The Open Thread for August 11, 2017

So Trump gave a press conference thing at Bedminister golf vacation.   He said a lot of things.

President Trump thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for expelling hundreds of U.S. diplomatic employees from Russia, saying he appreciated the ability to cut the federal government’s payroll.  Said Trump: “I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll and as far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll. There’s no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We’re going to save a lot of money.”

President Trump said of North Korea that “things will happen to them like they never thought possible” should the regime attack the United States or its allies.  Trump told reporters that his Tuesday statement warning of “fire and fury” may not have been “tough enough.”   “Trump would not say whether he is considering a preemptive strike on North Korea, and while he said he was open to negotiating with Pyongyang, he said talks over the years had done little to halt the country’s nuclear program.”

President Trump told reporters “that he hasn’t given firing special counsel Robert Mueller any thought, despite people close to him telling reporters that he is.”  Said Trump: “I haven’t given it any thought. I’ve been reading about it from you people. You say, ‘Oh, I’m going to dismiss him.’ No, I’m not dismissing anybody.”  But he added: “We have an investigation of something that never took place.”

President Trump said he was “surprised” by the fact that the FBI conducted an early morning raid of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s home last month.  Said Trump: “You know, they do that very seldom, so I was surprised to see it. I was very, very surprised to see it. I thought it was a very, very strong signal, or whatever.”

He added: “But to do that early in the morning, whether or not it was appropriate you’d have to ask them. I’ve always found Paul Manafort to be a very decent man. He’s like a lot of other people — probably makes consultant fees from all over the place. Who knows? I don’t know, but I thought it was pretty tough stuff to wake him up, perhaps his family was there. I think that’s pretty tough stuff.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller “is bearing down on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as he directs a wide-ranging probe into Russian interference in last year’s presidential election,” Bloombergreports.

“Mueller’s team of investigators has sent subpoenas in recent weeks from a Washington grand jury to global banks for account information and records of transactions involving Manafort and some of his companies, as well as those of a long-time business partner, Rick Gates, according to people familiar with the matter.”

“As prosecutors gather many years of information about his financial affairs, Manafort could be dragged deeper into any number of legal disputes. He has a history of doing business with oligarchs and politicians in Ukraine and Russia that predates his political work for Trump, with payments routed through foreign banks and investments in U.S. real estate.”

“Federal investigators sought cooperation from Paul Manafort’s son-in-law in an effort to increase pressure on President Trump’s former campaign chairman,” Politico reports.

“Investigators approached Jeffrey Yohai, who has partnered in business deals with Manafort, earlier this summer, setting off ‘real waves’ in Manafort’s orbit, one of these people said. Another of these people said investigators are trying to get ‘into Manafort’s head.’”

A new Cygnal/L2 poll in Alabama shows Judge Roy Moore leading Sen. Luther Strange in the GOP Senate race, 31% to 23%, followed by Rep. Mo Brooks at 18%.

A new CNN poll finds that 70% of Americans believe the federal investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election in the US should be able to look into President Trump’s finances.

CNN severed ties with Jeffrey Lord on Thursday, hours after he ignited controversy by tweeting the words “Sieg Heil!” at a prominent liberal activist, CNN reports.

Said a CNN spokesperson: “Nazi salutes are indefensible. Jeffrey Lord is no longer with the network.”  One full year too late, CNN.  You should have never hired any Trumper.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told radio host Hugh Hewitt that while President Trump said he would try to negotiate with North Korea, he is very “willing to abandon strategic patience and use preemption. I think he’s there mentally. He has told me this.”

Said Graham: “I wish a Democrat would take their hatred of Donald Trump and park it…because of everyone else’s failure, he’s run out of the ability to kick the can down the road.”

If he attacks North Korea, Lindsey, Seoul and Toyko will be leveled.  Tens of millions will die in an instant. So no, I am not going to park it.

“The Trump administration’s own actions are triggering double-digit premium increases on individual health insurance policies purchased by many consumers, a nonpartisan study has found,” according to the Associated Press.

“Researchers from the Kaiser foundation looked at proposed premiums for a benchmark silver plan across major metropolitan areas in 20 states and Washington, D.C. Overall, they found that 15 of those cities will see increases of 10 percent or more next year.”

Monkey Cage: “Claims of large-scale voter fraud are not true, but that has not stopped a substantial number of Republicans from believing them. But how far would Republicans be willing to follow the president to stop what they perceive as rampant fraud? About half of Republicans say they would support postponing the 2020 presidential election until the country can fix this problem.”

“Nearly half of Republicans (47%) believe that Trump won the popular vote, which is similar to this finding. Larger fractions believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted (68%) and that voter fraud happens somewhat or very often (73%). Again, this is similar to previous polls.”

“Moreover, 52% said that they would support postponing the 2020 election, and 56% said they would do so if both Trump and Republicans in Congress were behind this.”

Weekly Standard: “Trump has been building the case against his fellow Republicans for some time, but it came to a head late last month as Obamacare repeal began its path in the Senate… Trump’s short-term target was the filibuster and its most important defender, Mitch McConnell. But the beginnings of the broader argument against the GOP are all right there, in 140 characters at a time. Republicans are fools, they’re impotent, and everyone’s laughing at them.”

“Senate Republicans won’t ‘ditch Mitch’ anytime soon, just as they won’t be bullied into supporting the agenda of a president with 30-something-percent approval ratings if it can’t find consensus. That’s because all of them had political careers long before Trump became a serious force within the party. They figure, with some reason, that they’ll have careers or legacies long after Trump has left the White House. But if Republicans have increasingly little incentive to tolerate Trump, he may make the same calculation about the GOP, the party’s conservative policy agenda, and the conservative movement as a whole.”

Bloomberg: “As Mueller adds experienced prosecutors and broadens his investigation, Trump’s legal team still appears disorganized and understaffed. An army of well-paid lawyers would help the president get in front of the investigation: preparing responses to allegations before hearing about them from prosecutors or reporters, anticipating where Mueller is going, and developing a counternarrative to stymie him. Junior staffers could spend all night researching case law or obstruction of justice and conspiracy statutes; they could be available at a moment’s notice to draft pleadings challenging Mueller’s requests to interview witnesses or gather documents.”

“Instead, Trump’s defense has been almost entirely reactive—responding to the latest bombshell report with uninformed statements by surrogates.”

Also interesting: “Trump’s efforts to enlist the services of a large firm have so far been rebuffed. White-collar experts at three high-powered firms, Sullivan & Cromwell, Steptoe & Johnson, and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, have turned him down, say two people familiar with the matter. Some firms had conflicts that prevented them from taking the job; others worried that Trump wouldn’t follow legal advice, potentially damaging their firms’ reputation, two people said.”

“One of Donald Trump’s most generous political benefactors is providing a six-figure donation to a super PAC devoted to unseating Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican who has been fiercely critical of the president,” Politico reports.

“Robert Mercer, a reclusive hedge fund billionaire who was intimately involved in Trump’s rise and helped to bankroll his 2016 campaign, is contributing $300,000 to a super PAC supporting former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who is challenging Flake in a Republican primary next year.”

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

2 comments on “The Open Thread for August 11, 2017

  1. Commander in Tweet:

    Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump 1h1 hour ago

    Military solutions are now fully in place,locked and loaded,should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!

    Locked and loaded? Holy crap! He’s going to do it. He wants to do it. I can’t believe our best hope is Kim Jong Un.

    • On the opening bit of the fabulous podcast, Pod Save America (feat. Obama alums Damn Pheiffer and John Favreau), they introduced their first segment by saying: “Well, we always say August is a dead month until something crazy happens… And then, this week, we find America and the world being threatened by a crazy man with nukes… And we also have Kin Jong Un.”

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