The Hill’s Morning Report – App flap delays Iowa caucus results
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DES MOINES, Iowa — Caucus day in Iowa on Monday ended with no winner, no official results and many questions about whether the Hawkeye State can retain its celebrated “first” status. Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) officials said final results would be released later today after “manually verifying all precinct results” and they assured candidates and caucus-goers that technical problems did not result from a “hack or an intrusion.”
Officials are conducting what they called “quality checks” to verify the results, the party said in a statement late on Monday after failures on multiple fronts, including glitches with a new mobile app that forced caucus organizers to call in results, adding to the delays already being experienced (The Associated Press).
For months, reporters and political watchers wondered how the 2020 Democratic field would unify eventually. The good news: It finally did on Monday. The bad news: The Iowa Democratic Party brought them together after they were left twisting in the wind without answers for most of the night, leaving top campaigns seething at the result (or lack-thereof).
“On their call wirth campaigns, the IDP said they would release results on Tuesday. They provided no specificity about when that would be during the day. And, they provided no information about how they would verify the official results,” said one campaign source. “It’s not just the app that didn’t work, there are numerous reports that precinct chairs did not gather preference cards from every caucus goer, precinct chairs that left because they couldn’t report results. It’s a real question on how results could be verified at all.”
“The IDP made a categorical claim that every caucus goer filled out a presidential preference card — they should be asked how they know that is the case, what they say about anecdotal reports of that not being the case, and how they plan to address this,” the source added.
Throughout the night, campaigns complained about a lack of answers from the IDP. At one point, a campaign source told The Hill that they had heard “literally nothing” from the party.
The Hill: Iowa results not expected until Tuesday, leaving campaigns without answers.
The Hill: Campaigns fume about being left in the dark after Iowa results delayed.
WIth no official result, the campaigns took matters into their own hands, releasing unofficial tabulations as indications of the strength of their respective precinct finishes on Monday. Once it became near-certain they would not hear results, candidate after candidate, led by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), triumphantly addressed crowds and announced their bids were moving on to New Hampshire.
“So we don’t know all the results, but we know by the time it’s all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation because by all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious,” former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg told supporters (The Hill).
Monday night’s disaster could spell major problems for Iowa’s first-in-the-nation standing, at least on the Democratic side. Top Democrats complained over the last few months that Iowa is not representative of the party’s demographics and should not be first on the primary calendar. Those criticisms will be revisited because of Monday’s mess.
The New York Times: The make-or-break night that could break Iowa.
Des Moines Register: We don’t know yet who won the Iowa caucuses. But here’s what we do know.
Events in Iowa add to pressure in the Granite State, where the first Democratic primary takes place in a week. The field will take part in the eighth primary debate on Friday night in Manchester, N.H.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The Democratic National Committee’s 2020 host committee in Milwaukee is under investigation. The two top officials in charge of raising funds for this summer’s national nominating convention were sidelined Monday amid allegations of a toxic work environment.
The Hill: Trump won the Iowa GOP caucuses. The president tweeted, “Big WIN for us in Iowa tonight. Thank you!”
Analysis & Perspectives:
Frank Bruni: Iowa’s unholy mess. The stakes are too high to begin like this.
Dan Balz: An epic breakdown in Iowa casts a spotlight on the caucus system.
Russell Berman: Chaos at the caucuses.
LEADING THE DAY
CONGRESS: The prosecution and defense teams made their closing arguments to the Senate on Monday as President Trump’s impeachment trial is likely to wrap up on Wednesday.
The Hill: Trump nears acquittal as spotlight shines on undecideds.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) delivered an impassioned plea to Senate Republicans during his closing argument, saying that the 53 GOP members are “decent,” unlike the president, and that history will not be kind if they back acquittal, as expected (The Hill).
“Truth matters to you. Right matters to you. You are decent. He is not who you are,” Schiff said from the well of the Senate. “History will not be kind to Donald Trump. I think we all know that. Not because it will be written by ‘never Trumpers,’ but because whenever we have departed from the values of our nation, we have come to regret it, and regret is written all over the pages of our history.”
Schiff’s remarks didn’t seem to put a dent in the Senate GOP’s stance. Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) told reporters that Schiff’s remarks were “sanctimonious,” adding that while his address would be received well in his Los Angeles-based district, it would not be in fly-over country.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone spoke on behalf of the president’s team before the Senate, pressing that the voters should decide Trump’s fate, not Congress.
“So at the end of the day, we put our faith in the Senate,” Cipollone said. “We put our faith in the Senate. Because we know you will put your faith in the American people. You will leave this choice to them, where it belongs.”
With acquittal likely, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) proposed an alternative on Monday: censure. The West Virginia Democrat, who represents a state that backed Trump by 42 points in 2016, expressed optimism that a “bipartisan majority” would back a censure resolution but the idea did not pick up steam. He says he remains undecided about how he will vote on the two articles of impeachment (The Hill).
The Hill: Senate drama surrounding Trump’s trial started to fizzle on Monday.
> State of the Union (Congress edition): A pair of Democrats are slated to deliver official responses to the president’s State of the Union address tonight as Democrats look to continue the tradition of messaging against the extended speech.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will give the Democratic response, while Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) will deliver the Spanish-language version.
The two Democrats were first elected to their current offices in 2018, with Whitmer representing what is expected to be one of the most hotly contested states in November (The Hill).
Sanders announced he will deliver a rebuttal to Trump’s speech from Manchester, N.H. (The Hill).
CNN: Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) to deliver the Working Families Party’s response to Trump’s State of the Union.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: In any given year, a presidential State of the Union speech is a high-wire act. In Trump’s first term, the annual ritual has never lacked drama. The president, who glories in barbed improvisation during his rallies, has proved he can deliver telepromptered addresses. He can fill the guest box next to first lady Melania Trump with inspiring “real” Americans and face down hostile Democratic lawmakers seated behind him and under his nose without breaking a sweat.
But tonight’s speech promises almost too much electricity: Democrats’ muddled start in Iowa, planting the 2020 presidential contest in the midst of the president’s thoughts while he speaks hours before he expects to be acquitted by the Senate of abusing his power and obstructing Congress. It promises the kind of reality TV Trump usually loves.
GOP political strategists and Republican senators say they hope Trump ignores impeachment and his grievances about a “hoax,” as he calls it. Their advice: take the high road and focus on what he’s doing as president for the American people. In 1999, it worked for former President Bill Clinton, who was in the midst of a Senate impeachment trial when he sidestepped charges of perjury and obstruction of justice to deliver a State of the Union challenge to Congress to invest the nation’s surplus and “save Social Security for the 21st century.”
Trump’s White House advisers have been coy about detailing references in the speech to a GOP agenda in a second term. What is certain is that Trump’s remarks will put America first and champion economic accomplishments and the promises he says he’s kept (The Hill).
At the same time, House Democrats, who have worked for months if not years to remove Trump from office, will navigate around a chamber filled with senators who are expected to keep Trump where he is at the end of the impeachment trial on Wednesday. Some plan to boycott the event (The Hill). The audience in the Capitol will include senators on their way to New Hampshire with their presidential campaigns, as well as the colleagues who were forced to exit the 2020 race months ago.
> Veterans Affairs Department: And speaking of drama, on Monday, Deputy Secretary James Byrne was fired by his boss, Axios reported, due to a “lack of confidence” in the way Byrne managed a complaint of sexual assault that allegedly occurred at a VA hospital.
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The lesson of a rescue dog, by Margaret Renki, contributing opinion writer (and Millie’s human), The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/31p0vZC
WHERE AND WHEN
Hill.TV’s “Rising” program is going heavy on Iowa today and will feature Benjamin Gerdes, senior press secretary for Tom Steyer’s campaign; Cenk Uygur, host and founder of “The Young Turks”; and Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Coverage at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube.
The House meets at noon. Members will be allowed to give unlimited one-minute speeches and the House will recess to allow for preparation of the chamber for the State of the Union address.
The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. as part of the Trump impeachment trial. Senators can speak for up to 10 minutes each on the articles of impeachment.
The president will deliver the State of the Union address at 9 p.m. “We’re really looking to [be] giving a very, very positive message,” he said on Sunday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets at 1 p.m. with Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama, after which the two men will speak to the news media at the Department of State. Pompeo meets with Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Mariano Grossi at 2:45 p.m. Tonight, the secretary will attend the president’s speech to the nation at the Capitol.
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➔ Coronavirus: The organism that emerged in December from Wuhan, China, has killed 427 people and infected at least 20,677 people worldwide, according to the latest data. Authorities in Hong Kong and the Philippines have reported the first two deaths from the virus outside China.
The Health and Human Services Department told Congress on Monday it may transfer authorized funding — up to $136 million — to respond to the coronavirus (The Hill). The first patient in the United States to be treated for infection has checked out of the hospital in Everett, Wash., and is recovering in isolation at home (The Associated Press). Since his hospital admission last month, 10 other cases have been confirmed in patients in the United States.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is worried that travel bans and restrictions on population movements are ill-advised to try to contain the spread of the virus. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday said there was no need for measures that “unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade” (Reuters).
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in a letter to President Xi Jinping of China over the weekend, offered to help deal with the public health emergency (NKNews).
The impact of the month-long outbreak on China’s economy is proving to be significant (The New York Times). The People’s Bank of China said it would inject $1.2 trillion of liquidity into the financial system and cut short-term rates, but economists believe the move by the central bank may not be enough to remedy the damage in an economy that was already slowing before the virus appeared (CNBC). Major tech companies are closing stores in China and limiting travel, and the economic hit on American business supply chains and operations tied to China will take a toll here, as well (The Hill).
➔ Courts: A veterans legal group is suing the government over high prices charged for access to public legal filings (The Hill).
➔ State watch: Ohio is implementing a string of measures to prevent foreign hacking or disinformation attempts two months after Congress provided resources to states to supplement election security efforts (The Hill).
➔ Mexico: A second activist involved in the conservation of monarch butterflies and their increasingly endangered habitat in Mexico was found dead last week. Raúl Hernández, 44, worked as a tour guide at a butterfly sanctuary in Michoacán state. His beaten corpse was found two days after the funeral of Homero Gómez, who managed a monarch butterfly sanctuary in the same state and had received threats, his family said. Gomez’s body was found in a well after his disappearance. Environmentalists warn that illegal logging and illegal gang activities pose risks in the Mexican forests in which the butterflies spend the winters (BBC).
➔ Government assassination: With the drone strike that killed Iran Gen. Qassem Soleimani, “Trump’s order was the culmination of a grand strategic gamble to change the Middle East, and the opening of a potentially harrowing new front in the use of assassination” (The New Yorker).
And finally … Let’s face it, human error, mechanical troubles and delays during American elections are not unheard of. There was that time during the 2012 Iowa GOP caucuses when the Hawkeye State initially was awarded to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, but former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) was certified the winner nearly three weeks later (The Washington Post).
Before that in 2010, the New York Board of Elections found 200,000 uncounted ballots a month after the general election. Michael Bloomberg, then the New York City mayor, called it “a royal screw-up” (Governing).
In 2018, 3,000 votes effectively disappeared during the machine recount of Florida’s midterm elections (The New York Times).
It was inevitable that Iowa’s chaos on Monday night would prompt flashbacks to the Sunshine State’s “hanging chads” mess during the 2000 presidential contest, an election ultimately decided by a 5-4 verdict by the Supreme Court. Who could forget?