Open Thread

The Open Thread for July 23, 2018

President Trump’s “trade wars could become a major political drag for Republicans, with job losses and price increases piling up just as voters head to the polls in November,” Politico reports.

“Trump jolted markets once again early Friday when he said he’s prepared to impose penalties on some $500 billion in Chinese goods regardless of the consequences that might ensue, economic or political… But market analysts, industry experts and economists warn that the economic fallout of the president’s tariffs — those that are already in effect and those he’s threatening to impose — is only going to intensify over the coming months and could reach a peak around election time. ”

“It takes months for most consumers to feel the impact of tariffs, but as the fall approaches, everything from groceries to appliances could start to cost more at major retailers across the country.”

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels, told MSNBC that there are more audio recordings made by President Trump’s personal lawyer.

Said Avenatti: “I know for a fact this is not the only tape. And I think that any and all tapes Michael Cohen has in his possession relating to this president should be released immediately for the benefit of the American public and they can decide what happens next.”

Washington Post: “Diplomats say the North Koreans have canceled follow-up meetings, demanded more money and failed to maintain basic communications, even as the once-isolated regime’s engagements with China and South Korea flourish.”

“Meanwhile, a missile-engine testing facility that Trump said would be destroyed remains intact, and U.S. intelligence officials say Pyongyang is working to conceal key aspects of its nuclear program.”

”The lack of immediate progress, though predicted by many analysts, has frustrated the president, who has fumed at his aides in private even as he publicly hails the success of the negotiations.”

Blue-Wave-Indicators-1

GOP strategist Bruce Mehlman has a chart of some key indicators that favor Democrats in the midterm elections:

James Hohmann: “To save the Republican House majority, the Congressional Leadership Fund is focusing on a salmon hatchery in Seattle, a gas tax increase in Sacramento and an opioid epidemic in Syracuse.”

“The super PAC, which House GOP leaders have endorsed and raise money for, has field offices in 34 districts. With the help of polling and focus groups, strategists identified local issues in each one that they believe will motivate people who don’t typically vote in midterm elections or persuade swing voters to support a Republican incumbent for reelection even if they disapprove of President Trump.”

“Three times this summer, government regulators have had to make major decisions regarding media ownership. Three times, the decision has gone the way that Murdoch and his company, 21st Century Fox, would have wanted,” CNN reports.

“Murdoch is known to speak regularly with President Donald Trump. And some of the biggest stars of Murdoch’s network, Fox News, have arguably been the president’s most important supporters over the past year and a half. There’s no evidence that either of those things led to the regulators’ decisions, or that the decisions coming together this way are anything but a coincidence, but Murdoch’s string of good fortune has set some tongues wagging.”

“Iranian hackers have laid the groundwork to carry out extensive cyberattacks on U.S. and European infrastructure and private companies, and the U.S. is warning allies, hardening its defenses and weighing a counterattack,” NBC News reports.

“Despite Iran having pre-positioned cyber weapons to carry out attacks, there is no suggestion an offensive operation is imminent.”

“On the eve of one of the newsiest days of the 2016 presidential election season, a group of Russian operatives fired off tweets at a furious pace, about a dozen each minute. By the time they finished, more than 18,000 had been sent through cyberspace toward unwitting American voters, making it the busiest day by far in a disinformation operation whose aftermath is still roiling U.S. politics,” the Washington Postreports.

“The reason for this burst of activity on Oct. 6, 2016, documented in a new trove of 3 million Russian tweets collected by Clemson University researchers, is a mystery that has generated intriguing theories but no definitive explanation.”

“On Oct.7, 2016, Wikileaks began releasing embarrassing emails that Russian intelligence operatives had stolen from the campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton. The Clemson researchers and others familiar with their findings think there likely is a connection between this looming release and the torrent of tweets.”

Adam Davidson: “The former C.I.A. operative Jack Devine watched Donald Trump’s performance standing next to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday, and his first thought was, ‘There is no way Trump is a Russian agent.’ The proof, he told me, was right in front of us.”

”If Trump were truly serving as a Russian intelligence asset, there would have been an obvious move for him to make during his joint press conference with Putin. He would have publicly lambasted the Russian leader, unleashing as theatrical a denunciation as possible. He would have told Putin that he may have been able to get away with a lot of nonsense under Barack Obama, but all that would end now: America has a strong President and there will be no more meddling. Instead, Trump gave up his single best chance to permanently put to rest any suspicion that he is working to promote Russian interests.”

“There is no need to assume that Trump was a formal agent of Russian intelligence to make sense of Trump’s solicitousness toward Putin. Keith Darden, an international-relations professor at American University, has studied the Russian use of kompromat—compromising material—and told me that he thinks it is likely that the President believes the Russians have something on him.”

“The Trump administration disclosed on Saturday a previously top-secret set of documents related to the wiretapping of Carter Page, the onetime Trump campaign adviser who was at the center of highly contentious accusations by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee that the F.B.I. had abused its surveillance powers,” the New York Times reports.

“Visible portions showed that the F.B.I. in stark terms had told the intelligence court that Mr. Page ‘has established relationships with Russian government officials, including Russian intelligence officers’; that the bureau believed ‘the Russian government’s efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with’ Mr. Trump’s campaign; and that Mr. Page ‘has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.’”

Lawfare: “First, a huge amount of information is redacted in these FISA applications, but they still represent a monumental disclosure to the public. The government considers FISA applications to be very sensitive—and their disclosure, even heavily redacted, may have long-term, programmatic consequences long after we’re finished with President Trump.”

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats “played down on Saturday his seemingly astonished reaction this week to the news that President Trump planned to invite President Vladimir Putin of Russia to Washington,” the New York Times reports.

Said Coats: “My admittedly awkward response was in no way meant to be disrespectful or criticize the actions of the president.”

“Diplomats and career officials have scrambled to understand what exactly transpired between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin during their private meeting on Monday in Helsinki, Finland, and Mr. Coats had seemed taken aback by the prospect of another one-on-one encounter. He said he planned to warn the president of the dangers of such a meeting — something he did not walk back in his statement.”

A new Washington Post-ABC poll finds that overall, 33% of Americans approve of President Trump’s handling of his meeting with Vladimir Putin while 50% disapprove. A sizable 18% say they have no opinion.

A slightly larger 56% disapprove of Trump expressing doubts about U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia tried to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. On both questions, those who say they “strongly disapprove” of Trump’s performance outnumber those who say they “strongly approve” by better than 2 to 1.

“Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh suggested several years ago that the unanimous high court ruling in 1974 that forced President Richard Nixon to turn over the Watergate tapes, leading to the end of his presidency, may have been wrongly decided,” the AP reports.

“Kavanaugh was taking part in a roundtable discussion with other lawyers when he said at three different points that the decision in U.S. v. Nixon, which marked limits on a president’s ability to withhold information needed for a criminal prosecution, may have come out the wrong way.”

“Maria Butina, the Russian woman charged in federal court last week with acting as an unregistered agent of her government, received financial support from Konstantin Nikolaev, a Russian billionaire with investments in U.S. energy and technology companies,” the Washington Post reports.

“Nikolaev’s son Andrey, who is studying in the United States, volunteered in the 2016 campaign in support of Trump’s candidacy… Nikolaev was spotted at the Trump International Hotel in Washington during Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.”

“Nine states with a history of racial discrimination are more aggressively removing registered voters from their rolls than other states, according to a report released Friday,” NBC News reports.

“After reviewing voter purges nationally from 2012 to 2016, the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice found that the mostly Southern jurisdictions that had once been required to get changes to voting policies pre-approved by the Justice Department had higher rates of purging than jurisdictions that were not previously subject to pre-clearance.”

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

5 comments on “The Open Thread for July 23, 2018

  1. delacrat

    “Russia gate” just distracts from the myriad, and far more serious, homegrown election interferences like Citizens United, felony disenfranchisement and Super Delegates, which TPTB are quite happy with.

    • cassandram

      Oh look who is back — trying to control the conversation and still not talking about the things that Americans are most concerned with. 🙄

      • Is it me, or did he just cite three items that aren’t even on the list of things Americans care about?

    • We’re all aware of your problems with multi-tasking. Go see a professional about it and leave the rest of us alone.

      Starting your own blog is another great opportunity for you to get your message out. Why not try it?

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