Sunday, October 27, 2019


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YES, MAN

Here is another excerpt from my new book “How to Beat Trump: America’s Top Political Strategists on What It Will Take,”to be published this Tuesday:

My own history scheming to break veepstakes picks each cycle is not particularly inspirational. In 1992, when I was a reporter assigned to cover the Clinton campaign, I chased the story like a relentless puppy, chewing on my share of scooplets as Bill Clinton deliberated over his choice. This was the pre-smartphone, pre–social media era; journalists still recorded on videotape, printed their newsbreaks in the next day’s paper, and received confidential info from whispered asides and covert tête-à-têtes rather than by texts. My mobile phone was housed in a valise the size of a football.

My life in July 1992 was a blur of legwork, hustle, Sherlock Holmesian detecting, and nagging, some of which paid off. My colleagues and I captured exclusive video of a beleaguered and slightly annoyed Bob Kerrey, as the contender raced through the lobby of a Little Rock Holiday Inn Express in a vain attempt to escape from me and the camera crew after he met surreptitiously with Clinton at the Arkansas governor’s mansion. I reported on another previously undisclosed Clinton meeting, this one with Florida senator Bob Graham. I got wind of last-minute campaign polling that tested the relative benefits of adding Al Gore or Mario Cuomo to the ticket. I worked around the clock for days, until, exhausted, I slept through the post-midnight ringing of my hotel room telephone, missing the call from a high-level Clinton campaign source who had decided to give me the scoop on Al Gore. By the time I woke up, bleary and befuddled, another news organization had the story.

Continue reading the excerpt here.

And now the news:

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The latest of the apparent death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi here.

My take: This is an important moment in the war against terror. President Trump’s 9am ET remarks will rally his supporters and some of the nation – and be processed and folded up by those focused on impeachment by dusk, inspired in part by Trump’s “Something very big just happened!” Saturday night tweet.  Stay tuned to Monday’s Wide World of News for more.

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Former White House chief of staff John Kelly basically said Mick Mulvaney is a “yes man” whose presence in the job led to the impeachment process. 

My take: Kelly’s words will keep reverberating – with the White House hitting back hard — but read the Washington Post’s version of the flap to find some nuggets like this about Mulvaney: “The acting chief of staff regularly leaves the West Wing to visit his home in South Carolina, or golf, or attend political events, according to current and former aides.”

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Essential reading: the New York Times on Washington’s guessing game about what John Bolton will say, if anything, about Ukraine.

My take: This story does as good a job as possible trying to answer the question, but this is one of the rare cases of a Washington mystery whose mysteriousness — and the implications of the eventual resolution — are not being overstated.

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House Democrats are threatening contempt proceedings for administration officials who defy impeachment subpoenas.

My take: Impeachment investigators, who know they have to go fast, are doing things as rapidly as any Capitol Hill veteran can recall happening. The question still remains if it will be fast enough.

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In a carefully worded story, the Wall Street Journal quotes Gordon Sondland’s lawyer on the record saying his client told Congress it was a quid pro quo.

My take: Yet another indication that at some point the White House defense is likely to shift away from “there was no quid pro quo” to some combination of  “the dirt never

came and the military aid eventually went” and “it was an error but not impeachable.”

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The Washington Post lets House Democrats and House Republicans stay on background and deep background in their framing fight over how GOPers are conducting themselves in the closed door impeachment depositions (either obstructing/distracting or defending fairness, depending on one’s point of view).  The key allegation from the Democrats is that the Republicans are allegedly trying to out the identity of the whistleblower.

My take: As long as Democrats don’t make any mistakes that cause the media to stop cheerleading for impeachment, these Republican efforts mostly serve the purpose of slowing down the process.

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An important op ed piece in the Washington Post by the lawyers for the two whistleblowers, making the bedrock defense of the sanctity of the process that defends the privacy and safety of people like their clients.

My take: It is hard to imagine the world will never know the identity of the original whistleblower, but it now seems like it could stay a secret for a very long time.  Except, see above, Republicans allegedly are trying to force the issue.

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The latest on Lev and Igor, from the Washington Post.

My take: Stories such as this will be being written for a very, very long time. The details pile up, but the bottom line remains the same: Rudy Giuliani was associating with some very shady characters while he was the president’s lawyer.

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The latest of the California fires, winds, and blackouts here.

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Top sports story: Astros pummel Nationals in Game 4, 8-1, to even World Series

Washington Post

Top business story: What an Elizabeth Warren presidency would mean for stocks

CNBC

Top entertainment story: ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,’ ‘Joker’ Battling for Box Office Crown

Variety

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