The Open Thread for February 10, 2018

“President Trump has decided to block the release of a Democratic memo countering Republican claims of FBI and Justice Department bias in the Russia probe,” Bloomberg reports.

New York Times: “Democrats are certain to be outraged by the action, given that last week the president declassified the contents of a rival Republican memo drafted by committee staff and drawn from the same underlying documents over the objections of his own Justice Department and F.B.I.”

President Trump praised Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary who resigned on Wednesday amid spousal abuse allegations, saying it was a “tough time” for the disgraced former aide who “did a very good job,” the New York Times reports.

Said Trump: “We wish him well. As you probably know, he says he is innocent.”

“The glowing praise of a staff member accused of serial violence against women was in line with the president’s own denials of sexual impropriety despite accusations from more than a dozen women and his habit of accepting claims of innocence from men facing similar allegations.”

To the President, Rob Porter is a good man, who just beats his wives.  He sees himself in Porter.  Hence the defense.

Meanwhile, White House chief of staff John Kelly “has made clear to the president in the last 24 hours that he’s willing to resign in light of the president’s dissatisfaction over the West Wing’s handling of the allegations against former Staff Secretary Rob Porter,” ABC News reports.  “While Kelly’s fate is in question, sources familiar with the matter said they did not believe his departure is imminent.”  Meanwhile, Axios says Trump has floated three possible replacements for Kelly: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, OMB chief Mick Mulvaney and businessman Tom Barrack, a Trump friend.

The Washington Post reports “Kelly learned in September about the allegations of spousal abuse and that they were delaying Porter’s security clearance amid an ongoing FBI investigation. But Kelly handed Porter more responsibilities to control the flow of information to the president.”

Jonathan Swan: “The Rob Porter crisis has become a John Kelly crisis, and it has now totally engulfed the West Wing. White House staff — especially Porter’s close friendship circle —are shell-shocked by the allegations of domestic abuse by the departing aide. President Trump is enraged about the situation, though he still feels that it hasn’t touched him.”

“Trump’s affection for his chief of staff is gone, and Kelly has lost the goodwill of much of his staff. The president is mulling potential replacements, though aides doubt he has it in him to actually fire the retired general.”

White House speechwriter David Sorensen resigned “after his former wife claimed that he was violent and emotionally abusive during their turbulent two-and-a-half-year marriage — allegations that he vehemently denied, saying she was the one who victimized him,” the Washington Post reports.

“After months of secret negotiations, a shadowy Russian bilked American spies out of $100,000 last year, promising to deliver stolen National Security Agency cyberweapons in a deal that he insisted would also include compromising material on President Trump,” the New York Times reports.

“The cash, delivered in a suitcase to a Berlin hotel room in September, was intended as the first installment of a $1 million payout, according to American officials, the Russian and communications reviewed by The New York Times. The theft of the secret hacking tools had been devastating to the N.S.A., and the agency was struggling to get a full inventory of what was missing.”

“The United States intelligence community has been conducting a top-secret operation to recover stolen classified U.S. government documents from Russian operatives,” according to The Intercept.

“The operation has also inadvertently yielded a cache of documents purporting to relate to Donald Trump and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.”

“The channel started developing in early 2017, when American and Russian intermediaries began meeting in Germany. Eventually, a Russian intermediary, apparently representing some elements of the Russian intelligence community, agreed to a deal to sell stolen NSA documents back to the U.S. while also seeking to include Trump-related materials in the package.”

“Among the many people agitated this week over John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, was President Trump. And among the people the president called to express dissatisfaction, according to those close to him, was none other than Reince Priebus, the previous chief of staff, who also irritated Mr. Trump,” the New York Times reports.

“The idea that the president would confide grievances over Mr. Kelly with the person he pushed out to hire Mr. Kelly is yet another indication of how upside-down Mr. Trump’s world can be. In the West Wing, various characters fall in and out of favor with such rapidity that it is never entirely clear who has the president’s ear.”

Chuck Todd has had enough: “It’s like we’re living inside a parody from three years ago – “What would happen if Donald Trump became president? Omarosa would probably work in the West Wing! And then she’d leave to go on Big Brother to dish about Administration secrets! Ha ha!” …Oh, wait. That actually happened on Big Brother Celebrity Edition, airing tonight…

Let’s leave aside the fact that Omarosa made those comments on a show named after George Orwell’s dystopian surveillance state. Folks, we’re not even surprised by this stuff anymore. Just think of all we’ve seen — or endured — in the last 13 months of this presidency. The twitter battles with a rival nuclear power, members of his own party, the Gold Star widow, the Justice Department, mayors, senators, governors, our allies, and many in between…

All of this is the legacy of our country’s first reality TV star president. It is all personal and it is all about the show… it is a hell of a show. One for the ages. But it is no laughing matter. And is it anyway to run a country?”

“Rachel Brand, the No. 3 official at the Justice Department, plans to step down after nine months on the job as the country’s top law enforcement agency has been under attack by President Trump,” the New York Times reports.

“Ms. Brand’s profile had risen in part because she is next in the line of succession behind the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the special counsel’s inquiry into Russian influence in the 2016 election. Mr. Trump, who has called the investigation a witch hunt, has considered firing Mr. Rosenstein.”

“Such a move could have put her in charge of the special counsel and, by extension, left her in the cross hairs of the president.”

A new Public Opinion Quarterly article finds that late movement to Donald Trump and a lack of education weighting were the best explanations for the state polling error in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Interestingly, there is little evidence that “shy voter” responses were an important contributor to polling error.

President Trump “has grown increasingly frustrated with Hope Hicks, his communications director and one of his closest confidantes, amid the fallout from the Rob Porter scandal,” CNN reports.

“Trump was not consulted when Hicks and several other aides drafted a White House statement defending Porter, and he is under the impression that Hicks has let her romantic relationship with Porter cloud her judgment.”

“For much of the past year, President Trump has rarely if ever reads the President’s Daily Brief, a document that lays out the most pressing information collected by U.S. intelligence agencies from hot spots around the world,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump has opted to rely on an oral briefing of select intelligence issues in the Oval Office rather than getting the full written document delivered to review separately each day… Reading the traditionally dense intelligence book is not Trump’s preferred ‘style of learning.’”

“Soon after Trump took office, analysts sought to tailor their intelligence sessions for a president with a famously short attention span, known for taking in much of his information from the conservative Fox News Channel. The oral briefings were augmented with photos, videos and graphics.”

First Read: “In the House, 167 Republicans and 73 Democrats voted for the budget deal, while 119 Democrats and 67 Republicans voted against it.”

“And now you know the real governing wing of the House — 70-plus Democrats along with the 50 to 60 House Republicans who typically would vote for spending/budget deals in the final years of the Obama Era. Folks, that’s not a majority of the House of Representatives, and it’s why there’s a governing problem. And it’s why no one should be optimistic about immigration getting through the House.”

Associated Press: “Administration officials have downplayed the risk of simultaneously slashing taxes and boosting spending, arguing that the result will be faster growth that will then shrink the debt. But the higher deficits would come just as the Federal Reserve is on course to continue — and perhaps accelerate — the pace of its short-term rate hikes. The Fed’s rate increases will likely lead, in time, to higher borrowing rates for consumers and businesses and likely slow economic growth.”

“The market’s plunge over the past week was initially ignited by fears of higher inflation and interest rates. But investors have also had to consider a new threat: A two-year government funding deal that would add about $300 billion to budget deficits from higher spending. The Fed might have to respond by raising rates more aggressively to counter the stimulative effect of the spending increases.”

A new Des Moines Register poll in Iowa finds that just 26% of voters say they’ll definitely vote for President Trump if he runs for re-election in 2020, while 48% say they definitely will not vote for him.

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

11 comments on “The Open Thread for February 10, 2018

  1. Me First! RELEASE THE MEMO!!! What Is Trump Hiding???

  2. If there was something in the memo, it would have already been leaked and broadcasted all over the lame stream…100%.

  3. Will take the Iowa poll with a grain of salt, their flip-floppers.

  4. Why don’t you two go to the gym and pump each other?

  5. Nice homophobic slur, there. What do you do for an encore…racism?

    • Awwww…. were you wittle feewings hurt?

      Sorry, sonny, but right-wing trolls don’t get to cite left-wing tropes as their defense.

      It’s a line from “Fletch.” I just thought it fit you and your illiterate sidekick well.

  6. cassandram

    So not one, but two domestic abusers are gone from the White House in one day. Then there is the KY judge and Trump campaign manager who was convicted for trafficking minors.

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