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THEY SAID IT
“This is over a phone call that is a good call. At some point, I’m going to sit down, perhaps as a fireside chat on live television, and I will read the transcript of the call, because people have to hear it. When you read it, it’s a straight call…It’s energized my base like I’ve never seen before…I think [impeachment is] a very dirty word, it’s a word that I can’t believe that the do-nothing Democrats are trying to pin on me, and it’s a disgrace. And I think it’s going to backfire on them….I did nothing wrong, and for them to do this is a disgrace. To me the word impeachment’s a very ugly word….My poll numbers are very good. You know, they always like to talk about my poll numbers — you know they’re very good,….My base is much bigger than people think. But I think I go way beyond my base.” — Donald Trump in an interview with the Washington Examiner
My take: I have no idea if the president realizes that he will eventually need to mount a more robust defense than just saying that the phone call was “perfect,” “good,” and “straight.” But I am sure Senate Republicans think he does. When the president says he believes the impeachment process will backfire on the Democrats, that isn’t spin. GOP pollsters’ data largely encourages Team Trump to think that.
“This is a gift for us. Our internal polling shows that Donald Trump’s support has gone up thanks to the impeachment inquiry. Since Nancy Pelosi called for this we have seen the numbers go up….We can let them keep going with this because the American people are not distracted by this.” – Lara Trump to Sean Hannity
My take: Ibid (with some caveats and overstatement).
“Can I say we all know it happened? I think the definitive question for the hearings will turn out not to be ‘Did he do it?’ but ‘Do the American people believe this an impeachable offense?’” – Peggy Noonan
My take: As chronicled this week in Wide World of News, this will remain the Republicans’ main argument for much of the impeachment process, but it will eventually give way. [See two items below.]
“Democrats want to impeach Mr. Trump for asking a foreign government to investigate his political rival for corruption, though the probe never happened, and for withholding aid to Ukraine that in the end wasn’t withheld. Assuming the facts bear this out, the attempt was self-serving and reckless and a long way from the ‘perfect’ behavior Mr. Trump claims.” – the Wall Street Journal editorial board
My take: Ibid.
“To my colleagues on the other side, I say this: Give the people back their power…Let them choose the next leader of the free world. Follow the principles of our Constitution. And do not dilute our democracy by interfering in elections from Washington.” – House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy
My take: As long as the impeachment process goes into December or beyond, this is going to become the main argument that Team Trump makes to keep Republican Senators in line. It is a process argument masquerading as a principled one. Most Republican strategists and many Democratic ones think it will be enough to ward off conviction.
“It’s not correct, it’s not constitutional, it’s unprecedented and it’s probably illegal.” Marty Wisher, a 54-year-old artist and avid Republican volunteer, who lives in the district of a Florida Republican congressman who recently made tentative noises supportive of the impeachment process, and, the Washington Post found, was quickly descended upon by MAGAers at home. Said congressman, who is retiring, voted with all other Republicans against the impeachment resolution Thursday.
My take: The media will rightly continue to look for qualitative and quantitative indications that Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are becoming more supportive of impeachment and removal. That does not appear to be happening very much so far, and that has huge implications for this process. Outside of Washington, impeachment is not the daily obsession it is for the political class. Nancy Pelosi knows that. It is less clear that Adam Schiff does.
“I make no prejudgement as to where that remedy will be warranted when we finish these hearings. I will wait until all the facts are put forward” — Adam Schiff
My take: Nice try, but this is one of the most disingenuous statements made by a member of Congress on Thursday. Schiff’s past actions and words (and, likely, his future ones) render this sentiment inoperative.
“We’ve had enough for a very long time.” — Speaker Pelosi to a roundtable with columnists earlier in the week about the evidence that has been gathered
My take: “Enough” for what is the question.
“The reality is we could fill every day of the next month with a new potential witness interview. Given the evidence we’ve collected so far, we think we’re ready to enter a public phase sooner than later.” – a Democratic source to Politico
My take: The coverage in the current news cycle suggests the House Democrats believe they are on track to hand things over to the Senate in 2019. Despite the quote above, there are a lot of steps to go before Pelosi throws it over to McConnell, and Republicans are going to do what they can to stall.
“I get that Democrats feel they have to proceed with impeachment to protect the Constitution and the rule of law. But there is little chance they will come close to ousting the president. So I hope they set a Thanksgiving deadline. Play the impeachment card through November, have the House vote and then move on to other things. The Senate can quickly dispose of the matter and Democratic candidates can make their best pitches for denying Trump re-election.” – David Brooks
My take: Brooks’ column is essential reading. It reflects the bipartisan establishment view that impeachment is necessary but if it drags on, it will help Trump get reelected.
“We’re just going to run our race…And if Bernie or Warren have to be in Washington while we’re in Dubuque, that’s their problem.” – an unnamed Biden adviser in a Politico story on the impact impeachment and a Senate trial could have on the Democratic presidential nomination battle
My take: No one knows all the ways the impeachment process will effect the Democrats’ search for a nominee who can win a general election against Trump, but the argument that the media laser focus on Capitol Hill will help any of the Democrats running to do what is necessary to be victorious in November, 2020 seems wrong.
“If Joe Biden is the nominee, Democrats probably won’t have to be talking about Medicare for All…If Elizabeth Warren is the nominee, then Democrats might have to spend some money distancing themselves from her proposals.” – the Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman to the Wall Street Journal
My take: This is from one of the very, very stories in this news cycle about the Democratic presidential race. It reflects the Gang of 500 consensus that Biden is not going to be the Democratic nominee and that if Trump’s general election opponent supports eliminating private health insurance, the president will be given a big political gift. That two-part consensus might not be correct, but it has grown immensely over the last month.
“My family and I will be making Palm Beach, Florida, our Permanent Residence” Donald J. Trump, formerly of Gotham City, on Twitter
My take: Exhibit 20,004 for the Democrats I interviewed for “How to Beat Trump: America’s Top Political Strategists on What It Will Take” on why Trump can use the power of incumbency and his nose for news to dominate any news cycle he wishes, creating unprecedented challenges for his general election opponent.
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