The Open Thread for August 4, 2018

A GOP strategist tells Roll Call that President Trump appears to “know that Joe Biden is probably the one Democrat who could beat him.”  Said the strategist: “I don’t think he wants to run against Biden. When it comes to white, educated women in places like Pennsylvania and Michigan and Wisconsin and other swing states, Trump, I think, realizes Biden would be big trouble in terms of appealing to them… He would much rather see a Warren or a Sanders, no doubt.”

A new Garin-Hart-Yang/Global Strategy Group poll finds “the worst ratings for Trump on his truthfulness, temperament, dealings with Russia, and immigration policies we have not seen in any of our eleven previous national tracking surveys on the Trump presidency.”  Key finding “Trump’s dealings with Vladimir Putin, his handling of immigration and the separation of children from their families, and the impact of his trade war have stuck with voters in a way nothing else has since the beginning of his presidency.”

A new Democracy Corps survey finds that Republican voters are pretty united in their views on immigration, fears of a white minority, kneeling during the national anthem and the need to demonstrate military strength. It’s not a mistake that President Trump focuses on these issues.  Trump also gets very strong support from Evangelical Christians and Tea Party supporters. Both groups are enthusiastic to vote in 2018.

But this poll suggests they form just half of the today’s Republican party. Catholic conservatives, secular conservatives and moderates make up the other half. They are also much less passionate about Trump and about voting in November.  That suggests that Democrats can use certain issues to drive a wedge between the Trump loyalists and these less enthusiastic Republicans.

These issues include:

  • Using the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade pushes 33% of this group to be less positive about the Republican party’s overall agenda.
  • Ending the state Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act makes 28% less positive.
  • Cutting taxes for corporations makes 34% less positive, including 42% of women.
  • Repealing federal regulations on pay discrimination makes 26% less positive.
  • Cutting environmental regulations and fuel efficiency standards makes 27% less positive.
  • The special counsel’s investigation is another issue that can depress turnout of these less enthusiastic Republicans. A third of those surveyed said they would be less positive if senior Trump officials were indicted for “criminally cooperating with the Russians.”

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Texas finds Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) leading challenger Beto O’Rourke (D) by just four points, 46% to 42%.  Cruz had an eight-point lead in a poll earlier this year.  Also interesting: “Once voters were told about O’Rourke’s decision to reject PAC money, he took the lead, 46% to 43%.”

Kim Strassel: “If a tree falls in a noisy circus, does it make a sound? If the Trump administration announces its largest deregulatory effort to date while the president is in the throes of a Twitter rampage, will anybody pay attention?”

“No, and thereon may hang the balance of Republican congressional control. It’s never clear where Donald Trump gets political advice, if he does at all. What is clear is that this White House is doing an able job of whiffing one of the best political messages in decades, a reality that is demoralizing administration insiders and GOP candidates alike.”

Playbook: “There is near uniformity among Republicans who believe that, absent a massive dynamic shift, the House could easily be lost in November. They wish the president would just contrast the Democrats’ position to Republicans’ policies.”

“Kristin Davis, the woman famously known as the ‘Manhattan Madam,’ met with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team for a voluntary interview on Wednesday,” CNN reports.  “Investigators appear to be interested in her ties to longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone, whom she has known for a decade. Sources said investigators expressed interest in having Davis testify before a grand jury — the latest indication that prosecutors are still aiming to build a case against Stone.”

Also, “Mueller has requested an interview with Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, who helped set up the now infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting,” NBC News reports.  Agalarov’s lawyer “did not elaborate on whether Mueller is also interested in speaking to Agalarov’s father, Aras Agalarov, a billionaire with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, “President Trump and his legal team are likely to decide whether to grant special counsel Robert Mueller an interview with Trump within a ‘week to 10 days,’ Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said,” according to Politico.

“The former New York City mayor said Trump’s legal team will spend the weekend contemplating a new set of parameters proposed by Mueller for an interview with the president, then make a decision shortly thereafter.”

Playbook: “This is just the latest time Giuliani has invoked a short timeline for making a decision about whether the president will sit down with Mueller. Remember Trump was supposed to sit down with Mueller in January. That decision got pushed to May. Then June. And then July. We’re now in August.”

Finally, a federal judge has ordered Andrew Miller, an associate of former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone, to testify before special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury, The Hill reports

“The National Rifle Association warns that it is in grave financial jeopardy, according to a recent court filing obtained by Rolling Stone, and that it could soon ‘be unable to exist… or pursue its advocacy mission.’”

“The reason, according to the NRA filing, is not its deep entanglement with alleged Russian agents like Maria Butina. Instead, the gun group has been suing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state’s financial regulators since May, claiming the NRA has been subject to a state-led ‘blacklisting campaign’ that has inflicted ‘tens of millions of dollars in damages.’”

Lawfare has an update of its seven theories of the Russia investigation, dropping two that are no longer plausible given what we now know.

“It is possible to look at this behavior, in general, as evidence that suggests that the underlying facts of L’Affaire Russe must be very bad—that is, that we must be at the more menacing end of the spectrum (perhaps Theory #6 or #7), not the more innocent end. Who, after all, triggers a major probe into obstruction of justice in order to impede an investigation that’s going nowhere anyway?”

“On the other hand, it’s also possible to look at the obstruction investigation as simply a matter that Trump blundered into and to see his interactions with law enforcement more as a feature of his personality than his actual vulnerability from L’Affaire Russe.”

“The bottom line is that the spectrum of possibility has narrowed but remains broad.”

FiveThirtyEight: “The gender gap — the fact that women tend to vote Democratic at a higher rate than men do — has been a persistent feature of American politics, and it’s only getting wider. According to 2016 exit polls, women voted for Hillary Clinton by 13 percentage points, and men voted for President Trump by 11 points. That 24-point gap in the national popular vote was the biggest in the history of the presidential exit poll.”

“This week, we got a poll showing that same 24-point gender gap in the only ‘national’ election of 2018: the national popular vote for the U.S. House. A YouGov survey found that male voters preferred the Republican candidate by 9 percentage points, while female voters preferred the Democratic candidate by 15 points.”

Presidential historian Jon Meacham lashed out at President Trump for calling the media an “enemy of the people,” saying it’s a “totalitarian” strategy, The Hill reports.  Said Meacham: “It’s an elective kind of base management. It’s pernicious, it’s dangerous — and this is not media elite people defending media elite people.”  He added: “It’s simply a Stalinist phrase, for God’s sake. It comes out of totalitarian regimes to declare that a free press is the enemy of the people.”

Washington Post: “China will impose tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods if the United States presses ahead with its latest trade threats, Beijing warned Friday. The move was cast as a response to an Aug. 2 plan to raise tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods from 10 to 25 percent.”

“The general manager of the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan had a rare bit of good news to report to investors this spring: After two years of decline, revenue from room rentals went up 13 percent in the first three months of 2018,” the Washington Post reports.

“What caused the uptick at President Trump’s flagship hotel in New York? One major factor: ‘a last-minute visit to New York by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.’”

“Neither Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman nor members of the royal family stayed at Trump’s hotel… the Trump hotel didn’t have suites big enough to accommodate them. But ‘due to our close industry relationships, we were able to accommodate many of the accompanying travelers.’”

“Georgia election officials got a friendly warning in August 2016 that their electronic voting system could be easily breached. But less than a month before the November election, a state cybersecurity official fretted that ‘critical vulnerabilities’ persisted,” internal emails obtained by McClatchy show.

“The emails… offer a glimpse into a Georgia election security team that appeared to be outmatched even as evidence grew that Russian operatives were seeking to penetrate state and county election systems across the country.”

Susan Glasser: “History books will likely declare the last few months a turning point in the Trump Presidency, and Kessler’s laborious work gives us metrics that confirm what is becoming more and more apparent: the recent wave of misstatements is both a reflection of Trump’s increasingly unbound Presidency and a signal attribute of it. The upsurge provides empirical evidence that Trump, in recent months, has felt more confident running his White House as he pleases, keeping his own counsel, and saying and doing what he wants when he wants to.”

“The fact that Trump, while historically unpopular with the American public as a whole, has retained the loyalty of more than eighty per cent of Republicans—the group at which his lies seem to be aimed—means we are in for much more, as a midterm election approaches that may determine whether Trump is impeached by a newly Democratic Congress. At this point, the falsehoods are as much a part of his political identity as his floppy orange hair and the ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan.”

A major donor to Donald Trump agreed to pay Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, $10 million dollars if he could successfully secure “funding for a nuclear-power project,” the Wall Street Journal reports

“Two leading senators are asserting that President Trump has not focused on the clear threat the Kremlin poses in the 2018 elections, with one Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee contending that Russian hackers may have already targeted most — if not all — sitting US senators,” CNN reports.

“Ratcheting up the push for a more robust US response to Russian interference in the midterms and 2020 elections, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) are now slated to get a committee vote this month on a bipartisan bill is aimed at shoring up the nation’s election system. But the two senators said their plan has run into hurdles for months — and say the Russian threat is real headed into the midterms.”

Said Lankford: “While the President has been inconsistent in his tweets, and some of the messaging that he’s put on it, he’s the only one in the government that hasn’t been paying attention to this.”

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

2 comments on “The Open Thread for August 4, 2018

  1. cassandram

    Presidential historian Jon Meacham lashed out at President Trump for calling the media an “enemy of the people,” saying it’s a “totalitarian” strategy,

    And usually ends up with people getting killed.

  2. delacrat

    “…President Trump has not focused on the clear threat the Kremlin poses in the 2018 elections” – CNN

    ” Israeli intervention in U.S. elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done,..” – Noam Chomsky

    And when Netanyahu brags about Israeli meddling in US foreign policy, ….where’s the 24/7 mass media obsession ?

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