Week In The News: The Impeachment Inquiry, NATO And A Changing Presidential Race

Dec 6, 2019

The impeachment spotlight shifts to the Judiciary Committee. Trump at a strained NATO summit. Kamala Harris drops out of the presidential race. The roundtable weighs in on the week that was.


Seung Min Kim, White House reporter for The Washington Post, covering Capitol Hill. (@seungminkim)

Vivian Salama, White House reporter for The Wall Street Journal, with a focus on foreign policy. (@vmsalama)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)

From The Reading List

Washington Post: “White House gears up for aggressive effort to defend Trump in Senate as House moves toward impeachment vote” — “The White House signaled Wednesday that it will aggressively defend President Trump in a near-certain Senate impeachment trial in the coming weeks, as legal experts called by House Democrats testified in a contentious hearing that Trump’s Ukraine dealings constitute an impeachable offense.

“Eric Ueland, the White House director of legislative affairs, told reporters that Trump “wants his case made fully in the Senate,” previewing a strategy that would include live witnesses on the floor, rather than videotaped depositions that were entered into evidence during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999.

“‘In this instance, we believe very strongly — given the fatally flawed process in the House — that if they were to elect against our better advice [and] send over impeachment to the Senate, that we need witnesses as part of our trial and a full defense of the president on the facts,’ Ueland said, gesturing toward the Senate chamber.”

New York Times: “Giuliani, Facing Scrutiny, Travels to Europe to Interview Ukrainians” — “Even as Democrats intensified their scrutiny this week of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s role in the pressure campaign against the Ukrainian government that is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, Mr. Giuliani has been in Europe continuing his efforts to shift the focus to purported wrongdoing by President Trump’s political rivals.

“Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, met in Budapest on Tuesday with a former Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, who has become a key figure in the impeachment inquiry. He then traveled to Kyiv on Wednesday seeking to meet with other former Ukrainian prosecutors whose claims have been embraced by Republicans, including Viktor Shokin and Kostiantyn H. Kulyk, according to people familiar with the effort.

“The former prosecutors, who have faced allegations of corruption, all played some role in promoting claims about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a former United States ambassador to Ukraine and Ukrainians who disseminated damaging information about Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in 2016.

“Those claims — some baseless and others with key disputed elements — have been the foundations of the effort by Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani to pressure the Ukrainian government to commit itself to investigations that would benefit Mr. Trump heading into his re-election campaign. That effort in turn has led to the impeachment proceedings in the House against the president.”

New York Times: “Trump Calls Trudeau ‘Two-Faced’ After Comments Caught on Video” — “President Trump on Wednesday called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada “two-faced,” after a video surfaced that showed him venting to other world leaders about Mr. Trump’s behavior at a NATO anniversary celebration designed specifically to avoid unwanted disruptions.

“‘Well, he’s two-faced,’ the president said when asked about the video. After a long pause, he added, ‘He’s a nice guy. I find him to be a very nice guy.’ Mr. Trump, who was taking questions from reporters ahead of a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, attributed Mr. Trudeau’s frustration to the American leader’s pressure campaign to increase Canada’s military spending to 2 percent of its economic output.

“’He should be paying more than he’s paying,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘I called him out on that, and I’m sure he wasn’t happy about it, but that’s the way it is.’ The brief video showed grinning world leaders at a Buckingham Palace reception on Tuesday night, apparently commiserating about the president.”

New York Times: “Kamala Harris Says She’s Still ‘in This Fight,’ but Out of the 2020 Race” — “Senator Kamala Harris of California dropped out of the Democratic presidential race on Tuesday after months of low poll numbers and a series of missteps that crippled her campaign, a deflating comedown for a barrier-breaking candidate who was seeking to become the first black woman to win a major party’s presidential nomination.

“The decision came after weeks of upheaval among Ms. Harris’s staff, including layoffs in New Hampshire and at her headquarters in Baltimore, and disarray among her allies. She told supporters in an email on Tuesday that she lacked the money needed to fully finance a competitive campaign.

“’My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue,’ Ms. Harris wrote. ‘But I want to be clear with you: I am still very much in this fight.’

“The announcement is perhaps the most surprising development to date in a fluid Democratic presidential campaign where Ms. Harris began in the top tier. Her departure removes a prominent woman of color from a field that started as the most racially diverse ever in a Democratic primary, and raises the prospect that this month’s debate in Los Angeles will feature no candidates who aren’t white.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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