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Democrats won big in 2018 — so where’s the beef?

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By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann

WASHINGTON — House Democrats have been in control of the House of Representatives for five months now, and they don’t have much to show for it.

That message is the thrust of a Tom Steyer-backed TV ad that’s airing in Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as on national cable.

“You told us to wait for the Mueller investigation. And when he showed obstruction of justice … nothing happened,” the ad goes.

“When this president took money from foreign governments and blocked the release of his tax returns … nothing happened.”

“Now you tell us to wait for the next election? Really??”

The lack of deliverables for House Democrats goes beyond oversight and the Mueller report.

HR1 – the campaign-finance and ethics bill that they passed in March? Not going anywhere in the Senate.

President Trump’s immigration rollout from yesterday? It almost pretended Dems don’t control the House.

And Attorney General William Barr’s joke to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday? “Madam Speaker, did you bring your handcuffs?”

To be sure, Democrats in control of the House allowed them to roll over Trump during the government shutdown (remember that?). It enabled Michael Cohen’s testimony back in February? And it’s doubtful that Robert Mueller testifying would even be a possibility if the GOP remained in charge of the House.

Still, the voices in the Steyer ad aren’t the only ones questioning how House Democrats have used their powers, especially after the release of the Mueller report.

“[Trump’s] defying you. He’s laughing at you. And he’s getting away with it.”

Running interference?

A new court filing by Robert Mueller’s team reveals that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn told investigators that figures linked to the Trump administration and Congress reached out to him to interfere in the Russia probe, per NBC News.

From the court papers: “The defendant informed the government of multiple instances, both before and after his guilty plea, where either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the Administration or Congress that could’ve affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation.”

2020 Vision: “Not that there’s anything wrong with that”

In an interview with Fox News yesterday, Trump pretty much pulled a Jerry Seinfeld in talking about Pete Buttigieg’s gay marriage.

“President Trump said ‘some people’ may have a problem with Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s marriage to his husband, Chasten, but he thinks ‘it’s absolutely fine,’ ‘great’ and “good,’” the Washington Post writes.

On the campaign trail

Today: Pete Buttigieg, Steve Bullock and Bill de Blasio all campaign in Iowa… Bernie Sanders holds rallies in North Carolina…. And Julian Castro stumps in California.

Saturday: Joe Biden holds a rally in Philadelphia… Buttigieg and Bullock remain in the Hawkeye State – and Michael Bennet joins them… Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren hit New Hampshire… And Bernie Sanders visits South Carolina and Georgia.

Sunday: Warren, Klobuchar and Seth Moulton are in New Hampshire… Sanders has a rally in Alabama… And Buttigieg makes an appearance in a Fox News townhall.

Data Download: The number of the day is … $434 million.

$434 million.

That’s the total revenue (at least) that President Trump saw last year, according to a financial disclosure report made public yesterday.

The figure includes a drop of about $3 million in revenue from his Mar-a-Lago resort compared with 2017, but an increase of about $1.4 million from his Doral property and a slight bump in income from his hotel in D.C.

Tweet of the day

The Lid: Location, location, location

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at whether voters are paying attention to candidates’ home state electoral records.

ICYMI: New clips you shouldn’t miss

Some experts are wary that Trump’s plan for a civics test as a requirement for new immigrants could backfire.

The Iran tensions are straining the relationship between John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, POLITICO reports.

The voter registration database of a small Trump-backing county in the Florida panhandle was breached by Russian hackers.

And the president has some very specific asks for the border wall’s design.

Other news that’s out there…

Trump agenda: Take the money and run

The Trump administration has pulled $1 billion from a California rail project.

Trump’s judicial nominees are refusing to endorse Brown v. Board when they’re under Senate questioning.

Trump is trying to pump the brakes with the Pentagon on the brewing conflict with Iran.

A provision in the new tax law is hitting college scholarships.

2020: Rocky rollout

Bill de Blasio’s presidential rollout didn’t go as smoothly as he probably hoped.

Here’s the New York Times on “how Bernie Sanders brought the Cold War to Burlington.”

The AP has the latest on Roy Moore’s flirtation with another Senate run.



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Trump defends Kavanaugh as 2020 Democrats call for his removal

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A book out Tuesday examines past accusations against Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh and presents another claim of misconduct that the FBI was told about a year ago, but did not investigate. President Trump defended Kavanaugh on Twitter, as Democratic presidential candidates called for Kavanaugh to be impeached.

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Exactly why UK voted Leave! Head of tiny tax haven insults our PM with anti-Brexit stunt

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SENIOR Tories last night denounced a “deplorable” attempt to humiliate Boris Johnson as he met EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker for Brexit talks.

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Pelosi gets squeezed on impeachment

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WASHINGTON — The impeachment vise is closing — on Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

As it gets tighter, Pelosi’s fortitude — and the strength of her strategy — will be tested.

After a string of House Democrats endorsed beginning a formal impeachment inquiry over Congress’ August recess, the Judiciary Committee moved last week to bless its own investigation without the imprimatur of a vote on the House floor. As a result of that, and of individual political messaging needs, Democrats have been wildly inconsistent in describing whether they are pursuing impeachment or not.

Nonetheless, the probe will ramp up with a hearing featuring 2016 Trump campaign manager Cory Lewandowski on Tuesday.

At the same time, Trump’s Justice Department is using mixed messages coming from House Democrats about their impeachment intentions as part of the case against giving lawmakers access to secret grand jury testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

All of that amounts to a squeeze on the strategy devised by Pelosi, the California Democrat charged with the constitutional role of leading the House and the political role of keeping her party’s majority.

All year, Pelosi has been trying to balance between her political base’s demand to move against a president it sees as criminally corrupt and her priority of avoiding a series of impeachment-related floor votes that expose her party’s most vulnerable incumbents to anger back home from either liberal constituents or swing voters.

She appears to have landed on a one-vote strategy: let Judiciary draft articles of impeachment and then conduct just one House floor vote — or series of votes — so that lawmakers in tough districts don’t have to walk the plank over and over again.

“There are some of our members who are ready to vote to impeach and remove the president tomorrow. And there are some who believe that we should not impeach him because it will be a failed exercise in the Senate,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “But the vast majority of our caucus, including our leadership, is of the view that we should do the investigation before we determine whether the president should be impeached. That’s the category that I fit in and that’s the work that we’re doing.”

Pelosi’s approach will give an avenue to pro-impeachment Democrats to air their case while keeping it off the floor — and out of the minds of swing voters — for now. But the issue is sure to get thornier for her soon, in part because the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination contest is heating up.

While the topic was ignored in last Thursday’s candidate debate on ABC News, billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who built his public image and campaign on calling for Trump’s ouster, has qualified for an Oct. 15 debate in the Columbus, Ohio, area.

“Tom Steyer will hit the presidential debate stage two years after he first began running impeachment ads,” said Rebecca Katz, a veteran Democratic strategist and former congressional aide. “House Democrats have already twisted themselves into quite the incoherent pickle on impeachment and Steyer’s prominence only puts them more on the defensive.”

But Pelosi has been unmoved by political pressure on her left flank, acting as a bulwark against the passions of partisans and the various political and legal arguments advanced by colleagues who favor impeachment.

Former Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., wrote in The Washington Post a week ago that Trump’s actions not only merit impeachment by the House but demand it. If lawmakers don’t ask, she argued, his successors will be unfettered in their use and abuse of power.

“Should House Democrats choose not to act on this laundry list of obstruction, abuse of power and emoluments violations, they alone bear the responsibility of forever changing the lines of demarcation for future presidents,” Edwards wrote. “It really is that simple.”

It could be that frustration with Pelosi among Democrats inside and outside Congress boils over and she is forced to change her course.

But if Pelosi’s calculations are right, she is suffering short-term pain in service of a plan that will have Trump replacing her between the jaws of the impeachment vise in due time.

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