The Washington Post - 29.08.2019

(Joyce) #1

THURSDAY, AUGUST 29 , 2019. THE WASHINGTON POST EZ RE A


Politics & the Nation


BY MICHAEL SCHERER


AND JOHN WAGNER


Democratic presidential hope-
fuls are expected to gather for a
single-night debate next month
among 10 presidential hopefuls,
after new debate qualification
rules blocked access for half the
candidates who appeared in July.
The dramatic shrinking of the
debate stage has the potential to
reset how voters view the sprawl-
ing race, while creating the first
opportunity for all of the top-poll-
ing candidates to directly interact
with each other in the 2020 cycle.
It will also launch the begin-
ning of an unprecedented two-
tier Democratic nomination fight,


as many of the candidates who did
not make the stage, including the
Montana governor, the mayor of
New York City and the senior
senator from Colorado, promise
to continue their campaigns by
focusing on early state voters
while voicing concerns about the
debate qualification process.
“Our rules have ended up less
inclusive... than even the Repub-
licans,” Montana Gov. Steve Bull-
ock said in a Wednesday morning
MSNBC interview.
A formal party announcement
of qualifiers for the Sept. 12 debate
is expected Thursday.
Besides former vice president
Joe Biden, who has been leading
almost all recent polls, those who
have qualified for the September
stage include Sen. Cory Booker
(N.J.); South Bend, Ind., Mayor
Pete Buttigieg; former housing
and urban development secretary
Julián Castro; Sen. Kamala D.
Harris (Calif.); Sen. Amy Klobu-
char (Minn.); former congress-

man Beto O’Rourke (Tex.); Sen.
Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); Sen. Eliza-
beth Warren (Mass.); and tech
entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.)
announced Wednesday that she
was leaving the race after it be-
came clear that she would not
make the September debate stage.
She joined former Colorado Gov.
John Hickenlooper, who an-
nounced he was ending his cam-
paign to run for the U.S. Senate
after the last debate, when it be-
came clear he would not qualify
either, and Washington Gov. Jay
Inslee and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-
Mass.). All have quit since mid-
August.
Candidates can continue to
campaign for inclusion in the Oc-
tober debates, when the qualifica-
tion rules will be the same: They
must reach 2 percent or higher in
four party-approved polls and at-
tract 130,000 donors.
Billionaire activist Tom Steyer,
who entered the race in July and

has since spent about $12 million
on advertising, needs one more
qualifying poll to make the Octo-
ber debate. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
(Hawaii) needs two and author
Marianne Williamson needs
three. Others have a tougher road
to making the cut, as they have not
yet acquired more than a single
poll and have failed, in most cases,
to attract enough donors.
An adviser to Steyer said he
would continue to campaign to
get a spot on the October stage.
Bullock, Sen. Michael F. Bennet
(Colo.), New York Mayor Bill de
Blasio, Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio) and
former Rep. John Delaney (Md.)
have also pledged to continue
their campaigns if they miss the
September cut.
A senior Bennet adviser, Craig
Hughes, sent party c hairman To m
Perez a letter Wednesday with 11
questions that challenged the
transparency of the party’s d ebate
rules.
“To date, the DNC has not pro-

vided information on how or why
its unprecedented debate qualifi-
cation requirements were set nor
what the criteria will be for the
eight future debates,” Hughes
wrote.
Perez defended the rules he had
put in place in an interview with
The Washington Post at the par-
ty’s summer meeting in San Fran-
cisco.
“It’s up to the candidates, at a
certain point, to demonstrate that
they’re gaining traction,” Perez
said. “There’s been an unprec-
edented amount of earned media
opportunities for candidates.
Some like Mayor Pete used it. And
after his CNN town hall, he hit the
threshold. Andrew Yang hit it.
Julián Castro had a very good first
debate and that was all she wrote.”
Two polls released Wednesday
morning did not help any addi-
tional candidates qualify for a
spot on the stage in Houston.
The USA To day-Suffolk Univer-
sity Poll and the Quinnipiac Uni-

versity Poll both showed Biden
leading the pack with 32 percent
of the probable Democratic pri-
mary vote. Warren and Sanders
followed with double-digit sup-
port under 20 percent. Everyone
else who has qualified for the
debate stage received single-digit
support. Those who have not
qualified for the debate stage have
not received more than 1 percent
support.
Polls this early in a campaign
cycle are indicators of campaign
strength but are not necessarily
good predictors of the voting re-
sults. In November 2007, there
was one poll — the widely read
USA To day-Gallup survey — that
put Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.),
who went on to win the presiden-
cy, 28 points behind Sen. Hillary
Clinton (D-N.Y.) nationally.
michael.scherer@washpost.com
john.wagner@washpost.com

Dav id Weigel contributed to this
report.

Democrats appear headed for a single presidential debate in September


New polls do not allow


qualification of additional


candidates in Houston


BY SEUNG MIN KIM


AND MIKE DEBONIS


Through his pardons of politi-
cal allies, conservative defenders
and others convicted of federal
crimes, President Trump through-
out his term has sent indirect
signals of his willingness to help
those close to him escape punish-
ment.
And now, the president has en-
twined that m essage w ith h is c hief
campaign promise — by privately
assuring aides that he would par-
don them of any potential illegali-
ty as the administration rushes to
build his border wall before he
returns to the ballot next Novem-
ber.
The notion has alarmed con-
gressional Democrats, who had
been investigating potential ob-
struction of justice on Trump’s
part as the House continues to
weigh whether to launch im-
peachment p roceedings once law-
makers return t o Washington next
month.
Rep. David N. Cicilline (R.I.), a
member of the House Democratic
leadership and the House Judici-
ary Committee, said any sugges-
tion that Trump would encourage
subordinates to break the law by
promising pardons is “appalling”
and worthy of further investiga-
tion by the panel.
“Sadly, this is just one more
instance of a president who un-
dermines the rule of law and be-
haves as if he’s a king and not
governed by the laws of this coun-
try,” Cicilline said in an interview
Wednesday. “ He i s not a king, h e is
accountable... I think it just adds
to the ongoing proceeding before
the Judiciary Committee as we
consider whether to recommend
articles of impeachment against
the president.”
Trump on Wednesday denied
that he had made those private
assurances, first reported Tuesday
evening by The Washington Post.
Ye t a White House official who
spoke on the condition of ano-
nymity in advance of the report
did not deny it and said Trump is


joking when he makes such state-
ments about pardons.
“A nother totally Fake story in
the Amazon Washington Post
(lobbyist) which states that if my
Aides broke the law to build the
Wall (which is going up rapidly), I
would give t hem a Pardon,” T rump
tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
“This was made up by The Wash-
ington Post only in order to de-
mean and disparage — FAKE
NEWS!”
The Post i s owned by Jeff B ezos,
the founder of Amazon, although
it is run independently from the
online retail e nterprise.
The wall d iscussions are not the
first time that Trump has report-
edly promised a pardon to a subor-
dinate for d oing something poten-
tially illegal.
In April, the New York Times
reported that Trump told acting
Homeland S ecurity secretary Kev-
in McAleenan that he would par-
don him i f he d irected his employ-
ees to illegally deny asylum to
migrants who request it at the
southern border. Trump later de-
nied doing so in a tweet, calling it
“A nother Fake S tory.”
Members of the House Judici-
ary Committee sent a letter to
McAleenan requesting informa-
tion and documents on the inci-
dent; a panel spokesman did not
respond to a question about
whether McAleenan ever re-
sponded. The committee said in a
statement at the time that “offer-
ing a pardon to encourage an offi-
cer of the U.S. government to un-
dertake an illegal action appears
on its face to be an u nconstitution-
al abuse o f power.”
Several Democrats said
Trump’s pardon comments were
fair game for investigation as they
continue to delve into details of
potential obstruction of justice on
the part of Trump that emerged
from former special counsel Rob-
ert S. Mueller III’s investigation.
“The fall is a period is when we
are expanding the scope of our
investigation beyond the Mueller
report,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin
(D-Md.), who like Cicilline is a

member of the Judiciary Commit-
tee. “The a buse of the p ardon pow-
er fits in with our broader investi-
gation into the abuse of the pow-
ers of the presidency.”
Raskin added: “It’s similar to
the president ordering the execu-
tive branch not to cooperate with
congressional investigations.
That is an abuse of power and an
assault on the separation of pow-
ers.”
Cicilline said it did not matter
whether Trump’s subordinates ul-
timately carried out his illegal di-
re ctives.
“It’s an abuse of the pardon
power, it’s an abuse of the presi-
dent’s authority, and it’s v ery likely
illegal,” he said. “So whether any-
one actually does it or not — that
idea that the p resident o f the U nit-
ed States, responsible for enforc-
ing and upholding the rule of law
in this country, is making a state-
ment like that i s just appalling.”
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.),
chairman of the House Judiciary
panel, did not comment on the
issue Wednesday.
Several of the 15 pardons that
Trump has i ssued during his presi-
dency — a power that is nearly
unchecked and that Trump has
relished — have carried with them
an overtly political t one.
The first pardon Trump issued
as president went to Joe Arpaio,
the former sheriff of Maricopa
County, A riz., whose c ontroversial
tactics on immigration enforce-
ment garnered legal challenges
and a conviction on a criminal
contempt of court charge. Trump
pardoned him of that crime in
August 20 17 — less than a month
after the conviction and weeks
before he was set to be sentenced.
In April 2 018, Trump par-
doned I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby,
the former chief of staff to former
vice president Richard B. Cheney,
who had been convicted on per-
jury and obstruction of justice
charges. Trump suggested Libby
had been treated unfairly by the
prosecution as it probed the leak
of the identity of Valerie Plame, a
CIA officer.

Trump said at the time that he
did not personally know Libby,
but the pardon came as several
former Trump associates had
pleaded guilty to similar charges
amid Mueller’s Russia probe.
The following month, Trump
gave a full pardon to Dinesh
D’Souza, a conservative commen-
tator who had pleaded guilty to
illegally using straw donors for a
Republican Senate candidate in
New York.
As with Libby, Trump conclud-
ed that D’Souza had been mis-
treated and said a t the t ime that he
was a lso considering clemency for
former Illinois governor Rod
Blagojevich (D) and lifestyle guru
Martha Stewart. The three had

been convicted of crimes similar
to charges faced by former Trump
associates as part of the Mueller
probe.
In May of this year, Trump par-
doned Conrad Black, who in 2007
was convicted on fraud and ob-
struction of justice charges. The
billionaire last year penned a flat-
tering biography of the presi-
dent, “Donald J. Trump: A presi-
dent like no other,” that defended
him against accusations of racism
and p raised h im for the “optimism
to persevere a nd succeed, the con-
fidence to affront tradition and
convention, a genius for spectacle,
and a firm belief in c ommon sense
and t he common man.”
Trump has even pondered par-

doning himself — tweeting in
June 2018 amid the Mueller probe
that he has the “absolute right” to
do so and that his argument was
bolstered by “numerous legal
scholars.” (Whether Trump can
actually do so is up for debate.)
“More than one isolated re-
mark, it’s the pattern that’s con-
cerning,” Sen. Richard Blumen-
thal (D-Conn.), a member of the
Senate Judiciary Committee, said
of Trump’s pardon tendencies. “A s
much as what he may do, or not, is
the message that it sends to the
American people about his view o f
the importance of law and law
enforcement.”
seung-min.kim@washpost.com
mike.debonis@washpost.com

Democrats express concern about president’s alleged pardon guarantees


BY COLBY ITKOWITZ


AND HAILEY FUCHS


Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
(D-N.Y.), who struggled to gain
traction in a crowded field, ended
her p residential r un Wednesday, a
further winnowing of the Demo-
crats hoping to take on President
Trump in 2 020.
Gillibrand’s decision comes af-
ter news that she’d fallen short of
meeting the requirements for the
September Democratic primary
debate.
In t he past two weeks, Washing-
ton G ov. Jay Inslee, former Colora-
do governor John Hickenlooper
and Rep. Seth Moulton of Massa-
chusetts left the race. Twenty
Democrats remain, and only half
will be on t he debate stage.
Gillibrand, 52, announced her
departure in a two-minute video
that is mostly a montage of her
time on the campaign trail. In the
video, the senator says she will
focus her energy on uniting Dem-
ocrats to defeat Trump.
“It’s important to know when
it’s not your time,” she says in the
video.
Despite her early entry into the
race with an exploratory commit-
tee in January, Gillibrand could
never break 1 or 2 percent in na-
tional polls. As one of four female
senators in the race, she needed a
standout moment that never


came.
“My friend @SenGillibrand is a
brave voice on some of the most
critical issues facing our country
today — from childcare to sexual
assault. She is a champion and I
know she’s not done fighting for

women and families everywhere,”
tweeted Sen. Kamala D. Harris
(D-Calif.), a presidential h opeful.
Gillibrand b randed herself “ the
best candidate for women” and
hoped her record on women’s
rights w ould resonate w ith f emale

voters. She has long been an advo-
cate for victims of sexual miscon-
duct, even when it put her at odds
with her own party.
In 2017, Gillibrand was the first
Democratic senator to call for the
resignation of former senator Al

Franken o f Minnesota over allega-
tions that he behaved inappropri-
ately with women. She shocked
and angered some in the Demo-
cratic base the same y ear when she
said in an interview with the New
York Times that former president
Bill Clinton should have resigned
over his affair with White House
intern Monica Lewinsky.
Gillibrand replaced Hillary
Clinton in the Senate in 2009
when Clinton became President
Barack O bama’s secretary of state.
Gillibrand had been close to the
Clintons, and some saw her com-
ments a s a betrayal.
The senator also may have
struggled to amass donors and
voter support in an increasingly
liberal Democratic Party because
of the conservative positions she
held on guns and immigration
earlier in her political c areer.
Gillibrand raised $2.3 million
in the second quarter of 2019. She
had $8.2 million, but most of that
was transferred from her Senate
campaign a ccount.
Gillibrand came to Washington
via the House i n 2006 to represent
a district i n Upstate New York.
Though Gillibrand focused
most of her campaign message on
Trump, she did go after former
vice president Joe Biden directly
during the second debate, hitting
him for a 1981 opinion piece he
wrote that she said degraded

working m others.
“You said women working out-
side o f the h ome would lead to the
deterioration of family,” Gilli-
brand said. “My grandmother
worked outside the home. My
mother worked outside the h ome.”
When Biden was asked by re-
porters about Gillibrand’s depar-
ture from the race, he offered only
praise.
“She’s smart as hell and she had
a lot to contribute. It’s hard. It’s
hard when you have so many peo-
ple in the race,” Biden said after a
speech in South Carolina. “She’s —
she’s a caliber person and I hope
that means she’s going to stay
deeply involved in what she’s do-
ing, because if I’m lucky enough to
be one of the people that gets
elected — if I’m the person that’s
elected — I would go to her for
help.”
Trump reacted to the news with
sarcasm.
“A sad day for the Democrats,
Kirsten Gillibrand has dropped
out of the Presidential Primary,”
Trump tweeted. “I’m glad they
never found out that she was the
one I was really afraid of!”
Gillibrand just won reelection
to the Senate in 2018, so she will
not h ave to run again u ntil 2024 —
when there will be another presi-
dential contest.
colby.itkowitz@washpost.com
hailey.fuchs@washpost.com

Gillibrand quits presidential campaign, saying she knows it’s not her time


MELINA MARA/THE WASHINGTON POST
Presidential hopefuls Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), right, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) traveled
to Iowa a couple of weeks ago to speak with voters at the Democratic Wing Ding in Clear Lake.

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