The Open Thread for September 5, 2017

Lawyers working with a team led by special counsel Robert Mueller approached the Senate intelligence committee this summer with a request: They wanted the transcript of an interview Senate staff had conducted with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

But they were blocked. Manafort’s lawyers said they had not authorized Mueller’s legal team to access the interview transcript under the agreement with the committee, even though Mueller’s attorneys said they had been given permission. The matter is still under discussion, sources say.

The previously undisclosed fight, described to CNN by multiple sources, underscores the new challenges as congressional committees and Mueller’s operation head into a more intense phase of their parallel — and sometimes, conflicting — investigations into Russian election meddling and any collusion with Trump associates.

Former President Barack Obama is planning to speak out if President Donald Trump announces his intentions of ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Politico reported.  Obama’s current plan is to post a statement on Facebook and Twitter, a source close to Obama told Politico.

Politico was first to report that Trump is planning to announce Tuesday that he is ending DACA in six months. The program grants legal status to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.  Obama launched the program through an executive order in 2012 and suggested at his final press availability as president that he may speak out if Trump decided to end the program.

“Before strategist Steve Bannon’s departure from the White House last month, aides to President Trump quietly worried what kind of damage he would inflict from the outside. Some invoked President Lyndon Johnson, who infamously said he didn’t fire his FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover because ‘it’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out,’” Politico reports.

“The coming fight over the Obama-era immigration program protecting nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children — often referred to as Dreamers — will test that proposition. It’s the latest battle pitting the president’s conservative advisers against moderates in the White House and Congress — but the first in which Bannon is free to engage in open combat with fellow Republicans from the outside.”

Washington Post: Both sides gear up for a political fight as Trump prepares to end immigration protections for “dreamers.”

Playbook: “If Trump ends DACA, which it seems like he will in some form, Republicans on Capitol Hill are already considering a push for immigration reform, according to people we’ve spoken to in recent hours. There is no finalized plan yet about what the GOP will do, but there are already quiet conversations in Republican ranks. There will be tremendous pressure from companies and outside groups to prevent the full repeal of DACA. Congress already has a full plate, and this is just another issue they’ll have to confront.”

“Donald Trump the deal maker heads into the autumn of his first year in as weak a negotiating position as any president in modern times — desperate for a victory yet hardly near consensus on any major priority, still able to dominate the national conversation but so far incapable of translating that into action,” the New York Times reports.

“A summer of tumult marked by staff shake-ups, legislative failures, intraparty feuds, a racially inflammatory controversy and a nuclear-edged war of words has left him at odds with his own Republican Party and supported by barely a third of the American public. The list of daunting challenges has only grown with little sense of how he plans to tackle them beyond Twitter storms and declarations of determination.”

James Hohmann: “Once again, there is fear among top Republicans on Capitol Hill that Trump is setting them up to be the fall guys. If something doesn’t get done, the president will blame them.”

The Trump administration didn’t mince words on Monday, accusing those who continue to trade with North Korea of aiding its “dangerous nuclear intentions.” Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “is begging for war.” And while Haley didn’t threaten unilateral action by the United States, she did say it was time to step up pressure on North Korea. “Enough is enough,” said Haley. “The time for half measures in the security council is over. The time has come to exhaust all of our diplomatic means before it’s too late.”

“The Environmental Protection Agency has taken the unusual step of putting a political operative in charge of vetting the hundreds of millions of dollars in grants the EPA distributes annually, assigning final funding decisions to a former Trump campaign aide with little environmental policy experience,” the Washington Post reports.

“In this role, John Konkus reviews every award the agency gives out, along with every grant solicitation before it is issued. According to both career and political employees, Konkus has told staff that he is on the lookout for ‘the double C-word’ — climate change — and repeatedly has instructed grant officers to eliminate references to the subject in solicitations.”

“President Trump’s allies are worried that the most damaging of the many recent departures from his White House may be that of Keith Schiller, a little-known former bodyguard who’s one of the president’s closest confidants outside his family,” Bloomberg reports.

“Multiple people interviewed described Schiller as an emotional anchor for the president in a White House often marked by turmoil. Schiller has worked for Trump for nearly two decades, and within the West Wing he serves as the president’s protector, gate-keeper and wing man, according to people close to Schiller and Trump.”

“Schiller never planned to stay in the position for long because of its lower pay and longer hours… But his exit may have been accelerated by the appointment in July of retired Marine general John Kelly as Trump’s chief of staff.”

“South Korea’s president tried late Sunday to dismiss talk of a dispute between Seoul and Washington over how to deal with North Korea following its sixth nuclear test, after President Trump criticized the South Korean approach as ‘appeasement,’” the Washington Post reports.

“Moon Jae-in’s office said that his government would continue to work towards peaceful denuclearization after tweets and actions from Trump that have left South Koreans scratching their heads at why the American president is attacking an ally at such a sensitive time.”

Observed former State Department official David Straub: “Opinion polls show South Koreans have one of the lowest rates of regard for Trump in the world and they don’t consider him to be a reasonable person. In fact, they worry he’s kind of nuts, but they still want the alliance.”

Stan Collender: “Donald Trump last week suffered enormous setbacks on his three highest legislative priorities and Congress wasn’t even in session.”

“Each of these losses took away most or all of the leverage Trump is going to need to get Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, fund his wall and do something on taxes. As a result, Trump’s legislative agenda, which was already in deep trouble before last week, is now in a complete shambles.”

The House will consider legislation on Wednesday to provide funding for initial disaster relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.  House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced the schedule for taking up the Harvey aid bill on Monday morning.

Republicans in the House introduced a bill Sunday that would provide $7.85 billion for initial efforts to address recovery from Harvey, which matches the White House’s request.  Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that the White House would like Harvey funding to be tied to a debt limit increase. However, it is not clear that the House will approach Harvey aid that way. At least one House conservative warned against tying Harvey aid to the debt limit bill.

Will Bunch at asks whether America can handle the truth of our tarnished 2016 election?  “Something smelled wrong about the election from the very start. In the weeks before the presidential balloting took place, millions of voters were bombarded with “fake news” about the candidates on Facebook and other social media sites. And when the vote tallies were announced, the nation was shocked by the results. There was scattered unrest, even violence — and loud whispers that the election had somehow been stolen. Some wondered about the role of Cambridge Analytica, the firm founded by a billionaire backer of Donald Trump.

Then, something remarkable — unprecedented, really — took place. The nation’s highest court decided to launch a thorough investigation of what really happened on Election Day. What the justices eventually uncovered was shocking — a scheme to change results from the actual polling places when they were tallied electronically. What happened next was perhaps more surprising: The Supreme Court justices ordered a new national election.

Yes, this scenario actually just played out.

In Kenya.”





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

2 comments on “The Open Thread for September 5, 2017

  1. “Trump reportedly asked aides for ‘way out’ of campaign pledge to end DACA” — I don’t know why he can’t come out and pretend he never made that pledge, as he has done with so many other of his statements over the past two years (two decades). “I never said that.” Simple as that. His spokespeople can continue claiming it’s not what he said but what he meant that’s important, and point to the times he said “I love kids, I have kids.” Ask Paul Ryan or one of the many Republican business owners who support DACA to help him write the speech. Could be the biggest win of his presidency so far. But it won’t happen. He’s fundamentally weak and insecure. Instead we’re getting Jeff Sessions and a speech about gang members and drugs.

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