2020 Vision: More Americans are lining up behind impeachment — and the next step, conviction

Welcome to 2020 Vision, the Yahoo News column covering the presidential race. Reminder: There are 122 days until the Iowa caucuses and 396 days until the 2020 presidential election.

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A half-dozen new national polls that show support for the impeachment inquiry into President Trump took a big jump in the past week — even before some of the most significant evidence gathered by House investigators was released to the public.

Even more worrying for the White House, more and more Americans are looking past impeachment (in the House) to the trial in the Senate, and coming down on the side of Trump’s conviction and removal from office.

• A CNN poll found that 47 percent believe Trump “should be impeached and removed from office,” up from 41 percent in May. The survey found that 45 percent disagree, down from 54 percent in the May poll.

• A USA Today/Ipsos poll found 44 percent support Trump’s conviction in the Senate and removal from office, compared with 35 percent who do not.

To put it another way, with impeachment proceedings just getting underway, only 21 percent were undecided, and barely more than a third of respondents came down on the side of keeping Trump in office.

To put it another way, for him to command even a 51-49 majority at the end of the process, the undecideds would have to break more than 3-1 (i.e., 16-5) in his favor.

To put it another way … well, draw your own conclusions. Some Republican senators already have.

The polls were taken after the release of a memo summarizing a phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, the basis for the impeachment inquiry, but before a flurry of related developments that gave added impetus to the probe.

— Jerry Adler

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa (Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

GOP senator grilled about ‘silence’ on impeachment

With impeachment fever gripping Washington, D.C., Republican members of Congress returned to their home districts, where the issue wasn’t at the top of the agenda for many of their constituents.

It was, however, for Amy Haskins, who grilled GOP Sen. Joni Ernst at a town hall in Templeton, Iowa, for not confronting President Trump over his calls for foreign leaders to investigate a political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son.

“You still stand there silent. And your silence is supporting him in not standing up,” Haskins said to the Iowa senator. “You, yourself, served. You didn’t pledge an oath to the president. You pledged it to our country, you pledged it to our Constitution. When are you guys going to start standing up and actually be there for us?”

Ernst essentially dodged the question.

‘I can say ‘yea, nay, whatever,’” she said. “The president is going to say what the president is going to do. It’s up to us as members of Congress to continue working with our allies, making sure that we remain strong in the face of adversity.”

Later, when pressed by Haskins to condemn Trump’s requests for foreign leaders to investigate his political rivals, Ernst echoed Trump’s claim that he doesn’t care about politics, only corruption.

“I would say to that, corruption no matter where it is should be ferreted out,” Ernst said. “If we have corruption here, it should be ferreted out. If there’s corruption in other countries.”

That is in contrast to a statement by her colleague Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who called Trump’s conduct “wrong and appalling.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders at a campaign event. (AP Photo/Gerardo Bello)

Bernie says he’s ‘feeling good’ after health scare

Sen. Bernie Sanders thanked supporters for their well wishes after he was hospitalized earlier this week in Las Vegas, where he underwent a procedure for an artery blockage.

“I am feeling good, and am fortunate to have good health care and great doctors and nurses helping me recover,” Sanders wrote, adding that he is “looking forward to sharing our vision for transforming this country” at the next Democratic debate, on Oct. 15 in Ohio.

Earlier Thursday, his wife, Jane, gave reporters an update on his condition.

“Bernie is up and about,” she said in a statement. “He spent much of the day talking with staff about policies, cracking jokes with the nurses and doctors, and speaking with his family on the phone. His doctors are pleased with his progress, and there has been no need for any additional procedures. We expect Bernie will be discharged and on a plane back to Burlington before the end of the weekend. He’ll take a few days to rest, but he’s ready to get back out there.”

On Friday afternoon, Sanders was released from the hospital. His doctors revealed that he had suffered a mild heart attack, but had made “good expected progress” and that his hospital stay was “uneventful.”

The 78-year-old Vermont senator received messages of support from his Democratic rivals, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose campaign sent dinner to the Sanders campaign headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Mike Casca, one of Sanders’s communications advisers, thanked the Warren campaign in a tweet.

“The team is very grateful (and started with the cookies first),” Casca tweeted.

Before a campaign appearance in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Warren told a crowd that she had called and texted her Senate colleague and longtime friend.

“I know everyone here wishes him well, wants to see him strong and back on the trail as soon as possible,” Warren said. “I’ve called, I’ve texted, and I’ll send your best wishes if that’s OK with everyone.”

Screengrab courtesy CNN

Bernie and Warren top Dem fundraisers in Q3

Most Democratic campaigns released their third-quarter fundraising totals this week, with Sen. Bernie Sanders coming out on top with $25.3 million, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren ($24.6 million), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg ($19.1 million), former Vice President Joe Biden ($15.2 million), Sen. Kamala Harris ($11.6 million) and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who managed to pull in $10 million.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who threatened to end his campaign if he failed to collect $1.7 million in the final days of the quarter, announced Monday that he had surpassed that goal and would stay in the race; on Tuesday, the campaign told reporters that, fueled by its candidate’s ultimatum, it had raised $6 million in Q3, making it his best quarter so far.

Booker is planning to use the money to hire 40 new staffers, open new field offices, build his email list and get on the ballot in every state. It remains to be seen, however, whether he will meet the polling threshold to qualify for the November debate.

Pete Buttigieg (Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Buttigieg goes on offense

Coming off another lucrative fundraising quarter, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg spent the week leveling criticisms against candidates both above and below him in polling. Buttigieg has attempted to portray himself as the practical candidate, but some of his comments this week drew blowback.

At a gun policy forum in Las Vegas this week, Buttigieg called former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s mandatory gun buyback program “a shiny object [that] makes it harder for us to focus,” adding, “As a policy, it’s had mixed results. It’s a healthy debate to have, but we’ve got to do something now.”

“I was really offended by those comments,” O’Rourke told reporters afterward. “And I think he represents a kind of politics that is focused on poll-testing and focus-group-driving and triangulating and listening to consultants before you arrive at a position.”

In an interview via text with BuzzFeed News, O’Rourke elaborated, saying the “shiny object” comment was “so offensive to anyone who has been shot by one of these weapons or who fears being shot or who has lost someone to an AR-15 or AK-47” and to “these courageous leaders in March for Our Lives.”

Buttigieg also criticized Sen. Elizabeth Warren while speaking with reporters during a bus tour of Iowa.

“She and I are after the same goals,” said Buttigieg. “But her pitch has a lot more to do with fighting — she’s more interested in the fighting part of it. I’m more interested in outcomes.”

The comments were not well received by some Democratic officials.

“I get the lane positioning here, but this sure seems like an odd line of argument against the one candidate in the field who proposed and then created an entire federal agency,” wrote Jon Favreau, the former Obama speechwriter and “Pod Save America” podcast host. Favreau was referring to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, whose creation was one of Warren’s signature achievements.

“Pete loves to be holier than thou on the debate stage, then takes lame shots at [Warren] in the media,” wrote Jamal Raad, communications director for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

The 37-year-old mayor has edged ahead of Sen. Kamala Harris in the RealClearPolitics polling average for fourth in the Dem primary, but trails the three top candidates by double digits.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren greets supporters. (Photo by Alex Edelman/ AFP/Getty Images)

Latest polls

With so much attention on the latest impeachment updates out of Washington, it’s tougher for the Democratic primary race to break through into the headlines. That could work to the advantage of Warren, whose ascent in the polls continued this week.

Warren led Biden in multiple national surveys (by 3 and 6 points), in New Hampshire (by 1) and in California (by 1). Biden continues to hold a double-digit lead in South Carolina, but a poll out of Nevada — the third state to vote — showed a tight three-way race with Biden and Sanders at 22 and Warren at 18. Using the RealClearPolitics polling average, Biden’s overall national lead over Warren narrowed from 7 points to 2 over the past week.

While there has been poll movement toward support of the impeachment inquiry and even removal of Trump from office, one poll result might prove worrisome for the Biden campaign. Although there is no evidence supporting Trump’s allegations of corruption on the part of Biden or his son Hunter, a plurality of Americans now believe there is some merit to the claim after it was pushed by Trump and conservative media. One question posed by Monmouth was “President Trump claims that Joe Biden put pressure on Ukrainian officials to get them not to investigate his son’s business dealings there. Do you think Biden probably did or probably did not do this?”

Forty-two percent of respondents said Biden probably did, 37 percent said Biden probably did not and 22 percent didn't know.

Jessica Cisneros (Photo: Jessica Cisneros for TX-28)

Big haul for progressive insurgent

One Democratic primary to keep an eye on is Texas’s 28th, encompassing the San Antonio suburbs and part of the Rio Grande Valley. Rep. Henry Cuellar has represented the district since 2005 but is one of the more conservative members of the Democratic caucus, having voted with Trump more often than the statistical projection would predict for someone representing his relatively liberal district. Earlier this year, Jessica Cisneros, a 26-year-old Laredo attorney who previously interned for Cuellar, announced she was running against him.

Cisneros gained the endorsement of the Justice Democrats, the same group that rallied behind the successful candidacies of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. She also got the endorsement of Warren and introduced the Massachusetts senator at a rally in Austin last month. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos, who as a rule do not support challenges to incumbent members, are strongly backing Cuellar.

Cuellar has argued that Cisneros’s progressive platform is “completely against the district,” but the insurgent has some momentum. On Friday, Cisneros’s campaign announced that it has raised nearly $460,000 since launching in June, with an average donation of $32. For comparison’s sake, the Ocasio-Cortez campaign raised just $60,000 in all of 2017, the year before she upset Rep. Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary.

“We've got our work cut out for us, but we are building a grassroots movement that represents the values of our community, not corporate PACs or special interests,” wrote Cisneros in a retweet of her fundraising haul. “¡Muchas gracias! We couldn’t do this without you.”

President Trump (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Looking ahead

Thursday, Oct. 10: Nine Democratic candidates — Cory Booker, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Julián Castro and Tom Steyer — are scheduled to participate in a CNN town hall in Los Angeles focused on LGBTQ issues. The five-hour event, sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, will air live on the cable network beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Buttigieg is the first openly gay candidate to mount a credible run for a major party’s presidential nomination.

Note: The same night, President Trump will hold a “Keep America Great” rally in Minneapolis at 8 p.m. ET.

Tuesday, Oct. 15: Twelve candidates — Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Harris, Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Sanders, Steyer, Warren and Yang — will appear on the same stage for the fourth Democratic presidential debate, at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Verbatim

“We’re not fooling around.”

— House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, during a joint press conference with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on the methodical nature of their impeachment inquiry

“I think the president knows the argument that can be made against him, and he’s scared.”

— Pelosi, in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, about Trump’s response to the probe

“Biden and his son are stone-cold crooked. And you know it.”

— President Trump, during a joint press conference with the president of Finland, accusing the former vice president and his son of corruption, without evidence

“I’m not going anywhere. You’re not going to destroy me. And you’re not going to destroy my family.”

— Former Vice President Joe Biden in a speech in Reno, Nev.

“The State Department has been weaponized in the service of the president’s political, personal political agenda.”

— Tony Blinken, foreign policy adviser to Biden, in a new episode of the Yahoo News podcastSkullduggery

“Is this thing on?”

— Ellen Weintraub, chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission, in a tweet reminding officials that asking foreign countries for help against a political opponent is a violation of U.S. election laws

“I’m only interested in corruption. I don’t care about politics. I don’t care about Biden’s politics. I never thought Biden was going to win.”

— President Trump to reporters, defending his call for Ukraine to investigate the former vice president; on July 30, Trump said he thought Biden would win

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