Nick Ackerman, a former Watergate prosecutor, told MSNBC that the big issue in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is not whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia, but whether it conspired to steal emails from prominent figures in the Democratic Party.
Said Ackerman: “I think the big enchilada here is the conspiracy to break into the Democratic National Committee in violation of the federal computer crime law and to use those emails to help Donald Trump get elected. All of that is motive as to why Donald Trump and others were endeavoring to obstruct the investigation, and why Donald Trump told James Comey to let the investigation on Michael Flynn go. All of this is going to come together in 2018.”
Devin Nunes, targeting Mueller and the FBI, alarms Democrats and some Republicans with his tactics https://t.co/JXYxyvfRcK
— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) December 31, 2017
Stan Collender: “This year’s spending and tax debate is going to be worse than last year’s, and 2017 was an absolute slum of a year as far as the federal budget is concerned.”
“From trying to discredit and dismantle the Congressional Budget Office, to ignoring the trillion dollar deficit increase projected by the Joint Committee on Taxation from the Trump Family and Friends Tax Cut, to misusing and abusing the congressional budget process, to coming close to 3 government shutdowns, to not even trying to enact any of the 12 regular 2018 appropriations by the start of the fiscal year, to enacting what may well be the most nonsensical and damaging tax policy in U.S. history, there was nothing about what the Republican House and Senate majorities and Trump administration did that had any redeeming value.”
“Democrats in high-cost, high-tax states are plotting ways to do what their states’ representatives in Congress could not: blunt the impact of the newly passed Republican tax overhaul,” the New York Times reports.
“Governors and legislative leaders in New York, California and other states are considering legal challenges to elements of the law that they say unfairly single out parts of the country. They are looking at ways of raising revenue that aren’t penalized by the new law. And they are considering changing their state tax codes to allow residents to take advantage of other federal tax breaks — in effect, restoring deductions that the tax law scaled back.”
If Obama’s foreign policy was leading from behind, Trump’s doctrine may come to be understood as retreating from the front. In @NewYorker this week, my story of how China learned to take advantage of the “strategic opportunity” afforded by Trump. https://t.co/NsrvHoGkA8
— Evan Osnos (@eosnos) January 1, 2018
Washington Post: “A Democrat hoping to run for president might have a strategy of tacking noticeably to the left — in an attempt to grab the attention and enthusiasm of the progressive activists most likely to work for her and vote in the primaries. And Gillibrand has been doing precisely that. She was the first senator to call for Al Franken (D-MN) to step down, has been criticizing Bill Clinton’s failure to resign over allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct, and was an early supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s ‘Medicare for all’ bill. Earlier in December, she called on President Trump to resign over numerous credible allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, to which Trump responded with an insult- and insinuation-laden tweet reaction.”
“But wait, there’s more — several actions piquing the interest of party activists. In Illinois, Gillibrand endorsed a progressive challenger to incumbent Democratic Rep. Daniel Lipinski — even before the challenger, Marie Newman, had filed petitions to run. Gillibrand has also taken notably progressive stands in the Senate. Along with Sanders (I-VT) and only four other Democrats, Gillibrand voted against the massive annual defense bill. And she unveiled a plan with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to ban states from passing ‘right-to-work’ laws, which enable workers in unionized shops to refuse to pay dues, a major conservative priority.”
Damage Bigly: Donald Trump’s first year in the White House has been much more damaging to the nation than that of any other president in modern times. by James Mann https://t.co/D1YW9CZSkP via @nybooks
— Michiko Kakutani (@michikokakutani) December 31, 2017
“Even the strongest of Trump backers should think long and hard about a world without facts and common truths,” Axios reports.
“You might love his middle finger to the media. But even the strongest of Trump backers should think long and hard about a world without facts and common truths. His techniques — especially claiming bad or unwanted news is ‘fake news’ — are getting copied worldwide, just as evil actors like Russia are getting better at spreading misinformation.”
“Despots use fake news as a weapon: Leaders or state media in at least 15 countries have used the term ‘fake news’ to try to quell dissent or defuse questions about human rights violations.”
“In the U.S.: Within seconds of any major attack or shooting, fake news (real fake news: news that is actually false) starts circulating about the suspect and victims, forcing tech platforms to apologize for surfacing news from faulty sources — think Vegas shooting, Times Square subway bombing, etc.”
Think Progress: “On Christmas, Trump tweeted that he would be going ‘back to work’ the next day. Trump has since gone golfing for seven consecutive days, while the press pool ate pancakes at a local IHOP.”
Former Joint Chiefs of Staff chair: We’ve never been closer to nuclear war with North Korea https://t.co/vt9sJssozP
— Salon (@Salon) December 31, 2017
“Fresh from interviewing former White House press secretary Sean Spicer over what he was doing on the fifth floor of Trump Tower on election night, Democrats now want to interview former RNC Chairman Reince Priebus,” Politico reports.
“Spicer’s presence that night has caused some unease among Republicans because the expiration of a 35-year-old settlement, or consent decree, barring the RNC from engaging in ballot security operations may depend on it. The fifth floor was the nerve center of then-candidate Donald Trump’s poll-watching operations.”
“The consent decree originated from the RNC’s voter intimidation efforts in New Jersey’s 1981 gubernatorial election. Republicans, some of whom were armed off-duty law enforcement officers wearing armbands, showed up at urban polling places and challenged voters. The display was blamed for suppressing the black vote, allowing Republican Tom Kean to squeak out an extremely narrow victory over Democrat Jim Florio.”
Australian media confirms NYT report that George Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat in May 2016 that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton; that conversation was passed on to officials in the Australian government. https://t.co/E7hQena7gF
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 1, 2018
In his Houston Chronicle article, “Beto O’Rourke carries Texas Democrats’ hopes in 2018 run against Ted Cruz,” Kevin Diaz takes the measure of Rep. O’Rourke’s U.S. Senate campaign and observes, “Cruz’s evident ambition – seen in his first trip to Iowa, within months of being sworn in as a senator – will be central to O’Rourke’s case as he crisscrosses Texas trying to rally long-marginalized Democrats, independents, first-time voters, Latinos, the anti-Trump “resistance,” and anyone else who might have grown weary of post-Trump Republicanism.”
Strategists on both sides know that the backdrop for the U.S. Senate race in Texas – possibly one of the marquee races of the 2018 midterm elections – will be the push or pull of Trump, who bested Hillary Clinton in Texas by 9 percentage points…For O’Rourke, a Spanish nicknamed, fourth-generation Irish-American from El Paso, that is a source of hope. But first, the 45-year-old ex-punk-rocker with the toothy, Kennedyesque smile will have to prove it can be done – even as he eschews polls, Beltway consultants and, most importantly, political action committee money…O’Rourke could boast of 7,000 more individual donors than Cruz through the end of September, when their last financial reports were filed. But from a modern campaign perspective he will be fighting with one hand behind his back: Though he’s accepted campaign contributions from political action committees in the past, O’Rourke has sworn off PAC money in the race against Cruz.”
When your Sims are waiting for instructions pic.twitter.com/IqkGODapdL
— Dean Tāne (@Maccadaynu) January 1, 2018
At The Atlantic, Clare Foran previews the next big special election: “The next closely-watched special election is set to take place in a conservative Pennsylvania House district that will test the Democratic Party’s appeal with white, working-class voters who now reliably vote Republican.
Democrat Conor Lamb will face off against Republican state Representative Rick Saccone on March 13 in a race to replace former Republican Representative Tim Murphy, a pro-life congressman who resigned earlier this year after reports surfaced that he had allegedly asked a woman with whom he had an affair to get an abortion…Democrats have not yet shown they can win congressional seats in the Rust Belt and industrial midwest states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, which flipped from blue to red in the last presidential election…“This gives Democrats an opportunity to go to the blue-collar, white voters that Trump won in 2016 and say, ‘Trump betrayed you. He said he was going to be a populist president, and fight for you, but all he’s done so far is favors for corporate America,’” said Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist and president of Bannon Communications Research, a Washington, D.C.-based political consulting firm.”
Important from @mdubowitz and Ray Takeyh on Iran: "The Islamic Republic is a relic of a century that yielded multiple ideological regimes claiming to have mastered the forces of history. By now most of them are history."https://t.co/t6wPO6hRKu
— Aaron MacLean (@AaronBMacLean) January 1, 2018