President Trump defended himself on Twitter and in person to reporters on Friday, insisting that his appeals to China and Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden were all about corruption, not politics. "Everything, to me, is about corruption," Trump said, per CNN. "I don’t care about Biden’s campaign, but I do care about corruption." He also said he's not sure whether the White House will comply with House subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry, saying the decision would be up to lawyers. Related:
- Daring Pelosi: The White House will be sending a letter to Nancy Pelosi essentially "daring" her to hold an impeachment vote, reports Fox News. The White House objects to Democrats beginning an impeachment inquiry without a formal floor vote, and the letter will state that the White House isn't compelled to comply with Democratic requests until such a vote takes place, per the AP. Pelosi maintains the vote isn't necessary for the inquiry to begin.
- A 'red wall': Trump on Friday acknowledged that the House has enough votes to impeach him, though he'd only be removed from office if the Senate agrees by a two-thirds majority. Axios notes that Trump looks safe given that he has a "red wall" in the Senate—a reference to the 51 senators from states where Trump won in 2016. He needs only 34 of them to save him from impeachment. The analysis has all the particulars.
- Romney speaks out: That "red wall" means that even if some GOP senators vote against Trump, he's safe. On Friday, Mitt Romney moved closer to that opposition camp, with tweets calling Trump's appeals to Ukraine and China on Biden "wrong and appalling." He added: "When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated."
- Bad news for Schiff: The Washington Post Fact Checker blog gives Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who is leading the impeachment inquiry, a damning "Four Pinocchios" score for statements regarding the Ukraine controversy, including: “We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower. We would like to.”
- Surprise criticism: One of Trump's staunchest defenders, Tucker Carlson of Fox News, co-wrote an op-ed in the Daily Caller asserting that Trump should not have asked Ukraine's leader to investigate Biden. "Some Republicans are trying, but there’s no way to spin this as a good idea," write Carlson and Neil Patel. However, they are skeptical that it amounts to an impeachable offense.
- Senate control: Trump may have enough votes in the Senate to stay in office, if it comes to that, but the Los Angeles Times notes that the controversy could cost Republicans control of the chamber in 2020 because of vulnerable senators in tight races. They include Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Martha McSally of Arizona, and Cory Gardner of Colorado.
(Read about the newly released texts
revealing how diplomats were dealing behind the scenes with the Ukraine situation.)