The Open Thread for January 25, 2018

President Trump issued an ultimatum, telling Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) he risks failing to secure a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program if he reneges on his offer to fund Trump’s proposed border wall, the Washington Examiner reports.   Said Trump: “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there is no Wall, there is no DACA.”

Well, you racist piece of shit President, that was the deal you walked away from last Friday.   The White House said that their racist piece of shit President will release a framework for what he hopes to see in an immigration reform bill on Monday, Axios reports.  Asked whether that’ll include a path to citizenship for Dreamers, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said: “If I told you now it would kind of take away the fun for Monday.”  In other words, it has not been written yet because the incompetent racist White House doesn’t know how to put “All White European People, No Dark Skinned South Americans, Arabians, Africans or Asians” into appropriate legislative language.

“Senators crashing on a two-week deadline to come up with an immigration plan are already sparring over funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall, what qualifies as border security — even what the scope of the negotiations are,” Politico reports.

“It was an inauspicious start Tuesday to the bipartisan effort to break the months-long impasse over Dreamers and the budget that crescendoed with last weekend’s government shutdown. That crisis ended quickly, but Congress could be back in almost the same spot in two weeks absent a deal that can get 60 votes. The path to 60, though, looks rocky indeed.”

“An initial gang of six senators has casually doubled, but some members aren’t deeply versed in immigration policy. The group’s leaders say their plan is by far the most developed proposal that can attract Democrats and Republicans, but conservatives with Trump’s ear say the administration has no interest negotiating off their bill.”

Playbook: “Congress will need another stopgap spending bill on Feb. 8, because there is no chance the House will have an immigration deal by then, even if the Senate does. Then Congress would pass another stopgap until March — just before the ultimate expiration of DACA.”

President Trump said that he was willing to speak under oath to Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, the New York Times reports.

Said Trump: “I’m looking forward to it.”

So are we, Donny.  So are we.

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates “has quietly added a prominent white-collar attorney, Tom Green, to his defense team, signaling that Gates’ approach to his not-guilty plea could be changing behind the scenes,” CNN reports.

”Green, a well-known Washington defense lawyer, was seen at special counsel Robert Mueller’s office twice last week.”

The Alabama House voted 67-31 to end special elections for U.S. Senate appointments, the Montgomery Advertiser reports.

Politico: “Senate Democrats are struggling to hit the reboot button a day after their shutdown defeat, with their base infuriated and their House counterparts alienated. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a close ally of Dreamer advocates, urged disappointed liberals to stay focused on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) vow to open debate on immigration legislation in February if no deal is reached by Feb. 8, when government funding next runs out.”

Said Durbin: “We had hoped to achieve more. We did achieve something significant. We have a deadline, we have a process, and I think that deadline is right near us. It isn’t like they’re asking for six months or a year. It’s 16 days.”

David Leonhardt: The Democrats did just fine.

Walter Shapiro: “When it comes to protecting the Dreamers, Schumer was in a situation akin to a drunk who lost his watch in a dark alley but was searching for it on the main street because ‘the light is better here.’ The Democrats had leverage in the Senate because of the filibuster, but the House has always been the problem on immigration.”

“Actually, the House would not be such an obstacle if a compromise immigration bill could ever get to the floor for a vote. But the Republicans are slavish devotees to the Hastert Rule— a disgraceful tradition named after a disgraced former House speaker, Denny Hastert.”

“As long as Ryan will not bring any legislation to the floor that does not have majority support in the GOP caucus, the Dreamers could be held hostage by outrageous demands of House Republicans.”

Stu Rothenberg: “Why? Because the shutdown was never a big deal politically. As long as it didn’t drag on for weeks and months, the shutdown was always more of an opportunity for feigned outrage, finger-pointing and media hype than political realignment.”

“So, while you should keep your eye on immigration as a potentially big midterm issue, don’t get too caught up in dissecting the brief government shutdown. It was a skirmish, not a major war.”

“A request by the Justice Department to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census could shift the nation’s balance of political power from cities to more rural communities over the next decade and give Republicans a new advantage drawing electoral boundaries,” the Washington Post reports.

“Population numbers produced by the census are used in many ways, notably to draw political districts and distribute government funds across the country. Adding questions to the decennial survey is usually a controversial and difficult process because of the potential to affect both of those functions — either by suppressing census participation or by creating new ways to define populations.”

“All of it has prompted advocates for Hispanic communities to accuse the Justice Department of wanting to produce a less accurate count in 2020.”

“Senior U.S. intelligence officers including CIA Director Mike Pompeo have been questioned by the U.S. special counsel’s team about whether President Trump tried to obstruct justice in the Russia probe,” sources told Reuters.

“Such questioning is further indication that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s federal investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and potential collusion by Trump’s campaign includes examining the president’s actions around the probe.”

President Trump’s close political advisers “are making millions of dollars working for several different entities gearing up for Trump’s re-election campaign — raising questions about whether they are following campaign finance laws designed to keep campaigns from coordinating with big-money outside groups,” BuzzFeed reports.

“Campaigns and party committees are not allowed to coordinate with allied outside groups that are supposed to be independent, such as super PACs and nonprofits. But the Federal Election Commission, which is governed by a board of three Republicans and three Democrats and usually deadlocks on issues, has hardly enforced that rule.”

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team wants to question former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon about the firings of national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI Director James Comey,” CNN reports.  “Bannon is set to interview with Mueller by the end of the month, these people say, as the special counsel’s investigation moves closer to President Trump’s inner circle.”

Felix Salmon: “I’ve always been OK with adding up the wealth of the rich, and looking at an annual increase is a great way of demonstrating just how enormous the returns to capital were in 2017. Of course, if stocks had gone down instead of up, those returns would have been negative, and Oxfam would have concentrated on something else. But at the end of this crazy bull market, it’s always worth remembering just how enormous the big winners’ gains have been.”

“Specifically, the world’s billionaires – the richest 2,000 people on the planet – saw their wealth increase by a staggering $762 billion in just one year. That’s an average of $381 million apiece. If those billionaires had simply been content with staying at their 2016 wealth, and had given their one-year gains to the world’s poorest people instead, then extreme poverty would have been eradicated. Hell, they could have eradicated extreme poverty, at least in theory, by giving up just one seventh of their annual gains.”

Frank Rich: “Trump is incapable of telling the truth on any subject — he even lied about the rainfall on his Inauguration Day. Even if he listens to his lawyers and tries to be on his best behavior, he will still lie and incriminate himself on the big topics being investigated by Mueller. Already the White House is hedging about his willingness (if any) to be interviewed. I think he’s no more likely to voluntarily appear before Mueller than he is to release his tax returns.

That standoff will be preceded by plenty of other drama. Clearly panic is setting in about Mueller’s pursuit of his obstruction-of-justice inquiry. The news that not only Sessions but the CIA chief Mike Pompeo (among other eyewitnesses to the firings of Comey and Michael Flynn) have been interviewed is not good for the White House.

As always when threatened with legal jeopardy, Trump’s major move is to attack the rule of law and its institutions. That’s why he besmirched the “Mexican heritage” of the U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel during the campaign. So now Trump, Republicans in Congress, and his right-wing press cohort are stepping up their efforts to make the case that the FBI is hopelessly corrupt and engaged in a conspiracy to usurp his presidency. Where this will lead is anyone’s guess; it’s the first time a president has opened fire on the FBI as an institution.

Adding to this effort is Sessions, who lied to Congress about his Russian contacts and, perhaps facing legal battles of his own, is highly motivated to shut down Mueller’s investigation from the inside — as evidenced by the Washington Post report that he wanted to pressure the new FBI director, Chris Wray, to purge top agency officials on the grounds that those jobs should be held by Trump loyalists. One way or another a constitutional showdown will arrive before the Mueller investigation concludes its business, with or without the firing of Mueller himself.

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

5 comments on “The Open Thread for January 25, 2018

  1. Agreed, we’re on our way to a constitutional crises, perhaps several. As noted the Republicans are desperate, the best example of which is the “#Releasethememo game, beyond pathetic as said memo was written by the Republicans themselves. Suspect it’s only the shadow of Nixon’s fate that keeps Trump from firing Mueller, not convinced he won’t do it anyway. I do know that if Trump actually testifies under oath the results will be a new level of disaster, perhaps even comical as Trump tries to lie his way out of being caught yet again.

  2. Democrats have already surrendered on DACA. They arent willing to fight and, my guess, wont make a peep about McConnell breaking his “promise”
    This is Tom Carper’s legacy. Half-assedly standing for something only to surrender fast and move on.

  3. Wanna know if Carper and Coons voted to confirm as Health and Human Services Secretary, the Eli Lilly CEO who jacked the price of insulin ?

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