Impeachment Briefing: Day 2 of the Democrats’ Case

Impeachment Briefing: Day 2 of the Democrats’ Case

This is the Impeachment Briefing, The Times’s newsletter about the impeachment investigation. , reported this week on the senators’ competing demands. I asked her about how the trio is coping.

Lisa! It’s so nice to finally have you here. I am all for newsletter cross-pollination. One aspect of the trial we haven’t spent too much time discussing is this group of senators who want to run against the president they’re also hoping to impeach. The Iowa caucuses are just days away. What do they do?

This is a situation where there are no good choices. You absolutely cannot skip the impeachment hearing. And while impeachment is not a topic that comes up a ton at their campaign events, it’s red meat for Democratic primary voters. They expect you to be there every day during the trial.

At the same time, at this point in the campaign, candidates are doing six events in Iowa a day. I talked to David Axelrod, Barack Obama’s former senior adviser, today, and he estimated that in 2008, Mr. Obama probably talked to well over 1,000 voters a day there leading up to the caucuses.

I’ve been wondering for days now: Do Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders want to be in D.C.? The White House counsel said on Tuesday that he imagined they wanted to be in Iowa.

This is a historic moment! If you are a senator, this is one of the few moments when you’re really living history, considering how little the Senate seems to be doing these days. I think they sincerely want to be here in Washington. But it’s really a Sophie’s choice.

The days end up being so long for them. If you’re stuck in the trial from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., the next morning you have to squeeze in Senate and campaign activity, starting early. The schedule will be even more demanding when you fly overnight on Saturday for one day of campaigning in Iowa. Several of them are flying private. On Sunday, we already see they’re packing in events.

You’ve been covering this campaign. Do you think being trapped in their Senate chairs will actually hurt them politically?

The classic term for this period is “M vs. O”: momentum vs. organizing. The Sanders and Warren people will make the argument that the organization of the campaign has been set in place, and it’s the organization that will carry the day.

But everyone knows Iowans would rather have the star of the show rather than a stand-in. This isn’t like campaigning in California or even New York City. It’s a place where people expect to see you in person, in their living rooms. I spoke to a woman in Iowa today who said she’d seen 19 candidates in person. They want to meet you and touch you and shake your hand.

What are some ways that the senators are making up for their Iowa absences? I saw that Mr. Sanders is having Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stump for him in Iowa.

No one has developed a hologram yet. But they’re doing tele-town halls. They’re sneaking out during dinner and coffee breaks in the trial and calling supporters. Ms. Klobuchar has been going on MSNBC, CNN and multiple local news outlets in New Hampshire and Iowa. They’re doing Twitter takeovers — Ms. Klobuchar’s daughter took over her accounts, since the senators can’t tweet from the Senate chamber during the trial.

At least one of the candidates is trying to stay in campaign shape. On Tuesday, Ms. Warren spent her trial breaks rushing to the restroom, talking to her colleagues and trying to eat food in her hideaway. They had pizza and salad. She only ate the salad, which shows an impressive amount of stress-eating discipline.

Lisa’s newsletter, On Politics, is a daily dispatch about the people and issues shaping the 2020 election. You can subscribe to it here.

  • Mr. Graham said that there would be “a lot of pressure” on him next week to subpoena the Bidens and the whistle-blower whose complaint prompted the impeachment inquiry. But Mr. Graham said he would not “give in to that pressure, because I don’t think it will serve the Senate and the country well.”

  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi has closely managed Mr. Trump’s impeachment from the beginning, and she’s not letting up during the Senate trial, even calling Mr. Schiff to check in as she wound her way through Jerusalem en route to a state dinner. Think of her as the eighth impeachment manager, my colleague Nick Fandos writes.

  • Two days into the Democrats’ presentation, restlessness has set in for the senators. My colleague Catie Edmondson chronicled the ways that lawmakers were passing the time: by doodling, chewing gum, doing crosswords, playing with Apple Watches (electronics ban be damned) and sneaking into the Senate cloakroom to check their phones. During a lunch break today, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina passed out fidget spinners for his 52 Republican colleagues.

  • Impeachment rules allow for only a few fixed cameras to be in the Senate chamber for the trial, giving us an extremely limited visual sense of the proceedings. So to make up for it, our graphics team produced a 3-D model of what the chamber looks like now.

  • Even the managers have to eat:


The Impeachment Briefing is also available as a newsletter. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every weeknight.


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