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By Robert A. Vella

There’s lots of news to get to today, so I’ll omit my usual commentary.  If readers have specific questions, I’ll answer them in the comment section.

Impeachment trial update

From:  Rules set, Senate to hear case for pulling Trump from office

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Senate was poised to hear opening arguments Wednesday in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, with Democratic House managers set to make their case that Trump abused power and should be removed from office.

After late-night deliberations over the rules that will govern the process, the trial was on fast track, with almost no signs of Republican resistance to quickly assessing, and voting, on charges related to Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Senators rejected all attempts to bring in new witnesses — including top Trump aides — and are likely to do so again next week shutting out any chance of new testimony.

Trump, who was in Davos, Switzerland, attending a global economic forum, suggested he would be open to his advisers testifying, then quickly backtracked, saying there were “national security” concerns to consider.

From:  McConnell Changes Trial Rules at Last Minute: Key Takeaways

(Bloomberg) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the last minute changed his rules proposal for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, offering a modified resolution at the start of Tuesday’s trial to make some concessions to Democrats and moderate Republicans.

The changes will ease the frenzied schedule for opening arguments and will accept evidence from the House inquiry. The new version of the rules resolution sticks more closely to the precedent set by Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial but still allows for a potentially quick conclusion.

See also:

Chief Justice John Roberts admonishes House managers and White House counsel

71% of Republicans Want Mitch McConnell to Call Witnesses at Trump Impeachment Trial, New Poll Shows

New Giuliani scandal

From:  Reuters Exclusive: Giuliani told U.S. his client deserves leniency for financing Venezuela’s opposition – Parnas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – At a lavish August gathering at a private estate in Spain, a wealthy Venezuelan businessman under criminal investigation in the United States introduced Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, to the father of Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaido.

The affair was part of a campaign for leniency for the businessman, Alejandro Betancourt, who sought to demonstrate his close ties to opposition figures looking to oust Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro – a key objective of the Trump administration.

Betancourt told Giuliani he secretly helped bankroll Guaido’s efforts to take over the leadership of Venezuela, according to four people familiar with the situation, two of whom provided  details about the meeting in Spain. Betancourt hoped those bona fides would enable Giuliani, his lawyer, to persuade Trump’s Justice Department to drop its probe of Betancourt in connection with a Florida money laundering and bribery case, the people said.

A month later, at a meeting in Washington, D.C., Giuliani urged Justice Department prosecutors to go easy on Betancourt, according to a person with direct knowledge of the meeting, and Lev Parnas, a former Giuliani associate, who said Giuliani told him about it soon afterward.

Russian meddling

From:  Top election security official details past, current and future threats

The intelligence community’s top election security official says no other country influenced the 2016 presidential election in a manner comparable to the systemic and wide-ranging campaign waged by Russia, contrary to allegations made by President Trump and some Republicans that Ukraine engaged in election interference against Mr. Trump’s campaign.

“Countries seek to influence each other all the time. And when it becomes particularly problematic is when it’s covert, when it’s subversive, when it’s illegal,” said Shelby Pierson, who serves as the intelligence community’s election threats executive. “And we do not assess that any other country influenced the United States election in 2016 on the scale of what the Russians did.”

In an interview with Intelligence Matters host and CBS News senior national security contributor Michael Morell, Pierson, who was named to the newly created role in July by then-Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, declined to discuss whether Russian intelligence operatives were behind the seeding or propagation of the notion that Ukraine sought to interfere in 2016.

Davos news

Suspected Russian spies posed as plumbers to bug Davos, report says

Trump threatens Europe with fresh tariffs in Davos, deepening a rift with long-time U.S. allies

Oil Chiefs at Davos Debate Tougher CO2 Cuts as Pressure Mounts

Climate refugees

From:  Millions of climate refugees may need protection, U.N. says

Refugees fleeing their native countries due to the effects of the climate crisis in future years may not be forced to return if their lives are in danger, the United Nations Human Rights Committee said in a ruling Monday. The committee anticipates a flood of “millions” of climate refugees in the near future.

More news

UN calls for ‘immediate investigation’ into alleged Saudi crown prince involvement in Bezos phone hack

More U.S. troops leave Iraq for medical treatment after Iranian missile attack, Pentagon says

Brazilian Prosecutors Charge U.S. Journalist Greenwald With Hacking

Parliament to elect Greece’s first woman president

A Northeastern University student from Iran was removed from the US. CBP says it was not aware of a federal judge’s order

Ex-NY Assembly Speaker Silver’s corruption conviction partially thrown out

So-called conversion therapy banned in conservative Utah

6 thoughts on “Impeachment trial update, new Giuliani scandal, Russian meddling, Davos news, climate refugees, & more

    • “Tribunal Supremo de Justicia” is also the title of high courts in Bolivia, Venezuela, and possibly in other Spanish speaking countries as well.

      Trinidad State Junior College in Colorado has a similar acronym.

      I’m going to sue them all for copyright infringement – lol!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Oil Chiefs at Davos Debate Tougher CO2 Cuts as Pressure Mounts

    They just don’t get it. They’re simply not listening. We’re through debating. It’s over. It’s settled. Quantifiable action is required now.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. In addition to all the political scandals you listed above, the US faces a serious environmental disaster: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/22/us-drinking-water-contamination-forever-chemicals-pfas

    And this is the most worrying:

    In 2018 a draft report from an office of the US Department of Health and Human Services said the risk level for exposure to the chemicals should be up to 10 times lower than the 70 PPT threshold the EPA recommends. The White House and the EPA had tried to stop the report from being published.

    Apparently, “making America great again” does not include to protect the people from dangerous chemicals.

    Liked by 1 person

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