Needed 1990
Biden 0
Booker 0
Bloomberg 0
Buttigieg 0
Klobuchar 0
Sanders 0
Steyer 0
Warren 0
Yang 0
Political Wire logo Trump Has Huge Edge with Low Information Voters
Barr Wants to Makes It Tougher to Investigate Campaigns
Top Republicans Reject Trump’s Call for Dismissal
Warren Confirms Sanders Said a Woman Could Not Win
Russians Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company
Trump Plans to Divert $7.2 Billion for Border Wall

Questions about Impeachment Still Linger

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to chuck the articles of impeachment over the fence to the Senate this week, thus triggering the trial of the century. The Hill has summarized some issues that are still unsettled:

  • When will the trial begin?: The trial can't begin until the House passes a resolution naming the impeachment managers. Pelosi has asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) to prepare the measure. That could take several days. When the Senate gets the articles, however, it won't necessarily drop everything and start the trial within 5 minutes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has a bit of leeway there, and he also has to ask Chief Justice John Roberts about his availability.

  • What will the rules be?: McConnell has a lot of say on the rules. He has said he will largely follow the precedent of Bill Clinton's 1999 impeachment (rather than Andrew Johnson's, in which there were many witnesses called). In Clinton's trial, the House managers were given 24 hours to make their case and the president's team was given 24 hours to rebut it. Then senators were allowed to ask questions and grandstand for 16 hours. After that phase, the Senate voted on whether to subpoena witnesses. Ultimately, three witnesses were subpoenaed for closed-door depositions.

  • How did the delay affect the process?: One obvious gain the prosecution got is former NSA John Bolton's statement that he is willing to testify. If Republican senators, on a party-line vote, decide they don't need to hear from him or Mick Mulvaney, both of whom are first-hand witnesses to the events in question, Democrats are going to call the trial a sham. It would take only four Republican defections to subpoena witnesses. However, Donald Trump said that if Bolton or Mulvaney were called, he would assert executive privilege to keep them quiet. At that point, all eyes would be on the Chief Justice to make a ruling.

  • Who will represent each side?: Since Nadler is working on the resolution that will name the House managers (the prosecutors), it is very likely he will decide that he is an excellent candidate himself (in his defense, the other two presidential impeachments also included the House Judiciary Chair as a manager). He will probably also tap his colleague, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA). Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD) are also potential candidates. Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said: "The whole place wants to be a manager." Most Republicans also see a great PR opportunity in defending Trump, so they also want a piece of the action. We will know soon who makes the cut.

  • How will the trial impact the Democratic primaries?: Senate rules require all senators to attend impeachment trials. There is no sanction for not attending, but putting campaigning above the nation's business looks bad. Five presidential candidates will thus be stuck in sunny D.C. instead of sunny Iowa, namely Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). While they are holed up in the Senate chamber, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg will be roaming Iowa and talking to voters, which might benefit them. One small consolation is that the trial is very unlikely to begin earlier than Wednesday, so tomorrow's debate is probably on.

These are just the known unknowns, but there could be unknown unknowns as well, including the role that the Chief Justice wants to play. (V)

House Could Add New Articles of Impeachment after Trial Begins

The 1936 impeachment of a federal judge shows how articles of impeachment can be amended or added to even after a trial begins in the Senate. In 1936, the House impeached Judge Halsted L. Ritter, a federal jurist based in Palm Beach County, FL. There were four articles of impeachment forwarded to the Senate on March 2, 1936. However, as new evidence surfaced (about tax evasion and other things), the House got back to work again and submitted three additional articles of impeachment to the Senate. He was tried there on all seven articles and, on April 16, was convicted on (only) one of them and removed from office.

The most likely scenario where this could play out is if John Bolton is called as a witness during the trial (or by the House, if the Senate refuses to call witnesses) and has solid evidence of additional crimes Trump has committed. In response to new information, the House could send additional articles of impeachment over to the Senate. It seems unlikely now, but it is possible. (V)

Sanders Leads in New Iowa Poll

On Friday, Iowa election guru Ann Selzer released a new poll of likely caucusgoers. Last time, Pete Buttigieg was on top. Now he has fallen 9 points. The new number 1 is Bernie Sanders at 20%. However, his lead is within the margin of error, since Elizabeth Warren is at 17%, Buttigieg is at 16%, and Joe Biden is at 15%. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) is a distant fifth at 6%. In reality, any of them could win it, although Klobuchar is a longshot.

One factor worth keeping in mind is that fully 60% of Iowans haven't made up their mind for sure yet, and even those who have could change them in the light of new events that occur before the Feb. 3 caucuses. In addition, the top four have only 68% of the total vote, so 32% is going to candidates who may not make the 15% cutoff. How they split in the second round could become crucial. Earlier polls have shown that Warren is the most popular second choice, so she could surge in the second round. (V)

Bernie Takes the Gloves Off

It had to happen sooner or later. Now it appears to be sooner. Up until now, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have had a kind of gentlepersons agreement not to attack each other, and just talk about their plans for the country, while occasionally taking a mild swipe at the other Democrats in the race.

Those days are over. Politico saw a copy of a script Sanders' volunteers have been instructed to use when contacting voters. It tells them that when talking to Warren supporters, they should point out that "people who support her are highly educated, more affluent people who are going to show up and vote Democratic no matter what." In other words, she doesn't bring any new voters into the Democratic Party. Sanders, in contrast, has a lot of appeal to working-class voters who voted for Trump in 2016 but who might vote for Sanders in 2020 if he is the Democratic nominee. When Politico asked Sanders' campaign about the script, no one denied its authenticity. When Warren read the Politico report, she responded by saying: "I was disappointed to hear that Bernie is sending his volunteers out to trash me." But she didn't hit back at him.

The script also deals with the possibility that the volunteer meets a supporter of Pete Buttigieg. In that case the pitch is to point out that his support among blacks and young people is pretty close to zero. Finally, what's a volunteer to do when encountering a Biden supporter? Just point out that he has no on-the-ground volunteers and no one is really excited about him.

When voters say to the volunteers: "But is Bernie electable?" they are supposed to point out that all the "safe" candidates (Al Gore, John Kerry, John McCain, and Mitt Romney) lost, so playing it "safe" isn't safe at all.

The script indicates that Sanders is really in this to win, not just to move the Overton window on socialism a little bit. To do that, he has to take down all the other candidates, which he is starting to do. Of course, once the cat is out of the bag, the other candidates are going to start hitting Sanders hard. One potential weakness is foreign policy. Sanders' view is that America is not the world's cop and should stop fighting wars all over the place. His opponents can easily say that the world is a dangerous place and if America withdraws from the global scene, China and Russia and Iran are going to fill the gap and run the show. While there are certainly "fortress America" voters around, many other voters aren't likely to say: "OK, let our enemies run the world. Who cares?"

While Sanders is convinced he would be a strong candidate against Trump, not everyone is. Jim Messina, who ran Barack Obama's 2012 election campaign, has said that Trump would point out over and over that Sanders considers himself a (Democratic) socialist. Most Americans have no idea what that means, so Trump would help them, probably by pointing to Cuba and Venezuela as examples. Again, few Americans are actually aware of what has gone on in those countries for the past 50 years, but they do "know" that it is all bad. The fact that "democratic socialist" and "socialist" are significantly different things is the kind of nuance that flies over the heads of many voters. (V)

Biden Has a Wide Lead among Black Voters

A new Washington Post/Ipsos poll has Joe Biden way out in front with black voters, an important Democratic constituency. He is the favorite of 48%. Bernie Sanders is second at 20% and Elizabeth Warren comes in third at 9%. No one else cracks 5%.

Most polls don't have enough black voters in them to get a good picture. This one was specifically commissioned to see what black voters want, and had 1,088 black respondents. More than 8 in 10 say the outcome of the election is important to them and a similar number want Trump defeated in 2020.

The biggest dividing line among black voters is age. Sanders leads by 12 points among 18-to-34-year-olds, but that drops off with age. Among black seniors, Biden has a stunning 68-point lead over Sanders. A majority of black voters say the most important thing for them is beating Donald Trump and they think Biden is their man. On the subject of whether Biden needs a black running mate, 27% would like that, but 38% say it is not important. In practice that means that putting Stacey Abrams or Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on the ticket might improve turnout, and that could matter in North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

Post writer Jonathan Capehart, who is black, saw the results of the poll and decided to add his two cents to the mix. He pointed out an article he wrote in August about a family barbecue that he turned into a focus group of black voters from North Carolina and Virginia. His aunt told him: "The way the system is set up now, there is so much racism that it's going to have to be an old white person to go after an old white person." Another relative told him: "Nobody is going to vote for a woman. They didn't vote for Hillary. If she were a man, she would have won." The dream ticket he heard most often was Biden/Harris. The final takeaway from his 26-person focus group is they want to win and their motto is: "Vote blue no matter who." (V)

Bloomberg Might Spend a Billion Dollars on the Election

On Saturday, Mike Bloomberg (77), said that he might be willing to spend $1 billion of his own money to defeat Donald Trump, even if he is not the Democratic nominee. For someone worth over $50 billion, $1 billion is 2% of his net worth, so he might well do it. It is doubtful that Trump could match that, because many of the Republican heavy hitters, such as the Koch brothers' network, are not going to pony up, and the Donald himself sure as heck isn't going to spend that amount of his own money (if he even has that much).

If Bloomberg follows through, he will probably have more money than the candidate and the DNC combined. He already has a robust ground operation, which he could instruct to support the nominee. He specifically said that even if the nominee is Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, he will support the Democrat in the race. If Bloomberg really spends $1 billion, he could shape the race to his liking. It will also put the Democrats in an awkward position, since they generally don't like billionaires buying elections, though they could make a one-time exception if a billionaire was trying to buy it for them. Bloomberg didn't mention it, but he is obviously aware of key House and Senate races as well, and could decide to play a role there, too. Giving away money is not foreign to Bloomberg. Last year he gave away $2.8 billion, much of it going to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University. (V)

Election Systems Are More Vulnerable than Previously Believed

In 2017, a high-ranking DHS official, Jeanette Manfra, said that "voting machines are not connected to the Internet." That statement held true until, well, somebody actually looked. NBC News talked to a group of 10 cyber security experts who tried to find voting machines on the Internet. They found them in 11 states. That puts the entire election system at risk.

Kevin Skoglund, a technical advisor for the National Election Defense Coalition, said that his group developed a tool to look for voting systems online. They have found 35 of them so far, with more expected in the future. Needless to say, if a team of 10 experts in the U.S. can find online voting machines, a team of 10 or 20 or 50 experts in Russia can do the same thing.

When NBC confronted the three largest manufacturers of voting systems with this information, they sheepishly admitted that, yes, there are modems in their machines, so they can report results faster on election night over the cellular network, which is tied to the Internet in many places. That means a hacker can not only get in and change results, but potentially also change software in the machine to give biased results in the future, without the need for hacking the machine again.

Virtually every election-security expert, including (V), who has published peer-reviewed papers on the subject, says that having any connection whatsoever between any part of the voting system (including maintaining the voter rolls) and the outside world, is a dreadful idea. Manufacturers all claim that their systems are secure, but no one with any serious knowledge of the subject believes that for a second. In addition, as the NBC story shows, when asked about the security of their machines, company officials simply lie. The only way to have a genuinely secure election is to have voters mark their paper ballots with a pen or pencil and have them optically scanned by machines that are not online in any way, shape, or form. Second best is to have voting machines that allow voters to make their choices and then print out a paper ballot (with no bar code) that can be optically scanned. The machines should reset themselves to their initial state after each voter has voted and not keep running totals. Keeping running totals is just looking for trouble since somebody, sometime, is going to use them for something and they could be phoney. (V)

Tree Falls in Forest; No One Hears It

More specifically, Marianne Williamson has dropped out. She ran on a platform of love. She probably doesn't play tennis, because in that sport "love" means "zero."

She explained her departure by saying that she didn't want to get in the way of a progressive candidate winning, not that Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren were quaking in their boots at the sound of her name. She hadn't been invited to a debate since July and was polling closer to love than to 1% of late. Part of her problem is that her views on science and medicine are—how shall we put this gently—wacky. Good-bye, Marianne; we can't say we'll miss you. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jan12 Sunday Mailbag
Jan11 Saturday Q&A
Jan10 Iran Drama Has Not Yet Subsided...
Jan10 ...Nor Has Impeachment Drama
Jan10 A Brokered Convention?
Jan10 The Hawk-Why? State
Jan10 Steyer Makes the Cut
Jan10 Trump Goes 0-for-2 This Week in New York Defamation Lawsuits
Jan10 Loeffler Takes Her Seat
Jan09 Trump Backs Down
Jan09 Progressive Groups Are All Taking Aim at Biden
Jan09 Democratic Unity Will Determine Trump's Fate
Jan09 Congressional Democrats Aren't Taking Sides in the Primaries
Jan09 Trump's Pitbulls in the House Will Not Be Unleashed in the Impeachment Trial
Jan09 Can Democracy Survive 2020?
Jan09 Kansas Democratic Candidate for the Senate Raises $1 Million
Jan09 Massachusetts Senate Primary Is Very Strange
Jan09 Trump Defamation Case Heads to New York's Highest Court
Jan08 Iran Makes Its Move...
Jan08 ...And So Does McConnell
Jan08 Democrats May Postpone Next Debate
Jan08 Flynn Looking at 6 Months
Jan08 Hunter Finally Resigns
Jan08 The Law of Unintended Consequences
Jan08 Trump Jr. Continues to Run the Trump Sr. Playbook
Jan07 Iran Situation Gets Messier and Messier for Trump Administration
Jan07 Bolton Says He's Willing to Testify
Jan07 Q4 Fundraising Numbers Are Almost Complete
Jan07 Yang Can't Figure Out Where to Spend His Money
Jan07 Castro Endorses Warren
Jan07 Pompeo Says He Won't Run for the Senate
Jan07 Chelsea Clinton Collected $9 Million for Board of Directors Work
Jan06 War with Iran?
Jan06 Congress May Clash with Trump over War Powers
Jan06 Will the Iran Situation Help Buttigieg?
Jan06 Sanders Soars
Jan06 Appeals Court Hears Arguments in McGahn Case
Jan06 A Report from Trumpland
Jan06 Who's Ahead? 2024 Edition
Jan06 Another House Republican Retires
Jan05 Sunday Mailbag
Jan04 Saturday Q&A
Jan03 Iranian General Killed on Trump's Orders
Jan03 Evidence Against Trump Continues to Mount
Jan03 More Q4 Fundraising Numbers Are In
Jan03 Bloomberg Makes His Strategy Official
Jan03 Castro Gives Up
Jan03 Williamson Campaign Enters Its Death Throes
Jan03 Why Do Young Voters Hate Pete Buttigieg?
Jan03 Unions Are Cool on Sanders This Time