Grassley pushing Ukrainian election interference narrative

While testifying before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee on November 21, former National Security Council official Fiona Hill urged Congressional Republicans not to “promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.” She was referring to the idea that “Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country—and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did.” Hill added, “This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”

Meanwhile, “American intelligence officials informed senators and their aides in recent weeks that Russia had engaged in a yearslong campaign to essentially frame Ukraine as responsible for Moscow’s own hacking of the 2016 election,” Julian E. Barnes and Matthew Rosenberg reported for the New York Times on November 22, citing three officials familiar with the classified briefing.

Nevertheless, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley persisted.

As evidence mounts that President Donald Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to boost his domestic political prospects, Grassley has advanced the narrative that Ukrainian government officials interfered in the 2016 election to support Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump.

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Joni Ernst won't cross NRA for deal on Violence Against Women Act

Months of work on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which lapsed in February, “came to a screeching halt” this week, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst announced on the Senate floor on November 7.

For 25 years, that federal law has supported “criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in the United States.” Congress has reauthorized it three times, each time with improvements. By Ernst’s telling, “Democrats are putting politics ahead of people,” rejecting a bipartisan approach to revive the law in favor of “non-starter” legislation the U.S. House approved in April.

Some salient facts were missing from Ernst’s narrative. The House bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act was bipartisan: 33 Republicans voted for it.

Ernst also left out a few relevant words: guns, firearms, and National Rifle Association.

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Iowa political reaction to U.S. House vote on impeachment

The U.S. House voted mostly along party lines (232 votes to 196) on October 31 to approve rules for an impeachment inquiry. Iowa’s four House members split as one would expect: Democratic Representatives Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), and Cindy Axne (IA-03) voted for the resolution, while Republican Steve King (IA-04) opposed it.

The New York Times explained that the resolution

authorizes the House Intelligence Committee — the panel that has been leading the investigation and conducting private depositions — to convene public hearings and produce a report that will guide the Judiciary Committee as it considers whether to draft articles of impeachment against President Trump.

The measure also gives the president rights in the Judiciary Committee, allowing his lawyers to participate in hearings and giving Republicans the chance to request subpoenas for witnesses and documents. But the White House says it still did not provide “basic due process rights,” and Republicans complain that their ability to issue subpoenas is limited. They would need the consent of Democrats, or a vote of a majority of members. That has been standard in previous modern impeachments. The majority has the final say over how the proceedings unfold.

I enclose below statements from Finkenauer, Loebsack, and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley. I will update this post as needed with comments from the other members of the Congressional delegation. Grassley’s mind appears to be made up: “This entire process has been contaminated from the beginning and the Senate may have a difficult time taking seriously an impeachment founded on these bases.” That’s comical, given that Iowa’s senior senator voted to remove President Bill Clinton from office on charges stemming from an investigation into unrelated property transactions.

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Throwback Thursday: Chuck Grassley on Bill Clinton's impeachment trial

“We are here because the President did wrongful acts, and he admits that,” U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley said in February 1999, when explaining his votes to remove President Bill Clinton from office.

It’s a far cry from the statements he released in September, accusing U.S. House Democrats of “searching for any reason to impeach President Trump since his inauguration because they couldn’t accept the results of the 2016 election.”

With prospects growing that the Democratic-controlled House will vote out articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, it’s worth revisiting in detail how Grassley approached the Senate’s last impeachment trial.

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