yovanovitch, CNN revealed prosecutors don't believe Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas.

"In November, federal prosecutors questioned [Joseph] Bondy about whether his client had been operating on behalf of Ukrainians at the dinner with Trump when Parnas said the ambassador was bad-mouthing the President, according to people familiar with the matter," reported CNN. "On behalf of his client, Bondy rebutted that suggestion, but prosecutors told him they didn't believe Parnas. Bondy declined to comment on any conversations with prosecutors."

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Trump lawyers ‘opened the door’ for him to testify — here are the questions George Conway would ask

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Prominent Republican attorney George Conway took to the pages of The Washington Post to lay out the case for why President Donald Trump should testify in his impeachment trial.

"There is an important missing witness in the impeachment of President Trump, and his last name, for all the fulminations of the president’s defenders, isn’t Biden. No, that witness is Trump himself — and the best case for calling him has been established by an argument advanced by the president’s own lawyers," Conway wrote.

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Kellyanne Conway storms out of briefing room after reporters call on her to answer Jim Acosta’s question

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While White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham refuses to hold press briefings, senior counselor Kellyanne Conway has been willing to talk to the press. That is unless the press asks questions she doesn't want to answer.

Such was the case Friday when Conway came to the briefing room to answer questions by reporters. When CNN's Jim Acosta asked if the White House was holding back evidence on Ukraine, Conway was annoyed. She started to lecture Acosta.

https://twitter.com/Acosta/status/1220802200412344320

Playboy reporter Brian Karem backed up Acosta.

"It's a simple question," he said.

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