The Open Thread for March 20, 2018

“The White House and congressional Democrats traded immigration offers futilely over the weekend, according to three sources familiar with the talks, leaving little chance of an immediate deal to protect Dreamers,” Politico reports.

“The White House on Sunday made an 11th-hour push to include billions of dollars in border wall funding in a massive congressional spending bill due this week, but clashed with congressional Democrats over how far to go in protecting young immigrants that face deportation.”

Playbook: “This seems like a simple transaction: some border money, for a DACA fix. Why can’t they get this done?”

Four stories about Trump’s data firm, Cambridge Analytica.  First, here is a video about the whistleblower above.  Second, the New York Times is reporting that Cambridge Analytica had many business dealings with Russians.  “The contacts took place as Cambridge Analytica was building a roster of Republican clients in the United States — and harvesting the Facebook profiles of over 50 million users to develop tools to analyze voters’ behavior.”

“Cambridge Analytica also included extensive questions about Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, in surveys it was carrying out in American focus groups in 2014. It is not clear what — or which client — prompted the line of questioning, which asked for views on topics ranging from Mr. Putin’s popularity to Russian expansionism.”

Third, “Senior executives at Cambridge Analytica – the data company that credits itself with Donald Trump’s presidential victory – have been secretly filmed saying they could entrap politicians in compromising situations with bribes and Ukrainian sex workers,” according to UK Channel 4 News.  “In an undercover investigation, the company’s chief executive Alexander Nix said the British firm secretly campaigns in elections across the world. This includes operating through a web of shadowy front companies, or by using sub-contractors.”

“The admissions were filmed at a series of meetings at London hotels over four months, between November 2017 and January 2018.”

Fourth, Christopher Wylie, a former employee of British-based company Cambridge Analytica, told NBC News that the company misused personal Facebook data of some 50 million people.  Said Wylie: “I left Cambridge Analytica before it joined the Trump campaign. What I do know is that Cambridge Analytica was meeting with Corey Lewandowski in 2015 before Trump had even announced.”

New York Magazine runs a great profile of former White House communications director Hope Hicks.

“Hicks took out one of her notebooks, black leather with the Trump name embossed in gold on the front. She’d prayed a lot over the weekend, and also written two lists in the same bubbly print that had recently been photographed on a note card in Trump’s hand, reminding him to tell survivors of a school shooting, among other things, ‘I hear you.’ One list contained reasons to resign as White House communications director immediately; the other, reasons to wait to resign. Not resigning at all wasn’t a consideration.”

President Trump’s aides “are watching for two key encounters this week to see if Attorney General Jeff Sessions has finally extricated himself from the danger of being fired, in part by ousting the former No. 2 official at the FBI,” Bloomberg reports.

“Trump and Sessions are scheduled to appear together on Monday for an event in New Hampshire on opioid addiction, although they flew there separately and some aides remained worried about how the president will treat Sessions in person. The two will also participate in a roundtable Tuesday at the White House on immigration, providing a fresh glimpse into their tense, and at times tumultuous, relationship.”

“For months, President Trump’s legal advisers implored him to avoid so much as mentioning the name of Robert Mueller, the special counsel, in his tweets, and to do nothing to provoke him or suggest his investigation is not proper,” the New York Times reports.

“Ignoring that advice over the weekend was the decision of a president who ultimately trusts only his own instincts, and now believes he has settled into the job enough to rely on them rather than the people who advise him.”

“A dozen people close to Mr. Trump or the White House, including current and former aides and longtime friends, described him as newly emboldened to say what he really feels and to ignore the cautions of those around him.”

Actress Cynthia Nixon (D) announced she’s challenging New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.  Meanwhile, a new Sienna poll finds Cuomo leading Nixon, 66% to 19%, among New York Democrats.

“Russian election observers denounced what they said were large-scale violations in the presidential vote that handed Vladimir Putin a crushing victory, including ballot-stuffing that was captured on state-controlled cameras,” Bloomberg reports.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said that his pick for an interim replacement for Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) would come “sooner rather than later,” the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports. “Most folks are taking that to mean sometime this week.”

“And the Republican governor’s short list — according to numerous sources — has gotten short indeed: Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves — who had been Bryant’s top pick — doesn’t want the job largely because he has young children and doesn’t want to move his family to Washington, instead looking at a gubernatorial run in 2019.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court refused to let Arizona deny driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants who are protected from deportation under a program started by President Obama,” Bloomberg reports.

“For the second time in recent weeks, the justices steered clear of a fight over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. In late February the court said it wouldn’t immediately consider President Trump’s bid to rescind the program, which shields 700,000 young immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as minors.”

“The latest rejection comes in a clash that dates back to 2012, when Obama announced the program and Arizona’s then-governor, Jan Brewer, quickly moved to block beneficiaries from qualifying for a driver’s license.”

“President Trump has decided to hire the longtime Washington lawyer Joseph diGenova, who has pushed the theory on television that Mr. Trump was framed by F.B.I. and Justice Department officials, to bolster his legal team,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. diGenova is not expected to take a lead role but will instead serve as a more aggressive player on the president’s legal team. Mr. Trump broke over the weekend from the longstanding advice of some of his lawyers that he refrain from directly attacking the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, a sign of his growing unease with the investigation.”

Sacramento Bee: “Facing the risk that the party could get shut out of the general election race for one or more competitive Republican-held seats, liberal groups formed to attack Republicans now say they are at least considering spending money to support particular Democratic candidates in the primaries. National Democratic officials say all options are on the table in the lead-up to June — including launching negative attacks on members of their own party, a tactic that stirred controversy in the Texas primary.”

The New Yorker asked California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) about the current state of American politics.  “If, as now seems possible, Democrats dominate the 2018 and 2020 elections, and they end up governing as unilaterally as the Republicans have, Brown fears that ‘a cycle will be created, in which one side pushes as far as it can until it’s thrown out, then the next one does it, and then it will happen again.’”

“He compared it to a car fishtailing.”

“One White House staffer, Ryan P. McAvoy, jotted his ProtonMail passwords and his address on a piece of White House stationery and left it at a bus stop near the White House. A source found it there and provided it to The Intercept, which confirmed its authenticity.”

“A three-month Bloomberg investigation has found that Flynn… had a slew of other problematic entanglements. Previously unreported documents, including Pentagon contracts, emails and internal company papers, point to overlapping business conflicts around the world. Self-dealing is, in some ways, at the core of the Mueller inquiry.”

“At least a dozen possible Democratic presidential candidates have begun bolstering their teams by adding aides with campaign experience to their Senate staffs, personal offices or 2018 reelection payrolls,” Politicoreports.

“The hires are never explicitly advertised or designed to be about 2020. But the behind-the-scenes shuffle is a long-overdue stage in the traditional precampaign scramble. Potential candidates who have run before — like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden — largely have their core teams in place.”

“Yet in many other cases, chiefs of staff and senior strategists are now actively looking for new talent after receiving clear instructions from their bosses: I don’t know whether I’m going to run for president, but do everything you need to do to get me in position, just in case.”

“The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a request from Pennsylvania Republican legislative leaders to block the implementation of a redrawn congressional map that creates more parity between the political parties in the state,” the Washington Post reports.

“The practical impact is the 2018 elections in the state are likely to be held with a map much more favorable to Democrats, who scored a surprising victory last week in a special election in Pennsylvania.”

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

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