Saturday, October 5, 2019

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Q. What are the most ominous words published in the last 24 hours for the Trump administration?
A. “The direct participation of State Department officials sworn to serve the country in events that increasingly bear the markings of a multipronged political conspiracy.”
That extraordinary turn of phrase appears in the most essential of essential readings, this Washington Post story filled with details about the behavior of Gordon Sondland, that will make you realize (if you didn’t already) that Sondland is one of the keys to the impeachment investigation, and how he handles himself over the next two months might end up telling the tale.  He is supposed to meet with congressional investigators on Tuesday.
Q. Besides Sondland, what else does the White House have to be concerned about?
A. This New York Times story about the possibility of a second whistleblower with more direct knowledge of the Trump-Ukraine events than Whistleblower #1 had.  The implications of a second whistleblower are too obvious and too vast to chronicle here.
Q. Besides Sondland and a potential second whistleblower, what else does the White House have to be concerned about?
A. Promiscuous leaks about the president’s behavior from former and current government officials, such as in this breathtaking Washington Post story about Trump’s conduct on calls with foreign leaders.
Q. What is the significance of David Ignatius’ column today?
A. The highly respected, non-partisan Ignatius is as great a reporter as he is a columnist.  He lays out some new facts related to Rudy Giuliani and weaves together the known history in a way that makes it clear that a lot of esteemed national voices are likely to join the call for impeachment in a way that will make it seem to be – and make it actually be – less partisan.
Q. How will the White House’s refusal to comply with subpoenas get resolved?
A. Only time will tell.  But this is where much of the action and much of the White House-congressional Republican strategy sits at the moment.
Q. Will congressional Republicans hang together with the president?
A. It will take many more revelations for House Republicans to break with Trump. But Mitt Romney and a few other Senators are pretty much ready to go. They are going to pick their moments, but if they continue their running commentary while the House proceeds to impeachment, that will add a bipartisan flavoring to the process, even if no House GOPers flip.
Q. What is the significance of the report that the CIA’s general counsel made a criminal referral to the Justice Department after reviewing the whistleblower’s charges weeks before the allegations became public?
A. Sorry to state the obvious, but this would almost certainly strengthen the Democrats’ hand.
Q. Could the Ukrainian government turn against Donald Trump?
A. Probably not, but breeze through this essential reading Wall Street Journal story about how the Ukrainians have experienced all these events and you can see the seeds of a problem for the White House.
Q. What’s the one thing Democratic members of the House should read today?
A. Peggy Noonan’s column on the right way for Team Pelosi to approach the impeachment process for the good of the nation and for their own political good.
Q. Will Bernie Sanders pay a price for not promptly revealing he had a heart attack?
A. The sample space of candidates whose campaigns were harmed by their failure to be forthcoming about a medical incident is not large, but it is informative.  The press for sure, and I think voters too, draw bigger lessons when people running for president aren’t straight about their health. See Bill Bradley 2000 and Hillary Clinton 2016. 
Ominous sign for Sanders: the New York Times story on his heart attack includes contributions from Lawrence K. Altman, the greatest force for holding candidates accountable for disclosing their medical history and personal health in the modern history of American journalism.  So, Sanders would be paying a very big price for this failure to communicate now if it weren’t for impeachment, and it is very likely that this bill will still come due.
Q. Should Biden supporters be concerned about his third-quarter fundraising figures as compared to those of Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg?
A. They should be shaking in their Nikes.  The symbolism is horrible and the practical reality about the likely shortage of cash come January are both very bad for the former VP. But worst of all is that his failure to keep pace on the money chase teases out the greatest vulnerability and weakness of his candidacy: a lack of enthusiasm among voters, donors, and the press.
Top sports story: Stephen Strasburg was the best version of himself just when he needed to be, and now the Nats are even in the NLDS
Washington Post
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