House Intelligence committee report Tuesday, Judiciary hearings on articles of impeachment Wednesday. Welcome to December!


Justice’s election-year conundrum: How to probe team Trump

Legal experts say DOJ is taking steps that could lead to a potential criminal probe of the president’s Ukraine scheme.

In Washington, the FBI has already contacted an attorney for the whistleblower who first revealed the scheme. In New York, federal prosecutors are expanding a probe into Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, who played a pivotal role in the Ukraine campaign. And on Capitol Hill, lawmakers busy with impeachment are collecting documents and testimony that could help fuel any DOJ probe into the president and others around him who were involved in the scheme.

“We’ve done investigations based on a lot less than what we’ve heard already,” said Mimi Rocah, a former assistant U.S. attorney from the Southern District of New York.

But the ghosts of 2016 linger. DOJ and FBI leaders are still weathering bipartisan scorn for their handling of dual election-year probes into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the Trump campaign’s Russia connections. Any moves to examine Trump as 2020 heats up will receive similar scrutiny — as will any choice not to examine Trump.

It all adds up to a tumultuous year ahead for Attorney General William Barr, who has struggled to maintain the department’s historical reputation for independence while serving a president who openly castigates federal law enforcement for leading a “coup” to unseat him.


Fox News’ Judge Napolitano outlines likely articles of impeachment against Trump - Axios

— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) December 2, 2019

The Economist:

Why a left-wing nominee would hurt Democrats

What’s wrong with the idea that ideologically extreme candidates can pep up turnout

In the 2016 election, Donald Trump may have succeeded partly by taking more moderate stances on government spending and foreign policy than Republicans who came before him. According to The Economist’s analysis of survey data from the Co-operative Congressional Election Study (cces), a 65,000-person poll overseen by Harvard University, voters thought Hillary Clinton about twice as ideologically extreme as Mr Trump, relative to their average position (see chart). Voters may have rewarded Mr Trump for ditching orthodox but unpopular conservative talking points.

Recent developments have laid bare the problems with the median-voter theory, though. The country has experienced a rise in partisanship, diminishing the number of people in the moderate middle. As the parties have separated ideologically, vote-switchers have declined in number. According to the cce, a combined 7% of voters switched from voting for Democratic to Republican presidential candidates, or vice versa, between 2012 and 2016 (5% of them were Democrats and 2% Republicans).

If there are few swing voters, some analysts argue, then elections must be primarily about catering to the parties’ ideologically extreme bases. In such a world, politicians win simply by turning out as many voters from their side as possible. But while the median-voter theory has its problems, this new hypothesis is unfounded. So-called “mobilisation theory” posits that an extremist nominee could increase turnout among its party’s voters. It fails to account for the effects that political extremity has on turnout in the other party.

One can also read this as why a white nationalist extremist would hurt Republicans, but that would require another loss like 2018 for the press to come around.


Fox News host urges Trump to “dump” Giuliani for soliciting business in Ukraine, calls attorney a “disaster,” “toxic”

— Newsweek (@Newsweek) December 2, 2019

NY Times:

How Black Voters Could Help Biden Win the Democratic Nomination

To win the Democratic presidential nomination, a candidate needs to secure 1,990 pledged delegates. A significant number of delegates are at stake in states with large shares of black Democratic voters.

Think of it this way: Candidates gain delegates based on voting in both states and districts, which are Congressional districts in all but a few places. While Iowa and New Hampshire may generate political momentum for a winner because they vote first, the two states award very few delegates. By contrast, a candidate who is popular in California, Texas and predominantly black districts in the South could pick up big shares of delegates.

I’m agnostic on a Biden nom, but you need to appreciate that his support is deeper than you’d get the impression from around here.


Slowly coming around to the view that Biden might be Romney, rather than Jeb.

— Sean T at RCP (@SeanTrende) November 28, 2019

Robb Willer and Jan Voelkel/NY Times:


Why Progressive Candidates Should Invoke Conservative Values

Research suggests they would gain moderate and conservative support — without losing ground among their base.

To beat President Trump in the 2020 election, what sort of policies should a Democratic nominee promote?

Two theories dominate. One says that he or she should run to the left, focusing on energizing the party’s base. This strategy, exemplified by Elizabeth Warren’s and Bernie Sanders’s campaigns, appears plausible given the base’s recent progressive turn.

The other theory says that a nominee should run to the center, making a bid for swing voters. This strategy, exemplified by the short-notice candidacy of the former Republican Michael Bloomberg, is supported by research on the electoral perils of ideological extremism.

But both of these theories neglect the fact that there is more to a candidate than his or her policies. As the political scientists Christopher Ellis and James Stimson have observed, a candidate’s policies can be distinguished from his or her “symbolic politics” — the values or ideology (like “family” or “social justice” or “going rogue”) that a candidate explicitly espouses or implicitly represents.

Read the piece. It’s about progressive values, conservative language. We’ve done it for years and years (e.g., [my progressive policy] is as American as the New Deal, Mom and apple pie). Underlying it is the idea that persuasion is as important as mobilization (and you know I’m all in on that).


If my short (or long) term political survival depended heavily on the votes of rural populations to offset a growing disadvantage among suburban and urban voters….I’d be worried.

— Rachel “The Doc” Bitecofer 📈🔭🗿💪 (@RachelBitecofer) November 30, 2019

Dan Balz/WaPo:

The Democratic presidential campaign has produced confusion rather than clarity

More than in some past campaigns, Democratic voters appear torn between heart and head. Many are looking for a candidate who will inspire them while also being somewhat risk-averse. Those conflicting impulses could be one reason the race seems to shift and shift again and why the answer to the question of what and whom it will take to beat Trump still lies at the center of it all.


This branding is kind of the epitome of Biden 2020, in that it1. Appeals to nostalgia for 2012, when Biden used “malarkey” in the VP debate with Paul Ryan2. Plays poorly in Twitterworld, where remembering something more than five years old basically makes you a grizzled shaman

— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) December 1, 2019


Though I will say that Biden has held his IA/NH support better after the Buttigieig surge than I would have guessed at the time I wrote this piece, and that leaves him better positioned as well

— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 1, 2019


How a fight over health care entangled Elizabeth Warren — and reshaped the Democratic presidential race

As [Medicare-for-all] got more attention, more and more people began to say, ‘Yeah, that’s a mistake [that] she showed flexibility,’ ” said former congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts. “But I guess she felt she couldn’t make herself totally vulnerable to the Sanders people by abandoning [Medicare-for-all] altogether.”

“It would have been better to do it earlier,” Frank said of her shift, adding that he had privately told her that backing the Sanders plan was “a terrible mistake.”

Molly Jong-Fast/Daily Beast:

What Is ‘Failson’ Culture? Look No Further Than the Family Trump for the Answer

A “failson” is a son of wealth and privilege who is equal parts incompetence, stupidity, and arrogance. Sound like anybody you know?

What’s a failson (pronounced exactly like it looks, just a combination of “fail” and “son”)? He is an upper- (or upper-middle) class incompetent who is protected by familial wealth from the consequences of his actions. The term seems to have been coined by one Will Menaker of the podcast Chapo Trap House, as documented in The New Yorker in this 2016 article. 

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