One of Donald Trump's impeachment lawyers snapped at the U.S. Senators sitting in judgment of the impeached ex-president after they laughed at one of his demands should witnesses be called.
After raging at the idea of now calling impeachment witnesses, attorney Michael van der Veen said he would call 100 witnesses while exclaiming "Do not handcuff me!"
Returning to the lectern he then stated, should witnesses be called, he would seek depositions from individuals the old-fashioned way -- in his law office in Philadelphia.
That brought laughter from the Senators which set him off.
'I don't know how many civil lawyers are here, but that's the way it works, folks," he exclaimed. "When you want somebody's deposition, you send a notice of deposition and they appear at the place where the notice says. that's civil process. I don't know why you're laughing -- it is a civil process. that's the way lawyers do it, we send notices of deposition."
With Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) calling for order, van der Veen once again snapped at the lawmakers.
"I haven't laughed at any of you and there's nothing laughable here," he insisted. "He mentioned my client coming in to testify -- that is not the way it's done. If he wanted to talk to Donald Trump, he should have to put a subpoena down like i'm going to slap subpoenas on a good number of people if witnesses are what is required here for them to try to get their case back in order, which has failed miserably for four reasons."
"There's no jurisdiction here, there has been no due process here, they have completely violated and ignored and stepped on the Constitution of the United States," he continued. "They have trampled on it like people who have no respect for it and , if this is about nothing else, it has to be about the respect of our country, our Constitution and all of the people that make it up."
'You’re sick': Two GOP reps slam far-right Arizona congressman for saying police 'executed' a Capitol rioter
During a House Oversight Committee hearing on June 15, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona had a lot to say about Ashli Babbitt, a Capitol rioter who was killed on January 6. Gosar, a far-right Trump supporter and GOP conspiracy theorist of the Marjorie Taylor Greene/Lauren Boebert variety, said that Babbitt was "executed" by police who were "lying in wait" for her. And two conservative Republicans who are calling Gosar out are Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming.
During the hearing, Gosar told FBI Director Christopher Wray, "It's disturbing. The Capitol police officer that did this shooting appeared to be hiding, lying in wait and then gave no warning before killing her."
In response, Kinzinger — a Never Trump conservative — tweeted:
Cheney was equally critical of Gosar, tweeting:
Politico reporter Josh Gerstein, on Twitter, noted that Babbitt's death has been investigated by D.C. Police, who concluded that the officer who shot her did not use excessive force.
Babbitt was among the many Trump supporters who went to Washington, D.C. on January 6 to oppose Congress' certification of now-President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in the 2020 election. When a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol Building, Babbitt was part of that group.
During a press conference today in the wake of his meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, President Joe Biden got into a brief dust up with CNN's Kaitlin Collins, who asked if he was confident that Putin would change his behavior.
"What the hell -- what do you do all the time?" Biden shot back at Collins.
"What I said was -- let's get it straight -- I said that will change [the Russians' behavior] is if the rest of the world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in the word," Biden said, becoming growingly heated. "I'm not confident in anything. Just stating the facts."
Collins replied by saying Putin's "past behavior" has not changed, and she mentioned that during his own press conference, Putin denied any involvement in cyber attacks and downplayed his alleged human rights abuses. "So how does that amount to a constructive meeting as President Putin framed it?"
"If you don't understand that, you're in the wrong business," Biden replied.
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After the exchange, Biden apologized for his tone during his exchange with Collins.
"I owe my last questioner an apology. I shouldn't have bene such a wiseguy with the last answer I gave," he told reporters.
A rift between conservative American bishops and the Vatican could be laid bare on June 16 as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meets amid talk of a growing divide in the church over Pope Francis' leadership.
During the virtual event, U.S. bishops are expected to approve a motion to begin drafting a document on “Eucharistic coherence" that would exclude Catholic political figures who support abortion rights from receiving Communion.
If they do proceed, the bishops will have opened a breach with Pope Francis and the Vatican, which has all but instructed the bishops not to go ahead with the motion.
They would also be putting the Catholic Church in the United States in unprecedented territory regarding its relationship with the wider Catholic community.
It all stems from a dilemma President Joe Biden poses for Catholic bishops. Many prominent Roman Catholics in public life – including Democrats such as Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – support abortion rights. Yet the Roman Catholic Church teaches that abortion is the taking of a human life, no different from murder, and so grave a sin that it incurs an automatic excommunication. This has led some bishops to grow concerned that a contradictory picture of Catholic faith is being presented to the public.
Their response is a pastoral statement on “Eucharistic coherence" that would instruct Catholics about when they should and should not receive Communion. The effect of that document would be to exclude Catholics like Biden and Pelosi from full participation in the church.
Communion, also known as the Eucharist, is the central act of Roman Catholic worship, in which Catholics receive bread and wine that they believe becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
Church law particularly excludes from taking Communion those who are guilty of what is known as “manifest grave sin." This means no one who has committed a serious sin in a way that is publicly visible should receive Communion.
The bishops argue that in supporting abortion rights, Democrats like Joe Biden have made themselves unsuitable to take Communion.
As a scholar who studies Catholicism in political life, I argue that the proposed pastoral statement reflects existing divisions inside the Catholic Church that have been heightened by the election of Biden as president. Moreover, it will serve only to deepen the divide.
But his policy position on abortion jars with more conservative elements in the Catholic Church. In October 2019, a priest declined to give Communion to the then-presidential candidate when he presented himself at St. Anthony Church in Florence, South Carolina. The priest, who had never met Biden before, told reporters, “Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of church teaching."
The picture is not as clear as that priest suggests, and the Catholic Church's history of dealing with Catholic public officials is more inconsistent. Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, for example, presided over a brutal regime of atrocities and torture known throughout the world, yet he received a Catholic burial in 1975 over which the archbishop of Toledo presided.
More pertinent to the Biden case, Pope John Paul II gave Communion in 2001 to Rome's mayor, Franceso Rutelli, who had campaigned to liberalize abortion laws. Likewise, Pope Benedict XVI gave Communion to Rudolph Giuliani, Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry – all of whom support abortion rights.
The reason the issue has come up now in the U.S. appears to be more about concerns among bishops over their waning influence.
Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann, chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities and one of the main figures supporting a pastoral statement about Communion, told The Associated Press in April, “Whether intentional or not, [Biden is] trying to usurp our authority."
“He doesn't have the authority to teach what it means to be Catholic," Naumann continued; “that's our responsibility as bishops."
Naumann may have reasons to be concerned. A 2019 poll found that 63% of American Catholics have lost trust in Catholic bishops because of their handling of the ongoing crisis of sexual abuse.
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To many Catholics, Biden's presentation of Catholic faith as aligning with racial justice, economic justice, climate justice and health care justice offers a pointed contrast with bishops mired in scandal and unhappy about trends such as same-sex marriage in American culture.
Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila wrote in mid-April about what he sees as the need to establish “Eucharistic coherence" through a pastoral statement that would set out when someone like Biden should not present himself for Communion. It seems many bishops like Aquila see that as the solution to their dilemma over Biden.
But not all bishops agree. Approximately 70 of the nearly-250 bishops in the U.S. signed a letter urging the bishops conference to slow down and consider this pastoral statement and its effects more carefully. Yet the great majority of U.S. bishops are as undeterred by that letter as they have been by urgings from Rome.
Communion 'not a prize'
This proposal for a document about “Eucharistic coherence" will come before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' virtual meeting, being held June 16-18. But even if a pastoral statement is written, the conference has no authority to enforce it on any particular bishop. The result would be an incoherent patchwork allowing each individual bishop to decide. Washington's Cardinal Wilton Gregory already has indicated he will not prevent Biden from receiving Communion. As such, the pastoral statement could serve only to highlight differences among many American bishops and the pope.
It also could backfire as an attempt to wrestle back authority for U.S. bishops. A preelection debate over the sincerity of Biden's Catholicism proved divisive among the faithful. Biden, through Baptism and participation in the other sacraments, is a Catholic. There is no question about that.
Because it reflects intense divisions in the church, this effort to disqualify the president from the sacraments and the church are, I believe, a threat to church authority today. Nothing that furthers or deepens those divisions will help the bishops or the Catholics that they lead. And the growing visibility of the divide between U.S. bishops and the pope is a threat to the church itself.
This is an updated version of an article originally published on May 5, 2021.
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