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The impeachment update

First up, the impeachment news in three minutes or less.

Last night, President Trump was formally impeached. Both articles of impeachment were approved by the House. The vote went along party lines, with just a few exceptions. Democrats Jeff Van Drew and Collin Peterson voted against both articles. And Tulsi Gabbard voted “present,” which is neither a yes or a no. This lines up with her previous introduction of a resolution calling for censure of President Trump rather than impeachment.

The debate leading up to the vote was exactly what you’d expect. As we’ve seen throughout the House proceedings, the two parties seemed to be operating on completely different sets of facts, and each thought their facts were right.

One surprising move was that Speaker Pelosi did not immediately appoint impeachment managers. That move would trigger sending the the articles of impeachment to the Senate. So that move has not been taken, and Pelosi suggests that she is concerned about a fair trial in the Senate.

Oddly, this move might allow the House to do some more work before any possible trial. In theory, Pelosi could simply refuse to forward the articles to the Senate EVER, I guess, though it seems likely that she will at some point do so. But while this waiting game goes on, that could provide time for court cases to be resolved, which could in turn affect the Senate trial. Reading from an article by Kyle Cheney, Sarah Ferris, and John Bresnahan in Politico:

“Rep[resentative] Earl Blumenauer [...] said he's approached every member of House leadership about the idea and received responses ranging from interest to outright support. He said Pelosi, in particular, “indicated she was interested and considering it.”
“As long as we have the articles of impeachment under our control, we have an opportunity to prevent a travesty,” Blumenauer said.
Blumenauer argued that the House could use the delay to continue to build on its evidence for impeachment, and possibly to score additional legal victories that could unlock troves of new evidence and witness testimony that the Trump administration has withheld from Congress. Some of those court cases could be decided within weeks.”

What to expect at the debate tonight

Next up, let’s talk about what to expect at tonight’s DNC debate. First off, all the technical stuff. It will begin at 5pm Pacific, which is 8pm Eastern, which is actually 0100 hours on Friday in UTC, for those of y’all who follow international time zone math. Okay, no more of that.

The debate is sponsored by PBS NewHour and Politico. It will happen at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. I’m assuming tickets are sold out, so you’ll be watching from home. I am now going to read a mega-list of ways to watch, from a summary in Politico.

“The debate will be carried live by local PBS stations and will be simulcast on CNN, CNN International and CNN en Español.
It will also be livestreamed across numerous PBS NewsHour, POLITICO and [CNN] digital and social platforms including: pbs.org/newshour, pbs.org, politico.com and CNN.com; on mobile devices via CNN’s apps for iOS and Android, via CNNgo and PBS video apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast and Android TV; SiriusXM Channels 116, 454, 795; and on PBS NewsHour and POLITICO’s Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter accounts.”

All right, so what’s the format? Reading again from Politico:

“The debate will forgo opening statements by the candidates and will instead open with moderator questions. Candidates will each be allotted 1 minute, 15 seconds for responses to moderator questions and 45 seconds for rebuttals and follow-ups. The debate will finish with minute-long closing statements for each candidate delivered in reverse polling order, from lowest to highest.
There will be three breaks during the broadcast, for a total of 11 minutes.”

And there will be seven candidates onstage. Here is the order from left to right: Yang, Buttigieg, Warren, Biden, Sanders, Klobuchar, and Steyer.

If you’re curious—like I have been—about what putting together a debate like this actually entails, Politico has a video series about that, plus a podcast series and a bunch of other web content. Check the show notes for all of that. And I’m going to play one clip from one of those videos that explains something we’ve talked about, but not for months. And that is what’s up with the DNC-sanctioned debates? Like, why aren’t candidates simply having their own debates, and what is the history here? Well, in this clip you hear a simple explanation. You’ll hear two voices here. First is Politico Chief Washington Correspondent Ryan Lizza, and then DNC Chair Tom Perez. Listen in:

[POLITICO-DEBATE-PROCESS]

Again, there is WAY MORE like that if you’re into it, check out the Politico links in the show notes for more behinds-the-scenes content.

Another Republican retires from Congress—but probably has a nice new job lined up

Here’s a quick item. Yet another Republican has announced his retirement from Congress. That’s Mark Meadows of North Carolina’s 11th district. His district is a solid Republican one, so that should not change the party balance in the next election. Having said that, tomorrow is the deadline to file to run in that race, so we may see some last-minute filings on both sides.

But the point here is that Meadows will not run again in 2020. That brings the tally of Republican Congressional retirements to 26, compared with 9 Democrats so far.

Meadows is a close ally of President Trump, and has signaled that he would be open to working for the Trump administration, or perhaps the re-election campaign. So expect to hear something about that at some point—either now, or closer to the end of his term.

An update on Castro in Vermont

Here’s another quick one. Yesterday I reported that former HUD Secretary Julián Castro had not filed to be on the ballot in Vermont. This was along with Senator Cory Booker and former Representative John Delaney.

Now, I was incorrect there. Castro actually DID file, but there is a problem with some of the signatures on his paperwork.

So the campaign plans to correct those signatures and indeed be on the ballot in Vermont. This was confirmed by the Vermont Secretary of State yesterday morning. They said that Castro has been offered extra time under a state law to fix that signature issue.

To be clear, Booker and Delaney are indeed intentionally skipping Vermont.

A tidbit about each candidate we will see at tonight’s debate

All right, last up today we are going to spend some time talking about each candidate. I’m going to keep this relatively brief for each. We will go through in podium order from left to right. So, buckle up for seven short stories.

Andrew Yang

First up, entrepreneur Andrew Yang. His most recent policy proposal is around health care. Released on Monday, it’s called “A New Way Forward for Healthcare in America.”

So what would the new plan do? Reading from an article by Alice Miranda Ollstein and Eugene Daniels for Politico:

“…Yang is calling for a set of policies to bring down pharmaceutical drug costs; use technology to help rural and low-income people access care; beef up mental health, dental, vision and reproductive health benefits; and keep lobbyists and executives out of policy-making.”

There are multiple useful ideas here. One is about drug costs, and is called international reference pricing. Long story short, drugs should cost the same amount in all developed countries. And there are other notable items in there, including encouraging doctors to work in rural areas of the US in exchange for paying off their student debt. Expect to hear Yang mention some of this stuff tonight.

Pete Buttigieg

Next up, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He wrote an op-ed for Univision on Tuesday, titled “An Era Where Every Latino is Empowered and Belongs.” In it, he tells the story of Rosalina and Juan Cervera, who immigrated from Mexico and now live in South Bend, Indiana, where they run an ice cream shop. He then pivots into a series of policy proposals. Reading from the op-ed:

“Latinos are less likely to get a bank loan and more likely to live in poverty. So we will support Latino-owned businesses and Latino entrepreneurs, including investing up to $10 billion [dollars] in federal capital to establish a fund for underrepresented entrepreneurs. We’ll implement a $15 [dollar] federal minimum wage. We will ensure equal pay and promotion for equal work, because it is unacceptable that a Latina makes just 54 cents for each dollar earned by a white man.”

Elizabeth Warren

Next up, Senator Elizabeth Warren. Her latest policy proposal is titled “My Plan to Fight Global Financial Corruption.” It begins by talking about corruption in Russia and other countries, then quickly pivots to President Trump’s associates’ use of shell companies, many of them registered in Delaware, to hide money from foreign sources.

Now, lest we forget, there is another notable candidate in this race and on this stage who represented Delaware in the Senate for decades. That is of course Joe Biden.

Warren’s plan suggests new requirements to disclose who is actually behind every corporation. Her plan would create legislation requiring companies from other countries to disclose this information when transferring money into or out of the US. And she would also tackle the same problem at home.

While I’m not sure whether Warren can use this as a political tool against Biden, the Delaware connection is a possibility, so watch for this idea of shell companies, registered in Delaware, possibly coming up tonight.

Joe Biden

Next up, former Vice President Joe Biden. I just talked quite a bit about him yesterday, so I will just read a bit from an article he recently published about anti-Semitism.

“We have to fight the pernicious and persistent evil of anti-Semitism at every level of our society — starting with our political leaders. My dear friend, the late Tom Lantos, had a saying that I’ve quoted frequently. He said, “The veneer of civilization is paper thin. We are its guardians, and we can never rest.” That means we have to stand up and speak out every time anti-Semitism rears its head, because silence can all too quickly become complicity.”

Bernie Sanders

Next up, Senator Bernie Sanders. There is a big old profile of him in BuzzFeed News that came out on Monday. It’s titled “You Don’t Know Bernie,” and is by Ruby Cramer. It is long, and Cramer clearly spent a lot of time with Sanders. Reading from that profile:

“The secret, it turns out, is that in addition to taking this work very seriously, Bernie Sanders also takes it very personally. The secret is that a mostly solitary man — a man who has spent most of his political career on the outskirts, who’s never really fit into someone’s idea of a politician, who’s “cast some lonely votes, fought some lonely fights, mounted some lonely campaigns” — is now trying to win a presidential campaign, maybe his last, by making people feel less alone.
This is his campaign, his theory of change, though he’s done very little to explain it to a wider audience. “I care less about the coverage, in one sense,” he says. “What I care about is that someone turns on the TV, and there’s someone who works at Walmart, or someone from Disney, or McDonald's. And they say, you know, ‘that’s me.’” He wants those people to do the talking: the people who worry about their electric bill. The people who wonder if they can afford to have another kid. People for whom “the idea of taking vacation” — he scoffs as he says the word — “is not even in their imagination even though they work all the time.” In his mind, he was those people.”

Amy Klobuchar

Next up, Senator Amy Klobuchar. She released a new housing plan today. In that policy, she lays out a $1 trillion dollar investment in what she calls “housing and poverty reduction.” There’s quite a bit to this plan, but let’s pick out a few notable details. Interestingly, most of the proposal is not about housing per se, but the constellation of issues around housing—poverty and food insecurity and energy costs and more.

One item in her plan is to improve automatic enrollment in existing government support programs. All too often, people don’t know if they’re eligible for Medicaid, or SNAP, or CHIP, and this plan would work with states to make sure eligible people are located and informed about what these plans can do for them.

Tom Steyer

And last up, activist and billionaire Tom Steyer, who will on the far-right edge of the row of podiums tonight. One of his key issues has been impeachment. After all, he founded the organization Need to Impeach, and has been running pro-impeachment ads for quite a while. So, to be frank, much of his political focus lately has been on the impeachment proceedings.

Yesterday, he released a statement after President Trump was impeached. Reading from that:

“I started a grassroots movement, more than two years ago, dedicated to holding Donald Trump accountable. Now, the 8.4 million Americans that signed our petition have had their voices heard. They knew this was a matter of principle, not politics. They knew America cannot have a president that uses the power of his office to advantage himself and obstruct justice.”