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Political Wire logo Trump Tiring of Mulvaney
Pompeo Still Weighing Senate Bid
Iran’s President Mocks Trump
Democrats Seek Candidate with Experience
Budget Deal Seems Out of Reach
House Pay Raise In Doubt

Trump Aggressively Shifts Gears, Twice in Two Days

As we noted on Friday, Donald Trump pulled the plug on a planned military strike against Iran at the last minute. He explained over the weekend that he learned, just minutes before operations were to begin, that it was estimated that 150 Iranians would die in the strike, and he couldn't countenance that. Then, on Saturday, Trump (temporarily?) called off the ICE raids he had threatened just days earlier:

It's actually true that the Democrats made this request; Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) spoke to Trump on Friday night and asked him to hold off.

In both cases, Trump's publicly stated reasoning for his change of heart does not quite ring true. There is zero chance that nobody thought to tell him about the Iran casualty estimates until the last minute; that sort of information is presented as part of the preliminary briefing, days or weeks before the actual attack takes place. Further, for this to be 100% true, it would assume that Trump is willing to starve thousands of civilians with sanctions, but not willing to risk the lives of hundreds of people, many of them combat soldiers. The whole story so badly fails the smell test that even the folks on Fox News were questioning it this weekend. Meanwhile, phone call from Nancy Pelosi or no, he cannot possibly believe that holding off on the raids is going to substantially change the nature of his ongoing fight with House Democrats. Put another way, he's tried to hold their feet to the flames several times before (e.g., with the government shutdown), and their basic position hasn't changed. It's not going to change now.

So, what's really going on here? It's hard to say with woefully incomplete information, but here are three theories. First, bluff and bluster have been among the foremost tools in Trump's toolkit for his entire professional life. On the other hand, he's also spent his entire life trying to avoid any consequences for his actions (usually with some success). It could be that this is just same old, same old, and that Trump is willing to bluff with Iran and/or House Democrats, but he's not willing to bear the consequences of his decisions, which would have included a great meany dead people in Iran, and a probable repeat of the family separations, children in cages, etc.

The second theory goes hand-in-hand with the first. When Trump had three or four years left in his term, he could afford to be a little more aggressive (or reckless, if you prefer). To take one example, are the deaths of four soldiers in Niger in early 2018 likely to weigh on voters' minds in November 2020? Probably not. But now, election season is in full swing, and any consequential decision could affect Trump's reelection chances, making him more skittish. If so, it would be ironic, because he won election in the first place by going on instinct, and not particularly caring about what voters might think.

And finally, another commonality between the two stories is that the administration clumsily telegraphed something that should have remained a secret. By the time the Iran raid was set to take place, everyone on the planet who was paying attention knew it was coming. Same for the ICE raids. In both cases, the lack of secrecy had the potential to decrease the rewards of the action while also increasing the costs. It's possible that the delay was meant to recapture the secrecy, and that either raid (or both) will go forward at some future date. It's also possible that the cancellations were a way to push the eject button without admitting the culpability of a president and a White House that leak like a sieve. Imagine, for example, that instead of 150 people dying, 500 died. And then, imagine it came out that 150 was the original Pentagon estimate, but the additional 350 deaths were because the Iranians knew what was coming and things got much messier. That would look very bad for the administration, particularly if some sizable portion of the 350 was American soldiers, as the blood of those people would appear to be on the President's hands.

Again, all of this is guesswork. And it should be noted that Democrats, who almost universally oppose both military action in Iran and ICE raids, are thrilled with the current outcomes. We shall see if the current status quo holds, however. (Z)

The Subpoenas May Fly This Week

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) said yesterday that House Democrats want former special counsel Robert Mueller to testify before Congress, something Mueller doesn't want to do. Schiff said that he and others have had private discussions with Mueller about whether he would appear voluntarily, or whether the House would have to issue a subpoena to get him to show up. If a subpoena is going to be issued, it could be either Schiff's committee or the Judiciary Committee that does it. It could also be both as they have different focuses. Schiff is interested in the Russian interference in the 2016 election whereas Judiciary is interested in possible obstruction of justice. No timeline has been set, though.

Meanwhile, over at the House Oversight Committee, Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) wants to grill Kellyanne Conway over the allegations from the Office of Special Counsel that she has violated the Hatch Act multiple times. The Hatch Act prohibits most government employees (with the president and veep being the main exceptions) from using government resources for partisan purposes. Cummings has invited her to testify before his committee and given her until 5 p.m. today to tell him if she is going to show up. She is very defiant, and if she even bothers to answer, the answer will be "no." She joked, saying: "Let me know when the jail sentence starts." If she doesn't agree to show up voluntarily, Cummings will hold a vote on Wednesday and then issue a subpoena for her. If she violates the subpoena, Cummings might go to court to get it enforced. If there is anyone in the administration who is more hell bent than Donald Trump on stonewalling, it is Conway. (V)

Poll: There Are Too Many Candidates

As the week of the first Democratic debates dawns, we now have a Hill/HarrisX poll of Democratic voters in which 72% think there are too many Democrats running for president. On the other hand, 12% don't think there are enough, while 16% think 23 is a fine number. Older voters, especially, think there are too many candidates, while younger ones think the more, the merrier. Among whites, 84% think there are too many but among minorities, only 58% think there are too many.

Many observers think that the field will be winnowed after the second debate on account of the higher eligibility requirements for the third debate. Candidates who don't make the cut for the third may well get the message that they are wasting their time and call it quits. Also a factor is that a number of party leaders want some of the candidates, especially Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT), Beto O'Rourke, and John Hickenlooper, to drop out as fast as possible and run for the Senate. (V)

Why Isn't Trump Benefiting More from a Good Economy?

As James Carville so aptly put it: "It's the economy, stupid." But for some reason, Donald Trump is not polling well among people who think the economy is doing just fine. These are the people who should be the most pro-Trump. What the polls consistently show is that Trump's approval rating with people who approve of the state of the economy is 25 points below what they think of the economy. These people include young voters and white college graduates, among others.

In the past, people who thought the economy was doing well supported the incumbent. In 2004, George W. Bush won 90% of the voters who said the economy was doing fine. He also won 80% of the voters who said their personal situation had improved since 2000. In 2006, 71% of Americans who liked the economy had a positive feeling about George W. Bush. In 2012, 90% of voters who said the economy was doing well voted for Barack Obama. However, in a recent Quinnipiac poll, among white voters with at least a 4-year college degree, 89% said their personal economic situation was good or excellent but less than half approve of Trump's job performance and 45% strongly disapprove of it. Only 40% said they would vote for Trump if matched against Joe Biden. Normally, the people on the top of the economic pyramid in good times don't vote for change.

Part of Trump's problem is that he doesn't seem to want to run on the economy. In his campaign launch last week, he mostly talked about how only he can protect America from immigrants, socialists, the media, Washington insiders, foreign countries, and domestic elites. That may well be red meat for his base, but it is toxic for suburban college-educated women. It also does not help him that he's openly warring with his own pick for chair of the Federal Reserve, which gives the (somewhat justified) impression that the President isn't especially responsible for the current state of the economy, and the Fed is. (V)

What If Trump Loses But Won't Concede?

The subject of what happens if Donald Trump loses the 2020 election but refuses to concede keeps coming up. The thought of the lawsuit-happy Trump contesting the election results in court is making some Democrats increasingly nervous. Media pieces about the situation are starting to crop up as well, such as this one in Politico. Could it happen? And if so, how?

For starters, between the time the unofficial vote tally in a state is announced and the secretary of state for that state certifies the election, Trump could sue in federal court alleging that non-citizens voted and the election should be thrown out. However, the presidential electors have to meet in their respective state capitals on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, to formally cast their electoral votes. In theory, between Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020) and the day the electors meet, there could be a new election. However, in that short window, a judge would first have to throw out the election, then a new election would have to be scheduled and carried out. That is effectively impossible in less than 6 weeks. In states where the Republicans control the trifecta, the state legislature could quick-like-a-bunny pass a law allowing the state legislature to choose the electors. In other states that Trump lost, his strategy might be to try to prevent any electors from being chosen in order to get the Democrat below 270 electoral votes, thus forcing the election into the House.

The next key date is Jan. 3, 2021. That is when a joint session of Congress will open and count the electoral votes. If at least one senator and one representative of the newly elected Congress object, each chamber will then deliberate on what to do next. If they come back and reject the electoral votes of one or more states and no candidate reaches the mandatory 270, the House picks the president from among the top three electoral vote getters, with each state getting one vote. Even if the Democrats keep control of the House, Republicans will almost certainly control more state delegations. Then the Senate picks the vice president from among the top two finishers for that office.

We have had contentious elections before. In 1800, the rules were different, with the unintended result that Thomas Jefferson (whom everyone understood to be the Democratic-Republicans' presidential candidate) and Aaron Burr (whom everyone understood to be the Democratic-Republicans' vice-presidential candidate) finished in a tie. Burr refused to defer, and the matter got sent to the House, which just so happened to be under the control of the Jefferson-hating Federalist Party. Eventually, they decided they hated Burr even more, and so on the 36th ballot the House chose Jefferson. That fiasco led to the passage of the 12th Amendment in 1804, however, so the 1800 election is not particularly relevant now.

More relevant is the Election of 1824. In that one, four candidates got electoral votes for president and none got a majority, though Andrew Jackson claimed the most popular and electoral votes. "Old Hickory" really should have been the pick, but Speaker of the House Henry Clay (W-KY) really did not want him, and really did want to be Secretary of State. So, Clay used his considerable influence to tip the election to John Quincy Adams, and was named Secretary of State a week later. Both Clay and Adams insisted, to their dying days, that there was no quid pro quo, but the belief that a "corrupt bargain" had been made hung over their heads for the rest of their lives.

The 1876 election was bitterly fought. No one disputes that Democrat Samuel J. Tilden got 51% of the popular vote to Republican Rutherford B. Hayes' 48%. Tilden got 184 electoral votes to Hayes' 165, with 185 needed for a majority. The electoral votes of Florida (4 EVs), Louisiana (8), and South Carolina (7) were disputed. In South Carolina, for example, the total popular vote exceeded the number of eligible voters, suggesting that something fishy was going on. Each party claimed victory in each state. In Oregon, one of the three electors was found to be ineligible because he was a government employee (a postmaster). Suffice it to say, this was a constitutional crisis. Congress passed a law creating a 15-member electoral commission to figure out what to do, with 7 of the members being Democrats, 7 Republicans, and the last member an independent. Then it got really hairy, with the independent member (Associate Justice David Davis) resigning because he'd been elected to the U.S. Senate by the Democrats in the Illinois state legislature in a futile attempt to buy his vote. Then he was replaced with a Republican (Associate Justice Joseph Philo Bradley). Not surprisingly, all the disputed electoral votes were awarded to Hayes on a straight party-line vote, 8 Republicans to 7 Democrats, so Hayes won the Electoral College 185 to 184. The Democrats were furious, of course, and threatened to contest the election in the courts. In order to get them to quiet down, the GOP agreed to end Reconstruction in the South, a bargain known as the "Compromise of 1877." For the whole and very complicated story, see this Wikipedia article.

2000, of course, saw another hotly contested election result. Al Gore (D) beat George W. Bush (R) in the nationwide popular vote by over half a million votes. But once again, Florida's electoral votes, now numbering 25, were in dispute. The issue was who won the Florida popular vote. After all the votes were counted, Gore requested a recount of four (highly Democratic) counties, as provided for by Florida law. Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris (R), who was co-chair of the Bush campaign in Florida, announced that any revised totals from the recount had to be in by 5:00 p.m. on Nov. 14, so the counties began furiously recounting the ballots, many of which were ambiguous for various reasons, including a peculiar "butterfly ballot" in Palm Beach County that many voters didn't understand. The Florida Supreme Court overruled Harris and gave the counties until Nov. 26 to submit revised totals. On Nov. 26, Bush was ahead statewide by 537 votes, but a court ordered a hand recount of 70,000 ballots that vote-counting machines had rejected. On Dec. 12, the Supreme Court overruled the Florida Supreme Court's decision to allow a recount, thus giving Bush a narrow victory. While all this was going on, the Republican-controlled Florida state legislature was holding a special session to pass a law giving itself the power to pick the electors should it not like what the courts finally decided. In the end, that wasn't necessary.

Getting back to 2020, if Trump refuses to concede, it depends almost entirely on what the Republican Party does. If the leadership, especially Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), feels that Trump clearly lost and the country wouldn't stand for him as president, they could effectively force him out by having Congress accept the electoral votes on Jan. 3. If Trump sits in the Oval Office and refuses to leave, but the rest of the country goes along with the process of electing and installing the 46th president, then he would become the most high-profile trespasser in American history on January 20, 2021, at around 12:30 p.m. EST. The Secret Service would likely arrest him, and if they didn't, the U.S. Marshals or the FBI would. Every power that he has depends on other people following his orders, and if they do not do so, he no longer has any power, legal or otherwise.

But if it is really close, and McConnell & Co. feel they can muddy the waters and muck around with the results, we could have another constitutional crisis. That said, there is one other historical precedent worth mentioning, though it's not an election, and it's more than two centuries old. The Federalist Party was the majority party for the first decade or so of the republic's existence, but was already on the wane by 1798. They did what they could to maintain as much a hold on power as possible, most obviously stacking the courts with vast numbers of Federalist judges (ahem, Marbury v. Madison). They cozied up to business interests, barely even paying lip service to the concerns of non-wealthy Americans. They opposed the War of 1812, and during that conflict some Federalists even talked about arranging for New England to secede (this was called the Hartford Convention). All of this caused the Party to acquire a reputation for being corrupt, elitist, and un-American, and they collapsed as a national force in 1815, with 1816 being the last year they fielded a presidential candidate (the immortal Rufus King).

Nobody can know exactly how relevant the 200-year-old story of the decline and fall of the Federalist Party is today. However, it does suggest that while the American system of government has a lot of room for political partisans to claim more power than is their due, there is also such a thing as "too much." If the GOP does engage in shenanigans to keep Donald Trump in office, then non-Republicans will perceive (with some justification) that in the span of two decades, the minority party conspired to steal the White House (twice), control of the Supreme court, a sizable number of seats in Congress and/or in state legislatures through gerrymandering, and a fair number of governors' mansions and other positions through ballot-box manipulation (slashing voter rolls, voter ID laws, wonky voting hours, etc.). A second civil war is unlikely, and today's GOP may or may not suffer the same fate as yesterday's Federalists. However, as we have been reminded repeatedly in the last several years, this is a federal system where state governments have a great deal of power. A situation where the Californias and New Yorks and Oregons of the world largely ignore the federal government, up to and including withholding tax revenue, is certainly a possibility. It is not actually all that easy for the Feds to put down wide-scale rebellion (see, for example, the anti-Vietnam War protests). So, any Senate Majority Leaders who think they are bulletproof, and that there will be no consequences for their actions, regardless of how undemocratic they are, should think very carefully before acting on that instinct. (V & Z)

Conway Is at It Again

Make that George, not Kellyanne. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Kellyanne Conway's husband, George Conway, who assisted Paula Jones in her lawsuit against Bill Clinton, makes the case that the new rape allegation against Trump is more plausible than the one against Clinton.

Republicans generally believed Juanita Broaddrick, who once claimed that Bill Clinton raped her in a hotel room in 1978. However, Conway points out that in the run-up to Paula Jones' case, Broaddrick swore, under oath, that Clinton had never assaulted her. Last week, a woman named Elizabeth Jean Carroll, who used to have a television program on NBC, accused Trump of raping her in the dressing room of a department store. She told friends but she didn't report it to the police, and stores generally don't put surveillance cameras in dressing rooms, so it is her word against the President's.

Conway points out a few major differences between the two cases. First, Trump bragged—on tape—that he grabbed women by the pu**y, which is what Carroll is accusing him of doing. In effect, she is saying that he told the truth when he made that remark. Clinton never said anything remotely like that.

Second, over a dozen women have claimed that Trump sexually assaulted them. While Clinton was certainly a womanizer, the number of women claiming non-consensual sex with Clinton is far less than in Trump's case.

Third, Trump claims he never met Carroll. That is a lie and there is even a photo to prove it:

Trump and Carroll

The photo was taken at an NBC party a few years before the alleged incident. Both Trump and Carroll are with their former spouses. Conway's point is that if Republicans believe Clinton assaulted Broaddrick, which she denied under oath, but don't believe Carroll, despite photographic evidence that Trump is lying about never having met her, they are being incredibly hypocritical. Kellyanne hasn't commented on her husband's op-ed piece so far. Calling him a liar in public might make for some awkward conversation at dinner that day. (V)

Democrats Are Divided on Health Care

In 2018, Democrats rode the health-care train to victory, picking up 40 seats and control of the House. Many Democrats think that health care is the winning ticket in 2020, as well. The problem is that while they all agree on the problem (health care is too expensive and leaves too many people out), they disagree strongly on the solution.

For the most part, there are two approaches. First is Medicare for All, a plan pioneered by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), which would abolish private insurance and have the entire country be in an insurance system run by the government, somewhat similar to how it works in Canada and most other developed countries. Note that Medicare for All does not nationalize the health providers, just the insurance system. Doctors and hospitals would continue to be run as they currently are. This is in contrast to the socialized medicine in the U.K., where the government runs the hospitals and the doctors are largely government employees. Sanders' plan is also favored by Sens. Cory Booker (NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Kamala Harris (CA), and Elizabeth Warren (MA), as well as Rep. Tim Ryan (OH) and Andrew Yang.

While this idea is new and exciting, especially on the left, all of the other candidates see it as a bridge too far. John Delaney wants to keep the ACA and patch it up, but all the others favor a public option, something that was considered so radical in 2009 that Barack Obama made only a halfhearted attempt at including it in Obamacare, and didn't fight back when conservative Democrats killed it. Now it is the "moderate" choice. Stuff changes. With the public option, private insurance would still be allowed, but those people who wanted to buy into Medicare would be allowed to do so. In effect, the government would become an insurance company and compete against the private ones. At the very least, it would force private insurers to come up with policies as good as Medicare.

The candidates who prefer the public option have somewhat different visions of how it would work. Pete Buttigieg envisions the government eventually driving the private companies out of business by providing better and cheaper plans, thus phasing in a single-payer system. Sens. Michael Bennet (CO) and Amy Klobuchar (MN) want the public option only for small businesses and people otherwise not insured. Joe Biden wants a plan that would be free for low-income people in states that refused to expand Medicaid. Beto O'Rourke wants to automatically enroll everyone without insurance in the public option. And so on. No doubt many other variants will be developed as the campaign rolls on. (V)

Republican Senators Are Divided over Election Security

Republicans are also divided. FBI Director Christopher Wray said earlier this year that he expects Russian interference to be greater in 2020 than it was in 2016 or 2018. Now that Donald Trump has said that he would be willing to accept dirt from the Russians, that is practically an invitation for them to intervene. Many Democrats want Congress to pass new laws to try to reduce the amount of interference, for example, to pay for new and more secure voting equipment.

However, Republican senators are badly split on whether Congress needs to act. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) want more legislation to improve the election infrastructure. Opposing them are Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO), who have made it clear that they oppose Congress taking action because they believe elections are up to the states. Majority Whip John Thune (R-SC) doesn't oppose all congressional action on election security, but says that Congress has already done enough.

Graham is not taking "no" for an answer. His committee has passed a bill making it easier to prosecute someone who hacks an election system (although it does not have any provisions for scooping up suspected perpetrators from St. Petersburg and bringing them to the U.S. for trial). Committee member Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) said Graham has agreed to hold hearings on a bill requiring social media companies to disclose who paid for ads on their Websites. However, given McConnell's opposition to Congress getting involved in elections, it is doubtful that any bills Graham sends him will even get a vote.

Another contentious point is a bill written by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), that would require campaigns to report to the FBI any attempts by foreign nationals to donate to or otherwise help a campaign. McConnell doesn't see the need for that, and it is unlikely to go anywhere. More generally, the chances of any new election-security bills making it through Congress are pretty close to nil and the chance that any bill that made it would get Donald Trump's signature is exactly zero. So if anything is to happen to counter the Russians, it will be up to the states. However, most states don't have the inclination, money, or expertise to do anything, so it is doubtful they will act.

As we have pointed out before, the only thing likely to change McConnell's mind is credible evidence that a well-funded and sophisticated state actor (e.g., China or Iran) is planning to intervene in 2020 with the goal of defeating Trump. Then, he would suddenly become very interested in election security. (V)

Early Democratic Primaries May Influence the Senate Races

It is hardly a secret that Democratic presidential candidates are going to be hanging out in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina for the next 8 months. They will be creating infrastructure there by setting up field offices, training staff and volunteers, collecting information on voters, and more. Pity it will all be useless the day after the primary.

But wait. Maybe it won't be useless. All three states have Senate elections in 2020 and the state Democratic parties are starting to realize that they can take over all of this infrastructure for the Senate races.

The three Senate races are very different. In New Hampshire, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a former three-term governor, will be trying for her third Senate term. She is universally known in the Granite State, which is sort of bluish. Unless Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH) decides to challenge her, she is probably safe. If Sununu runs, the leftover infrastructure will be helpful to Shaheen.

South Carolina is the exact opposite. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is a shoo-in unless he offends Donald Trump, and Trump then encourages someone to challenge Graham in a primary. The Democrats actually have a candidate, however long the odds may be. It is Jaime Harrison, the former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party. He is black, as is 28% of the state's population. That means he will have to peel off a third of the white voters, which is no mean feat in the Palmetto State. He will need every bit of help he can get, and that won't be enough unless a miracle happens.

Iowa is in between. It is a swing state, and while Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is popular, her reelection is by no means a done deal if the Democrats can find a strong candidate. If they can, the infrastructure put in place by the presidential candidates could be very helpful. But so far the blue team doesn't have a candidate.

In Nevada, the issue of infrastructure is moot since neither of the state's senators is up in 2020. (V)

Withdrawal from the Postal Union May Help Trump

If Donald Trump could find a way to reduce election turnout, would he do it? In the immortal words of Sarah Palin: "You betcha!" But this time it is a bit subtle. The Universal Postal Union (UPU) is a 145-year-old international alliance that oversees mail delivered between countries. It has 192 member countries, but if Trump gets his way, in October 2019 there will be only 191. The consequence of a U.S. withdrawal is likely to be that mail between other countries and the U.S. becomes more expensive and less reliable.

So how does that affect the election? It is estimated that about 9 or 10 million American citizens live abroad. Nearly all of them 18 or older are eligible to vote by absentee ballot in the state they last lived in. American citizens 18 or older who have never lived in the U.S. can vote in the state their parents last lived in. Voting by absentee ballot is tricky for people living in countries with slow or sporadic mail service (which would likely get worse if the U.S. pulls out of the UPU). The problem is that states mail out absentee ballots a few weeks before the election and require them to be back on Election Day. If the mail is very slow, the ballots may not make it back on time and the votes won't be counted.

Americans serving abroad in the armed forces are a special case. Effectively disenfranchising people who are putting their lives on the line to defend their country doesn't play well. But if the international mail becomes slow and expensive, that could happen. Private delivery services like UPS, DHL, and Fedex can deliver ballots the next day, but rates are typically $60 and up for a letter, so few voters are likely to use them. The Military Postal Service Agency is working on the problem, but at best that could solve it for active military personnel, but not their spouses, dependents, or the millions of American civilians who live overseas.

Some states allow people to download absentee ballots, print them, fill them out, sign them, and return them by postal mail. That reduces the transit time by half, but not all states allow this. Returning ballots electronically is problematic due to cybersecurity issues.

In fairness to Trump, he wants to pull out of the UPU in order to punish China by raising the cost of sending stuff from there to the United States. Reducing voter turnout is simply an extra added attraction. Still, it could have that effect. Since overseas voters vote in all 50 states plus D.C., there are no exit polls, and no one really knows if these voters skew Democratic or Republican. But generally, high turnout helps the Democrats, so reducing it is probably good for his reelection. (V)

Nadler and Donaldson Reach a Deal

CNN is reporting that House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and former Deputy Counsel to the President Annie Donaldson have reached a deal about her testimony. She is pregnant and lives in Alabama and doesn't want to travel to D.C., but she is willing to answer written questions from the Committee and send them back within a week. However, she said that she will consult with the White House on which questions she can answer. And of course, her own lawyer (and probably the White House lawyers) will review every answer very carefully.

Under these conditions, the Democrats are probably not going to get much information from her and may have to issue a subpoena for her to appear after she gives birth. To a large extent, Nadler blew this opportunity to get real answers from someone who was very close to Trump and who took copious notes to boot. He could have proposed that he and ranking member Doug Collins (R-GA) come to Alabama and interview her in person there, with the interview being recorded for the other members of the Committee. As it is, Donaldson, who talked extensively to Robert Mueller, is likely to get away with stonewalling, at least for the time being. (V)

Programming note: We're going to move our regular features around a little bit this week due to the Democratic debates. We're going to do a Q&A tomorrow and also on Friday so that we can answer some questions about the debates.

If you have a question about politics, civics, history, etc. you would like us to answer, click here for submission instructions and previous Q & A's. If you spot any typos or other errors on the site that we should fix, please let us know at

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jun21 Iran Pokes Trump in the Eye; Trump Blinks
Jun21 Senate Pushes Back on Saudi Arms Deal
Jun21 Hicks Transcript Is Out
Jun21 Roy Moore Is In
Jun21 Biden Steps In It, Again
Jun21 It's Summer, and That Means Fish Fry Day
Jun21 RNC Raises $14.6 Million in May
Jun21 DCCC Outraises NRCC in May
Jun21 Democratic Presidential Candidate Update: Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend)
Jun20 Hicks Refuses to Answer Questions
Jun20 Sanders Takes a Potshot at Warren
Jun20 New National Poll: Biden First, Warren Second, Sanders Third
Jun20 Trump Raises $25 Million in 24 Hours
Jun20 Judge May Reopen Census Case
Jun20 Fed Believes Trump Cannot Remove Powell
Jun20 The Past is Never Dead. It's Not Even Past
Jun20 Senate Bipartisanship Is Coming Up Roses
Jun20 Thursday Q&A
Jun19 Trump "Launches" 2020 Campaign
Jun19 Shanahan Removes His Name from Consideration for Secretary of Defense
Jun19 Hope Hicks on Deck
Jun19 Budget Talks Look Promising, Except for the Fly in the Ointment
Jun19 Everybody Hates Tom
Jun19 Roy Moore to Announce Plans on Thursday
Jun19 A Master Class in Kissing Ass
Jun18 Trump Administration to Launch Another Crackdown on Undocumented Immigrants
Jun18 Mulvaney: Secret Mexico Deal May Remain Secret Forever
Jun18 Iran Situation Is Deteriorating
Jun18 Bad Numbers All Around for Trump
Jun18 Democrats Prepare Ad Blitz
Jun18 SCOTUS Hands Democrats Two Wins
Jun18 Rep. Katie Porter Endorses Impeachment Proceedings
Jun17 The Lineups for the First Democratic Debates Are Set
Jun17 Trump Will Run a Professional Campaign in 2020...Sort Of
Jun17 Fox News Poll Shows Trump Losing to the Leading Democrats
Jun17 Biden Leads in the Early States
Jun17 Biden Leads Trump by 11 Points in Michigan
Jun17 Four Democrats Court Black Voters in South Carolina
Jun17 Wall Street Has Made Its Choices
Jun17 House Democrats Want to Make It Possible to Indict a President
Jun17 McConnell Rejects New Call for Election Security
Jun17 Susan Brooks Won't Run for Reelection to the House
Jun17 Monday Q&A
Jun14 Donald Trump Blames Everyone but Donald Trump for His Controversial Remarks
Jun14 Kellyanne Conway Should Go
Jun14 Sarah Huckabee Sanders Will Go
Jun14 Joe Manchin Might Go
Jun14 Tillis Has to Worry about Being Forced to Go
Jun14 DNC Debate Lineup Is Set
Jun14 Democratic Presidential Candidate Update: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)