Oct 6, 2019

Axios AM

🥞 Good Sunday morning! Today's Smart Brevity count: 973 words ... < 4 minutes.

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1 big thing: Trump's impeachment poll warnings
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Data: Nixon survey by Gallup, Clinton survey by CNN, Trump survey by Monmouth University. (The Gallup question changed from "Do you think President Nixon should be impeached and compelled to leave the Presidency, or not?" to "Do you think his actions are serious enough to warrant his being removed from the Presidency, or not?" after Feb. 1974.) Chart: Axios Visuals

Public support for President Trump's impeachment is higher than it was for Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton when the House launched impeachment inquiries against them.

  • Why it matters: Support for impeachment of Trump is still less than half the country — 44% in the Monmouth University poll shown here; 47% in a CNN poll. And the polling reflects a 50-50 country. But the Ukraine scandal is pushing the numbers up.
  • Per CNN: "The change since May has largely come among independents and Republicans. ... [S]upport for impeachment and removal has risen 11 points to 46% among independents and 8 points to 14% among Republicans."

Keep in mind: A majority of the public didn't support impeaching Nixon until a few weeks before he resigned.

  • But as the WashPost's Philip Bump pointed out, "Trump doesn’t look like Nixon"— Trump's approval rating is still in the low 40% range, while Nixon fell to 25% at the height of Watergate.

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2. ⚡ Breaking: "Multiple whistleblowers," including firsthand view
Screenshot: ABC

Mark Zaid, the attorney representing the Ukraine-call whistleblower, says he now represents a second whistleblower — an intelligence official with "firsthand knowledge of some of the allegations outlined in the original complaint," ABC's George Stephanopoulos reported at the top of "This Week."

P.S. Trump "has ordered a substantial reduction in the staff of the National Security Council ... part of a White House effort to make its foreign policy arm leaner under new National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien," Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs and Justin Sink report.

3. Scoop: Trump blames Rick Perry for Ukraine call
President Trump takes questions on the South Lawn on Thursday. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

President Trump told House Republicans that he called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the urging of Energy Secretary Rick Perry and didn't even want to make the call, Axios' Alayna Treene scoops.

  • During a conference call on Friday, according to 3 sources on the call, Trump said roughly: "Not a lot of people know this, but I didn't even want to make the call. The only reason I made the call was because Rick asked me to. Something about an LNG [liquefied natural gas] plant."

One source on the call said Trump added that "more of this will be coming out in the next few days" — referring to Perry.

  • Perry's spokeswoman, Shaylyn Hynes, told Axios: “Secretary Perry absolutely supported and encouraged the president to speak to the new president of Ukraine to discuss matters related to their energy security and economic development." 

Reality check: Text messages between Trump officials and Andrey Yermak, a top aide to Zelensky, suggest that Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was a primary advocate for arranging the call.

  • There's no mention in the text messages of Perry playing a role.
  • There's also no mention of LNG in the White House's rough transcript, although Trump refers to "energy independence" for Ukraine.
Bonus: Trail pic du jour
Photo: Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris steps off a trolley to address a group of supporters at the Charleston County Democratic Party's Blue Jamboree in North Charleston, South Carolina, which drew seven 2020 candidates.

4. 🥊 Biden gets more aggressive
Joe Biden speaks to a union summit in LA on Friday. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

With a Saturday night op-ed, Joe Biden "sought to take a more aggressive tone in combating President Trump, a shift in strategy amid signs of worry among campaign donors and supporters that his message is getting lost in an onslaught from the White House," the WashPost's Matt Viser writes.

  • Biden writes that "abuse of power ... is the defining characteristic of the Trump presidency"
Enough is enough. Every day — every few hours, seemingly — more evidence is uncovered revealing that President Trump is abusing the power of the presidency and is wholly unfit to be president. ...
While the House does its job on impeachment, I’m going to stay focused on what matters: remaking education so every child in the country is equipped to succeed in the 21st century; getting weapons of war off the streets and ending the epidemic of gun violence; building on Obamacare so that every American has access to quality, affordable health care; taking on the climate emergency imperiling the planet; and much more.
5. 🇻🇦 Pope opens debate on allowing a few married priests
The moon shines above a statue in St. Peter's Square after 13 new cardinals were elevated during a ceremony at the Vatican yesterday. Photo: Remo Casilli/Reuters

"Pope Francis formally opened a meeting of bishops that will debate whether the Catholic Church should loosen its 1,000-year-old requirement of celibacy for priests," the Wall Street Journal reports from Vatican City (subscription).

  • Why it matters: "The potentially momentous debate pits those who say ordaining married men could relieve the church’s clergy shortage against those who warn that doing so would undermine the distinctive character of the priesthood."

At first, only a small number of married men would become priests.

  • The 3-week summit, focused on the Amazon, "will take up the question of whether some respected married elder men could be ordained to help overcome a shortage of priests in remote areas," per CNN.

In his homily today, "at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope didn’t refer specifically to the celibacy debate, but called generally for innovation in the church’s ministry," per the Journal.

  • Pope Francis: "If everything continues as it was, if we spend our days content that ‘this is the way things have always been done,’ then the gift vanishes, smothered by the ashes of fear and concern for defending the status quo."
6. 1 sporting thing
Photo: Oliver Weiken/picture alliance via Getty Images

At the world track and field championships in Qatar, Braima Suncar Dabo of Guinea-Bissau "literally drags" the exhausted Jonathan Busby of Aruba to the finish line during the men's 5,000 meters heats.

  • Why it matters: One competitor from a tiny nation helps another finish.

Hear the live call, see the finish (scroll down to second video window):

  • "They are going to finish together here. The crowd are on their feet — anybody who's able — standing to salute this outstanding demonstration of sportsmanship and camaraderie."

As Kendall Baker would say: "Sports, man!'

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