Open Thread

The Open Thread for September 1, 2018

For the last week or so, President Trump has been rage tweeting and melting down on Twitter, more so than his usual insane pace.    There are probably three reasons for this.  First, he is such a narcissistic sociopath that he cannot stand any attention paying paid to someone he hates, like John McCain.  He is actually jealous of attention McCain is getting on account of his actual death.

New York Times:  “As the day unfolded, Mr. Trump’s behavior continued to offer a split-screen effect that has persisted since Mr. McCain died at 81 from brain cancer on Saturday. This week, Mr. Trump has once again made clear that his usual media blitzing does not slow for anyone, and he has barreled forward to showcase the new and politically tribal reality that he has promised his supporters.  Conspicuously absent from the president was any acknowledgment that a nation was remembering the contributions of Mr. McCain, a Republican war hero and two-time presidential candidate. Clues to how Mr. Trump might feel about having the attention diverted from him lay not in what he said — and on Thursday, he certainly had a lot to say — but in what he did not.”

Second, he knows that Mueller has got the goods and he is closing in on the target, which is him.  Washington Post: “The president’s tweetstorm late this week reflects a certain agitation with the news swirling around him, according to people close to Trump, including a growing anxiety within the White House about the possibility of the “I-word” — as the president sometimes refers to impeachment — and what a Democratic takeover of the House would mean.”

Third, he’s trying to convince Americans that nothing is believable, as the Washington Post says:  “Trump’s assertions — all on Twitter, some false, some without clear evidence — come just over nine weeks before the midterm elections that could help determine his fate, and they are bound by one unifying theme: All of his perceived opponents are peddling false facts and only Trump can be trusted.  His tweet warning that “fake books” about his administration are “pure fiction,” for instance, was viewed by some as an effort to mitigate any possible damage from Bob Woodward’s upcoming book, Fear: Trump in the White House.”

A new ABC News-Washington Post poll finds 60% of voters disapprove of President Trump’s performance in office, numerically the highest of his presidency, albeit by a single point; that includes 53% who disapprove strongly, more than half for the first time. Meanwhile, just 36% approve, matching his low.

The same poll finds that 49% believe Congress should begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump, compared to 46% who say they don’t support such a move.  The number pushing for impeachment proceedings is highest among liberals at 70%, but includes 51% of self-identified moderates and 30% of conservatives polled.

More findings:

  • 63-29% support special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
  • 53-35% say Trump has tried to interfere in the Mueller probe.
  • 64-19% say don’t fire Sessions.
  • 67-17% back Mueller’s case against Manafort.

A new Harper Polling (R) survey in West Virginia finds Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) leading challenger Patrick Morrissey (R), 47% to 41%.  Another poll, a Metro News/Dominion Post poll finds Machin (D-WV) leading Morrissey (R) by eight points in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 38%.

A new Public Policy Polling (D) survey finds Andrew Gillum (D) leading Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) by 5 points in the race for Florida governor, 48% to 43%

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that 61% of Arizona voters want Gov. Doug Ducey (R) to appoint someone in Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) mold to fill his seat until 2020, while 37% want the replacement to be more like President Trump.

A new Economist/YouGov poll finds that just 52% of Republicans have a favorable view of the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), while 75% of Democrats have a favorable view of McCain.

“High-stakes trade negotiations between Canada and the U.S. were dramatically upended on Friday morning by inflammatory secret remarks from President Trump,” after the remarks were obtained by the Toronto Star.

In remarks Trump wanted to be “off the record,” Trump told Bloomberg News reporters that he is not making any compromises at all in the talks with Canada — but that he cannot say this publicly because “it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal.”

Said Trump, of the Canadian government: “Here’s the problem. If I say no — the answer’s no. If I say no, then you’re going to put that, and it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal…I can’t kill these people.”

In another remark he did not want published, Trump said that the possible deal with Canada would be “totally on our terms.”

President Trump admitted that he made “off the record” comments to reporters saying he would not offer Canada any concessions in NAFTA negotiations.  Said Trump: “Wow, I made off the record comments to Bloomberg concerning Canada, and this powerful understanding was BLATANTLY VIOLATED. Oh well, just more dishonest reporting. I am used to it. At least Canada knows where I stand!”

Ron Brownstein: “This transition won’t occur overnight. For the 2020 presidential race, the top priority for most Democratic strategists remains recapturing the three Rust Belt states Donald Trump dislodged from the party’s “blue wall” by a combined margin of only about 80,000 votes: Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.”

“But many of those same strategists agree that as support for each party divides more sharply along racial, generational, and class lines, it will be difficult for Democrats to rely on predominantly white heartland states as much as they do today in presidential, congressional, and state races alike. And, through the next several elections, that will increase the pressure on Democrats to post deeper gains in Sun Belt states—such as Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, and perhaps even Texas—that more reflect their modern coalition.”

“Multiple White House and Republican sources say there is a growing unease inside the West Wing and among President Trump’s political advisers about what a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives would mean for the President,” CNN reports.  Said one source: “Every news story is going to instigate a subpoena. It would be really miserable…. Oversight hearings will be the issue. Not impeachment.”

Greg Sargent: “Periodically in this country, whenever there is violence with a political cast, or whenever political rhetoric strays into something more menacing than usual, we hold debates about the tone of our politics and their capacity for incitement. Whether rhetorical excess can be blamed for violence or the threat of it is a complicated topic with no easy answers. But even so, in most or all of these cases, whichever side is culpable, most of our elected leaders on both sides have used their prominence to calm passions in hopes of averting future horrors.”

“This time, something different is happening. At this point, there is no longer any denying that Trump continues to direct incendiary attacks against working members of the free press even though his own language is being cited by clearly unhinged people making horrifying death threats against them.”

President Trump announced that civilian federal employees will not receive pay increases next year, undoing the original 2.1% pay increase that was set to take place in 2019, Axios reports.  The president explained the change is an effort “to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases.”

When asked by Bloomberg if the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) would have been a better president than Barack Obama, President Trump “declined to say, even as his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, stared at him.”  Said Trump: “I don’t want to comment on it. I have a very strong opinion, all right.”  He then joked that Sanders was “having a nervous breakdown” over his response. “Maybe I’ll give you that answer some day later.”

Stan Collender: “Donald Trump has added another reason he might cause a government shutdown a month from now: no pay raise for federal employees of domestic federal agencies and departments.”

“Congress can, and in my estimation probably will, reject this. The House and Senate will likely put language that mandates the civilian pay raise in the continuing resolution that will be needed by October 1 to keep the government open.”

“The question then will be what will Trump with a CR that very openly defies him.”

“With a massive field of vulnerable House incumbents to defend and limited resources to go around, Republicans are readying for a painful round of political triage — deciding which lawmakers are worth trying to rescue, and which ones need to be cut loose to fend for themselves in November,” Politico reports.

“GOP officials say as many as 45 Republican-held seats are at serious risk, making it impossible to salvage each one in the costly scramble to protect the party’s 23-seat majority – especially those members who have waged sluggish campaigns and posted lackluster fundraising totals.”

“Behind the scenes, senior party strategists have begun polling to determine which incumbents may be beyond saving.”

ABC News: “From Congress to the courts, Democrats are engaged in a quiet but sprawling push to obtain a copy of President Donald Trump’s tax returns, which they say could shed fresh light on possible conflicts of interest, foreign business deals and even the Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.”

“Questions about Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns have followed the president from the campaign trail to the Oval Office and reemerged in force last week as a pair of Trump’s closest former aides -– his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his former personal attorney Michael Cohen –- confronted serious tax fraud charges that will likely land both of them behind bars.”

President Trump announced that will travel to Texas in October to campaign for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), “an incumbent in a deep-red state who is facing an unexpectedly tough race for reelection,” CNBC reports.

“The announcement of a presidential campaign trip more than a month in advance reflects the growing sense of panic among Republicans, who fear that a Senate seat once considered among the most solidly Republican in all of American politics could be up for grabs.”

Senior Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr says a former British spy told him at a breakfast meeting two years ago that Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump “over a barrel,” the AP reports.

Ohr “also says he learned that a Trump campaign aide had met with higher-level Russian officials than the aide had acknowledged.”

“The previously unreported details of the July 30, 2016, breakfast with Christopher Steele, which Ohr described to lawmakers this week in a private interview, reveal an exchange of potentially explosive information about Trump between two men the president has relentlessly sought to discredit.”

Sam Patten, a former associate of Paul Manafort who pleaded guilty to a lobbying violation, agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors, giving them access to insights from a longtime international political operative whose Russian business partner has already been indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, Bloomberg reports.

“Patten […] was charged Friday with failing to register as a foreign agent for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party,” Politico reports.  “The case, being handled by the U.S. attorney for Washington, was referred by special counsel Robert Mueller. The matter was scheduled for an 11 a.m. hearing in a D.C. federal court before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is also expected to preside over Manafort’s upcoming trial on money laundering charges.”

Amber Phillips: “McCain ostensibly had plenty of time to orchestrate his memorial services as he battled brain cancer for a year before his death Saturday. That he would choose not to have his own vice presidential pick at his memorial service can be interpreted as a neon flashing signal to the world not just about his own personal regrets in life but how concerned he was about the rise of Trumpism — and perhaps his role in it.”

Josh Marshall: “Assuming the Democrats wrest control of the House of Representatives, the first order of business needs to be subpoena and take possession of the President’s tax returns.”

“This may seem to sum like some sort of victorious gotcha, since the President’s refusal to turn over his tax returns has been such a point of controversy for more than two years. But it’s not. It’s actually the most important first order of business for the House. Assuming the Democrats do not control the Senate, and even if they did, the work of the House for the next two years will be oversight and reining in Trump’s lawless Presidency. There is no end of the list of things from the last two years that merit investigation – many of which do not directly touch on the President, or at least his personal actions or finances. But the most critical ones have to do with the President himself. That includes not only the broader Russia question but the equally critical question of whether and how the President is using the Presidency to stabilize and grow his private business.”

“None of these critical investigations are at all possible without having a clear understanding of the President’s personal finances and those of the Trump Organization. It’s not one among many to-dos. It’s the first order of business. Since it is the predicate for everything that has to come later.”

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

1 comment on “The Open Thread for September 1, 2018

  1. RE Vanella

    I feel like you all are missing a trick here, no?

    Lots of local political happenings…

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