Impeachment Briefing: What Happened Today

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This is the Impeachment Briefing, The Times’s newsletter about the impeachment investigation. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every weeknight.

Yesterday was the public impeachment debut of Representative Jim Jordan, a conservative favorite who has become one of Mr. Trump’s loudest advocates on cable news and in congressional hearings. I asked my colleague Sheryl Gay Stolberg, who is working on a profile of Mr. Jordan, about him.

Sheryl, why is Jim Jordan effective in the eyes of Republicans?

He defends Mr. Trump at all costs. It’s very simple. He did what Republicans needed him to do yesterday, which was raise doubts about the witnesses by saying they were hearing things secondhand. He tried to poke a few holes in their testimony.

And he did that when he elicited an admission out of Mr. Taylor, when he said that in three face-to-face meetings with Ukraine’s president, the topic of military aid hadn’t come up. That’s something that Republicans have been seizing on since.

He talks so quickly. In a five-minute video he posted of himself defending Mr. Trump at the hearing, he asked no questions.

It’s very rat-a-tat-tat, auctioneer, no-nonsense, aggressive. That’s a way to knock witnesses off their stride. He was a championship wrestler, so he brings a wrestling ethos to everything he does. Wrestlers are scrappy. Jim Jordan is scrappy.

Does it work?

By acting as the proverbial attack dog, he makes witnesses look like they’re on the defensive. You can also see his value in the way that other members of the committee are ceding parts of their assigned time and handing their questioning to him. He was brought on to the Intelligence Committee for these hearings.

I called my colleague Jonathan Martin, who’s in Bossier City, La., covering the governor’s race and tonight’s Trump rally, to ask him about how the investigation is playing on the campaign trail.

Jonathan, how effective are these hearings at reaching voters?

The country is so polarized that the impact is mostly with that slice of undecided voters in the middle, and that’s a pretty small slice at this point. There aren’t a lot of people who haven’t made up their minds about Mr. Trump. But it’s an important cadre, since it could be crucial in next year’s election.

How much is impeachment actually influencing races across the country?

It’s the overlay of every race at the moment, this question of where you stand on Mr. Trump. It was crucial in Kentucky last week, where the unpopular governor made a big part of his race about the question of impeachment.

Here in Louisiana, the Republican candidate for governor, Eddie Rispone, based his entire campaign on Mr. Trump endorsing him, and the fact that he’s in Mr. Trump’s party. He’d love for this to be a referendum on the state’s view of Mr. Trump and impeachment.

What about for the Democratic candidate?

John Bel Edwards, the incumbent, wants to talk about what he’s done for the state budget. Red-state Democrats want to localize the races. They want to talk about local issues that pop better for them, like health care. And the blue-state Republicans, like those in Virginia, don’t want to talk about Mr. Trump.

The Times debuted a new podcast yesterday all about impeachment. It’s called “The Latest,” and episodes will come out every weeknight.

On tonight’s episode, our congressional editor, Julie Davis, dives into Ms. Pelosi’s news conference, and explains why it matters that she used the word “bribery” instead of “quid pro quo.” You can listen to it here.

  • Senate Republicans are conflicted about how quickly to move on an impeachment trial. Some are arguing for a speedy vote, while others see an opportunity to drag it out and tie down some Democratic senators who are running for president.

  • To better understand how the first impeachment hearing played across the nation, we listened to callers and hosts on talk radio shows on both ends of the political spectrum. Not surprisingly, the airwaves offered little consensus.

  • Facebook and YouTube said they would block attempts to name the whistle-blower who set in motion the impeachment inquiry. But the tech companies’ human moderators and artificial intelligence tools are struggling to keep up.

  • In an interview with The Guardian, Rudy Giuliani was asked whether he was worried Mr. Trump might “throw him under a bus.” Mr. Giuliani replied, “I’m not, but I do have very, very good insurance, so if he does, all my hospital bills will be paid.” His lawyer jumped in to add, “He’s joking.”

The Impeachment Briefing is also available as a newsletter. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every weeknight.

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