6 min read

Wake Up To Politics - December 13, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Friday, December 13, 2019. 52 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 326 days until Election Day 2020. Have any comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com!

Editor's note: Happy Friday! I wanted to quickly give an update about my plans for the rest of December. Next week are my final exams and the two weeks after that I'll be on winter break, so usually Wake Up To Politics would go dark during that time.

However, this year, I plan on sending the newsletter intermittently if there is major news — e.g., an impeachment vote. So be on the lookout for special newsletters for breaking news events, but other than those, I will see you back in your inbox in early January! Have a happy holidays.

House Judiciary Committee to vote on articles of impeachment

The House Judiciary Committee spent more than 14 hours on Thursday debating the two proposed articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, abruptly ending when Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) announced just before midnight that the panel's final vote on the articles would be postponed until 10 a.m. on Friday.

Nadler's decision stunned Republicans and sparked fresh outbursts of partisan fury, after a long day in which lawmakers from the two parties sparred on issues large and small related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

"I have just witnessed the most bush league stunt I have ever witnessed in my professional life," ranking member Doug Collins (R-GA) declared of Nadler's sudden decision to postpone the Judiciary Committee vote, which was made without consulting Republicans. Collins added: "Words can not describe how inappropriate this was."

Democrats responded that Republicans had dragged the meeting on for hours by proposing countless failed amendments and that the minority party would have accused them of holding the vote "in the dead of night" if they had held it after midnight. Republicans shot back that Democrats were only working to maximize their TV audience.

"Despite Republican efforts to force us to pass these articles of impeachment in the dead of night, we will vote in the morning," Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), a Judiciary Committee member, tweeted. "The American people deserve to know the truth!"

The skirmish over postponing the vote capped off a rancorous day on Capitol Hill. "Often, the markup veered into a broader debate over Trump’s conduct, with Democrats highlighting other controversial episodes from his presidency," the Washington Post reported. "Republicans accused their counterparts of knee-jerk hatred and the same autocratic tendencies critics decry in Trump."

In one particularly tense moment, when Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) brought up Hunter Biden's struggles with addiction, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) responded with a not-very-subtle jab at Gaetz's 2008 arrest for driving under the influence. "I would say that the pot calling the kettle black is not something that we should do," Johnson said.

"Gaetz didn’t respond, and other lawmakers in the room — rarely at a loss for words — were quiet for 15 awkward seconds," according to the Post.

Once the articles of impeachment are approved by the Judiciary Committee today, the full House is expected to vote on them on Wednesday of next week. The vote will be cushioned in between a final burst of legislative activity before the House adjourns for the year, with a vote on a $1.37 trillion spending deal to avert a government shutdown scheduled for Tuesday and a vote on the revised United States Mexico Canada Agreement (NAFTA) scheduled for Thursday.

The Senate is then expected to consider the impeachment charges against Trump in a January trial. Preparations are already underway: according to Politico, Republicans plan heading into the trial is "to call no witnesses and simply allow House Democrats and then the president’s attorneys to make their case before the public." However, the party has decided on a strategy that would allow for an "opportunity to call witnesses later in the trial if Republicans and the president are not satisfied with how things are going."

President Trump and other White House aides have called for controversial witnesses, including members of the Biden family and the anonymous intelligence community whistleblower, to be compelled to testify in the trial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) huddled with White House counsel Pat Cipollone on Thursday to sketch out plans for the trial. According to Bloomberg, Cipollone will lead the defense arguments on Trump's behalf during the Senate trial.

"Everything I do during this, I'm coordinating with White House counsel," McConnell said in a Fox News interview on Thursday, raising questions about the level of collaboration between the Senate trial's top juror and the lead defense attorney. "There will be no difference between the president's position and our position as to how to handle this."

The Rundown

Johnson promises Brexit after blowout victory in UK elections: "Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has won a thumping majority of seats in Britain’s Parliament — a decisive outcome to a Brexit-dominated election that should allow Johnson to fulfill his plan to take the U.K. out of the European Union next month." (Associated Press)

--- President Trump's response on Twitter: "Congratulations to Boris Johnson on his great WIN! Britain and the United States will now be free to strike a massive new Trade Deal after BREXIT. This deal has the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative than any deal that could be made with the E.U. Celebrate Boris!"

Trump signs off on partial trade deal with China: "President Trump has agreed to a limited trade agreement with Beijing that will roll back existing tariff rates on Chinese goods and cancel new levies set to take effect Sunday as part of a deal to boost Chinese purchases of U.S. farm goods and obtain other concessions, according to people familiar with the matter." (Wall Street Journal)

--- Update, via WSJ: China signaled this morning that the deal "has yet to be completed despite President Trump’s signoff, highlighting the unpredictability of a negotiation process that has rattled global markets and businesses."

Trump mulls skipping 2020 debates: "President Trump is discussing with his advisers the possibility of sitting out the general election debates in 2020 because of his misgivings about the commission that oversees them, according to two people familiar with the discussions." (New York Times)

Do you like Wake Up To Politics? Share it with your colleagues, friends, and family! Please forward this newsletter and encourage them to subscribe at wakeuptopolitics.com.

Today at the White House

--- At 11 a.m., President Trump participates in the arrival of President Mario Abdo Benítez of Paraguay. At 11:10 a.m., the two presidents participate in an expanded bilateral meeting. According to the White House, they "will discuss a range of issues, including efforts to strengthen the rule of law, champion democracy, encourage women’s empowerment, counter international criminal organizations, and increase bilateral trade. "

At 8:15 p.m., President and First Lady Trump participate in a Christmas reception.

--- At 11:10 a.m., Vice President Mike Pence joins President Trump's meeting with President Benítez of Paraguay. Pence will then travel to Indianapolis, Indiana, his hometown. At 4:30 p.m., Pence participates in a campaign roundtable for Gov. Eric Holcomb (R-IN).

Today in Congress

--- Both chambers of Congress meet for pro forma sessions today. No business will be conducted.

Today at the Supreme Court

--- The justices meet for their weekly conference today.

Today on the trail

--- Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) attends a community event and a fundraiser in San Antonio, Texas.

--- Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) campaigns in New Hampshire, participating in WMUR's "Candidate Café" and a conversation with educators in Manchester, as well as a house party in Nashua.

--- South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN) attends fundraisers in Bethesda, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

--- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) visits South Carolina, holding a breakfast event in Sumter, a "Business to Business" event in Orangeburg, and a "Woman to Woman Talk" event in Columbia.

--- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) joins local labor leaders for a roundtable in Miami, Florida.

--- Former Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA) campaigns in New Hampshire, holding a town hall with business leaders in Portsmouth and addressing the New Hampshire Young Democrats’ Granite Slate Awards in Manchester.

--- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) barnstorms through New Hampshire with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), holding a town hall and addressing the New Hampshire Young Democrats’ Granite Slate Awards in Manchester and holding a rally in Nashua.

--- Spiritual author Marianne Williamson (D) speaks about "peace and politics" in Des Moines, Iowa.

--- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang continues his "A New Way Forward" bus tour through Iowa, attending an interfaith town hall in Waverly, a "Moms for Yang" event with his wife Evelyn in Cedar Falls, a town hall in Waterloo, and a field office opening in Dubuque.

*All times Eastern