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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

But say it's not impeachable A growing number of GOP senators are now acknowledging that President Donald Trump may have leveraged US military aid to Ukraine in exchange for an announcement of investigations that could help him politically -- but they contend that even that conduct does not warrant removal from office or hearing from additional witnesses.


Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma said Tuesday that senators participating in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial have "got to be able to see" the book manuscript of former national security adviser John Bolton before they vote on whether to include witnesses in the proceedings.


Monday, January 27, 2020

The former national security adviser's secrets are valuable, and will come at a cost. John Bolton, Donald Trump's former national security adviser, announced the title of his forthcoming memoir last night: The Room Where It Happened, a reference to the Oval Office, the scene of some of the misdeeds he is likely to attribute to the president. (I had hoped for something jauntier, perhaps 'Stached in the Cabinet.)


President Donald Trump vented rage Monday on Twitter, denying his ex-national security advisor John Bolton's reported claim that the president withheld military aid to Ukraine in order to secure investigation into his political opponents. read more


aka, Trump's lawyers lie like dogs


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"Trump's Israel-Palestine "peace plan" is a con

The proposal destroys the prospects for any real deal and brings Israel meaningfully closer to "apartheid."

Donald Trump's "peace plan" isn't a plan for advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. It's a plan for scuttling them.

The proposal is missing a signature feature of every prior peace plan: a path to a viable Palestinian state. It divides up the Palestinian territories and surrounds them by Israel, and gives Israel total control over Palestinian security " allowing a future Palestinian government to exercise full control over its own land only when Israel deems it acceptable. It's a kind of state-minus: a Palestine without much of its land and subservient to Israel for basic functions.

"Trump can try to make this a Palestinian state by calling it a state. But it ain't ever gonna whistle," writes Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center for Middle East Policy.

Needless to say, the Palestinians cannot and will not agree to such humiliation, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has already ruled it out.

"No, no, and no," he has said. "Jerusalem is not for sale. All of our rights are not for sale or bartering.

In fact, the Trump administration didn't even have a role in writing the plan: It was put together primarily by Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, in consultation with the Israeli government. The notion that this is a good-faith effort to make peace is laughable.

So if the "peace plan" isn't a peace plan, then what is it?

First, it's an effort to help Netanyahu, a staunch Trump ally, in advance of tightly contested March elections in Israel. The release of a plan so tilted to Israeli priorities helps the right-wing prime minister sell himself as the man best positioned to handle the vital US-Israel relationship. And it doesn't seem like an accident that the plan was released on the same day that Israel's attorney general formally indicted Netanyahu on bribery and corruption charges.

Second, and more insidiously, it is a plan to legitimize Israel's ongoing effort to seize additional Palestinian land.

The United States, as Israel's most important ally and the historic mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, helps define the parameters of what counts as an acceptable outcome.

As soon as the Palestinians have rejected the plan " and it took only minutes for them to do so " the Israelis can say, "Well, we tried, but they wouldn't deal." And they can proceed with settlement expansion and land grabs, moving Israel toward "not peace, but apartheid," as B'Tselem, a leading Israeli human rights group, put it in a press release on the proposal.

The Trump vision is, in short, a truly Orwellian creation: a "peace plan" that actually is a plan to destroy the prospects for peace."

more here:

www.vox.com

"Bolton's secrets are therefore valuable in numerous ways: They got him a huge book deal; they position him as an insider able to command high speaking fees before rapt right-wing audiences; and finally, they make him a feared enemy of Trump and his allies. For Bolton to surrender these advantages for free, to the advantage not of himself but of liberals with whom he agrees on little, would be for Bolton to stop being Bolton."

"Whether he was attracted to the law because he is cold-blooded, punctilious, and manipulative, or became cold-blooded, punctilious, and manipulative because the practice of the law rewards those traits, is immaterial. This is his character, and it explains all his delays in coming forward with his account."

"To act this way in a context outside of litigation is commonly known as "being an -------." That explains, in part, Bolton's reputation for unpleasantness: He unapologetically forces people to get the details, what in government is often called "process," exactly right."

"Silence up to now has bought Bolton the Litigator something very valuable. He has now listened as others present "in the room""including his deputies, such as Fiona Hill"have recorded their versions of events. He has heard Republicans, including Trump, lay out an impeachment defense"not only a version of events, but also a theory of innocence.

By speaking last, he can present testimony precisely calculated to hurt those he most wants to embarrass. Even just today, in response to the initial leaks from Bolton's book, Trump tweeted a suspiciously grammatical series of statements demeaning Bolton and denying that Bolton was told to delay aid to Ukraine. Bolton is strategic, and it would be unlike him to make a bold claim without a plan to counter Trump's denial. More likely, he will dole out the details and evidence methodically, thwarting his critics like steers in a cutting horse competition."

"None of this means that Bolton will reverse the course of the impeachment, even if he testifies. The trial's ultimate verdict is less in the balance than the ability of Republicans to continue to defend their president without self-abasement. But count on Bolton to know that the value (in all senses) of that testimony will decline after the impeachment trial, so he is doing everything he can to make his testimony necessary, and to deliver it while it is in highest demand."

excerpts- much more pithy commentary at the link... including the conclusion

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