2020 Democratic presidential candidates are weighing in today after House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Trump. CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah-Ewall Wice says the articles were announced Tuesday on Capitol Hill by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler. They include abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The House Judiciary Committee could send the articles over to the full House for a vote by next week before the House is expected to leave for recess. Mr. Trump is just the fourth president in history to seriously face impeachment.
"This is a sad, sobering moment for our country. This president violated his oath to the American people. Now, those of us who swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution have a duty to follow ours," said senator and Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker in a statement. "We must put politics aside and put patriotism first. No one, including the president, is above the law."
Booker also said he supports the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats through this process. Booker is one of the five sitting senators running for president who would have to take part in the Senate trial should the House vote to impeach. Michael Bennet, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are the other four who will likely have to take time off the campaign trail to take part in a Senate trial.
"We have to follow due process and the rule of law, but if the evidence of the President's wrongdoing and abuse of power continues to remain consistent with what we've seen, it's likely I will vote to impeach," said Bennet in a statement.
Other candidates expressed their support on Twitter. "Donald Trump is the most corrupt president in history, and he must be held accountable. I strongly believe the announcement of articles of impeachment are appropriate and necessary, and I call on the full House to pass them," tweeted Sanders. Sanders said that if the House votes to send impeachment to the Senate, he would uphold his constitutional responsibility as a juror. He also said that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should quickly schedule a full trial.
Meanwhile, candidates who won't be called off the trail for an impeachment trial are weighing in as well. Andrew Yang tweeted that he agrees with proceeding with impeachment, calling it "the right thing to do." Former Governor Deval Patrick called the president dangerous and lawless, tweeting "Impeachment is a grave act, but we can't afford to wait." Julián Castro pointed out that he's been calling for Congress to begin impeachment the day after the Mueller report was released in April, arguing it was clear the president broke the law.
Castro tweeted he was pleased Congress is doing its duty to hold Mr. Trump accountable. He also sent out a fundraising email to supporters on impeachment, saying "We need to show Mitch McConnell and his cronies that we won't let them or Trump off the hook next November."
Ahead of House Democrats officially announcing two articles of impeachment, several other candidates have also weighed in. Warren last week said it was long past time to hold Trump accountable. Tom Steyer last week praised Pelosi when she called on the House Judiciary Committee to draft the articles.
The Trump campaign is also reacting to the news. "For months, Nancy Pelosi said she wouldn't move forward on impeachment because it was too divisive and it needed bipartisan support. Well, it is divisive and only the Democrats are pushing it, but she's doing it anyway," said campaign manager Brad Parscale in a statement. "Americans don't agree with this rank partisanship, but Democrats are putting on this political theater because they don't have a viable candidate for 2020 and they know it."
FROM THE CANDIDATES
After initially backing California Senator Kamala Harris, a prominent South Carolina-based group of black women activists known as "The Reckoning Crew" endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday afternoon.
CBSN political reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns and CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell say that part of the group — which includes current and former elected officials, activists and faith leaders — met Tuesday to officially announce their support for Biden. "We are going to knock on every door it is to tell the people the truth about what is going on in our country and tell people that we have to stay focused on the mission of voting for Vice President Joe Biden," said group founder and former Richland County councilwoman Bernice Scott during a CBS exclusive on Tuesday.
"It's not about 'The Reckoning Crew,' it's not even about Joe Biden, [it's about] who do we think can bring this country together again."
CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin says Mike Bloomberg has a new campaign co-chair in California: San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who had once been a key backer of then-candidate Kamala Harris. The announcement comes as Bloomberg heads to the Golden State, campaigning in a key state for his Super Tuesday effort. "Mayors don't have the luxury of hyperpartisan tongue-wagging," Liccardo said in a statement. "They have to solve problems and get things done."
Pete Buttgieg has scored a new endorsement in Nevada: Joe Oddo, former president of the LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada, who penned an op-ed published this week backing the South Bend mayor. "On Saturday, I'm going to be at a gala watching the first openly gay candidate for president. What that means to me, personally, is that I can look up the stage and say, 'no longer is the person that I love going to define what I'm capable of,'" Oddo told Tin back in May, ahead of Buttigieg's visit to Las Vegas for a Human Rights Campaign event.
In an interview with Washington Post podcast "Cape Up," former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said she would consider becoming a vice presidential nominee. When asked point blank if she'd do it, Abrams replied "Yes." She said her performance in her 2018 run for governor showed she can help turnout all voting groups, and that it's something she could be effective in in a vice president role.
"Tripled Latino turnout, tripled Asian-Pacific Islander turnout, increased youth participation rates by 139%... and we increased, my campaign, I helped increase the white share of the Democratic vote for the first time in 30 years. I can help win anybody. But after that, the reason the job would be cool, is it's a job that allows you to be second to the leader of the free world in making our nation safe, strong and effective again," she said on the podcast, recorded on December 3.
"It helps restore our moral leadership, it allows you to engage in the conversations we need to have, including how we structurally reassess who we are, and we fix the broken pieces to make our Democracy whole, and you get to be in charge of NASA."
She denied the rumors that Biden had made an offer during a meeting with her, and said she has met with ten of the Democratic candidates. She said that because of these rumors, she's been put in a "very weird position of either seeming ambitious and obnoxious or coy and diffident." Abrams explained, "I am neither of those things. I am a black woman who's in a conversation about possibly being second in command to the leader of the free world and I will not diminish my ambition or the ambition of any other women of color by saying that's not something I'd be willing to do."
While she was previously mulling a presidential bid, she squashed that possibility in August and announced she'd be focusing her attention on "Fair Fight Action," her voting rights organization. "I knew that what we needed to do needed to be done before we had a nominee, because once you have a nominee, we are already in the general election and it is too late to do this work. We have to do this now…because voter suppression happens in primaries, we just don't pay attention because our guy wins."
During the live session, CBS News political unit associate producer Aaron Navarro says Abrams also addressed the end of Senator Kamala Harris' campaign. She said there were similarities to her own gubernatorial campaign: "Wanting someone to be the person doesn't just happen through wishes, it requires deep investment. And the suspension of disbelief that often has to accompany supporting women of color, particularly black women, is just a difficult hurdle."
On how the Harris campaign was covered, which has been criticized by other presidential candidates like Julian Castro, she said Harris "has a complicated story, which anyone who's been effective in politics must have. The difference is that rather than being given the benefit of the doubt, or more importantly, having a fair set of questions asked about everyone who shared her past, the focus on what might be considered her foibles outshone any celebration of her successes."
BY THE NUMBERS
A new Monmouth University poll among Democrats and voters leaning towards the Democratic party shows very little movement in the democratic presidential race. Ewall-Wice says former Vice President Joe Biden is leading with 26%, Senator Bernie Sanders is at 21%, Senator Elizabeth Warren is at 17%.
No other candidate polled in the double digits. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is at 8%, Mike Bloomberg is at 5%, and Amy Klobuchar is at 4%. At the same time, 76% said they had a favorable view of Biden while 20% held an unfavorable view of him. Warren also has 76% favorability while 15% viewed her as unfavorable. Sanders was just behind among that same group of voters with a 74% favorability while 21% view him as unfavorable.
Buttigieg, however, polled at 53% favorable, with 18% unfavorable and 14% saying they had not heard of him. Bloomberg's favorability was split: 40% viewed him favorably while 39% said they viewed him unfavorably, the most of the top five candidates in the poll. Meanwhile, among all registered voters, 43% said President Trump should be re-elected while 54% said it was time for someone else in office.
Last month, the same poll found 42% said he should be reelected while 55% said it was time for someone else.
At the same time, a new national Quinnipiac poll among Democrats and Democratic leaning voters shows similar results with Biden leading at 29%, Sanders with 17%, Warren with 15% and Buttigieg at 9%. It also puts Bloomberg at 5%. Meanwhile, Andrew Yang polled at 4%, meaning he is now qualified to participate in the December 19th debate in Los Angeles. He had needed just one more poll to qualify be the deadline December 12th.
There are now 7 candidates qualified for the debate including Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders, Tom Steyer, Warren and Yang. Tulsi Gabbard is just one poll away from qualifying, but she announced on Twitter Monday that she will not attend even if she does get the necessary polling by deadline.
IN THE SENATE
CBS News Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell if he prefers a short trial or a long trial, and he said "no decisions have been made" but outlined what he anticipates. He said there are two paths the Senate could take after hearing the opening arguments, reports CBS News associate producer Eleanor Watson. McConnell said, "It could go down the path of calling witnesses and basically having another trial or it could decide – and again 51 members could make that decision – that they've heard enough and believe they know what would happen and could move to vote on the two articles of impeachment sent over by the House."
IN THE HOUSE
Former White House physician Ronny Jackson, who President Trump unsuccessfully selected to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, filed to run for Congress in Texas on Monday. CBS News digital reporter Melissa Quinn says Jackson is running for Texas's 13th Congressional District, which is currently represented by Congressman Mac Thornberry, a Republican. Thornberry announced in September he would be retiring, joining five other GOP lawmakers from the Texas delegation who are not seeking reelection.
The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Thornberry won the seat handily in 2018, with 81.5% of the vote. The Texas Tribune was first to report Jackson filed to run. A rear admiral in the Navy, Jackson, 52, served as Mr. Trump's physician in the White House until the president nominated him to serve as secretary of the VA in March 2018.
But Jackson withdrew his nomination for the appointment following allegations of misconduct in the workplace. Jackson was accused of excessive drinking on the job, improperly distributing medication to staff — which allegedly earned him the nickname "candyman" — and contributing to a hostile work environment.
While he denied the allegations, Jackson said in a statement announcing his withdrawal the claims had become a distraction for the president. Mr. Trump frequently lauded Jackson, who in January 2018 gave the president a clean bill of health, and blamed his failed nomination on Senator Jon Tester of Montana, the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, who released a two-page summary of the allegations against Jackson.
In February, the president appointed Jackson to serve as assistant to the president and chief medical adviser. In addition to serving as Mr. Trump's doctor in the White House, Jackson was a physician for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The Defense Department's Inspector General is in the midst of investigating the allegations that sunk Jackson's nomination to head the VA. CNN reported last week Jackson retired from the Navy.
Also in the House, Representative Ted Yoho of Florida's 3rd Congressional District announced he would not seek re-election in 2020, citing a prior pledge he's made before to only serve for four terms. "I believed when I ran in term limits," he wrote in a statement. "Many told me I was naïve and they're probably right. I was told the district has changed three times and so the pledge isn't binding and I could rationalize that. However, I truly believe a person's word is their bond and should live up to their word."
Yoho is the 20th "pure" retirement for House Republicans. In total, Navarro says 27 House Republicans are leaving the House in 2020, including 4 resignations and 3 running for Senate or Governor. By comparison, there are 10 House Democrats leaving due to retirement, resignation, or running for a higher office.
Separately, Navarro also reports that all 36 Congressional districts in Texas will be contested in 2020, which would be the second time in modern history according, to the Texas Democratic Party. They say a total of 87 candidates have filed, while Republicans have 116 filed in a historically red state that has grown more competitive since 2018's midterms.
Some notable candidates that have filed include former Beto O'Rourke campaign adviser, Sima Ladjevardian, in GOP incumbent Dan Crewnshaw's 2nd District. O'Rourke announced his endorsement for Ladjevardian Monday afternoon, though his U.S. House successor, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, endorsed a different TX-2 candidate, Elisa Cardnell. Crenshaw won this district by 7 points in 2018. I
n the Houston-area, two candidates in Texas' 22nd have left the race following the news of Pierce Bush, grandson of late President George H.W. Bush, jumping into the Republican primary on Monday. Businesswoman Felicia Harris Hoss and veteran Keli Chevalier ended their campaigns, and Chevalier threw her support behind GOP Judge Greg Hill. More than 15 Republicans have filed, and as of Tuesday afternoon are still running, for this open seat.
The six open U.S. House seats, caused by the string of Republican retirements in the state, also have a plethora of candidates running. The 23rd district, currently represented by retiring Congressman Will Hurd, has 10 Republican candidates and 7 Democrats. Veteran Tony Gonzales has been endorsed by Hurd, who has won the district by tight margins since 2014, and has raised the most money throughout three quarters of any other Republican.
However, Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, who ran in 2018, has a massive war chest of $1.4 million and is considered the likely Democratic nominee. Also in the southwest part of the state, Texas' 28th district could see a competitive Democratic primary. Justice Democrat-backed Jessica Cisneros is challenging Henry Cuellar, who has held the district since 2004. Cisneros is a former intern of Cuellar, and often criticizes his stances on gun rights and most recently, his support for passage of the USMCA.
Cisneros has also received the support of Senator Elizabeth Warren. More than 30 Democrats have filed within the six seats targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), mainly within the metropolitan and suburban areas that had close 2018 races. In TX-7 and TX-32, the two districts targeted by their Republican counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), 15 candidates have filed.
In his inaugural address, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said he would sign an executive order restoring voting rights to more than 100,000 people who have been convicted for a felony, a restriction that was initially supported by former Republican Governor Matt Bevin when he took office in 2015. "By taking this step, by restoring these voting rights, we declare that everyone in Kentucky counts. We all matter," Beshear said.
In his address, Navarro says Bevin talked about similar themes from his gubernatorial campaign, saying "national divisions" will not derail the Kentucky government and that education will be a priority in his administration. In what could read as a dig to how Bevin (and similarly Mr. Trump) talked about economic success under his administration, Beshear said talking about job growth and a lowering unemployment rate "is not enough" to tell the story of families who are employed, but are in poverty and stressed the need for a comprehensive economic plan.
Beshear had a tight win over Bevin in November, and his father Steve Beshear previously served as governor in the state. Democratic Governors Association executive director Noam Lee congratulated Beshear saying,"Throughout his campaign, he promised to support public schools, protect coverage for Kentuckians with pre-existing conditions, and restore decency and respect to the governor's office. We look forward to working with Governor Beshear to make that vision a reality."