The Open Thread for April 11, 2018

THE COHEN RAID COMES INTO FOCUS.  “The FBI agents who raided the office of President Trump’s personal lawyer were looking for records about payments to two women who claim they had affairs with Mr. Trump, and information related to the publisher of The National Enquirer’s role in silencing one of the women,” the New York Times reports.

“The search warrant behind Monday’s raids on the office and hotel room of President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, included a request for documents related to Cohen’s ownership of taxi medallions,” CNN reports.  “The search was also related to porn star Stormy Daniels, with whom Cohen is in a legal dispute over a hush agreement Daniels signed before the 2016 campaign to keep quiet about an alleged affair between her and Trump… In addition, the warrant said it related in part to election laws.”

ABC News has learned that Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has recused himself from the Michael Cohen investigation and had no role in yesterday’s raid of Cohen’s home and office.   Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein personally signed off on Monday’s FBI decision to raid the office of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney and longtime confidant, the New York Times reports.  “The early-morning searches enraged Mr. Trump, associates said, setting off an angry public tirade Monday evening that continued in private at the White House as the president fumed about whether he should fire Mr. Rosenstein. The episode has deeply unsettled White House aides, Justice Department officials and lawmakers from both parties, who believe the president may use it as a pretext to purge the team leading the investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 election.”

TRUMP WANTS TO FIRE ROSENSTEIN. President Trump “is considering firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein… a move that has gained urgency following the raid of the office of the President’s personal lawyer,” CNN reports. “Such an action could potentially further Trump’s goal of trying to put greater limits on special counsel Robert Mueller.”

“This is one of several options — including going so far as to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions — Trump is weighing in the aftermath of the FBI’s decision Monday to raid the office of Michael Cohen, the President’s personal lawyer and longtime confidant. Officials say if Trump acts, Rosenstein is his most likely target, but it’s unclear whether even such a dramatic firing like this would be enough to satisfy the President.”

TRUMP TRIED TO FIRE MUELLER IN DECEMBER.  “In early December, President Trump, furious over news reports about a new round of subpoenas from the office of the special counsel, Robert Mueller, told advisers in no uncertain terms that Mr. Mueller’s investigation had to be shut down,” the New York Times reports.

“The president’s anger was fueled by reports that the subpoenas were for obtaining information about his business dealings with Deutsche Bank… To Mr. Trump, the subpoenas suggested that Mr. Mueller had expanded the investigation in a way that crossed the ‘red line’ he had set last year.”

“Republicans are mounting an urgent defense of special counsel Robert Mueller in the face of President Trump’s latest attacks, with one key senator leading a renewed push to protect him and other GOP lawmakers arguing the special counsel’s report should become public when Mueller finishes his work,” Politico reports.  “The GOP alarm was palpable on Tuesday in the wake of Trump leaving the door open to canning Mueller.”

A new Quinnipiac poll finds that American voters say by 69% to 13% that President Trump should not fire special counsel Robert Mueller. Even Republicans say by 55% to 22% that he shouldn’t move to dismiss Mueller.

MUELLER IS GETTING CLOSER AND CLOSER TO TRUMP.  “The special counsel is investigating a payment made to President Trump’s foundation by a Ukrainian steel magnate for a talk during the campaign… as part of a broader examination of streams of foreign money to Mr. Trump and his associates in the years leading up to the election,” the New York Times reports.   “Michael Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer whose office and hotel room were raided on Monday in an apparently unrelated case, solicited the donation.”

New York Times: “The searches open a new front for the Justice Department in its scrutiny of Mr. Trump and his associates: His longtime lawyer is being investigated in Manhattan; his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is facing scrutiny by prosecutors in Brooklyn; his former campaign chairman is under indictment; his former national security adviser has pleaded guilty to lying; and a pair of former campaign aides are cooperating with Mr. Mueller. Mr. Mueller, meanwhile, wants to interview Mr. Trump about possible obstruction of justice.”

“In the wake of an early morning FBI raid on his personal attorney, sources close to President Trump and his legal team say the president is ‘less inclined’ to sit down for an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team,” ABC News reports. One source said Trump is now “understandably less trusting” of Mueller and his team. “Multiple sources say advisers don’t know how to deal with the president’s frustration and are bracing for what he may do next.”

2018.  A new Harvard Institute of Politics poll finds a huge jump in enthusiasm among young Americans about voting in this year’s midterm elections.  37% of Americans under age 30 indicate that they will “definitely be voting,” compared to 23% who said the same in 2014.   “Young Democrats are driving nearly all of the increase in enthusiasm; a majority (51%) report that they will ‘definitely’ vote in November, which represents a 9-percentage point increase since November 2017 and is significantly larger than the 36 percent of Republicans who say the same.”

Meanwhile, “Republicans fear the party could blow a golden opportunity to pad its 51-49 Senate majority after watching a collection of underwhelming candidates emerge as the likely nominees in key contests,” the Washington Examiner reports.

“The Republican Party entered the 2018 cycle threatening incumbent Democrats in 10 states that President Trump carried in 2016. Even as immediate dissatisfaction with Trump quickly threatened the Republican majority in the House, a favorable map acted to shield the GOP from similar headwinds in the Senate.”

“Seven months before Election Day, Republicans are worrying about dwindling opportunities as candidates that are some combination of defective, unimpressive and underfunded appear headed toward victory in a handful of GOP primaries.”

MANAFORT HAS A SECOND EMPLOYEE TURN ON HIM.   Daily Beast: “Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort has trouble in his own house. According to court documents, one of Manafort’s former employees led an FBI agent to a storage locker filled with paperwork on Manafort’s businesses and finances. The person’s name is redacted from the filings. But he’s now at the center of a fight over evidence that could play a significant role in the government’s case against Manafort.”

“This makes the second Manafort associate known to have aided the government in the sprawling investigation into foreign influence in U.S. politics. Rick Gates, Manafort’s long-time right hand, began cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office in February.”

RUSSIA JAMMING US DRONES IN SYRIA.  NBC News: “The Russian military has been jamming some U.S. military drones operating in the skies over Syria, seriously affecting American military operations, according to four U.S. officials. The Russians began jamming some smaller U.S. drones several weeks ago, the officials said, after a series of suspected chemical weapons attacks on civilians in rebel-held eastern Ghouta. The Russian military was concerned the U.S. military would retaliate for the attacks and began jamming the GPS systems of drones operating in the area.”

STUCK WITH PRUITT.  “There’s one big reason Senate Republicans are standing staunchly with Scott Pruitt: Confirming a replacement might be impossible. Even as the embattled EPA administrator faced another day of difficult headlines on Monday, there is no push from the Senate GOP to shove Pruitt out,” Politico reports.

“Instead, Republicans are gently rapping him for his ethical transgressions and praising his deregulatory regime. There’s no question that GOP senators are growing tired of defending Pruitt. But turning on him would likely backfire, as the shrunken Republican majority would struggle to confirm any EPA administrator, let alone another one as conservative and driven to overturn former President Barack Obama’s environmental rules and regulations.”

TRUMP’S TAX RETURNS WILL SOON OUT.    Playbook: “This hasn’t gotten a ton of attention outside of the Capitol, but if Democrats win either chamber of Congress they’d be able to get their hands on President Trump’s tax returns. This is something that key GOP players on the Hill are well aware of.”

THE TRUMP PANAMA SCANDAL.  “President Trump’s company appealed directly to Panama’s president to intervene in its fight over control of a luxury hotel, even invoking a treaty between the two countries, in what ethics experts say was a blatant mingling of Trump’s business and government interests,” the AP reports.

“That appeal in a letter last month from lawyers for the Trump Organization to Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela was apparently unsuccessful — an emergency arbitrator days later declined to reinstate the Trump management team to the waterfront hotel in Panama City. But it provides hard proof of exactly the kind of conflict experts feared when Trump refused to divest from a sprawling empire that includes hotels, golf courses, licensing deals and other interests in more than 20 countries.”

TRUMP CANCELS SOUTH AMERICAN TRIP.  The White House announced that President Trump will no longer attend the Summit of the Americas in Peru or travel to Colombia as originally scheduled.  Instead he “will remain in the United States to oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world.”

White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert is leaving the Trump administration, “another departure during what has been a chaotic few months of personnel changes,” the Washington Post reports.

“Bossert, a favorite of Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, is leaving one day after national security adviser John Bolton began the job. Bossert, an ally of former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, was believed to be on shaky footing in the Bolton era and he resigned two days after Michael Anton, the National Security Council spokesman, also quit.”

Ken White: “The Stormy Daniels payout may be outside the scope of the Russia investigation, but it’s possible that Mr. Cohen’s records are full of materials that are squarely within that scope. And the law is clear: If investigators executing a lawful warrant seize evidence of additional crimes, they may use that evidence. Thus Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen, with their catastrophically clumsy handling of the Daniels affair, may have handed Mr. Mueller devastating evidence.”

“It’s easy to conclude that after so many bombshells, this is just another overfrantic news cycle. It’s not. It’s highly dangerous, and not just for Mr. Cohen. It’s perilous for the president, whose personal lawyer now may face a choice between going down fighting alone or saving his own skin by giving the wolves what they want.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that President Trump “believes he has the power to” fire special counsel Robert Mueller, CNN reports.  Said Sanders: “He certainly believes he has the power to do so.”

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

6 comments on “The Open Thread for April 11, 2018

  1. Will the royal wrath of Trump result in firings, insane tweets filled with CAPITOL LETTERS!!! and an assortment of rude comments about the staff at the White House? Only the firings are in doubt as I believe we’ve entered the desperation stage. Hard not to note that Trump’s Teflon coat makes a mockery of Reagan’s, scandals come and go, tradition is mocked on a daily basis and presidential powers abused with little effect. Watching intently to see if a Mueller protection bill and Republican “Urgent defense” results in actual protection from Trump unbound. Half believe that it will as the Republicans know what happened to Nixon after the “Saturday Night Massacre”.

    • delacrat

      “Democrats hope to steal Ross’ Florida House seat….” – Politico

      According to Politico, when R’s lose, the opposition “steals”.

  2. If only Nunes would go!

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