Only a handful of Republicans are tilting toward supporting Donald Trump's impeachment, but it's enough to get him worrying out loud. "Republicans have to get tougher and fight," Trump said while convening a Cabinet meeting on Monday.
Democrats, the president said, are "vicious, and they stick together … They don’t have Mitt Romney in their midst. They don’t have people like that.” Trump was referring to the Republican senator from Utah who says he is open to voting to remove Trump from office. Romney has called Trump’s efforts to press for foreign investigations of his political rivals “wrong and appalling.”
Even a usually loyal ally, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, said he wouldn't rule out voting against Trump in an impeachment trial if more evidence of wrongdoing emerges. "Sure, I mean show me something that is a crime," Graham said in an "Axios on HBO" interview. "If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing."
House impeachment investigators are due to hear Tuesday from William Taylor, who succeeded Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch as the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine after she was ousted at the urging of Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani. In a text exchange, Taylor wrote a Trump-directed State Department point man on Ukraine that “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a “fact sheet” laying out all the public evidence that has been collected to date about Trump’s request for President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter ahead of the 2020 election. The document's three sections — the "shakedown," "the pressure campaign" and "the cover up” — argues Trump “has betrayed his oath of office, betrayed our national security and betrayed the integrity of our elections for his own personal political gain.”
Trump seemed to have little hope that impeachment will die in the House. The Democrats “want to impeach me, because it is the only way they’re gonna win,” he complained. “The president of the United States should be allowed to run the country, not have to focus on this kind of crap.”
House Republicans held together in an effort to censure House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff for how he has conducted the impeachment inquiry, but so did Democrats, who won a vote to table the resolution, effectively killing it, 218 to 185. For more, see Newsday's story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
The Constitution is fake words?
It was growing Republican unease that forced Trump to abandon his plan to give his Doral golf resort in Florida the contract to host next year's G-7 summit, but he's not ready to move on. Or to admit there was opposition within his own party.
The Constitution’s "emoluments clause" — which bars a president from receiving payments from foreign governments — is quite real.
Trump claimed he would have hosted the summit "for free." That seems to differ from what acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said when he announced the decision last week. Mulvaney said the Doral contract would be "at cost."
Brushing off criticism that money aside, hosting the summit would have been one big free promotion for his brand, Trump said: “You don’t think I get enough promotion? I get more promotion than any human being that’s ever lived.”
Janison: Divining his rights
Trump's sulking makes you wonder, writes Newsday's Dan Janison: Has a U.S. president in anyone's memory trashed a deliberately stated, long-active clause of the republic's founding document as "phony"? You know, from the Constitution, that thing he swore to uphold?
The clause's purpose is plain enough. An emolument is a salary, fee or profit from employment or office. "The clause sought to shield the republican character of the United States against corrupting foreign influences," says the conservative Heritage Foundation's Guide to the Constitution.
Corrupting foreign influences. Yes, that problem again. A conservative legal commentator, Andrew Napolitano, called Trump's attempt to grab the G-7 for the Doral "about as direct and profound a violation of the emoluments clause as one could create."
More foreign influences?
Trump's pressure on Ukraine came after that nation's regional rivals had his ear, according to insiders.
His conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and others reinforced Trump's impression of Ukraine as hopelessly corrupt, they said. Orban visited the White House in May, although Trump advisers John Bolton and Fiona Hill opposed inviting him.
Don't owe the Kurds
Still defending his decision to clear the way for Turkey's attack on U.S. Kurdish allies in Syria, Trump downplayed the successes of Kurdish forces who died by the thousands in five years of fighting against ISIS.
“A lot of people are good when they fight with us. When you have $10 billion worth of airplanes shooting 10 miles in front of your line, it’s much easier to fight,” Trump said.
Who then should get the most credit? Trump, said Trump.
"It was me … who captured them. I'm the one who did the capturing. I'm the one who knows more about it than you people or the fake pundits."
Analysts say Trump’s pullout of U.S. forces has handed ISIS its biggest win in more than four years and greatly improved its prospects, The New York Times reports. American officials said they are losing their ability to collect critical intelligence about the group’s operations on the ground.
Buttigieg gets a boost
Pete Buttigieg has surged within striking distance of Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, a Suffolk University/USA Today poll finds.
The poll, taken last Wednesday through Friday, put Biden at 18%, Warren at 17% and Buttigieg at 13% among 500 likely Democratic caucusgoers. Bernie Sanders was in single digits at 9%.
What else is happening:
- Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) is calling for Giuliani to be disbarred, The Wall Street Journal reported. She has asked the state committee in charge of licenses for New York attorneys to begin an investigation into what she calls misconduct. Giuliani said her allegations were baseless "harassment."
- Trump boasted on Monday that he's the only other president besides George Washington to forgo his paycheck. Not so, writes Politico. Two wealthy predecessors, Herbert Hoover and John F. Kennedy, did likewise.
- Former Vice President Biden isn’t the only national politician who has had conflict-of-interest questions raised about a family member, writes Newsday's Tom Brune. In recent history, scrutiny has fallen on Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush's brothers, Bill Clinton's brother-in-law and the Trump family.
- The last days of Bill de Blasio's 2020 campaign, as described by The New York Times, were something of a pity party as he worked the phones trying to shake loose enough big donations to stay in. One donor who ponied up described the mayor's voice breaking. “I just felt sorry for him. He was in pain. I felt sorry for his pain, not so much for him," the donor said.
- Julián Castro's presidential campaign said Monday he will have to drop out unless the former HUD secretary's supporters donate $800,000 by the end of October.
- The judge in Roger Stone's upcoming trial won't let prosecutors play a clip from “Godfather II.” They wanted to illustrate what the longtime Trump confidant allegedly meant when he told an associate to “do a ‘Frank Pentangeli’ ” and alter his testimony to Congress about WikiLeaks dealings during the 2016 campaign, Politico reported.