Here are the stories our panel of top political reporters will be watching for in the week ahead, in today’s “Inside Politics” forecast.
1. Trump’s summer vacation
Most presidents like to get out of Washington, DC, for a few weeks every summer and unwind — for President George H.W. Bush it was usually to go to his family compound in Maine. President George W. Bush liked his ranch in Crawford, Texas, during his time as commander-in-chief.
Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both preferred the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard, a Massachusetts island that sits in the Atlantic Ocean just south of Cape Cod — and brings up memories of the Kennedy clan.
And President Donald Trump spends part of every summer at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. New York Times reporter Michael Shear said the President will head there at some point this summer — even though Trump says he isn’t happy about it.
“All Presidents are sensitive about taking vacations,” Shear said. “Trump was defensive and made it clear that he wasn’t just going to play golf.”
In fact, the President said he didn’t want to leave town at all, because, “I like working.” (He has spent some weekends at Bedminster or at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.)
“The White House has not actually said when he is going to leave for his summer vacation,” Shear said, “but one thing I think is clear, given the President’s propensity to tweet anywhere and everywhere. Being on vacation is not actually that different from executive time at the White House.”
2. Summer fundraising challenges
Meanwhile, the top 2020 candidates are spending their summers meeting and greeting voters and raising money for their campaigns. And they all will have a lot to prove when they release their next quarterly fundraising numbers at the end of the summer, CNN’s MJ Lee said.
“For Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, they obviously were able to show they can raise serious money even without holding fundraisers in the traditional ways,” Lee said. “And we’ll see whether they can keep up that kind of momentum. And then for Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg, we’re going to see in the third quarter whether they can keep building out their war chest when some of their biggest donors have already maxed out to their campaigns.”
3. Black voters and impeachment
Delegates at the NAACP’s annual convention voted unanimously last week in favor of impeachment proceedings beginning against Trump. New York Times reporter Astead Herndon said it’s a dynamic that Pelosi may need to think more about.
“There were universal calls for impeachment at the NAACP convention and the Urban League” last week, Herndon said. “It made me think about how when the House is making these calculations, Nancy Pelosi is thinking about moderate districts, those places that helped them win the majority. But in the more liberal places, those urban districts, they’ve been universally (for impeachment) for a while. And they’re kind of looking for Democrats to ramp up accountability measures against the President.”
The calls have grown louder following testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller before Congress in July. To date, there are 101 House Democrats in favor of an impeachment inquiry into Trump. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican who has since become an independent, has also called for impeachment proceedings, bringing the total number of representatives to 102.
4. Military sexual assault cases
The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold confirmation hearings this week for Trump’s pick for vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Air Force Gen. John Hyten has been a controversial pick because of a sexual assault allegation made against him, Washington Post reporter Karoun Demirjian said.
“It’s going to be a reckoning point for lawmakers about sexual assault,” Demirjian said. “It’s the first time we’ve seen this come up in Congress since the Kavanaugh hearings. It addresses the same issues of how do lawmakers assess these sorts of cases.”
It’s also an opportunity for Congress to look more broadly at how the military investigates sexual assault allegations, Demirjian said.
5. Three big numbers
From CNN chief national correspondent John King:
To parrot Trump, “The Squad” is allegedly leading the Democratic House – not House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
But three numbers from the House this past week more accurately paint the picture of the state of play: 219, 65 and 3.
First, 219. That is the number of Democrats who voted in favor of the compromise spending and debt ceiling deal Pelosi negotiated with the White House. There are 235 members of the House Democratic majority. Two of the four “Squad” members were among the 219, an important number for Pelosi because it showed she had the muscle to pass the plan without Republican votes if necessary.
Now, 65. That is the number of House Republicans who voted in favor of the spending deal. Only 65 of 197, despite the President urging support for the bill.
So read the tweets and GOP talking points about how Pelosi has lost control of her caucus to “The Squad.” And then do the spending deal math: Two-thirds of House Republicans voted against the President’s position, while more than 90% of Democrats stuck with Pelosi on the vote.
Finally, the three. Three House Republicans announced this past week they will not seek reelection in 2020. That brings the announced retirement plans in the House GOP to five, including two of the 13 Republican women who serve in the House.
Five is a relatively modest number, and all five of these are solid to fairly solid GOP districts. By comparison, three dozen House Republicans did not run for reelection in the 2018 midterms. (Two House Democrats have announced to date they will not seek reelection in 2020; there were 18 Democratic retirements in 2018)
But keep track of that number — in both parties – after lawmakers return from a summer recess back home, and as we move through the fall and approach the election year. Retirements are one barometer of a party’s optimism about the cycle ahead. One plugged in Republican predicted, based on early 2020 preparations, that a dozen or so more GOP House members would call it quits by the end of the year.