The TAKE with Rick Klein
It might just be that election results speak louder than impeachment revelations.
For all the caveats of an imprecise barometer, and those inevitably pointing out Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s flaws, Democrats walk away from Election Day 2019 with more votes in most closely watched contests -- including a 5,000-plus vote lead as of Wednesday morning in the race for governor of Kentucky.
It’s not just that Democrats appear poised to take the big prize in Sen. Mitch McConnell’s backyard, it's that President Donald Trump chose to spend election eve stumping for the incumbent governor. And it’s not just that Democrat Andy Beshear campaigned on expanding Medicaid, while Bevin campaigned on his embrace of Trump.
How the campaign played out and where might offer important lessons for a party eager to win again. Trump and Bevin failed to disqualify Beshear despite running hard against national Democrats and impeachment, while Beshear overperformed in rural areas and routed Bevin in the suburbs.
The geography and messaging also boosted Democrats in Virginia, where state legislative seats broke their way on Tuesday -- enough so that Democrats took control of the House of Delegates as well as the state Senate. Democrats will have full control of the state government in Richmond for the first time in more than a quarter century.
With Trump back on the campaign trail Wednesday in Louisiana -- in advance of next week’s gubernatorial election there -- the question is how much GOP loyalty to the president hinges on the perception that he can deliver votes.
"You can’t let that happen to me," Trump said Monday night about the prospect of a Democratic victory in Kentucky.
On Tuesday night, with Bevin trailing but The Associated Press yet to declare a winner in the race, Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale released a statement saying the president "just about dragged Gov. Matt Bevin across the finish line, helping him run stronger than expected."
Trump fared better in Mississippi, where he also campaigned late in the campaign and where Republican Gov. Tate Reeves defeated a conservative Democrat in the race for governor.
Yet Trumpism failed to triumph on the biggest general election night until the very big one next year. What happened Tuesday could make a perilous moment for Trump’s presidency even more troublesome.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
A key witness in the impeachment inquiry has changed his tune and now says he too was responsible for delivering demands to Ukrainian officials.
Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, first told investigators that he was not aware that the White House had preconditioned congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine, then corrected the record.
In documents of his latest testimony released on Tuesday, Sondland told lawmakers that following a Sept. 1 meeting in Warsaw, Poland, he pulled aside one of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's top aides and reiterated his understanding that the much sought-after U.S. aid was now contingent upon Ukraine's willingness to launch an investigation wanted by President Donald Trump and the president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Gordon told lawmakers that other witnesses "refreshed my recollection about conversations involving the suspension of U.S. aid."
And with that, allegations against the Trump administration expanded and new questions have come into focus: were other U.S. government officials using their position to lean on Ukraine and how far did the coercion extend beyond the phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy?
The TIP with Armando García
During a contentious Senate hearing Tuesday, Sen. Kamala Harris asked FBI Director Christopher Wray questions related to the impeachment inquiry and actions by Trump. She repeatedly asked whether it would be ethically appropriate to open, limit or stop an investigation into criminal activity based on a request from someone inside the White House and pressed him about Trump's relationship with his personal lawyer Rudy Guiliani, asking if it could pose a counter-intelligence threat. Visibly frustrated, Wray stuck to his answers and stressed that his loyalty was to the Constitution and the rule of law -- not to the president.
On the campaign trail the presidential hopeful has acknowledged that despite her career spanning over two decades, most people have come to know her for interrogations of Trump appointees, including Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. And in recent weeks, the senator has honed in on her skills as a prosecutor, weaving her record as California attorney general and San Francisco district attorney into her stump speeches and alluding to her belief that when it comes to Trump's actions "we're working with a pretty good rap sheet."
It's these skills that Harris may draw upon once again to boost her struggling campaign and convince voters why she, in her own words, is best poised to "prosecute the case against four more years of Donald Trump."
ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Wednesday morning's episode features ABC News' Katherine Faulders, who talks about why United States ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland's revised testimony could be significant in the ongoing impeachment inquiry. Then, ABC News' Conor Finnegan explains why security officials are concerned about Iran's recent nuclear moves. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joins ABC News Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks and Multi-platform Correspondent Serena Marshall to talk about his new book, "Desk 88: Eight Progressive Senators Who Changed America," which tells the stories of the senators who previously sat at his desk on the Senate floor. http://apple.co/2Zfz5nD
ONE MORE THING
After House Democrats requested that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney give a deposition in the impeachment probe, the White House signaled he would not show up.
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