Open Thread

The Open Thread for March 7, 2017

“About two-thirds of Americans say a special prosecutor should investigate contacts between Russians and Trump campaign associates, according to a new CNN/ORC poll, and 55% say they are at least somewhat concerned by reports that some connected to the Trump campaign had contact with suspected Russian operatives.”

Washington Post: “Trump enters week seven of his presidency the same as the six before it: enmeshed in controversy while struggling to make good on his campaign promises. At a time when the White House had sought to ride the momentum from Trump’s speech to Congress and begin advancing its agenda on Capitol Hill, the administration finds itself beset yet again by disorder and suspicion.”

“At the center of the turmoil is an impatient president increasingly frustrated by his administration’s inability to erase the impression that his campaign was engaged with Russia, to stem leaks about both national security matters and internal discord and to implement any signature achievements.”

Key takeaway: “That angst over what many in the White House call the ‘deep state’ is fermenting daily, fueled by rumors and tidbits picked up by Trump allies within the intelligence community and by unconfirmed allegations that have been made by right-wing commentators. The ‘deep state’ is a phrase popular on the right for describing entrenched networks hostile to Trump.” “Gnawing at Trump, according to one of his advisers, is the comparison between his early track record and that of Obama in 2009, when amid the Great Recession he enacted an economic stimulus bill and other big-ticket items.”

President Trump “is extremely frustrated with his senior staff and communications team for allowing the firestorm surrounding Attorney General Jeff Sessions to steal his thunder in the wake of his address to Congress,” sources tell CNN.   Said one source: “Nobody has seen him that upset.”

“Trump is upset because he doesn’t believe he is getting the credit he thinks he deserves for his time in office so far because of self-inflicted wounds and missteps… The President’s mood is adding to tremendous pressure inside the West Wing and aides have been seen in tears in recent days at multiple meetings.”

The New York Times reports Trump was also frustrated by the Sunday talk shows and felt people didn’t defend him strongly enough on his claim that former President Obama wiretapped his phones during the campaign.

Politico: “In interviews, over a dozen Trump aides, allies, and others close to the White House said that Priebus, the 44-year-old chief of staff, was becoming a singular target of criticism within the White House.”

“They described a micro-manager who sprints from one West Wing meeting to another, inserting himself into conversations big and small and leaving many staffers feeling as if he’s trying to block their access to Trump. They vented about his determination to fill the administration with his political allies. And they expressed alarm at what they say are directionless morning staff meetings Priebus oversees that could otherwise be used to rigorously set the day’s agenda and counterbalance the president’s own unpredictability.”

Mike Allen: “I have learned that some — though definitely not all — members of President Trump’s inner circle share his belief that the Obama administration tapped his Trump Tower phones in October. And a White House official told me President Trump not only doesn’t regret this weekend’s fracas despite the lack of evidence for his astonishing claim, he is ‘absolutely convinced’ he’ll be vindicated.”

Said one official: “The president just has a great nose for these things. It’s the bureaucratic leaks — the deep state — that bother him most. Even if it turns out not to be true that they surveilled Trump Tower, he will have a very good point to make about the level of sabotage coming from Obama holdove

He is insane.   He was this sure about Obama’s birth certificate, too.

President Trump “signed a revised version of his executive order banning migrants from predominantly Muslim nations, removing Iraqi citizens from the original travel ban at the urging of the State and Defense departments,” the New York Times reports.

“The order, which comes about a month after federal judges blocked Mr. Trump’s haphazardly implemented ban in January on residents from seven Middle Eastern and African countries, was delayed for about a week as the White House sought to better coordinate its activities with federal agencies.”

“It was also pushed back to maximize its public relations impact.”

A PSB Research survey finds that 11% of American adults are “Trump Regretters,” meaning they voted for Trump but now would change their mind or have moved away from him in intensity.  Key finding: 35% of those surveyed say Trump is “going too far” and 35% say he’s “getting sidetracked by things that aren’t important.”

Contrary to the claims of GOP leaders, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told CBS News that not all Republicans are on the same page on Obamacare replacement.  Said Collins: “There is not a consensus. This is very difficult to achieve the president’s goals and the goals that many of us have of wanting to expand access to coverage and have a damper on the prices.”

David Nather: “All of the focus lately has been on the difficulty of getting conservative House Republicans to vote for the emerging GOP bill — but Collins’ comments are a reminder that the Senate will be an even tougher sell, for moderates as well as conservatives.”

The online betting site Ladbrokes is giving 2-1 odds that President Trump will be replaced this year, the same odds they’re giving that he’ll be replaced in 2021 when his term is up.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has concluded that denying President Trump his wall on the Mexican border would be the biggest defeat Democrats can hand him in his first year, Jonathan Swan reports.

“Trump needs 60 Senate votes to fund construction of his ‘great wall’ along the Southern border… There’s nothing the Republicans would be willing to offer that could get Trump the eight Democratic Senators he needs to fund the wall. Mitch McConnell’s only other option would be to invoke the nuclear option and bypass the filibuster. But Democratic appropriators are betting the Republican leader won’t be willing to undermine such a fundamental Senate tradition just to pay for Trump’s wall.”

“The evolving plan, being discussed by Schumer’s office and Senate appropriators: If Republicans put money for the wall into a bill, Democrats block it. It doesn’t matter what else is in the bill — Schumer will make it about the wall. The way Democrats see it, if they can block the wall, they’d crush a central feature of Trump’s political identity.”

NBC News on whether Obama can sue Trump for libel (this is a dream of mine where Obama wins control of the entire Trump org and all its “wealth” and he shuts it down): “Although the law provides a great deal of leeway for political speech, that protection is not all encompassing. And because of the way Trump has leveled unsubstantiated accusations at Obama, he may have libeled his predecessor.”

Said law professor Benjamin Zipursky: “He’s basically stating that Mr. Obama committed crimes, and to state that somebody has committed a crime when it’s false is clearly defamatory. The question is: Is there enough evidence of serious reckless disregard to send that case to a jury? I don’t know what a court would decide on that, but there is some evidence of recklessness.”

First Read: “Make no mistake, all presidents spin/dissemble/lie. But what’s extraordinary about Trump is the frequency, the sloppiness, and the ease with which to spot the false or unsubstantiated claim.”

“This all raises a question: What happens when a president cries wolf so many times? Can anyone believe him — even on matters like wars, national tragedies, and natural disasters? As NBC’s Benjy Sarlin wrote over the weekend, Trump alleged what would be an historic scandal about Obama, and barely anyone reacted with urgency.”

At CNN Politics Tom Lobianco and Davis Siegal explore why “Democrats say long-term success starts with 2018 governors’ races,” and notes “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi huddled privately with the leaders of the Democratic Governors Association last weekend and looked over maps of top targets. The group has 14 states in its sights and believes it would be impossible to lose more states to Republicans, especially if President Donald Trump continues to struggle…The organization has picked out nine states that Hillary Clinton won and another five that went to President Barack Obama. Some of the targets are clear — true blue bastions like Maryland, Massachusetts and Illinois, where Republicans upset Democratic favorites in 2014. But others are likely to be a slog reminiscent of the drubbing Clinton took in the Rust Belt, like fights in Wisconsin and Ohio…The bright spot for Democrats is that they are only defending 11 out of 38 seats over the next two years. But Democratic strategists who have been in the trenches of the states are leery that national Democrats, and Obama’s own redistricting group, are ready to support them after years of ignoring them.” 2017 tests set for this year include New jersey and Virginia.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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