The Open Thread for February 22, 2018

A new Quinnipiac poll finds American voters give President Trump a negative 37% to 58% approval rating, down from 40% to 55% earlier this month. By a 57% to 41% margin voters say that Trump is not fit to serve as president. There is a wide gender gap, with men divided 49% to 49% on whether Trump is fit. Women say 65% to 33% he is not fit.

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll finds just 25% say they have noticed an increase in their paycheck due to the new tax law, while 51% say they have not.   Interesting: Self-identified Republicans are more likely to say they have seen a larger paycheck under the new law (32%) than Democrats (21%) or independents (22%).

JARED WANTS HIS CLEARANCE!  Jared Kushner “is resisting giving up his access to highly classified information, prompting an internal struggle with John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, over who should be allowed to see some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Kushner, frustrated about the security clearance issue and concerned that Mr. Kelly has targeted him personally with the directive, has told colleagues at the White House that he is reluctant to give up his high-level access… In the talks, Mr. Kushner has insisted that he maintain his current level of access, including the ability to review the daily intelligence briefing when he sees fit.”

MUELLER UPDATE. “New charges have been filed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and aide Rick Gates, but the charges were put under seal by the court, obscuring the nature and import of the development,” Politico reports.

“Federal investigators are probing whether former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort promised a Chicago banker a job in the Trump White House in return for $16 million in home loans,” two people with direct knowledge of the matter told NBC News.  “Manafort received three separate loans in December 2016 and January 2017 from Federal Savings Bank for homes in New York City and the Hamptons… The sources say the three loans were questioned by other officials at the bank.”

Former Trump campaign staffer Sam Nunberg is expected to meet with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team on Thursday in Washington, ABC News reports.  Nunberg spoke on the record about the Trump campaign in Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury. Before the book published, leaked passages showed Nunberg quoted as reportedly calling President Trump as an ‘idiot’ in a conversation with Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon.”

MELANIA’S PARENTS.  “The parents of first lady Melania Trump have become legal permanent residents of the United States and are close to obtaining their citizenship, according to people familiar with their status, but their attorney declined to say how or when the couple gained their green cards,” the Washington Post reports.

“Immigration experts said Viktor and Amalija Knavs very likely relied on a family reunification process that President Trump has derided as ‘chain migration’ and proposed ending in such cases.”

GOP GOES FULL ALEX JONES.  New York Times: “In certain right-wing corners of the web — and, increasingly, from more mainstream voices like Rush Limbaugh and a commentator on CNN — the students are being portrayed not as grief-ridden survivors but as pawns and conspiracists intent on exploiting a tragedy to undermine the nation’s laws.”

“In these baseless accounts, … the students are described as ‘crisis actors,’ who travel to the sites of shootings to instigate fury against guns. Or they are called F.B.I. plants, defending the bureau for its failure to catch the shooter. They have been portrayed as puppets being coached and manipulated by the Democratic Party, gun control activists, the so-called antifa movement and the left-wing billionaire George Soros.”

Tampa Bay Times: “The conspiracy climbed to a new level when an aide to state Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa, was fired after emailing a Tampa Bay Times reporter with a stunning assertion: ‘Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen.’”

He can’t even fake empathy without a script.  My God.    And are all his shirts monogrammed with the 45?

TRUMP WANTS SESSIONS TO INVESTIGATE DEMOCRATS. “President Trump attacked his own attorney general on Wednesday, asking in a Twitter post why Jeff Sessions has not been investigating Democrats for Russian interference in the 2016 election,” the New York Times reports.

“In his tweet, Mr. Trump revived his offensive on Mr. Sessions, whom he once called ‘beleaguered,’ and continued his days-long Twitter comments on the ongoing special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling. It was the latest instance of the president publicly criticizing federal law enforcement.”

NEW PA MAP BETTER THAN DEMOCRATS EVEN WISHED FOR. Nate Cohn: “Few people expected that the Pennsylvania congressional map, which the state Supreme Court ordered redrawn to undo Republican gerrymandering, would prove to be as favorable to Democrats as the one adopted by the court on Monday.”

“Perhaps the easiest way to convey the cause for surprise: The new map is better for Democrats — by nearly every measure — than the maps that Democrats themselves proposed.”

PA GOP FLIPPING OUT, BUT LEGAL CHALLENGES WILL FAIL.  Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) called for a “conversation” about impeaching state Supreme Court justices over their new congressional map, The Hill reports.  Said Toomey: “Look, I think it’s inevitable that that conversation’s going to take place. I think state House members and state senators are going to be speaking amongst themselves and their constituents, and the fundamental question is does this blatant, unconstitutional, partisan power grab that undermines our electoral process, does that rise to the level of impeachment?”

“Republicans will file suit to block the new map of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts as soon as Wednesday,” the Allentown Morning Call reports.

Politico: “But, behind the scenes, Republican consultants are already urging their clients to get ready for these new districts in 2018.”

“The state Supreme Court, which released the new map on Monday, had ruled the previous district lines violated the commonwealth’s constitution as an improper Republican gerrymander. Because the issue is a matter of state law, legal experts say Republicans are unlikely to find judicial recourse in federal courts.”

HALF OF TRUMP CABINET IS CORRUPT.  An APM Reports review of news coverage, ethics agreements and government financial disclosure forms has found that more than half of President Trump’s 20-person Cabinet has engaged in questionable or unethical conduct.

TRUMP’S OBSTRUCTION MAY SHRINK HIS POWER. Politico: “So far, all signs have pointed to Trump’s refusing the interview request, which would almost certainly force [Robert] Mueller to issue a grand jury subpoena to compel the president to talk. If this comes to pass, and the president refuses to comply with such a subpoena, the country will be in unchartered constitutional territory, and the courts will need to intervene. But history shows that when courts intervene because a president is trying to shield his own conduct, the deck is stacked against him. If Trump isn’t careful, he will end up shrinking his own authority—and diminishing the presidency for years to come.”

AGE LIMIT FOR GUNS.  Jonathan Swan: “President Trump has told associates that he doesn’t think high school kids should be able to buy guns, and is open to the idea of imposing a minimum purchase age of 21 for guns like those used in the Florida high school massacre.”

“The source cautioned that the conversations with the president have been relatively loose and open-ended so far. Nothing has been decided, or is close to decided, on the age question.”

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

9 comments on “The Open Thread for February 22, 2018

  1. Minor correction. I think 45 asked someome named “Jeff Session” to investigate Obama/dems. Guess he thinks AG Sessions is too busy making racist cookies in a tree.

  2. i wasn’t sure what to expect from CNN’s Town Hall last night, but… Holy Cow! These kids, parents and teachers are amazing – journalists could learn from them on how to make politicians answer questions.

    Rubio made news by taking new gun positions on age limits, mental health checks, gun violence restraining orders, and limiting the size of magazine clips. He also doesn’t want to arm teachers – which is Trump’s (and the NRA’s) big plan. Will he walk these stances back? He was cornered when he made them. What he stood firm on was accepting NRA money, saying he took it because they agreed with his agenda. Which begs the questions: Given that standard, is there any group Rubio wouldn’t accept money from?

    Was Dana Loesch trying to be a Disney villain? If so… Brava! Well done! She was beyond horrible. She was smug, condescending and entirely predictable. She was also booed. Good. She deserved it. She yelled about crazy people, monsters and nuts, hid behind a rape victim and spent a lot of time chastising people on decorum when she wouldn’t answer a question. This is the NRA’s spokesperson? How embarrassing.

    What jumps out is how Rubio and Loesch can’t defend their policies. They weren’t up against trained reporters, politicians or even the leaders of Everytown. They went up against kids, parents and teachers and lost badly.

    One last thing, Rubio and Loesch went out of their way to not say “NRA”. They kept referring to it as that/the “organization”. The NRA is in a panic and these kids put them in that state.

  3. Watched the video, as Pandora said Loesch came off as evil, yet ineffective. Rubio proved himself a back bench lite weight yet again, no surprise and the NRA was never mentioned. Should be noted this was an anti gun crowd and there was no Chuck Todd to make a mess of it. Also noted the cop ripped the gun guys apart in a forceful manner. I’m no optimist, but perhaps there’s hope after all. Hoping the PA gerrymandering case spurs other such efforts in Red States, but as ever we’re waiting on the supreme court. Trump’s notes reveal the terror the White House has of him “winging it”, they are right so to do.

  4. A glimpse at the tactics for the 2018 midterms. It was a combination of Lord of the Flies, and the original Star Trek season 1 episode 8….Rubio reminded me of Captain

  5. cassandram

    EJ Dionne asks an essential question: Why is only one side in the gun culture war required to show respect?

  6. Bonk bonk!

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