Welcome to Positive America, I'm Jon Favreau. I'm Dan Pfeiffer on today's Pod. We'll break down the big moments from the first few days of Trump's impeachment trial and talk about a new report that suggests the insurrection might be causing voters to leave the Republican Party. How about that then? Congresswoman Pramila Jaya Paul talks to Dan about the covert relief bill and the minimum wage.
Also, check out what a day on Friday morning. Akeelah and Gideon have Dr. Fauci on the show. You don't want to miss that. Check that out. That's tomorrow, Friday morning on what a day.
Finally, we're having a President's Day weekend sale at the crooked store and everything is 15 percent off through Monday. It's like I'm a car salesman. So head to cricket dotcom slash store, checkout all the new merch, 15 percent off Presidents Day weekend. All right. Let's get to the news. We are in day three of former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial. And the House Democrats case has been even more damning than in the first trial. Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin began day one rebutting the defense argument that the trial of an ex-president is unconstitutional by pointing out that we can't make a, quote, January exception where presidents can get away with crimes during their final days in office.
Over the next several days, the House managers used never before seen sometimes graphic video and Trump's own tweets to argue that his months long effort to overturn an election he told his supporters had been stolen led hundreds of them to storm the US Capitol, a terrorist attack that left five dead and nearly resulted in the mass assassination of most of our political leaders.
There are a lot of emotional moments over the last couple of days, but for me, the most moving part was the close of Congressman Raskin's opening speech on Tuesday when he spoke about what happened when he finally found his family after the attack. Let's play the clip.
And I told my daughter, Tabitha. Who's 24 and a brilliant algebra teacher in Teach for America. Now, I told her how sorry I was and I promised her that it would not be like this again the next time she came back to the capital with me. And you know what she said? She said, Dad, I don't want to come back to the capital.
Of all the terrible, brutal things I saw and I heard on that day and since then, that one hit me the hardest, that in watching someone use an American flag pole with the flag still on it to spear and pummel one of our police officers, ruthlessly, mercilessly tortured by a pole.
With a flag on it that he was defending with his very life, people died that day.
What were your reactions watching the Democrats lay out their case over the last few days? Maybe you can talk about both the managers argument and maybe separately the use of all the audio and video footage.
I have to admit that while I always believed that impeachment was the right and only course for the Democrats to go through. I was very. Sort of skeptical of even watching because just frustrated by the futility of it, we're just like the previous impeachment where I sent from the TV for hours, as we all did, to watch that trial, knowing that the jury was rigged. Yet when I sat down to watch it, including Congressman Raskin's presentation, I was riveted by it.
It really sort of brought. Me, back to the moment we were all sitting in front of our TV on January six, watching sort of in horror and shock and fear as. Something that we didn't really imagine would happen in America in this day was happening before our eyes, that there were people's lives were in danger. The capital was being taken over by a mob. There are people flying the Confederate flag in the United States Capitol, a building that you and I both worked in where we have friends who currently work and people we know, reporters who cover it.
But even though that was only five weeks ago, I have felt like the emotions of the day had grown somewhat attenuated with the distance and our very weird pandemic's social media world. And that brought me right back to that moment and just how scary that was the argument. And I think that's what the video clips certainly did more than anything else. The video they used to open with the video clips that were the security footage was then used in day to all a reminder of just how scary this was and what it felt like to be watching it on that day.
The argument is.
Open and shut, it is like this is not even end, it is an absolute embarrassing farce that there is even a question as to whether or not just two thirds of the Senate, but the entire Senate isn't going to vote for this. This is a man who very clearly and very obviously incited a violent insurrection and sent a mob to kill the people who work there. And now many of the people who worked there, who came with it, as we now know, within milliseconds in inches of being the victims of that mob, will vote to acquit the person who did it just because.
Yeah, I mean. We talk a lot about politics here and political implications, and I don't know if this impeachment trial will have any political implications whatsoever over the long term or the medium term or the short term.
But sometimes you just do things because it's the right thing to do. And I had that feeling watching the impeachment trial. It's just it is just the right thing to do to remind a country that has a very short collective memory, shorter with each passing day that this horrifying event took place and that this man was responsible for this event and this man that who continues to be part of public life, who has thought who is contemplated running for office again for the same office.
Again, a party that is still loyal to this man like I I had forgotten over just a month.
I pay attention politics every single day. I thought the January six when I was watching it unfold was maybe the one of the angriest I've been throughout the whole Trump presidency.
There was terrified.
I've been throughout the whole Trump presidency and that feeling I had already escaped me over over the last couple of weeks. So I think it was I think the country should be reminded often that this happened on January six, let alone one impeachment trial.
So, you know, I'm very I'm glad that the Democrats did this and the Republicans who voted for it as well in the House. And I think the managers did an outstanding job sort of putting this case together, which, as you say, is it is an open and shut case.
But, you know, we're speaking on Thursday morning and we still have the defense lawyers are going to bring their case. We'll talk about how they've been doing so far in a second. But look, they're going to they're going to say the riot was terrible. It was an attack. You know, Ted Cruz walked out of the chamber yesterday and said this was a terrorist attack on our country. Their argument is, how can you blame Donald Trump? It was just he had some overheated rhetoric.
But is it really his fault that this happened? He said a few times, go home. He said a few times, be peaceful. So can you really blame him? And I think what the managers have done over the course of the last several days is not only just made a very emotional and powerful case using that audio and video footage, but they also anticipated every single potential defense that could come from Trump's defense team and just swatted it down, swatted it down with Trump's own tweets, with footage, with comments from other Republican officials, with comments from other White House officials.
I do think it was it was it was a pretty, pretty powerful case.
I mean, if you were someone who went into this with an open mind, then it's just it's impossible for me to fathom how you could not walk away from this thinking that Donald Trump is guilty of this and so much more. It's just it's just the evidence is overwhelming. And the choice that they made, which I thought was interesting and and smart, was that they made the case for incitement much bigger than Trump's speech at the rally. They've got Trump telling people the election was stolen over and over.
They showed other instances before January 6th of Trump mobs intimidating public officials. Because of those lies, Trump sees the danger and that doesn't care. Excuse is it? In the case of it happening to Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan excuses. The people that did that at the Michigan State Capital, keeps telling lies, helps organize the rally. They've got rioters saying, I'm here because of Trump. The president invited us to be here. The president wanted us to storm the capital.
That's what they showed today. And then a huge part of the case yesterday, on Wednesday is what Trump did during the attack because part of his defense might be, well, I didn't intend for it to get out of control like that. Well, if that's the case, why are they Republicans and White House officials on record saying that Trump was pleased and excited by the attacks. Why didn't he listen to Republicans who were calling the White House from the capital, pleading him to tell his supporters to go home?
Why did he send a tweet, a tweet attacking Mike Pence after he learned that Mike Pence's life was in danger? A tweet that was then read aloud through a bullhorn by the rioters outside the Capitol. They read through a bullhorn at Trump tweet attacking Mike Pence after Mike Pence was carried out of the Senate chamber because they were trying to fucking hang him like this.
And I do think like because it was all sort of in the fog of war and we were watching it, watching it all unfold that day, sort of hard to keep track of everything that happened.
And I'm sure if you were a senator or a House member who was in that in the capital, it was probably hard to put together what was going on outside and what was going in other parts of the Capitol.
And I do think the House managers did a really effective job connecting all the dots in a real logical order so that the senators, if they do have an open mind, which I'm sure many of them did not, would be able to understand perhaps for the first time just how extensive the attack was and how much Trump had to do with it, both ahead of time and how much he refused to stop it during the attack itself.
I mean, just embedded in the various examples you give are what would be smoking gun pieces of evidence if this were a normal criminal trial and not a political process with a rigged jury.
The Mike Pence example is the best one. Only Donald Trump. Thought that Mike Pence had the power to stop the election. It wasn't this was not a talking point amongst a bunch of different legal scholars. This was just some weird thing that Donald someone told Donald Trump that he got in his head. And he said it to this very group of people that morning before they marched to the White House, it is that is the piece of evidence. And then these Republicans come back and they say, well, Donald Trump gave this video where he told people to go home.
Now, once again, neither of us are attorneys, we will not be confused for constitutional law scholars by most, I guess.
But here's one thing I do know about the law, is that if you set a fire.
And then afterwards begrudgingly put it out under pressure, you are still guilty of. And so the fact that after he incited the crowd and sent them to the White House to hang his vice president. If he later told them to go home, that is not exculpatory in some way. No, and in fact, the House managers made the case this morning that they have a couple of the writers on record saying as soon as Trump finally said, hours into the attack, go home.
Hey, everyone, we should go home. Trump just told us to go home before he told us to come here. Now he's telling us to go home, so we should go home.
Just proving that they felt directed by the president of the United States, which, of course, they were.
So Donald Trump's defense lawyers responded to these very powerful emotional arguments with honestly, a performance that makes fuckin Rudy Giuliani sound like Atticus Finch.
I mean, it was just his lead lawyer, Bruce Castor, known previously as the guy who declined to prosecute Bill Cosby. I don't know where they found this guy. I guess they couldn't find anyone else. Bruce. Bruce Gaster kick things off with a forty eight minute rambling speech where he didn't make a cohesive argument about anything, but at one point did praise the House Democrats presentation, said that they did a great job. Here's a taste of what you may have missed from Bruce Castor.
No. When you're driving down the street and you look over at your wife and you say, hey, you know what, that guy's about to drive through the red light and kill that person, your wife can testify to what you said, because even though it's technically hearsay is an exception, because it's the event living through the person, why no opportunity for reflective thought?
Could you detect any kind of an argument there? I don't know. I don't know what that was. I literally don't know what he was referencing at all, what legal how that had any kind of connection to this case whatsoever.
But maybe we should maybe you should try to answer what case was Bruce Castor trying to make? What was he supposed to be making?
Great question, John. I am curious who Trump was in that little story there.
Is he the person driving, running through the red light, the life the person incapable of reflective thought?
Was that the boy like I did not know that.
There were two arguments, I think embedded in the case put forward both by Bruce Castor and the David Shewn, who did a slightly better job, I will say, when they met Bruce Castor, though, as a general rule, if you were making a legal presentation on national television and my Cousin Vinny starts trending not I don't like, that's a sign that maybe you missed the mark. But the two arguments were the first one was contradictory. The house moved too fast in the sense that they did not give Trump due process rights, which don't actually does anything that actually exists and in the impeachment process.
But they move too fast, but then they also move too slow because he is no longer president. And that's that is ultimately the crux of the Republican case, that I think it's a fig leaf these Republicans use to justify their acquittal vote is as a private citizen, as a former president, he is ineligible for the impeachment process. And that process was designed for presidents. Now, there is a gigantic problem to that, which Congressman Raskin called the January exception.
I think of it slightly differently, which is essentially at the core of the Trump legal team's argument is the legal argument underpinning the plot of the movie The Purge. It is this idea that there is a period of time by which you can commit crimes with no consequences, because that's really what to say here, because we just have to, like, put a fine point on it, because these Republicans believe and it is the opinion of the Department of Justice for decades that a sitting president cannot be tried in criminal court, cannot be indicted for crimes committed while they are president.
And that is because the Constitution has prescribed impeachment as the appropriate forum for adjudicating presidential crimes.
Yet at the same time, these people are saying that if the crime committed while president, then that is ineligible for civilian criminal prosecution is discovered. After that person is president, then they cannot face any accountability for.
And so what it really does create this is why the exception rule comment by Congressman Raskin so rises. There is obviously a period of a week, a few days, three weeks between when a president is leaving office and when they have left office where they can commit crimes because you can impeach them fast enough to hold them accountable for it.
There's also there's also just a glaring precedent here, like Ulysses S. Grants, Secretary of War William Belknap was accused of corruption. He resigned in order to avoid impeachment, the House impeached him anyway, and then he was tried in the Senate, happened once before in history, wasn't unconstitutional, was very constitutional because the Senate and the House decided that it was constitutional, which is what you do around impeachment. Now, did did they address the Belnap case?
Of course they did not, because they were saying, God knows what.
I did find it very funny that a Trump adviser told Maggie Haberman that Castro was intentionally trying to reduce the emotion in the room after the house manager case and said that what he did was a deliberate strategy.
If I don't know if the strategy succeeded, even the Republicans coltish, really defending Trump couldn't defend Trump's lawyers who were criticized by Trump ass kissers like Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Alan Dershowitz. But, of course, we were told that Trump himself had scheduled a number of meetings during the trial and playbook reported before it all started that actually Trump is pretty chill these days. He's, quote, reveled in his silence on Twitter and, quote, finally realizes less is more.
So what was Trump's super chill? Less is more reaction to his lawyer's performance, Dan? Well, one person familiar with Trump's reaction told The New York Times that on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the angriest, Trump was an eight. So what happened to this news then? Trump I don't understand.
It's so funny that he left the presidency and decided to take up meetings, something he did not do with the White House.
It's I mean, it's just I mean, we could yell for days about people who would credulously in anonymously report.
Stuff about Trump's move that flies in the face of everything we know of Trump over the last six years, not to mention his decades of public life like that, is embarrassing. I do think that the Trump legal case is somewhat of a microcosm of what has been like to be a Republican who supports Trump this whole time, which is all you want is like the barest fig leaf to justify your cowering at the feet of Trump.
And then Trump never gives it to him because he's so incompetent or he just admits, you know, much like the last impeachment, like, no, no, he didn't really he wasn't demanding a quid pro quo or Trump's like, yes, I wanted a quid pro quo.
Like, that is what I want. That's what a dealmaker does. Like a similar thing like this is where we can get the Bill Cassidy. But this is these members are frustrated because they couldn't even get something within the same universe as credible for a rationale for acquitting Trump other than we just do what Trump wants because we're Republicans. We think that's good politics for us. So we, I think, appropriately made fun of the idea that Trump has discovered some new kind of discipline in his post presidency, but do you think it is weird that we haven't heard from him?
Like, I realize that he doesn't have his Twitter account. He has many other outlets available to him to to to speak through. He has many friendly outlets available to him to speak to.
He could he could call up his fox and friends pals, call up his pal Sean Hannity, get a bunch of softballs.
Do you think that he's actually worried that he may say something that could get him convicted or changed some Republican senators minds? Or is he just lazy and doesn't want to talk to the press?
It's probably a combination of fear of legal consequences and. Laziness. I think that's probably I mean, when if you remember back when there was a discussion about what Trump would do if he was forced to testify in or give a an interview to Mueller and the people who had been engaged with Trump in his pre presidential legal shenanigans point out that, like his mind, focus like a laser when it feels like he might go to jail. A very diffuse, weak laser, but relative.
This is all it's all comparative to normal. And so it could be that he has been convinced that the best thing for him to do is stay quiet. And there is probably a combination of things here. If he had his Twitter account and he could get his message out unfiltered, he probably would just do that. I think he's probably avoiding helping Fox because he feels like he has a little bit over the barrel right now. So I don't know.
I feel like I've just done psychoanalysis of Trump, and that's sort of what we argue against. But I agree with you. It is bizarre that he has been able to remain quiet in some way, shape or form for weeks now. He hasn't really given an interview to anyone since the election. Right. No, not at all. I also think it's you know, Twitter announced yesterday that they're going to continue the permanent ban on his on Donald Trump's Twitter account, even if he runs for office again, which we may not get a conviction or a vote to make sure he can't run again.
But it does seem like if he is permanently banned from Twitter, that could make it pretty hard.
Do you think you can run that to hijack the very specific outline?
We did, but do you think you can run for president if you're banned from Twitter? We might find out. Yeah, you can credibly run for president. Here's why I think it's hard. A very small percentage of the American people are on Twitter. We know that, right? Like it seems like the world to all of us news political junkies, vast majority of people are not on Twitter way.
More people are on Snapchat way. More people are on Facebook.
Right. Like, it's just it's pretty small, but every fucking journalist in the world is on Twitter. And in that way, Twitter sets the media narrative. And if you're not part of that because and you're running for office and you and you don't and you can't just speak how you want or get a message out on Twitter, I think it could make it difficult. Now, Trump has a vast right wing propaganda machine at his disposal. And the first step, of course, is to win the Republican primary.
So if you're going to win the Republican primary, you need to be on Twitter or can you just talk through the right wing media ecosystem? You can probably do that. And then if you win the nomination, then you do get attention because now you're the party's nominee. So that's the path for him. I think it's probably harder if you're a Democrat running for president. Oh, for sure. Of all. All you have is just coming on positive America every day.
I mean, as you would as you would have to if you had any hope of getting attention, as you would have to just just look at Joe Biden right now.
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Back to Trump's lawyers, who not only pissed off their client, they actually pissed off a Republican senator so badly that he switched his vote to join five other Republicans and 50 Democrats in affirming the constitutionality of the trial itself.
Bill Cassidy of Louisiana told reporters on Tuesday, quote, If I'm an impartial juror and one side is doing a great job and the other side is doing a terrible job on the issue at hand, as an impartial juror, I'm going to vote for the side that did the good job. Imagine that. What a what a refreshing, weird thing to hear. Cassidys vote did not go over very well with the Louisiana State Republican Party, which released a statement on Tuesday saying they were, quote, profoundly disappointed in the senator.
Do you think Cassidy's explanation of why he did it is the truth?
I think his what he what you just quoted there is why he did it. I do believe that. I would just note. It is not how trials work. It's not a performance, it's not America's Got Talent for lawyers. It's like whoever presents the best argument, whether they do it coherently or not. Now, the Democrats presented the better argument here, but his reasoning was stupid. I think he did not think about this very much. I bet his staff learned he was going to vote this way at the exact same time we did.
The other senators who voted in the previous iteration of this constitutionality motion to table vote thing, I think all spent a lot of time thinking about how they were going to vote, and they made a calculation for why they were going to vote for it. Cassie, I think, just was like, these guys are a bunch of yahoos and I'm going to vote for it. And I do believe him when he says this tells you nothing about how I'm going to vote on the the actual verdict.
So I think it was a little bit of a reaction to the poor performance of Trump's attorneys, just the weakness of their argument and the emotion of seeing what happened.
I did. Do you see Doug Jones's tweet about this?
Yeah, he's shaken up. Yeah, it was he was responding to some reports about all of these Republicans who were very moved by and startled and shook by these images of their colleagues almost being killed by this mob. But we're not going to change.
Our position in his tweet was shaken but not stirred, which I thought was perfect in Doug Jones free on Twitter without the constraints of running in a deeply red state. I'll take it.
Yeah, there's there's your upside. You get to make a joke on Twitter.
There are also some reports that Bill Cassidy may retire at the end of this term, which would be another reason he's would not be as concerned about the politics. But if he doesn't, then then good for him. The politics, we should point out, are not great for Republicans doing the right thing here. Data for Progress did a poll the other day. Sixty nine percent of Republican voters said they'd be less likely to vote for a political candidate if that person found Trump guilty in the trial.
You look at numbers like that and you're a Republican senator and you think, OK, maybe it's the right thing to do to convict him. But I would easily lose a primary with numbers like that. And if I did vote to convict, there's not enough of us to actually make it real. So is it just a waste of my time doing that? I mean, from a political standpoint? Can you blame them for. I mean, I can certainly blame them and do blame them from a moral, ethical standpoint, but they probably have the politics, correct?
Sadly, yes and no. Yes.
It is true that the the politics are currently that. And the political downside for a Republican voting to convict in most cases is going to greatly exceed the upside. But there's also an element of a self-fulfilling prophecy here, which is that no one has tried to make the other argument. They all allowed the election the big lie about the election to fester. They promoted it, almost all of them. There's a swine flu symptoms. Remember, most people would not refer to Joe Biden as the president elect for like six weeks.
And then they're like shocked that their voters think the election was stolen is, I guess, is really a self-fulfilling short term ism to how they approach this. Yes, it's true. But they have not tried to make the opposite argument, try to move the party away from this level of radicalization. They have just constantly fed into the radicalization because that's what benefited them in the five minutes in front of them, as opposed to thinking five months, five years, ten years down the road.
And so, yes, that's what the politics are. But the politics are that way because they have allowed them to be that way because they haven't had the gumption to actually do anything about it.
And I will say the most contemptible Republican senators are the ones who don't have to face voters again and are still voting to that the trial is unconstitutional or to exonerate Trump, like Rob Portman of Ohio, who announced that he's not going to be running again and yet still voted that the that the trial is unconstitutional, which is complete bullshit. And Rob Portman knows that he's a smart guy and not going to face voters again. So he can't use the political excuse, just decided to vote that way anyway.
So there is just what do you think? Maybe it's all this political pressure for these some of them just do the wrong thing because they're assholes.
That's it. So no other Republican senators, aside from the six who voted in favor of constitutionality, have given any signal that they might vote to convict.
That includes Mitch McConnell, even though Bloomberg has reported and Politico has reported that sources close to McConnell say he hasn't yet made up his mind. There we go. Team Mitch out there spinning reporters again that that Mitch McConnell still hasn't made up his mind. I think those sources are full of shit.
What do you think, Dan? It's just it's so embarrassing for the people who wrote that story. It is so embarrassing. It's how many times are you going to go to the same well and look like an asshole over and over and over again. Why do you are you continue letting fucking Josh Holmes and the other fucking team, Mitch assholes out there spin, you don't let them in, fucking embarrass you like this just because they want to still be part of the establishment.
They want all their fucking K Street buddies and all the rest of it, like, give me a break, Mitch McConnell, like he it does there is reporting that, like, you know, in that Bloomberg report that, you know, McConnell has told every senator to vote their conscience.
What do you think, Team Mitch? His strategy is here.
They're trying to, like, make sure he has it both ways, that he is not crossing Trump and the Trump base, but also is, you know, doing enough to try to get corporate donations back in the party. Like what? What do you think?
That is exactly right. He is trying to say they want the money back, they want the money and they want the Megabus.
He's trying to find a way to navigate that because he needs to raise tens, hundreds of millions of dollars in super PAC money from very wealthy people and corporate interests to hold onto the Senate. And many of those corporate interests are very uncomfortable with what happened on January six. And since then. And some of them have stopped giving to Republicans, some of them have stopped giving to both parties, which is really fucking stupid.
We're so angry about what Republicans are doing that we're not going to help Democrats get elected is a very, very, very shortsighted way of thinking of things. And so he's trying to have it both ways and he is successfully having it both ways right now. It's exactly what he is doing. He has created this fiction that he is trying to rid the party of Trump ism while also doing everything he can to enable the party's continued affiliation with Trump ism.
If Mitch McConnell decided tomorrow that he was going to vote to convict Donald Trump, it wouldn't ensure conviction.
But it would absolutely open the door to a bunch of other Republican senators potentially convicting it. Mitch McConnell has that power and he just is choosing not to use it. And that is a choice he has made. So where do we go from here? Like the Republicans just get to acquit Trump. Wait a few days for everyone to forget. Then move on to whining about Joe Biden not taking the deficit and bipartisanship seriously, and that's that that's not going to happen.
Cool, cool, cool, cool. I mean, there is an element of defeatism that can come from this process, as it did from the last appearance, where you have a president who does something that is clearly wrong, clearly, clearly worthy of removal, clearly criminal, and gets away with it.
And Republicans want to weaponize that. To make you feel like your vote does not matter. Your participation does not matter because cynicism is the greatest ally to conservatism, because they will do better if our voters tune out of the process. And I think we have to take the long view about what this about what to do here.
Right. Which is this is one step and it is a painful step and a frustrating step in. It's doing two things. The first is. Making the Republicans pay a political price for everything that they have done over the last many, many years, and that next opportunity comes in twenty, twenty two, and we have to bring the same sort of long term thinking, the same sort of enthusiasm and organizing and investment to the twenty, twenty two elections that we brought the twenty eighteen elections, because they are proving to they're making the case for why the stakes are just as high even when Trump is not in the office in the second.
What is is that what is happening before us if presuming the Republicans vote to acquit, is a yet another crystal clear example of how broken our democracy is.
And you see it in the polling results. Fifty six percent of the public wants to trump to be face removal and the consequences come from it. Forty four percent think he should be acquitted in a normal functioning democracy. That would be really bad news for the forty four percent. But 44 percent is basically what you need to hold on to the Senate and be within spitting distance of the White House with our rigged politics.
And so we need to take what is happening here and use this argument for the things we care most about, including the the for the People Act, voter expansion, democratic reform and do all of that like that.
Is that is where we go from here and being defeatist and cynical about the outcome, only aids those who are seeking to shield Trump from any sort of accountability.
I also think a fiction still exists that among certain Democratic politicians that a lot of Republican senators, Republican House members can be dealt with, reasoned with, negotiated with. And look, in fairness, you know, Joe Biden was accused of believing that fiction during most of the campaign. I think the actions of the administration so far have showed that he doesn't necessarily believe that and that his view of unity is bigger than just the politicians in Washington and involves the whole country.
So that's good.
But I think people like Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, who are still sitting there thinking, yeah, we can work with Republicans and we can get big things done and we don't have to get rid of the filibuster.
You know, I saw reports that Joe Manchin was fairly outraged with being reminded of what happened and Donald Trump's role in it over the last several days.
And maybe if you Manchin, in your sentiment, you're sitting there and you're watching these Republicans just go on and acquit Donald Trump, you think to yourself, maybe we can't work with them, you know, and maybe this isn't what does it.
But it certainly builds the case that something fundamentally is broken with the Republican Party, that these aren't just people who can't sit down and negotiate over tax cuts and deficits and whatever else anymore, that they are protecting someone who incited an attack on democracy. And that is much bigger than just having a difference with the other party. So there are other consequences that could come from this, so don't despair, there's one other way to hold Trump accountable now that he is a private citizen.
The district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, has opened a criminal investigation into efforts made to influence the results of the presidential election in Georgia. As you might remember, Trump threatened Georgia election officials. He asked them to find him more votes. He abused his power in a desperate attempt to overturn the results in that state. We all remember that. Well, now, Fulton County D.A. Fanni Williams has asked state Republicans to keep documents related to the investigation, writing in a letter that doesn't specifically mention Trump, quote, This investigation includes but is not limited to potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, but making false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office, and any involvement in violence or threats related to the elections administration.
Gee, who could that involve?
What is what is this case of this potential investigation opened by the Fulton County D.A. into what happened around the election in Georgia? What does that mean for Trump going forward?
Well, it certainly could mean that Trump will there will be discovery. Trump could be subject to subpoenas. He could likely at some point be required to testify. Now, all I'm sure that all of the people who are currently arguing that Trump cannot be impeached for action now that he's not president also cannot be convicted for actions he committed while president. But it is a state case. So that is a little bit harder in the DOJ.
Opinion does not apply, but it is. Trump faces just put aside what's happening at the center right now. Trump faces an array of incredibly challenging legal. Problems go forward, he has got what's happening in New York State, he's got his businesses and foundations under investigation. But this is him. This is Donald Trump himself being investigated for a crime of which he is on tape committing. And if they were to proceed in an indictment were to happen, he would have to he's going to have to testify, which could potentially face trial.
You know, what the legal penalties are and whether they're throwing a book at Donald Trump, are we going to see him frog marched out of Mar a Lago, who knows? But it is deeply concerning. And it is one of the reasons why the idea that Donald Trump is most definitely running for president in twenty twenty four, I think is sometimes a little ahead of its skis because the he has he has a lot of problems to traverse between now and when it comes time to start showing up at an Iowa Pizza Ranch again.
So, yeah, no, I think I think he could have some problems, so the other consequence that may come from not only this impeachment trial, but sort of the insurrection that is the cause of the impeachment trial is for the larger Republican Party. Some news on that front from The New York Times yesterday across just the twenty five states that report party registration data. Almost one hundred and forty thousand voters have left the Republican Party since the attack in January.
Now it is normal for parties to shed some voters after election, especially the losing party. But this is significantly more than the seventy nine thousand voters who left the Democratic Party over the same period. Republicans have lost more than 12000 voters in Pennsylvania, nearly 8000 in North Carolina and more than 10000 in Arizona, where Biden won by around the same amount. A Gallup poll on Wednesday also showed that only 37 percent of Americans now have a favorable view of the Republican Party, a decrease over the last few months.
That gives the Democratic Party a double digit advantage on favorability with forty eight percent of people approving of Democrats.
Is this just noise? Is this what happens to a losing party or is this a more notable shift?
What do you think? I think we need to know more about who these voters are.
Are these Romney, Clinton, suburban Republicans who voted for a Democrat and 18 voted for Biden and are shifting? Or are they more moderate voters who are angry that Trump engaged in an insurrection?
Or are they more conservative, more magga voters who are angry at Republicans because they didn't help with the insurrection?
Right. In which case now, even if it's that, even if it's the latter, we saw what happened in Georgia in the runoffs. These could be voters who are big Trump fans pissed about how the Republican Party handled the insurrection and think that they're not sufficiently defensive of Donald Trump and they might be dropping out of the party and dropping out of politics altogether.
Yeah, I think the latter is more concerning for Republicans than the former.
Right, right. Right, right. And some of it could be, you know, a CBS poll released this week found that 70 percent of Republicans would consider joining a new political party founded by Donald Trump.
Now, there was some reporting from Maggie Haberman when this was first raised a couple of weeks ago that Trump quickly decided that a third party wouldn't be the best idea because if he founded a third party would be hard to stick it to Republicans during Republican primaries that he wanted to. I mean, yes, that is true.
But the primary reason why it's not starting a third party is the same reason why it's not starting a television network or a social media company is he's lazy and lazy.
Yeah. Work work is the greatest impediment to Donald Trump doing anything.
It's I think it's hard to know what this is all going to mean. There is a lot of reports about the Republican Party falling apart. After Obama won in 2008, he won a surprisingly large share of Republican voters. The party consolidated around Republicans in opposition to Obama. The thing we're going to need to know about these people who have left the Republican Party is, are they not voting or are they voting for Democrats or are they just independents who vote for Republicans?
Because the traditional thing here is when you lose an election, a bunch of people quit the party and they become independents, but they remain Republican voters. They're you know, they're either independents or what you would call an NPR and not partisan affiliation, which is and this has happened so often, which is why incumbent presidents almost always lose the independent vote share when they run for re-election, because it's not that they became less popular, although that may be part of it, but that the pool of independent voters just contains more people who profile as members of the other party.
Obama won by huge percentage of independents in 2008, lost by one or two in 2012.
But if you're liked, it is very clear the Republicans are divided in a whole bunch of fronts here, and that presents a lot of opportunity for Democrats. So it's not I'm not trying to I'm not trying to pour water on the parade or whatever the right metaphor is.
In the other thing we don't know about these voters who left as we talked about it, from the perspective of where they happy with the insurrection, where they're upset about the insurrection, it may not have to do with the insurrection at all. There was a couple of voters who spoke to The New York Times about leaving the Republican Party. One of them talked about how they were upset that the Republican Party wouldn't back a fifteen dollar minimum wage and Democrats did.
Which brings up, you know, the possibility that some of these voters are potentially who are leaving the Republican Party are potentially open to Democrats.
If, you know, Democrats propose certain policies, have a certain agenda, look like they're fighting for them. Ezra Klein tweeted last week, You know, one thing you really see in the Romney child allowance plan, Romney proposed, I think. Four thousand dollars per child. Is that all those studies saying social issues split the left and unite the right, but economic issues unite the left and split the right are true. What do you think about that?
I think that's exactly right. It's not. And I think it's we should be very clear that it's not an argument that Democrats shouldn't talk about social issues. We absolutely should. We we we have to our voters care about them. They're important.
Reproductive rights, civil rights, voting rights, immigration, immigration rights records are under tremendous threat from this Republican Party and we have to talk about them. But when we think about how we're going to make the case against Republicans, there are some very obvious economic wedge issues here. Donald Trump had more success with, quote unquote, working class voters. In a multiracial way than any Republican in a very long time now, he it's all bullshit and he's and we know that, but he was able to sort of sell this populism.
He is banned from Twitter and therefore apparently doesn't exist anymore. And so the Republican Party is embodied by a bunch of congressional Republicans whose two primary goals in life are cutting Medicare and Social Security to pay for tax cuts for corporations. And so you would imagine that there is some opportunity for Democrats to go get some of the voters, go get back some of the voters who supported Obama over Romney when the economy was the centerpiece of that election that we lost in the years to come.
Because this version of the Republican Party is not what they, at least we believe, incorrectly imagined Trump's version of it to be. So I think there are real opportunities there. And we really have to think very strategically and creatively about what our economic wedge issues that we can use in the fifteen dollars minimum wage must be high on that list.
Another proof point here. Donald Trump was impeached twice and cited an insurrection against the capital, did all kinds of just heinous shit over the last four years.
The two moments he was least popular, his approval rating was the lowest out of four years, was trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and passing a tax cut for the rich.
He was least popular, more so than the insurrection itself, which does tell you about the opportunity Democrats have to put forth an agenda that speaks to working class black Americans, brown Americans, white Americans, and hopefully build a multiracial working class coalition in this country that can help split the Republican Party and sort of exploit some of the divisions that exist in that party right now.
And that's going to require actually achieving some of the things we ran on, which is why figuring out a way to ensure we get this 15 dollar minimum wage done as part of this bill is absolutely critical because talking about it, because I like the way people view politics right now, talking about it, but not achieving some of those things is not going to work for us.
We're going to achieve some of those things. And that put Republicans appropriately and correctly on the other side of those issues. And people are going to have to feel the change in their lives.
We can't just tell them we achieved it. They're actually going to feel it. All right. Well, you're going to talk a lot more about all of these issues with our next guests, Congresswoman Pramila Paul. We'll hear that after the break.
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Trump some more.
I feel like I have been thinking about Trump a lot lately and feel like I have to get back to what is here, where is he gone? And he like I feel like cable news with the impeachment, like kind of is like, hey, should we get back together with an ex? You know, should we just do this? Should we just do this like it's fine.
We have a history and it's like and then then then like towards the end, like, I remember why we stopped doing this.
This wasn't it has never really worked.
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I'm now joined by Washington congresswoman and chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, representative from Illinois. Paul, thanks for coming back to parts of America.
Thank you. It's always great to be with you. There are a number of important victories for progressives over the last week or so in the efforts to pass the covert relief package. I want to start with the minimum wage. This should be intuitively obvious, but for I think for many of the folks in the media and for certainly the Republicans, there was a question about why a permanent change to the federal minimum wage should be included in an emergency relief package.
Could you explain the logic behind that?
Yeah, absolutely. So we are in a time where low wage workers, front line workers, essential workers who are amongst the the the the, you know, disproportionate share of minimum wage workers are really struggling. They're taking the brunt of the pandemic. They in many cases have had their wages cut because of high unemployment. They've had their hours cut. And so we're in this moment where we have to recognize the disproportionate impact that covid had on low wage workers, many of whom are people of color.
And so it was really fabulous to have President Biden come out strong when he first came into office by saying we needed to include a minimum wage increase in this package. Remember, it's been 12 years since the minimum wage has been the federal minimum wage has been increased. And in that time, over 30 states have started to pass some sort of minimum wage increase. I'm, of course, proud that I come from Washington state. We were the first state in the country to index minimum wage to inflation back in 1998, which meant that at least your wages had to grow at the rate of inflation.
That's not true for most of the country. And so a federal minimum wage increase to 15 over five years. I would like it to be quicker, but that's where we are would lift up 30 million workers, the wages of 30 million workers. It would lift up a million workers out of poverty and it would put three hundred and thirty billion dollars back into the economy over the next 10 years. Why is that important during covid? Because when you raise the wages of the lowest wage workers, they plow it right back into the economy.
Right. They're buying food, put on their table. They're going to frequent small businesses. And that money is going to help those local communities also and those local businesses also to do better. And so this is absolutely the right time to do this. And, you know, we we had to fight to get it in, Dan, but it's in. And, you know, I assume we're going to talk a little bit about that. But this is the time to go big and bold.
And this is a structural change that is long overdue, necessary in the moment, and also will survive beyond covid.
The opponents of not just a federal minimum wage increase, but the actual idea of a federal minimum wage have latched on to this CBO report that claims that one point four million jobs would be lost through the passage of this legislation. That seems patently absurd to me and seems to fly in the face of the experiences of places that have raised the minimum wage to 15 dollars. What's your response to that?
Yeah, we had a we had a hearing and a markup in education and labor that went for almost 14 hours the other night. And this, of course, was the argument that they kept making. Now, first of all, the CBO report, I could tear it down. I could spend the entire podcast tearing it down. It is a shoddy piece of work, in my opinion, and it is very different than the the report that the CBO released just last year.
But. It is not that they're saying one point four million workers will lose their jobs, it is a range that goes down to zero. So they're saying that there will be some level of people that will lose their jobs, but not even just lose their jobs. They're talking about just losing hours potentially. There are a lot of minimum wage workers who are working three or four jobs. So if one of those workers loses one of those jobs because they now only have to work two jobs, in my mind, that's a pretty darn good thing.
But in addition, if you look at our experience in Seattle, we were the first major city in the country to pass a minimum wage increase back in 2015 to fifteen dollars phased in. And I was on the committee that actually helped draft that proposal in 2015.
Everyone came and run their hands about all the businesses that were going to close and about all the jobs that were going to be lost. And this is the same. It's like redux. We hear it every time. That is absolutely not what happened. We had the businesses, some of the businesses that came and said they were going to lose jobs, actually open new branches. We continue to have high unemployment, high employment and the lowest unemployment rate in the country over the next several years as we were raising the minimum wage.
And in 20, I think it was twenty eighteen or twenty nineteen, Forbes ranked us as the best place in the country, both to do business and for workers to have great careers. So it is just not true that minimum wage actually makes it worse for anybody. The whole community does better when workers do better. There was a study that came out early in that experiment that said we were going to lose a bunch of jobs.
Three years later, the same authors put out another study that said we were wrong. That didn't happen.
So this is the problem with these studies. And if you look at the comprehensive look of studies over one hundred and seventy two studies that have been done in states across the country, there is absolutely zero evidence that raising the wage, raising the minimum wage creates job loss.
Are you saying that giving money to workers so that they can buy goods and services is good for the economy?
I am saying that neither of us are members of the CBO. But, yes, that doesn't that seems like that might make intuitive sense to me, especially those workers that are at the lowest wage, right?
Exactly. Exactly. They're not like putting money away for for stock trades. They are actually spending it on food and other necessities. It flows right back into the economy.
So what's next in the minimum wage fight? There's going to be a battle in the Senate. There's a question about how this fits in a budget record to the quote unquote, budget reconciliation process that we'll need if we have to only get 50 votes in the Senate.
Where you where's your head on that?
Well, I really believe that the CBO report, for everything I don't agree with, actually made it very clear that minimum wage has a considerable effect on many parts of the federal budget. And so I think it made the case for budget reconciliation in the Senate. Now, we should be really clear that the parliamentarians. So basically what happens for people who don't know how this weird process works? If you use budget reconciliation, it means you only need 51 votes, which, of course, if we kept all Democrats together and the vice president breaks the tie, we've got 51 votes in the Senate.
And so but in order to qualify, you essentially have to show that there's a significant impact on the federal budget. And so the CBO report, I think, has done that. But the way it works is you present arguments. It's like a court, right? So the Democrats present their arguments, the Republicans present their arguments.
And then the parliamentarian of the Senate gives an opinion on whether or not it qualifies. We should be really clear that according to the rules of the Senate, that is an advisory opinion to the chair of the Senate, who happens to be the Democratic vice president, Kamala Harris. And so the chair can then decide whether or not she wants to take the parliamentarian's opinion or not.
And if she decides she doesn't want to take it, then it would take 60 votes to overrule her, her her ruling, essentially.
So I believe it's going to qualify. I also think, Dan, that Republicans have used the rules in so many ways that benefit the wealthiest corporations and the wealthiest individuals. In fact, they even brought in a parliamentarian when they didn't like the parliamentarians opinion. And so I really think that Democrats need to use every tool in the toolbox to pass a minimum wage increase to 15 and benefit 30 million workers across the country. It almost got derailed this past weekend.
As you know, President Biden made a statement that, you know, that he wasn't sure if it was going to survive in the Senate. And that led to a series of things, including arguments being put up for.
Why the House should not include it, and when I found out about that, I was on the phone all weekend with the White House, with our leadership, with the chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, making it very clear that progressives I'm sorry, there's nothing more allowed than dogs barking during this podcast, that despite making it very clear that progressives would have a very hard time supporting a package out of the House that didn't have a 15 dollar minimum wage.
And so we were able to work with leadership and with everybody else to tear down the procedural reasons for why we weren't putting it in. And on Sunday, there was no 15 dollar minimum wage in the national labor package that was released. And on Monday it was back in. And so I'm really proud to have led that effort in the House, working with Senator Sanders and his staff to also educate people on our side about the procedural reasons that we needed to put it in.
The other victory there was not in this process was beating back in effort to target, I don't even feel like targets, right word, but target the relief checks you talking about. How about what the final result is and how you beat that back?
Yeah, well, this whole idea. OK, I want to talk about the politics, because I know you really are so good on the politics as well as the policy, right? Yes, of course. Two reasons for this.
So this is a populist policy the Democrats ran on in Georgia and across the country that we wanted to get two thousand dollars of survival checks, money in people's pockets, immediate thing that somebody could see Donald Trump was advocating try not to use his name anymore, but he was advocating for this policy as well. We passed six hundred dollars in December. I would have loved to see two thousand on top of that. But OK, we got fourteen hundred as proposed by President Biden to the same audience.
The way you determine.
OK, sorry, let me stick with politics for a second. So it would be absolutely crazy for Democrats to now say, you know what, we don't want to give it to the same people that got it before. We want to reduce and restrict the number of people who can get these very popular, politically popular checks that we actually ran on in Georgia and won on in Georgia. And we're going to cut out 40 million Americans from getting these checks by reducing the threshold that qualifies you to get a survival check.
So with seventy five thousand one hundred and fifty thousand, the proposal from including some conservative Democrats was to reduce that to 50 and one hundred fifty and seventy five, excuse me. And so that makes no sense politically.
But just from a policy perspective now, the threshold that we're using to determine eligibility is from 2019 tax returns. Tens of millions of people lost their jobs in 2020 and a million people, almost a million people every week are still filing unemployment claims. So if you want to quote target, I call it restrict checks based on eligibility, then you would need to have very recent numbers to fine tune. Who's going to get these checks? We don't have recent numbers to fine tune that because people most people have not filed their twenty, twenty returns and we don't want to delay these checks.
The whole point is right now we've got to get help to people. And so from a policy perspective, it makes no sense to try to restrict the the checks. Very few people at the top end of the spectrum, everyone talks about people who are earning couples who are earning 300000 getting checks. I don't know of I don't know of a lot of people that are earning three hundred thousand who are getting checks. And and, you know, if if there is a portion, it's tiny.
So I would rather provide benefit to the large number of people, get it out quickly and hope that those people would give that check away. If they get it and they don't really need it, then to try to wait or try to unfairly restrict access to these checks.
Another element of the covert relief package that I think incredibly important has gotten less attention is the expansion of access to health care. And there could you help our listeners understand what is going on with that?
Yeah, so for anyone who doesn't know that's listening, I'm the lead sponsor of Medicare for all. I got to put a plug in for my bill that is ultimately, in my view, the way we solve our health care crisis and make sure everyone has health care. OK, we're not in a place where we're probably going to get Medicare for all in this moment and we need to expand health care for everybody. So we're pushing on Medicare for all.
But at the same time, I was the co-chair of the Biden Sanders Unity Task Force on Health Care last summer, and we were able to get a whole bunch of foundational pieces of Medicare for all into those agreements. Some of those are contained in this bill, but not all. And I we are still pushing to to include those agreements that candidate Biden made into this bill. But we are going to increase subsidies based on the federal poverty limit substantially so that people will have way more access to health care immediately.
We are going to increase the decrease the total percentage of income that anyone has to pay. So it's now going to go to eight and a half percent. That will be a big piece of making sure that health care is affordable to people. And then we are pushing to try to do what we said we would do in last year and tie this to a platinum level plan, because in Heroes, it was only a silver level plan. And frankly, those plans you have to pay eight thousand dollars out of pocket.
They are not particularly good plan. So if we could tie this to a platinum level plan as candidate by. Had committed to then that at least will allow people quickly to access good and comprehensive coverage, the the last pieces we really believe and we got this into the Biden Sanders unity task force agreements, that we should have auto enrollment, because part of the problem, Dan, is people don't know that they qualify. They don't know how to go about getting it.
Why not just automatically enroll everybody? My actual proposal was to automatically enroll anyone who had lost their job or anyone who was uninsured into Medicare. That would have been the easiest, quickest and cheapest thing to do. So we are you know, we're working on auto enrollment at least into the platinum level plan or into one of the ACA plans. So people don't have to go fill out that paperwork. The final thing that's in the bill is COBRA subsidies.
So subsidizing COBRA for employees who lose their jobs. But I don't want to I don't want to dis on COBRA, but it's a very expensive way to go. And it covers a very small number of people who even have employer covered health care. My personal opinion is we're not doing enough in this plan for the uninsured to really cover those people who are just falling through the cracks. We will get a lot of them. It will be dramatically better than what we had before, but it's not going to cover everybody.
And I do think that should be a priority. So I have told the White House and our leadership that if we can't do everything in this plan, we should at least implement the Biden Sanders Unity Task Force agreements into the build back better plan. One last question for you before I let you go, as you mentioned, you're the lead sponsor of Medicare for all. You are the chair of the Progressive Caucus. You were a very prominent and proud supporter of Senator Sanders in this presidential race.
But you are also now serving in a moment of unified Democratic government with a Democratic president who, while I think is more progressive than he gets credit for, is more to the center than you and your chosen candidate, a Senate where someone like Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema or Mark Kelly has the the final vote necessarily on any package. How do you what is your strategy for pushing for the progressive causes you care so much about in this moment in Washington, where there may be some limits from some members of your own party?
Well, my my strategy has always been both on the inside and the outside. So, you know, the movement for Medicare for all is really the most electrifying thing that we have. And I think we're going to continue to try to build that movement, including in districts where we don't have people yet who are bought in. But in addition, I worked last cycle with Speaker Pelosi as part of a negotiation on the rules package to get an agreement that we would have the first ever in the history of the country hearings on a comprehensive Medicare for all Bill.
My bill. And we were able to get that. We had hearings in the Rules Committee, the Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee, and that allows us to start laying the legislative groundwork for taking on all the things that are being said about Medicare, for all that I believe firmly are not true. All the arguments that are being put forward by pharmaceutical companies and and, you know, private insurance companies. And so we are going to continue that process this year in the Small Business Committee, in the Energy and Commerce Committee, we had over half of the Democratic caucus on the Medicare for All bill last year.
That was a record number of people. We hope to do that again this year. And there are many of my colleagues who have seen the disaster of the pandemic and have actually come to me and said, you know, I wasn't sure about Medicare for all before, but I am really convinced that that's what we have to do now. And so we're going to continue to move all of those pieces. You know, I I know it's really disappointing that we're not immediately moving a bill to the floor for Medicare for all supporters.
But I don't want us to lose when we move it to the floor. We've got to win that vote. And the reality is we've got to work with President Joe Biden as well. And so that's why the unity task force agreements were so clear and so important, because we got automatic enrollment, something really critical. We got no deductible plans. We got into the public option. We got a public option that will be run by Medicare, not by a private insurance company.
Critically important, we got better agreements around drug pricing and negotiating drug pricing across all payers than we did in H.R. three, which was the House bill.
So I'm really excited about continuing the work to sort of put in place these foundational elements of Medicare for all and at the same time to continue to push for Medicare for all to be the policy of the land, which I call me a hope ist. But I really firmly believe that it's not a question of if, it's a question of when.
Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us on parts of America. And we will talk to you soon. Thank you, Dan. Thanks for everything you're doing.
Thanks to Congresswoman Jane Paul for joining us today and everyone have a great weekend. We'll talk to you next week. Happy President's Day. I guess it's a good President's Day.
We finally have a good president. Part of America is a crooked media production, the executive producer is Michael Martinez, our associate producer is Jordan Waller. It's mixed and edited by Andrew Chadwick.
Kyle Cygwin is our sound engineer thanks to Tony Snow, Minister, K.D. Lang, Roman Papadimitriou, Caroline Rustem and Justin Howe for production support into our digital team, Alija Kone, Na Melkonian, Elfriede and Milo Kim, who film and upload these episodes as videos every week.