Gabbard Now the Most-Disliked Candidate
Ex-Hawaii Governor Calls on Gabbard to Resign
Bonus Quote of the Day
Jeff Van Drew Panicked
Ex-GOP Lawmaker Calls for Trump’s Removal
House Could Consider Impeachment Again
• Graham: There Are No Republican Votes to Compel Witnesses
• The RNC Has Vastly More Money than the DNC
• Roberts Is on the Hot Seat
• Jeff Flake Says Republican Senators Are on Trial
• Doug Jones May Put Country Above Party
• Trump Is Filling the Liberal Ninth Circuit with Conservatives
• A Christmas Gift List
Politico had Morning Consult run a poll about Donald Trump after he was impeached. Guess what? The country is still badly divided, with 52% wanting to see him convicted and 43% opposing that. There are also 5% that have no opinion.
Not surprisingly, opinions fall along party lines, with 85% of Democrats approving of the impeachment and only 12% disapproving. In contrast, 16% of Republicans approve of the impeachment and 81% disapprove. Independents support the House's action by a margin of 48% to 41%.
Nearly all polls taken on the subject of Trump's removal have basically the same result. Nothing has moved the needle and unless something very unexpected happens (e.g., John Bolton testifying), it will probably remain like that going forward. (V)
Yesterday on Fox News, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Maria Bartiromo that he didn't expect any Republican senators to vote to compel Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, or others to testify at Donald Trump's Senate trial. He said that forcing people who work for Trump to testify would violate Trump's constitutional rights.
He also said that his vision of the trial is that of Bill Clinton's 1998 trial. The House managers presented the arguments they had found during their investigations, but no witnesses were called. Then the senators voted. End of story. The White House has agreed with Graham on this strategy. That said, Graham (and, by extension, the White House) are conveniently glossing over a couple of things about the Clinton trial. First, while there were no in-person witnesses, the senators did see selected video clips of witness testimony. Second, the Lewinsky situation had already been investigated thoroughly by special counsel Kenneth Starr, with (grudging) White House cooperation. So, the relevant evidence was already known, which is not the case with the Ukraine matter.
As if on cue, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) yesterday pointed out a newly discovered e-mail about how the military aid to Ukraine was withheld. The e-mail, which the Center for Public Integrity obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, shows White House budget official Michael Duffey ordering the Pentagon to withhold $391 million in desperately needed military aid 91 minutes after Trump concluded his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Schumer said that it is essential that the Senate know who gave Duffey his orders and when, so he wants to call Duffey as a witness.
Whether Graham is right about there being no votes to compel witnesses may depend on how the trial plays out. If the Democrats and Republicans can't agree on anything before the trial commences, it is possible that the Democrats will ask Chief Justice John Roberts to make the call. He might or might not be willing to do it. However, if he ruled that each side can call any witnesses it wants to and the Republicans overrode him on a straight party-line vote, 53-47, they might win the battle but lose the war when the Democratic Senate candidates campaign in 2020 harping on this vote until the cows come home. But we are potentially in uncharted territory already. (V)
Impeachment has been kind to Donald Trump. It has allowed the RNC and his campaign to raise boatloads of money, far more than the Democrats. Much of it comes from Republicans agitated by Donald Trump's impeachment. It's common in politics that angry people are more motivated than happy people.
The RNC currently has $63 million cash on hand. The DNC has $8 million. Much of the money has come from online donations, which is not surprising, since Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale is an expert on using digital technology in politics. That's probably why Trump picked him. Last month alone, the RNC raised $21 million to the DNC's $8 million.
But these statistics don't tell the whole story. Democrats aren't sitting on their wallets. Many of them are donating, but to their favorite primary candidates rather than the DNC. Once the Democrats have a presidential nominee, the situation may balance out. Of course by then, the Republicans will have a lot of moola in the bank.
However, not all is doom and gloom for the Democrats. One person—Michael Bloomberg—could bring the situation into balance with a small stroke of his mighty pen. He is 77 years old, is worth north of $50 billion, and knows you can't take it with you. He is also good at math and knows that, for example, $500 million is 1% of his net worth. The median net worth of American families is $97,300, so $500 million to Bloomberg is like $973 to the average American family. How much Bloomberg will put into electing a Democrat who is not him is something only he knows at the moment, but he could be a major factor if he wants to be. (V)
Chief Justice John Roberts is in a difficult position that he didn't ask for and doesn't want, but he has no choice. People who know him say that first and foremost, he is an institutionalist, and deeply cares about the Supreme Court's reputation (and his legacy).
Roberts' immediate problem is that he will preside over Donald Trump's trial in the Senate (see above). If all the senators agree on how to proceed, he will just look serious and do what they have agreed to. But if they can't decide on things like calling witnesses, he may have to rule, and no matter how he rules, half the country will call him a scoundrel. Any controversial ruling—and every ruliing will be controversial—will drag him deep into the political muck he would love to avoid.
But the trial is only his first problem. The Court has taken on two highly charged, if not totally radioactive, cases. Both go right to the heart of executive power, the separation of powers, and Richard Nixon's contention that "when the president does it, it is not illegal." One case is about whether the administration has to obey a congressional subpoena for Trump's tax returns based on a 1924 law that gives three congressional leaders the right to see any tax return they want. The other is about whether states can even investigate a president for suspected routine crimes such as tax evasion. Gee, it's all about money. Who would have guessed? Maybe Deep Throat, who said: "Follow the money." Admittedly, he only said that in the movie All the President's Men, and not in real life, but the point is a good one, nonetheless. (V)
Former Arizona senator Jeff Flake, who was effectively driven from the Senate by Donald Trump for being insufficiently obsequious, has written an op-ed in the Washington Post that is de facto an open letter to the Republicans in the Senate. Basically, Flake is suggesting that maybe, just maybe, they ought to do their duty to the Constitution for once, rather than licking Trump's boots. But the former Senator can't quite get over the hump and come out point blank and say that Trump has abused his office and should be removed from office. Such is Trump's power, even over people over whom he actually has no power at all.
In his open letter, Flake points out what conservatives used to stand for, like the rule of law and mistrust of excessive executive power. He also says that they are living in an alternate reality. In addition, he proposes this simple test for the senators: "What would you have done if it were Barack Obama who has done what Trump has done?" Then he says: "I know the answer to that question with certainty, and so do you." He concludes with: "If there ever was a time to put country over party, it is now. And by putting country over party, you might just save the Grand Old Party before it's too late."
On one hand, it's nice to see a prominent politician of either party stand up and call for his or her fellow partisans to put the country first and the party second. On the other hand, Flake rarely (if ever) summoned the backbone to stand up to Trump while he was in the Senate, even when he had announced his retirement and his career was no longer on the line. Heck, Flake can barely summon a backbone now. So, for him to call for his former colleagues to push back against the President, particularly when most of them still do have careers ahead of them, seems a tad bit...hypocritical. (V)
Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) doesn't take his marching orders from Jeff Flake, and he certainly has a lot more on the line than Flake does, but he might actually be willing to put country first. Yesterday, he talked to ABC's Martha Raddatz, who asked him if he would defect from the Democrats and vote to acquit Donald Trump in the upcoming Senate trial. Since Alabama is one of the reddest states in the country, and one which Trump won by 28 points, a vote to convict Trump would not be a plus for Jones. Couple this with the fact that Jones barely won the special election that put him in the Senate, and only in large part because when the good people of Alabama were faced with a choice between a Democrat and a child molester, they (barely) preferred the Democrat. So a vote to convict could be the end of Jones' political career. Hence Raddatz' interest in how he was planning to vote.
Jones didn't say how he would vote, saying he needs a "full and complete picture," but to his credit he said: "This has to do with the future of the presidency and how we want our presidents to conduct themselves." That doesn't sound like an automatic "acquit." Jones is clearly waiting to see what evidence is presented at the trial, but he might well be willing to put country before party, an odd (almost unprecedented) move these days. Of course, he may also be thinking that he has no chance to win the election (unless the Republicans nominate the child molester again), so if you're going to go down, at least go down with honor. (V)
The California-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was one of the most liberal in the country, allowing California a great deal of freedom on many hot-button political issues. But that is rapidly changing. At the start of Donald Trump's term, Democratic-appointees on the Court had an 11-seat majority. Now that is down to three seats. That means that many of the three-judge panels that rule on cases will now have a majority of Republican appointees.
In the past, when progressive groups wanted to challenge a federal policy, whether it was abortion, immigration, or workers' rights, they would often file suit in California, knowing that the case would eventually go to the Ninth Circuit (and sometimes, but not always) to the U.S. Supreme Court. Those days may be over, now that Trump has filled the court with strong conservatives. But the other options for progressive groups are limited, as Trump has made enough appointments to give the Third Circuit (in Philadelphia) a majority of Republican appointees, too. While the Senate has passed precious few laws, it has been operating as a well-oiled machine confirming nearly all of Trump's nominations to the courts. Many of the nominees were proposed by conservative judicial groups, such as the Federalist Society, which vets them carefully to make sure they don't pick anyone who might be a closet moderate once he or she gets on the bench.
One difference between Democratic and Republican voters is that Republicans are much more attuned to the courts than Democrats and often vote for president based on the kinds of judges and justices they expect that person to nominate. Many Republican voters say they find Trump's behavior disgusting, but justify their support for him by saying "but what about Gorsuch and Kavanaugh?" In other words, nominating judges they like makes up for a multitude of other sins.
Compare that to the Democrats. How much time have the Democratic presidential candidates devoted to talking about their judicial philosophy and the kinds of judges and justices they would nominate if they win? Pretty close to zero. Has any candidate made the centerpiece of his or her campaign: "I will nominate judges and justices who will make their decisions based on the Constitution, rather than on partisan politics?" If so, we missed it. How much time has been devoted to the courts during the many hours the Democrats have been debating this year? Same answer.
If the Democrats win the White House and the Senate, they might decide to fight back by expanding the courts and nominating much more ideological appointees, thus making the courts yet another political branch of the government. That will be much easier these days, given that most judicial filibusters are dead, and blue slips (which gave senators a veto over judges being appointed to serve in their home states) are a thing of the past. If a Democrat is elected president but the Republicans hold the Senate, the president is unlikely to get any judges or justices confirmed. If Trump is reelected and the Republicans get 50 or more seats in the Senate, the parade will continue. (V)
Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin is a staunch conservative, but no fan of Donald Trump. Her column yesterday revealed her list of Christmas gifts:
- House Republicans: Mirrors so they can see how terrible they look when screaming on the House floor
- Senate Republicans: Copies of John F. Kennedy's book Profiles in Courage
- Lindsey Graham: A life-size cutout of his old pal, John McCain whose guidance he now desperately needs
- Donald Trump: A stress ball, so he can get rid of all that pent-up hostility
- Mick Mulvaney: A carton of pens with disappearing ink to give to Trump for his next letter to Nancy Pelosi
- Pete Buttigieg: A suit of armor to wear, now that he has a large target on his back
- Our NATO allies: an election countdown clock
- Joe Biden: A lifetime supply of Wheaties and coffee so he can repeat his debate performance over and over
- Elizabeth Warren: A time machine so she can go back and untie herself from Medicare-for-All
Amazon sells books and movies entitled The Time Machine and Apple computers have a program called "Time Machine," but a real, working one may be a bit tricky to find. And even if you find one, where do you get the 1.21 gigawatts of energy needed to power it? The others shouldn't be a problem. (V)
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec21 Saturday Q&A
Dec20 Democrats Debate in Los Angeles
Dec20 Senate Doesn't Have a Deal on Impeachment Rules
Dec20 Mulvaney Looks to Be a Short-Timer
Dec20 To Avoid Conviction, Trump Needs Only 15% of the Country
Dec20 Senate Republicans Are Praying that Trump Won't Tweet During the Trial
Dec20 Christianity Today Calls for Trump's Removal
Dec20 House Passes USMCA
Dec20 Mark Meadows Will Not Run for Reelection
Dec19 House Impeaches Trump
Dec19 Trump Wanted to See George W. Bush Impeached
Dec19 Giuliani Pal Lev Parnas Received $1 Million from Ukrainian Oligarch
Dec19 Things to Watch in the Democratic Debate
Dec19 Trump Will Use Transgender Rights as a Weapon in 2020...
Dec19 ...And Democrats Will Counter with Healthcare
Dec19 Good News and Bad News for Paul Manafort
Dec19 Collins Will Run for Reelection
Dec18 Tuesday's Impeachment Maneuvering
Dec18 What Senators Are Most Likely to Buck Their Parties?
Dec18 House Passes $1.4 Trillion Spending Bills
Dec18 Georgia Follows Wisconsin's Lead
Dec18 Anti-Trump Republicans form Anti-Trump Super PAC
Dec18 Democratic Debate Is On
Dec18 Gates, Meet Walls (and Bars)
Dec17 Schumer Makes His Impeachment Counter-Moves
Dec17 Van Drew Loses Staff, Gains Two Admirers
Dec17 About that 4%...
Dec17 Thursday Debate in Serious Jeopardy
Dec17 Beware of Stereotype-Driven "Analysis"
Dec17 Some States Spend on Census, Some Don't
Dec17 Not So Fast on NAFTA 2.0
Dec16 How Trump Wins in 2020
Dec16 Booker Asks DNC to Soften the Rules for Qualifying for the Debates
Dec16 Bloomberg: Boris Johnson is the Canary in the Coal Mine
Dec16 Democrats Have Found Their 2020 Campaign Issue
Dec16 Biden Is Counting on Texas
Dec16 Fox News Poll: Half the Country Wants Trump Removed from Office
Dec16 Judge Orders 234,000 Wisconsin Voters to Be Purged from the Rolls
Dec16 New Voters Are Not Like Old Voters
Dec16 Pompeo Opens a Personal Twitter Account
Dec16 Jefferson Takes a Stand
Dec15 Sunday Mailbag
Dec14 Supreme Court to Take Up Trump Taxes
Dec14 House Judiciary Committee Makes it Official
Dec14 Saturday Q&A
Dec13 No Articles of Impeachment, Yet
Dec13 Democratic Primary Debate Dates Announced
Dec13 Beshear Restores Voting Rights to 140,000 Felons
Dec13 Senate Recognizes Armenian Genocide