politics

Democrats target Trump defenses in first impeachment hearing
Two articulate and polished career diplomats lend gravitas to much-anticipated public event

House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, joined by other House Democrats, speaks to reporters Wednesday's hearing. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats used the first day of impeachment hearings to take aim at the various defenses President Donald Trump and his congressional allies have raised during the inquiry into his Ukraine dealings — a strategy that allows them to advance their case alongside a drumbeat of witness testimony over the next two weeks.

The House Intelligence Committee started that push Wednesday with two articulate and polished veteran diplomats, whose deep knowledge of Ukraine turned into succinct explanations of the unusual circumstances surrounding how the Trump administration handled almost $400 million in military aid to the country.

Trump, White House aides show some restraint on Day One of public impeachment hearings
‘I haven’t watched,’ president claims after spokeswoman called televised session ‘boring’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Donald Trump hold a joint press conference following their meeting at the White House on Wednesday. Trump also weighed in on Wednesday’s impeachment hearing. (Halil Sagirkaya/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — For once, the often-brash and always-combative Trump White House played it safe.

On day one of House Democrats’ public impeachment hearings, President Donald Trump and his top aides opted against firing back to sometimes-damning testimony by two administration witnesses and allegations of corrupt intent from Intelligence Committee Democrats.

Democrats urge career EPA scientist to resist research limits
Proposed EPA rule would prohibit rules based on science that doesn't identify research subjects

The EPA has proposed limits on the kinds of science that can be used to make environmental rules.  l(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The long-serving EPA scientist came to a House committee to defend a Trump administration proposal to limit the kind of science used in environmental rulemaking, but Democrats on the panel urged her to resist the change. 

Testifying before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee on Wednesday, Jennifer to stand up against the agency’s political leadership as she defended a Trump , EPA’s science adviser and principal deputy assistant administrator for science at the agency’s Office of Research and Development, defended the agency’s “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” rule as necessary for making sound decisions.

White House says Trump ‘too busy’ to watch ‘boring’ impeachment hearing
President cared more about Biden probe than corruption in Ukraine, diplomat testifies

President Donald Trump speaks at an event at the White House earlier this year. He said Wednesday he is not watching the first public impeachment hearing. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump — an avid cable news consumer — contended Wednesday he is “too busy” to watch the first public impeachment hearing, but he dismissed it as a made-for-television “hoax.”

The White House-Republican strategy for providing a counter message to testimony from acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent about two quid-pro-quos with Ukraine’s new president orchestrated by Trump began to unfold in the hearing’s first two hours.

Impeachment news roundup: Nov. 13
Two career diplomats first to offer public testimony, Trump tweets counteroffensive

William Taylor, the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, are sworn in at the House Intelligence Committee hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Two career diplomats who told congressional investigators behind closed doors of their concerns over President Donald Trump’s withholding of military aid to Ukraine and the “irregular channel” in dealing with the country conducted by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani testified today in the first public hearings in the House’s impeachment investigation.

William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, told investigators in a closed-door deposition in October that Trump used a stalled $400 million aid package to leverage Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and the involvement of his son Hunter Biden in a Ukrainian energy company. And George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, told the committees conducting the investigation in his closed-door deposition that it was his understanding that Trump wanted the Ukrainians to investigate the Bidens and whether the country tried to influence the 2016 election.

Live: First public impeachment hearing
William Taylor and George Kent will be the first two people to testify publicly in the House impeachment inquiry

Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, arrives to the Capitol for a deposition related to the House's impeachment inquiry on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call),

Ambassador William Taylor and George Kent will be the first two people to testify publicly in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

Taylor, who is slated to testify first, is the acting ambassador in Ukraine and a career diplomat who has served in Republican and Democratic administrations. Kent is the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau.

Capitol Ink | More talking points

Trump declares economic ‘boom’ underway as CBO sounds slowdown alarms
Congressional analysts predict slower GDP growth, lower labor force participation

A worker boxes orders at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Robbinsville, New Jersey. President Donald Trump said the U.S. economy is in a “boom” under his watch, but the Congressional Budget Office projects lower labor participation rates and slower GDP growth. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Despite warning signs of an economic slowdown, President Donald Trump on Tuesday told an audience of wealthy and influential New York players that the U.S. economy is booming — almost exclusively because of his stewardship.

“Today, I am proud to stand before you as President to report that we have delivered on our promises — and exceeded our expectations. We have ended the war on American Workers, we have stopped the assault on American Industry, and we have launched an economic boom the likes of which we have never seen before,” Trump said at a lunch hour address before the Economic Club of New York, the word “boom” in all capital letters on the White House-released excerpts.

How a Capitol Hill staffer and a James Bond screenwriter dramatized ‘The Report’
Political Theater, Episode 101

Journalists follow Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein as she leaves her office on her way to the chamber floor to speak about the CIA torture report being released by the committee on on Dec. 9, 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report in 2014 was a compelling episode in American history, detailing as it did the CIA’s use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists and their lack of effectiveness. That doesn’t mean the seven-year investigation that led to the report automatically lends itself to high drama, particularly when one considers that many of those seven years were spent reading sensitive CIA documents in a windowless room. That makes the new movie “The Report” that much more of an accomplishment.

Director and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns had his work cut out for him, constructing a political thriller out of the efforts led by Intelligence Committee staffer Daniel J. Jones. Burns and Jones explained some of thinking that went into the film’s narrative, as well as the issues it explores, in the latest Political Theater podcast with CQ Roll Call senior staff writer Niels Lesniewski and me. 

Moneyball, meet politics: Could VAR settle arguments about candidate strength?
Vote Above Replacement puts Klobuchar atop presidential field, Collins way above other senators

Maine Republican Susan Collins, center, outranks the entire Senate on Inside Elections’ Vote Above Replacement statistic, while Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, right, ranks highest among Democratic presidential contenders. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the era of data and metrics and models in political analysis, at least one question still remains: How do we quantify the strength of individual candidates?

Arguing over whether a candidate or incumbent is good or bad is an age-old tradition in the political media and among party operatives. Typically, candidate strength is measured by fundraising or the margin of a win or loss. But that can fail to account for the particular election cycle or the possibility that any candidate running on a particular party’s line in a particular year or state would do just as well.