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STRATEGERY … “Trump Impeachment Trial in Doubt as Democrats Weigh Withholding Articles,” via NYT: In comments that underscored the risks [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi faces in withholding the articles, [Senate majority leader Mitch] McConnell effectively argued that the delay reflected a weak case against Mr. Trump, a blink by the Democrats in their standoff with the president …
[Senator Lindsey] Graham, who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he spoke Thursday morning with Mr. Trump, who asked him, “What’s happening?”
“He’s puzzled,” Mr. Graham said. “I tried the best I could to explain it. I’m puzzled, too.”
POTUS WELCOMES DEFECTOR WITH OPEN ARMS … “Trump welcomes Rep. Van Drew, an impeachment foe switching parties to join GOP,” via WAPO: Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who emerged in recent weeks as an anti-impeachment Democrat, switched parties Thursday to join the GOP, one day after he opposed both articles of impeachment against President Trump—and following weeks of courting by the president, allies of the president, and administration officials …
The announcement is one of the White House’s first acts of political combat following Wednesday’s impeachment vote, with the intent of casting the Democratic Party as consumed with investigating the president and inhospitable to moderates.
SHARPTON GROUP CHANNELS HYMIETOWN ROOTS … “Sharpton-Led Group Backs Jersey City Official Who Said Jews Are to Blame for Anti-Semitic Attack,” by WFB’s Adam Kredo: Al Sharpton’s National Action Network has come to the defense of a Jersey City elected official facing pressure to resign over her anti-Semitic comments regarding a recent attack on a kosher market in the city.
While officials from across the Jersey City community have called on Joan Terrell to resign from public office over a social media comment blaming Jews for an anti-Semitic shooting, a local member of Sharpton’s National Action Network said Terrell’s critics should “shut their mouths,” according to a report by NJ.com.
THIS RESISTANCE IS ARMED … “‘Like a Freight Train’: 9 Out of 10 Virginia Counties Declare Themselves 2nd Amendment Sanctuaries,” by WFB’s Stephen Gutowski: The grassroots push for Virginia counties to say they won’t enforce gun bans even if passed by the state legislature is spreading “like a freight train,” with nearly 9 out of 10 counties in the state declaring themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries” and thousands of people expected to show up for a pro-gun rally in the state capital next month.
“It’s been like a freight train,” said Philip Van Cleave, whose Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) has helped organize the sanctuary movement. “It started moving and it’s moving under its own weight at this point. It’s amazing.”
SEND THE BOMBERS … “Pompeo Vows to Stand Beside Iranian Protesters Seeking to Topple Hardline Regime,” by WFB’s Adam Kredo: In one of the clearest signs to date that the Trump administration is moving toward support for regime change in Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threw the weight of the administration behind a growing protest movement in the Islamic Republic that is now threatening to topple the theocratic ruling regime.
Pompeo said at the State Department on Thursday that the Trump administration stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Iranian demonstrators who have taken to the streets amid a bloody crackdown by the regime that has already killed more than 1,000 people.
FOR SOME, RESISTANCE NETWORK STILL NOT CRAZY ENOUGH … “MSNBC’s Biggest Election Year Fight May Be With the Left,” via THR: “Some members of the public are under the mistaken impression that MSNBC is the progressive counter to Fox News, which couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “It’s not a progressive perspective. It’s an establishment perspective.” …
For MSNBC’s sake, progressive activists are urging the network to course-correct and tap into party energy on the left before it’s too late. [Cenk] Uygur notes, “If throughout this election cycle they never have progressives on, there’s no way to undo that damage.”
STILL SMITTEN … “UPDATE: CNN Reporter Who Worships Democrats Writes Puff Piece on Pelosi’s ‘Power’,” by WFB’s Andrew Stiles: [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi’s “power” is referenced throughout the piece. She is “the most powerful woman in the country.” Her decision to delay sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate to initiate a trial was “an extraordinary and unprecedented power move.” The speaker has “forged a new image of the woman in power in the age of Trump,” while becoming “a force in her own right determined to rise above the fray.”
President Trump remains a “clear threat to Pelosi’s power,” but the clash of personalities “appears to be a draw,” despite the contrasting styles—Trump’s “outrage” versus Pelosi’s “restrained sorrow.”
HARRY POTTER AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MAGICAL GENITALIA … “J.K. Rowling’s latest tweet seems like transphobic BS. Her fans are heartbroken.,” via VOX: Eagle-eyed Harry Potter fans have spent several years voicing their growing concerns that their hero, author J.K. Rowling, might be transphobic …
In addition to this long, problematic history, trans fans have spent several years pointing out that, for a while now, Rowling seems to have been subtly sending what might best be described as transphobic dog whistles.
NANNY STATE BIPARTISANSHIP … “The Legal Smoking Age In The US Is Changing To 21,” via BUZZFEED: The legal age in the United States to smoke will rise to 21 next year, according to a new law passed by Congress on Thursday. The age increase will cover cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and all other tobacco products.
President Donald Trump voiced support for the change in November and is expected to sign the bill in the coming days, part of a larger spending bill that will prevent a federal government shutdown.
SURVIVE AND ADVANCE … “How Trump Won 2019,” by WFB’s Matthew Continetti: He also has made the most of his adversaries’ weaknesses: not just the character traits he turns into nicknames but the zealotry that manifests itself in overreach and radicalism …
President Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago impeached but defiant, with a new NAFTA and a “Phase One” China deal, 185 federal judges, the lowest unemployment in half a century, a stock market that has increased by 50 percent since Election Day 2016, a unified party, and an opposition barreling toward a confusing and bruising primary. Trump won 2019, but this is the preseason. The real game begins in 2020.
DAYS SINCE JOE BIDEN DID A SUNDAY SHOW: 1,104. Come back, Joe!
“You know who really doesn’t have it? Joe Biden.” —Former President Barack Obama
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David Rutz is senior writer at the Washington Free Beacon. He was previously a sports reporter for two years in Atlanta and has done freelance sports reporting for the Washington Post. He graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2010 and lives in Marietta, Ga. His Twitter handle is @DavidRutz.