Delaware

Open Thread for November 12, 2017

President Trump suggested “he’s done confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin over his country’s election meddling since it’s insulting to the Russian leader,” CNN reports.

“Trump said he took Putin at his word that Russia did not seek to interfere in the U.S. presidential election last year, despite a finding from US intelligence agencies that it did. The fraught relations between the two leaders was underscored anew when Putin’s spokesman said election meddling did not come up when they spoke, even though Trump said it did.”

Said Trump: “He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it. I think he is very insulted by it.”

John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement today on President Trump’s comments about Vladimir Putin:

“President Trump today stated that he believed Vladimir Putin is being sincere when he denies Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and reiterated that he hopes to cooperate with Russia in Syria.

“There’s nothing ‘America First’ about taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence community. There’s no ‘principled realism’ in cooperating with Russia to prop up the murderous Assad regime, which remains the greatest obstacle to a political solution that would bring an end to the bloodshed in Syria. Vladimir Putin does not have America’s interests at heart. To believe otherwise is not only naive but also places our national security at risk.”

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“A day after explosive allegations of sexual assault surfaced against Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore, the Republican Party’s senate campaign arm has severed financial ties with the embattled former state supreme court justice,” the Daily Beast reports.

“The NRSC’s removal from the account is the most concrete step taken to date to create distance between the national Republican Party and the Moore campaign. Other lawmakers have called on Moore to leave the race. But most have said he should do so only if the accusations are proven true.”

“Come on, Republicans. Is this who we are? This cannot be who we are.”  — Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), on Twitter, reacting to Alabama Republicans coming to the defense of Roy Moore (R).

“Look, I’m sorry, but even before these reports surfaced, Roy Moore’s nomination was a bridge too far.”  — Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), on Twitter.

A new Opinion-Savvy poll in Alabama finds Roy Moore (R) and Doug Jones (D) in a dead heat for U.S. Senate, 46% to 46%.

“Beyond the horse race between the two declared candidates, voters were also asked about the allegations that broke in the Washington Post yesterday, and if Moore should withdraw from the race over them. An overwhelming share of those surveyed- 82.2%- were aware of the allegations. A majority of voters — 54% — do not think Moore should withdraw at this time. Among Republicans, that percentage soars to 72.9%.”

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“Investigators for Special Counsel Robert Mueller are questioning witnesses about an alleged September 2016 meeting between Mike Flynn, who later briefly served as President Trump’s national security adviser, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a staunch advocate of policies that would help Russia,” NBC News reports.

“The meeting allegedly took place in Washington the evening of Sept. 20, while Flynn was working as an adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign. It was arranged by his lobbying firm, the Flynn Intel Group. Also in attendance were Flynn’s business partners, Bijan Kian and Brian McCauley, and Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn.”

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Max Boot: “This episode is the sorry culmination of two trends that have disfigured the conservative movement beyond all recognition: contempt for the facts and desire to win at all costs. Republicans are increasingly reliant on ‘alternative facts’ manufactured by the likes of Fox News and Breitbart, which claim that global warming isn’t real and neither is the Russian hack of the Democratic National Committee. The real scandal, they tell us, is the Steele dossier paid for by the Democrats in an attempt to uncover Trump’s Russian connections. Or is it the evidence-free claim that Obama supposedly wiretapped Trump?”

“In the final analysis, no indictment of their candidate will convince the faithful. As Trump once said, ‘I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters’ Or, more to the point, Roy Moore could molest a 14-year-old girl and not lose votes. Because for Republican partisans, their opponents are ‘the forces of evil,’ and anything is preferable to that. Even Donald Trump. Even Roy Moore. So in ostensibly fighting evil, Republicans have become complicit in it.”

“This is a party that does not deserve to survive.”

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John Cassidy: “The business tax cuts and A.M.T. abolition don’t leave any room for ordinary American households to receive substantial tax cuts. Both Republican bills do expand family tax credits and reduce the marginal tax rates that most households would face; but they also claw back a lot of revenue in other ways, some of which are targeted at families.”

“The upshot of all this is that the Republican tax proposals, which Trump has promoted by promising the biggest tax cuts in history, isn’t much of a tax cut at all in the sense that most Americans understand the term. It’s really designed to reduce the tax burden on businesses and wealthy individuals, and it could only be justified if, defying history, it delivered the economy-wide upsurge in G.D.P. growth, capital investment, and wages that the White House has promised, and which Cohn talked about in his interview. The supposed middle-class tax cuts are a fig leaf.”

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Politico: “When Christie was fired from his transition perch on Nov. 11 — replaced by soon-to-be Vice President Mike Pence — Flynn and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon celebrated by tossing binders full of potential personnel picks, carefully culled by Christie’s team, into trash bins with a sense of ceremonial glee.”

“They did this before an audience of other transition officials, according to the two people close to the transition and a campaign official — though another former transition official disputed the idea that the binders and picks were not considered by the Pence-led transition team.”

“Ultimately it was Trump himself who made the decision to ditch Christie’s recommendation against hiring Flynn for national security adviser… That fateful decision brought the simmering Russia scandal into the West Wing and set in motion a chain of events that ultimately led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether the president’s team had any involvement in Russian election meddling.”

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Rupert Murdoch telephoned AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson twice in the last six months and offered to buy cable network CNN, Reuters reports.  CNN has become the focal point in antitrust approval of AT&T’s $85.4 billion deal to buy Time Warner Inc, hatched in October 2016.

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“Nearly all U.S. journalists covering Presiden Trump’s appearance at a major economic summit in Vietnam were barred from attending key events Friday and Saturday, including photo-ops featuring interactions between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin,” Politico reports.

“A Fox News video crew and an official White House photographer were granted access to the meetings. Fox was the news organization that was tasked with providing pool video to other news outlets. But the rest of the pool reporters, including independent photographers from U.S. news organizations, were blocked from covering the event.”

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Jonathan Chait: “There are several channels through which Donald Trump’s campaign apparently cooperated with Russian efforts to help him win the presidency. The first, and best known, is a Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 to pursue Russian promises of providing dirt on Hillary Clinton. A second is Roger Stone, a frequent Trump adviser who had clear advance notice of the publication of stolen emails. A third is Trump himself openly asking Russia to obtain Clinton’s State Department emails. The final channel is the efforts by Cambridge Analytica, the campaign’s data firm. This channel is less well known to the public, in part because reporting about it has been dominated by The Wall Street Journal, and its stories hidden behind a paywall. But Cambridge Analytica’s role has come into much clearer focus.”

“Two weeks ago, the Journal reported that Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to help him better organize the stolen Democratic emails his site was publishing. On Friday, the Journal found that this contact came as Cambridge Analytica was joining the Trump campaign.”

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) acknowledged “that the Republican tax plan might result in a tax hike for some working Americans, saying he ‘misspoke’ days earlier when he said that ‘nobody in the middle class is going to get a tax increase’ under the Senate bill,” the New York Times reports.  Said McConnell: “I misspoke on that. You can’t guarantee that absolutely no one sees a tax increase.”

“The Senate bill unveiled on Thursday would raise taxes on millions of middle-class families, according to a preliminary New York Times analysis. The plan would also disproportionately benefit high earners and corporations. Still, middle-class earners would fare better under the Senate proposal than its counterpart in the House.”

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When Trump pulled out of negotiations for the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership in January, it looked like the whole deal would collapse. Instead the remaining bloc of Pacific Rim nations announced on Saturday that they had agreed to move on without the US. 

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In their post-mortem, “Democratic Domination in the Old Dominion,” VA politics wonks Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley, write, “…The big shock to us, and to anyone who is honest about their pre-election expectations, was the Democrats winning what could be a 50-50 tie in the Virginia House of Delegates. Democrats went into the election at a 66-34 deficit in the House, and while they were expected to win seats, the low double digits seemed like the absolute max. Instead they are on track to net 15 or more seats, with a chance of getting to a 50-50 split or even taking a slim majority (the canvass is ongoing and recounts loom in a few seats)…Virginia Democrats were able to make huge gains in the state House of Delegates by effectively winning only Clinton-won seats (they only won a single Trump-won seat, and it was a marginal one at that). Democrats cannot get to a House of Representatives majority exclusively through Clinton-won seats. They need to net 24 seats next year to win the House, and there are only 23 Republicans in Clinton-won seats. It’s also impractical to think Democrats could flip all 23 of these seats: Many of them are held by skilled incumbents. So Democrats will need to win some Trump-won territory to capture the House.”

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

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