Open Thread

The Open Thread for June 6, 2018

President Trump “is privately telling aides that he is strongly considering pardoning Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old woman serving a life sentence, after meeting with Kim Kardashian to discuss her case, as he becomes increasingly fixated on his ability to issue pardons,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump has recently become intensely focused on his ability to grant pardons, asking his lawyers to compile a list of candidates. A White House official this week said Trump is ‘obsessed’ with pardons, describing them as the president’s new ‘favorite thing’ to talk about. He may sign a dozen or more in the next two months, this person added.”

“For Trump, the presidential pardon holds a special resonance, representing one area where he has almost unchecked power as other aspects of his presidency… remain outside his control.”

“Kelly Sadler, the White House communications aide who made a imprudent comment about Republican Sen. John McCain’s health, was quietly let go Tuesday nearly a month after making the insensitive remark,” CNN reports.

“The White House had been strategizing an exit for Sadler for the last two weeks… There had been a discussion about relocating her to another agency or department outside of the White House, and it remains unclear if she is going somewhere else or leaving the administration entirely.”

The Atlantic: “Robert Mueller’s allegation that Manafort attempted to tamper with a witness permits us to peer inside Manafort’s mind, as it has functioned in a very different set of circumstances. When it comes to Manafort’s own deep problems, his moment of legal peril, he seems unable to muster strategic thinking. He has shown himself capable of profoundly dunderheaded miscalculations.”

“It’s hard to understand how he could have attempted the scheme described by Mueller in the midst of the highest-profile most-scrutinized criminal inquiry of the century. But that alone fails to capture the depths of his blundering.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said that the federal school safety commission set up after the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will not examine the role of guns in school violence, the AP reports.  Said DeVos: “That is not part of the commission’s charge per se. We are actually studying school safety and how we can ensure our students are safe at school.”

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), a Democratic National Committee official and the first Muslim elected to Congress, launched his campaign for attorney general of Minnesota, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

“Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James says that neither the Cleveland Cavaliers nor the Golden State Warriors want to visit the White House, if they win the NBA Finals,” Sports Illustrated reports.

James added that he was still digesting the news of Trump’s disinviting of the Philadelphia Eagles: “That’s typical of him. I know no matter who wins this series, no one wants to go anyway.”

“A special master reviewing a trove of documents and electronic files seized in April from Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer, said that, at least so far, only a tiny fraction of the materials are protected by the attorney-client privilege, meaning that most can be used by the federal prosecutors who are conducting a wide-ranging criminal investigation into Mr. Cohen,” the New York Times reports.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “told lawmakers that the Senate will recess for one week instead of four to work on nominations and legislation,” the Washington Post reports.

“The additional workweeks in August mean that endangered Democratic senators on the ballot this year will face a dilemma: Attend to Senate business during time they could otherwise use to campaign back home or remain in their states and face criticism that they are shirking their responsibilities in government.”

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “used his official position and EPA staff” to help his wife open a Chick-fil-A franchise, the Washington Post reports.

“Pruitt’s efforts on his wife’s behalf — revealed in emails recently released under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Sierra Club — did not end with Chick-fil-A. Pruitt also approached the chief executive of Concordia, a New York nonprofit organization. The executive, Matthew Swift, said he ultimately paid Marlyn Pruitt $2,000 plus travel expenses to help organize the group’s annual conference last September.”

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) blasted allegations of ethical misconduct by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, calling him “about as swampy as you get,” Bloomberg reports.

“Pruitt’s tenure at the Environmental Protection Agency is under intensifying scrutiny, with at least 10 federal investigations probing his $50-per-night rental of a bedroom in a Capitol Hill condominium from a lobbyist, his frequent taxpayer-funded travel and his spending decisions.”

Said Ernst: “He is about as swampy as you get here in Washington, D.C., and if the president wants to drain the swamp, he needs to take a look at his own cabinet.”

A judge ruled that President Trump can be deposed in a defamation lawsuit brought last year by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice” who says Trump kissed and groped her after she appeared on the show, Politico reports.

“Trump could still avoid a deposition, though. His lawyers have appealed to New York’s highest court in hopes of avoiding it. His legal team has argued that Zervos’ lawsuit is politically motivated.”

Associated Press: “No state will be more consequential in the success or failure of a prospective blue wave this fall. But before then, Democrats must avoid self-inflicted wounds in Tuesday’s so-called jungle primaries that feature a swarm of ambitious candidates who could cannibalize their own party’s chances. At the same time, Republicans face the embarrassing prospect of failing to nominate any candidates in marquee races for the U.S. Senate and governor.”

Los Angeles Times: “Voters in California’s key House districts are poised Tuesday to determine match-ups that could make or break Democrats’ chances of taking back the House this fall.”

Dana Millbank: “We didn’t know it at the time, of course. But in Bill Clinton were the seeds of Donald Trump.”

“With 20 years of hindsight, it is clear. To see the former president — now promoting a mystery he co-wrote with novelist James Patterson — sit down with NBC’s Craig Melvin was to see how Clinton’s handling of the Monica Lewinsky affair was a precursor of the monstrosity we now have in the White House: dismissing unpleasant facts as ‘fake news,’ self-righteously claiming victimhood, attacking the press and cloaking personal misbehavior in claims to be upholding the Constitution.”

“The former president’s offenses were far less serious than President Trump’s. Trump’s many misdeeds — against women, law, facts, democracy and decency — are in a category of their own. But Clinton set us on the path, or at least accelerated us down the path, that led to today.”

Nate Cohn: “The quirks that make the California primary risky for Democrats also make it a leading indicator of the general election. … Since 1990, the major party vote share in top-two congressional primaries in Washington (which also uses the top-two system) and California has differed from the general election result by an average of just three percentage points.”

“This is about as good as any data we’re going to get. The average House poll over the final three weeks of an election is off by an average margin of 6.2 points… So the primary results are a bit like getting a free round of more than 50 final House polls in early June.”

“If this is a wave environment like in 2006 or 2010, which would probably make the Democrats slight to modest favorites to retake the House, it shouldn’t be too hard to tell. Seat by seat, Democrats would probably be pretty close to half the vote in the seven California districts that Hillary Clinton won in Republican territory in 2016.”

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

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