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Not guilty

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump won impeachment acquittal Wednesday in the U.S. Senate, ending the third presidential trial in American history with votes that split the country and fed the 2020 race for the White House.

With Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, senators sworn to do impartial justice stood and stated their votes for the roll call – “guilty” or “not guilty” – in a swift tally almost exclusively along party lines. Trump, the chief justice then declared, shall “be, and is hereby, acquitted of the charges.”

The outcome followed months of impeachment proceedings, from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House to Mitch McConnell’s Senate, reflecting the nation’s partisan divide three years into the Trump presidency.

What started as Trump’s request for Ukraine to “do us a favor” turned into a 28,000-page report compiled by House investigators accusing the president of engaging in shadow diplomacy that threatened U.S. foreign relations for personal and political gain as he pressured the ally to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of the next election.

No president has ever been removed by the Senate.

A politically emboldened Trump had eagerly predicted vindication, deploying the verdict as a political anthem in his reelection bid. The president insisted he did nothing wrong, decrying the “witch hunt” as an extension of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian 2016 campaign interference by those out to get him from the start of his presidency.

Trump’s political campaign tweeted videos, statements and a cartoon dance celebration, while the Republican president tweeted that he would speak Thursday from the White House about “our Country’s VICTORY on the Impeachment Hoax.”

On Thursday morning, Trump unleashed his fury against those who tried to remove him from office.

“As everybody knows, my family, our great country and your president have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people,” Trump said at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. He spoke from a stage where he was joined by congressional leaders, including Pelosi, who led the impeachment charge against him.

“They have done everything possible to destroy us and by so doing very badly hurt our nation,” said Trump, who triumphantly held up copies of two newspapers with huge “ACQUITTED!” headlines as he took the stage.

However, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said there will always be “a giant asterisk next to the president’s acquittal” because of the Senate’s quick trial and Republicans’ rejection of more witnesses.

A majority of senators expressed unease with Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine that resulted in the two articles of impeachment. But two-thirds of them would have had to vote “guilty” to reach the Constitution’s bar of high crimes and misdemeanors to convict and remove Trump from office. The final tallies in the GOP-held Senate fell far short.

On the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, the vote was 52-48 favoring acquittal. The second, obstruction of Congress, also produced a not guilty verdict, 53-47.

Only one Republican, Mitt Romney of Utah, the party’s defeated 2012 presidential nominee, broke with the GOP.

All Democrats found the president guilty on the two charges.

Both Bill Clinton in 1999 and Andrew Johnson in 1868 drew cross-party support when they were left in office after impeachment trials. Richard Nixon resigned rather than face sure impeachment, expecting members of his own party to vote to remove him.

Ahead of Wednesday’s voting, some of the most closely watched senators took to the Senate floor to tell their constituents, and the nation, what they had decided.

GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee worried a guilty verdict would “pour gasoline on the fire” of the nation’s culture wars over Trump and “rip the country apart.’’ He said the House proved its case, but it just didn’t rise to the level of impeachment.

Other Republicans siding with Trump said it was time to end what McConnell called the “circus” and move on.

Most Democrats echoed the House managers’ warnings that Trump, if left unchecked, would continue to abuse the power of his office for personal political gain and try to cheat again ahead of the 2020 election.

Even key Democrats from states where Trump is popular – Doug Jones in Alabama and Joe Manchin in West Virginia – risked backlash and voted to convict. “Senators are elected to make tough choices,” Jones said.

During the nearly three-week trial, House Democrats prosecuting the case argued that Trump abused power like no other president in history when he pressured Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

They detailed an extraordinary effort by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that set off alarms at the highest levels of government. After Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine, the White House temporarily halted U.S. aid to the struggling ally battling Russia at its border. The money was released in September.

When the House probed Trump’s actions, the president told White House aides to defy congressional subpoenas, leading to the obstruction charge.

Questions from the Ukraine matter continue to swirl. House Democrats may yet summon former national security adviser John Bolton to testify about revelations from his forthcoming book that offer a fresh account of Trump’s actions. Other eyewitnesses and documents are almost sure to surface.

The lead prosecutor, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told The Associated Press he hoped the votes to convict “will serve as a constraint on the president’s wrongdoing.”

“But we’re going to have to be vigilant,” he said.

Pelosi was initially reluctant to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump when she took control of the House after the 2018 election, warning against a partisan vote.

But a whistleblower complaint of his conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy set off alarms. The president’s call was placed the day after Mueller announced the findings of his Russia probe.

When Trump told Pelosi in September that the call was perfect, she was stunned. Days later, the speaker announced the formal impeachment inquiry.

Roberts, as the rare court of impeachment came to a close, wished senators well in “our common commitment to the Constitution,” and hoped to meet again “under happier circumstances.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who had been drawn into the Ukraine affair, signed off on the Senate judgment later Wednesday. “Tonight, it was my pleasure to sign President @realDonald Trump’s full acquittal,” he tweeted.

Jim & Gil's Men's Shop closing after 56 years
 Don Sergent  / 

Neel Dillard left Jim & Gil’s Men’s Shop with two new shirts he bought Wednesday at deeply discounted prices, but he wasn’t happy about it.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Dillard said. “It’s been around so long, and I knew everyone here. I hate to see it close, but ‘mom-and-pop’ stores are having a hard time these days.”

Dillard, 80, has been around long enough to remember when the store on U.S. 31-W By-Pass was run by Gil Cowles and James Bogle, the men who started the store 56 years ago and nearly tripled its size over the years while it became the go-to retailer for many locals looking for business suits, neckties and shirts.

Now run by Diane Cowles (Gil’s widow) and her daughter Michelle Cobb, Jim & Gil’s has discounted most items by 50 percent as the owners prepare to shut the store’s doors for the last time.

Like many local and national retailers, Jim & Gil’s has simply fallen victim to a retail environment that has been transformed in the internet age.

“The right time has come,” Cobb said. “The retail landscape is very different today. People purchase clothing differently. Internet ordering has put a lot of chain stores out of business. It’s getting harder and harder to keep brick-and-mortar stores open. It has really affected our business.”

But Cobb said it wasn’t only Amazon and other online retailers that prompted her and her mother to start a liquidation sale. Clothing trends played a role as well.

“People don’t invest in their clothes like they used to,” Cobb said. “The world is more casual than it ever has been. We always specialized in business-type clothing, and people aren’t wearing that anymore.”

Accepting the retail reality doesn’t make the decision any easier for Cobb and Cowles, both of whom have deep roots in a store that was started by Cowles’ father and husband.

“In 1964, the family saw a need for a men’s clothing store in Bowling Green and opened Jim & Gil’s,” Cowles said. “My father was the bookkeeper until he retired (in 1982). I was working as a hairdresser, but I quit that and started doing the bookkeeping here.”

Selling business suits and renting tuxedos proved to be a profitable business for a good many years, and Jim & Gil’s established itself as the store of choice for many repeat customers.

“My dad knew how to talk to people,” Cobb said. “He was very good at not just selling but developing friendships. He wanted people to come back. That’s the biggest thing he taught me: the importance of developing relationships with people.”

Those relationships are what Cowles will miss most.

“We made a lot of friends here,” she said. “Several of them have come in since we announced our plans to close.”

Cobb expects the store to remain open through the end of March as the mother-daughter business partners try to sell off a large inventory of suits, sport coats, shirts and ties.

“For 21 years, I got to work with my dad,” Cobb said. “I forged a whole lot of friendships that I might not otherwise have had.”

Although she has worked in retail most of her adult life, Cobb isn’t sure what her future holds.

“This is what I’ve done most of my life,” she said. “Going forward, this is what I know; but it also might be a good time to make a change.”

Once the shop is cleared of inventory, Cowles has no plans to sell it. Instead, she hopes to find someone to lease the entire two-story building at 1254 U.S. 31-W By-Pass.

Turning over the keys, though, won’t be easy.

“I hate to see anything close,” Cowles said, “especially a business that has been around so long, but it’s time.”

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

BG welcomes federal prosecutors
 Justin Story  / 

For the first time, a fully-staffed federal prosecutor’s office has come to Bowling Green.

Hailed by U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman for the Western District of Kentucky as an opportunity to bolster working partnerships among local and federal law enforcement agencies in the region, the office was dedicated Wednesday at a ceremony in the William H. Natcher Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse.

“We’re here to reconnect, build a solid foundation, expand our reach and expand our relationships with law enforcement agencies,” said Coleman, a Logan County native.

Space in the federal building that has been used for federal prosecutors visiting from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Louisville will now be dedicated to an office of what will be three Bowling Green-based prosecutors, including Warren County native Mark Yurchisin, who was sworn in Wednesday as a special assistant U.S. attorney by Coleman.

Yurchisin is currently an assistant county attorney under Warren County Attorney Amy Milliken and will be detailed to the U.S. Attorney’s Office to handle criminal prosecutions.

“I’m honored for the opportunity, and (Milliken) has been very supportive in this process,” Yurchisin said during the ceremony. “I’m anxious to begin, and I’ll be here tomorrow working on things.”

Joining Yurchisin in Bowling Green is Assistant U.S. Attorney Madison Sewell, a Henderson native who attended Yale University and Stanford Law School.

Sewell was previously assigned to the Paducah District Office as an assistant federal prosecutor there.

A third assistant prosecutor is anticipated to be hired within six to eight weeks to staff the Bowling Green office, Coleman said.

As a federal jurisdiction, the Western District of Kentucky covers 53 counties. The office is headed in Louisville by Coleman, and court proceedings take place there as well as Bowling Green, Paducah and Owensboro.

In the past, when a federal criminal trial has been held in Bowling Green, the prosecutor has had to commute from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Louisville to present their case.

The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have officers based in Bowling Green, and local law enforcement officials have pushed for a stronger presence from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Bowling Green, among them Tommy Loving, director of the Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force.

“The opening of a U.S. Attorney’s Office will both expedite federal cases and foster a closer working relationship with state, local and federal law enforcement,” Loving said in a news release.

Bowling Green Police Department Chief Doug Hawkins said the full-time presence of federal prosecutors here can help law enforcement agencies determine the best venue to prosecute offenders.

In his remarks, Hawkins alluded to the 2017 robbery of La Placita market, in which a person was shot and killed.

The investigation was handled at the outset by BGPD, but as detectives uncovered evidence that the suspects in that robbery may have been involved in robberies in other states, the case became a federal prosecution.

“What being present does is it allows for partnerships to be built and allows us to get things done better and get things done quicker,” Hawkins said.

Coleman said that ensuring a dedicated office space in Bowling Green for full-time federal prosecutors was a “fairly heavy bureaucratic lift” that required approval from the U.S Department of Justice and U.S. Congress.

In light of growing caseloads among local prosecutors and the prevalence of drug investigations involving crystal meth and synthetic opioids coming from other countries, though, Coleman viewed the step as necessary.

“Cartels are generating dope like we’ve never seen before historically” Coleman said. “This is not a hand-wringing prosecutor, this is a reality that we have to deal with and we have to adapt and grow to face the current threat.”

– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.

The Medical Center increasing diabetes education resources
 Will Whaley  / 

The Medical Center at Bowling Green is reducing diabetes readmissions and increasing patient satisfaction by delivering education with the help of a patient engagement system from TeleHealth Services.

“The Medical Center at Bowling Green identified video education as a means for establishing a standardized approach,” patient educator Andrea Sturm said. “Helpful for hospitalized adults, videos primarily serve to supplement clinician-led teaching, and can enhance the retention of information over verbal instruction or print media alone. Video education improves retention of information in patients with low health literacy. To facilitate delivery of video education, The Medical Center of Bowling Green implemented TeleHealth Services’ SmarTigr interactive patient engagement television system in January 2017. The hospital added a robust library of videos to the system.

“Since improving medication communication was another focus for The Medical Center, clinicians recognized the need for expanding the medication videos with the addition of VUCA Health’s Meds on Cue video library to the SmarTigr system,” Sturm said. “Vendors for the system includes Krames Staywell, Healthy Roads Media, Morrison Management Specialists, the CDC and the American Heart Association as well as videos created in-house.”

Sturm said clinicians participated in “go-live training” to learn how to assign patient-specific education and launch videos on-demand through the computer-based StaffConnect application used at the center, and the feedback was positive.

“Staff immediately appreciated the ease of managing the system from their workstations, as well as the benefit of automatic charting of patients’ video views to the EMR through an added interface. Patients and their families can also play videos on their in-room televisions,” Sturm said, adding that there can be up to 200 patients in the hospital with diabetes and that one out of every four patients admitted to The Medical Center has diabetes.

“As an example, we regularly see patients who have never had a glucose monitor, but they don’t always tell their doctors and nurses,” Sturm said. “The hospital displays information about glucose monitors on the TV and invites patients to call me if they don’t have a monitor. I bring the needed equipment to the bedside and teach the patients and families how to use it.”

Sturm said education also brings diabetes readmissions down.

“We consistently see lower readmission rates among patients who receive diabetes education than among patients who do not,” she said.

She said that since January 2017, the videos are averaging 1,000 views each month with combined video views on diabetes topics and medications now comprising one-third of the total patient education viewing activity.

“The Medical Center at Bowling Green is one of many examples of how hospitals are deploying technology to enhance the patient experience with information, entertainment and integration services through network-based televisions. This successful diabetes education program is a blueprint that can be replicated throughout the nation to address many diseases, improving the health of patients and streamlining care and cost efficiencies for hospitals,” said Kevin Colores, TeleHealth Services general manager.

– Follow Daily News reporter Will Whaley on Twitter @Will_Whaley_ or visit bgdailynews.com.