About 24 hours after he was charged with misdemeanor assault, Republican Greg Gianforte was elected Thursday night to represent Montana in the House of Representatives.
Nate Silver: “Yeah, my back-of-the-envelope math is that Gianforte is winning the early vote by somewhere in the high single digits (5-9 points). Which might qualify as a moral victory for Democrats, but makes an actual one something of a long-shot for Quist.”
David Wasserman: “The truth is, we’ll never really know where the race stood yesterday, only a messy combination of where it stood pre- and post-slam. That said, I think a 4-8 point Gianforte victory would still be a good sign for Democrats nationally, considering they haven’t come that close in a Montana House race in two decades.”
Chuck Todd and his First Read team yesterday said the violent Gianforte crime was a win-win for Republicans, because they could either win the race or have a ready made excuse for the loss. The counter point to that is that a close Gianforte win would be a win-win for Democrats because 1) it shows evidence of the Democratic wave if we cut a 20 point loss to single digits (which we have) and 2) Gianforte could become the face of what Democrats could portray as a belligerent and intolerant Congress. Gianforte, along with Trump, could be tied to every single Republican running for re-election next year. And Democrats then will get another shot at the seat in 2018 when a wave election could actually give them control of the House.
James Hohmann agrees: “In many ways, it is now worse for national Republicans if Gianforte wins. If he loses, the NRCC can pretty easily explain it away by calling him a terrible candidate. The incident makes it harder for anyone to draw conclusions about the broader national political environment from the outcome. If he wins, though, Gianforte suddenly becomes another headache for Paul Ryan. The ongoing legal issue will be covered as a major story, and his every move in the Capitol will be tracked aggressively by the press. He becomes a liability for the party in 2018, especially if his new colleagues defend him.”
“Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and one of his senior advisers, has come under FBI scrutiny in the Russia investigation,” multiple U.S. officials told NBC News.
“Investigators believe Kushner has significant information relevant to their inquiry… The FBI’s scrutiny of Kushner places the bureau’s sprawling counterintelligence and criminal investigation not only on the doorstep of the White House, but in the Trump family circle.”
Washington Post: “Kushner, who held meetings in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow , is being investigated because of the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians.”
Frank Rich says the GOP owns the coming healthcare Trumpcare disaster: “The CBO analysis only confirms what we already knew before Trumpcare passed the House: Its preexisting condition is terminal. The failed GOP effort to “repeal and replace Obamacare” amounts to medical malpractice on an epic scale and will usher in a world of pain for millions of Americans, many of them in Donald Trump’s base. (To take one representative example, 64-year-old Obamacare recipients will see their annual premiums rise from $1,700 to at least $13,600, for less inclusive coverage.)
The political cost for Republicans who support this toxic bill is sinking in fast, as was illustrated most dramatically yesterday evening, just hours after the CBO report was released. It was a completely routine question about the CBO’s Trumpcare findings that prompted the Republican House candidate in today’s special election in Montana to physically assault the mild-mannered Guardian reporter who asked him. (The candidate, Greg Gianforte, a vocal Trump supporter, tried to deny the incident, but the eyewitnesses included a Fox News crew; he has now been charged with a misdemeanor that could bring as much as six months in jail.) Whether Gianforte loses the seat for the GOP or not, the incident will stand as a metaphor for how panicked Republicans are about facing voters about their health-care debacle, whether in special-election campaigns and town hall meetings this year or at the ballot box in 2018.
The Senate is supposedly rewriting the House version of Trumpcare from scratch. Even if that’s true, it doesn’t matter. After the House passed the cruel original version, Trump held a Rose Garden celebration for what he called his “unbelievable victory.” Before a cheering throng of supporters (notoriously almost all men, led by Paul Ryan), he promised that his “great plan” would bring down both premiums and deductibles. Afterward, the South Carolina Republican congressman Mark Sanford, a member of the Freedom Caucus, likened the spectacle to George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” fiasco — and rightly so. From the Rose Garden celebration on, Trump and the Republicans have owned and will own whatever happens to Americans’ health care going forward. Indeed, it’s probably safe to assume that many in the Trump base, the “poorly educated” he reveres, assume that the “great” Trumpcare plan became law that day. That impression will be furthered by an infinity of attack ads making use of Trump’s White House victory celebration much as a previous generation of ads used Bush’s preening on that aircraft carrier. Thanks to the Trump administration’s continuing efforts to undermine Obamacare (and the insurance market in general) — even as Congress fails to replace it with anything — health-care calamities are going to rise to a crescendo throughout 2018. Most voters will hold the GOP responsible for every one of them no matter how desperately Republicans try to shift the blame to Obama.”
Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, once a leading contender for FBI director, “withdrew himself from consideration for the post in a letter to President Donald Trump, citing the appearance of a conflict of interest,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The former Connecticut senator and Democratic vice presidential candidate works at the same law firm as Marc Kasowitz, whom Mr. Trump retained earlier this week to serve on a team of private attorneys representing him in the broad special-counsel probe of Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election.”
“Barack Obama received a rock-star welcome in Berlin as he appeared at a public debate Thursday with Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom he praised as one of his ‘favorite partners’ during his presidency,” the AP reports. The Guardian estimated the crowd at “up to 100,000 people.”
The federal appeals court in Richmond “refused to reinstate President Trump’s revised travel ban, saying it discriminated on the basis of religion,” the New York Times reports.
“The decision was a fresh setback for the administration’s efforts to limit travel from several predominantly Muslim countries. Mr. Trump had narrowed the scope of his first executive order, issued in January, in response to an earlier appeals court decision halting it. But the basic flaws in his approach remained, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled.”
“The case is now likely to go to the Supreme Court.”
“The Germans are evil, very evil.” — President Trump, quoted by Der Spiegel, in a discussion about Germany’s trade surplus.
Police investigating the Manchester Arena bomb attack have stopped sharing information with the U.S. after leaks to the media, the BBC reports. “UK officials were outraged when photos appearing to show debris from the attack appeared in the New York Times. It came after the name of bomber Salman Abedi was leaked to US media just hours after the attack, which left 22 dead.”
Mike Allen: “West Wing officials are prepping for a years-long war with investigators and the bureaucracy, with plans to beef up legal, surrogate, communications and rapid-response teams as part of a ‘new normal’ for President Trump — besieged.”
Said one Trump ally: “The White House is embracing the fight, which is going to last as long as Donald Trump is president. We’re getting street fighters ready to go.”
“Trump aides recognize that besides being in the crosshairs of investigators on Russia, they will be the continuing target of leaks from the bureaucracy. The Trump ally referred to this second enemy as ‘nameless, faceless, deep-state types’ who have been inflamed and are punching back through the media.”
Business Insider: “America’s share of international tourism has dropped 16% in March, compared to the same month in 2016.”
“The decline began in October 2016, the month before the presidential election. From October to March, tourism-related traffic has fallen an average of 11% in the US, compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, tourism in the rest of the world has increased 6% year-over-year during the same period.”
I love how French President Macron greets the leader of the free world first.