In 2019, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden joined the once-lengthy list of people vying for the Democratic presidential nomination.
President Trump planned G-7 to take place at his resort, then backed out, Kamala Harris ended her bid for the nomination and Katie Hill resigned from Congress.
With Democratic voters highly motivated to oust President Trump, progressive stalwart Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts formally announced her candidacy in early February, pursuing a strategy focused on small donors and the unapologetic embrace of big government expansion and realignment of the economy. But Warren struggled in the race initially, weighed down by the political backlash over her claim of Native American ancestry. It wasn’t until months later that she would emerge as a top choice for voters.
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III concluded President Trump had repeatedly and frantically sought to undermine the Russia investigation and engaged in “multiple acts” that could amount to obstruction of justice. While the report, submitted to the Justice Department in April, did not say the Trump campaign had conspired with Moscow to tilt the election, it specifically did not exonerate Trump of illegal activity. Mueller left the question of whether obstruction charges would be pursued to lawmakers, who held contentious hearings but ultimately opted not to proceed with charges.
By late April, former Vice President Joe Biden entered the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. He was immediately the favorite, with formidable polling numbers nationwide. But the political landscape Biden was jumping back into was very different than the one he had last campaigned in. Biden quickly ran into trouble, failing to ignite the passion among small donors that is fueling his top rivals, and fumbling in the field. He is still in the top tier, but as voting approaches, Biden is nowhere near dominating it.
A bruising battle over the 2020 Census ended in July with an abrupt retreat by the Trump administration. It had been insisting for months that the once-a-decade count of Americans ask all those who are surveyed whether they are citizens. Civil rights groups and state leaders in California and elsewhere warned the question threatened to deter millions of immigrants from participating, leading to an undercount that would cost communities federal money and political representation. The administration abandoned the plan after losing a Supreme Court challenge of it.
President Trump drew official condemnation from the House of Representatives in July after tweeting that four minority Democratic congresswomen — Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — should “go back” to the “crime-infested places from which they came.” Trump, undeterred, then claimed without evidence that Omar, a Somali immigrant, supported Al Qaeda. Omar accused the president of blatant racism, but she also sparked controversy herself through tweets condemned by some colleagues as anti-Semitic.
When word leaked out in August that President Trump was mulling the purchase of Greenland — that large, chilly island owned by Denmark that was not, in fact, for sale — the response of Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was predictable: She called the idea “absurd.” The comment enraged Trump, who quickly escalated the surreal spat into an international incident. As other world leaders laughed at Trump’s audacity, he canceled a planned state visit to Denmark, branded Frederiksen “nasty” and lit into NATO, of which Denmark is a member.
It has become a Trump White House tradition: firing by tweet. National security advisor John Bolton was abruptly ousted with a morning tweet in September, making him Trump’s third aide in that crucial job to vacate the post. Bolton’s hawkish worldview clashed with Trump’s overtures to rogue regimes.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who was roundly attacked by immigrant rights advocates for her department’s draconian policies at the border, but who chafed at Trump’s insistence they be even harsher, resigned earlier in the year.
Democratic leaders had been lukewarm on the prospect of holding impeachment proceedings against President Trump — until a whistleblower complaint changed everything. It outlined a telephone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump pressured his counterpart to investigate the dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son in the Eastern European nation. The disclosure of the complaint in September forced the White House to release its summary of the July 25 call between the leaders, which confirmed the whistleblower’s allegations and fueled concerns that the White House had made the release of crucial military aid conditional on Zelensky helping Trump smear the Bidens.
Her rise in Congress was meteoric, but her fall came even faster. Freshman Rep. Katie Hill, a Democrat from Santa Clarita and protégé of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, abruptly resigned in October amid publication in right-wing media of nude photos of her and allegations that she had romantic relationships with congressional and campaign subordinates. The resignation led some in Washington to charge a double standard, alleging male lawmakers guilty of serial misbehavior have not faced the kind of consequences Hill did.
An order from President Trump in October that remaining American troops withdraw from northern Syria left an ally in the lurch, likely enabled detained terrorists to go free and enraged Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress. The move opened the door for Turkey to attack the Kurdish forces that had been allied with America in the fight against Islamic State. Hundreds of Islamic State family members escaped from a detention camp managed by the Syrian Kurdish forces amid a Turkish air barrage. The besieged Kurdish militia, abandoned by the U.S., announced its members were turning to the Syrian government to help stave off the Turkish onslaught.
It was a move that astonished even the ethics watchdogs who have seen the Trump White House push the boundaries of conflict-of-interest rules again and again. The president decided he would host a Group of 7 conference at his luxury golf resort near Miami, leveraging his official powers to benefit his private business holdings in a manner unprecedented for an American president. Even Trump’s usual Republican defenders in Congress and elsewhere were taken aback by the brashness of the decision. The resulting outrage moved Trump to reconsider and cancel the plan.
Longtime political operative and Trump ally Roger Stone describes himself as a dirty trickster. But his antics ultimately caught up with him in November. A federal jury in Washington found him guilty of witness tampering and lying to Congress about his pursuit of Russian-hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election bid. Stone was the sixth Trump associate convicted of charges stemming from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation.
The military moved in November to strip the rank and coveted trident pin from Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL, following his conviction for posing with the body of a dead Islamic State fighter. But President Trump had other ideas. He demanded Gallagher keep his pin and rank. Defense Secretary Mark Esper alleged that Richard Spencer, then secretary of the Navy, went behind Esper’s back and proposed a deal with the White House to resolve Gallagher’s case. On Nov. 24, Esper fired Spencer, ending the clash over Gallagher’s fate.
Kamala Harris charged into the presidential race in January with momentum that made rivals envious and an Oakland rally that drew 20,000 supporters. There were bouts of momentum that followed — most famously at the first Democratic debate in Miami, when the California senator attacked rival Joe Biden for battling forced busing to integrate schools decades ago. But a muddled message, backpedaling on policy and staff infighting ultimately doomed the candidate who hoped to be the first black female president. She dropped out of the race in December, and her absence underscores how little minority representation there is among the candidates dominating the race for the Democratic nomination.