October 16, 2019, 7:41

The Note: Biden faces squeeze as Trump flurries continue

The Note: Biden faces squeeze as Trump flurries continue

The TAKE with Rick Klein

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For all the inconsistencies in President Donald Trump’s responses to the scandal that threatens to consume his presidency, one piece hasn’t moved: the effort to attack Joe Biden.

The damage Trump has done to himself could be incalculable. But so too could the damage he’s doing to the former vice president, with attacks that have arrived at an inconvenient time – and that could outlive even the impeachment inquiry and subsequent potential votes.

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Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden looks on during the SEIU Unions for All Summit in Los Angeles on Oct. 4, 2019.

Trump’s attacks have been scurrilous and misleading. They have also highlighted a front-running campaign that is less than nimble, with a candidate who seems annoyed having to answer for Trump’s charges.

It all comes at a vulnerable moment for Biden’s candidacy. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been emerging as a strong potential primary opponent. Biden was outraised last quarter not just by Warren but also Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, fueling concerns about Biden’s grassroots appeal.

Biden’s fellow Democrats aren’t inclined to follow Trump’s lead in attacking Biden. But several are already on record saying they wouldn’t allow the children of their own vice president to take a job like Hunter Biden did.

“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son,” Trump told the Ukrainian president, according to the now-infamous White House call readout.

He may not have been right at the time. But if he’s right going forward, that’s an awkward place for the former vice president and his family.

The RUNDOWN with Mary Alice Parks

According to FiveThirtyEight’s impeachment tracker, which averages polls that gauge Americans’ views on impeachment, in the last week alone Americans’ support for impeachment has been on a steady rise.

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Demonstrators hold up letters reading "impeach" in front of the Capitol building during the "People’s Rally for Impeachment," Sept. 26, 2019.

As they point out, one week ago, more people — 51.1% — were against impeachment, but fast forward to this week, and more people now support it than oppose it — 46.7% to 45.1%. To underscore that, according to FiveThirtyEight’s calculations, the number of Americans opposing impeachment has fallen approximately 6 percentage points in one week.

On ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, Nate Silver zeroed in on another, more specific and — likely — more telling change too: The number of independents who now support impeachment has climbed to 41.9%.

Remember, the number of voters who self-identify as independents has been very high the last few years, by some estimates as high as 40% of all voters.

We know those independent voters are crucial for either party as candidates fight for the White House in 2020. So, regardless of what materializes from the impeachment inquiry in Congress, the president’s reelection team cannot like those numbers.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

For lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — and in both chambers of Congress — a second week of recess means another week of explaining their stances on impeachment to constituents at home while inquiry proceedings snowball back in Washington. Those explanations are particularly weighty for Democrats representing conservative-leaning districts.

Among them is Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin, who defended her support of an impeachment inquiry at a packed town hall last week where she was booed and jeered, but then also received a standing ovation for her stance. The scene served as an example of the deepening political divide among parts of the electorate as the nation barrels toward 2020.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., leaves a House Democratic Caucus meeting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. at the Capitol, Sept. 24, 2019.

One of the nation’s top Republican leaders is already seizing the moment in hopes of bolstering GOP support. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — who is also up for reelection next year — is now signaling a direct endgame to the unfolding impeachment proceedings.

“All of you know your Constitution,” McConnell says in the new ad, looking straight into the camera. “The way that impeachment stops is a Senate majority with me as majority leader.”

ONE MORE THING

Mark Zaid, the attorney representing the whistleblower who sounded the alarm on President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and triggered an impeachment inquiry, told ABC News that he is now representing a second whistleblower who has spoken with the inspector general. Zaid told ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that the second person — also described as an intelligence official — has first-hand knowledge of some of the allegations outlined in the original complaint and has been interviewed by the head of the intelligence community’s internal watchdog office, Michael Atkinson. Read the story.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News’ “Start Here” podcast. Monday morning’s episode features ABC News’ David Wright, who explains the significance of a second whistleblower coming forward with concerns about President Donald Trump’s conduct. Then, ABC News Political Director Rick Klein tells us how most of the Republican party is falling in line behind the president. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Donald Trump has lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 12:30 p.m. He then participates in a briefing with senior military leaders. Later, the president and the first lady attend a social dinner with senior military leaders and their spouses in the Blue Room at 7:15 p.m.
  • First lady Melania Trump attends a Red Ribbon Rally at Drug Enforcement Administration headquarters at 11 a.m.
  • The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has a closed meeting with Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent for an impeachment deposition at the U.S. Capitol at 9 a.m.
  • Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., attends a Health Policy Roundtable with the New Hampshire Medical Society in Manchester, New Hampshire, at 4 p.m.
  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., attends a Climate Forum and an urban farm tour with Iowa state Sen. Rob Hogg in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He also attends a house party in Charles City, Iowa. He later hosts an Iowa City Conversation at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City, Iowa.
  • Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro visits the Matamoros refugee camp in Brownsville, Texas, at 10 a.m. (CT).
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, attends a town hall in Fairfield, Iowa, at 6 p.m.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., hosts #ForThePeople town hall at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, at 6:30 p.m.
  • Marianne Williamson visits Claremont Community Center and Claremont MakerSpace in Claremont, New Hampshire. She later visits Main Street BookEnds in Warner, New Hampshire.
  • Sourse: abcnews.go.com

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