Mitch McConnell Brags About Blocking Obama For 2 Years, Then Laughs About It

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The Senate majority leader boasts about stacking the courts with conservative judges under Trump.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday night bragged about blocking President Barack Obama’s attempt to fill federal judicial vacancies for two years. Then, he laughed about it as he discussed the Republican Party’s effort to stack the courts with conservative judges under President Donald Trump

“I was shocked that former President Obama left so many vacancies and didn’t try to fill those positions,” Fox News host Sean Hannity said to McConnell. 

Obama didn’t leave those vacancies so much as he was blocked from filling them by a GOP-controlled Senate led by McConnell ― something the majority leader was quick to point out. 

“I’ll tell you why,” he said. “I was in charge of what we did the last two years of the Obama administration.” 

Then, he laughed:  

“I will give you full credit for that, and by the way take a bow,” Hannity said. “All right, that was good line!” 

McConnell not only blocked federal judges, he prevented Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland from even getting a hearing. In 2018, McConnell told Kentucky Today that the decision to block Garland’s appointment was “the most consequential decision I’ve made in my entire public career.”

Trump eventually filled that seat with Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, one of his two Supreme Court appointees.

Trump has had an even bigger impact on the federal courts as a whole. As Vox reported, more than a quarter of all active judges on the courts of appeal are now Trump appointees. In fact, Trump has named nearly as many judges in his three years in office (48) as Obama did during his 8-year presidency (55).

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More Than 500 Legal Scholars Say Trump Committed Impeachable Acts

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Their open letter comes as House Democrats are drawing up articles of impeachment for a full floor vote.

A group of more than 500 legal scholars has signed an open letter to Congress declaring that President Donald Trump “engaged in impeachable conduct” as the impeachment proceedings against him continue.

“We do not reach this conclusion lightly,” stated the letter, dated Friday.

Trump “betrayed his oath of office” by attempting to pressure Ukrainian leaders to help him “distort” the 2020 election “at the direct expense of national security interests as determined by Congress.”

“The Founders did not make impeachment available for disagreements over policy, even profound ones, nor for extreme distaste for the manner in which the President executes his office. Only ‘Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors’ warrant impeachment,” the scholars asserted.

The signees include professors and other experts from an array of academic institutions such as Columbia, Berkeley, Harvard, Yale, George Washington University and the University of Michigan, among many others. Their message was spearheaded by the Protect Democracy Project, a nonprofit created in 2017 with the goal of holding the White House “accountable to the laws and longstanding practices that have protected our democracy through both Democratic and Republican Administrations.” 

Since the impeachment inquiry began in late September, House investigators have heard from a number of witnesses both in private and in public who have painted a fuller picture of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

According to sworn testimony from U.S. foreign policy officials, Trump threatened to withhold millions of dollars in military aid in exchange for investigations that would help his reelection campaign, and conditioned a White House meeting with Ukraine’s president on a public announcement of those investigations.

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On Tuesday, a panel of four constitutional law experts took questions from the House Judiciary Committee over whether the president’s alleged offenses were serious enough to warrant articles of impeachment ― or a formal description of impeachable misconduct. Three of the four experts said Trump’s behavior was clearly impeachable, while a fourth dissenting in part because he believed more testimony was needed.

In their letter, the legal experts said Trump’s “conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy that the Founders feared when they included the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution.”

They also noted that “conduct need not be criminal to be impeachable.”

“Whether President Trump’s conduct is classified as bribery, as a high crime or misdemeanor, or as both, it is clearly impeachable under our Constitution,” the signees concurred.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday asked that articles of impeachment against Trump be prepared, saying the president’s actions have left “us no choice” 

If the articles are passed in the Democratic-controlled House, the process moves to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is not likely to result in Trump’s removal from office.

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Romney Breaks With GOP Colleagues: ‘No Evidence’ Of Ukrainian Meddling

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The Utah senator dismissed conspiracy theories that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, calling out Russia as the culprit.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) distanced himself from some of his GOP colleagues on Tuesday, stating that there was no sign of Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election.

“I saw no evidence from our intelligence community, nor from the representatives today for the Department of State, that there is any evidence of any kind of that suggests that Ukraine interfered in our elections,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill. “We have ample evidence that Russia interfered in our elections.”

Romey’s statement follows testimony from Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale, the third-highest ranking State Department official. Hale told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Russian meddling was not a “hoax,” and that he knows of no evidence implicating Ukraine.

The remarks are a stark contrast to those of Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who on Monday told NBC News that there was no “question that elected officials in Ukraine had a favorite in the election,” promoting a debunked conspiracy theory.

“Every elected official in the Ukraine was for Hillary Clinton,” the Senate Intelligence Committee chair said. “Is that very different than the Russians being for Donald Trump?”

The comments echoed Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-La.) claims on Sunday, when he speculated during a “Meet the Press” appearance that “both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election,” and that “it’s been well documented.”

The U.S. intelligence community has dismissed rumors of any role by Ukraine, reportedly briefing senators in November that the allegations are a talking point touted by Russia to divert attention from its own interference in the U.S. election.

Less than two weeks ago, Kennedy suggested on Fox News that Ukraine may have perpetrated the 2016 Democratic National Committee server hack that exposed party emails. The senator’s claim promulgated a lie often peddled by President Donald Trump while blatantly ignoring American intelligence officials’ conclusion that it was Russia behind the hack.

Kennedy recanted shortly after, telling CNN, “I was wrong.”

“The only evidence I have, and I think it’s overwhelming, it that it was Russia who tried to hack the DNC computer. I’ve seen no indication that Ukraine tried to do it,” he said.

On Tuesday, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Intelligence Committee, denounced the erroneous claims, telling CNN that he hasn’t seen the slightest indication of Ukrainian involvement.

“I bet I sat through 25 hearings, briefings, meetings, probably more on the question of what happened in 2016,” he said. “In none of those meetings was there ever a hint, a breath, a suggestion, a word that somehow Ukraine was involved.”

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