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Wake Up To Politics - January 13, 2020

Wake Up To Politics - January 13, 2020
Wake Up To Politics - January 13, 2020

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Monday, January 13, 2020. 21 days until the Iowa caucuses. 295 days until Election Day. Have any comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com!

Pelosi expected to transmit articles of impeachment this week

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate this week, setting the stage for the trial of President Donald Trump after a monthlong delay.

Pelosi plans to consult with her caucus at a meeting on Tuesday "on how to proceed further" before bringing a resolution to the floor that would formally transmit the impeachment articles and appoint the managers who will prosecute the Democratic case in a Senate trial, she announced in a letter to colleagues on Friday.

The speaker had held the impeachment trial in limbo since the House voted to charge the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on December 18, demanding that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agree to call witnesses for the trial before the proceedings began. McConnell refused, announcing last week that he has the votes to punt on calling witnesses until after opening arguments are presented, following the precedent of the Bill Clinton impeachment trial in 1999.

In a Sunday interview on ABC's "This Week," Pelosi said that she does not have any regrets about holding up the impeachment articles. "The president is impeached for life, regardless of any gamesmanship on the part of Mitch McConnell," she said. "There is nothing the Senate can do to ever erase that."

She added that a McConnell-supported resolution calling for the dismissal of the impeachment articles was akin to a "coverup." (Such a gambit is unlikely to occur, although President Trump endorsed the move on Sunday, a shift from his previous calls for an extensive trial in the Senate.)

Both the White House and House Democrats are busily preparing for the Senate trial — which could begin as early as Wednesday, according to the Washington Post — although Pelosi's delay in naming managers has given them little time to get ready while the president's defense team has "been prepared since before Christmas," a White House official told CNN.

Rising in Iowa, Sanders campaign goes on the offensive

In a new survey released on Friday, the highly-respected CNN/Des Moines Register poll found Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with a slight lead among likely Iowa caucusgoers, just three weeks before Hawkeye State residents will cast the first ballots of the 2020 election cycle.

Sanders led the Democratic field with 20%, followed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 17%, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 16%, and former Vice President Joe Biden at 15%. The margin of error for the poll was ±3.7%, meaning the leading candidates were essentially locked in a four-way tie.

As Sanders rises in Iowa polling — he jumped five percentage points since the last CNN/Des Moines Register poll in November — his campaign has increasingly gone after his nearest competitors. According to Politico, the Sanders campaign is circulating a document to volunteers attacking Warren as the candidate of "more affluent people," breaking a long-held nonaggression pact between the two ideological allies.

"I was disappointed to hear that Bernie is sending his volunteers out to trash me," Warren told NBC News. "Bernie knows me and has known me for a long time. He knows who I am, where I come from, what I have worked on and fought for and the coalition and grassroots movement we are trying to build."

For his part, Sanders seemed to dismiss the incident in comments reporters on Sunday as a function of having a large campaign staff. "We have over 500 people on our campaign. People do certain things," he said. "I'm sure that in Elizabeth's campaign, people do certain things as well." He emphasized that he has personally "never said a negative word" about Warren during the campaign.

Team Sanders has also gone after Biden more aggressively in recent days: a senior adviser for the Vermont independent released a statement attacking Biden's defenses of his 2003 vote in favor of the Iraq War, while a top surrogate penned an op-ed alleging that the former VP has "repeatedly betrayed black voters."

"It is appalling that after 18 years Joe Biden still refuses to admit he was dead wrong on the Iraq War, the worst foreign policy blunder in modern American history," Jeff Weaver, Sanders' senior adviser and 2016 campaign manager, said on Saturday, responding to Biden's false claim that he opposed the war "from the very moment" it began.

Sanders' strengthening position in the Democratic primary has also resulted in renewed attacks from President Donald Trump. "Wow! Crazy Bernie Sanders is surging in the polls, looking very good against his opponents in the Do Nothing Party," the president tweeted on Sunday. "So what does this all mean? Stay tuned!" According to multiple news outlets, Trump is gearing up to increase his criticism of Sanders in the coming days.

More 2020 news:

  • "Michael Bloomberg Is Open to Spending $1 Billion to Defeat Trump" (New York Times)
  • "Biden holds wide lead among black voters in Democratic presidential race, Post-Ipsos poll finds" (Washington Post)
  • From Friday: "Marianne Williamson ends 2020 presidential campaign" (CNN)

Trump administration offers shifting justifications for Soleimani strike

From the Washington Post: "Senior administration officials declined Sunday to confirm President Trump’s assertion that four U.S. embassies had been targeted for attack by Iran, while saying that Trump’s “interpretation” of the threat was consistent with overall intelligence that justified the killing of a senior Iranian general."

"'I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies,' Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said of intelligence reports. 'What I’m saying is I share the president’s view that probably — my expectation was they were going to go after our embassies,'" Esper told CBS’s 'Face the Nation.'"

. . . "The administration has offered few details and differing justifications for the Jan. 3 drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, ranging from retaliation for two decades of attacks on U.S. troops and allies by the Quds Force he led, the possibility of future actions, to Trump’s claim that intelligence had confirmed imminent plans to bomb four American embassies."

"'We did it because they were looking to blow up our embassy . . . not just the embassy in Baghdad,” Trump said Friday. 'I can reveal that I believe it would have been four embassies.'"

"Those remarks, and attempts by senior administration officials to explain them, have fueled charges by Democratic lawmakers, and some Republicans, that the administration has dissembled in its justification for the killing. The attack brought the two countries to the brink of open warfare with a retaliatory Iranian attack on military bases housing U.S. forces in Iraq."

More Iran news:

  • "Trump authorized Soleimani's killing 7 months ago, with conditions" (NBC News)
  • "Seven Days in January: How Trump Pushed U.S. and Iran to the Brink of War" (New York Times)
  • "Iranian leaders facing pressure at home and abroad as public anger mounts over downed plane" (CNN)

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Today at the White House

--- President Donald Trump will have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence and receive his daily intelligence briefing at the White House before traveling to New Orleans, Louisiana, with First Lady Melania Trump to attend the College Football Playoff National Championship. The Trumps will return to Washington, D.C., after the game.

Today in Congress

--- The Senate will hold a procedural vote to advance the nomination of Peter Gaynor to be Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Gaynor has served as FEMA's Deputy Administrator since October 2018 and as Acting Administrator since March 2019.

--- The House is scheduled to vote on eight pieces of legislation:

  1. H.J.Res. 80 – Approving the request of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for a waiver under section 1703E(f) of title 38, United States Code
  2. H.R. 4302 – Homeless Assistance Act of 2019, as amended
  3. H.R. 4335 – 8-K Trading Gap Act of 2019, as amended
  4. H.R. 4841 – Prudential Regulators Oversight Act, as amended
  5. H.R. 5315 – Expanding Opportunities for MDIs Act, as amended
  6. H.R. 4458 – Cybersecurity and Financial System Resilience Act of 2019, as amended
  7. H.R. 2398 – Veteran HOUSE Act of 2020, as amended
  8. S. 457 – President George H.W. Bush and First Spouse Barbara Bush Coin Act

Today at the Supreme Court

--- The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Lucky Brand Dungarees, Inc. v. Marcel Fashion Group, Inc. (a trademark dispute) and Thole v. U.S. Bank (a case involving pensions).

Today on the trail

--- Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) will make a local stop in Des Moines, Iowa.

--- Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN) will hold town halls in Winterset and Ames, Iowa. He will be joined by singer-songwriter and actress Mandy Moore in Ames.

--- Former Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) will continue his "Send A Message Tour" through Iowa, making stops in Griswold and Cumberland,

--- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) will visit a high school government class in Lexington, South Carolina.

--- Former Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA) will meet with Moms Demand Action gun control activists in Stratham, New Hampshire.

--- Former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer (D) will attend a house party hosted by climate activist Channing Dutton in West Des Moines, Iowa.  

--- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang (D) will hold town halls in Newton and Des Moines, Iowa.