Republicans stumbling over question at heart of impeachment
A simple yes-or-no question keeps tripping up Senate Republicans: Should the president ask foreign countries to investigate political rivals?
A month ago the question was a legal and constitutional no-brainer. It’s illegal to accept foreign help in a political campaign, an action that also raises questions about U.S. sovereignty. But President Donald Trump last week forcefully defended his right to do so as he publicly called on both China and Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter. A private request for Ukraine to launch a probe triggered an impeachment inquiry in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
On Thursday, two Republican senators — Joni Ernst of Iowa and Cory Gardner of Colorado — repeatedly refused to answer reporters’ questions on whether a president should make such a request of a rival power. “I don’t know that we have that information in front of us,” Ernst said in Iowa, even though the president made the request in front of cameras on the White House lawn.
Ukraine didn’t get more complicated. We are just getting corroboration that Trump tried to extort that country for personal gain by influencing the 2020 election. But we are learning how extensive the effort was and it’s a blight on State and DOJ as well as Rudy.
Trump finds himself fighting political wars on two fronts
It’s one thing for a president to be fighting against his impeachment and removal from office.
And it’s entirely another when the same president decides to alienate his party — plus the opposition and much of the world — by allowing Turkey to invade Northern Syria against Kurdish fighters.
“Instead of enjoying uncontested GOP support as he plunges into a constitutional showdown with House Democrats and prepares for a bruising reelection campaign, Trump is now fighting on two fronts within his party,” the Washington Post writes. ...
And when it comes to the 2020 race, Trump is fighting on a third different front — against Joe Biden.
"Donald Trump has violated his oath of office, betrayed this nation and committed impeachable acts," Biden said yesterday in New Hampshire, per NBC News. "He should be impeached."
"I'm not going to let him get away with it," Biden added. "He's picked a fight with the wrong guy."
A Betrayal Too Far
Trump’s abrupt and stunning act of dereliction startled everyone he should have consulted beforehand: our State Department, Pentagon, intelligence community, allies, key members of Congress—and the Kurds themselves. He discussed this only with the Turkey’s authoritarian, who is determined to quash a fighting force tied to Kurdish insurgents inside Turkey. In acceding to Turkish aggression on the basis of a single phone call from a crafty autocrat, Trump contemptuously ignored all advice, and abandoned a painstaking American diplomatic effort to work out an accommodation which would satisfy Turkey’s demands for border security.
Even the normally supine Republicans in the House and Senate seem sickened.
Worse, Trump paraded his strategic stupidity and precipitous treachery in all their solitary splendor. Prior to proclaiming “my great and unmatched wisdom” in mastering the situation unassisted, he remonstrated that the Kurds had been “paid massive amounts of money and equipment” to fight a brutal terrorist regime which—he failed to add—American forces could not subdue alone. With ISIS thus quelled, Trump decided it was time for America to bail out of Syria and leave “Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds . . . to figure the situation out.”
Five things you need to know about the poll that’s making Trump so madWhat had Trump particularly incensed on Thursday morning was a new poll from a cable network that’s generally generous in its estimations of his presidency.It’s not true that Trump has never had a good poll from Fox’s pollsters; in January 2016, he celebrated a Fox poll that showed him leading in the Iowa caucuses. Nor is it the case that Fox’s poll team generally mirrors the network’s coverage. The pollsters represent the sort of objective analysis that the network’s pundits only claim to espouse.
Still work to do, but the evidence is there. The impeachment hearings need to present it to the public.
Here’s why Trump voters cannot be convinced:
But the evidence is overwhelming.
Bridget Read/The Cut:
Women Know Warren Isn’t Lying About Pregnancy Discrimination
Per CBS, Warren left before a 1972 ruling in the New Jersey State Division of Civil Rights overturned a “requirement” that “a teacher must leave school after her fifth month of pregnancy,” and long before Congress finally passed Title VII in 1978, amending the Civil Rights Act to “prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.” But the Free Beacon’s line of reasoning is not only ahistorical; it is ludicrously, offensively out of step with how nearly all workplace discrimination functioned, and still functions today, for so many women.
The New York Times documented earlier this year how pregnancy discrimination is still rampant among American companies, which “systematically sideline” pregnant women through back-channel means such as passing them over for promotions, steering them away from assignments, or firing them for complaints. Complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about this “maternal wall” in employment are reportedly reaching an all-time high — despite so-called improvements in anti-discrimination policies most companies claim to have adopted, like lactation rooms and parental leave.
The whole point is that discriminatory practices work insidiously behind the scenes and are not documented in board-meeting minutes. After the Free Beacon published its story, women took to Twitter to write about their own experiences with these intimidation tactics.
New revelations about Trump test Pelosi’s narrow impeachment strategy
Multiple senior Democratic officials tracking the impeachment inquiry said there is no plan to broaden their investigation to include Trump’s unorthodox request to Tillerson, which the former secretary of state rejected and considered illegal. Nor are Democrats readying a new impeachment probe of Trump’s request last week that China dig up dirt on Biden, which one official said was a public declaration so it didn’t need to be investigated.Some Democrats, however, indicated that the strategy could change.While Trump has blocked numerous administration officials from testifying, Tillerson, who was ousted by Trump, has been willing to participate in previous Democratic inquiries, even secretly answering questions for the House Foreign Affairs Committee last spring. Should Democrats call him to testify, he could be a fruitful witness.
Tom Krattenmaker/USA Today:
Message to evangelicals: Impeachment is about Donald Trump. It's not an attack on you.
A reminder to my evangelical fellow citizens: The impeachment process is not targeting you.
Part of the problem with the Trump phenomenon is the overly large degree to which his supporters identify with him and find validation in his ascent to the most powerful political position in the world….
In the network of white evangelicals committed to Trump, iron-strong loyalty has a twin called "persecution complex." You can hear its voice in the way the Christian Broadcasting Network celebrated its CBN News operation last week on the occasion of the network’s 58th anniversary: “Giving a voice to the forgotten and persecuted,” the headline said. You can hear it, too, in Jeffress’ bid to stoke grievances by calling the impeachment process an attempt to "overturn" the 2016 election and "negate" the votes of the evangelicals who voted for Trump.
Where Jeffress sees an election being overturned and votes negated is hard to fathom. So Trump was barred from taking office in January 2017? Was stopped from appointing a pair of conservative justices to the Supreme Court? Never got his opportunity to yank the United States out of the Paris agreement on climate change mitigation?
By this logic, there could never be an impeachment. Never mind the fact that the framers put it in the Constitution.
Josh Chafetz/NY Times:
The House Can Play Hardball, Too. It Can Arrest Giuliani.
Two ways that Democrats in the House can match the White House’s aggressive tactics.
Refusal to comply with a duly authorized subpoena from Congress constitutes contempt of Congress. Contempt of Congress is a crime, and there is a mechanism for referring such cases to federal prosecutors. The problem, of course, is that federal prosecutors answer to the attorney general and, through him, to the White House, and they refuse to prosecute contempts committed by executive officials. In recent decades, congressional houses have sought a court order requiring executive officials to comply with their subpoenas, but that has all the problems described above.
The House should instead put back on the table the option of using its sergeant-at-arms to arrest contemnors — as the person in violation of the order is called — especially when an individual, like Rudy Giuliani, is not an executive branch official. Neither house of Congress has arrested anyone since 1935, but it was not uncommon before that point (and was blessed by the Supreme Court in 1927). Indeed, on at least two occasions, the second in 1916, a house of Congress had its sergeant arrest an executive branch official. (In that case, the Supreme Court eventually ruled against the House, not because it did not have the power to arrest for contempt, but rather because the offense — writing a nasty public letter to a House subcommittee — could not properly be understood as contempt of Congress.)