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‘Damning’ Parnas docs are ‘what Trump has been afraid of’ — and now he has no impeachment defense: legal experts

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In a column for the Washington Post, ex-acting solicitor general Neal Katyal and former Justice Department official Joshua A. Geltzer, stated that the Tuesday afternoon document dump of notes and texts by Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas is exactly what President Donald Trump worried might happen if he didn’t get his Senate impeachment trial wrapped up as soon as possible.

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“Americans who have been wondering why President Trump has taken the extraordinary step of trying to block every document from being released to Congress in his impeachment need wonder no longer. The new documents released Tuesday evening by the House Intelligence Committee were devastating to Trump’s continuing — if shifting — defense of his Ukraine extortion scandal, just days before his impeachment trial is likely to begin in the Senate,” the two lawyers wrote. “These new documents demolish at least three key defenses to which Trump and his allies have been clinging.”

As the New York Times reported, “One of the new documents shows Mr. Giuliani saying that he had Mr. Trump’s blessing to seek a meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president-elect, last spring, potential new evidence on the eve of the president’s impeachment trial,” adding that “In a separate series of cryptic text messages, Mr. Parnas communicated with another man who appeared to be monitoring the movements of [Ukraine ambassador] Ms. Yovanovitch. The texts, exchanged in March on WhatsApp, indicated that the second man, Robert F. Hyde, was in touch with people in Ukraine who were watching Ms. Yovanovitch.”

According to Katyal and Geltzer, “The documents released Tuesday now show what Trump has been so afraid of. For starters, they prove that Trump’s already-eyebrow-raising claim to have been fighting corruption in Ukraine was bogus. Notes taken by Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas — now facing federal criminal charges — show what his and Giuliani’s mission was when they got in touch with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky: ‘get Zalensky [sic] to Announce that the Biden case will Be Investigated.'”

“One of those documents shows just how important it might be to have such witnesses testify before the Senate. The document is a letter from Giuliani to Zelensky when he was Ukraine’s president-elect. It begins: ‘I am private counsel to President Donald J. Trump. Just to be precise, I represent him as a private citizen, not as President of the United States.’ The letter then requested a meeting with Zelensky.” they wrote. “This letter is a devastating indication of what’s been clear to many all along: that Trump’s pursuit of an announcement that Ukraine was looking into Biden was an abuse of his public office for personal gain. That’s what this letter sure seems to be saying. And it makes clear that what was afoot had nothing to do with law enforcement or Biden’s corruption — it wasn’t a request from the official ‘President of the United States’ but rather one from a ‘private citizen.'”

“It’s so damning to Trump that we can foresee the president claiming during impeachment that Giuliani was lying — back then, and even still today. That’s where Senate testimony can prove crucial,” they continued. “All told, the documents help to explain Trump’s consistent push to bury the evidence against himself. Every week, it becomes clearer why Trump has withheld documents from Congress, blocked executive branch officials and even private citizens from testifying before Congress, and overall, well, obstructed Congress, as the second article of impeachment rightly describes it. It’s because Trump is a man with something to hide. Let’s see what else he’s hiding — in front of the Senate next week, in a good, old-fashioned American trial for all to see.”

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Furious Trump grilling aides on how impeachment is playing with voters: report

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According to a report in the New York Times, a furious Donald Trump spent Thursday afternoon huddled with close White House aides worrying how voters are reacting to his impeachment as it heads to a Senate trial.

Following an afternoon where he tweeted about how unfair the impeachment process has been ( “I JUST GOT IMPEACHED FOR MAKING A PERFECT PHONE CALL!” he wrote) -- and snapping at reporters -- the Times reports the president later bunkered down with staffers to discuss what to do next.

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The Trump administration misled the country by saying there were ‘no casualties’ from Iran attack: report

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After Iran targeted missiles at U.S. military personnel in Iraq in retaliation for the kill of a top general, the Trump administration declared that there were no casualties from attack, and — at least for the time being — it allowed the conflict to de-escalate.

But on Thursday night, a new report from Defense One revealed the initial claim that there were “no casualties” from the attack was false. It reported that 11 U.S. troops were injured in the attack and taken to hospitals to be treated for “traumatic brain injury.”

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State of emergency: High tension in Virginia as right-wing gun fanatics descend on Richmond

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Buried under the cascade of serious national news Wednesday was the alarming story that Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia had declared a state of emergency through next Tuesday evening in Richmond, the state capital. The declaration includes a ban on firearms and other weapons near Capitol Square, where the Democratic-led state legislature meets. Monday is a scheduled "lobbying day" for the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a far right pro-gun group, and Northam's office announced that law enforcement has "identified credible threats of violence surrounding the event, along with white nationalist rhetoric and plans by out-of-state militia groups to attend."

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