The Open Thread for April 26, 2018

Jonathan Swan: “Top Republicans have conceded for months that they’re likely lose the House in November’s midterms. But some well-wired operatives now tell Axios that President Trump may face his real nightmare: losing the Senate, giving Democrats both ends of the Capitol, and one-third of the government.”

“It’s not just that Democratic dominance at the Capitol would speed impeachment proceedings and trap the White House in a thicket of oversight probes and hearings. Twin losses would be a massive repudiation of Trump and his brand of Republicanism, just as he embarks on his reelection.”

Said a Republican lobbyist: “Everyone just universally assumed it would be status quo or Republicans would win a seat or two. And now it feels like Republicans are at a risk of losing one, which would be a 50-50 Senate or two, which would be a Democratic Senate.”

A new Mason-Dixon poll in Tennessee finds Phil Bredesen (D) leading Marsha Blackburn (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 43%, with 11% still undecided.  Key finding: “Bredesen continues to outpace Blackburn in terms of crossover appeal. Twelve percent of Republican respondents said they would vote for Bredesen. Just 4 percent of those surveyed said they’ve vote for Blackburn.”

A new Nevada Independent/Mellman poll in Nevada shows Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) barely ahead of challenger Jacky Rosen (D), 40% to 39%.  Key finding: “Rosen, who had never held office before her congressional race, lagged Heller significantly in name recognition among poll respondents, with 34% saying they had never heard of her compared to only 8% unfamiliar with him.”


Debbie Lasko (R) won a special election on Tuesday night to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) by 53% to 48%, in a district won by President Trump by 21 points in 2016. Nate Silver: “The outcome represented a 20-point swing toward Democrats relative to the district’s FiveThirtyEight partisan lean, which is derived from how the it voted for president in 2016 and 2012 relative to the country… If Republicans are winning by only 5 points in this sort of extremely red district in November, dozens of more competitive seats will flop to Democrats — more than enough for them to take the House.”

David Wasserman: “There are 147 GOP-held House seats less Republican than #AZ08. It’s time to start rethinking how many of those are truly safe in November.”

“Democratic energy has been on vivid display in a series of special elections since President Trump’s inauguration, including in strongly conservative areas where Republicans usually win elections easily,” the New York Times reports.

Axios: “To take the House, Democrats have to beat the partisan leans calculated by Cook Political Report in each district by an average of 4 points, analyst Dave Wasserman says. Even if the Alabama Senate race — in which Jones beat expectations by 15 points — is discounted as a special case given Roy Moore’s troubles, Democrats have over-performed by 6% to 12% in recent special elections.”


French President Emmanuel Macron believes President Trump will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal as part of “a strategy of increasing tension,” BuzzFeed News reports.  Said Macron: “My view — I don’t know what your president will decide — is that he will get rid of this deal on his own, for domestic reasons.”  He added: “It can work in the short term but it’s very insane in the medium to long term.”


President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, plans to assert his Fifth Amendment rights in the lawsuit filed against him by adult film star Stormy Daniels, The Hill reports.  “Cohen said the FBI raids earlier this month on his residence, office and hotel room — and the ongoing criminal probe they represent — are behind the decision not to offer testimony in the California lawsuit.”

“I had 12 hours of surgery on my face, broke all the bones in my face. What did he say? Did he send me a note of sympathy? He said, words to the effect ‘hope Reid tries another accident, gets hurt again.’ How about that? He is not a nice man and that’s an understatement.”  — Former Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), in an interview with NBC News, on President Trump.

West Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Don Blankenship (R) questioned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) marriage to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, suggesting the Senate leader faced a conflict of interest in foreign relations since Chao’s father is “a wealthy Chinaperson,” the New York Times reports.   He added that “there’s a lot of connections to some of the brass, if you will, in China.”   Said Blankenship: “I read in books that people think he’s soft on China.”

HUD Secretary Ben Carson “will propose to increase the amount low-income households are expected to pay for rent as well as require those receiving housing subsidies to work,” according to the administration’s legislative proposal obtained by the Washington Post.  “The move to overhaul how low-income rental subsidies are calculated would affect more than 4.5 million families relying on federal housing assistance.”

Jonathan Chait: “People in government might have always given their donors more influence over their decisions, but they at least pretended that was not the case in public. The Trump administration is not even bothering to put up a facade.”

“The levels of corruption in this administration are simply staggering, and they range from open self-enrichment to openly selling policy to the highest bidder. The completely accurate sense that Trump and his party are out to get themselves and their friends rich is the administration’s gaping vulnerability. What’s especially odd is that nobody in the administration seems to have taken even cursory steps to address or paper over this weakness. They’re all just grabbing as much cash for themselves and their allies as they can, while they can.”

President Trump “is increasingly relying on his personal cell phone to contact outside advisers… as Trump returns to the free-wheeling mode of operation that characterized the earliest days of his administration,” CNN reports.  ”Sources cited Trump’s stepped-up cell phone use as an example of chief of staff John Kelly’s waning influence over who gets access to the President.”

The White House is preparing a “full-throated defense” of embattled Veterans Affairs nominee Ronny Jackson and will be asking the Senate to reschedule a confirmation hearing that lawmakers had postponed amid concerns about his performance as the president’s physician, the Wall Street Journal reports.  An administration official described President Trump as “bewildered” by the response to Dr. Jackson’s nomination.

The White House will be mounting that defense alone.  “GOP support for the Veterans Affairs nominee has cratered in the face of allegations of misconduct as White House physician, who already faced serious doubts over his lack of management experience,” Politico reports.  “At this point, it would take a miraculous comeback by Jackson to survive at least two more weeks of scrutiny and growing discomfort among Republican senators over his nomination.”

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll finds that 55% of voters say they haven’t noticed an increase in their paychecks as a result of the new tax law.

A new SurveyUSA poll in California finds Gavin Newsom (D) leading the pack for California governor with 21%, followed by Antonio Villaraigosa (D) at 18, John Cox (R) at 15%, Travis Allen (R) at 10% and Don Chiang (D) at 9%. If that order holds up, it would lead to a Democrat vs. Democrat general election race.

Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s new personal lawyer dealing with the ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, met with special counsel Robert Mueller to reopen negotiations for a presidential interview, the Washington Post reports.  Giuliani “conveyed the ongoing resistance of Trump and his advisers to an interview with federal investigators, but did not rule out the possibility.”

“Trump remains ‘extremely opposed’ to granting Mueller an interview, according to one close adviser — setting up a potential high-stakes legal battle between the White House and the special counsel, who could ultimately seek to try to subpoena the president.”

“A coalition of news organizations… asked a federal court on Tuesday to unseal materials used by special counsel Robert Mueller to obtain search warrants in his investigation of President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and others indicted in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election,” the Washington Post reports.

“The news organizations are seeking to compel disclosure of affidavits, records of seizures and the warrants themselves that Mueller filed… They argue that the material, which has been shielded under a court order, could contain newsworthy information about the shape and direction of Mueller’s investigation. It could indicate, for example, details of criminal activity suspected by Mueller and the basis for FBI searches.”

“The Supreme Court appeared poised Wednesday to tune out President Trump’s inflammatory anti-Muslim statements on the campaign trail and uphold his executive order banning travel from seven primarily Muslim countries,” the Boston Globe reports.

“In an oral argument in the case Wednesday, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, a key swing vote, seemed largely unmoved by the argument that Trump exceeded his authority with the ban, or that it unconstitutionally discriminates against Muslims. Instead, they appeared to favor the Trump administration’s argument that the ban is a legal exercise of the chief executive’s broad powers to protect the United States.”

“As Scott Pruitt, the embattled head of the Environmental Protection Agency, prepares to testify before Congress on Thursday amid a series of spending and ethics investigations, an internal E.P.A. document indicates that he may blame his staff for many of the decisions that have put a cloud over his tenure at the agency,” the New York Times reports.

“The document, which The New York Times has reviewed and the veracity of which the E.P.A. did not dispute, seemed to be a work in progress.”

“His testimony coincides with rising calls from both Democrats and Republicans for Mr. Pruitt to step aside. He has been criticized for spending more than $3 million on security in his first year in office, a figure that includes salary and overtime for his security detail of more than 20 people, some of whom have been dispatched to protect Mr. Pruitt on private trips to Disneyland, professional basketball games and the 2018 Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.”

Jared Bernstein argues “Why Democrats must, for the sake of the future, repeal and replace the Republican tax cut,” and observes that “The tax bill obliterates the revenue needed to protect those hurt by globalization and technological change. As we speak, conservatives are trying to disassemble the safety net and impose work requirements, regardless of whether remunerative work is available or feasible. Now that they’ve shifted revenue from the Treasury to their donor base, they are arguing that we can’t afford social insurance programs…Deficit spending can relieve the tension for a while. But, eventually, the tax cut, unless it is reversed, will erode the policy insulation that must both provide meaningful opportunity to those on the wrong side of the inequality divide and prevent the rigging of the system. Because once the system is rigged, rest assured that Trump-like characters will promise that its de-rigging depends on global insulation and nationalist racial/immigration policies…the opposition party must make repealing and replacing the tax cuts its top priority. And it must understand the point of doing so is not to cut taxes for those with less means, but to help those hurt by forces beyond their control to reconnect to the broader economy, which has long left them behind.”

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

1 comment on “The Open Thread for April 26, 2018

  1. Bill Cosby found guilty on all 3 counts in sexual assault trial.

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