As House Democrats make a powerful case for Trump’s impeachment and removal that Senate Republicans are determined to ignore, Gallup supplies evidence that partisan polarization has reached new heights in the Trump Era:

Eighty-two percentage points separated Republicans’ (89%) and Democrats’ (7%) average job approval ratings of President Donald Trump during his third year in office. This is the largest degree of political polarization in any presidential year measured by Gallup, surpassing the 79-point party gap in Trump’s second year in office.

That’s in a record of data that goes back 65 years, to the Truman administration, encompassing all sorts of ups and downs in overall presidential job approval. It is simply amazing that Trump is now regularly exceeding Ronald Reagan’s average job approval rating among Republicans of 83 percent. And the notable gap isn’t just the one between Ds and Rs, but between Republicans and independents:

[W]hile Trump’s approval ratings among Republicans to date would register as one of the highest in history, his ratings among independents are on pace be the lowest from that group for any president by a significant margin. To date, Trump has averaged 35% job approval among independents, including 38% in his third year in office. All other post-World War II presidents registered approval above 40% among independents during their terms, with Jimmy Carter’s 42% the lowest.

Yes, some of these developments are a product of the ideological sorting out of the two major parties that since the 1960s has steadily reduced the once-robust numbers of liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. But still, the wildly different ways in which Democrats and Republicans see objective reality — and various aspects of the presidency of the strange “populist” bully in the White House — are real, abiding, and not the product of elite discourse. Many pundits are prone to hyperventilation about the phony dramatics of elites who are thwarting the overwhelming desire of the American people to eschew partisanship and ideology, meet in the middle and get stuff done. They need to come to grips with the fact that polarization is indeed a mass phenomenon reflecting very real differences in how people want this country governed. It’s time to get used to it.

Lindsey Graham made an unwanted cameo as Democrats laid out their case for impeachment this afternoon

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., challenged the argument from Trump’s defenders that impeachment must allege a violation of statutory law.

To make his point, Nadler played a 1999 video of Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who was a manager 20 years ago in the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton. The Constitution allows impeachment for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” a term that has been debated during the Trump investigation.

“What’s a high crime?” Graham asked in the well of the Senate in 1999. “How about an important person hurting somebody of low means? It’s not very scholarly, but I think it’s the truth. I think that’s what they meant by high crimes. Doesn’t even have to be a crime. It’s just when you start using your office and you’re acting in a way that hurts people, you’ve committed a high crime.”

Republicans have challenged the accusations of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress as vague and not grounded in established law.

Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday announced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel would travel to the White House next week along with his chief election rival and opposition leader, Benny Gantz, to discuss the administration’s blueprint for peace in the Middle East.

“President Trump asked me to extend an invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu to come to the White House next week to discuss regional issues as well as the prospect of peace here in the Holy Land,” Pence announced alongside Netanyahu on a trip to Israel to mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp and attend a global Holocaust forum.

Pence’s announcement of the pending visit, coupled with the significance of both Netanyahu’s and Gantz’s planned attendance, immediately ramped up speculation that the White House would finally roll out its much anticipated plan to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

It is with great sadness that I share the news that co-founder and longtime anchor of the PBS NewsHour Jim Lehrer died today, Thursday, January 23, 2020, peacefully in his sleep at home. Lehrer served as anchor of the NewsHour for 36 years before retiring in 2011. Lehrer and Robert MacNeil founded the program in 1975, out of their 1973 coverage of the Senate Watergate Hearings on PBS.

“I’m heartbroken at the loss of someone who was central to my professional life, a mentor to me and someone whose friendship I’ve cherished for decades,” said Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of the PBS NewsHour. “I’ve looked up to him as the standard for fair, probing and thoughtful journalism and I know countless others who feel the same way.”

Andy Byford, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority transit chief credited with leading the turnaround of the New York City subway system, is resigning again, the MTA has confirmed to POLITICO.

“Andy Byford will be departing New York City Transit after a successful two years of service and we thank him for his work,” said MTA chairman and CEO Pat Foye in a statement. “Andy was instrumental in moving the system forward, enacting the successful Subway Action Plan and securing record capital funding with the Governor and the Legislature, and we wish him well in his next chapter.”

As POLITICO first reported, Byford also submitted his resignation to the MTA in October, citing frustration with gubernatorial meddling.

Joe Biden said definitively on Wednesday that he would not participate in any witness swap as part of the Senate impeachment trial. His remarks came as other top Senate Democrats attempted to tamp down any notion that they would agree to call Biden or his son Hunter in return for appearances by top Trump administration officials.

Biden’s remarks, his most forceful attempt to signal that he wants no part of the impeachment trial in which Republicans are trying to embroil him, came after a voter here asked if he would offer to testify in return for testimony from people such as former national security adviser John Bolton or acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

The former vice president said it was “not an irrational question to ask” but said that he would not engage in such a trade.

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“The reason I would not make the deal, the bottom line is, this is a constitutional issue,” Biden said inside a VFW hall at the end of his latest Iowa swing. “We’re not going to turn it into a farce or to some kind of political theater. They’re trying to do that. I want no part of that.”

Mini Mike Bloomberg is playing poker with his foolhardy and unsuspecting Democrat rivals. He says that if he loses (he really means when!) in the primaries, he will spend money helping whoever the Democrat nominee is. By doing this, he figures, they won’t hit him as hard….

….during his hopeless “presidential” campaign. They will remain silent! The fact is, when Mini losses, he will be spending very little of his money on these “clowns” because he will consider himself to be the biggest clown of them all - and he will be right!

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