Jeff Sessions running for Senate. Top diplomat now recalls quid pro quo on Ukraine aid. Takeaway from state elections. The Supreme Court takes up the Clean Water Act. The roundable is here.
Jackie Kucinich, Washington bureau chief for The Daily Beast. (@JFKucinich)
Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)
From The Reading List
Washington Post: “Opinion: Republicans can only blame themselves for losing in Virginia” — “Tuesday night saw the completion of Virginia’s transformation from red to blue, as Democrats took control of both houses of the General Assembly for the first time in a generation.
“The shift began a decade ago at the top of the ballot. Virginia voted for Republican presidential candidates in every race between 1968 and 2008, but it has not voted for one since.
“Some of the forces at work were demographic: an influx of immigrants, a tech boom that brought a surge of highly educated and affluent residents to the northern suburbs.
“But the wounds the Republicans have suffered have also been self-inflicted, as their party in Virginia was taken over by hard-line forces on the right.”
New York Times: “Attorney General Declined Trump Request to Declare Nothing Illegal in Ukraine Call” — “President Trump asked that Attorney General William P. Barr hold a news conference to declare that he had broken no laws in a telephone call with Ukraine’s president that is now at the heart of the Democratic impeachment inquiry, but Mr. Barr declined, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
“Mr. Trump’s request came shortly after the White House released a reconstructed transcript of a July 25 call in which the president pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to launch investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats. An intelligence whistle-blower pointed to the call as evidence that the president had tried to enlist a foreign power to help him in the 2020 presidential election, and House Democrats started an impeachment inquiry into whether the president’s conduct warranted his removal from office.
“Mr. Trump, who has aggressively pushed Republicans and administration officials to say he did nothing wrong, has repeatedly said the call was ‘perfect.’ In the days after the reconstructed transcript was released to the public, the White House told the Justice Department of Mr. Trump’s desire for Mr. Barr to appear publicly, according to the person who was told of it. The request was first reported by The Washington Post.”
The Daily Beast: “House GOP Lawyer Tried to Out Whistleblower in Bill Taylor Interview” — “The lead impeachment inquiry lawyer for House Republicans named the alleged Trump-Ukraine whistleblower during a deposition with a key State Department witness.
“U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor told the lawyer that he did not know the person and had not had conversations with him. But the fact that he was asked at all underscores what appears to be a longstanding strategy by committee Republicans to insert his name into the public record. The name of the individual ultimately was included in the transcript of Taylor’s deposition.
“In subsequent depositions, Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to use the witness interviews as back-door channels for outing the whistleblower. Their fears have grown even more pronounced in recent days as several lawmakers—most notably Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)—have threatened to subpoena and reveal the identity of the whistleblower. The president’s son, Don Jr., appeared to take things even farther, tweeting out an article from Breitbart on Wednesday morning naming the alleged whistleblower.”
New York Times: “Republicans Claim Trump Closed a 17-Point Gap in Kentucky. That’s Not Quite What Happened.” — “It seemed in many ways like nothing new: another high-ranking Republican official offering a dubious assertion about the potent political powers of President Trump.
“But a claim from the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel — that Mr. Trump helped lift Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky from a 17-point deficit in the polls to nearly even in Tuesday’s election — took the president’s practice of crediting himself to a new level.
“‘No one energizes our base like @realDonaldTrump,’ Ms. McDaniel said in a late-night tweet on Tuesday. She also included the polling deficit, which did not match up with the vast majority of public polls or internal surveys conducted by campaigns in the weeks before the election or with the Republican Party’s own recent surveys. The tweet left the impression that the gap in the polls was fairly recent.
“Trying to frame Mr. Bevin’s apparent loss as a ninth-inning rally that fell just shy of a win, Ms. McDaniel also noted that five of the other six Republicans on the ballot in Kentucky won their races and that ‘President Trump helped lift the entire ticket.’ “
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.