Open Thread

The Open Thread for August 18, 2018

“The jury in the criminal tax and bank fraud trial against one-time Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort signaled in a note to the judge Friday afternoon they are unlikely to reach a verdict before the weekend,” The Hill reports.

“In a note to Judge T.S. Ellis III, the jury said they would like to finish at 5 p.m. because one of the jurors has an event they would like to attend. Ellis said he will bring the jury back in the courtroom at 10 minutes to 5 p.m. to ask what time they would like to reconvene on Monday.”

“President Trump is increasingly venting frustration to his national security team about the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and showing renewed interest in a proposal by Blackwater founder Erik Prince to privatize the war, ” NBC News reports.

“Prince’s idea, which first surfaced last year during the president’s Afghanistan strategy review, envisions replacing troops with private military contractors who would work for a special U.S. envoy for the war who would report directly to the president.”

“Prince, a staunch Trump supporter whose sister is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, argues that after 17 years of war in Afghanistan, it’s time for the U.S. to try something new.”

New York Times: “The tapes of Ms. Manigault Newman’s private conversations with Mr. Trump and other officials connected to him have rattled the White House in a way that few things other than the special counsel investigation into possible campaign collusion with Russia have. Mr. Trump’s aides have been concerned that they will make appearances on other tapes, of which Ms. Manigault Newman is believed to have as many as 200.”

“It’s not just audiotapes. Omarosa Manigault Newman has a stash of video, emails, text messages and other documentation supporting the claims in her tell-all book about her time in the Trump White House,” the AP reports.

“Manigault Newman has made clear that she plans to continue selectively releasing the pieces of evidence if President Trump and his associates continue to attack her credibility and challenge the claims in her book, Unhinged. She’s already dribbled out audio recordings of conversations, and video clips, texts or email could follow.”

A source who asked for anonymity called it a multimedia “treasure trove.”

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) “has reaped the political whirlwind in the 10 days since he proclaimed that Russian hackers had ‘penetrated’ some of his state’s county voting systems,” NBC News reports.

“The Republican governor of Florida, who happens to be running against Nelson for his U.S. Senate seat this fall, has blasted his claim as irresponsible. The top Florida elections official, also a Republican, said he had seen no indication it’s true. And the Washington Post weighed in Friday with a 2,717-word fact check that all but accused Nelson — without evidence — of making it up.”

“However, three people familiar with the intelligence tell NBC News that there is a classified basis for Nelson’s assertion, which he made at a public event after being given information from the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The extent and seriousness of the threat remains unclear, shrouded for reasons of national security.”

Inside Elections shifted their race ratings of 30 House contests in the direction of Democrats and just two towards Republicans.  There are now 86 total seats “in play,” of which 76 are currently held by Republicans.

Nathan Gonzales: “This cycle, the wave analogy has been watered down and it’s time for a new metaphor: fire. More specifically, fires.”

“Whether it’s GOP Members in Hillary Clinton districts, extraordinary Democratic challengers and fundraising, competitive open seats, or lazy incumbents, Republicans have dozens of fires around the country, and the party might not have enough resources to put them all out.”

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Wisconsin shows shows Tony Evers (D) leading Gov. Scott Walker (R) in the governor’s race by five points, 49% to 44%

President Trump “called his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort a ‘very good person’ and criticized his trial on bank fraud and money laundering charges, as a jury began a second day of deliberations on a verdict,” Bloomberg reports.

Said Trumo: “I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad. I think it is a very sad day for our country. He worked for me for a very short period of time. But, you know what, he happens to be a very good person. And I think it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort.”

“Trump declined to say whether he would pardon his former aide if convicted.”

David Atkins: This is witness tampering and an impeachable offense.  Add it to the pile.

President Trump said that he plans “very quickly” to strip the security clearance of Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official he said is “a disgrace” who is tied to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the Washington Post reports.

“Trump has repeatedly targeted Ohr as a source for Mueller and his investigation. Ohr’s connection to the matter was as an early contact in 2016 for Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence agent who investigated Trump’s ties to Russia.”

President Trump “has told advisers that he is eager to strip more security clearances as part of an escalating attack against people who have criticized him or played a role in the investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign,” the Washington Post reports.  “Over the past 19 months, Trump has fired or threatened to take action against nearly a dozen current and former officials associated with the inquiry, which he has labeled a “rigged witch hunt,” including former FBI director James B. Comey and other top FBI officials Sally Yates and Andrew McCabe. All three were dismissed.”

Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Corey Stewart (R) dismissed protesting NFL players as “thugs” who were “beating up their girlfriends and their wives,” CNN reports.

Said Stewart: “You know, they’ve got, you know, children all over the place that they don’t pay attention to, don’t father, with many different women, they are womanizers. These are not people that we should have our sons, or any of our children look up to. We need to have our children look up to real role models.”

President Trump tweeted that he is cancelling his plans for a military parade on Veterans’ Day.  Trump said that “ridiculously high” costs quoted by local Washington, D.C. politicians had forced the Trump administration to reconsider its plans.  Democratic politicians in DC will gladly accept the credit for cancelling an absurdly wasteful vanity display for the egomaniac in chief.

Previously, after the absurd cost of 92 million was revealed, the Defense Department and the White House, which had targeted a November date for the Washington military parade sought by President Trump, will instead “explore opportunities in 2019,” the Washington Post reports.

Four sources close to President Trump tell Axios that the revocation of former CIA Director John Brennan’s clearance “belongs in the same category as the president’s love of the pardon power and the signing of executive orders.”

“It’s a power that is uniquely and solely his, and matches his idea of how the presidency ought to be: pure power and instant gratification.”

Said one source: “What he enjoys most about this job is finding things he has absolute power over. He got a kick out of pardons, that he could pardon anybody he wants and people would come to him to court him and beg him.”

Eli Lake: “President Trump’s decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan is, according to conventional wisdom, an effort to silence his critics.”

“As is so often the case, however, the conventional wisdom is wrong. Far from trying to silence Brennan, Trump is elevating him. He wants to make Brennan the face of the so-called resistance. This is the Trump playbook. Why do you think he keeps tweeting about Maxine Waters? He is a man who approaches politics like professional wrestling, happy to play the villain if it energizes his base. And for Trump, Brennan is a perfect adversary.”

Politico: “A dozen former top intelligence officials, representing previous Republican and Democratic administrations, issued a letter late Thursday supporting former CIA Director John Brennan and lambasting President Donald Trump’s move to revoke his security clearance.”

“The rare statement from the former officials — including former CIA directors who served under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — comes one day after Trump pulled Brennan’s clearance and said he would evaluate clearances for other former intelligence officials, including two who signed on to the pro-Brennan statement.”

New York Times: “Law enforcement officials, lawmakers and members of the intelligence community expressed worry that the president’s act of retaliation will have a potentially chilling effect on the United States’ law enforcement and intelligence officers.”

Marty Nothstein (R), who is running for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district, “was placed on unpaid leave from his decade-long post as executive director of the Lehigh Valley velodrome in February after its board was notified he was the subject of a sexual misconduct investigation,” the Allentown Morning Call reports.

Nothstein called the accusations “100 percent false” and a “political hit job” that began less than two weeks after he announced his bid for Congress last fall. He was placed on leave as he was campaigning for the Republican primary.

House of Trump, House of Putin by Craig Unger is reviewed in the Washington Post.

“There is abundant evidence in Unger’s book that Trump made his business infrastructure — his condos, his developments, his very name — available to criminals and oligarchs trying to hide their ill-gotten gains, whether from tax collectors, investigators or the president of Russia. And that’s a form of collusion, too.”

“Unger sees the Kremlin’s intervention in the 2016 presidential election, which U.S. intelligence officials have said was ordered by Putin himself, as the latest manipulation of Trump by Russia, and the most consequential.”

The Spectator says the book “is damning in its accumulation of detail, terrifying in its depiction of the pure evil of those Trump chose to do business with, and enraging in that — if Unger is right — Trump acted with impunity for decades to get filthy rich laundering the mob’s blood money. This is the man who now sits in the Oval Office, Unger says. In fact, he argues, they put him there.”

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

0 comments on “The Open Thread for August 18, 2018

Leave a Reply