THE TRIAL FILES — The third presidential impeachment trial in history will wrap up this week — but in the run-up to Donald Trump’s expected acquittal, there are some other major events competing for attention. A quick rundown… MONDAY: Impeachment trial closing arguments; Iowa caucuses. TUESDAY: Impeachment deliberations on the Senate floor; State of the Union address. WEDNESDAY: Deliberations wrap up, and a final vote on the impeachment articles in the afternoon. Before you start your week, Burgess and Marianne have this must-read on the four senators who had the biggest impact on the trial as it comes to a close: https://politi.co/2ShcaWi
As of this week, the 2020 campaign will be in full force — and Trump will be riding high after handily batting back Congress’ most lethal weapon against his presidency. Despite bearing the permanent stain of impeachment, Trump, with the help of his allies, successfully defeated the witness question and is on the path to a landslide acquittal. Even if Trump keeps his promise to deliver a “positive” and unifying message at the State of the Union on Tuesday, will he be able to resist taking shots at the Democrats who impeached him — and have been pushing for his removal from office in the Senate the past two weeks — as he stares them in the face? Trump will be “unshackled” as he fights for re-election and seeks revenge against his political adversaries — taking his acquittal and running with it through November, NYT’s Peter Baker writes: https://nyti.ms/36T3qLx
Yes, the impeachment process ends this week; but the Ukraine scandal is likely far from over. Case in point: it remains possible that former national security adviser John Bolton tells his story before the release of his book in March. House Democrats have swatted away questions about whether they will move to subpoena Bolton. As long as it was still possible that the Senate could subpoena him as part of the trial, the House was staying out of it. But the evidentiary record for the trial is closed, and there are no more opportunities for Democrats to force votes on witnesses for the remainder of the trial. It’s not a matter of if we hear from Bolton; it’s just a matter of when.
Will Adam Schiff move to subpoena Bolton? Now that the door is officially shut for new witnesses in the Senate trial, some Democrats have asked: What’s there to lose by subpoenaing him in the House? Here’s what Schiff said about this yesterday on CBS’ Face the Nation: “I don’t want to comment to this point on what our plans may or may not be with respect to John Bolton, but I will say this: whether it’s in testimony before the House or it’s in his book or it’s in one form or another, the truth will continue to come out.”
As we’ve continued to report, the Ukraine saga is still rapidly unfolding due, in part, to two factors: the House’s decision to put an arbitrary deadline on their inquiry, and the White House’s refusal to comply with subpoenas for documents and witness testimony. Not only will Bolton reveal his own account — but more documents that remain shielded from Congress could continue to come to light. Another case in point: Over the weekend, DOJ revealed that some of those emails under lock and key detail Trump’s thinking and justification for freezing the Ukraine military aid. These emails, if ever made public, could be bombshells — but the Trump administration has redacted them, citing presidential communications privileges and the deliberative process. More from your fill-in Huddle host: https://politi.co/2ScdHgj
Related reads: “Joe Biden Could Be Impeached by GOP Over Ukraine if He Wins, Iowa Senator Says,” by Bloomberg’s Jennifer Epstein: https://bloom.bg/2Sgh3PH; “Inside the Senate trial: McConnell stops rebel push in GOP for witnesses,” by WaPo’s Seung Min Kim and Rachael Bade: https://wapo.st/392LjnE; “Republican Sen. Susan Collins finds it’s lonely in the middle,” by WaPo’s Griff Witte: https://wapo.st/37VdRj4
DUG IN — In some ways, though, it doesn’t really matter how the Ukraine investigation continues to develop. Republicans have made up their minds, and even those who believe that House Democrats proved their case — like Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, for example — wouldn’t vote to remove the president from office over actions they deem simply “inappropriate.” Several other Republican senators have expressed a similar view, but that’s about as far as they’ll go in breaking from Trump, who continues to maintain that his conduct with respect to Ukraine was “perfect.” To be sure, that won’t stop Democrats from continuing to pull the investigative threads; but it also won’t stop Trump from claiming victory over the existential threat to his presidency. When Bolton’s full account is revealed — in whatever form that may be — it’s safe to expect a similar refrain from Republicans, as the NYT’s Emily Cochrane points out: improper conduct, but not impeachable. https://nyti.ms/31lAZ7N
HAPPY MONDAY! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill, on this February 3. Andrew Desiderio here, filling in for Mel on this Super Bowl Monday. Speaker Nancy Pelosi was at the big game, but she had to watch her 49ers go down to Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs. What a comeback by Big Red’s squad — and congrats to Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), who will collect See’s Candies and Ghiradelli chocolates from Pelosi for their wager.
FRIDAY’S MOST CLICKED: The Washington Free Beacon’s report on abusive voicemails to Sen. Susan Collins’ (R-Maine) office was the big winner.
PROGRAMMING NOTE — Stay tuned to POLITICO’s coverage of the Iowa caucuses here, via Steven Shepard: https://politi.co/2OoBNU1
TALK ABOUT ‘TARGETED’ — Like many Republicans this cycle, Rep. Thomas Massie is facing a primary challenge in his Kentucky district. So why he is running ads on Fox News in south Florida? To talk directly to the president of the United States, of course. Trump spent the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort, and Massie’s campaign ran ads in south Florida that paint his primary opponent, Todd McMurtry, as a “Trump hater.” The ad was expected to run more than 50 times over a 36-hour period this weekend, with a price tag of $3,000. Alex Isenstadt has more on Massie’s strategy: https://politi.co/2RPiTrF
CASH DASH — Nine months out from Election Day, the most vulnerable House Democrats are proving to be fundraising juggernauts. The vast majority of the House Democratic frontliners raised more than half a million dollars last quarter, with Michigan’s Elissa Slotkin raking in the most cash among that group — a staggering $1.3 million. The numbers indicated that impeachment didn’t necessarily hurt the most at-risk House Democrats, and the issue hasn’t boosted their GOP challengers that much. Roll Call’s Birdget Bowman has the topline takeaways: http://bit.ly/3b5yhYx
PRESSLEY HITS THE ROAD — Elizabeth Warren has struggled to win the support of African-American voters — and in a state like South Carolina, where voters will head to the polls later this month, that could present major problems for the Massachusetts senator. “Warren’s policy-heavy candidacy has yet to resonate with black Americans who are broadly wary of government and the racial biases that exist within it,” Laura Barrón-Lopez writes. That’s where Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) comes in. The freshman congresswoman is undertaking the difficult task of persuading her fellow African-Americans to back Warren — criss-crossing the country on Warren’s behalf. Read Laura’s dispatch from South Carolina: https://politi.co/2Oo7c9j
Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans are staffing up. Callie Strock will be joining as press secretary, focusing on tech and telecom issues. Callie joins the team from Rep. Will Hurd’s (R-Texas) office. SK Bowen has been promoted to press secretary, focusing on health care and oversight/investigations.
Justin Discigil is heading to Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s office to serve as the Texas Republican’s communications director. Discigil was previously press secretary for Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans.
Miriam Fry is now director of government relations for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. She previously was senior legislative assistant for Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.).
The House meets at 1:30 p.m. in a pro forma session.
The Senate will convene as a court of impeachment at 11:00 a.m. for four hours of closing arguments, equally divided, in the trial of President Donald Trump. Afterward, the Senate will adjourn as a court of impeachment but will remain in legislative session. Senators will be permitted to speak for up to 10 minutes on impeachment.
FRIDAY’S WINNER: Stefani Koorey was the first person to guess that Byron Raymond “Whizzer” White played on the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers, once served as United States Deputy Attorney General and was later nominated to serve as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
TODAY’S QUESTION: From Stefani: Who was the youngest and oldest First Lady? The first person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send your best guess my way at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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