U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville/Fox News

The Jolt: Donald Trump ‘not in jeopardy of being removed,’ says Doug Collins

Late Sunday, the president of the United States latched onto a sentiment expressed earlier in the day on Fox News by the Rev. Robert Jeffress, a Texas pastor and stalwart defender. In his Twitter message, Trump added a parentheses of his own. In his Twitter message, Trump added a parenthesis of his own:

“If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.”

Even some Republicans thought it went a bit far. From the Washington Post:

“I have visited nations ravaged by civil war. @realDonaldTrump I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President,” tweeted Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a decorated Air Force veteran who served as a pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This is beyond repugnant.”

In fact, one of President Trump’s staunchest congressional defenders had appeared on Fox News only 12 hours earlier, assuring viewers that Trump will be allowed to finish out his term.

On Sunday morning, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, attacked Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders for the way they’ve gone about declaring their impeachment inquiry. Then came this exchange with his Fox News host:

Maria Bartiromo: “Is the president in jeopardy of being removed from office?”

Collins: “No. He’s not in jeopardy of being removed from office.”

Rather, the Gainesville congressman said, Trump is in jeopardy of having to endure “the continued onslaught of lies and attacks and half-truths from a one-sided investigation in the House.”

This is one reason we should all take a deep breath. Now exhale. And breathe again.

Sometime in November – perhaps even December, after hearing from willing and unwilling witnesses, a U.S. House in Democratic hands is likely to approve articles of impeachment. The chamber will then transmit the same to the GOP-controlled Senate.

However damning the facts, damnation will not matter. At that point, ousting Trump would require 20 Republican senators to risk the ire of a GOP base controlled by an accused president. It will not happen.

The issue may not even come up for a vote. If Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision not to touch President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick of Merrick Garland in 2016 is any guide, senators will be spared the discomfort.

Instead, the issue will become central to the 2020 presidential race – and two U.S. Senate races in Georgia. One of which could feature Doug Collins.

***

Speaking of those two Senate races, we heard that DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond was in Washington last Thursday for conversations with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.

Cortez Masto heads the party’s Senate campaign arm. Thurmond confirmed the visit this morning with the following statement:

“I was invited to Washington, D.C., last week by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who is serving as DSCC chairwoman.

“As a Democrat who served in statewide elected office for 12 years, I have some experience in winning elections with a broad coalition of voters.

“This was a good opportunity to listen to the national party’s plans for Georgia in 2020 and to provide my feedback on the strategy they are working on for this state.

“If we’re going to win in 2020, national leaders will need to work closely with state leaders to build a strong GOTV infrastructure. I look forward to continuing that dialogue as we move forward.” 

***

Be assured by the flood of emails and social media jabs that Georgia Republicans aim to use the impeachment of President Donald Trump to energize their base. And Democrats are signaling already a wariness around the issue. 

Our AJC colleague Tyler Estep covered a Seventh District Democratic forum over the weekend. He reports that the event avoided all mention of “impeachment.”

An organizer said the questions were drafted before last week’s dramatic developments, but that explanation rings hollow when you consider that we stopped carving debate questions in stone some time ago.

U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff didn’t mention the I-word at a rally Saturday with U.S. Rep. John Lewis, whose emotional speech supporting impeachment last week paved the way for more Democrats to flip on the issue. Asked what to make of the lack of impeachment talk after his speech, Ossoff said he wanted his focus to stay on voter registration and a demand for more national resources in Georgia. 

***

On Sunday, the Atlanta Braves wrapped up the 2019 regular season, headed for the playoffs. And Tim Lee, the man who led Operation Intrepid, lost his bout with cancer and died at age 62.

Operation Intrepid was the clandestine 2013 effort to bring the Braves to Cobb County. It was a political, cultural and economic coup of immense proportions. But to make it work, the Cobb County commission chairman and his colleagues employed a level of secrecy that helped contribute to the failure of Lee’s 2016 bid for re-election.

We talked before Lee lost the GOP runoff to the current chairman, Mike Boyce. From the column that resulted:

But voters are fickle creatures. One can't compare the construction of a ballpark with fending off a Nazi horde, but I was in search of the most extreme example possible. I asked Lee whether he recalled that, even after he saved Britain, Winston Churchill was kicked to the curb. If voters can dump him, they can dump anyone.

"That's good company to be in if that happens," Lee said. "I'll take that moniker. I did what I knew what was right for Cobb County. I could easily have won re-election if I'd told Mike Plant to take a walk. So if I was in it for me, I wouldn't have done that."

***

This sad report comes via the Brunswick News:

The Monday edition of the 105-year-old Waycross Journal-Herald will be the last, the publisher confirmed Sunday.

Roger Williams, whose family has owned the newspaper since his grandfather, Jack Williams Sr., bought it in 1916, said his brother, sister and other stockholders had no choice other than to exhaust their personal funds to continue publication.

***

U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, has drawn a second primary challenger. Former East Point mayor Jannquell Peters announced her bid for the 13th District seat on Friday with a video slamming "absent leaders who only show up during elections."

"We're tired of them supporting this dysfunctional administration, voting against our interests, rolling back consumer and environmental protections put in place by President Obama and supporting Wall Street over Main Street," says Peters in the video, which includes footage of Scott shaking President Trump's hand. 

Peters said she plans to focus on attracting new businesses to the 13th Congressional District - which includes portions of Cobb, Douglas, Fulton, Fayette, Clayton and Henry counties - and rebuilding infrastructure, as well as income inequality, health care and education. Peters joins former Cobb County Democratic Party chairman Michael Owens, who launched his primary bid in May.

***

As if the glut of email appeals for cash filling your inbox weren’t enough of a hint, here’s a reminder: Today is deadline day for the latest federal fundraising quarter. 

We won’t see the full picture until later in October, but here’s a snapshot of some of the questions that will be answered. 

-- Does Jon Ossoff still have his fundraising magic? The Democrat raised about $30 million in his 2017 congressional campaign for the Sixth District, but it will be hard to recapture that sort of national attention now that he’s running in a crowded race for U.S. Senate. This will be his first fundraising test since then, but it will only account for about three weeks of fundraising. He didn’t announce his campaign until early September. 

-- It will also offer an idea of how two others newer Senate candidates, business executive Sarah Riggs Amico and Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry, have performed since they got in the race after the last fundraising deadline. Pay close attention to their donors, particularly which Democratic elected officials and well-known donors backed the candidates. 

-- Can Teresa Tomlinson surge ahead? The former Columbus mayor raised about $520,000 over a three-month period when she was the only candidate in the race, a total that might have helped edge other rivals into the race. Now she’s had another three months to rev up her campaign, and we’ve heard from a number of donors who say they’ve seen renewed energy from her camp. 

-- What congressional campaigns are gaining traction? Republicans Karen Handel and Brandon Beach are trying to outduel each other in their quest to challenge U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, a first-term Democrat who recently ruled out a Senate bid. And more than a dozen candidates are maneuvering in the neighboring 7th District to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall. 

***

Georgia’s U.S. House delegation voted along party lines Friday on a resolution disapproving of President Donald Trump’s border emergency, mirroring a vote in February. As he did earlier this year, Trump is expected to veto the resolution. The Pentagon opted to look outside of Georgia for military construction funding for the Southwest border wall.

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