THE LEAKS ARE HAPPENING AGAIN. And these leaks from Trump’s various threatening and profane and unhinged calls with members of Congress are definitely to be interpreted as shots across the bow of the already sinking USS Trump. First, President Trump “privately vented his frustration over Russia-related matters with at least two other Republican senators this month, according to people familiar with the conversations — in addition to the president’s public admonishments of Mitch McConnell, John McCain, and Jeff Flake,” Politico reports.
“Trump expressed frustration over a bipartisan bill sanctioning Russia and tried to convince Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) that it wasn’t good policy… Trump argued that the legislation was unconstitutional and said it would damage his presidency. Corker was unrelenting, these people said, and told Trump the bill was going to pass both houses with bipartisan support.
— CNN (@CNN) August 23, 2017
Second, RUSSIA RETURNS! “Congressional investigators have unearthed an email from a top Trump aide that referenced a previously unreported effort to arrange a meeting last year between Trump campaign officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin,” CNN reports.
“The aide, Rick Dearborn, who is now President Trump’s deputy chief of staff, sent a brief email to campaign officials last year relaying information about an individual who was seeking to connect top Trump officials with Putin.”
“The person was only identified in the email as being from ‘WV,’ which one source said was a reference to West Virginia. It’s unclear who the individual is, what he or she was seeking, or whether Dearborn even acted on the request.”
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) August 23, 2017
The Most Newsworthy: ARPAIO TO BE PARDONED. President Trump “all but promised to pardon Joe Arpaio, the hard-line former sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., who became a national symbol of the campaign against undocumented immigrants, and whose round-’em-up raids have landed him in legal trouble,” the New York Times reports. Said Trump: “I’ll make a prediction — I think he is going to be just fine. But I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy. But Sheriff Joe can feel good.”
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN OVER THE WALL. Politico: “Trump has told senior White House officials and advisers he would be willing to go to whatever means necessary to get money for the wall, a contentious claim even among his advisers. He hasn’t given specific amounts of money that he wants, but ‘enough to really start building it,’ said one person who spoke to him this weekend. ‘He is animated about the wall,’ the person said. ‘He cares about that more than many other things. He knows his base cares and chants about it.’”
Said Trump at last night’s rally in Arizona: “Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, but believe me, if we have to close down our government we’re building that wall.”
Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper questioned President Trump’s fitness for office following his freewheeling speech in Phoenix last night, which Clapper labeled “downright scary and disturbing,” the Washington Post reports.
Said Clapper: “I really question his ability to be — his fitness to be — in this office. I also am beginning to wonder about his motivation for it — maybe he is looking for a way out.”
He also noted he’s worried about the president’s access to nuclear codes: “The whole system is built to ensure rapid response if necessary. So there’s very little in the way of controls over exercising a nuclear option, which is pretty damn scary.”
— Andrew Beatty (@AndrewBeatty) August 23, 2017
Rick Klein: “Raise your hand if you thought Afghanistan was the only war he was committing to this week. A day after President Trump called on the nation to ‘heal our divisions within,’ and where he sent thousands of additional Americans into combat, he spent 80-plus wild minutes picking at the nation’s freshest wounds.”
“The fact that he was eager to relitigate his response to Charlottesville – to suggest, falsely, that it was just a matter of the ‘dishonest media’ twisting his words – displays a stunning lack of understanding about the severity of the damage he did last week, to himself, his party, and maybe the nation. In understanding Trump’s strategy, tallying the deceptions, half-truths, non-truths, and selective recitation of nonfacts isn’t close to enough. Perhaps he can deceive himself, and even get many of what remain of his followers in the same frenzied place as he was in Phoenix Tuesday night. But President Trump is getting smaller even as he gets louder.”
Said Trump: “Most people think I’m crazy to have done this. And I think they’re right.”
James Hohmann: “The bigger picture is that the president is in denial. His tendency to gloss over mistakes and pass the buck by recasting history in terms most favorable to himself was on vivid display.”
Breitbart got caught in an email hoax, and it was revealing https://t.co/axfY8SkcZv
— Vox (@voxdotcom) August 22, 2017
Playbook: “Trump has certainly changed the contours of the presidency: He doesn’t conform to political norms, he brushes off drama in his ranks, and he rankles players on the world stage.”
“But in Washington, Trump seems to have a contorted view of a few key fundamental political realities that are out of his control. He is operating with an extraordinarily thin majority in the Senate and seems intent on poking key senators…in the eyes. He is in a prolonged battle with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom he can’t get rid of and whose support he needs to get anything done. He’s threatening a government shutdown over a border wall he will likely not be able to build. He continues to push changes to the Senate rules — he says he wants to get rid of the filibuster — despite opposition by Senate Republicans and Democrats. He’s been unrelenting in his criticism of Democrats and seems disinterested in doing anything to bring them into the fold.”
“Anyone who spent more than a minute observing or participating in our legislative politics would describe Trump’s moves as some combination of self-defeating, illogical and misguided. Behind the scenes, the White House is working despite the president’s bluster: Top Trump aides are in touch with Hill leadership aides to ensure the government doesn’t jump off the rails. And there still remains a glimmer of hope for some kind of tax reform effort to get off the ground. But the president’s unconventional view of what it takes to govern is not helping.”
A new Quinnipiac poll finds that 63% of voters say that President Trump is doing more to divide the country, while 31% say he is doing more to unite the country, his worst score yet on this question. Trump’s job approval also hits a new low of 35% to 59%.
A new Opinion Saavy poll in Alabama shows Roy Moore (R) leading Sen. Luther Strange (R) in the U.S. Senate primary runoff, 50% to 32%
We should have all just stared at the eclipse.
— John Dingell (@JohnDingell) August 23, 2017
I love John Dingell.
“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) warned Democrats would hold fast to their pledge to oppose border wall funding, as President Trump threatened a government shutdown over the issue,” The Hill reports.
Said Pelosi: “President Trump’s multi-billion dollar border wall boondoggle is strongly opposed by Democrats and many Republicans. Democrats will stand fast against the immoral, ineffective border wall and the rest of Republicans’ unacceptable poison pill riders.”
“Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in a separate statement said Trump’s demands for wall funding in a government-funding bill would lead to a shutdown.”
Charles Pierce had something to say to the Trump supporters who showed up at the rally in Phoenix last night. I am with him. I don’t want to reach out or sympathize with Trump voters.
“I have no more patience, and I had very little to start with. I don’t care why you’re anxious. I don’t care for anybody’s interpretation of why you voted for this abomination of a politician, and why you cheer him now, because any explanation not rooted in the nastier bits of basic human spleen is worthless. I don’t want any politicians who seek to appeal to the more benign manifestations of your condition because there’s no way to separate those from all the rest of the hate and fear and stupidity. (And, for my colleagues in the Vance-Arnade-Zito school of Trump Whispering, here’s a hint: They hate you, too.) I don’t care why you sat out in a roasting pan since 5 a.m. Tuesday morning to whistle and cheer and stomp your feet for a scared, dangerous little man who tells you that your every bloody fantasy about your enemies is the height of patriotism. You are now the declared adversaries of what I do for a living, and your idol is a danger to the country and so are you. Own it. Deal with it. And, for the love of god, and for the sake of the rest of us who live in this country, do better at being citizens.”
Remember all those page-one stories for 8 years about how Republicans should really work harder to understand Obama voters?
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) August 23, 2017
Daniel Kammen resigned from his position as Science Envoy at the Department of State due to President Trump’s response to recent violence by white supremacists.
The first letter of each paragraph in his resignation letter spelled a hidden message.
Washington Post: “Right before Ben Carson took the stage at President Trump’s rally in Phoenix on Tuesday night, the announcer introduced him. ‘The secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson,’ the voice intoned, prompting cheers from the audience. And, as simply as that, a law was likely broken.”
“Among the prohibitions included in the Hatch Act is one prohibiting Cabinet secretaries from leveraging their positions for a political cause. That means that the head of, say, the Department of Housing and Urban Development can’t appear at a campaign rally in a way that implies he’s doing so in an official capacity. Say, by being introduced with his official title.”
Democrats tell Trump to withdraw Clovis nomination for USDA https://t.co/7Pbdyywnkn
— Roll Call (@rollcall) August 24, 2017
Playbook: “Many in the Capitol believe that September will be the first of two government-shutdown fights. The theory goes like this: Congress will pass a clean debt ceiling and a short-term government funding bill that extends funding only until December, setting up a Christmas-season dustup. There simply isn’t time to solve everything in September. Of course, Trump clearly wants a fight on border wall funding, so it’s completely feasible that he stands firm next month. But many on the Hill think there will be a second legislative fight, as well.”
“Likely scenario: They screw up both September and December for Washington…. Of course, a prolonged government-shutdown fight would adversely affect the prospects of tax reform.”