The Open Thread for March 2, 2018

Special counsel Robert Mueller “is assembling a case for criminal charges against Russians who carried out the hacking and leaking of private information designed to hurt Democrats in the 2016 election,” NBC News reports.

“Much like the indictment Mueller filed last month charging a different group of Russians in a social media trolling and illegal-ad-buying scheme, the possible new charges are expected to rely heavily on secret intelligence gathered by the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).”

“Sources say he has long had sufficient evidence to make a case, but strategic issues could dictate the timing.”

Mike Allen: “After a crazy 24 hours, sources close to President Trump say he is in a bad place — mad as hell about the internal chaos and the sense that things are unraveling. Hope Hicks leaving is obviously a huge blow to him. Every time he reads about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his head explodes. The staff is just trying to ride out the storm. Everywhere you look inside this White House, top officials are fighting, fomenting, feuding or fleeing, insiders say in conversations with us.”

President Trump said “that he will impose stiff and sweeping tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum as he moved to fulfill a key campaign promise to get tough on foreign competitors,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Trump said he would formally sign the trade measures next week and promised they would be in effect ‘for a long period of time.’”

Jonathan Swan: “I can’t overstate the effect of Trump’s new tariffs, 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum…. These tariffs have the potential to roil markets and affect relationships with allies. Trump is also touching the third rail of international trade law — he’s using an arcane trade law known as Section 232 to justify his actions.”

“Republicans pounced on President Trump’s plan Thursday to slap tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum, warning that it will lead to a trade war and leave American consumers paying the price,” NBC News reports.

“Republicans in Congress broke ranks with the president in an unprecedented way, with one after another coming forward during the day to caution about the dangers of tariffs and plead with Trump to hold off on any action.”

CNBC: With surprise tariffs, Trump rolls the dice with the US economy.

U.S. counterintelligence officials are scrutinizing one of Ivanka Trump’s international business deals, CNN reports. “The FBI has been looking into the negotiations and financing surrounding Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver… The scrutiny could be a hurdle for the first daughter as she tries to obtain a full security clearance in her role as adviser to President Trump.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin claimed that Russia has developed nuclear weapons that can avoid any missile defense systems, the Washington Post reports.  “He also warned that Moscow would consider any nuclear attack, of any size, on it or its allies an attack on Russia that would lead to an immediate response — adopting Cold War-style overtones that appeared to ramp up Russia’s posturing against the West and its allies.”

“The speech, broadcast on Russian television, comes less than three weeks before a March 18 presidential election that is expected to hand Putin his fourth term.”

A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds 54% of Americans have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act, as compared to just 42% who have an unfavorable view.

A new USA Today/Suffolk poll finds that by a nearly 2-1 margin, 58% to 32%, Americans say they want to elect a Congress that mostly stands up to President Trump, not one that mostly cooperates with him.  If the election were held today, those surveyed say they are more likely to vote for the Democratic candidate for Congress than the Republican one by 47% to 32% — a yawning 15 percentage-point advantage.

Jonathan Chait: “For obvious reasons, the broadly liberal demographic trends in American politics have received much less attention since the 2016 election. Yet the fact remains that America is politically sorted by generations in a way it never has before. The oldest voters are the most conservative, white, and Republican, and the youngest voters the most liberal, racially diverse, and Democratic. There is absolutely no sign the dynamic is abating during the Trump years. If anything, it is accelerating.”

“The most recent Pew Research Survey has more detail about the generational divide. It shows that the old saw that young people would naturally grow more conservative as they age, or that their Democratic loyalties were an idiosyncratic response to Barack Obama’s unique personal appeal, has not held. Younger voters have distinctly more liberal views than older voters.”

James Hohmann: “Whatever your view of Second Amendment jurisprudence, Trump’s flippant commentsshowed a startling indifference for foundational rights that are enumerated in the Fourth, Fifth and 14th amendments. The legal concept of due process is as old as the Magna Carta.”

“It doesn’t seem like an exaggeration to say that some Republican members of Congress would have called for Barack Obama’s impeachment if he had ever called for taking people’s guns away without due process. It’s certainly a more extreme statement than Obama’s 2008 claim that people in rural areas weren’t voting for him because they ‘cling’ to guns and religion. Even a decade later, Obama hasn’t lived that down. Republicans routinely cite it in their stump speeches.”

“But only one Republican member of Congress appears to have sent out a press release objecting to Trump’s comments.”

“The Senate Intelligence Committee has concluded that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee were behind the leak of private text messages between the Senate panel’s top Democrat and a Russian-connected lawyer,” the New York Times reports.

“Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), the committee’s Republican chairman, and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the top Democrat, were so perturbed by the leak that they demanded a rare meeting with Speaker Paul D. Ryan last month to inform him of their findings. They used the meeting with Mr. Ryan to raise broader concerns about the direction of the House Intelligence Committee under its chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).”

“To the senators, who are overseeing what is effectively the last bipartisan investigation on Capitol Hill into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the leak was a serious breach of protocol and a partisan attack by one intelligence committee against the other.”

“For the first time in anyone’s memory, nearly all 170 state legislative races in North Carolina will feature both a Republican and Democratic candidate,” the Raleigh News and Observer reports.

“Candidate filing ended at noon Wednesday, leaving just one uncontested race for state House or state Senate after a heavy recruiting push from both the NC Democratic Party and the NC Republican Party.”

Jonathan Chait: “It would presumably be extremely difficult for the president to implant a loyalist into the position. Republicans have only 51 senators. Any two could join with Democrats to block an unacceptable successor, and there are a number of potential Republican senators — John McCain, Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, and Bob Corker, among others — who would be inclined to do so if Trump nominates the kind of AG he obviously craves.”

“But Trump might be able to fire Sessions and appoint a temporary replacement. The Federal Vacancies Reform Act allows the president to install, for 210 days, any official who has been confirmed by the Senate for any position. One name that has been floated for such a maneuver is Environmental Protection Agency director Scott Pruitt, who might have the requisite combination of personal corruption and ideological fanaticism to carry out Trump’s bidding.”

“An appointment of a Pruitt, or some other Senate-confirmed Trump loyalist, would only last for 210 days. But that might be long enough for a sufficiently craven attorney general to fire independent staff at the Department of Justice and the FBI and quash the Mueller probe.”

First Read: “Given that chaos, Democrats believe they’ve discovered the kind of candidates that could be appealing to voters, especially those in red and purple areas, one year-plus into Trump’s presidency: candidates who project stability.”

“Think of Ralph Northam (military background, doctor, lieutenant governor) who won Virginia’s gubernatorial contest last November. Or think of Doug Jones (a former prosecutor who promised he could ‘work with Republicans better than Roy Moore can work with anyone’) in December’s Alabama contest. Or think of Conor Lamb (military background, former prosecutor) who’s running in this month’s special congressional election in a Pennsylvania district Trump won by 20 points in 2016.”

“It’s chaos vs. stability. It’s reality-show background vs. military/prosecutor backgrounds. And it’s excitement vs., well, a little boring.”

“The White House is preparing to replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser as early as next month in a move orchestrated by chief of staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis,” NBC News reports.

“The move would be the latest in a long string of staff shakeups at the White House over the past year and comes after months of strained relations between the president and McMaster.”

“A leading candidate to become President Trump’s third national security adviser is the auto industry executive Stephen Biegun, according to the officials.”

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

13 comments on “The Open Thread for March 2, 2018

  1. I really hope the Democrats dont commit to that “boring candidate” profile. Yes, stability in chaos is a good thing, but 2 words…. Tom. Carper.
    Those purple people might work well DEEP in MAGAT country, but for safely and enthusiastically blue states like Delaware, we need actual progressives.

    SPEAKING OF. I look forward to the interview with Kerri Evelyn Harris

  2. Even the Associated Press, think that Delaware needs some help! The Blue state isn’t working anymore!!

    “Delaware is in desperate need of a complete overhaul politically, socially and most importantly spiritually. May God Bless the Family of Amy Joyner-Francis who cannot find justice or peace in the First State.”

    • As usual, your comments make no sense and clearly lack understand if the country you’re pretending to live in, Igor.
      1, that quote is from a grieving family, so fuck you for using it to push your MAGAT talking points.
      2, Delaware being represented very evenly in the state house by Democrats and MAGATs, and having a fake Dem governor have nothing to do with the ruling of the state court. Your problem, as with all MAGATS is what America’s laws actually are.

      • You beat me to it, Ben. Anono uses a quote from the family to pretend it’s actual reporting from the AP.

        • He probably thinks we’re all morons like him and dont follow links.
          Just see some text and a link and assume it’s all kosher…. well, not kosher, all republicans are nazis, but whatever the MAGAT equivalent of kosher is.

    • It’s ba-ack and posting links like usual.

  3. ” Delaware being represented very evenly in the state house by Democrats and MAGATs”….What?

    • ah, right. You people call yourselves “Republicans”. I know the information is hard to find in Stalingrad, but the de state house GOP/NRA?KKK/NAMBLA representation is almost 50% and enough representation in the house to prevent any real progress.

      • 50%? Really?

        • Or senate rather. 11/10. it isnt like you people give a fuck about facts anyway. Dont you have a cross burning to get to?

  4. cassandram

    aides inside the White House who are trying to leave the administration, but not necessarily getting the kinds of high-paying offers in the corporate world as former aides usually do.

    EVERYONE knows the GRIFTUS White House does not have the best people.

    • I think if the Mooch has taught us anything, it is that as long as you are RRREEALLLYYY shitty, some cable news station will give you a job (casts shady side-eye at CNN). My money is the Hope Hicks ends up on Fox. Her initials are even the same as MAGAT’s favorite proclamation of loyalty.

      • cassandram

        A thing that I think is a real story here is that the GRIFTUS Administration is really showing how much of the so-called conservative project is utterly bankrupt. This man can’t hire and hold on to anyone who might have a clue and the ones he does hire have nothing to market back to the private sector. Which means that there isn’t anyone left to be connected to to lobby. Then there’s the Delta thing — GOP reps who threaten their state’s biggest employer for an organization that employs basically no one in GA. What you know from that move is that there is no real incentive for tax breaks — it is just one more way for the government to send your hard earned dollars to corporations who don’t need them.

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