Iowa caucus: Poll shows tight race with Biden, Sanders tied

A new Iowa poll by Park Street Strategies shows former Vice President Joe Biden with a narrow lead over several of his Democratic primary opponents ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses on Monday.

Biden had the support of 20 percent of polled Iowa caucusgoers. He was followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with 18 percent support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg were then tied at 17 percent each, creating a virtual four-way tie at the top.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) rounded out the pack with 12 percent. No other candidate was in double digits.

The poll of 600 caucusgoers was conducted from Jan. 24 to Jan. 28 and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points. The survey is consistent with others showing a tight race as Iowa gears up to officially kick off the 2020 primary race.

Bannon on Trump signing USMCA, announcing Middle East peace deal amid Senate impeachment trial

Donald Trump doesn’t punt. And, particularly, he doesn’t punt on first down.  I mean, this is just not acceptable. We just had the trial of the century, in which he is going to be acquitted. He’s already been acquitted, but the formality will take place this week. But he’s focused on the crime of the century. The crime of the century is this kind of soft coup that is trying to blunt his presidency and remove him from office.

And what President Trump has said from the beginning, this is not about him. This is about the office of the presidency. Trump — Trump has been adamant this can never happen again to any president, whether it’s a progressive Democrat or another populist nationalist. You cannot have this happen.

And what — I think what Senator Graham — we’re not interested right now in hearing from the chief of staff of John Kerry. President — Lindsey Graham — and I have tremendous respect for him — he guaranteed at the Senate Judiciary Committee, we need to have the whistle-blower. We need to have the number two whistle-blower.

We need to have Adam Schiff as a fact witness. We need Hunter and Joe Biden. I think we need Brennan. We need all of them.

And here’s the other thing we ought to do. President Trump ought to declassify all these reports. He ought to go back to Rosenstein’s — the 40 subpoenas that the House, under Devin Nunes, forwarded to Rosenstein, he ought to get all those. He ought to get all of those subpoenas.

And all those people ought to be called to witness. This has to — we need an apparatus that’s official to go about this to protect the office of the presidency going forward.

Byron York on Trump defense team at impeachment trial

Members of the Trump defense team saw their two-hour presentation Saturday as a preview of coming attractions — a way to give senators a sense of the president’s defense while also suggesting there is much more to come when the impeachment trial resumes Monday. They were also acutely aware that, after 23 hours of the Democratic case against the president made over the course of three days, many senators were just tired. Even if the first day of presentation had not come on a low-rating Saturday, Republicans would have stayed away from forcing senators into another late night.

Lawmakers were “relieved after such a long week,” one GOP source said Saturday afternoon — relieved both to get a break and to see the Trump team at the podium offering a vigorous defense after three days of listening to the Democratic House impeachment managers make the case for removing President Trump.

And what relieved many GOP lawmakers was that the Trump defenders immediately dove into the facts of the Trump-Ukraine matter. Yes, some have strong objections about the process the House followed in impeaching the president. Indeed, some Democrats had charged that was all Trump defenders had to argue. But the opening of Saturday’s argument was about the substance of the case.

“Today’s approach was to address head-on the facts that [Democratic impeachment managers] presented by presenting a more fulsome view of those facts, a more in-depth view, because they were very much cherry-picked,” said a member of Trump’s defense team in a phone conversation Saturday.

If Senate Succeeds in Depriving Americans of a Fair Trial There Will Be No Exoneration

Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman and impeachment trial manager Adam Schiff said the White House defense team is “deathly afraid of what witnesses will have to say” and “if they’re successful in depriving the country of a fair trial, there is no exoneration.”

Schiff said “it is a false choice to say if the House gets to call witnesses doesn’t the president” and the president has “the right to call relevant witnesses just as we do, in his defense” but “he doesn’t have the right to call irrelevant witnesses.”

“If they’re irrelevant, what are you afraid of? Won’t that be exposed?” host Chuck Todd asked Schiff.

“I’m not afraid of anything. The question is: Should the trial be used as a vehicle to smear his opponent? Is that the purpose of a Senate trial? Or is it to get to the truth? Because if it’s to get to the truth, Hunter Biden can’t tell us anything about the withholding of the military funding,” Schiff said.

The president weighed in on Schiff’s interview not long after it aired:

Sleepyeyes Chuck Todd of Meet the Corrupt Press, just had a “totally” softball interview with conman Adam Schiff, never even calling Shifty out on his fraudulent statement to Congress, where he made up ALL of the words of my conversation with the Ukrainian President! FAKE NEWS

CHUCK TODD: Where are you on witness reciprocity?

ADAM SCHIFF: Look, I think the president has the right to call relevant witnesses, just as we do, in his defense. He doesn’t have the right to call irrelevant witnesses or witnesses who aren’t fact witnesses.

CHUCK TODD: Well, if the Senate says he does, why not then — I mean, that’s the way the trial rules work. I mean, I understand where you come from, but if the Senate says he can, then he can.

ADAM SCHIFF: Well, the Senate can make whatever decision the Senate can make. And the American people can judge that decision. But if we’re talking about a fair trial, if the Senators are going to give content to their oath to be impartial administrators of justice, they can’t say, ‘Well, we’re going to allow the president to trade witnesses that don’t shed any light on the facts, but would allow him to, once again, try to smear his opponent. We’re going to make that the pound of flesh. We’re going to make that the cost of calling relevant witnesses.’

CHUCK TODD: If they’re irrelevant, what are you afraid of? Won’t that be exposed?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, it’s not a question of what I’m afraid of. I’m not afraid of anything. The question is: Should the trial be used as a vehicle to smear his opponent? Is that the purpose of a Senate trial? Or is it to get to the truth? Because if it’s to get to the truth, Hunter Biden can’t tell us anything about the withholding of the military funding. Hunter Biden can’t tell us why the president wouldn’t let the president of Ukraine into the Oval Office. Hunter Biden can’t tell us anything about that. And so, you know, it’s a false choice to say, “Well, if the House gets to call the witnesses, doesn’t the president?” Yes, we both get to call witnesses. We both get to call relevant ones. And one other point on this, Chuck, which is important. We have a very capable justice sitting right behind me who can make decisions about the materiality of witnesses. We trust the Supreme Court justice, the chief justice, to make those decisions. And one final thing, if you will…

The president’s team is pushing out the argument, “We don’t have time to call witnesses. We’d really love to have these people testify. We just don’t have time to do it. It would be too inconvenient.” That’s a dodge. We have a justice who can make decisions if there’s any legitimate claim of privilege.

Supreme Court school choice case could be landmark decision for education

The nation’s 10th annual celebration of educational opportunity comes on the heels of a landmark case that could permanently shake up the school landscape.

The U.S. Supreme Court today is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. The court session comes just days before National School Choice Week kicks off a host of festivities that recognize families’ access to different learning options.

Single mother Kendra Espinoza was seeking a new option. She wanted to use a tax credit-funded scholarship to free her daughters from school bullies, lackluster academics and a school culture with values that contradicted her own. But a Montana state agency, and ultimately the Montana Supreme Court, said she couldn’t use that scholarship at the Christian school that was serving her children well. With help from the Institute for Justice, she persuaded the nation’s highest court to hear her challenge.

At issue is whether timeworn relics of bigotry in many state constitutions can limit parents’ ability to choose the right school for their children. Most of these constitutional relics, present in 37 states, are known as Blaine amendments, birthed in the late 1800s out of a movement of religious-based fearmongering. These amendments limited public aid for schooling to the Protestant-majority public schools, while denying it to “sectarian” (read: Catholic) alternatives.

Michigan owns the latest and most stringent of the anti-aid amendments, adopted by referendum in 1970. Its underlying bigotry is just as real as those with older provisions, though it’s harder to see in its carefully crafted language. For nearly 50 years, opponents of public aid — which they dub “parochiaid” to disparage Catholic schooling — have wielded this amendment to thwart attempts at giving parents greater educational choice.

The unfortunate irony is that no place in the United States needs quality educational options more than Michigan’s largest city. The Detroit school district has finished last among large cities on all math and reading tests on the nation’s report card five times running. Some charter public schools are making a real positive difference, but the need remains great. National surveys show far more parents want to pursue private education than currently are able to do so.

When families can get access to private schooling, they benefit. Dolores Perales, for example, grew up in southwest Detroit. Her father never completed high school and her mother never entered college. But they both believe in the power of education for Perales and her three younger brothers. All of them have been able to attend Detroit Cristo Rey High School, part of a national Catholic school network geared toward serving low-income families with a combination of rigorous college prep coursework and a corporate work-study program.

“Without Cristo Rey, I don’t think I would have been able to succeed the way that I have,” Perales said. She finished at the top of her class, and with the caring support of faculty and staff, found the confidence to pursue higher education. Last year she received a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in environmental science and moved on to graduate school. Her brother, Christian, is a sophomore at Cornell University. A friend of his missed out on Cristo Rey, dropped out of high school and ended up on a different path.

Many states, including some with Blaine amendments, have embraced scholarship programs that help eligible students enter a private school of their choice. Publicly funded scholarships helped both Ohio’s Walter Blanks and North Carolina’s Amoree Brown escape failing schools and thrive in new learning environments.

Exactly one week after the Supreme Court hears the Espinoza case, students, parents and educators will gather, under the National School Choice Week banner, in state capitols and elsewhere. They will celebrate the opportunities they have had to benefit from home education, charter schools, virtual schools, district schools and nonpublic schools. But looming in the background will be the quiet hope for more scholarships, which could help families reach schools they desire, if only they had more money or could make extraordinary sacrifices.

A favorable ruling this summer would remove the last major legal obstacle used to try to rob parents such as Kendra Espinoza from exercising educational choice, which they desperately need. We can only hope she and millions of others will be able to join the Perales family in forging educational paths that give their children the best chance to succeed.

McConnell’s new Trump impeachment trial rule under fire from Democrats

Senate Democrats blasted Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposed rule for the president’s impeachment trial, which says none of the evidence collected in the House impeachment inquiry will be admitted unless the Senate votes to enter it. Chip Reid reports on the departure from Bill Clinton’s impeachment rules, which McConnell said he is following.

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