Dec 18, 2019

Capitol Hill digs in as Trump's impeachment looms

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

Ahead of today's historic House vote to impeach Donald John Trump, he dispatched a seething six-page letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi contending that a Democratic "partisan attempted coup" had treated him worse than "those accused in the Salem Witch Trials." She told reporters at the Capitol that the letter was "really sick."

Why it matters: The bitter exchange is a fitting denouement for the 86-day impeachment inquiry, which changed few minds in the country — and none at the Capitol.

  • The process, which is supposed to be the Constitution's death penalty, deepened a divide that has red and blue America speaking what sound to each other like foreign political languages.

House Democratic leaders told caucus members not to cheer or applaud when today's impeachment vote totals are announced, and Democratic members described the day as sad and solemn.

  • One Democratic member from a Trump-won district said the instruction is: "Don’t cheer, keep it solemn."

Centrist Dems dodged reporters in the Capitol halls. But House Democratic leaders told Axios they feel confident and don't expect many defectors.

  • "The sense is that the cake is baked," a source close to President Trump's legal team told Axios. "The only question is if it's one or two Democrats or slightly more who vote against."
  • All but one of the 30 remaining Democrats in Trump-won districts (Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey is switching to the GOP) said they'll vote in favor of both articles of impeachment.

The mood on the Hill shifted this week as the vote neared.

  • Rather than being combative with reporters and each other, members on both sides of the aisle appeared resigned to the fact that the vote's outcome was predetermined, and were going through the motions to make it official.

Impeachment fatigue has been growing, with an incredible change in the audience from the first public hearing to the last.

  • On Day 1, the line of eager people waiting for a chance to sit in on the impeachment proceedings snaked around Longworth House Office Building, and there was an energetic buzz in the air.  
  • But the audience for the last hearing was skimpy, with several open chairs and a sleepy audience.

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Axios-Ipsos poll: America’s big racial divide on police, virus

Data: Ipsos/Axios survey; Note: ±3.2% margin of error; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

A new Axios-Ipsos poll finds that America has a massive racial gulf on each of our twin calamities — trust in police, and fear of the coronavirus.

  • 77% of whites say they trust local police, compared with just 36% of African Americans — one of many measures of a throbbing racial divide in Week 11 of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, taken the week George Floyd was killed by a white policeman in Minneapolis.
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Updates: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: Four police officers were struck by gunfire while standing near a line in St Louis on Monday after a peaceful demonstration, Police Chief John Hayden said early Tuesday. They were all taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He said a small group of people had thrown rocks and fireworks at police officers.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,273,402 — Total deaths: 375,683 — Total recoveries — 2,697,873Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,811,277 — Total deaths: 105,147 — Total recoveries: 458,231 — Total tested: 17,340,682Map.
  3. Public health: Nearly 26,000 coronavirus deaths in nursing homes have been reported to federal health officials —Coronavirus looms over George Floyd protests across the country.
  4. Federal government: Trump lashes out at governors, calls for National Guard to "dominate" streets.
  5. World: Former FDA commissioner says "this is not the time" to cut ties with WHO.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The virus didn't go away.