Reuters) – Nearly 200 Americans evacuated from China and voluntarily confined to a California air base for 72 hours of coronavirus screenings were placed under a mandatory 14-day quarantine on Friday, as U.S. health officials intensified precautions against spread of the disease.
FILE PHOTO: Director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) doctor Nancy Messonnier speaks about the public health response to the outbreak of the coronavirus during a news conference at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Washington, U.S., January 28, 2020. REUTERS/Amanda Voisard.
The move by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), its first quarantine in 50 years, was announced a day after the State Department issued its strongest warning against travel to China due to an epidemic of the new virus, which has claimed more than 200 lives.
“We are preparing as if this is the next pandemic, but we are hoping that is not the case,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center For Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a telephone interview from the agency’s headquarters in Atlanta.
The United States angered China on Friday after it issued a travel warning over a coronavirus epidemic that has been declared a global emergency and led to increasing supply problems for businesses.
Originating in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the flu-like coronavirus first identified earlier this month has resulted in the deaths of 213 people in China, out of a total number of cases approaching 10,000.
The quarantine order requires all 195 Americans airlifted from Wuhan to remain isolated in special housing at March Air Reserve Base near Los Angeles for the entire 14-day incubation period of the disease. The two-week period runs from the time they left China on Tuesday.
“This is a precautionary and preventive step to maximize the containment of the virus in the interest of the health of the American public,” the CDC said in a statement.
SCREENING TEST LIMITED
The CDC said on Wednesday, the day the evacuees landed, that they were being kept, on a voluntary basis, at the base for at least 72 hours while they underwent medical evaluation for symptoms of the virus and CDC laboratory tests.
The plan then was to allow the passengers to return to their homes, absent any indication of exposure or illness, leaving state and local health authorities to continue monitoring the evacuees through the remainder of the incubation period.
That plan would have permitted members of the group to take public transportation home. CDC officials said on Wednesday that people incubating the infection before symptoms appear are generally not regarded as contagious.
But Messonnier on Friday cited emerging evidence that the virus can be spread by someone who is infected but not yet showing signs of being ill, which include fever, cough and other respiratory symptoms.
The CDC also pointed to a limitation of the screening test it had developed for the virus. Even if a test result comes back negative, “it does not conclusively mean an individual is at no risk of developing the disease over the likely 14-day incubation period,” the agency said in a statement.
“We are looking in people’s noses to see if they have the virus there,” but CDC is not certain the test is specific enough to identify whether someone is incubating the virus, Messonnier said. “This test is a point-in-time test that should not be relied on to predict whether this person will become ill.”
TRIED TO LEAVE BASE
The blanket 14-day CDC quarantine for all 195 evacuees was instituted after one of the passengers, who was not identified, sought to leave the base without permission on Wednesday night. He was immediately slapped with an individual quarantine order issued by Riverside County health authorities.
It was not clear whether that incident played a role in the CDC’s quarantine order on Friday.
As of Thursday, none of the group at the base had exhibited signs of the disease, local health officials said.
The evacuees, who were flown aboard a government-chartered cargo jet to California after a refuelling stop in Alaska, consist of State Department employees from the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan, their immediate family members and some other Americans who were welcomed to join the flight, the CDC said.
The State Department said Friday it is working with U.S. and Chinese agencies to arrange for additional flights of Americans out of Wuhan.
Washington also plans to evacuate non-essential government employees and family members from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and consulates in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang due to the coronavirus outbreak, a State Department official said on Thursday.
The CDC has tallied six confirmed U.S. cases of coronavirus, none fatal, including the first known transmission of the virus from one person to another within the United States – a couple in Illinois.
Additional reporting by Deena Beasley in Culver City, Calif. and by Manas Mishra and Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel, Bill Tarrant and Dan Grebler
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Friday voted against calling witnesses and collecting new evidence in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, clearing the way for Trump’s almost certain acquittal in the coming days.
By a vote of 51-49, the Republican-controlled Senate stopped Democrats’ drive to hear testimony from witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton, who is thought to have first-hand knowledge of Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Those actions prompted the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to formally charge Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in December.
That made Trump only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. He denies wrongdoing and has accused Democrats of an “attempted coup.”
The Senate is almost certain to acquit Trump of the impeachment charges, as a two-thirds Senate majority is required to remove Trump and none of the chamber’s 53 Republicans have indicated they will vote to convict.
In Friday’s vote on witnesses, only two Republicans, Mitt Romney and Susan Collins, broke with their party and voted with Democrats.
“America will remember this day, unfortunately, where the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities, where the Senate turned away from truth and went along with a sham trial,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters.
Trump is seeking re-election in a Nov. 3 vote. Biden is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face him.
The timing of that final vote was unclear.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement that he aims to conclude the trial “in the coming days.”
U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One with First Lady Melania Trump at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland en route to West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., January 31, 2020. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Republican Senator Mike Braun said the Senate would work next Monday to Wednesday, aiming for a final vote on Wednesday.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the trial should end as soon as possible. “The cake is baked and we just need to move as soon as we can to get it behind us,” he told reporters.
Friday’s vote on witnesses came hours after the New York Times reported new details from an unpublished book manuscript written by Bolton in which the former aide said Trump directed him in May to help in a pressure campaign to get Ukraine to pursue investigations that would benefit Trump politically.
Bolton wrote that Trump told him to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to ensure Zelenskiy would meet with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, a key player in the campaign, the Times reported.
Robert Costello, a lawyer for Giuliani, called the Times report “categorically untrue.” Bolton’s lawyer and spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.
Democrats had said the news illustrated the need for the Senate to put Bolton under oath.
Slideshow (12 Images)
But Republicans said they had heard enough. Some said they did not think that Trump did anything wrong, while Senators Lamar Alexander and Rob Portman said his actions were wrong but did not amount to impeachable conduct. Senator Marco Rubio said impeachment would be too divisive for the country, even if a president engaged in clearly impeachable activity.
Lisa Murkowski, a Republican moderate who Democrats had hoped would vote with them to extend the trial, said the case against Trump was rushed and flawed.
Reporting by Richard Cowan, David Morgan, Karen Freifeld, Mark Hosenball, Susan Heavey, Susan Cornwell, Patricia Zengerle, Lisa Lambert and Mohammad Zargham; Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall
President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Friday appeared on track for a speedy conclusion, following the Senate’s rejection of calling for more witnesses and documents.
A motion to call witnesses failed on a 51-49 vote, with Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah joining Democrats. Earlier Friday, GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she would vote against the motion, all but ensuring it would fail.
It remained unclear when separate votes would come on the two articles of impeachment against Trump, but the trial could wrap up as early as Friday evening or Saturday morning. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called a recess following the witness vote. Republican officials were reportedly discussing postponing the final verdict until next week.
Now read: Schumer warns of reckoning for Republican senators who vote against witnesses in impeachment trial.
Democrats say Trump abused his power by withholding aid to Ukraine in an effort to get that country to investigate Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden. They also charge that he obstructed lawmakers’ efforts to investigate the matter.
Trump denies wrongdoing and calls the impeachment effort a hoax. His lawyers began their defense on Saturday by charging that Democrats are trying to keep Trump from being re-elected.
Murkowski made her announcement before the four-hour debate began, saying, “I carefully considered the need for additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings of its process, but ultimately decided that I will vote against considering motions to subpoena.”
(1/5) I worked for a fair, honest, and transparent process, modeled after the Clinton trial, to provide ample time for both sides to present their cases, ask thoughtful questions, and determine whether we need more.
have largely ignored the impeachment drama from Washington, but closed sharply lower Friday on increased worries about the coronavirus epidemic.
See: Dow, Nasdaq drop triple digits as coronavirus epidemic worries grow.
The impeachment trial appeared to be heading toward its conclusion as Trump is preparing for his State of the Union address on Tuesday. On Monday, Iowa holds the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, where Sen. Bernie Sanders is leading in polls among Democrats.
Also read: How the stock market has reacted to State of the Union speeches.
As I said once before, he’s a broken man. The Trump era has broken him.
I keep thinking about the array of self-serving memoirs we’re going to see from Republican pols after the Trump era ends in which they finally concede that they may perhaps have gone a tad too far at times in shilling for the president. It could be decades before that happens; at the moment the “Trump era” looks set to outlast Trump’s presidency by many years. But someday it’ll be safe again for Republicans to speak ill of him and I keep thinking that Rubio’s memoir is going to be one of the saddest and most irritating of the bunch. He walks around nowadays looking perpetually like he’s just eaten something that doesn’t agree with him. He’s not a Trumpist ideologically or temperamentally. His “shining city on a hill” attitude towards American politics couldn’t be further from Trump’s “just win, baby” populist approach.
But this is the hand he’s been dealt. And for whatever reason, whether because he still has presidential aspirations or because he wants to get rich as a lobbyist after the Senate and has to stick with his team to do that, he refuses to fold. He’ll complain about it in due time in a book, officially regretting all sorts of things he presently condones, but in the meantime he’s going to play this hand as best he can. Which brings us to his statement today, offering a twist on the spin that some other Senate Republicans like Lamar Alexander and now Rob Portman have embraced to finesse their vote against calling witnesses. Alexander and Portman described Trump’s quid pro quo with Ukraine as “inappropriate” in their statements but not so much so that it should have triggered the current proceedings. A.k.a. “bad but not impeachable.”
Is that what Rubio’s saying here? Or is he taking a baby step beyond that, to “impeachable but not removable”?
As Manager Jerry Nadler (D-NY) reminded us Wednesday night, removal is not a punishment for a crime. Nor is removal supposed to be a way to hold Presidents accountable; that is what elections are for.
The sole purpose of this extraordinary power to remove the one person entrusted with all of the powers of an entire branch of government is to provide a last-resort remedy to protect the country. That is why Hamilton wrote that in these trials our decisions should be pursuing “the public good.”
That is why six weeks ago I announced that, for me, the question would not just be whether the President’s actions were wrong, but ultimately whether what he did was removable.
The two are not the same. Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office.
He assumes for argument’s sake in his analysis that everything the Dems have alleged is true (conveniently, this justifies his conclusion that Bolton doesn’t need to be called even though we can’t know what new information he might provide) and reasons that that’s just not enough to warrant removing a president. The acidic divisions caused by removal would haunt America for decades, he claims, adding, “It is difficult to conceive of any scheme Putin could undertake that would undermine confidence in our democracy more than removal would.” And there’s some truth to that.
But in an age of hyperpartisanship, there are precious few crimes a president might commit that would galvanize true bipartisan public support for his removal. As extreme as Alan Dershowitz has been in trying to narrow Congress’s impeachment power, even Dershowitz allows that an old-fashioned cash bribe to the president in exchange for some public benefit would be an impeachable offense. But is that how the public would view it? Imagine it was a petty bribe, some sort of kickback in the amount of $50,000 or whatever in return for POTUS using his influence to steer a federal contract to a favored business. Is Marco Rubio going to look me in the virtual eye and tell me that Republican voters would be okay with seeing the Trump presidency come crashing down over $50K? Paid to a man who claims to be worth billions and is certainly at least worth many millions? With Fox News and righty talk radio in 24/7 bunker mode spinning that kickback every which way they could to legitimize it — “it was a gift,” “it didn’t really affect the contract,” “Trump’s going to donate the money to charity,” yadda yadda?
My guess is that maybe we’d reach 55/45 support for removal in that case. Bitter, bitter divisions in the country if the Senate turned around and nuked Trump over it. How would Senator Rubio vote?
But never mind all that. What I really want to know after reading his piece is this: Does Marco Rubio believe that impeachment was … warranted in this case? What he says in the excerpt about “meeting a standard of impeachment” suggests that he does, although (characteristically) he refuses to directly say so in the piece. But, reading through it, it’s striking how reluctant he is to engage on the facts alleged by House Democrats about Ukraine and the quid pro quo. His reasons for voting to acquit are all big-picture stuff — removal would be divisive, the process in the House was partisan, we have other ways to hold Trump accountable beginning with the election in November. At no point does he say “they didn’t prove their case” or “the facts about the Ukraine deal as alleged don’t amount to impeachable conduct.” Notably, he does say that about the second article of impeachment, related to obstruction of Congress.
Does Marco Rubio believe Trump deserved to be impeached? It would be highly Rubio-esque for him to have privately arrived at that conclusion and then decided that (a) he couldn’t in good conscience flatly lie about it the way a Lindsey Graham might but (b) he could certainly talk around the subject and fall back on neutral reasoning like “removal is divisive” to justify voting to acquit anyway.
Which raises a question. Would Rubio — and Alexander and Portman — support a censure resolution instead?
Someone should call Rs on their newfound belief that Trump maybe did do something wrong re: Ukraine and introduce a censure resolution.
And since Rubio’s a fan of holding presidents accountable through other means, would he support further measures in this case outside the theater of impeachment to do so? Like, say, the Senate subpoenaing John Bolton once the trial is over?
A question for Senator Alexander and other Republicans who don’t want to connect evidence as part of an impeachment trial: Should the Senate look into this matter further in oversight hearings, or no?
If the answer is no because those measures would be “divisive” too then there’s no teeth at all to his argument about removal being some singularly draconian, embittering remedy. There are various remedies short of that that would communicate to Trump that quid pro quos for dirt on the Democrats won’t be tolerated. If he can’t lift a finger to support any of them then he’s just looking for excuses to give Trump carte blanche to do whatever he wants to do. It’ll make for an especially poignant chapter in the memoir to come.
Exit question: Isn’t the potential “divisiveness” of removal already addressed by the Constitution’s requirement of a two-thirds vote of the Senate to remove the president? Rubio nods at that at the start of his piece but then forgets about it. If he thinks Democrats have a persuasive case and believes the conduct involved was impeachment-worthy, he could vote for removal and trust that the Senate will fall short of 67 votes unless the case is so persuasive that it’ll sway 20 of his Republican colleagues, which is unlikely. That is, instead of weighing whether removal is warranted personally, he could vote based on the evidence and have faith that the Senate will decide whether removal is warranted collectively.
As Democrats contemplate a race that has effectively come down to Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and maybe Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Mike Bloomberg, they’re asking themselves how a primary process that began with so many options ended up with a top tier of three old men, four candidates over 70, only one woman, and no ethnic minorities, unless you count Warren’s 1/1024 claim of Native-American heritage.
You can pick which cycle represented a turning point — the ten candidates in the GOP primary in 2012, the 17 candidates in the GOP primary in 2016, or the 29 candidates in the Democratic primary this cycle, but we are now in an era where every major figure in a party, and quite a few minor ones, will run for president. It is unlikely this genie will go back into this bottle.
Anyone who wants to be president has to have the ability to stand out in a crowd — not just being more appealing than the garden-variety senators and governors, but being more memorable discussing policy in 90 seconds than Marianne Williamson discussing a “dark psychic force.” What a candidate brings to the table has to be unique and succinct. “Young gay veteran religious Midwestern mayor” stood out. “Wonky middle-aged Asian-American tech CEO focused on automation” stood out. “That senator from Colorado who wants to build opportunity for everyone” and “that congressman from Maryland promising ‘real solutions’” did not stand out. “Generic Democrat” is supposed to be a placeholder in polling surveys, not a presidential campaign’s identity.
Biden and Sanders are walking out of this yearlong endurance test with a solid base of support because each man walked into this primary with a solid base of support. They didn’t need to introduce themselves to many voters. Probably about half the country’s Democratic primary voters weren’t all that interested in meeting new candidates. They knew which one they already liked, and they stuck with him.
If you’re a Republican thinking of running for president in 2024 — or a Democrat not so certain of a victory in 2020 and thinking of running four years later — you need to adapt to this new reality. Your national reputation has to be well-established by late 2022. You cannot count on making a splash in the debates; candidates like Cory Booker and Julian Castro and Amy Klobuchar had perfectly fine debates that never resulted in much movement in the polls.
Presidential primaries are rough and merciless territory. Candidates should know what they’re getting into before they announce.
Schiff Loses it as Impeachment Falls Apart, ‘Our Government No Longer Has Three Co-Equal Branches’ (VIDEO)
by Cristina Laila January 31, 2020
Adam Schiff fell apart as his impeachment sham crumbled on Friday.
Schiff was desperately trying to influence Senators Friday afternoon following the devastating announcement from Murkowski that she will be voting against more witnesses.
Murkowski didn’t just reject additional impeachment witnesses, she is furious and disgusted with the Democrats and she let the world know how she felt.
“The House chose to send articles of impeachment that are rushed and flawed. I carefully considered the need for additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings of its process, but ultimately decided that I will vote against considering motions to subpoena,” Murkowski said.
Murkowski continued, “It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed. It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the Chief Justice.”
“I will not stand for nor support that effort. We have already degraded our institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another. We are sadly at a low point of division in this country,” Murkowski concluded.
But Schiff continued to beat a dead horse and smeared President Trump with more lies on Friday.
“If we tell the president, effectively, ‘You can act corruptly’…the president becomes unaccountable to anyone,” Schiff said.
“The president, effectively, for all intents and purposes, becomes above the law.”
Schiff added, “Our government is no longer a government with three co-equal branches,” he said.
The irony of Schiff saying that after Trump was impeached for “Obstruction of Congress” — a completely made up charge that asserts the executive branch is capable of obstructing another branch of government.
.@RepAdamSchiff: “If we tell the president, effectively, ‘You can act corruptly’…the president becomes unaccountable to anyone.”
NO TIE VOTE ON WITNESSES! — E&E NEWS’ @geofkoss: “MURKOWSKI tells me she’s a NO on witnesses.”
— ALASKA GOP SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI: “Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed.” The full statement
OK SO, WE’RE GOING TO TRY TO MAKE SENSE of something that even we don’t really fully understand ourselves at this point.
AS OF THIS MORNING, people on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue began whispering that the trial was likely to extend to next week. Why? We got no good answers. The range of explanations included: The White House wanted it to, they didn’t want to be acquitted today, and they wanted to be acquitted after the State of the Union.
YEAH, THIS MAKES absolutely no sense to us, either.
THE WITNESS VOTE is still on track for today. But how the trial ends — and when — is not at all clear. MONDAY is the Iowa Caucus and TUESDAY is the State of the Union — the biggest audience President DONALDTRUMP will have before November.
WE’D CAUTION YOU THIS: Timing is subject to change. Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL and Senate Minority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER have to figure out how to end the trial.
NADLER HEADING BACK TO NEW YORK … @RepJerryNadler: “I am sorry to not be able to stay in Washington for the conclusion of the Senate impeachment trial but I need to be home with my wife at this time. We have many decisions to make as a family. I have every faith in my colleagues and hope the Senate will do what is right.”
THE NEWEST BOMBSHELL … NYT’S MAGGIE HABERMAN and MIKE SCHMIDT: “Trump Told Bolton to Help His Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Book Says”: “More than two months before he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents, President Trump directed John R. Bolton, then his national security adviser, to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton.
“Mr. Trump gave the instruction, Mr. Bolton wrote, during an Oval Office conversation in early May that included the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, who is now leading the president’s impeachment defense.
“Mr. Trump told Mr. Bolton to call Volodymyr Zelensky, who had recently won election as president of Ukraine, to ensure Mr. Zelensky would meet with Mr. Giuliani, who was planning a trip to Ukraine to discuss the investigations that the president sought, in Mr. Bolton’s account. Mr. Bolton never made the call, he wrote.” NYT
WHAT THEY SAID THIS MORNING …
— SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.): “I don’t think 10 people in America want this to go to next week.”
— SCHUMER on how he sees the endgame playing out: “I’m going to talk with my caucus. I do believe this: I believe that the American people should hear what every senator thinks and why they’re voting the way they’re voting, and we will do what we can to make sure that happens but I’m not going to get into any details. I have to discuss it with my caucus.”
WATCH FOR THIS … IF TRUMP IS ACQUITTED, will someone file a censure motion immediately?
Happy Friday afternoon.
DEVELOPING … “2 in custody after police-involved shooting near Mar-a-Lago, officials say,” by ABC 25 WPBF News:“According to officials, the Florida Highway Patrol was in pursuit of a black SUV. It was heading towards two security checkpoints at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach.
“The SUV tried to breach both security checkpoints while heading towards the main entrance, officials said. The vehicle then fled the scene while being pursued by FHP and the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office. Officials went on to say that the vehicle has been located and two individuals are in custody.” WPBF
— THE PRESIDENT is scheduled to go to Mar-a-Lago tonight.
DAVID ROGERS SPEAKS … “Republican judges do Trump’s bidding on border wall”: “President Donald Trump’s border wall is churning up a second constitutional crisis all by itself on the sidelines. The wall is not the issue. Instead, it is the extreme steps taken to undercut Congress’ constitutional power over spending and the response thus far by the judicial branch, which has run for cover in a manner that strains credibility. … [W]ith a troubling consistency, the outcomes match whatever political party chose the judge making the decision.” POLITICO
POMPEO ABROAD — “Pompeo pledges ongoing support for Ukraine in Kyiv visit,” by AP’s Matthew Lee in Kyiv: “[Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday and rejected allegations that vital military aid and a White House visit were or continue to be conditioned on a probe into the family of former Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival to Trump. ‘It’s just simply not the case. We will find the right time, we will find the appropriate opportunity’ for the visit, Pompeo said.” AP
— DEEP DIVE from NATASHA KORECKI in Des Moines: “Did Warren Get Her Ad Campaign Wrong in Iowa?”: “[A]mong campaign staffers and media strategists, the caucuses will also serve as a referendum for a crucial question in the dark arts of campaign messaging: What’s the most effective way to reach voters in 2020? Should campaigns go heavy on digital spending, or do it the old-fashioned way, on TV?
“Buttigieg and Warren conducted almost a controlled experiment in these two approaches during the final months of 2019. Perhaps surprisingly, it was the millennial candidate who went retro. Warren’s campaign leaned heavily on a modern, digital-first strategy early in the campaign, believing that the traditional, broad-brush medium of television wouldn’t be effective until later in the contest. Buttigieg invested early, consistently and heavily in television.” POLITICO
— NOW WARREN’S ON TV! — “Warren debuts new ads in late ‘electability’ push,”by Alex Thompson: “The ads argue that the Massachusetts senator is the candidate best equipped to unite the Democratic Party next fall and seek to address the fear among voters that a woman can’t win because of entrenched sexism. The ads cast Warren as a unity candidate.”
BEYOND THE PRIMARY … MARC CAPUTO and CHRIS CADELAGO: “Democrats launch massive battleground plan led by Obama general”: “Dubbed Organizing Together 2020, the effort was assembled by one of Barack Obama’s battleground gurus, Paul Tewes, and is hiring hundreds of staffers in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina and Arizona. The party’s biggest union supporters and top progressive groups, as well as several governors, are powering the initiative …
“The organizing effort, which experts estimate could cost between $20 million to $60 million, would end after the nomination, at which point the nominee’s campaign would absorb the cost of staff and field offices.” POLITICO
WAR REPORT — “Taliban’s Continued Attacks Show Limits of U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan,” by NYT’s Thomas Gibbons-Neff: “The Taliban and other groups carried out a record number of attacks in Afghanistan during the last several months of 2019, according to an inspector general report released Friday. The increase in violence occurred during a period in which President Trump tweeted that the United States was ‘hitting our Enemy harder than at any time in the last ten years!’
“The number of attacks, detailed in the quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, a government watchdog formed in 2008, highlights once more the disparity between talking points on suppressing the Taliban and the reality on the ground: Despite a concerted bombing campaign and American and Afghan offensive ground operations, Taliban fighters are still able to attack at levels similar to those a decade ago.” NYT
IMMIGRATION FILES — “Fewer Asylum Seekers Have Lawyers Under Trump Administration Policy,” by WSJ’s Alejandro Lazo in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico: “People seeking asylum in the U.S. are less likely to have legal representation under a Trump administration policy that sends them to await court hearings in Mexican border cities, recently released research shows.
“Among immigrants issued initial immigration-court notices between January and November of last year, about 4% of people under Remain in Mexico had attorneys, compared with 32% of those in immigration court who live in the U.S., according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, a research organization that tracks such data.” WSJ
OOPS … ARTHUR ALLEN: “How the feds missed their chance at a coronavirus vaccine”: “[T]wo scientists from the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development had developed the vaccine against another coronavirus, SARS — but that epidemic ended before their vaccine was ready. And once the crisis was over, most of their funding dried up. …
“That was a big missed opportunity. They and other scientists say SARS should have been seen as a coronavirus warning shot, not an isolated outbreak, and it should have triggered federal investments like the billions sunk into flu vaccines a decade or so earlier. They want the federal government to act rapidly now to declare a public health emergency, get a vaccine developed, have it approved by the FDA and ready to slow the Wuhan virus’ march across China and globe. Based on past experience, though, the chances of all that falling into place fast enough to turn the tide aren’t great.” POLITICO
E-RING READING — “Thousands Face Furloughs as U.S.-South Korean Talks Hit Impasse,” by WSJ’s Andrew Jeong in Seoul: “President Trump’s demands that South Korea foot more of the bill to host American troops have created another cost issue: the lack of a deal means the U.S. will soon run out of money to pay 9,000 local workers.
“Negotiations between Washington and Seoul are at an impasse over shared military costs for the 28,500 U.S. military personnel stationed in South Korea. The previous arrangement expired Dec. 31. This week, the U.S. military told its South Korean workers they faced a furlough starting April 1, citing insufficient funds to pay their salaries.” WSJ
THE CURRENT SOTU PLAN — “Trump team plans a non-impeachment State of the Union,” by Gabby Orr: “On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump will relaunch his 2020 campaign. Likely clear of imminent threats to his presidency, the president plans to use his annual State of the Union speech as a fresh start for his re-election bid … Despite facing a captive audience that includes Democrats who have spent the last few months trying to remove Trump from office, the president is resolved to not even mention impeachment.” POLITICO
MEDIAWATCH — WAPO’S ERIK WEMPLE: “The Atlantic made Rahm Emanuel a contributing editor. Then, suddenly, he wasn’t”: “What happened? A strongly worded letter happened, that’s what. A group of black staffers at the Atlantic sent objections to Editor in Chief Jeffrey Goldberg and other Atlantic leaders. … Those unique circumstances relate to Emanuel’s handling of the murder of black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke … The letter from Atlantic staffers took issue with Emanuel’s mea culpa.” WaPo
— “The Dispatch Wants to Be the Anti-Breitbart,” by The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins: “Last year, [Jonah Goldberg] left his perch at National Review and joined a handful of prominent conservative writers to launch The Dispatch, a new media venture with a mission that’s as straightforward as it is radical: producing serious, factually grounded journalism for a conservative audience.
“In interviews, editors told me they aim to fill a growing void on the right’s media landscape, which they described as oversaturated with hot takes and starved of reporting, obsessed with lib-ownership and uninterested in facts. … Instead of chasing cheap clicks, the company is courting paid subscribers with a portfolio of email newsletters, podcasts, and a soon-to-be-paywalled website.” Atlantic
— Longtime New Yorker deputy editor Pamela Maffei McCarthy is stepping down in May after 27 years at the magazine. She’ll be succeeded by Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn.
TV TONIGHT — Bob Costa sits down with Jake, WaPo’s Karoun Demirjian, NYT’s Carl Hulse, USA Today’s Susan Page and NPR’s Ayesha Rascoe at 8 p.m. on PBS’ “Washington Week.”
IN MEMORIAM — ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: “Anne Cox Chambers, philanthropist, diplomat and Chairman of Atlanta Newspapers, has died. She was 100.” AJC
SPOTTED at the Library of Congress on Thursday night, when the LBJ Foundation awarded the LBJ Liberty & Justice for All Award to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: James Taylor (who performed “Sweet Baby James” in her honor), Constance Wu, Holland Taylor, Nina Totenberg, Bill Moyers, Sunny Hostin, Lynda Johnson Robb and Chuck Robb, Luci Baines Johnson, Catherine Robb, Lynn Novick, Larry Temple, Mark Updegrove, Ben Barnes, Tom Johnson, Ron Kirk, Tom Daschle, Lloyd Hand and Cappy McGarr.
TRANSITIONS — Ryan Jackson is joining the National Mining Association to head government relations. He currently is COS at the EPA.More for Pros … Former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and his former COS Joey Songy are joining a new consulting firm, which will now be called Bryant Songy Snell Global Partners. Clarion Ledger …
… Kari Mavian, Chris Prendergast and Hicks Winters have recently joined Dow’s federal lobbying team. Mavian most recently handled regulatory affairs for SI Group. Prendergast most recently served as a counsel for Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.). Winters most recently handled state and federal government affairs for LafargeHolcim. … Tyler Threadgill will be VP of federal government affairs at LKQ Corp. He previously was COS to Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.).
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Ted Newton, president at Gravity Strategic Communications, and Megan Sowards Newton, partner at Jones Day, on Monday welcomed Catherine (Cate) Victoria Newton, who came in at 7 lbs, 9 oz and 19.5 inches.Pic
— Jared Rizzi, reporter and host of the “At the Table” podcast, and Katie Devine, director of business case development at World Wildlife Fund, on Thursday welcomed Rowan Rizzi-Devine, who came in at 9 lbs, 5 oz.Pic
House manager Zoe Lofgren invoked history on the Senate floor today when calling for a vote to allow national security adviser John Bolton to testify in the impeachment trial.
Lofrgren mentioned how past national security advisers to Presidents George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama testified in Congressional investigations during their tenure.
“You shouldn’t let the President escape responsibility only to later see clearly what happened in ambassador Bolton’s book. There are no national security risks here. The President has declassified the two phone calls with President Zelensky, all 17 witnesses testified about the President’s conduct regarding Ukraine. We aren’t interested in asking about anything other than Ukraine. That’s simply a bogus argument,” Logren said.
According to the Times, Bolton wrote that Trump gave him the instructions in May. The conversation also included acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and White House lawyer Pat Cipollone.
Trump released a statement following the Times report:
“I never instructed John Bolton to set up a meeting for Rudy Giuliani, one of the greatest corruption fighters in America and by far the greatest mayor in the history of NYC, to meet with President Zelensky. That meeting never happened,” Trump said this afternoon.
Over the last few weeks, it’s become clear that Bernie Sanders could actually become president. The Vermont senator is polling very close to Joe Biden in Iowa, has a large lead over everyone in the latest California poll, and seems likely to do very well in New Hampshire. The prospect of Sanders winning the nomination has the finance world freaking out—there are already reports of stocks falling as he climbs the polls—and has inspired a backlash from his many detractors. Centrist pundits have declared him to be unelectable, and his former competitor Hillary Clinton has denounced not just Sanders but the entire “culture around him,” which she recently described to the Hollywood Reporter:
It’s his leadership team. It’s his prominent supporters. It’s his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women. And I really hope people are paying attention to that because it should be worrisome that he has permitted this culture — not only permitted, [he] seems to really be very much supporting it.
The “Bernie Bro” stereotype isn’t new, of course, but the notion that Sanders supporters are different from other Democratic voters, and even dangerous in some way, seems poised to dominate the never-ending debate over the 2020 primary. It scored a major piece of ink on Monday, when the New York Times ran a front-page story headlined, “Bernie Sanders and His Internet Army.” It describes a passionate fan base who donates their money and time to their candidate, but also sometimes attacks opponents with insults and even threats.
“When Mr. Sanders’s supporters swarm someone online, they often find multiple access points to that person’s life, compiling what can amount to investigative dossiers,” the Times wrote. “They will attack all public social media accounts, posting personal insults that might flow in by the hundreds.”
If you’ve ever posted anything slightly critical of Sanders, this sort of dogpiling may sound familiar. (Full disclosure: I’m a Sanders supporter who yes, spends a fair amount of time online.) Interviews with dozens of Sanders backers find them admitting that the “internet army” can at times be vicious—a reality that many leftists themselves bemoan. But they also see the Bernie Bro narrative as an invention of the media and the Democratic establishment.
Standard-issue online sparring is often conflated with threats, and Sanders supporters feel frustrated they are so often associated with the worst behavior of their fellow travelers. “Most Bernie supporters online tend to be young, somewhat irony-poisoned, and angry. I’m including myself in this group,” Joe Conley, a 33-year-old Sanders supporter, told me over email. He pointed out that there’s an “irony gap” between Bernie supporters and people on the receiving end of their ire. While tweeting a photograph of a pig with shit on its balls might be a standard-issue troll for a member of left Twitter, it’s perceived as online harassment from people who aren’t acquainted with this language of certain subcultures. At the end of the day, every political tribe has its toxic streak, so why do “Bernie Bros” get singled out?
Even as a self-identified Bernie Bro, I’ve gotten a fair amount of grief from leftist dudes on the internet. But I’ve received an equal heaping of hate from women who supported Clinton, anti-semitic Trump trolls, and beyond. Though fewer in number than Sanders supporters, Andrew Yang backers can be just as fiery online—notably, there are a significant number of irony-drenched #YangGang members from 4chan and other Trump-adjacent corners of the internet. Tulsi Gabbard, another Democrat with fringe appeal, has an intense fan base that contains members of the far right. In general, the culture around political celebrities has become more like regular celebrity stan culture, meaning fans feel intense emotions and share them online, and campaigns have little control over those feelings. (Sanders’s popularity is forever intertwined with his online army, but his campaign does not promote cyberbullying or misogyny—as the Times story noted, the Sanders campaign has publicly condemned bullying. That hasn’t stopped it.)
One Bernie supporter sent me a dossier of all the abuse Bernie supporters receive from “loyalist Democrats” and “Donut Twitter.” (Anti-Bernie liberals sometimes use a donut emoji in their Twitter names. It’s a long story.) This collection of screenshots is really ugly, with people tweeting things like “I’m rooting for Bernie supporters’ death,” and “anyone that fucking supports Bernie Ratfucker Sanders is a piece of shit.” There is also a glut of disgusting, unquotable, racist and misogynistic insults that have been hurled at Nina Turner, a Black woman who has worked with Sanders for years and co-chairs his 2020 campaign. (VICE was unable to confirm the authenticity of all of the screenshots and is not linking to the file, but did verify that many of the abusive tweets were real.) The fact is, the internet is a cruel place for everyone, regardless of who you’re voting for in 2020.
“I really think we are no more mean or aggressive than any other group of people,” said Peter Graham, a 28-year-old who works for Disney and is voting for Bernie. “[It’s that] Bernie has younger supporters that are very online, [they] are probably better versed in sardonic Twitter dialogue, and there’s more of them.”
The stereotype of a nasty online leftist bro—unmistakably masculine, usually sneering—predates that election season. In 2008, the feminist writer Rebecca Traister (then a Clinton supporter) published an op-ed on Salon, bemoaning the rise of the “Obama boys.” Young women who backed Clinton, she wrote, told her “about the sexism they felt coming from their brothers and husbands and friends and boyfriends [and] described the suspicion that their politically progressive partners were actually uncomfortable with powerful women.”
Leftists have accused the mainstream media of using this stereotype as a club to beat Sanders with. “The ‘Bernie Bro’ narrative by pro-Clinton journalists has been a potent political tactic,” Glenn Greenwald wrote on The Intercept in 2016, calling it “a journalistic disgrace.” And the idea that the democratic socialist’s base is largely male is arguably just straight-up false: Polls have shown that Sanders supporters are diverse across racial and gender lines, with young women making up a larger proportion of his support than young men.
Yet the narrative has remained pervasive, likely because there are plenty of genuinely nasty Bernie supporters lurking online, and more recently, because Sanders has achieved frontrunner status. Since his rise in the polls, Bernie has received a delugeof negativepress from mainstream publications. “This isn’t about Sanders supporters being uniquely toxic. It’s about Sanders leading in Iowa and New Hampshire and leading a genuinely diverse working class movement,” one Bernie supporter tweeted in response to the New York Times article. “Elite liberals fear and despise the working class. That’s the reality.”
“This is ruling class propaganda,” another remarked. “And rather than keeping Bernie above the fray, the campaign’s scolding of supporters was used to validate their false narrative of abusive Berners, as I feared it would be. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. So don’t.”
Peter Daou, a former Hillary aide turned Bernie diehard, expressed dismay about the Bernie Bro stereotype over the phone. He said that he and his wife, Leela, now “receive the same type of personal attacks” as he did in 2016, when he was loudly supporting Clinton online. “People are using the term ‘Bernie Bro’ in a targeted way,” he said. “It’s a toxic narrative, leftover from 2016. The idea of these raging white males online that all support Bernie is the establishment’s way of trying to torpedo Bernie’s campaign.”
Jovan Prunty, a 31-year-old who works in construction, also takes offense at the Bernie Bro narrative. “As a Black man I think this term erases me and all his other women and POC supporters,” he said.
Sanders supporters generally agree that there are toxic leftist men whose behavior is out of bounds. But they insist that those people are a minority. Jaya Sundaresh, a writer for the socialist publication Current Affairs, voiced that sentiment on her Twitter in a post that garnered 15,000 likes: “I’m just going to say it: the Bernie Bro stereotype might be bullshit, but there’s a variety of irony-poisoned shithead leftist dudes who have caused nothing but pain for myself and my female comrades.” Over the phone Sundaresh was careful to emphasize that even though shitty men do exist on the left, the phenomenon is not specific to one edge of the ideological spectrum. “I’ve been swarmed by Pete Buttigieg supporters,” she said. “I’ve also had good conversations with them.”
Small, persistent jabs from Bernie supporters are unsurprisingly hurtful to people who support other candidates. Zandy Hartig, a Los Angeles-based actress, who backs Elizabeth Warren, tweeted on Wednesday, “It sucks that I feel I can’t tweet about my favorite candidate. my friends are respectful when they argue with me, but random people will jump all over me. It’s not their candidate’s fault, but it scares me nonetheless. And maybe that’s the point.” Unkindness ensued, with Bernie supporters informing her that Warren does, in fact, suck, and imploring her to “calm down.”
“I don’t think it’s Bernie fault,” Hartig emphasized to me over the phone. “But I don’t want to comment [anything pro-Warren] because when I have, people come down really hard on me and I almost feel like going private.” (Her Twitter is currently private).
“During the 2016 election, I really didn’t think there was such a thing as a ‘Bernie Bro,'” Hartig continued. “But this time, we’ve got a woman running who is much more progressive [than Hillary]… I’m starting to think it has a lot to do with misogyny.”
The nastiness of online political culture has resulted in a gap between those like Hartig, who feel attacked by swarms of online Bernie heads, and Sanders supporters who complain that they are being unfairly stereotyped. Misogyny exists in every corner of the internet, they say. So why are we mostly talking about Bernie Sanders? “You’re gonna tarnish an entire movement as ‘bros’?” Daou said. “[It] erases all the women, the women of color. There’s an ageist, a sexist, and a racist component when you generalize a diverse movement under the term ‘Bro.'”
On Monday evening, tens of thousands of Democrats in Iowa will brave the cold and gather in schools, churches, gyms and libraries to decide on their favourite presidential candidates.
It’s the first stop in the race for the Democratic nomination – but it’s not a traditional vote as you know it.
Most US elections involve filling in a ballot paper in private. But in Iowa’s caucuses, Democrats will gather in noisy rooms, stand in different zones to show which candidate they support – and try to convince others to switch sides.
Here’s what’s unusual about one of the first key contests for Democrats who want to take on Donald Trump.
1. It’s a bit like musical chairs – with lots of shouting, and baked goods
Iowa’s Democratic caucuses are colourful – and complicated.
After representatives from the campaigns make their final pitches, everyone has to gather with others who support the same candidate.
“There’s this process where everybody stands up and moves… you have to find other people” in your group, says Karen Kedrowski, a political science professor at Iowa State University.
“When everybody has stopped moving, they freeze the room and folks count how many are in each sub-caucus.”
At this point, any candidate with fewer than 15% of the total number of people in the room is considered unviable – and their supporters have the chance to go to another candidate’s zone.
It’s been likened to a high-stakes game of musical chairs, but louder. “Folks that are wandering around are likely to get persuaded quite forcefully by supporters of other candidates” to join them, says Prof Kedrowski.
Following this second round, all candidates with more than 15% of votes are allocated a number of delegates who will represent their interests in the later stages of the nominating process.
2. It’s not actually an election
The Iowa race gets plenty of coverage because it comes first – but it’s not an election. Caucus actually means “a meeting of neighbours”, and they’re run as internal party meetings.
As a result, the process is run by party volunteers rather than election officials – and orchestrating such a complicated process across all 1,678 precincts in the state is a challenge.
Bret Nilles, Chair of the Linn County Democrats, is responsible for 86 precincts, and expects up to 20,000 people to show up to his caucuses. He likens it to “planning 86 wedding receptions when you don’t know how many people are going to show up”.
An added challenge is that voters need to be in the room at the same time for the count – and close to 600 voters could be showing up and moving around in the largest venues.
“People in other states may not understand why you’d stand around for two hours for a caucus,” says Ann Anhalt, from Des Moines. However, she loves the political process and, despite the snow, has travelled to outlying towns and seen six of the candidates in person.
3. Iowa may be first – but it started by accident
“Iowa is not first because it’s important, it’s important because it’s first,” says Dennis Goldford, a political science professor at Drake University in Iowa.
In fact, its Democratic caucuses ended up so early in the calendar partly because of understaffing, and a slow mimeograph machine.
In 1968, Hubert Humphrey became the Democratic candidate for president without winning any of the presidential primaries – leading to an outcry and protests at the Democratic Convention.
After he lost to Richard Nixon, the party decided it had make its nominating process more transparent by publicising when caucuses were taking place, holding them in public spaces, and making them open to all registered members.
Since the process in Iowa involves four stages (precinct caucuses, and then county, district and state conventions), and since the party there was “underfunded and understaffed”, Iowa needed a particularly long time, says Prof Kedrowski.
The chair of the Iowa Democrats also wanted all delegates to have a copy of the rules and proposals – but the party’s copy machine was old and slow.
“In order to comply with all the new requirements, the Democratic Party of Iowa worked out they needed at least a month between [each stage] to pull together all the paperwork,” says Prof Kedrowski. “By the time they backed up the calendar, they ended up leapfrogging New Hampshire – and nobody at the time noticed.”
This changed in 1976 when Jimmy Carter used the Iowa caucuses to jump-start his presidential campaign.
Since then, Iowa has worked to ensure it comes first in the nominating calendar – Republicans and Democrats even agreed to hold their caucuses on the same day “to maximise attention” from media and politicians, says Prof Goldford.
4. You can be ‘uncommitted’ – but you might get stuck
If voters don’t have a favourite candidate, they can opt for being “uncommitted”.
This was actually a popular choice in the past – in 1972, and 1976, the “uncommitted” option actually won the most delegates in Iowa (Jimmy Carter came second).
This year, new caucus rules mean that voters are locked in after the first round if their preferred option passes the 15% threshold – which means that if enough voters are unsure about who to vote for in the first round, they could end up getting stuck.
But experts say this is unlikely to happen this time. “Fewer and fewer people have been counting themselves as uncommitted” in recent years, says Prof Goldford, “because the caucuses have become such a centre of attention”.
5. Some delegates could get decided by coin flips
The Iowa Democratic Party’s handbook uses coin tosses to resolve ties.
This typically happens when two candidates have the same number of supporters but there’s an odd number of delegates. The coin toss determines who gets the extra delegate.
It may sound arbitrary, but a lot of states use similar methods- in Nevada’s Democratic caucuses, ties are broken by whoever draws a higher card from a deck of cards, while in Mississippi, a state election tie was resolved by drawing straws.
The coin toss was “a party rule that they put in, thinking it would be rarely used – but it ended up being used a lot, which is a testament to how close Sanders and Clinton were,” says Prof Kedrowski.
6. Some Republican supporters take part too
Only registered Democrats can take part in the caucus – but voters can register or change their party affiliation at the door.
Ms Anhalt has voted Republican since 1996, and is a registered party member. She says she is “not disillusioned, and not unhappy” with her party – but nonetheless plans to switch affiliation so she can support Andrew Yang at Monday’s caucus.
She credits her support due to the face to face exposure Iowans get to candidates – she attended events for various Democratic candidates “just to see the process”, and unexpectedly became impressed with Mr Yang.
“I like his fresh ideas – you have to see him, and hear him… you can’t get it from a 30-second commercial,” she says.
She says the caucuses are good because candidates “have to come and go town to town” and “they have to be humble”.
“You can ask a question, or at least shake their hand… you can hardly meet them anywhere else.”
However, this doesn’t mean she’ll necessarily be a Democratic voter in November’s presidential election. “If Andrew Yang does not make the ticket… I’ll decide on the day.”
7. You don’t have to be in Iowa – but you do have to be in the room at the right time
For the first time ever, Iowa is allowing satellite caucuses outside of the state. It has 92 satellite sites elsewhere in the US, and sites in Paris, Glasgow, and Tbilisi.
It’s because the caucuses have been criticised for being inaccessible to shift workers and those with caring responsibilities.
To take part in a caucus, “you have to show up at 7pm on a Monday night in the winter,” says Prof Goldford. “You’ve got to hope you’re not on a night shift, not out of the state, that your car starts as the baby sitter shows up.”
The new locations may help a bit – but participants still need to be physically in the room when the caucus starts. There were plans for a virtual ballot – but these were vetoed over cyber security fears.
Why doesn’t Iowa allow absentee ballots or a longer voting window instead? It has a tacit agreement with New Hampshire – the second state in the selection process, and the first to hold a primary.
“New Hampshire is going to raise holy heck if Iowa does anything that smells or feels too much like a primary,” says Prof Kedrowski.
8. 17-year-olds can vote
Here’s another first – Iowa will allow 17-year-olds to vote in the caucuses, as long as they are 18 by the time November’s presidential election rolls around.