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House impeaches Donald Trump in historic vote, reshuffling U.S. politics on eve of 2020 – USA TODAY

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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump became the third president in history to be impeached Wednesday after a bitterly divided House formally charged him with “high crimes and misdemeanors” over his request to Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

After a daylong debate marked by fiery recriminations, lawmakers voted largely along party lines in favor of impeachment, reshuffling American politics at a time when voters were already profoundly divided over the nation’s leadership and direction.

Democrats and Republicans disagreed sharply over the president’s actions, the ramifications of the historic vote, and each other’s motives in either defending Trump or prosecuting the case against him. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., stepped to the dais at one point to chide Republicans for what he described as choosing party over country.  

“Many of my colleagues appear to have made their choice to protect the president, to enable him to be above the law, to empower this president to cheat again as long as it is in the service of their party and their power,” the House Intelligence Committee chairman said. “They have made their choice and I believe they will rue the day that they did.”

Republicans claimed Democrats were grasping for any excuse to undermine an unconventional president who unexpectedly and narrowly won election in 2016 against Hillary Clinton. They repeatedly described the process used in the run up to the vote as unfair, sidestepping the fact that the White House rebuffed invitations to take part.

White House: Grim defiance as House debates Donald Trump impeachment

Play by play: GOP will ‘rue the day’ they chose to protect Trump from impeachment 

“One week before Christmas, I want you to keep this in mind,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., told his colleagues during the debate. “Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than the Democrats have afforded this president.”

Will the Senate remove Trump? 

The Democratic-led House approved 230-197 the first article of impeachment accusing Trump of abusing his power by asking Ukrainian officials to announce investigations that would benefit his reelection. Minutes later, the House approved a second article, voting 229-198 to charge Trump with obstructing the congressional investigation into that request.

Though the historic votes ended a hurried effort by Democrats to advance impeachment articles before the end of the year – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched the inquiry into Trump’s actions less than three months ago – it will kick off an exceptionally rare trial in the Senate to determine whether the president will be removed from office. 

Republican leaders expect that trial to begin next month, though Pelosi was noncommittal during a press conference after the vote about when the House would send the articles to the Senate for their review. 

In an emotional moment during that press conference, Pelosi raised the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat and former chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform who died in October.  

“We did all we could, Elijah, we passed the two articles of impeachment,” Pelosi said. “The president is impeached.”  

Speaking earlier on the House floor, Pelosi said the vision of the nation conceived by the Founding Fathers was “under threat” from the White House. 

“He gave us no choice,” Pelosi said. 

React: ‘Disgusted.’ Trump rails against Democrats after impeachment committee vote

Rally: Michigan crowd rallies for Trump on day of House impeachment vote

Impeachment, which Pelosi and other Democratic leaders initially resisted, could also have consequences for the 2020 election, where a field of candidates angling to unseat Trump have sought to focus the nation’s attention on health care, immigration and education while tiptoeing around the constitutional dramas unfolding in Washington. Trump is betting impeachment will sour swing voters on Democrats for years to come.

Trump’s response: Defiance  

As if to underline that point, Trump remained defiant throughout the day, accusing Democrats of “atrocious lies” and an “assault on America” in a series of tweets. The president, who did not take questions from reporters throughout the day, left the White House before the impeachment votes, departing Washington for a campaign rally in the presidential battleground state of Michigan.

Trump took the stage in Battle Creek just as the House began voting, setting up an extraordinary split screen image for cable news networks.

“It doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached,” Trump said as the votes were being tallied during the first article of impeachment. “We did nothing wrong and we have tremendous support in the Republican Party.”

After initially sticking to rally talking points, Trump abruptly relayed one of the votes to the crowd and embarked on an extended criticism of Democrats. 

“This lawless partisan impeachment is a political suicide march for the Democrat party,” he said. “Have you seen my polls in the last four weeks?” 

Within the West Wing, aides went about their regular duties in a mood of grim defiance, holding meetings and calls while occasionally glancing at banks of television screens where the debate played. They had anticipated this day for weeks, some said, and have felt under siege since Trump moved into the White House in early 2017.

Others said they wanted the House to get it over with and send the impeachment case to the Republican-led Senate, where Trump is expected to be acquitted.

Senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway attended a Republican Senate luncheon to discuss impeachment and the latest polls before appearing for a pair of media interviews and an impromptu news conference with reporters, during which she criticized the impeachment articles as “spare” and “specious.”

Underscoring the discord among voters, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released hours before the House vote found the nation evenly split, with 48% of Americans saying Trump’s actions demanded impeachment and removal from office and an equal 48% saying they disagree.

At the center of the impeachment is a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump asked his counterpart to look into a conspiracy about Democratic misdeeds in the 2016 election and, separately, the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Defying Trump’s orders not to testify, a handful of State Department and White House officials detailed for lawmakers in televised hearings how the administration held up nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine as leverage to pressure Zelensky to announce those investigations.

Voters get final say

Trump and his allies said the “perfect call” was an attempt to address corruption in Kyiv, not swing an election.

In that sense, the divisions on display recalled the atmosphere from 1998, when a Republican-led House impeached President Bill Clinton for lying under oath to hide an affair with a White House intern. President Richard Nixon, by contrast, resigned in 1974 to avoid almost certain impeachment after he lost support from Republican defenders.

Past is prologue: The political ‘fire extinguisher’ of impeachment is more common

Throughout the day, Republicans argued the Founding Fathers would have condemned an impeachment playing out along partisan lines. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., vowed Republicans would take that argument to voters in next year’s election.  

“It is a matter for the voters, not this House. Not in this way,” Collins said. “The people of America see through this.”

John Fritze covers the White House. Follow him @jfritze. 

Contributing: Courtney Subramanian, David Jackson, Michael Collins, Ledyard King, Maureen Groppe. 

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Twitter's Jack Dorsey Slams Coinbase for Its No-Politics Stance – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey joined a chorus of criticism for Coinbase Inc.’s newly announced policy of not debating politics at work, saying it runs counter to the core principles of cryptocurrency.

In reaction to Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong’s blog post arguing that the company should be mission-focused and not “advocate for any particular causes or candidates internally that are unrelated to our mission, because it is a distraction,” Dorsey argued that the whole purpose of currencies like Bitcoin, which is traded on Coinbase, is social activism.

“#Bitcoin (aka “crypto”) is direct activism against an unverifiable and exclusionary financial system which negatively affects so much of our society,” Dorsey tweeted. To not acknowledge and connect the related social and political issues “leaves behind people,” according to the Twitter chief. The bio section of Dorsey’s Twitter profile lists only “#bitcoin,” signaling it’s a key issue for him.

Coinbase, a digital-currency exchange that has more than 35 million users according to its website, suggested that its push for an apolitical stance was a reaction to a growing movement within tech companies for employees’ beliefs to be better represented by their companies.

“We’ve seen what internal strife at companies like Google and Facebook can do to productivity,” Armstrong said in the post. “We are an intense culture and we are an apolitical culture.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Spotlight Politics: A Chaotic Presidential Debate

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The first Trump-Biden debate. A fiery hearing on corruption in Springfield. Chicago’s loosening COVID-19 restrictions. Our politics team tackles those stories and more in this week’s roundtable.


Tuesday’s presidential debate was loud, but there often wasn’t much you could actually hear.

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Perhaps the most notable moment came when moderator Chris Wallace asked President Donald Trump to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, and ask them not to behave violently.

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said.

State politics

A House investigative panel met in Springfield on Tuesday to look into whether House Speaker Michael Madigan engaged in conduct unbefitting of his elected position.

Madigan declined to testify, and it remains unclear whether he’ll face the pressure of a subpoena.

The six legislators on the Special Investigative Committee met for about five hours, with much of that time spent peppering the Commonwealth Edison vice president who executed the deferred prosecution agreement, David Glockner, with questions about utility’s bribery scheme as described in the DPA.

City politics

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said this week the city is easing restriction on bars and restaurants after a drop in the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

However, Lightfoot said she was not prepared to announce whether Chicago Public Schools students would return to in-person classes in November.

“We’re not there yet,” Lightfoot said, while detailing what she said were significant problems with remote learning. “We’d have to see more progress.”

At a virtual town hall Tuesday evening, Lightfoot said that negotiations with community groups on police oversight are at an impasse.

“We’re moving on from GAPA (the Grassroots Association for Police Accountability),” Lightfoot said. “We’ve got to get it done, we’ve waited too long, we need to move forward and it’s unfortunate that the GAPA folks have not come forward to us with a concrete proposal that solves some of these outstanding issues, but the time is now for us to act. We can’t wait any longer.”

Lightfoot said at the town hall she would propose an alternative proposal before the end of the year.

Our politics team of Amanda Vinicky, Heather Cherone, Paris Schutz and Carol Marin discuss these stories and more in this week’s edition of “Spotlight Politics.”


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Tuesday’s Debate: A Milestone in the History of Climate Politics – POLITICO

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In Tuesday night’s demolition derby of a debate, President Donald Trump did not even pretend to confront white supremacists. He didn’t pretend to respect the legitimacy of the election, either. So it was telling that after moderator Chris Wallace asked him the first-ever question about climate change in a general election presidential debate, Trump did pretend to support electric vehicles.

“I’m all for electric cars,” he said. “I’ve given big incentives to electric cars.”

In fact, Trump is not all for electric cars; he’s mocked them, and his policies have penalized them. He certainly hasn’t given big incentives to electric cars; he actually tried to eliminate the existing incentives. But while Trump’s 90-minute tornado of unfiltered insults and right-wing red meat suggested that he’s happy to run as an enemy of cities, the news media and racial sensitivity, he clearly would prefer not to be seen as an enemy of the climate.

That is a milestone in the history of climate politics. Global warming has been dismissed for years as a niche concern for the tree-hugging fringe, but not only has it become the kind of mainstream issue that even a moderator from Fox News deemed worthy of prime time, it has become the kind of hot-button issue that even a Republican president who used to call it a hoax manufactured in China feels the need to dissemble about. If hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue, political lies are the tribute that unpopularity pays to popularity—and 2020 polling has found that climate science and climate action are both popular.

Green cars are especially popular; a survey by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that 82 percent of Americans support tax rebates for energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels. That helps explain why Trump claimed to be one of them, even though his 2020 budget would have eliminated a tax credit for electric vehicles that was enacted during the George W. Bush administration and expanded during the Barack Obama administration. Trump made fun of electric vehicles during a 2019 rally in Michigan—“Darling, where do I get a charge?”—and scoffed that “all-electric isn’t going to work” in a Fox Business interview. And his rollback of Obama’s tough fuel-efficiency standards, along with his efforts to relax clean air regulations, could be devastating blows to zero-emissions electric vehicles.

Wallace’s original question was whether Trump believes the scientific consensus about climate change in light of the fires burning in California; the president dodged it rather than repeat his recent assertions that the science can’t be trusted and the earth is about to start cooling. When Wallace pressed him to clarify whether he accepted that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, he grudgingly conceded: “I think a lot of things do, but I think to an extent, yes.” That made political sense, too, since the Yale survey found 72 percent of Americans believe global warming is happening, while only 12 percent don’t.

The survey found the public also agreed by a 61-29 margin that global warming will harm Americans, by a 56-44 margin that it’s already harming Americans, and by a 60-11 margin that the president should do more to address it—all of which helps explain why the president tried to tack towards the climate majority on the debate stage.

“We now have the lowest carbon,” Trump said. “If you look at our numbers now, we are doing phenomenally.”

America’s emissions are indeed lower in 2020, but that’s because of the coronavirus lockdowns, not because of Trump’s energy or environmental policies, which have had the consistent objectives of relaxing restrictions on polluting industries and promoting the mining and drilling of fossil fuels. Trump scrapped Obama’s Clean Power Plan that would have regulated carbon emissions—which, incidentally, had 75-24 support in the Yale poll—as well as rules limiting mercury, soot and other pollution from coal-fired power plants. As Biden tried rather inarticulately to point out, Trump’s administration has also ditched rules limiting methane emissions by oil and gas companies, accelerated permits for drilling, mining and logging on public lands, rolled back protections for wetlands, and made the United States the only nation to announce its withdrawal from the Paris climate accords.

Nevertheless, Trump tried to portray himself as a champion of clean air and water—or, as he put it, “immaculate air, immaculate water”—another nod to the power of environmental issues, especially among the suburban women who have been such a problem for his reelection campaign. The only specific environmental policy Trump brought up, aside from his nonexistent electric vehicle incentives, was his support for a global initiative to plant a trillion trees, which he misidentified as the Billion Tree Project. “It’s very exciting for a lot of people,” he said, although he didn’t really make it sound like he was one of those people.

Trump’s message was that he’s an environmentalist, but Biden is a radical environmentalist who would destroy the American economy with left-wing nonsense. Again, though, he had to resort to wild falsehoods to make that case. He attacked the Obama-Biden administration’s Clean Power Plan for somehow “driving energy prices through the sky,” even though it never went into effect. He accused Biden of wanting to spend $100 trillion on the climate, using a sketchy right-wing analysis of the Green New Deal that Biden doesn’t even support, and also of wanting to ban cows and air travel, another misleading reference to the Green New Deal, or at least to a list of talking points about the Green New Deal that Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s office released and then hastily retracted.

Biden, on the other hand, seemed delighted to discuss the substance of issues he sees as politically advantageous as well as globally consequential. When Wallace said he’d like to discuss climate change, Biden blurted out: “So would I!” He talked with a lot of passion, though not a lot of focus, about his role overseeing the Obama stimulus that helped bring down the cost of wind, solar and other renewable energy sources; about “weatherization” programs that could put unemployed Americans to work caulking windows and otherwise upgrading the energy efficiency of homes and businesses; and about his idea to pay the Brazilian government to crack down on the destruction of the carbon-rich Amazon. He also called for electrifying the federal government’s fleet of vehicles and installing 500,000 charging stations on America’s roads—a solution for the Darling-where-do-I-get-a-charge problem.

Wallace also challenged Biden about the fiscal and economic cost of his climate plan, which irritated many climate activists, but it’s a legitimate question that led to one of Biden’s strongest moments in the chaotic debate. He argued not only that his $2 trillion plan will provide millions of jobs in green industries and green infrastructure projects, a common Democratic argument, but that the cost of inaction would be far greater, since America is already spending more than ever on climate-driven floods, hurricanes, fires and droughts.

“We’re in real trouble,” Biden said. “Look what happened in the Midwest with these storms that come through and wipe out entire sections and counties in Iowa. They didn’t happen before. They’re because of global warming.”

Back in 2012, CNN’s Candy Crowley explained after a presidential debate that she considered including a question for “you climate change people” but changed her mind because “we knew the economy was still the main thing.” Eight years later, there’s increasing recognition from politicians as well as media bigwigs that all people are climate change people, and that there’s no way to isolate the economy from the energy that fuels and powers it or the climate disasters that increasingly threaten it. It’s hard to imagine that there will ever be another year of presidential debates without a climate question, and the worse the problem gets, the more pressure candidates will face to embrace the science and call for action.

That doesn’t mean that every candidate will make climate warriors happy with every answer. Trump never did acknowledge that climate change is contributing to California’s fires, arguing that the more pressing issue was bad forest management, which was a reasonable case to make. Biden made a point of distancing himself from the Green New Deal, prompting Trump, in a weird moment of off-message punditry, to declare: “You just lost the radical left.”

But Biden isn’t tailoring his message to the radical left. He’s aiming for the 63 percent of Americans who are worried about climate change, the 86 percent who support research into renewable energy, the 56 percent who say it’s important to their presidential vote. And while it’s obvious from his rhetoric as well as his record that Trump doesn’t truly care about the climate, it’s a reflection of the changing political climate that he felt the need to pretend he does.

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