Senator Coons met with Secretary of State-Designate Rex “Putty Poot” Tillerson yesterday. From the Washington Post:
Coons [said] before the meeting Wednesday that his vote would depend on what Tillerson says both in public and private on Russia. “I want to know whether he has a clear-eyed view of Putin’s Russia, their aggression towards the U.S. in hacking our election, their aggression in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, their role in massacres in Aleppo,” Coons said. “If he’s going to be secretary of state, I need to hear clarity from him.”
After the meeting, Coons says he is encouraged, which makes me discouraged. From WDEL:
Coons says it was a generally constructive, positive but open conversation, and Coons central question for Tillerson was about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and his views on Russia since he did a lot of business with Russia as the head of Exxon/Mobil.
Trump’s long game: Discredit intelligence community to justify replacing them with “his own people” https://t.co/B2WDjSY2Hs
— Patti Mulligan (@chachina) January 5, 2017
Americans have picked Democrats to run the government, yet it’s Republicans in charge. What we have here isn’t a democracy, it’s a mockery of one.
So Democrats in Congress must act to represent that nullified American majority, and the best way it can do that is by halting all work. Just bring it in to a standstill. Pass continuing budget resolutions to keep the government running, but otherwise make sure that not a shred of Trump’s agenda, or that of the undemocratic GOP majority makes it through.
Filibuster everything, as long as the GOP majority allow it. Deny the use of unanimous consent to waive the rules for things like the post-cloture 30-hour period. And deny it for EVERYTHING, even the most routine of Senate business. Grind that f-er to a halt.
How many executive positions require Senate confirmation? It’s between 1,200-1,400. None of that gets through this Senate with unanimous consent. The Supreme Court nominee? Keep it open for all four years. Republicans made it clear they planned on obstructing that seat the entirety of a Clinton administration. We actually have valid reasons to obstruct.
— Senator Tom Carper (@SenatorCarper) January 4, 2017
Senator Carper, always looking for a bipartisan reason to do anything. Please retire Senator.
“Just a year ago, they might have seemed the oddest of couples. But now President-elect Donald Trump and Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, have formed a united front against the conclusion of American intelligence agencies that Russian intelligence used hacked emails to interfere in the presidential election,” the New York Times reports.
“Mr. Assange, long reviled by many Republicans as an anarchist lawbreaker out to damage the United States, has won new respect from conservatives who appreciated his site’s release of Democratic emails widely perceived to have hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign. And Mr. Trump has been eager to undercut the conclusion of the F.B.I., the C.I.A. and other agencies that those emails were provided to WikiLeaks courtesy of Russian government hackers.”
Washington Post: “Although some GOP figures still view the WikiLeaks founder with suspicion, conservative news sources now praise him for exposing Democratic emails.”
Josh Kraushaar: “The seeds of Democratic renewal can be found in the affluent neighborhoods of Atlanta and its northern suburbs, where a quiet protest against Donald Trump’s Republican Party took place on Election Day. The diverse, moderate-minded constituents of Health and Human Services Secretary designee Tom Price took a markedly different view of Trump than working-class white voters in the Rust Belt. Mitt Romney carried this district with 61 percent of the vote in 2012—a seat that The Almanac of American Politics dubbed a ‘safe Republican district’—but Trump eked out just a 1-point win over Hillary Clinton in 2016.”
“The results from the Atlanta suburbs offer Democrats a playbook for how to compete in the future—win over socially liberal, fiscally conservative voters who traditionally lined up with Republicans. This would pair the diverse Obama coalition with voters who have favored free markets and a tough-minded foreign policy. It would be a throwback to the centrist policies of Bill Clinton, along with a full-throated embrace of a diversifying America. It would concede some of the white working-class gains to Trump, while making an aggressive push to bring college-educated suburbanites into the Democratic fold.”
Though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) risky gambit to halt the confirmation process for Merrick Garland may have paid off, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) warned that Republicans will face payback for their year-long blockade of President Obama’s nominee in due time, Politico reports.
Said Schumer: “The consequences are gonna be down the road. We are not going to settle on a Supreme Court nominee. If they don’t appoint someone who’s really good, we’re gonna oppose him tooth and nail.”
When asked whether he would do his best to keep the vacancy open, Schumer responded without hesitation: “Absolutely.”
Jeffrey Toobin: How to stop a Trump Supreme Court nominee
“It’s a world where health insurance companies are jacking up rates, Americans are losing benefits and illness is racking the nation,” Politico reports.
“This is the apocalyptic picture of America offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to describe how he sees the health-care landscape after Republicans gut Obamacare. And he has found a slogan — borrowing from perhaps the most successful branding campaigns in modern political history — that he hopes to turn against the GOP repeal plan: ‘Make America Sick Again.’”
The American Medical Association, the country’s leading doctors lobby, is urging Republicans to take steps to ensure that people do not lose their health insurance once Obamacare is repealed, The Hill reports. The AMA’s position is at odds with Republicans’ current plan to repeal the health care law before introducing a replacement.
Rick Klein: “Careful what you wish for – and for what you can’t see coming. Donald Trump appears to have bailed out House leadership on day one of the new Congress, convincing rank-and-file members to roll back an ill-timed gutting of the House ethics process. But how it went down should serve as a warning to anyone prepared to do business with – or against – Trump. His Tweets, though mild by Trump standard – it’s still not clear that he opposes the ethics reforms, or just the timing – scrambled Capitol Hill, making a likely undoing of the changes inevitable.”
“This time, Trump was working on the same side as House Republican leaders. But what about next time? Tweets twisting arms represent a new dynamic for lawmakers to adjust to. With vice-president-elect Mike Pence on the Hill Wednesday to strategize opposite President Obama, it may not be just Democrats who are nostalgic for those good old days.”
Frank Bruni: “Donald Trump rightly reprimanded House Republicans on Tuesday for their move to disembowel the Office of Congressional Ethics, but let’s not be duped or dumb. This was like a crackhead dad fuming at his kids for smoking a little weed.”
“Their conduct hardly measured up to his, which obviously encouraged it. When they look at him, here’s what they see: a presidential candidate who broke with decades of precedent by refusing to release his tax returns and thus shine a light on his conflicts of interest. A president-elect who has yet to spell out how he would eliminate those conflicts — and who has, instead, repeatedly reminded reporters and voters that he’s under no explicit legal obligation to eliminate them at all. A plutocrat whose children have toggled back and forth between his government activities and his corporate interests, raising questions about the separation of the two.”
“Is it any wonder that House Republicans felt O.K. about trying to slip free of some of their own ethical shackles, no matter how ugly the optics?”
“During a salacious criminal trial last year involving the 2013 lane closures at the George Washington Bridge, prosecutors and defense attorneys alike cited the hard-nosed culture of Gov. Chris Christie’s political operation,” Politico reports.
“Running that operation was Bill Stepien, who was named President-elect Donald Trump’s political director Wednesday. His name was mentioned almost 700 times in the trial… The mastermind of the political revenge plot at the world’s busiest bridge, David Wildstein, testified he told Stepien about his plan before he put it in motion.”
“Stepien’s hiring by the White House capped a remarkable political recovery for the 38-year-old political operative, who had been expected to play a major role in Christie’s 2016 presidential campaign before the governor cut ties with him over the bridge scandal, reducing his political profile until this summer.”