Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. On this day in 1789, the Senate had a busy day, confirming Thomas Jefferson as the first United States secretary of state; John Jay, the first chief justice; Edmund Randolph, the first attorney general.
To put those numbers into perspective: A conservative-drafted national ban on abortions after 15 weeks of fetal development has 94 co-sponsors, or about 44 percent of the House Republican caucus.
But that could all change after November’s midterm elections — if Republicans fulfill predictions that they will retake the House. After all, one likely reason impeachment resolutions currently get vanishingly small support currently is that they are pointless in a chamber run by Democrats.
But it’s not just whether the House is in GOP hands. It also depends on the composition of a Republican majority — one that would almost certainly be closer to former president Donald Trump, who regularly demands his supporters go after Democrats, including Biden.
- For example: Trump-endorsed GOP House nominee Joe Kent (Wash.) has repeatedly promised to “drop impeachment papers” on Biden and Vice President Harris “on day one.”
“I believe there's a lot of pressure on Republicans to have that vote, to put that legislation forward, and to have that vote. I think that is something that some folks are considering,” Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) told NBC’s Meet The Press on Sunday.
Mace told moderator Chuck Todd doing so would be “divisive, which is why I push back on it personally” and said she might oppose impeaching Biden on “due process” grounds. But she still left the door wide open to voting “yes” on removing the president.
Retaliation or high crimes and misdemeanors?
OK, but for what, though? The Constitution lays out a process by which the House formally accuses a president of treason, bribery, “or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The Senate needs a two-thirds majority to convict and remove the commander in chief from office.
Existing impeachment resolutions against Biden center on his son Hunter Biden’s alleged financial improprieties, the president’s covid policies, his handling of the southern border, the summer 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan and selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to reduce gas prices.
- But the core underlying reason looks more like the politics of retaliation. House Republicans released a slate of policy priorities last week, but it’s long been clear that they drew more energy and enthusiasm from the idea of getting revenge on Democrats upon retaking power.
It’s telling, for instance, that a GOP resolution to expunge Trump’s impeachment over his role in fueling the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol has 33 co-sponsors — more than all of the impeachment measures going after Biden, combined.
That was Trump’s second impeachment. His first came after he attempted to use American military aid to Ukraine to coerce that country’s president to announce an investigation into Hunter Biden, which would have benefited Trump politically heading into 2020.
Back in January, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) predicted on his “Verdict with Ted Cruz” podcast that Republicans would impeach Biden “whether it’s justified or not.”
“That’s not how impeachment is meant to work, but I think the Democrats crossed that line,” he said. “I think there’ll be enormous pressure on a Republican House to begin impeachment proceedings.”
Impeach the cabinet
But will those impeachment proceedings go after Biden? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been noncommittal. Rep. Elise Stefanik, the No. 3 House Republican, supports the resolution to expunge Trump’s second impeachment and is obviously no fan of Biden’s.
Joe Biden is unfit to serve as President of the United States of America.— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) August 16, 2021
But she hasn’t lined up behind the push to impeach him.
Whether they go after Biden directly or not, Republicans could test the waters by trying to impeach senior administration officials.
- A resolution targeting Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has 31 co-sponsors. Another aimed at Secretary of State Antony Blinken has 14 co-sponsors. Two others focus on Attorney General Merrick Garland. One more is about Vice President Harris.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has hedged on impeaching Biden.
But here’s what he said in April about Mayorkas: “This is his moment in time to do his job. But at any time if someone is derelict in their job, there is always the option of impeaching somebody.”
Republicans can’t realistically get enough Democratic senators to rally the two-thirds majority needed to remove cabinet members, much less Biden.
But if the House acted anyway, that would mean three out of the past five presidents got impeached. President Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 on charges stemming from his sexual relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. And Richard M. Nixon resigned in 1974 when it became clear there was considerable Republican support for impeaching him.
Clinton’s impeachment looms large over the discussion. GOP leaders who drove the process thought the country believed as they did that he was a disgrace and should be removed. Instead, the voters punished Republicans in the 1998 midterm elections. And 2024 just isn’t that far away.
What’s happening now
Kremlin in ‘sporadic’ contact with U.S. over nuclear weapons issue after Washington warning
“The Kremlin said on Monday it was in ‘sporadic’ contact with the United States on nuclear issues, a day after Washington warned of ‘catastrophic consequences’ if Moscow used nuclear weapons to protect Ukrainian regions it looks set to annex,” Reuters' Tom Balmforth reports.
Gunman attacks Russian military center
“A gunman was detained after he shot and severely wounded an official overseeing Russia’s military mobilization at a commissariat in the Irkutsk region in Siberia, the area’s governor, Igor Ivanovich Kobzev, said Monday on Telegram. The official, Alexander Eliseevan, is in ‘critical condition’ and undergoing emergency medical treatment, the governor said,” Annabelle Timsit and Kelly Kasulis Cho report.
Ian strengthens to hurricane as it churns toward Florida
“The National Hurricane Center upgraded Ian to a hurricane early Monday, as the storm intensifies and heads toward the coast of Florida this week, on its way to becoming the first significant hurricane to hit the state since 2018,” Dan Diamond and Scott Dance report.
Lunchtime reads from The Post
As more states create election integrity units, Arizona is a cautionary tale
“After investigating thousands of complaints in the last three years, a special unit in the Arizona attorney general’s office created to crack down on illegal voting and other election-related crimes has prosecuted just 20 cases in a state of more than 4 million voters. The total represents a slight increase from the 16 cases brought by the office in a previous six-year period, according to court filings and hundreds of pages of public records,” Beth Reinhard and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez report.
“Most prosecutions are small-bore, isolated cases of illegal voting, such as six felons who cast ballots though their voting rights were not restored, and three women who turned in ballots for their mothers, who had recently died.”
How a QAnon splinter group became a feature of Trump rallies
“The arrival of the QAnon group … has led to a silent standoff with Trump’s team, raising concerns that they could disrupt events, alienate other fans, distract from the former president’s message or generate bad publicity. The crew of crowd-control staff — male and female body builders in tight, silky green polos and black pants — keeps a close watch on the Negative48 group, telling them they can’t block the aisles with their dancing and, in Wilmington on Friday, working to head off another scene of index fingers pointing to the sky,” Isaac Arnsdorf reports.
… and beyond
Pollsters fear they’re blowing it again in 2022
“Once again, polls over the past two months are showing Democrats running stronger than once expected in a number of critical midterm races. It’s left some wondering whether the rosy results are setting the stage for another potential polling failure that dashes Democratic hopes of retaining control of Congress — and vindicates the GOP’s assertion that the polls are unfairly biased against them,” Politico's Steven Shepard reports.
After rocky start, hopes up in Oregon drug decriminalization
“Two years after Oregon residents voted to decriminalize hard drugs and dedicate hundreds of millions of dollars to treatment, few people have requested the services and the state has been slow to channel the funds,” the Associated Press' Andrew Selsky reports.
The Biden agenda
Trump installed a historic number of judges. Biden is outpacing him so far.
“President Biden has won Senate confirmation for more than 80 of his nominees to be federal judges, a breakneck speed that outpaces former president Donald Trump at this juncture of his presidency,” NBC News' Sahil Kapur reports.
“The Democratic-led Senate confirmed four new circuit court judges in the last two weeks, most recently U.S. District Judge Florence Pan to the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, by a 52-42 vote, bringing Biden's total to 83. By contrast, Trump had installed 69 judges at this point in his tenure.”
The Biden-Trump rematch, in many ways, has already begun
“The country seems to be barreling toward a rematch that few voters actually want, but that two presidents — one current, one former — cannot stop talking about. Biden and Trump both say they are planning to make their decisions in the coming months, but with a lingering codependency between them, they each appear to be nudging the other into what would be a rare faceoff between the same two candidates four years apart,” Matt Viser reports.
Biden to propose airlines disclose extra fees up front
“President Biden is expected to announce a new proposal Monday that would require airlines and ticket sales websites to disclose additional fees up front, according to the Department of Transportation, aiming to add a dose of transparency to the process of booking travel,” Ian Duncan reports.
TikTok seen moving toward U.S. security deal, but hurdles remain
“The Biden administration and TikTok have drafted a preliminary agreement to resolve national security concerns posed by the Chinese-owned video app but face hurdles over the terms, as the platform negotiates to keep operating in the United States without major changes to its ownership structure, four people with knowledge of the discussions said,” the New York Times' Lauren Hirsch, David McCabe, Katie Benner and Glenn Thrush report.
The split over Congress, visualized
“With control of the House and Senate possibly shifting from Democrats to Republicans in November and the country deeply divided, 2 in 3 registered voters see this election as more important than past midterm campaigns. That’s the same percentage that said this in 2018 when turnout surged to the highest in a century,” Dan Balz, Emily Guskin and Scott Clement report.
Explore the full results of the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll here.
Hot on the left
Ex-staffer’s unauthorized book about Jan. 6 committee rankles members
“News that a former adviser to the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection is publishing a book billed as a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at the committee’s work came as a shock to most lawmakers and committee staff when it was announced last week,” Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey report.
“Denver Riggleman, a former Republican congressman, is set to publish ‘The Breach’ on Tuesday, just one day before the final public hearing of the Jan. 6 panel, which has gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent unauthorized leaks, as well as keep its sources and methods of investigation under wraps.”
Hot on the right
The megastate GOP rivalry between Abbott and DeSantis
“Publicly, [Texas Gov. Greg Abbott] has not criticized [Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’] migrant flights from his state. ‘Every state that wants to help, I’m happy for it,’ said Dave Carney, Mr. Abbott’s top campaign strategist,” the NYT's Michael C. Bender and J. David Goodman report.
“But privately, the Florida governor’s gambit stung Mr. Abbott’s team. No one in the Texas governor’s office was given a heads-up that Mr. DeSantis planned to round up migrants in San Antonio, according to people familiar with the matter.”
Today in Washington
At 4:15 p.m., Biden will speak at a meeting of the White House Competition Council.
A former vice president was tried for treason for an insurrection plot
“On Aug. 3, 1807, in Richmond, Chief Justice John Marshall opened the trial of former vice president Aaron Burr. The charge: treason against the United States. Burr was accused of plotting an armed insurrection against the government,” Ronald G. Shafer writes.
“More than two centuries later, potential treason is being discussed again following the latest twists in the Justice Department’s investigation of former president Donald Trump, including the revelation that the FBI discovered a top-secret document about a foreign nation’s nuclear capabilities at Trump’s estate in Florida.”
Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.