The Open Thread for February 14, 2018

FBI director Christopher Wray “contradicted the White House timeline about the domestic abuse scandal involving Rob Porter, the president’s former staff secretary,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Wray said that the bureau delivered to the White House a partial report on problems in Mr. Porter’s background in March, months earlier than the White House has admitted receiving the information.”

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s enemies are ready to use FBI Director Chris Wray’s testimony as a weapon, according to Jonathan Swan. Said one White House official: “Wray’s FBI timeline makes one thing clear: the Kelly coverup is unraveling right before our eyes.”

Politico: “While the president often makes a hash of the truth, aides took Kelly’s word at face value until they were confronted with zigzagging accounts of the events leading up to former staff secretary Rob Porter’s resignation—and Kelly’s role in them.”

“In the hours immediately after the Daily Mail published a photograph of Porter’s first ex-wife with a black eye, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders hastily arranged an off-the-record meeting in the West Wing with Porter and four reporters: the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, the Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey, Axios’ Jonathan Swan, and the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Bender. In that meeting, which hasn’t previously been reported, Porter relayed his version of events and fielded questions from the group.”

“The White House declined to comment on Porter’s meeting with reporters, including whether or not Kelly was aware it took place. But two White House officials said the mixed messages are symptomatic of the extent to which the White House has left Kelly to shoulder the blame for the Porter mess.”

Meanwhile, CNN reports that “Rob Porter was involved in serious discussions to be promoted when he abruptly resigned from the White House last week amid allegations that he abused his two ex-wives.”

“Porter had been actively lobbying to take on new policy portfolios outside the traditional scope of the staff secretary, one person familiar with the matter said, which included speechwriting duties and a role in planning policy rollouts. Neither of those tasks is traditionally carried out by the staff secretary.”


Phillip Bump: “Trump mocked Clinton for going 235 days without giving a news conference. As of Friday, it will have been 365 days — a year — since he has given one as president.”

As an immigration debate starts in the U.S. Senate, Roll Call notes that Slovenian-born Melania Trump’s own immigration history “has never been fully explained by the Trump camp. ”President Trump and his aides have “never thoroughly addressed the curious case of then-Melanija Knavs, who at 26 moved to New York City in the mid-1990s to pursue a professional modeling career. It would be two years before she met and began dating businessman Donald Trump. And still unresolved is whether she and her modeling agency properly handled her immigration status during that window.”


Ratings of U.S. leadership fell in nearly every part of the world in the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, dragging median approval to a record-low 30%, according to Gallup.

“The Israeli police recommended on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, casting a pall over the future of a tenacious leader who has become almost synonymous with his country,” the New York Times reports.

“The announcement instantly raised doubts about his ability to stay in office.”  The BBC has a good backgrounder on the scandal.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (R) “is rejecting a Republican-drawn map of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts to replace the GOP-drawn map struck down in a gerrymandering case, leaving him to make a different recommendation to the state’s high court,” the AP reports.

“Wolf’s move Tuesday comes six days before the Democratic-majority state Supreme Court says it’ll impose new boundaries for Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional districts.”

Bloomberg: “Kagan and Roberts are part of a quartet of relatively centrist justices, along with Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer, who at times can turn their chemistry into a consensus and avert a sharp divide.”

“The group will be tested during what could be a divisive stretch starting next week, when the court reconvenes after a month-long recess. Between now and the end of June, the court will rule on partisan gerrymandering, voter-database purges, mandatory union fees, Trump’s travel ban and possibly his effort to rescind a deferred-deportation program.”

“The four justices are hardly ideological soulmates… But as a group they stand in contrast to their five less compromising colleagues — Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor on the left and Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch on the right.”

Wall Street Journal: “After watching President Trump fire former FBI Director James Comey, belittle Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio, among other events, Chris Hunter said he decided to leave his job as a prosecutor in Tampa in December and run for Congress.”

“Mr. Hunter is now one of five former federal prosecutors who are running for House seats as Democrats this year, compared with zero in 2016. The Wall Street Journal couldn’t identify any similar Republican candidates.”

Forbes has assembled a list of who is currently paying rent to President Trump.

The Trump Organization has ongoing deals with law firms that lobby the federal government, banks controlled by foreign states and big media companies that cover Trump. Taken together – more than 150 tenants and some $175 million a year – they represent the greatest opportunity for conflicts of interest in a presidency full of them.

“U.S. forces killed scores of Russian contract soldiers in Syria last week in what may be the deadliest clash between citizens of the former foes since the Cold War,” Bloomberg reports.

“More than 200 mercenaries, mostly Russians fighting on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, died in a failed attack on a base and refinery held by U.S. and U.S.-backed forces in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region, two of the Russians said. The U.S. official put the death toll at about 100, with 200 to 300 injured.”


Politico: “Senators on Monday kicked off an open-ended immigration debate that promises to test their rusty skills at bipartisan legislating, with no guarantee of success. The Senate voted 97-1 to proceed to a legislative shell bill that’s designed to serve as a vehicle for votes on competing immigration proposals, with Ted Cruz (R-TX) the sole ‘no’ vote.”

“All eyes are now on which — if any — idea can clear a 60-vote hurdle that requires both parties to look across the aisle. But as debate began, Republicans and Democrats alike acknowledged that it’s anyone’s guess as to whether such an immigration plan exists. President Donald Trump’s immigration framework is on track for a Senate floor vote and got endorsed Monday by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), but it’s unlikely to win 60 votes without significant changes.”

Vox analysis of hiring records for seasonal workers at three Trump properties in New York and Florida revealed that only one out of 144 jobs went to a US worker from 2016 to the end of 2017.

Foreign guest workers with H-2B visas got the rest.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Congress that this year’s midterm elections are a “potential target” for Russian influence operations, Bloomberg reports.

Said Coats: “We assess that the Russian intelligence services will continue their efforts to disseminate false information via Russian state-controlled media and covert online personas about U.S. activities to encourage anti-U.S. political views.”

Just days after President Trump signed a $300 billion budget hike, Coats also warned that the national debt is “unsustainable” and a “dire threat” to national security.

New York Times: “In a year of controlling power in Washington, President Trump and Republicans in Congress have run up federal spending, approved deficit-swelling tax cuts and presided over a marked increase in ‘policy uncertainty’ in the economy. They still talk about the importance of fiscal discipline, but they have yet to enforce it.”

“The $4.4 trillion budget Mr. Trump released on Monday spends as much over 10 years as any budget offered by President Obama, whose policies Republicans blamed for ballooning the size of the federal government and hobbling the economy. It does not attempt to achieve balance at the end of that time, despite optimistic economic growth projections that far exceed what most economists say is possible.”

“Instead, it projects that deficits will grow $7 trillion over the next decade as the United States continues borrowing huge sums of money — a number that could double if the administration turns out to be overestimating economic growth and if the $3 trillion in spending cuts the White House has floated do not materialize in Congress.”

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

14 comments on “The Open Thread for February 14, 2018

  1. cassandram

    So there’s a big story on a WH Staff Secretary beating his wife and reporters from major outlets agree to an off-the-record meeting to let the accused tell his side. WTF? I don’t even get the point of that. Why have this meeting if you can’t report on it?

  2. If you can’t see Trump indicted then Netanyahu is a close second, hope it comes to something or at least is a thorn in his far right side. In PA Go Tom Wolf GO! I knew the Republicans would be back with a gerrymander subterfuge designed to look fair but in reality be as bad as what they were forced to give up. Perhaps they’ll strike back with yet another clever voter suppression scheme. As for Russians meddling in the 2018 election it’s a given, it’s also a given that the Republicans will do nothing about it as it benefits them. Fine “patriots” one and all. As for security clearance when you hire a collection of crooks, well…. That’s going to be a problem.

    • Just think, Bam, Russian meddling could be used to nullify an election that results in a massive blue wave.
      “oh i know it LOOKS like the GOP lost both chambers, but Russia meddled, so RE-DO!”

      • To do that the Republicans would have to admit everything they’ve been denying for over a year now, dare say they will remain in denial regardless.

        • not entirely, Fox is pushing the theory that the REAL Russian collusion was Clinton setting a trap for 45 in case she lost. All they have to do is all say it together and their trash base believes it.

  3. News orgs are reporting another possible school shooting. Via ABC on Twitter: DEVELOPING: Deputies responding to reports of a shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida. More reports from Broward County Sheriff: Saying there is an active shooter.

    This is almost a daily occurrence.

    *This is a developing story. Details are subject to change.

    • They are now reporting that the shooter is still at large.

    • More reports:

      20 injured/1 dead

      The shooter has been said to be a white male, in a burgundy shirt.

      Fire alarm pulled to get kids in the hallways

      Shooter still at large

      *Again, this is a developing story. Details subject to change.

    • Sen Bill Nelson confirms “a number of fatalities”

      • As predicted the shootings are becoming common and coming in so fast the NRA remains in lock down mode for a period of weeks now, I’ll be the first to admit there are so many shootings It’s hard to keep track. Also note their troll army is silent as well, usually their in the vanguard of insane reasons why gunliness is next to godliness.

        • Looks like the suspect is in custody. Where did the shooter get the gun. If this is another case where he got the gun at home it’s time to lock up the parents – since they don’t securely lock up their guns.

          Good, bamboozer, the NRA and 2Aers can shut up forever.

  4. CNN reporting now: At least 16 dead.

    I’m in tears.

  5. A friend of mine works in that district, though not in that school. I hope to God that Floridians see what Rick Scott and the GOP legislature have done to them, treating children as disposable in the interest of profit and getting the endorsement of the gun anarchists. Stop the massacres!

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