THE DEMS SUE. “The DNC filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization alleging a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump,” the Washington Post reports.
“The complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump by hacking the computer networks of the Democratic Party and disseminating stolen material found there.”
“The lawsuit echoes a similar legal tactic that the Democratic Party used during the Watergate scandal. In 1972, the DNC filed suit against former president Richard Nixon’s reelection committee seeking $1 million in damages for the break-in at Democratic headquarters in the Watergate building.”
THE COMEY MEMOS. James Hohmann: “These memos only got released because Republicans lawmakers demanded they be turned over and threatened to hold Trump officials at the Justice Department in contempt if they weren’t, even raising the specter of impeachment. It’s hard to overstate how irregular it is for DOJ to release evidence central to an ongoing federal investigation. Special counsel Robert Mueller is probing whether Trump obstructed justice, and these notes would be key building blocks of any obstruction case.”
First Read: The Comey memos hurt Trump more than they help him.
President Trump “expressed concerns about the judgment of his national security adviser Michael Flynn weeks before forcing him to resign, according to memos kept by former FBI director James Comey that recount in detail efforts by Trump to influence the bureau’s expanding investigation of Russia,” the Washington Post reports. “The memos also reveal the extent of Trump’s preoccupation with unproven allegations that he had consorted with prostitutes while in Moscow in 2013. Trump, according to the memos, repeatedly denied the allegations and prodded Comey to help disprove them, while also recalling being told by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia has the most beautiful prostitutes.” New York Times: “Mr. Comey’s decision to brief Mr. Trump on the dossier was based, at least in part, on the fact that American intelligence agencies had corroborated parts of the dossier, according to the memos.”
Comey wrote in one of his memos that President Trump claimed that he never spent a night in Russia during the Miss Universe pageant in 2013 and instead returned to New York. As Josh Marshall points out, this “is the visit in which the ‘pee tape’ was purportedly recorded. There’s no evidence in the memos that that tape exists or that the President spent the night with prostitutes. But again, he clearly and repeatedly lies about the trip itself, specifically how long he was there.”
“There’s ample evidence that Trump stayed not one but two nights. In July 2017, Bloomberg reported out a detailed reconstruction of the trip based on FAA records, social media postings and interviews. They showed clearly that Trump flew from North Carolina to New York on the evening of November 7th (Thursday) and then proceeded on to Moscow overnight and arrived sometime early on November 8th (Friday). He overnighted in Moscow. He was in Moscow all of November 9th (Saturday), the day of the pageant, and departed for New York early November 10th. For the details of how we know these facts, see the Bloomberg article. It is forensic in its detail.”
“Clearly, Trump lied about not spending the night in Russia. It’s conceivable that he forgot he’d spent the night. But again, the whole idea is wildly implausible.”
The Comey memos contain some awfully intriguing info about…Reince Priebus! https://t.co/Z8a75BGmQM
— Paul Waldman (@paulwaldman1) April 20, 2018
SESSIONS THREATENS TO QUIT IF ROSENSTEIN IS FIRED. Attorney General Jeff Sessions “recently told the White House he might have to leave his job if President Trump fired his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election,” the Washington Post reports.
“Sessions made his position known in a phone call to White House counsel Donald McGahn last weekend, as Trump’s fury at Rosenstein peaked after the deputy attorney general approved the FBI’s raid April 9 on the president’s personal attorney Michael Cohen.”
THE TRUMP BANK BAILOUT. An analysis by the Associated Press shows the nation’s six big Wall Street banks saved at least $3.59 billion in taxes last quarter, thanks to the recently enacted Trump tax law.
Democrats to introduce a bill to 'decriminalize marijuana from one end of the country to the other' https://t.co/wiic4t8iMu
— Daily Kos (@dailykos) April 20, 2018
2018 LOOKING WORSE AND WORSE FOR GOP. Cook Political Report: “Multiple indicators, including generic ballot polls , President Trump’s approval ratings and recent special election results, point to midterm danger for Republicans. But without robust race-by-race polling, it’s trickier to predict individual races six months out.”
“Our latest ratings point to 56 vulnerable GOP-held seats, versus six vulnerable Democratic seats. Of the 56 GOP seats at risk, 15 are open seats created by retirements. Even if Democrats were to pick up two-thirds of those seats, they would still need to hold all their own seats and defeat 13 Republican incumbents to reach the magic number of 218. Today, there are 18 GOP incumbents in our Toss Up column.”
“That Toss Up list is likely to grow as the cycle progresses. Out of the 65 GOP incumbents rated as less than ‘Solid,’ 49 were first elected in 2010 or after, meaning more than three quarters have never had to face this kind of political climate before. And, Democrats have a donor enthusiasm edge: in the first quarter of 2018, at least 43 sitting Republicans were out-raised by at least one Democratic opponent.”
The Cook Political Report identifies “seven risk factors” for House GOP incumbents in the midterm elections:
Sits in a district with a Cook PVI score of R+5 or less Republican.
Sits in a district that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.
Received 55 percent of the vote or less in the 2016 election (or a 2017 special election).
Voted in favor of the American Health Care Act in the May 4 roll call vote.
Voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the December 19 roll call vote.
Raised less money than at least one Democratic opponent in the first quarter of 2018.
Has a Democratic opponent with at least $200,000 in cash on hand as of March 31.
“Only one incumbent, Rep. Steve Knight (CA-25), has all seven risk factors. Eight incumbents have six risk factors, 23 incumbents have five, 23 incumbents have four and 32 have three.”
“Arizona teachers voted for a statewide walkout next week, escalating their push for higher pay and increased school funding,” CNN reports.
“The Arizona Education Association announced Thursday night that its members voted to strike. Of the more than 57,000 votes tallied, 78% of school employees in the state were in favor of a walkout.”
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) April 20, 2018
Playbook: “Senior Republican aides on Capitol Hill are growing increasingly concerned about their ability to ratify a NAFTA deal that the White House cuts. They worry that if the president’s negotiators come to an agreement in the coming months, they will not have the support to pass it. It’s the middle of an election year, and trade politics are particularly thorny on Capitol Hill.”
“It is getting almost no attention but Congress would have to ratify a new NAFTA deal — Trump can’t do this alone. The Trump administration has done absolutely nothing to prepare the Hill for a bruising trade vote in the middle of an election year, according to key aides involved. GOP leadership is well aware of the void. When the Trans-Pacific Partnership cleared the Capitol, it benefited from a multi-year, multi-million dollar lobbying campaign.”
A Russian news agency says President Trump invited his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to the United States during a phone call, “and said he would be glad to see Putin in the White House,” Reuters reports.
“Rolling out a welcome for Putin in the White House could anger Trump’s domestic critics, who accuse Russia of hostile acts against Western countries, including the United States.”
“Mitch McConnell is making a last dash to stock the judiciary with conservatives this year as a hedge against the chance that Republicans lose the Senate in November,” Politico reports.
“The GOP may have only a few more months of unified control of Washington to repeal Obamacare or enact President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan. But the Senate majority leader is taking a longer view — and confirming as many conservative judges as possible to lifetime appointments.”
Jonathan Greenberg: “In May 1984, an official from the Trump Organization called to tell me how rich Donald J. Trump was. I was reporting for the Forbes 400, the magazine’s annual ranking of America’s richest people, for the third year. In the previous edition, we’d valued Trump’s holdings at $200 million, only one-fifth of what he claimed to own in our interviews. This time, his aide urged me on the phone, I needed to understand just how loaded Trump really was.”
“The official was John Barron — a name we now know as an alter ego of Trump himself. When I recently rediscovered and listened, for first time since that year, to the tapes I made of this and other phone calls, I was amazed that I didn’t see through the ruse: Although Trump altered some cadences and affected a slightly stronger New York accent, it was clearly him.”
POMPEO WILL BE VOTED DOWN IN COMMITTEE, DOOMING HIS NOMINATION. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) announced “that he will not vote to support the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state, officially closing the door on Pompeo’s chances of being favorably recommended out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ahead of a full Senate floor vote,” ABC News reports.
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) April 19, 2018
“A federal appeals court said the U.S. Justice Department cannot deny public safety grants to so-called sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration,” Reuters reports. “The Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court injunction in a case brought by the city of Chicago.”
— Dylan Matthews (@dylanmatt) April 20, 2018
Harry Enten: “The five presidents — George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson and Harry Truman — who faced strong headwinds in the New Hampshire primary all had approval ratings among their own party members of less than 75%. The four presidents — Carter, Ford, Johnson and Truman — for whom the nomination was in doubt or dropped out of the race completely had approval ratings of less than 70%. The two presidents — Johnson and Truman — who dropped out completely had approval ratings of less than 55%.”
“Now, it’s not a perfectly linear relationship between approval ratings and primary difficulty for an incumbent president. The dividing line seems to be a 70% to 75% approval rating within your own party. Those above it do significantly better in primaries than those below it. It seems that when a president has an approval rating above the 70% to 75% line, prominent challengers are more likely to pass on the race.”
“Trump, of course, is well above the line right now. He actually has a higher approval rating among Republicans than Barack Obama did among Democrats just before the 2012 New Hampshire primary.”