Delaware

The Open Thread for May 9, 2018

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday the U.S. will pull out of the landmark nuclear accord with Iran, declaring he’s making the world safer but dealing a profound blow to allies and deepening the president’s isolation on the world stage.  As will be seen below, he single-handedly ended America’s credibility on the world stage, reducing our super power status to nothing, making any deal in North Korea nearly impossible to implement, ending our alliances with the powers of Europe, and allowing Russia and China to take advantage.  And if Trump really wants to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, he either has to sit on the sidelines and hopes the rest of the planet keeps the Iran Deal going, or he has to go to war in Iran.   What a weak pathetic traitorous President.

Galen Druke: “The word around the office is that tonight’s primaries are kind of boring. Fair. But tomorrow marks the first day of the general election in West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina. And the U.S. House races in those states will be anything but boring.”

The New York Times has the results from all the races tonight in IndianaNorth CarolinaOhio and West Virginia. A few highlights are below:

Ohio:

  • Richard Cordray (D) and Mike DeWine (R) won their party nominations to run for governor.
  • James Renacci (R) will face Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) for U.S. Senate.

Indiana:

  • Mike Braun (R) won the Republican nomination to run against Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN).

West Virginia:

  • Patrick Morrissey (R) will face Sen. Joe Machin (D-WV) for U.S. Senate.

North Carolina:

  • Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) is the first incumbent congressman defeated in a primary.

Thank God, no more pro-Russia, pro-Trump, pro-Assad fake crazy progressive Dennis Kucinich.   We get a real Elizabeth Warren-progressive in Cordray.  And with Morrisey winning in West Virginia, I wonder if Blankenship follows through with his threat to run a third party campaign.   Finally, with Pittenger out in North Carolina, the rating on that seat will likely change to toss up or lean Democratic because we have a spectacular candidate in Dan McCready.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has questioned one of the wealthiest men in Russia about post-election payments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars made to President Donald Trump’s fixer, Michael Cohen, CNN reported Tuesday, citing one unnamed source familiar with the matter.

The Russian oligarch in question, Viktor Vekselberg, was reportedly questioned at a New York area airport this year, and he was in attendance at Trump’s inauguration. He was also on a list of Russians who faced additional sanctions from the Trump administration last month. The payments, according to CNN, were made by Vekselberg’s company’s U.S. affiliate. Mueller’s team is also probing payments the head of that affiliate made to Trump’s inaugural and campaign funds, according to CNN.

Michael Avenatti, the attorney for the adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who is suing Cohen separately from the criminal probe, posted a document Tuesday that appeared similar to CNN’s reporting. In it, Avenatti alleged that an account controlled by Cohen had received $500,000 in payments from Vekselberg (via Vekselberg himself, Vekselberg’s American cousin, Andrew Intrater, and the firm Columbus Nova LLC) in eight payments between January and “at least August” 2017. Avenatti identified Columbus Nova as the U.S. affiliate of Vekselberg-controlled company Renova Group firm and Intrater as Columbus Nova’s CEO.

The Daily Beast subsequently reported that it had confirmed Avenatti’s allegation — at least, the portion of Avenatti’s document dealing with the Vekselberg-related payments — with an unnamed source familiar with the matter. And AT&T confirmed another part of Avenatti’s document: that Essential Consulting, the company used by Cohen to make a hush money payment to Daniels, “was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration.”

Iran‘s reaction: “Iranian Pres. Hassan Rouhani said he has directed his diplomats to negotiate with European countries, Russia and China about remaining in the nuclear deal despite the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement.  But Rouhani said Iran is ready to start unlimited uranium enrichment if these negotiations do not yield benefits in a couple of weeks…

In remarks reported by Iran’s Tasnim News Agency, Jahangiri, a popular reformist, said it would be “naive” to enter into negotiations with the United States again.  The comments underscored a growing debate among political factions in Iran over what to do if after the U.S. withdrawal. Some politicians have urged the government to continue to work with Europe to salvage the accord, which lifted key international sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program…

But others have been less forgiving, urging Iran’s leaders to immediately withdraw and restart suspended elements of the country’s nuclear program if the United States left the deal.”

Some nice shade from Iranian president Rouhani: “Iran will be conferring with the world’s two super powers, Russia and China”

Former President Barack Obama released a statement in reaction to President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran deal, calling it “misguided” and a “serious mistake,” the Daily Beast reports.  Obama added that the U.S. could be left with a tough choice “between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East.”

Britain, Germany and France‘s reaction: “It is with regret and concern that we, the Leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom take note of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States of America from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Together, we emphasise our continuing commitment to the JCPoA. This agreement remains important for our shared security. We recall that the JCPoA was unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council in resolution 2231. This resolution remains the binding international legal framework for the resolution of the dispute about the Iranian nuclear programme. We urge all sides to remain committed to its full implementation and to act in a spirit of responsibility.

According to the IAEA, Iran continues to abide by the restrictions set out by the JCPoA, in line with its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The world is a safer place as a result. Therefore we, the E3, will remain parties to the JCPoA. Our governments remain committed to ensuring the agreement is upheld, and will work with all the remaining parties to the deal to ensure this remains the case including through ensuring the continuing economic benefits to the Iranian people that are linked to the agreement.”

Rudy Giuliani confirmed to NBC News that special counsel Robert Mueller rejected a Trump-team offer for the president to answer written questions in lieu of a sit-down interview.  Giuliani said this happened about 10 days ago during his first meeting with Mueller.

Paul Campos: “Let me offer an alternative explanation of the affair and the payoff. It is still just a hypothesis, but, I would argue, it fits more comfortably with what we know about the various players than the reported version of events: Donald Trump, not Elliott Broidy, had an affair with Shera Bechard. Bechard hired Keith Davidson, who had negotiated both Playboy playmate Karen McDougal’s deal with the National Enquirer, and Stormy Daniels’s NDA with Trump. Davidson called Cohen, and the two of them negotiated a $1.6 million payment to Bechard.”

“At this point Cohen needed to find a funding source. Cohen asserts he took out a home equity loan to come up with a mere $130,000 to pay off Stormy Daniels, so it seems clear he couldn’t have fronted the $1.6 million for the Bechard deal himself. So Cohen reached out to Elliott Broidy, a very rich Republican fundraiser with several pending and highly lucrative business deals with foreign governments: deals that hinged on whether Broidy could convince the U.S. government to take various actions.”

“So, according to this hypothesis, when Cohen’s office was raided by federal prosecutors, they found documentation of what was actually a fabricated affair, concocted by Cohen and Davidson to create a justification for funneling Broidy’s money to Bechard, while creating a paper record designed to protect Trump from further exposure.”

CNN: “Trump’s legal and ethical troubles — which took yet another dizzying turn last week with the scattershot revelations from his new legal adviser, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani — are dominating the national news and blotting out other issues as thoroughly as an eclipse.”

“But in the district-by-district battle to retake the House, many Democrats are focusing less on condemning Trump’s character than on discrediting the Republican agenda. Central to that mission is arguing that the GOP has benefited the wealthy, and burdened the middle class, with its twin legislative priorities of the past 17 months: passing a large tax cut and attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”

“The solidifying Democratic decision to focus their local messaging more on health care and taxes than the ethical and legal storms constantly battering Trump represents an attempt to learn distinct lessons from the experience of both Bill and Hillary Clinton.”

CNN: “One of the contingency plans [if the CIA nomination of Haspel fails] being discussed involves preparing Susan Gordon, the deputy director of national intelligence, to potentially take Haspel’s place in case Republican senators or Trump balk…  Two additional sources who spoke with Republican strategists and lawmakers were also aware of general contingency planning. It’s unclear how formal these conversations are, but two of the sources said Gordon was in varying stages of being prepared.”

President Trump “is growing increasingly irritated with lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s frequently off-message media blitz, which has included muddying the waters on hush money paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels and making claims that could complicate the president’s standing in the special counsel’s Russia probe,” the APreports.

“Trump has begun questioning whether Giuliani, an old friend and former New York City mayor, should be sidelined from television interviews.”

“Trump also expressed annoyance that Giuliani’s theatrics have breathed new life into the Daniels story.”

Dana Millbank: “Whether or not the president stops Blankenship, the West Virginia GOP primary confirms that this sort of vulgar demagoguery is becoming routine. Trump’s election was no aberration. Rather, he exploited deep problems in American politics that had been building for years — and others, following his example, will exploit those same problems after he’s gone.”

“Before Trump, there was Sarah Palin, the tea party movement, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the Republican Study Committee, the Freedom Caucus. The Republican Party tried to harness the rage of the nativist right but ultimately couldn’t contain it. House speakers John Boehner (R-OH) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) failed, as will whoever leads the party next. Now we have Blankenship, Roy Moore, Joe Arpaio and a proliferation of name-calling misfits and even felons on Republican ballots. They are monsters created by the GOP, or rather the power vacuum the GOP has become.”

Lawyers advising President Trump in the Russia investigation hope to decide whether he should testify by May 17, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Preparing Mr. Trump to testify would be a serious distraction to his work as president, eating into time he needs to deal with pressing global issues, Mr. Trump’s lawyers contend.”

“In an informal, four-hour practice session, Mr. Trump’s lawyers were only able to walk him through two questions, given the frequent interruptions on national-security matters along with Mr. Trump’s loquaciousness.”

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

5 comments on “The Open Thread for May 9, 2018

  1. wikwox

    Blankenship is toast, threats to run third party or not. Having said that there is no “power vacuum” in the Republican party as the servants of greed are still well in place. ‘Tis true, the Republican power brokers wanted nothing to do with Blankenship, and as noted a host of other ( in the voice of John McCain) “whacko birds”, it’s the base that wants the radicals, the criminals and the lunatics.

  2. delacrat

    “Thank God, no more pro-Russia, pro-Trump, pro-Assad fake crazy progressive Dennis Kucinich.” – deldem

    Oh…. so it was Assad who off-shored our manufacturing base and the Russians wrote all those “liars loans” and Trump who broke up the Occupy Wall Street encampments.

    • What a strange comment. Kucinich supports Trump, Russian and Assad. That has nothing to do with Occupy Wall Street, offshoring our manufacturing base and “liars loans.” Luckily for you, Delacrat, we have a great progressive nominee who is not a traitor to America: Richard Cordray. He supports Occupy Wall Street, he wants to eliminate predatory lending (and when leading the CFPB he did just that) and wants to rebuild our manufacturing base.

      • It isnt strange if you consider that delecrat loves him some big Tangie.

      • delacrat

        What does “…supports Trump, Russian(sic) and Assad” mean or say, other than to insinuate that not being taken in by the Syrian war and Russia-gate hysterias are evidence of a defective patriotism.

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