The impeachment of President Trump is out in public and on TV now. What does the schedule look like? How long will this take? And will testimony always take place while Ken and Josh are recording this podcast?
John Bolton has joined his former colleague John Kupperman in asking a court for clearance before they testify to Congress. Bolton has also been sending some signals that he has some interesting things to say, but he’s not going to just show up, and Congress doesn’t seem that interested. Is it just because he’s trying to get publicity for a book? And what about Mick Mulvaney? Mulvaney tried to intervene and was told he couldn’t join the lawsuit, Mulvaney said he would file his own lawsuit, and now he’s just going to ignore the subpoena.
Closing arguments in Roger Stone’s trial are expected today. How’s that trial been going for Stone? Has it turned out to be the circus he dreamed of? Ken says it’s been pretty straightforward and traditional, actually.
Plus: What is Lev Parnas doing? And Rudy Giuliani might start a podcast.
This week, a few polls in key battleground states made a lot of liberals nervous. The polls show signs of a close 2020 election, a departure from the picture we often see in national polling. Part of the message is that President Trump’s electoral college advantage is widening, and with critical wins in swing states, it’s possible he could be re-elected with an even smaller margin than in 2016. What’s the key message for Democrats here? What do the numbers say about the field of candidates?
Democrats did have a good night in Tuesday’s elections. Republicans held onto the governorship in Mississippi by about six points, but in Kentucky, Democrat Andy Beshear defeated the Republican incumbent with enduring support from Appalachian eastern Kentucky and new support in the Louisville and Cincinnati suburbs. The suburbs also delivered a win for Democrats in Virginia: the party now controls both chambers of the state legislature in addition to the governorship. And Michael Bloomberg is reportedly considering a run for president. Does he fill a void in the field? And what do the numbers say? Ariel Edwards-Levy joins the panel to talk through all of the numbers.
Then, Rich Lowry discusses the arguments in his new book, The Case For Nationalism, why nationalism shouldn’t be a dirty word, and the cultural ties that bind Americans.
EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland has provided an update to his testimony. He now says his recollection has been refreshed, and he remembers now that he communicated to Ukrainian officials that release of military aid was conditioned on President Zelensky announcing an investigation into Burisma, the company whose board Hunter Biden sat on. Is it possible that Sondland’s recollection on the quid pro quo is a good legal strategy? And will the rest of his testimony stand as others (including Sondland) testify in public? Speaking of: are all the witnesses now on the same about this quid pro quo and whether it was to squeeze Ukraine? Is any of this illegal? Impeachable? Wouldn’t it be smarter for Democrats to call this extortion or bribery, or something more in line with criminal statutes?
Republicans are saying President Trump has a right to confront the whistleblower as his accuser and that the whistleblower should be cross-examined. Ken says that’s absolute nonsense, and not based in reality at all.
Plus: The fight for President Trump’s tax returns gets closer to the Supreme Court. Is it likely the court will grant cert? Lev Parnas has lawyered up with a non-Trump lawyer and he says he’ll be complying with Congressional subpoenas. Does that mean he’s “flipped”? It looks like Michael Flynn is more formally angling for a presidential pardon. E. Jean Carroll is suing President Trump for defamation.
In a near party line vote, the impeachment inquiry is now a formal inquiry. Once divided, all but two Democrats voted for the resolution. How did the party coalesce so quickly?
On Sunday morning, President Trump announced a special forces mission, in conjunction with local partners, that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. But this isn’t the end of ISIS. Michael Singh, Washington Institute Managing Director and former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council, says that while the news is certainly a blow to the group and its efforts, it is just temporary. “This probably throws ISIS into a bit of disarray. But, still, you have 11,000, maybe more, ISIS members at large, in addition to those in prisons, who are probably still committed to conducting acts of terrorism. And at the end of the day, the underlying conditions that helped give rise to ISIS are arguably worse now than they were then.” So what is next for ISIS? How much did oil factor into this mission? And what can we gather from the way President Trump thanked partners in the aftermath?
Then, Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax plan is in the news again — this time because it’s part of her plan to fund single-payer healthcare. Gabriel Zucman, one of the economists who advised Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax plan, joins the show to talk about the plan and the optimal tax rate billionaires should pay. What’s the viability of that wealth tax plan? Similar plans have faltered in other countries. What’s different about the US? Should we all dream of becoming billionaires? Does a higher tax rate throw water on that dream?
For weeks, Republicans have been claiming that the impeachment inquiry isn’t a real impeachment inquiry because the House of Representatives never held a formal vote at the outset. But now, House Democrats are saying they will have that vote this week. Many Republicans still aren’t satisfied. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the investigation was started improperly and therefore cannot be fixed: “it’d be the fruit from the poisonous tree.” Did he get that legal doctrine right?
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, a former White House official who served as the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, testified earlier this week. Vindman, who heard the July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, testified that crucial words and phrases were left off the transcript of the call and he tried and failed to correct the transcript accordingly.
Then, the investigation into the Russian investigation is now a criminal inquiry. Is that big news or is that a political move to change the news cycle?