Politics Live with The Fix: Impeachment is over. What happens next?

Feb 06, 2020

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Hello and happy Thursday. Welcome to The Fix live politics chat. It’s the day after President Trump’s impeachment has ended, with an acquittal vote on both counts in the Senate. But unlike the House, there was a bipartisan vote to convict him after Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) joined Democrats on the abuse of power charge . And a partisan vote to acquit him.

Here’s what we’re watching today. What are you curious about?

President Trump will deliver an address to the nation at 12 eastern, which is right as this chat starts. The Fix’s senior reporter Aaron Blake will duck out to cover that, so look for coverage on The Fix soon.

Amber Phillips has takeaways from the whole impeachment process: 1. Impeachment is a partisan — not judicial process. And 2. Trump survived impeachment because of party loyalty. 3. We’re not sure what this means for the 2020 election. 4. But it’s possible the investigations in the House into Ukraine continue. Agree? Disagree?

Eugene Scott just got back from Iowa, and is also watching Trump’s overtures to black voters, most recently in the State of the Union.

Video reporter JM Rieger has been tracking the two-dozen-plus defenses that Trump’s allies in Congress have used on impeachment, and he has an encyclopedic knowledge of Congress and its lawmakers. You know those vote counts you see on our site for big votes? That’s JM. 

See you all at noon.

Can the House impeach Trump again?

Yes. There aren't rules against that. Will the House? I don’t see it happening. It’s too high of a political cost to be seen as relentlessly going after the president, especially as the election ticks closer. Democrats are already pivoting to talking about things like health care, rather than investigating Trump.

This feels like the beginning of the end for his run. I'm surprised Klobuchar was as viable as she was in Iowa with the 15% threshold and that seems to have eaten into Biden's support. New Hampshire was always Bernie/Warren territory and the failure to get even a "meets expectations" seems to be allowing Buttigieg to get the momentum as Biden fades. Where did Biden go wrong?

So I've been talking to various Democratic strategists ahead of New Hampshire. No one says Joe Biden is done because of a disappointing performance in Iowa -- though one person in the more liberal wing of the party thought it would be troublesome if Iowa's results all came out at once and we saw him behind a couple candidates.

 Going into New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are the hometown favorites. So to some degree, Biden can dodge a poor performance by low expectations. But he's really gotta do well later this month, in South Carolina, where he supposedly has more support from voters of color, who heavily make up that electorate. Same, to a lesser degree, with Nevada (which is a caucus like Iowa, which tends to benefit Sanders and his grassroots reporters.)

Is this the most partisan impeachment and trial vote ever, including judges?

Including judges, I'm not so sure.

On presidents, yes, it's the most partisan impeachment or impeachment inquiry (to fold into Richard Nixon). BUT Mitt Romney is the first senator to vote to convict a president of his own party. 

The result is that opposition to Trump's impeachment in the House was bipartisan, but support for kicking him out of office via the Senate was the only bipartisan vote.

Do you think that the House will subpoena Bolton to testify?

My Post colleague Rachael Bade reports House Democrats are undecided about whether to continue to pursue investigations into Trump and Ukraine—like subpoenaing former national security adviser John Bolton—precisely because they aren’t sure what political benefit there
is to do it. (House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold E. Nadler (D-N.Y.) wants to.) I could think of a whole lot of political detractions. 

Is the Senate saying it is ok for a sitting US President to ask a foreign government for political assistance?

Over the last four months, more than two dozen congressional Republicans have refused to say whether it was appropriate for President Trump to ask Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens.

However, some Republicans have criticized President Trump, saying his actions were inappropriate and wrong but not impeachable. This would suggest, at least among those Republicans, that they are not saying it is OK for President Trump to solicit foreign government investigations of his political rival.

There is also the question of whether Trump will be more cautious next time, as some Republicans have suggested. As my colleague Aaron Blake wrote this week, the evidence suggests otherwise.

What happens to the witnesses that testified against the president that prompted the investigation of the president?

Many of them are still working in the administration, including Alexander Vindman. A few of them have departed, including Yovanovitch and Bill Taylor. Kurt Volker, of course, left right away, and Tim Morrison departed around the time of his testimony.

With president trump acquitted, do you think this suppresses potential whistleblowers in the future or could they become uncertain of what is considered a crime when it comes to the president?

There is no question that the effort to publicly identify the whistleblower and perhaps make them testify will make future would-be whistleblowers think about what they are signing up for. It's why we have whistleblower protection laws.

Other than continuing to pursue impeachment, of course, what is the Democrat agenda for Congress in 2020? What goals do they have? What ideas to continue and strengthen the upward trend of the American economy and improving environment for American workers of all demographics ? ( I'm assuming this will be a rather short discussion topic?)

All of these questions can be found on each Democratic presidential candidate's website! :)

But the EASIEST way to get these answers might be to click on this WaPo link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/policy-2020/?utm_term=.b3d8c48bc0a4

Why are Republicans so obsessed with the judicial appointments? What is it they want from it? They have 5 Justices on the Supreme Court and abortion hasn't been banned so what do they want?

As Congress has descended into gridlock, activists have turned to the courts as one of the most fruitful ways to create policy and even political changes in this country. It may not give them everything they want immediately -- and the courts are still not hugely tilted toward conservatives -- but the long-term effects mean they have a much better chance. 

Far-sighted savior of the Republican Party, or self-doomed politician?

Few GOP senators had as much latitude to take this vote like Romney did.

1. Utah isn't as totally in love with Trump as other similarly red states are.

2. He's not up for reelection until 2024.

3. He's an institution in that state, and I'm not sure even if people remember this vote in four years, it will have much of an impact.

Can a sitting President be Impeached more than once. Fact is, there is ample evidence remaining out there that charges should be brought against Trump; including from the Mueller Investigation.

There is nothing in the Constitution that says you can't impeach twice.

That said, I think Democrats will be reluctant to do it again -- both because it might look like they are just trying to hurt him and because this hasn't really helped them politically.

Why didn't the Congressional Democrats didn't use stronger tactics to enforce their subpoenas (i.e. withholding funds, arrests, etc.)? Trump is obviously a criminal. I blame the Democrats for his acquittal due to their lack of hardball tactics.

So arrest is technically an option but it's not feasible. (One reason: Congress doesn't have a jail.)

Democrats argued that they could have spent months and months and months taking these people to court, but then would an un-impeached Trump feel emboldened to continue interfering in the election? (Trump doesn't seem chastened even with impeachment, though.) I think the unspoken reasoning by Democrats for not trying more to get these witnesses is they wanted Trump impeached in time for voters to fully understand what he did.

Why are the media trumpeting this vote as an acquittal? An acquittal requires unanimity. This was a split verdict, known as a mistrial.

The language for an impeachment trial is, confusingly, the same words but different meaning from a criminal trial.

It takes 67 votes -- 2/3rds -- to convict Trump. Anything less than that is an acquittal. There's no such thing as a hung jury in an impeachment trial 

Is it possible to elect a democratic socialist as president?

It's much more possible than it would have been about 10 years ago.

I do wonder, though, if Sanders is looking like the likeliest nominee -- perhaps after a New Hampshire win -- if the party might force a real reckoning about whether he'd be a liability in the general election. We saw Biden going down that path after Iowa.

Now that Impeachment process is over, is there any possibility that the Senate could vote to censure?

Censure was an option floated by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) earlier this week.

On Tuesday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she would have considered a censure resolution against President Trump had the House started with that, but opposes censure now because the House went straight to impeachment.

And yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said impeachment is in the "rearview mirror."

There are also Republicans (including Trump) who maintain that Trump did nothing wrong.

Given this, it seems unlikely at this point that the Senate would move to censure Trump.

There is also the historical context to consider. The Congressional Research Service has more on that here.

If Trump's phone call was so perfect and there was no intent to do anything illegal, why were they using back channels to run their "Ukraine corruption" scheme rather than just using the diplomats to do their bidding?

It's a very good question -- and one I'm not sure we saw Trump's defense team really address. There was a time when they suggested it wasn't really a "back channel," but I'm not sure what else to call something that works through the president's personal lawyer and the European Union ambassador rather than directly through the ambassador and the State Department.

What happens when it is (likely to be) discovered that Trump has done something else, perhaps even closer to being an “impeachable offense”? Did the House jump too soon? Will any of Trumps support erode if it is discovered that he committed some transgression that very clearly crosses the line for impeachment?

I think your broader question is: Are Republican senators going to look foolish in a few weeks or months if  Trump invites foreign interference again? A few points on this:

1. This Ukraine saga happened pretty behind the scenes, so I’m not sure we would know about it. (Though as it was going on, Trump did publicly ask China to investigate Hunter Biden, something some Republican senators criticized him for.)
2. Trump has been remarkably adept at keeping his party in line to defend him no matter what.
3. I think the focus in such a situation as Trump asking for more election interference from foreign governments would be on vulnerable Senate Republicans running for re-election in Colorado and Maine and Arizona. It’s not like Democrats we’re going to vote for them anyway in any big numbers, so I’m not sure they’d have a reason to defect from Trump if something else comes up—other than morality.

Since the word 'socialism' and all of its variants will be the Republican rallying cry against any of the Democratic nominees, at what point does the latter party begin to differentiate themselves from that designation? Or do they?

Some candidates, specifically Pete Buttigieg, have spoken about refusing to take the bait of allowing the Democratic Party to be defined by its critics. The effectiveness of the attacks on people who are not conservative is not yet clear. But for the most part, it appears that candidates on the left are spending most of their time trying to define themselves for voters -- not responding to the right's depiction of them.  

What will happen to the so-called "Whistleblower," and all others who still work in government whose testimony led to the House impeachment. What guarantees are there that there will be no retaliation?

There has been some talk in Congress of strengthening whistleblower protections, but right now it's a political issue tied to Trump's impeachment, so I don't see that happening.

Also, does Trump continue to threaten to oust the whistleblower? I don't know if that remains a tactic of theirs, but it's a possibility. 

Dear Fix Team, Thanks for doing this chat! We obviously have no idea at this point--and may not know even after Super Tuesday with the Bloomberg wildcard--who will be the ultimate Democratic nominee for President. But isn't it a pretty safe bet to say that the eventual Democratic ticket will include a woman, a person of color, and someone under 70 years old? Whether the eventual nominee is a progressive or a moderate seems to matter far less in my view than having a ticket of two people who can excite the electorate.

I would bet heavily that there would be a woman on the ticket. And I'd put similar odds on having a person of color.

As for having someone under 70, I have basically no doubt. The only way that wouldn't be the case is if the running mate was Warren.

Going forward is every President going to be able to do what Trump did? Is this going to bolster his votes for the next election?

Not likely. Not every president will want to behave in the way Trump has. And there's a good chance that not every president will have the favor of serving with a Senate controlled by their own party  -- which is largely why Trump was not acquitted. 

Not that I expect Speaker Pelosi to go this route, but could the House Democrats take a page from Senator McConnell and pass additional articles of impeachment just to prevent the Senate from doing anything. If there is another Supreme Court vacancy in September, which Senator McConnell would want to fill before the election, could the Senate confirm the nominee if the House keeps sending articles of impeachment, or would the Senate be forced to try the impeachment first? And spiraling out from this (unlikely) scenario, would that also preclude passing budget appropriations, shutting down the government? I'm trying not to think through the endgame scenarios of this nihilistic escalation, but it gets awfully scary, awfully quickly.

This is some kind of idea. But it's up to the Senate to decide when to hold the trial. It would also be nakedly political.

I am not a politician or a lawyer. So I need some help in understanding what has just happened regarding the impeachment of Trump. If I were accused of committing a crime against another person, I would expect that, if witnesses were available to provide some additional facts to the case, they would be called. I would be a fool to expect the right to say "no, I do not want certain people to provide any details about the case despite what the prosecution seems fair and appropriate." So how is it that Trump got away with that strategy and why didn't Chief Justice Roberts intervene? I am in full support of the need for laws in any society. However, I have lost respect for the practice of law. I also don't understand how the GOP senators were given money for their help in defending Trump by his legal defense team. Again, I am not a lawyer, just a physician so forgive my ignorance in these matters.

These are good questions! 
A few points to share on this, which I've learned from my  time reporting on this impeachment:
1. Impeachment is first and foremost a political process, meaning it was never going to be like the court system, which is supposed to be blind to the person on the receiving end of the trial.
2. Chief Justice John Roberts had a vague role that did not include calling witnesses; he wasn't a judge, but rather a presider over the Senate's own rules. Indeed, when Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer asked him to rule on this, Roberts came prepared with a statement and said he wouldn't intervene in another branch's issues. 

Is it possible to impeach Trump a second time if he commits new crimes?

It seems like Warren and Sanders both want to run against the evil of capitalism. It seems like Biden doesn't really want to run. Pete is very young. Bloomberg could almost buy the election but might not win anyway. Where should I be looking for hope that the Democrats can win the Oval Office?

Some people who remain hopeful about the left's chances to defeat Trump point to frequent polls showing that he is doing worse than every leading candidate on the left. 

Many commentators have worried about the precedent set for future presidents (and this one in the months ahead) by Trump’s bribery. But if impeachment is a political and not a legal matter, does the legal concept of precedent even apply? Is Congress now bound to ignore it anytime a president solicits election help from a foreign government?

I think precedent absolutely applies in politics. You saw Senate Republicans use how the Clinton impeachment trial was run to argue against voting on witnesses at the outset.

As for what new precedents may have been set, time will help suss this out, but I think the fact Trump’s impeachment charges didn’t match up with the criminal code could be on, given how many Republicans latched onto that defense.

Also, Democrats fear that a president’s decision to just ignore Congress and its subpoena requests into the executive branch is a new precedent, established by Trumps’ acquittal on the obstruction of Congress charge. We saw a lot of Republican senators latch onto as a defense for Trump, as well.
And Roberts set a precedent for future trials by saying he wouldn’t rule on witnesses. 

Thanks to all for taking questions during this historic week. I'm merely an amateur armchair analyst, but even I could put together a pretty decent attack ad for Sen. Collins' opponent featuring her comments about Trump learning his lesson alongside his rants about "hoax" and "complete exoneration"...and intersperse some of Romney's floor speech just for good measure. In your view, how do you think impeachment will be used in the campaigns against Gardner, Collins, and others who are vulnerable? And in the interest of fairness, what about Jones in Alabama? My guess is he's definitely going to be in for it in the weeks and months ahead too.

Yeah, impeachment is over, but to the extent there is political fallout from it, I think could manifest more in some of the Senate races you mentioned rather than the presidential race, where everyone's views seem pretty much baked in.

I think Collins and Gardner and a few others (McSally in Arizona) may have calculated that they need Trump's base to win reelection, and these times are so partisan that they questioned whether they were really going to win any crossover votes back home by voting to convict him. That may especially be true for Collins, who took a high-profile vote to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

As for Doug Jones, well, he represents one of the most pro-Trump states in the nation, and he's a Democrat. His reelection was always going to be extremely tough no matter what he did. 

Can presidential candidates draw a salary from their presidential campaign funds? I was thinking about Pete Buttigieg who is currently unemployed, other than running for president. If he makes it to the finish line, that's a year and a half or so with no income. Does he have to rely on some level of personal wealth for everyday expenses?

According to rules from the Federal Election Commission (PDF), candidates that meet certain criteria are allowed to receive a salary from their campaign committees. 

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2007/12/do-presidential-candidates-receive-a-salary.html

Is Trump still donating his paycheck? I haven't heard anything about that in a good long while.

Trump donated his 3rd-quarter salary to help fight opioid crisis. It is not yet known where the 4th-quarter salary will go. https://apnews.com/0ad1e8be56e040b4ab0e85c3d13c3358

I have two parts: 1) saw that Iowa phone number was hacked by trolls and they jammed the phone lines 2)Barr says no one can investigate a presidential candidate without his permission Does not seem to bode well for the coming election - your opinion. 

I think on No. 1 it refers to the fact that Iowa Democratic Party's phone lines literally crashed as people who weren't reporting results called the number when it got leaked. That's a problem for sure.

On No. 2, the decision there was to try to avoid having the FBI make mistakes that could shape the election -- I guess how that affects the upcoming election depends on your faith in Attorney General Barr and the Justice Department to rule faithfully on it. And of course whether there are any election-year investigations into candidates. I imagine the bar would have to be pretty pretty high for that to happen.

I am baffled by the Post's, NPR's, and other outlets' coverage of the State of the Union. The straight reporting said that Trump didn't shake Nancy's hand, but maybe he didn't see it!, that a bunch of Democrats boycotted, that he promoted economic growth, and that Nancy tore up the speech out of nowhere. Several paragraphs in, the Post article noted that the speech included several "inaccuracies." Sorry, the speech included a shocking number of lies. I know that there is concern about using the word lie when you're not sure of intent, but I think it's pretty safe to say that he was lying here when he said he's protecting entitlements and pre-existing conditions. Those are demonstrably false, and they didn't just get into that speech because of oversight. He also included two pointed jabs at California. I'm frankly amazed that Nancy was reserved enough to *only* tear up the speech and wait until it was over. The analysis on this has largely been balanced, but if I didn't watch and just read or listened to the news the next morning, I'd have the impression that he gave a normal (if theatric) SOTU while the Dems were petulant children. This is really inexcusable, but more importantly irresponsible on the part of the Post, NPR, and other media. This is how his lies become normalized.

You know what is one of the most-read stories at The Washington Post since the speech? The Fact Checker team's fact checks of his State of the Union address.

Will Rand Paul suffer any consequences for having broken the law that protects whistleblowers?

Did he break any laws? I believe he was careful to not use "whistleblower is" and then name a person that conservative media outlets have pegged as the whistelblower in his question, which never got read on the Senate floor but which he did say out loud to reporters after.

Why does the Democratic Party allow Bernie Sanders, who is a proud Independent Socialist, to run against Democratic candidates in the Primary? I am a registered Democrat and strongly believe Sanders should have to run as a Third Party Candidate, like Ross Perot. He is achieving in some ways the same thing Trump did to the Republican party. He is sowing divisiveness within the Democratic candidates and the voters.

There are Democrats - including at least one lawmaker - who agrees with you. But I think the fact that Sanders signed the Democratic Party's loyalty pledge is what has allowed so many other Democrats to support him.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/21/politics/gregory-meeks-bernie-sanders-run-as-democrat-independent-cnntv/index.html


Any thought on why Trump’s approval rating actually climbed during the last weeks of the impeachment hearings?

The continued improving economy seems to be a big player. It's not clear how much impeachment played a role. The nation is still split on whether to acquit or convict him. 

How far can McConnell go to deny senator Romney positions on committees, deny entry at GOP caucus, and other Senate roles?

They could do most of those things. He could be asked to leave and then not invited to caucus with Republicans or put on committees. The state Republican Party in Utah could stop working with him too. But I don’t think there’s appetite for that, despite a push by Donald Trump Jr. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) literally laughed at that notion when asked by reporters.

Pelosi used to known as the adult in the room. Does her tearing up the SOTU speech and saying this morning that Trump looked sedated make her look like she's in the mud now too?

Did the Iowa situation help Buttigieg (making it look like the difference between votes for him and votes for Bernie was bigger than it is) and Biden (by allowing him to get out of Iowa without delivering the bad news that night)

Iowa is so muddled that I think you can spin the results anyway you want, really, to argue people won or lost. One strategist I talked to even said Joe Biden was the biggest winner of the night, because the results didn't come out all at once and lead to a headline about how he faltered. 

I would love to know what our "no drama" President thought about the performance of the Republicans in Congress during the impeachment process. When is his memoir to be published--and will he address the behavior of his successor?

I think he's staying as quiet as he can right now.

Whatever the demographic of the state are, the idea of Iowa not mattering (especially pre-Obama) isn't novel or new? John Kerry lost the Iowa caucuses, Michael Dukakis got third, and Bill Clinton got fourth and than second in New Hampshire. There are various factors obvious, but one is that Iowans like Midwesterners and they like people who devote a lot of time to their state, but people writing obits for Joe Biden's campaign seem a bit head of themselves?

Absolutely. There are demographics that are highly influential in picking the Democratic nominee who are not well represented in Iowa. Some of those demos are backing Biden, so dismissing him now seems a bit premature.

 

WaPo has 4 chats going on at the Same time, including its only 2 Political Chats. What the Hax is going on?

I think there's two concurrent live chats going on, opinion and this one on politics. It was a scheduling issue specific to this week. We are glad that you want to participate in all our chats! It's one of the most fun (funnest? I'm tired...) parts of our job.

What are the probabilities that Dems are going to win the Senate majority in 2020.

I don't have probabilities for you, but I will say that it's possible. Democrats need to win the presidency to win the Senate, and they need to win in tough states for them like Alabama or Georgia or Texas to take back the Senate.

Here's an overview of the 2020 map I did awhile back -- the races are still the same, but I need to update it for rankings.

Why wasn’t impeachment based on any domestic abuse of power/corruption that American trials would be more likely to care about? Why focus only on Ukraine?

I think Democrats argued that the Ukraine accusations were domestic in nature, in that he was trying to influence the presidential election by getting a foreign country involved. 

But I see your point, that to make that case, they had to delve sometimes deep into Ukraine politics.

Have any of the former US Presidents been interviewed about this impeachment debacle? I'm specifically thinking about our walking human conscious representative Mr. Jimmy Carter, or even George Bush?

Or Obama or especially Bill Clinton? No, not yet that I've seen. 

What is the status of of Trump tax returns? Also the suits in NY for release of information? How will this be pursued providing some incriminating evidence shows up? Also, what will be the potential impact of Barr limiting investigation into candidates ?

There are/have been six different lawsuits to obtain some of President Trump's tax returns or financial records:

1) House Ways and Means Committee

The Ways and Means Committee has requested six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns, relying on a 1924 law. The District Court judge overseeing the case has stayed the lawsuit until the D.C. Circuit Court rules on the House Judiciary Committee's lawsuit to compel the testimony of former White House counsel Don McGahn.

2) Manhattan district attorney

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has sought eight years of Trump's personal and business tax returns. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the case in March and is expected to rule on the case in June, along with lawsuits from three House committees seeking Trump's financial records.

3) House Oversight Committee

The committee subpoenaed Trump financial records last year. The Supreme Court will rule on this case along with the Vance case later this year.

4) House Financial Services and Intelligence committees

These two committees have sought more personal and business financial records from Trump. This is the third case that the Supreme Court will rule on when it hears arguments in March.

5) Trump's New York state tax returns

In July, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill allowing some federal congressional committees to access Trump's state tax returns for any "specified and legitimate legislative purpose." Two weeks later, Trump sued the House Ways and Means Committee and New York state, seeking to block his returns from the committee.

In November, a judge ruled that Trump should have a chance to block his state returns from the Ways and Means Committee. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) has not decided whether to request Trump's New York state tax returns.

6) California's tax return law

Last year, California passed a law that would have barred Trump from appearing on California's primary ballot if he did not disclose his tax returns. But in November, California's Supreme Court struck down that law.

To be clear, I desperately hope that he loses, but tend to think that he's likely to repeat his 2016 EC victory while losing the PV by an even larger margin. That said, what would Trump's 2nd term agenda be? Right now, Dems are likely to hold the House, and narrow the GOP's Senate margin by at least a seat or two. And the 2022 Senate map is...bad for Republicans. So, is the plan just to approve as many judges as they can, while they can? Lots of hypotheticals, I know, but I'm genuinely curious.

I don't know what his message for a second term agenda is/will be to voters. But judging by his State of the Union address, it would likely include the economy growing, though that is a fickle thing to bind your political aspirations to. He could certainly focus on judges -- and any potential openings at the Supreme Court that might come up soon. And then he also focused on social conservative issues, like abortion and prayer in school. 

The Quinnipiac poll shows that 48% said to not remove Trump from office (with 47% saying yes). 48% of Independents say no to removal vs 44% who say yes. Do Democrats look at those numbers when deciding whether or not to continue their impeachment efforts?

Almost certainly, yes. And I should clarify: No one in the Democratic Party in Congress is talking about re-impeaching Trump, but they could open investigations related to him and Ukraine.

On that front, they are also certainly analyzing what that would mean for some of their more vulnerable members, like the 30-some Democrats who won reelection year in a district that voted for Trump in 2016. They could already have reached their viable threshhold of vulnerability after voting to impeach him on both counts.

How did this idiotic idea of caucuses instead of elections, begin?

Here's an explainer on the caucuses that gets somewhat at your question. It's certainly a much older, more quainter form of voting that -- as we saw -- may not mix well with new technology, at least not apps that have coding errors in them.

So DNC Chair Tom Perez is calling on Iowa Democrats to hold another caucus. What in the world is the upside to that? Even if it goes perfectly, if it has different results then it will be seen as favoritism, and if the same, a waste of money. In contrast, forfeiting its delegates just might make Iowans switch to a primary as they should have done decades ago. What am I missing here?

Yeah this just came out more or less as we were chatting. 

Huge potential downsides for the Democratic Party here, not least of which is: These candidates have already moved on from Iowa and are fundraising and campaigning in New Hampshire, which has a primary on Tuesday.

I think Perez and the Democratic establishment here in Washington wants to feel like the results are certain and affirmative, which is fair. 

Unlike McCain, whose ACA vote actually changed the outcome, Romney's vote, while "historic" didn't actually mean anything. Do you think he would have voted that way if his vote would have convicted Trump?

I'm not sure. But that is certainly a question I have wondered myself.

I would advise you not to write off Biden before South Carolina. He ay well have the most delegates before Super Tuesday.

Well, South Carolina happens before Super Tuesday. But so noted! I think we can't write off anyone in the top four-ish yet: Sanders, Biden, Buttigieg, Warren.

If the Democrats get control of the Senate and hold the house in November, will this ensure that Trump will be a lame duck president? How many seats do the Democrats need to take control of the Senate?

The new Senate will not be sworn in until 2021 and it is not clear who will be president then.

To retake the Senate, Democrats need to pick up a net of four seats in 2020. There are 12 Democratic-held Senate seats and 23 Republican-held Senate seats up for reelection in 2020.

But only three of those 23 Republican seats are considered "toss ups," according to the Cook Political Report, and one Democratic seat is considered a "lean Republican" seat.

In other words, regaining control of the Senate at this point is an uphill battle for Democrats in 2020.

Would it have been possible during the trial for the Senate Democrats to force a vote on the following resolution? "The President's call with Zelensky was perfect." Would it still be possible now to introduce such a resolution? What do you think would happen if such a resolution was actually voted upon? Might voting on such a resolution force Senate Republicans to give a public showing of their private misgivings? Thanks!

That's the more formal way to get at the fact that Senate Leader McConnell and others are refusing to say whether it was wrong for Trump to solicit foreign interference in U.S. elections like Trump is accused of.

As for why it didn't come up, I think Senate Democrats were focused on looking like they were trying to get witnesses for this trial -- a politically popular thing, polls showed -- and may not have wanted to look like they were scoring points.

As for will it come up, McConnell controls the floor, and I have a hard time seeing how he would allow such a resolution to come up.

I've seen a couple of op-eds about this lately, but I haven't seen anyone speculate why - - or just ask the Democrats why - - they're not making a bigger deal about Trump's striking ignorance of geography, economics, and other issues central to the presidency. Everyone makes mistakes. But his consistent lack of knowledge about fundamental facts should be deeply alarming, and they should be talking about it.

Well, I can't speak for Democrats. But here at The Washington Post, Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker's book "A Very Stable Genius" that reports on these anecdotes from concerned current and former White House officials is topping the best-selling charts.

If the Dems scrap Iowa, what’s involved in that process? Would the GOP have to decide as well?

That's not yet clear but by the looks of it, people are still entertaining moving beyond Iowa as an option.

Trump has just held up the Washington Post's front page again in his speech going on right now with the headline "Trump Acquitted." May this image come back to haunt him in November like Thomas Dewey holding up the headline "Dewey Wins."

Maybe? It's so hard to predict what will matter in November, and I include something as massive as impeachment in that question mark. More scandals and drama will come, and people's political opinions already seem pretty baked in.

What can we expect regarding Pat Cipollone representing the prez yet being in the room where misdeeds occurred. Will he face legal or professional challenges? Thank you.

Last month, the New York Times reported on former National Security Adviser John Bolton's alleged manuscript. The Times reports that Bolton wrote that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was in the room when President Trump told Bolton to call Ukraine's president to set up a meeting with Trump's lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Some have suggested that this means Cipollone could be a fact witness and subject to disbarment.

We will have to wait until Bolton's book comes out or until he speaks about what he knows about Trump's Ukraine actions.

Meanwhile, The Post published a deep dive on Cipollone's backstory, which you can read here.

This question is completely speculative; but now that Trump has proved himself impeachment-proof, what kind of behavior can we expect to see from a President who wasn't exactly a model of restraint with the possibility of impeachment hanging over his head?

As The Fix's senior writer Aaron Blake pointed out (he had to step away to watch Trump's speech, btw), Trump has shown no willingness to be chastened by impeachment. As the House's investigation was going on, he callled for China to investigate Hinter Biden. Sen Susan Collins (R-Maine) recently had to  walk back her comments saying he’s learned his lesson, adding a little more uncertainty to that prediction. 

Amber, Do you have any thoughts re the rupture of the royal family?

Ooh a royals question! So many thoughts. I'm considering quitting the royal family, too. (So this is your notice, Queen Elizabeth.) I think they brought to my attention how much inherent bias and even racism has existed within the monarchy and British elite. And then the whole Prince Andrew thing and the Queen embracing him.... sigh. I have some thinking to do.

Okay thanks for all your fabulous questions, everyone! There are many we didn't get to, but my fingers are numb from typing as fast as I could to answer as many as possible. See ya'll same time, same place next Thursday!

In the meantime, catch us on The Fix, in The 5-Minute Fix newsletter at at washingtonpost.com on Tuesday night for live coverage of the New Hampshire primaries.

In This Chat
Amber Phillips
Amber Phillips writes about politics for The Fix. She was previously the one-woman D.C. bureau for the Las Vegas Sun and has reported from Boston and Taiwan.
Aaron Blake
Aaron Blake is senior political reporter for The Fix. A Minnesota native, he has also written about politics for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and The Hill newspaper.
Eugene Scott
Eugene Scott writes about identity politics for The Fix. He was recently a fellow at the Georgetown University Institute of Politics. And prior to joining the Post, he was a breaking news reporter at CNN Politics.
JM Rieger
JM Rieger is the video editor for The Fix, covering national politics. He joined The Washington Post in 2018. Previously, Rieger worked as a video producer covering national politics for HuffPost. He began his career as a video editor covering Congress for Roll Call.
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