The Open Thread for January 13, 2018

Some new Quinnipiac poll results from their poll that was released on Thursday: 59% of voters believe Mueller’s investigation into Trump campaign and Russia is “fair.” 56% believe Trump has tried to obstruct the investigations.

Voters disapprove of the Republican Donor Relief Bill, by 52 to 32%. 66% believe the wealthy benefits the most from the plan.

79%! of voters say that undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, the so called “Dreamers” and DACA recipients, should be allowed to remain in the US and apply for citizenship. 63% of voters oppose building the wall.

Washington Post: “For months, Sessions has asked senior White House aides to make sure the president knows what he is doing at the Justice Department, two White House advisers said, and has told allies he hopes policy decisions that garner news coverage will please Trump.”

“But Sessions, who was one of Trump’s earliest backers and gave up a safe Senate seat to join the administration, has, by all accounts, been unable to repair his relationship with the president. Trump has dismissed praise of Sessions… as he continues to rage about the Russia investigation and Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the probe into Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election and whether there was any coordination with the Trump’s campaign.”

: “Former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio has the kind of résumé that in some other, hard-to-remember era would have consigned him to the fringes of American politics.”

“Now, he wants to be the a United States senator—and he believes the political climate has never been better for a candidate like him.”

“In a phone interview Wednesday, Arpaio told me the national GOP had moved sharply in his direction in recent years. All that gauzy post-2012 talk of Republicans reaching out to Latino voters and championing ‘compassionate’ immigration reform seems like a distant memory now—replaced by a climate in which the godfather of the birther movement can become president by promising to keep Mexican rapists out of the country with a massive border wall.”

CBS News reports it took the White House twenty-two minutes to figure out how to enable the “listening only” feature on a conference call:

“This White House can’t even run a fucking conference call,” a reporter on an unmuted phone line angrily exclaimed to the entire call. “They don’t know how to mute their line.”

“It’s the illegitimate media that doesn’t know how to conduct themselves. They can’t mute their fucking phones,” an unidentified official said. “Mute your phones.”

Another White House official repeatedly attempted to quiet the noisy line “so the people in charge” could talk.

“I think if everyone had half a brain and common sense and muted their phones, this wouldn’t be a problem,” she yelled in an apparent fit of frustration.

“Hello? Hello?,” one reporter interjected, some 15 minutes after the slated start of the call. “Has the call started?”

“This is Kim Jong Un calling for Donald Trump,” another reporter joked as tensions flared.

John Cassidy: “For the past year, Republicans, senior Democrats, and many media commentators have held back from applying the R-word to Trump. In some circumstances, there are good reasons for exercising such caution. Calling someone a bigot is not a step to take lightly. Often, it can shut down discourse and fuel animosity. With Trump, there is the added consideration that, as long as he’s the President, other politicians in Washington have little choice but to deal with him. Also, he runs his mouth so much that a lot of what comes out of it doesn’t merit serious consideration.”

“After this latest outburst, however, the arguments for being reticent seem absurd. The obvious truth can no longer be avoided or sugarcoated: we have a racist in the Oval Office.”

“A lawyer for President Trump arranged a $130,000 payment to a former adult-film star a month before the 2016 election as part of an agreement that precluded her from publicly discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Michael Cohen, who spent nearly a decade as a top attorney at the Trump Organization, arranged payment to the woman, Stephanie Clifford, in October 2016 after her lawyer negotiated the nondisclosure agreement with Mr. Cohen.”

“Ms. Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels, has privately alleged the encounter with Mr. Trump took place after they met at a July 2006 celebrity golf tournament… Mr. Trump married Melania Trump in 2005.”

NBC News reports on a career intelligence analyst who briefed President Trump in the Oval Office last fall:

“Where are you from?” the president asked, according to two officials with direct knowledge of the exchange.

New York, she replied.

Trump was unsatisfied and asked again, the officials said. Referring to the president’s hometown, she offered that she, too, was from Manhattan. But that’s not what the president was after.

He wanted to know where “your people” are from, according to the officials, who spoke off the record due to the nature of the internal discussions.

After the analyst revealed that her parents are Korean, Trump turned to an adviser in the room and suggested her ethnicity should determine her career path, asking why the “pretty Korean lady” isn’t negotiating with North Korea on his administration’s behalf, the officials said.

“The same Russian government-aligned hackers who penetrated the Democratic Party have spent the past few months laying the groundwork for an espionage campaign against the U.S. Senate,” the AP reports.

“The revelation suggests the group often nicknamed Fancy Bear, whose hacking campaign scrambled the 2016 U.S. electoral contest, is still busy trying to gather the emails of America’s political elite.”

U.S. Ambassador to Panama John Feeley has resigned, telling the State Department he no longer feels able to serve President Trump, the Telegraph reports.

Said Feeley: “As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the president and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies. My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come.”

David Graham: “Here is the paradox: Everyone, from the president to his staff to the Congress to the pundits to the people, knows that the current situation is a disaster, and yet there is no apparent way to end the situation.”

“That means until at least the end of 2020, the situation will remain much as it is, with a president widely acknowledged to be dysfunctional and no way to change that. It is as though the United States is stumbling, never quite falling on its face but never fully righting itself, either, caught perpetually mid-stumble. The only certainty is more weeks like this one. There is no exit.”

“A company that once had financial ties to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was one of two firms selected by the U.S. Department of Education to help the agency collect overdue student loans. The deal could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to the Washington Post.

“The decision to award contracts to Windham Professionals and Performant Financial Corp. — the company in which DeVos invested before becoming secretary — arrives a month after a federal judge ordered the department to complete its selection of a loan collector to put an end to a messy court battle. Windham and Performant beat out nearly 40 other bidders for contracts valued at up to $400 million, but their win may be short-lived if the losing companies fight the decision.”

James Hohmann: “The White House likes to blame Congress for dragging its feet, but that’s only part of the story: As of this morning, there is no pending nominee for 245 of the 626 jobs we’re tracking. Among them: deputy secretary at Treasury and Commerce, director of the Census, director of ATF, director of the Office on Violence Against Women at Justice and commissioner of the Social Security Administration.”

“Many of these jobs have ‘acting’ directors, but these people aren’t fully empowered and cannot indefinitely stay in these roles without being confirmed by the Senate because of laws related to vacancies. The lack of permanence creates uncertainty and makes strategic planning difficult. It also makes it harder to manage career staff, who are less likely to follow orders they disagree with when they realize that their boss is a short-timer.”

“More than one-fifth of Donald Trump’s U.S. condominiums have been purchased since the 1980s in secretive, all-cash transactions that enable buyers to avoid legal scrutiny by shielding their finances and identities,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“Records show that more than 1,300 Trump condominiums were bought not by people but by shell companies, and that the purchases were made without a mortgage, avoiding inquiries from lenders.”

“Those two characteristics signal that a buyer may be laundering money, the Treasury Department has said in a series of statements since 2016.”

“A growing number of pregnant Russian women have been traveling to Miami to give birth, with the wealthier ones buying birth tourism packages and those of more modest means putting together DIY packages. Giving birth in the U.S., and Miami in particular, is a status symbol in Moscow, NBC News reports, and the big draw is birthright citizenship. All children born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens.”

“The child gets a lifelong right to live and work and collect benefits in the U.S. And when they turn 21 they can sponsor their parents’ application for an American green card.”

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

5 comments on “The Open Thread for January 13, 2018

    • cassandram

      Anny, this might actually mean something if anyone thought you had a clue of what “qualified” would mean.

    • Grassley is the Midwestern version of Mitch McConnell, horrible poll numbers and widely disliked he always manages to be reelected.

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