The Senate impeachment trial has officially begun, and yet...new information is still coming out and senators are still divided about witness testimony. Do the Lev Parnas documents released this week change anything? What about the Government Accountability Office determination that the Trump administration broke the law in withholding the Ukraine aid? If some Republican senators mount a campaign for witness testimony, what might that fight look like? Even so, don’t we already know how this is going to end?
This week, in a moment of bipartisan cooperation, the Senate approved the USMCA trade agreement. It’s a victory for President Trump. And then there’s the phase one trade deal with China. President Trump signed it this week. Is it also a victory? Or is a bit weak? There was a debate this week in Iowa ahead of the caucuses. The candidates talked trade, foreign policy, and then there was that moment between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Felicia Wong talks about a new project from the Roosevelt Institute on the failures of neoliberalism and what comes after for progressives.
Iran, Iraq and impeachment
Iran’s response to our attack that killed Qassem Soleimani looks like a climbdown, for now. Is it time for President Trump to take a victory lap? Should we be watching for unconventional reprisals from Iran? Much of the coverage this week has centered around Iran, but what impact has this had on our already-fragile relationship with Iraq? Jarrett Blanc of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace talks about the way forward with Iran, including what remains of the Iran nuclear deal and if there’s any way more sanctions could have an impact on Iran.
Plus: lawmakers’ reaction to the strike, flashbacks to 2002, and impeachment -- is that still happening?
Iranian general killed in US airstrike
Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was killed in an American airstrike at the Baghdad airport. General Soleimani was arguably the second most powerful person in Iran and a destabilizing force in the Middle East for decades. He led Iran’s interventions in other countries in the region, including support for militias in Iraq that killed hundreds of American soldiers.
The targeted killing of Soleimani was a major escalation in the conflict with Iran. Lawmakers are debating over whether the strike was wise, and what the costs to American interests will be. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the attack on Soleimani was based on intelligence that he was imminently going to undertake an attack that could have killed Americans. What Iran will do now that Soleimani is dead? And could the US be drawn into a broader war? Michael Singh of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy joins the panel to analyze the attack and the aftermath so far.
Then: Natahsha Sarin of the University of Pennsylvania joins the panel to talk about California utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric, the troubled utility whose aging infrastructure has sparked wildfires, required widespread blackouts and driven the company into bankruptcy for the second time in two decades. Does the US succeed or fail at holding companies like PG&E accountable? Natasha also talk about the debate over wealth taxes proposed by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and whether they will generate as much revenue as the candidates claim.
Where is the Center?
Who is the center? Are there swing voters anymore, and what do they want? How did Donald Trump succeed at appealing at enough of the center to win the 2016 election, and what kind of candidate do Democrats need to pick to win the center back over?
Political scientist Lee Drutman will tell us who these voters are, and how being a swing voter doesn’t necessarily mean being an ideological moderate. Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and Erin McPike talk about policy making, what’s misunderstood about voters in the center, and what centrist voters are looking for in the 2020 field.
Then, Josh talks with two Left, Right & Center regulars, Kelli Goff and Tom Nichols, about their difficulty figuring out where we can fit in this increasingly polarized political system. They talk about the road to political independence and Josh makes the case for being in a political party, even if you don’t like it very much.
Donald Trump is officially the third president to be impeached. The Democrats held together, with just one defection to the GOP and one “present” vote than they had a few weeks ago to open the impeachment inquiry.
After the impeachment vote, Nancy Pelosi surprised everyone by saying she wouldn’t send the impeachment articles to the Senate for now. What’s up with that?
Then, the Democratic presidential candidates had their liveliest debate yet. They fought over who has the necessary experience to win, Afghanistan policy, trade, health care, and who’s been spending too much in wine caves, and more. Josh Barro, Rich Lowry, Liz Bruenig and Gustavo Arellano discuss.