Newswire : Kamala Harris: Will McConnell let the Senate hold a fair impeachment trial?

By Kamala D. Harris, U.S. Senator (D-CA)

December 18 — Today the House of Representatives will vote on whether to impeach President Trump. If it votes yes, sometime early in the new year I will take an oath on the Senate floor to uphold the Constitution, review evidence and follow the facts wherever they lead, regardless of party or ideology. Every one of my colleagues will be required to do the same.
As a former prosecutor, I understand the importance of holding powerful people accountable. I know that every trial requires fairness and truth. Having worked my whole life serving the people, I know that any trial that abandons the pursuit of truth cannot be considered fair or just.
But the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, appears more interested in covering up the president’s misconduct than in pursuing truth and fairness. He is already trying to limit the impeachment trial by preventing witnesses from testifying, and he has all but announced a verdict. In doing so, he showed the American people that he has no intention of honoring his oath.
Let’s be clear: Mr. McConnell doesn’t want a Senate trial. He wants a Senate cover-up.
Fortunately, Mr. McConnell does not have the power to unilaterally undermine this trial. Every single senator will be empowered with an equal vote on how the trial will proceed. Though in just the past year, Mr. McConnell has used his position to unilaterally block legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act, lower the prices of prescription drugs and address the gun violence epidemic, he cannot wield the same authority in a Senate impeachment trial.
In this trial, senators will be far more than jurors. Every one of us will vote to determine the rules for the trial, decide which witnesses testify and ultimately serve as both court and jury. Each of us will be called on to uphold our oath with every decision we make. We will all be held accountable by the American people if we refuse to discover the facts relevant to the articles of impeachment.
The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, has made a reasonable request to hear from four additional witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the president’s misconduct and to review documents that shed light on why the administration initially decided to cut off military aid to Ukraine.
We need to hear from Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, who admitted to Mr. Trump’s bribery scheme on live television, and from the former national security adviser, John Bolton, who has been shopping stories about Mr. Trump to book publishers instead of speaking with Congress. Every senator should want to hear from anyone who can speak directly to the president’s misconduct related to the articles of impeachment.
Even Richard Nixon allowed the key figures behind the Watergate scandal to speak to Congress, and he eventually turned over incriminating portions of his Oval Office recordings to investigators. But Mr. Trump has stonewalled Congress and inhibited our ability to seek justice by demanding that those closest to the center of the Ukraine scandal stay silent.
Senators must be allowed to subpoena relevant witnesses and submit questions to them directly. The Senate should not vote on any article of impeachment or consider a motion to dismiss the trial until we have reviewed the additional testimony and evidence that Mr. Schumer has requested.
I have never been in a courtroom where the accused can unilaterally block witnesses from testifying or prohibit prosecutors from asking witnesses questions. No court would allow a trial to proceed this way, and neither should any member of the Senate.
Ensuring the integrity of this trial is a solemn responsibility for every senator, with consequences that extend far beyond any one presidency. My colleagues and I have a duty to use our voice and our vote to insist on a fair trial, rooted in the pursuit of truth. We must demonstrate to the American people that in our system of justice all are equal under law, and that there are not two sets of rules, one for Donald Trump and another for everybody else. We must conduct the Senate impeachment trial in a way that is fair and that reflects impartial justice.
History will judge the actions taken by the United States Senate at a time when our Constitution and the rule of law were at stake. I’ll be fighting for justice and accountability, and my colleagues should too.
Kamala D. Harris is a Democratic senator from California. The above article was originally published as a letter to the editor by The New York Times. The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. The article is reproduced here by request.

At Forkland Town Hall Meeting: Terri Sewell says she is part of a nine member Congressional Commission on the USMCA (NAFTA 2.0) Trade agreement

Congresswoman Sewell surrounded by young people who attended her Town Hall meeting in Forkland, Alabama

On Saturday, July 13, 2019, Congresswoman Terri Sewell held a “Congress in Your Community” meeting at the Forkland Town Hall, attended by more than 50 community residents.
As part of her report, Congresswoman Sewell announced that she was appointed by Speaker Pelosi, to a special nine member commission, to review the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (also known as NAFTA 2.0) before its ratification by Congress. Sewell said, “ I will soon be traveling to Mexico City for discussions on this new trade agreement.

I want to be sure American workers are protected with labor and environmental standards.” She said she was particularly concerned about Trump’s proposed tariffs on automobile parts, which would drive up automobile prices and could reduce the American workforce in states like Alabama.
On healthcare, Sewell said she was supporting improvements to the existing Affordable Care Act by reducing deductibles and premiums, including for pharmaceutical drug prices. She says she strongly supports Medicaid Expansion, which Alabama’s Republican Governor and Legislature have refused to adopt. “Due to partisan politics state officials have left $7 billion over ten years on the table to be used by other states,” says Sewell.
Sewell said she was concerned that Republican controlled states were suing in Federal courts to declare the ACA unconstitutional. “This will mean that 1.9 million Alabamians would loose their protection for pre-existing conditions and almost 200,000 would loose their healthcare insurance coverage all together,” said Sewell.
She and Senator Doug Jones have introduced legislation to incentivize states to pursue Medicaid Expansion, but this legislation is tied up in committee because none of the 14 states remaining, who have not agreed to Medicaid Expansion, have indicated interest in changing their positions, “If Alabama wants to adopt Medicaid Expansion, we may be able to get this legislation passed,” said Sewell.
Congresswoman Sewell said she was prepared to vote for an increase in the Federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour, adopted ten years ago in 2009, to $15 an hour in stages over the next five years. “ Workers have lost 18% in purchasing power over the past decade. This bill will give 45% of Alabamians a pay raise! While I proposed a regional minimum wage, which would be more equitable and help small businesses to be competitive, I will be voting for this bill,” says the Congresswoman.
Sewell said her bill (HR4) the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which restores the preclearance provisions stripped from the 1965 Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court’s Shelby vs. Holder decision, will soon be voted on and passed by the House of Representatives. The bill would create an updated formula to qualify states for preclearance for voting rights changes.”14 states would be qualified under the new formula for modern day voting rights violations since 1990, “ says Sewell.
“Unfortunately, Mitch McConnell, Republican leader of the Senate and his colleagues will not allow a vote on any of the progressive legislation, we have passed in the House of Representatives. The voters in 2020 will have to act to change this deadlock,” said Sewell.
The Congresswoman took questions from the audience, posed for photos with many constituents and spoke with officials of the Town of Forkland before leaving Greene County.

Alabama’s Dec. 12 Special Election for U. S. Senate, bursts into national consciousness, with charges that Judge Roy Moore sexually misused teenage girls in the 1970’s

News Analysis by John Zippert, Co-Publisher

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Vote or Die Campaign supporters rally in Selma

National attention has been focused of Alabama’s December 12th Special Election for U. S. Senate between Doug Jones (Democrat) and Roy Moore (Republican). Moore was accused by five women, who were teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18, of sexually misconduct in the 1970’s, when he was a thirty-year old Assistant District Attorney in Etowah County.
Moore denies all of the charges, but many Republican Senators and leaders have suggested that he withdraw from the race, in favor of a write-in candidate.
Initially four of the girls, now women in their fifties, made statements published in Friday’s Washington Post which were corroborated by as many as 30 family and other witnesses that Moore attempted to sexually mistreat them.
On Monday, a fifth woman made allegations of attempted sexual assault by Moore when she was 16. She stated that Moore offered her a ride home after work at a Gadsden restaurant and took her to a secluded area behind the restaurant and tried to sexually attack her in the car. She escaped his unwanted advances by jumping out of the car.
This week’s New Yorker magazine carries stories quoting people in Gadsden saying that Moore was banned from visiting the city’s mall because he went there to befriend and pick-up underage girls.

Even before this week’s revelations about sexual misconduct, the race between Doug Jones and Roy Moore was projected to be close. A recent poll showed each with 46% of the vote with the rest undecided. Other polls show Moore with a slight lead 49% to 45% for Jones and some show Jones leading Moore by a similar margin.
Many political observers point to the “embarrassment factor” which is how many voters are embarrassed by the prospect of voting for Moore, whose political views and past actions suggest that he is a right-wing religious extremist who will use his position in the U. S. Senate to advance his distorted views and not help the people of Alabama.
Moore is a self-appointed, self-anointed religious zealot who says his directions come from God. He willingly misinterprets the Constitution when it serves his purposes. His right-wing Evangelical Christian conservative followers and base, which represent a significant portion of Alabama’s white voters, support these views unconditionally. These voters supported him in the primary against Luther Strange and voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential election.
Moore was twice removed from his state Supreme Court position, once for disobeying a federal court order to remove a 5,200-pound granite Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the state judicial building, and later for urging state probate judges to defy the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage.
Moore actively supported Trump’s ‘birtherism campaign’ which suggested that President Obama was not born in the United States and was used to discredit Obama’s legitimacy.
He said more recently that Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., should not be allowed to serve in Congress because he’s a Muslim. Asked about those comments during a Washington visit, Moore said only, “I’ll address that later.”
Many national observers and commentators have suggested that Alabama voters have a real choice between Moore and Doug Jones. Senator Amy Klobachar of Minnesota said, “Alabama voters can choose between Jones who courageously prosecuted Klansmen, who bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963, killing four teenage girls, or vote for Moore who was improperly pursuing dates with teenage girls. ”
A major factor in the election will be the turnout of Black voters in the Black-Belt counties and major urban areas of Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery, Huntsville and Mobile. A strong Black voter turnout can help swing a close election to Doug Jones.
Attorney Faya Rose Toure of Selma has been spearheading a ‘Vote or Die Campaign’ since the summer to increase voter registration, education and turnout among the state’s Black voters. ”We know that if Black voters do not participate that people will die because healthcare will be eliminated, good jobs at livable wages will be lost, affordable college education will be curtailed and police brutality will continue killing our Black youth.”
“We must participate in this special election on December 12 and future elections coming in 2018 to protect Black people and insure policies and benefits to keep us alive,” said Toure.
Moore has categorically denied all allegations against him for sexual misconduct with teenage girls. He has refused to consider suggestions from national Republican leaders like Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, that he step aside in favor of a Republican write-in candidate. McConnell and other Republican Senators have indicated that they may challenge Moore and try to censure and remove him if he elected to fill the unexpired term of Jeff Sessions in the U. S. Senate.
There are less than four weeks until the election on December 12, and voters in Alabama will now make their special election selection under the glare of national press and political attention.