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Daily Skimm: Fifth Democratic Debate, Gordon Sondland's Testimony, and the Grammy Nominations

Fifth Democratic Debate
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Nov 21, 2019


The Dem Debate

The Story

Democrats had a surprisingly laid-back debate.

Um. What?

Correct. Yesterday was the fifth Democratic primary debate. The top 10 candidates made the cutoff. And this time, all the moderators were women. In the backdrop of all the DC drama, Dems were pretty low-key. Here’s what they talked about:

Impeachment…Former VP Joe Biden says he’s learned from all of this that President Trump doesn’t want him to be the nominee. But he didn’t face questions about his son being a major topic of an impeachment inquiry.

Climate change…an issue that could impact humans for decades had mere minutes on stage. But here’s what we learned: billionaire activist and donor Tom Steyer is the new Jay Inslee. And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is open to prosecuting the fossil fuel industry.

Foreign policy…Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) beefed with South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who pointed out that Dems aren’t trying to invade Mexico. As president, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) would call out China for human rights violations. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang would tell Russian President Vladimir Putin, “I’m sorry I beat your guy.” 

Abortion…Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) pointed out the economic disparities of abortion access. Sanders would like to point out that he’s an ally.

Daycare and paid family leave…Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) wants to provide six months of paid leave. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) plan is for three months, but says she’d love to do more.

Any fun stuff?

Klobuchar shouted out Stacey Abrams, Nancy Pelosi, and ex-boyfriends. Buttigieg doesn’t even golf. Harris would like Biden to know that she’s in the Senate. Yang dedicates this one to all the parents. And misses his friend.


Despite expectations for this debate to be a showdown between the four top contenders, no one emerged as the frontrunner. At this point, Dems face a challenge in finding a candidate that will not only unite moderate and progressive voters, but be able to defeat Trump next November.

The Impeachment Inquiry

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US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland came to the impeachment inquiry hearings ready to play.

Meaning…what exactly?

He said in his opening statement that the House Intel Committee has been trying to get a clear answer on whether there was a quid pro quo. His answer: yes. President Trump never directly told him that he was withholding military aid from Ukraine in exchange for its president announcing investigations – including one into a company tied to former VP Joe Biden’s son. But Sondland believed it was linked. 

I feel like there’s more…

There is. Another claim he made was that “everyone was in the loop” about the push for these investigations, including VP Mike Pence. That the State Department and White House denied Sondland’s requests to access his documents and emails – something Dems may use as a case for “obstruction.” And that when he asked Trump what he wanted to do with Ukraine, the president responded, “I want nothing, I want nothing, I want no quid pro quo.” Trump is using this point to say ‘case closed.’


Sondland was one of the most-anticipated witnesses in these public impeachment inquiry hearings. And to Dems, he did not disappoint. But Republicans argue that Sondland’s testimony was nothing more than speculation.


Where people might be heading back to the polls…

Israel. Last month, former army chief Benny Gantz was given an opportunity to form a coalition after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to do so. Yesterday, Gantz said ‘yeah…I can’t do it either.’ Now, any member of Israel’s parliament has three weeks to try to get a majority and become prime minister. If not, the country could be looking at a third election in less than a year.

What has its lawyers on speed-dial…

General Motors. Yesterday, the company filed a federal suit against Fiat Chrysler for allegedly bribing an auto labor union. GM also said that Fiat Chrysler “corrupted” collective bargaining agreements multiple times in the past to get an advantage over GM. Now GM is seeking damages. Fiat Chrysler isn’t cruising with the allegations, calling them “meritless” and saying it will defend itself.

Who’s taking a step back… 

Prince Andrew. Yesterday, he announced that he’s taking a break from public duties “for the foreseeable future.” This comes days after a disastrous interview the prince gave about his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Who appreciates that new new…

The Grammys.

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