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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
The vast majority of freshman House Democrats are not quite ready to "impeach the motherf*cker." Over the last two weeks, Axios’ Alayna Treene reached out to every single one of the 64 new House Democrats, and only a tiny fraction said they were on board with impeachment.
The big picture: There's been a cable news feeding frenzy over the "I" word, fueled in part by freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib's bleep-worthy call for ousting the president. But the reality is that the vast majority of new House Democrats are right in line with their caucus' leadership; they're uninterested in discussing impeachment before special counsel Robert Mueller finishes his work.
By the numbers: Of the 64 new House Democrats:
Rep. Al Green of Texas, the first member of Congress to introduce an Article of Impeachment against President Trump in 2017, confirmed this sense of hesitancy to Axios: "I can assure you that there is far more pressure on people who are supportive of impeachment not to impeach than there is on those who don't favor it to impeach. Exponentially more."
Behind the scenes: Privately, many of the new freshmen say that Trump may have committed impeachable offenses. But they also argue that impeachment doesn't have a chance of succeeding in the Senate under Republican control, and they think, politically, the messaging could have the adverse effect if they broach the subject too soon — further animating Trump's base ahead of 2020.
Meanwhile, "Need to Impeach," the campaign led by billionaire activist Tom Steyer, told Axios that impeachment was an integral part of the last election cycle, and they find it alarming that new members are saying one thing behind closed doors and another thing publicly.
"They're saying he's corrupt and the most divisive president in American history, but then publicly they're running from the word impeachment. ... They’re putting all their eggs in the Mueller basket, but the Trump administration is playing every possible game to discredit the investigation. They have a constitutional duty to hold Trump accountable and impeach him."— Kevin Mack, lead strategist for Tom Steyer's "Need to Impeach" campaign
The bottom line: A handful of progressive freshmen Democrats looking to push the party to the left have taken the lion's share of the media attention devoted to their class. But the big picture is complicated; for every Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, there’s a Joe Cunningham and Abigail Spanberger — freshmen who claimed red seats and immediately found themselves in the NRCC's crosshairs.
Go deeper: Here's the spreadsheet showing Alayna's reporting on where every new House Democrat stands on impeaching Trump.
Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
In the 24 hours since Trump offered his immigration proposal, not a single Democrat has publicly expressed openness to it.
But the Democrats have a consensus: No immigration talks until the government is back open. Even the moderates who sometimes break with the party, including Sens. Joe Manchin and Chris Coons, are sticking with leadership on this, for now at least.
During a meeting with reporters at the White House yesterday, Pence and Kushner acknowledged they've been talking to "rank and file" Democrats and tried to incorporate some of the things they want in the president's shutdown proposal. That's how they got the idea to add DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) protections, Pence said.
Right-wing immigration restrictionists — part of Trump's base — are bashing the president for his offer. Ann Coulter tweeted yesterday: "Trump proposes amnesty. We voted for Trump and got Jeb!"
What's next: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to bring the president's proposal to the floor this week. But even if he somehow gets it out of the Senate, it looks dead on arrival in the House.
The bottom line: On Day 30 of the shutdown, the White House and Congress don't look remotely close to striking a deal to reopen 25% of the government. And if they can't pass something by Friday, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will miss another paycheck.
Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
In a remarkable interview with CNN's Jake Tapper today, the president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani suggested it was possible — and would be "perfectly normal" — that Trump talked to Michael Cohen before he testified about him to Congress.
Why it matters: It's not "perfectly normal" for subjects of or witnesses in a Congressional investigation to discuss testimony directly with each other. If witnesses or subjects are talking to each other, the government can always claim one is trying to influence the others' testimony. That's why lawyers counsel against doing it.
Top Washington criminal defense lawyers, both Democrats and Republicans, told me they couldn't understand what Giuliani was trying to achieve with his TV appearance.
The White House referred questions to outside counsel. So I texted Giuliani asking if he really thought it would be perfectly normal for Trump to discuss Cohen's testimony with him.
Giuliani texted back: "If there is a joint defense agreement it is safe to do it through your lawyers. I can't believe your [sic] still pursuing this after the malicious BuzzFeed blowup. President has not advised anyone to do anything but tell the truth as that [sic] recall it ...
The bottom line: I tried to clarify this with Giuliani. "You said to Tapper it would be perfectly normal for Trump to discuss testimony with Cohen. Now you're saying only through lawyers. Which is it?"
Go deeper: The New York Times' Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt published another interview with Giuliani on Sunday. In it, Giuliani indicated Trump and Cohen's conversations about the Trump Tower project in Moscow could have continued months longer than previously known.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Luiz Rampelotto/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Politico's Alex Isenstadt scoops: "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is slated to meet with veteran Republican strategist Ward Baker on Sunday afternoon to discuss a possible 2020 run for the vacant Kansas Senate seat, according to two people familiar with the plans.
CNN later reported on the meeting. (I've not yet independently confirmed.)
A quarter of the federal government remains shut down, and there's no deal in sight.
The House is back in session on Tuesday for votes, and Democratic leadership expects to stay through Friday. This was originally supposed to be a recess week, but members are being brought back to D.C. because of the shutdown.
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday. Per a leadership source, McConnell will wrap Trump's immigration proposal in a package that includes the following:
The White House did not provide a week-ahead schedule for President Trump. Trump's schedule appears to be more fluid than usual amid the government shutdown.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Trump isn't the only senior White House official rooting for Brexit. National security adviser John Bolton talks regularly by phone with his Brexiteer friends inside Theresa May's imploding government — Cabinet ministers Liam Fox and Chris Grayling — according to a May government source.
Bolton has never disguised his contempt for the European Union, and he's long advocated for a clean Brexit. He did so as a Fox News commentator long before joining the Trump White House, and he's done so both privately and publicly as national security adviser. "God bless the people of Great Britain who two years ago voted to get out of the European Union," Bolton said in a September speech.
Between the lines: We already knew that Bolton channels Trump in a way that differs dramatically from his predecessor, H.R. McMaster (see Bolton's stances on Iran, the UN and the International Criminal Court). But his pro-Brexit cheerleading may be his Trumpiest turn yet.
A spokesman for Bolton declined to comment.