The moment when then-candidate Donald Trump boasted about his manhood during a 2016 Republican primary debate was particularly memorable for a staffer who had to brief former President Bill Clinton on what happened.
The former president had been in a meeting in Louisiana and missed the debate when Trump, responding to an attack from his opponent Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, assured a crowd that neither his hands nor “something else” were small.
Josh Schwerin, who served as the national spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, said briefing the former president on the debate was “one of the more awkward moments in my life.”
“He didn’t at first believe me that this was the topic of a debate,” said Schwerin, who spoke to Insider as part of an oral history project on Trump’s takeover of the GOP. “I had to show him the CNN headline. I tried to not add any commentary and just let him read it for himself. Because it was not the most comfortable conversation to have with the former president of the United States.”
Tired of Trump calling him “little Marco,” Rubio seized on the size of Trump’s hands that year during a rally in Roanoke, Va. “You know what they say about men with small hands? You can’t trust them,” he said.
Trump brought up the comment days later at the debate. “Look at those hands, are they small hands?” he said, holding up his hands for the crowd. “And, he referred to my hands – ‘if they’re small, something else must be small.’ I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee.”
Dror Moreh is the Oscar-nominated director of the 2012 documentary “The Gatekeepers,” in which he spoke with six former heads of Israel’s secret security service Shin Bet. Remarkably, all these lifelong warriors agreed that Israel’s long-term security hinges on its efforts to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Moreh’s new film, “The Human Factor,” takes you through decades of the Israel/Palestine peace process, as told through extensive interviews with the US negotiators.
Insider columnist Anthony Fisher spoke via Zoom with Moreh, from the filmmaker’s home in Berlin.
Moreh says that the end of the day, leaders of nations are just human beings, and the human touch is what keeps peace negotiations alive.
He also says right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas (the Islamist extremist group that controls the Gaza Strip) are more similiar than they’d care to admit, and he’s less optimistic about the hope for Mideast peace than he’s ever been. Moreh thinks “coexistence” – rather than “peace” – might be the best-case scenario.
This interview has been edited for style, clarity, and length.
Whenever there’s a conversation to be had about Israeli-Palestinian politics and the conflict, I always tell people to see “The Gatekeepers.”
And it’s fairly incredible timing that your new film – about the long-dormant peace process – is coming out right now.
Thank you. I wish the film wasn’t so relevant, but you cannot really control those issues.
In “The Human Factor,” one of the US diplomats said his Arab counterparts made it clear that they don’t view the future the same way as the US or Israel. To them, it’s about fixing an injustice, and only then negotiating about the future, rather than “moving on” from the past and focusing on the future.
It feels like this gulf is an eternal stumbling block in Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy.
When I heard that sentence, I understood something fundamental which I didn’t really realize up until then. It’s just a fundamentally different way of approaching the future.
Having said that, I think the whole region, including the Israelis, are approaching this with the traumas of the past. Israelis – and I’m an Israeli – think about the Holocaust as something that is very fundamental in the approach to everything they see. Our leaders also use that.
Palestinians and Arabs see the past, judge the past, and say we cannot speak about the future. They want to address the Palestinian Naqba, the establishment of the state of Israel, and that Israel now occupies what they see as historical Palestine.
Everybody loves … James Baker?
Early in “The Human Factor,” there’s a segment about former Secretary of State James Baker, who was perhaps the quintessential Reagan/Bush White House Republican.
It’s almost unthinkable in our current political climate, but he was a fairly successful diplomat because he supported Israel, while also vocally criticizing the Israeli government. He would not just rubber-stamp every Israeli demand. And he was insistent that the Israelis meet the Palestinians on a level playing field, at least for the negotiations.
Across the board with all of the negotiators that worked with James Baker, they’ll say if he had stayed on as US secretary of state, there would definitely be at least one peace agreement signed. [Baker left government when President George HW Bush lost reelection in 1992.]
That’s because he was an effective mediator. Baker knew how to use the tools of diplomacy and the status of America as the global superpower to force people who were reluctant to move forward, and to bring them together to create something which was not there before. All of that changed when he left office.
When President Clinton took office, he appointed Warren Christopher as secretary of state. He had a completely different approach. He was much more hands off.
My problem with American involvement in the peace process is in how America deals with a prime minister of Israel who is reluctant to move forward towards peace. With a prime minister who’s for peace you just have to support him and give him assurances that the United States will back him up.
With [current Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu, I think America has much more leverage over Israel than it uses. If America decides that bringing peace between Israel and its neighbors is a core American interest, the way that America approaches it should be different when you’re dealing with a prime minister like Netanyahu, who’s not for peace.
“Netanyahu owes his career to Hamas”
There’s a scene in “The Human Factor” where one of the diplomats tells you that former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin warned of a coming Israeli civil war over the peace process.
A few years later, Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing extremist. Can you talk a little bit about that moment?
Rabin, even before he took the first steps toward peace, said to [US Middle East envoy] Dennis Ross, “When I reach the point where I give the Palestinians what I need to give them, there’s probably going to be a civil war. And I need my boys in the army’s support.”
It was amazing how clearly he saw what was going to happen, he almost predicted it. And even in spite of that, he went for peace. That’s the personification of leadership to me.
Rabin, who was defense minister during the the first intifada, saw the uprising of Palestinian youngsters going to the street, not afraid of bullets, not afraid of guns and saying, “We are here. We want independence. We want to control our lives.”
And Rabin started out as defense minister saying, “break their arms, break their legs.” But by the time he became prime minister he said, “This is an existential threat to Israel, and I have to solve it while there is this window of opportunity, while America is the only global superpower, and the world has changed.”
Even though he saw the risks, Rabin said, “I have to go for peace.”
After him, the only leader was Ariel Sharon, who [in the mid-2000s] decided on disengagement with the Palestinians. The rest were merely small petty politicians.
Sharon had a reputation of being a tough-as-nails warrior for Israel’s interest. He was even accused of war crimes. And then as prime minister, he was for total disengagement. He even left the right-wing Likud party to form his own Kadima party and unilaterally pulled the Israeli military and settlement presence out of Gaza.
At the time, the majority of Israeli society was firmly behind Sharon and still believed in a two-state solution. It feels like after 12 years of Netanyahu, that public sentiment for peace is no longer there. Would you agree?
Totally. Netanyahu basically killed the two state solution. I don’t see any hope any more for a two state solution. The biggest shift for Israeli society is the constant movement to the right by Netanyahu.
When he came to power in 2009, Netanyahu said, “I’m going to crush Hamas.” There have been four conflicts with Hamas since then. Basically, Netanyahu and Hamas are keen brothers. They work for the same goals.
If we go back to Rabin, the first suicide attack was by Baruch Goldstein, [the Jewish extremist] who committed the massacre in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Hamas was not doing suicide bombing before then, because there was support among the Palestinian people for the peace process. After the massacre, Hamas started suicide bombing.
So in a way, Netanyahu owes his career to Hamas. He became prime minister the first time after the huge wave of suicide attacks in the beginning of February 1996, which crushed [then-Prime Minister Shimon] Peres and brought Netanyahu into power.
By the way, a week and a half ago, Netanyahu was on the way out, there was a very big chance that Yair Lapid would establish a unity government. And then Hamas sent those missiles to Jerusalem and all hell broke loose. And now Netanyahu’s still there and nobody’s speaking about a unity government.
The nail-biting negotiations over a handshake
In “The Human Factor,” there’s a remarkable scene detailing the intense negotiations that went into the handshake between Rabin and Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.
Rabin insisted that Arafat not carry a gun, not wear his military-style uniform, and that there’d be no kissing. It’s kind of a light moment in the movie because it seems so silly. There’s so many lives at stake and this is what they’re quibbling over.
And yet, it was a great story because it illustrated the difficulty of the diplomats’ jobs. It showed how these things that seem so trivial and ancillary to the true crisis could be, in fact, deal breakers.
The biggest revelation is the importance of “the human factor.” You see these moments where a historic peace agreement is signed between two leaders. But at the end of the day, it’s about two human beings coming together and learning to know each other.
If you look at the Clinton White House photographer’s pictures right before the historic Rabin/Arafat handshake, you see the expression on Rabin’s face. He looks at Arafat and Bill Clinton in the middle, and his face says, “What am I doing here? Who is this guy? What the hell is going on?”
Then a year and a half later, Rabin and Arafat meet. And there’s the beautiful scene in the film where they have to decide whether the Palestinians will have a police station in the Oslo II Accord.
Arafat says, “Whatever is acceptable to the prime minister.” And Rabin says they will have a police station. You see their two faces, and you see the change between the handshake and this moment later. That’s the whole story in a little capsule.
You just talked about Netanyahu and Hamas having a sort of symbiotic relationship. Going back to “The Gatekeepers,” there’s a section where the Israeli right turns against the Oslo Accords – which established the Palestinian Authority as a legitimate government entity that recognized Israel’s right to exist.
There were young kids and their fathers in the street chanting, “With blood and fire we will throw Rabin out.”
And in short order Rabin was assassinated, Netanyahu was elected for the first time, the peace process fell apart, and Hamas got exactly what it wanted.
Yeah. It’s a strange combination. I see a lot of parallels between Hamas and the extreme religious right-wing in Israel.
Both of them think the land of Israel [or] the land of Palestine is Holy Land. And nobody’s allowed to give that up. When you see the texts of the extreme right-wingers in Israel, and the texts of Hamas, they’re very similar. In that sense, they work with each other very well.
I wish there were an island where we could put them both together, and let the moderates live peacefully. It would be much better.
But regrettably in the peace process, and also today, the extremists from both sides are the ones that dictate the day.
Rabin’s whole concept in 1993 when he signed the Declaration of Principles [which led to the Oslo Accords] was very vague. It was to be a process, like the first Camp David meetings [in 1978] with Egyptian and Israeli negotiators. You build a process on relations and trust, and then you move to the really hardcore negotiations.
But the more time passed, the more cynical people got, and the less people trusted the process because those extreme factions came and basically killed it altogether. And the height of that was the assassination of Rabin by an extreme right-wing Israeli religious fanatic.
“No strategy, just tactics”
In “The Gatekeepers,” one of the former Shin Bet chiefs said that no matter whether the prime minister was Menachem Begin of Golda Meir or Shimon Peres – there was no political strategy to achieve long-term security, just tactics to tamp down on security threats.
Rabin certainly tried to challenge the status quo politically, as did Sharon – albeit in a much different way. Do you see support from the Israeli people now to change the status quo – which is basically permanent occupation? Is there any desire in Israel to resume the peace process?
Look, I can speak for myself. I cannot speak for all Israelis. There’s a variety of opinions. My point of view is that the status quo is what keeps the moment.
Rabin said this will kill Israeli society – this occupation, and containing people who do not want to be occupied and want their freedom. It will be corrosive to Israeli society. Sharon, when he became prime minister, said the same thing. They were leaders trying to move something in order to resolve the problem. We don’t have that now.
When you see what Sharon did with the disengagement from Gaza, and the amount of effort to do that and all the resistance from the Israeli right and extremists, it looked like a mission impossible.
And here we are speaking about Gaza – we are not speaking about Judea and Samaria (the occupied West Bank), the biblical ancestral lands of the Jewish people, the place where our forefathers walked and all kinds of stupid [arguments from the right].
When the prime minister has to decide to go for something like that, which he knows will tear Israeli society apart, you need to be very brave to do that. But the Israeli people get promises [for those exchanges] that they’ll get to live in peace.
After the Oslo Accords, there was the eruption of suicide attacks, the collapse of the [second] Camp David negotiations, the second intifada – and also the disengagement from Gaza, which allowed Hamas to take over Gaza and fire missiles constantly into Israel.
That’s the reason most of the Israeli public doesn’t really trust that there is a partner on the other side that can maintain security.
I totally agree with what [former US Middle East diplomat] Aaron David Miller said in “The Human Factor,” which was, “Let’s take the word ‘peace’ out of the vocabulary, and let’s try to build coexistence. That is what we can aim for, at least for the next few decades.
Not peace, but “coexistence”
Part of why I tell everyone with an an interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to watch “The Gatekeepers” is because it’s so stunning to listen to these men who devoted their entire lives really to the security of Israel all come to similar conclusions.
One of them said, “You can’t make peace by military means.” Another said that even if your adversary “answers rudely,” you should still continue to pursue the conversation. And another said, “Israel wins every battle, but we may lose the war.” They all come to the conclusion that the only long-term solution for Israeli security is a disengagement with the Palestinians, which would mean a two state solution.
Israelis have a sarcastic phrase they’ll use for naive peaceniks: “You’re a beautiful soul.”
But here are the hardest of the hardcore Israeli security guys, and they’re saying we’ve bombed and maimed and killed in the name of Israel and the only way this country will survive in the long-term is through disengagement with the Palestinians.
Is there any chance this advice lands in the ears of the Israeli youth, where there’s some hope for a future in which coexistence is pursued?
I have to tell you, Anthony, that I lost hope. That’s the bitter truth.
I mean, look at the Gaza conflict. How many times have we bombed Gaza? How many times have we gone into a war? And, as we discussed, it’s all tactics, not strategy. It’s about sustaining and maintaining today and continuing to live in seemingly peaceful conditions until the next thing. So, no, I don’t think that this message can now land on Israeli ears.
We’ve been with the same politician as prime minister (Netanyahu) for 12 years. His impact on the [political] reality is huge. He’s negotiating and working with Hamas and downgrading and humiliating the Palestinian Authority. Benjamin Netanyahu is much better working with Hamas than with someone who says they’re for peace.
I hope there will be another leader soon. But I don’t believe we’ll see that kind of new leader from the Israeli political arena soon. It will take a few years before something can evolve in that sense.
But say you have a successor to Netanyahu and a successor to Abu Mazen, you still have Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. So wherever you look, it’s not very optimistic.
Almost all the former army chiefs of staff, all the heads of Shin Bet, all the heads of the Mossad, and all the heads of army intelligence, are for negotiation and for a two-state solution.
But you have a charismatic politician (Netanyahu) who is basically a good salesman. I mean, look at Trump. Look at what Trump did to your country. It’s unbelievable. You think that democracy is very stable and very strong, but when you have a demagogue who knows how to [manipulate] the media very well, this is where we are.
One thing I’m hoping people get out of this movie is the importance of the human factor. I’m currently doing a huge project about American politics encountering genocide, part of a series for American audiences, and for all over the world. And the importance of the human factor inside the decision-making room is stunning.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a memo with a list of sexually explicit questions for former President Bill Clinton during “a fog of sleep deprivation” and later regretted how it came across, a former colleague of Kavanaugh’s told The Atlantic.
Kavanaugh cut his teeth in the conservative legal world on special prosecutor Ken Starr’s investigation into the Clinton investigation after a series of clerkships. The wide-ranging probe scrutinized the Clintons’ business dealings in Arkansas and Clinton’s lies about his relationship with former intern Monica Lewinsky that eventually led to his impeachment.
The August 15, 1998 memo, which resurfaced during Kavanaugh’s 2018 confirmation hearings, was titled “Slack for the president?”
In it, Kavanaugh expressed outrage about Clinton’s behavior in office, writing, “the president has disgraced his office, the legal system, and the American people by having sex with a 22-year-old intern and turning her life into shambles,” calling it “callous and disgusting behavior.”
The memo included a suggested list of sexually graphic questions for Clinton like “If Monica Lewinsky said you inserted a cigar into her vagina, while you were in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?” and, “If Monica Lewinsky says that you had phone sex with her on approximately 15 occasions, would she be lying?”
The former coworker, Robert Bittman, told The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins for a profile of the justice published Thursday that Kavanaugh later “expressed regret” for the memo’s “tone.” Bittman also told McKay the memo was written while Kavanaugh was sleep deprived.
Kavanaugh’s work on the hard-charging investigation cemented his status as a respected conservative lawyer and a team player.
Colleen Covell, a woman who went on a date with Kavanaugh while he was working on the Starr probe, told The Atlantic that at the date, Kavanaugh got drunk and began ranting about the Clintons, including saying, “they’re total crooks!” and “I can’t believe you voted for them!”
Kavanaugh’s work on the Starr investigation landed him a stint in the White House counsel’s office and then, 12 years on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals.
President Joe Biden is set to hit 100 days since his inauguration on Friday, and poll after poll shows that most Americans approve of the job he’s doing as commander-in-chief.
Biden’s approval rating in multiple polls is also far higher than where President Donald Trump’s favorability stood at the same point in his tenure.
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll found 55% of Americans approved of Biden’s performance in office, while 40% disapproved. Comparatively, the same poll from the final week of Trump’s first 100 days found a majority of Americans disapproved of the job he was doing (53%), with his approval rating at just 41% at the time. Throughout his time in office, the numbers-obsessed Trump never saw an approval rating in Reuters polling as high as Biden’s current level of support.
Meanwhile, recent Gallup polling put Biden’s 100-day approval rating at 57%, which far surpasses Trump’s approval rating of 41% back in late April 2017.
His leadership style is markedly different from Trump’s, who spent much of his presidency airing grievances on Twitter while shifting from one self-induced crisis to the next. Biden has taken a decidedly less belligerent tone, hardly ever tweets, and his administration has so far not been embroiled in a seemingly never-ending stream of scandals. These factors could all be contributing to the large gap in approval between Biden and Trump.
Gallup polling shows Biden’s approval rating is lower than some of his other recent predecessors at 100 days: Barack Obama’s stood at 65% at this point, while George W. Bush’s 100-day score was 62%. But he’s not far off from Bill Clinton (55%) and George H.W. Bush (58%) at 100 days.
Since the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had his work cut out for him coming into office at the height of the Great Depression, the 100-day benchmark has been used to grade presidents on their early progress (or lack thereof).
Biden was inaugurated in the midst of a global pandemic and on the heels of a fatal insurrection at the US Capitol that sent shockwaves across the world. He inherited a mess.
Though Washington continues to be dominated by hyper-partisanship, there appears to be growing optimism in the US – especially as it continues to show signs of progress with the pandemic under Biden’s leadership. A recent NBC News poll found 36% of Americans feel the country is headed in the right direction, up from just 21% who said the same in January.
Biden has repeatedly received top marks in polling regarding his handling of the pandemic, which appears to have contributed to his positive favorability rating from American voters.
In the days since he was sworn-in, Biden signed a historic COVID-19 stimulus package and the pace of vaccination in the US has improved dramatically. He’s also introduced ambitious plans on infrastructure and immigration as he continues the fight against the virus.
Under Trump, who consistently downplayed the threat of COVID-19 before being hospitalized after contracting it last October, the US was the epicenter of the pandemic. Under Biden, the US has emerged as global model for the vaccination process.
But Biden is facing increasing pressure to share the US vaccine supply as the virus continues to wreak havoc and overwhelm hospitals in other countries. Earlier this week, Biden announced he’d be taking steps to send more supplies to India, the latest pandemic hotspot where people have literally been begging for oxygen. The US is also set to send surplus AstraZeneca vaccine supplies abroad once the vaccine has received federal approval.
Beyond domestic issues, Biden has taken big steps on foreign policy. Earlier this month, Biden announced that all remaining US troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11, marking an end to the longest war in US history. But he continues to face myriad challenging issues in the global arena, ranging from competition with China to achieving his goal of reviving the Iran nuclear deal.
The 100-day mark can serve a litmus test for presidential progress, but it’s also fairly arbitrary and doesn’t necessarily signify how presidents will fare overall – or how Americans will feel about them by the end of their time in office. When Bush left the White House in 2009, for example, Gallup polling showed his approval at 34% – substantially lower than where it stood at 100 days.
But based on the available evidence, Americans generally feel that Biden is off to a strong start as they begin to see a future not dominated by COVID-19.
John Boehner, the former Republican House Speaker, wrote in his forthcoming memoir that he regrets supporting former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, which he said was a purely political effort.
Clinton’s 1998 impeachment for lying about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky was orchestrated by Texas Rep. Tom DeLay, the second highest-ranking Republican in the House at the time, Boehner wrote.
“I know what we all said at the time: Bill Clinton was impeached for lying under oath,” Boehner wrote, according to an excerpt of “On the House: A Washington Memoir,” obtained by The Washington Post and The New York Times. “In my view, Republicans impeached him for one reason and one reason only – because it was strenuously recommended to us by one Tom DeLay.”
He added: “Tom believed that impeaching Clinton would win us all these House seats, would be a big win politically, and he convinced enough of the membership and the GOP base that this was true.”
Clinton’s impeachment didn’t end up helping the GOP in the midterms – the party lost five House seats in 1998.
Boehner concedes that he supported the impeachment effort – the House ultimately impeached Clinton on two charges before the Senate acquitted him – but now regrets it. He added that Clinton likely committed perjury, but that “lying about an affair to save yourself from embarrassment isn’t the same as lying about an issue of national security.”
“I was on board at the time,” Boehner wrote. “I won’t pretend otherwise. But I regret it now. I regret that I didn’t fight against it.”
Boehner takes aim at his own party throughout the book, saving his most scathing criticism for members of the right-wing Tea Party. He called Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, “dangerous” and a “reckless asshole.” And he wrote that former President Donald Trump “incited that bloody insurrection for nothing more than selfish reasons, perpetuated by the bullshit he’d been shoveling since he lost a fair election the previous November.”
Every living former US president has appeared in an ad campaign telling Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, apart from Donald Trump, who has instead released a statement demanding credit for the vaccine.
On Thursday, the nonprofit Ad Council released a public service advertisement starring Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter.
“This vaccine means hope,” Obama said in the video. “It will protect you and those you love from this dangerous and deadly disease.”
Trump was noticeably absent, though it’s not clear if he was asked to join the campaign.
Hours before the campaign went live, however, Trump’s personal office in Florida released a statement in which he claimed responsibility for the vaccines’ existence.
“I hope everyone remembers when they’re getting the COVID-19 (often referred to as the China Virus) vaccine, that if I wasn’t president, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all. I hope everyone remembers!” he said, using a derogatory term for the novel coronavirus, which was first found in China.
When asked by Insider whether it had asked Trump to join the PSA, an Ad Council said the project with the former presidents started last December. The spokesperson did not say whether the Ad Council had approached Trump, who at the time was an outgoing president.
Members of the Biden administration has said that they inherited no coronavirus vaccine distribution plan from Trump White House, with a source telling CNN they had to “build everything from scratch.”
Days before Biden’s inauguration, White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that Operation Warp Speed would continue in the Biden administration, but that there was an “urgent need to address the failures of the Trump team approach to vaccine distribution.”
Biden later called the vaccine rollout under Trump “a dismal failure.”
The Senate acquitted Donald Trump Saturday in the impeachment trial over his role in inciting an insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6. The vote was largely split along party lines, with all 50 Democrats and seven Republicans voting to convict, and 43 Republicans voting to acquit.
Six of the Republicans who voted for acquittal were also sitting senators in 1999, during the impeachment trial of then-president Bill Clinton. Five of them voted to remove Clinton from office:
Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma
Richard Shelby of Alabama
Mike Crapo of Idaho
All five voted to convict Clinton of obstruction of justice, while all but Shelby voted to convict him of perjury, or lying under oath. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was also a sitting senator during Clinton’s trial but voted not guilty on both counts. She was among the Republicans who voted to convict Trump.
The Senate acquittal on Saturday came a month after Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for incitement of insurrection over the Capitol siege, which resulted in multiple deaths and delayed the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.
Clinton’s impeachment stemmed from his testimony in a sexual harassment case brought on by a woman named Paula Jones, during which he infamously denied having an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. An investigation by an independent council ultimately concluded Clinton had committed impeachable offenses in four categories: perjury, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and abuse of power.
The Republican-led House of Representatives brought four articles of impeachment against Clinton in 1998, with two – perjury and obstruction of justice – getting the votes needed to advance to a Senate trial.
Some of the Republicans who were serving in the House then are also senators now.
These are the sitting GOP senators who voted to acquit Trump Saturday, and to impeach Clinton on at least one article when they were members of the House:
Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
Roy Blunt of Missouri
Jerry Moran of Kansas
Rob Portman of Ohio
John Thune of South Dakota
Roger Wicker of Mississippi
Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina was also a representative at the time and voted to impeach Clinton. However, in a surprising vote, he was one of the seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump on Saturday.
The latest impeachment trial was Trump’s second. He was first impeached in January 2020 over concerns that he abused his power to interfere in the 2020 election. The House and Senate votes were also along party lines then, with only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, voting to convict.
Repeat after me: The last three Republican presidencies ended in economic turmoil. And their Democratic successors had to clean up the mess. Voters need to be reminded – again and again – that putting Republicans in the White House puts our country in recession.
It seems quaint compared to 2008 or our current crisis, but President George H. W. Bush ended his one term in office in recession. After what was then the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in US history, in July 1990 the country entered a recession that saw unemployment rise to a peak of 7.8% in June 1992.
His challenger Bill Clinton made the economic pain that families were feeling the mantra of his campaign and handily beat Bush, who came across as out of touch with working Americans.
One of Clinton’s first legislative achievements was an economic recovery bill that, among other things, put a greater tax burden on the wealthy and increased tax credits and wage subsidies for the working poor. As a result, during his eight years in office, Clinton oversaw economic growth that averaged 3.5% annual GDP growth but topped 4% throughout his second term. Unemployment fell from 7.4% to 3.9%, and the labor market added an average of 2.9 million jobs per year.
The Great Recession was man-made, caused by reckless lending by financial institutions – not the result of the natural cycles of our economy. The devastation was – and continues to be – enormous, with America more unequal, less productive, and poorer because of the severity of the crisis.
President Barack Obama came to office needing to help bail out entire industries that our country runs on. The depth of the decline was the worst in 80 years, and the recovery Obama initiated was slow – but effective.
After taking over in early 2017, former-President Donald Trump maintained the Obama recovery in some ways – but in other ways economic disparity grew deeper. Then, he treated the pandemic more like a political issue than a health issue, and the economy went into freefall on every metric. Millions of jobs were lost – some for good. Unemployment still sits at 6.7% despite some improvement in recent months, with communities of color hit hardest.
Now, as part of the promise of President Joe Biden, we will get through the pandemic and renew our economic strength in turn: another Democrat fixing a Republican mess.
Older voters will recall that President Jimmy Carter became the favorite Republican punching bag after his four years in office ended in economic calamity. So many negatives for the economy became associated with Carter – malaise, stagflation, the misery index – that Republicans held onto the White House for 12 years straight, the longest continuous streak in nearly 70 years. The fear of going back to the Carter years kept voters on edge and Republicans in power.
But it’s been almost 50 years since Carter took office, and despite their superior record Democrats have failed to capitalize sufficiently on the economic strength they repeatedly ushered in and make it synonymous with their brand.
Much like the GOP did with Carter, Democrats need to make the Bushes and particularly Trump their punching bag for the next generation. The Democrats need to make it clear that they are the stewards of steady, strong economic growth and are always cleaning up after the GOP.
In most election years, voters think first about the economy and their own pocketbooks. That is the primary driver of most elections at most levels. Every Democrat needs to make the contrast in economic success their mantra – for the sake of the party and the country.
Repeat after me: The last three Republican presidencies ended in economic turmoil.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he will receive the coronavirus vaccine “in the coming days” to boost public confidence in the shot.
“The only way to beat this pandemic is for us to follow the advice of our nation’s health care professionals: get vaccinated and continue to follow CDC guidelines,” McConnell said in the statement.
McConnell is the latest of a number of prominent politicians who are planning on receiving the vaccine to boost public confidence in the shot — including President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President Mike Pence, and former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.
Shipments of the vaccine rolled out overnight on Sunday to be administered to frontline healthcare workers, and a number of prominent figures are volunteering to publicly receive the shot to boost public confidence in its safety.
In a statement released Thursday, McConnell said he was eligible to get the vaccine “because of government continuity requirements.”
Alongside frontline healthcare workers, Congress will also be among the first to get a shipment of the coronavirus vaccine, Politico reported.
“Vaccines for federal agencies and officials across Washington have been arriving at Walter Reed Medical Center in recent days,” according to the Politico report, “and thousands of doses are expected to be designated for the House and Senate, though congressional leadership offices said they have no information to provide.”
Capitol Physician Brian Monahan wrote in a letter to McConnell, obtained by Politico, that Capitol Hill will receive “a specific number of COVID 19 vaccine doses to meet longstanding requirements for continuity of government operations.” It was not immediately clear what other members of Congress will also get the vaccine alongside McConnell.
“The small number of COVID 19 vaccines we will be provided reflects a fraction of the first tranche of vaccines as it is distributed throughout the country,” Monahan continued, citing the Politico report.
McConnell said he was “disappointed to see early public sentiment that shows some hesitation towards receiving a vaccine,” citing data from an AP-NORC poll showing that a quarter of American adults are unsure if they will receive the vaccine.
“The only way to beat this pandemic is for us to follow the advice of our nation’s health care professionals: get vaccinated and continue to follow CDC guidelines,” McConnell said in the statement.
A polio survivor, the Republican senator from Kentucky said he understands “both the fear of a disease and the extraordinary promise of hope that vaccines bring” but hopes that Americans will accept the vaccine.
“Even with a vaccine, I will continue following CDC guidelines by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and washing my hands frequently,” McConnell said. “I would strongly encourage everyone to continue following these important guidelines. It is the only way we will defeat COVID-19 once and for all.”
“I don’t want to get ahead of the line, but I want to make sure we demonstrate to the American people that it is safe to take,” Biden told reporters Wednesday. “When I do it, I’ll do it publicly, so you can all witness my getting it done.”
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President Mike Pence are joining a number of other prominent political figures that will publicly receive the coronavirus shot to boost public confidence in its safety.
Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton also volunteered to get the vaccine on television as well.
The Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last week, and healthcare workers at the front lines across the country received the first doses of the vaccine this week.
A number of prominent political figures are getting the coronavirus shot on television in an effort to boost public confidence in the vaccine.
The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last week, and first doses of the shot rolled out across the country overnight Sunday. Healthcare workers at the front lines were among the first to get the vaccine.
President-elect Joe Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday, that he plans on publicly getting the shot to show Americans that it is safe to take. CNN reported that the president-elect could get the vaccine early next week.
“I don’t want to get ahead of the line, but I want to make sure we demonstrate to the American people that it is safe to take,” Biden said. “When I do it, I’ll do it publicly, so you can all witness my getting it done.”
Vice President Mike Pence is also expected to get the coronavirus vaccine on camera Friday morning to help build “vaccine confidence,” Axios reported Wednesday. Second Lady Karen Pence and Surgeon General Jerome Adams will also join the vice president, according to the Axios report.
Biden and Pence are the latest to join a slew of politicians who are receiving the coronavirus vaccine to demonstrate its safety and efficacy. Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton previously volunteered to receive the vaccine on television as well.
“President Clinton will definitely take a vaccine as soon as available to him, based on the priorities determined by public health officials,” Clinton press secretary Angel Urena told CNN earlier this month. “And he will do it in a public setting if it will help urge all Americans to do the same.”
Freddy Ford, Bush’s chief of staff, also told CNN that the former Republican president has been in touch with Fauci and White House coronavirus coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx regarding the vaccine.
“A few weeks ago President Bush asked me to let Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx know that, when the time is right, he wants to do what he can to help encourage his fellow citizens to get vaccinated,” Ford said. “First, the vaccines need to be deemed safe and administered to the priority populations.”
“Then, President Bush will get in line for his, and will gladly do so on camera.”
During an interview with SiriusXM host Joe Madison, Obama said he “completely” trusts top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, and if Fauci “tells me this vaccine is safe, and can vaccinate, you know, immunize you from getting COVID – absolutely, I’m going to take it.”
“I promise you that when it’s been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it,” Obama said. “I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science, and what I don’t trust is getting COVID.”
He added: “If you are in that category, if you are elderly, if you’ve got a preexisting condition, if you’re a frontline worker, if you’re a medical worker, if you are in a grocery store, if you’re a first responder, you should take that vaccine,” he said.