The Open Thread for August 10, 2018

After Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) was arrested and indicted on federal charges of insider trading this morning, the Cook Political Report says the situation “compounds his political problems in a district that should otherwise be safe GOP territory.”

“Democrats have a potentially credible nominee in attorney and Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray… The indictment won’t prevent Collins from using his personal wealth to attack McMurray as a carpetbagger, and Collins will attempt to neutralize his legal problems by citing McMurray’s use of his town email account for political purposes to equate him with Hillary Clinton. But at R+11, this seat is about as GOP-leaning as the PA-18 seat Democrat Conor Lamb won in March. It moves from Solid Republican to Likely Republican.”

During an evening news conference to explain his arrest on insider trading charges, a defiant Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) said he “acted properly and within the law at all times” and would remain on the ballot in November, the Buffalo News reports.

In a secret recording obtained by NBC News, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) says the impeachment effort of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was halted because Republicans want to wait until Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed.

Said Nunes: “The Senate would have to drop everything they’re doing… and start with impeachment on Rosenstein. And then take the risk of not getting Kavanaugh confirmed. So it’s not a matter that any of us like Rosenstein. It’s a matter of, it’s a matter of timing.”

“Multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation tell the Daily Beast that Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the infamous former Apprentice star who followed Trump to the White House, secretly recorded conversations with the president — conversations she has since leveraged while shopping her forthcoming ‘tell-all’ book, bluntly titled Unhinged.”

“For months, it has been rumored that Manigault had clandestinely recorded on her smartphone ‘tapes’ of unspecified private discussions she had in the West Wing. Audio actually does exist, and even stars Manigault’s former boss.”

“The mere existence of such recordings represent a dramatic betrayal of trust by a one-time Trump confidant who has since abandoned years of professed loyalty to the president and has apparently decided to profit off her years of closeness to Trump.”

Walter Shapiro: “In a world with more leaks than a rotting rowboat, it is hard to get your mind around the reality that the Mueller investigation doesn’t leak. Everything that we know about his investigation comes from Paul Manafort’s trial; more than 30 other indictments and guilty pleas; reports of subpoenas by the grand jury; self-serving comments by mouthpieces like Rudy Giuliani; and Trump’s desperate, caged-man, all-caps tweets.”

“That sounds ample, except none of this reveals Mueller’s timetable, how much he has learned about the president’s conduct and business dealings and whether the independent counsel will issue a final report recommending impeachment.”

“In a sense, it is akin to how Pluto (which should still be a planet) was anticipated before it was actually observed in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh’s telescope. Pluto’s existence had already been theorized because of a wobble in the orbit of Neptune.”

“What we are witnessing now are only the perturbations caused by the Mueller investigation. But the hard leak-proof reality is that we simply don’t know where it is all leading. Yet.”

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) said that he “has no plans to recuse himself from a recount process in the race for governor because any counting of ballots would take place at the county level,” the Kansas City Star reports.

Said Kobach: “The secretary of state’s office merely serves as a coordinating entity overseeing it all but not actually counting the votes.”

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — who President Trump has previously publicly considered firing — has now reportedly developed a “strong rapport” with the president, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Trump is said to call Rosenstein to discuss issues beyond the investigation such as immigration, and Rosenstein visits the White House as often as three times a week.

When asked for a comment on their relationship, Trump said: “It’s fantastic!”

“President Trump’s lawyers rejected the special counsel’s latest terms for an interview in the Russia investigation, countering on Wednesday with an offer that suggested a narrow path for answering questions,” the New York Times reports.

“The letter marked the latest back and forth in the eight months of negotiations between Mr. Trump’s lawyers and the special counsel, Robert Mueller. Last week, Mr. Mueller proposed a slightly altered format to the expansive interview he wants to conduct with the president.”

“Mr. Trump’s lawyers did not reject an interview outright but included the narrower counteroffer.”

John Cassidy: “It’s not clear yet how Gates’s testimony will affect the outcome of the trial, in which Manafort is charged with tax evasion, bank fraud, and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. But his time on the witness stand provided an invaluable public lesson in how tax evasion, money laundering, and political corruption work.”

“The importance of these phenomena goes well beyond this trial, and also beyond the special counsel Robert Mueller’s broader inquiry into Russia’s activities during the 2016 election. (Among other things, Mueller is widely believed to be looking into whether Donald Trump and his Presidential campaign had any surreptitious financial ties to Russian interests.) The ability of rich people such as Manafort and his oligarchic clients to shuffle money across borders, beyond the purview of tax collectors and law-enforcement authorities, is a huge and intractable problem. In many places, these practices are denuding tax bases, corrupting a large class of professional enablers, and undermining public confidence in the political and financial systems.”

Sean Trende: “On its face, Tuesday night seemed uneventful, or even good news for the Republican Party. Aside from a few primaries here and there, the main event was the House special election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District. Republican candidate Troy Balderson appears to have narrowly defeated Danny O’Connor (pending a count of around 3,500 provisional ballots).”

“But the truth is more complicated. The results were fully consistent with a Democratic wave in the house washing up on our shores in November. While there’s still time between now and then, there’s not a lot of time, and we’re at the point where these elections start to be very suggestive, if not fully predictive.”

First Read: “Taking last night’s primary and special election results in total, there are at least four reasons to think that — if it takes this much energy and money for Republicans to pull out one-off wins in special elections in red districts — there’s no way they’ll be able to do it in 435 places at once come November.”

Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Corey Stewart (R) praised in a speech last year Virginia’s decision in 1861 to secede from the Union, putting it on par with rebellions during the American Revolution and today, CNNreports.

Said Stewart: “This is the state of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and James Monroe. It’s a state of the founders. It’s the state of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.”

He added: “But it’s also the state of Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson, and J.E.B. Stuart. Because, at the base of it, Virginians, we think for ourselves. And if the established order is wrong, we rebel. We did that in the Revolution, we did it in the Civil War, and we’re doing it today. We’re doing it today because they’re trying to rob us of everything that we hold dear: our history, our heritage, our culture.”

First Read: “We don’t know for sure if Donald Trump’s visit to OH-12 made things better or worse for Troy Balderson, but it sure looks like Trump may have turned out more voters against the GOP than for them. Just look at the turnout gap between O’Connor-friendly suburban Franklin County — where turnout was 42 percent — and the more rural counties in the district — where turnout hovered around 30 percent, give or take a few points.”

”And that’s after both Trump and Mike Pence rallied the base, and after a barrage of outside spending from GOP groups (more on that below). If that’s what it takes to get a less-than-enthused Trump vote out to eke out a one-point win in a district that shouldn’t be close, Republicans are in trouble.”

First Read: “Washington state’s top-two primary gave us a pretty good head-to-head look at how a few general election races are shaping up. With votes still being tallied in Washington’s Fifth District, Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers is currently besting Democratic rival Lisa Brown by less than 0.5 percent. In Washington’s 3rd, incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler is running ahead of Democrat Carolyn Long just 41 percent to 37 percent. Those vote shares hardly bode well for Republicans in seats that should be solidly in the ‘likely R’ category for the GOP. The silver lining for Republicans in Washington? Dino Rossi ran well ahead of his Democratic challengers in WA-8.”

“Bottom line: If folks like Cathy McMorris Rodgers or Ann Wagner are in trouble, it’s hard to imagine a world where the GOP cavalry is going to have the resources to show up for them. And for every leak the GOP boat springs, the Democratic advantage for the midterm gets a little stronger.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told the Houston Chronicle that he asked President Trump to assist him in his re-election efforts.

Said Cruz: “I would certainly welcome his support, and I hope to see him in Texas. I think we are likely to see the president down in Texas before the election.”

“Vladimir Putin presented President Trump with a series of requests during their private meeting in Helsinki last month, including new talks on controlling nuclear arms and prohibiting weapons in space,” according to a Russian document obtained by Politico.

“A page of proposed topics for negotiation, not previously made public, offers new insights into the substance of the July 16 dialogue that even Trump’s top advisers have said they were not privy to at the time. Putin shared the contents of the document with Trump during their two-hour conversation.”

President Trump’s small dinner for business leaders tonight included “an unusual type of guest for a president who is known to hold grudges: People who have publicly distanced themselves from Trump,” CNBC reports.

“Specifically, five CEOs of major U.S. companies, who all publicly dissolved their ties to the Trump White House nearly a year ago this week. The break was prompted by Trump’s public insistence that both protesters and white nationalists were to blame for a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, V.A. on August 12.”

“Hope Hicks had no intention of traveling on Air Force One when she arrived at President Donald Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club to hang out with White House friends including Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump,” Politico reports.

“But as is often the way in Trump’s world, plans shifted. Once Hicks was back on the president’s turf, she got sucked in, with a handful of staffers successfully prodding her to join them on Saturday’s trip to Ohio for a campaign-style rally.”

“Hicks’ surprise appearance at the airport prompted one former campaign official to joke that she was returning for ‘Season Two’ of the Trump reality show. But White House officials and Republicans close to Trump are serious about reeling Hicks in to play a role in Trump’s nascent 2020 campaign.”

“President Trump, who for three years has vowed to build a massive security wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, is running into his own wall on illegal immigration, which has continued to surge in recent months despite family separations and other hard-edge policies aimed at curbing the flow,” the Washington Post reports.

“Nearly 19 months into his presidency — and three months ahead of pivotal midterm elections — the envisioned $25 billion border wall remains unfunded by lawmakers. Deportations are lagging behind peak rates under President Barack Obama, while illegal border crossings, which plummeted early in Trump’s tenure, have spiked.”

Washington Post: “A new round of lackluster showings by Republican candidates reignited a debate Wednesday within the GOP over whether President Trump will be a drag on the party’s chances in November and should stay out of some of the country’s most hotly contested races.”

New York Times: “Republicans say they can keep a thin grip on the House by propping up incumbent lawmakers in red-tinged districts and branding the Democrats as wildly left-wing. But senior party strategists have concluded that over a dozen districts held by Republicans may already be unwinnable, most in metropolitan areas where President Trump has alienated moderates and stirred volcanic resistance on the left.”

”Veteran party lawmakers have an increasingly bleak view of their prospects in the House, and some fear that Democrats could seize the chamber by a solid margin.”

Associated Press: “Republican candidates in the nation’s premiere midterm battlegrounds have embraced a central message in their fight to maintain the House majority this fall — and it has little to do with the surging economy or the sweeping tax cuts that the GOP celebrated as a once-in-a-generation achievement just eight months ago.”

”Instead, as Republicans enter the final month of the primary season, they’re looking ahead to a general-election strategy of embracing anxiety as a tool to motivate voters.”

The Hill: “With the elections less than three months away, Mueller is running out of time to issue more indictments or announce other major developments in his Russia probe without opening himself up to accusations of attempting to influence Election Day.”

“It’s a challenge that has befallen previous federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials, to the point that they now typically refrain from taking prominent actions that could have political ramifications within 60 days of a major election.”

“But there are no clear-cut rules, and both action and inaction can be viewed in hindsight as being politically motivated, something former FBI Director James Comey knows all too well.”

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

3 comments on “The Open Thread for August 10, 2018

    • Thanks for the link. I hadn’t seen this, but it’s oh-so familiar. These groups are dangerous with their made up science.

      • I didn’t realize one was operating in such a liberal area, and liberal school district, as Swarthmore. I think we’ll see more of this everywhere with Roe v. Wade under siege.

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