By Robert A. Vella
President Trump had campaigned heavily in Louisiana to unseat the incumbent Democratic governor there. Trump had made the gubernatorial election about him personally as he had earlier this month in two other deep-red southern states – Kentucky and Mississippi; and yesterday in Louisiana, like in Kentucky, the Republican candidate lost adding another embarrassing political defeat to Trump.
This is no aberration. These are not the east and west coast liberal bastions of New York and California. Ever since Donald Trump became president, Republicans have been losing elections on a consistent basis. They got creamed in the 2018 midterms, they completely lost control of Virginia – another southern state, and their once-reliable suburban strongholds across the nation have flipped decisively towards the Democrats. In 2016, the populist political outsider Trump narrowly won over the unpopular establishment insider Hillary Clinton. As 2019 draws to a close, it is now Trump who has become even more disliked. For Republicans looking nervously to the 2020 elections, Trump must seem like kryptonite.
Republicans are hurting themselves too by an incoherent and unbelievable defense of Trump in the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry. As the evidence mounts, and as the President has seriously complicated their strategy with impulsive and damaging behavior, Republicans have been forced to continually shift their talking-points. Today, they are resorting to outright spin in a pathetic attempt to change the narrative. Americans may be gullible, but even they can tell the difference between facts and rhetoric. Moving forward, the pressure on Republicans will only intensify.
More impeachment witnesses will testify publicly on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week including U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland who is definitely on the hot-seat for his less than truthful prior testimony. On Wednesday, he must choose between coming clean about his conversations with Trump regarding the Ukraine scandal, further obfuscating about those interactions, or refusing to answer questions on Fifth Amendment grounds.
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has stunned Republicans again, narrowly winning a second term Saturday as the Deep South’s only Democratic governor and handing Donald Trump another gubernatorial loss this year.
In the heart of Trump country, the moderate Edwards cobbled together enough cross-party support with his focus on bipartisan, state-specific issues to defeat Republican businessman Eddie Rispone, getting about 51% of the vote.
Coming after a defeat in the Kentucky governor’s race and sizable losses in Virginia’s legislative races, the Louisiana result seems certain to rattle Republicans as they head into the 2020 presidential election. Trump fought to return the seat to the GOP, making three trips to Louisiana to rally against Edwards.
Tim Morrison, a top White House national security aide, told impeachment investigators that Gordon Sondland — a U.S. ambassador at the center of the Ukraine scandal imperiling Donald Trump’s presidency — claimed to be acting on Trump’s orders, and in fact was regularly in touch with him.
Sondland’s direct access to Trump is a crucial aspect of the House’s impeachment inquiry. Officially the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, he played an unofficial role in channeling and conveying the president’s demands of Ukrainian leaders.
Sondland has acknowledged informing Ukrainian officials on Sept. 1 that a $400 million package of military aid — frozen abruptly by Trump — would be easier to pry loose if their newly elected president announced an investigation into Burisma, an energy company connected to former vice president Joe Biden’s son.
A top national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence told House impeachment investigators that President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political opponents were “unusual and inappropriate,” and “shed some light on possible other motivations” for the president’s order to freeze military aid to the U.S. ally.
Jennifer Williams, who serves as Pence’s special adviser for Europe and Russia, told investigators in early November that she took notes while she listened in on Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky from the White House Situation Room, adding that she viewed Trump’s requests for investigations as politically motivated.