Tuesday, September 24, 2019

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20 Questions – And Some Answers
1. What should we make of this Washington Post reporting: “Many leadership aides who once thought Trump’s impeachment was unlikely now say they think it’s almost inevitable.”
My take: That is definitely the state of play right now, but we are all in a holding pattern until Thursday’s twin events – the expected appearance on Capitol Hill of the acting head of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, and the deadline Congress has set for the administration to turn over the whistleblower report.
2. Which matters more in pushing the Speaker towards impeachment – the support for that step from her allies Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro and Rep. Debbie Dingell, or the op ed by first-term House centrists with national security credentials moving them towards support for the move?
My take: False choice – they both are HUGE.
3. Will the support for impeachment from some big name Democrats outside of Congress change the debate?
My take: On the margins, but the internal House caucus momentum is so strong now that it trumps everything else.
4. What will Speaker Pelosi say when she meets privately today with the committee chairs investigating the president?
My take: She will try to figure out how to organize an impeachment inquiry IF there is one, including finding a role for Adam Schiff and perhaps a select or special committee.
5. What will Speaker Pelosi say when she meets privately with all House Democrats this afternoon?
My take: She will make it clear that the prospect of impeachment is very real and/but people need to keep their powder semi-dry until Thursday.
6. What will Speaker Pelosi say when she “is expected to make a statement on the issue Tuesday and has seemed more open to the idea of an impeachment investigation than ever before, according to lawmakers and aides.” (Politico)
My take: This one is fluid and depends on how the Speaker’s meetings and discussions go today.
7. What impact would a House vote on “a resolution condemning Mr. Trump’s interaction with his Ukrainian counterpart to put lawmakers on the record” have?
My take: It would put some Republicans in an uncomfortable position and would buy some time until Thursday.
8. How angry will Trump be about the Washington Post reporting the president ordered the military aid to Ukraine held up before his July phone call, with little explanation inside the government as to why?
My take: He will be steamed at what promises to be a long series of backgrounding with reporters that John Bolton and his allies will do that are meant to elevate Bolton and hurt Trump.
9. How weak is the administration’s claim that it can withhold the whistleblower’s complaint from Congress?
My take: Laughably weak, but this administration has been able to stonewall before with arguments this weak.
10. Will any Republican senators join Mitt Romney in explicitly crossing Trump on this matter? (Only Marco Rubio and Lisa Murkowski were a little wobbly on Monday, although others said they want to get the facts.)
My take: Probably not today, but it could happen by the end of the week.
11. Will Trump’s attempts to push back on Romney silence the Utah senator?
My take: Not a chance.
12. Is Rudy Giuliani helping or hurting his client?
My take: Helping with the pro-Trump echo chamber, hurting most everywhere else.
13. Will Team Biden’s offensive against the media help him win the nomination?
My take: Today, it is helping, but Biden himself is going to be volatile on this issue until he is sure that Hunter is out of the spotlight, and that isn’t going to happen soon.
14. What should one make of this reporting from the Washington Post:
“Within Trump’s orbit, some argue that the Ukraine news cycle will ultimately benefit the president — if he and his allies can redirect the public’s attention to what they claim is unethical behavior by Biden and his son Hunter”?
My take: With Team Trump, past is almost always prologue, or at least it is believed to be.  The president’s advisers and the president himself are currently remarkably unrattled by what’s going on.
15. Is Trump in the process of hurting Biden (like he did Hillary Clinton in 2016) or hurting himself politically?
My take: Both for now, and/but by the end of the week, it could be both still, neither, or one or the other. Only time will tell.
16. Is Anthony Scaramucci right when he tells the New York Times about the president, “He is going after Biden hard because he knows Biden destroys him in a general election, and so he will do and say anything to anybody to knock him out now.”
My take: 70% right. (Trump isn’t sure that Biden would beat him.)
17. What is the significance of this about the whistleblower? “The person who filed the complaint did not have firsthand knowledge of the call, according to a person familiar with the matter.” (AP)
My take: Potentially very, very. See below.
18. Is there any single paragraph more important than this in this news cycle?
“Privately, some Democrats and their aides were more cautious, fretting that the transcript of the July call would not be as damning as billed. They worried that the anticipation of its disclosure was replicating the dynamic that surrounded the release of the report by Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel who investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, in which Democrats had expected a set of clear-cut revelations that would all but demand Mr. Trump’s impeachment, but ended up instead with a document that did not move public opinion against the president.” (New York Times)
My take: Nope, this is the big one right now, until we know more about the whistleblower and the transcript.
19. Will the president release the transcript of his July phone call, given that Lindsey Graham and the Wall Street Journal editorial board are calling on him to do it?
My take: If the transcript is inconclusive or exculpatory, you betcha.  Read the Trump tells here from Monday: “I could do it easily. But I’d rather not do it. I may do it. We had a nice call.”
20. What about retaliation against Iran, trade talks with China, climate change, DNC debate rules, etc?
My take: Until the Ukraine allegations are resolved, Wide World of News will focus on what Speaker Pelosi and most everyone else is focused on. We might be within hours or days of a full-on impeachment inquiry of the president of the United States.
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