The Open Thread for April 10, 2018

CURTAINS FOR MICHAEL.  “The FBI raided the office of President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, seizing records related to several topics including payments to a pornographic-film actress,” the New York Times reports.

“Federal prosecutors in Manhattan obtained the search warrant after receiving a referral from the special counsel, Robert Mueller, according to Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, who called the search ‘completely inappropriate and unnecessary.’ The search does not appear to be directly related to Mr. Mueller’s investigation, but likely resulted from information he had uncovered and gave to prosecutors in New York.”  Most interesting: “The seized records include communications between Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen.”

The Washington Post says Cohen ” is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations.”  Vanity Fair reports that the FBI also raided Cohen’s hotel room at the Loews Regency in New York.

Trump flipped out, of course.   Trump “blasted the FBI’s raid of his personal lawyer’s office, calling it a disgraceful situation and an attack on the U.S.,” Axios reports.  “Trump also criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, adding that no one in looking at the other side of the probe, an apparent reference to Hillary Clinton.”

TRUMP GIVES HIMSELF 48 HOURS TO ACT ON SYRIA.  President Trump said that his administration would be making decisions about its response to a chemical attack in Syria within the next 24 to 48 hours, decrying the action as “atrocious” and “horrible,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Trump: “This is about humanity, and it can’t be allowed to happen.”

New York Times: “The challenge for Mr. Trump’s Middle East policy came on a day when he was already facing a transition in his foreign policy team as his new national security adviser, John Bolton, arrived for his first day on the job and the president was scheduled to host the nation’s senior military leaders for dinner at the White House.”

Fox News inadvertently posted a graphic showing it trails other cable news networks in trustworthiness, the Guardian reports.  Said host Howard Kurtz: “That is not the graphic we are looking for. Hold off. Take that down, please.”

PRUITT WATCH: BUT HIS EMAILS!!  First, “the federal government’s top ethics official has taken the unusual step of sending a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency questioning a series of actions by Administrator Scott Pruitt and asking the agency to take ‘appropriate actions to address any violations,’” the New York Times reports.  LOL, ok.  I was shocked to learn that the Trump Administration HAS a top ethics official.

Second, an internal email that suggests Pruitt “personally signed off on a controversial pay raise for a favored aide last month is roiling the agency,” The Atlantic reports.  Last week, Pruitt was pressed in an interview by Fox News’s Ed Henry but denied any knowledge of the episode: “I didn’t know they got the pay raises until yesterday.”  Said one administration official: “My jaw dropped when he said that.”

WINGING IT, NOT WINNING IT. Jonathan Swan: “When the president threatened China with $100 billion in new tariffs, there had hardly been any White House discussion.”

“There wasn’t one single deliberative meeting in which senior officials sat down to debate the pros and cons of this historic threat. Trump didn’t even ask for advice from his new top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, instead presenting the tariffs as a fait accompli. Chief of Staff John Kelly knew Trump wanted more tariffs but was blindsided by the speed of the announcement. And Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short — the White House’s liaison to Capitol Hill — was totally in the dark.”

“Trump had melted down Capitol Hill and roiled the markets with zero substantive internal debate.”

REPUBLICANS MAKE KEEPING THE SENATE THEIR PLAN A. “Republicans are increasingly worried they will lose control of the House in the midterm elections, furiously directing money and resources to hold and potentially boost their narrow majority in the Senate,” the Washington Post reports.

“To many, the Senate is emerging as a critical barrier against Democrats demolishing President Trump’s agenda beginning in 2019. Worse yet, some in the GOP fear, Democrats could use complete control of Congress to co-opt the ideologically malleable president and advance their own priorities.”

“Democratic enthusiasm is surging in suburban districts that House Republicans are struggling to fortify, causing GOP officials, donors and strategists to fret. They have greater confidence in the more rural red states Trump won convincingly that make up the bulk of the Senate battlefield.”

Helpful to this Plan A is the announcement of the candidacy of Florida Governor Rick Scott for the Senate seat currently held by Democrat Bill Nelson.  Scott was long rumored to running, so it is not much surprise, but now it is official, the race is now a premiere toss up.

Cook Political Report: “Scott’s decision puts the contest into the Toss Up column.  Very few candidates could wait until 211 days before an election to announce a statewide campaign. Scott is one of them. With 10 media markets and 27 congressional districts, any candidate with statewide aspirations needs two things to be competitive: name identification and money. Scott has both and thus could afford to wait as long as he has. The late announcement also allowed him to work through the last regular legislative session of his administration.”

First Read: “Make no mistake: 2018 is shaping up to be a rough year for the GOP, and Scott’s previous statewide wins (in 2010 and 2014) all came in good Republican years. But today’s news is a helpful shot in the arm for the GOP.”

NORTH KOREA MEETS CONDITION. “North Korea’s government has communicated with the United States to say that leader Kim Jong Un is ready to discuss his nuclear weapons program with President Trump, officials said Sunday, increasing the likelihood that the unprecedented summit will actually occur,” the AP reports.

“The confirmation from Pyongyang directly, rather than from third countries like South Korea, has created more confidence within Trump’s administration about the wisdom of holding such a meeting, as U.S. officials make secretive preparations.”

THE FIGHT TO BE THE NEXT REPUBLICAN MINORITY LEADER IN THE HOUSE.   Politico: “Two top members of Paul Ryan’s leadership team, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, have begun angling for his job in the event the speaker calls it quits after the election. They’re closely monitoring the moves of the other and quietly courting Republicans who could help them clinch the top post.”

“Neither man is actively rounding up votes at this point, and both of them downplayed the possibility of a looming clash. Scalise said in an interview that he would not challenge McCarthy for speaker — ‘I’m not running against Kevin for anything,’ he told Politico — while McCarthy said he’s focused solely on keeping the House in November and pursuing President Trump’s agenda.”

TRUMP IS LOSING OLDER EDUCATED VOTERS.  “Older, white, educated voters helped Donald Trump win the White House in 2016. Now, they are trending toward Democrats in such numbers that their ballots could tip the scales in tight congressional races from New Jersey to California,” a new Reuters/Ipsos poll and a data analysis of competitive districts shows.

“Nationwide, whites over the age of 60 with college degrees now favor Democrats over Republicans for Congress by a 2-point margin… During the same period in 2016, that same group favored Republicans for Congress by 10 percentage points.”

“The 12-point swing is one of the largest shifts in support toward Democrats that the Reuters/Ipsos poll has measured over the past two years. If that trend continues, Republicans will struggle to keep control of the House of Representatives, and possibly the Senate, in the November elections, potentially dooming President Trump’s legislative agenda.”

THE TV CONTROLS HIM.  Associated Press: “Managing a boss who despises being managed is a difficult game. And those who have succeeded have proceeded carefully. Some aides, convinced that Trump puts more stock in what he sees on TV than in his own aides’ advice, regularly phone prominent commentators and news hosts to provide talking points on everything from tax policy to Syria in hopes of influencing Trump.”

“Similar strategies have also been embraced by foreign governments and outside groups trying to sway the president’s thinking.”  Bassam Rifai of the Syrian American Council was a guest on Fox News when he turned to the camera and said, “President Trump, I’m speaking to you directly. What we need to do right now is to take out Assad’s air force.”

THE MOSCOW MIDTERM. Clare Malone: “While Americans are well-acquainted with Russian online trolls’ 2016 disinformation campaign, there’s a more insidious threat of Russian interference in the coming midterms. The Russians could hack our very election infrastructure, disenfranchising Americans and even altering the vote outcome in key states or districts. Election security experts have warned of it, but state election officials have largely played it down for fear of spooking the public. We still might not know the extent to which state election infrastructure was compromised in 2016, nor how compromised it will be in 2018.”

IT’S A GIRL!  Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) “on Monday gave birth to a daughter, Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, becoming the first sitting senator to have a baby while in office,” the Chicago Sun Times reports.  “Duckworth, who turned 50 on March 12, is one of only 10 women in the history of the nation to give birth while in Congress, with the other babies born to members serving in the House.”

BEZOS IGNORES TRUMP.  Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Bezos, the world’s richest man, has ignored the president’s attacks. He has stayed out of the public eye since Mr. Trump’s tweets started last week, only tweeting once to send condolences regarding the recent shooting at YouTube’s headquarters.”

“Mr. Bezos made comments critical of Mr. Trump before the election, but he has refrained from public criticism since Mr. Trump was elected. That strategy, people familiar with this thinking say, fits in with his deeply held conviction in playing the long game.”

“Mr. Bezos has long tread carefully when it comes to politics. The chief executive has made calculated public donations, like one for so-called Dreamer scholarships in January. He tweets rarely and chooses to speak publicly only on occasion. His last major public interview was granted to his brother on stage at a conference in November.”

TRILLION DOLLAR DEFICITS EVERY YEAR JUST SO THE RICH COULD GET A TAX CUT.  The CBO reported that America’s deficit is growing sharply and will surpass $1 trillion per year by 2020, according to the Washington Post.

“The federal deficit will hit $804 billion in fiscal year 2018, a 21 percent increase from 2017’s deficit of $665 billion.”

“President Trump and congressional Republicans in December passed a new tax law projected to cut government revenue by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years. In March, members of both parties approved a funding measure to increase military and domestic spending by nearly $300 billion over the next two years.”

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

5 comments on “The Open Thread for April 10, 2018

  1. cassandram

    Cory Booker’s staff listened to a bunch of earnings calls for Pharmas and finds that they won’t be using tax cut windfalls to lower drug prices. And there will be small investments in R&D, hiring and employees. But most of the money goes to shareholders.

  2. They should have investigated Hillary, for all those deleted emails!!!

  3. elizabeth

    Cohen may have new charges, RICO! Money laundering, mail fraud, wire fraud…the fixer is gonna get fixed for him Years in prison, think he will flip? Hell yes, he will do anything to cut off a few decades. Trump going under the bus.Its ironic, the womanizing freak is going to get impeached for Stormy Daniels and the other women Cohen paid off, faster than his Russia gate conspiracy.

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