Feb 6, 2020

Axios AM

🚨 Situational awareness: FBI Director Chris Wray told the House Judiciary Committee that Russia is engaged in "information warfare" heading into November's election. (AP)

1 big thing: Impeachment aftershocks
Senate TV via AP

President Trump's acquittal ended his impeachment trial, but Democrats and Republicans — in both the House and Senate — plan to reignite the Ukraine battle with new investigations, and waves of document and witness subpoenas.

  • Many House Democrats want to pick up where the White House stonewalled them during impeachment, Axios' Alayna Treene reports. That could include renewed moves to seek John Bolton's testimony.
  • Senate Republicans are contemplating investigations of Burisma, the Bidens and more, according to statements by senators and Capitol sources.

Why it matters: The bitter debate over U.S. interactions with Ukraine isn't dying with the end of the impeachment trial.

  • Both parties see the opportunity to use the investigations to bring new evidence to light that could motivate voters ahead of the November elections.

The backdrop: Every Democrat voted to convict Trump, with Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah voting to convict Trump on abuse of power.

  • Abuse of power: 48-52.
  • Obstruction of Congress: 47-53.

The House side: Several Democrats want to continue investigating Trump and Ukraine, and are considering subpoenaing everyone from Giuliani associate Lev Parnas to top current and former White House aides.

  • "John Bolton has to speak; the country wants to hear him," said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who's on the Judiciary Committee. "We can't run away from our oversight duties."
  • House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler told CNN that House Democrats will "likely" subpoena Bolton and continue investigations.
  • House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, speaking in the Senate trial on Jan. 31, said that "the facts will come out in the end. In all of their horror, they will come out."

Some Senate Republicans remain hungry for Biden blood.

  • Immediately after Trump's acquittal, Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson announced a review of "potential conflicts of interest posed by the business activities of Hunter Biden and his associates during the Obama administration."
  • Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham told Fox News' Maria Bartiromo that he wants to investigate the Bidens and their dealings with Ukraine: "You should expect us to do this. If we don’t do it, we’re letting you down."

Between the lines: Other Hill Republicans tell Axios there's little appetite to truly go after the Bidens now that Trump has been acquitted.

  • GOP aides tell Axios Trump's fiercest allies may do something to feed the narrative, but it'll be "extraordinarily half-assed and slow-walked," as one aide put it.
  • Some Republicans fear aggressively pursuing any investigations about Burisma will give the appearance of trying to hurt Joe Biden — a former Senate colleague —politically, which isn't worth it to them, the aide said, "especially since the Biden campaign looks like it's toast."

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2. Romney: "We're all footnotes"
Photo: Axios

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah explained his vote to convict President Trump in a note to his Republican colleagues, hand-signed "Mitt" in blue ink and delivered to their individual boxes in the Senate cloakroom, Axios' Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene report.

  • Why it matters: The party's 2012 presidential nominee was the only Republican to go against Trump during impeachment.
  • The note reflects how much pressure he'll be under to justify himself to a party that's pledged loyalty ahead of Trump's re-election bid.

The backlash from Trump and his allies was instantaneous and ferocious.

  • Trump tweeted: "Had failed presidential candidate @MittRomney devoted the same energy and anger to defeating a faltering Barack Obama as he sanctimoniously does to me, he could have won the election. Read the Transcripts!"
  • Donald Trump Jr. tweeted: "Mitt Romney is forever bitter that he will never be POTUS. He was too weak to beat the Democrats then so he’s joining them now. He’s now officially a member of the resistance & should be expelled from the @GOP."

From Romney's floor speech:

[W]ith my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me. I will only be one name among many, no more or less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the President did was wrong, grievously wrong.
We’re all footnotes at best in the annals of history. But in the most powerful nation on Earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that is distinction enough for any citizen.

Read Romney's speech.

Photo: Senate TV via AP
3. Pete-mentum: Buttigieg, Sanders neck and neck in late Iowa count
Screenshot via MSNBC

Pete Buttigieg, 38, and Bernie Sanders, 78, are nearly tied with 97% of Iowa results counted, and AP says it still doesn't have enough data to declare a winner.

  • A new batch of results released just after midnight narrowed their margin, with Buttigieg ahead by just a handful of state delegate equivalents out of 2,098 counted.
  • Why it matters: The deadlocked contest gives both Buttigieg and Sanders a burst of momentum as they seek to pull away from the crowded field.

😱 Some tally sheets were making their way to party headquarters in Des Moines through the mail, AP reported.

4. ⚖️ For history
5. Homelessness is a rural problem, too

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Homelessness is on the rise in many of America's biggest and most expensive cities — but it's a growing problem in rural areas, too, writes Axios' Kim Hart.

  • Why it matters: People experiencing homelessness are often harder to count in rural areas and they have a harder time accessing support programs in small towns with fewer resources.

"In rural communities, there's not a typical place where people experiencing homelessness might gather, such as a food pantry, soup kitchen or public library — places in urban areas where you might be able to see people more easily," said Shaye Rabold of the Kentucky Housing Corporation.

6. ✈️ Breaking: Administration cuts off New Yorkers' Global Entry
Screenshot via Fox News

Few details are out, but a heads-up ... The Department of Homeland Security said it'll no longer let New York state residents "enroll or re-enroll" in Global Entry, a Trusted Traveler program that speeds members through customs, because of a new state "sanctuary" law blocking immigration officials from motor-vehicle records.

  • In a three-page letter to Albany officials, dated yesterday, DHS said the Green Light Law, which took effect in December, prevents federal agencies from protecting residents from "menacing threats to national security and public safety." (AP)

Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, who signed the letter, called New York's law "disappointing" during an interview with Fox News' Tucker Carlson last night.

  • TSA Pre is a Trusted Traveler program, but isn't mentioned in the letter.
7. First look: Warning to Dems on 2020 message

Joe Biden speaks to a supporter yesterday in Somersworth, N.H. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Guy Cecil — chairman of Priorities USA, one of the most powerful outside Democratic groups — is out with a post-impeachment memo, "Democrats Must Focus on Kitchen Table Issues," with advice for presidential candidates:

[Trump] remains in a relatively strong position to be re-elected ... If Democrats want to win, we ... must increase our focus on the issues that affect voters’ lives on a daily basis.
Our last battleground poll found that 53 percent of voters viewed health care as more of a reason to elect someone other than Trump while just 29 percent viewed it as a reason to re-elect him. The numbers were not much better with white women without a college degree (a critical group for Trump). 50 percent of these voters view health care as a reason to elect someone else versus just 32 percent for re-election.
8. Rand Paul calls for shorter impeachment trials

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tells me that a lot of time was wasted with repetitious arguments at President Trump's impeachment trial, and that any future trials should be streamlined.

  • "If you ever do impeachment again, it's got to be a lot shorter," Paul told Axios in his Senate office. "After sitting through hundreds of hours, it seems like, of repetitive testimony, I think we should change the process."

Paul said the Democratic House managers "said the same thing over and over again, every 30 minutes for 24 hours."

  • "I think eight hours would be plenty for each side, and then I would alternate every hour — go back and forth, so you don't hear 24 hours of the same people saying the same damn thing over and over again."
  • "People gave some of us a hard time for not paying attention every second of 100 hours. But they ... were giving speeches over and over and over again, and they really weren't trying to get our votes. They knew they weren't getting any new votes."

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9. N.Y. Times ad on Oscars

Photo: The New York Times

The New York Times will debut an ad for its "1619 Project," which focuses on examining the legacy of slavery in America, during the Oscars on Sunday, which features singer, actor and producer Janelle Monáe, reports Axios' Sara Fischer.

  • Why it matters: It speaks to a bigger trend of large publishers taking out splashy television ads to promote their brands. The Washington Post ran a Super Bowl ad last year, and the Times ran its first Oscars ad in 2017.
10. 1 🏈 thing: National Signing Day
Jordan Burch, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound impact player from Columbia, S.C., made a verbal commit to South Carolina. Photo: Jeff Blake/The State via AP

The SEC dominates college-football recruiting: It had six of the nation's top eight recruiting classes, per 247Sports rankings reported by AP.

  • "Maybe it's because of the results LSU had on the field, the new era at Florida and the general positive momentum a lot of these schools had," said Barton Simmons, director of scouting for 247Sports.