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House Is Open to More Articles of Impeachment

The House Judiciary Committee wants to get the courts to rule that former White House counsel Don McGahn must testify. To make it clear that the House has a valid purpose in asking the courts to enforce its subpoena, the Committee left open the possibility of additional articles of impeachment, potentially based on McGahn's testimony. According to reports, Donald Trump gave McGahn an order to fire Robert Mueller, which could easily be construed as obstruction of justice. Democrats want to hear this from McGahn himself. Trump has claimed that no one who ever worked for the government can testify against him.

A district judge has already thrown out Trump's lawsuit, but Trump appealed to the D.C. Circuit Court. A hearing is scheduled before the Circuit Court on Jan. 3, when both sides will make their cases.

The case has implications far beyond McGahn's testimony. If the courts rule that the president can block all current and former executive branch employees from testifying before Congress, then Congress' role as a watchdog is over and the president is effectively a king, with no checks on his power. House Democrats want this issue resolved once and for all. (V)

DNC Tightens the Screws Again

Democratic presidential candidates who are falling by the wayside want the DNC to loosen the rules on who gets to be on stage for the January (and future) debates. The DNC has a different view. Its view is that the process is about choosing one person to be the Democratic presidential nominee. It is not like Saturday morning kids' soccer, in which everyone gets a prize.

Accordingly, the criteria for appearing on stage in January have been upped again. This time candidates must have gotten at least 5% in four qualifying polls released between Nov. 14 and Jan. 10 or 7% in two polls of the early states. In addition, to qualify, a candidate needs donations from 225,000 individuals, with a minimum of 1,000 donors in 20 states. Five candidates have already qualified: Joe Biden, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend), and Sens. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). DNC chairman Tom Perez would no doubt be delighted if no one else qualified, since all of these are viable candidates and none of the others are.

The debate will be held at Drake University in Des Moines on Jan. 14. It will be hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register. (V)

Billionaires Have Spent $200 Million on the Primaries So Far

Together, the two billionaires in the Democratic presidential primaries, Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg, have spent almost $200 million on television and digital ads so far. Bloomberg is the leader, having burned through $120 million in the past 3 weeks. That's more than double what all the non-billionaires have spent, combined.

So far it hasn't made much of a difference, and neither billionaire is likely to be on stage in Iowa in the January debate. Both are polling around 4-5%, although in one national poll Bloomberg hit 7%. That's not much of a return on investment for either one. Bloomberg, with an unlimited budget, is advertising in all 50 states, but his main focus is on the states that vote on Super Tuesday, when about 40% of the delegates will be chosen. (V)

Murkowski Is "Disturbed" by McConnell's View of the Impeachment Trial

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is "disturbed" by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), whose view on the upcoming trial of Donald Trump is first the verdict, then the trial, preferably with little or no evidence presented. She is also unhappy that McConnell, in essence the jury foreman, is working closely with the White House. In a normal trial, if the jury foreman was caught conspiring with the defendant, the judge would call a mistrial. Murkowski sees McConnell plotting together with Trump to work to acquit him as being in conflict with the Senate's role as an impartial arbiter.

Murkowski is often "disturbed," but generally ends up voting the party line anyway. In a similar vein, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is often "concerned," but in the end, usually does what McConnell tells her to do. While it is unlikely that 67 senators will vote to convict Trump, on procedural motions, such as calling witnesses, all it takes is four Republican defections for the Democrats to get what they want. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) is another potential defector on procedural motions, but probably not on the vote to convict or acquit. (V)

It's Christian against Christian

The editorial in Christianity Today denouncing Donald Trump has caused something of a schism in the evangelical movement. Most leaders and publications have no problem supporting a twice-divorced serial philanderer who claims that as a star, he can sexually assault women whenever he wants to. After all, who cares about morality when you get the judges and justices you want?

Now, another Christian publication has entered the controversy. Napp Nazworth, the politics editor of the Christian Post, an online news site, has resigned due to differences with management, which is 100% on the Trump bandwagon. Nazworth tweeted that the publication has chosen to silo itself and represent an ever decreasing slice of the evangelical community. He also noted that the publication's direction may be a smart business move in the short run, but it is bad for the Gospel and for democracy.

Nazworth will take some time off during the holidays, but promised to come back later with the message that by aligning themselves with Trump, evangelicals sully the name of Christ. (V)

Trump Now Wants to Rip American Families Apart

That Donald Trump has been ripping immigrant families apart by putting children in cages is old news. The new news is that he also wants to tear American families apart. His campaign is focusing on family gatherings around Christmas, in which Trump supporters are being instructed in how to taunt and denigrate liberal "snowflakes" in their families and win arguments with them. Rather than celebrating the Prince of Peace, the Trump campaign urges a confrontational approach in an attempt to "own" the bleeding hearts in your family. The special webpage they have put together is here.

If people do this and it works, the liberal uncle or cousin is probably not going to want to see you anymore. Good riddance. A consequence of this in-your-face approach to family matters is that Trump supporters will then not have to hear any dissenting views anymore. They can live happily ever after in their bubble. For Trump, causing supporters to break off with relatives who don't like him is a feature, not a bug. Sort of like the Civil War, which often pitted brother against brother. It worked fine then, so why not again? (V)

McConnell Lards on the Pork

Mitch McConnell has never actually been popular in his home state, but he tries to make up for that by bringing home the bacon. In particular, he has added about $1 billion in projects and tax cuts for Kentucky to a new omnibus spending bill. Among other things, he put in $410 million for a new veterans center in Louisville, $314 million to clean up the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, and a cut in the taxes imposed on Kentucky distillers of $426 million. Although his approval rating is an anemic 37%, he is going to make the argument that only he can do good things for Kentucky.

His likely opponent is veteran Amy McGrath, a Marine Corps veteran who flew 89 combat missions bombing al-Qaeda and the Taliban. If elected, she would be a powerless backbencher, a point that McConnell will hammer home from now to Election Day. (V)

Liz Cheney Still Undecided on Senate Run

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, has a decision to make, and soon. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) is not running for reelection, creating an open seat that Cheney could run for. Normally, this would be an easy call: Of course you switch chambers, especially since she has already won statewide election in Wyoming.

But in this case it is more complicated. First, former representative Cynthia Lummis is already running for the Senate seat, so Cheney would first have to beat her in a primary. Lummis is well known in the state, so it is not clear that Cheney could win.

Second, Cheney is the #3 Republican in the House. In the Senate, she would be nobody. Many people think that if the Republicans were to capture the House, they would make Cheney the Speaker. In the Senate, it will take 20 years before she even gets to chair some committee, let alone become leader of her party. It's a tough call, and with Lummis out there campaigning every day, putting off the decision doesn't help her Senate chances much. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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