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An outsider's guide to the men in Trump's impeachment scandal

Posted October 2, 2019 10:04 a.m. EDT

— During Watergate, then-US President Richard Nixon rode with a gang of political henchmen including crew-cut White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman and pipe-smoking Attorney General John Mitchell -- both of whom ended up in jail.

"All the President's Men" were immortalized in the classic scandal-pic starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. As Trump faces his impeachment cliffhanger, he's got his own crew of Washington heavies fighting to keep his presidency alive. Here's a brief guide:

Attorney General William Barr

Ever since joining the administration in February, Bill Bar has served as a kind of high-level legal bodyguard for Trump. From shielding Trump from the Mueller report fallout to being detailed to deal with the Ukrainian government, Barr's conduct has raised concerns that the wall between the White House and the once-independent Justice Department is falling.

Instead of personal ambition, Barr seems motivated by his view of an all-powerful presidency. There's a reason the President loves him.

This guide was originally published in the October 2 edition of CNN's "Meanwhile in America" newsletter. Subscribe to this email or share with a friend by clicking here.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

As a congressman, Pompeo tormented former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Benghazi. Now this poacher turned gamekeeper is trying to stop Congress from holding the current administration to account by withholding information.

Pompeo, who was on the much-scrutinized July 25 call between Trump and Ukraine's President, has perfected the art of keeping the President happy. His higher political aims mean he's keen to please Trump's base, too.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani

The hero of 9/11 is supposedly Trump's personal lawyer. But his incessant cable news hits are not from any courtroom manual. Rudy Giuliani openly crusaded for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son, and met a government official from Kiev in Spain. Critics wonder whether his freelancing over Ukraine has led the President into a dangerous place.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham

Once a disciple of late Sen. John McCain (who despised Trump) Lindsey Graham is now the President's golf buddy and most vigorous defender. Twenty years ago as a congressman, he helped run the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton, and his defense of Trump has enemies branding him a hypocrite. But Graham knows his role likely means he will be spared a primary challenger next year in his fervently pro-Trump home state.

Vice President Mike Pence

The Indianan is the master of the obsequious tribute that Trump loves. The President sent Pence to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on September 1 (the Veep said they discussed US aid but not Joe Biden.) Pence, like Pompeo, dreams of higher things and covets Trump's voters. But he's in an intriguing spot -- if for some reason the commander in chief had to go, the big job will be his.

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