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Political Wire logo Bloomberg Off to an Attention-Grabbing Start
Trump Strives to Look Hard at Work
Trump Creates Confusion Over U.S. Policy on Taliban
‘The Other Rhodes Scholar Mayor’
Five Common Misconceptions About the Electoral College
Moderates on the Rise In 2020 Race

Note: If you skipped reading yesterday due to the holiday, we would just like to point out that we had lots of news and a couple of new old scandals. Just click on the "Previous report" link to the right of the map to see it.

Trump Paints Impeachment as an Attack on All Conservatives

At a rally in Florida earlier this week, Donald Trump not only called the impeachment hearings a witch hunt, but said the Democrats are out to get all conservatives. While Democrats certainly don't like all conservatives, the impeachment hearings have (intentionally) been very focused on a single issue: Did Trump extort the president of Ukraine in an attempt to force him to dig up or manufacture dirt on Joe Biden? They have not even brought up any conservative policies or actions like Trump's judicial appointments. Trump's hope, of course, is to rile up conservative Republicans who don't actually like him or consider him to be a conservative, and make them think the Democrats are attacking them.

Trump also said that the Democrats are trying to overturn the 2016 election. That is also not true. Overturning the election would mean installing Hillary Clinton as president. Impeachment and conviction would put his hand-picked conservative Republican vice president, Mike Pence, in the White House, not Clinton. That is hardly overturning the election. He also called the probe "Bullsh*t."

Trump went to Florida for a good reason: Its 29 electoral votes. Without them, getting to 270 would be very difficult, although not impossible. Trump won Florida in 2016 by 1.2% of the vote and demographic changes in the Sunshine State have probably already erased that lead. Trump has been to Florida before this year and is expected to come back many more times. For reasons other than Mar-a-Lago trips, that is.

After the rally, he flew off to Afghanistan to serve turkey to the troops and announce that he will resume negotiations with the Taliban. The trip was unannounced and kept secret until he got there. While he was in the air, his staff at the White House sent out tweets from his account so that no one would notice that he was gone. Precisely what a deal with the Taliban might look like is far from clear, given that the Taliban wants to run Afghanistan and impose Sharia Law there, something the U.S. strongly opposes. Of course, Trump could simply give the Taliban what it wants in order to get U.S. troops out of the country, especially if it promises not to attack the U.S. again until a Democrat occupies the White House. (V)

Nadler Invites Trump to the First Judiciary Committee Hearing on Impeachment

Republicans have complained that Democrats are being unfair to Donald Trump by not letting him or his lawyers take part in the impeachment hearings. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) wants to kill off that excuse by inviting Trump to attend the first impeachment hearing his committee will hold, which will be on Dec. 4.

No one expects Trump to take Nadler up on the offer, in part because Trump's lawyers would have a conniption if he did. They would be afraid that he might say very damaging things. In addition, Trump and Nadler have very bad blood, going back to 1985. At the time, Trump wanted to build a massive real estate development consisting of six 76-story luxury condo buildings, expensive stores, and television studios using land along the Hudson River that was then covered with decrepit and useless railroad yards. The locals, aided by then-assemblyman Nadler, blocked his plans. Neither man has forgotten it. Having Trump now face Nadler, who has the power to impeach, would be an epic battle that Trump's lawyers would rather not have. (V)

The Knives Are Coming Out for Buttigieg

Now that Pete Buttigieg is approaching the first tier of Democratic candidates, or is even in it in some polls, he is beginning to get more attention, and not all of it is good. Such is the nature of being a frontrunner. For starters, he said that he has empathy for black folks because as a gay man, he understands the nature of discrimination. He also said that black children don't do well in school because they don't have good role models. That didn't go over well in the black community, to put it mildly.

Michael Harriot wrote a piece for The Root, a website aimed largely at black readers, entitled: "Pete Buttigieg Is a Lying MF." You can probably see where this is going. Harriot points out that Buttigieg's father was a professor at the University of Notre Dame and he lived in an upper middle class neighborhood. Pete attended an elite private high school, after which he went to Harvard and then on to Oxford. After his schooling, he had several jobs, including one as a consultant at McKinsey & Company. To Buttigieg, this shows that he worked hard. To Harriot, it shows that he had advantages few black people have.

As to being discriminated against, it is certainly true, but he had the option of staying in the closet or coming out at a moment convenient for him. Black people don't have those options.

Buttigieg has also compared himself to Barack Obama, and that also went over like a lead balloon. By the fall of 2007, Obama was already registering over 50% support among black voters in South Carolina. Buttigieg is at 4%, and that is after trying very hard to make progress there. Also, Obama was a United States senator when he ran for president. Buttigieg is a small-city mayor.

In addition to having a problem with black voters, Buttigieg also has a Latino problem, which will hurt him in Nevada, which votes before South Carolina. Politico interviewed more than a dozen Latino leaders and activists and discovered that Buttigieg's outreach to Latinos is nonexistent. A poll from Telemundo showed Buttigieg at 1% in Clark County, NV, where Las Vegas is located. About 30% of the people in Clark County are Latino. Buttigieg's campaign manager, Mike Schmuhl, admitted that the candidate needs to expand its outreach to Latinos, but it may already be too late.

If Buttigieg does well in the (nearly all white) state of Iowa and New Hampshire and then finishes near the bottom of the pack in Nevada and South Carolina, that will not bode well for him on Super Tuesday, which includes many large states with substantial minority populations, including California, Texas, and North Carolina. Unless he can right his ship fast, he may end up being a two-trick pony. (V)

Yang Releases His Tax Returns

Presidential candidate Andrew Yang has released the most recent eight years of his tax returns. In 2018, he earned $121,418 and paid $16,581 in federal tax, for an effective rate of 14%. He took the standard deduction on the federal return, but itemized on his state return, on which he claimed charitable contributions of $4,186.

Yang's income varied from year to year. The highest was in 2016, when his adjusted gross income was $354,484. His charitable contributions also varied from year to year. In 2011, his most generous year, he donated $126,404 to charity. Yang is the last of the top- and second-tier candidates to release their tax returns. Donald Trump not only has refused to release his tax returns, he has fought tooth-and-nail to prevent the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee from getting them, even though federal law mandates that the IRS shall give him any tax return he requests. (V)

Richard Spencer Is Not Going Gentle into that Good Night

After Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher was found guilty of posing for a picture with a dead ISIS fighter, in violation of military regulations, Donald Trump jumped in to defend Gallagher. Former Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer then violated the chain of command and tried to make a deal directly with Trump to let Gallagher keep his SEAL Trident pin. For this, Defense Secretary Mark Esper fired him, very possibly on Trump's orders.

Now Spencer has fired back. In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Spencer lit into Trump, saying that as early as March, Trump called and asked him to free Gallagher. He also noted that senior officials are not supposed to interfere in ongoing military justice cases. When Spencer refused to free Gallagher, Trump gave him a direct order to move him from a brig to what amounts to house arrest. He complied with the order.

After Gallagher was found guilty on the one count of posing for a photo with a dead enemy, he was released because he had already served his time pretrial. But there were other matters to be determined: Whether he would be demoted, whether he would get an honorable discharge, and whether he would get to keep his pin. Spencer sent a note to Trump on Nov. 14 asking him not to get involved in these matters. The next day, White House counsel Pat Cipollone called to announce that Trump would stay involved. Then Cipollone called again to tell Spencer how he should decide the matters.

Spencer was shocked at the unprecedented interference from the president and violation of Navy procedures. His response was to try to negotiate a deal directly with Trump, which he admitted was a gross error on his part. The next day, the Navy established a review board consisting of four senior SEALs to determine if Gallagher could keep the pin. Before the board could act, Trump again intervened by tweeting that Gallagher could keep the pin. Spencer's point is that Trump repeatedly intervened in a military-justice case for his own political benefit, weakening the entire military-justice procedure in the process. (V)

Congress May Pass a Bill Somewhat Limiting Robocalls

Many political campaigns use computers to call voters and play a recorded message. The number of calls people are getting is rapidly increasing and voters have more than had enough. Since both sides do it, restricting them is probably politically neutral, so Congress is probably going to pass a bill this year putting some restrictions on them.

What the bill will do is require phone companies to verify the phone number from which the call originates and allow voters to block robocalls without charging a fee for this service. It also gives the FCC the authority to investigate and punish violators. Another provision goes after so-called "one-ring scams," in which the phone rings exactly once in the hope that the recipient will call back. The number that is displayed for the recipient to call back is always a very expensive pay number, often in a foreign country. The bill is far less than some people in Congress wanted, but was the maximum that both parties could agree to. (V)

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp May Cross Trump When Filling Isakson's Seat

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) is in poor health, and has announced that he will retire from the Senate on Dec. 31. This gives Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) the power to appoint someone to his seat until a special election in Nov. 2020 determines who gets to fill out the term until Jan. 2023.

Kemp is apparently leaning toward appointing wealthy businesswoman Kelly Loeffler. Conservative groups and Trump allies want him to appoint Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA).

Part of the problem is that Loeffler is on the board of directors of Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, the largest hospital in the state. Although the hospital does not perform elective abortions, it does train medical students in the procedure. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony list, called the hospital "an abortionist training hub." Kemp has rejected her position and the opposition to her appointment.

Kemp brought Loeffler to meet with Trump during the weekend. The meeting did not go as planned. Trump opposed her and said Collins, a very conservative Republican, would be a better choice. Kemp replied that Loeffler would be much better at getting the votes of college-educated suburban women, a demographic that is rapidly becoming Democratic. Collins clearly wants the job, and has not ruled out primarying Loeffler if she is appointed. Needless to say, the Republicans do not want a bitter primary fight next year. Kemp still has a few weeks to decide if he is going to go with the candidate he thinks is best for Georgia or the one Trump thinks is best for Trump. (V)

Cummings' Daughters Support Their Father's Aide, Not His Wife

When Elijah Cummings died, his death created a House vacancy that will be filled by a special election. Cummings' widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, has filed to run. But so has Harry Spikes, one of Cummings' staffers. Several others have thrown their hats in, too. The news here is that two of Cummings' daughters, Jennifer and Adia, have endorsed Spikes over their stepmother, Maya, Cummings' third wife.

The primary is on Feb. 4 and the general election is on April 28. The winner will be seated only until the end of the year. If he or she wants to run in the regular 2020 general election, that will require another primary campaign and another general election campaign. Actually, the general election is more-or-less irrelevant. MD-07 is D+26, so the Democrats could nominate a yellow dog and it would win. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov28 Are Trump and Giuliani Turning on Each Other?
Nov28 Giuliani Was Also Doing Business in Ukraine
Nov28 Poll: Support for Impeachment Is Holding Steady
Nov28 Warren Is Slipping in Iowa
Nov28 Some Voters Want Divided Government
Nov28 Everything is Closing in Rural Areas
Nov28 Moderators for December Debate Named
Nov28 North Carolina Senate Race Could Break Spending Records--Again
Nov28 William Ruckelshaus Dies
Nov28 I Am Not a Crook: A Look at History's Most Scandalous Scandals, Part III
Nov27 Impeachment Inquiry Never Stops
Nov27 Trump, GOP Angry at Google
Nov27 Warren Gets a Bad Poll
Nov27 What Is Bloomberg Thinking?
Nov27 Obama Reportedly Doesn't Want Sanders to Get the Nomination
Nov27 I Am Not a Crook: A Look at History's Most Scandalous Scandals, Part II
Nov26 Navy SEAL Situation Devolves from "Big Mess" to "Total Fiasco"
Nov26 Legal Blotter, Part I: The Congressional Subpoenas
Nov26 Legal Blotter, Part II: The Tax Returns
Nov26 Activist Group Says New Citizens Could Flip Swing States
Nov26 Perry Calls Trump "The Chosen One"
Nov26 Trump Certainly Looks Like He's Losing Support
Nov26 I Am Not a Crook: A Look at History's Most Scandalous Scandals, Part I
Nov25 Bloomberg Is Running
Nov25 Report: Nunes Met with Former Ukrainian Official to Get Dirt on Biden
Nov25 What's Next?
Nov25 Will Bolton Testify at the Impeachment Trial?
Nov25 Ruling in McGahn Case Is Expected Today
Nov25 Mulvaney Tried to Justify Holding Up Ukraine Aid Afterwards
Nov25 Trump: Pompeo Might Run for the Senate
Nov25 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Was Hospitalized Again
Nov25 Navy Secretary Richard Spencer Is Fired
Nov24 Sunday Mailbag
Nov23 Saturday Q&A
Nov22 Two More Nails in the Impeachment Coffin
Nov22 GOP Plots Impeachment Strategy
Nov22 FBI Official Under Investigation for Document Tampering
Nov22 Trump Signs Short-Term Funding Bill
Nov22 Trump Gets Another Tax Return Victory
Nov22 Google to Significantly Limit Targeted Political Ads
Nov22 About that Trump Jr. "Bestseller"
Nov22 Lots of Drama in Israel
Nov21 Sondland: There Was a Quid Pro Quo and Everyone Knew about It
Nov21 It Wasn't Just the Gordon Sondland Show
Nov21 Hearings Aren't Moving the Needle
Nov21 Democrats Debate in Atlanta
Nov21 Americans Don't Believe Campaigns Are Based on Facts
Nov21 Nikki Haley Goes Full Trumpist
Nov21 Wayne Messam Is Out
Nov21 Republicans Still Want Pompeo to Run for the Senate in Kansas