The Open Thread for April 3, 2018

Former Gov. Chris Christie (R) was rather blunt in making the case for President Trump to refuse an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller, the Washington Post reports.

Said Christie: “He should never walk into that room with Robert Mueller. Because in the end, one of the things that makes the president who he is, is that he’s a salesman. And salesman, at times, tend to be hyperbolic. Right, and this president certainly has tended to do that.”  He added: “That’s okay when you’re on the campaign hustle. That’s okay when you’re working on Congress. It is not okay when you’re sitting talking to federal agents because, you know, 18 USC 1001 is false statements to federal agents. That’s a crime. That can send you to jail.”

“The Trump administration will pressure U.S. immigration judges to process cases faster by establishing a quota system tied to their annual performance reviews,” the Washington Post reports.  “The judges will be expected to clear at least 700 cases a year to receive a ‘satisfactory’ performance rating, a standard that their union called an ‘unprecedented’ step that risks undermining judicial independence.”

Related from Axios: “The White House is working with lawmakers on a new immigration package that would end the practice of ‘catch and release,’ make it easier to deport immigrant children from countries outside of Mexico and Canada, and toughen screening for asylum applicants.”

Daily Beast: “Dobbs doesn’t get to just interview and socialize with the president, he is involved in some of the administration’s more sensitive discussions. During the first year of the Trump era, the president has patched Dobbs in via speakerphone to multiple meetings in the Oval Office so that he could offer his two cents.”

“Trump will ask Dobbs for his opinion before and after his senior aides or Cabinet members have spoken. Occasionally, he will cut off an official so the Fox Business host can jump in.”

Politico: “When Mitch McConnell took over as majority leader in 2015 after years in the minority, he vowed to make good on a central campaign pledge of returning to a more ‘free-wheeling’ Senate. And in the early days of his tenure, he did: McConnell presided over open, raucous floor debate on the Keystone XL Pipeline, winning praise even from some Democrats.”

“But the Senate has reverted to form. The body has taken just 25 roll call votes on so-called binding amendments so far during this two-year Congress, a sharp decrease from the 154 amendments voted on by this point during the 114th Congress under Barack Obama. Each year since McConnell took over, the Senate has voted on fewer nonbudget amendments: 140 in 2015, 57 in 2016, 19 in 2017 and six so far this year.”

Said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT): ‘There’s a lot of weeks I’m not sure why I show up.”

“China is moving forward with its plan to counter President Trump’s new tariffs on steel and aluminum, levying duties that will take effect Monday on more than $3 billion in U.S. exports to the country. In a statement Sunday, the Chinese government said it would impose the retaliatory tariffs on 128 products, according to an informal translation,” Politico reports.  “China will impose a 15 percent tariff increase on goods including American fruit and nuts and add a 25 percent tariff on pork, recycled aluminum and other goods, the government said. The move to impose the duties comes just over a week after the Chinese Commerce ministry had announced it was considering tariffs on the goods. Just over a week later, those tariffs are taking effect.”

Financial Times: Who will fare worse in a China-US trade war?


A chart from Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale shows that President Trump is making false claims more often the longer he serves as president.  Trump averaged 2.9 false claims per day in 2017. He’s up to 4.3 false claims per day in 2018.

“In many parts of the country, Republican candidates are trying to put distance between themselves and President Trump. In the Indiana Senate primary, the bruising fight is over which candidate is the more authentically Trumpian,” the New York Times reports.

“As the May 8 primary election approaches, the race here has taken a nasty turn, with candidates attacking one another as insufficiently aligned with the president, or way too late to Team Trump. Some Republicans worry that the tenor has the potential to bloody the winner so badly that he will be weakened in the general election contest against Sen. Joe Donnelly, one of this election year’s most vulnerable Democrats.”

“The Indiana primary is among several, including those in West Virginia and Wisconsin, where Republicans are locked in nominating battles in states Mr. Trump won in 2016 and where the party has hoped to add to its slender two-seat majority.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into longtime adviser Roger Stone’s 2016 claim that he had met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the Wall Street Journal reports.  “In an email dated Aug. 4, 2016, Mr. Stone wrote: ‘I dined with Julian Assange last night,’ according to a copy of the message reviewed by The Wall Street Journal… The note, to former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg, adds to a growing number of times Mr. Stone claimed during the campaign to be in contact with WikiLeaks. The next day, Mr. Stone publicly praised Mr. Assange via Twitter .”

Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) “will not run for re-election after facing intense criticism for mishandling domestic violence allegations against her since-fired chief of staff,” the Hartford Courant reports.

Cook Political Report: “In light of her self-inflicted scandal, Esty’s exit is probably good news for Democrats’ chances of holding the seat. Connecticut’s filing deadline (June 8) and primary (August 14) are relatively late, so both parties more than two months to plot their course.”

A new Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll finds that President Trump’s support among women plunged this month as he battled controversies surrounding alleged affairs with the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and Playboymodel Karen McDougal.  Support from women fell 6 points to 35%, even as Trump’s support among men rose 3 points to 53%.

Jonathan Chait: “To be out for yourself is probably the single most disqualifying flaw a politician can have… What’s truly shocking is how much petty graft has sprung up across his administration. Trump’s Cabinet members and other senior officials have been living in style at taxpayer expense.  Not since the Harding administration, and probably the Gilded Age, has the presidency conducted itself in so venal a fashion… It should take very little work — and be a very big priority — for Democratic candidates to stitch all the administration’s misdeeds together into a tale of unchecked greed.”

Nathaniel Rakich: “One thing the data does show is that Democrats are capable of winning districts of all kinds, even if it doesn’t always work out that way. That should reassure the party that there may not be a wrong answer when choosing which types of districts to target — at least when it comes to demographics. (Some other factor, such as candidate quality, may better explain when Democrats overperform and when they don’t.) For those of you thirsty for a grand conclusion to draw from this exercise, here it is: Be skeptical of any argument that claims to know one correct path forward for Democrats.”

President Trump has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the White House, Kremlin sources tell AFP.  That’s fine.  Mueller can take Putin into custody at the Diplomatic entrance on the South Lawn of the White House.

Meanwhile, Trump again congratulated yet another strongman ruler, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi for winning “reelection” despite the suppression of el-Sissi’s political opponents in a sham election. El-Sissi won his reelection bid with 97 percent of the vote, Egypt’s election commission announced Monday. The next highest vote-getter, with 3 percent of the vote, was a supporter of the president. All other challengers, as several mediaoutlets have pointed out in recent months, were arrested or pressured to drop out of the race months ago. El-Sissi began his rule after leading a military coup in 2013 against then-President Mohamed Morsi.

“Retreating from the White House for a three-night stay at his Florida estate, President Trump heard this weekend from a parade of allies — many on the Fox News payroll — that his base believes he is softening on immigration,” CNN reports.  “It was one takeaway from a long holiday break, during which Trump surrounded himself with the type of unwavering allies he’s struggled to find in Washington… Facing a variety of sticky decisions, and without many senior-level aides, Trump sought the counsel of those he believes speak for the voters who elected him President.”

“His conversations — including on Saturday with Jeanine Pirro, who has previously rankled some senior White House aides for her ardent views on the Russia investigation — led up to a burst of tweets on Sunday and Monday morning in which Trump blamed Democrats for weak immigration policies.”

Politico: “Ballard is a veteran Florida lobbyist who’s been in Washington for barely a year — the blink of an eye in an industry in which many of the top practitioners have spent decades inside the Beltway. But Ballard is closer to the president than perhaps any other lobbyist in town. He’s parlayed that relationship into a booming business helping clients get their way with the Trump administration — and his clients and even some of his rivals say his firm has a better grasp of what’s going on in the West Wing than almost anyone else on K Street.”

“Ballard’s relationship with Trump has helped him solve a lucrative puzzle that has frustrated more established players. For all of the president’s ‘drain the swamp’ rhetoric, the new administration has given corporate America and its lobbyists the opportunity to revive dreams of tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks and rule changes that were mothballed during the Obama administration.”

“The failure of President Trump and Democratic lawmakers to strike a deal on young undocumented immigrants puts the divisive issue into the middle of some hotly contested campaigns for November’s midterm elections — ones which could tip control of Congress,” Bloomberg reports.

“A sizable majority of Americans, especially Democrats and independents, support giving legal status to Dreamers, opinion polls have shown. The topic resonates especially in California, Arizona, Texas, Florida and Nevada — states with large Hispanic populations where Democrats are seeking to chip away at the Republican majorities in the House and Senate.”

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

0 comments on “The Open Thread for April 3, 2018

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: