The Open Thread for March 7, 2018

COHN TO RESIGN.  Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn “plans to resign, becoming the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the Trump administration,” the New York Times reports.  “The officials insisted there was no single factor behind the departure of Mr. Cohn, who heads the National Economic Council. But his decision to leave came after he seemed poised to lose an internal struggle amid a Wild West-style process over Mr. Trump’s plan to impose large tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.”

Politico: “Gary Cohn and other free-trade advocates inside the White House and the Treasury Department are mounting a last-ditch effort to blunt the impact of Trump’s head-turning decision.”

Looks like they failed.

President Trump “could cast a wide net in searching for a replacement for economic adviser Gary Cohn, though he has told advisers that he wants to consider Larry Kudlow, a media personality and 2016 campaign adviser,” the Washington Post reports.

That to me seems unlikely, since Kudlow is as much anti-tariff as Cohn is.    The better bet is Peter Navarro.

THIS SEEMS LIKE A BIG DEAL.  “An adviser to the United Arab Emirates with ties to current and former aides to President Trump is cooperating with the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and gave testimony last week to a grand jury,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Mueller appears to be examining the influence of foreign money on Mr. Trump’s political activities and has asked witnesses about the possibility that the adviser, George Nader, funneled money from the Emirates to the president’s political efforts. It is illegal for foreign entities to contribute to campaigns or for Americans to knowingly accept foreign money for political races.”

TARGET COHEN. “Special counsel Robert Mueller has requested documents and interviewed witnesses about incidents involving Michael Cohen, the longtime lawyer for President Trump whose wide-ranging portfolio has given him a unique vantage point into Trump’s business, campaign and political activities,” the Washington Post reports.

“There is no indication that Cohen is a subject or target of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. But the scrutiny of his interactions is another sign of the far-reaching nature of the special-counsel probe.”

REPUBLICAN VOTERS HAVE NO PRINCIPLES, FOLLOW TRUMP EVERYWHERE.  A new Quinnipiac poll finds that American voters oppose tariffs on steel and aluminum, 50% to 31%, and disagree with President Trump’s claim that a trade war would be good for the U.S. and easily won, 64% to 28%.

“Every listed party, gender, education, age and racial group oppose steel and aluminum tariffs, except Republicans, who support tariffs by 58% to 20% and white voters with no college degree, who are divided, 42% to 40%.”

COLOR ME SHOCKED.  “Sources inside the White House told CNN that the White House’s legislative priorities on guns are also expected to be far narrower than Trump has laid out during the listening session and likely won’t include a plan to raise the minimum age to purchase certain firearms from 18 to 21.”

“As of now, the plan includes a grant program to help protect schools during a shooting and an endorsement of the ‘Fix NICS’ bill, a proposal from Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) that would improve reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.”

CONWAY VIOLATED HATCH ACT.  The Office of Special Counsel informed the White House that Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act on two occasions, The Hill reports. “Appearing in her official capacity, Conway endorsed and advocated against political candidates, the watchdog said, referring its findings to President Trump for disciplinary action.”

NORTH KOREA WILLING TO HOLD NUCLEAR TALKS.  “North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has told South Korean envoys that his country is willing to begin negotiations with the United States on abandoning its nuclear weapons and that it would suspend all nuclear and missile tests while it is engaged in such talks,” the New York Times reports.

“During the envoys’ two-day visit to Pyongyang, the North’s capital, which ended on Tuesday, the two Koreas also agreed to hold a summit meeting between Mr. Kim and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea on the countries’ border in late April.”

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER TRUMP?  David Brooks: “The best indicator we have so far is the example of Italy since the reign of Silvio Berlusconi. And the main lesson there is that once the norms of acceptable behavior are violated and once the institutions of government are weakened, it is very hard to re-establish them. Instead, you get this cycle of ever more extreme behavior, as politicians compete to be the most radical outsider. The political center collapses, the normal left/right political categories cease to apply and you see the rise of strange new political groups that are crazier than anything you could have imagined before.”

“If America follows the Italian example, by 2025 we’ll look back at Trump nostalgically as some sort of beacon of relative normalcy. And by the way, if America follows the Italian example, Trump will never go away.”

SCARAMUCCI IS BACK IN THE CLUB.  President Trump has emboldened Anthony Scaramucci to continue attacking White House chief of staff John Kelly during his cable news appearances, CNN reports.  “In multiple television segments, Scaramucci has faulted Kelly for the ‘terrible morale’ in the West Wing, at times referring to him as ‘General Jackass’ and suggesting he apologize for his handling of the Rob Porter resignation. According to this source, the President is aware of Scaramucci’s criticisms and has not discouraged him from making them.”

MIRANDA RUNS FOR GOVERNOR.  “The actress Cynthia Nixon, who for months has teased her interest in challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has engaged in talks with a pair of veteran Democratic political operatives, a sign that she may be moving closer to a decision on whether to run this year,” the New York Times reports.

“If a race between Ms. Nixon and Mr. Cuomo does materialize, it would instantly become one of the most intriguing Democratic primaries in the country, pitting a celebrity first-time candidate with an ability to command national media attention versus a two-term incumbent sitting atop $30 million and known for his aggressive political tactics.”

STORMY DANIELS SUES TRUMP, BUT I AM NOT SURE WHAT FOR.  Adult film star Stormy Daniels sued President Trump, “alleging that he never signed the nondisclosure agreement that his lawyer had arranged with her,” NBC News reports.  “The civil suit alleges that her agreement not to disclose her ‘intimate’ relationship with Trump is not valid because while both Daniels and Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen signed it, Trump never did.”

When you file a civil suit, you are seeking damages.  Usually monetary damages.  Here, Stormy did get paid.  And if she is now alleging the nondisclosure agreement does not apply, then really, all she should be doing is talking and then defending a suit from Trump who wants to enforce that nondisclosure agreement and/or a return of the hush money.   Politically, that is not a lawsuit the President would be likely to file.  But Stormy doesn’t have to file her own lawsuit to declare the agreement nonbinding. So, yeah, it’s confusing.

NUNBERG TO COOPERATE WITH MUELLER, AFTER ALL THAT.   Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg “spent much of Monday promising to defy a subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller, even throwing down the challenge to ‘arrest me,’ then backed off his defiance by saying he would probably cooperate in the end,” the AP reports.

“Nunberg said he was angry over Mueller’s request to have him appear in front of a grand jury and turn over thousands of e-mails and other communications with other ex-officials, among them his mentor Roger Stone. But he predicted that, in the end, he’d find a way to comply.”

EPA REGULATOR ALLOWED TO CONSULT FOR PRIVATE CLIENTS.  “A key aide to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has been granted permission to make extra money moonlighting for private clients whose identities are being kept secret,” the AP reports.

Norm Eisen: “This is insane. In the Obama White House, I even made people quit uncompensated non-profit outside positions because of conflicts risks. This is FOR profit work that could conflict with official duties. Prediction: by end of Trump admin, prisons will be full of his associates.”

DEMS HOLD EDGE IN WISCONSIN.  A new Marquette University Law School poll in Wisconsin finds 64% of Democrats said they felt “very enthusiastic” about voting in November, as compared to 54% of Republicans.  In 2014, it was Republicans who had the enthusiasm edge, 55% to 52%.

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

4 comments on “The Open Thread for March 7, 2018

  1. Let’s start with the obvious, if young Stormy does succeed in over turning the non disclosure agreement she then hits the talk shows for big money, instant celebrity and spills the beans on Trump. And we’ll all watch, especially the Republicans. Like the rest of you I’ve called Coons and Carpers offices to express disgust in them worshipping Wall St. by unleashing the same lack of control that led to the Great Recession of 2008, like usual it will be ignored. Puzzled by Pruitt being allowed to work outside the government, obvious and enormous conflict of interest, plays well with a criminal regime like Trump’s but must be illegal at some level. Finally read the analysis that post Berlusconi the Italians never really returned to a vaguely sane government and that things actually got worse. Will that happen post Trump? Perhaps, but I doubt it, the support is not there for a continuance of insanity in the White house and hopefully in congress as well. if you study Italian political history for a minute it becomes obvious that chaos is a good fit before Berlusconi as well.

    • cassandram

      Stormy is apparently claiming to have pictures and tweets to share. Which sounds to me that she thinks she wasn’t paid NEARLY enough.

  2. cassandram

    I love Cory Booker’s idea here on stock buybacks. Making sure that the people who helped to create that wealth get to share in it is an awesome idea. It would be even awesomer if this distribution was made to workers tax-free.

  3. cassandram

    EPA Admin Scott Pruitt’s Deputy being allowed to still consult for private clients is genuinely heinous. If you are trying to do work for the EPA as a contractor, you often have to provide detailed disclosures of your clients, so that they can make sure that you are not working both ends of the system. You also need to provide some mechanism by which you are always reviewing potential conflicts of interest and have an obligation to report all of them. THIS guy is in the business of just grabbing cash from taxpayers and (probably) the people he is supposed to regulate.

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