The TAKE with MaryAlice Parks
On Wednesday, Biden joined the majority of his Democratic primary opponents in calling for the president to be impeached. The statement was new for him, and notable, given that Trump sought information from the Ukrainian government about the Biden family.
“Folks, he’s targeted me and my family with lies and distortions and smears," Biden said, going on the offensive.
The president noticed. Within minutes, he was tweeting directly at Biden, with his signature name-calling. He wrote that Biden was “pathetic” and that his campaign was “failing.”
The next retort from Biden came fast too -- a jab at the fact that the president has not released his tax returns.
“Thanks for watching. Stop stonewalling the Congress. Honor your oath. Respect the Constitution. And speaking of taxpayers, I’ve released 21 years of my tax returns. You?” Biden tweeted.
There have been serious questions about whether Trump’s near-constant and personal attacks on the former vice president could really hurt Biden in the long term. But this week, swinging down into the Democratic primary, the president may have propped Biden up and made him look like a general election candidate months early.
The RUNDOWN with Alisa Wiersema
Trump will hold his first campaign rally in Minnesota since the House’s impeachment inquiry began in Washington.
As his campaign zeroes in on close-call states that the president lost in 2016 as part of their 2020 campaign strategy, Thursday’s event gives Trump an opportunity to test the waters in potentially hostile territory.
Two high-profile Trump critics call the Land of 10,000 Lakes home -- Rep. Ilhan Omar’s district is mostly comprised of the city of Minneapolis, where the rally will take place, and 2020 Democratic candidate Amy Klobuchar is the state’s senior U.S. senator. Ahead of Thursday’s rally, both Minnesota lawmakers are playing defense in hopes of blocking Trump from flipping Minnesota red next November.
“You can visit my state as many times as you want [and] tweet all your divisive words -- but when I’m leading the 2020 ticket you won’t have a chance,” Klobuchar tweeted.
In a tweet of her own, Omar expressed similar sentiments and voiced support for Minnesota’s Democrat Farmer Labor Party, which has been fundraising off of pushback to Trump’s Minneapolis rally.
Meanwhile, Trump is showing no signs of toning down his rhetoric in response. In the days leading up to the rally, the president engaged in a spat with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey over event site security costs while urging Minnesota voters to oust Frey and Omar from office.
With battle lines drawn, the president will need to decide whether his divide-and-conquer strategy outweighs the risk of mobilizing voters to support Democrats in the process.
The TIP with Kendall Karson
After the Republican National Committee announced its counter-impeachment campaign -- involving a $2 million TV and digital ad buy to target vulnerable House Democrats in key, Trump-won congressional districts -- Democrats are going on the offensive with the backing of a seven-figure ad buy from a new outside group.
House Majority Forward, a new "dark money" non-profit group with ties to House Democratic leadership and armed with a slate of new, unique ads, is highlighting Democrats' efforts -- particularly bipartisan actions -- to tackle everyday issues affecting Americans. Among the 11 Democrats boosted by these ads are Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., and Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa.
In one ad -- airing in Michigan’s 11th congressional district, which Trump won by more than 4 points in 2016 -- the narrator says, "forget the noise," before ticking off a list of Stevens' efforts to "get the job done." Examples include a bipartisan manufacturing bill and protecting pensions and pre-existing conditions. And in Iowa's 3rd congressional district -- a district that Trump won by 3.5 points in 2016 -- an ad praising Axne points to her introducing a bio-fuel tax credit bill and supporting bipartisan legislation to provide relief for rural hospitals as examples of her "stepping up" for Iowa farmers.
With an impeachment probe consuming Washington, Democrats aim to show off their legislative priorities ahead of 2020 -- without the "i" word dominating the campaign back home.
ONE MORE THING
The lawyers representing a whistleblower whose complaint has plunged President Donald Trump into impeachment proceedings describe the person as a civil servant who has never worked for or advised any political candidate, campaign or party. The statement, released late Wednesday, was an unusual step by lawyers Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid who have been reluctant to provide any information that might identify their client.
ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Thursday morning’s episode features ABC News Senior Foreign correspondent Ian Pannell, who checks in from Iraq as the Turkish offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria gets underway. Then, ABC News Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl explains why the Trump administration is calling the legitimacy of the House impeachment inquiry into question. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. Faced with the growing likelihood of impeachment, President Donald Trump is leading his party into an increasingly dangerous space. Meanwhile, the Bernie Sanders campaign suffers two big blows in one week. Nina Turner, national co-chair for Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign, joins ABC News' Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks and ABC News' Serena Marshall on the podcast. http://apple.co/2Zfz5nD
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