By Dylan Stableford (YAHOO!)
Welcome to 2020 Vision, the new Yahoo News column covering the presidential race. Reminder: There are 290 days until the Iowa caucuses, and 563 days until the 2020 presidential election.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., became the first 2020 Democratic candidate to call for President Trump’s impeachment, breaking with the party’s leadership in the House.
“The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty,” wrote Warren on Twitter late Friday afternoon. “That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer have both downplayed the idea of impeachment, with Hoyer calling it “not worthwhile” and Pelosi saying she wouldn’t move forward without a bipartisan consensus.
All the candidates running for the 2020 presidential nomination issued statements responding to special counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report on the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia and President Trump’s repeated attempts to thwart the investigation. Most of them focused on Attorney General William Barr’s press conference 90 minutes before a redacted version of the report was released to the public.
“We can’t trust Trump’s handpicked AG to be transparent about the Mueller report,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., tweeted. “Congress needs to see it in full — and the public needs to know whether Trump obstructed justice.”
“The American people deserve the truth,” Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., wrote on Twitter. “Not spin from a Trump appointee.”
“Attorney General Barr has made it clear he is not impartial when it comes to this investigation,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., tweeted. “Now that we have the report, we should hear from Robert Mueller himself in public hearings. Our democracy demands it.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said that Barr “must resign.”
“You can represent the people OR you can represent the President,” Swalwell tweeted. “But you can’t do both.”
Notably, none of their reactions included calls for Trump’s impeachment.
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg joined Swalwell in calling for Barr’s resignation.
“He’s put himself in this incredibly humiliating position,” Buttigieg told reporters in Londonderry, N.H., Friday, adding: “I think given the legitimate concerns whether as attorney general his true loyalty is to the president or the Constitution … I would advise him to step aside.”
Their comments, excerpted or in full, are at the bottom of this report.
Biden to announce bid next week
After months of varying updates on the status of former Vice President Joe Biden, there are now multiple reports stating that Biden will officially enter the race. Originally reported by the Atlantic on Friday morning and subsequently confirmed by Associated Press and CNN, Biden is expected to launch his campaign on Wednesday with a video message.
Biden still leads in most early polling but came under fire earlier this month when seven women came forward to say that he touched them inappropriately. Biden declined to apologize, and even joked about the allegations, but promised to do a better job of recognizing people’s “personal space.” A Politico/Morning Consult poll taken after the allegations were made public found half of Democrats saying the allegations made no difference in their vote while 29 percent said they made them less likely to support him.
Biden previously ran for president in 1988, when he dropped out after a plagiarism scandal, and in 2008, when he withdrew following the Iowa caucuses. — Christopher Wilson
“That does not particularly animate me right now.”
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, on the prospect of a Biden run, in an interview with the Yahoo News “Skullduggery” podcast.
Castro getting a bump among Latinos
Former San Antonio mayor and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro has struggled to gain traction in the 2020 primary, lagging in the polls and still shy of the 65,000-donor mark that would help him lock in a spot on the June debate stage. But a recent poll found that when you increase the number of Latinos surveyed, Castro’s prospects improve. A poll released Thursday showed Castro with the fourth-highest favorability rating among all Democratic candidates, trailing just Biden, Sanders and O’Rourke. The poll also found Castro with the lowest unfavorable rating of all candidates, at just 18 percent.
If Castro, the only Hispanic candidate currently in the race, can survive the earliest debates and contests, the map starts to become friendlier. Nevada, the third primary race, scheduled for Feb. 22, has a substantial Latino population. On March 3, millions of Latino voters will head to the polls in California and Texas (Castro’s home state) for a packed Super Tuesday slate. Earlier this month, Castro became the first 2020 candidate to put forth an immigration plan, which would roll back laws put in place by Trump and former President George W. Bush.
“It’s becoming much more noticeable that @JulianCastro is gaining traction in the Latino community,” tweeted immigration activist Astrid Silva Friday morning, citing his ranking in the new poll. — Christopher Wilson
Bernie’s Fox in Trump’s hen house
Bernie Sanders drew big ratings and rave reviews for his Fox News town hall on Monday night. And President Trump was not pleased.
On Tuesday morning, he blasted moderator Bret Baier and the studio audience for their warm welcome of the Vermont independent senator and self-described democratic socialist — and Fox News for its hiring of former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile.
“So weird to watch Crazy Bernie on @FoxNews,” he tweeted. “Not surprisingly, @BretBaier and the ‘audience’ was so smiley and nice. Very strange, and now we have @donnabrazile?” (It’s unclear who the president meant by “we.”) Trump followed up with three more tweets about Sanders on Tuesday night.
According to Nielsen, Sanders’s town hall on Fox News drew more than 2.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched town hall of the 2020 election cycle so far. Before Monday, the most viewers for a Democratic presidential candidate came in January, when CNN drew 1.95 million viewers for its town hall with Sen. Kamala Harris.
Sanders’s appearance came after the Democratic National Committee announced that none of the party’s 2020 primary debates would be held on Fox News, which Democrats view as a mouthpiece for Trump.
But Sanders seems to have paved the way for some of his rival candidates. The Hill reported that South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg is in talks with Fox about appearing in a town hall event on the network. And according to the Daily Beast, three others — Eric Swalwell, Tim Ryan and Julián Castro — are also interested in a Fox spot.
“Looks like President Trump is scared of our campaign. He should be.”
— Bernie Sanders
CNN’s town hall marathon
Speaking of town halls, CNN is hosting five consecutive one-hour presidential town halls in New Hampshire on Monday night with candidates who have already appeared on CNN town halls.
• Amy Klobuchar (moderated by Chris Cuomo) at 7 p.m. ET
• Elizabeth Warren (moderated by Anderson Cooper) at 8 p.m. ET
• Bernie Sanders (moderated by Cuomo) at 9 p.m. ET
• Kamala Harris (moderated by Don Lemon) at 10 p.m. ET.
• Pete Buttigieg (moderated by Cooper) at 11 p.m. ET
The event will take place on the campus of Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire and is “focused on issues of importance to young voters,” according to the network.
2020 candidates react to Mueller report
“Robert Mueller must testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee as soon as possible. Congress & the American people need to hear directly from the person who authored the report.”
“The Mueller report is a disturbing if not completely surprising collection of evidence that shows a president putting his own interests ahead of the country’s. Today again demonstrates why we need to change the channel in 2020.”
“Far from exonerating anyone, the Special Counsel report exposes disgraceful behavior by Donald Trump and his inner circle — both in seeking assistance from Russia & attempting to cover it up. Mueller should testify and Congress should investigate charges of obstruction of justice. This report makes clear: Donald Trump is looking out for himself, not for America. We must restore integrity and accountability to the White House.”
“The origin of the Mueller investigation was the existence of extensive Russian interference in the 2016 election, which remains one of the most consequential events in the history of American election integrity. The findings of the Mueller Report confirm the fact that Trump tried to limit, or even thwart, an investigation into these activities, and in doing so put the election security of the United States of America at risk. … If the President didn’t obstruct justice, it wasn’t for lack of trying. People loyal to him repeatedly refused to follow his orders to violate the law. Most of those people are now gone. We all should be gravely concerned. The President has been manufacturing a threat at the border, while ignoring the very real threat of Russian interference in our elections. The American people deserve better.”
“#BarrCoverUp. The most dangerous coverup is that US voting machines are vulnerable to hackers. If we lose faith in election results, democracy crumbles. The Justice Dept should be focused on instituting paper ballot backups, per my Securing America’s Elections Act. #MuellerReport.”
“Congress should get the full, unredacted Mueller report. The American people have the right to know the facts — without the spin.”
“Barr is acting more like Trump’s defense attorney than the nation’s Attorney General. His press conference was a stunt, filled with political spin and propaganda. Americans deserve the unvarnished truth. We need Special Counsel Mueller to testify publicly in Congress.”
“AG Barr should work to protect the interests of the people, not the President. It’s clear from this morning’s press conference where his allegiances lie. The American people deserve answers.”
“Congress must get to the bottom of this and have Mr. Mueller testify to complete this investigation. There is no other option. America deserves this. Donald Trump can’t run from this anymore.”
“Maybe they didn’t use tanks or missiles, but make no mistake — Russia invaded our democracy.”
“This democracy was under direct attack from a foreign power. There must be accountability and justice. No person is above the law regardless of how high their position of power is. We’ve got to defend this democracy from any further interference going forward.”
“Today, Attorney General William Barr demonstrated that he has decided to be the personal attorney for President Trump rather than fulfilling his role as attorney for the American people. It’s beyond unacceptable. I will continue reviewing the redacted version of the report and will pressure the Justice Department to reconsider its decision to not release the unredacted report to the American public. … Special Counsel Robert Mueller should be called to testify before Congress. No more summaries, no more redactions — the American people deserve complete transparency. Full stop.”
“It is clear that Donald Trump wanted nothing more than to shut down the Mueller investigation. While we have more detail from today’s report than before, Congress must continue its investigation into Trump’s conduct and any foreign attempts to influence our election. We must also work to do everything we can to protect our future elections from the significant threat of foreign interference, and I call on President Trump and Republican leadership to stop obstructing the necessary work to protect our democracy.”
“[Barr] came to this job already biased. Today, he made a show of allegiance to the President over the American people by declaring ‘no collusion’ and excusing the President on the basis of his emotional state. He has proved that he’s an embedded Trump ally who puts this President’s political future above of the rule of law. That makes him unfit to serve. He must resign.”
“The AG is supposed to serve as the country’s top law enforcement officer – someone who stands up for the rule of law & defends the US Constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic. William Barr is standing up for only one person: the President of the United States.”
“To use the role of attorney general for the purposes of political messaging is a profound degradation of the office. William Barr has shown himself to be just another political lackey who serves to do the President’s bidding above all else. The president kept saying he wanted to find his Roy Cohn, and apparently he has. In service to the truth, Congress must now exercise its Constitutional right to subpoena both Barr and Mueller.”
“I am glad that the Mueller Report has been made public. It’s important to the American people. My focus is on beating Donald Trump at the ballot box and solving the problems that got him elected in the first place.”
[Matt Bai: Why Mueller’s report won’t matter much in 2020]