It’s Wednesday, November 27. In today’s newsletter: We look ahead to unresolved questions reverberating in Washington and beyond.
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(Cliff Owen / AP)
What Comes Next
The waning days of 2019 will bring a NATO summit, more impeachment hearings, yet another Democratic primary debate, more entanglements with foreign leaders, and an important government spending deadline.
And if the past is any indication, the president won’t spend the winter quietly (though he’s getting more and more isolated).
Here’s what to watch for in December.
1. House Democrats will get one more shot to make their impeachment case.
Two months into the impeachment inquiry, Democrats are passing the impeachment torch to the House Judiciary Committee, which will convene a hearing after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Even after two weeks of public hearings, Americans are deeply divided on impeachment, and not a single Republican in either the House or the Senate publicly supports it. So Democrats are viewing this hearing as one of the last opportunities they have to convince congressional Republicans that impeachment is warranted.
2. What will happen to some of the people who’ve managed to stay close to the president?
Rudy Giuliani’s still secure where he is, probably. Despite his central role in the impeachment probe, and despite the establishment GOP’s exasperation at his seeming omnipresence, the president’s personal lawyer has yet to receive a Trumpian cold shoulder:
[Republicans] also agree on something else: Giuliani isn’t going anywhere. According to another senior House GOP aide, “We’re so far beyond that at this point.”
Giuliani himself also seems to agree. He told me in a text message that Trump “knows that every one of the stories are false and defamatory and intended to remove me as a defense lawyer for him.”
Is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his way out? Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s late November impeachment-probe testimony pulled Pompeo fully into the Ukraine scandal:
Sondland claimed of Pompeo and many other top officials in his opening statement: “They knew what we were doing, and why.”
That question—why—continues to drive the impeachment hearings, and will continue to haunt Pompeo.
Here’s our national-security writer Kathy Gilsinan’s read on tensions at a boil in the state department.
3. The 2020 Democratic race hasn’t thinned out …
… even as the field has somehow expanded lightly (Michael Bloomberg, Deval Patrick).
Only a few candidates have qualified for the sixth Democratic debates so far: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar.
Here are just two candidates with solid political credentials still struggling to make the cut:
Julian Castro didn’t make the cut for the November debate, and is dangling below the criteria for December’s debate. Will missing a second debate be a nail in the coffin of his campaign? The Obama administration alum has struggled to garner significant attention beyond his notable performance in the first Democratic debate in June.
Meanwhile, Cory Booker may have hit the 200,000 unique donor requirement set by the DNC, but as our campaign reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere noted, Booker 2020 just isn’t catching fire.
Who, if anyone, will drop out before the Iowa caucus? Refresh your memory on the full field with this guide.
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(CORBIS / GETTY / EVAN EL-AMIN / SHUTTERSTOCK / THE ATLANTIC)
Ibram X. Kendi, a contributing writer, on politics at the dinner table:
We should not be skipping family gatherings to dine with like-minded people, or in like-minded solitude. Nor should we be planning to avoid talk about politics. Nor should we gather with loved ones and bite our tongues as they regurgitate narratives of Biden’s electability, or regurgitate Trump’s talking points. Nor should we unleash our tongues on our loved ones as if they are Trump.
Jill and Joe Biden, shortly after they first met, with his two sons, Beau and Hunter. (Steven Goldblatt / Random House)
John Hendrickson, our senior editor for Politics, on understanding Joe Biden—and his stutter:
Most of the time, Biden speaks smoothly, and perhaps he sincerely does not believe that he still stutters at all. Or maybe Biden is simply telling me the story he’s told himself for several decades, the one he’s memorized, the one he can comfortably express. I don’t want to hear Biden say “I still stutter” to prove some grand point; I want to hear him say it because doing so as a presidential candidate would mean that stuttering truly doesn’t matter—for him, for me, or for our 10-year-old selves.
Andrew Small, a writer for our sibling site CityLab, on the policy failures behind the annual holiday gridlock:
More than 55 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles away from home for the Thanksgiving holiday, AAA predicts. This figure has been steadily rising; it is, once again, the highest since 2005. About 1.5 million people will be taking trains, buses, and various forms of public transportation to their destinations. Another 4.45 million Americans will fly to friends and family. The rest are driving.
(LYUBOV TIMOFEYEVA / SHUTTERSTOCK / KATIE MARTIN / THE ATLANTIC)
Peter Nicholas, one of our White House reporters, on that infamous Steele dossier (and, ahem, tape):
“You were going to ask about the pee tape?” Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of the research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the infamous Steele dossier, asks me. “We’re going to screen it for you right now.” He motions to a TV on the wall of his conference room. I turn to look, taken in by Simpson’s deadpan expression and convinced for a half second that he and his partner, Peter Fritsch, somehow possess the alleged clandestine video of Russian prostitutes urinating on a bed at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow for the delectation of future President Donald Trump.
Today’s edition of our daily newsletter of political ideas and arguments was written by Saahil Desai and Christian Paz, and edited by Shan Wang. We’re taking a break for the rest of the week. See you Monday, December 2.
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