*** BESTPIX *** WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 22: Bill Taylor (C), the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, arrives at a closed session before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees October 22, 2019 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Taylor was on Capitol Hill to testify to the committees for the ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Jolt: Some Ga. Republicans continue to stiff-arm impeachment. Others have doubts

One senses that a turning point was reached within the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. From the Wall Street Journal:

A top U.S. diplomat in Kyiv said President Trump made nearly $400 million in aid contingent on the Ukrainian president investigating Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, in prepared testimony that shed new light on the central question facing the impeachment inquiry.

Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said Tuesday he grew concerned about dual channels through which the Trump administration was conducting foreign policy toward Kyiv—one through the State Department and the other involving Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer—and became even more alarmed when the president in July directed aid to Ukraine be put on hold.

This morning, Quinnipiac University released a poll indicating that support for the impeachment inquiry has reached a new high: 55% approve, while 43% disapprove. Independents are the ones that matter in this paragraph:

[S]upport for impeachment is 86/9 percent among Democrats, and 49/41 percent among independents, while Republicans oppose impeachment 91/6 percent. In last week's poll, Democrats supported impeachment 85/10 percent, independents were divided with 48 percent opposed and 42 percent in support, and Republicans opposed impeachment 93/6 percent.

Most Georgia Republicans, so far, are unmoved. With some exceptions:

-- U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who is up for re-election next year, told one of your Insiders on Tuesday afternoon, as Taylor was testifying behind closed doors, that Democrats have yet to uncover evidence that “rises to the level of impeachment.”

“It's time to have a formal inquiry and take it out of the back rooms of the House so the people of America can see just how ridiculous this is,” Perdue said. “This is nothing but a political partisan show trial to keep obstructing this president.”

-- Then there is former congresswoman Karen Handel. We are late to this, but on Monday night, she condemned U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, for voting with the Democratic majority to kill a House GOP effort to censure U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, who is leading the impeachment inquiry as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Wrote Handel on Twitter:

Tonight my opponent Lucy McBath voted with the rest of the House Democrats to block a vote censuring Adam Schiff. Lucy McBath fully supports Pelosi and Schiff’s impeachment scam.

Yes, it’s a dated reference, but it’s also worth remembering that, in her bid to reclaim the Sixth District, Handel has won the support of the House GOP leadership. Her reactions can be expected to track with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

-- This morning, grassroots provocateur Debbie Dooley issued something of a Twitter threat to any Senate Republican who considers deserting Trump: “The Dems Impeachment process is illegitimate and the Senate needs to dismiss or face the ire of the GOP base.”

-- But by far the most interesting Georgia Republican to watch on impeachment has been Erick Erickson. In this morning’s post at The Resurgent, he wonders why Bill Taylor, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, pushed for President Trump to have that July 25 telephone conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, but did not learn that it had happened until two months later. Via press reports. Writes Erickson:

It suggests there was a rush to get the transcript locked away as quickly as possible and make it all go away. That suggests there was something that needed to be hidden and of utmost secrecy that even the ambassador himself could not know about it.

That suggests the White House was hiding something and raises the most important question: why?

***

Some of you may have noticed that the name of Ukraine’s capital is spelled as “Kiev” by some outlets, and “Kyiv” by others. It’s a huge issue in Ukrainian politics.

“Kyiv” is the Latin transliteration in the Ukrainian language. “Kiev” is derived from the Russian pronunciation of the city. And given that Russians are currently invading the country, it is falling out of favor.

***

Let there be no doubt that the dominant figure in the Democratic Party of Georgia is Stacey Abrams.

With Abrams as the main draw, the party attracted a sold-out crowd Tuesday of about 1,000 donors, activists and candidates who crammed into a downtown Atlanta hotel ballroom.

Abrams revved up the crowd recounting her narrow defeat in the 2018 midterm election to Republican Brian Kemp, repeating a case she’s made at events around the nation.

“We won. We won because they now have to play defense in places they thought they owned,” she said, nodding to a corner of the room. “Hello, Cobb County and Gwinnett!”

She nodded to Republicans and, pointedly, to doubters within her own party who bristled at her refusal to concede the election to Kemp after a 10-day post-election travail. “I was destroying democracy according to them – and some folks in this room,” she said, adding that the party must “believe we deserve better -- and elect better.”

It’s not immediately clear how much the event raised, but the party said it raised at least $365,000. If that seems rather specific, keep in mind the Georgia GOP raised about $360,000 at its annual fundraiser earlier this month.

Stewart Bragg, the Georgia GOP’s executive director, said it would provide the “necessary resources to hold targeted seats and support our statewide candidates.”

***

Aside from the awkward waiting-game in the race for U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat, the room at last night’s signature Democratic fundraising event was also buzzing with talk of the Nov. 20 debate. 

Specifically, where that debate will be held. 

Rumors have percolated for days it would be held at the City Springs facility in Sandy Springs, but we’re told site location scouts were in town this week to look at other potential locations. 

No deal on a venue has been struck yet, and it could still take a few more days to hash out details. 

***

Since highlighting Chief Justice Harold Melton’s potential interest in U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat, we received a few calls from judiciary experts who questioned whether he could even formally apply for the position without violating judicial canons. 

We’ve reached out to Brian Kemp’s office, but it’s hard to imagine the governor would require that anyone interested in the post fill out an online application — and then pick a candidate who bypassed the process. 

***

One Democrat we can assume will not be joining Senate Race No. 2 is former Atlanta city council president Ceasar Mitchell. The former mayoral candidate this morning endorsed former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson in Senate Race No. 1. From the press release:

“She was not only the chief elected officer of the 200,000-person community, but she was its public safety director and the head of homeland security. She led the city through a transformational time because she is a transformational leader.”

***

This morning, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is celebrating the failure of Democrat Jon Ossoff’s campaign to protect a domain name.

  ***

Politico.com reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s internal watchdog has launched a probe of the department’s handling of climate science reports under Sonny Perdue. The announcement came after congressional Democrats asked the inspector general to probe “potential instances of suppression and alteration of scientific reports, documents, or communications” at USDA as media reports detailed the department’s systematic attempts to downplay or undermine climate-related studies.

***

Speaking of Sonny Perdue, he’ll be in Savannah this morning to deliver a speech at the annual meeting of the Southeast U.S.-Japan Association, a group that promotes business development between the two countries. 

***

In D.C., the House Judiciary Committee has plans today to advance the “Voting Rights Advancement Act” that seeks to bolster sections of the Voting Rights Act that were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. The bill, which Stacey Abrams voiced support for at a hearing this summer, would also give the Justice Department veto power over any of Georgia’s proposed voting changes. As we detailed here last week, Doug Collins of Gainesville, the committee’s top Republican, isn’t a fan.

***

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall of Lawrenceville is among Republican signatories on a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him not to scale down the country’s refugee resettlement program or the U.S.’s “longstanding commitment to assist refugees.”

"In our communities throughout the country, there is a long history of opening doors to assist refugees. Local leaders, faith groups, and businesses have come together to create an environment where refugees are welcomed and receive the services necessary to learn English, find employment, and become part of the fabric of their new communities," Woodall and more than a dozen other House Republicans wrote.

The Trump administration has plans to cut this year’s refugee cap to 18,000, a record low.

Woodall is retiring next year, so he’s less politically constrained than other Georgia Republicans, but his support is still notable, especially given his seat in the majority-minority Seventh District, which includes Gwinnett County. A spokesman said Woodall supports the refugee resettlement program “to protect individuals and families fleeing war or facing religious, ethnic, or political persecution.”

“Mr. Woodall believes we can maintain our national security obligations while at the same time upholding our commitment to assist refugees facing the most harrowing conditions,” he said. 

***

In the U.S. House, Georgia lawmakers paid tribute to the three soldiers who were killed during a training exercise at Fort Stewart last weekend. Watch here.

***

E-PAC, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik’s political action committee tasked with electing more GOP women to Congress, has endorsed former colleague Karen Handel’s comeback bid for the Sixth District. Handel is one of 11 women who met the group’s fundraising and organizational thresholds, as well as demonstrated “the ability to prove a path to victory.” The group also added two Seventh District GOP hopefuls, Renee Unterman and Lynne Homrich, to their “women to watch” list.

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