Politics Live with The Fix

Jun 25, 2020

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Hi chatters! It's officially summer, and the Fix has all the hot news this week. Like: 

What's on your minds? 

What are you hearing about Michelle Lujan Grisham as a possible running mate for Joe Biden?

She's arguably the most prominent Latina that the Biden campaign is considering. Her executive experience and potential ability to win Latino voters is largely viewed as a plus. The Post's Sean Sullivan wrote more about Grisham here:


I watch a lot (too much) of MSNBC. I had it on and off on Saturday while doing chores around the house. They spent the ENTIRE DAY covering the run up to the rally. Since I had turned to something else long before then, I don't think they broadcast the rally themselves, but watched it on FOX in the studio so they could discuss it (or make fun of it, I guess). On the one hand, that's an argument about the free media like he got in 2016. On the other, it was bad media. Exactly when are the networks going to understand that they are the reason Trump won in 2016 and maybe don't do it again?

I do think running rallies without fact-checking, etc., isn't something the media should be doing consistently. But I'm also not sure I agree with the idea that it's the reason Trump won. Trump was extraordinarily unpopular for a major-party candidate. People didn't like what they saw apparently, but they viewed the alternative as just as bad. He's also in a historically bad position for reelection. Perhaps that has something to do with (appropriately) skeptical coverage of stuff like putting 6,000 people in an arena during a pandemic?

I know this is going to be very cynical but while politics has always been described as a contact sport, it seems to me that the current administration has not only busted norms but been allowed to do so very freely but its own party. It's hard for me to imagine a Democratic president being called out for doing something out of the ordinary or issuing some policy that Republicans will be able to scream about. Or maybe that's just logical wishful thinking, your thoughts?

If Biden is victorious in November, much attention will be paid to whether or not the GOP will suddenly become vocal about issues that they have remained silent about over the past four years. If history is any indicator, it's likely that we will observe some very different behavior.

I'm not sure who should get this question. It's inspired by Aaron's coverage of the DOJ mess, but my real question is how is this playing outside the Beltway? Is there evidence that undecided/independent voters care about this? Or is it mostly just more fuel for the fire for anti-Trump voters and more "ends justify means" tolerance for pro-Trump voters?

It's a good question. (And here is my latest on the Barr situation.)

Judging by the numbers of people who consume this news, there does seem to be some controversy fatigue. It's also arguably more complex than even the Russia investigation, which I think means casual people aren't tuning in. That said, there are some extremely important questions being raised here. We just had a prosecutor testify that a Trump ally got a break because of political pressure! Like the inspectors general thing, we will keep covering it, because it's important and in many ways unprecedented.

With all the rumblings now of nervous Republican senators, is there at least one senator Trump genuinely fears his or her public disapproval other than the obvious Mitt Romney?

I think can't think of one whose individual consternation would threaten Trump, because he has such political sway with the base that no senator holds a candle to. I think disapproval from a lot of them would be a scarier prospect for Trump, both in terms of how it would impact his agenda, and what it signifies politically if enough people come down on defending Trump not being worth the risk. We've seen Trump react really harshly to his critics before,  quashing their political fortunes individually (I'm thinking Flake, Corker), which probably keeps more people from speaking out in unison with the dissenters. Amber will be here shortly and I'm interested if she feels differently. 

And if so, would Barr meet the criteria?

Yes, an attorney general can be removed from office via impeachment in the same was a president can. From Article II Section 4 of the Constitution:

"The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

The process for impeachment would be the same as what Congress has followed for impeaching presidents.

Yesterday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) suggested that the House may want to consider impeaching Attorney General William P. Barr. But even if such a move succeeded in the House, it seems highly unlikely the Senate would move to convict and thus remove Barr.

What do you think of the speculation of Mike Pence getting replacing by Elise Stefanik? At least there would an official resident of the state of New York again the ticket.. www.niagara-gazette.com/news/local_news/stefanik-speculation-surfaces-in-vp-parlor-talk/article_deeffd40-b4fc-11ea-811a-a785ae279aa0.html

That's interesting. I'm not convinced that Stefanik would bring Trump the voters that some might think she would.

Although white evangelicals remain solidly behind Trump, one of the reasons some continue to support him is because they like Pence. I'm not sure the president could risk losing some evangelicals who are already questioning the moral compass of his administration.

Because there seems to be evidence, will it be possible to indict Trump associates that he has pardoned?

The answer depends upon what Trump pardons them for. in the case of Ford pardoning Nixon and Carter pardoning draft dodgers, they were being pardoned for potential crimes they hadn't been charged with, so that's possible. I would imagine he would probably issue broad pardons?

Are any of the reticent Governors who are refusing to enforce any of the preventative public health actions to stop the spread of Covid (DeSantis, Kemp, Abbott) seeing any damage in the polls as their case counts skyrocket?

The most recent polling I've seen for some of these governors is from May and it appears that most of their residents continue to support them.

So GWU, Georgetown, GMU, JMU, and W&L will all have to change their names!!! I am all for it. They can rename George Mason after the African American families who lived just across the road from the shcool off of Guinea Rd. Freed slaves etc. Change the names NOW!

It will be interesting to see how far these name changes go and what the timeline will look like. I don't imagine that most universities will change their names. But I do believe it's less likely that we'll see many new schools and parks named after figures that have long been considered controversial because of their historical mistreatment of black people.

Is there any possible way that we can move to eliminate LIFETIME appointments? It seems to me that it is counter productive to the rights of many citizens of the United States. The decisions lifetime judges make can be detrimental not only given the political climate but also to changing times. We presently have some extremist judges who will not be impartial to issues involving important civil rights issues and that is a serious problem. They should serve a specific term. NO ONE should hold a lifetime appointment!

The merits of the argument aside, this would very likely require a constitutional amendment to change, which is something that is extremely unlikely. Whichever party is in power won't want to sign off on that, because it would mean their judges are the first to be term-limited. If it were at all possible, maybe it would be at the end of a presidential term, where neither side would know for sure which of them would be appointing the next SCOTUS justice.

Since DOJ "dropped the charges" I assume it's as if he was never prosecuted. Can a new AG reinstate them in 2021? And what about the actual crime that was never prosecuted? Those charges would be a lot more to worry about.

I don't believe Double Jeopardy would apply here, because it's not like he was acquitted in the first place -- just that the charges were dropped. That said, this kind of move would be very divisive, and I think it's probably the kind of thing a new administration would proceed with reluctantly -- more notably because Flynn wasn't likely to serve much jail time anyway.

As for other potential crimes? It's possible, but I'm still not sure they'll want to go down that road.

Which of Booker and McGrath would have a better chance of beating McConnell? How likey would a win be for that person?

The national Democratic Party sure thought it was McGrath. But I'm not sure either of them has a great chance. It would have to be a pretty massive wave in a presidential year.

Do you think the Lincoln Project videos will make anyone change their mind? I find them extremely well crafted but wonder if the only folks viewing them are already anti-Trump. Where are they being aired? Are some of them designed solely to get under the skin of Trump? I love how the ads in and of themselves are generating media reporting.

They are absolutely designed to get under his skin. See the one focused on Brad Parscale (Trump hates being out of the center of attention), or the one comparing him to Reagan. The television ad buys for them are relatively small, even as they're playing in Senate races, but they are much more of a play for virality it seems.  They are effective in two ways: They have gotten under Trump's skin (see his tweets about them), and they are getting coverage in the media that is giving them more oomph. Media tend to go for the "never Trumper" perspectives, even if it's not at all a huge slice of the electorate. Unclear if they are changing minds, but they are effective in those ways. 

Is he still the favorite to win in Texas?

The gap between Republican and Democratic candidates shrank significantly two years ago, when Ted Cruz narrowly defeated Beto O'Rourke.

But Cornyn has maintained a sizable lead in the race and the nonpartisan Cook Political Report has Cornyn's seat as "Likely R" along with Republican senators Dan Sullivan, Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell.

Did you pull a Cilliza and forget to go live?

I totally did, asleep at the wheel here. My apologies! 

Why are so many people opposed to the District of Columbia entering the union as another state?

The likelihood that it would add two Democratic senators. The fact that some people like the idea of a federal city. Congress wanting to retain the control it has over the district.

That said, having it join Maryland would seem to be the most practical solution.

What do you think are the problems, if any, for Joe Biden as he is on the record saying he knew nothing about the Flynn investigation and we now we see that he was involved in the meeting where they discussed tactics on moving ahead and he mentioned the Logan Act?

This could be a problem for voters leaning towards Trump but who are uncomfortable with the president because of his history of misstatements and lies. Trump may be able to make the case that Biden is also dishonest -- and perhaps on issues that right-leaning voters care about.

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to chat today. Some Republicans are starting to ever so gingerly suggest that Trump may want to re-think his base-only strategy and try to move to the center. How likely is Trump to listen that advice? And secondly, given Trump's position at the moment, if you are a vulnerable senator in a battleground state, (McSally, Gardner, Tillis), and even worse a state with rapidly rising cases (AZ) what do you campaign on? How do they move to the center even if Trump won’t?

Trump has always been focused on his base -- and his base only. He knows what the numbers are (or at least his time does) yet his belief is that if those who support him actually show up, that's all he needs to win.

Republicans in battleground states -- especially places like AZ and NC where Trump remains popular with GOP voters -- are likely to remind voters that they support Trump while attempting to paint the left as radically liberal. That could help encourage turnout.

Have or will any of you be joining Parler?

I nominate JM to do this and send us the choice parls (is that what the kids call them?) in our team slack room. He never lets us miss a buzzy cable clip or head-smacking tweet. 

Assuming Biden wins and Harris is VP, give us some names for SecState and Attorney General

SecState: Susan Rice, Chris Coons, Cory Booker, John Kerry, maybe Mitt Romney?

AG: Coons, Klobuchar, Warren, Booker, Whitehouse, Raimondo

Never say never, but if Doug Jones doesn't win another term, what about his shot at becoming Attorney General?

Yeah, that's not a bad shout.

A major part of AOC's fame, and liberal will deny it, is Fox News which covers her every waking hour. It's negative coverage of her and then liberals spending their time defending her and round and round, but if Bowman or others don't get that negative attention, I wonder if he'll be the 'Political Rockstar' of his hype?

I did a Q&A with Bowman that should publish later today. I will concede that the conservative media has positioned AOC as a person many on the right love to hate, but part of her fame is due to her narrative -- bartender, millennial, Latina, etc.

Bowman's narrative and entry into politics are a bit more traditional -- he's a longtime educator and an older (but not old) family man.

I imagine him having an impact more similar to that of Ayanna Pressley in terms of ideas than AOC, whose being seems to regularly threaten what many conservatives believe a lawmaker should be.

As we get closer to the election and polling showing Trump behind, what chance do you think one of the older conservative justices, i.e. Thomas (age 72) or Alito (age 70), retire while the GOP controls the Senate and White House this year? Thomas is long thought to not enjoy the Court, while Alito is the most aligned with the GOP and might take their electoral fortunes into consideration, despite his relative youth. And McConnell has openly stated he has no problem filling a seat in a final year of a presidency now that it isn't Obama's.

It's getting VERY late in the game for one of them to time their retirement like that. Yes, McConnell would push it through if at all possible, but it this was the play, I think they would have retired last year.

So the obvious idea is the Justice Democrats or the Squad or whatever are the mirror image of the T.E.A. Partiers in that they are elected in very safe seats and send to D.C. for their ideological purity rather than effectiveness or 'bringing home the bacon' for their districts. Just curious if you think the comparison hold up to your experience or the two groups are more different?

So one way to answer that question is to judge their effectiveness in getting (or stopping) legislation. 

From what I've seen, the conservative Freedom Caucus was much more willing and able to stick together to stop up legislation from their own leaders. The liberal group you're talking about so far has threatened to stop legislation from their leaders they didn't like but haven't been able to. Still, I was reading that the Congressional Progressive Caucus is like 100 members strong -- and it could grow in 2020. Maybe their willingness to exert more influence could change.

Do House committees have Sergeant at Arms that would remove unruly Committee members? During the House Judiciary hearing June 24 a committee member suggested Representative Gohmert be removed for loud tapping. Has a committee member ever been removed for being unruly?

Committees do not have their own sergeant-at-arms but some Democrats yesterday asked House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) to call the House sergeant-at-arms to expel Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) for repeatedly making noise during yesterday's hearing.

I cannot recall a committee member being ejected, but in 2014, then Rep. Darrell Issa (D-Calif.) cut off the microphone of then Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.). In 2008, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shut off the lights in the House chamber and in 2003, Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee called the House sergeant-at-arms to "reestablish order" in the committee.

Roll Call walked through a few of these cases back in 2014 after the Issa-Cummings dispute.

If there is a blue wave in November, does Paul Ryan get back in the spotlight as the GOP frontman? I assume this is Rubio's strategy, but will Ryan have less Trump baggage?

Well, Paul Ryan is out of office. What about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell? He's said he plans to stay on as GOP leader even if the Senate loses its majority. So he'd probably be the most high-profile Republican in Washington in that scenario. 

I could also see Trump figures trying to dominate conversation on the right.

Since the President has said (and verified that he said it) that there is too much testing has anybody asked when the White House will stop daily testing of the President and the people around him? Why wasn't President Trump's family at the recent rally nor anywhere in recent sight??

The White House has pulled back on its testing, but it's still testing people who come in contact with Trump and Pence.

Seem a lot of people blame Hillary Rodham Clinton's poor performance on the misogyny of Donald Trump's voters, but kind of ignores how badly she did with Bernie Sanders compared to Bernie Sanders of this recent primary and also her amazing lost to a biracial Black guy from Hawaii with a strange name next-to-nobody had ever heard of before. Maybe it's her and not just that she's woman or maybe it is, but if people want to blame it on misogyny, it can't just stop at Donald Trump voters.

It is possible -- and likely -- that Clinton lost because of mistakes her campaign made and because sexism is a real thing.

The fact that so many left-leaning men who voted for Sanders in 2016 actually voted against him in 2020 and instead voted for Biden supports the argument that it wasn't Sanders politics that they embraced, but Clinton's candidacy that they rejected. And one of those reasons could be because of her gender.

Does the Senate or House ever get both political sides together while they are writing a bill instead of having one side write it and the other side try to amend it?

Yeah, as I wrote yesterday, each side writing its own bill really seemed to be the original sin on policing reform.

They certainly can get together first and write legislation, but outside of spending bills and the coronavirus recovery bills to some extent, that's happening less and less often these days. The last major controversial piece of legislation I can think of written in a bipartisan fashion is the Gang of Eight immigration reform, which failed to get passed.

Are liberals going to be happier with Brad Sherman or Gregory Meeks as the new Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee?

It obviously depends on which subgroups of the left you are talking about. It's a broad spectrum and that shapes which lawmakers they want leading the party's foreign policy agenda.

So, now Moscow Mitch and the Republicans in the Senate are blaming the Democrats for not being able to pass any bill on police reform? Well, if the Majority Leader really wants to pass a police reform bill, isn't it his duty and responsibility to amend the bill that failed yesterday and offer up a bill that can get 60 votes?

McConnell's commitment to police reform will become more obvious in the following weeks as conversations about the issue continue -- even at the presidential level. If the lawmaker remains relatively silent or continues to attack the left for not backing a Republican bill, he will likely be called out for mostly playing politics around an issue that most Americans are obviously quite concerned about.

Yesterday the United States reached its highest daily total of new cases of COVID-19, with over 36,000 positive cases recorded. Is there a point at which this reality sets in with a feckless administration that has disbanded its corona virus task force, is in the midst of shutting down testing sites in some of the hardest hit states, and blithely chooses to ignore basic guidance from public health officials on masks and distancing? Is this disregard for the health of the population going to be the tipping point that costs them the election?

I've argued from the beginning that the administration's posture on this was short-sighted. Trump seemed more concerned about near-term drops in the stock market than in the severity of the situation. The best thing for the country and the economy was always going to be stamping it out as fast as possible. Now, it's lingering (if not increasing), and that means this is much more likely to be a campaign issue people are passionate about in a few months time.

Is Tommy Tuberville still considered the overwhelming favorite to win that race?

I was all ready to say that it looks to be a tight runoff between Tuberville and former attorney general Jeff Sessions. But the little polling that's been done (and not necessarily high quality) shows Tuberville leading from outside the margin of error. And Sessions has run an ad attacking Tuberville, which suggests his campaign thinks he needs to bring the former Auburn football coach down to win. Also, it's probably not helpful to Sessions that Trump is on Twitter attacking him occasionally. 

I'm very interested to see how this runoff turns out next month.

What do you think about this 24 year old winning against the candidate Trump endorsed in NC?

Definitely interested in seeing what impact he has on bringing young voter back to the GOP or shaping the party's focus post Trump.

How much of her dropping out of the VP race had to do with her rapidly decreasing prospects of getting the gig, and how much do you think had to do with her desire to pick a person of color?

This is perhaps too cynical, but I really don't think you drop out of the running unless you're pretty sure you ain't getting it. And that goes double for Klobuchar, who obviously aspires to such high office. Being VP would set her up to be the next Dem presidential nominee.

I just read another four-Pinocchio f\rating for the President. I have always considered this column to be among the most valuable features of the Post, and remember when the Post used to list a table of various politicians and their average Pinocchio ratings. If i remember correctly, Michele Bachmann was at one time the reigning, er, champion of falsehood. My question is, What is President Trump's average, and how does it compare to Rep. Rachmann?

I just huddled, virtually, with the Fact checker himself, who says you're right that Bachmann was the previous "winner" for a four Pinocchio average, but Trump is in a league of his own. Glenn Kessler says they haven't done averages lately, but "about 70 percent of Trump's fact checks are Four Pinocchios, compared to about 35 percent for Bachmann. Most politicians get Four Pinocchios about 15 to 20 percent of the time." 

...both her parents are Puerto Rican and Puerto Rico is part of the USA.

Correct. It was a typo.

 I meant to say "member" of an immigrant family because she has mentioned having immigrants in her family.

The post has been updated.

Trump may be able to make the case that Biden is also dishonest... NOT EVEN CLOSE

That seems obvious to you -- and perhaps me.

But there are many Trump supporters who believe that Biden is dishonest given some of his past positions, ongoing questions about his son and his association with Obama, who many people in Trump's base believe to be untrustworthy.

Are there any states that are not on anyones radar that could possibly flip in the presidential race in November?

The thing is, once you get past Georgia, Arizona and Texas, the next closest state that Trump won was South Carolina, which he carried by 14 points.

On the other side, the states you'd be talking about if this turns into a rout by Trump would be Maine, New Mexico and maybe Oregon?

If Eliot Engel loses, as predicted, is the story more (or at least as much) about someone who stayed too long and lost touch and less about comments Engel made at a meeting? I think a number of long-term incumbents should start looking long and hard at letting new blood take over.

I think so, yes, that the narrative is shaping up to be about how he fit his Bronx district when he got elected 31 (!) years ago. (Though the boundaries of his district have changed over time, and the current one he's represented since 2013). It's a majority-minority district, with Census data showing the highest percentage of residents are black. And then the politics of the district have shifted left over time, to match a candidate -- middle school principal Jamaal Bowman -- who supports the Green New Deal and universal health care. 

I also wonder how much of these primary wins (or strong performances) by black men are about these candidates meeting the moment on race and racial injustice. That's what got Charles Booker in Kentucky lots of attention for that state's still-undecided Senate Democratic primary. 

Politico had an interesting article that raised the point that at least some African Americans aren't that behind picking a woman of color for VP and Cory Booker was recommended. Is he out of the running? https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/06/24/letter-to-washington-grosse-pointe-woods-325641

I have not seen any solid reporting supporting the idea that a man is on Biden's shortlist.

What ever became of Susan Rice very, very brief flirting with running for the U.S. Senate against Susan Collins? I know she didn't run, but kind of wanted to see some follow up where she explained both publicly suggesting she would, and also why she didn't.

Rice explained her decision not to run at a women's summit in New York last year saying that she didn't want to move her family to Maine or put them through the pressures of a campaign.

As you mentioned in the article, Trump has managed to nominate a record number of Republican judges. This has had me concerned to no end. Even if Biden wins and the democrats take control of Senate and maintain the House, will anything ever get accomplished or will it just get bounced around in court?

Well, if Democrats have control of Washington -- and a lot would have to go right for that to happen, but it is possible -- the courts could be less of an issue. They could pass laws.

Republican attorneys general in states could sue, but as we've seen with Obamacare, it's very hard to dismantle a law in court. The courts are hesitant to be seen as crossing that line between the judicial and legislative branch. 

I think the real danger for Democrats in having high-level federal courts filled with young, conservative judges is from cases that filter up naturally through the courts. And over the years, we've seen federal courts decide big issues on everything from LGBT rights to abortion to immigration. 

Some are pointing out that GHW Bush was behind Dukakis by 19 points in May and won the election by 8 points in November. Do you think this could be the case with Trump/Biden or is it over for Trump?

FiveThirtyEight has a good breakdown out today of polling averages four months out from the election compared with who ended up winning that election.

At this point in 1988, Dukakis led by nearly five points and wound up losing to Bush by nearly eight points.

But, Biden is one of only three presidential candidates to hit 50 percent at this point in the cycle. The other two were Richard Nixon in 1972 and Ronald Reagan in 1984. Both went on to win.

In addition, Biden's polling lead is significantly higher than the leads held by Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama at this point in the cycle in the last three presidential elections. Plus, Biden is going up against a historically unpopular president who is trying to manage three historic crises at once: The worst pandemic in at least half a century, the worst economic downturn since 2008 and the largest civil unrest since 1968.

The President of Brazil was ordered by judges in his country to wear a mask if he couldn't socially distance. Is something like that possible with Trump?

The only way this could come into play, in my estimation, is if Trump traveled somewhere where they had mandated masks. That said, it's probably something he could be punished for after the fact -- rather than ordered to do it beforeso. And I'm not sure he'll go to those places, unless he wants to provoke and make a point about such mandates.

Trump has inexplicably declined to encourage masks, as I wrote today, but that would go beyond inviting the culture war and venture into actively promoting it. He's been less explicit about the whole thing, while clearly declining to embrace masks.

How do you think what has played out on the streets and across politics in regard to race in this nation will impact the election? Will Trump's leaning into "LAW AND ORDER" be his saving grace or will it come off as part of the problem?

Right now, big majorities of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, are sympathetic to the protesters, according to polling. That's one reason Senate Republicans acted so quickly to try to put together a police reform bill. So, unless sentiment changes drastically between now and the election, we're seeing evidence that Trump's law and order stance is hurting him politically. 

Are there any Democrats left who support the right to life or are against late term abortions?

There are one or two in Congress who are anti-abortion. But one of them, Dan Lipinski of Illinois, actually lost his primary this year. 

That's a wrap for this week. Stay cool -- see you next week!

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.
Natalie Jennings
Natalie Jennings is editor of The Fix. She has been at The Washington Post since 2010 and was previously a senior producer for Post Video.
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