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Lindsey Graham: If Dems want impeachment witnesses, GOP will call on FBI to testify

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If Democrats open “a can of worms” by calling witnesses during former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, Senate Republicans will call on the FBI to testify, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said, Fox News reported.

The trial is set for next Tuesday.

Democrats are expected to announce as soon as Tuesday whether they will call witnesses, Reuters reported Monday.

“If you open that can of worms, we’ll want the FBI to come in and tell us about how people pre-planned this attack and what happened with the security footprint at the Capitol,” Graham told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Monday night. “You open up Pandora’s Box if you call one witness.”

In the same interview, Graham said that the “second impeachment of Donald Trump is not wearing well over time. Democrats are in a box.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has not publicly stated his views on impeachment yet, but he did say on the Senate floor last month that the mob who violently stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 were “provoked” by Trump and “other powerful people.” Last week, too, McConnell voted with 44 other Senate Republicans against tabling a vote on the constitutionality of Trump’s second impeachment, the first time a commander-in-chief has received an impeachment trial in the upper chamber after leaving office. The vote was ultimately tabled.

Graham provided his insight into what Senate Republicans think of impeachment.

“I had a great meeting with Sen. McConnell today, I think every Republican sees the House process as an affront to the presidency and due process,” the South Carolina Republican said.

Exactly one week after the deadly January 6 riot, the House of Representatives voted 232-197 to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection.”

When asked about the concerns surrounding the constitutionality of impeaching a former president, Graham said, “Sen. McConnell basically told the Republican conference exactly what you just said. He was offended by the process in the House.”

The trial scheduled to start February 9 will be overseen by Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) instead of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Trump allies have put it out in the open that the main argument they plan to make is that the impeachment trial is unconstitutional since the former president has already left office.

In order to successfully convict Trump, 17 Republicans would have to break party lines and vote will with all 50 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus. However, 45 Republican senators including McConnell voting last week to not table a vote on the trial’s constitutionality has been widely interpreted to mean that the trial will be dead on arrival next week.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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COVID-19

Adviser to Fauci bragged about helping him evade FOIA, ‘he is too smart’ to get caught

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The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic published evidence ahead of a hearing that explains the senior scientific adviser to then-National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci actually bragged about helping Fauci evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The adviser, David Morens, admitted in his own communications to intentionally evading FOIA by using a Fauci’s private Gmail address or just handing him documents in person, according to the newly disclosed emails.

The 35-page report on Morens includes previously unreleased emails including:

An April 21, 2021 email shows Morens contacted EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak, whom Morens has described as his “best friend” and a U.S. taxpayer conduit for the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as well as Boston University and New England Biolabs researchers.

The subject line references “CoV research in China, GoF, etc.,” referring to EcoHealth-facilitated coronavirus research at WIV that could make a virus more transmissible or dangerous. The National Institutes of Health recently admitted it funded gain-of-function research under that definition but not a stricter regulatory definition.

“PS, i forgot to say there is no worry about FOIAs,” Morens wrote. “I can either send stuff to Tony on his private gmail, or hand it to him at work or at his house. He is too smart to let colleagues send him stuff that could cause trouble.”

A May 13, 2021 email to the same recipients referred to “our ‘secret’ back channel” by which Morens connected Fauci to a journalist named “Arthur,” apparently to discuss the feds’ preferred narrative that SARS-CoV-2 emerged naturally rather than via lab leak. The email cited an article on the message board Virological.

Gerald Keusch, associate director of the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory Institute at BU, emailed Daszak Oct. 25, 2021 to relay a phone conversation with “David,” who is “concerned about the privacy of text” and email sent and received on his “government phone” because they “could be FOIA’able.”

“Tony has told him not to be in touch with you and EHA for the time being,” Keusch wrote. Morens relayed that Daszak should get his story straight on EcoHealth’s claim that NIH locked it out of the system when it tried to file its year-five progress report that disclosed an arguable gain-of-function experiment.

Earlier in the day, Morens told Daszak “i will be meeting with Tony about this later on.” The subject line of the thread was “Draft response to Michael Lauer,” deputy director for extramural research at NIH.

Morens also told Daszak that Fauci and then-NIH Director Francis Collins are “trying to protect you, which also protects their own reputations,” apparently meaning against allegations that U.S. tax dollars passed through EcoHealth funded research that may have led to SARS-CoV-2’s emergence.

The subcommittee said it found emails that revealed “likely illegal” practices, including an April 2020 email in which Morens shared a “new NIAID implementation plan” with Daszak and an August 2020 email in which Daszak mentioned a “kick-back” to Morens after NIH awarded $7.5 million to EcoHealth.

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