“Another bitter week that took Washington to the brink of exhaustion landed Donald Trump at the epicenter of more tragedy, scandal and rancor than a conventional president would hope to face in a full year,” CNN reports.
“The White House was sent reeling by the Florida school massacre, new indictments in the Russia probe, its own mishandling of domestic abuse claims against a top staffer, allegations that Trump covered up extra-marital affairs and another huge immigration fail.”
“All of this unfolded when the administration hoped to focus on infrastructure — when the big headlines would involve the President pushing his next big agenda item.”
“They say tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call B.S.” – Emma Gonzalez, survivor of the Parkland school shooting pic.twitter.com/xeT0gDSURz
— Moms Demand Action (@MomsDemand) February 17, 2018
“The scathing indictment unsealed Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller outlines a multi-state scheme to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. But the document makes clear that the operation in Florida, the nation’s largest swing state, was in a class by itself,” Politico reports.
“The indictment is packed with details of how Russian nationals duped Donald Trump campaign volunteers and grass-roots organizations in Florida into holding rallies they organized and helped fund with foreign cash… During the heat of the 2016 race, Trump campaign officials in Florida said they were surprised by all the grass-roots support for the president — which seemed entirely organic at the time.”
President Trump lashed out on Twitter at suggestions that Russia helped him win the presidency, reiterating that a new federal indictment showed no evidence of collusion between his campaign and the Kremlin. Said Trump: “Funny how the Fake News Media doesn’t want to say that the Russian group was formed in 2014, long before my run for President. Maybe they knew I was going to run even though I didn’t know!”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Trump traveled to New Hampshire in January 2014 to speak at a breakfast series for possible presidential candidates. Rachel Maddow pointed out on Friday night that the Russian interference began immediately after Trump returned from the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013.
New York Times: “After more than a dozen Russians and three companies were indicted on Friday for interfering in the 2016 elections, President Trump’s first reaction was to claim personal vindication… He voiced no concern that a foreign power had been trying for nearly four years to upend American democracy, much less resolve to stop it from continuing to do so this year.”
“The indictment secured by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, underscored the broader conclusion by the American government that Russia is engaged in a virtual war against the United States through 21st-century tools of disinformation and propaganda, a conclusion shared by the president’s own senior advisers and intelligence chiefs. But it is a war being fought on the American side without a commander in chief.
“In 13 months in office, Mr. Trump has made little if any public effort to rally the nation to confront Moscow for its intrusion or to defend democratic institutions against continued disruption.”
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) February 17, 2018
George Will profiles Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) as a possible presidential candidate, who he says “is a generation younger than some progressives’ pinups (Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden). And living far from Washington, he is positioned to deplore the Beltway, within which his party has been concentrating power for a century.”
“California’s presidential primary, which usually has been a June irrelevancy, will occur in March 2020. This might benefit Kamala Harris, the state’s freshman U.S. senator, too. Anyway, Garcetti deserves a hearing. America could do worse, it usually does and in 33 months it probably will.”
Big takeaways from Mueller's indictments, w/a white collar crime expert:
1) We now know there were alleged crimes.
2) We STILL DON'T KNOW if conspiracy happened.
3) This underscores Trump's abdication in failing to protect our elections.
My new post:https://t.co/VG6vaH3ZO8
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) February 16, 2018
White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 election is “now really incontrovertible,” CNN reports. McMaster has said previously it had been difficult to say definitively because “technically it was difficult” but “also you didn’t want to divulge your intelligence capabilities.” He added: “But now that this is in the arena of a law enforcement investigation it’s going to be very apparent to everyone.”
— The New Republic (@newrepublic) February 17, 2018
Jonathan Swan: “It will now be even harder for Trump to fire Mueller. Capitol Hill already would have gone crazy if Trump tried that. But after Mueller has done such substantive work — even earning the lavish praise of Trump lawyer John Dowd — it’s impossible to imagine Trump getting away with firing him.”
“The fact that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave a press conference is significant. It was a major vote of confidence in the Mueller probe: This is Rosenstein saying he’s proud of this work, and fully supports it.”
“It’s also a notable show of independence by Rosenstein — a Heisman to the White House.”
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) February 17, 2018
E J. Dionne, Jr. provides an eloquent description of one of Trump’s biggest liabilities, which Democrats should think about addressing more creatively.
“The hardest of the hardcore Trump loyalists are still likely to cast ballots this year. But he also drew support from loyal Republicans and white working-class swing voters. Many of them were not enthralled by him but couldn’t abide Hillary Clinton — or were just plain angry. It’s hard to imagine they’re overjoyed with the past 13 months…Some members of this dispirited group overlap with a third key constituency that is underanalyzed because its ranks are not exceptionally partisan or ideological. They are citizens who ask for a basic minimum from those in charge of their government: some dignity and decorum, a focus on problem-solving, and orderliness rather than chaos.
Trump and the conservatives sustaining him are completely out of line with this behavioral conservatism built on self-restraint and temperamental evenness…They include small-business owners who prefer low taxes but care about schools, roads, libraries and parks. They may be critical of government, but they also expect it to do useful things. They don’t much like bragging and find an obsession with enemies unhealthy…The obvious political calculation is that this fall’s elections will be decided by which side mobilizes its most ardent supporters.
But here is a bet that there is also a quiet revolution of conscience in the country among those who are sick to death of the chaos they see every day on the news, a White House whose energy is devoted to stabbing internal foes in the back and a president who can’t stop thinking about himself. In the face of this, demanding simple decency is a radical and subversive act.”
Ignoring Trump's abrasive statements and inflammatory tweets, the list of his policy failures over the past year is long.https://t.co/khPaFWUlzx
— Washington Monthly (@washmonthly) February 16, 2018
Josh Voorhees at Slate: “There is major difference between an issue not being an automatic drag on your electoral prospects and actually being a boon to them. Saying gun control isn’t the losing issue it’s made out to be is not the same as saying it’s a winner. There are plenty of logical reasons for Democrats to fret. The majority of Americans may be in favor of small, specific actions like universal background checks or renewing the ban on assault weapons, but as Ramesh Ponnuru argued persuasively in the National Review in November after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, one reason the passion for those very actions is so muted is that many supporters don’t actually believe such laws would make all that much of a difference.
Things only get more complicated when the debate moves into the abstract and away from the specifics (as it often does when the NRA is involved); opinions on gun control versus gun rights tend to swing toward control in the aftermath of a high-profile shooting before swinging back as time passes. That means a gun-centric pitch from Democrats would likely find a receptive audience today but an uncertain one in November…Democrats would have a particularly strong argument for tying Trump to the lack of action on guns, considering the NRA was one of Trump’s earliest backers—to the tune of $30 million—and remains one of his strongest supporters. That gamble could come with a rather big reward if gun control activists were able to capture a few notable Republican scalps in November: the chance for them and Democrats to do a little mythmaking of their own. Convincing Americans that gun control isn’t toxic at the ballot box wouldn’t be enough to pass meaningful gun laws, of course, but it might finally be a start.”
Nancy Pelosi is bidding for a second shot at history, as the first person to reclaim the House speaker's gavel in more than 60 years. But some Democrats believe the party needs to move on to a new generation of leaders. @russellberman reports: https://t.co/NpgBERjDmJ pic.twitter.com/nqlwVHVZpJ
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) February 15, 2018
Harry Enten on why Congress is hesitant to pass gun control measures, by the numbers:
“Last year, Gallup asked Americans whether they would vote only for a candidate who shared their views on gun policy or whether it was one of many important factors they would consider before voting. Among gun owners, 30% said they could vote only for someone who shared their viewpoint. Among those who didn’t own guns, it was 20%. Not only that, but since 2000 the percentage of gun owners who said gun issues were key to their vote climbed by 17 points. It rose by just 10 points among those who didn’t own guns…Pew has made similar findings to Gallup. Gun owners are 9 points (21% to 12%) more likely to have contacted public officials about gun policy than those who don’t own guns. Americans who favor loosening gun laws have been 7 points (22% to 15%) more likely to contact public officials than those who favor stricter gun laws….Even if some Republicans were tempted to support stricter gun control, these numbers suggest that they might be pressured into voting against it because gun rights advocates are more likely to make their voices heard.”
— The New Republic (@newrepublic) February 15, 2018
New York Times: “While the indictment does not accuse Facebook of any wrongdoing, it provided the first comprehensive account from the authorities of how critical the company’s platforms had been to the Russian campaign to disrupt the 2016 election. Facebook and Instagram were mentioned 41 times, while other technology that the Russians used were featured far less. Twitter was referenced nine times, YouTube once, and electronic payments company PayPal 11 times.”
“It is unprecedented for an American technology company to be so central to what the authorities say was a foreign scheme to commit election fraud in the United States.”
"I will not write another check unless they all support a ban on assault weapons"
Bush family stalwart, who has given millions & millions to GOP, says he will "email every single donor I know" to drum up support for new gun laws >>https://t.co/dORwzms6Il
— Alex Burns (@alexburnsNYT) February 17, 2018
Al Hoffman, a prominent Republican political donor, “demanded that the party pass legislation to restrict access to guns, and vowed not to contribute to any candidates or electioneering groups that did not support a ban on the sale of military-style firearms to civilians,” the New York Times reports.
Said Hoffman: “For how many years now have we been doing this — having these experiences of terrorism, mass killings — and how many years has it been that nothing’s been done? It’s the end of the road for me.”