Open Thread

The Open Thread for December 4, 2017

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told NBC News that a Senate investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election has revealed a possible obstruction of justice case against President Trump.

Said Feinstein: “I think we see this in the indictments, the four indictments, and pleas that have just taken place and some of the comments that are being made… I see it in the hyper-frenetic attitude of the White House, the comments every day, the continual tweets. And I see it most importantly in what happened with the firing of Director Comey, and it is my belief that that is directly because he did not agree to ‘lift the cloud’ of the Russia investigation. That’s obstruction of justice.”



Politico: “Roy Moore appears to have inched back in front of Democrat Doug Jones in the latest Alabama Senate election polls, according to the oft-cited RealClearPolitics average — a change in fortune from mid-November, when sexual misconduct allegations against Moore first surfaced. The reality? No one really has a clue about where things stand with Alabama voters in the December 12 special election.”

“For all the national attention and the millions of dollars spent to win the seat, there’s relatively little public polling in the contest. Only three public surveys in the average have been conducted since the Thanksgiving holiday, and odds are you’ve never heard of two of the three pollsters. And that’s precisely the problem. The most important and closely watched election in the nation is taking place in the equivalent of a polling black box.”

G. Elliot Morris: The media stopped covering Roy Moore’s sex scandal, then he bounced back.

Meanwhile, asked if he believes Roy Moore (R) should be in the U.S. Senate under a cloud of child molestation allegations, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told ABC News, “I’m going to let the people of Alabama make the call.”

A new CBS News poll finds the U.S. Senate contest in Alabama looks to be highly dependent on turnout.  Roy Moore (R) has a lead over Doug Jones (D), 49% to 43%, among the likely voters who are most apt to vote on Dec. 12. Among all registered voters, the contest is even.


“A conservative operative trumpeting his close ties to the National Rifle Association and Russia told a Trump campaign adviser last year that he could arrange a back-channel meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, according to an email sent to the Trump campaign,” the New York Times reports.

“A May 2016 email to the campaign adviser, Rick Dearborn, bore the subject line ‘Kremlin Connection.’ In it, the N.R.A. member said he wanted the advice of Mr. Dearborn and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), then a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump and Mr. Dearborn’s longtime boss, about how to proceed in connecting the two leaders.”

“Russia, he wrote, was ‘quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S.’ and would attempt to use the N.R.A.’s annual convention in Louisville, Ky., to make ‘first contact.’”



“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is increasingly alarmed by what he sees as secret talks between Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — fearful that the discussions could backfire and tip the region into chaos, according to three people familiar with Tillerson’s concerns,” Bloomberg reports.

“The central goal of the Kushner-Prince Mohammed negotiations … is for an historic agreement featuring the creation of a Palestinian state or territory backed financially by a number of countries including Saudi Arabia, which could put tens of billions of dollars toward the effort.”



Washington Post: “In the past two months, Robert Mueller and his team have received private debriefs from two dozen current and former Trump advisers, each of whom has made the trek to the special counsel’s secure office suite. Once inside, most witnesses are seated in a windowless conference room where two- and three-person teams of FBI agents and prosecutors rotate in and out, pressing them for answers.”

“Often listening in is the special counsel himself, a sphinxlike presence who sits quietly along the wall for portions of key interviews. This picture of Mueller’s operation — drawn from descriptions of witnesses, lawyers and others briefed on the interviews — provides a rare look inside the high-stakes investigation that could implicate Trump’s circle and determine the future of his presidency.”



The Washington Post obtained an early copy of Let Trump Be Trump by Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie.

Key quote: “Sooner or later, everybody who works for Donald Trump will see a side of him that makes you wonder why you took a job with him in the first place.”

Also interesting: Lewandowski describes how staffer Sam Nunberg was purposely left behind at a McDonald’s because Nunberg’s special-order burger was taking too long. “Leave him,” Trump said. “Let’s go.” And they did.


Stan Collender suggests GOP leaders will try to make cuts to Social Security and Medicare during the lame duck session after the November 2018 election but before the next Congress is sworn in in January 2019.

“A Democratic wave in the 2018 election would push the soon-to-be-replaced Republican majorities to try to enact the Social Security and Medicare cuts before they lose the ability to determine the legislative agenda. It would also allow the departing GOP representatives and senators to vote on the reductions without having to worry about direct political retributions from their voters.

Yes, this would be close to the height of GOP political cynicism and self-interest. Then again, it would follow a huge increase in the deficit caused by a Republican tax cut that the GOP will be blaming on spending.

In other words, it should be expected.”


Wall Street Journal: “The president on occasion has called White House aides to the private residence in the evening, where he makes assignments and asks them not tell Mr. Kelly about the plans, according to several people familiar with the matter. At least once, aides have declined to carry out the requested task so as not to run afoul of Mr. Kelly, one of these people said.”

“The president, who values counsel from an informal group of confidants outside the White House, also sometimes bypasses the normal scheduling for phone calls that give other White House staff, including Mr. Kelly, some control and influence over who the president talks to and when.”



“Jared Kushner is a security risk embedded in the West Wing since he still hasn’t passed a comprehensive background investigation required of anyone seeking a permanent security clearance—and no one will question the president’s decision to put his son-in-law in a crucial government role,” experts and officials tell Newsweek.

Newsweek spoke with seven of the nation’s leading law firms specializing in security clearance law, with clients throughout the Trump administration and federal government. All seven said Kushner’s security clearance should be suspended until investigators can determine whether his failures to disclose information were intentional. Meanwhile, the White House has claimed the delay in Kushner’s clearance is normal due to a backlog in applications.“



The Guardian: “Section eight of the deal reached by Donald Trump’s former national security adviser in the inquiry into Russian meddling in the US election is entitled ‘cooperation.’ It specifies that as well as answering questions and submitting to government-administered polygraph tests, Flynn’s cooperation ‘may include … participating in covert law enforcement activities.’”

“Long-time students of federal law enforcement practices agreed, speaking anonymously, that ‘covert law enforcement activities’ likely refers to the possibility of wearing a concealed wire or recording telephone conversations with other potential suspects. It is not known whether Flynn has worn a wire at any time.”


Dana Milbank: “I asked my digital colleagues for the top 25 pieces that appeared on The Post’s website this week before the Flynn news broke. Along with news stories about current intrigue — the Matt Lauer firing, James O’Keefe’s failed sting operation against The Post, Prince Harry’s engagement — the items were dominated by Trump insanity: his Muslim-video retweets, his insult of the British prime minister, his attacks on CNN, his war on the “war on Christmas,” the insults he traded with Democrats, his “unhinged” behavior and his veering past “guardrails” of what’s acceptable.

But in the top 25 were only two about the monstrous tax bill as it made its way through the Senate this week. There were only two about North Korea testing a missile that could strike anywhere in the United States. There was only one about Trump’s takeover of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And there wasn’t a single article about the sprawling Russia scandal.

In other words: We are all being played for suckers as we get exercised over Trump’s diversions.”


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

2 comments on “The Open Thread for December 4, 2017

  1. Women and booze? Add that to those CHIP child slackers who don’t work in factories anymore and it feels like the 1800s again.

    Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) defended his support for the Republican tax bill in an interview published Saturday by arguing that the legislation favors those who invest their money over those who spend their money on things like “booze” and “women.”

    “I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

    • the only people who pay taxes or spend money are straight men. got it. Someone put this fossil on an ice float already.

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