Oct 9, 2019

Trump's burn-down-the-House plan

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump, while nervous about the historic stain of impeachment, is throwing everything he has into this fight: refusing all cooperation, running ads to profit politically, and torching every person who stands in opposition to him. 

The big picture: When it all boils down, Trump really only trusts his own instincts. And his instincts here are the same as they were with the Mueller investigation: Fight like hell.

  • No nuance or apology — not a hint of it.
  • Turn the leader of the investigation (in this case, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff) into a conservative media villain.
  • Condemn Trump enemies in the most incendiary and exaggerated language possible (treason, traitors, coup, etc.).

Why it matters: Compared to the Mueller investigation, the Ukraine phone call appears to have more resonance with the general public.

  • Republicans close to leadership and the White House tell Axios they're concerned by trend lines in a Washington Post poll showing 49% of Americans think Trump should be removed from office.
  • Top Republicans don’t believe the numbers in the Post poll, which found support for an impeachment inquiry rising among Republicans by 21 points since July.
  • Trump’s abrupt announcement that he would withdraw from Syria and clear the way for the Turks to charge in (and perhaps massacre the Kurds) has added to this anxiety about Trump weakening the support he needs among Republican lawmakers.

The bottom line: None of these are helpful signals for Trump.

Go deeper ... Lindsey Graham on Trump's Syria decision: "He's putting the nation at risk"

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Lindsey Graham on Trump's Syria decision: "He's putting the nation at risk"

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is pictured during a hearing. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

In an interview with Axios on Tuesday night, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) condemned President Trump in his harshest language yet for deciding to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, suggesting Trump is violating his oath of office by allowing Turkey to move in and attack the Kurds.

Driving the news: Graham said Trump is making the biggest mistake of his presidency, against the advice of his national security team, and putting his presidency in peril. "I think he's putting the nation at risk, and I think he's putting his presidency at risk," Graham said. "And I hope he will adjust his policies like he did before. That would actually be a sign of real leadership."

Go deeperArrowOct 9, 2019

How an impeached Trump wins

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

President Trump is showing how he could be impeached, survive and still win re-election, something never done before in American history.

Between the lines: Trump officials think two things must unfold for this to happen: Republicans must stay unified, in votes and voice, and the economy must be strong, in jobs and market returns. The trends are strong on both fronts.

Whistleblower offers House Republicans chance to ask written questions

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The intelligence community whistleblower whose allegations about President Trump's interactions with Ukraine set off the impeachment inquiry has offered to answer written questions from Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee under oath, their attorney Mark Zaid told CBS News.

Why it matters: House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) initially wanted the whistleblower to testify, but has since suggested that it may not be necessary because other witnesses in the investigation have corroborated the Ukraine allegations — setting off frustration among House Republicans. Schiff has also warned that Republicans on the committee may take steps to try to unmask the whistleblower's identity, which President Trump has repeatedly called for.

Go deeperArrowNov 3, 2019