The Open Thread for August 29, 2017

It is now beginning to look like Trump did nothing but collude with Russia.  Two HUGE bombshells broke yesterday: “Donald Trump discussed a proposal to build a hotel and condominium tower in Moscow on three occasions with his company’s lawyer, who emailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman to ask for assistance on the project,” Bloomberg reports.

New York Times: “A business associate of President Trump promised in 2015 to engineer a real estate deal with the aid of the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, that he said would help Mr. Trump win the presidency.  The associate, Felix Sater, wrote a series of emails to Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, in which he boasted about his ties to Mr. Putin and predicted that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would highlight Mr. Trump’s savvy negotiating skills and be a political boon to his candidacy.

“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Mr. Sater wrote in an email. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”

ABC News reports Trump himself signed a “letter of intent” to pursue a Trump Tower-style building development in Moscow.  Mike Allen: “The stories cast doubt on Trump’s continued assertions that he had no business dealings in Russia.”

Martin Longman: Trump has been lying about Russia and Felix Sater all along.

Washington Post:  “A top executive from Donald Trump’s real estate company emailed Vladi­mir Putin’s personal spokesman during the U.S. presidential campaign last year to ask for help advancing a stalled Trump Tower development project in Moscow, according to documents submitted to Congress Monday.   Michael Cohen, a Trump attorney and executive vice president for the Trump Organization, sent the email in January 2016 to Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s top press aide.”

Further, “Federal investigators working for special counsel Robert Mueller are keenly focused on President Trump’s role in crafting a response to a published article about a meeting between Russians and his son Donald Jr.,” three sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.  “The sources told NBC News that prosecutors want to know what Trump knew about the meeting and whether he sought to conceal its purpose.”

“At the time, the White House confirmed that Trump had ‘weighed in’ as the response to the New York Times report was drafted aboard Air Force One on July 8 as the president returned to the U.S. from Germany. the Washington Post reported that Trump had ‘dictated’ the response.”


North Korea fired a medium-range missile that passed through Japanese airspace, crossing over Hokkaido before coming down in the Pacific Ocean at around 6 AM local time. Emergency sirens sounded in the area as the Japanese government issued a “take shelter” warning to those in the region.


Josh Marshall:  “Why is this all coming out now? The Post stories are quite clear on this. The Trump Organization had what seems to have been a deadline to turn over lots of Trump Organization emails in response to congressional requests or subpoenas. These leaks seem to be coming from the Trump Organization or at least from that direction if not literally from there. At least in yesterday’s Post report, the emails were referred to as in the process of being turned over. If I’m understanding the language, they had not been turned over yet. That means they couldn’t have come from Congress and strongly suggests they were leaked by lawyers on the Trump Organization. That would mean they were trying to get the story out with the best possible spin in advance of congressional investigators getting their hands on them.

What does this mean? Hard to say. But it would seem that this was an effort to get the bad stuff out early and on the Trump Organization’s own terms. In other words, this is the most generous possible take on what these emails show. I can only imagine what they’ll look like on an adverse view.

We’ll probably hear a lot more after investigators start working through these emails.”



Bloomberg: “Donald Trump was in a bad mood before he emerged for a confrontational speech in Arizona last week. TV and social media coverage showed that the site of his campaign rally, the Phoenix Convention Center, was less than full. Backstage, waiting in a room with a television monitor, Trump was displeased… TV optics and crowd sizes are extremely important to the president.”

“As his surrogates warmed up the audience, the expanse of shiny concrete eventually filled in with cheering Trump fans. But it was too late for a longtime Trump aide, George Gigicos, the former White House director of advance who had organized the event as a contractor to the Republican National Committee. Trump later had his top security aide, Keith Schiller, inform Gigicos that he’d never manage a Trump rally again.”


President Trump “is not happy with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, for publicly criticizing his response to violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. But it appears there is little he is planning to do about it, according to people who have spoken to him,” Politico reports.

“The unusually direct challenges from a Cabinet secretary and senior administration official seemed to make little more than a surface ripple in the swirling melodrama of the Trump White House, even as the president fumed privately about it.”


No.  Calling him a racist is the very least we will be doing to him for the rest of his life, and we will continue long after he is dead so that he is infamous for being a racist.


A new JMC Analytics poll in Nevada shows Danny Tarkanian (R) leading Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) in a Republican U.S. Senate primary, 39% to 31%, with 31% still undecided.   The same polling outfit polled Arizona and finds Kelli Ward (R) trouncing Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in a Republican U.S. Senate primary, 47% to 21%, with another 29% undecided.


Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) defended his vote against disaster aid after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast in 2012, calling that aid package “filled with unrelated pork,” TPM reports.  Said Cruz: “There is time for political sniping later.”

MSNBC anchor Katy Tur interrupted him: “It’s not really political sniping, senator. These are people who needed money and who needed funding right after that storm, I covered those people. Many of them, just like those in Houston, lost absolutely everything they owned.” Cruz responded: “Hurricane relief and disaster relief has been a vital central role for a long, long time and it should continue. The problem with that particular bill is it became a $50 billion bill that was filled with unrelated pork.”

I am sure there will be plenty of “unrelated pork ” in the Texas bill. “Unrelated pork” in Republican speak equals tax money being spent on people other than rich white folks.



Politico: “The administration has been in talks to put conservative initiatives on the ballot in 2018 midterm battleground states in hopes of energizing base voters dispirited by the performance of Republican-controlled Washington. The strategy is similar to the one Rove used in 2004. The George W. Bush political guru helped engineer a slate of anti-gay marriage amendments that year to boost GOP turnout in swing states such as Ohio, an approach that many are convinced helped pave the way for Bush’s reelection. (Rove has denied accounts that he orchestrated the 11-state effort.)”

“White House aides are less interested in a ballot initiative campaign focused on social issues, fearful that it would only serve to further stoke an already-motivated liberal base. Instead, according to three people familiar with the deliberations, they’re considering initiatives involving tax reform and other economic issues seen as more likely to invigorate conservatives. Tax reform also goes to the heart of Trump’s agenda, and he’s expected to spend much of the fall pursuing it.”


Politico: “Donald Trump has grown frustrated with many parts of being president. But the former showbiz star is still in love with one perk: The Oval Office photo op. Despite the weight of multiple Russia investigations, open war with GOP leaders and a stalled congressional agenda, Trump has spent considerable time grinning behind the Resolute Desk, where he summons visitors from PGA star John Daly to former campaign aides to pastors, truck drivers, tech CEOs, teachers and even journalists to pose in front of the gold curtains.”

“He tells aides, from senior White House advisers to his private bodyguard, Keith Schiller, to snap the photos on cell phones, or he shouts for Shealah Craighead, the official White House photographer, to come in. The often impatient president will sometimes pose for several minutes per sitting, taking variations of a photo with a single group. He even stands with people to inspect the photos.



Paul Krugman: “As sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., Joe Arpaio engaged in blatant racial discrimination. His officers systematically targeted Latinos, often arresting them on spurious charges and at least sometimes beating them up when they questioned those charges. Read the report from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and prepare to be horrified.”

“Let’s call things by their proper names here. Arpaio is, of course, a white supremacist. But he’s more than that. There’s a word for political regimes that round up members of minority groups and send them to concentration camps, while rejecting the rule of law: What Arpaio brought to Maricopa, and what the president of the United States has just endorsed, was fascism, American style.”


Financial Times: “Donald Trump last month rejected a Chinese proposal to cut steel overcapacity despite it being endorsed by some of his top advisers, as he urged them instead to find ways to impose tariffs on imports from China. One week after the July G20 summit in Hamburg — where Mr. Trump criticised China for flooding the world market with cheap steel — Beijing proposed cutting steel overcapacity by 150m tonnes by 2022. But Mr. Trump twice rejected the deal, according to several people familiar with the internal debate.”

“Wilbur Ross, U.S. commerce secretary, endorsed the deal and brought it to Mr. Trump, but the president rejected the proposal. Mr. Ross, a long-time friend of the president, floated the deal again the following week during the two-day meetings with Chinese vice-premier Wang Yang, but Mr. Trump once again refused to accept it.”










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

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