Chat live with The Fix: If Trump isn't on the 2020 GOP ticket, then who might be?

Oct 18, 2019

Hello and welcome back! There's already a ton of great questions in. Let's get started.


He's already done Dancing with the Stars, so .... Survivor?

Survivor would be good, given he's lasted longer than most of Trump's initial Cabinet.

That said, it's looking like he might have stayed a few months too long, as he's now gotten wrapped up in the Ukraine stuff pretty heavily.

He testified for 10 hours yesterday, but little has emerged about his talk. Granted he was overshadowed by the epic Mulvaney Meltdown, but it seemed like he might have some interesting things to offer to the committee?

We're seeing less and less out of these depositions right away, but that doesn't mean there isn't important info.

The public release of the Volker texts hasn't been replicated. It's been up to members to say things (often irritating their colleagues) and reporters to figure things out. Our team just confirmed that George Kent raised concerns about Hunter Biden's Burisma work, for example, but it took a while after Kent was done testifying.

in a week like this? I'd go away for 15 minutes and 2 more breaking stories had emerged. How do you find time to write a story before the next 3 are lined up for you? Do you get 'combat pay' for weeks like this?

Thankfully we have lots of people here. But for someone like me who writes about a lot of different topics, you can get whiplash.

What are the chances that there will be any Republican blow-back on selecting the Doral for the G-7 summit?

I think they've given up criticizing stuff like this. They'll do the Turkey/Syria stuff but not focus on these kinds of things.

Lot of talk here in GA and FL that Warren and Gillum are talking about him being VP--are you in DC hearing that too?

I tend to think almost all VP talk this far out is worthless. I doubt Warren's team is spending a whole lot of time on it anyway. You have lots of time after winning the nomination to figure that out.

he still seems in the thick of it---how deeply involved does he seem in Ukraine mess?

I thought this story was a really good recap off how involved he is. 

He seems to be taking the Rick Perry/Gordon Sondland line on this, which is that they knew Giuliani was involved and that corruption was key, but that they never really knew the full details.

That's difficult to swallow, though, given Giuliani's efforts had been reported on extensively.

between Trump and Graham? Or will these two work it out?

Frankly, I'm not sure how Graham isn't completely done with it. Trump doesn't seem to take his advice on foreign policy at all, and he's left to plead his case publicly rather than give it to Trump privately.

That said, Graham has a primary next year. He's not going to completely ditch Trump.

1. Impeachment. 2. Senate acquittal. 3. Trump claims exoneration, the whole thing is largely forgotten a month later. 4. Trump defeats Warren after calling her a lying corrupt socialist for a few months. Any reason to think this is wrong?

I think 1-3 are spot on. I'm not as convinced about 4. I think Trump's battle is still uphill, even against Warren.

on how long Mulvaney decides to "spend more time with his family?" I already lost a bet to my husband--I thought it would be last night. How can he survive this?

Trump often sees stuff like this and thinks it's fine. But his legal team reportedly disagrees, and DOJ too. I still think it's amazing that Mulvaney is "acting" chief of staff. That suggests to me his leash might be a bit shorter.

Also remember: He's not at all a Trump loyalist. He was very critical of Trump in 2016.

Give us a few predictions of what will happen between now and Jan 1. We won't hold you to them, promise. (yes we will)

1) The impeachment inquiry drags out and may or may not be over.

2) Warren asserts a real lead in the Dem primary, and the battle starts to be about who gets the tickets out of Iowa.

3) The Washington Nationals are World Series champions.

What would it take for enough Republicans in the Senate to vote to remove Trump? Would it ever happen? Seems like there's enough smarmy stuff going on that he should be gone, and damn my 401k!

As I've said, it will need to be a situation where either the base has largely turned on him or, failing that, the GOP legitimately worries about lasting damage.

Odds that Trump turns over Fethullah Gülen to Turkey?

This seems like the kind of thing that those around Trump will actually stop him from doing, if it's at all in their power. And generally, when they go to the mat, they can stop it.

Were General Mattis' jibes during the Al Smith dinner not a laughing matter (as some Trump critics claim), or is mockery the most effective way to diminish President Trump?

I tend to side with those who think joking isn't really the way you get past the "the military shouldn't criticize the president" thing. It's the worst of both worlds, because it undermines your potentially very serious criticisms.

That can't be legal, can it? Can't competing hotels and resorts file a protest over the award under the various procurement regulations?

I don't think there is any legally mandated bidding process for this kind of stuff. The recourse is probably all about emoluments/impeachment.

Could the press perhaps start using "DJT" instead of Trump in headlines? It saves space and there is certainly precedent (LBJ, JFK). It seems like using his name is promoting his brand, and he can certainly do that by himself. Also, is history going to refer to him as "Old Blindside" or "Old Stonewall"?

Honest question: Did they call Kennedy JFK much when he was alive and president? Did they call Johnson LBJ? That feels more like something that caught on later.

Are you all determined to do to Biden what you did to Hillary? You remember - exaggerate all her faults while minimizing the details of Trump's faults?

So you're contention is that .... we've totally been giving Trump a pass for the last 3 years?

I know people are on "but her emails" watch on this Biden story. But the fact is, you can 1) Point out how baseless the Trump allegations are about this are, while also 2) Reporting on real developments in a problematic business relationship between Hunter Biden and a Ukrainian energy company. And if it wasn't problematic, why did Hunter Biden say he wouldn't do overseas work if his dad is president?

I'm sorry, but this is a story. It should be played accordingly, but George Kent raising concerns about it in 2015 is a real story.

A losing candidate who is under FBI investigation - why would anyone not named Gillum believe that he's a serious contender for VP?

I do think the investigation would hang over his head when it comes to anything like this -- though I'm not sure its current status. Also remember he wasn't really the party's favorite in the FL governor primary.

Dead Lawyer Walking or about to see the underside of a Greyhound Bus?

They're already paving the way (so to speak) for him to be thrown under the bus. Pretty much all their defenses are that they didn't know what he was up to.

My question: Will Trump eventually claim that?

Aaron, how long will it take to move from 'quid pro quo' to 'quod erat demonstrandum'? Will the number of GOP Senators who are willing to consider removal increase as more wrongdoing by the trump team is exposed?

You know I don't speak Spanish. Unless this gets really, really bad, I think you're talking about maybe Romney, maybe Murkowski and maybe Collins.

Hypothetical scenario. Trump says he's not running in 2020 because why not. Who are the front runners to challenge Biden/Warren?

Good one!






-Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey

And I wouldn't be surprised if Romney looked at it, honestly.

Can Trump fire them for that?

I believe he can fire anybody for any reason -- especially disobeying such a directive. But I think he'd run into an appearance problem.

I tend to agree about the frivolous but had to laugh at the "earned my spurs" line. Nice poke at Cadet Bonespurs.

That line had to cut pretty deep for Trump. It was a joke, but not really.

I guess you are too young to recall when newspaper headlines, as well as copy, had strict space limitations. So LBJ saved 4 letters over Johnson, and JFK was commonly used to save 4 letters over Kennedy. Go look in the archives.

Of course. I just wondered if they would avoid it because it would be viewed as disrespectful. Every president needs a shorthand. I think the tabloids use "Don" when they need to.

Why didn't the GOP raise any issues or investigations then? They ran the House & Senate.

It's a fair question.

Did you make a mistake when you hired Mayor Rudy?

I think we'd get an interesting answer. He has a habit of keeping the people who work for him on their ties by not giving them votes of confidence.

Have you been paying attention the last 3 years? We're about 2 news cycles away from Trump claiming he hardly knows Rudy Giuliani.

It would be an even tougher argument than "Michael Cohen was just a guy I met a few times." But I'm not saying he won't do it, at all.

Seems like he can work wherever he wants. Where do you think he ends up? Is NBC gonna back up the Brinks truck?

It sounded to me like he might have a non-compete for a little while. He suggested he wasn't going to jump right back into it.

No question here, but I’m old enough to remember that both of these Presidents were called by their initials when they were in the White House.

I am duly chastened.

what happened to last week's chat? maybe we should all "at" you on twitter when you leave us hanging

Sorry! I was traveling back from the Trump rally in God's country -- Minneapolis, Minnesota. Would have done it if I could!

Your response to the Hunter Biden question suggested to me that maybe the best candidate to beat Trump is a relative unknown (e.g., Mayor Pete or Senator Harris). Biden especially, but also Warren and Sanders, perhaps carry too many battle scars.

Biden's paper trail may be the longest of anybody to ever be a presidential frontrunner, because he was elected to the Senate at 29 and was also a VP. There's a lot there.

If I were Buttigieg, that would be my argument. I'm not sure Harris doesn't have her own baggage from her time as a prosecutor, though it may not be such a liability in the general election.

How many Democrats (plus Sanders and Stoyer) will be up on the Debate Stage in November?

I think it will be 8 for sure -- Yang just needs one poll -- and 9 at most. The one maybe appears to be Klobuchar, who has only 1 of 4 qualifying polls.

Not sure how a single comedic speech at a dinner where the invitees are supposed to mock themselves and others is going to damage his reputation. I'd not like he's doing a stand up tour of bars and the late night shows.

To be clear, I don't think it damages his reputation. I just think it might impact the gravity of any future criticisms. 

Not Kasich? And wouldn't Haley immediately rise to the top since she's a) sane and b) still has Trump's--and thus his voters'--support?

I don't think anybody who has been a massive Trump critic is going to have a good shot. Romney has picked his spots. Sasse has too, even more so.

Duh, because Biden wasn't running for President. Plus I would hope that the Republican leaders back then showed a little compassion with his son Beau near death (or already passed) at the time.

He was still VP! But I do think it's the kind of thing that happens a lot and doesn't really get focused on unless there's a campaign or there's some kind of clear corruption. I suspect this would have come up regardless of the Giuliani stuff.

That's Latin, not Spanish

It was a joke from the movie "Anchorman." Sorry if I wasn't clear!

It seems Trump is taking to heart the notion that the cover-up is worse than the crime. Now that Mulvaney acknowledged that there was quid pro quo with Ukraine, he can't be accused of trying to cover it up. Is this so crazy it might work, or is it just plain crazy?

I mean, if this WAS deliberate -- which I'm not sure it was -- you could argue that Mulvaney was getting out ahead of something that would come out eventually anyway. Whenever Giuliani spilled the beans like this, it was something that we were probably going to learn eventually (like the hush money payments being authorized by Trump).

There is something to be said for getting your defense out there early.

He's a really impressive guy but assuming a majority could get past his being a gay man - a big assumption - his age and relative inexperience are a big question mark. College town mayor to US President seems a big jump.

Honestly I think the age thing is a much bigger hurdle. He projects very down-home Midwestern, which I think would help mitigate any concerns in more culturally conservative areas about him being gay.

. . . was pretty wonderful. Can it be that there's another side to Washington?

This used to be the norm -- when members of Congress spent more time here and actually socialized. Nobody really took it personally. It does seem that Cummings though, in particular, had very good relationships with very conservative Republicans -- Mark Meadows being another one of them.

I'm not even mad. I'm impressed.

It's true.

Doesn't all of this show that Washington is indeed a swamp?

It does. And many things like the Hunter Biden thing thrive in a gray area. There may not be something provably wrong about it, but you know he never gets that job and makes that kind of money if his dad isn't vice president.

Thanks everyone for another great chat. We'll be back next Friday at noon for more of your questions!


In This Chat
Aaron Blake
Aaron Blake is a senior political reporter, writing for The Fix. A Minnesota native and graduate of the University of Minnesota, Aaron has also written about politics for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and The Hill newspaper. Aaron lives with his family and trusty dog, Mauer, in Northern Virginia.
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