What Now?! – 9/30/2019

CBS News Poll: More than half of Americans — and an overwhelming number of Democrats — say they approve of the fact that Congress has opened an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. But as the inquiry begins, there is no national consensus on how to assess the president’s actions.” “Partisans have immediately and predictably split: most Democrats call the president’s handling of matters with Ukraine illegal, and deserving of impeachment.”

Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe President Trump’s encouragement of a foreign leader to investigate Trump’s political rival and his family is a serious problem, but only 17% said they were surprised by the president’s actions, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll.

A new DCCC poll asked if the respondent would be more likely to vote for a candidate who “sided with Nancy Pelosi and supported an impeachment investigation into Donald Trump,” or someone who “sided with Mitch McConnell and opposed an impeachment investigation into Donald Trump.”

The result: 49% would vote for the candidate who sided with Pelosi, compared to 38% for the candidate who sided with McConnell.

Pew Research: “In the spring of 1974, despite the indictment of top former White House aides, and Nixon’s release of what were seen as ‘heavily edited’transcripts of tapes of his aides plotting to get White House enemies, the public was still divided over what to do about the president. For example, by June, 44% in the Gallup Poll thought he should be removed from office, while 41% disagreed.”

“Only in early August, following the House Judiciary Committee’s recommendation in July that Nixon be impeached and the Supreme Court’s decision that he surrender his audio tapes, did a clear majority – 57% – come to the view that the president should be removed from office.”

Washington Post: “As Trump tells it, he is a hard-working and honorable president whose conduct has been ‘perfect’ but who is being harassed and tormented by ‘Do Nothing Democrat Savages’ and a corrupt intelligence community resolved to perpetuate a hoax, defraud the public and, ultimately, undo the 2016 election.”

“Victimization always has been core to Trump’s identity, both as a politician and as a real estate promoter and reality-television star. It is the emotional glue that yokes Trump to the grievance politics of the right. Many of Trump’s grass-roots followers have said they feel protective of the president in part because they also feel oppressed and ostracized by elites.”

“The Republican leadership issued a memo Saturday clarifying that the Senate must take action if the House of Representatives approves articles of impeachment against President Trump,” the HuffPost reports.

“The statement came in response to concerns that the Senate could simply refuse to hold a trial.”

Washington Post: “The confluence of two otherwise coincidental events — the embarrassing Lewandowski hearing followed in quick succession by the explosion of the Ukraine story — handed Pelosi an opening to sideline Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) in favor of the more widely trusted head of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), as Democrats launch the formal impeachment inquiry. And Pelosi has made clear that the investigation will focus narrowly on the Ukraine matter, a scandal she believes could be easily understood by the public.”

“Schiff, in concert with other chairmen, moved swiftly Friday to issue subpoenas for documents from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and set up depositions next week with State Department officials who would have knowledge of Trump’s engagements with Ukraine.”

Politico: Trump declares war on Adam Schiff.

Politico: “The president for months genuinely believed he’d gain politically from an impeachment inquiry because he thought Democrats were out to get him on any issue they could, and such an inquiry would make that clear.”

“Privately, he talked to aides about the way Democrats even picked up seats in the 1998 midterms as President Bill Clinton faced impeachment hearings. Trump also latched onto the fact that removing a president required the approval of two-thirds of the Senate — so he felt assured that as long as he maintained the support of Senate Republicans, he would be fine.”

“The president’s optimistic, even nonchalant attitude melted away this week in a series of sudden developments as he crisscrossed meetings at the United Nations in New York. Trump and a coterie of aides were stunned by a swift progression of events that upended their longtime thinking about how an impeachment scenario would proceed. By the time they returned to the White House Thursday, they had tested and retested strategies on the fly as they began to recognize the perilous road ahead that would likely look far different from anything this president or any of his predecessors faced.”

“The Trump administration is investigating the email records of dozens of current and former senior State Department officials who sent messages to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email, reviving a politically toxic matter that overshadowed the 2016 election,” the Washington Post reports.

“As many as 130 officials have been contacted in recent weeks by State Department investigators — a list that includes senior officials who reported directly to Clinton as well as others in lower-level jobs whose emails were at some point relayed to her inbox… Those targeted were notified that emails they sent years ago have been retroactively classified and now constitute potential security violations.”

“Former US Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker plans to appear at his deposition next Thursday in front of three congressional committees,” CNN reports.

“The source would not say if the White House is seeking to use executive privilege to constrict Volker in terms of what he can say or provide.”

“Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is on shaky ground in the wake of a bad week for President Trump,” CNN reports.

“The sources say the President is not upset with Mulvaney for the White House releasing the summary of his July 25 call with Ukraine’s leader or the whistleblower complaint because he had been convinced that it was necessary.”

“What Trump and other aides are frustrated with, according to the sources, is that Mulvaney did not have a strategy for defending and explaining the contents of those documents as soon as they were publicly released.”

James Hohmann: “The Ukraine donnybrook shows the degree to which institutions depend on the individuals inside of them to function as they were designed. The whistleblower who sounded an alarm while others bit their tongues showed that. So did the inspector general who alerted Congress to his complaint when President Trump’s loyalists were trying to keep it secret. And the public got a glimpse during a House committee hearing on Thursday of how differently this scandal might have played out if Trump’s previous pick to lead the nation’s intelligence community had been confirmed.”

“The temperamental contrast was stark between Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), the hyper-partisan congressman who wanted the job, and Joe Maguire, the decorated military hero who got it instead and seemed eager to show he’s no one’s toady. Democrats faulted Maguire, as the acting director of national intelligence, for checking in with the very entities who a CIA whistleblower had accused of wrongdoing, including Bill Barr’s Justice Department and Trump’s White House counsel’s office, to see if they wanted to claim executive privilege to prevent the disclosure of his allegations.”

The Los Angeles Times reports there’s “no sign that the GOP-controlled Senate, where 67 votes are required to remove the president from office, is about to turn on Trump.”

Said one senior Senate GOP aide: “At this point, Trump could be caught walking out of a Federal Reserve bank with two giant sacks of money in his hands and no Republican would vote to impeach him for grand larceny.”

The aide added: “Our voters want two things from their congressmen: pissing on the media and blindly defending the president. That’s what being a Republican has come to.”

NPR: “The gap between the richest and the poorest U.S. households is now the largest it’s been in the past 50 years — despite the median U.S. income hitting a new record in 2018, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.”

“U.S. income inequality was ‘significantly higher’ in 2018 than in 2017, the federal agency says in its latest American Community Survey report. The last time a change in the metric was deemed statistically significant was when it grew from 2012-2013.”

“President Trump has decided to slash the American refugee program by almost half, greatly dimming the United States’ role in accepting persecuted refugees from most parts of the world,” the New York Times reports.

“The administration said it would accept 18,000 refugees during the next 12 months, down from the current limit of 30,000 and a fraction of the 110,000 President Barack Obama said should be allowed into the United States in 2016, his final year in office.”

Corey Lewandowski has had conversations with White House officials in recent days about potentially taking a position inside the administration to help Trump confront a looming impeachment fight, CNN reports.

“The discussions, including a Thursday afternoon meeting at the White House, reflect the growing recognition among Trump’s allies and advisers that he is without a clear strategy for managing the crisis, which exploded in stunning fashion this week.”

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