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On the roster: Harris out – Dems rethink impeachment angle – A once defiant Duncan Hunter pleads guilty – Just hot doggin’
LAT: ‘Kamala Harris, the California freshman senator, suspended her presidential run Tuesday… marking a lackluster end to an initially soaring presidential bid premised on her personal biography and prosecutorial acumen. Ultimately, her run foundered with a muddled purpose, campaign in-fighting and an inability to sustain support from vital Democratic voting blocs, particulary African Americans. Harris, 55, was seen as a rising star, representing the more youthful and diverse voters that have become the base of the Democratic party. Her high-profile interrogations of Trump administration officials in Senate hearings rocketed her to national acclaim and her dazzling campaign launch established her in the top-tier of a crowded Democratic field. But Harris struggled to reorient articulate a distinct reason for her candidacy, and the campaign attempted to reroute midway through the year for a last-ditch effort to win over Iowa, a state she had initially placed little emphasis on in her primary strategy.”
Biden says Buttigieg ‘stole’ his healthcare plan – Reuters: “U.S. Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden said on Monday that his fast-rising rival Pete Buttigieg ‘stole’ the former vice president’s healthcare policy proposals, as the two battle for support in the early nominating state of Iowa. Biden, among the leaders in the 16-member Democratic field for the right to take on Republican President Donald Trump in next year’s election, is proposing expanding the Affordable Care Act. Popularly known as Obamacare, the healthcare law was the signature domestic policy achievement of former Democratic President Barack Obama, whom Biden served as No. 2. … Like Biden, Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, favors the public option and coined the phrase ‘Medicare for all who want it’ to describe the concept. … A spokesman for Buttigieg’s campaign declined to comment but pointed to statements by Buttigieg about ‘Medicare for all who want it’ that pre-date Biden’s current presidential campaign.”
Buttigieg thinks small to solve his problem with black voters – Politico: “But when Buttigieg goes to South Carolina, he’s far from the top — and his campaign is shaking up its strategy to reflect his single-digit polling there. Having failed to gain traction with African American voters so far this campaign, Buttigieg’s campaign is taking a different approach to his three-day swing through South Carolina: Keep it small. The South Bend, Ind., mayor opted for largely invitation-only roundtables and private sit-downs with African American leaders in the state, where the Democratic electorate is majority-black. It’s a strikingly different approach to the one Buttigieg takes in the first two early states… But as Buttigieg tries to break in with African American voters, he’s leaning on ‘very, very intimate’ settings, said Matt Bowman, who hosted Buttigieg at his vineyard in Round O, S.C., for a conversation on black entrepreneurship with two dozen people.”
Steyer qualifies for December debate – Politico: “Tom Steyer‘s campaign says he has qualified for the December Democratic presidential primary debate, making the billionaire activist the seventh candidate to do so. To qualify, candidates need to hit 4 percent in four polls approved by the Democratic National Committee (or 6 percent in two polls in early-states) and get contributions from 200,000 donors. Steyer’s campaign announced that he crossed the 200,000 donor threshold on Tuesday; he had already achieved the requisite number of qualifying polls. Steyer joins six other candidates who have previously qualified for the debate: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Candidates have until Dec. 12 to qualify for the debate, which is hosted by POLITICO and PBS NewsHour.”
THE RULEBOOK: ECONOMIES OF SCALE
“It is of high importance to the peace of America that she observe the laws of nations towards all these powers, and to me it appears evident that this will be more perfectly and punctually done by one national government than it could be either by thirteen separate States or by three or four distinct confederacies.” – John Jay, Federalist No. 3
TIME OUT: PAINTING A NEW PICTURE OF A LEGEND
Atlantic: “The blockbuster exhibit, ‘Leonardo da Vinci,’ opened at the Louvre last month… Louis Frank, one of the organizers of the show and a curator of drawings at the Louvre, says the exhibition grew from ‘a need to understand who Leonardo was and to understand his work.’ … The show marks the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death—in France, where he was a court painter to Francis I. It makes the case that Leonardo was, first and foremost, a painter, and it brings together more Leonardo works than have been shown together in the same place since the 1950s… For all his achievements, and his far-ranging mind, he completed fewer than 20 paintings, and many of them are here. … What is left to say about Leonardo after all the biographies, the novels, the conspiracy theories? This show features radiographic images of many of the paintings, which reveal the artist’s constant revisions. But more than that, it offers a chance to feel.”
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DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 26 points (↓ 1.6 points from last wk.)
Warren: 19.4 points (↓ 3.2 points from last wk.)
Sanders: 17.2 points (↓ 0.4 points from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 10.2 points (↑ 2.6 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: Quinnipiac University, CNN, Monmouth University, NBC News/WSJ and ABC News/WaPo.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 43 percent
Average disapproval: 52.8 percent
Net Score: -9.8 percent
Change from one week ago: ↓ 1.2 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 40% approve – 54% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve – 53% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve – 51% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve – 54% disapprove; Monmouth University: 45% approve – 52% disapprove.]
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DEMS RETHINK IMPEACHMENT ANGLE
WaPo: “House Democrats are debating whether to expand articles of impeachment to include charges beyond abuse of power in the Ukraine controversy, setting up a potential internal clash as the party races to impeach President Trump by Christmastime. Members of the House Judiciary Committee and other more liberal-minded lawmakers and congressional aides have been privately discussing the possibility of drafting articles that include obstruction of justice or other ‘high crimes’ they believe are clearly outlined in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report — or allegations that Trump has used his office to benefit his bottom line. The idea, however, is running into resistance from some moderate Democrats wary of impeachment blowback in their GOP-leaning districts, as well as Democratic leaders who sought to keep impeachment narrowly focused on allegations that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk freely.”
Trump super PAC targets swing district House Dems on impeachment – Axios: “[P]ro-Trump super PAC America First Action is dropping $2.26 million on ads beginning today, targeting 27 Democratic House members the group sees as most politically vulnerable in the impeachment fight. Pro-Trump groups are flooding the airwaves ahead of this month’s expected House vote on articles of impeachment — spending millions to pressure Democrats in swing districts to vote no. … The narrator in the ads says that ‘the radical left will stop at nothing’ and calls on viewers to ‘end the witch hunt, oppose impeachment, put America first’ — against a backdrop of images of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, Intel Chairman Adam Schiff and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Each ad is personalized to target individual lawmakers — all of whom are in districts Trump won in 2016.”
Appeals court deals blow Trump’s effort to keep finances secret – Fox News: “A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a decision allowing congressional committees to subpoena financial records pertaining to President Trump, his children, the Trump Organization and other entities. The ruling from the Second Circuit Court of appeals calls for the subpoenas issued to Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corporation from the House Intelligence and Financial Services Committees to be enforced, which would allow the committees to obtain the records. … Other circuit court decisions centered on subpoenas for records that do include Trump’s tax returns were immediately challenged, with the president applying for stays from the Supreme Court, which were granted as the justices determine whether or not to hear the cases. Those cases involved subpoenas issued to accounting firm Mazars USA, ordering them to turn over Trump’s tax returns. … The Supreme Court granted temporary stays on the subpoenas in both of those cases but have yet to issue decisions on how they will proceed.”
Voters don’t budge – WaPo: “Throughout more than two months of the Democrats’ House impeachment inquiry, two critical questions have loomed: How will the American public react to what it uncovers? And will it help or hurt President Trump’s chances at reelection in 2020? So far, four dozen national and state polls have been conducted since the inquiry was announced, and together they offer some clear answers. … But later in September — after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the impeachment inquiry following a CIA whistleblower complaint … support jumped to an even split at 46 percent in support and opposition. Since that initial jump, however, support for impeachment has been stable. The Post’s average of nationally representative polls conducted since the start of the House’s public hearings on Nov. 13 finds 47 percent of Americans support impeaching and removing Trump, while 43 percent are opposed.”
GOP sees Ukraine 2016 role as path to ‘perfect’ for Trump’s squeeze play – WashEx: “Congressional Republicans are gradually embracing the claim of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, concluding the allegation is the most politically expedient way to defend President Trump against impeachment. Plenty of Republicans are skeptical, but a growing number are sidelining doubts and joining with Republicans who genuinely believe the claim about Ukraine. The converts tend to view allegations against Kyiv as an effective strategy for sowing public doubts about impeachment and influencing a Senate trial. ‘It’s much easier to defend President Trump’s action on the merits if you can argue that there was a possibility that his request for an investigation was legitimate,’ Michael Steel, a former House Republican leadership aide, said Monday.”
What’s ahead – Roll Call: “In a sign of the season, the next open House impeachment hearing is scheduled to take place the same day as the lighting of the Capitol Christmas tree. The impeachment inquiry remains front and center as Congress returns this week, with the Senate continuing to methodically confirm the judicial nominations of President Donald Trump. The spotlight on impeachment moves to its natural location as the House Judiciary Committee conducts a hearing Wednesday on the constitutional grounds for impeaching a president. Up until this point, the House Intelligence panel has led the impeachment inquiry that Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in late September. Working with the House Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, it conducted depositions of 17 witnesses — 12 of whom the committee questioned again during public hearings. The Intelligence Committee will meet Tuesday evening to adopt a report of its investigative findings and send it to House Judiciary.”
A ONCE DEFIANT DUNCAN HUNTER PLEADS GUILTY
KSWB: “Rep. Duncan Hunter pleaded guilty to one count of misusing campaign funds Tuesday. The congressman faces a possible five-year sentence when his penalty is set on March 17. In a 60-count federal indictment, Hunter is accused of improperly making personal purchases with campaign funds over the course of six years. He is accused of using the funds for everything from family medical expenses to vacations and expensive dinners. The congressman’s charges include wire fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records. Hunter has previously claimed the indictment was politically motivated and entirely false. … But Monday, Hunter made public his plans to abandon the not-guilty plea. In October, Hunter told FOX 5 that he would remain in the race to continue representing the 50th Congressional District, which he has served since 2013. He is facing a primary challenge from Republicans including former Rep. Darrell Issa, former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio and state Sen. Brian Jones.”
Poll shows Texas Dems still like Beto for Senate race – Dallas Morning News
Former President Jimmy Carter hospitalized for an infection – CBS News
Tillis’ mega-MAGA strategy pays off as primary challenger bows out – Politico
U.K. pollsters try to get it right this time – WSJ
Wayne Crews: A Republican proposal to feed the country to the swamp – WSJ
Republicans drop free trade fight – Politico
AUDIBLE: WAIT. WHAT?
“If anyone is going to take advantage of the American companies, it’s going to be us.” – President Trump discussing threatened tariffs on French imports to retaliate for France’s new technology tax.
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JUST HOT DOGGIN’
UPI: “A pair of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students put their softball skills to the test when they broke a Guinness World Record for throwing a hot dog and catching it in a bun. Phoebe Li, a junior at MIT, lobbed the cooked hot dog 120 feet, where it was caught in a bun by graduate student Amber VanHemel. The Monday record attempt was masterminded by VanHemel, who recruited her former softball teammate to the effort after seeing video of previous record holders David Rush and Jake Smith setting the mark at 105 feet, 4 inches, during the summer. The students said they held multiple practice sessions and took measures to make sure they would qualify for the Guinness record, including making sure the tossed sausage measured between 5.5 and 7 inches. The pair said documentation from their record attempt is now being submitted to Guinness for official recognition.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“A cross between a Roman circus and a Roman orgy, the Super Bowl is America’s closest brush with Colosseum life — a fine name, by the way, for a football magazine.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Jan. 25, 1985.
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.