The Open Thread for September 7, 2018

President Trump “will not answer federal investigators’ questions, in writing or in person, about whether he tried to block the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election,” the AP reports.

Rudy Giuliani said questions about obstruction of justice were a “no-go.”

“Giuliani’s statement was the most definitive rejection yet of special counsel Robert Mueller’s efforts to interview the president about any efforts to obstruct the investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and Russians. It signals the Trump’s lawyers are committed to protecting the president from answering questions about actions the president took in office.”

Subpoena his ass, Mueller.

“As a White House lawyer in the Bush administration, Judge Brett Kavanaugh challenged the accuracy of deeming the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision to be ‘settled law of the land,’” according to a secret email obtained by the New York Times.

“The email, written in March 2003, is one of thousands of documents that a lawyer for President George W. Bush turned over to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Supreme Court nominee but deemed ‘committee confidential,’ meaning it could not be made public or discussed by Democrats in questioning him in hearings this week.”

Wrote Kavanaugh: “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so.”

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced at the start of Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh that he would publicly release “committee confidential” documents, Axiosreports.

Said Booker: “I am going to release the email about racial profiling. And I understand that the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate. And if Sen. Cornyn believes that I violated Senate rules, I openly invite and accept the consequences…the emails being withheld from the public have nothing to do with national security.”

“Nearly 12 hours into Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing, Kamala Harris opened with a tantalizing query: Has the Supreme Court nominee ever discussed Robert Mueller’s probe with a lawyer at Kasowitz Benson & Torres, President Donald Trump’s longtime law firm?,” Politico reports.

Said Harris: “Be sure about your answer, sir.”

“Trump’s high court pick appeared nonplussed, responding that ‘I’m not sure I know everyone who works at that law firm,’ but the California Democrat – a veteran prosecutor known for her tenacious questioning and high on her party’s 2020 presidential short lists — would not let up.”

Asked Harris: “How can you not remember whether you’ve had a conversation about Robert Mueller or his investigation with anyone at that law firm?”

First Read: The best thing that happened to Brett Kavanaugh was that anonymous op-ed. Why? Because had it not come out, the top political story in America this morning would be his rough day on Capitol Hill yesterday.

Politico: “They’re the most junior Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. But Kamala Harris and Cory Booker led the way in upending Brett Kavanaugh’s debut — and the GOP was watching with 2020 on its mind.”

Speaker Paul Ryan says that he has a “good understanding” with President Trump to fund the government by a Sept. 30 deadline, despite Trump’s comments a day earlier that he would be willing to shut down government if Congress does not provide enough border security funding, Reuters reports.

Said Ryan: “We have a very good understanding with the president that we want to get our appropriations done… And we have a very good agreement and understanding that we’re going to keep government funded.”

Stan Collender: “Trump continues to be ‘consistently inconsistent’ about a shutdown so everything he says about it on any day should be taken with at least a grain, if not a whole shaker, of salt. Bottom line: There’s still a 60 percent chance of a shutdown.”

Former CIA director John Brennan told NBC News that the anonymous op-ed in the New York Times shows “the depth of concern within the administration…about what is happening and the extraordinary steps that individuals are willing to take…to prevent disasters.”

However, he added: “It’s active insubordination…born out of loyalty to the country, not to Donald Trump. This is not sustainable to have an executive branch, where individuals are not following the orders of the chief executive.”

Brennan also said: “I do think things will get worse before they get better. I don’t know how Donald Trump is going to react to this. A wounded lion is a very dangerous animal and I think Donald Trump is wounded.”

“White House officials reached out to a noted Yale University psychiatrist last fall out of concern over President Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior,” the New York Daily News reports.

Dr. Bandy Lee, who edited the best-selling book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President, said the staffers contacted her because the President was “scaring” them and they believed the President was “unraveling.”

Molly Ball has a wonderful profile of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):

“The attacks on Pelosi are particularly ironic in this political moment. Since Donald Trump’s election, American women have poured into the streets, signed up to run for office in record numbers and surged to the polls. Many of them look a lot like Pelosi once did. They are brainy, liberal and comfortably situated moms who have looked at the political system with the exasperation of a person who has seen her husband get the laundry wrong and realized that she’s going to have to do it herself.”

“If Democrats regain congressional power in November, as most experts expect, it will be by riding a tidal wave of female rage. But rather than tout their female leader–the first woman Speaker in history, and the odds-on favorite to reclaim the title–many Democratic politicians, both male and female, are running in the opposite direction. In this season of female political empowerment, Pelosi’s power still rankles.”

Ross Douthat says President Trump has lost control of his White House and that he’s an exceptionally weak president.

“Some of that weakness is invisible because we simply take it for granted; it’s just part of the scenery, for instance, that this White House has no legislative agenda, no chance of advancing any policy priority on the hill, barely two years into the president’s first term.”

“Some of the weakness shows up in his attempts to play the tough guy. The child-separation policy, for instance, was abandoned scant days after it was publicized, because the president lacked the support within his own party and within his own White House to actually see a draconian measure through.”

“President Trump is not just seething about Bob Woodward. He’s deeply suspicious of much of the government he oversees — from the hordes of folks inside agencies, right up to some of the senior-most political appointees and even some handpicked aides inside his own White House,” officials tell Axios.

The big picture: He should be paranoid. In the hours after the New York Times published the anonymous Op-Ed from ‘a senior official in the Trump administration’ trashing the president, two senior administration officials reached out to Axios to say the author stole the words right out of their mouths.”

Said one senior official: “I find the reaction to the NYT op-ed fascinating — that people seem so shocked that there is a resistance from the inside. A lot of us were wishing we’d been the writer, I suspect … I hope he knows — maybe he does? — that there are dozens and dozens of us.”

“President Trump and his aides reacted with indignation Wednesday to an unsigned opinion column from a senior official blasting the president’s ‘amorality’ and launched a frantic hunt for the author, who claims to be part of a secret ‘resistance’ inside the government protecting the nation from its commander in chief,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump reacted to the column with ‘volcanic’ anger and was ‘absolutely livid’ over what he considered a treasonous act of disloyalty, and told confidants he suspects the official works on national security issues or in the Justice Department.”

“The column sent tremors through the West Wing and launched a frantic guessing game. Startled aides canceled meetings and huddled behind closed doors to strategize a response. Aides were analyzing language patterns to try to discern author’s identity, or at a minimum the part of the administration where the author works.”

Politico: “His polling numbers were sliding, and had even bottomed out in some city wards. With Chicagoans weary of the violence playing out in their neighborhoods, frustrated with a struggling school system and blaming him for a series of tax and fee hikes, Rahm Emanuel faced a long, painful reelection slog with an uncertain payoff.”

“Still, the city was stunned when the brash Chicago mayor, who has never lost an election, announced Tuesday that he was throwing in the towel… In the end, Emanuel concluded the daily battle would be too punishing, said one top Illinois Democrat with knowledge of the decision. There were too many political variables outside of his control. Even if he were victorious next spring, he’d emerge bloodied and politically weakened, only to stare down the barrel of four years of financial instability.”

“Roughly 100 of the 240 Republican-controlled House seats are currently within Democratic reach, posing the most serious threat to the GOP majority since the party won control in 2010,” Politico reports.

“Despite the GOP’s built-in advantages due to incumbency and redistricting, 60 of those seats are even more precariously positioned, with the Republican nominee either holding just a slight competitive edge, dead even against their Democratic opponent or trailing.”

“President Trump is livid at the betrayal and stunning allegations in Bob Woodward’s forthcoming Fear, but limited in his ability to fight back because most of the interviews were caught on hundreds of hours of tape,” officials tell Axios.

“The book, out Tuesday from Simon & Schuster, re-creates — verbatim — page after page of private conversations with him. The 420-page portrait is all the more damaging because many of the scenes concern foreign policy and national security — truly heavy stuff.”

“A government photographer edited official pictures of Donald Trump’s inauguration to make the crowd appear bigger following a personal intervention from the president,” The Guardian reports.

“The photographer cropped out empty space ‘where the crowd ended’ for a new set of pictures requested by Trump on the first morning of his presidency, after he was angered by images showing his audience was smaller than Barack Obama’s in 2009.”

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

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