Buckle Up: What to Watch as Impeachment Trial Takes Off

Senators like to float above messy politics in what’s known by some as the dignified “upper chamber,” home of Congress’ cooler heads and lofty rhetoric. But as a court of President Donald Trump’s impeachment, the Senate beginning Tuesday might seem more like the economy cabin of an oversold flight on an especially tense, mandatory work trip.Rock star legal teams will cram the airy well of the chamber just a few feet from each other and Chief Justice John Roberts. Four television screens take up rarified space. Staff will snap up seats near the wall. A podium stands at the center aisle. As for phones, it’s worse than airplane mode: They are banned from the chamber. That maroons 100 chatty senators — including four Democrats in the heat of a nomination fight — for the serious constitutional business of the impeachment trial, for hours at a time. “I’m going to be stuck in Washington for God knows how long,” Sen. Bernie Sanders told supporters in Des Moines Monday night. What to watch — and whom — when the trial gets underway around 1 p.m. EST Tuesday:GROUND RULESBut first, naturally, some talk from senators. The Senate opens with debate on the structure and rules of the proceedings. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is proposing a condensed, two-day calendar for opening arguments on the articles passed by the House on Dec. 18. They charge Trump with abusing power by pressuring Ukraine to help him politically, and obstructing Congress when it tried to find out what happened. McConnell’s ground rules are outlined in a four-page resolution that must be voted on as one of the first orders of business. It pushes off any votes on witnesses until later in the process, rather than up front, as Democrats had demanded. But McConnell’s plan on witnesses lines up with the organizing resolution that set the structure of President Bill Clinton’s trial in 1999.DRAWING THE CURTAIN”At all times,” according to Senate rules, a majority of senators present can vote to close the proceedings and debate in private. That would mean the cameras shut off and everyone who’s not a member of the Senate kicked out of the chamber until the senators choose to reopen it.Senators did that at various points during the Clinton trial. McConnell then argued that members of the chamber listen to each other better in private.A LONG HAULAfter the four days of opening arguments — maximum 24 hours per side — senators will be allowed up to 16 hours for questions to the prosecution and defense, followed by four hours of debate. Only then will there be votes on calling other witnesses.Senate rules say the trial must proceed six days a week — all but Sunday — until it is resolved.OFF THE TRAIL, OFF THE GRIDWatch a coterie of Democratic senators who literally would rather be somewhere else — specifically Iowa and New Hampshire — ahead of their party’s kickoff votes for the right to try to unseat Trump in the November election. Watch Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota for signs of fatigue from flying between Washington and these places and coping with being off the internet for hours at a time. Also look for the surrogates, video calls to supporters and ads designed to give them a measure of presence in the early nominating states. THE PROSECUTORSLeading the case for the House is Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of Californian and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York. Five other Democrats round out the prosecution team, a group House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she chose in part for their experience with the law. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., has worked on three impeachment inquiries, starting with the one that helped persuade President Richard Nixon to resign. Rep. Val Demings of Florida is not a lawyer, but she is a former police chief and a member of both committees deeply familiar with the case against Trump. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is a lawyer and chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, so he’s close to Pelosi’s ranks. Pelosi also chose two freshmen who helped flip the House from GOP control in 2018. Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Texas is a former judge. And Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado is a retired Army Ranger who was one of the seven new members with national security backgrounds to call for Trump’s impeachment over his conduct with Ukraine.FOR THE PRESIDENTTrump cast some big personalities for seats at the defense table. White House counsel Pat Cipollone and personal lawyer Jay Sekulow are expected to lead the argument that Trump committed no crimes, that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense and that the president is a victim of a political “witch hunt” by Democrats. Bringing experience both in constitutional law and the politics of impeachment, he’s adding retired law professor Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Clinton. The team also will include Pam Bondi, the former Florida attorney general.The team, less experienced in the Senate than the House prosecutors as a whole, visited the Senate chamber Monday, in part to test the equipment they expect to use for audio-visual presentations. Look for signs of tension involving the president’s outside legal team and lawyers within the White House. Dershowitz on Sunday tried to distance himself from the president.THE NUMBERS100: The total number of senators.53: The Republican majority.51: The number of senators who must agree on almost anything to make it happen during an impeachment trial.Four: The number of Republican senators who must join Democrats to get to the magical 51. 2/3: The proportion of senators required to convict and remove a president from office. So 67 members of the Senate would have to vote to convict if every senator is voting. THE GANGBoth sides will be keeping tabs on the Senate’s moderates for an emerging gang of three to four who could influence the outcome on such matters as whether to subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton. That vote won’t be taken for days if not weeks.Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has been meeting with a small number of GOP colleagues who want to consider witness testimony and documents that weren’t part of the House impeachment investigation. Watch GOP Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska for signs of whether this group can stick together and force the Senate to consider additional material.

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Trump Heads to Switzerland With Senate Trial to Reconvene

When President Donald Trump’s historic impeachment trial is called to order in the Senate this week, he won’t be watching from inside the chamber or on television from the White House. He’ll be thousands of miles away at the Davos economic forum in the Swiss Alps, trying to charm global CEOs over dinner.Trump’s participation in the annual World Economic Forum will provide a conspicuous split-screen moment in a presidency familiar with them. His two-day visit to Switzerland will test his ability to balance his anger over being impeached with a desire to project leadership on the world stage.Administration officials say Trump remains focused on serving the public.
“The president’s work doesn’t stop just because of the impeachment sham,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an email.Trump, who departs Washington on Monday night, said he’s going to Davos to encourage businesses to invest in the U.S.”We’re now where the action is,” he said at a farmers’ convention Sunday in Texas.Swooping in for what will be his second appearance at the annual Swiss economic forum, Trump was scheduled to arrive at the ski resort early Tuesday and jet back on Wednesday to a Washington that will be consumed by the impeachment trial.The White House did not release much advance information about the president’s schedule but he is expected to give a speech and meet world leaders and business executives.The Democratic-controlled House impeached the Republican president last month for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after it was revealed that he had pressed Ukraine’s president to announce investigations into former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden, a Trump political rival. Trump withheld foreign aid that Congress had approved for the Eastern European nation and dangled the prospect of an Oval Office meeting as leverage.Trump denies any wrongdoing and argues that Democrats want to remove him from office because they know they can’t deny him reelection in November. Trump would be forced to leave office if convicted, but the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him.Trump said he would attend the Davos forum despite the awkward timing because he wants to encourage businesses to come back to the U.S.”Our country is the hottest country anywhere in the world,” he said at the White House last week. “There’s nothing even close. I’ll be meeting the biggest business leaders in the world, getting them to come here.”The White House has not said which presidents or prime ministers will get one-on-one sessions with Trump, but he is expected to have his first meeting with the new European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, the first woman to hold the position.That meeting could be the most significant, said analyst Matt Goodman, given Trump’s many disagreements with Europe over tax and trade policy, like a new digital levy by the French that will force American tech giants such as Amazon and Google to pay up.”She’s new and she’s formidable,” said Goodman, who studies international economic policy as a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.He predicted a difficult year ahead for U.S.-EU relations.”It could either go very well or very badly,” Goodman said.Trump has smarted over the French tax and his administration has announced plans to impose retaliatory tariffs of up to 100% on cheese, wine, lipstick and other French imports. France has threatened to fight back.The U.S. has also threatened to impose retaliatory duties on $7.5 billion worth of European airplanes, cheese, wine and other goods in a separate dispute over subsidies for Airbus, a competitor to Chicago-based Boeing Co.Trump also has sought to wring trade concessions from the EU by threatening tariffs on German autos, including BMW and Mercedes-Benz.Trump heads to Switzerland as just the third American president, after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, to face a Senate impeachment trial. Johnson and Clinton were both acquitted by the Senate.There is precedent for international travel by an impeached U.S. leader.During his impeachment over an affair with a White House intern, Clinton visited Japan, South Korea, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He also traveled to Jordan for King Hussein’s funeral in February 1999, just a few days before he was acquitted by the Senate.Two days after acquittal, Clinton went to Mexico on a state visit.Trump is planning to make his first visit to India at the end of February, probably after the conclusion of his impeachment trial. He also has talked about traveling soon to Beijing, although he has given no dates, to open a new round of trade talks with China. 

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Trump Lawyers: President Did ‘Absolutely Nothing Wrong’ on Ukraine

U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyers on Monday assailed the impeachment case against him as a “dangerous perversion of the Constitution,” asserting he did “absolutely nothing wrong” in pressing Ukraine to launch investigations to benefit himself politically.The lawyers for the U.S. leader said Democratic lawmakers pushing for the impeachment of the Republican president and his removal from office were not trying to find the truth about Trump’s Ukraine-related actions, but rather some way to overturn his 2016 election and interfere with his 2020 reelection campaign.In a legal brief a day ahead of the first substantive session of Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, the lawyers called the Democrats’ case against him “a constitutional travesty” and said the Senate should swiftly acquit him of the two articles of impeachment he is facing. One alleges that he abused the presidency by pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate one of his top 2020 Democratic challengers, former Vice President Joe Biden, and the other that he obstructed Congress in its review of his Ukraine efforts.Democratic lawmakers had earlier said it was clear that the “evidence overwhelmingly establishes” that Trump is guilty of both charges in the two articles of impeachment.FILE – Clerk of the House Cheryl Johnson, left, and House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving pass through Statuary Hall at the Capitol to deliver the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate, Jan. 15, 2020.The Trump lawyers, in their 110-page filing, said that Trump was conducting normal foreign policy affairs in dealing with Zelenskiy.They said he did not commit a crime, even though conviction of an impeached U.S. president and removal from office does not depend on a specific violation of a criminal law. Rather it is how the 100 members of the Senate, acting as jurors, interpret the standard for conviction set out in the U.S. Constitution, whether a president has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.”  No matter the legal arguments for and against Trump, he almost certainly will be acquitted by the Republican-majority Senate, where a two-thirds vote against him would be required for conviction and removal from office, just months ahead of his reelection bid in November. At least 20 of the 53 Republicans in the chamber would have to join all 47 Democrats to convict Trump, and no Republican has called for his ouster.But Trump’s impeachment trial is only the third such event in the nearly 2-1/2 centuries of U.S. history and the proceedings, overseen by Chief Justice John Roberts, will be fraught with uncertainty.The White House is predicting Trump’s acquittal within two weeks, but the trial could last much longer if Democrats succeed in persuading four Republicans to join them in calling for testimony from key Trump aides about the president’s Ukraine-related actions.Calling witnessesThe Democrats, over the objections of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, want to hear testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and others about how Trump asked for investigations of Biden, his son Hunter Biden’s work for a Ukrainian natural gas company, and a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election to undermine Trump’s campaign. Trump’s Ukraine efforts came at the same time he was temporarily withholding $391 million in military aid that Ukraine wanted to help fight pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.Trump at various times has said he wants to call the Bidens as witnesses at his trial, along with the still-unidentified whistleblower who first disclosed that Trump in a July phone call asked Zelenskiy to launch the Biden investigations. But on Twitter Monday, he seemed averse to hearing testimony from Bolton, whom he ousted in September.Democrats, Trump said, “didn’t want John Bolton and others in the House” to testify. “They were in too much of a rush. Now they want them all in the Senate. Not supposed to be that way!” They didn’t want John Bolton and others in the House. They were in too much of a rush. Now they want them all in the Senate. Not supposed to be that way!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) FILE – In this image from video, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks as the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump begins in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 16, 2020.McConnell, the Senate majority leader, says he has enough Republican votes to push through rules for the impeachment trial that would hold off on a vote on whether to call witnesses until after House managers prosecuting the case against Trump have made their case and Trump’s lawyers have presented his defense. At that point, McConnell says lawmakers could decide whether they want to hear witnesses or subpoena documents from the White House related to Trump’s Ukraine actions.Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says he will press to try to include witnesses as part of the parameters adopted for the trial, but if McConnell’s vote counting is accurate, Schumer stands to lose such a preliminary skirmish.Trump, who almost daily ridicules the impeachment effort, tweeted Monday, “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer is now asking for ‘fairness’, when he and the Democrat House members worked together to make sure I got ZERO fairness in the House. So, what else is new?”Cryin’ Chuck Schumer is now asking for “fairness”, when he and the Democrat House members worked together to make sure I got ZERO fairness in the House. So, what else is new?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) FILE – In this image from video, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 16, 2020.Schiff added, “They really can’t contest those facts. So the only thing really new about the president’s defense is that they’re now arguing that because they can’t contest the facts that the president cannot be impeached for abusing the power of his office.”Trump eventually released the Ukraine military aid in September after a 55-day delay without Zelenskiy launching the Biden investigations. Republicans say that is proof that Trump did not engage in a reciprocal quid pro quo deal — the military aid in exchange for the investigations to help him politically.One of Trump’s staunchest Senate defenders, Senator Lindsey Graham, on the “Fox News Sunday” show, called the impeachment effort “a partisan railroad job. It’s the first impeachment in history where there’s no allegation of a crime by the president.”He said if Democrats demand to hear testimony from Bolton, Mulvaney and others, Trump will seek to invoke executive privilege against their testimony to protect the sanctity of private White House conversations.”Clearly to me any president would ask for executive privilege regarding these witnesses,” Graham said, adding that if they were that important to the House case against Trump, Democrats should have pursued their testimony during the House investigation.Two other presidents — Andrew Johnson in the mid-19th century and Bill Clinton two decades ago — were impeached by the House but acquitted in Senate trials and remained in office. A fourth U.S. president, Richard Nixon in the mid-1970s, faced almost certain impeachment in the Watergate political scandal, but resigned before the House acted.
 

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AP Fact Check: Distortion in Trump’s Impeachment Defense

In his first formal response to impeachment charges, President Donald Trump misrepresented the testimony of a key witness who described an exchange of favors in the Ukraine matter.The claim marked a week of frequent exaggeration and distortion by the president heading into the opening statements of his impeachment trial.Just as his tax cuts are far from the biggest in history, the economy isn’t the best ever and his election victory in 2016 was no landslide of historic proportions, Trump’s two trade deals don’t stand atop the field of presidential endeavors. One is a partial settlement of trade grievances with China; the other is a refresh of what past presidents created for North America.Meanwhile, the Democratic presidential contenders weren’t immune from misrepresentation in their final debate before the first votes of the 2020 campaign, in Iowa.A look at the claims:ImpeachmentTrump, via attorneys: “Individuals who have stated for the record that they spoke to the President about the subject actually exonerate him. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland stated that when he asked the President what he wanted from Ukraine, the President said: I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo.”' — response to impeachment charges filed Saturday.The Facts: That assertion omits key context on what Sondland told House investigators.As one of the officials most deeply involved in trying to get Ukraine to do Trump's bidding, Sondland testified that there was indeed a quid pro quo in the matter and “everyone was in the loop.” Specifically, Sondland said it was understood that Ukraine's new president would only get a meeting with Trump in the Oval Office if he publicly pledged to investigate the Bidens and the Democrats.FILE - U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is sworn in to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 20, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump.“Was there aquid pro quo?’ Sondland asked in his statement to the House Intelligence Committee. “As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”Moreover, on the more serious matter of withholding military aid to Ukraine unless the country investigated Democrats, Sondland testified that a this-for-that explanation was the only one that made sense to him.Testimony from other officials shored up the picture of a president and his associates systematically trying to get Ukraine to do what Trump wanted during a period when the military assistance approved by Congress was put on hold without explanation.Trump: “The President acted at all times with full constitutional and legal authority and in our national interest.” — response to impeachment charges.The Facts: That, of course, is in dispute. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, found the White House violated federal law in withholding security assistance to Ukraine, an action at the center of Trump’s impeachment.Its report said the Office of Management and Budget broke the law over the military aid, which Congress passed less than a year ago, saying “the President is not vested with the power to ignore or amend any such duly enacted law.”The money was held up last summer on orders from Trump but freed up in September after Congress pushed for its release and a whistleblower’s complaint about Trump’s July call with the Ukrainian leader became public.The Government Accountability Office said the White House budget office violated the Impoundment Control Act by delaying the security assistance for “policy reasons,” rather than technical budgetary needs.FILE – U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a bilateral meeting with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on the sidelines of the 74th session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Sept. 25, 2019.The budget office has said it disagrees with that finding and the hold was appropriate and necessary. Trump argues he delayed the $391 million in U.S. assistance because of concerns about corruption, although the Defense Department had already previously certified to congressional committees that Ukraine had made enough progress on reducing corruption to receive the aid.Trump: “House Democrats ran a fundamentally flawed and illegitimate process that denied the President every basic right, including the right to have counsel present, the right to cross-examine witnesses.” — response to impeachment charges.Trump: “’We demand fairness’ shouts Pelosi and the Do Nothing Democrats, yet the Dems in the House wouldn’t let us have 1 witness, no lawyers or even ask questions.” — tweet on Jan. 13, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.The Facts: Not true. The House Judiciary Committee, which produced the articles of impeachment, invited Trump or his legal team to come. He declined.Absent White House representation, the hearings proceeded as things in Congress routinely do: Time is split between Democratic and Republican lawmakers to ask questions and engage in the debate. Lawyers for Democrats and Republicans on the committee presented the case for and against the impeachment articles and members questioned witnesses, among them an academic called forward by Republicans.The first round of hearings was by the House Intelligence Committee and resembled the investigative phase of criminal cases, conducted without the participation of the subject of the investigation. Trump cried foul then at the lack of representation, then rejected representation when the next committee offered it.His lawyers will participate in the Senate’s impeachment trial, which resumes Tuesday.FILE – House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff questions a witness before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Nov. 19, 2019.Trump, on House intelligence chairman Adam Schiff: “Mr. Schiff created a fraudulent version of the July 25 call and read it to the American people at a congressional hearing, without disclosing that he was simply making it all up.” — response to impeachment charges.The Facts: It’s incorrect that Schiff didn’t disclose what he was doing.Trump is overstating Schiff’s exaggerations, which the president has repeatedly described as lies and “massive frauds.” The California Democrat, in what he said was a parody during a committee hearing in September, was mocking the president’s pleas in his July call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, as Trump does with his critics routinely.Schiff made clear he was providing an account that was in “essence” what he believed Trump was conveying to Zelenskiy, when “shorn of its rambling character.Trump: “You had a fake whistleblower that wrote a report that bore no relationship to what was said. Everything was false.” — remarks Thursday.The Facts: Trump’s statement is false. The whistleblower’s account of a phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s leader in July closely resembled what was said, judging by the rough transcript released later by the White House itself and by the testimony of officials who listened in on the call.Witnesses in the impeachment hearings and other sources also verified the whistleblower’s description of events before and after the call as Trump and his aides pressed Ukraine to investigate one of Trump’s political rivals, Democrat Joe Biden. The Senate impeachment trial will explore whether Trump abused his power.TradeTrump on his trade agreement with China: “This is the biggest deal there is, anywhere in the world by far.” — remarks Wednesday at the signing.Trump on the China deal and his updated North American trade agreement: “So we’ve done two of the biggest trade deals. They are the two biggest trade deals in the world ever done.” — remarks at the White House on Thursday.The Facts: Neither claim is true.FILE – China Shipping Company containers are stacked at the Virginia International’s terminal in Portsmouth, Virginia, May 10, 2019.The China agreement is not nearly as big as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement, so it’s not the largest ever, much less “by far.” The deal with Canada and Mexico was an update of the long-standing North American Free Trade Agreement worked out by Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.The North American agreement also is not the largest ever.For instance, 123 countries signed the Uruguay Round agreement that liberalized trade and produced the World Trade Organization in 1994. The organization’s initial membership accounted for more than 90% of global economic output, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found, and that was before China joined the organization.Also bigger: the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have joined North America with Pacific Rim countries in freer trade. Trump took the U.S. out after the deal was negotiated and before the U.S. ratified it. The European Union was formed from a giant deal.The China deal leaves tariffs in place on about $360 billion in imports from China and pushes substantial remaining disputes ahead to a second phase of negotiations.Trump on China deal: “I did the biggest deal ever done in the history of our country yesterday in terms of trade — and probably other things too, if you think about it.” — remarks Thursday.The Facts: Trump is even more wildly off the mark in speculating that his China trade deal eclipses all other international agreements, even outside trade.The Montreal Protocol, aimed at protecting Earth’s ozone layer, was ratified by every member state of the United Nations. A variety of other agreements — on the rights of children, world health standards, droughts — achieved nearly universal ratification. More than 190 countries signed the Paris accord on climate change, of which more than 180 have ratified it. The U.S. is pulling out of it.EconomyTrump: “In Wisconsin, the unemployment rate has reached its lowest level in history.” — Milwaukee rally Tuesday.The Facts: He’s citing outdated figures.FILE – A worker installs the front doors on a Ford F-150 truck being assembled at the Ford Rouge assembly plant, in Dearborn, Michigan, Sept. 27, 2018.Wisconsin did post a record low unemployment rate of 2.8% in April and May. But it has since edged up and is now at 3.3%. That’s slightly lower than the U.S. average of 3.5%, but suggests that the state hit a rough patch in the middle of last year.Trump: “More than 300,000 people under Obama, 300,000 people, left the workforce. Under just three years of my administration, 3.5 million people have joined the workforce.” — Milwaukee rally.The Facts: Trump is wrong about Barack Obama’s record.More than 5 million people joined the U.S. labor force during Obama’s presidency, according to Labor Department figures. These gains reflect the recovery from the Great Recession as well as population growth. More than 4.8 million people have joined the labor force in three years of Trump’s presidency.Trump: “Under the Trump economy, the lowest-paid earners are reaping the biggest, fastest and largest gains. … Earnings for the bottom 10% are rising faster than earnings for the top 10%, proportionally.” — Milwaukee rally.The Facts: Actually, the top 10% of earners saw the biggest raises of any income bracket over the past year. Their usual weekly earnings jumped 8% or $168, according to the Labor Department. The bottom 10% saw weekly incomes grow 7% or $30.Over a broader range — the top and bottom 25% — weekly earnings also grew at faster rate for the wealthier group.Trump: “We’ve created 7 million jobs since the election including more than 1 million manufacturing and construction jobs. Nobody thought that was possible.” — Milwaukee rally.The Facts: His numbers are roughly right, though they are less impressive than Trump claims.Job gains under Trump over the past three years were lower than during the final three years of Obama’s presidency. More than 8 million jobs were added during that period under Obama, including 1.2 million combined in manufacturing and construction. What these figures suggest is that much of the job growth under Trump reflects the momentum from a recovery that officially began in the middle of 2009.ImmigrationTrump: “We have loopholes. Like a visa lottery. We put things in the lottery, and they come in — they become American citizens. Do you think these countries are giving us their finest? Oh, let’s give them our best citizens.” — Milwaukee rally.FILE – International travelers wait in line at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoint after arriving at Miami International Airport on March 4, 2015, in Miami, Florida.The Facts: This is a perpetual falsehood from the president. Countries don’t nominate their citizens for the program. They don’t get to select people they’d like to get rid of.Foreigners apply for the visas on their own. Under the program, citizens of countries named by the U.S. can bid for visas if they have enough education or work experience in desired fields. Out of that pool of qualified applicants, the State Department randomly selects a much smaller pool of tentative winners. Not all winners will have visas approved because they still must compete for a smaller number of slots by getting their applications in quickly.Those who are ultimately offered visas still need to go through background checks, like other immigrants.Trump: “Mexico’s paying for the wall. … You know that. It’s all worked out.” — Milwaukee rally.The Facts: Mexico isn’t paying for Trump’s long-promised border wall.Trump has argued that the updated trade agreement with Canada and Mexico will pay for the wall because of economic benefits he predicts will come from the deal. Nothing in the trade agreement would cover or refund the construction cost or require a payment from Mexico.Child careBiden, on his early days in Washington: “I was making $42,000 a year. I commuted every single solitary day to Wilmington, Delaware — over 500 miles a day, excuse me, 250 miles a day — because I could not afford … child care. It was beyond my reach.” — Democratic presidential debate Tuesday.The Facts: That’s a stretch.Biden’s wife and daughter died in a car accident after he won a Senate seat in 1972 As a single parent working far out of town, Biden might have faced steeper child care costs than people who work locally do. But his Senate salary — actually $42,500 — was worth more than $256,000 in today’s dollars. That’s more than four times the median household income.Health careTrump: “I was the person who saved Pre-Existing Conditions in your Healthcare, you have it now.” — tweet on Jan. 13.The Facts: That’s false. People with preexisting medical problems have health insurance protections because of Obama’s health care law, which Trump is trying to dismantle.FILE – A patient receives a transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, California, Nov. 7, 2018.One of Trump’s major alternatives to Obama’s law — short-term health insurance, already in place — doesn’t have to cover preexisting conditions. Another alternative is association health plans, which are oriented to small businesses and sole proprietors and do cover preexisting conditions.Meanwhile, Trump’s administration has been pressing in court for full repeal of the Obama-era law, including provisions that protect people with preexisting conditions from health insurance discrimination.With “Obamacare” still in place, insurers in the individual marketplace must take all applicants, regardless of medical history, and charge the same standard premiums to healthy people and those who have poor health or past medical problems. Before Obama’s law, any insurer could deny coverage or charge more to anyone with a preexisting condition who was seeking to buy an individual policy.Bernie Sanders: “’Medicare for All’ … will cost substantially less than the status quo.” — Democratic debate.The Facts: There’s no guarantee of that.The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in a report last year that total spending under a single-payer system like the Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate favors “might be higher or lower than under the current system depending on the key features of the new system.”Those features have to do with the design of the system, questions such as payment rates for hospitals and doctors, and whether patients are required to pay part of the cost of their care. Sanders says his plan would require no cost-sharing from patients, no copays and no deductibles. But completely free care could trigger a surge in demand for medical services, raising costs. Other countries that provide coverage for all do use cost-sharing to help keep spending in check.A research report last year by the nonprofit Rand think tank estimated that a Medicare for All plan similar to what Sanders wants would modestly raise total U.S. health spending.MilitaryTrump, on killing Iran Gen. Qassem Soleimani: “The Democrats and the Fake News are trying to make terrorist Soleimani into a wonderful guy.” — tweet on Jan. 13.Trump: “You know what bothers me? When I see a Nancy Pelosi trying to defend this monster from Iran … When Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats want to defend him, I think that’s a very bad thing for this country.” — remarks on Jan. 9 at event on environmental regulations.FILE – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi answers questions from reporters on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Jan. 8, 2020.The Facts: That’s a fabrication. Democrats did not praise or defend the Iranian general. They criticized the action Trump took.Pelosi called the U.S. missile strike “provocative and disproportionate” while branding Soleimani a “terrible person.” Similarly, Democratic presidential candidates criticized Trump’s strategy and the fact he didn’t notify or consult Congress in advance, while making clear they considered Soleimani anything but “wonderful.”The Iranian was “a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans,” said Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.Even so, Republican Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia asserted Democrats were “in love with terrorists” then retracted the statement and apologized.“I left parts of my body in Iraq fighting terrorists,” Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a former Army pilot who lost both her legs while serving in Iraq, told CNN after hearing Collins’ initial remarks. “I don’t need to justify myself to anyone.”Trump: “Our military has been totally rebuilt.” — Milwaukee rally.The Facts: It hasn’t.The administration has accelerated a sharp buildup in defense spending, but it will take years for freshly ordered tanks, planes and other weapons to be built, delivered and put to use.The Air Force’s Minuteman 3 missiles, for instance, a key part of the U.S. nuclear force, have been operating since the early 1970s, and modernization started under the Obama administration. They are due to be replaced with a new version, but not until later this decade.Biden: “I was asked to bring 156,000 troops home from that war, which I did. I led that effort.” — Democratic debate.The Facts: Biden is roughly right about bringing troops home, but he didn’t mention that the U.S. had to send some back.Obama did designate Biden, his vice president, to take the lead in pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq and coordinating efforts to maintain stability in Baghdad. His results were mixed. Biden and Obama failed to win agreement from the Iraqi government to keep a limited number of U.S. troops there after December 2011. That was the deadline for a complete U.S. pullout under a deal negotiated by the Bush administration. Biden was still vice president when Obama was compelled to return American troops to Iraq in 2014 after the rise of the Islamic State group.ElectabilityTrump, on the 2016 election: “There have been some great movements where somebody came along and out of the nowhere, won the state of New Hampshire, won Iowa, won South Carolina down the way, won a state someplace, but we won 32 states.”The Facts: Trump won 30 states, not 32.It was no landslide. He won with about 57% of electoral votes, a comfortable margin but no better than average or below average. Obama and Clinton each won bigger victories twice and many other presidents outperformed Trump.Moreover, Republican Trump lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton, a rare occurrence for a winning candidate.Trump routinely inflates the number of electoral votes he won, too. 

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White House, House Lawmakers Lay Out Impeachment Cases as Trial Looms

White House lawyers are due to submit Monday a brief detailing their arguments in the impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump, a day before the proceedings begin in earnest.FILE: Jay Sekulow, one of president’s Trump lawyers. .In an earlier, shorter response to the articles of impeachment approved by the House of Representatives, lawyers Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow said the Senate must reject the charges against Trump because they “rest on dangerous distortions of the Constitution that would do lasting damage to our structure of government.”They argued the House is trying to undermine the president’s power to determine foreign policy, and that it is trying to control and punish the executive branch for asserting its constitutional privileges.Regarding the charge that Trump abused his power by asking a foreign power to launch investigations that would benefit him politically, the lawyers argued the House is trying to undermine the president’s power to determine foreign policy.In response to the charge Trump obstructed Congress by directing members of the executive branch to not comply with subpoenas, the lawyers said those actions were a legitimate assertion of “confidentiality interests grounded in the separation of powers.”House lawmakers serving as prosecutors have already filed their trial brief, saying it was clear that the “evidence overwhelmingly establishes” that Trump is guilty of both charges in the two articles of impeachment.Key players in the trial argued sharply Sunday about whether the president’s actions could warrant his removal from office.FILE – Attorney Alan Dershowitz leaves Manhattan Federal Court in New York, March 6, 2019. Dershowitz is among the lawyers representing President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial.Criminal defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz, one of the team of lawyers defending Trump, told CNN’s “State of the Union” show that he will tell the 100 members of the Senate, who are acting as jurors deciding Trump’s fate, that “even if the facts as presented are true, it would not rise to the level of impeachment” to convict Trump and oust him from office.The lawmakers will be deciding whether Trump committed “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the standard the U.S. Constitution set for removing a president from office. The Republican-majority Senate remains highly unlikely to convict Trump, a Republican, since a two-thirds vote against Trump would be necessary to remove him from the White House.Trump last July asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch an investigation of one of his top 2020 Democratic challengers, former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden’s work for a Ukrainian natural gas company, and a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine sought to undermine Trump’s 2016 campaign.  The phone call between the two leaders happened at the same time Trump was temporarily blocking release of $391 million in military aid Kyiv wanted to help fight pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.FILE – Impeachment managers walk through rotunda on their way to Senate on Capitol Hill, Jan. 16, 2020.Congressman Adam Schiff, the leader of seven House impeachment managers, told ABC News’ “This Week” show, “The facts aren’t seriously contested, that the president withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to an ally at war with Russia, withheld a White House meeting that the president of Ukraine desperately sought to establish with his country and with his adversary the support of the United States in order to coerce Ukraine to helping him cheat in the next election.”Schiff added, “They really can’t contest those facts. So the only thing really new about the president’s defense is that they’re now arguing that because they can’t contest the facts that the president cannot be impeached for abusing the power of his office.”The Senate has yet to decide whether it will hear witnesses in the impeachment trial, with new testimony opposed by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.Democrats want to subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and others to testify about their knowledge of Trump’s Ukraine actions. Trump eventually released the Ukraine military aid in September after a 55-day delay without Zelenskiy launching the Biden investigations.  Republicans say that is proof that Trump did not engage in a reciprocal quid pro quo deal — the military aid in exchange for the investigations to help him politically.FILE – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., denounces a report by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 9, 2019.One of Trump’s staunchest Senate defenders, Sen. Lindsey Graham, on the “Fox News Sunday” show, called the impeachment effort “a partisan railroad job. It’s the first impeachment in history where there’s no allegation of a crime by the president.”He said if Democrats demand to hear testimony from Bolton, Mulvaney and others, Trump will seek to invoke executive privilege against their testimony to protect the sanctity of private White House conversations.”Clearly to me any president would ask for executive privilege regarding these witnesses,” Graham said, adding that if they were that important to the House case against Trump, Democrats should have sought their testimony during the House investigation.Democrats did seek more testimony from White House aides, but Trump ordered them to not cooperate with the impeachment investigation; several aides complied with Trump’s edict while others did not. Democrats dropped their efforts to compel some testimony out of a fear that it would result in a lengthy legal battle that could have been tied up in U.S. courts for months.Trump’s Senate impeachment trial is only the third such event in the nearly 2 1/2 centuries of U.S. history. Two other presidents — Andrew Johnson in the mid-19th century and Bill Clinton two decades ago — were impeached by the House but acquitted in Senate trials and remained in office. A fourth U.S. president, Richard Nixon in the mid-1970s, faced almost certain impeachment in the Watergate political scandal, but resigned before the House acted.

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Trump Senate Impeachment Trial to Hear Opening Arguments

Opening arguments in the impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump begin this week in the Republican-controlled Senate. Democrats from the House of Representatives will present their case against the president with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding. VOA’s Arash Arabasadi reports.

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Key Players Squabble Over Trump’s Impeachment Trial

Key players in the impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump and his defense argued sharply Sunday whether his efforts to get Ukraine to launch investigations to benefit him politically were impeachable offenses that warranted his removal from office.
Trump’s Senate trial formally opened last week and is set to hear opening arguments on Tuesday. But combatants in the political and legal fight over Trump’s fate waged verbal battles across the airwaves on Sunday morning news talk shows in the U.S. that offered a glimpse of the Senate drama the American public will witness in the days ahead.Criminal defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz, one of the team of lawyers defending Trump, told CNN’s “State of the Union” show that he will tell the 100 members of the Senate, who are acting as jurors deciding Trump’s fate, that “even if the facts as presented are true, it would not rise to the level of impeachment” to convict Trump and oust him from office.The lawmakers will be deciding whether Trump committed “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the standard the U.S. Constitution set for removing a president from office. As the trial nears, the Republican-majority Senate remains highly unlikely to convict Trump, a Republican, since a two-thirds vote against Trump would be necessary to oust him from the White House.FILE – Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and U.S. President Donald Trump face reporters during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Sept. 25, 2019.Trump last July asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch an investigation of one of his top 2020 Democratic challengers, former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden’s work for a Ukrainian natural gas company, and a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine sought to undermine Trump’s 2016 campaign.  The phone call between the two leaders happened at the same time Trump was temporarily blocking release of $391 million in military aid Kyiv wanted to help fight pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.Dershowitz argued that Trump’s actions did not amount to criminal conduct. He said that “if my argument prevails” and the Senate decides no impeachable offenses occurred, “There’s no need for witnesses” at Trump’s Senate trial and “the Senate should vote to acquit [Trump] or dismiss” the case against him.FILE – House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 3, 2019.Congressman Adam Schiff, the leader of seven House of Representative managers prosecuting the case against Trump, told ABC News’ “This Week” show, “The facts aren’t seriously contested, that the president withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to an ally at war with Russia, withheld a White House meeting that the president of Ukraine desperately sought to establish with his country and with his adversary the support of the United States in order to coerce Ukraine to helping him cheat in the next election.”Schiff added, “They really can’t contest those facts. So the only thing really new about the president’s defense is that they’re now arguing that because they can’t contest the facts that the president cannot be impeached for abusing the power of his office.”On Saturday, both the House lawmakers pushing for Trump’s conviction, and Trump’s defenders, filed legal arguments in the case.The House managers said it was clear that the “evidence overwhelmingly establishes” that Trump is guilty of both charges in the two articles of impeachment he is facing.FILE – President Donald Trump listens to a question during an event on prayer in public schools, in the Oval Office of the White House, Jan. 16, 2020, in Washington.Meanwhile, Trump’s legal team called the impeachment effort against him “a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president.”His lawyers called the impeachment effort “a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election, now just months  away.”But Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee that heard weeks of testimony about Trump and his aides’ attempts to pressure Ukraine for the Biden investigations, said the White House legal stance is “surprising in that It doesn’t really offer much new beyond the failed arguments we heard in the House.””So the only thing really new about the president’s defense is that they’re now arguing that because they can’t contest the facts that the president cannot be impeached for abusing the power of his office,” Schiff said. “That’s the argument I suppose you have to make if the facts are so dead set against you. You have to rely on an argument that even if he abused his office in this horrendous way that it’s not impeachable. You had to go so far out of the mainstream to find someone to make that argument you had to leave the realm of constitutional law scholars and go to criminal defense lawyers.”FILE – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., signs the resolution to transmit the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate for trial on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 15, 2020.The Senate has yet to decide whether it will hear witnesses in the impeachment trial, with new testimony opposed by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.Democrats want to subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and others to testify about their knowledge of Trump’s Ukraine actions. Trump eventually released the Ukraine military aid in September after a 55-day delay without Zelenskiy launching the Biden investigations, which Republicans say is proof that Trump did not engage in a reciprocal quid pro quo deal — the military aid in exchange for the investigations to help him politically.”We’ll be fighting for a fair trial,” Schiff said. “That is really the foundation on which this all rests. If the Senate decides, if Senator McConnell prevails and there are no witnesses, it will be the first impeachment trial in history that goes to conclusion without witnesses.”He said, “We don’t know what witnesses will be allowed or even if we’ll be allowed witnesses. The threshold issue here is, will there be a fair trial? Will the senators allow the House to call witnesses, to introduce documents. That is the foundational issue on which everything else rests. There is one thing the public is overwhelmingly in support of and that is a fair trial.”One of Trump’s staunchest Senate defenders, Sen. Lindsey Graham, on the “Fox News Sunday” show, called the impeachment effort “a partisan railroad job. It’s the first impeachment in history where there’s no allegation of a crime by the president.”He said if Democrats demand to hear testimony from Bolton, Mulvaney and others, Trump will seek to invoke executive privilege against their testimony to protect the sanctity of private White House conversations.”Clearly to me any president would ask for executive privilege regarding these witnesses,” Graham said, adding that if they were that important to the House case against Trump, Democrats should have sought their testimony during the House investigation.Democrats did seek more testimony from White House aides, but Trump ordered them to not cooperate with the impeachment investigation; several aides complied with Trump’s edict while others did not. Democrats dropped their efforts to compel some testimony out of a fear that it would result in a lengthy legal battle that could have been tied up in U.S. for months.Trump is spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago retreat along the Atlantic Ocean in Florida. Late Saturday, he resumed his almost daily attacks on the Democrats’ impeachment campaign against him, saying on Twitter, “What a disgrace this Impeachment Scam is for our great Country!” “Nancy Pelosi said, it’s not a question of proof, it’s a question of allegations! Oh really?” @JudgeJeanine@FoxNews What a disgrace this Impeachment Scam is for our great Country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 19, 2020But Graham predicted that Trump would be exonerated ahead of the president’s annual State of the Union address set for Feb. 4.”His mood is to go to the State of the Union with this behind him and talk about what he wants to do for the next, rest of 2020 and what he wants to do for the next four years,” Graham said on Fox. “He is very much comfortable with the idea that this is going to turn out well for him.”
Trump’s Senate impeachment trial is only the third such event in the nearly 2 1/2 centuries of U.S. history. Two other presidents — Andrew Johnson in the mid-19th century and Bill Clinton two decades ago — were impeached by the House but acquitted in Senate trials and remained in office. A fourth U.S. president, Richard Nixon in the mid-1970s, faced almost certain impeachment in the Watergate political scandal, but resigned before the House acted.
 

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Gun Rights Activists Scheduled to Rally Monday in Virginia

A major gun rights rally is scheduled for Monday in the capital of the U.S. southeastern state of Virginia.Thousands of pro-gun activists, included armed militia members, are expected to gather in Richmond at a time when Democrats have full control of the state legislature for the first time in a generation.Democratic lawmakers have made passing tougher gun control laws a central campaign theme.The Virginia Senate approved legislation late Thursday requiring background checks on all firearm sales and limiting handgun purchases to one a month. The senate also passed a bill to restore local government right to ban weapons from public buildings and other venues.Neo-Nazi, militia and other gun-rights groups have promised to gather enmasse on the capital for Monday’s rally, which is organized annually by the Virginia Citizens Defense League.The planned demonstration harkens back to a violent white supremacist rally in nearby Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, when one woman was killed and more than 30 other people injured as a white supremacist rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.Amid threats of violence and a possible heavy turnout, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, declared a temporary state of emergency Wednesday that bans all weapons from Richmond’s Capitol Square during Monday’s rally to prevent “armed militia groups (from) storming our capitol.”Gun-rights groups, which contend the constitution guarantees their right to own any firearm, asked the Virginia Supreme Court rule the temporary ban unconstitutional, but the court upheld the ban on Friday.Northam said authorities have received credible threats of violence, including the deployment of weaponized drones over Capitol Square.Extremist groups have also inundated social media and the internet with threatening messages and hints of violence.The FBI arrested three alleged members of a white supremacist group on gun charges Thursday, partly due to concern that they planned to incite violence at the rally.Both houses of the Virginia legislature are expected to approve even more restrictive gun control laws, including a ban on assault rifles and “red flag” laws aimed at taking guns from people who are considered risk to communities.U.S. President Donald Trump had words of support late Friday for gun rights supporters in Virginia, tweeting, “That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away.”Supporters of tighter gun control laws say they would help reduce the number of people killed by guns each year.

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Anti-Trump Protests Have Shrunk. What’s it Mean for 2020?

Days after President Donald Trump killed an Iranian general and said he was sending more soldiers to the Middle East, about 100 protesters stood on a pedestrian bridge over Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive with an illuminated sign that read “No War in Iran.”
Some 200 people marched in the bitter cold near Boston, while a few dozen people demonstrated on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall and at similarly sized gatherings across the U.S.
Three years after Trump took office and millions of people swarmed to the Women’s March in Washington and companion marches across the country, these typically modest protests are often the most visible sign of today’s Trump resistance.
Activists say the numbers should not be mistaken for a lack of energy or motivation to vote Trump out of office come November.
The anti-Trump movement of 2020, they say, is more organized and more focused on action. Many people have moved from protesting to knocking on doors for candidates, mailing postcards to voters, advocating for specific causes or running for office.
But the movement that sprung up to oppose Trump’s presidency also is more splintered than it was when pink-hatted protesters flooded Washington the day after his inauguration for what is generally regarded as the largest protest in the city since the Vietnam era. There have been schisms over which presidential candidates to back in 2020, as well as disagreements about race and religion and about whether the march reflected the diversity of the movement. Those divisions linger even as many on the left say they need a united front heading into November’s election.
The disputes led to dueling events in New York City last year, the resignation of some national Women’s March leaders and the disbanding of a group in Washington state.
Organizers expect about 100,000 people across the country to participate in this year’s Women’s March, which is scheduled for Saturday in over 180 cities. They say up to 10,000 people are expected at the march in Washington, far fewer than the turnout last year,  when about 100,000 people held a rally east of the White House. Instead of a single big event, the group has been holding actions in a run-up to the march this week around three key issues: climate change, immigration and reproductive rights.
The week reflects that the movement is “moving into the next stage,” said director Caitlin Breedlove.
Leaders of MoveOn.org, which organized some of the anti-Iran war protests, agreed. Mobilization manager Kate Alexander said the group and its members pulled together over 370 protests in 46 states in less than 48 hours to show resistance to Trump’s actions. The president ordered airstrikes that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force who has been blamed for deadly attacks on U.S. troops and allies going back decades. Iran pledged retribution, sparking fears of an all-out war.
Alexander noted that the Iran protest is just one of many issues MoveOn members have organized in response to in the past few years.
“It’s not that there are fewer people mobilizing – it’s that they’re mobilized in different campaigns. There’s more to do,” Alexander said. “I don’t believe people are tuning out. I think people are lying in wait.”
While waiting, many have passed on some major moments in Trump’s presidency. Resistance groups rallied on the eve of the House vote for impeachment, but even some of those who participated said they were disappointed more people didn’t turn out.
Several organizations also said much of their organizing is done through social media or text message and email programs, which are less visible but have a significant impact. In 2018, the Women’s March had over 24 billion social media impressions, Breedlove said.
Atef Said, a sociology professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said all social movements evolve over time. He noted the Trump resistance movement is global and will continue regardless of whether Trump is reelected.
“Movements always rise and decline in terms of numbers on the ground,” he said.
Andy Koch, a 30-year-old nurse who lives in Chicago, has seen that ebb and flow firsthand. Koch has been active in protesting Trump’s policies even before he took office. When Koch was a student at University of Illinois at Chicago, Trump’s campaign canceled a 2016 speech at the campus following tense student protests.
Koch said the anti-Trump activism swelled when he first took office and again in early 2017 when he announced his first travel ban affecting people from several predominantly Muslim countries.
Roughly 1,000 people mobilized in Chicago immediately after Trump authorized the attack on the Iranian leader, and then the crowds subsided a few days later after the threat of war seemed to subside following Trump’s address to the nation Jan 8. That day, a few dozen – including Koch – showed up in 20-degree Fahrenheit (minus 7 Celsius) temperatures outside Trump International Hotel Chicago during rush hour.
Koch understands that masses of people won’t show up for every protest. ” What allows those numbers to come out … is continued organizing going on in between these events,” he said.
He said there have been numerous smaller protests he’s been involved with, including protesting U.S. foreign policy in Venezuela and Syria, and they’ve taken other forms. For instance, he’s helped plan a teach-in on Iranian foreign policy this week at UIC.
Maya Wells, a 21-year-old political science senior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, was a speaker at a rally last week in Charlotte. Wells, who is Persian American and has family in Iran, said she doesn’t look at the numbers of people who turn out but rather at the fact that they took time out of their day to be there.
“I see more people coming. Because some of my friends who are conservatives and voted for Trump, they’re against this,” she said, adding that the most recent protest wasn’t the last.
“There will be more days to come,” Wells said. “I have no doubt in my mind.” 

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