The Open Thread for February 4, 2018

New York Times: “The war between the president and the nation’s law enforcement apparatus is unlike anything America has seen in modern times. With a special counsel investigating whether his campaign collaborated with Russia in 2016 and whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice in 2017, the president has engaged in a scorched-earth assault on the pillars of the criminal justice system in a way that no other occupant of the White House has done.”

“In his telling, that bureaucracy, now run by his own appointees, is a nest of political saboteurs out to undermine him — an accusation that raised fears that he was tearing at the credibility of some of the most important institutions in American life to save himself.”

Washington Post: Once the party of law and order, Republicans are now defiant.

“Trump has told advisers in recent days that he was hopeful the memo’s release would pave the way for further shake-ups at Justice, including firing Rosenstein.”

NBC News has exclusively obtained a six-page rebuttal to the Nunes memo from Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, which was to be circulated to all House Democrats.

The rebuttal says the Nunes’ memo “provides no credible basis whatsoever” for removing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and that the memo shows that Republicans “are now part and parcel to an organized effort to obstruct” Mueller’s probe.

Writes Nadler: “Until now, we could only really accuse House Republicans of ignoring the President’s open attempts to block the Russia investigation. But with the release of the Nunes memo… we can only conclude that House Republicans are complicit in the effort to help the President avoid accountability for his actions and the actions of his campaign.”


Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) retweeted an Associated Press story detailing how some workers have begun to see more take-home pay as the result of new tax law.  He later deleted the tweet after being roundly mocked on social media.

Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page bragged that he was an adviser to the Kremlin in a letter obtained by Time that raises new questions about the extent of Page’s contacts with the Russian government.

From the letter, dated Aug. 25, 2013: “Over the past half year, I have had the privilege to serve as an informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin in preparation for their Presidency of the G-20 Summit next month, where energy issues will be a prominent point on the agenda.”

Even before he’d read the memo, President Trump seized on what it could mean, the AP reports.

“Trump told confidants in recent days that he believed the memo would validate his concerns that the ‘deep state’ — an alleged shadowy network of powerful entrenched federal and military interests — had conspired to undermine the legitimacy of his presidency, according to one outside adviser.”

“Trump’s decision to authorize the memo’s public disclosure was extraordinary, yet part of a recent pattern. Like few of his predecessors, Trump has delivered repeated broadsides against intelligence and law enforcement agencies, working in tandem with some conservatives to lay the groundwork to either dismiss or discredit special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Russia investigation.”

Dan Balz: “This was the week when the Republican Party finally went all in with President Trump. What once seemed unlikely is now reality. The Republican establishment — there are a few dissenting voices, of course — has succumbed to the power of the presidency, and this president in particular.”

“This coming together has taken place gradually. The path has been rocky at times. But the embrace of the president by elected Republicans could not have been warmer or fuller than shown in the past week.”

New York Times: “As national Republicans dig in to defend their majorities in Congress in the midterm elections, party leaders across the country have grown anxious about losses on a different front: state legislatures. Over the last decade, Republicans have dominated most state capitals, enacting deep tax cuts, imposing new regulations on labor unions and abortion providers, and drawing favorable congressional maps to reinforce their power in Washington.”

“Yet that dominance appears to be fraying, strained by the same forces taxing Republicans in Congress. National strategists in both parties see the landscape of legislative races expanding, especially in areas around major cities where President Trump has stirred an insurrection among liberals, and college-educated voters and white women have recoiled from Republicans.”


Gallup: “For the first time in three years, more states can be considered Democratic than Republican, based on residents’ 2017 self-reported party preferences. Nineteen states, up from 14 in 2016, were solidly Democratic or leaned Democratic, while 16 states, down from 21 in 2016, were solidly Republican or leaned that way.”

Todd Purdum: “The aggressive Republican attacks on the FBI are the latest sign — if one were needed — that President Donald Trump has upended the longstanding norms of Washington, as he and his allies in Congress seek to undermine the one institution of government that conservatives have typically seen as a bastion of integrity and law-and-order. Since at least the dawn of the New Deal, Republicans have excoriated any number of government entities — the Tennessee Valley Authority, the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — as woolly-headed, hyper-regulatory and riddled with liberals — or worse.”

“But for decades — from J. Edgar Hoover’s 47-year reign, through the McCarthy era, the civil unrest of the 1960s and right down to the Clinton impeachment — the FBI and the GOP have almost always been in sympathy, and often in sync. Not even at the height of the Watergate scandal, when the bureau’s investigation was imperiling Richard Nixon’s presidency, did Republican loyalists mount any serious effort to sow doubt about its work. No more.”

NBC News: “The question is whether Pelosi is as toxic now, with Republicans in control of the White House and Congress, as she was then.”

“Republicans are certain that she is.”

“But Pelosi’s team says Republicans aren’t living in the real world if they think a national campaign against her can overcome Trump’s poor approval ratings — he’s been below 40 percent in most polls — and the enthusiasm of Democratic voters.”

A new SurveyMonkey poll finds that “not even 40% of Republicans approve of America’s main federal law enforcement agency — a stunning turn for the law-and-order party.”

“Trump, who earlier turned a huge swath of Republicans toward more favorable opinions of Russia, has now turned his party against his own FBI.”

“The stark new Republican skepticism of the FBI means that Trump has succeeded in preemptively undermining the findings of special counsel Bob Mueller. Many Republicans will now see Mueller’s report or recommendations as a political document, and the conservative media will portray it that way.”

CNN: “Both Fox News and the Washington Examiner reported on highlights from the memo almost immediately after President Trump authorized the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee to release the four-page document.”

“At that time, other media outlets were still working to get details of the memo.”

“The news was initially reported without commentary by both Fox News and the Washington Examiner. Nevertheless, the move to provide key points to outlets friendly to the president raised eyebrows.”

“An absolute disgrace. It is an embarrassment to the United States Congress. It is part of an effort to discredit the investigation of the president. That is its only purpose, and it doesn’t even work on those terms.”

— Jeffrey Toobin, discussing on CNN the release of the Nunes memo.

Lawfare:”At the end of the day, the most important aspect of the #memo is probably not its contents but the fact that it was written and released at all. Its preparation and public dissemination represent a profound betrayal of the central premise of the intelligence oversight system. That system subjects the intelligence community to detailed congressional oversight, in which the agencies turn over their most sensitive secrets to their overseers in exchange for both a secure environment in which oversight can take place and a promise that overseers will not abuse their access for partisan political purposes. In other words, they receive legitimation when they act in accordance with law and policy.”

”Nunes, the Republican congressional leadership and Trump violated the core of that bargain over the course of the past few weeks. They revealed highly sensitive secrets by way of scoring partisan political points and delegitimizing what appears to have been lawful and appropriate intelligence community activity.”

“A home improvement contractor married to one of Donald and Melania Trump’s former household staffers is now working as an official at the Environmental Protection Agency, the latest example of someone with a personal connection to the Trump family finding work in the administration,” Politico reports.

“Trump, who appointed his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner to senior White House roles, has made a habit of appointing people with close ties to his family or businesses rather than experienced policymakers or political hands. His White House social media director, Dan Scavino, started working for him years ago as a caddy, and his first security director, Keith Schiller, traveled with him from the Trump Organization to the White House.”

Amy Walter: “For all the spinning and posturing there remains a fundamental challenge for the Republicans: the tax bill won’t become more popular unless the president becomes more popular. In fact, if you look at national support for the tax legislation, you will see that it lines up almost exactly with voters’ overall perception of the president.”

“In other words, if you like the president, you like the tax reform legislation. If you don’t like Trump, you either don’t like the bill or you are undecided about it. It is a reminder that whatever the president touches carries his polarizing brand.”

“Even as voters are overwhelmingly positive about the economy, it doesn’t translate to their opinions of the president or the tax law.”

New York Times: “After weeks of buildup, the three-and-a-half-page document about alleged F.B.I. abuses during the 2016 presidential campaign made public on Friday was broadly greeted with criticism, including by some Republicans. They said it cherry-picked information, made false assertions and was overly focused on an obscure, low-level Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.”

“It didn’t live up to the hype.”

“But the campaign, captured in the hashtag #releasethememo, which was trending on Twitter for days, may have a far more significant impact than the memo’s contents… What began as an ember more than two weeks ago was fanned into a blaze by conservative media titans, presidential tweets and Republican lawmakers urging people to use social media to pressure Congress to make the memo’s contents public.”

Walter Shapiro: “Ever since Watergate, the standard for any scandal is whether there is a smoking gun left next to a corpse. In the case of the Nunes memo, we lack a body and the gun is a child’s toy pistol.”

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2 comments on “The Open Thread for February 4, 2018

  1. As expected Nunes now says “there will be more memos”, color me underwhelmed. As expected the Republicans are circling the wagons around not only the almighty memo but the tax bill as well, they are right so to do as both are a disaster for the nation, admit it or not. So far the deficit potential of the tax cuts are remaining hidden, a big score for Mitch the monster McConnell as it will be a cause for alarm at some point. Interesting to see “the party of law and order” attacking the FBI and Justice Department with cries of “the deep state!!!” and claims that both are infested with Liberals. Yeah, right! Law enforcement is a conservative thing by it’s very nature.

  2. cassandram

    So that poll tells you where the Blue Lives Matter crowd got to on this, right?

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