The Open Thread for January 21, 2018

“Republicans and Democrats spent the first hours of the government shutdown Saturday taking partisan shots and moving no closer to resolving the funding crisis,” Politico reports. “Republicans accused Democrats of prioritizing “illegal immigrants” over American citizens by insisting that protections for young immigrants facing deportation be included in any spending deal… Democrats countered that the situation is a product of President Donald Trump’s constantly shifting positions and embrace of the most hard-line stance on immigration.”

Politico: Inside the frantic 24 hours that led to a shutdown. “Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with jello. It’s next to impossible. As soon as you take one step forward the hard right forces the president three steps back… It’s next to impossible to strike a deal with the president because he can’t stick to the terms.” — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), quoted by The Hill, on President Trump’s efforts to prevent a government shutdown.

TPM has more on yesterday’s events.

WHITE HOUSE IS NOT READY FOR SHUTDOWN.  “Obama administration officials who spoke to the Daily Beast said they were shocked at the apparent lack of seriousness with which lawmakers, and the Trump White House, appeared to be approaching the potential funding lapse. When they went through a shutdown in 2013—and when they prepped for one in 2011—the contingency planning took weeks.” “As of late Thursday afternoon, however, numerous federal agencies appeared to have not submitted updated plans to the Office of Management and Budget. Of the nearly 130 agencies and offices that submit contingency plans, 66 of them had not publicly updated their proposals since 2015.”

MUELLER IS GETTING CLOSEVanity Fair: “As the multiple probes into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia have spiraled onward, Republicans have increasingly moved to cast doubt on their origins, plunging the inquiries into a stew of partisan bickering. And though in recent weeks members of Congress have seemingly moved to bury the hatchet, a new report could re-ignite—and even worsen—partisan tensions.” “According to McClatchy, the F.B.I. is investigating whether a top Russian banker with close ties to President Vladimir Putin illegally channeled money through the N.R.A. to bolster Trump’s bid for the White House. The revelation that the special prosecutor might target the gun lobby, arguably the most influential and sacrosanct faction of the Republican Party, could embolden G.O.P. lawmakers to bring a swift end to the Trump-Russia probe and hasten a Mueller ouster.”

THE RUSSIA ELITE WERE TRUMP’S GUESTS AT HIS INAUGURATION. Washington Post: “The attendance of members of Russia’s elite at Trump’s inauguration was evidence of the high anticipation in Moscow of a thaw in U.S.-Russia relations, following a campaign in which Trump stunned U.S. foreign policy experts by repeatedly praising Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.”

“As questions about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election were beginning to percolate publicly, prominent business leaders and activists from that country attended inaugural festivities, mingling at balls and receptions — at times in proximity to key American political officials.”

“Their presence caught the attention of counterintelligence officials at the FBI.”

OMAROSA HAS TAPES.  “Former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault-Newman may have taped confidential West Wing conversations and fears being caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe,” the New York Daily News reports. “The former reality TV star’s official last day in the Trump administration is Saturday — despite the abrupt announcement of her departure last month — and her next step seems to be lawyering up.”

MCCONNELL A MORE POTENT VILLIAN THAN TRUMP.  National Journal: “In a break from the anti-Trump messaging that defined last cycle, Democratic strategists predict that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could in some races prove a more potent villain than the president, particularly in places where Trump easily defeated Hillary Clinton.”

“The reasoning cited for McConnell’s sudden usefulness in campaigns beyond a Republican primary: Trump’s approval rating is better than average in several GOP-leaning states, while Congress—and, by extension, McConnell—is far more disliked.

NO ONE KNOWS WHERE THE TRUMP INAUGURAL FUNDS WENT. “Nearly a year after President Trump’s inauguration, the committee that raised a record $106.7 million for the event has not disclosed how much surplus money it still has or provided a final accounting of its finances,” USA Today reports. “While the committee must report names of donors who give at least $200, election law does not require an accounting of the spending. And there are few restrictions on how leftover funds are used.”

MEEHAN IN TROUBLE.  Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), “who has taken a leading role in fighting sexual harassment in Congress, used thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to settle his own misconduct complaint after a former aide accused him last year of making unwanted romantic overtures to her,” the New York Times reports.

“A married father of three, Mr. Meehan, 62, had long expressed interest in the personal life of the aide, who was decades younger and had regarded the congressman as a father figure… But after the woman became involved in a serious relationship with someone outside the office last year, Mr. Meehan professed his romantic desires for her — first in person, and then in a handwritten letter — and he grew hostile when she did not reciprocate.”

“She later reached a confidential agreement with Mr. Meehan’s office that included a settlement for an undisclosed amount to be paid from Mr. Meehan’s congressional office fund.”

This is very bad news for Republicans. They’ll either have a damaged incumbent or an open seat in a very competitive district.


The Trump campaign released a new campaign ad calling Democratic lawmakers “complicit” in all murders committed by undocumented immigrants.  TPM:”The spot seems unlikely to ease tensions on Capitol Hill as the Senate tries to negotiate a compromise on the fate of the 700,000 immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children in order to reopen the shuttered federal government.”

David Atkins: “Never mind the fact that undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes on average than US citizens. Never mind that Donald Trump’s campaign and election has spurred a wave of white supremacist violence across the United States.

And never mind the fact that principal dispute at the moment is over Dreamers, people brought to this country when they were very young and who until recently were considered special cases in the overall immigration debate. Mainstream Republicans just a few years ago were pushing for comprehensive immigration reform. Just a year ago they were supposedly committed to protecting the Dreamers, even if only as a fig leaf to cover for their more cruel policies toward other undocumented groups. But now? Nearly every Republican talking point over the shutdown has conflated Dreamers and “illegal immigrants” wholesale. In frighteningly rapid fashion, the Republican Party has moved to a “deport them all” stance for people like Revernd Rey Pineda, a priest and DACA recipient who was brought to the United States when he was only two years old.

Just who is this racist garbage supposed to appeal to, beyond the morally and statistically shrunken deplorable 35% who still support this president?”

Newsweek: “A German bank reportedly has evidence of ‘suspicious transactions’ related to Jared Kushner’s family accounts and is willing to hand the information over to Russia probe special counsel Robert Mueller.”


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

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