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Read The White House Response To The Senate Impeachment Trial Summons : NPR


The White House released its formal response to the summons sent by the Senate last week, a procedural part of the impeachment process ahead of the trial that begins next Tuesday.

“The articles of impeachment submitted by House Democrats are a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president,” the White House’s response says. “This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election.”

The White House response is part of the legal paperwork required in the process initiated Thursday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The House impeachment managers filed Saturday their own “trial brief” on their arguments for the two articles of impeachment. The White House has until Monday to file its brief.

The House of Representatives voted last month to impeach President Trump for obstructing Congress and abuse of power. The process was linked to his phone call with his newly elected Ukrainian counterpart. Democrats say Trump sought an investigation into the Bidens in exchange for a release of frozen military aid and a White House visit. Trump has dismissed those allegations.

The Senate trial, where two-thirds of the 100 senators must vote to remove the president, begins Tuesday; Trump is almost certain to be acquitted.



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Journalist ‘rattled’ when masked men stormed Vice offices, trial hears



Pictures of the flyers that were left at VIce’s Montreal offices.


Paul Labonté

Simon Coutu said he felt a surge of adrenaline when it happened: A group of masked men barged into his office, surrounded him and began shouting him down.

They belonged to a far-right group “tainted by violence” whose members were physically imposing, trained in martial arts and had been involved in a 2007 stabbing at a Quebec City nightclub, according to Coutu.

His testimony Monday is central to the trial of Atalante Québec leader Raphaël Lévesque, who stands accused of criminal intimidation for his role in storming Vice Media’s Montreal offices on May 23, 2018.

“When masked men show up at your office, uninvited, it’s intimidating,” said Coutu, a journalist. “It surprises you, it rattles you. … There’s a whole culture of violence associated with (Atalante).”

Since it was launched in 2013, Vice Québec reported on far-right groups like Atalante, La Meute and Soldiers of Odin, often shedding light on their ties to the white supremacist movement.

Coutu said he believes an article published five days before the incident — outlining growing tensions between Quebec’s far-right and anti-fascist groups — led Lévesque to confront him at Vice’s offices with a half dozen masked men.

They tossed clown noses and flyers, and gave Coutu an award for “garbage media.” The plastic trophy was filled with cigarette butts.

A video of the incident, presented in court Monday, appears to show Lévesque thanking Coutu for “starting a war.” Lévesque was the only member of Atalante not hiding behind a mask.

Much of Monday’s proceedings focused on whether Lévesque’s violent criminal record or his membership in the hardcore group Légitime Violence are admissible as evidence.

Crown prosecutor Jimmy Simard argued that those two factors added a menacing dimension to his actions at the Vice offices.

“They project a hard-boiled image, one of people willing to drop the gloves … and commit acts of violence against members of the left,” Simard said. “This isn’t a hearing about the artistic merits of Légitime Violence. This is a political group; they’re not Dadaists.”

Simard argued it might be reasonable for journalists like Coutu to see Lévesque’s tough-guy persona from his band and infer that he carries it with him when he acts on behalf of Atalante.

“When you wear two hats, you cannot chose which one people see,” Simard said.

Performing as his hardcore alter-ego “Raf Stomper,” Lévesque sings lyrics that reference stabbing leftists, and his band’s YouTube videos feature photos of him carrying pistols and of Légitime Violence’s fans armed with brass knuckles.

Lévesque’s attorney, Mathieu Corbo, contends the lyrics and persona of a band have nothing to do with the actions carried out at Vice offices.

Judge Joëlle Roy agreed with the defence, ruling that the issue of lyrics and Lévesque’s music was too broad to be connected to the charge of criminal intimidation for his actions in May 2018. She compared his hardcore persona to a role that an actor might play.

”Now Jack Nicholson has played some violent characters (in his films), but if you saw him at a hotel would you be intimidated,” Roy asked.

Simard objected to the comparison.

”They’re talking about stabbing leftists,” he said. “If Jean-René Dufort did all of these things (at the Vice office), we wouldn’t be here today. He’s a journalist who does satirical work. The accused is part of a far-right group that advocates violence.”

Roy hasn’t ruled on whether Lévesque’s criminal record is relevant to the trial.

Earlier Monday, the defence mentioned that the police officer called to the scene did not report the incident as a crime.

It was only after a series of follow-up interviews with employees at Vice that Montreal police detectives handed the file over to prosecutors. An arrest warrant was forwarded to police in Quebec City, Lévesque’s hometown, on June 18 — almost one month after the incident.

He was released on condition that he promise not to contact Coutu or other Vice reporters. The defence highlighted Coutu’s repeated attempts to contact Lévesque after the May 23 incident, occasionally using a fake Facebook account to reach the Atalante leader.

“I’m a journalist; if journalists took no for an answer, newspapers would be empty,” Coutu said.

During cross examination, Corbo challenged Coutu’s perception that he was being intimidated.

”Did Mr. Lévesque make any threatening gestures … wasn’t he smiling the entire time,” Corbo asked.

”He was smiling … but when masked people come into your office uninvited, it’s intimidation,” Coutu said.

After the confrontation with Lévesque, a colleague of Coutu’s called the police as he began writing an article about the incident.

”I was literally writing the article in front of the police,” Coutu said. “It was my instinct as a journalist.”

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Ex-SNC-Lavalin exec on trial for fraud, corruption won’t present defence


MONTREAL —
A former SNC-Lavalin executive on trial for fraud and corruption has opted not to present a defence.

Lawyers for Sami Bebawi informed the jury of their decision on Tuesday, meaning the evidence is complete and the accused won’t testify.

Bebawi, 73, faces eight charges, including fraud, corruption, laundering proceeds of crime, possession of stolen goods and bribery of foreign officials.

“Mr. Bebawi won’t present a defence,” lawyer Annie Emond said simply.

Justice Guy Cournoyer reminded jurors of an earlier directive that it was up to the Crown to prove the charges against Bebawi beyond a reasonable doubt and that Bebawi wasn’t obliged to present a defence.

The prosecution presented its final witness last Friday.

Bebawi has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which involve contracts tied to the Moammar Gadhafi dictatorship and centre on dealings with Gadhafi’s son, Saadi.

The prosecution sought to prove SNC-Lavalin transferred about $113 million to shell companies used to pay people — including the younger Gadhafi — in order to help the company secure contracts and collect money owed.

The Crown alleges what was left in those shell company accounts was split between and Bebawi and Riadh Ben Aissa, another former SNC-Lavalin executive who testified for the prosecution.

Bebawi was charged in 2014 following an RCMP investigation into what the Crown has described as a case of “international fraud and corruption.”

Jurors will return to hear final arguments from the Crown Monday and from the defence Tuesday before being sequestered mid-week after final instructions from Cournoyer.

The trial began sitting Oct. 31 and was expected to last six weeks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Dec. 3, 2019.



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Bill Cosby says trial was a setup and he “won’t have remorse”


For the first time since beginning his sentence at a maximum-security prison near Philadelphia, Bill Cosby has gone on the record about his trial and life in prison. In an interview with the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s BlackPressUSA.com, the disgraced comedian said he won’t tell the parole board that he feels any remorse for his crimes.

“I have eight years and nine months left,” the 82-year-old said in a phone interview. “When I come up for parole, they’re not going to hear me say that I have remorse. I was there. I don’t care what group of people come along and talk about this when they weren’t there. They don’t know.”

Cosby was sentenced three to 10 years in prison in 2018 after he was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. His comments imply he does not expect to be granted parole at any point and will instead serve his full sentence for the 2004 incident. Sex offenders usually have to show remorse before they are granted parole, according to The Associated Press.

Cosby also railed against the jury that found him guilty, claiming, “It’s all a set up. That whole jury thing. They were impostors.” During the trial, Cosby’s spokesman Andrew Wyatt — who was also on the call with BlackPressUSA — said prosecutors presented falsified evidence, although that claim has not been substantiated.

Approximately 60 women have accused Cosby of drugging and violating them over the past 50 years.

Bill Cosby accuser: “You’re not above the law”

While at SCI-Phoenix, Cosby often speaks to those who are part of the prison reform program Mann Up, although he is not formally associated with the group. As part of the program, he speaks to and works with other male inmates, most of whom are African American. The program, according to BlackPressUSA, “serves to encourage and empower African American men to strive for self-respect and dignity and to put their family first.”

Cosby told the outlet that he is concerned that black people are “under siege.”

“They’ve thrown respect for the family out the window and they’re blaming each other for what’s going on. There is post-traumatic stress syndrome and there are also bad manners,” he said. “…The influx of drugs and what they’ve done with their own history. If they would pay attention to these things and put education first and respect for others first…it’s almost insane to hear someone say they don’t know how to be a father.”

Despite being incarcerated and the attention he has received for sexual misconduct, Cosby assured BlackPressUSA that he is a “privileged man.”

“I am a privileged man in prison,” he said, calling his cell a “penthouse.”



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