Dems try to stay on offense

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On the roster: Dems try to stay on offense - Thornberry out as Texodus continues - Booker beats his benchmark - Don’t get sideways with this bear

Politico: “House Democrats are plotting an all-out offensive against President Donald Trump as they pursue an impeachment inquiry, announcing plans on Sunday to streamline their messaging operation and aid vulnerable lawmakers as they face potential blowback in their districts. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top deputies laid out the strategy during a private conference call Sunday afternoon. The plan reflects a deepening sentiment among Democrats that Trump’s latest scandal involving Ukraine could persuade the public to support impeachment. But it also underscores longstanding concerns that an impeachment push could jeopardize some of the toss-up seats in 2020 that helped the party win the majority last year. … Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, who leads House Democrats’ campaign arm, advised the caucus’ most vulnerable members to gauge support and test their message through polling in their respective districts…”

No recess from impeachment pressure for House Dems - NYT: “Orange County was the epicenter of the 2018 House Democratic takeover, where Republicans lost four seats in what was once the heart of Ronald Reagan conservatism in California. On Saturday night, as three of the victorious Democrats were honored at an annual political dinner, a new battle was on everyone’s minds: How to protect those gains in 2020 by selling voters on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. At the dinner, Representative Harley Rouda warned Democrats not to ‘sit on our laurels.’ Representative Mike Levin solemnly said ‘the times have found us.’ And Representative Gil Cisneros, who came out for the inquiry only last week, plugged his campaign website twice to ask for donations and noted, ‘The Republicans are coming after me now.’ A tricky balancing act is now underway for House Democrats as they return to their districts for a two-week recess that will double as a crucial time to frame a coast-to-coast debate over impeachment and the nation’s priorities.”

Pergram: Meanwhile, back at the House - Fox News: “The House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees will continue to toil behind the scenes investigating and, eventually, crafting actual articles of impeachment. More on that in a moment. … The subpoenas are part of a two-pronged strategy by Democrats. Get the information to help tailor the articles of impeachment, or convert a refusal to comply into an impeachment article itself. House Democrats say the recess period is important to educate the public about the impeachment process and to gin up support for it.”

McConnell says ‘no choice’ but for Senate to take up impeachment -  USA Today: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday the Senate would have ‘no choice’ but to hold a trial on whether to remove President Donald Trump from office if the House votes to put forward articles of impeachment. The Kentucky Republican told CNBC that the obligation to hold a trial is part of Senate rules and it would take a two-thirds vote of the chamber to change that. ‘I would have no choice but to take it up a based on a Senate rule on impeachment,’ McConnell said. … While the Constitution puts the responsibility of holding an impeachment trial in the hands of the Senate, there has been some speculation that McConnell might refuse to hold a trial.”

Biden wants a Giuliani ban - NYT: “Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential campaign contacted top television anchors and networks on Sunday to ‘demand’ that Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, be kept off the air because of what they called his misleading comments about the Biden family and Ukraine. ‘We are writing today with grave concern that you continue to book Rudy Giuliani on your air to spread false, debunked conspiracy theories on behalf of Donald Trump,’ a pair of top Biden campaign advisers, Anita Dunn and Kate Bedingfield, wrote in the letter. ‘Giving Rudy Giuliani valuable time on your air to push these lies in the first place is a disservice to your audience and a disservice to journalism,’ the advisers wrote. The note, which was obtained by The New York Times, was sent to executives and top political anchors at ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News and NBC, including star interviewers like Jake Tapper, Chuck Todd and Chris Wallace.”

Trump’s scorched earth attacks turn off some on his side - WaPo: “Sunday started with President Trump’s former homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, saying he was ‘deeply disturbed’ by the implications of his call to the Ukrainian president and ended with a GOP congressman, Adam Kinzinger, calling one of Trump’s tweets ‘beyond repugnant.’ While key Republicans have rallied to the president’s defense since House Democrats opened an impeachment inquiry last week, the bookends to the day underscore the riskiness of a scorched-earth defense strategy that is predicated on an insistence that Trump did absolutely nothing wrong. The president is running the smashmouth playbook he learned from Roy Cohn, his mentor and Joe McCarthy’s hatchet man. It’s worked repeatedly for Trump, from fighting the Justice Department’s investigation of racial discrimination at his family’s rental properties in the 1970s to overcoming Bob Mueller’s investigation the past two years.”

It's 1998 redux, but will the economy play along? - Politico: “The U.S. economy has sailed through a presidential impeachment before. In 1998, as the GOP-controlled House moved to impeach President Bill Clinton, the stock market soared and the economy grew nearly 5 percent. But economists and Wall Street analysts note that conditions are very different now as Democrats push toward a possible impeachment of President Donald Trump. During the Clinton impeachment, the dot com boom was making Americans exuberant about the economy. Today, the economy is slowing, consumer confidence is dipping and corporate America faces a gauntlet of worries including the trade war with China, the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement and slowing growth around the world. And now investors, consumers and corporate executives face the prospect of a Washington consumed for months by impeachment drama and the uncertain reactions of a volatile president with a penchant for lashing out under stress.”

“The claims of justice, both on one side and on the other, will be in force, and must be fulfilled; the rights of humanity must in all cases be duly and mutually respected…” – James MadisonFederalist No. 43

Atlantic: “January belongs to kale. This annual vegetable cycle shows up in the past decade of Google Trends data, which compiles how frequently Americans trawl the internet for information about certain terms. Since about 2011, when Gwyneth Paltrow taught the world how to make kale chips on the Ellen show, kale has entered into the cultural lexicon as a status symbol for a generation of young adults drawn to conspicuous health-consciousness. … But kale’s cultural ubiquity might not be exactly what it seems. After kale briefly overtook spinach as America’s favorite cooked green in mid-2014, Google’s measure of interest in kale has steadily declined. The green’s digital fortunes are currently back at about where they were in 2011… Search data aren’t the end-all-be-all measurement of popularity, but the more leads you follow, the more you begin to question the narrative of kale’s dominance. In fact, America might never have been that into kale in the first place.”

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Biden: 27.6 points (↓ 0.6 points from last wk.)
Warren: 20.8 points (↑ 0.6 points from last wk.)
Sanders: 16 points (↑ 0.8 points from last wk.)
Harris: 6.6 points (↓ 0.6 points from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 5.4 points (↑ 0.4 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: Quinnipiac University, Fox News, NBC News/WSJ, CNN and ABC News/WaPo.]

Average approval: 43 percent
Average disapproval: 54 percent
Net Score: -11 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 1 point
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 40% approve - 55% disapprove; Fox News: 45% approve - 54% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 45% approve - 53% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve - 54% disapprove; CNN: 42% approve - 54% disapprove.]

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Texas Tribune: “U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, announced Monday that he will not seek reelection in 2020, making him the sixth GOP congressman from Texas to say he's retiring in recent weeks. ‘It has been a great honor for me to represent the people of the 13th District of Texas for the last 25 years,’ he said in a statement. ‘We are reminded, however, that ‘for everything there is a season,’ and I believe that the time has come for a change. Therefore, I will not be a candidate for reelection in the 2020 election.’ Thornberry joins five other Texas Republicans in Congress who are not running for reelection — U.S. Reps. Kenny MarchantPete OlsonMike ConawayWill Hurd and Bill Flores. But Thornberry's exit is somewhat different from other Republicans' shocking retirements over the summer. The last remaining Texan from the class of 1994 and the dean of the GOP delegation, Thornberry was expected by many to retire soon. He will turn over his post leading the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee in January 2021, thanks to Republican term limits for committee chairmanships.”

Fox News: “Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker says he has reached his self-imposed fundraising goal to continue his White House bid. ‘I have some incredible news, friend. Last night at 8:16 p.m., we reached our goal of $1.7 million -- a full day ahead of the deadline we set for ourselves,’ the Democrat from New Jersey wrote in an email to supporters on Monday morning. ‘Thanks to this outpouring of support, we see a viable path forward to continue growing a winning campaign. I’m staying in this race -- and I’m in it to win,’ Booker said. … Top Booker advisers have warned that while the campaign can continue at its current size and strength, it needs more funding if it wants to expand and compete with the top-tier Democratic nomination rivals.”

The Bern has lost its glow - Politico: “With just four months until the first-in-the-nation caucuses, [BernieSanders is in trouble. As he delivered his populist gospel to large crowds of camouflage-clad high schoolers, liberal arts college students, and trade union members across Iowa last week, a problematic narrative was hardening around him: His campaign is in disarray and Elizabeth Warren has eclipsed him as the progressive standard-bearer of the primary. He’s sunk to third place nationally, behind Warren and Joe Biden, and some polls of early nomination states show him barely clinging to double digits. He’s shaken up his staffs in Iowa and New Hampshire. He’s lost the endorsement of the Working Families Party, a left-wing group that backed him in 2016, to Warren. … Sanders is still a top-tier candidate, and many voters haven’t made up their minds yet. But time is starting to run short.”

Biden dials back digital ads - NYT: “Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential campaign has sharply scaled back his online advertising, cutting spending so severely since August that he is now investing only a fraction of what his top rivals are on Facebook and Google, the two dominant internet platforms. In a race where many voters are following politics on their smartphones, Mr. Biden’s pullback is an unusual and potentially worrisome sign about his appeal among the Democratic activists, young people and donors who are especially engaged on social media. Candidates rarely withdraw so much money from their online campaigns unless they are seeing weak results in online fund-raising, according to interviews with digital strategists.”

Biden looks for Hispanic Caucus to break his way - Politico: “The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has largely stayed out of the presidential primary so far — partly out of respect for Julián Castro, the only Latino in the race and the brother of CHC Chairman Joaquin Castro. But with Julián languishing at the bottom of polls with around 1 percent support, at least a handful of the group’s 38 members are on the verge of announcing their support for Joe Biden, according to sources familiar with the effort. Their impact could provide an adrenaline boost in a Democratic contest where most campaigns are struggling to win over Hispanic voters — a bloc that will play a key role in early-state Nevada and on Super Tuesday. … Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris currently lead the Democratic primary field in CHC endorsements with three apiece.”

Dems head to K Street to fund convention Politico: “Two top operatives planning the Democratic Party’s 2020 convention in Milwaukee went to K Street last week to pitch lobbyists on their plans for the $70 million event. Against the backdrop of the Democratic primary, it was an awkward pairing — representatives for special interests meeting with top Democrats while the party’s leading presidential candidates reject corporate PAC and lobbyist cash. But Democratic National Committee officials explained during the meeting how corporations can help foot the bill for the convention, regardless of who the nominee is, addressing some lobbyists’ worries that a crusading left-wing nominee like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren could try to reject corporate money, embarrassing convention sponsors. The DNC doesn’t plan to return any corporate money that is donated to the convention regardless of the nominee, convention CEO Joe Solmonese told POLITICO.”

Markey comes out hot in Senate reelection campaign against Kennedy - Politico

Federal judge blocks Trump admin’s intention of fast-track deportations - Politico

“It appeared to perish.” – Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., talking about a duck she accidentally hit with a golf ball, per CNN.

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NY Post: “A black bear with a discerning palate was caught on camera munching on grapes in a California vineyard – but only picking out those used for Pinot Noir, according to a report. Video shows the refined mammal stomping around Navarro Vineyards in Philo, Calif., and stopping to pick at the Pinot Noir vines – ignoring the eight other grape varieties grown at the winery. ‘He will go for the premium fruit,’ Aaron Bennett, co-owner of the family business told the Los Angeles Times. The booze-loving beast has been using the vineyard as his personal snack bar for years, but the business only recently caught the fiend in the act on security footage. ‘Navarro’s taste-tester is back to ‘get it when the gettin’ is good,’’ the business posted on Facebook last week, along with security footage of the bear. … The bear may be drawn to the specific grapes because they are grown in a remote part of the vineyard. Or maybe he just has good taste, Bennett said.”

Meg Greenfield was a wonderful journalist, editor and writer. Washington, journalism and American politics will sorely miss her mind and pen. I will too. But, above all, I will miss her heart.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on May 24, 1999.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.