The Open Thread for March 29, 2018

“A lawyer for President Trump broached the idea of Mr. Trump pardoning two of his former top advisers, Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, with their lawyers last year,” the New York Times reports.  “The discussions came as the special counsel was building cases against both men, and they raise questions about whether the lawyer, John Dowd, was offering pardons to influence their decisions about whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the investigation.”

“The talks suggest that Mr. Trump’s lawyers were concerned about what Mr. Flynn and Mr. Manafort might reveal were they to cut a deal with the special counsel, Robert Mueller, in exchange for leniency.”

Meanwhile, “the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election revealed Tuesday night that prosecutors say they have connected former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates to a person with ties to a Russian intelligence service while Gates worked on the campaign,” CNN reports.  “That Gates and the unnamed person, who had lived in Kiev and Moscow and worked for one of Paul Manafort’s companies, were in touch in September and October 2016 was ‘pertinent to the investigation.’”

Washington Post: “The allegations underscore Mueller’s interest in Manafort and Gates, who continued to interact with business associates in Ukraine even as they helped lead Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.”

“After weeks of uncertainty atop the Department of Veterans Affairs, President Trump on said he plans to replace its secretary, David Shulkin, with the president’s personal physician, Dr. Ronny Jackson, a rear admiral in the Navy,” the New York Times reports.

“The announcement punctuated what has been a sharp fall from favor for Dr. Shulkin, a politically moderate former hospital executive, who delivered Mr. Trump a string of bipartisan legislative victories at a time when he was struggling to find them. And it adds to a significant shake-up of Mr. Trump’s senior staff, which has already included the secretary of state, director of the C.I.A. and the president’s national security adviser.”

The Atlantic: “The period of relative quiet began with a classic Trumpian outburst. On Friday, the president found himself compelled to sign an omnibus budget bill that he hated—not unjustifiably, since it was a repudiation of his administration’s budget and many of his own priorities, even if his method of expressing that discontent was ineffective. Since then, he has gone quiet.”

“It is not only on Twitter that Trump is quiet. Trump’s schedule has been unusually light since the hastily convened session Friday where he railed against the spending bill. He hosted a credential ceremony for ambassadors, attended a private fundraiser in suburban Virginia, and has met with the vice president, treasury secretary, and defense secretary. Beyond that, there’s not much listed.”

Playbook: “House Republicans will take up a balanced-budget amendment when they return from recess, several sources tell us. This follows on the heels of their $1.3-trillion budget bill and their massive tax bill.”

“Why do this now? Here’s what we think: It’s almost election season, and it would be helpful if GOP lawmakers could go home and be able to say they voted to support balancing the federal budget, even though they voted boosted discretionary spending by a ton, and have not touched entitlement spending, which, they have said for years, is the driver of U.S. budget deficits.”

Mother Jones: “Virtually every major institution in America relies on census data, from businesses looking for new markets to the US military tracking the needs of veterans. The census lays the groundwork for the core infrastructure of our democracy, bringing a measure of transparency and fairness to how representation and resources are allocated across the country.”

“But with the Trump administration in charge, voting rights advocates fear the undercount could be amplified, shifting economic resources and political power toward rural, white, and Republican communities. The census is scheduled to begin on April 1, 2020, in the middle of the presidential election season. Of all the ways democracy is threatened under President Trump—a blind eye to Russian meddling in elections, a rollback of voting rights, a disregard for checks and balances—an unfair and inaccurate census could have the most dramatic long-term impact.”

The Atlantic: “Earlier this month, a woman broke a glass ceiling: President Donald Trump announced that he would name Gina Haspel, a career intelligence officer, the first female director of the Central Intelligence Agency.”

“Yet Haspel is something of a rarity, an Atlantic analysis of 2,475 Trump appointees shows. The White House has named twice as many men as women to administration positions. This gender skew is both broad and deep: In no department do female appointees outnumber male appointees, and in some cases men outnumber women four or five to one. Moreover, men significantly outnumber women in low-level positions as well as in high-level ones, with Trump’s Cabinet currently composed of 19 men and five women. Overall, 33 percent of Trump’s appointees are women, compared to 47 percent of the national workforce and 43 percent of the 2 million workers across the executive branch.”

NBC News: “For the second time this term, the U.S. Supreme Court considers a question that could change the nature of American politics: Is it unconstitutional for states to draw the boundary lines for voting districts in a blatantly partisan manner?”

“On Wednesday, the justices take up a challenge brought by Republicans in Maryland who say Democrats intentionally carved up a congressional district to get an electoral edge.”

Nina Totenberg: “The bottom line is it could be that optics are part of the reason the court added a second partisan gerrymandering case to its docket, so that in one case, the Republicans could prevail, and in the other, the Democrats could.”

“Stormy Daniels’ attorney asked a federal judge this morning for permission to depose President Trump about his knowledge of an agreement to pay the porn star $130,000 a week and a half before the 2016 election,” CBS News reports.  “In a motion filed in federal court in Los Angeles, Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, requested a deposition ‘of no greater than two hours’ of the President. Avenatti also asked for a court order to depose the President’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who has said he made the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels with his own funds and without Mr. Trump’s knowledge.”

“A lawsuit accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution by refusing to divorce himself from his businesses cleared a critical hurdle Wednesday when a federal judge in Maryland refused the Justice Department’s plea to dismiss it,” the New York Times reports.  “The decision could allow the plaintiffs to scrutinize the Trump Organization’s financial records for payments from foreign entities and others possibly seeking to influence the White House.”

Jonathan Swan: “Capitol Hill wants Facebook’s blood, but President Trump isn’t interested. Instead, the tech behemoth Trump wants to go after is Amazon.”  Said one source: “He’s obsessed with Amazon. Obsessed.”

“Trump has talked about changing Amazon’s tax treatment because he’s worried about mom-and-pop retailers being put out of business… Trump’s wealthy friends tell him Amazon is destroying their businesses. His real estate buddies tell him — and he agrees — that Amazon is killing shopping malls and brick-and-mortar retailers.”

Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) “failed to disclose nearly $50,000 in political contributions while registered as a Washington lobbyist starting in the late 2000s,” the AP reports.  “Renacci is Republicans’ favored candidate to win a GOP primary and take on Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown this fall in one of the year’s most closely watched Senate contests.”

NBC News: “Well, this isn’t the kind of headline Republicans probably want to deal with as they head into a challenge to a potentially vulnerable Democratic Senate incumbent.”

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

2 comments on “The Open Thread for March 29, 2018

  1. Counter productive distraction or not, I haven’t seen so many ammosexuals so upset since before the election, so it was a nice couple days.
    The deep point he makes, I think, is that as long as the current interpretation of the 2nd is what is being applied, no decent gun laws can happen. It would be nice to take control of the narrative for once and convince everyone that they must bend on their interpretation, or the whole thing will be broken.

  2. cassandram

    LGBTQ Americans Won’t Be Counted in the Census

    See that? The toxic identity politics crew erasing whole portions of Americans. If they can’t see you, you can’t get services. Aided and abetted by those on our side who think that we shouldn’t worry about this erasure as long as there is an economic message.

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