The Open Thread for April 20, 2018

Former New York City mayor and close Trump confidant Rudy Giuliani has joined President Donald Trump’s legal team, Giuliani told the Washington Post Thursday.

“I’m doing it because I hope we can negotiate an end to this for the good of the country and because I have high regard for the president and for Bob Mueller,” Giuliani told the Post.

A similar reaction to the one I had when I heard the news:

President Donald Trump won’t be joining his wife in attending the memorial service of former first lady Barbara Bush, matriarch of a political dynasty that Trump often clashed with during his 2016 campaign. The White House said Thursday that Trump would not attend “to avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family and friends attending the service.” Trump is expected to be at his Florida estate this weekend during Saturday’s funeral in Houston for the wife and mother of presidents.

To be fair to Donnie, this is not actually unusual. President Obama did not attend Nancy Reagan’s funeral, but Michelle and Hillary did. President Bush did not attend Lady Bird Johnson’s funeral, but Laura did.  President Clinton did not attend Pat Nixon’s funeral, but Hillary did. Plus, I am sure the Bushes do not want Trump there anyway.

Ron Brownstein: “Trump has forged a powerful connection with many working-class whites by expressing their anxiety about cultural, demographic, and economic change. If there’s an opening for Democrats among these Americans, it’s through discrediting Trump’s argument that he’s championing working-class interests against powerful elites. For Democrats, the key is building a case that Trump, for all his posturing as a working-class hero, has increased economic insecurity for average families. They could do so by highlighting his attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, along with his support for a tax plan that mostly benefited the wealthy and corporations and will eventually increase pressure to cut Social Security and Medicare.”

“Those arguments, however, now rarely break through the tabloid maelstrom constantly engulfing Trump. Yet, as in 2016, personal doubts about the president may not prove disqualifying for enough voters to provide Democrats a winning majority.”

“The election results in November are much more likely to turn on which side wins the arguments over those policies than on whether slightly more or fewer Americans than today consider Trump unfit for the presidency. In other words: For a sunny outcome this fall, Democrats probably need more health care and taxes—and less Comey and Stormy.”

“Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Trump last week that he isn’t a target of any part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation,” Bloomberg reports.

“Rosenstein, who brought up the Mueller probe himself, offered the assurance during a meeting with Trump at the White House last Thursday… After the meeting, Trump told some of his closest advisers that it’s not the right time to remove either man since he’s not a target of the probe.”

While this may be literally true, it can be subject to change at any time.

The Economist: “All presidents, Republican and Democrat, seek to remake their party in their own image. Donald Trump has been more successful than most. From the start, the voters he mesmerized in the campaign embraced him more fervently than congressional Republicans were ready to admit. After 15 months in power, as our briefing explains, he has taken ownership of their party. It is an extraordinary achievement from a man who had never lived in Washington, DC, never held public office, who boasted of groping women and who, as recently as 2014, was a donor to the hated Democrats.”

“The organizing principle of Mr Trump’s Republican Party is loyalty. Not, as with the best presidents, loyalty to an ideal, a vision or a legislative program, but to just one man—Donald J. Trump—and to the prejudice and rage which consume the voter base that, on occasion, even he struggles to control. In America that is unprecedented and it is dangerous.”

“The Justice Department inspector general referred its finding that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe repeatedly misled investigators who were examining a media disclosure to the top federal prosecutor in D.C. to determine whether McCabe should be charged with a crime,” the Washington Postreports.

“A whopping 43 House Republicans raised less money than Democratic challengers in the first three months of 2018 — nearly the same number of stragglers the GOP had at the end of last year,” Politico reports.

“An overlapping group of 16 Republican incumbents already have less cash on hand than Democratic challengers, up from the end of 2017, despite hopes that tax reform would open more donor wallets.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-IL) newborn daughter Maile Pearl Bowlsbey made her Senate debut Thursday, seconds before Duckworth voted against the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to be NASA administrator. The Senate voted Wednesday to allow the infant (under one year old) children of senators accompany their parents into the Senate chamber.

ABC News: “The 47-hour journey in Morocco was already drawing congressional scrutiny and criticism from outside groups because of the lack transparency over why Pruitt was in the country and what he was doing while he was there.”

“Conservative congressional estimates put the cost of the trip at more than $40,000, and because of travel snags, Pruitt and his aides spent two days in Paris at high-end hotels. Pruitt did not publicly announce he was going ahead of time, did not bring reporters along, and when he finally released copies of his itinerary in response to Freedom of Information requests from ABC News and other news organizations, the bulk of the schedule was blacked out.”

“Scott Pruitt, under fire from lawmakers for travel and security expenses, spent about $45,000 in government money to fly five people to Australia to prepare for a planned trip that was later canceled,” Reuters reports.

“Two of his aides and three security agents flew to Australia last August on business-class tickets costing roughly $9,000 each to set up meetings for the EPA administrator.”

“Heading into a contentious campaign for control of Congress, Republicans are increasingly divided over how to bolster their signature legislative achievement — a $1.5 trillion tax cut — amid signs it is not the political gift they had expected it to be last year,” the Washington Post reports.

“House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) aims to pass another massive tax cut this summer, which Republicans hope will rev up the GOP base and improve the standing of Republicans at the polls.”

“But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is under pressure to block a vote, which Republican campaign strategists worry could allow red-state Democrats to vote for additional tax cuts and undermine one of the GOP’s most effective lines of attack in conservative-leaning states: that Democrats voted against a big tax cut last December.”

Politico reports the Senate Majority PAC raised $22.2 million in the first quarter of 2018, as compared to $13.9 million for the GOP’s Senate Leadership Fund and the constellation of affiliated groups.  “This is an extraordinarily strong haul for the outside group.”

“A wide array of House and Senate Republicans are not yet ready to endorse President Trump’s bid for a second term, a reflection of the deep uncertainty on Capitol Hill over his political standing amid growing problems at home and abroad,” CNN reports.

“In interviews with a cross-section of more than two dozen GOP lawmakers, ranging from rank-and-file members, conservatives and party leaders, many refused to say they’d back Trump’s re-election bid — a surprise declaration given that members of Congress are typically quick to endorse sitting presidents of their own party without hesitation. Hardly any would offer a categorical endorsement of the President.”

Paul Brandus: History suggests double trouble for incumbent Trump.

Kyle Kondik: Underestimate Trump’s re-election odds at your own peril.

Jonathan Swan: “He came into office thinking he could be the historic deal maker to bring peace to the Middle East. He’s stopped talking about that. There’s very little point. The peace deal looks dead and cremated. But Trump wants to sign his name even larger into the history books, and he views North Korea as his moment.”

“Sources close to him say he genuinely believes he — and he alone — can overcome the seemingly intractable disaster on the Korean Peninsula.”

Said a source who has discussed North Korea with Trump: “He thinks, ‘Just get me in the room with the guy and I’ll figure it out.’”

A new OH Predictive Insights/ABC15 poll in Arizona finds Kristen Sinema (D) leading Marha McSally (R) in a U.S. Senate match up, 47% to 42% with 10% undecided.  In other match ups, Sinema tops Kelli Ward (R), 50% to 40%, and beats Joe Arpaio (R), 59% to 33%.

In the GOP primary race, Ward leads with 36%, followed by McSally at 27% and Arpaio at 22%.

Ronan Farrow: “After Tillerson’s brief and chaotic ride as America’s top diplomat, Pompeo will face a Department with an uncertain future, in which the evisceration of American diplomacy well under way, if not complete. Should he be confirmed, he will face decisions with profound implications, potentially for generations of American foreign policy.”

Said former Secretary of State John Kerry: “In a couple years, if we get a Presidency of either party that values diplomacy, you can fix a budget, you can invest again in the State Department. But it takes years to undo what’s happening, because it takes years to build up expertise and capacity.”

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell offered a similarly blunt assessment saying the Trump Administration has been “ripping the guts out of the organization.”

“Embattled attorney Michael Cohen has dropped a pair of much-touted libel suits against BuzzFeed and the private investigation firm Fusion GPS over publication of the so-called dossier detailing alleged ties between President Trump and Russia,” Politico reports.

“Cohen abandoned the suits late Wednesday as he continues to fight to recover documents and electronic files seized from his home, office and hotel room last week by federal authorities as part of what appears to be a broad criminal investigation into his conduct.”

“Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s interest in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort stemmed in part from his suspected role as a ‘back channel’ between the campaign and Russians intent on meddling in the election,” Bloomberg reports.

“The disclosure by U.S. prosecutors came Thursday during a hearing on whether Mueller exceeded his authority in indicting Manafort on charges of laundering millions of dollars while acting as an unregistered agent of the Ukrainian government. Manafort’s lawyers say those alleged crimes have nothing to do with Mueller’s central mission — to determine whether anyone in the Trump campaign had links to the Russian government.”

“Prosecutors hadn’t previously used such explicit language to describe their suspicions about Manafort.”

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

3 comments on “The Open Thread for April 20, 2018

  1. cassandram

    I read that business about Guilani looking to negotiate an end to the Mueller investigation last night and spit out my martini. Hilarious. Until you think about it. Look at how much entitlement and privilege is in that expectation. That they could somehow barter to stop a high level investigation into corruption and collusion that is already bagging targets. That they expect that the law doesn’t apply to them if only they could remind Mueller of that.

  2. cassandram

    Ron Brownstein with the white working class bullshit AGAIN. 🙄

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