Post-Acquittal, Clinton Apologized For ‘What I Said And Did.’ Trump Just Did Whatever The Opposite Of That is.
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20:  President Donald Trump greets former President Bill Clinton at the Inaugural Luncheon in the US Capitol January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump will attend the luncheon along with other dignitaries. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Exactly 21 years and six days ago, former President Bill Clinton took to the podium in the White House Rose Garden and delivered a stone-faced apology to the American people for “what I said and did.”

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Where Things Stand: Nothing Is Sacred To The Freshly-Acquitted Trump
This is your TPM mid-morning briefing.

It’s hardly surprising, but President Trump just used the National Prayer Breakfast to drag his impeachment foes, pointedly mocking Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) for his declaration of faith from the Senate floor and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

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Where Things Stand: Inevitable Acquittal Doesn’t Mean Bolton’s Off The Hook
This is your TPM early-afternoon briefing.

President Trump will be acquitted today. We can’t talk around that fact.

But that doesn’t mean that the conduct that put him in this pinch in the first place will be swept under the rug. House Judiciary Committee Chair and impeachment manager Jerry Nadler (D-NY) reassured reporters this morning that it is “likely” his committee will issue that subpoena that former National Security Adviser John Bolton has been begging for for weeks.

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We’re Tracking The Acquittal Excuses GOP Senators Toss At The Wall Ahead Of Vote
on March 21, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Tierney Sneed and I (but, mostly Tierney) have been keeping close tabs on the main excuses Republican senators are offering President Trump to justify their ultimate acquittal votes, which will become concrete at 4:00 p.m. ET Wednesday.

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Where Things Stand: Faceplant In Iowa

What a mess.

Monday, around 3 p.m., Bloomberg News’ Tyler Pager published a story: Iowa Precinct Chairs Report Issues Using Caucus App, Potentially Delaying Results.

That, it turns out, was the tip of a monstrous iceberg.

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A Contrary View on Caucuses

I wanted to share TPM Reader RB’s more positive take on the Iowa Caucus, if not this particular execution of it. And that prompts me to add this slight qualification of my condemnation. These are great participatory civic exercises. You can see that watching them. They’re just not substitutes for elections. That may be a sort of impossible answer since if they don’t “count” people wouldn’t participate in the same way. But both can be true. We have expectations of elections. And the key one is that everyone gets a voice, an equal voice, at least on the foundational act of voting. Not just everyone in the sense of people who can’t necessarily spend a whole evening out doing this — covering differences in class, having children, working night jobs. That also means people who simply do not want to publicly announce their political beliefs or get hassled by neighbors or strangers about changing their votes.

With that, TPM Reader RB

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A Uniquely American Path to Authoritarianism

For years I’ve been talking about the phrase, the title of an article by Slate’s Will Saletan: The GOP is a failed state and Trump is its warlord. Like a good poem I’ve come back to it again and again and found new levels to its meaning. The key point Will was getting at was that the fractures in the GOP, its ungovernability, institutional breakdown and extremism had made it possible for an outsider to wrest control of the whole thing by ruling only a chunk of it.

This dynamic was presaged in the Republican House from 2011 where the Republican caucus was dominated by three or four dozen hard-right lawmakers who eventually lead Speaker John Boehner to resign in despair and relief. Paul Ryan succeeded Boehner because this ‘Freedom Caucus’-plus faction lacked anything near the numbers to win a House leadership race. But they didn’t have to and perhaps didn’t even want to. They could run the party from outside the leadership. Trump’s innovation was to ape this faction and take over the party from the populist right. He was characterologically in tune and quickly made himself ideologically in tune. There was some hard going at first and breakage underneath the tires. But everyone else eventually fell in line for the same reason the party’s far-right wing got its way in the House.

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Where Things Stand: Dem Sens With Dueling Duties Are Stuck In DC Watching Closing Sham
This is your TPM mid-morning briefing.

Much has been written about Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Michael Bennet’s (D-CO) dueling responsibilities in Iowa and Washington, D.C. as the four juggle campaigning while they’re muzzled for hours and hours listening to the Senate’s impeachment trial. But on the evening that’ll produce the first referendum on 2020 Democratic candidates, their shackling in the Senate feels increasingly futile. Especially after what happened last week.

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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 29: The sun sets over the U.S. Capitol as the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump continues on January 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. The trial entered the phase today where senators will have the opportunity to submit written questions to the House managers and President Trump's defense team. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Now What?

Senate Republicans have secured the votes they need to block witnesses at the Senate impeachment trial, but they don’t appear to have settled on a plan for how to end the trial once that witness vote fails.

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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) returns to the Senate floor following a recess in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on January 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. The trial has entered into the second day of the question phase where Senators have the opportunity to submit written questions to the House managers and President Trump's defense team. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** John Cornyn
What Do Polls Tell Us?

Let me share with you some thoughts about polls and how they relate to the impending Democratic presidential primary process.

Let me start with some core assumptions. First is that I think Bernie Sanders has a range of electoral vulnerabilities that makes President Trump’s reelection far more likely if Sanders is the nominee. I think this is the case because he supports a number of policies that just are not popular and are tailor made for attacks disqualifying him with the general electorate. There’s also a history of identification and left cultural politics that are also tailor-made for the kind of attack ads that can disqualify a candidate.

But there’s at least some problem with my reasoning. As I’ve told you again and again, people discount polls at their peril. They are imperfect and they measure a fluid reality. But they are one of the key metrics that allow us to step outside our assumptions, personal milieu, region, ideology and see what the whole country actually thinks.

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Where Things Stand: Is The Trial Over?
This is your TPM mid-morning briefing.
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: Reporters reach out with their cell phones and audio recorders trying to get a statement from Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) as he passes by during a recess in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on January 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. The trial has entered into the second day of the question phase where Senators have the opportunity to submit written questions to the House managers and President Trump's defense team. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Lamar Alexander

We wrapped up the impeachment trial’s Q&A portion last night and two key senators immediately announced where they stood on witnesses: Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was for them, but Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) was against.

Now we’re waiting for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to make a statement (Romney is a yes). But, as Tierney Sneed wrote last night, the best Democrats can hope for now is a 50-50 tie. Chief Justice John Roberts could break it, but he’s not expected to do so.

Is it game over for Democrats? Not quite.

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Where Things Stand: GOP Senators May Need To Lighten Up On Trump Team
This is your TPM mid-morning briefing.

That is, if they want to continue with their acquittal cause.

President Trump’s legal team made it through the first day of questioning with several bruises, mainly from its attempts to answer questions about the underlying facts of the case against the President.

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WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES - JANUARY 14 2020: U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD) speaks at the Republican Senate Caucus press conference in Washington, DC.
Where Things Stand: It Gets Messy When Trump Allies Have To Turn On One Of Their Own
This is your TPM mid-morning briefing.

In the Trump world, it’s hard to keep up with who the President’s latest enemy is, even for his staunchest defenders. And the uprising against John Bolton this week has been no different.

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Expert On Call: Why Dershowitz’s Constitutional Case Fell Flat

President Trump’s impeachment defense team has been all over the place, deploying an at-times unhinged, but transparent string of defenses since they took over the Senate trial on Saturday.

Before the trial wrapped up for the evening on Monday, Trump attorney Alan Dershowitz took to the floor to lay out a constitutional case against impeaching the President, resurrecting the former President Andrew Johnson-era defense that an act has to be criminal to be impeachable. I spoke to one of our on-call experts about why this argument is dizzying.

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What To Expect In The Next Phase Of The Impeachment Trial

After three days of presentations by the House, followed by three days of presentations by the President’s legal team, the Senate impeachment trial is set to move to a more dynamic phase with a period of questions for each side, submitted by the senators.

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Where Things Stand: Did The WH Just Acknowledge ‘Potential’ Truth To Bolton’s Claims?
This is your TPM mid-morning briefing.

Last night White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham appeared on the Trump administration-friendly Fox Business show “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” when she suggested that former National Security Adviser John Bolton was shamelessly selling his former administration access in his new book.

“How much does it cost to sell out potential national security in your country?” Grisham asked.

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How Things Look Now That We’ve Started The Second Week Of Impeachment Trial

The second week of the Senate impeachment trial kicked off with two major developments: John Bolton’s claim of a Trump conversation where the President linked hold on Ukraine aid to investigation demands; and the President’s attorneys going all in on the Biden smear job.

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WASHINGTON D.C. -- FEBRUARY 12: President Bill Clinton emerges from the Oval Office to talk to the media after learning that the U.S. Senate voted to acquit him of the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice during his Impeachment Trial on Feb. 12, 1999. The charges stemmed from his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly)
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