The Open Thread for August 23, 2017

“The relationship between President Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has disintegrated to the point that they have not spoken to each other in weeks, and Mr. McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises,” the New York Times reports.

“What was once an uneasy governing alliance has curdled into a feud of mutual resentment and sometimes outright hostility… Angry phone calls and private badmouthing have devolved into open conflict, with the president threatening to oppose Republican senators who cross him, and Mr. McConnell mobilizing to their defense.”

This is really a must read the whole thing:

“The rupture between Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell comes at a highly perilous moment for Republicans, who face a number of urgent deadlines when they return to Washington next month. Congress must approve new spending measures and raise the statutory limit on government borrowing within weeks of reconvening, and Republicans are hoping to push through an elaborate rewrite of the federal tax code. There is scant room for legislative error on any front.”

A new Highground poll in Arizona shows Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) trailing Kelli Ward (R) in a GOP Senate primary, 43% to 28%. Flake also trails Kyrsten Sinema (D) in a possible general election match up, 41% to 33%.

“The nation’s borrowing limit needs to be lifted in the next month or so, and House and Senate Republicans and the Trump administration have no idea and no plan how it’s going to get done,” Playbook reports.

“Elements in the White House have signaled to Hill leaders they believe Congress will pass a clean increase — lifting the debt cap without other provisions. This will not fly with some conservative members, who want some sort of policy concessions. House and Senate Republicans tell us they have not decided on a strategy as of yet. The prevailing theory among GOP aides continues to be that the Senate will pass a clean debt ceiling increase and jam the House with it. That seems risky, and aides are worried.”

Said one GOP aide: “Leadership has no plan for debt ceiling. Zero specifics on tax reform. We are six weeks away for funding the government and no one has any idea what will happen. Leadership has nothing they’ve articulated.”

Boston Globe: Businesses fret over Congress’ ability to avoid debt default.

President Trump’s “skepticism about America’s involvement in Afghanistan was no secret to his staff. But his top national security officials were still taken aback at a meeting in the Situation Room on July 19, when an angry Mr. Trump began ripping apart their latest proposal to send thousands of additional American troops to the country,” the New York Times reports.

Politico: “The plan – which will maintain an unspecified U.S. troop presence without withdrawal timetables and intensify pressure on Pakistan to crack down on terrorist safe havens – was the product of a months-long strategy review in which the president’s national security team talked him out of ending the costly 16-year war.”

Washington Post: “Trump’s private deliberations — detailed in interviews with more than a dozen senior administration officials and outside allies — revealed a president un­attached to any particular foreign-policy doctrine, but willing to be persuaded as long as he could be seen as a strong and decisive leader.”

President Trump’s top aides “are pushing him to protect young people brought into the country illegally as children — and then use the issue as a bargaining chip for a larger immigration deal — despite the president’s campaign vow to deport so-called Dreamers,” McClatchy reports.

“The White House officials want Trump to strike an ambitious deal with Congress that offers Dreamers protection in exchange for legislation that pays for a border wall and more detention facilities, curbs legal immigration and implements E-verify, an online system that allows businesses to check immigration status, according to a half-dozen people familiar with situation, most involved with the negotiations.”

“Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s wife, Louise Linton, boasted of flying on a government plane with her husband to Kentucky on Monday and then named the numerous fashion brands she wore on the trip in an unusual social media post that only became more bizarre minutes later,” the Washington Post reports.  “When someone posted a comment on Linton’s Instagram picture that criticized the way Linton touted the trip, the treasury secretary’s wife swung back hard, mentioning the extreme wealth she and her husband control.”

Said Linton: “Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.”

She added: “You’re adorably out of touch… Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute.”

Politico: “There is broad consensus, according to five sources familiar with the behind-the-scenes talks, on some of the best ways to pay for cutting both the individual and corporate tax rates.”

“The options include capping the mortgage interest deduction for homeowners; scrapping people’s ability to deduct state and local taxes; and eliminating businesses’ ability to deduct interest, while also phasing in so-called full expensing for small businesses that allows them to immediately deduct investments like new equipment or facilities.”

BuzzFeed: “A Cheshire Cat-style smile spreads across his face when a reporter at New Hampshire’s major television station, WMUR, casually asks if Ryan’s running for president. Ryan’s sitting in the green room, waiting to do a television hit.”

“Tim Ryan for President wouldn’t be totally out of left field — he’s a charismatic guy with a compelling biography representing Democrat-turned-Trump counties in arguably the most important swing state in the country… The Ohio Democrat easily won reelection even as many of his longtime Democratic constituents went for Trump. He thinks he knows what Democrats did wrong, and he wants to spread that wisdom — funnily enough, in all kinds of early primary states.”


“A self-described ’email prankster’ seemingly fooled top editors at Breitbart over the weekend into believing he was Steve Bannon, the fired White House chief strategist who returned to the right-wing website as executive chairman on Friday,” CNN reports.

“In the emails, Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow pledged that he and several other top editors would do Bannon’s ‘dirty work’ against White House aides. The emails were shared with CNN by the prankster.”

“Two sources familiar with the inquiry tell McClatchy that investigators are working to confirm information indicating that Manafort and the consulting firms he led earned between $80 million and $100 million over a decade from pro-Moscow Ukrainian and Russian clients.”

“Mueller’s expanded focus on Manafort’s complicated financial picture is zeroing in on whether he may have evaded taxes or engaged in any money laundering schemes, the sources say, and the hunt for his financial records through a labyrinth of offshore bank and business accounts has become an important prong of the investigation.”

Key takeaway: “Manafort, who chaired the Trump campaign for three months in mid-2016 and earlier spent two months coordinating the search for pro-Trump delegates, is a prime target as investigators attempt to win the cooperation of key members of the campaign’s inner circle.”

Sam Clovis, President Trump’s pick to be chief scientist for the Department of Agriculture, “has argued that homosexuality is a choice and that the sanctioning of same-sex marriage could lead to the legalization of pedophilia,” CNN reports.  “Clovis made the comments between 2012 and 2014 in his capacity as a talk radio host, political activist, and briefly as a candidate for US Senate in Iowa. His nomination has drawn criticism from Senate Democrats, who argue his lack of scientific background makes him unqualified for the USDA post overseeing science.”


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

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