The famous caucuses are Feb. 3. Christmas is coming, the calendar tightening, and candidates zooming through the broad expanse in tinted-window SUVs.
A surprise is there’s little surprise. Reporters say interest in impeachment is minimal, and it’s true: in three days not a single question from the floor, not a stray comment from a voter in a forum. The candidates seem bored with the subject and don’t bother to fake passion if you ask. Impeachment is a reality show going on in Washington, and everyone knows the outcome, so it’s not even interesting. On my way to Waterloo I realized: We’re about to have the third impeachment of a president in American history, and the day it happens it’s not going to be Topic A in America. It will barely be mentioned at the dinner table. It is a coastal elite story, not a mainland story.
The Democratic race is as fluid as it looks. No one, even bright party professionals speaking off the record, knows what to expect. Biden was inevitable, then maybe Elizabeth, maybe Pete’s inevitable, but Bernie may be inevitable, and don’t write off Joe.
But “Beat Trump” is back. When 2019 began Democrats were thinking that was priority No. 1. Then other things became more important—Medicare for All, climate change, policy. But it feels like Democrats here are circling back to their original desire. “Who can beat Trump?” is again the most important question. They don’t know the answer. They’re trying to figure it out.
You can hear this in what the candidates say.
At a Teamsters forum in Cedar Rapids Saturday, Sen. Bernie Sanders was burly in his aggression. “This is a president who is a fraud,” “a pathological liar,” “a homophobe,” “a bigot.” Mr. Sanders said his campaign is about “telling the billionaire class that their greed is unacceptable.” He got a standing ovation.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar the day before, in Grinnell, spoke to about 150 people at the Iowa Farmer’s Union: “We’re not gonna let this Gilded Age roll right over us.” Donald Trump made promises he didn’t keep. After his tax cut passed, “he went to Mar-a-Lago and told his rich friends, ‘I just made you all a lot richer.’ And I can tell you none of them were farmer’s union members.”
“He thinks the Midwest is flyover country.”
Leaders are making decisions for seven generations, she said: “He can’t keep his decision seven minutes from now.”
Pete Buttigieg, at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, told a crowd of more than 1,000—lots of students but others too, many of them prosperous and middle-aged: Don’t just watch “the Trump show—help me pick up the remote and change the channel.”
Mr. Buttigieg used to say his name was pronounced “Buddha judge.” When he went national he changed it to what his crowds now chant: “boot edge edge.” I suspect he did this because America wears boots and likes edginess, but no one wants to be judged by the Buddha. I mention this because Mr. Buttigieg has the air of someone who thinks through even the smallest questions of presentation.
In person he seems like the smart young communications director for a Democratic presidential candidate, not the candidate himself. Yet he gets a particular respect because people think whatever happens this year, he’s going to be president some day. The local congressman who introduced him said as much: “No matter who comes out of this . . . Pete Buttigieg is the future of the party.”
He is personable in an old-fashioned sense; he reminds me of Michael Kinsley’s description of Al Gore when he was 38: “an old person’s idea of a young person.”
Mr. Buttigieg is often painted as a moderate. After he spoke I asked about something I’m interested in, how people develop their political views, where they get them. Do most inherit them, swallow them whole? His father was a Marxist-oriented academic at Notre Dame; he himself, I said, is a man of the left. Had he ever kicked away from family assumptions? Did he ever feel drawn to conservatism, to Burke or Kirk? He had not, though “I will say this: I came to respect the ways in which, right around the time of Russell Kirk, conservatives came to be very much in touch with the relationship between their ideas and their politics and politicians. I think it was born out of a period when the left had universities already, and the right needed to construct a structure of think tanks and so forth.”
When he was an intern on Capitol Hill, every young Republican staffer had a copy of Hayek on his desk. “On our side, the academic left, particularly in the humanities, had gotten into really abstruse things around postmodernism and poststructuralism. There was, ironically, contrary to our self-image, I think less of a clear relationship between ideas and politicians on the left. We had our policy intellectuals, but there was less of a connection between our politicians and our political theorists.”
He came to respect “the organizing efforts of conservatives.” I asked if this was around the time Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Of a sudden the Republican Party is the party of ideas.” He smiled and shrugged: “Just a hair before my time.”
She’s had strong debates. In the last one, social media went crazy because her hair shook. Not her face or voice, her hair. She later joked on Twitter: “I’ll plaster my runaway bangs down for the next NBC debate.”
What happened? She told me the debate hall had been reconfigured, overly air-conditioned, and unknown to her, a nearby air vent was blasting at the top of her head. She didn’t know there was a problem until the break, when a tech came by and said he was sorry.
“Now I guess hair spray,” she laughed as she told the story.
How difficult will it be to beat Mr. Trump? While I was in Iowa the new jobs numbers came out. America has functional full employment. It is a marvelous thing. We’re not in any new wars. With peace and prosperity, how can the incumbent lose?
The counterargument is that his approval is stuck in the low 40s with peace and prosperity, which tells you everything—he is vulnerable, more than half the country rejects him in what are for him ideal circumstances. This in turn brings back the familiar 2016 theme of shy Trump voters, people who don’t tell pollsters they’re going to vote for him, or even tell themselves.
Maybe the real story is that it’s all fluid.
Among the hoops that candidates for plum consulting jobs at McKinsey & Company had to jump through in late 2006 was a bit of play acting: They were given a scenario involving a hypothetical client, “a business under siege,” and told they would be meeting with its chief executive the next day. How would they structure the conversation?
One contender stood out that year: a 24-year-old Rhodes scholar named Pete Buttigieg.
“He was the only one who put all the pieces together,” recalled Jeff Helbling, a McKinsey partner at the time who was involved in recruiting. Mr. Buttigieg soon won the other candidates over to his approach.
“He was very good at taking this ambiguous thing that he literally had no background on and making sense of it,” Mr. Helbling said. “That is rare for anyone at any level.”
The preternatural poise that got Mr. Buttigieg hired at McKinsey has helped him rise from obscurity to the top tier of the 2020 Democratic primary presidential contest.
On the way there, he ticked all the boxes. Harvard. Rhodes scholar. War veteran. Elected mayor of a midsize city before age 30.
Mr. Buttigieg sells his candidacy, in large part, on his mayoralty of South Bend, Ind., and a civic revitalization there rooted in the kind of data-driven techniques espoused by McKinsey. His nearly three years at “the firm” set him apart from many of his campaign rivals, underpinning his position as a more centrist alternative to progressive front-runners like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Yet Mr. Buttigieg’s time at the world’s most prestigious management-consulting company is one piece of his meticulously programmed biography that he mentions barely, if at all, on the campaign trail.
As Mr. Buttigieg explains it, that is not a matter of choice. For all of his efforts to run an open, accessible campaign — marked by frequent on-the-record conversations with reporters on his blue-and-yellow barnstorming bus — McKinsey is a famously secretive employer, and Mr. Buttigieg says he signed a nondisclosure agreement that keeps him from going into detail about his work there.
But as he gains ground in polls, his reticence about McKinsey is being tested, including by his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination. Senator Warren, responding last month to needling by Mr. Buttigieg that she release more than the 11 years of tax returns she already had to account for her private-sector work, retorted, “There are some candidates who want to distract from the fact that they have not released the names of their clients and have not released the names of their bundlers.”
Beyond Mr. Buttigieg’s agreement with McKinsey, this is something of an awkward moment to be associated with the consultancy, especially if you happen to be a Democratic politician in an election year shadowed by questions of corporate power and growing wealth inequality. The firm has long advocated business strategies like
- raising executive compensation,
- moving labor offshore and
- laying off workers to cut costs.
And over the last couple of years, reporting in The New York Times and other publications has revealed episodes tarnishing McKinsey’s once-sterling reputation: its work advising Purdue Pharma on how to “turbocharge” opioid sales, its consulting for authoritarian governments in places like China and Saudi Arabia, and its role in a wide-ranging corruption scandal in South Africa. (All of these came after Mr. Buttigieg left the firm.)
Just this week, ProPublica, copublishing with The Times, revealed that McKinsey consultants had recommended in 2017 that Immigration and Customs Enforcement cut its spending on food for migrants and medical care for detainees.
After a campaign event on Wednesday in Birmingham, Ala., Mr. Buttigieg remarked on the latest revelations. “The decision to do what was reported yesterday in The Times is disgusting,” he said. “And as somebody who left the firm a decade ago, seeing what certain people in that firm have decided to do is extremely frustrating and extremely disappointing.”
The Buttigieg campaign says he has asked to be let out of his nondisclosure agreement so he can be more forthcoming about that formative time in his life. A McKinsey spokesman said Mr. Buttigieg “worked with several different clients” during his time with the firm, but “beyond that, we have no comment on specific client work.”
But interviews with six people who were involved in projects that Mr. Buttigieg worked on at McKinsey, along with gleanings from his autobiography, fill in some of the blanks.
Mr. Buttigieg was recruited by McKinsey at Oxford. The company seeks out Rhodes scholars like him, banking that their intellects will make up for their lack of M.B.A.s from traditional recruiting grounds like Harvard Business School.
Yet even during the recruitment process, Mr. Helbling recalled, Mr. Buttigieg made it known that, like many applicants, he saw the business experience on offer at McKinsey as a good job “in the near term,” in his case an asset on the way to a career in public service.
The work he did in his first year and a half at the firm — nearly a 10th of his adult life — is effectively a blank slate, though tax records give some hints. In 2007, his first year with the company, he filed tax returns in Illinois, where he worked out of the Chicago office, as well as in his home state of Indiana. But he also filed in Michigan, and in the city of Detroit, where he worked on a McKinsey project. In 2008, he filed a return in Connecticut (McKinsey has an office in Stamford). The next year, he filed in Connecticut and in California.
In early 2009 Mr. Buttigieg was spending his days, and many nights, in a glass-walled conference room in suburban Toronto. He was analyzing Canadian grocery prices, plugging the numbers into a database running on a souped-up laptop his colleagues nicknamed “Bertha.” PowerPoint slides and spreadsheets crept into his dreams.
He knew this wasn’t his calling.
“And so it may have been inevitable that one afternoon, as I set Bertha to sleep mode to go out to the hallway for a cup of coffee, I realized with overwhelming clarity the reason this could not be a career for very long: I didn’t care,” Mr. Buttigieg wrote in his autobiography, “Shortest Way Home.”
It was the only experience at McKinsey that Mr. Buttigieg wrote about in any detail. His next act at the firm didn’t merit a single complete sentence in the book. But it was a radically different, and for him far more interesting, public-spirited project: More than four years before he would be deployed as a Navy Reserve officer, he was heading to Iraq and Afghanistan.
McKinsey’s focus in Iraq during the latter part of George W. Bush’s presidency and the early years of Barack Obama’s was to help the defense department identify Iraqi state-owned enterprises that could be revived. The idea was to provide employment for men who might otherwise join the insurgency against the American-led occupation.
The McKinsey consultants on the ground in 2006 and 2007 were almost exclusively military veterans like Alan Armstrong, who flew fighters for the Navy and had an M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Armstrong, in an interview, said that while the reasoning behind the program was sound, the ongoing insurgency and a crippled infrastructure — electricity, for example, was spotty or nonexistent — made execution very difficult.
But the program was popular among the top brass at the Pentagon. In 2006, the defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, met with the team in Iraq and asked about the “whiz kids” from McKinsey, which struck Mr. Armstrong as an obvious parallel to the Vietnam War era, when whiz kids of an earlier generation had worked for another defense secretary: Robert S. McNamara.
“McKinsey was more than willing to play along — they were being paid extraordinary rates to keep playing,” Mr. Armstrong said.
Another former McKinsey consultant who worked in Iraq recalled a surreal moment preparing a PowerPoint presentation while on a convoy to a shuttered food-processing factory, under the watchful eye of a burly private security guard. “It felt like we were completely half-assing everything — it wasn’t particularly effective,” he said.
Other former McKinsey consultants who worked on the Iraq project, Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, have a more positive recollection of the firm’s work.
“Over all I’m very proud of it,” said one consultant, who had met Mr. Buttigieg in Washington, where most of the McKinsey consultants assigned to the project worked when not visiting Iraq. Four of the six former McKinsey employees spoke on the condition that their names not be used, citing confidentiality agreements or the press policies of their current employers.
By 2009, the security situation in Baghdad was stable enough that McKinsey allowed in some nonveterans like Mr. Buttigieg, who had studied Arabic at Harvard. He went to Iraq aware of the stark similarities between the American experiences there and in Vietnam decades earlier.
At Harvard, his senior thesis had drawn parallels between the United States’ seeking to “save” Vietnam from “godless Communism,” and the 17th-century Puritan ministers who had come to America to civilize “savage lands.” In his autobiography and in an interview that has drawn charges of out-of-touch elitism from some quarters, he reflected on that history by quoting a passage from “The Quiet American” by Graham Greene: “Innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.”
“I had protested the Iraq war,” Mr. Buttigieg said in an interview with The Times. “But I also believed that it was important to try to do my part to help have good outcomes there.” He found echoes, he said, of “the stories I had studied about well-intentioned Americans sometimes causing as many problems as they addressed.”
Mr. Buttigieg recalled spending only two nights in Baghdad, where McKinsey consultants were quartered in a building near the Tigris River, and “going to a ministry.” He never left the city during his time there, he said.
“Remember I’m like the junior guy, kind of new,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “It’s not like I was the one whose expertise was needed to sort out what was going on in the provinces.
“Eventually I knew what I was doing a little more and was more useful by the time I got to the Afghan side.”
Mission in Afghanistan
Mr. Buttigieg spent more time in Afghanistan. While Iraq had a fairly well-educated populace, a modern road system and large oil revenues, Afghanistan was far less developed. But the mission was similar: identify small and medium-size businesses to nurture so that they could employ Afghans, providing an attractive alternative to joining the Taliban while fueling economic growth.
Citing his nondisclosure agreement, Mr. Buttigieg declined to specify in the interview what he had worked on, though he mentioned having looked at opportunities in the agricultural industry — onions, tomatoes, olive oil — as well as paint manufacturing.
“They had some things to work with,” he said, “but would have benefited from support on things like business planning, more resources on how to plug in and eventually connections to markets too.”
In the years after Mr. Buttigieg left McKinsey, that program came under criticism from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. McKinsey had been awarded $18.6 million for the project, but the watchdog wrote in an April 2018 report that it had been able to find just one piece of related work product: a 50-page report on the economic potential of the city of Herat.
A former McKinsey consultant who worked in Afghanistan described a more extensive McKinsey presence there, involving work in the mining industry and a government transparency project, along with the Herat study.
“One of those sounds just exactly like what I was doing,” Mr. Buttigieg said. When asked which one, he said, “I can’t think of a way to answer that without getting in trouble with the N.D.A.”
Mr. Buttigieg’s work on the Afghanistan project ended in late 2009, close to the time he was commissioned as an officer in the Navy Reserve. And that October, when he was still several months from leaving McKinsey, he set in motion the next phase of his life: He registered as a candidate for office with the State of Indiana.
The next year, he lost a bid for state treasurer, after emphasizing his McKinsey experience during the campaign. (He recounted at one campaign event that after his Rhodes scholarship, “I came back and went into business, and I worked for a company where my job was to do math. I’m a card-carrying nerd.”) In 2011, at age 29, he was elected mayor of South Bend.
The full range of Mr. Buttigieg’s work at McKinsey isn’t clear, though in his autobiography he says that he worked on other projects, including “energy efficiency research” to help curb greenhouse-gas emissions for a client he didn’t name. He also found time in the summer of 2008 to travel to Somaliland, the autonomous region in the Horn of Africa. He went as a tourist, but while there talked to local officials and wrote an account of his experience for The International Herald Tribune.
Mr. Buttigieg has been asked on the presidential campaign trail about his time at McKinsey and, in several interviews this year, has sought to reconcile the company’s recent troubles with his own work there.
For Mr. Buttigieg, the solution to McKinsey’s ethical pitfalls may come in a rethinking of the rules that business abides by. Maximizing shareholder value, the North Star of modern American capitalism, has a downside when the rules of the game leave many people worse off, he said.
“The challenge is that’s not good enough at a time when we are seeing how the economy continues to become more and more unequal, and we are seeing the ways in which a lot of corporate behavior that is technically legal is also not acceptable in terms of its impact,” he said. “There has got to be a higher standard.”
Can his rivals fracture or overwhelm his coalition?
But the approach has a certain strategic logic. It assumes that activists can be appeased with specific promises, while the moderation of many older Democrats manifests itself more in general cultural attitudes (the kids these days with their political correctness, grumble grumble) than detailed policy preferences. It assumes that absorbing a certain kind of attack from the left — Biden’s too nostalgic for the bad old days, Biden’s a chump if he thinks he can cut deals with Republicans — helps with voters who are nostalgic for the days of dealmaking themselves, without making it impossible to eventually unite the party in the way that staking out heretical positions might.
These assumptions are by no means crazy. But it is also very easy to see how they might fail. Biden is hardly the most formidable of front-runners, and if any piece of the current coalition breaks off, he’ll be in deep trouble. And his rivals have obvious plays that might make that breakup happen.
The first play is to split off some of Biden’s African-American support by linking his nostalgia for dealmaking to his less-than-progressive record on race. This is the play Cory Booker is trying to execute, and Booker’s campaign probably depends on its success — which is by no means foreordained, since the African-American vote is more conservative and Biden-friendly than the median white liberal. But nobody before his years as Obama’s V.P. would have regarded Biden as a natural destination for the black vote, and enough sustained tone-deafness in the present could make that past matter once again.
The second play is to make the broader “Uncle Joe” persona, not just its unwoke element, a liability for Biden’s elect-me-to-beat-Trump case. This is probably the Pete Buttigieg play, though it’s available to any younger candidate: Without saying so directly, establish contrasts that make Biden look old, confused, a man out of time, even Trump-y in his own right. Don’t challenge his record, don’t call him a troglodyte — just challenge the conceit that a likable but past-his-prime uncle makes the right contrast with Trump.
The third play is to attack Biden from the center when he flip-flops, and try to break off his more conservative supporters by arguing that the former V.P. isn’t the moderate he used to be. This should be an obvious move for the legion of candidates (Amy Klobuchar, Tim Ryan, Seth Moulton, Michael Bennet, etc.) lining up to inherit the moderate torch if Biden’s campaign fails. But I suspect it will be hard for them to execute, because none of them seem eager to fight the activist left either. (The once pro-life Ryan, for instance, has flipped on the Hyde Amendment as well.) Still, every time Biden decides to check an ideological box, he leaves this flank exposed.
And the fourth play — well, the fourth play doesn’t actually require breaking up Biden’s current coalition; it just requires uniting a slightly-larger portion of the party against him.
We have an example of how not to do this in the failed attempts by Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to unite Republican primary voters against Donald Trump. But in the rising line of Elizabeth Warren’s polling support, and the flat or falling lines of all the other non-Biden candidates, you can see at least the beginning of how NeverBiden might unite, and win.
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Pete Buttigieg ran through his stump speech (six minutes on generational change), tossed bean bags with activists (in front of as many cameras as Iowa voters), took seven questions from reporters (“How does it feel to be a rock star?”) and pounded out some blues on an electric keyboard (a Miles Davis tune).
If Mr. Buttigieg didn’t spend much time talking to voters at his campaign picnic on Sunday, he did stick to his winning formula: doing everything possible to reach bigger audiences on their screens.
More than most of his Democratic rivals, Mr. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., has cracked the code of the early months of the presidential campaign, embracing TV appearances while mastering the art of creating moments for social media and cable news. The 37-year-old’s campaign was the first to grasp that the early primary race would unfold on mobile devices and televisions instead of at the traditional town-hall gatherings and living rooms in the early states.
He’s not alone: Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has inundated reporters with policy proposals, prompting hours of cable news coverage and forcing fellow candidates to respond to her ideas during live interviews.
Unlike many of their rivals, who built their political careers in the era of carefully chosen, less-is-more press interaction, the two have placed their fate in the hands of TV bookers and the gods of online viral content.
Erik Smith, a Democratic strategist who worked on Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, said none of the candidates or their staff members have experience running in such a crowded primary contest, which puts a premium on the need to be nimble and creative. “They’re used to having a two-way primary and a two-way general,” he said. “Those habits don’t serve you well in a multicandidate primary, particularly one as long and substantive as this.”
Mr. Buttigieg and Ms. Warren began their rise in the public polling as they became more frequent presences on cable TV. Since April 1, the most-mentioned Democratic presidential candidates on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC are Mr. Biden, Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren and Mr. Buttigieg, according to data from the Internet Archive’s Television News Archive.
Mr. Buttigieg, who rose to 14 percent support from 1 percent in three months in polling conducted for The Des Moines Register and CNN, has been powered largely by his appearances on televised town hall-style programs, which have helped him create a fund-raising colossus rivaled only by Mr. Biden’s when it comes to tapping major donors, said Rufus Gifford, the finance chairman for Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign.
“It’s about having ideas,” Ms. Warren said. “About being able to say specifically, ‘Here’s what’s gone wrong in this country, how corruption has put us on the wrong path,’ and then having very specific plans to go after it.”
In April and May, Ms. Warren and Mr. Buttigieg outspent most of the Democratic field in advertisements on Facebook and Google. Ms. Warren spent $1.1 million and Mr. Buttigieg $975,700, according to tracking from Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic political firm. Only Mr. Biden, who spent $1.5 million after his late-April campaign launch, and Ms. Harris, whose campaign spent $1 million, are close.
“More power to them,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. “People will peak at different moments. I’d rather peak closer to the election.”
Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, who was the penultimate candidate to join the race, said he did not draw any inspiration from the tactics of President Trump’s campaign.
“I don’t take from 2016 that this is the era of celebrity,” Mr. Bullock said after polishing off a steak dinner. Referring to a former Republican presidential candidate who did well in some polls in 2015, he added, “You could have said to me four years ago, ‘What do you attribute the strength of Ben Carson to?’”
Mayor Pete Buttigieg talks with The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart. Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend, IN. He’s unapologetically progressive in a red state. He’s a veteran. He’s openly gay. And now he’s running for President. Hear this rising star in the Democratic Party talk about the issues facing America and why he wants Democrats to reclaim the words “freedom, democracy and security.”
Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s controversial claim that a secret report exonerated his chief of police in an incident with racial undertones appears to be contradicted by the report itself, according to a leaked excerpt obtained by The Young Turks.
The report was compiled in 2013 by an Indiana State Police (ISP) investigator, after a black civilian alleged that South Bend’s police chief failed to back up a black lieutenant during an altercation outside a community center.
Buttigieg refused to release the ISP report, but told city officials in a letter that witness accounts in the report “make clear” that then-Chief Ron Teachman, who is white, did not violate requirements for backing up fellow officers and that Teachman “has my full confidence.”
However, according to the leaked excerpt, which includes a summary of the report’s findings, none of the witnesses corroborate Teachman’s account. Multiple witnesses directly challenge Teachman’s claims. In some passages witnesses say explicitly that Teachman failed to back up his fellow officer, Lt. David Newton.
Buttigieg did not disclose that the ISP also investigated Teachman’s conduct after the incident, a fact that has not been public knowledge until now. Specifically, the report addresses conduct that may have violated other police guidelines, raising the possibility that Teachman tried to intimidate Newton and influence his account of the incident.
Asked about the secret report’s findings, Buttigieg campaign Press Secretary Chris Meagher told TYT that the letter Buttigieg sent to city officials “adequately covers the mayor’s position on this issue.” (Teachman no longer works for the city. Messages left for him by phone and email were not returned.)
Newton, now chief investigator for the county prosecutor, told TYT that, “In my opinion Buttigieg killed the report because it made Teachman look bad.”
Newton confirmed the report’s implication that he felt pressured to change his story. “Teachman tried to steer me to frame what happened,” he told TYT. “I was ruined… just because I wouldn’t lie and play ball.”
Members of the city’s legislative body, the Common Council, wanted to see the ISP report for themselves, but Buttigieg refused, citing the law and personnel policies.
Instead, Buttigieg sent Council members his letter, which suggested that witnesses gave conflicting accounts. “Across the varying recollections of the interviewees,” he wrote, “in my judgment the accounts of the incident contained in the report make clear that there was no wrongful neglect of the Police Duty Manual’s requirements on backing up a fellow officer requesting help…”
The report does mention “variations in the statements of the witnesses,” but the only variations the report focuses on are Teachman’s. The ISP investigator asks Teachman multiple times about differences between his account and those of other witnesses.
According to Newton and other witnesses in the report, the incident began when a center employee came in and told Newton there was a possible fight outside involving guns. The center is located in a predominantly black neighborhood.
Newton went out alone, “his hand on his duty weapon,” and called for backup. All other units were busy at the time, the report said.
Teachman had just gone to use the restroom when the employee reported the fight, witnesses said. Only Teachman gave a different account, telling the ISP that he and Newton learned of the fight at the same time.
According to the report, Teachman “said that they both started to get up to handle the situation at which time Lt. Newton told the chief that he could handle it. Chief Teachman said that Lt. Newton made this statement several times.” Newton, however, told the ISP he never said that to Teachman, and that Teachman had already left for the restroom by then.
The ISP asked Teachman about this discrepancy. “Chief Teachman was informed that of all the people interviewed, that he was the only person up to this point that said he was present at the initial notification of the fight. Chief Teachman stated that was the way he recalled it to the best of his memory.”
The ISP investigator writes, “I then questioned Chief Teachman about the fact that even Lt. Newton said [Teachman] was not present when [Newton] was notified.”
Despite the ISP finding that Teachman was “the only person” who said he was present when the fight was first reported, Buttigieg reportedlytold the South Bend Tribune that witnesses differed on this point. The Tribune wrote, “According to Buttgieg, witnesses said Teachman was notified of the fight either before or after using the restroom.”
TYT asked Pat Cottrell, who was allowed to read the report as president of the city’s Board of Public Safety, about Buttigieg’s claim. “That’s a lie,” Cottrell told TYT. “Plain and simple.”
The report noted other times when Teachman’s recollection was either fuzzy or challenged by witnesses. He could not recall what he did in the restroom or how long he was there. He said a young male first reported the fight, while other witnesses said it was the employee, a 66-year-old man.
The report says, “Teachman did not recall speaking to anyone prior to going outside to assist Lt. Newton. This statement does contradict what other witnesses stated.”
One passage gives specific details from witnesses about Teachman’s actions after learning that Newton needed help outside.
“Chief Teachman was asked if he recalled adjusting the floor mats near the front doors, introducing himself to two females, speaking with the females about their church, and then going back and adjusting the floor mats again as was stated by other witnesses.”
According to the report, “At first Chief Teachman stated, ‘Absolutely not,’ to these questions. He then said, ‘Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Floor mats?’ He then said, ‘Gosh, was it there that day.’ He now said he had a vague memory, but did not think it was there that day… Chief Teachman spent over a minute talking about his recollection of possibly adjusting floor mats.”
Other passages also conflict with Buttigieg’s claim that witnesses exonerated Teachman.
For instance, the report refers to a witness who “told Rev. [Greg] Brown that Chief Teachman… would not come outside to help.”
Brown, who made the initial complaint about Teachman, told the ISP he spoke with people inside the center after the incident. According to the report, Brown “said that they told him the chief did not come outside and stood at the door and messed with the floor mats.”
The ISP also interviewed the center’s supervisor, Maurice Scott. The report says, “Scott told Lt. Newton, ‘You know that your chief wasn’t coming out here to help you.’ Lt. Newton advised Mr. Scott that the chief was in the restroom and would have come out. Mr. Scott told him he wasn’t.”
Teachman himself told the ISP that an unknown individual told him he was needed outside and that “this person questioned why he was not outside helping.” In the report, Teachman says he believed the fight outside involved children and therefore he was not needed.
The report was seen by only the mayor’s office and the Board of Public Safety, members of which were prohibited by law from discussing its contents. (The leaked excerpt was provided anonymously to TYT. Its authenticity was confirmed by Cottrell and the Buttigieg campaign did not dispute it.)
Most of the five-member board voted against disciplining Teachman. Cottrell says that he and another member favored termination. A third, Cottrell claimed, agreed that Teachman erred and favored taking at least some steps, short of official discipline, in response. That board member declined to comment and TYT was unable to reach other board members from that time.
Buttigieg’s letter says that he and Teachman “agreed that he could use this as a teaching moment within the Department.” Teachman, Buttigieg says, offered to speak to the rank and file about how to “go above and beyond the requirements of the law and the duty manual.”
The Council president at the time, Derek Dieter, encouraged Newton to come forward, according to emails obtained by the South Bend Tribune. Buttigieg reportedly blamed Dieter for politicizing the situation.
The fact that Dieter was also serving as an SBPD corporal under Teachman drew criticisms of his conflict of interest. Newton confirmed to TYT that Dieter urged him to share his story with the Council, but denied that Dieter influenced his account of the incident.
Instead, Newton said he thinks Buttigieg should have done something about Teachman’s attempts to influence his account. The ISP report devotes significant attention to Teachman’s conduct — including interactions with Newton — after learning that the incident might be investigated.
Teachman, the report says, sent email from his personal account to Newton’s personal account discussing the incident. In one email, “the chief said that he thought another officer was dealing with the incident.” Newton responded that this was not true.Emails show then-Chief Ron Teachman using personal accounts to discuss specifics of the coming investigation into whether he failed to back up a fellow officer.
(Screengrab of emails provided by David Newton.)
Newton provided that email exchange to TYT and described it as an attempt to push an alternative narrative on him. Teachman, Newton said, “emailed me to get me to say, ‘Oh it wasn’t a big deal, other officers were going to handle it.’ When I told him it was me out there he figured I was either too dumb to get what he wanted or I just wouldn’t change my story.”
The report also reveals that Newton was questioned about the incident by an Internal Affairs lieutenant in the SBPD. At one point, Teachman enters the room while Newton and the lieutenant discuss the incident.
Referring to Newton, the report says, “When asked if he found it ironic that the chief would show up in the middle of his interview… he responded by saying, ‘I know bad acting when I see it.’ Lt. Newton was asked if he felt this was a form of intimidation by the chief and he stated ‘probably.’”
Newton told TYT that when the Internal Affairs lieutenant first asked him to discuss the incident, “I said is this formal or informal? And he said, ‘both.’”
As for Teachman appearing during the interview, Newton says, “It was a clear signal he was on top of the investigation and directing it.”
He said that when Teachman began to leave, the Internal Affairs lieutenant “is going, no, come on in and sit down. And I told them, ‘Really? Is that how we’re doing this?’
“And because I didn’t play ball, I got screwed. That’s a fact. And I wasn’t going to lie about what happened.” Newton claims he suffered retribution afterward, including demotion, before leaving for the county prosecutor’s office.
Teachman told the ISP that the Internal Affairs lieutenant, “without being asked… attempted to obtain recordings” from the Martin Luther KIng Center, Jr., Community Center where the incident occurred. Cottrell and a source inside South Bend government at the time both told TYT previously that they believe the center’s videotapes were tampered with.
Newton told TYT, “The video from the King Center was gone.”
Scott, the center’s supervisor, told TYT, “I’m pretty sure they came in and looked at the video, they pulled the video off there.” He said, “I really don’t know” what happened to the tapes, but that he did not consider the incident a big deal.
After Buttigieg decided not to release the report or discipline Teachman, Cottrell resigned from the Board of Public Safety in protest.
The following month, October 2013, Brown spoke at a meeting of the Common Council. According to the minutes, Brown said that he originally reported the incident to the council because, “I went to Mayor’s Night Out to talk to the mayor about the situation. The mayor had no answers and did not want to hear what I asked or had to say.”
Referring to public comments Buttigieg made after clearing Teachman, Newton told TYT, “The mayor said we’re making a mountain out of a molehill, but if I got killed out there then what?”
Despite South Bend’s small size, its rate of violent crime is high, and SBPD officers have been killed in the line of duty. Newton said, “I stood over two dead officers… The mayor at least owed it to me to say he [Teachman] screwed this up and apologize and say, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’”
The Teachman incident came at a time of lingering tensions between Buttigieg, the black community, and elements of the police force. The year before, Buttigieg demoted the city’s first black police chief, Darryl Boykins, amid an FBI investigation into secret tapes that allegedly captured officers using racial epithets. Boykins was not charged.
Buttigieg said at the time that he demoted Boykins because “If you make mistakes serious enough to bring on a federal investigation into your department, you cannot keep a leadership post in this administration.”
Pete Buttigieg’s town hall appearance on Fox News triggered conservatives and even Trump.
Read more here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/p… “WASHINGTON – Pete Buttigieg got an enthusiastic reception at a Fox News town hall Sunday where he explained the importance of restoring moral authority to the office of president and appointing judges that back reproductive rights. He also criticized President Donald Trump over reports that he’s considering pardoning service members accused of war crimes. But the response that generated one of the biggest rounds of applause was his dismissal of Trump’s signature form of communication. “The tweets are – I don’t care,” the Democratic presidential hopeful said when asked how he would deal with Trump’s tweets and insults if he wins the nomination. Calling Trump’s tweets a distraction from the real issues, Buttigieg said he gets that “It’s the nature of grotesque things that you can’t look away.” In fact, two hours before the event at a New Hampshire high school, Trump criticized the network for “wasting airtime” on Buttigieg. “They forgot the people who got them there,” Trump tweeted. He also reprised his nickname for Buttigieg, adding: “Alfred E. Newman will never be President!”