Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Last Call For The Reach To Impeach, Con't

Perry Bacon over at Five Thirty Eight sees a 56-44 vote in Trump's favor of acquittal as far as the Senate trial on articles of impeachment, and I think he's almost 100% dead right on the final vote.

Trump’s removal is supported by a plurality of Americans (48 percent) and more than 80 percent of Democrats. So if you’re the typical Democratic senator, who represents a blue-leaning state, the safe and obvious vote is for Trump’s removal. And that’s without even considering the strong evidence that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate the Bidens in exchange for a White House meeting and military aid.

It’s hard for me to see even Democrats who like to emphasize their bipartisanship — Chris Coons of Delaware, for example — or those up for reelection in 2020 in blue-tinged swing states — Gary Peters of Michigan, Tina Smith of Minnesota — voting against impeachment. Impeachment is popular enough among Democratic voters that any Democratic senator in a state that’s not solidly red would have serious electoral problems voting against it.

There are two Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who are not up for re-election in 2020 but who might still vote against removal.

Sinema, who was elected last November, is known to be fairly centrist and comfortable bucking her party. She was one of only three Democrats who backed the confirmation of William Barr to be attorney general, for example. Manchin is friendly with Trump and voted for Barr and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The West Virginian has taken the same position as the Trump White House on key votes about 31 percent of the time in the current Congress, making him the chamber’s most Trump-aligned Democrat. Sinema is No. 2, backing the president’s position 21 percent of the time.

In terms of partisan lean,1 Arizona leans red, and West Virginia is super conservative. But I doubt electoral considerations matter that much to either Manchin nor Sinema — they aren’t up for reelection until 2024, when Trump’s impeachment will likely be a distant memory.

So I would bet that both Manchin and Sinema vote against Trump’s removal, preserving their brands as separate from the broader Democratic Party.

Like Manchin and Sinema, Doug Jones of Alabama also voted for Barr. Unlike Manchin and Sinema, Jones is up for re-election in 2020. My read on Jones is that he’s not that personally centrist; instead, he seems to be trying to figure out how to stay in his seat in pro-Trump Alabama. Jones has taken Trump’s position on 18 percent of Senate votes in the current Congress, making him the third-most Trump-aligned Democrat, after Manchin and Sinema. But relative to Alabama’s politics, Jones ranks behind only Jon Tester of Montana in bucking his state’s pro-Trump preferences.

My starting assumption is that Jones will vote against Trump’s removal, hoping that the vote helps his re-election bid. But he could also decide that Trump’s behavior is too extreme to condone and back removal — electoral consequences be damned. Or perhaps Jones votes for Trump’s removal both because he opposes the president’s conduct but also because the Alabama Democrat sees little chance of winning reelection anyway and is basically auditioning for a spot in the next Democratic president’s cabinet. (In 2016, presidential and U.S. Senate voting were highly correlated — no U.S. Senate candidate won in a state where his or her party’s presidential nominee lost. It’s hard to imagine the Democratic presidential nominee winning in Alabama in 2020, so Jones seems like an underdog.)

So that’s at least 44 votes for removal just among Democrats, and as many as 47. The removal of Trump would need another 20-23 votes. Those would have to come from among the chamber’s 53 Republicans, which means removal is 20 to 23 votes short.

At least right now, I don’t think any Republican is likely to vote for Trump’s removal. My guess is that lots of Republicans privately disapprove of Trump’s Ukraine moves. But GOP senators face significant pressure not to publically break with Trump if they want to maintain their standing within the party and not annoy GOP voters who they need to win primaries and general elections.

I've been saying this all along, and Pelosi seems to think impeachment will be a necessary moral victory that has to happen.  Whether or not that remains the case is to be seen, I don't know how the next 11 months will play out.

But I do know that there's no way the Senate convicts Trump.

Another Day In Gunmerica

At least six people were killed in a massive shooting rampage in Jersey City on Tuesday as two gunmen attacked a kosher supermarket and then police arrived on the scene.

Six people, including a police officer and three bystanders, were killed in a furious gun battle Tuesday that filled the streets of Jersey City with the sound of heavy fire for hours, authorities said.

The dead included the two gunmen, Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly said.

The slain officer, Detective Joseph Seals, 40, was credited by his superiors with having led the department in the number of illegal guns removed from the streets in recent years, and might have been trying to stop an incident involving such weapons when he was cut down by gunfire that erupted near a cemetery, authorities said.

The shooting then continued at a kosher supermarket about a mile away, where five more bodies were found, Kelly said.

Authorities believe the Jewish market was targeted by the gunmen, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop tweeted Tuesday night. Fulop, whose public safety director said earlier in the day that terrorism wasn’t suspected, did not elaborate on why authorities now believe the market was targeted.

Messages were left Tuesday night seeking comment on Fulop’s tweet.

“It’s a really tough day for the city of Jersey City,” Fulop said. Seals “was one of the best officers for getting the most guns off the streets. He was a good cop.”

Two other officers were wounded but were later released from the hospital, authorities said.

This appears to be another anti-Semitic attack.

An assailant involved in a prolonged firefight in Jersey City, N.J., that left six people dead, including one police officer, had published anti-Semitic and anti-police posts online and investigators believe the attack was motivated by those sentiments, a law enforcement official familiar with the case said on Wednesday.

The official said the names of the two suspects were David Anderson and Francine Graham. Mr. Anderson appeared to have a connection to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, which is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy group that tracks such movements.
The extent of Mr. Anderson’s involvement in that group remains unclear, the official said. The Black Hebrew Israelites have no connection with mainstream Judaism.

Investigators also found a manifesto-style note inside the assailants’ van, the law enforcement official and another official familiar with the case said.

The document, which was described as brief and “rambling,” suggested no clear motive for the shooting. Investigators also found a live pipe bomb inside the vehicle, the law enforcement official said.
The law enforcement official could not provide more details about the suspect’s online posts or where they had been published. He said investigators were still reviewing that information.

So far, the authorities have not identified the attackers, who were killed in the firefight. None of the three victims inside the store have been publicly named by officials, but multiple people connected to the Jewish community in Jersey City have identified two of them as Mindel Ferencz, 33, the wife of the market owner, and Moshe Deutch, a 24-year-old rabbinical student who lives in Brooklyn.

The Jersey City police officer who was killed was identified on Tuesday as Detective Joe Seals, a 15-year law enforcement veteran and a father of five.

Jersey City’s mayor, Steven Fulop, said that surveillance footage indicated the two attackers had targeted a kosher supermarket where most of the carnage unfolded.

Mr. Fulop said on Wednesday that the footage revealed that after the assailants shot Detective Seals in an earlier encounter, they drove slowly and deliberately to the market, roughly a mile away.

“The perpetrators stopped in front of there and calmly opened the door with two long rifles,” he said.

Just another day in Trump's America.

Lowering The Barr, Con't

US Attorney General Bill Barr went bonkers on Tuesday, completely rejecting the findings of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and his report on the Mueller probe into Donald Trump, going so far as to say that he believed the probe not only never should have been opened, but that it was done so in "bad faith", stopping just short of calling the investigation illegal and illegitimate.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Barr essentially dismissed the findings of the Justice Department's inspector general that there was no evidence of political bias in the launching of the Russia probe, saying that his hand-picked prosecutor, John Durham, will have the last word on the matter.

"I think our nation was turned on its head for three years based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by a completely irresponsible press," Barr said. "I think there were gross abuses …and inexplicable behavior that is intolerable in the FBI."

"I think that leaves open the possibility that there was bad faith."
Barr's blistering criticism of the FBI's conduct in the Russia investigation, which went well beyond the errors outlined in the inspector general report, is bound to stoke further debate about whether the attorney general is acting in good faith, or as a political hatchet man for Trump.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz, after reviewing a million documents and interviewing 100 people, concluded that he "did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open" the investigations into Trump campaign aides.

But Barr argued that Horowitz didn't look very hard, and that the inspector general accepted the FBI's explanations at face value.

"All he said was, people gave me an explanation and I didn't find anything to contradict it … he hasn't decided the issue of improper motive," Barr said. "I think we have to wait until the full investigation is done."

Barr said he stood by his assertion that the Trump campaign was spied on, noting that the FBI used confidential informants who recorded conversations with Trump campaign officials.

"It was clearly spied upon," he said. "That's what electronic surveillance is … going through people's emails, wiring people up."

Barr portrayed the Russia investigation as a bogus endeavor that was foisted on Trump, rather than something undertaken by career civil servants who were concerned about whether a foreign power had compromised a political campaign.

"From a civil liberties standpoint, the greatest danger to our free system is that the incumbent government use the apparatus of the state … both to spy on political opponents but also to use them in a way that could affect the outcome of an election," Barr said. He added that this was the first time in history that "counterintelligence techniques" were used against a presidential campaign

Barr is not only setting the groundwork for sweeping the Mueller probe and years of evidence of Russian efforts to throw the election for Trump, he's setting up massive retribution against everyone involved in the probe, and all but promising boatloads of hyped-up criminal charges against FBI investigators, DoJ lawyers, and very likely, against Obama administration officials to boot.

It's very clear that before the election, Barr is going to be rounding up "enemies of the state" at the behest of Donald Trump.

If there still will be an election.

Here there be dragons.


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