Here are the stories our panel of top political reporters have on their radar, in this week’s “Inside Politics” forecast.
1. Stacey Abrams’ plans
Democrat Stacey Abrams just barely lost Georgia’s gubernatorial election last year. And she says the 2020 presidential candidates can learn a lot from the razor-thin margin.
“(Georgia’s) got 16 electoral votes, and she sees her race in 2018 as a kind of playbook,” CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson said. “She got more votes than any Democrat in the history of Georgia elections. She says Democrats should focus on unlikely voters, when they typically focus on swing voters.”
Henderson said Georgia’s large number of African-American voters should make it especially appealing to Democrats next year.
Abrams is saying, “Democrats, pay attention to Georgia, because if you want to expand the map, that’s one way to do it,” Henderson said.
2. The Australians are coming to dinner
New Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be in Washington later this week, and President Donald Trump plans to honor him with a state dinner – just the second such occasion of his presidency.
“There are so many interesting things to look at here,” Axios editor Margaret Talev said, recalling the diplomatic blow-up over a contentious telephone call between Trump and Morrison’s predecessor – a call that was leaked to the media.
“But now there is a new prime minister, a different relationship and a lot of common interest,” Talev said. “Everything from dealing with Iran to China, … joint military exercises, and talk on trade and maybe even space. So from the pomp and circumstance of a state dinner to the nitty-gritty talks, I’m really looking forward to how this plays out.”
3. Democrats shift impeachment focus
The Judiciary Committee is moving forward with what are in effect impeachment hearings – they’ve subpoenaed several Trump campaign aides to testify this week.
But Julie Hirschfeld Davis of The New York Times said the real story might be how Democrats are shifting the focus of their investigation.
“Get ready to hear about the word ‘emoluments,’” Davis said, referring to the clause in the Constitution that bars presidents from profiting from the presidency by accepting gifts or money from foreigners.
“We’ve heard a lot from the Democrats as they look toward whether they should impeach President trump about the Mueller Report and Russia. But the emoluments issue is something that’s much more politically palatable to a lot of them,” Davis said.
“It’s about corruption, it’s about self-dealing, and they think that this is also a very rich vein because there’s a new example every day of something that might not be quite appropriate,” Davis said. “So look for the Congress to be much more engaged in investigating that issue in the days ahead.
4. North Carolina redistricting
The Tarheel State has some of the most gerrymandered legislative districts in the country - but perhaps for not much longer.
A North Carolina court ruled earlier this month that they are so partisan they violate the state’s constitution - and gave state lawmakers until this week to submit a replacement, reports Vice News’ Shawna Thomas.
The court also ordered the legislature to be fully transparent about heir decision making.
“They are broadcasting it live as they go through this process,” Thomas said.
5. Trump helps out a friend
And from CNN Chief National Correspondent John King:
Trump this weekend made yet another effort to help Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before Tuesday’s Israeli elections. The question to some is whether it is the final pre-election effort.
The gesture? The President announced his hope of negotiating a joint defense agreement with Israel, specifically saying he hoped he could begin working on it with Netanyahu after the elections. The Israeli prime minister quickly sent a thank you tweet.
It has never been a secret that Trump wants to do all he can to help Netanyahu.
The White House, though, has been silent on another big pre-election Netanyahu gambit: his announcement that if reelected he plans on annexing parts of the West Bank and other areas that are recognized as Palestinian territory or disputed land that should be part of peace negotiations.
Netanyahu has hinted that his plan has White House support.
But a number of key international voices are making it clear they view the Israeli plan as unacceptable – and making it clear they would frown on any US embrace of Netanyahu’s plan.
On Tuesday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said the Israeli plan “would constitute a serious violation of international law” and undermine “the viability of the two-State solution.”
Then on Thursday, five key US allies issued a blunt statement rejecting Netanyahu’s proposal.
“France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom are deeply concerned about the announcement of a possible annexation of areas in the West Bank, particularly the Jordan valley and the northern shore of the Dead Sea,” the governments said in a joint statement.
This would, if implemented, constitute a serious breach of international law. France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom will continue to call on all parties to refrain from actions in contravention of international law which would imperil the viability of a two-state solution, based on the 1967 lines, and make it harder to achieve a just and lasting peace.”