Ticktock to impeachment
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler says his panel could be voting on the articles of impeachment by the end of the week, and that it's the fate that Donald Trump deserves.
Monday’s Judiciary hearing will feature presentations from Democratic and Republican staff attorneys. They will argue the case for and against impeachment over Trump’s push to have Ukraine investigate Democratic rivals against the backdrop of withheld U.S. military aid, reports Newsday's Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
In a pair of Sunday morning talk-show appearances, the Manhattan Democrat described as "very rock solid" the evidence amassed during the impeachment inquiry. "The case we have, if presented to a jury, would be a guilty verdict in about three minutes flat,” Nadler said.
But it will be the Senate, not a jury, getting the case if the full House vote approves articles of impeachment. While three minutes might be enough for Democrats to decide the president should be tossed from office, most Republicans so far appear to have set their timers on "Never."
"It's going to go nowhere," said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. "And I think the American people know this is a waste of time and this is Democrats putting on a circus," he said. If anything, Cruz and other Republicans are showing increased willingness to buy into Trump and Rudy Giuliani's sketchy theories about Ukrainian election interference.
White House lawyers refused to participate in the House proceedings and are focusing strategies on a trial in the GOP-controlled Senate. But they may not be able to entirely control how it unfolds. Cruz told Trump aides weeks ago that there are not enough Senate votes to approve some of the edgier potential witnesses Trump allies would like, such as Hunter Biden, The New York Times reported.
Some Republicans want to turn the tables by calling Democratic House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff as a witness to push doubts about the impeachment investigators. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that's not in his plans. "I'm not going to participate in things that I think will destroy the country," Graham said on Fox News. "We're not going to turn the Senate into a circus."
Giuliani in the center ring
Giuliani’s multiple roles as unofficial Trump foreign policy promoter, political fixer and power-broker-for-hire have alarmed Trump’s advisers, The Washington Post reports.
Attorney General William Barr has counseled Trump in general terms that Giuliani has become a liability and that the president isn’t being well-served by him, the report said. But Trump has resisted advice to distance himself even as Giuliani faces federal criminal investigation.
The revelations come as the Post and The New York Times on Sunday night published extensive investigative reports chronicling Giuliani’s overlapping interests. Those include an expanding roster of foreign clients whose interests he has taken up with top administration officials, including Trump.
From a fall into political wilderness after the flameout of his 2008 presidential campaign that left him in a “catatonic” state, according to his now-estranged wife, Giuliani has rebounded to become a man without border or boundary, the Times reported.
The Post found Ukraine wasn’t the only place Giuliani sought to influence the choice of an ambassador. He did likewise pushing Trump to nominate his favorite as ambassador to Qatar, where he has a cybersecurity contract.
The Times compared his promotion of investigations into Trump’s foes to an episode early in Giuliani’s first term as New York City mayor. He announced a city investigation into suggested corruption by a commissioner in a previous administration. A year later, after a probe found nothing, Giuliani shrugged: “Sometimes they turn out to be true. And sometimes they turn out to be wrong.”
Rudy's big dig
Where in the world is Giuliani and what has he done now? Trump said Saturday that his personal lawyer said he "has a lot of good information" from his recent trip to Ukraine, though the president added "he has not told me what he found."
Trump said he thinks Giuliani wants to share with Congress and the Justice Department the latest from his digging exploits against the Bidens and in support of the debunked Ukrainian 2016 election-interference theories. Giuliani told NBC News he is "in process of still analyzing what I received."
One of Trump's top House allies, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), said Giuliani's Ukraine mission seemed "weird" and "odd," but he'd like to hear him explain it to Congress.
Janison: When Joe blows
It's not clear whether former Vice President Joe Biden helped himself, hurt himself or it made no difference after he got angry and personal with a retired 83-year-old Iowa farmer who asked a hostile question about his son Hunter's Ukraine business.
What's striking when drawing comparisons to the Trump insult machine is that Biden confronted his accuser up close and in real time, writes Newsday's Dan Janison. Trump's style is to demonize foes at a distance — on Twitter and at fan rallies.
As for the electoral impact, the rewards of controversial behavior have become harder to predict.
Biden: Who knew? Who wants to?
In an interview with Axios on HBO, Biden said "I don't know" what Hunter Biden did while on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, and he wasn't looking to find out "because I trust my son."
Late last week, Biden told an NPR interviewer that "nobody warned me about a potential conflict of interest" when he was vice president over Hunter's position on the board and "they should have told me."
The New Yorker reported in its July 1 edition that Amos Hochstein, the Obama administration’s special envoy for energy policy, did raise the matter with Biden, but did not go so far as to recommend that Hunter leave the board.
Trump: Saudis so sorry
Trump has gone out of his way to keep suspicion far away from Saudi Arabia and its ruling royal family after a Saudi Royal Air Force officer shot and killed three of his classmates at a U.S. naval base in Pensacola, Florida.
Trump passed along King Salman’s “sincere condolences” and assurance that "the Saudi people … love the American people.” Trump did not, The New York Times reported, add assurances that the Saudis would aid in the investigation, help identify the suspect’s motives, or answer questions about the vetting process for officers it sends to the U.S. for training.
Trump's willingness to believe the best of the Saudis is consistent with his disinterest in U.S. intelligence agency findings of apparent complicity by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the murder last year of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. On the Sunday talk shows, members of Congress from both parties were less trusting.
Graham said, “We need to suspend the Saudi program until we find out what happened here." Gaetz, whose district includes the base in Pensacola, said Friday's shooting “has to inform our ongoing relationship with Saudi Arabia."
Schiff accused Trump of not being aggressive enough with the kingdom. "I wish the president was pressing the Saudi government for answers,” Schiff said. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) faulted Trump for taking what he said is a “transactional" approach with Riyadh, focused on financial interests and not moral values.
Trying to get a handle on what triggered Trump's outpouring about toilet-flushing and stingy faucets and shower heads? Here's the stream-of-consciousness quote from Friday's meeting about reducing small-business red tape:
"We have a situation where we’re looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms where you turn the faucet on — in areas where there’s tremendous amounts of water, where the water rushes out to sea because you could never handle it — and you don’t get any water," he said.
"You turn on the faucet; you don’t get any water. They take a shower and water comes dripping out. It’s dripping out — very quietly dripping out," he continued.
"People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So, EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion" he went on. Wash — sorry, watch — the video.
What else is happening:
- Defense Secretary Mark Esper tried to minimize the effect of the two-month freeze on military aid to Ukraine, but he declined to say whether he was aware any political considerations were responsible. "I'm not going to get into any of that," Esper told "Fox News Sunday."
- Hosting Kennedy Center honorees including Linda Ronstadt, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joke-quoted from one of her songs: “As I travel the world, I wonder ‘when will I be loved.’ ” When she took her turn at the mic, an unamused Ronstadt said: "It’s when he stops enabling Donald Trump.”
- Some Jewish groups accused Trump of using anti-Semitic tropes in a speech Saturday night to the Israeli-American Council. He said some in the audience were "not nice people at all," but "you have to vote for me" over Democrats who want to tax wealth. He said there are Jewish people that "don't love Israel enough.”
- Trump's top official for Medicare and Medicaid filed a $47,000 claim for taxpayer reimbursement after thieves took jewelry and other personal items from her luggage on a work-related trip in San Francisco, Politico reported. Seema Verma's loss included a $5,900 Ivanka Trump-brand pendant and $325 worth of moisturizer. Verma received $2,852.40 for her claim.
- In two weeks since entering in the presidential race, Mike Bloomberg has spent more money on ads than all the top-polling Democrats combined and is simultaneously building out ground operations in 27 states, The Washington Post reports. He still polls in the low single digits.
- A survey of U.S. military households found nearly half — 46% — viewed Russia as an ally, compared with 28% of Americans at large, the Voice of America reported. That was attributed by authors of the Reagan National Defense Survey to positive cues about Russia from Trump. Pentagon officials are concerned, with a spokeswoman saying, "We are actively working to expose and counter Russian disinformation.”