Open Thread

The Open Thread for September 4, 2018

President Trump stepped up his attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, suggesting the Department of Justice put Republicans in midterm jeopardy with recent indictments of two GOP congressmen, the AP reports.

In his latest broadside against the Justice Department’s traditional independence, Trump tweeted that “Obama era investigations, of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department.”

He added: “Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff……”

Trump really does think that the AG should be only targeting Democrats for investigation and indictment even when there is no evidence of wrongdoing, while all Republican criminals are given a get out of jail free card.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) rebuked President Trump’s latest attack against the Department of Justice for pursing criminal charges against two Republican congressmen, The Hill reports.  Said Sasse: “The United States is not some banana republic with a two-tiered system of justice – one for the majority party and one for the minority party.”

He added: “These two men have been charged with crimes because of evidence, not because of who the President was when the investigations began. Instead of commenting on ongoing investigations and prosecutions, the job of the President of the United States is to defend the Constitution and protect the impartial administration of justice.”

Rudy Giuliani told the New Yorker that President Trump’s legal team may invoke executive privilege to prevent special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report from being released to the public.

Then it’s Civil War.

Mike Allen: “Like the quiet planning by presidential candidates for their hoped-for transition to office, House Democrats are already choreographing their opening moves if — as looks likely — they get the gavel back in the midterm elections.”

“The strategy is being driven by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, the likely speaker if her party regains the majority. The first three legislative packages will cover health-care costs, $1 trillion in federal infrastructure investment, and ethics and lobbying reform.”

“Democrats are playing down talk of impeachment. But depending on the contents of Robert Mueller’s report, that could well become a transcendent issue for the new Congress. Democratic leaders have been clear that impeachment isn’t happening unless it’s bipartisan — that Mueller’s findings are definitive, and Republicans voice support for the i-word.”

“Heading into the midterm elections, the most volatile candidate this year isn’t on the ballot,” CBS News reports.

“But President Trump still loves to take his freewheeling political stylings on the road on behalf of his fellow Republicans and he’s raring to go for the sprint to Nov. 6.”

“His eagerness to campaign for candidates — and protect his political flank — has led Republican officials and Mr. Trump’s political team to devise a strategy for managing the president’s time. It’s designed to keep him in places where he can be helpful. They’re also determined to try to manage his unpredictability so the party’s strongest asset in turning out core GOP voters doesn’t end up doing damage instead.”

“There’s a constant effort to keep him on best behavior.”

“Democrats are expressing alarm over the Trump White House decision to claim executive privilege and withhold some 100,000 pages of documents from Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s time with the George W. Bush administration,” ABC News reports.

“More than 400,000 other pages have been handed over to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Democrats say the withheld documents would give details and color to Kavanaugh’s time as White House Counsel in the Bush White House — when he was involved in some of its most controversial decisions and judicial nominations.”

“It’s a time Democrats say is key in giving context to his time as a partisan Republican.”

“Stay in the room, demand answers and keep pointing out that they have not given the material that was expected to the committee.”  — Former Vice President Joe Biden, quoted by MSNBC, on how Democrats should handle the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Dan Balz: “The first key is to protect all or virtually all those vulnerable incumbents. Bruce Mehlman, who worked in the Bush White House, suggests that’s not out of the question. He did a study looking at 333 Senate races in 10 midterm elections dating back to 1978. He concluded that what matters most ‘is not being from the party that holds the White House, regardless of a state’s partisan lean.’”

“If Democrats manage to protect their incumbents, they only have to win two more seats. Prospects are considered best — but not certain — in Nevada and Arizona, followed by Tennessee. A long shot is Texas, where Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke has captured the imaginations of Democrats like no other candidate this year. He is giving Republican Sen. Ted Cruz a strong challenge but is still the underdog.”

Jeffrey Toobin: “Since joining Trump’s team, Giuliani has greeted every new development as a vindication, even when he’s had to bend and warp the evidence in front of him. Like Trump, he characterizes the Mueller probe as a ‘witch hunt’ and the prosecutors as ‘thugs.’ He has, in effect, become the legal auxiliary to Trump’s Twitter feed, peddling the same chaotic mixture of non sequiturs, exaggerations, half-truths, and falsehoods. Giuliani, like the President, is not seeking converts but comforting the converted.”

“This has come at considerable cost to his reputation. As a prosecutor, Giuliani was the sheriff of Wall Street and the bane of organized crime. As mayor, he was the law-and-order leader who kicked ‘squeegee men’ off the streets of New York. Now he’s a talking head spouting nonsense on cable news. But this version of Giuliani isn’t new; Trump has merely tapped into tendencies that have been evident all along.”

“Trump learned about law and politics from his mentor Roy Cohn, the notorious sidekick to Joseph McCarthy who, as a lawyer in New York, became a legendary brawler and used the media to bash adversaries. In the early months of his Presidency, as Mueller’s investigation was getting under way, Trump is said to have raged, ‘Where’s my Roy Cohn?’ In Giuliani, the President has found him.”

Washington Post: “As the primary season winds to an end, with five Northeastern states voting from Sept. 4 to Sept. 13, Massachusetts’s 7th District is one of a dozen battlefields for the Democratic Party’s future.”

“In four of September’s five primary states — Massachusetts, Delaware, Rhode Island and New York — efforts are underway to dismantle the party establishment, starting with long-tenured politicians who first took power when compromises with the right were more routine. Democrats who are used to locking up endorsements and rolling into November are being challenged on decades-old votes, or their slowness to embrace reform, or why they haven’t been more visible in the Trump era. The same dynamic is playing out in open seats, where candidates are often debating who can provide the brightest, loudest contrast to Republicans.”

“Bruce Mehlman of Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas has found a new way to measure House Republicans’ peril: ‘vulnerability ratio,’ which he measures as the net number of seats at risk versus the number needed to flip,” Axios reports.

“With 38 GOP House seats rated toss-up or worse by Cook Political Report, to only three Dem Seats, 2018 Republicans have net 35 seats at risk, significantly more than they can afford to lose (23).”

“With 152% of Republicans’ margin vulnerable, they’re in a more perilous position than Democrats in 2010 (when 123% of their margin was vulnerable) or Republicans in 2006 (119%).”

“Omarosa taped nearly every conversation she had while working in the White House, including ones with ‘all of the Trumps,’ a source who watched her make many of the tapes tells Axios. Omarosa did this with a personal phone, almost always on record mode.”

The details: “She carried two phones, her personal phone and her government-issued one. She would often put conversations she had on her work phone on speaker, then record those with her personal phone. Before heading into meetings, she would often press ‘record’ on her personal phone — which she carried in her pocket or in a small purse.”

Mike Allen: “President Obama, after mostly staying out of the spotlight since leaving office, plans to campaign in coming weeks in California, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania — meaning there’ll be a frequent fall contrast between Presidents 44 and 45.”

“Look for other travel and more endorsements. During a speech in Illinois on Friday, Obama will preview top themes for the campaign trail. These include the importance of turning out to vote at this particular moment, especially given that Dems are notorious for sitting out during midterms or when Obama isn’t on the ballot.”

Soon before the Trump administration announced that the United States would stop funding a United Nations agency that helps Palestinian refugees, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the White House to end the aid, according to a Sunday Axios report.

In the past, the Israeli position was reportedly that any cut in American funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) should be gradual, to prevent worsening the humanitarian crisis in Palestine, especially in Gaza.

Netanyahu apparently changed this position under his own volition, without any input from the Israeli security council or intelligence agencies, and secretly conveyed his new stance to the Trump administration and members of the Senate Appropriations Committee via Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S.

Politico: “Monday’s parade kicked off what will be an intense, nine-week stretch of campaigning for Democratic candidates in the midterms, but also an extended gut check of whether the country has an appetite for another Biden run—and for him to decide if he has the appetite to make one.”

“But here, in a part of the country that helped tip the 2016 election to Donald Trump but has since delivered Democrats their only House special election win, this is what a potential 2020 bid would look like: classic retail campaigning in parts of the country where Democrats have atrophied and which Hillary Clinton wrote off. When he was finished marching, Biden huddled with union head United Steelworkers president Leo Girard. There was even a videographer on the payroll catching every interaction, and a young man from the Republican attack group America Rising following along with his own camera, mumbling questions and then remarking with staged wonder into the camera that Biden wouldn’t answer them.”

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

18 comments on “The Open Thread for September 4, 2018

  1. Once Kavanaugh’s confirmation is complete, I don’t think I’ll care what happens to Trump.

    • Nah, need him to replace Ginsburg as well.

    • Serious question: What is it you want a conservative court to do?

      • Im sure it is to uphold the law of the land in a principled way and NOT to be activist judges who legislate people’s lives from the safety of a non-elected position. Im sure it isnt that at all.

        BTW, alphabet losers, enjoy your 3 years of SCOTUS control. Thomas will either not wake up from his constant nap time, or be impeached… then it swings back to 5/4. RBG will out-live all of us.

      • I don’t think it will be a “conservative court”. I think it will be a court that is less political.

      • Make sure that Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsburg are always on the losing side of 6-3 decisions.

        7-2 after Ginsburg is gone.

    • Who cares? It’s the same story as Ocasio Cortez. A rabble rouser in one of the bluest districts in the country. It’s the electoral equivalent of the loser protestors screaming and shouting in the gallery yesterday at the Kavanaugh hearing. Sound and fury but achieving…. nothing.

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