Former national security adviser Michael Flynn told a former business associate that economic sanctions against Russia would be “ripped up” as one of the Trump administration’s first acts, the New York Times reports.
“Mr. Flynn believed that ending the sanctions could allow a business project he had once participated in to move forward… The account is the strongest evidence to date that the Trump administration wanted to end the sanctions immediately, and suggests that Mr. Flynn had a possible economic incentive for the United States to forge a closer relationship with Russia.”
“The account is detailed in a letter written by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. In the letter, Mr. Cummings said that the whistle-blower contacted his office in June and has authorized him to go public with the details. He did not name the whistle-blower.”
Voters were taking sexual harassment allegations more seriously than the parties were. Democrats have begun to wake up. https://t.co/rP7ks4kfrn
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) December 7, 2017
President Trump is pushing Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) to run for the U.S. Senate, the Washington Post reports. “Trump has told advisers he plans to call Mr. LePage, the bombastic governor who endorsed him in February 2016, and ask him to jump in against Sen. Angus King (I-ME) in 2018 — and that he would endorse him. King is an independent who often caucuses with Democrats.”
Meanwhile, former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) is entering the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, the Nashville Post reports. If Bredesen wins the primary, the Tennessee Senate race instantly becomes a competitive toss up race.
“According to multiple sources, Bredesen began calling major donors this afternoon to confirm that he is in the race. He has been mum about a campaign since Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) announced he would step down next year, only acknowledging that he was contemplating a run. A formal announcement of his intent to run has not yet been made.”
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) December 6, 2017
Matt Yglesias: “Having spent years wrongheadedly lambasting the Bush administration for large deficits, Democrats then spent the early Obama years governing in an excessively debt-averse manner. By doing so, they prolonged joblessness for millions of people and significantly exacerbated the inevitable down-ballot losses in 2010. Because that was a Census year, victorious Republicans were able to entrench many of those gains via gerrymandering meaning that the political costs of excessive deficit-aversion have been doled out repeatedly over many electoral cycles.
Now the GOP is back in unified control of Washington, they are sensibly advancing key party priorities rather than trying to impress journalists with how “responsible” they are. Rather than lash out, Democrats ought to try to take stock in an honest way. Think about this tax bill that they rightly deplore. Now imagine if the bill was modified to drop the individual mandate repeal and make the Child Tax Credit partially refundable so that instead of costing 13 million people their health insurance it took a bite out of child poverty. That modified bill would be even more of a debt-raiser. But it would be a better bill. A lot better. Because child poverty is really bad, and lacking health insurance is really bad, and budget deficits at a time of low interest rates are not that bad.
All that is hypothetical, of course, but it’s a good gut check about what does and doesn’t matter. What’s not hypothetical: At some point Democrats will be in a position to govern again, and will likely want to roll back significant elements of this unpopular and regressive tax plan. At that point, they’ll have a choice between spending the money raised on deficit reduction (as the partial repeal of the Bush tax cuts did) or to help pay for worthwhile new programs. It’s true, of course, that Republican politicians will opportunistically flip and start condemning debt as the greatest evil of all.
More to the point, it’s true that the CEO class — currently hungry for tax cuts — will revert to “grand bargain” mode and insist that tax increases, if they must happen, should be paired with spending cuts. It’s true that much of the media will cover this hypocrisy in a clueless and irresponsible way. But the most important truth of all: Democrats will have the power to govern as they see fit, and the right choice will be to implement sound economic policy, not obsess about the deficit. So let’s not spend the Trump years in a senseless state of debt panic.”
“Republican leaders, convinced they need to find new revenue in order to fund last-minute changes to the giant tax package moving through Congress, are looking at decreasing the size of their planned corporate tax cut,” the Washington Post reports.
“The House and Senate passed separate tax-cut packages in recent weeks, and both bills would lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. But GOP negotiators are now openly discussing the possibility of moving that rate back up to 22 percent to generate more revenue.”
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) December 5, 2017
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) told radio host Ross Kaminsky that Republicans will next try to reduce spending on Medicare, Medicaid and anti-poverty programs in an effort to reduce America’s deficit.
Said Ryan: “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit… Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.”
If the Trump tax cuts fall apart, the Republican Party will, too https://t.co/3YrYbRPCph
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) December 5, 2017
“House conservatives are already indicating that they’re prepared to block some of the key legislative promises that Senate Republicans demanded in exchange for their vote on tax reform legislation,” the Daily Beast reports.
“Those promises materialized in the frantic final hours of the tax debate last week, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gave Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) assurances that some of their personal legislative priorities would be dealt with in exchange for their votes.”
“Both senators ended up voting for the tax bill, giving it the 51 ‘yes’ votes it needed to pass. Within days, however, reality began setting in that those promises might have been flimsy at best.”
Former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland “told lawmakers that she did not discuss or know anything about interactions between Sergey Kislyak, who had been Moscow’s ambassador to the United States,” and Michael Flynn, the New York Times reports. “But emails… appear to undermine those statements. In a Dec. 29 message about newly imposed Obama administration sanctions against Russia for its election interference, Ms. McFarland, then serving on Mr. Trump’s transition team, told another transition official that Mr. Flynn would be talking to the Russian ambassador that evening.”
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Tuesday that the nomination of former White House Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland would be “frozen for a while” in light of revelations that she knew about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s communications with Russia’s ambassador to the United States prior to Donald Trump’s inauguration. “If she did testify inappropriately, obviously that’s a big, big problem,” Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) told CNN’s Manu Raju.
— The New Republic (@newrepublic) December 6, 2017
“John Conyers III, a Detroit hedge fund manager named as a possible successor to his scandal-rocked father, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), was arrested in Los Angeles this year on suspicion of domestic violence, but prosecutors declined to charge him,” according to documents obtained by NBC News.
Yeah, how about a no on any future Conyers in Congress. Or better yet, how about we replace him with a woman?
5. Some thoughts on why Dems shouldn't get hopes up on impeachment & instead pursue other ways of fighting Trump/Trumpism: https://t.co/Cta4UI4pj3
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) December 5, 2017
David Ermold, a gay man who was denied a marriage license by Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis (R), will run to unseat her in 2018, WKLC reports.
“In the two years since then, things have quieted down in this Appalachian town. But last month, Davis announced she would run for re-election and face voters for the first time since refusing to issue the licenses. Three other people have also filed to run against her.”
A new Strategy Research poll in Alabama finds Roy Moore (R) leading Doug Jones by seven points in next week’s U.S. Senate special election, 50% to 43%.
Doug Jones (D) and his allies “are trying to finalize plans to bring in several high-profile current or former African American elected officials, including Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), to campaign for him this weekend in Alabama as he wages an aggressive final push to turn out black voters in a Tuesday special election with national stakes,” the Washington Post reports.
“Jones has been trying to piece together a delicate coalition built on support from core Democrats and some crossover votes from Republicans not drawn to their party nominee, Roy Moore (R). Crucial to that plan is strong turnout by African Americans, who make up about a quarter of Alabama’s electorate.”
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) December 6, 2017
Donald Trump Jr. “cited attorney-client privilege to avoid telling lawmakers about a conversation he had with his father, President Trump, after news broke this summer that the younger Trump — and top campaign brass — had met with Russia-connected individuals in Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign,” Politico reports.
“Though neither Trump Jr. nor the president is an attorney, Trump Jr. told the House Intelligence Committee that there was a lawyer in the room during the discussion, according to the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California. Schiff said he didn’t think it was a legitimate invocation of attorney-client privilege.”
Said Schiff: “I don’t believe you can shield communications between individuals merely by having an attorney present. That’s not the purpose of attorney-client privilege.”
For Donald Trump, Muslim violence is a political strategy. Last week, he invented it. Today he provoked it https://t.co/dNwfa61cM7
— Peter Beinart (@PeterBeinart) December 6, 2017