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January 17, 2019

"This wasn't the argument that I set out to make," that Congress must impeach President Trump, Yoni Appelbaum says at The Atlantic. But after researching the previous three impeachments in U.S. history, it became clear pundits and Democratic leaders "have overlearned the lessons of Bill Clinton's impeachment, which backfired on his accusers" in 1998, "and entirely forgotten the real significance of Andrew Johnson's" in 1868.

By Appelbaum's estimation, Trump's multi-pronged "attack on the very foundations of America's constitutional democracy" already more than qualifies him for impeachment and removal from office, but even if the Senate disagrees and fails to convict, the process is its own remedy "in five distinct forms," he explains in The Atlantic's March cover story, posted online late Wednesday:

In these five ways — shifting the public's attention to the president's debilities, tipping the balance of power away from him, skimming off the froth of conspiratorial thinking, moving the fight to a rule-bound forum, and dealing lasting damage to his political prospects — the impeachment process has succeeded in the past. In fact, it's the very efficacy of these past efforts that should give Congress pause; it's a process that should be triggered only when a president's betrayal of his basic duties requires it. But Trump's conduct clearly meets that threshold. The only question is whether Congress will act. [Yoni Appelbaum, The Atlantic]

"It is absurd to suggest that the Constitution would delineate a mechanism too potent to ever actually be employed," Appelbaum writes. "With a newly seated Democratic majority, the House of Representatives can no longer dodge its constitutional duty. It must immediately open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump, and bring the debate out of the court of public opinion and into Congress, where it belongs." Read the entire history lesson and argument for impeachment, including where Bill Clinton's accusers went wrong and Hillary Clinton's earlier cameo in impeachment law, at The Atlantic.

10:37 p.m.

Let chaos reign.

With 10 candidates trying to answer detailed questions in a limited amount of time, Wednesday's Democratic debate in Miami was bound to have a few hiccups. Things got even more complicated when NBC had to cut to break unexpectedly just as the event's second hour was about to get rolling because of microphone and audio issues.

While the technical difficulties might seem like a metaphor for the overcrowded Democratic race, its not without precedent. In 1976, President Gerald Ford and his Democratic challenger Jimmy Carer had to stop their general election debate when the sound cut out. That pause lasted a lot longer than this one, too.

President Trump, at least, was stirred from his boredom by the mishap. Tim O'Donnell

10:07 p.m.

Hablas español? Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker do, and they put it to full use on Wednesday night, with O'Rourke even receiving a question from Telemundo anchor and debate moderator José Diaz-Balart in Spanish.

At least a few of Thursday night's crop of Democrats were watching and taking note — and, presumably, hastily downloading Duolingo.

One Thursday candidate likely wasn't sweating it, though: South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who speaks Spanish in addition to Norwegian, French, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, and Dari. Jeva Lange

9:53 p.m.

President Trump is not entertained.

As 2020 Democrats debated on Wednesday night, Trump, who had previously promised to live-tweet the debates, stayed uncharacteristically silent. That's apparently because, as he tweeted 35 minutes into the debates, it was "BORING!"

Trump's one-word tweet came as Democrats onstage discussed the stunning photo of a migrant father and daughter who died while crossing the Rio Grande. Beto O'Rourke, who broke into Spanish during the discussion, tweeted earlier that Trump is "responsible" for their deaths. The photo came as a visceral reminder of the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:53 p.m.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) made her stance on health care policy very clear during Wednesday's Democratic primary debate.

When the 10 candidates on stage in Miami were asked whether they would abolish private, for-profit health insurance for a government-run plan, only two raised their hands: Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

After Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) gave a brief defense for an incremental approach and retaining a public option, Warren expressed her support for a government-run plan. The senator, who has been surging in recent weeks, said health care is a human right and declared that she stands with her old friend Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in support of Medicare-for-All. Sanders' supporters in the past have questioned Warren's commitment to the idea. Tim O'Donnell

9:30 p.m.

Julián Castro has a simple pledge for closing the gender pay gap.

Castro, who served as Housing and Urban Development Secretary under former President Barack Obama, was asked at Wednesday's Democratic debate how he would address the gender pay gap. He immediately brought up how his single mother raised him and his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), and then pledged to "pass the Equal Rights Amendment, finally."

The Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution was proposed nearly a century ago. It passed the U.S. Senate in 1972 and has slowly made inroads in state legislatures, but has stalled ever since. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:29 p.m.

It took former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke exactly nine seconds to start speaking in Spanish at the Democratic debate on Wednesday night. After being asked if he would support a marginal tax rate of 70 percent on the highest earners making more than $10 million a year, O'Rourke answered instead: "This economy has got to work for everyone, and right now we know that it isn't, and it's going to take all of us coming together to make sure that it does."

He then switched to speaking Spanish, which bilingual viewers noted was a dodge as the former congressman didn't actually answer the question in either language:

Still, O'Rourke managed to impress some people with his bold decision:

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker — who also speaks Spanish — looked particularly impressed and surprised:

Several of the 2020 Democrats are multilingual. In addition to O'Rourke and Booker, Julián Castro and Pete Buttigieg have also given interviews in full or in part in Spanish, Politico reports. Jeva Lange

9:10 p.m.

So far, it seems, the Democratic primary candidates who are slated to take the debate stage on Thursday in Miami are perfectly content to allow their Wednesday counterparts their moment in the spotlight.

Former Vice President Joe Biden reportedly won't even be in Miami until Thursday, though he has been keeping busy — he's reportedly still in Wilmington cooped up in a hotel for "debate camp." The front-runner, NBC News reports, is in the midst of "marathon" practice sessions and will watch Wednesday's event from Delaware.

Despite the intensity of Biden's preparation, though, he and his team have downplayed Thursday's debate. "It's a little bit of an exaggeration calling it a debate," Biden told reporters earlier this month. "I mean there's not much time."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is already in Miami, where he's been greeted by some cheering crowds, but he's seemingly keeping his thoughts to himself.

Other notable candidates who have to wait until Thursday, like South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), are also reportedly in Miami already, but they too have kept a low profile on Wednesday. Tim O'Donnell

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