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The most important things to know about Thursday’s House impeachment vote:
Democrats expect to lose no more than five of their flock; Republicans expect to lose fewer than that, and maybe none.
Why the Democratic unity, after months of skepticism by members from Trump districts?
Cue the New York Times: “Democrats are buoyed by internal polling conducted by their campaign arm, which found that their candidates lead Republican candidates by three percentage points in House battleground districts, and by eight points in all districts, according to a Democratic aide.”
Is Team Trump taking unity for granted?
Cue the Washington Post: “The White House plans to invite a group of GOP lawmakers to meet with Trump before the roll call in an additional move to ensure ‘no’ votes, the official said.”
My take: This is an historically important vote and an important process moment, but it is hard to see how it impacts public opinion or Senate Republican opinion. The media will rightly treat any Republican defections as more significant than Democratic ones.
The most important developments in the House impeachment investigation:
Retiring White House national security aide Tim Morrison is expected to give closed-door testimony Thursday to House impeachment investigators. If Lt. Col. Vindman was a 9 out of 10 on the WOW scale, the previews of Morrison’s testimony (including his decision to leave his White House job) suggest we are looking at leaks by the end of the day that will make Morrison somewhere between a 5 and a 7.
The Democrats want John Bolton to testify. It is absolutely unclear if he will.
My take: The case has been built privately – Donald Trump tried for a quid pro quo with Ukraine. Which of the many witnesses who have and will speak to that fact in non-public sessions will be able to perform in a way that makes the case to the American people (and Senate Republicans) is still unknown. Vindman seems to be part of the answer. If Bolton testifies and turns, that would complicate Trump’s life in unfathomable ways.
The most encouraging signs for Trump in terms of surviving in the Senate:
He is taking Mitch McConnell’s advice about publicly laying off wavering Senators (like Mitt Romney) and McConnell is still highly motivated to avoid conviction. (Politico)
One of the smartest conservative thinkers, Rich Lowry, columnizes on the case previewed in Wide World of News yesterday: eventually, the only argument that will save Trump from Senate conviction is that the quid ended when the Ukrainians got their military aid and the quo never happened.
Mike Pompeo, in an interview with the New York Post, was fully on board with Team Trump.
My take: The president is not unreasonably counting on some combination of White House lobbying, McConnell’s determination, a lack of overwhelming Republican grassroots support for impeachment, Democratic missteps, the drumbeat from Fox News, Rush, etc, and peer pressure to keep his Senate firewall in place.
Most surprising development of the day:
RealClearInvestigations decided to basically and apparently out the identity of the whistleblower.
My take: Oh, the Internet. How will other media stakeholders react to this? Only time will tell. But a Drudge link pushes information into a distinct and different place.
Most intense Trump political fantasy:
Hillary Clinton gets into the presidential race.
My take: Oh, Bill Clinton.
Most undercovered aspects of Kamala Harris’s campaign lack of money leading to a desperate last gap stand in Iowa, where she has limited support:
Despite the brave face the campaign put on in announcing the move to lay off staff and put all its remaining chips on the Hawkeye State, barring a political miracle, this is the end of the Harris campaign.
Cue the New York Times: “Among larger donors, Ms. Harris has virtually disappeared as a topic of conversation, as they have increasingly looked at Mr. Buttigieg as the most viable alternative to Mr. Biden among the center-left candidates. That is a reversal from earlier in the year when Ms. Harris was viewed that way, according to multiple donors and fund-raisers.”
My take: If you want to know the answer to who the Democratic nominee is going to be, the question you would most want the answer to is, who will finish higher in Iowa, Biden or Buttigieg? Elites and donors don’t pick the Democratic nominee, but the most prized unfilled slot in the party right now is “establishment Biden alternative,” and Buttigieg is better positioned to assume that mantle than anyone else on planet earth right now.
The most underrated candidate in the Democratic field:
Bernie Sanders’ weekend Minnesota rally with Representative Omar has been moved to a bigger venue because of demand.
My take: I said early on that I thought Sanders was an undervalued stock. I overstated the case then; most of the press is understating the case now. He might not end up the nominee, but he almost certainly will be a big player. He is less susceptible to damage from time in the barrel than either Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden, for reasons too obvious to state here.
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