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POLITICO Playbook PM: 5 hours that encapsulate the Trump era

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President Donald Trump is pictured. | Getty Images

The president appears to have reached a trade deal with China. But, at the same time, House Democrats voted this morning to send impeachment articles for a final vote. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

TALK TO REPUBLICANS, and you’ll hear this about DONALD TRUMP’S presidency: It’s confusing, befuddling and strange, and it alternates between elating and maddening. And this morning, in the span of just a few hours, all of those dynamics were evident.

THE PRESIDENT appears to have reached a trade deal with China, which avoided a round of tariffs and theoretically, if stretched to its completion, could help juice the economy in time for the election next fall. Republicans find Trump’s trade wars exhausting and ill-advised. Most people in public office want to confront China. So, to the extent he’s exacted concessions, it’s a welcome sign, and even more so, Republicans are happy there will be no further collateral damage to the economy.

RUDY GIULIANI was spotted entering the White House after a trip to Ukraine. This comes on the same day that the WSJ reported the president was eager to hear what GIULIANI found in Europe. Most Republicans want absolutely nothing to do with GIULIANI, and believe his diplomacy is clownish and rogue. Pic, via CNN’s Kevin Liptak

BUT, AT THE SAME TIME, HOUSE DEMOCRATS voted this morning to send impeachment articles for a final vote, readying to tattoo an asterisk next to TRUMP’S presidency. Instead of focusing on the economy — which is showing signs of strength — the president and his aides harp on impeachment, setting expectations that can’t be met, and decline to defend him on Capitol Hill.

THE VOTES … 23-17 — party line — to send the two impeachment articles to the floor.

WHAT’S NEXT: THE HOUSE RULES COMMITTEE, which sets parameters for floor debate, will meet TUESDAY, in advance of what we expect to be a WEDNESDAY vote. The ledeall from Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio

TRUMP IN THE OVAL, to reporters as he met with Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez: “This has been a wild week.”

— ON THE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: “I’ll do long or short. … I wouldn’t mind the longer process, because I’d like to see the whistleblower who is a fraud.”

— SPOILER ALERT: Senate Republicans are moving toward a shorter process, and the whistleblower will not be testifying in the Senate, just as Hunter and Joe Biden will not be testifying.

SWING-DISTRICT WATCH — “Dallas Rep. Colin Allred, a Democrat facing tough 2020 race, will vote to impeach Trump,” by The Dallas Morning News’ Tom Bennon

— ICYMI: “Conor Lamb supports impeachment: ‘What the president did was wrong,’” by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Natasha Lindstrom

POPPING IN KYIV — “Ukraine’s Leader, Wiser to Washington, Seeks New Outreach to Trump,” by NYT’s Ken Vogel and Andrew Kramer: “Eager to repair their country’s fraught relationship with Washington, allies of President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine have met with lobbyists with close ties to the Trump administration, hopeful of creating new channels of communication.

“After more than two months of anxious waiting, Mr. Zelensky finally appears to have won support from the White House for a candidate to fill Ukraine’s vacant ambassadorship to the United States. And Mr. Zelensky, still deeply dependent on American assistance, has been signaling, in hardly subtle fashion, that he and his officials will not assist in the impeachment process, keeping quiet in particular about the fact that his government knew weeks earlier than it has publicly acknowledged that Mr. Trump had frozen nearly $ 400 million in military aid to Ukraine.” NYT

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THE DETAILS ON THE CHINA DEAL … “U.S. and China Reach Initial Trade Deal,” by NYT’s Keith Bradsher, Alan Rappeport, Ana Swanson and Chris Buckley in Beijing: “The United States and China have agreed to an initial trade deal that will result in a reduction of tariffs and purchases of American farm goods, marking a significant de-escalation in the 19-month battle that has rattled the world economy. …

“Wang Shouwen, China’s vice commerce minister, said at a news conference in Beijing that the two sides had made “significant progress” and that the agreement would result in the United States removing some of the tariffs it has placed on $ 360 billion worth of Chinese goods. Those tariffs would come off “phase by phase” and the United States would agree to exempt more Chinese products from being taxed, he said. … Mr. Wang said both sides have agreed to complete legal reviews as quickly as possible and that an official signing was still being worked out.” NYT

— BLOOMBERG’S ERIK WASSON (@elwasson): “USTR statement: ‘The United States will be maintaining 25 percent tariffs on approximately $ 250 billion of Chinese imports, along with 7.5 percent tariffs on approximately $ 120 billion of Chinese imports.’” The statement

FIVETHIRTYEIGHT just launched its official primary polling averages. National: Joe Biden 26.2%, Bernie Sanders 17%, Elizabeth Warren 14.9%, Pete Buttigieg 9.6% … Iowa: Buttigieg +1.1 … New Hampshire: Buttigieg +0.8 … Nevada: Biden +6.7 … South Carolina: Biden +21.6. All the averagesDetailed explanation

Happy Friday afternoon.

KNOWING ELISE STEFANIK … WAPO’S GRIFF WITTE in Glens Falls, N.Y.: “A moderate congresswoman went all-in for Trump. Her constituents think they know why”: “When Rep. Elise Stefanik ran for reelection in 2016, observers here dubbed her ‘the tightrope walker’ for the way she delicately tiptoed around the question of Donald Trump.

“She had once insisted he could never win the Republican nomination. Once he did, she kept him at a careful distance — acknowledging, when pressed, that she supported the man at the top of her party’s ticket while generally avoiding any mention of his name. Three years later, with Trump’s presidency on the line, Stefanik (R-N.Y.) shot to his defense with all the subtlety of a human cannonball. …

“In a reasonably solid Republican district like this one, where politics has become increasingly polarized, there’s no appetite for ambiguity among the voters who define Stefanik’s base.

“‘When I saw her on Fox News, I said, ‘This is who we elected — someone who will stand up and fight,’’ said James Grinter, a 74-year-old Vietnam veteran, retired social worker and Stefanik campaign volunteer. ‘People say, “Well, she’s just become a mouthpiece for the president.” But I feel like this is one area where she and the president have to agree.’” WaPo

THE SPEAKERS SQUAD — “Ryan, Boehner, Gingrich Team Up to Defend GOP Power in States,” by WSJ’s Gabriel Rubin: “Former House Speakers Paul Ryan, John Boehner and Newt Gingrich plan a fundraising campaign to defend Republican-controlled legislatures in Texas, Pennsylvania and a handful of other states from an onslaught of Democratic money and attention.

“Control over the congressional redistricting process is at stake in 2020: The Republican State Leadership Committee cites estimates that as few as 42 state legislative races could determine as much as a 136-seat swing in the House over the next decade, based on how those legislatures draw new maps.” WSJ

2020 WATCH … U.K. ELECTION FALLOUT: “Biden warns that Boris Johnson’s victory shows dangers of parties leaning too far left,” by Quint Forgey: “Predicting news headlines reporting the thumping by Johnson’s Tories, Biden said: ‘Look what happens when the Labour Party moves so, so far to the left. It comes up with ideas that are not able to be contained within a rational basis quickly.’

“Biden went on to assert that the prime minister’s triumph would change public perceptions regarding Trump’s odds of re-election. ‘You’re also going to see people saying, “My God, Boris Johnson, who is kind of a physical and emotional clone of the president, is able to win,”’ he said.” POLITICO

— NYT: “Democrats Agree on One Thing: They’re Very, Very Nervous,” by Sarah Lyall in Greenwood, S.C.: “Some people are suffering from general political angst. Others have specific qualms: a concern that their favorite candidate lacks that essential quality, electability; a worry that fellow Democrats will become disillusioned if their chosen candidate fails to get the nomination and will vote for a third-party candidate, or for Mr. Trump, or for no one at all.” NYT

THE FRIDAY COVER … LIZA MUNDY for POLITICO MAGAZINE: “Elizabeth Warren’s Stealth Feminism: Outside the organized women’s movement, she cracked the walls of the boys’ club in her own way. Will it help or hurt her in 2020?”

— JOHN HARRIS COLUMN: “Why Warren’s drop in the polls is good news for her”: “The enduring problem for progressive reformist candidates is that their campaigns come to be seen as precious. They convey that politics is an exercise in conceptual abstraction — may the smartest candidate with the most elegant message win — rather than an exercise in power and human connection. No one doubts that these candidates are smart. They typically falter over doubts that they are tough

“Sometimes a damaging setback — and a fight back — is precisely the lucky break a candidate needs.” POLITICO Magazine

THE POLICY PRIMARY — “Buttigieg, Billed as Moderate, Touts Progressive Economic Plan,” by WSJ’s Jacob Schlesinger and John McCormick: “Mr. Buttigieg has a Wall Street tax plan with new levies on financial transactions and capital gains. He wants to uproot decades of labor law, giving unions more clout to counter big business. And he proposes raising Social Security taxes and benefits, while also contemplating slavery reparations for African-Americans. …

“Like most other candidates in the race, the Buttigieg platform espouses a far more-activist government than Mr. Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton ever proposed.” WSJ

— “How Booker’s education plan reverses his past support for private school vouchers,” by Nicole Gaudiano: “Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker on Friday announced a new K-12 education plan that says he opposes funding for private school vouchers and tax credits, though he is still listed as a co-sponsor of legislation supporting the nation’s only federally funded private school voucher program and he’s been a longtime supporter of vouchers.

“The plan also offers support for ‘high quality’ charter schools, even as progressive candidates say they would restrict their growth. The New Jersey Democrat says the plan to ‘ensure educational opportunity for every child and community’ would spend at least $ 200 billion on school infrastructure and increase pay for teachers in high-poverty districts by up to $ 15,500. He does not provide the plan’s total cost or say how he’ll pay for it.” POLITICO … The plan

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WHAT THE E-RING IS READING … BRYAN BENDER: “Brass to troops: Stay out of political firestorm”: “Rank and file troops sharing candidates’ positions on social media. MAGA ball caps on display at military bases. Former soldiers, pardoned of war crimes charges, appearing on stage with the commander-in-chief at a political fundraiser.

“These and other examples of partisanship seeping into the armed forces are prompting generals and admirals to confront what they see as a growing threat — the active-duty military losing its hard-fought role in society as a force untainted by politics. Now, with President Donald Trump facing both reelection and a Senate impeachment trial, the brass is warning the troops to be vigilant against being ambushed.”

— ABC’S ELIZABETH MCLAUGHLIN (@Elizabeth_McLau): “Defense Secretary Esper declines to answer question at CFR if it is appropriate for President Trump to campaign with the service members he pardoned. Says he’s a strong believer in the UCMJ but the president is part of the process, as Gen. Milley said yesterday.”

MEGATREND — “‘A Cesspool of a Dungeon’: The Surging Population in Rural Jails,” by NYT’s Richard Oppel Jr. in Morristown, Tenn.: “Jail populations used to be concentrated in big cities. But since 2013, the number of people locked up in rural, conservative counties such as Hamblen has skyrocketed, driven by the nation’s drug crisis. The disparity has meant that while jail populations have dropped 18 percent in urban areas since 2013, they have climbed 27 percent in rural areas during that same period, according to estimates in the report from Vera, a nonprofit group that works to improve justice systems. …

“There are now about 167,000 inmates in urban jails and 184,000 in rural ones, Vera said. Suburban jail populations have remained about the same since 2013, while small and midsize cities saw a 7 percent increase. Rural jails now lock up people at a rate more than double that of urban areas. And increasingly, those inmates are women. Hamblen County officials said the number of female inmates in their jail has doubled in the past decade.” NYT

TV TONIGHT — Bob Costa sits down with Jake, NYT’s Peter Baker, WaPo’s Karoun Demirjian and AP’s Darlene Superville at 8 p.m. on PBS’ “Washington Week.”

SPOTTED at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ 2019 Ripple of Hope Awards on Thursday night in New York, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi, J.K. Rowling, Wendy Abrams and Glen Tullman were honored: Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Max Rose (D-N.Y.), Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) …

… Kerry Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy Jr., Melinna Bobadilla, Katie Couric, Brian D’Arcy James, Trevor Donovan, Kathryn Erbe, Giancarlo Esposito, Peter Frampton, Darrell Green, Lasse Hallström, Cheryl Hines, Tony Hollingsworth, Nicholas Kristof, Don Lemon, Chad Lowe, Malachy McCourt, Diane Neal, Lena Olin, Jennifer Prescott, Gloria Reuben, Paul Sorvino, Max Starks IV, Sam Waterston, Treat Williams and Scott Wolf.

MEDIAWATCH — Mike Murphy, Biz Carson, Lauren Hepler and Janko Roettgers are joining Protocol. Murphy will cover how tech is transforming and previously was at Quartz. Carson and Hepler will be Silicon Valley reporters and previously were at Forbes and freelancing. Roettgers will be a tech, media and entertainment reporter and previously was at Variety.

Source: Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

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