Delaware

The Open Thread for September 9, 2017

It was reported in the Open Thread yesterday that Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is planning to interview “up to a dozen” White House aides in the coming weeks, Politico reports.  Now we know who they want to question.  The Washington Post says Mueller wants to interview six aides “including trusted adviser Hope Hicks, former press secretary Sean Spicer and former chief of staff Reince Priebus.”

“In addition to Priebus, Spicer and Hicks, Mueller has notified the White House he will probably seek to question White House counsel Don McGahn and one of his deputies, James Burnham. Mueller’s office has also told the White House that investigators may want to interview Josh Raffel, a White House spokesman who works closely with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.”

First Read: “Looking ahead to next year’s congressional midterm elections, maybe the biggest political development over the past week has been the back-to-back retirements from moderate House Republicans who represent swing districts.”

“Democrats need to net a gain of 24 pickups to take back the House of Representatives. But now there are three open seats due to retirements where Dems now have great to decent shots at winning, in order – Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s in Florida (which Clinton won, 58.5% to 38.9%), Reichert’s in Washington state and Dent’s in Pennsylvania.”

“This is where the other big news this week – Trump cutting the spending/debt limit deal with Democrats – comes in: How many congressional Republicans see the deal as a last straw? If it’s every Republican for himself/herself, you’re probably going to see more retirements.”

Donald Trump Jr. told Congress “he was not aware of what role, if any, his father might have played in drafting an early explanation of the meeting that was widely criticized as misleading,” the Washington Postreports.

“Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE), did not respond to a request for comment after the hearing, but his office later distributed a memorandum of federal statutes prohibiting lying to Congress, suggesting them as something ‘to keep in mind regarding Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony today.’”

Former Montana Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT),  a principle drafter of the Affordable Care Act who helped steer the bill toward the center in 2009, told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that he now supports a single-payer system.

Said Baucus: “My personal view is we’ve got to start looking at single-payer. I think we should have hearings. We’re getting there. It’s going to happen.”

Sam Baker: “Just eight years ago, he refused to even hold a hearing on single-payer. To say now that he not only supports it, but that he thinks it’s inevitable, is a sign of just how dramatically Democrats are pulling to the left on health care.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley, told Women’s Wear Daily that her father is considering a run for president in 2020.  Said Ashley Biden: “He’ll make a decision when that time comes. A lot can happen in four years and we know this as a family. If he is in good health, knock on wood, and seeing what the landscape is at the time, yeah, I think he is considering it.”

House Republicans bristled at Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s pitch for them to vote for a three-month debt and spending extension “for me,” exacerbating divisions between Capitol Hill and the White House, The Hill reports.  Said Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC): “His performance was incredibly poor, and his last words, and I quote, were ‘vote for the debt ceiling for me.’ It was a very arrogant lecture that turned off more of the conference. I’m less sold than when I walked into the meeting.”  Rep. David Brat (R-VA) called the comments “unhelpful” and “intellectually insulting.”

Washington Post: “Days before they meet in New Hampshire, members of the White House’s Election Integrity Commission have seized on a report about same-day registration to allege that massive fraud might have swung the state’s 2016 vote. Both voters and election experts say the allegation — accusing thousands of voters of criminal activity simply for living in New Hampshire but holding out-of-state driver’s licenses — are baseless.”

Pssst…national media, it is because they are racists.

National Journal: “Senate Republicans have begun downgrading their expectations for next year’s midterms, tempering hopes of significantly expanding their 52-seat majority to merely protecting their narrow margin and salvaging wounded senators damaged by intraparty scuffles.”

“Now, the number of promising targets has been cut nearly in half, while Republicans are fretting that they’re in deep danger of losing seats in Arizona and Nevada, where Sens. Jeff Flake and Dean Heller are fighting two-front wars that will damage their reelection chances.”

Said one GOP strategist: “The environment for Republicans is not good anywhere.”

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds that President Trump has 98% approval with Republicans who voted for him in both the primary and the general.

Axios: “Don’t underestimate Trump’s power to do whatever the hell he wants and still keep his base voters. If they stayed with him through Charlottesville and Access Hollywood, they’re not going anywhere over a Beltway deal. Trump has an almost magical hold on his voters.”

Bloomberg: “The breadth of the search goes against the narrative that has taken hold in Washington and on Wall Street that the Fed chair nomination is a two-horse race between National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and current Fed Chair Janet Yellen, whose term expires in February.”

“Some of the other possible contenders include former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh, Columbia University economist Glenn Hubbard and Stanford University professor John Taylor, one of the people familiar said. Lawrence Lindsey, a former economic adviser to President George W. Bush, has been discussed. Former US Bancorp CEO Richard Davis and John Allison, the former CEO of BB&T Corp., have also been considered.”

Russian news agencies are reporting that President Trump met with Russia’s newly installed ambassador to Washington, Reuters reports.

Tass news agency quoted ambassador Anatoly Antonov: “I was received by President Trump, I presented my credentials. For my part I said that we are looking forward to an improvement in the relations between our two countries.”

Russia’s RIA news agency also quoted Antonov: “President Trump received me in a warm and friendly way … The atmosphere was very genial, constructive and welcoming. At least, that was my personal feeling.”

The U.S. news media apparently didn’t know about the meeting.

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

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