The Open Thread for April 12, 2018

RYAN JUMPS SHIP.  Speaker Paul Ryan has told confidants that he will announce soon that he won’t run for reelection in November, Axios reports.  This decision has been long rumored but his final deliberations were held extremely closely. Speaker Paul Ryan’s retirement shifts Wisconsin’s his congressional district from the Solid Republican to the Lean Republican, “with the potential for the race to become even more competitive,” the according to the Cook Political Report.

Weekly Standard: “Ryan’s district might not be competitive if the national environment was neutral. Wisconsin’s 1st District moved right in the 2016 election. Trump won the district by 10 points after Romney took it only by four points in 2012 (though 2012 may be an odd case because Ryan was the GOP’s vice presidential nominee). And in 2008, Barack Obama won the area by about three points while winning the national popular vote by seven, suggesting that it took a real step to the right over the course of the last four to eight years. If you add that to Ryan’s incumbency advantage, you get a district that would’t typically be near the boottom of the GOP’s list of worries.

“But the national environment isn’t neutral.”

Ron Brownstein: “Paul Ryan, who once aspired to advance the vision of conservative icon Jack Kemp, will leave Washington carrying a more tarnished legacy—as the most important enabler of Donald Trump.”

“No one in the GOP was better equipped, by position and disposition alike, to resist Trump’s racially infused, insular nationalism, or to define a more inclusive competing vision for the party. Instead, Ryan chose to tolerate both Trump’s personal excesses and his racially polarizing words and deeds as the price worth paying to advance Ryan’s own top priorities: cutting spending; regulations; and above all, taxes. The result was that Ryan, more than any other prominent Republican, personified the devil’s bargain the GOP has signed with Trump. And his departure crystallizes the difficult choices Republicans face as Trump redefines the party in his belligerent image.”

“I don’t know what he was thinking. I think this was a huge miscalculation. I think this is the captain abandoning the sinking ship.”  — Former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), quoted by the Daily Beast, adding that GOP lawmakers “are pissed” about Speaker Paul Ryan’s retirement announcement.

GREITENS SCANDAL DEEPENS IN MISSOURI.  “During several sexual encounters with his hair stylist the year before he was elected Missouri’s governor, Eric Greitens (R) struck her in the face, touched her crotch without her consent and called her a ‘whore,’ the woman told a Missouri House committee,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

“The claims add disturbing new layers to the single criminal allegation Greitens faces — a felony invasion-of-privacy charge, for allegedly taking and transmitting a semi-nude photo of her without her consent.”

Kansas City Star: “The explosive allegations were among the findings of the bipartisan investigative committee of the Missouri House that has been looking into allegations of wrongdoing against the Republican governor. The committee – five Republicans and two Democrats – concluded that the woman’s testimony is credible.”

COMEY IS COMING.  A source present at the taping told Axios that James Comey’s interview with George Stephanopoulos  airing on Sunday at 10 p.m. is “going to shock the president and his team.”  “The Comey interview left people in the room stunned — he told George things that he’s never said before… If anyone wonders if Comey will go there, he goes there.”

“The James Comey media blitz has officially begun, with the former FBI director sitting down for a marathon five-hour interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News ahead of the release of his much-anticipated memoir,” Politico reports.

“Comey is preparing a media blitz of at least two weeks around the release of the book, including a live interview with CNN on April 19, an MSNBC interview later that day, an appearance on Fox News on April 26, and a PBS NewsHour interview on April 30.”

DANA BOENTE HAS TURNED OVER HIS COLLABORATING NOTES TO MUELLER.  “Dana Boente, the former acting attorney general who now serves as general counsel at the FBI, has been interviewed by the special counsel’s office and turned over handwritten notes that could be a piece of evidence in the ongoing investigation into whether President Trump obstructed justice,” the Washington Post reports.

“Boente was interviewed some months ago by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team on a wide range of topics, including his recollections of what former FBI director James Comey told him about troubling interactions with Trump.”

“The interview is significant because it shows how Mueller is exploring whether the president obstructed justice and keying in on conversations Trump had with his former FBI director about the probe involving his presidential campaign. It also shows the extent to which Mueller has gone to corroborate Comey’s account.”

GOP SENATE MOVES TO PROTECT MUELLER. “The Senate Judiciary Committee is moving forward with legislation to limit President Trump’s ability to fire special counsel Robert Mueller,” The Hill reports.  Judiciary Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wants to add the bill to the panel’s business meeting agenda scheduled for Thursday.

First Read: “Yesterday, we posed this question: Would congressional Republicans draw a line in the sand when it comes to protecting special counsel Robert Mueller? The answer we got 24 hours later: While they haven’t raced to pass legislation, several GOP senators did fire warning shots at President Trump.”

“So these are definite cracks in the ground between Trump and his party, at least in the Senate. And they come at a time when congressional Republicans are upset at Trump on other matters like the tariffs.”

GUESS THE CONGRESSMAN!   “It’s like Forrest Gump won the presidency, but an evil, really fucking stupid Forrest Gump.”  — An unnamed Republican congressman, who publicly supports President Trump, in an interview with conservative writer Erick Erickson.  I’m with Wonkette, that is New York’s Peter King talking.

RYAN SCREWED THE GOP.   New York Times: “For House Republicans, and for a White House bracing for a potential Democratic impeachment inquiry, the more immediate and ominous impact of Mr. Ryan’s retirement was unmistakable: He has made it more difficult for his party to keep control of the House, where Republicans currently hold a 23-seat majority. With one decision, Mr. Ryan has turned an already difficult midterm election into a precarious task for his remaining colleagues.”

Said former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA): “This is the nightmare scenario. Everybody figured he’d just hang in there till after the election.” “Mr. Ryan’s exit is a destabilizing blow to Republicans’ 2018 plans on nearly every front.”

WHAT THE FBI WAS AFTER.  “The FBI agents who raided the office and hotel of President Trump’s lawyer on Monday were seeking all records related to the Access Hollywood tape in which Mr. Trump was heard making vulgar comments about women,” the New York Times reports.

“The search warrant also sought evidence of whether the lawyer, Michael Cohen, tried to suppress damaging information about Mr. Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.”

“It is not clear what role, if any, Mr. Cohen played regarding the tape, which was made public a month before the election. But the fact that the agents were seeking documents related to the tape reveals a new front in the investigation into Mr. Cohen that is being led by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan.”

STORMY IS COOPERATING.  Stormy Daniels is cooperating with federal investigators probing the 2016 non-disclosure agreement and $130,000 payment she received from President Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, NBC News reports.  Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports federal prosecutors asked the Trump Organization for records relating to the $130,000 payment as well. The request came in connection with yesterday’s FBI raids on Cohen’s home and office.

TRUMP IS MELTING DOWN.  New York Times: “Inside the White House, Mr. Trump — furious after the FBI raided his longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen — spent much of the day brooding and fearful and near what two people close to the West Wing described as a ‘meltdown.’”

“Mr. Trump’s public and private wrath about the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election are nothing new. But the raids on Monday on Mr. Cohen’s Rockefeller Center office and Park Avenue hotel room have sent the president to new heights of outrage, setting the White House on edge as it faces a national security crisis in Syria and more internal staff churn.”

MUELLER V. TRUMP SHOWDOWN.  Banjamin Wittes: “I will put this as bluntly as I know how: There is no way that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York would have sought or executed a search warrant against the president’s lawyer without overpowering evidence to support the action. The legal standard for such a search requires only probable cause that criminal activity is taking place. Under normal circumstances, which these are not, the prudential and policy factors counseling against such an action would be powerful.”

“This is the kind of step that would predictably elicit a reaction. The Justice Department simply would not take such an action lightly or without evidence that emphatically supports it. Add these prudential, legal and policy factors together and they cumulatively suggest that the evidence supporting the warrant application likely exceeds—probably by far—what is legally required.”

“Put another way, Cohen’s situation, and thus Trump’s situation, is grave.”

BUT… MUELLER WON’T INDICT TRUMPPaul Rosenzweig: “Mueller will not indict Trump for obstruction of justice or for any other crime. Period. Full stop. End of story. Speculations to the contrary are just fantasy.”

“He won’t do it for the good and sufficient reason that the Department of Justice has a long-standing legal opinion that sitting presidents may not be indicted. First issued in 1973 during the Nixon era, the policy was reaffirmed in 2000, during the Clinton era. These rules bind all Department of Justice employees, and Mueller, in the end, is a Department of Justice employee. More to the point, if we know anything about Mueller, we think we know that he follows the rules—all of them. Even the ones that restrict him in ways he would prefer they not. And if he were to choose not to follow the rules, that, in turn, would be a reasonable justification for firing him. So … the special counsel will not indict the president.”

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

7 comments on “The Open Thread for April 12, 2018

  1. cassandram

    Chief White Supremacist Steve Bannon is back in the White House. He has a pitch on how the Combover Caligula can rid himself of the pesky Special Prosecutor. The Plan:

    1. Fire Rosenstein
    2. Stop cooperating with Mueller.
    3. Claim retroactive Executive Privilege over everything that the White house has cooperated with Mueller on so far.

    Hoo Boy.

  2. While I would have preferred a crushing defeat it’s fun the see Ryan depart and screw over the Republicans in the process, even sweeter they may lose Ryan’s seat come November. As predicted the longer the investigation goes on the more desperate Trump becomes, he is indeed “melting down”. Is Trump more dangerous than ever? Would not put it past him to try and start a war as a diversion and he’s already got Bolton the alpha War Pig in place. However the stench of endless war still hangs in the air and we get occasional reminders that to some extent endless war is still going on in an assortment of countries. He can try it, but I don’t think America will buy it. For a change.

  3. elizabeth Don’t worry bout the blue eyed Ayn Rand lovin dimwit…look what he gets as a pension for doing one thing. Delivering Tax Cuts to the wealthiest, and raising debt $2 Trillion.

  4. elizabeth

    International attorney’s wrote a letter claiming if Trump attacks Syria, it would be against international law ans a war crime. Again the orange man threatened Russia and Syria before he had any facts. UN still has not determined who dun it…betting it was not Assad. It was the saudia arabian lunatics called the “wahabis”. Stlll a fight between Sunni and Shia which 99.5% of american’s still don’t understand.

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