The pits, but not impeachy
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made her judgments about Donald Trump.
"Ethically unfit. Intellectually unfit. Curiosity-wise unfit. No, I don’t think he’s fit to be president of the United States," she said in an interview with The Washington Post Magazine.
But even as Democratic House committee chairs are investigating Trump on multiple fronts, looking for potential grounds for impeachment, Pelosi is far from sold on whether that would be a wise course. Especially if it wouldn't work in removing Trump from office, which would require a two-thirds vote from the Republican-majority Senate.
"Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it," Pelosi said. The better answer to Trump, she said, is to vote him out in the next election.
Democrats face growing pressure from the left for impeachment, but House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan) has also urged caution, even after saying it's clear Trump obstructed justice. “Before you impeach somebody, you have to persuade the American public that it ought to happen,” Nadler said last week. A Monmouth University Poll on March 6 found 42% in favor of impeachment and 54% opposed.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff agreed with Pelosi. "If the evidence isn’t sufficient to win bipartisan support for this, putting the country through a failed impeachment isn’t a good idea," he told CNN. " … Given how the Republican members of Congress have prostrated themselves right now in front of the president, in the absence of very graphic evidence, it would be difficult to get the support of” the Senate.
But Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, said impeachment should be sought if there is a "compelling" case with "overwhelming" evidence. "He may not be worth it but of course that's not the standard," Raskin said. "The country is certainly worth it if the Constitution and the public interest demand it."
Trump promised during his 2016 campaign that he would not cut Medicare or Social Security, but both popular programs are targets for savings in his 2020 fiscal year budget proposal.
It calls for an $845 billion reduction for Medicare over the next decade while trimming spending on Social Security programs by $26 billion.
Trump in a letter to Congress said his plan "provides a clear roadmap for the Congress to bring Federal spending and debt under control," even as the White House Office of Management and Budget acknowledged the plan would add $1 trillion per year to the nation's deficit, through 2022.
For more details, see Newsday's story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
Janison: Counting unhatched chickens
Trump's opening budget proposal may be more fanciful than real, especially in its projections for revenue from an ever-booming economy to catch up with spending in the long run, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.
His budget proposal sets growth at 3.2% in the coming year. Few outside forecasters endorse that high a number.
In 2016, Trump promised the national debt, then $19 billion, would be eliminated in eight years. But it's been going the wrong way, surging past $22 billion last month.
Democrats: Milwaukee, hold our beer
The joke was instant and obvious: The Democrats will be spending a lot more time in Wisconsin next year than Hillary Clinton did in 2016.
That's because the Democratic National Committee announced it will hold its 2020 nominating convention in Milwaukee on July 13-16, 2020. The party hopes to tie a blue ribbon around the state where Trump shockingly won but Democrats rebounded in statewide races in 2018.
Republicans are set to gather in Charlotte, the largest city in battleground North Carolina, on Aug. 24-27, 2020.
Gillibrand's #MeToo brand takes hit
More than any of the Democrats' 2020 hopefuls, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has been an outspoken advocate for women against sexual misconduct. But Politico reports a former aide — a woman in her mid-20s — resigned last summer in protest over how Gillibrand's office handled her harassment complaint against another staff member.
The man she accused, Abbas Malik, kept his job until Politico contacted Gillibrand's office with additional allegations that he had engaged in inappropriate workplace conduct. Malik was dismissed last week.
Gillibrand, in a statement, defended her handling of the case.
More bites at the Apple
It seemed like a minor flub when Trump, during a roundtable with business executives last week, referred to Apple CEO Tim Cook as "Tim Apple." Cook was amused enough to change his surname on Twitter to an Apple logo emoji.
But Trump is not amused that anyone thinks he made a mistake. Speaking to donors at Mar-a-Lago on Friday night, Trump insisted he said, "Tim Cook Apple" really fast, and the "Cook" part of the sentence was soft. (That's not what the video shows.)
On Twitter Monday morning, Trump had a new story: "Long after formally introducing Tim Cook of Apple, I quickly referred to Tim + Apple as Tim/Apple as an easy way to save time & words. The Fake News was disparagingly all over this, & it became yet another bad Trump story!"
If Trump had a syllable-saving strategy, the transcript shows he abandoned it soon afterward when he thanked "Doug McMillon, the CEO of WalMart" and "William McDermott of SAP" instead of "Doug WalMart" and "William SAP."
The kids weren't all right
Seeing son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump at times as more hindrance than help, Trump plotted with former chief of staff John Kelly to make life so difficult for them that they would quit, according to a new book.
Trump complained the couple children “didn’t know how to play the game” and generated cycles of bad press. But they outlasted Kelly and have gained in power as Trump's desire to get them out of the West Wing has come and gone.
The story is told in "Kushner Inc.” by Vicky Ward, which was previewed by The New York Times.
What else is happening:
- Facebook removed ads placed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign that called for the breakup of Facebook and other giant tech companies, Politico reports, but later relented. While the ads "violated our policies against use of our corporate logo," Facebook said, they were restored "in the interest of allowing robust debate."
- Beto O'Rourke is planning an Iowa visit as a run by the former Texas congressman for the Democratic presidential nomination appears likelier.
- A Democratic long shot, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, made a social-media splash with a swipe at fellow Hoosier Mike Pence during a CNN town hall. "How could he allow himself to become the cheerleader of the porn star presidency?" Buttigieg said. "Is it that he stopped believing in Scripture when he started believing in Donald Trump?"
- New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's hint at presidential ambitions drew scant encouragement from nearly three dozen former and current aides, consultants and allies surveyed by Politico. Ex-adviser Rebecca Katz said: "I believe Bill de Blasio has 100 percent the right message; I’m just not so sure he's the right messenger."
- Pence heard an unexpected roasting from former Vice President Dick Cheney at a closed-door retreat hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, according to The Washington Post. Cheney ripped Trump for alienating NATO allies, tuning out intelligence agencies and looking at foreign policy through a simplistic dollar-and-cents lens.
- Trump endorsed a push by several Florida Republicans in Congress for year-round daylight saving time, tweeting that's "O.K. with me!" He evidently doesn't mind that it would shave one hour off his term.