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.”
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).
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.
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.