BURR AND TILLIS DISAPPOINT: Burr and Tillis, jurors who are sworn to “do impartial justice,” voted NOT to hear any witnesses. We’ve been watching, listening and following the Senate impeachment trial – which really has only been opening and closing statements. REAL trials in the United States include the basics: Calling witnesses who testify and are cross-examined under oath along with the introduction of evidence that seek to prove or exonerate the accused. Do Burr and Tillis believe the president is free to repeat his Ukraine caper? Is it that Trump can do anything he wants? Do they agree with the absurd logic of Alan Dershowitz: "If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment." Burr and Tillis have violated their oaths. This is a trial without evidence. November 2020 cannot come soon enough.
FROM TRUMP TO ROUHANI, THE POWERFUL WIN OUT OVER THE WEAK: Street protests were launched in Tehran shortly after the commercial Boeing 737 was felled from the sky by a land-based missile. Iranian authorities eventually suggested that errant, on-edge operators brought down the jet at a moment of high tension and an anticipated American attack. The shooters will go to jail. Or worse. In nearly every country, the usual suspects are the functionaries, intermediaries, fall guys and fools who are like the moths that get too close to a flame and get burned. Michael Cohen is sitting in jail while his boss sits prettily in the Oval Office. He turned on his master, but his credibility was shot. Cohen likely is serving his time in remorse, trying to salvage his self-respect and dignity. But his illegal acts weakened our democratic system and perverted our judicial system. He is one of America’s usual suspects, along with Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and a host of others. The big guy gets acquitted. The usual suspects are a bunch of losers in every sense of the word. Sometimes they come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and their only shot at escaping their conditions is to grab onto famous coattails. Others are just dimwitted and susceptible to the perks of power and privilege, behaving as sycophants have through the ages and jumping as high as they’re told.
TURMOIL OF IOWA CAUCUS HIGHLIGHTS CYBERSECURITY CONCERNS: The app used in Iowa was not appropriately tested for security vulnerabilities and may have been open to a breach. Regardless, only one day after irregularities in caucus results reporting were discovered, the Iowa Democratic Party announced that “this is not a hack or intrusion.” It is unclear how they reached this conclusion, especially given that it typically takes more than 200 days to identify a breach. The app performs poorly in areas with spotty connectivity, potentially making it more difficult for those particularly in rural areas to report election results. The notion that tech is a silver-bullet solution to structural election challenges is wrong. There is no public evidence yet that the voting app was hacked or that hacking has anything to do with the delayed results. Yet, true to form, that hasn’t stopped politicians and others from spreading unfounded claims that threaten faith in our election process. Jumping to conclusions is dangerous. It can undermine confidence in U.S. electoral processes. Foreign adversaries can further capitalize on distrust and discord. None of us should want that.
TRUMP'S "FRIDAY NIGHT MASSACRE" IS JUST THE BEGINNING. I FEAR WHAT'S TO COME: Trump proceeded on Friday to fire Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council staffer who had testified about Trump’s attempts to blackmail Ukraine into helping his reelection campaign. The Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient was escorted off the White House grounds along with his twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, whose only sin is to be related to one of the “human scum” Never Trumpers, as Trump labeled the witnesses against him. Trump also fired his own inaugural committee donor, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who had testified that there was a quid pro quo linking U.S. military aid to Ukraine to an investigation of a company that employed former vice president Joe Biden’s son Hunter and that “everyone was in the loop.” In case there was any doubt what the president was up to, Donald Trump Jr. explained on Twitter: “Allow me a moment to thank… Adam Schiff. Were it not for his crack investigation skills, @realDonald Trump might have had a tougher time unearthing who all needed to be fired. Thanks, Adam!” The president himself himself tweeted Saturday that he fired “Lt. Col.” Vindman — note the scare quotes — for being “very insubordinate” by complying with a House subpoena to testify. Thanks, Trumps, for confessing to an apparent violation of 18 U.S. Code § 1513, the federal law protecting witnesses from retaliation — not that the president will ever be prosecuted.
IN PRIVATE, REPUBLICANS ADMIT THEY ACQUITTED TRUMP OUT OF FEAR: History has indeed taught us that when it comes to the instincts that drive us, fear has no rival. As the lead House impeachment manager, Representative Adam Schiff, has noted, Robert Kennedy spoke of how “moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle.” Playing on that fear, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, sought a quick impeachment trial for President Trump with as little attention to it as possible. Reporters, who usually roam the Capitol freely, have been cordoned off like cattle in select areas. Mr. McConnell ordered limited camera views in the Senate chamber so only presenters — not absent senators — could be spotted. And barely a peep from Republican lawmakers. One journalist remarked to me, “How in the world can these senators walk around here upright when they have no backbone?” For the stay-in-office-at-all-cost representatives and senators, fear is the motivator. They are afraid that Mr. Trump might give them a nickname like “Low Energy Jeb” and “Lyin’ Ted,” or that he might tweet about their disloyalty. Or — worst of all — that he might come to their state to campaign against them in the Republican primary. They worry: “Will the hosts on Fox attack me?” “Will the mouthpieces on talk radio go after me?” “Will the Twitter trolls turn their followers against me?” My colleagues know they all just might. There’s an old Russian proverb: The tallest blade of grass is the first cut by the scythe. In private, many of my colleagues agree that the president is reckless and unfit. They admit his lies. And they acknowledge what he did was wrong. They know this president has done things Richard Nixon never did. And they know that more damning evidence is likely to come out.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
JOHN DOWD: TRUMP JR ATTACK ON MITT ROMNEY IS CONTEMPTIBLE: How appalling, and frankly sad, that a son of our president vilifies and calls for the expulsion of Sen. Mitt Romney from the Republican Party for voting his conscience to remove the president from office. Romney’s job, under oath, was to listen to the evidence and objectively render a verdict. A devout and principled man he did so. Is his vilification truly characteristic of a great America? Our elected officials, regardless of party affiliation, must not be punished for voting their beliefs and conscience. That is inherent in their role and our expectations.
WILLIAM DELAMAR: DUKE ENERGY'S SOLAR REBATE PROGRAM IS FLAWED: Regarding “Glitch causes Duke Energy customers to lose solar rebates,” (Feb. 1): Thanks for pointing out the significant flaws in the Duke Energy solar rebate program. I submitted a rebate application on Jan. 2, 2019. By October I had not heard a word from Duke so I called about the status of my rebate, calculated to be $3,850. I was told that I was No. 302 on the wait list and that the list would be “zeroed out” at the end of the year with no opportunity to reapply. The website was inadequate then, and based on the N&O report it still is. The process is a bit like buying a lottery ticket and for those who need the rebate to go solar the uncertainty of the program likely dissuades them. It’s counterproductive of the expressed intent of the program.
JOE MORAN: TRUMP'S POWER RECALLS MOBSTER INTIMIDATION: The U.S. Senate has now ensured that President Donald Trump will be politically acquitted even though they openly, if belatedly, acknowledged that he was wrong for requesting dirt on the person who at the time was his most likely opponent in the 2020 presidential election. So why did they do it? Decades ago people feared the Mafia. Extortion was the name of the game. You got a business? A position? You wanna be safe? Then pay the dues and we’ll make sure nuttin’ bad happens to ya. The public disliked the Mafia, but failure to pay “protection money” meant losing one’s business or position. In the current situation some senators feared that if they didn’t exonerate the president (i.e., pay their dues), they wouldn’t get the protection they needed — the support of the president’s popular base in their future political campaigns. The more damaging side effect of their pooh-poohing a presidential request that a foreign power aid him in smearing a political opponent, however, was to take the political-dirty-tricks bar to a new all-time low. They’re selling the nation’s electoral integrity down the drain, and their consciences along with it.