October 8, 2019

A 58 percent majority of Americans say House Democrats were right to begin an impeachment inquiry of President Trump, and a 49 percent plurality say the House should vote to remove him from office, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll released Tuesday morning. Support for impeachment has jumped significantly across the board since the White House released a transcript of Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in late September.

There is a clear partisan split in the results, but 28 percent of Republicans said they support the House impeachment investigation — a 21-point jump from a Washington Post/ABC News poll in July — and 18 percent of Republicans want the House to "vote to remove Trump from office." Meanwhile, 86 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents support the impeachment investigation; 78 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of independents want the House to vote to evict Trump from the White House. There's also a generation gap — 40 percent of Republicans age 18-39 back the impeachment investigation versus 23 percent of those 40-64 and 13 percent of Republicans 65 and older.

The Post and George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government conducted the poll by phone Oct. 1-6 among 1,007 U.S. adults, and the margin or sampling error for the entire survey is ±3.5 percentage points. The results were nearly identical for U.S. adults and registered voters. On FiveThirtyEight's aggregate of impeachment polling, which did not include this new poll, 46.5 percent support the impeachment inquiry and 44.7 percent do not. Peter Weber

4:21 a.m.

Senators are expecting the House to impeach President Trump, and Senate Republicans are skeptical they have the 51 votes to dismiss the probable articles of impeachment without a trial. But some GOP senators are privately discussing a way to turn their lemons into lemonade by pushing for "a lengthy impeachment trial beginning in January to scramble the Democratic presidential race — potentially keeping six contenders in Washington until the eve of the Iowa caucuses or longer," The Washington Post reports.

Senate Republicans discussed the impeachment process at their weekly closed-door lunch meeting Wednesday, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) "had little guidance for his ranks, outside of saying the trial will go on as long as the Senate wants it to run," the Post reports.

Using the trial to mess with the Democratic presidential race "might be a strategy," teased Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), "but I'll leave that up to others. I'm just a lowly worker." Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) added that "Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden might like that," since it would negatively affect fellow top-tier candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), but the Senate will try to distinguish itself "by doing this right," likely with a trial lasting five to six weeks. The Democratic candidates had expected some quality campaign time before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses and Feb. 11 New Hampshire primary.

Sanders acknowledged Sunday that a trial that cuts into the primaries and caucuses "will make our life a little bit more difficult." Warren said Wednesday that adjudicating the impeachment articles is one of a senator's "constitutional responsibilities" and "if the House goes forward and sends impeachment over to the Senate, then I will be there for the trial."

Republicans are split on strategy. Some Trump allies want the impeachment trial dispatched quickly while Republicans facing tough re-election battles next year want to be seen taking the impeachment process seriously. Read more at The Washington Post.

2:41 a.m.

On Wednesday, over the course of seven hours, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) posted 23 tweets, all pertaining to the public impeachment hearings going on over at the House Intelligence Committee. In reverse chronological order, the first words of each tweet were: "Evidence," "President," "Schiff," "The," "Every," "It's," "No," "Democrats," "It," "Donald," "Neither," "The," "Kent," "In," "Let," "Lying," "Hillary," "It's," "Maxine," "Schiff," "Even," "Let's," and "Finally." Taking the first letter of each of those words, you get: "Epstein didn't kill himself."

Why would Gosar, a dentist by trade who is perhaps most famous for six of his siblings opposing his last re-election bid, take the time and effort to spell that out, acrostic-like, about Jeffrey Epstein's death while in federal prison? He didn't say. But he did seem pleased with his effort — and his joke.

"Area 51"? Get it? Apropos of nothing, the current salary for members of Congress is $174,000 a year. Peter Weber

1:58 a.m.

"It's finally arrived: The first day of live impeachment hearings," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "Today's testimony was as dramatic as it was historic. It was the biggest ratings hit for C-SPAN 3 since Drunk History, starring Brett Kavanaugh." The "bombshell today" was U.S. Ambassador William Taylor's new testimony that an embassy "staffer overheard [President] Trump asking about a foreign nation investigating his political opponent," Colbert said. "That's like if they had a picture of [Richard] Nixon breaking into the Watergate."

"This is just unbelievable — Trump's people were discussing their Ukrainian plot in public, in a restaurant?" Trevor Noah marveled at The Daily Show. "Also, why is Trump talking so loudly on the phone that people can hear him on the other side?" Taylor and the other witness, State Department official George Kent, "are devoted, nonpartisan civil servants, so if you hear these guys saying that Trump did some messed-up s--t, you know to take it seriously," he added. "And from the sound of it, Trump did some messed-up s--t."

The Democrats spent the hearing "showing the American people that Trump abused his office by trying to extort Ukraine," Noah said, while Republicans "seemed like they were trying to solve a completely different case," mostly involving Hunter Biden. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) also tried to discredit the hearings and the witnesses for relying on secondhand information — "maybe it's because the White House has blocked all the people who do have firsthand knowledge from testifying," Noah suggested. "But it all backfired when he tried to turn the focus to the whistleblower."

Jordan getting owned over the whistleblower was "probably the best moment in the hearing today," Seth Meyers said at Late Night, but House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) made the "crucial point" that "Republicans haven't actually contested any of the facts. In fact, they've basically admitted to all of it." What choice do they have? he added. "If we had this much evidence during the O.J. trial, even Johnny Cochran would have been like, 'You know what? The glove does fit, my client's full of s--t.'"

"Today was not a good start for Republicans," Samantha Bee said at Full Frontal. "The Republican attempts to change the subject didn't get very far, thanks to two persuasive witnesses," and Taylor's "huge bomb" appeared to "confirm that Trump knew about the attempt to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens — which is the first time we've gotten hard confirmation of that since Trump himself. This is what these hearings about going to be like all the way through: Every bombshell will just be confirming things we already know."

Jimmy Fallon, dressed as Trump, also recapped the hearings at The Tonight Show, and he even managed to edit Taylor's testimony into something positive. Watch below. Peter Weber

Peter Weber

1:39 a.m.

After two days of fighting, the Islamic Jihad militant group announced early Thursday that it has reached a ceasefire deal with Israel.

The deal was brokered by Egypt and went into effect at 5:30 a.m., Islamic Jihad spokesman Musab al-Berim said. The fighting began Tuesday after an Israeli airstrike targeted the Gaza home of Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata, killing him and his wife. Israel accused Abu al-Bata of being behind several rocket attacks. In the wake of his death, Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, and in turn, Israel conducted more airstrikes in Gaza.

At least 34 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting, including a 7-year-old boy. Catherine Garcia

1:00 a.m.

This Thanksgiving, 26.8 million people are projected to go through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints, up 4 percent from last year, the TSA said Wednesday.

The agency is expecting this record number of travelers to fly from Nov. 22 through Dec. 2, with 2.7 million taking off on the day before Thanksgiving. In a statement, TSA acting Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell said 2019 saw "our busiest summer ever," and new technology will be introduced this holiday season, including scanners that can take better images of what's inside a person's bag.

Cogswell also said TSA agents will soon have new devices that allow them to quickly identify passengers, without having to place their photo IDs under lamps or lights, ABC News reports. Catherine Garcia

12:19 a.m.

Travelers making their way through San Francisco International Airport are going hog wild for LiLou.

LiLou is the world's first airport therapy pig. She makes her way around Terminal 4 about once a month, playing with kids and bringing smiles to stressed out passengers. Her owner, Tatyana Danilova, told Good Morning America that she announces on Instagram when LiLou is going to be at the airport, and one woman even switched her flight so she could meet her.

"It's kind of like the lottery," she said. "People get so excited if they're going to be traveling that day." LiLou, who also visits schools and hospitals, may be a pig, but the airport has made her a member of the Wag Brigade, which brings trained therapy dogs to the different terminals. Catherine Garcia

November 13, 2019

When acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor revealed on Wednesday that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland called President Trump from Kyiv while sitting in a restaurant, it left many former security officials dumbfounded.

Taylor testified before the House Intelligence Committee that in July, a member of his staff at the U.S. Embassy, David Holmes, "could hear President Trump on the phone," asking Sondland about "the investigations." He was referring to the request Trump made during a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, asking him to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who once served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. Sondland responded that "the Ukrainians were ready to move forward" with the probes, Taylor said.

This was a major violation of security protocol, Larry Pfeiffer, a former senior director of the White House Situation Room, told The Washington Post. "The security ramifications are insane — using an open cellphone to communicate with the president of the United States," he said. "In a country that is so wired with Russian intelligence, you can almost take it to the bank that the Russians were listening in on the call."

Russia has intercepted phone conversations conducted in Ukraine between U.S. diplomats and leaked the recordings. A former U.S. intelligence official told the Post that Sondland calling Trump from a restaurant is "indicative of a lack of concern for operational security," as senior officials are "routinely briefed on the threats to their communications. You could assume that talking on an unencrypted line from a foreign country would be on that list." Catherine Garcia

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