Saturday's politics & policy stories

AP: Klobuchar takes "strong position against" English as national language of the U.S.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she has "taken a strong position against" the U.S. adopting an English-language amendment, while promoting her plans for immigration reform on Friday in Las Vegas, AP reports.

Why it matters: After campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, two predominantly white states, Klobuchar's next electoral test is in Nevada, a state with a critical Hispanic constituency.

Iowa Democratic Party appoints new chair

Troy Price, former chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, addresses the media on Feb. 7 in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo: Steve Pope/Getty Images

The Iowa Democratic Party announced its new chair on Saturday after Troy Price resigned in the wake of the state's disarrayed and delayed caucuses.

What's new: Rep. Mark Smith, minority leader of the Iowa House of Representatives, has taken the position.

Roger Stone pushes for new trial, again

Stone and his wife exit the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse on Nov. 15, 2019. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Longtime Trump ally Roger Stone, one of several associates close to President Trump to be indicted as a result of the Mueller investigation, filed a motion for a new trial on Friday, according to his case docket in D.C.'s federal district court.

Flashback: Stone's previous request for a new trial — based primarily on the court not striking a juror from the case — was denied by the court on Feb. 12.

Ukrainian president says he's "ready for next call" with Trump

Trump and Zelensky on Sept. 25. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN on Saturday that he's "ready for [the] next call with Mr. Trump" if working with the U.S. and the president will help his country.

Why it matters: The July 25 call between Zelensky and Trump led House Democrats to launch a formal impeachment inquiry, after a whistleblower complaint from the intelligence community alleged that Trump "sought to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the President's 2020 reelection bid."

Shortage of dollars, not delegates, may sink Dems

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Democrats should be watching 2020 candidates' spending and cash flow, not their polls, to understand "more about where this race is going," trail veteran Peter Hamby writes for Vanity Fair.

Where it stands: In response to the big question of who can scale up for Super Tuesday, Bloomberg is spending the most digital and network ad money on Super Tuesday and the Rest Belt — not on early primary states, like the rest of his Democratic competitors.

Washington and Lee's 2020 mock convention: The 27th running of a century-old tradition

The view from the prompter. Photos: Mike Allen/Axios

I visited my alma mater — Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va. — this week for a sneak peek at Saturday's 27th running of a 112-year tradition: The nation's best known mock political convention.

Why it matters: The students treasure their record for accuracy, despite having to make the pick early in the primary process: In 26 previous conventions, W&L has correctly predicted the out-of-party nominee 20 times (including the year I was Western regional chair, and Sen. Joe Biden was our keynoter).

Army secretary: "There's no investigation" into Alexander Vindman

Alexander Vindman before testifying during Trump's impeachment inquiry on Nov. 19, 2019. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Army is not investigating Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key national security official who was fired and escorted from the White House last week, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said at the National Press Club on Friday.

Why it matters: Firing Vindman was one of Trump's first acts of retribution against officials who testified at his House impeachment hearings. After Vindman's ouster, Trump made it clear that what happens next in Vindman’s career is "up to the military."

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio endorses Sanders

Sanders and de Blasio in New York in 2017. Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders for the 2020 presidential election on Friday, the Sanders campaign said in a statement.

The big picture: Sanders won the New Hampshire primary with two moderates — former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar — close on his heels.

No "imminent" threat cited in White House letter on killing Qasem Soleimani

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announces new sanctions on Iran on Jan. 10. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump authorized killing top Iranian general Qasem Solemani in response to "an escalating series" of Iran-backed attacks on U.S. forces in the Middle East in previous months and to deter future Iranian attacks, the White House asserted to Congress on Friday.

Why it matters: The official reason for killing Soleimani contradicts the administration's original claim that Trump authorized the strike to disrupt an "imminent" attack against Americans in the Middle East.

Reducing immigration won’t stop America’s accelerating racial diversity

Reproduced from Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Immigration is projected to drive most population growth in the United States by 2030, and cutting immigration levels will do little to alter the nation's coming racial and ethnic transformation, according to a new Census Bureau study on population projections.

Why it matters: A growing population will be essential to the U.S.'s long-term economic growth.

Sally Yates: Trump used DOJ "as a cudgel against his enemies"

Sally Yates. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates accused President Trump of using the Justice Department "as a cudgel against his enemies and as a shield for himself and his allies" in a Washington Post op-ed Friday.

Why it matters: Yates served in the DOJ under President Obama and stayed on as a holdover as acting attorney general until she was fired less than two weeks into Trump's presidency for refusing to implement the president's travel ban.

Report: Former top EPA official expected to return as chief of staff

The Environmental Protection Agency logo flies at the agency's headquarters in D.C. Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Mandy Gunasekara, former deputy assistant administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency's air office, is expected to become the next chief of staff, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters, via Axios' Amy Harder: Gunasekara's return signals that the agency plans to double down on a deeply conservative approach to eschew new regulations of almost any kind, as opposed to embracing more moderate policies that some businesses are calling for.

Border officers to team up with ICE in sanctuary city crackdown

An anti-ICE protest inside the main hall at Grand Central Station. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Specially trained border officials are being deployed to a handful of sanctuary cities to help carry out an immigrant arrest operation to begin this weekend alongside Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The administration has made several efforts over the past few weeks to crack down on states and cities that choose not to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement agencies.

9 Democratic senators call on Bill Barr to resign over Roger Stone case

Attorney General Bill Barr. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Nine U.S. senators signed a letter on Friday calling for Attorney General Bill Barr to immediately resign after the Justice Department submitted a new sentencing recommendation for former Trump adviser Roger Stone this week, NBC reports.

What they're saying: "The interference in this case by you or other senior DOJ officials working under you is a clear violation of your duty to defend fair, impartial, and equal justice for all Americans."

Michael Avenatti found guilty in Nike extortion case

Photo: PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images via Getty Images

Disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti was found guilty Friday of three charges after attempting to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening to publicize claims that it made improper payments to athletes.

The state of play: Avenatti, who has been in prison since allegedly violating his bail conditions last month, was convicted of attempted extortion, honest-services fraud and the related use of interstate communications. He could face more than 40 years in prison at his June 17 sentencing, but will likely receive less, per Reuters.

NYT: Barr assigned outside prosecutor to monitor Flynn case

Michael Flynn. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr has assigned an outside prosecutor to monitor the Justice Department's ongoing case against President Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The move could trigger additional accusations of political interference at the Justice Department, especially for extremely sensitive cases involving former Trump allies.

Justice Department drops investigation of former FBI official Andrew McCabe

Andrew McCabe. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

The Department of Justice is declining to bring charges against former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe in an investigation into whether he lied to investigators about a press leak, his defense team said on Friday.

Why it matters: The move closes an investigation into whether McCabe lied to federal investigators about leaking information to the media.

The widening partisan divide on climate change

Reproduced from Pew Research Center U.S. Politics and Policy; Chart: Axios Visuals

The persistent partisan divide on climate change is getting wider, per a Pew Research Center survey.

The big picture: Since 2015, Democrats have become increasingly convinced (now at 78%) that climate change should be a top federal priority — while that same view among Republicans has remained relatively flat (now at 21%)

Go deeper: Climate change's surprise twist

Facebook says political candidates can use paid memes

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Facebook said Friday that political candidates, campaigns and groups can use paid branded content across its platforms, a clarification prompted by a move from Michael Bloomberg's campaign to pay top Instagram influencers to post memes on its behalf.

The big picture: Its policy didn't explicitly state that it was OK for candidates to use branded content posts, but after hearing from various campaigns about the issue, Facebook moved to clarify its stance.

Trump says he has "legal right" to ask Barr to intervene in criminal cases

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

President Trump tweeted Friday that he has "the legal right" to ask Attorney General Bill Barr to intervene in criminal cases, saying that he has "so far chosen not to."

Why it matters: The tweet comes just one day after Barr said Trump's tweets "make it impossible for me to do my job" and publicly advised the president that "it's time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases."

Dating in a politically polarized world

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Political polarization in the Trump era is finding new ways to seep into our personal lives.

The big picture: Romance seekers see a heightened value in knowing their potential suitors' political affiliations. Major dating platforms including OkCupid, Hinge and Bumble have introduced filters to sift out matches with "incompatible" politics.

Bernie Sanders’ pipe dreams

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Staff

Bernie Sanders has risen to the top of the Democrats’ 2020 pack on the appeal of his far-left idealism and promises of a “revolution” — but he’ll have a hard time turning revolution into reality if he gets the chance.

The big picture: Even with the expanding power of the presidency, Sanders would need Congress to approve the most ambitious ideas he’s known for — and that’s unlikely to happen even under the strongest elections scenarios for House and Senate Democrats in November.

Reality check on Bernie Sanders’ biggest ideas

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Staff

Here’s a look at the odds for 10 of Bernie Sanders’ most ambitious proposals, according to Democratic aides, outside experts and Axios’ issue experts.