Reeves Wins Mississippi Governor’s Race
Democrats Stay Fired Up
Woman Who Flipped Off Trump Wins Race
Barr Aims to Report on 2016 Election by Thanksgiving
Democrats Win Kentucky Governor’s Race
Democrats Win Control of Virginia Legislature
• Not a Great Day for Trump, Part II: The Courts
• Voters Head to the Polls Today
• U.S. Begins Paris Accord Withdrawal Process
• About that Move to Florida...
• The Castro Death Spiral Has Begun, Too
As we are fond of noting, including once last week, be careful of what you wish for, because you just might get it. Republicans in both the House and the White House demanded transparency from the Democrats, including the release of transcripts of the testimony given to the House committees that are looking into UkraineSCAM. "Ok!" said the Democrats. The blue team is releasing the transcripts at the rate of two per day. It's almost as if they know that the single most painful way to tear the band-aid off is to do it as slowly as possible. Up Monday was the testimony from former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie ("Masha") Yovanovitch and former Mike Pompeo advisor Michael McKinley.
The two documents are almost 500 pages combined, so if you're a glutton for punishment, have at it. Alternatively, just about everyone who is not in the bag for Donald Trump had takeaway pieces, including The Washington Post, USAToday, NPR, CNN, The Hill, and Politico. Or, here's the executive summary of all of these executive summaries:
- Yovanovitch made clear, in her 10 hours of testimony, that the State Department became heavily
politicized, that she was expected to pay fealty to Trump lawyer/fixer Rudy Giuliani, and
ideally that she should go on Twitter and send out lots of pro-Trump tweets. She was also supposed
to do her part to help arrange a quid pro quo with Volodymyr Zelensky. When she refused to play
ball, she was "intimidated," "threatened," told to "watch your back," and pretty quickly removed
from her job.
- McKinley agreed that there was much bullying and intimidation at the State Department, and said
he resigned because he did not approve of the politicization of the Department by Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo, et al. McKinley also said that he wanted to issue a statement of support for
Yovanovitch, and raised the issue three times with Pompeo. The former diplomat insisted that when
Pompeo claimed that suggestion was never made, he was lying through his teeth.
- There are several people who are not in the employ of the federal government, but have an awful
lot of involvement in the conduct of foreign policy nonetheless. Giuliani, of course, but also
Donald Trump Jr. and...Sean Hannity. Their doing so is probably a violation of the Logan Act
and a federal crime (not that Logan Act violations ever get punished).
- Although House Republicans claim they are being shut out of this matter, they have been given ample opportunity to ask questions, and have engaged in vigorous cross-examination of witnesses.
Trump has not responded well to the current turn of events. In fact, one could spend a very long time scripting a response for him, and it probably wouldn't be worse than what he actually came up with. Here it is:
If Shifty Adam Schiff, who is a corrupt politician who fraudulently made up what I said on the “call,” is allowed to release transcripts of the Never Trumpers & others that are & were interviewed, he will change the words that were said to suit the Dems purposes. Republicans...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2019
....should give their own transcripts of the interviews to contrast with Schiff’s manipulated propaganda. House Republicans must have nothing to do with Shifty’s rendition of those interviews. He is a proven liar, leaker & freak who is really the one who should be impeached!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2019
First of all, the President might as well hire a skywriter to fly over Washington and write: "THIS ALL LOOKS VERY BAD FOR ME!" His response could not make that any more clear. Still, his game is clear—he wants to raise doubts about the credibility of what people are going to be reading in newspapers and on websites over the next few days. That despite the fact that if Trump's claim was true—that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is cooking the books—the witnesses would promptly take note of that and point out the distortions.
Meanwhile, in his attempt to create "alternative facts" for his base to believe in, Trump has just publicly called for the members of Congress to falsify evidence. That is a crime, and it's surely a high crime and/or misdemeanor. Similarly, Trump rejected the whistleblower's offer to respond to questions in writing and under oath on Monday, and continues to push for the individual to be involuntarily outed. You may recall that on a cold January afternoon a couple of years ago, Trump swore to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Well, not only is he not doing that here, he is actively working to subvert the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989. That is also a crime, as well as a high crime and misdemeanor.
When House Democrats finally draw up their articles of impeachment, it's going to be very interesting to see what they go with. They are going to put Senate Republicans, who are already preparing for a trial they know is coming, into some very uncomfortable positions. Are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) & Co. willing to look the other way on the quid pro quo? On terminating State Department employees who refuse to participate in such schemes? On public requests to fabricate evidence? On subversion of a key federal law? This is already a president who has bent the rules on emoluments, national emergencies, the imposition of tariffs, the use of temporary cabinet officers, congressional oversight, nepotism, obstruction of justice, etc. beyond all recognition.
What we are suggesting here is that it's likely that Senate Republicans won't just be voting on a quid pro quo, they will be voting on the very idea of an imperial presidency. Louis XIV said "L'état c'est moi," Richard Nixon said, "If the president does it, it's not illegal," and Trump has followed right in their footsteps. There is, it would appear, no law that he feels constrained by. Are those 53 GOP members willing to sign off on this? One would think that would be a bridge too far for folks who grew up in a party that, at least at some point, was the party of small government. Alternatively, they might grow nervous about the precedent they would be setting for the next time a Democrat occupies the White House. Of course, it is also possible (maybe even likely) that they are so frightened by the possibility of a presidential tweet attacking them that they will vote to acquit on all counts and hope for the best.
In any event, today's transcripts will reveal the blow-by-blow testimony of former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. They probably won't be as juicy as Monday's transcripts, particularly since Sondland is still on Team Trump, and appears to have lied. But, you never know. (Z)
Donald Trump didn't just get unhappy news from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue on Monday, he also got it from the courts. Actually, it started this weekend, when Judge Michael Simon (an Obama appointee) blocked the administration's plan to deny entry to immigrants without health insurance. The appeal is already in the works, of course.
Meanwhile, on Monday, working with lightning speed (just three weeks!) a three-judge panel unanimously decided that Trump cannot keep his tax returns from state prosecutors in New York, and that his argument that the president is not only un-indictable, but also un-investigatable, holds no water. Taking note of the Supreme Court decision that compelled Richard Nixon to turn over the Watergate tapes, the judges said that if Tricky Dick had to pony up, then Trump certainly cannot hide documents that are neither work product nor privileged.
Trump is going to appeal, but he's a shade less than a year from the election, and he's down to one level of the federal court system remaining, namely the Supreme Court. The odds are pretty good they decline the case, since Chief Justice John Roberts surely does not want to touch such a hot-button issue, and since the legal doctrines in question are quite clear. If the Court does take the case, and they decide they want to bail Trump out, they're really going to have to stand on their heads to come up with a justification. Add it all up, and the President's chances of keeping his returns a secret are looking rather poor. After all, not only is this particular suit going poorly, but there are also several others on the same subject in the pipeline. Of course, the Manhattan DA is not going to post the tax returns on its Website, but leaks happen.
And finally, as the whipped cream on Trump's raspberry Monday, he was also sued for defamation by writer E. Jean Carroll. She says Trump raped her, and that he has damaged her irreparably by calling her a liar and accusing her of participation in various conspiracies. It's not easy to win a defamation suit, but given the defendant's habit of wrapping up evidence in a nice bow-tied Twitter package, you never know. (Z)
Today is Election Day. It's not quite so big as the one that will happen a little less than a year from now, but there are nonetheless some contests of interest:
- Mississippi Governor: Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) wants to succeed
term-limited Gov. Phil Bryant (R). Reeves is the favorite, but not nearly so big as Mississippi's
deep redness might suggest, since Attorney General Jim Hood (D) has run a good campaign and has won
statewide multiple times before.
- Kentucky Governor: Gov. Matt Bevin (R) is incumbent, his state is
majority-Republican, and the economy is good, so he should be a shoo-in. However, he is in the bad
habit of stepping on everyone's toes, and like Hood in Mississippi, Attorney General Andy Beshear
(D) has run a strong campaign and has won statewide before. Unlike Mississippi, 8 of the last 10 governors
of Kentucky were Democrats, including Beshear's father Steve. The last three polls of the race had
Bevin up 6, Beshear up 8, and a dead heat. So, this one looks like a toss-up. Donald Trump has been
trying to will Bevin to victory, including a rally
The President will claim full responsibility if Bevin wins, and will claim he's never heard of
Kentucky if Bevin loses. If Beshear pulls it off, it might make Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just a tad nervous, since he has to face the voters next year.
- Virginia Legislature: The blue team needs one seat in each house to
flip both and claim the trifecta in the Old Dominion State. They have spent a lot of money and
resources on this, and the state's new (and un-gerrymandered) map makes it likely they will pull it
If that does come to pass, an interesting implication is that Virginia will almost certainly approve the Equal Rights Amendment. That would make them the 38th state to do so, which should theoretically make the measure the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. That said, there are three legal questions to be resolved: (1) Can an amendment expire?; (2) If so, can it be revived by Congress?; and (3) Can a state withdraw approval, as four have tried to do since they approved the ERA? It will presumably fall to the Supreme Court to make the final call; if five male justices rule in a way that kills the legislation, that will be...interesting optics.
- New Jersey Legislature: The Democrats are going to hold on to the
state assembly, and with it a trifecta; the question is whether they will retain a supermajority.
- Seattle City Council: This has evolved (devolved?) into pro-Amazon
liberals vs. anti-Amazon liberals. Socialist councilmember Kshama Sawant, up for reelection, is the
most anti-Amazon, and the online behemoth has spent multiple millions to try to defeat her.
- New York City Question 1: This would require the use of ranked-choice
voting in the city's primary and general elections. If passed, New York would be the fourth major
city (after San Francisco, St. Paul, and Minneapolis) to adopt ranked-choice voting, in addition to
the entire state of Maine.
- Tucson Proposition 205: This would declare Tucson to be an official sanctuary city. Take that, Joe Arpaio.
We will, of course, report on all the winners tomorrow. (Z)
There was little question that the Trump administration would follow through on the President's threat, and now they have done it. On the first day that it is legally possible to do so, Team Trump has begun the process of withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord. It will take a year for the withdrawal to become official, at which point the list of countries that are not parties to the agreement will look like this:
- The United States
- The Vatican
Of course, the Vatican cannot join unless it becomes a full-fledged member of the U.N., so one could reasonably say that once the U.S. bails out, the cheese will stand alone.
There are another 10 countries that have signed onto the agreement but have not ratified it (Angola, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, South Sudan, Turkey, and Yemen). Still, we have a diplomatic agreement that has been joined by South Korea and North Korea. By Israel and Syria. By India and Pakistan. By Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. By Kenya and Somalia. Some may find it instructive that all of those bitter rivals saw this issue as big enough that they could put their differences aside. Further, it's estimated that getting developing countries green presents a $23 trillion investment opportunity for industrialized countries. That could pay for a lot of tax breaks for very wealthy people.
Trump has never enunciated a compelling reason for exiting the pact. It's true that he has said that the United States should not have to play by stricter rules than other countries, but since the Paris Accord sets only voluntary standards, that explanation does not hold water. He can't exactly announce his real reason, which is that he hates Barack Obama, and wants to undo as much of the 44th president's legacy as possible. In the end, however, Obama may have the last laugh. He deliberately set things up so that the United States' withdrawal does not become official until Nov. 4 of next year—a.k.a., one day after the election. If President-elect Biden or President-elect Warren or President-elect The Rock were to announce their intention to re-join the accord on that day, the odds are that the other nations of the world would extend the deadline to oh, say, January 20, 2021.
Meanwhile, this move is going to guarantee that global warming, and the two parties' very different takes on the issue, remain front and center during this election cycle. It may be worth noting that, a little over a month ago, a Washington Post/KFF poll found that 38% of voters see global warming as a "crisis" and another 38% see it as a "major problem." Customarily, being on the opposite side of an issue from 76% of the voting public is not something politicians aspire to. (Z)
For reasons that remain opaque, but that surely have to do—at least, in part—with his financial interests, Donald Trump "moved" to Florida last week. In essence, what he did was file a legal document announcing "I'm a Floridian now!" Easy as pie, right? Maybe not so much, as it turns out.
As it turns out, Trump is not the first rich guy to attempt a relocation to the Sunshine State in order to take advantage of much more liberal bankruptcy and tax laws. And so, New York is pretty vigilant about making sure the person has actually "moved." If they seem to be spending the same amount of time in the Empire State after "changing" residence, or they hold most of their property there, or they have not taken steps like moving their valuables and/or changing their will, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance will reject a person's change of domicile (or could declare them to be a resident of both states, which would still leave them subject to New York tax, inheritance, and bankruptcy laws).
The President might think that New York's opinion doesn't matter, since he is now a "resident" of Florida. The problem, however, is that Florida law is basically in agreement with New York law; the folks in the former aren't interested in merely being used as a tax haven by folks from the latter. At very least, Trump is going to have to work much harder in order to make himself a Floridian. At worst, he's not going to be able to pull it off. (Z)
Last week, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) began consolidating her forces and her (dwindling) funds in Iowa, putting all of her eggs in the Hawkeye basket. On Monday, Julián Castro announced that he's doing much the same. He can't turn his back entirely on Nevada, because he's counting on lots of Latino votes there, but he's laid off all of his staff in New Hampshire and South Carolina.
We are not sanguine about the Senator's chances, and she's got more money on hand than Castro, and is also ahead of him in the polls. That should give you a sense of how we feel about his chances. The former HUD Secretary has never polled better than 2% in either Iowa or Nevada, and his average across all polls of the two states is 0.4% and 0.7%, respectively. That is not the portrait of someone set to break out. With cash running out, a November debate invite looking unlikely, and a December debate invite looking near-impossible, it's only a matter of time until he bows to reality. Castro could be an interesting Senate candidate in his home state of Texas, though he's given no indication that he is considering that, and he'd have to lock horns with MJ Hegar, who's no slouch. (Z)
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov04 Trump Also Hates California
Nov04 Whistleblower Willing to Answer Questions in Writing
Nov04 Warren Unveils Medicare for All Funding Plan
Nov04 All in All, It's Just a Hole in the Wall
Nov04 Sports and Trump Just Don't Mix
Nov04 Today's Polls, Part I: The State of the Democratic Race
Nov04 Today's Polls, Part II: Impeachment
Nov03 Sunday Mailbag
Nov02 Beto Says "No Más"
Nov02 Saturday Q&A
Nov01 House Formalizes Impeachment Inquiry
Nov01 About That Offer to the Republican Senators...
Nov01 Trump Unveils 2020 Strategy
Nov01 The Nine Lives of Obamacare
Nov01 Funding Medicare for All May Just Be Viable
Nov01 Democratic Deluge in Virginia
Nov01 Trump Is Now a Floridian
Oct31 Democrats Get Serious About Impeachment Inquiry
Oct31 Senators Start to Squirm
Oct31 Trump Begins Planning His Defense
Oct31 More on Alexander Vindman
Oct31 Mr. Bolton, Please Report for Your Deposition
Oct31 What's a Trump Staffer to Do?
Oct31 Twitter to Reject All Political Ads
Oct31 Harris Campaign Begins Death Spiral
Oct30 Vindman Speaks, Trump & Co. Counterattack
Oct30 Two Amigos May Have Some Explaining to Do
Oct30 Early State Polls Suggest Rocky Start for Joe Biden
Oct30 Democratic Candidates Don't Care About California
Oct30 What Do Evangelicals Believe These Days?
Oct30 Bet You Didn't Know that Lindsey Graham Is a Big Supporter of the Green New Deal
Oct30 Good News for House GOP?
Oct29 House Democrats to "Formalize" Impeachment Proceedings
Oct29 This Week's Witness List
Oct29 A Tale of Two Photographs
Oct29 Mike Pompeo May Be Interested in A New Job
Oct29 Sessions May Want His Old Job Back
Oct29 North Carolina Republicans Suffer Another Gerrymander Defeat
Oct29 Florida Republicans Forced to Postpone Annual Event
Oct29 Rep. Greg Walden Will Retire
Oct28 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Is Dead
Oct28 Trump Organization May Sell Washington Hotel
Oct28 This Is Why Trump Doesn't Go Out in Public
Oct28 We Now Have a Trump Tweet Baseline
Oct28 Show Me the Money
Oct28 Rep. Katie Hill to Resign
Oct28 Details for Sixth Democratic Debate Announced
Oct27 Sunday Mailbag
Oct26 Saturday Q&A