Michigan AG charges participants in 2020 fake elector plot | CNN Politics

Sixteen fake electors who signed certificates falsely claiming President Donald Trump won Michigan in the 2020 election have been charged with multiple felonies, state Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Tuesday.

This is the first time any of the fake electors have been charged with a crime related to the scheme, versions of which took place in multiple states.

All 16 individuals were each charged with eight felonies: Two counts of forgery, one count of conspiracy to commit forgery, two counts of election law forgery, one count of conspiracy to commit election law forgery, one count of publishing a counterfeit record and one count of conspiring to publish a counterfeit record.

The group of fake electors from Michigan includes current and former state GOP officials, the Republican National Committee member, a sitting mayor, a school board member and Trump supporters who were the plaintiffs in a frivolous lawsuit that tried to overturn the 2020 results.

“This plan, to reject the will of the voters and undermine democracy, was fraudulent and legally baseless,” Nessel said in a video released Tuesday.

Nessel, a Democrat, initially referred the matter to federal prosecutors at the Justice Department, but she reopened the state probe in January. Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith is also actively investigating the fake electors plot, and some fake electors have testified to his grand jury.

CNN has reached out to the defendants seeking comment.

Michigan was one of the seven battleground states where the Trump campaign put forward slates of “fake electors” as part of their plan to undermine the Electoral College process, and potentially disrupt Congress’ certification of the 2020 election results on January 6, 2021.

The 16 fake GOP electors from Michigan met in Lansing on December 14, 2020, and signed certificates falsely proclaiming that Trump won the state and they were the rightful electors. They were rebuffed by police when they tried to enter the statehouse to deliver the papers, according to videos of the interaction, which took place while the real group of Democratic electors were meeting inside the building. President Joe Biden defeated Trump by a little more than 154,000 votes in the 2020 election.

In the view of the Trump campaign, these were “alternate” electors who could have somehow replaced Biden’s electors when Congress counted the electoral votes on January 6, 2021, handing Trump a second term. However, a wide array of legal experts, including many inside the Trump White House and Trump campaign, thought this plan was unconstitutional and possibly illegal.

The charged individuals are former Michigan GOP co-chair Meshawn Maddock; current Michigan GOP vice chair Marian Sheridan; RNC committeewoman Kathy Berden; Wyoming, Mich., Mayor Kent Vanderwood; Shelby Township clerk Stanley Grot; Grand Blanc school board member Amy Facchinello; local GOP officials Rose Rook and Mari-Ann Henry; pro-Trump lawsuit plaintiffs John Haggard and Timothy King; unsuccessful GOP candidates Clifford Frost and Michele Lundgren; as well as Hank Choate, James Renner, Mayra Rodriguez and Ken Thompson.

CNN has previously reported that Trump campaign officials, led by the former president’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, oversaw efforts to put forward fake slates of electors in seven key states, including Michigan.

An audio recording obtained by CNN early last year captured one of the now-charged fake electors from Michigan boasting that the Trump campaign directed the entire operation.

“We fought to seat the electors. The Trump campaign asked us to do that,” Meshawn Maddock, then the co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, said at a public event at the time that was organized by the conservative group Stand Up Michigan, according to the recording.

The House January 6 committee uncovered evidence that Trump knew about the plan and that he spoke directly about it with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who is from Michigan. She testified that Trump and his allies told her the electors’ plan was important, and that the RNC later helped the Trump campaign assemble the slates of GOP electors.

Federal investigators from the special counsel’s office have asked key witnesses in their separate investigation about the role of higher-level Trump officials in the fake electors scheme, CNN has reported.

In the video released Tuesday alongside the charges, Nessel once again shot back against allegations that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent, saying that the election in her state “was procedurally the same as in every previous modern presidential election.”

“These defendants may have believed the now long-debunked myths of vote tampering or ballot dumps,” Nessel said. “They may have felt compelled to follow the call to action from a president they held fealty to. They may have even genuinely believed that this was their patriotic duty.”

She continued, “But none of those reasons or feelings provide legal justification to violate the law and upend our Constitution and our nation’s traditions of representative government, self-determination, and a government by the people.”

Nessel also said that her office will continue to investigate efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and “has not ruled out potential charges against additional defendants.” She also pre-empted attacks that will surely come from Trump allies, who may claim the indictments are politically motivated.

“There will be those who claim these charges are political in nature. But when there is overwhelming evidence of guilt in respect to multiple crimes, the most political act I could engage in as a prosecutor would be to take no action at all,” Nessel said.

Michigan’s top elections official, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, praised the charges Tuesday, telling CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “AC360” that they are a “strong and bold statement” that is “rooted in facts and the law.”

“We hope, and I expect, this will have a deterrent effect for any plans that are afoot,” Benson continued, looking ahead to the 2024 election.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated with the correct spelling of fake elector Mari-Ann Henry’s name.

The walls are closing in.

CNN reports: Sixteen fake electors who signed certificates falsely claiming President Donald Trump won Michigan in the 2020 election have been charged with multiple felonies, state Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Tuesday.


Trump demands Obama be made to testify in the Senate

For the past few days, President Trump has been talking nonstop about something he has termed “OBAMAGATE” — a largely incoherent conspiracy theory that positions former President Obama as the mastermind behind a conspiracy to use federal law enforcement to undermine Trump’s campaign and presidency.

It is, in effect, the new birtherism: an unfounded campaign against the legitimacy of America’s first black president that Trump is trying to exploit to rally the political faithful.

This morning, Trump seriously escalated his campaign against Obama, tweeting at one of his most reliable supporters in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, to force Obama to testify before Congress about this allegedly dastardly plot.

The specific wording of the tweet — “Do it… just do it” — is striking; the request sounds like a childish dare, as if Trump were daring Graham to shave his head during a late-night Zoom call. But the absurdity of the language shouldn’t distract from the nefariousness of the request.

The president of the United States is labeling a fringe right-wing conspiracy theory “the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR.” He’s also more or less ordering a particularly compliant senator — who happens to chair the Judiciary Committee — to use the powers of the Senate to treat one of his predecessors as a potential criminal suspect or witness on the basis of this conspiracy theory.

Throughout Trump’s presidency, he has consistently treated the investigatory and law enforcement powers of the US government as tools to be deployed for purely political reasons. During the coronavirus crisis, when his presidency is once again in mortal danger, he has stepped on the gas on this kind of abuse of power — the Justice Department has dropped charges against Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty,and Trump now seems to be trying to get them to treat Obama like a criminal.

In democracies, presidents are not supposed to use law enforcement agencies as shields for their crooked political allies and swords against their political enemies. The threat that Trump poses to the rule of law, and the basic principles of a free society, has never been clearer.



Graham denied Trump’s request.

Donald Trump Threatens to Close Congress Unilaterally

At his coronavirus press conference on Wednesday, President Donald Trump issued a stunning threat-slash-promise-slash-constitutional fantasy. Complaining that Democrats were blocking his judicial appointees, the president said that the Senate should either end its current pro forma session and come back to Washington amidst a pandemic to approve his appointees or officially adjourn so that he can make recess appointments. “The Senate has left Washington until at least May 4,” Trump said. “The Constitution provides a mechanism for the president to fill positions in such circumstances, the recess appointment it’s called. The Senate’s practice of gaveling into so-called pro forma sessions where no one is even there has prevented me from using the constitutional authority that we’re given under the recess provisions. The Senate should either fulfill its duty and vote on my nominees or it should formally adjourn so that I can make recess appointments.”

“If the House will not agree to that adjournment,” he continued, “I will exercise my constitutional authority to adjourn both chambers of Congress. The current practice of leaving of town while conducting phony pro forma sessions is a dereliction of duty that the American people cannot afford during this crisis. It is a scam what they do.”

Trump is likely referencing Article 2, Section 3 of the Constitution, which provides that the president can “on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper.” Does he have the power to actually do this, though? According to this 1964 article from the New York Times the Senate Parliamentarian issued an opinion in that year, regarding presidential authority to adjourn Congress: “The answer is yes—but only under, certain unusual circumstances. These conditions are so limited that a President has never exercised the power to adjourn Congress.”

The clause as written seems to require that the president can only force the Senate to adjourn “in Case of Disagreement between them,” which suggests that it operates in cases where the House and Senate disagree about a date for adjournment. But the House and Senate have already agreed on a date: Jan 3, 2021.

Trump, it seems, needs Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a majority of Senators to come back to Washington to adjourn the Senate, which would then trigger a disagreement with the House of Representatives, as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi would presumably then refuse to adjourn. On Wednesday, McConnell’s office said that he had spoken with Trump about the recess appointment question, but also indicated that he would not be altering Senate rules to get Trump his appointments. If McConnell were to adjourn along a party-line vote—possibly blowing up the filibuster in the process—theoretically, Trump would then adjourn the two disagreeing bodies. Recess appointments under this scheme would last only until January of 2021, but it would still be an unprecedented power grab. As historian Michael Beschloss tweeted, “Wilson, Taft and FDR were all urged to adjourn Congress and all refused.”

“They know they’ve been warned and they’ve been warned right now,” Trump said. “If they don’t approve it, then we’re going to go this route and we’ll probably be challenged in court and we’ll see who wins.”

Indeed, if Trump did manage to get Senate Republicans to go along with this plan, one wonders what the conservative-controlled Supreme Court might do. In 2014, the Supreme Court validated the legitimacy of holding pro forma sessions for the purpose of preventing recess appointments in NLRB v. Noel Canning, but that case did not involve the use of this unprecedented mechanism by a president. It would be challenged on a number of fronts.

“It is unclear that we have an extraordinary occasion in the sense that the Framers were using it,” University of Richmond School of Law Carl Tobias told me in an email. “It is not surprising that the provision has never been invoked, because no president has ever found the existence of an extraordinary occasion that warranted exercise of this power, even [though] the [United States] had the Civil War and two declared World Wars, while the House and Senate have always been able to agree on a time to adjourn.”

It’s possible that the move is also just intended as a feint to distract from Trump’s disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the spiraling economy. “Trump desperately wants to change the subject—away from the pandemic he’s so badly handled that’s killing Americans and toward this,” Georgetown Law professor Josh Geltzer told me. “It’s important to explain why he is out of step with American constitutional traditions. But it’s also important not to let him change the focus at this critical time.”

Ultimately, the real concern is that someone has advised President Trump that he has the power to adjourn Congress and he’s building an argument for it; his White House Counsel and Justice Department are doubtless crafting the fanciful legal scaffolding right now. As is often the case when the president makes broad claims about untested constitutional authority, the worry is less that he will adjourn Congress tomorrow, and more that he is recreationally floating insane notions, bolstering them with in-house analysis, and laying the groundwork for emergency powers he may someday seek in earnest. It’s happened before and there is no reason it can’t happen again.


Trump Calls For Sen. Chuck Schumer To Be Arrested

Trump and Republicans are intentionally distorting Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer’s comments as the president called for Schumer to be impeached and arrested.

After Schumer warned Trump’s Supreme Court justices that an overturn of Roe v. Wade would set off a grassroots political pushback, Trump tweeted:

It is not a surprise that Trump used a tweet from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Sex Abuse Cover-Up Ohio State) to advance his goal of having his political opponents arrested.

Sen. Schumer’s office called out Trump, Chief Justice Roberts, and the rest of the GOP’s hysterical BS in a statement provided to PoliticusUSA:

Women’s health care rights are at stake and Americans from every corner of the country are in anguish about what the court might do to them.

Sen. Schumer’s comments were a reference to the political price Senate Republicans will pay for putting these justices on the court, and a warning that the justices will unleash a major grassroots movement on the issue of reproductive rights against the decision.

For Justice Roberts to follow the right wing’s deliberate misinterpretation of what Sen. Schumer said, while remaining silent when President Trump attacked Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg last week, shows Justice Roberts does not just call balls and strikes.

Republicans are clinging on to anything they can to motivate their voters after Joe Biden’s march through Super Tuesday. Trump would love to arrest his political opponents because his heart beats pure authoritarianism.

Trump wants to talk about anything else besides Joe Biden, his bungled coronavirus response, the looming economic slowdown.

The Trump presidency is running on fumes, which is why he is trying to fire up the fake outrage machine at Chuck Schumer.

[Politics USA]

Trump again attacks US intel agencies from India when asked about Russian election interference

President Donald Trump on Tuesday was asked about reports that Russia is interfering in the 2020 presidential election during a press conference in India — and he used it as an opportunity to once again attack American intelligence agencies.

During his press conference, Trump alleged that no intelligence officials told him about Russian efforts to help his campaign even though they had briefed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) about the ways Russia was working to boost his chances in the Democratic primary.

“Intelligence never told me!” he complained without evidence.

He then accused Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) of leaking the information about Russian wanting to help Trump and Sanders, although he cited no evidence to back up this claim.

[Raw Story]

Trump quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson, Suggesting He’s a ‘King’

The tweets of Donald J. Trump are sometimes inane, sometimes scary, and sometimes baffling. On Saturday he made two that are the latter. Only a few days after inexplicably sharing a clip from Curb Your Enthusiasm that clearly mocked his supporters, the president decided to post something even more Mad Libs-weird: He quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Technically he was quoting someone else quoting Emerson: a piece from his dreaded New York Times that dropped back in early February. The headline was, alas, not exactly flattering: “While Stained in History, Trump Will Emerge From Trial Triumphant and Unshackled.” The article itself, by Peter Baker, wasn’t complimentary about the president’s newfound confidence after getting impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate. Perhaps Trump didn’t read the whole thing. But he did single out one passage.

“Ralph Waldo Emerson seemed to foresee the lesson of the Senate Impeachment Trial of President Trump. ‘When you strike at the King, Emerson famously said, “you must kill him.’ Mr. Trump’s foes struck at him but did not take him down,” the tweet read. “A triumphant Mr.Trump emerges from the biggest test of his presidency emboldened, ready to claim exoneration, and take his case of grievance, persecution and resentment to the campaign trail.” He then cited Baker, at-ed the NYT, and added one of his greatest go-tos: “The Greatest Witch Hunt in American History!

Trump’s out-of-context (but still far from positive) tweeting read as a boast, even if he was quoting a publication he routinely demonizes. The fact that the president was quoting someone quoting Emerson truly weirded some people out.

Others were horrified. After all, he was essentially referring to himself as a king, not a president.

Some pointed out that Trump had been reduced to quoting the “failing” (though actually thriving) New York Times.


Trump singles out Mitt Romney in post-acquittal Twitter-rant

President Donald Trump isn’t letting up on Sen. Mitt Romney during his post-acquittal victory lap.

Four days after the end of his impeachment trial, the president spent a sunny Sunday in D.C. continuing a weekend tweetstorm against the proceedings and his perceived foes — particularly targeting Romney, the lone Republican who voted to boot him from the White House.

The president retweeted assertions that Romney “stabbed Trump in the back” by joining Democrats in attempts to overturn the 2016 election, and that the Utah senator was connected to unsubstantiated claims that Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, was corruptly involved with the Burisma Holdings energy company in Ukraine.

“Mitt Romney is tied to Hunter Biden’s Burisma corruption. This is why he’s bent over backwards for the media with this show ‘guilty’ vote,” read a Trump retweet of the website Big League Politics’ post. “He doesn’t want this story EXPOSED!”

Neither the president nor Big League Politics offered any proof that Romney had been involved with Burisma or Hunter Biden.

The president also fired off his own anti-Romney tweets. “Romney hurt some very good Republican Senators, and he was wrong about the Impeachment Hoax. No clue!” he wrote based off a tweet that Romney’s real damage would be to Senate Republicans in tough reelection races.

He later pulled in Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a red-state Democrat who was considered to be a swing vote on impeachment and whom Trump labeled “weak & pathetic” after Manchin’s vote to convict.

“They are really mad at Senator Joe Munchkin in West Virginia,” the president wrote. “He couldn’t understand the Transcripts. Romney could, but didn’t want to!” This seemed to be a reference to a readout of the July phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president that led to the impeachment inquiry.

Trump’s 50-plus tweets and retweets on Sunday included criticism of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for ripping up a copy of his State of the Union speech, and encouragement for Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin to find out “who started the Ukraine ‘collusion’ narrative.” The senators have pledged to investigate Hunter Biden’s business activities, even after the impeachment trial’s completion.

Appearing on “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning, Graham directly addressed Trump about the origins of the government’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election: “If he’s watching the show, here’s what I would tell the president: I’m going to get to the bottom of the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] process, because it was an abuse of power at the Department of Justice and the FBI.”


Trump assails Rep. Dingell, citing her late husband, amid wave of attacks on Dems

President Donald Trump on Saturday launched a vitriolic attack on his perceived enemies, including the widow of a prominent Democratic congressman, days after he was acquitted in his impeachment trial.

Trump took to Twitter on Saturday afternoon to heap scorn on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), the widow of the late Rep. John Dingell, among others.

“@RepDebDingell, who called me, tears flowing, to thank me for rolling out the maximum ‘Red Carpet’ for the funeral of her husband, then voted against me on the partisan Impeachmen Hoax, said ‘everybody (Dems) wants to get out of town. This has been, in my whole career, one of… …the worst weeks ever.’ She could have had a much better week if Crazy Nancy, who is the most overrated person in politics (going to lose the House a second time), didn’t bring the phony & corrupt Impeachment Hoax,” Trump tweeted.

The tweets came at the end of a week that saw Trump acquitted Wednesday, a rambling post-impeachment White House address Thursday that mocked Democratic lawmakers and opponents, and the ousting of two impeachment witnesses Friday.

Trump has attacked Dingell before over her role in the impeachment inquiry, saying to supporters at a Michigan rally in December that her late husband, the longest-ever serving congressman when he died in February 2019, was “looking up” from hell.

Those comments drew condemnation from lawmakers, including from Republicans like Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) who called on Trump to apologize.

The president on Saturday continued lacing into Pelosi, who told Democrats she felt “liberated” after ripping up a paper copy of Trump’s Tuesday State of the Union speech on national television, which became one of the most talked about moments of the event.

“Crazy Nancy Pelosi’s Impeachment Hoax has lifted Republican Congressional Polls (she lost the House once before!), and my Polls, WAY UP, which was expected,” he tweeted, without citing examples.

He also attacked Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the NSC official who testified about the president’s actions on Ukraine, drawing a furious response from Vindman’s lawyers, who called Trump’s attacks a “campaign of intimidation.”

Later Saturday, Trump also assailed Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) for their votes to convict him, in an echo of attacks he’d leveled against the senators on Friday.

Manchin responded in kind, tweeting: “I’ve read the transcripts thoroughly & listened to the witnesses under oath. Where I come from a person accused defends themselves with witnesses and evidence.”

Trump’s tweeting — totaling more than 40 tweets or retweets sent Saturday — didn’t end there.

The president also retweeted a photograph of himself that showed a darkened layer of makeup on his face as he walked across the White House lawn, which had gone viral online. While the original photograph was in color, Trump tweeted a black and white version of it.

“More Fake News. This was photoshopped, obviously, but the wind was strong and the hair looks good?” Trump said. “Anything to demean!”


Trump claims Pelosi ripping speech was ‘illegal’

President Trump claimed Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) committed a crime by ripping up a copy of his speech at the State of the Union on Tuesday evening, a claim that was immediately disputed as false by legal experts. “I thought it was a terrible thing,” Trump told reporters at the White House before departing for a speech in North Carolina. “It’s illegal what she did. She broke the law.” Trump asserted that Pelosi was barred from ripping up the speech because it is an official document, later calling it “very illegal.”

Glenn Kirschner, a legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, disputed Trump’s claim, telling The Hill that a photocopy of a speech is not an official record.

“The federal law prohibiting the destruction of public records or government documents does not apply,” Kirschner said in a text message.

“No prosecutor with half an ounce of common sense would ever charge this case,” said Elie Honig, another legal analyst. “The law isn’t meant to criminalize destruction of copies of ceremonial documents.”

Trump on Friday also described Pelosi’s action as “very disrespectful to the chamber, to the country.”

Pelosi has said she tore up the speech in order to protest the “falsehoods” contained in the president’s State of the Union address and that she felt “very vindicated” by doing so.

The president’s remarks on Friday were his first public reaction to Pelosi’s ripping of his speech at the conclusion of his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening.

The president told reporters Friday that he didn’t know Pelosi ripped the copy of his speech until members of Congress remarked about it as he left the chamber.

White House aides have repeatedly criticized Pelosi for the move in recent days, though none have suggested her actions were illegal. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told Fox News on Wednesday that she believed Pelosi should be censured.

“I think it shows you how petty and peevish and partisan the Democratic Party has come,” Conway said on Fox News. “And for all the people out there who fancy themselves the armchair psychiatrist trying to analyze certain people, they ought to shift their craft over to Nancy Pelosi.”

Trump has regularly attacked Pelosi over his impeachment by House, but their relationship plummeted to a new low this week following the State of the Union and the president’s acquittal in the impeachment trial by the GOP-controlled Senate.

When Trump entered the House chamber before his remarks, Trump also appeared to snub Pelosi, not taking her hand as she reached out to shake his as is customary at the beginning of the president’s joint address to Congress.

During two separate appearances on Thursday — including one at the National Prayer Breakfast when the House Speaker was sitting just feet away — Trump took a shot at Pelosi for invoking religion during his impeachment.

“Nancy Pelosi is a horrible person. And she wanted to impeach a long time ago,” Trump said during remarks from the East Room Thursday afternoon, disputing Pelosi’s claim that she prays for him. “She may pray, but she prays for the opposite. But I doubt she prays at all.”

[The Hill]


The assertion is rich given Trump’s well-documented penchant for ripping papers into tiny pieces after he’s done reading them. Politico reported in 2018 that White House aides could not convince the President to break his paper-ripping habit, so it became the job of career staffers in the records management office to tape official documents he’s torn into bits back together.

This all came from a tweet from conservative bullshit artist Charlie Kirk.

According to a fact check from the Tampa Bay Times:

The statute in question deals with the “concealment, removal, or mutilation generally” of records and reports. It sets a penalty for anyone who “conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys” any government record “filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States.”

The statute also says that any person with “custody” of a government record cannot “willfully and unlawfully” conceal, remove, mutilate, obliterate, falsify or destroy it.

“The point of the statute is to prevent people from destroying records in official repositories like the National Archives or in courts,” said Georgetown Law professor Victoria Nourse.

Pelosi is in the clear, experts said, because her copy of Trump’s speech wasn’t a government record.


Trump immediately refuted the Republican idea he was chastened by impeachment

Minutes after the Senate vote to acquit him on Wednesday afternoon, President Donald Trump posted a tweet undercutting the belief a number of Republican senators expressed in recent days that getting impeached might prompt him to tone it down a little.

Trump posted a video with an edited animation of a Time magazine cover teasing that he, or at the very least someone with the same last name, will be running for president in 2020, 2024, 2028, and beyond. It ends with Trump standing being an election placard reading, “TRUMP 4EVA.”

Trump regularly jokes about serving more than two terms in office. Coming from someone who’s supposedly the leader of the free world, Trump’s quips along these lines are never in good taste. But alluding to them in the immediate aftermath of a trial in which a bipartisan group of senators voted for his removal from office is especially brazen.

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign’s official Twitter account posted a tweet making a mockery of the entire impeachment proceedings.

None of this is surprising at this stage of the Trump presidency. But it does reveal the absurdity of the talking points used by Republican Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Lamar Alexander (TN), and Rob Portman(OH), each of whom indicated in recent days they believe Trump learned a lesson from getting impeached and will behave better going forward.

That talking point was self-evidently absurd for anyone operating with a basic understanding of the timeline that culminated in Trump’s impeachment. The call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump implicitly linked the release of military aid to Ukraine helping with investigations into his political foes took place on July 25 — just one day after special counsel Robert Mueller wound down his investigation of the president by testifying to Congress and saying Trump could be indicted after his term for obstructing justice because of his interference with the Russia investigation.

So instead of responding to the end of the Russia investigation by cooling his jets, Trump was on the phone with the Ukrainian president the very next day trying to solicit political favors — the very same conduct that fueled suspicions about his Russia dealings in the first place. With Republican senators now having voted to let him off the hook for that conduct, there’s no reason to think he won’t try and do it again.

Trump is who he is. Republican senators who justified impeaching him partly because they thought he’d be chastened by the experience were either fooling themselves or the American people. Trump’s initial response to being impeached made that perfectly clear.


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