News from across the nation from BasinLife.com
MONDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2019
It’s on with the GOP now as House Republicans Monday offered a harsh charge of the impeachment inquiry, saying in a report that Democrats hadn’t proven that President Trump pressured Ukraine to initiate investigations in an effort to benefit his 2020 re-election bid, and that his hold on nearly $400 million in security assistance and a White House meeting was “entirely prudent.”
These findings by Republicans were released to Congress and sent to the media today in a 123-page report. The paper is a quick and broad defense of President Trump as the House Judiciary Committee’s first hearing begins this week as the panel weighs whether to draft articles of impeachment.
The report is an effort to rebut House Democrats, who are expected to issue their own report making a case that the July 25 phone call in which Mr. Trump asked Ukraine’s president to open investigations that could benefit him politically was just one part of a broader pressure campaign against a country dependent on the U.S. to counter Russian aggression.
In making their case, Republicans say that Democrats are relying on hearsay, motivated by antipathy toward a president whose out-of-the-box diplomacy simply made bureaucrats uncomfortable, and overlooking that Mr. Trump’s support for providing Kyiv with lethal defensive weaponry made him a stronger ally of Ukraine than his predecessor was.
“The Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is not the organic outgrowth of serious misconduct; it is an orchestrated campaign to upend our political system,” according to a report prepared for the top Republicans on the House intelligence, oversight and foreign affairs committees.
The GOP arguments have been made before, but Republicans are now developing their ideas more fully, consolidating them into a single report to provide a counterweight to the report being compiled by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D., Calif.).
Lawmakers on the Intelligence Committee will have 24 hours to review Mr. Schiff’s report, starting this evening, before the panel votes on it to send it to the Judiciary Committee, which traditionally is responsible for impeachment.
The GOP report repeated the notion that Ukraine attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election to hurt Mr. Trump, an allegation that drew criticism from several witnesses and Democrats during the House Intelligence Committee’s hearings.
The Judiciary panel’s impeachment hearing set for Wednesday will be its first on the matter, and it will hear from a group of experts on what constitutes an impeachable offense. Four academics are scheduled to testify on the opening day: Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School; Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law School; Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina School of Law; and Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School. Stay tuned.
HOLIDAY WINTER STORMS
The powerful winter storm that wreaked havoc across much of the west moved eastward over the Thanksgiving holiday brought snow and rain to the East Coast, disrupting commutes, school days and lingering holiday travel plans.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for portions of seven states in the Northeast, from Maine to Pennsylvania. Up to 20 total inches of snow is expected in some areas through Tuesday evening.
Airlines for America, an industry trade organization, expected a record 31.6 million passengers to travel on U.S. airlines during the 12-day Thanksgiving travel period.
Sunday, the busiest travel day of the year, with 3.1 million taking to the skies, saw more than 1,600 flights canceled and 8,643 flight delays, according to flight-monitoring website FlightAware. As of Monday afternoon, over 750 flights were canceled and an additional 4,678 others within, into or out of the U.S. faced significant delays.
Major metro areas including Philadelphia, New York City and Boston are expected to see snow accumulation Monday evening as temperatures drop, making the evening and following morning commutes difficult. Many schools and colleges in the region were closed, or had delayed openings or early dismissals.
A new storm on the West Coast is expected to bring rain and heavy snow across the Sierra Nevada, with the potential for isolated flooding near the central California coast.
A major expansion of gun rights appeared unlikely after arguments on Monday before the Supreme Court, where justices focused not on the Second Amendment, but whether the case belonged before the court at all.
At issue was a New York City rule forbidding gun owners with a location-specific license from taking their weapons outside the five boroughs. But the New York State Legislature already has passed a law eliminating such local restrictions and the city repealed its challenged regulation, apparently granting plaintiffs everything they had asked for—and, the city argued, eliminating any rationale for the Supreme Court’s review.
“The city has now been blocked by a state law,” said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “So what’s left of this case?”
Lawyers for the gun owners and for the Trump administration argued that legal grounds remained for the Supreme Court to issue a wide-ranging ruling that could doom many local weapons rules. But they didn’t agree on the rationale.
The administration’s lawyer, Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, said the case should remain alive since the plaintiffs could still seek damages from the city for its past deprivation of their constitutional rights. But the plaintiffs didn’t ask for damages when they filed the suit years ago, and several justices questioned whether they could insert a new demand at this late stage.
Paul Clement, representing the National Rifle Association’s New York affiliate and three local gun owners, said that despite changes in state law and local rules, the city had left itself enough wiggle room to frustrate his clients.
Clement says the municipal rule required that travel to firing ranges and other destinations beyond city limits be “continuous and uninterrupted.” That meant his clients could be busted if they stopped for coffee on the trip. He said also it was possible the city could penalize his clients for their past violation of the travel restrictions when considering their fitness for license renewal.
Those issues—and not the scope of the Second Amendment—were the only ones to prompt questions from Chief Justice John Roberts, whose relatively centrist position on gun rights over the past decade indicates he could cast the deciding vote.
New Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot fired the city’s outgoing police superintendent Monday, saying he lied to her and committed “intolerable” ethical lapses over an incident in which he was found asleep in his police car.
Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson was being investigated for the incident by the city inspector general when he announced last month that he would retire by the end of the year.
“Mr. Johnson was intentionally dishonest with me and communicated a narrative replete with false statements regarding material aspects of the incident that happened in the early morning hours of Oct. 17,” Ms. Lightfoot said in a statement. “Had I known all the facts at the time, I would have relieved him of his duties as superintendent then and there.”
The investigation is continuing, according to her statement. Former Los Angeles Police Superintendent Charlie Beck was named interim chief a few days after Mr. Johnson announced his retirement. Mr. Johnson couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Mr. Johnson had initially told the media he had fallen asleep as a result of his medication after having dinner with friends. Ms. Lightfoot later told the Chicago Sun-Times that the chief told her he had a couple of drinks at dinner. “I’m going to let the investigation play out,” she said at the press conference announcing his retirement.