Wednesday, January 19, 2022

WASHINGTON (AP) — The more concrete the testimony in the impeachment inquiry, the more solidly Republicans are sticking with President Donald Trump.

Witness after witness in closed-door House hearings is corroborating the core facts that Democrats say make a strong case against the president.

Trump pressured Ukraine, an American ally, for an investigation of Joe Biden, his family and the Democrats. At the same time, the Trump administration withheld military assistance for the young democracy as it confronted Russian aggression.

For Democrats, it adds up to a nothing short of a brazen abuse of power, a quid pro quo, swapping U.S. foreign policy and funds for personal political gain.

“I don’t think there is any justifying this president’s misconduct,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee leading the inquiry said in an interview.

Republicans are having none of it. Trump says it’s all just a “witch hunt,” and his supporters agree.

“The American people see this for what it is,” said Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the Oversight committee that’s part of the inquiry. “We see it just like the American people do, and we know — we just know — it’s wrong.”

While that investigation unfolds in the basement of the Capitol, another version plays out upstairs for the public.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gaveled a vote this week to formalize the impeachment inquiry, and the roll call split along predictable party lines.

Not a single Republican joined Democrats to agree to investigate. Among the Democrats, all but two stuck together to support the inquiry.

In previous modern-era impeachment proceedings, at least some lawmakers crossed party lines to initially provide bipartisan support for the probes of Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

But times are different now. The polarizing of the country plays out in almost all aspects of political life. Impeachment proceedings, so far, are only reflecting that divide, in Congress as in the country at large.

More Americans approve than disapprove of the impeachment inquiry, 47% to 38%, according to a new poll by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. But it all depends on whom you ask.

The vast majority of Democrats approve of the inquiry, 68% of them strongly. Most Republicans disapprove, 67% strongly.

Neither Trump nor Republicans in Congress dispute the White House’s rough transcript of Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. They say it proves the president did nothing wrong.

Standing before a portrait of George Washington after the House vote, the GOP leader, Kevin McCarthy of California, quoted Pelosi from earlier this year saying impeachment was “so divisive for the country” she’d rather not pursue it unless it was completely necessary.

“What has changed?” McCarthy asked. “In all the hearings there’s nothing compelling, nothing overwhelming.” He said it’s a “sham that has been putting the country through this nightmare.”

Pelosi, in an interview Friday with Bloomberg News, said it was the phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president that “changed everything in the public mind.”

Pelosi launched the impeachment inquiry after a government whistleblower recounted that Trump in the call asked Zelenskiy for “a favor.”

Trump insists the conversation was “perfect.”

Julian Zelizer, a professor at Princeton University, said partisanship is greater than it was during Watergate and “the loyalty to party even greater.”

Thus, there isn’t likely to be any group of Republican lawmakers heading to the White House to tell the president it’s over, as happened during the impeachment proceedings against Nixon. No march of Republicans to say that support for Trump has dwindled and they can no longer protect him.

As for this week’s solid House support, Schiff said, “I think it’s a vote they will come to regret over time.”

“And I think when their children and grandchildren ask what they did to stand up to this unethical president ... they will have a hard time explaining why they chose to defend him.”

It’s specifically illegal to seek or receive foreign assistance in U.S. elections. But the framers of the Constitution drafted the impeachment clause more broadly, capturing all level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” that could be committed in the White House.

While the first president, Washington, was seen as a leader beyond reproach, the founders knew not all who followed might be.

There could be those who sought to use the office for personal financial gain or to rule the country more like the monarchy the founders were leaving than the democracy the U.S. was becoming. And so they tucked in the impeachment provision as part of the simple, but powerful, system of checks and balances among the three branches of government.

The system depends on an agreement not only of the facts but of what the facts mean.

Zelizer, who favors impeachment, says that back in 1974, “nobody would have expected Republicans” to go to the White House as they did to pressure Nixon to resign.

But once the evidence spilled out about what Nixon said in his taped recordings, the situation became indefensible for Republicans. It’s hard not to wonder if that would ever happen again.

So far in this era of intense partisanship, Republicans are rock solid in supporting Trump. House investigators are now preparing to push the impeachment hearings into the open.

SXM Radio Online


September 7, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Michael K. Williams, who as the rogue robber of drug dealers Omar Little on “The Wire” created one of the most beloved and enduring characters in a prime era of television, died Monday. Williams was found dead Monday afternoon by family members in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment, New York City police said. He was 54. His death was being investigated as a possible drug overdose, the NYPD said. The medical examiner was investigating the cause of death. Little, a “stick-up boy” based on real figures from Baltimore, was probably the most popular character among the devoted fans of “The Wire,” the HBO show that ran from 2002 to 2008 and is re-watched constantly in streaming.

September 8, 2021 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears’ father filed Tuesday to end the court conservatorship that has controlled the singer’s life and money for 13 years. James Spears filed his petition to terminate the conservatorship in Los Angeles Superior Court. “As Mr. Spears has said, again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter,” the document says. “If Ms. Spears wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr. Spears believes that she should get that chance.” Judge Brenda Penny, who oversees the case, will need to approve the move. Britney Spears attorney Matthew Rosengart said in an email the filing “represents another legal victory for Britney Spears — a massive one — as well as vindication for Ms. Spears.”

September 8, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — With Katie Holmes and Lil’ Kim on his front row and singer Marina on the mic high above his runway, Christian Siriano helped kicked off New York Fashion Week’s first big pandemic round of in-person shows Tuesday with a flurry of neon and lace-inspired in part by all the Italian women in his life. From ornate Gotham Hall, beneath a stained-glass skylight 70 feet up, Siriano’s commitment to size inclusivity was never stronger as he opened and closed the show with plus-size breakout model Precious Lee. She first walked in a stunning yellow trouser suit with wide loose pants and an asymmetrical jacket, a matching crossover bralette underneath.

September 7, 2021  VENICE, Italy (AP) — Paul Schrader knows he has a limited number of films left, so whatever he does from here on out is going to be for himself. At 75 years old, the writer of “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” and director of “American Gigolo” and “Mishima” was even somewhat prepared to call it a day after his 2018 film “First Reformed,” for which he got his first Oscar nomination. He didn’t want to. He just knew it might be the reality. “I thought I would go back to this character again for about the fifth time,” Schrader said in a recent interview. By “this character” he means “the man in the room.” It’s Travis Bickle. It’s John LeTour. It’s Julian Kay. And it’s a formula he’s been working with for 45 years.

Business News

September 8, 2021  -Stocks were mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday after a lackluster session on Wall Street, where weak jobs data and pandemic concerns weighed on sentiment. Shares rose in Tokyo after economic growth for the April-June quarter was revised upward to an annualized 1.9% from an earlier estimate of 1.3%. “Any feel-good factor was ignored, though, given the climb was less than half of the 4.20% fall in Q1,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary. “Japan will be lucky to break even this year as the current Covid-19 wave will almost certainly have weighed on domestic consumption,” he said.

September 8, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — There will be something missing at two Whole Foods stores opening next year: the rows of cashiers. Amazon, which owns the grocery chain, said Wednesday that it will bring its cashier-less technology to two Whole Foods stores for the first time, letting shoppers grab what they need and leave without having to open their wallets. Cameras and sensors track what’s taken off shelves. Items are charged to an Amazon account after customers leave the store with them. But there will be an option for those who want to shop the old-fashioned way: Self-checkout lanes will be available that take cash, gift cards and other types of payment. Amazon first unveiled the cashier-less technology in 2018 at an Amazon Go convenience store and has expanded it to larger Amazon supermarkets. But it will be the first time it has appeared at Whole Foods, a chain of more than 500 grocery stores Amazon bought four years ago.

September 8, 2021  BEIJING (AP) — An avalanche of changes launched by China’s ruling Communist Party has jolted everyone from tech billionaires to school kids. Behind them: President Xi Jinping’s vision of making a more powerful, prosperous country by reviving revolutionary ideals, with more economic equality and tighter party control over society and entrepreneurs. Since taking power in 2012, Xi has called for the party to return to its “original mission” as China’s economic, social and cultural leader and carry out the “ rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation.” The party has spent the decade since then silencing dissent and tightening political control. Now, after 40 years of growth that transformed China into the world’s factory but left a gulf between a wealthy elite and the poor majority, the party is promising to spread prosperity more evenly and is pressing private companies to pay for social welfare and back Beijing’s ambition to become a global technology competitor.

Fashion News

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