Open Thread

The Open Thread for November 20, 2017

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating whether President Trump sought to obstruct a federal inquiry into connections between his presidential campaign and Russian operatives has now directed the Justice Department to turn over a broad array of documents, ABC News reports.

“In particular, Mueller’s investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter, according to a source who has not seen the specific request but was told about it.“

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Stan Collender: “If it’s enacted, the GOP tax cut now working its way through Congress will be the start of a decades-long economic policy disaster unlike any other that has occurred in American history.”

“There’s no economic justification whatsoever for a tax cut at this time. U.S. GDP is growing, unemployment is close to 4 percent (below what is commonly considered ‘full employment’), corporate profits are at record levels and stock markets are soaring. It makes no sense to add any federal government-induced stimulus to all this private sector-caused economic activity, let alone a tax cut as big as this one.”

“This is actually the ideal time for Washington to be doing the opposite.”

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“Six months into a special counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, White House aides and others in President Trump’s close orbit are increasingly divided in their assessments of the expanding probe and how worried administration officials and campaign aides should be about their potential legal peril, according to numerous people familiar with the debate,” the Washington Post reports.

“Some in the West Wing avoid the mere mention of Russia or the investigation whenever possible. Others take solace in the reassurances of White House lawyer Ty Cobb that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III will be wrapping up the probe soon and the president and those close to him will be exonerated. And a few engage in grim gallows humor, privately joking about wiretaps.”

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Jonathan Swan: “Members of Congress with histories of mistreating women should be extremely nervous. Major outlets, including CNN, are dedicating substantial newsroom resources to investigating sexual harassment allegations against numerous lawmakers. A Republican source told me he’s gotten calls from well-known D.C. reporters who are gathering stories about sleazy members.”

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Rob Goldstone, the publicist who helped arrange the Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer, tells the Times of London that Jared Kushner was “furious” that the focus of the meeting turned to the Magnitsky Act instead of dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Goldstone also denies being part of some Russian plot: “When people said that, I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. That doesn’t mean that maybe there wasn’t any Russian interference or Trump campaign collusion in other ways. I don’t know. But I’m sure I wasn’t part of it.”

He notes that Paul Manafort seemed to be paying little attention during the meeting.

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New York Times: “More than 168,000 people have flown or sailed out of Puerto Rico to Florida since the hurricane, landing at airports in Orlando, Miami and Tampa, and the port in Fort Lauderdale. Nearly half are arriving in Orlando, where they are tapping their networks of family and friends. An additional 100,000 are booked on flights to Orlando through Dec. 31…  Large numbers are also settling in the Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach areas.”

“With so many arriving so abruptly, the migration is expected to transform Orlando, a city that has already become a stronghold of Puerto Ricans, many of them fleeing the island’s economic crisis in recent years. The Puerto Rican population of Florida has exploded from 479,000 in 2000 to well over one million today, according to the Pew Research Center. The number of Puerto Ricans in Orlando was 210,000 in 2014… and since then the count has risen rapidly as more arrived during the economic crisis.”

“The impact of this latest wave is likely to stretch from schools and housing to the work force and even politics. Puerto Ricans, who are American citizens and tilt Democratic, could sway the electoral results of one of the country’s most pivotal swing states.”

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Politico: “The Moore situation presents a complicated choice for Republican candidates facing tough 2018 primaries: Side with Moore and risk suburban swing voters will think you’re defending a pedophile; call for him to drop out and risk hardcore conservative voters believing you’re buying into a liberal witch hunt. And while Democratic strategists say they don’t expect Moore himself to be a central plank of any candidate’s 2018 campaign six months from now, they are working to ensure the overall Republican brand is associated with Moore more broadly as a way of tarnishing it early in the cycle.”

“While national Democrats want to avoid the appearance of diving into the race in deep-red Alabama, the party has used the Moore accusations to attack candidates from Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel, to Arizona Rep. Martha McSally, to South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton. All three were criticized for refusing to take sides on whether Moore should drop out of the race.”

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New Yorker: “Unlike 9/11, the Russian campaign did not occur without warning on a quiet fall day. Rather, it unfolded over at least six months on Americans’ social-media accounts—hardly the stuff of spy novels. Kremlin leaders had signaled their plans years in advance. The Russian playbook wasn’t a secret, either. It had been well documented by European governments, researchers, and journalists after the Kremlin’s information operations to destabilize Estonia, in 2007; Georgia, in 2008; Ukraine, in 2014; and Britain, in the leadup to the 2016 Brexit vote.”

“Facing one of the clearest domestic threats to the U.S. in a decade, neither the F.B.I., which has the responsibility for conducting counterintelligence inside the United States, nor the O.D.N.I. warned Americans that platoons of Russian-backed automated “bots” and human trolls were working online to amplify racial divisions and anti-government conspiracy theories.”

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Jonathan Swan: “If Mitch McConnell’s schedule goes to plan, the week after Thanksgiving the Senate Majority Leader will confirm his ninth federal judge. That would beat President Reagan’s eight in his first year — the most in recent history. And it triples the three federal judges President Obama appointed in his first year in office.”

“The federal courts affect almost every area of policy: gun rights, presidential executive orders like Trump’s travel ban, social policy issues like abortion and freedom of religion, and tensions between regulation, litigation and private enterprise. McConnell’s judges — who passed through a well-funded and organized conservative pipeline — will shape the U.S. over many decades in ways we can’t yet imagine.”

“Smart Democrats are deeply concerned about this trend, and understand that these lifetime judicial appointments will have a much greater impact on the future direction of this country than any short-term spending deal or policy.”

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“America’s brand has taken a major hit in the age of Trump,” CNN reports.

“At least that’s according to a survey that ranks the world’s best nation brands. The United States lands with an overall No. 6 ranking in the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index, which measures 50 nations in multiple categories, including governance, exports, culture, people, tourism and immigration/investment. The United States was the overall No. 1 in 2016, but Germany took the top spot this year.”

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President Donald Trump on Sunday said he “should have left” three UCLA basketball players in custody in China because one of the player’s fathers suggested Trump did not have much to do with his son’s release.

“Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal,” Trump tweeted. “I should have left them in jail!”

So the American President says he should have left US citizens imprisoned by non-democratic regime because the family didn’t acknowledge him personally. He really does think he is a king.

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“In a move certain to please conservatives, President Trump added five names to his list of candidates for a prospective U.S. Supreme Court vacancy as he presses ahead with a campaign to move the federal judiciary to the right,” Reuters reports.

“Two of them are appellate judges who were nominated by Trump earlier this year and confirmed by the Senate: Amy Coney Barrett and Kevin Newsom. Another, Brett Kavanaugh, sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, long viewed as a stepping-stone to the high court. The others were Britt Grant, a Georgia Supreme Court justice, and Patrick Wyrick, a Oklahoma Supreme Court justice.”

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

1 comment on “The Open Thread for November 20, 2017

  1. “So the American President says he should have left US citizens imprisoned by non-democratic regime because the family didn’t acknowledge him personally. He really does think he is a king.”

    You’re being generous… I think the more likely explanation for Donnie’s angry “let ‘em rot” outburst was that the three African-American males were not sufficiently supplicanting to their magnanimous white benefactor. We should expect nothing less from this ugly bag of mostly water.

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