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THE EVIDENCE AND MITCH MCCONNELL
At around 8pm ET tonight, the subject of impeachment hearings, Donald J. Trump, “delivers remarks at a Keep America Great Rally” inBossier City, Louisiana, ahead of Saturday’s gubernatorial runoff and while the House prepares for the next public impeachment hearing on Friday.
My take: I watched the Wednesday hearing and have read more than sixty stories about the proceedings and the reaction to what happened, and here is what I think.
House Democrats staged managed the hearing very well, with witnesses who came off as credible; sharp and dignified questioning; and a piece of alleged new news (the purported July 26 phone call between President Trump and Gordon Sondland) that the media uniformly treated as factual in every respect, even though it was denied by the White House.
House Republicans were largely panned, such as by the Washington Post:
“Republicans, meanwhile, defended the president with a strategy that at times seemed scattershot and disorganized….
“Republican counsel Stephen R. Castor also got off to a slow start as he tried to get the witnesses to testify that Ukraine had a corruption problem…. GOP commentators on Twitter criticized Castor, saying it was unclear where he was going with his questions.”
Still, given the weak hand House Republicans have on the facts and with the media, they did not do a disastrous job if their goals are to stay unified and establish a record for their Senate colleagues to hang their hats on. Which are their goals.
The non-Trump media described the alleged Trump-Sondland call with words such as “previously undisclosed,” building it up as a “bombshell”; largely praised the Democrats; and explicitly or implicitly accepted the argument that Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses.
“It was not clear that minds were changed. Certainly they were not inside the room, and most likely not elsewhere on Capitol Hill, where Republicans and Democrats were locked into their positions long ago. Nor were there any immediate signs that the hearing penetrated the general public. While major television networks broke into regular programming to carry it live, there was little sense of a riveted country putting everything aside to watch à la Watergate.”
That is what I found when I called Re-Pete’s Saloon & Grill in Black River Falls, Wisconsin during lunchtime to ask if the spot’s televisions were tuned into the Beltway action:
Me: Do you have the impeachment hearings on the TVs there?
Guy from Re-Pete’s: The what? No, we do sports stuff.
Senate Republicans, well, they are in a profound way the group that matters most in this saga. The actions and thoughts of House Democrats, House Republicans, the media, and the American people will all play a role in determining how Mitch McConnell’s flock will deal with the impeachment hot potato when it comes over from the House, but, let’s be honest, the Leader will decide a lot on his own, in consultation with his fellow Republican senators and the White House.
McConnell’s public words Wednesday and the exclusive reporting from the Washington Post suggest the majority is planning on a full trial that will last roughly from early January into mid-February or slightly beyond, because of some combination of not wanting to be seen as short-circuiting the process and of wanting to mess with the Iowa and New Hampshire plans of Democratic presidential candidates who also happen to be sitting United States senators.
Despite that reporting, I advise you not to rule out a Senate process that looks like this: robust opening statements from both sides, in which Democrats are asked to present their best case, after which McConnell gets 50 other Republican senators to agree that even if the Democrats’ impeachment managers proved their case in full, the votes would not be there to convict, leading to a successful motion to end the trial.
Deval Patrick, expected to announce his candidacy today, will apparently beat Mike Bloomberg into the race.
My take: Patrick is neither famous nor a billionaire. If he had been in the contest from the start, he would have been a formidable entry. He is a talented pol, and/but not so charismatic or vision-filled that he can be expected to instantly capture the hearts of early-state voters or Internet donors, making it extremely unlikely that he will appear on a debate stage anytime soon.
Whether Bloomberg runs or not, it is easy to see Patrick being a factor in this process, but I can see one and only one scenario under which he is the nominee: Biden is out of the race after Iowa or New Hampshire and the establishment in full (including Team Obama) rallies around Patrick (instead of Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Bloomberg, or anyone else) in order to stop Warren and Sanders from being the nominee.
Elizabeth Warren is quadrupling down on her war with the wealthy with a new, limited engagement TV ad continuing her joust with the billionaires.
My take: Here’s a group that it is pretty hard to find very many members of – Biden supporters who think Warren can win a general election. Warren thinks she can, of course, and she is apparently not the least bit interested in convincing the type of people who support Biden that she is right.
Keep an eye on Hong Kong, as things heat up again on the streets.
The latest news is here.
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