Reason Roundup

Day 2 of Impeachment Trial Ends With Impassioned Dem Plea for Witness Testimony

Plus: Brexit is finally (for real!) going to happen, Bernie Sanders surges in the polls, and a peaceful Virginia gun rights rally was apparently violent all along

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The second day of the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump concluded yesterday with calls for witnesses—and with tweets, so many tweets, from the commander-in-chief himself.

"More emails are going to come out. More witnesses are going to come forward. They're going to have more relevant information to share. And the only question is, do you want to hear it now? Do you want to know the full truth?" said Rep. Adam Schiff (D–Calif.), one of the House impeachment managers, in a plea for allowing witnesses to testify in the Senate trial.

The Senate rules for the impeachment trial, approved by a party-line vote Tuesday, put off the question of whether witnesses will be called, or White House documents demanded, until after House impeachment managers have completed their 24 hours of opening statements and Senators have had a chance to ask them questions.

The possibility that we might get to hear what key administration figures—such as former National Security Advisor John Bolton and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney—knew about Trump's Ukraine dealings offers one of the few chances that the ongoing Senate trial will produce new information.

Private talks about allowing Democrats' requests for Bolton or Mulvaney to testify in exchange for allowing Republicans to call Hunter Biden as a witness have reportedly gotten nowhere. Senate Democrats are obviously concerned about giving GOP senators an opportunity to bloody Hunter's father, former vice president and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Absent additional testimony, the ongoing Senate trial is a re-run of arguments congressional Democrats and Republicans have been making for months.

Democrats spent yesterday reiterating their case that President Donald Trump abused his power by withholding military aid to Ukraine until the country announced an investigation into Hunter Biden's business dealings there. Republicans have stuck to their guns, pointing out that the aid was eventually released and arguing that Trump has every right to ask for investigations into possible corruption.

"Number one, temporarily delaying military aid is not illegal and it's not an impeachable offense," said Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Rexas) on his new daily Verdict podcast, where he gabs about the trial with Michael Knowles. "Number two, asking a foreign country to engage in an investigation is not illegal on its face and it's not an impeachable offense."

A party-line vote acquitting the president appears more likely by the day.

The president meanwhile spent yesterday setting social media records by tweeting a total of 131 times. Most of this consisted of retweeting Republican members of Congress either arguing against impeachment or praising Trump's success on the economy.

So again, more of the same.


FREE MARKETS

Speaking of long-running political dramas that are drawing to a close, the British Parliament approved a Brexit deal Wednesday evening. The country will finally leave the E.U. by the end of the month.

"At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we've done it. Now we can put the rancor and division of the past three years behind us and focus on delivering a bright, exciting future," said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The vote came after the House of Commons rejected a number of amendments to the Brexit deal offered by the House of Lords. The Wall Street Journal reports that European leaders are set to sign off on the deal by Friday.

The vote comes nearly four years after the contentious referendum in which Britain voted to leave the E.U.


ELECTION 2020

The Democratic presidential primary is starting to look like a two-man race between Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.). A new survey of likely New Hampshire primary voters conducted by WBUR, Boston's National Public Radio affiliate, put Sanders' support at 29 percent in the state.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg fell to second place with 17 percent. Biden dropped all the way down to third place in the WBUR poll, earning support from just 14 percent of respondents.

The RealClearPolitics poll averages still have Biden in first place nationally. He's also top of the pack in the early voting states of Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina. In each of those states except South Carolina, Sanders is coming in a close second place, making the idea of the Vermont socialist actually winning the nomination more plausible.


QUICK HITS

  • A GQ writer declares that Monday's Virginia gun right rally was really violent after all, even though the demonstrators were entirely peaceful.
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D–Hawaii) offers some more thoughts on her defamation lawsuit against Hillary Clinton.

  • The dating app Tinder plans to spice things up by adding a panic button that will let people call the cops on their date.
  • Chinese authorities have locked down three more cities in an effort to contain the spread of a deadly coronavirus.
  • A California bill that would legalize more housing development near transit stops and job centers suffered a setback yesterday when a number of "equity groups" announced their opposition to the bill.

  • One person is dead and seven others were injured following a shooting in downtown Seattle.

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