Week In Politics: Impeachment News And The U.K. Election NPR's Audie Cornish speaks with E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post, and Hugo Gurdon of the Washington Examiner about impeachment news and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's election victory.
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Week In Politics: Impeachment News And The U.K. Election

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Week In Politics: Impeachment News And The U.K. Election

Week In Politics: Impeachment News And The U.K. Election

Week In Politics: Impeachment News And The U.K. Election

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/787952235/787952238" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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NPR's Audie Cornish speaks with E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post, and Hugo Gurdon of the Washington Examiner about impeachment news and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's election victory.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For the fourth time in history, a president of the United States is facing impeachment. Earlier this morning, after hours of heated debate that spanned across two days, the House Judiciary Committee voted on two articles of impeachment.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JERRY NADLER: The question now is on Article 1 of the resolution, impeaching President Donald J. Trump for abusing his powers.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Mr. Chairman, there are 23 ayes and 17 nos.

NADLER: The question now is on Article 2 of the resolution, impeaching President Donald J. Trump for obstructing Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Mr. Chairman, there are 23 ayes and 17 nos.

NADLER: The article is agreed to.

CORNISH: The articles were approved along a party line vote and will be voted on by the full House next week. And that's been the week in politics. And we're going to talk about it with E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and Georgetown's McCourt School. Welcome back.

EJ DIONNE: Great to be here.

CORNISH: Hugo Gurdon of the Washington Examiner, welcome to you as well.

HUGO GURDON: Thanks for having me.

CORNISH: What's the big takeaway from the conversation this week around impeachment to each of you? Who wants to start?

DIONNE: Go ahead.

GURDON: It seems to me that impeachment has not moved along very far. One of the things that I noted was the Democrats dropped the suggestion that they were going to be impeaching the president for bribery. And what we have instead are two - I think one of the articles is a very thin one. The second article, obstruction of Congress. I think they're going to have quite a lot of difficulty in making that stick, perhaps even in the House with the votes because, you know, they decided that because the president had not complied with the subpoenas - that he had therefore obstructed an arrogated subpoena - arrogated rights to himself. He didn't litigate those. It's perfectly normal to litigate those and go to court to find out. So I think you'll find that one thin. The abuse of power is just a matter of opinion.

CORNISH: E.J., your opinion then?

DIONNE: I think that what was so striking is that Democrats wanted to talk about the facts of what the president actually did, and Republicans wanted to talk about everything else. They wanted to talk about procedure. They wanted to talk about the nature of the articles. I think when we look back on - in a long view, it is really quite remarkable and a real danger to liberty when a president of the United States asks a foreign power to investigate a political opponent.

And I really think that there are some Republicans there who, when they talk to their grandchildren, are going to really have difficulty explaining why they voted no. None of us knows the political impact of this. But I think it's harder to run for reelection as an impeached president than an unimpeached president.

CORNISH: I just want to move forward then to the Senate for a little bit because we have two cuts of tape that kind of preview where this is headed. The House Judiciary Committee was - vote was along party lines. The vote in the full House is expected to be close to that. And here's first what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted about the Senate.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MITCH MCCONNELL: We all know how it's going to end. There's no chance the president is going to be removed from office.

CORNISH: And then, of course, as we know, the Senate holds essentially an impeachment trial. And here's what McConnell had to say about that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MCCONNELL: Everything I do during this, I'm coordinating with the White House counsel. There will be no difference between the president's position and our position as to how to handle this.

CORNISH: This is being interpreted certainly on the left as just telegraphing full-on cooperation with the White House. Hugo, what's your response?

GURDON: Well, obviously Mitch McConnell certainly is cooperating with the White House. And he's obviously right that the president is not going to get removed from office. And I think that that goes to why the Republicans are focusing on process and the Democrats are focusing on the actual facts, on the events. The facts are ones which the president says were perfect. His phone call was perfect, and there's nothing wrong with it. That's the area where there can be legitimate discussion.

CORNISH: But isn't it the White House's case to prove, not McConnell's case to bolster? I want to let E.J. jump in.

DIONNE: Well, I think it's a real problem when you have somebody who's making this judgment saying we've prejudged this, our whole objective is to make this look all about party because, again, we really don't want to talk about the substance of what the president did. I think the drama in the Senate will be, what do a small group of Republicans - it's highly unlikely he'll be thrown out of office - what do a small group of Republican senators - Collins, Gardner, Tillis, McSally - what do they do with this? Because they are going to face problems politically either way, no matter which way they vote on this.

CORNISH: Other big political story of the week across the pond, so to speak.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON: Good morning, everybody. My thanks. We did it. We did it. We pulled it off, didn't we?

CORNISH: Boris Johnson and the Tories win big. Labour had its worst defeat since 1935. Hugo, how did he do it?

GURDON: He did it with a very simple message - get Brexit done. But I think that this election was about more than Brexit. Boris Johnson is a very charismatic fellow. I worked with him every day for about a year at The Daily Telegraph when we were journalists together. He's got a lot of charm. He's not always honest, but he's nevertheless attractive. He was opposing a terrible leader, Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party, who's essentially an unreconstructed Marxist who's dragged the party so far to the left that he would - that he's made it unpalatable to Labour voters, not just those Labour voters - and there are lots of them who - in the north who are Brexit voters, but also people who are just not going along with the left wing project that he wants.

CORNISH: E.J., what does this mean when you look at the scale of this Labour defeat?

DIONNE: Well, it's extraordinary. And it's extraordinary because Johnson got seats. He's got the most Labour seats in the country, seats that had been Labour since 1922 or 1935. That's because those parts of the country, ironically hurt most by Margaret Thatcher's policies - the de-industrialized parts, the closed mines. Areas where there were closed mines were very angry, very pro-Brexit. And they were ready to go with Boris Johnson. I think this race will be kind of under - overanalyzed by the center here and under-analyzed by the leftists...

CORNISH: Here in the U.S.

DIONNE: ...Here in the U.S.. The left wants to say it was really Brexit, it wasn't Corbyn. But the fact is that while they're right that the Labour vote was down by a lot in areas that had voted to get out of the EU, the Labour vote was also down in areas where they voted to remain in the EU. So there was a particular Corbyn effect. I don't think Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are Jeremy Corbyn. They are well to - he is well to their left. But Corbyn-ism is clearly not the wave of the future. And I think that is going to be something that's very much in the American debate coming up.

CORNISH: I know people will be keeping an eye on this going forward. I want to thank you, E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and Georgetown's McCourt School.

DIONNE: Thank you.

CORNISH: And Hugo Gurdon of the Washington Examiner. Have a good weekend.

GURDON: Thanks very much.

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