Thursday News: Neocon convention?

JOHN BOLTON FEATURED SPEAKER AT DUKE ON FEB 17: According to a news release issued by the university on Wednesday, Bolton will talk about current threats to national security at a speech that will begin at 5:30 p.m. in Page Auditorium on the Duke campus. Bolton will be the spring 2020 Ambassador Dave and Kay Phillips Family International Lecturer, appearing as part of the Duke Program in American Grand Strategy. On Sunday, the New York Times released information about Bolton’s upcoming book, “The Room Where It Happened,” in which he claims that Trump told him he wanted U.S. aid to Ukraine held up until the nation agreed to investigate Trump’s Democratic political rivals. On Wednesday, Trump sent repeated tweets criticizing Bolton and his “nasty & untrue book.” “Frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now,” Trump tweeted.

DECLARING "CLIMATE EMERGENCY," ASHEVILLE GOVERNMENT WILL GO 100% RENEWABLE BY 2030: A North Carolina city has become the first in the state to declare a “climate emergency” and has now set goals on warming greenhouse gases and renewable energy. Asheville City Council unanimously voted for the declaration Tuesday after months of negations between officials and young climate activists, news outlets reported. The council committed to an “equitable and just” citywide mobilization to end greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The council also agreed to accomplish already existing goals, such as switching municipal operations to 100% renewable energy by 2030 and the whole community by 2042. Members of Sunrise Asheville and other local groups inspired by Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg had pushed for a resolution for months. Sunrise Asheville member Alex Lines said Asheville joins 1,300 local governments in 25 countries committed to lowering emissions quickly.

NOTABLE UNC ALUMNI FILE AMICUS BRIEF TO BLOCK SILENT SHAM PAYMENT: Many of them donate regularly and several have led UNC fundraising efforts for capital campaigns or made major gifts to the university that have created endowed scholarships. The brief, with assistance from former UNC historian Cecelia Moore, argues that UNC has always owned the Silent Sam statue and neither the United Daughters of the Confederacy nor the SCV has any ownership interest. That means the SCV had no standing to file the initial lawsuit, and the trial judge had no jurisdiction to enter the consent judgment in the case, they argue. They claim Judge Allen Baddour, also a UNC alumnus, did not have “a complete and accurate factual record” during the initial hearing and that the information in the brief gives him the facts to inform his decision at a hearing on this issue on Feb. 12. The group is represented by two UNC graduates, William Taylor, with Zuckerman Spaeder in Washington D.C., and Burton Craige, with Patterson Harkavy in Chapel Hill.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ JUST MIGHT BE BONKERS: President Trump’s legal team offered a startling defense Wednesday as senators debated his fate in the impeachment trial, arguing that presidents could do nearly anything so long as they believe their reelection is in the public interest. The assertion from Alan Dershowitz, one of the attorneys representing the president, seemed to take GOP senators by surprise, and few were willing to embrace his argument. At the same time, Republican lawmakers were sounding increasingly confident about defeating a vote expected Friday over calling new witnesses in the trial, an issue that has consumed the Senate for the past several days. Dershowitz made his comments as the Senate launched into a question-and-answer session in the second week of the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history. Following a model established during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, senators wrote their questions on slips of paper that Senate pages passed to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the trial. Roberts then read the questions out loud from the dais, glancing over his glasses as he addressed the queries either to the White House defense team or the seven House Democratic impeachment managers.

SENATE REPUBLICANS ARE AFRAID WITNESSES WILL PISS OFF TRUMP AND HIS FANS? In the end, the impeachment calculation nearly all Senate Republicans are making is fairly simple: They would rather look as if they ignored relevant evidence than plunge the Senate into an unpredictable, open-ended inquiry that would anger President Trump and court political peril. As Republicans lined up on Wednesday behind blocking witnesses in the trial, their reasoning reflected the worry that allowing testimony by John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser whose unpublished manuscript contradicts a central part of Mr. Trump’s impeachment defense, would undoubtedly lead to a cascade of other witnesses. They in turn could provide more damaging disclosures and tie up the Senate indefinitely, when the ultimate verdict — an acquittal of the president — is not in doubt. “For the sake of argument, one could assume everything attributable to John Bolton is accurate, and still the House would fall well below the standards to remove a president from office,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. Nearly all of the politically vulnerable Senate Republicans up for re-election in November have embraced their party’s strategy. They have made it clear that they favor taking their chances defending their votes against witnesses over trying to explain to voters loyal to Mr. Trump why they backed broadening an investigation into a president who is very popular with the Republican electorate.