Open Thread

The Open Thread for July 27, 2018

NBC News/Marist polled possible match ups for governor in three key Midwestern states:

  • In Wisconsin, Tony Evers (D) leads Gov. Scott Walker (R), 54% to 41%.
  • In Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer (D) leads Bill Schuette (R), 47% to 38%.
  • In Minnesota, Lori Swanson (D) leads Tim Pawlenty (R) 51% to 40%, while Tim Walz (D) leads Pawlenty (R) 51% to 40%.

Michael Cohen claims that then-candidate Donald Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in which Russians were expected to offer his campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton, sources with knowledge tell CNN.  “Cohen is willing to make that assertion to special counsel Robert Mueller, the sources said.”

“Cohen’s claim would contradict repeated denials by Trump, Donald Trump Jr., their lawyers and other administration officials who have said that the President knew nothing about the Trump Tower meeting until he was approached about it by The New York Times in July 2017.”

More news on the infamous and treasonous collusion containing Trump Tower meeting: “The Moscow lawyer said to have promised Donald Trump’s presidential campaign dirt on his Democratic opponent worked more closely with senior Russian government officials than she previously let on,” according to documents reviewed by the Associated Press.

“Scores of emails, transcripts and legal documents paint a portrait of Natalia Veselnitskaya as a well-connected attorney who served as a ghostwriter for top Russian government lawyers and received assistance from senior Interior Ministry personnel in a case involving a key client.”

“The Russian intelligence agency behind the 2016 election cyberattacks targeted Sen. Claire McCaskill as she began her 2018 re-election campaign in earnest,” a Daily Beast analysis reveals.  “That makes the Missouri Democrat the first identified target of the Kremlin’s 2018 election interference.”

Asked about the hack attempt, McCaskill said: “I’m not going to speak of it right now. I think we’ll have something on it next week. I’m not going to speak about it right now. I can’t confirm or do anything about it right now.”

“Allen Weisselberg, a longtime financial gatekeeper for President Trump, has been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in the criminal probe of Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Mr. Weisselberg is considered a witness in the investigation… It isn’t known whether he has already appeared before the grand jury or what questions prosecutors of New York’s Southern District have had for him.”

This weekend is going to be full of Trump rage tweets.  This subpoena serves as a reminder that Robert Mueller and the Russian Treason Investigation are not the end of Trump’s legal problems.  He has four other threats:

1. Emoluments — A federal judge ruled yesterday that a lawsuit brought by the Attorneys General of Maryland and Washington, D.C. against Trump can proceed. The lawsuit argues that because Trump maintains full ownership and control of his business empire, he frequently takes payments from foreign governments in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

2. Summer Zervos — The former Apprentice contestant has accused Trump of unwanted sexual advances and has sued him for defamation for statements he made about her during the 2016 presidential campaign. A judge ruled last month that Zervos’ lawyers can depose Trump which would force him to talk on the record about his conduct toward Zervos and possibly other women.

3. Stormy Daniels — Like Zervos, Daniels has sued Trump for defamation and could ultimately compel a deposition of Trump as well.

4. Michael Cohen — While the investigation of Cohen may cross over into the Russia investigation, the case is being handled by the Southern District of New York and not Mueller’s office. As Trump’s personal attorney and fixer, the Cohen case is likely intertwined with Trump’s business interests and personal conduct. Making matters worse for Trump is the face that Cohen seems to have turned against his former client.

This subpoena of the Trump CFO fits into #4 there.  If Trump spent the 2000’s laundering Russian money, he is fucked.

NBC News: “She’s an outspoken proponent of gun control; he’s a gun-loving NRA member who posed with a small arsenal in his campaign ads. She decries the ‘heartless’ treatment of immigrants; he says he’s ‘got a big truck just in case I need to round up criminal illegals.’”

“She’s a progressive Democrat who would be the nation’s first black female governor; he’s a white male ‘politically incorrect conservative’ with the backing of President Trump. This year’s race for governor of Georgia features a striking contrasts between the candidates, with each party’s hopefuls offering a clearer distillation of their base’s passions than you’ll find in almost any other race in the nation this year.”

Jonathan Chait: “Last night, the Trump administration announced with maximum fanfare that the trade war with the European Union was over. ‘This was a big day for free and fair trade!,’ tweeted an excited President Trump. For all the hype and surprisingly credulous press the announcement attracted, it amounts to little more than a face-saving truce. If you’re looking for any details as to how this will work, too bad, they don’t exist.”

“The trade ‘deal’ follows the script of the ballyhooed North Korean nuclear ‘deal’ from last month. The cycle begins with bellicose Trumpian threats designed to increase American leverage. This leads to negotiations, which produce an impossibly ambitious and thoroughly vague “solution” that allows Trump to boast that he has averted a crisis of his own making.”

More Chait: “Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, came to Washington to try to persuade President Trump to stop his trade war with the European Union. Juncker’s approach, reports the Wall Street Journal, involved dumbing the material down just short of the point of using finger puppets to explain what “trade” means:  “Backing up his points, Mr. Juncker flipped through more than a dozen colorful cue cards with simplified explainers, the senior EU official said. Each card had at most three figures about a specific topic, such as trade in cars or standards for medical devices.””

This is how you ask follow-up questions. US Media take note.

House Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan (R-OH) will formally announce his campaign for speaker of the House today, the Daily Caller reports.  If successful, he would be the SECOND recent Republican Speaker accused in a sexual abuse scandals.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said “the Justice Department needs to comply with congressional requests for documents. But he said the response from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein does not rise to the level of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ that would warrant impeachment,” the Washington Post reports.

However, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) said that he supports the effort calling it “leverage” to get the Justice Department to provide Congress with more documents related to the Russia probe.

Playbook makes a good observation about the House Freedom Caucus effort to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:  “The HFC always does something like this right before the August recess. They tried to boot John Boehner, they tried to push out the IRS commissioner, they tried to force a repeal of Obamacare and this year, they are trying to push out the deputy attorney general. They say they are responding to legitimate issues. Their detractors say they’re trying to raise money and split Republicans.”

“For years, President Trump has used Twitter as his go-to public relations weapon, mounting a barrage of attacks on celebrities and then political rivals even after advisers warned he could be creating legal problems for himself,” the New York Times reports.

“Those concerns now turn out to be well founded. The special counsel, Robert Mueller, is scrutinizing tweets and negative statements from the president about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the former F.B.I. director James Comey.”

“Several of the remarks came as Mr. Trump was also privately pressuring the men — both key witnesses in the inquiry — about the investigation, and Mr. Mueller is examining whether the actions add up to attempts to obstruct the investigation by both intimidating witnesses and pressuring senior law enforcement officials to tamp down the inquiry.”

Weekly Standard: “Banning a reporter from an open-press White House event is virtually unheard of. We can recall only one—Robert Sherrill, correspondent for the Nation, who was denied a security clearance by Secret Service during the Johnson administration because he had once punched the press secretary for the governor of Florida. Probably LBJ just didn’t want him around. Before and since then, presidents of both parties have suffered not just hostile reporters but crackpots and weirdos attending White House press events.”

“We have not seen video of the disputed press pool encounter, but we don’t need to. Collins’s allegedly ‘disrespectful’ questions weren’t the reason for her disinvitation. The reason was her employer, CNN, which the president regards not merely as untrustworthy or hostile but as deeply sinister.”

The New York Times has published an incredibly detailed, interactive map of 2016 presidential election results.  You will spend hours playing with this map.  Trust me.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan “presented a government spending strategy intended to minimize the threat of a politically debilitating government funding lapse over border wall funding. And Trump seemed receptive,” Politico reports.

“Trump made clear to the GOP leaders that he still wants a $5 billion down payment on his wall this year, but he signaled to the leaders that he might be willing to wage that fight after the midterms. Though the House plans to pass a spending bill giving Trump $5 billion for the wall, Senate Democrats are unlikely to agree to fund more than the $1.6 billion initially requested by the Trump administration — meaning any attempt to fund the Department of Homeland Security could lead to a shutdown.”

James Hohmann: “To be sure, Trump changes his mind all the time. And just because he agrees to something today does not mean he won’t change his mind tomorrow. He’s officially endorsed bills, for example, only to equivocate after seeing a negative segment on Fox News.”

The Washington Post reports that the FBI “has seized more than 100 recordings that Michael Cohen made of his conversations with people discussing matters that could relate to Trump and his businesses and with Trump himself talking.”

Washington Post: “By releasing audio of his covertly recorded conversation with Trump about purchasing the rights to a Playboy centerfold’s story of an extramarital affair, Cohen made a decisive break from his longtime client. The move punctuates the steady deterioration of a relationship between Cohen and Trump, and raises concerns in the White House that the former could spill secrets about the latter to the FBI.”

“In the nearly four months since FBI agents raided his office, home and hotel room, Cohen has felt wounded and abandoned by Trump, waiting for calls or even a signal of support that never came. Cohen got frustrated when Trump started talking about him in the past tense, panicked last month when he thought the president no longer cared about his plight, and became furious when Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani contradicted some of his accounts.”

“A heavily funded Democratic group will spend tens of millions of dollars to mobilize voters in the Republican-leaning states where control of the Senate is likely to be decided this November, stepping in to fill a void left by years of decay in Democratic infrastructure at the state and local level,” the New York Times reports.

“Senate Majority PAC, the principal ‘super PAC’ supporting Democratic efforts to capture the chamber, intends to steer at least $20 million into the voter-mobilization campaign ahead of the midterm elections, officials with the group confirmed. The program, which follows a similar — successful — Democratic effort in Alabama last year, underscores the degree to which outside groups that can take massive donations have supplanted the traditional role of political parties.”

Wall Street Journal: “In previously unreported interactions, some of which are memorialized in emails now under review, Mr. Cohen mediated a dispute between Omarosa Manigault-Newman, who had been a star on Mr. Trump’s ‘Apprentice’ reality TV show, and the Enquirer over a story about her brother’s murder. He intervened in a separate legal case on behalf of David Pecker, chief executive of Enquirer parent American Media Inc.”

“And when American Media paid a doorman who alleged that Mr. Trump fathered a child with one of his employees, a company executive ordered reporters to stop investigating after speaking with Mr. Cohen. The revelations show a relationship characterized by mutual benefit and favor-trading on a greater scale than was previously known. The shared history could expose American Media, Mr. Cohen and by extension, Mr. Trump, to criminal campaign-finance charges.”

“The amount of corporate taxes collected by the federal government has plunged to historically low levels in the first six months of the year, pushing up the federal budget deficit much faster than economists had predicted,” the New York Times reports.

“The reason is President Trump’s tax cuts. The law introduced a standard corporate rate of 21 percent, down from a high of 35 percent, and allowed companies to immediately deduct many new investments. As companies operate with lower taxes and a greater ability to reduce what they owe, the federal government is receiving far less than it would have before the overhaul.”

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

1 comment on “The Open Thread for July 27, 2018

  1. cassandram

    “That makes the Missouri Democrat the first identified target of the Kremlin’s 2018 election interference.”

    McCaskill has been very critical of Putin and Trump has specifically called her out. Then she gets hit with this phishing expedition.

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