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My take: He will be an historical figure, to be sure. His lawyers are still negotiating over private congressional testimony. National security veterans are demanding his identity be kept secret. Team Trump had hoped to discredit his account as second-hand and the product of a partisan. They will still try to smudge him, but the existence of additional evidence and testimony makes any PR damage they do less relevant to the proceedings and the outcome.
My take: Being repped by the same lawyers who have Whistleblower #1 as a client, putting more focus on the law firm. The contours of his or her account are still unknown, but in the short term it is keeping the impeachment story humming in this news cycle, as speculation abounds. This illustrates one of the biggest dangers for the White House: the media loves process stories + the media loves impeachment = challenging for Trump to change the focus to anything else.
My take: Scheduled to testify in private to the House committees on Tuesday. Democrats believe that if Trump’s point man for Ukraine tells the full truth, the case against the president will be made either somewhat stronger or substantially stronger. There is little known about how Sondland is preparing or what he plans to say. With no indication that he plans to cancel his appearance and the certainty that details from the closed session will leak out, this is shaping up to be one of the biggest moments of the week.
My take: The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who is slated to speak in closed session on the Hill on Friday, is a hero to the career folks at the State Department. Her allies say she will wow the congressional Democrats with her presentation and an account that will add more texture to the narrative that the president disregarded standard channels to try to get his way with the Ukrainians. Probably not as big a danger to Trump as Sondland, since she was kept somewhat out of the loop, but will continue to get extraordinarily sympathetic press coverage, even if/especially if she becomes the target of Trump attacks.
My take: Has suggested in statements and a Friday letter to the Democratic investigators that the State Department might cooperate more quickly and fully with the impeachment inquiry than the rest of the administration. The Secretary’s line (“We’ll obviously do all the things that we’re required to do by law”) does not reflect the same tone that the White House has set. Too soon to say if he is part of some orchestrated good cop/bad cop routine. He has been a Trump loyalist since joining the administration, but he remains someone to watch when looking for cracks in the White House’s effort to run out the clock on impeachment (which at this point is probably their best bet).
My take: Trump’s apparent attempt to make him a scapegoat for the July telephone call is for now just a sideshow, since it doesn’t speak to the question of the alleged quid pro quo. But watch this space, because the former Texas governor is not interested in taking the fall.
My take: It appears he isn’t going anywhere for now and will stay at the center of the strategic and PR efforts on Trump’s behalf. He is universally cast as having lost two steps, as having a tin ear, and as a symbol of the Keystone Cops-quality of the original Ukraine gambit and the efforts to defend and explain it. Can he right his own ship and become a clear asset to the president’s efforts? No one reading these words think that he can.
My take: Continues to keep the focus on the president and largely away from any divisions within her own party. Her three primary reasons for spending months fighting off impeachment (it was not bipartisan, it would blot out the Democrats’ agenda, and it would help Trump be reelected) are still very much in play. Her chief mission now is to balance speed with completeness, in order to get the impeachment hearings and vote done in time to avoid 2020 politics but not done so quickly that it leaves the party vulnerable to accusations that it rushed the process.
My take: Has the capacity to do a lot of TV hits while still overseeing a complex and sprawling investigation. Not as good at his current role as his fans claim or as bad as his detractors would have you believe, but there is a reason that Pelosi wanted him in charge of this key phase. If Trump finds a way to derail the impeachment process, it likely won’t be because of Schiff or his team.
My take: Eventually, he will take the conch from Schiff. At that point, Pelsosi will hold her breath and Trump will go in for the kill. If you are anticipating inflection points in this saga, count on this one being a biggy.
My take: The Senate Intelligence chairman is one of the biggest wild cards in the impeachment deck. While the House investigation takes place largely before the cameras on the Hill and in TV studios, Burr’s bipartisan committee probe will proceed stealthily. If the odds of a Senate trial (or even conviction) are to rise, the efforts of the North Carolinian are as likely to contribute to a darkening of the president’s fortunes as those of any other Republican.
My take: The press and Democrats are desperate for Romney to become the Howard Baker of this drama. In the past, when the Michigander/Bay Stater/Golden Stater/Utahan has criticized Trump, he has kept at it for a bit, but then backed off, apparently feeling he had done both enough and all he could do. Will past be prologue or will Romney continue to provide principled color commentary on all the major revelations? Only time will tell.
U.S. backs Turkish military operations in Syria. LATEST
Unrest and protests in Iraq. LATEST
Unrest and protests in Hong Kong. LATEST
RIP, Rip Taylor.
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Harris says Iowa’s caucuses can prove she’s electable.
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