with help from Andrew Desiderio
DONALD WANTS A DISMISSAL — Three weeks ago, President Donald Trump wanted a full, robust Senate impeachment trial — a chance to clear his name of the charges against him, and an opportunity to call witnesses from Adam Schiff to Hunter Biden. But by Sunday afternoon, Trump had changed his tune — now favoring an outright dismissal of the case, after lamenting the “stigma” of impeachment.
A dismissal, of course, is unlikely. But Trump’s shifting positions put Mitch McConnell and the Senate GOP in a tough spot ahead of the trial’s likely start date later this week. “Many believe that by the Senate giving credence to a trial based on the no evidence, no crime, read the transcripts, ‘no pressure’ Impeachment Hoax, rather than an outright dismissal, it gives the partisan Democrat Witch Hunt credibility that it otherwise does not have,” the president wrote on Twitter. Just 27 minutes earlier, though, Trump tweeted that he wanted to call Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff as witnesses.
Perhaps Pelosi got in Trump’s head. On ABC’s “This Week,” Pelosi repeatedly declared that Trump will “forever” be an impeached president. “This president is impeached for life, regardless of any gamesmanship on the part of Mitch McConnell.” She added: “There’s nothing the Senate can do that can ever erase that.” Sarah has more on Pelosi’s rare Sunday morning sit-down, which included the speaker’s defense of her delay in sending the articles across the Capitol: https://politi.co/36RBY1A.
Related reads: “A pact with Trump on impeachment? McConnell’s Kentucky backers demand it,” by WaPo’s Griff White: https://wapo.st/2TuczHt; and “Logjam Over Impeachment Trial Leaves Trump Prosecutors Little Time to Prepare,” from NYT’s Emily Cochrane: https://nyti.ms/35PYXsp.
THE SKED AHEAD — Pelosi will meet with her caucus tomorrow morning to discuss the next steps on impeachment. The speaker is expected to put a resolution on the floor naming the House’s impeachment managers as soon as later that day. That vote triggers the start of the trial at 1:00 p.m. the following day — be it Wednesday, Thursday, et cetera.
But before the trial really heats up, senators first need to iron out some logistical details. Chief Justice Roberts needs to be sworn in and deliver the oath to senators, who are expected to sign their names in an oath book. Then, the chamber has to debate and vote on a rules package to set the parameters for the trial. After that, both sides will likely be given a few days to submit trial briefs, followed by a chance to respond. So the real action — a.k.a. opening statements, written questions and a debate on witnesses — likely won’t come until after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (And for those wondering, Clinton’s trial did take a break for MLK day.)
Related: “‘Fail Not:’ What to watch ahead of Trump’s Senate trial,” via the AP’s Laura Kellman: http://bit.ly/3826IwM.
SCHUMER’S SQUEEZE — Mitch McConnell may have taken round one in the fight over impeachment witnesses — but the battle is far from over. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is vowing to force a series of tough votes during the impeachment trial that could come back to haunt vulnerable Republicans in November. Democrats plan to push for first-hand witnesses and documents, and at least one GOP senator — Susan Collins of Maine — has signaled that she is open to the idea.
Democrats believe public support is on their side: Polling from Hart Research found that 63 percent of voters in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina — all states where there are vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection — would react unfavorably if their senator voted against calling witnesses or subpoenaing documents during the Senate impeachment trial. And another poll from Morning Consult found 57 percent of voters believe the Senate should call additional witnesses. Burgess and Marianne with the story: https://politi.co/3a9eN4W.
Related: “Schumer, Eyeing Senate’s Top Job, Navigates Tricky Impeachment Terrain,” by NYT’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg: https://nyti.ms/2R5AgTi.
HAPPY MONDAY! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill, on this January 13. If your favorite design aesthetic is “congressional office” vibes, don’t worry, this nearly $1 million home for sale on Capitol Hill has got you covered (and carpeted … very carpeted.)
FRIDAY’S MOST CLICKED: Roll Call’s report on Republicans opposing Iran language they once supported was the big winner.
GO WITH THE JOE — Vulnerable House Democrats are rallying behind Joe Biden in the 2020 primary race, looking to head off a liberal nominee they fear would cost them reelection, report Ally Mutnick and Sarah. More than a dozen swing-seat freshmen have taken part in at least one private call session with Biden, Amy Klobuchar or Pete Buttigieg in recent weeks, but a handful have already gravitated toward the former vice president — and more are expected to follow ahead of the Iowa caucuses.
The surge in support for Biden comes amid growing fears that Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren at the top of the ticket would cost them their seats. And a number of centrist Democrats have even studied internal polling showing Biden outperforming other Democratic contenders in head-to-heads with Trump in their respective districts. “The wrong person at the top of the ticket — and I’m not saying who that is — there would be down-ballot carnage all across the country, and I think that people are starting to recognize it,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), a national co-chair of the Biden campaign. The dispatch: https://politi.co/3a1HKzr.
Related: “McCarthy says Pelosi holding articles of impeachment to hurt Sanders’ Iowa chances,” via Andrew O’Reilly of Fox News: https://fxn.ws/30eF64S; and “House Democrats who endorsed in 2020 primary signal they will unify behind eventual nominee,” per WaPo’s Jacqueline Alemany and Sean Sullivan: https://wapo.st/3a9hxzg.
TOP OP-ED — Reps. Elaine Luria (Va.) and Max Rose (N.Y.) — a pair of ex-military, moderate Democrats — are defending their vote against limiting Trump’s war powers in an op-ed for NYT. Here’s what they said: “We voted against the War Powers Resolution that the House passed this week because it merely restated existing law. It addressed a de-escalated conflict with a symbolic vote that did more to distract than to fix the real challenges we face.
“If Congress wants to assert its power to declare war, we must take on the hard task of publicly debating a new Authorization for Use of Military Force, the A.U.M.F., as it’s commonly called, as well as congressional appropriations for military operations. … The War Powers Resolution passed by the House this week sends the wrong message to the American people and the world that our nation is heading toward or is currently engaged in war with Iran. Neither are true.” More: https://nyti.ms/3aa8iij.
Related: “Democrats scramble to rein in Trump’s Iran war powers,” by The Hill’s Jordain Carney: http://bit.ly/2tgmWDI.
WITH ALL DUE RESPECT — Liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is defending her decision to not pay dues to the House Democrats’ campaign arm, pointing out that she fundraises for other Democrats and slamming the DCCC for refusing to work with any vendors that help candidates who are challenging incumbents. “DCCC made clear that they will blacklist any org that helps progressive candidates like me,” AOC wrote on Twitter. “I can choose not to fund that kind of exclusion.”
AOC — who toppled a veteran Democrat in a 2018 primary — is now launching her own PAC to boost progressive candidates in primary races. “The rumors are true. Today we’re announcing the Courage to Change PAC – and we need your help,” she tweeted ove the weekend. “We are pushing the envelope in DC by rewarding those who reject lobbyist money, fight for working families,& welcome newcomers.” More from USA TODAY’s Jeanine Santucci: http://bit.ly/2FIg196.
Watch: Newsmakers with DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos, via C-SPAN: https://cs.pn/2tVC7SK.
MAKING CONGRESS MOVES? — Rapper Cardi B says she wants to be a politician — and even teased that she might run for Congress one day. “I think I want to be a politician.I really love government even tho I don’t agree with Goverment,” she tweeted. “I do feel like if I go back to school and focus up I can be part of Congress.I deadass have sooo much ideas that make sense.I just need a couple of years of school and I can shake the table.”
KEEPING UP WITH THE KANSANS — If Mike Pompeo had decided to jump into the Kansas Senate race, he likely would have cleared the field. But now that Pompeo has decided to pass on a Senate bid, the state is poised for a long and bitter GOP primary, according to McClatchy. “[N]ational Republicans aren’t in a rush to anoint [Rep. Roger Marshall] or any other candidate. None of the three other major contenders have been able persuade GOP leaders that they can close the gap with former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the party’s failed 2018 nominee for governor who leads the primary field in the party’s internal polls,” write Bryan Lowry and Jonathan Shorman. The story: http://bit.ly/2NpmpGG.
Related: “Money flows to Kansas Senate campaign with Pompeo out of the race,” by Roll Call’s Stephanie Akin: http://bit.ly/35KNBG1.
PUPDATE — Our long national nightmare is over: AOC has finally named her French Bulldog puppy. She decided to name the pooch “Deco”, as in “Art Deco” — a nod to her favorite design style and one that is popular in NYC architecture. And per our friends at Playbook, AOC, Deco and her boyfriend were all spotted having brunch at Dacha Navy Yard. Pic
Bridgett Frey will be a director of client services at Bully Pulpit Interactive. She previously was comms director for Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
Emily Bishop will be a senior associate for digital at FP1 Strategies. She previously was a press assistant for Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.).
Hunt VanderToll is now legislative director for Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.). He previously served as Rep. Barr’s military legislative assistant and before that was legislative correspondent for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The House gavels in at noon, with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m. Today’s agenda: http://bit.ly/2RcNmhI.
The Senate meets at 3 p.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of Peter Gaynor to be administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. At 5:30 p.m., the Senate will vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the Gaynor nomination.
FRIDAY’S WINNER: Matt Hudgins was the first person to correctly guess that if John Hickenlooper is elected to the Senate, he and his senior colleague from Colorado will have both graduated from the same undergraduate institution: Wesleyan University.
TODAY’S QUESTION: From Matt: Which Bernie Sanders supporter and drummer of a popular jamband from Vermont also serves as Board of Selectman of a town in Maine? First person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send your best guess my way: email@example.com.
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