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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

California Could Lose One or More House Seats

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race. The update looks at political and demographic trends through the 2018 midterm.

Sarah Parvini and John Myers at LAT:

California is poised to lose a congressional seat for the first time in its history as a state, based on U.S. Census Bureau population estimates released Monday that showed the nation’s growth continued to slow in 2019.

Some 27 states and the District of Columbia lost residents through net domestic migration between 2018 and 2019, the new census data show.

About 203,000 people left California in that period, a result of the state’s shifting migration patterns and economic strains that are making it harder to afford living here. New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Louisiana also saw large losses to other states.

California’s potential loss in reapportionment, which will be determined by next year’s census count, would drop the state’s number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives from 53 to 52, said William Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

...

Those without reliable internet connections may be missed in a census that will rely heavily on online surveys. Los Angeles County, officials say, will be the nation’s hardest to tally because of its high concentrations of renters and homeless people, as well as immigrant communities that may not participate, either because of language barriers or because they fear being targeted by federal immigration authorities.

“If, as many fear, non-citizen populations and the state’s heavily Latino population either fails to participate or participates without providing full household counts, then California could lose more than one seat,” said [Paul] Mitchell, whose firm analyzes political data for regional and statewide candidates.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Bloomberg and the Delegate Count

In Defying the Odds, we discuss campaign finance and campaign technology. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. 

As we have explained in our books -- especially Epic Journey -- winning a nomination is about arithmetic, not psychology.

Alexi McCammond at Axios:

Mike Bloomberg’s 2020 campaign will open a field office in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the next few weeks, his campaign tells Axios.

Why it matters: It’s rare for a presidential campaign t0 open shop in an American territory, and the Virgin Islands aren't scheduled to hold their caucuses until June 6.


The big picture: The Virgin Islands have 11 delegates up for grabs in 2020.  
  • This is further evidence of Bloomberg’s non-traditional campaign, focusing on delegate count rather than Iowa and other early states.
  • "Mike believes Americans in the territories are often overlooked and have an important voice and role to play in this election," said Dan Kanninen, Bloomberg's states director.
  • Bloomberg traveled to the Virgin Islands in 2017 as part of a major push to help hurricane recovery.

    Ukraine Havoc

    In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.


    In many ways, the havoc Mr. Giuliani and other Trump loyalists set off in the State Department by pursuing the investigations was matched by conflicts and confusion in the White House and Pentagon stemming from Mr. Trump’s order to withhold the aid. 
    Opposition to the order from his top national security advisers was more intense than previously known. In late August, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper joined Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser at the time, for a previously undisclosed Oval Office meeting with the president where they tried but failed to convince him that releasing the aid was in interests of the United States.

    By late summer, top lawyers at the Office of Management and Budget who had spoken to lawyers at the White House and the Justice Department in the weeks beforehand, were developing an argument — not previously divulged publicly — that Mr. Trump’s role as commander in chief would simply allow him to override Congress on the issue.

    And Mr. Mulvaney is shown to have been deeply involved as a key conduit for transmitting Mr. Trump’s demands for the freeze across the administration.

    Sunday, December 29, 2019

    Trump's Last 2019 Weekend on Social Media

    In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.     The 2019 update  includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

    Darlene Superville and David Klepper at AP:
    President Donald Trump retweeted a post that included the alleged name of the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment by the House.
    Just before midnight Friday, Trump retweeted a message from Twitter user @Surfermom77, an account that claims to be a woman named Sophia who lives in California. The account shows some indications of automation, including an unusually high amount of activity and profile pictures featuring stock images from the internet.
    By Saturday morning, the post seemed to have disappeared on many users’ feeds, suggesting Trump had deleted it, though it could still be found in other ways, including on a website that logs every presidential tweet.

    The retweet then reappeared Saturday night. Twitter told The Associated Press that an outage with one of its systems caused tweets on some accounts, including Trump’s, to be visible to some but not others.
    Trump has repeatedly backed efforts to unmask the whistleblower. But his Friday night retweet marks the first time he has directly sent the alleged name into the Twitter feed of his 68 million followers.
    Unmasking the whistleblower, who works in the intelligence field, could violate federal protection laws that have historically been supported by both parties.

    Mary Papenfuss at Huffington Post:
    Twitter followers were agog after President Donald Trump retweeted a meme claiming Jesus Christ likes him more than Barack Obama.

    The two-year-old message from a Trump fan called the president “heaven sent.” Trump responded during another wild night of Twitter rants from Mar-a-Lago with a retweet and a “Thank you!” The tweet included a meme of none other than “Jesus Christ” carrying luggage and apparently returning to America (did he have to cross a border to get there?). “Obama kicked me out,” says “Jesus.” “Trump invited me back.”

    Trump replied 'thank you' on Friday as he shared a meme from two years ago appearing to depict Christ

    Saturday, December 28, 2019

    Trump Outs Rumored Whistleblower

    In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.     The 2019 update  includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

    Ryan Mac at Buzzfeed:
    On Thursday, the president retweeted a Trump campaign account that had shared a link with the alleged whistleblower’s name in the URL. Then, on Friday, he retweeted a message that included the name from an account with the handle @Surfermom77, which describes itself as a “100%Trump Supporter.” It was the second to last message he shared over a three-hour period in which he tweeted or retweeted more than 40 messages.
    Reprisals against whistleblowers are illegal.


    Billionaire Bucks

    In Defying the Oddswe discuss campaign finance and campaign technology  The 2019 update-includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  

    Maya King at Politico:
    Together, Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg have poured nearly $200 million into television and digital advertising alone, with the former New York mayor spending an unprecedented $120 million in the roughly three weeks since he joined the presidential race. That’s more than double the combined ad spending of every single nonbillionaire in the Democratic field this year.
    “We’ve never seen spending like this in a presidential race,” said Jim McLaughlin, a Republican political strategist who worked as a consultant for Bloomberg’s mayoral bids in New York. “He has a limitless budget.”
    The question isn’t whether anyone else will come close to matching Bloomberg's or Steyer’s ad spending. Rather, it’s whether all that spending is making any difference.
    At present, the two remain mired in single digits in the polls. Steyer isn’t spending at the same stratospheric levels as Bloomberg, yet with $83 million in ad buys so far, he’s still far outpacing everyone other than his fellow billionaire. The next highest spender on ads is Pete Buttigieg at $19 million.
    Carl Campanile at NY Post:
    Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is spending so much money on television spots across the country that it’s causing ad rates to soar, a new analysis shows.
    “The typical [TV] market increased their rates by 22 percent as the political spending poured in,” an Advertising Analytics analysis found.
    “Houston was among the markets that responded most actively to the new advertiser,” it added. “This is partially attributable to Bloomberg’s $1 [million] buy increasing the political spending in the market tenfold. This shock spending increase was matched by a 45% increase in rates, which is among the highest of any market.”
    That means the massive spending is driving up advertising costs for Bloomberg’s competitors and other advertisers, an Advertising Analytics’ analysis of the billionaire’s first week of ad spending found.
    Asma Khalid at NPR:
    Bloomberg's strategy is unique — and especially notable in a Democratic primary in which big money and billionaires have often been vilified.
    As a late entrant in the race, Bloomberg is bypassing campaigning in the first four primary states and is instead focused on marshaling his money into advertising. In recent weeks he's been blanketing the airwaves, introducing himself to voters in essentially every TV market in the country.
    ...
    Bloomberg's money strategy is not just about advertising; it's also about hiring, especially in the states that will vote right after the first four (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina).
    "The recent announcement that he's added 200 staffers on the ground in a number of the March [3] Super Tuesday states, it changes the calculation a little bit for the candidates who are currently in," [D strategist Karen] Finney says.
    Bloomberg's strategy is based on the assumption that Democratic voters are anxious about their options. His campaign thinks he has a path if no candidate emerges as the clear favorite after the first few states vote.
    "You don't need to have early primary states," says Steve Williams, mayor of Huntington, W.Va. "He's got a network all across the country. What he has done, nobody, nobody has been able to match."
    That network Williams is referring to, it's mayors — mayors who trust Bloomberg and feel indebted to him because they've received millions of dollars in grants to build art centers or fight climate change. After Bloomberg left office, he leveraged his personal fortune into helping other cities.
    Earlier this month, Williams endorsed Bloomberg, whose foundation gave the city of Huntington assistance related to the opioid epidemic.
    "Somebody helps you, you help them," Williams says, "and it's amazing how our city has benefited from Mayor Bloomberg's support."

    Friday, December 27, 2019

    Trump and Orban

    In Defying the Oddswe discuss Trump's crush on autocrats, and Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.


    When I asked Cornstein about Orbán’s description of his own government as an “illiberal democracy,” the ambassador shifted forward and rested his elbows on a table. “It’s a question of a personal view, or what the American people, or the president of the United States, think of illiberal democracy, and what its definition is.” As he danced around the question, never quite arriving at an opinion, he added, “I can tell you, knowing the president for a good 25 or 30 years, that he would love to have the situation that Viktor Orbán has, but he doesn’t.”

    Thursday, December 26, 2019

    The Triumph of the One Percent

    In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. . The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.
    From CBO, Projected Changes in the Distribution of Household Income, 2016 to 2021:

    The Congressional Budget Office regularly analyzes the distribution of income in the United States and how that distribution has changed over time. Building on those past analyses, this report presents CBO’s projections of the distributions of household income, means-tested transfers, and federal taxes in 2021 (under current law and measured in 2016 dollars) and compares them with the actual distributions in 2016 (the most recent year for which data were available when this analysis was conducted).
    • Income. Adjusted for inflation, average household income before means tested transfers and federal taxes increases for all income groups between 2016 and 2021 in CBO’s projections; the highest and lowest quintiles (or fifths) of the income distribution experience the largest percentage increases. Average household income after transfers and taxes also increases over the period, but that growth is more skewed toward higher-income households than growth in income before transfers and taxes. 
    • Means-Tested Transfers. The ratio of means-tested transfers to income before taxes and transfers decreases between 2016 and 2021 in CBO’s projections. Lower-income households, which receive most means-tested transfers, experience the greatest percentage-point decreases in transfer rates. Those changes are largely attributable to income growth at the bottom of the distribution, which pushes some people’s income above the eligibility thresholds for transfers. 
    • Federal Taxes. In CBO’s projections, all income groups’ average federal tax rates are lower in 2021 than they were in 2016; the largest percentage point decreases are in the highest-income households’ rates. Income growth pushes more household income into higher tax brackets, thereby increasing average tax rates, but that effect is more than offset by reductions in taxes stemming from the 2017 tax act. 
    • Income Inequality. Income before transfers and taxes is projected to be less evenly distributed in 2021 than it was in 2016. Together, means-tested transfers and federal taxes work to reduce income inequality. The reduction in inequality stemming from transfers and taxes is projected to be smaller in 2021 than it was in 2016.
    This analysis relies on comprehensive data on household income, taxes, and transfers in 2016. CBO projected that data forward to 2021 to be consistent with the baseline projections reported in An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2019 to 2029 (August 2019).

    Wednesday, December 25, 2019

    Meanwhile, Obamacare....

    In Defying the Odds, we discuss the health care issue in the 2016 campaign.  the update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

    From the Urban Institute:
    The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has issued a ruling in Texas v. United States, a case that challenges the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Fifth Circuit remanded the case to the District Court; ultimately, the case is likely to be reviewed by the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court finds that the entire ACA without the individual mandate penalties in place is unconstitutional (the argument made by the plaintiffs in the case), the Court would overturn a groundbreaking piece of national legislation that expanded health insurance coverage to millions of people across the nation. Nearly 20 million people would lose insurance coverage if the ACA were repealed, and federal spending on health care would shrink by $134.7 billion in 2019 dollars. Coverage losses of this magnitude would affect every state and many groups of people; in this brief we identify the states and people who would face the largest losses and include new estimates by city. Repeal of the ACA would also directly affect health care providers because coverage losses lead to lower spending on health care services. We estimate that total health care spending by the nonelderly population under ACA repeal would fall by $94.6 billion (5 percent) in 2019 dollars. In addition, greater numbers of uninsured people would seek more free or reduced-price care from providers. We estimate that the cost of uncompensated care sought by uninsured people would nearly double, climbing by about $50 billion in 2019.
    From Gallup:
    The ACA continues to divide Americans. In the early years after its troubled rollout in 2014, the law failed to receive approval from most Americans. While the law enjoyed a brief period of majority approval while Trump and the Republicans unsuccessfully tried to repeal it, 2018 and 2019 have shown a more divided outlook among the public on the law commonly known as "Obamacare." Despite claims that the law would somehow break the private insurance market, Americans with private as well as publicly funded healthcare plans equally approve, and disapprove, of the ACA.

    Tuesday, December 24, 2019

    Rudolph, the....

    In Defying the Odds, we discuss the people surrounding Trump. (The update -- published in 2019 --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.)
    The choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince. And the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.

    -- Machiavelli
    One of the people around Trump is free television lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

    Olivia Nuzzi at New York:

    Over a sweater, he wore a navy-blue suit, the fly of the pants unzipped. He accessorized with an American-flag lapel pin, American-flag woven wallet, a diamond-encrusted pinky ring, and a diamond-encrusted Yankees World Series ring (about which an innocent question resulted in a 15-minute rant about “fucking Wayne Barrett,” a journalist who manages to enrage Giuliani even in death).


    As we sped uptown, he spoke in monologue about the scandal he co-created, weaving one made-up talking point into another and another. He said former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, whom he calls Santa Maria Yovanovitch, is “controlled” by George Soros. “He put all four ambassadors there. And he’s employing the FBI agents.” I told him he sounded crazy, but he insisted he wasn’t.

    “Don’t tell me I’m anti-Semitic if I oppose him,” he said. “Soros is hardly a Jew. I’m more of a Jew than Soros is. I probably know more about — he doesn’t go to church, he doesn’t go to religion — synagogue. He doesn’t belong to a synagogue, he doesn’t support Israel, he’s an enemy of Israel. He’s elected eight anarchist DA’s in the United States. He’s a horrible human being.”

    In the grand tradition of Soros conspiracy theorists, Giuliani believes the media is doing the billionaire’s bidding by printing lies about him, yet he often bungles his own attempts to discredit the media’s reporting. While attempting to argue that, despite what has been written, “I have no business interests in Ukraine,” he told me about his business interests in Ukraine.

    “I’ve done two business deals in Ukraine. I’ve sought four or five others,” he said. Since he’s been representing the president, he said, he has been approached with two opportunities in Ukraine, both of which he turned down to avoid accusations of impropriety.


    Monday, December 23, 2019

    Trump and Religion

    In Defying the Odds, we discuss cultural reasons for Trump's victory. His evangelical support has received much attention
    Timothy Dalrymple, president of Christianity Today, follows up on the magazine's anti-Trump editorial:
    Let me protect against two misunderstandings. The problem is not that we as evangelicals are associated with the Trump administration’s judicial appointments or its advocacy of life, family, and religious liberty. We are happy to celebrate the positive things the administration has accomplished. The problem is that we as evangelicals are also associated with President Trump’s rampant immorality, greed, and corruption; his divisiveness and race-baiting; his cruelty and hostility to immigrants and refugees; and more. In other words, the problem is the wholeheartedness of the embrace. It is one thing to praise his accomplishments; it is another to excuse and deny his obvious misuses of power.

    Similarly, this is neither a criticism of the evangelical Trump voter nor an endorsement of the Democrats. The 2016 election confronted evangelical voters with an impossible dilemma: Vote for a pro-choice candidate whose policies would advance so much of what we oppose, or vote for an extravagantly immoral candidate who could well damage the standing of the republic and the witness of the church. Countless men and women we hold in the highest regard voted for President Trump, some wholeheartedly and some reluctantly. Friends we love and respect have also counseled and worked within the Trump administration. We believe they are doing their best to serve wisely in a fallen world.

    We nevertheless believe the evangelical alliance with this presidency has done damage to our witness here and abroad. The cost has been too high. American evangelicalism is not a Republican PAC. We are a diverse movement that should collaborate with political parties when prudent but always standing apart, at a prophetic distance, to be what Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the conscience of the state.” That is what we believe. This is where we plant our flag. We know we are not alone.

    Sunday, December 22, 2019

    How Trump Rules the GOP

    In Defying the Odds, we discuss the role of political parties in the United States. The update -- published in 2019 --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

     Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman at NYT talk to Republicans, including former Rep. David Trott (R-MI):
    Interviews with current and former Republican lawmakers as well as party strategists, many of whom requested anonymity so as not to publicly cross the president, suggest that many elected officials are effectively faced with two choices. They can vote with their feet by retiring — and a remarkable 40 percent of Republican members of Congress have done so or have been defeated at the ballot box since Mr. Trump took office.
    Or they can mute their criticism of him. All the incentives that shape political behavior — with voters, donors and the news media — compel Republicans to bow to Mr. Trump if they want to survive.
    Sitting in a garland-bedecked hotel restaurant in his former district, Mr. Trott said that he did not want to seek re-election “as a Trumper” — and that he knew he had little future in the party as an opponent of the president.
    There is no market, he said, for independence. Divergence from Trumpism will never be good enough for Democrats; Mr. Trump will target you among Republicans, Mr. Trott added, and the vanishing voters from the political middle will never have a chance to reward you because you would not make it through a primary. That will be ensured in part by the megaphone the president wields with the conservative news media.
    “Trump is emotionally, intellectually and psychologically unfit for office, and I’m sure a lot of Republicans feel the same way,” Mr. Trott said. “But if they say that, the social media barrage will be overwhelming.” He added that he would be open to the presidential candidacy of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York.
    On the other hand, Mr. Trump dangles rewards to those who show loyalty — a favorable tweet, or a presidential visit to their state — and his heavy hand has assured victory for a number of Republican candidates in their primaries. That includes Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who did as many Fox News appearances as possible to draw the president’s attention.
    “The greatest fear any member of Congress has these days is losing a primary,” said former Representative Carlos Curbelo, Republican of Florida, who lost his general election last year in a heavily Hispanic Miami-area district. “That’s the foremost motivator.”

    Saturday, December 21, 2019

    Christianity Today v. Trump

    In Defying the Odds, we discuss cultural reasons for Trump's victory. His evangelical support has received much attention. But it came at a cost, both to the GOP and to American Christianity.




    Putin and Trump

    In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

    Julia Davis at The Daily Beast reports that Russia is defending Trump after impeachment.
    Such support would have been implausible for any other U.S. leader, much less one who claims to be “tough on Russia.” But bluster aside, Trump has been reluctant to sign off on additional Russian sanctions. Pro-Kremlin experts, lawmakers and talking heads believe President Trump would do away with most of the sanctions in record time if not for the U.S. Congress.
    Bolstering these assumptions is the case of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project between Russia and Germany. On Friday, Trump signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains a provision sanctioning Nord Stream 2. But the project is just weeks away from completion and analysts doubt the imposition of sanctions at this late stage can be effective, much less halt the project.
    The Trump administration meanwhile is opposing the bipartisan Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act, or “DASKA,” meant to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 election and deter it from such actions in the future. The administration called the bill “unnecessary” in a 22-page letter to Congress. “The Trump administration stood up in defense of Russia against DASKA sanctions,” Russian media concluded.

    The Kremlin is likewise continuing to stand up for President Trump. During President Vladimir Putin’s annual news conference in Moscow, he claimed that the impeachment was based on “absolutely made up” allegations. Echoing the GOP, the Russian president said, “The party that lost the [2016] election, the Democratic Party, is trying to achieve results by other methods, other means." On Friday, Trump touted Vladimir Putin’s endorsement on his Twitter feed.

    At WP, Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey and Carol D. Leonnig:
    Almost from the moment he took office, President Trump seized on a theory that troubled his senior aides: Ukraine, he told them on many occasions, had tried to stop him from winning the White House.

    After meeting privately in July 2017 with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Trump grew more insistent that Ukraine worked to defeat him, according to multiple former officials familiar with his assertions.

    The president’s intense resistance to the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia systematically interfered in the 2016 campaign — and the blame he cast instead on a rival country — led many of his advisers to think that Putin himself helped spur the idea of Ukraine’s culpability, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.
    One former senior White House official said Trump even stated so explicitly at one point, saying he knew Ukraine was the real culprit because “Putin told me.”

    Friday, December 20, 2019

    D Debate

    In Defying the Odds, we discuss the early stages of the 2016 campaign, when many candidates were unknowns.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  We are concluding the early stages of the 2020 race.

    During Democrats' last debate of 2019, Pete Buttigieg was attacked like the Iowa frontrunner that he is.
    • Why it matters: Buttigieg faced a series of attacks as tensions that had been brewing on the campaign trail broke out on the L.A. debate stage last night.
    The debate's sharpest clash came when Elizabeth Warren said he had held a fundraiser "in a wine cave full of crystals, and served $900-a-bottle wine": "Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president."
    • #Winecave and #WineCavePete trended on Twitter.
    • Buttigieg drew applause for his rabbit-punch return: "[A]ccording to Forbes magazine, I am literally the only person on this stage who is not a millionaire or a billionaire."
    • And he warned Warren against "issuing purity tests you cannot yourself pass."
    ...
    More takeaways, from Axios' Zach Basu, Alexi McCammond at the debate site, and Axios editors:
    • Amy Klobuchar had her strongest debate performance yet. But instead of hitting progressives Bernie Sanders and Warren, she took aim at the only other Midwestern moderate on stage — Buttigieg. Klobuchar ripped Buttigieg for his lack of experience and failure to win elections outside of South Bend.
    • Yang shines: Andrew Yang called it both "an honor and a disappointment" that he was the only candidate of color on stage, before pivoting to his stump speech by rattling off statistics that explain the economic disadvantages that minorities face.
    The bottom line: The relentless attacks on Buttigieg could shake up the race. But anything that doesn't alter the fundamentals of the campaign benefits the frontrunner.
    That remains Biden, who slipped through tonight unscathed and was more assertive, comfortable and in command than in some past debates.
    ...
    Issue-by-issue recap.

    Thursday, December 19, 2019

    Hoyer Remarks on the Article of Impeachment

    In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of dishonestyThe update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  Yesterday, the House impeached him.

    Steny Hoyer:
    Madam Speaker, I’ve had the honor of serving in this House for over thirty-eight years. I’ve served during six presidencies. I’ve been here through moments of tremendous progress and terrible tragedy. I’ve seen periods of rank partisanship and patriotic bipartisanship. I’ve seen our two-party system work, and I’ve seen it break down.

    “Never, in all my years serving in this great institution and the people of my district, did I ever expect to encounter such obvious wrongdoing by a President of the United States. Nor did I expect to witness such craven rationalization of presidential actions, which have put our national security at risk, undermined the integrity of our elections, and defied the Constitutional authority of the Congress to conduct oversight.

    “We’ve heard from Republicans that this impeachment really has to do with policy differences or concerns about the President’s temperament or that we simply dislike the President. They’ve alleged that Democrats have been itching to impeach him since he first took office. The facts say otherwise.

    “Throughout the Trump presidency, Democrats have resisted pursuing impeachment even as we watched with dismay and disgust at a pattern of wrongdoing. That pattern included ordering federal agencies to lie to the public, firing the FBI Director for refusing to end an investigation of his campaign, siding with Vladimir Putin over our intelligence agencies, taking funding away from the military to put toward an ineffective border wall, and setting policies that have led to the separation of families and the caging of children. We have, to be sure, deep disagreements with the policies and actions taken by this president. But they are not reasons to pursue what Chairman Schiff has called, ‘a wrenching process for the nation.’

    “In fact, Democrats rejected that process emphatically in three specific votes. In December of 2017, Democrats overwhelmingly voted against pursuing articles of impeachment, including the Speaker and myself. We did so again in 2018, with over sixty percent of Democrats rejecting that path. Again, in July 2019, just days before the infamous July 25 telephone call, we did the same, with sixty percent of Democrats voting not to proceed.

    “It was not until there was clear evidence that the President was abusing his power to serve his own interests – at the expense of our democracy, our national security, and the safeguarding of our elections from foreign interference – that we were compelled to consider articles of impeachment. Credible witnesses, many of whom were appointed to office by President Trump, have corroborated the details and timeline of his abuse of presidential power, which forms the basis of the first article of impeachment in this resolution. I will not recount them here. They have been laid out fully in the articles before us and by colleagues in their remarks.

    “What I will do is remind Americans that the House provided President Trump every opportunity to prove his innocence. Instead, he ignored Congressional subpoenas for documents and for testimony by White House officials and ordered his subordinates not to cooperate. This itself is unprecedented. When Presidents Nixon and Clinton were asked to hand over documents and allow officials to testify, ultimately both complied. Because it is the law. Such actions of the President can be taken as further evidence of his obstruction and abuse of power. It is itself impeachable conduct, the subject of the second article in this resolution.

    “These two articles before us concern two very profound Constitutional issues about the abuse of power in our republic. First, whether it is acceptable for the President of the United States to solicit foreign interference in our elections, undermining our national security and the integrity of our democracy. And second, whether it is permissible for the president to obstruct Congress and act as if he is above the law and immune from Constitutional oversight.

    “On December 4, the Judiciary Committee heard the testimony of Constitutional law experts who weighed in on these points. One of them, Professor Noah Feldman, cautioned: ‘If we cannot impeach a president who abuses his office for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy. We live in a monarchy, or we live under a dictatorship.’

    “The votes we are about to take concern the rule of law and our democracy itself. Let us not forget the words of the philosopher John Locke, so influential to the Founders of our republic. He warned: ‘Wherever law ends, tyranny begins.’

    “This impeachment asks whether we are still a republic of laws, as our Founders intended – or whether we will accept that one person can be above the law. In America, no one is above the law, but only as long as we hold every person accountable for breaking the law – even a president. Especially a president.

    “If the House does not act – if we wait and delay – we run the risk of allowing the President’s misconduct to be repeated at the expense of the integrity of our elections, our national security, and our Constitutional system of separation of powers. Democrats did not choose impeachment. We did not wish for it. But President Trump’s misconduct has forced our Constitutional republic to protect itself.

    “These votes we are about to take – and the process that will follow in the Senate – are not only an assessment of the President’s commitment to the Constitution or to his oath of office. It is, as well, a test of our own. Damning evidence of the President’s high crimes has emerged. Nevertheless, Republican Members of this House and of the Senate have continued to defend a President whose actions and statements are indefensible.

    “All of us feel a sense of loyalty to party. It’s what makes our two-party system function. It’s what helps hold presidents and majorities accountable. But party loyalty must have its limits. And as evidence of the President’s impeachable offenses has mounted, it has become increasingly clear that the limits of partisanship have been reached and passed.

    “Now, Democrats and Republicans together face a test before our constituents, our countrymen, and our Creator.

    “The New York Times on October 18 summarized the question now posed to House and Senate Republicans: ‘Compromise by compromise, Donald Trump has hammered away at what Republicans once saw as foundational virtues: decency, honesty, responsibility. …Will they commit themselves and their party wholly to Mr. Trump, embracing even his most anti-democratic actions, or will they take the first step toward separating themselves from him and restoring confidence in the rule of law?’

    “Madam Speaker, we have seen Republican courage throughout our history, from the Civil War to the Cold War. In 1950, Margaret Chase Smith, the Senator from Maine, spoke bravely against the cancer of McCarthyism in her party, leading six of her Republican colleagues in a ‘Declaration of Conscience’ against their own leadership.‘We are Republicans,’ they declared, ‘but we are Americans first.’

    “In 1974, one Congressman took the brave and principled step of becoming the first Republican on the Judiciary Committee to support impeaching President Nixon. He said to his colleagues and to the country: ‘…It isn’t easy for me to align myself against the president to whom I gave my enthusiastic support… on whose side I’ve stood in many legislative battles, whose accomplishments in foreign and domestic affairs I’ve consistently applauded. But it’s impossible for me to condone or ignore the long train of abuses to which he has subjected the presidency and the people of this country. The Constitution and my own oath of office demand that I bear true faith and allegiance to the principles of law and justice upon which this nation was founded. And I cannot in good conscience turn away from the evidence of evil that is to me so clear and compelling.’

    “That Congressman’s name was Larry Hogan Sr. He represented the Fifth District of Maryland, which I now represent. His son is presently the second-term Republican governor of our state. When Larry Hogan Sr. died in 2017, every obituary led with praise for his great act of political courage. Who among us, many years from now, will receive such praise as a man or woman of courage? Who will regret not having earned it?


    “When Rep. Justin Amash left the Republican Party, he admonished his colleagues that: ‘This president will only be in power for a short time, but excusing his behavior will forever tarnish your name.’ Rep. Amash, of course, is the only Member of this House who has no allegiance to either party. He is supporting both articles of impeachment.

    “We need not ask who will be the first to show courage by standing up to President Trump. The question we must now ask is: who will be the last to find it?


    “The pages of our history are filled with Americans who had the courage to choose country over party or personality. But, as President Kennedy wrote: ‘The stories of past courage …can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul.’

    “I urge my colleagues in the House and in the Senate: look into your soul. Summon the courage to vote for our Constitution and our democracy. To do less betrays our oath and that of our Founders, who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Let us neither turn away from the evidence, which is so clear, nor from our good conscience, which compels us to do what in our hearts we know to be right. Let us not allow the rule of law to end or for tyranny to find its toehold.

    "With our votes today, we can ‘bear true faith and allegiance’ to the vision of our Founders. And we can show future generations what it truly means to be ‘Americans first.’”

    Wednesday, December 18, 2019

    Impeachment Letters

    In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of dishonestyThe update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. Today the House will impeach him.

    President Trump on Tuesday angrily denounced the looming House votes to impeach him as a “Star Chamber of partisan persecution” by Democrats, describing the effort to remove him from office as an “attempted coup” that would come back to haunt them at the ballot box next year.
    On the eve of the historic votes, Democrats reached a critical threshold, gathering majority support to impeach Mr. Trump, as the president raged against the proceedings. In an irate and rambling six-page letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mr. Trump portrayed himself as the victim of enemies determined to destroy his presidency with false accusations.
    “This is nothing more than an illegal, partisan attempted coup that will, based on recent sentiment, badly fail at the voting booth,” Mr. Trump declared, describing a process enshrined in the Constitution as an attempted government overthrow.
    “History will judge you harshly as you proceed with this impeachment charade,” he wrote.
    In a missive full of unproven charges, hyperbole and long-simmering grievances against his own government — at one point, he referred to leaders of the F.B.I. as “totally incompetent and corrupt” — Mr. Trump angrily disputed both of the impeachment charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
    By proceeding with your invalid impeachment, you are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution, and you are declaring open war on American Democracy. You dare to invoke the Founding Fathers in pursuit of this election-nullification scheme — yet your spiteful actions display unfettered contempt for America's founding and your egregious conduct threatens to destroy that which our Founders pledged their very lives to build. Even worse than offending the Founding Fathers, you are offending Americans of faith by continually saying “I pray for the President,” when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense. It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I!
    Pelosi's Dear Democratic Colleague:
    Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will exercise one of the most solemn powers granted to us by the Constitution, as we vote to approve two articles of impeachment against the President of the United States.
    No Member came to Congress to impeach a President. But every one of us, as our first act as a Member of Congress, stood on the House Floor, raised our hand and took a sacred oath: “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That oath makes us Custodians of the Constitution. If we do not act, we will be derelict in our duty.
    I salute the Chairs of the Committees for the great seriousness and solemnity with which they have proceeded down this path, and for conducting all hearings in a manner that was fair, transparent and deliberative, so that the American people could see the truth for themselves. Very sadly, the facts have made clear that the President abused his power for his own personal, political benefit and that he obstructed Congress as he demanded that he is above accountability, above the Constitution and above the American people. In America, no one is above the law.
    When the House convenes to take the impeachment vote tomorrow morning, I urge each of you to join me on the Floor. Our constituents look to us to be respectful of the Constitution and Defenders of our Democracy, and to proceed in a manner worthy of our oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.
    During this very prayerful moment in our nation’s history, we must honor our oath to support and defend our Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
    With allegiance to our Founders, with our hearts full of love for America, I salute the moral courage of our Democratic Members to Defend our Democracy For The People.
    God Bless America!

    Tuesday, December 17, 2019

    Giuliani, Trump, and Yovanovitch

    In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of dishonestyThe update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  Impeachment is becoming likely this week.

    Q    Was Marie Yovanovitch the target of a smear campaign by your allies?  She testified she was.
    THE PRESIDENT:  I really don’t know her.  But if you look at the transcripts, the President of Ukraine was not a fan of hers either.  I mean, he did not exactly say glowing things.  I’m sure she’s a very fine woman.  I just don’t know much about her.
    Giuliani has contradicted that denial.  Kenneth Vogel at NYT:
    Rudolph W. Giuliani said on Monday that he provided President Trump with detailed information this year about how the United States ambassador to Ukraine was, in Mr. Giuliani’s view, impeding investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump, setting in motion the ambassador’s recall from her post.
    In an interview, Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, described how he passed along to Mr. Trump “a couple of times” accounts about how the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, had frustrated efforts that could be politically helpful to Mr. Trump. They included investigations involving former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Ukrainians who disseminated documents that damaged Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign.