The Republicans 2020

Written by  //  March 23, 2020  //  Politics, U.S.  //  No comments

Donald Trump Impeachment Inquiry/trial
The 45th President of the U.S.

Coronavirus Exposes the Virulence of American Conservatism
Congressional Republicans are not only unwilling to support universal paid leave or make an open-ended commitment to covering 80% of workers’ salaries but are also fighting to protect the right of bailed-out corporations to fire as many workers as they see fit.
(New York) On Sunday, the Senate failed to reach an agreement on an already belated economic relief package, a development that’s left small-business owners and laid-off workers reeling and financial markets tumbling. The mainstream press has attributed the Senate’s inaction to “Washington infighting,” or else to Democratic intransigence. But Chuck Schumer’s caucus didn’t vote down the Republican bill over some minor detail, or because it insisted on dictating the left’s preference on an issue that genuinely divides blue and red America. Rather, the key sticking point is that the GOP bill would empower the Trump administration to dole out $500 billion in bailout money to corporations of its own choosing — without forbidding bailed-out firms from laying off their workers. This arrangement would not only allow the hotelier-in-chief to plow public money into his companies and those of his cronies but also enable those firms to spend our government’s dollars on maintaining outsize executive compensation instead of retaining employees.

19 – 21 March
Loeffler stock trades roil Georgia special election
Appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler is facing attacks from both sides after it was revealed she sold stocks following a classified Covid-19 briefing.
Loeffler’s rivals in a special election pounced on revelations that the recently appointed senator dumped millions of dollars in stocks after a classified Covid-19 briefing in January — damaging her bid against a formidable GOP opponent in Rep. Doug Collins, a close ally of President Donald Trump. Collins is seizing on the stock trades by Loeffler, who’s married to the head of the New York Stock Exchange.
Senator Dumped Up to $1.6 Million of Stock After Reassuring Public About Coronavirus Preparedness
Intelligence Chair Richard Burr’s selloff came around the time he was receiving daily briefings on the health threat.
(Pro Publica) Soon after he offered public assurances that the government was ready to battle the coronavirus, the powerful chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, sold off a significant percentage of his stocks, unloading between $582,029 and $1.56 million of his holdings on Feb. 13 in 29 separate transactions.

5 March
Republicans, rooting for Sanders, see Biden wins as setback
Republican senators conceded Wednesday they would rather face Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, as the opposing nominee, instead of Biden, whom they consider more mainstream and tougher to draw a contrast with.
In the battle for the Senate, Republicans would like to tie Democratic candidates to Sanders and socialism, and generally see Biden as a stronger candidate. Similarly, Democrats were uneasy about Sanders as their standard-bearer, and Biden has made this a point of attack on the campaign trail, arguing he would help Democrats take back the Senate.
“I think Bernie is the easiest to contrast with. Biden would be a little harder to contrast with,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “Truly, I think it’s better for us for Bernie to be the nominee in terms of down-ballot.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last year he wanted to make the 2020 election a “referendum on socialism,” a plan that would be helped immensely if Democrats nominate Sanders, who advocates for “Medicare for All,” free college, student debt forgiveness and a wealth tax.
With Biden re-emerging as the favorite to win the Democratic nomination, GOP lawmakers acknowledge 2020 is likely to be more of a referendum on President Trump.
GOP lawmakers thought they even had a chance of winning the House with Sanders as the Democratic nominee. Now that hope is fast fading, according to a GOP senator who requested anonymity to assess the presidential race.
“Anybody who wants the president to have an easier time with reelection, I think Sanders clearly helps that outcome,” said the Republican senator.
He said the speculation among Republicans on Capitol Hill on Wednesday morning was “if it’s not Sanders, Republicans probably don’t get the House back.”

20 February
Yes, Trump’s Job-Approval Ratings Are Finally Rising
The most commonly cited explanation for why Trump’s approval rating might be spiking, of course, is that Greatest Economy Ever he keeps boasting about. Multiple public-opinion outlets are reporting that optimism about the economy is on the rise, and, along with it, confidence in Trump’s stewardship of the economy (despite the lack of evidence that his policies have much to do with the steady job growth that began when Obama was in office).
Another theory is that Trump’s impeachment and acquittal has revved up his MAGA base to a level of excitement associated with some sort of massive social movement, boosting the likelihood that his fans will show up in November to a near certainty as they seek to consummate the destruction of POTUS’ evil persecutors. And in that explanation lies the possibility of some distortion in the polling, since people excited about their politics are more likely to respond to polls to a degree that doesn’t necessarily correspond to higher voting turnout. There’s even a hint of that in the Gallup data that looks so good for Trump:
… Trump has a habit of stepping on his best reelection messages with destructive behavior, such as his decision to throw a temper tantrum in late 2018 over border-wall money and shut down the federal government, which temporarily tanked his approval ratings. His sense of liberation in surviving impeachment could lead him to do really stupid things; would-be tyrants tend that way. But without question, he’s in better shape from the point of view of basic popularity than he has been for big stretches of his presidency, and if his numbers do improve, he may need to worry about his arrogance breeding complacency and overconfidence, matching Hillary Clinton’s in 2016.

8 February
On Trump’s To-Do List: Take Back The Suburbs. Court Black Voters. Expand the Electoral Map. Win.
With impeachment behind the president, his re-election campaign wants to address political weaknesses exacerbated by his policies and behavior.
By Maggie Haberman, Annie Karni and Jonathan Martin
(NYT) His campaign is aiming to regain these voters in battleground states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, after losing many of them to Democrats in the 2018 midterms. Advisers hope to expand the electoral map for November by winning moderate-leaning states like Minnesota and New Hampshire. And the White House is gearing up to help with policy issues directed at swing states, such as the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada and paid family leave for federal workers.

5 February
In Private, Republicans Admit They Acquitted Trump Out of Fear
One journalist remarked to me, “How in the world can these senators walk around here upright when they have no backbone?”
By Sherrod Brown, Democratic senator from Ohio.
(NYT) History has indeed taught us that when it comes to the instincts that drive us, fear has no rival. As the lead House impeachment manager, Representative Adam Schiff, has noted, Robert Kennedy spoke of how “moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle.”
Playing on that fear, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, sought a quick impeachment trial for President Trump with as little attention to it as possible. Reporters, who usually roam the Capitol freely, have been cordoned off like cattle in select areas. Mr. McConnell ordered limited camera views in the Senate chamber so only presenters — not absent senators — could be spotted.
And barely a peep from Republican lawmakers.

What Will Finally Defeat Donald Trump?
He can do whatever it takes to win re-election, and the Republican Party will have his back.
(NYT editorial) By the end, many Republicans had conceded that Mr. Trump did the things he was accused of. Some agreed that they were “improper,” “inappropriate” or even “wrong.” Yet rather than try to get to the bottom of his behavior, they joined the White House in covering up as much about it as they could.
Reasonable Americans may have concluded — after a full airing of the documents the White House has bottled up, of the witnesses it has smothered — that removal from office was too extreme a punishment. But the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, turned out to have too little regard for Mr. Trump’s ethics, or for the American people’s sense of justice, or perhaps both, to take that chance.
Under Mr. McConnell’s guidance, the impeachment trial in the Senate was a joke at the Constitution’s expense. Anyone hoping for a demonstration of responsible governance or the vindication of the separation of powers could only be dismayed.
It did illustrate, however, how beholden Republicans are to Mr. Trump and his destructive approach to leadership. In that sense, the trial provided an important service to Americans, clarifying the stakes in the coming election.

2 February
“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,” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said arguing that a president committing impeachable offenses doesn’t mean they should be removed from office. Rubio also suggested that removing Trump from office would be a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Downfall of the Republican Party
To see men and women who had a positive vision beaten down and broken by Trump is a poignant thing.
By Peter Wehner, Contributing writer at The Atlantic and senior fellow at EPPC
Republicans, from beginning to end, sought not to ensure that justice be done or truth be revealed. Instead, they sought to ensure that Trump not be removed from office under any circumstances, defending him at all costs. The job of Senate Republicans was to make their acquittal of the president as quick and painless for them as possible. In this particular case, facts and evidence—reality—were viewed as grave threats, which is why they had to be buried.
This is simply the latest act in an unfolding political drama, one in which the party of Lincoln and Reagan has now become, in every meaningful sense, the party of Trump.
NBC/WSJ poll: Country remains divided over Trump’s impeachment trial
Majorities of Americans believe the president abused his power and obstructed Congress but split over whether it was enough to remove him.
The survey also finds Trump trailing the major Democratic presidential candidates in hypothetical matchups for the general election, and it shows how stable the president’s standing has been during the entire impeachment episode.
In the poll, 46 percent of registered voters say Trump should be removed from office as a result of the impeachment trial, versus 49 percent who say he should remain — essentially unchanged from the 48 percent-to-48 percent split in December’s NBC/WSJ poll.
Democratic voters overwhelmingly support Trump’s removal from office (84 percent), while Republicans overwhelmingly oppose it (91 percent). Independents are divided, with 45 percent backing removal and 50 percent opposing it.

31 January
Once Skeptical, Senate Republicans Are All In on Trump
Although many Senate Republicans have long expressed serious reservations about Mr. Trump’s character and conduct in office — and some went so far as to say the Democrats had successfully made their case against him — little daylight is visible now. In pressing inexorably toward their preordained vote of acquittal, Senate Republicans made it clear they see their fortunes and futures intertwined with the president’s, and are not willing to rock the 2020 boat.
“Their party is a cult of personality at this point,” said Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut.

29 January
Madison, Hamilton, Dershowitz: One of these men is not like the others, but for the GOP he’s a better quote
(WaPo) On Monday, Dershowitz, the Harvard Law professor emeritus who is part of Trump’s legal team, delivered what quickly became the most favored speech for quoting among GOP senators. It provided them cover, should they need it, for refusing to allow witnesses in the trial of Trump, for voting to acquit him and, in the event damaging evidence emerges after the trial, for slamming it as irrelevant.
Dershowitz argued that to remove a president from office, the Senate must find that he committed an actual crime or “crime-like conduct.” It’s not enough to say, as the current articles of impeachment allege, that a president abused his power or obstructed Congress. “Purely noncriminal conduct including abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are outside the range of impeachable offenses,” Dershowitz said.

15 January
The Fog of Rudy Did he change — or did America?
(NYT Magazine) How did a man who was once — pick your former Rudy: priestly prosecutor, avenging crime-buster, America’s mayor — become this guy, ranting on TV, unapologetically pursuing debunked conspiracy theories, butt-dialing reporters, sharing photos of himself scheming in actual smoke-filled rooms? What happened?

13 January
Top Senate Republicans reject Trump’s renewed call for immediate dismissal of impeachment charges
Most Senate Republicans are eager to stage a trial that ends with Trump’s acquittal and vindication on charges that he abused the power of his office in his dealings with Ukraine and obstructed a subsequent investigation in the House. But over the weekend, Trump urged the Senate simply to dismiss the charges against him — without hearing arguments from House prosecutors or his own legal team.
On Monday, senior Republicans said immediate dismissal could not win approval in the chamber, where Republicans hold a 53-seat majority. And even some staunch Trump allies argued that the president’s legacy would benefit from a robust trial.

9 January
By claiming Democrats support terrorism, Republicans hit a new low
By Fareed Zakaria
Instead of learning from past mistakes, President Trump and his unscrupulous supporters appear intent on repeating them by labeling all critics of his confrontation with Iran as traitors and supporters of terrorism. After Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) complained that he was not given advance notice of the drone strike that killed Soleimani, pardoned felon Dinesh D’Souza wrote, “Neither were the Iranians, and for pretty much the same reason.” Trump then retweeted this vile suggestion that Democrats were equivalent to anti-American terrorists. This week, Trump claimed that “elements” of the Democratic Party are “openly supporting Iran” — another noxious falsehood.
The Republican position seems to be that it’s fine to attack and undermine a Democratic president in his conduct of foreign policy (as 47 Republican senators did in 2015 when they sent a letter telling Iran’s leaders not to make a deal with Obama), but it’s treason to question anything a Republican president does.
George Conway group releases first anti-Trump ad aimed at evangelicals
(The Hill) An anti-President Trump conservative group that includes George Conway, who is the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and a frequent critic of President Trump, has released its first advertisement aimed at evangelicals who back the president.
The Lincoln Project’s first advertisement takes aim at “The MAGA Church” by splicing clips of the president and his supporters speaking about faith with clips of Trump cursing and speaking crudely.

6 – 7 January
Frank Rich: What Will Happen to The Trump Toadies? Look to Nixon’s defenders, and the Vichy collaborators, for clues
(New York) Heedless lapdogs like Kennedy, Devin Nunes, and Lindsey Graham are acting now as if there is no tomorrow, but tomorrow will come eventually, whatever happens in the near future, and Judgment Day could arrive sooner than they think. That judgment will be rendered by an ever-more demographically diverse America unlikely to be magnanimous toward cynical politicians who prioritized pandering to Trump’s dwindling all-white base over the common good.
All cults come to an end, often abruptly, and Trump’s Republican Party is nothing if not a cult. While cult leaders are generally incapable of remorse…their followers almost always pay a human and reputational price once the leader is toppled. We don’t know how and when Donald Trump will exit … Even were he to be gone tomorrow, the legacy of his most powerful and servile collaborators is already indelibly bound to his.
Both Trump and Democrats see political benefits to U.S. killing of Iranian general
Trump’s confidence in himself and Republicans has been bolstered by Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who have repeatedly assured the president that congressional Republicans support taking military action, the officials said. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who dined with the president Thursday night, has done the same, they added.

4 January
TENNESSEE GOP REP. PHIL ROE announced he would not seek re-election. He’s the 26th House Republican to pack it in this cycle. Republican officials will tell you that this is not concerning, because Roe’s seat will go to another Republican. But when more than two dozen Republicans retire, that’s very notable.

Trump Thinks Attacking Iran Will Get Him Reelected. He’s Wrong.
It is in part due to public war weariness that Republicans have sworn repeatedly, for years, that they would not go to war with Iran. The possibility of such a military escalation was precisely the central dispute between the parties when the Obama administration struck its nuclear deal. “Without a deal, we risk even more war in the Middle East,” argued President Obama. Republicans furiously insisted this was “absurd.” War has “never been the alternative,” said Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell in 2015, “It’s not this deal versus war … It’s either this deal or a better deal, or more sanctions.” The conservative Heritage Foundation argued that blocking Obama’s deal “makes the likelihood of war or a conventional and regional nuclear arms race less likely.”

20 December
Jeff Flake: The president is on trial. So are my Senate Republican colleagues.
(WaPo) President Trump is on trial. But in a very real sense, so are you. And so is the political party to which we belong.
We are conservatives. The political impulses that compelled us all to enter public life were defined by sturdy pillars anchored deep in the American story. Chief among these is a realistic view of power and of human nature, and a corresponding and healthy mistrust of concentrated and impervious executive power. Mindful of the base human instincts that we all possess, the founders of our constitutional system designed its very architecture to curb excesses of power.
Those curbs are especially important when the power is wielded by a president who denies reality itself and calls his behavior not what it is, but “perfect.”

17 December
We Are Republicans, and We Want Trump Defeated
The president and his enablers have replaced conservatism with an empty faith led by a bogus prophet.
By George T. Conway III, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver and Rick Wilson
The authors have worked for and supported Republican campaigns.
Trump Is Forever
The four reasons why Republicans won’t turn on Trump, no matter what.
By Jonathan V.Last
(The Bulwark) The level of loyalty Donald Trump commands from elected Republicans seems qualitatively different from that offered to previous Republican presidents.
For instance: Republicans told President Nixon to resign his office. Ronald Reagan ran a vigorous primary challenge to President Ford. President George H.W. Bush was seriously challenged in the 1992 primary. President George W. Bush faced Republican revolts over a Supreme Court nomination, Medicare expansion, and attempted immigration reform.
President Trump’s policy ideas often diverge dramatically from Republican orthodoxy—on trade, executive authority, entitlements, foreign policy—and his almost daily drumbeat of scandals and misadventures have been a millstone around the party’s neck. He won the presidency despite losing the popular vote by a wide margin; lost the House in 2018; has been historically unpopular; and has been trailing his most likely Democratic 2020 rival by double digits for the better part of a year. He is now facing the prospect of impeachment.
If the normal laws of politics applied to Trump, this would be about the time that Republicans decided to cut and run.
But that isn’t happening. … Trump owns the GOP in a way that is unprecedented in the modern era.

17 September
Mitch McConnell: The Man Who Sold America
After 40 years of scorched-earth politics and bowing to special interests, will Mitch McConnell finally pay the price?
(RollingStone) Fittingly enough, it was hot as blazes in Kentucky when Mitch McConnell slunk back home for Congress’ annual summer recess. One week earlier, Robert Mueller had testified that Russia was meddling in the 2020 U.S. elections. McConnell, the Senate majority leader, responded by shooting down Democrats’ efforts to bring two election-security bills to a vote — bills that McConnell, in his familiar fashion, had previously sentenced to quiet deaths after they passed the House. In the hailstorm of opprobrium that followed, McConnell had been tagged by “Morning Joe” Scarborough with the indelible nickname “Moscow Mitch.” The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank called him a “Russian asset.” Twitter couldn’t decide whether he was #putinsbitch or #trumpsbitch. The Kentucky Democratic Party was selling red “Just Say Nyet to Moscow Mitch” T-shirts, emblazoned with an image of the senator’s jowly visage in a Cossack hat, as fast as they could print them up.
… Even before “Moscow Mitch” became a thing, Kentucky Democrats were smelling blood. McConnell has been unpopular in his home state for years, but his approval rating plunged in one poll to a rock-bottom 18 percent — with a re-election campaign looming in 2020. In January, he had raised red flags among Republicans and -Democrats alike when he took a key role in lifting sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a Putin ally under FBI investigation for his involvement in 2016 election-meddling; three months later, Deripaska’s aluminum company, Rusal, announced a $200 million investment in Kentucky. A billboard funded by a -liberal group was subsequently erected on a busy stretch of I-75: “Russian mob money . . . really, Mitch?”
More recently, reports emerged that McConnell’s wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, had set up a pipeline in her department to funnel grants to Kentucky to lift her husband’s political prospects. And as Trump’s trade war with China escalated, uncomfortable old stories began to recirculate about how McConnell “evolved” after he met his future wife in the early Nineties, going from being a fierce China hawk to a potent ally on Capitol Hill. Chao’s father, James — a Chinese American shipping magnate and close friend of former People’s Republic dictator Jiang Zemin — gave McConnell and his wife a huge gift in 2008 that boosted the senator’s net worth from less than $8 million to nearly $20 million. While “Beijing Mitch” doesn’t have quite the same ring as his new moniker, McConnell’s change of heart on Russia was hardly without precedent. (McConnell declined to comment for this story.)

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