• House Judiciary Committee Is Going to Talk to Everyone
• Trump Will Sign Executive Order Requiring Colleges to "Support Free Speech"
• GOP Activists Are Worried Trump Has No 2020 Strategy
• Hickenlooper Is In
• Clinton Is Out
• O'Rourke Is High
On Sunday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) became the fourth Republican senator to declare his intention to vote down Donald Trump's national emergency declaration. Operating under the assumption that those four stick to their guns, and that the 47 Democrats and Independents in the chamber stay unified, then that would be enough votes for the emergency-canceling resolution to pass both houses of Congress, sending it to Trump for an inevitable veto.
As is turns out, it apparently does not matter if one of the four Republicans backs down, or if one or more Democrats (Joe Manchin? Doug Jones?) defects, because the resolution will pass anyhow. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Paul both said on Monday that there are at least 10 Republicans ready to vote against Trump on this matter, and that it's a certainty he will lose and be compelled to issue his first veto. The votes for an override aren't there, at least in the House, so that likely would be the end of the matter until the courts have their say.
However, there is still some drama left, as we find out more about the colleagues that Paul and McConnell both refer to. A few of them, like Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Mitt Romney (R-UT), are guessable, but it will be very interesting to see who else from the Republican side joins them. Further, "at least 10" could turn into considerably more than 10, particularly if McConnell lets this thing linger in order to give Trump maximal time to consider canceling the emergency. If it's well more than 10 (or even if it isn't), how will Trump react to being poked in the eye by a GOP-controlled Senate? It would seem that both chambers of Congress are going to be in his doghouse for a while. (Z)
On Monday, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) released the full list of people and entities that he wants to take a long look at, and it is...extensive. Santa Claus, Bigfoot, and anyone who was standing on the grassy knoll on November 22, 1963, are in the clear, but just about everyone who is, or has been, in Donald Trump's orbit is going to need to lawyer up.
The list, of course, includes the usual suspects, like Roger Stone, Sam Nunberg, Carter Page, and Jerome Corsi, as well as the organizations they may have talked with during the campaign, like Wikileaks and Cambridge Analytica. All of the various entities formed by Donald Trump for campaign purposes, including the campaign organization itself, his transition team, and his inaugural committee, made the cut. So did the Trump Organization (and several of its employees, like CFO Allen Weisselberg), along with the Trump Foundation. The sons of Trump, Eric and Don Jr., are on the list, as is son-in-law Jared Kushner (and his businesses) but, interestingly, no Ivanka. Each of the President's three campaign managers, Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort, and Corey Lewandowski, are going to get a look-see, as is Reince Priebus, who was running the RNC during the campaign, and will presumably be asked about who changed the GOP platform to be more Russia-friendly, and why. Speaking of Russia, several folks from that part of the world are going to come under Nadler's microscope, including Anatoli Samochornov and Viktor Vekselberg. No Natalia Veselnitskaya, though, presumably because she's a Russian citizen and would tell Nadler to get lost.
Trump, of course, is none too happy about any of this, and he has been venting on Twitter:
“We the people will now be subjected to the biggest display of modern day McCarthyism....which is the widest fishing net expedition....every aspect of the presidents life....all in order to get power back so they can institute Socialism.” @seanhannity— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 5, 2019
Presumably, Trump should know a little bit about McCarthyism, since he was good buddies for many years with McCarthy's right-hand man Roy Cohn. Whether Sean Hannity, who is the source of this quote, knows what McCarthyism actually was is anyone's guess. In any case, it involved hauling people before Congress without any evidence of wrongdoing, especially since what they were accused of is not actually a crime. Many of the folks in Trump's orbit are accused of actual crimes, and there is evidence of their malfeasance (sometimes copious evidence). Beyond those two minor differences, however, the McCarthyism parallel is rock solid.
Speaking of venting, Trump also got a fair bit of attention with this tweet over the weekend:
For the Democrats to interview in open hearings a convicted liar & fraudster, at the same time as the very important Nuclear Summit with North Korea, is perhaps a new low in American politics and may have contributed to the “walk.” Never done when a president is overseas. Shame!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2019
Exactly how the Cohen hearings played a role in the failure of the negotiations with Kim Jong-Un is not clear, and Trump has declined to clarify. Also, a portion of the Watergate hearings were indeed held while Richard Nixon was out of the country (visiting Leonid Brezhnev in Russia, in particular).
Meanwhile, newly-installed AG Bill Barr, who hemmed and hawed over the matter during his confirmation hearings, announced that he would not recuse himself from overseeing Robert Mueller's investigation. That is not a surprise, and means that he will be the one who receives the report, and he will be the one who decides what to do with it. That said, even if he's in the bag for Trump, burying the report is all but impossible politically and logistically at this point. If Barr were to keep all or part of it a secret, it would look very fishy. Further, with a White House that leaks like a sieve, a copy would still probably find its way into the hands of a Ronan Farrow or a Maggie Haberman. And House Democrats, of course, would call Mueller to testify about what he found out. Heck, even if they didn't, he's already shown them the way, such that they are likely to find most of all of the things he did, and probably more, since they don't operate under the limits imposed by his mandate. In short, it won't make Democrats happy that Barr chose not to recuse, but it also won't matter much, either. (Z)
Donald Trump loves executive orders, and he loves to pander to the base, even if his actions don't amount to anything substantive. And so, it is entirely in character that he declared over the weekend that he will issue an order compelling college campuses to "support free speech." The President also specifically referenced Hayden Williams, the conservative activist who was allegedly punched in the face while visiting Berkeley, saying "If they want our dollars, and we give it to them by the billions, they've got to allow people like Hayden and many other great young people and old people to speak."
This is, of course, a giant nothing. Although the Fox Newses and the Breitbarts of the world like to portray college campuses as bastions of far-left radicalism run amok, with the thought police in those places forbidding access to anyone who is to the right of Karl Marx, nobody (even the folks at Berkeley) is denying conservatives the chance to speak on their campuses. At least, not for political reasons. In Williams' case, and indeed in the case of any conservative (Ben Shapiro, Milo Yiannopoulos, David Horowitz, etc.) who is asked to stay away from a given campus, the issue is not one of free speech, but instead security. Sometimes, campus police departments—which are stretched thin, and must tread delicately—simply cannot guarantee the safety of unpopular or controversial speakers.
And regardless of what the issue is, an executive order isn't going to have any effect, anyhow. If free speech issues do (allegedly) arise, how will that be judged? What will the penalty be for violating the "rules"? How will that penalty be enforced? An executive order cannot address any of these questions. So, this is just sound and fury, signifying nothing. Actually, Trump probably doesn't know his history well enough to be aware of it, but he's really just running a play from the playbook of Ronald Reagan, who rode the "mess at Berkeley" to the California governor's mansion in 1966. (Z)
Given that the previous item is about an empty gesture meant only to toss some red meat to the base, it seems apropos to follow up with an item from last week, reporting that GOP donors and activists are very worried that Donald Trump has no campaign strategy for 2020, and that even if he does develop one (or if one is developed for him), he won't stick with it. They are also concerned that his fundraising apparatus is not up to the task, even with all the cash he's banked in the last two years.
They are, of course, correct to be concerned. Trump has spent his whole life operating on instinct, and that includes the three years of his political career. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, especially this particular old dog. And his instinct is to fire up the base, any way he can, and let everything else take care of itself. Naturally, that ignores the fact that he won a fair number of non-base votes that are likely no longer his, that Democrats are going to be extra motivated in 2020, and that members of the blue team are not likely to expend votes on third party candidates this time around. All of those things make the razor-thin margins Trump won by in the key states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin deeply problematic in terms of his reelection chances.
Of course, Trump insiders could point to what happened in the 2018 midterms, in hopes that the President will see the light and change course. However, they have already done that, and Trump has made clear that his lesson is that he didn't do enough to rally the base. What this means, presumably, is that things like the executive order on campus speech is just an entrée, and that he is going to bury the base in so much red meat in 2020 that it will be necessary to hand out statins at his rallies. In turn, that sounds like a recipe for, very possibly, the ugliest and most tension-filled presidential election in U.S. history. Just this weekend, Carl Bernstein opined that the U.S. is in the midst of a "cold civil war" that could be ignited into a hot civil war by Trump and his reaction to the various setbacks that may be coming down the pike. The veteran reporter could be right. (Z)
The Democrats' 2020 field is going to have a healthy supply of Western governors. Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) declared last week. And on Monday, former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper joined the fray, releasing an announcement video entitled "Stand Tall":
It's meant to introduce viewers to Hickenlooper's life story, and so it's not a campaign platform. But even by that reduced standard, it is exceedingly thin on information as to exactly what he stands for, other than standing up to bullies like Donald Trump (who is pictured), and bringing "change" to Washington.
In contrast to Inslee, who is running as an unabashed leftist and an eco-warrior, Hickenlooper is a centrist who will argue that his success as a businessman, his years as mayor of Denver and as governor, and his willingness to reach across the aisle will allow him to get things done. That may not be the pitch that Democratic voters are looking for this year, and if it is, there are some much higher-profile folks who are making the same case. In fact, except for the success in business, that is Sen. Amy Klobuchar's (DFL-MN) angle, and it will also be the basic message of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and of Joe Biden, if and when either of them declares. Hickenlooper is going to have a tough time getting enough attention and developing enough name recognition, given that he's basically unknown outside the Mountain West. And it is not a good sign for him that his announcement video had been viewed only 20,000 times as of midnight EST on Monday; there are other candidates whose videos surpassed that mark in the first 15 minutes after they were released.
Our profile of Hickenlooper is here. (Z)
Hillary Clinton had already given us a 90% Sherman, saying that she could not imagine running for president again, and meeting with other declared candidates (like Amy Klobuchar) and potential candidates (like Joe Biden) who were interested in getting her support. On Monday, the Democrats' 2016 nominee went to 100%, and said, "I'm not running, but I'm going to keep on working and speaking and standing up for what I believe."
Clinton also made clear that she expects to play a role in the 2020 campaign, and declared that, "I'm not going anywhere." Exactly what that role will be remains to be seen. She is, and forever will be, someone who makes certain segments of the populace see red, so it is unlikely the blue team will deploy her in, say, swing states. Actually, she's not the world's greatest speaker, so maybe she won't do much stumping at all. She could help raise funds, obviously, since that is one of her fortes. However, the most useful role for her might be something along the lines of the Democratic "bad cop," going on television shows, etc., to push Donald Trump's buttons, and to make criticisms of him and the GOP, while allowing the Democrats' candidate to be the "good cop" who stays above the fray.
While we are on the subject of not running for president, it is at least worth mentioning that former AG Eric Holder wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post yesterday stating: "Though I will not run for president in 2020, I will continue to fight for the future of our country through the National Democratic Redistricting Committee and its affiliates." He didn't say what he would do if the convention drafted him, so it is not the full Sherman, but since there is just about zero chance that the convention will do that, count him out. Besides, the job of Obama v2.0 has already been filled (by Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ). (Z)
Ok, he may not personally be high, but he declared on Monday that others should be allowed to do so legally. In an e-mail sent to the folks who supported his Senate campaign, he announced his support for nationwide legalization of marijuana, and also laid out a number of other changes to the criminal justice system that he would support, including an end to privately-owned prisons, cancellation of minimum sentencing guidelines, and working to ease felons' transition back to civilian life.
Given that O'Rourke has already ruled out a Senate run, and given that candidates for dogcatcher or Aetna boardmember do not announce their five-point plans for criminal justice reform, this is a clear prelude to the 2020 presidential run that O'Rourke strongly hinted at last week. And while most of these ideas, particularly the legal pot, have been a part of O'Rourke's platform throughout his political career, he's definitely making a point of highlighting his progressive bona fides, and not some of the more centrist positions he took as a member of Congress. For example, he's pretty pro-business, something that contrasts starkly with some of the other folks in the progressive lane, particularly Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). On the other hand, he's more than two decades younger than either of them. Presumably, we are going to find out what matters more to the under-40 voters all three of these candidates covet. (Z)
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Mar04 House Judiciary Committee Will Start Investigating Trump
Mar04 Schiff: There is Already Evidence of Collusion
Mar04 Plurality of Voters Believe Michael Cohen
Mar04 CPAC Attendees Are Worried about Biden
Mar04 Voters Don't Want a Socialist President
Mar04 A Ranking of the Democratic Candidates
Mar04 A First Look at the Electoral College
Mar04 Three States Replace Vulnerable Voting Machines--with New Vulnerable Voting Machines
Mar04 Roger Stone's Trial Will Take 5 to 8 Days
Mar04 Monday Q&A
Mar02 All Kinds of Trouble for Trump
Mar02 Washington Governor Is In(Slee)
Mar02 Saturday Q&A
Mar01 Following Cohen Testimony, Members of Congress Make Their Next Moves
Mar01 GOP Senators to Trump: Drop the Emergency
Mar01 Trump Sides with a Strongman Again
Mar01 RNC Chair Tacitly Threatens Potential Trump Challengers
Mar01 Wheeler Confirmed to Lead EPA
Mar01 Netanyahu Indicted on Corruption Charges
Mar01 Democratic Presidential Candidate of the Week: Jeff Merkley
Feb28 Cohen Channels His Inner Dean
Feb28 Collateral Damage from Cohen's Testimony
Feb28 Takeaways from the Cohen Hearings
Feb28 The View from the Right
Feb28 Summit Ends with a Thud
Feb28 O'Rourke's Plans Come Into Focus
Feb27 House Votes to Kill Emergency Declaration, 245-182
Feb27 Cohen Testifies
Feb27 Background Checks Bill on Deck
Feb27 Trump Meets with Kim Today
Feb27 2020 Won't Be 2016 Redux for Democrats
Feb27 Hogan Clearly Prepping for a 2020 Primary Challenge
Feb27 Harris Is Out in NC-09
Feb27 Next Mayor of Chicago Will Be a Black Woman
Feb26 Congress Prepares for Vote on National Emergency
Feb26 Warren: No Sucking Up to Wealthy Donors for Me
Feb26 Former Klobuchar Staffers Come to Her Defense
Feb26 New York Goes After Trump's Taxes
Feb26 Former Campaign Staffer Sues Trump for Unwanted Kiss, Discrimination
Feb26 White House to Set Up Anti-Climate Change Panel
Feb26 Trump Takes the Oscar Bait
Feb25 Schiff: I Will Have Mueller Testify
Feb25 Trump Picks Billionaire GOP Donor for U.N. Ambassador
Feb25 Dozens of Former National Security Officials Denounce Trump's Emergency
Feb25 Pompeo Contradicts Trump on North Korea
Feb25 Harris Announces Her Plan
Feb25 Colorado Is Poised to Join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact
Feb25 Bennet Visits Iowa
Feb25 Sanders Leads in New Hampshire