The Open Thread for April 28, 2018

SHE WAS A RUSSIAN SPY.  “The Russian lawyer who met with Trump campaign officials in Trump Tower in June 2016 on the premise that she would deliver damaging information about Hillary Clinton has long insisted she is a private attorney, not a Kremlin operative trying to meddle in the presidential election,” the New York Times reports.

“But newly released emails show that in at least one instance two years earlier, the lawyer, Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, worked hand in glove with Russia’s chief legal office to thwart a Justice Department civil fraud case against a well-connected Russian firm.”

In an interview to be broadcast by NBC News, Ms. Veselnitskaya recanted her earlier denials of Russian government ties: “I am a lawyer, and I am an informant. Since 2013, I have been actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general.”

We also found out today that Former National Security Adviser and current convicted felon and traitor Michael Flynn “met with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in December 2015, shortly after Flynn first met then-presidential candidate Donald Trump,” the New York Daily News reports.  “About a week after the meeting, Flynn traveled to Moscow to hold a paid speech at a gala hosted by Russian state-owned media organization RT. Flynn was seated next to President Vladimir Putin during the gala.”

“A few months after that speech, Flynn formally joined the Trump campaign as a national security adviser.”

And on this day when we found all that out, the treasonous House GOP Intelligence Committee released their whitewashed Russian Collusion report.  “The House Intelligence Committee released on Friday a roughly 250-page report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, laying out Republicans’ conclusion after a yearlong investigation that they had found no evidence that the Trump campaign aided Moscow’s efforts,” the New York Times reports.

“Their conclusions are certain to be attacked by Democrats on the committee, who have accused the Republicans of prematurely closing the investigation and failing to conduct it with the rigor that the subject called for out of a desire to protect President Trump. The committee also released dissenting views from the Democrats.”

WILL COHEN FLIP? Bloomberg: “His decision could depend in part on whether he can readily shoulder the enormous legal fees required to fight a federal probe of this magnitude.”

“At first blush, Cohen looks like a pretty rich man. He drives a white Rolls Royce, sports a $50,000 watch and owns a fair amount of Manhattan real estate.”

“But just as his loyalty to Trump is coming under scrutiny, a more tenuous financial picture is emerging. A taxi business he and his wife built is deeply in debt and losing money daily, his commercial real estate is throwing off only modest income, and his legal and consulting work is on hold while he remains under investigation.”


REMEMBER 1998, DEMOCRATS.  Democratic leaders have tried to tamp down talk of impeaching President Trump as the midterm elections approach. Instead, their preferred talking point is to let special counsel Robert Mueller finish his investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians.  This may work during the campaign but the pressure on Democratic lawmakers to file impeachment charges against the president will be immense if they win back control of the House.

A new Quinnipiac poll finds that 71% of Democratic voters want Trump impeached if their party wins the House. This compares to just 38% of all voters.

NEW CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR POLL.  A new UC Berkeley poll in California finds Gavin Newsom (D) continuing to lead the field for governor with 30%, followed by John Cox (R) at 18%, Travis Allen (R) at 16% and Antonio Villaraigosa (D) at 9%.

TRUMP WANTS TO APPEAR REGULARLY ON FOX & FRIENDS.  Kellyanne Conway told the hosts of Fox & Friends that President Trump wants to come on the show regularly, The Hill reports. Said Conway: “The president has said he would like to perhaps come once a month and as news breaks. He’ll keep us guessing.”

Please proceed, Governor.

THE TRUMP-MCCONNELL LEGACY.  President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “are rapidly filling U.S. federal courts with young conservatives who will shape American law for generations to come,” Bloomberg reports.

“The Republican-led Senate confirmed Trump’s 15th appeals court nominee this week — more than the last five presidents at this juncture — with eight of the new judges in their 40s, and seven in their 50s. McConnell set the stage Thursday to confirm six more, one day after a committee voted to cut debate time, which if approved would further speed things up.”

THE FIELD KEEPS GETTING BLUER. The Cook Political Report moves the August 7th special election in Ohio’s 12th congressional district to fill former Rep. Pat Tiberi’s (R-OH) vacant seat from Lean Republican to Toss Up.

Meanwhile, Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) “learned last week that she’d been outraised by her Democratic opponent for the second quarter in a row, a sign that her hold on a moderate upstate New York district is in peril,” Politicoreports.

“But if GOP leaders thought that would be a five-alarm reminder for the vulnerable freshman to pursue a moderate path to reelection, they were mistaken. Days later, Tenney called for the jailing of Hillary Clinton and James Comey — embracing a hard-line stance championed by President Donald Trump but shunned by most GOP leaders and virtually all moderates.”

GOP VIEWS THE MEDIA AS THE ENEMY.  A new Quinnipiac poll finds a majority of Republicans — 51% — see the news media as the enemy of the people, compared with 37% of them who view the media as an important part of democracy.  By contrast, 91% of Democrats and 70% of independents see the media as an important part of democracy.

A GREAT FIRST STEP FOR AND BY THE KOREANS.  “Smiling and holding hands, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met at the heavily fortified demilitarized zone between the countries on Friday, pledging to pursue peace after decades of conflict,” Reuters reports:

“Kim became the first North Korean leader since the 1950-53 Korean War to set foot in South Korea after shaking hands with his counterpart over a concrete curb marking the border at the truce village of Panmunjom.”

President Trump sent a congratulatory tweet: “Korean war to end! The United States, and all of its great people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!

Um, I think the Koreans should be the ones that are very proud, since they are the ones doing the work and not taking the credit.

WHEN YOU’RE INCOMPETENT AND CORRUPT, NO WEEK IS GOING TO BE GOOD.  “The final week of April was designed to be a triumphant one for President Trump,” the Washington Post reports.

“He hosted his closest foreign counterpart, French President Emmanuel Macron, for a state visit, complete with a 21-gun salute. He may be on the cusp of a diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea for the rogue state to abandon its nuclear weapons program. And he is set to put an exclamation point on it all where he feels most at home: onstage Saturday night in Michigan, riffing and ripping the elites at a rally of his fervent supporters.”

“But instead, it became yet another week in which the Trump administration was convulsed by chaos and contradiction.”

REDSTATE PURGE.  “Salem Media, owner of the influential conservative outlet RedState, froze the site on Friday and dismissed many of its writers… Multiple sources told CNNMoney that they believed conservative critics of President Trump were the writers targeted for removal.”  Said one: “They fired everybody who was insufficiently supportive of Trump.”

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Paul Manafort challenging special counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal probe of Russian interference in 2016 U.S. elections, the Washington Post reports.

Vanity Fair: “Now, talk of Kelly being jettisoned is ramping up again. According to sources familiar with the situation, White House officials and Trump confidantes are currently discussing the possibility of moving Kelly to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. These people say that the collapse of Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson’s nomination has created an opening for Trump to slide Kelly into the role. It would give Kelly a soft landing, while also having the benefit of putting a qualified official in charge of the sprawling department.”

Said one Republican: “They’re looking for a place for Kelly to land that won’t be embarrassing for him.”

“It’s unclear how actively Trump is considering the shake-up. (A White House spokesperson said Kelly is not being considered for the V.A.) Such a move, after all, would magnify the fact that Trump hasn’t settled on a viable successor for Kelly’s job…. The names that have surfaced in the past—lobbyist David Urban, Blackstone senior adviser Wayne Berman, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney—don’t appear any closer to being Trump’s pick.”

A federal judge ruled that a lawsuit filed by Stormy Daniels over an alleged “hush money” deal with President Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen will be put on hold for three months because of a criminal investigation Cohen is facing, Politico reports.

The judge said it appeared “likely” that Cohen would be indicted in connection with the ongoing investigation.  Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Daniels, responded in a tweet: “Justice delayed is justice denied.”


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

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