Open Thread

Open Thread for November 4, 2017

Carter Page told the House Intelligence Committee that he met Russian government officials during a July 2016 trip he took to Moscow, the New York Times reports.

“Shortly after the trip, Mr. Page sent an email to at least one Trump campaign aide describing insights he had after conversations with government officials, legislators and business executives during his time in Moscow.”

“The new details of the trip present a different picture than the account Mr. Page has given during numerous appearances in the news media in recent months and are yet another example of a Trump adviser meeting with Russians officials during the 2016 campaign.”

Meanwhile, “[o]ne of President Trump’s most trusted confidants, a security chief who served as his sounding board for nearly two decades, will face questions from congressional investigators next week about Trump’s 2013 trip to Moscow,” the Washington Post reports.

“The excursion is at the center of some of the most salacious allegations contained in a now-famous dossier, which contains unverified charges that Trump has vehemently disputed.”


Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) is firing back at President Trump over his push for the Justice Department to investigate Democrats and Hillary Clinton, The Hill reports.

Said Corker: “President Trump’s pressuring of the Justice Department and FBI to pursue cases against his adversaries and calling for punishment before trials take place are totally inappropriate.”

He added that the president’s remarks “not only undermine our justice system but erode the American people’s confidence in our institutions.”


“After a display of unity for the unveiling of an ambitious plan to slash individual and corporate taxes, some House Republicans began late Thursday to pick out the parts of the tax legislation they don’t like,” Bloomberg reports.

“The ink was barely dry on the first draft when at least four Republicans declared they would vote against the bill in its current form. While the early opponents represent high-tax states that would get slammed by the plan’s elimination of state and local income-tax deductions, several other areas began to emerge as points of contention as Republicans sifted through the 429-page bill.”


Matthew Yglesias: “There’s no need to pass a giant tax reform package, and there’s also no need to run around Washington with a hangdog look or vague sense of shame about it. With the federal government under GOP control, the judiciary is filling up with GOP appointees. Regulatory agencies are in the hands of people who share the party’s mostly pro-business orientation. Appropriations bills are pouring money into the military and domestic security forces. Partisan control of the government is a big deal with or without major legislation.”

“But Republicans are mostly a party of cultural grievance-mongers, not ambitious legislators. That’s why Donald Trump is their president. That’s why they don’t seem to notice or care that Paul Ryan is a total fraud. They’d be a lot happier if they just owned it.”



Politico: “The fanfare surrounding the House GOP tax plan on Thursday masked a brewing storm in the other chamber. Senate Republicans will have to sway a host of GOP swing votes as they try to jam through their own tax overhaul with almost no margin for error. Fiscal hawks are squawking about how tax legislation could balloon the deficit. Moderates like Sen. Susan Collins of Maine are worried tax cuts will disproportionately favor the rich. Even an Obamacare-related row could bubble up and trip up passage.”

“While a small handful of Democrats might get on board, it’s more likely Republicans will have to go it alone — meaning they can lose just two GOP votes before their tax bill tanks.”


“An Associated Press investigation into the digital break-ins that disrupted the U.S. presidential contest has sketched out an anatomy of the hack that led to months of damaging disclosures about the Democratic Party’s nominee. It wasn’t just a few aides that the hackers went after; it was an all-out blitz across the Democratic Party. They tried to compromise Clinton’s inner circle and more than 130 party employees, supporters and contractors.”

“The AP’s reconstruction— based on a database of 19,000 malicious links recently shared by cybersecurity firm Secureworks — shows how the hackers worked their way around the Clinton campaign’s top-of-the-line digital security to steal chairman John Podesta’s emails in March 2016.”

Recode: “U.S. lawmakers are probing the extent of the Kremlin’s campaign to disrupt last year’s presidential election and have focused their latest efforts on tech platforms like Twitter.”

“But new data show that many news publications — from established outfits like the Post, the Miami Herald (owned by McClatchy), Buzzfeed, CBS and even Vox, to controversial alt-right hubs like InfoWars — were duped into citing some of these nefarious tweets in their coverage, perhaps unwittingly amplifying the reach of Russian propaganda.”


President Trump sat down with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham last night and Ingraham asked the president about the holes that exist in the State Department under Trump, who appears to have essentially given up on having a fully staffed diplomatic corps.  The President says he doesn’t need to fill the jobs because he is the only one that matters in the Administration.  So, that means, Donald, that when anything anywhere goes wrong for any reason, the person we are to blame is you.


Newsweek: “According to the presidential historian Robert Dallek, no American leader has acted with more unadulterated self-interest as Trump. Dallek says that in terms of outright corruption, Trump is worse than both Ulysses S. Grant and Warren G. Harding, presidents who oversaw the most flagrant instances of graft in American political history.” Said Dallek: “What makes this different is that the president can’t seem to speak the truth about a host of things.”  Trump isn’t just allowing corruption, in Dallek’s view, but encouraging it: “The fish rots from the head.”


Matt Bai: “The only thing for sure right now is that Mueller has his talons into some Trump associates who would probably throw the president off a plane before they’d spend a single day in jail, so it’s fair to assume that whatever they know will be known to all of us before long.”

“Is it at least plausible that Manafort and Papadopoulos and others in their orbit could have been acting as de facto Russian agents without Trump or his coterie of little Trumps really being aware of it? Or that the Trumps were vaguely aware of what was happening but didn’t think it was such a big deal?”

“I actually do think that’s plausible. And it’s a version of events I find just as disconcerting as any other.”

“There’s no narrative here in which we don’t have a patsy for a president, in a dangerous and confusing world. If that doesn’t scare you, it should.”



Think Progress: “The newly unveiled Republican tax reform bill includes a provision that will likely make leaders of the Religious Right very happy—by amending a part of the tax law that keeps churches from engaging in explicit political advocacy.”

“Embedded within the bill’s more than 400 pages is a small provision that would change an aspect of the so-called ‘Johnson Amendment,’ a provision of the tax codes that prohibits churches, faith communities, and other non-profits from outright endorsing political candidates.”


New York Times: “A Republican victory in Virginia would demonstrate that the president has not become a liability in off-year elections. In addition, given Gillespie’s post-primary strategic shift to Trumpian themes, a Republican win would serve to demonstrate that the issues of immigration, crime and race continue to win elections, even in a state where Democrats have been thought to have the upper hand.”

“If painting Northam as a friend to violent Salvadoran gangs and pedophiles seems like a stretch, that’s American politics in 2017. We used to think that however grotesque they were, there was still a difference between overt declarations and explicit racial politics on one hand and dog whistles and implicit racial politics on the other. That distinction seems to be fading, if it is not gone altogether. Whether the Gillespie-Trump brand of Republicanism sells to the Virginia electorate this year will tell us a lot about where American politics stand a year after the election of President Trump — and the outcome will also offer tantalizing hints about where we are headed in 2018 and 2020.”



“While allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful men in recent weeks have drawn wide public support and prompted quick response, women who came forward during the presidential race with accusations against Donald Trump said they spent the past year feeling dismissed and forgotten,” the New York Times reports.

“But that could change if a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who accused Mr. Trump of unwanted sexual advances is allowed to proceed in New York State Supreme Court, a legal ruling that could come before the end of the year. Lawyers in the suit sought a subpoena seeking all Trump campaign records related to his female accusers. If the case advances, the accusers could be deposed, going up against Mr. Trump yet again.”

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

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