John Dowd, President Trump’s outside lawyer, outlined to Mike Allen a new and highly controversial defense in the Russia probe: A president cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice. Said Dowd: “The President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under the Constitution’s Article II and has every right to express his view of any case.”
“Trump’s legal team is clearly setting the stage to say the president cannot be charged with any of the core crimes discussed in the Russia probe: collusion and obstruction. Presumably, you wouldn’t preemptively make these arguments unless you felt there was a chance charges are coming.”
And you wouldn’t make those arguments if the President wasn’t guilty. Indeed, making this argument means that you are admitting Trump obstructed justice.
Politico reports that in 1999, current Attorney General and then Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions “laid out an impassioned case for President Bill Clinton to be removed from office based on the argument that Clinton obstructed justice amid the investigation into his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.” LOL. Like a Republican cares about being a blatant hypocrite.
Meanwhile, President Trump defended former national security adviser Michael Flynn, saying it’s “very unfair” he was charged with a crime and Hillary Clinton was not, The Hill reports. Said Trump: “Well, I feel badly for Gen. Flynn. I feel very badly. He’d led a very strong life.” He added: “I will say this, Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI and nothing happened to her. Flynn lied and they destroyed his life. I think it’s a shame.”
Donald, if there was evidence that Hillary Clinton lied to the FBI during the email investigation or at any other time, she would have been charged, and we would have replaced her as the nominee with Joe Biden and he would have trashed your ass in the election. Remember, Jim Comey was no Clinton fan, what with his absurb self righteous press conference when the investigation was concluded, and the October Comey letter. I almost wish Hillary had lied. Because we would have been spared you. But alas, she didn’t.
“The White House’s chief lawyer told President Trump in January he believed then-national security adviser Michael Flynn had misled the FBI and lied to Vice President Mike Pence and should be fired,” CNN reports.
“The description of the conversation raises new questions about what Trump knew about Flynn’s situation when he urged then-FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn and whether anyone in the White House, including the President himself, attempted to obstruct justice. Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians, a probe led by Comey until Trump fired him.”
On the eve of his appearance on Colbert, Billy Bush has an op-ed in the NYT, saying that, yes, it was Trump on the tape (of course) and much more: https://t.co/mkjUX3CMHc
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) December 4, 2017
President Trump “offered a strong endorsement of Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama embroiled in accusations that he had inappropriate sexual relations with underage girls,” the New York Times reports.
“While many Republicans called for Mr. Moore to drop out of the race after several women came out with their stories, Mr. Trump has defended him, saying that Mr. Moore denied the accounts and deserved to be heard.”
The Moore campaign tells Axios that Trump wrapped up his phone call to Moore saying, “go get ’em, Roy!”
A question every Republican should be asked, from @ThePlumLineGS:
"If President #Trump tries to remove special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, would you view that as an impeachable offense?"
Let's start today.https://t.co/Y2YxTyE9kB
— EJ Dionne (@EJDionne) December 4, 2017
“A Republican requirement that Congress consider the full cost of major legislation threatened to derail the party’s $1.5 trillion tax rewrite last week. So lawmakers went on the offensive to discredit the agency performing the analysis,” the New York Times reports.
“In 2015, Republicans changed the budget rules in Congress so that official scorekeepers would be required to analyze the potential economic impact of major legislation… But on Thursday, hours before they were set to vote on the largest tax cut Congress has considered in years, Senate Republicans opened an assault on that scorekeeper… which showed the Senate plan would not, as lawmakers contended, pay for itself but would add $1 trillion to the federal budget deficit.”
“Public statements and messaging documents obtained by The New York Times show a concerted push by Republican lawmakers to discredit a nonpartisan agency they had long praised.”
— Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) December 4, 2017
A defamation suit filed in January in the New York State Supreme Court by Summer Zervos, a short-lived contestant on The Apprentice, “has reached a critical point, with oral arguments over Trump’s motion to dismiss scheduled for Tuesday, after which the judge is expected to rule on whether the case may move forward,” the Washington Post reports.
“If it proceeds, Zervos’s attorneys could gather and make public incidents from Trump’s past and Trump could be called to testify, with the unwelcome specter of a former president looming over him: It was Bill Clinton’s misleading sworn testimony — not the repeated allegations of sexual harassment against him — that eventually led to his impeachment.”
Chuck Grassley opposes tax cuts for non-wealthy people because they would just spend it on “booze or women or movies” https://t.co/EgEmeXQ4MG
— Daily Intelligencer (@intelligencer) December 4, 2017
Brian Beutler: “If the story were to end where we are right now, with no further confessions or indictments or revelations, it would still amount to the biggest scandal in American political history. In the real world, Robert Mueller has flipped Flynn and allowed him to plea to (much) lesser crimes, most likely in exchange for incriminating evidence against Trump campaign and administration highers-up.”
“Meanwhile, Trump’s pretense that Flynn did no wrong but to lie to Vice President Mike Pence is falling apart, as it becomes increasingly clear that Flynn was honest with the entire team about his communication with Russian agents, and they all agreed to tell lies about it to the public. Trump admitted on Saturday that he knew Flynn had repeated those lies to the FBI at the time he ousted Flynn, and at the time he beseeched FBI Director James Comey to let Flynn off the hook. The president is for this and a myriad other reasons the subject of an obstruction investigation.”
— Max Bergmann (@maxbergmann) December 4, 2017
Gallup: “Forty-four percent of U.S. adults identify as Democrats or are independents who lean to the Democratic Party, while 37% are Republican identifiers or leaners.”
“Democrats have maintained an edge of between five and nine percentage points on this measure of party affiliation throughout 2017, after holding a narrow advantage in late 2016.”
Jonathan Chait: “Of all the horrors Donald Trump has (and has yet to) inflict upon the republic, a huge tax cut for the rich was the most inevitable. But it is also the most easily reversible. Lifetime court appointments, carbon pollution, the degrading of democratic norms — all of these will prove difficult or impossible to undo, and leave costs deep into the future. The Trump tax cuts will not.”
“Indeed, the passage of the Trump tax cuts will help lay the groundwork for their undoing by increasing the chances Democrats regain control of Congress.”
This, right here, is 1600 people rallying against the GOP tax scam in a Republican county in Pennsylvania on a Sunday night. pic.twitter.com/5A9EhdQCpB
— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) December 3, 2017
“When former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos stepped off a flight from Germany at Dulles Airport outside Washington last July, he had no inkling of the unwelcome surprise in store for him: FBI agents waiting to place him under arrest. For the 29-year-old Chicago native, it was going to be a long night,” Politico reports.
“Jail records obtained by Politico show Papadopoulos was booked in at the Alexandria (Va.) city detention center at 1:45 a.m. the following morning. Despite the late arrival at the jail and the fact that Papadopoulos later agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, his Chicago-based defense lawyers Thomas Breen and Rob Stanley said in an interview that the FBI did not attempt to interrogate him right away.”
Playbook: “Congress must pass a government-funding bill by Friday, or else the federal government will shut down. The House is expected to try to pass a two-week funding bill early this week. Democrats are, for the moment, on the sideline, and don’t seem to be in a cooperative mood.”
Trump’s decision to cut more than 1 million acres from Bears Ears could permanently crimp the presidency’s ability to protect public land, @yayitsrob writes https://t.co/xjCd7uTLAV pic.twitter.com/MlZyziYjzY
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) December 4, 2017
Wall Street Journal: “Senate Republicans, in their push to pass a sweeping tax bill, undermined a research-and-development tax credit many companies use to encourage innovation, and business interests are in revolt. Late Friday, just hours before the Senate voted for the bill, Republicans decided to preserve the corporate alternative minimum tax instead of repealing it as planned. The change gave them money for lawmakers’ other priorities, but it could force many companies to lose tax breaks the bill’s authors intended to protect.”
“Addressing this problem is one of many challenges congressional Republicans face as they shepherd a final tax bill with implications for middle-class households, American businesses and the health-care system. The House and Senate passed competing bills that will now be merged into one.”
“Also surprisingly up for grabs: the corporate tax rate. President Donald Trump, after insisting on a 20% rate and getting it, this weekend said maybe it would land at 22%.”
“Paranoia is enveloping the White House and President Trump’s network of former aides and associates as Robert Mueller’s Russia probe heats up,” Politico reports.
“Former national security adviser Michael Flynn agreed to cooperate with investigators as part of the plea deal he reached last week, adding to the worry already inside Trump’s circle surrounding the secret deal struck earlier this summer by former campaign aide George Papadopoulos, whose cooperation was kept quiet for months before being unsealed in late October. Both cases raise the possibility that other current or former colleagues have also flipped sides — and they’re prompting anxiety that those people could be wearing wires to secretly tape record conversations.”
Said one person close to the White House: “Everyone is paranoid. Everyone thinks they’re being recorded.”
Bloomberg View: “In their rush to pass something, anything, that they can call ‘tax reform,’ congressional Republicans have achieved the impossible: They have made an awful plan even worse.”
“The end result is sheer absurdity: a reform that actually complicates the tax code further, and that must contradict itself and partially self-destruct to attain some semblance of the fiscal discipline Republicans claim to value. It’s hard to imagine a more egregious waste of time and energy, or a worse outcome for taxpayers and the broader economy.”