Open Thread

The Open Thread for September 14, 2018

Special counsel Robert Mueller and former Trump campaign Paul Manafort have reached what ABC News is describing as a “tentative” plea deal to avert his upcoming trial in D.C., the network reported Thursday based on sources familiar with the negotiations.

“The deal is expected to be announced in court Friday, but it remains unclear whether Manafort has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors or is simply conceding to a guilty plea, which would allow him to avoid the stress and expense of trial.”

What is odd is that we also learned today this: President Trump “has a joint defense agreement with former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. This agreement is presumably related to all aspects of the ongoing Russia probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller,” Law & Crime reports.   “The president’s lead attorney, Rudy Giuliani, confirmed the agreement and said that President Trump’s team was regularly in contact with Manafort’s own attorneys.”

The letter about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (R-CA) referred to the FBI “involved possible sexual misconduct between Judge Kavanaugh and a woman when they were both in high school,” the New York Times reports.

“The information came in a letter, which was first sent to the office of Representative Anna Eshoo, Democrat of California, and included the allegation of sexual misconduct toward the letter’s author, a person familiar with the letter confirmed.”

“Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have referred a letter concerning Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the FBI,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“The contents of the letter have been closely guarded by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, as well as California Rep. Anna Eshoo, who originally received the letter and shared it with Feinstein, according to sources familiar with the matter. But whispers of what it contains have made the rounds across Capitol Hill over the past week.”

The Intercept: “The specific content of the document, which is a letter from a California constituent, is unclear, but Feinstein’s refusal to share the letter has created tension on the committee, particularly after Feinstein largely took a back seat to her more junior colleagues last week.”

“House Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans have rejected Democrats’ request that the State Department turn over documents that would explain what President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed in their July one-on-one meeting in Helsinki,” Axios reports.

“Lawmakers and Americans still don’t know the substance of what was discussed during Trump’s meeting with Putin, but there is no momentum from the Republican majority on Capitol Hill to compel those details from the administration.”

“Congressional leaders from both parties have finalized a plan to avert a government shutdown at the end of the month over President Trump’s demands to fund a border wall, and postpone that fight until after the November midterm elections,” the Washington Post reports.

“The bipartisan pact… reflects the desire of Republican leaders to avoid a nasty shutdown fight weeks before the midterm elections — even if it means sacrificing, at least for now, one of Trump’s most prominent policy goals.”

“House GOP leadership aides say they believe the White House is on board with their approach, but no one can be sure what Trump ultimately will do.”

LOL.   Yes, what we need in 2020 is boring billionaires.   Meanwhile, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) “is edging closer to a potential run for president, following what he called an ‘encouraging’ summer mulling a campaign,” Politico reports.  Said Hickenlooper: “What I saw was an interest … a genuine interest in terms of what we’ve done in Colorado.”

“Hickenlooper, one of several current and former Democratic governors considering running in 2020, said he has not yet made a decision about the race. But in a sign that his political operation is ramping up, he will travel to the Southeast this month to help the campaigns of Democratic gubernatorial candidates Andrew Gillum in Florida and Stacey Abrams in Georgia.”

The League of Conservation Voters plans to spend a record-breaking $60 million helping Democrats win congressional and state legislative seats, the Washington Post reports.

“Other environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund, also say they plan to invest even more money during this campaign cycle than they did in 2016. Trump’s victory in 2016, along with his administration’s subsequent attempts to roll back numerous environmental rules, have fueled a fundraising surge that environmental groups hope will help them put a check on the president by electing Democratic majorities in Congress.”

President Trump tweeted that he didn’t believe that roughly 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria.

Said Trump: “3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000.”

James Hohmann: “Democrats are pummeling Republican candidates for governor and Senate over a pending lawsuit by 20 GOP-led states that could allow insurance companies to stop covering people with preexisting medical conditions. Underscoring how the politics of Obamacare have changed — even in red states — this issue is being highlighted more than any other right now in Democratic television commercials. Public and private polling validates that it’s an effective line of attack.”

Daily Beast: “Before the National Rifle Association dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to flip a competitive, Democratic-held Senate seat, the gun-rights group’s chief lobbyist apparently gave the race’s Republican challenger a heads-up.”

“Chris Cox, the top political strategist for the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), assured Montana Republican Matt Rosendale that the group would spend heavily to support his bid to unseat Sen. Jon Tester, Rosendale told attendees at a July event in Washington.”

New York Times: “Silence as a public relations strategy is risky, especially for someone who is impugned almost daily by Fox News pundits, Trump allies like Rudolph W. Giuliani and tweets from the president himself. Supporters fear that the fusillade is eroding public confidence in the special counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election before Mr. Mueller has a chance to present his findings.”

“Yet veterans of similar investigations say that keeping quiet may be Mr. Mueller’s only viable option, given the limited set of strategies available for federal prosecutors to communicate with the public. By law, special counsels must follow Justice Department guidelines that restrict them from sharing details about pending investigations, making leaks a potential criminal matter.”

“New York residents who go to the polls on Thursday will do so despite a number of obstacles, imposed by the state, that make it harder for people to vote. The lack of easy ballot access has essentially created a system of suppression in what’s considered one of the bluest states in the country,” the HuffPost reports.

“Thursday is the second primary election day New Yorkers have had this year. In June, they voted in primaries for federal contests. This week, they’re having their say in the races for governor and other state officials. Most states put all of their elections on one day.”

“New York’s confusing primary system is part of a larger set of voting laws and procedure critics say are among the worst in the country and that state lawmakers could easily fix, but haven’t.”

First Read: “Could New York state’s voting laws and rules be any more complicated? There’s no early voting. And many counties – outside of New York City – have polling places that don’t open until noon on Election Day. Talk about a state that discourages voter participation.”

“The recent changes to the tax code are giving business executives a new perk: the opportunity to deduct the entirety of a corporate-jet purchase,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“President Trump signed more than 100 changes to the U.S. tax code into law at the end of last year. Among them: The price of a new or used airplane purchased by a company can be a 100% write-off against its earnings.”

“The foreign-born population in the United States has reached its highest share since 1910, according to government data released Thursday, and the new arrivals are more likely to come from Asia and to have college degrees than those who arrived in past decades,” the New York Times reports.

“The Census Bureau’s figures for 2017 confirm a major shift in who is coming to the United States. For years newcomers tended to be from Latin America, but a Brookings Institution analysis of that data shows that 41% of the people who said they arrived since 2010 came from Asia. Just 39% were from Latin America. About 45% were college educated, the analysis found, compared with about 30% of those who came between 2000 and 2009.”

Michael Avenatti writes in the New York Times:  “The fact that Mr. Trump is a sitting president should not derail a process that applies to all Americans, regardless of stature or station. He would still have the post-indictment relief available to all citizens, including the ability to challenge the constitutionality of the indictment. Some also argue that indicting the president would critically impair his ability to lead the country. But this is a White House already engulfed in chaos and daily distractions. And if the House were to initiate impeachment proceedings, it is hard to see how that process would be any less distracting than a criminal indictment.”

Greg Sargent: “Tennessee looks like a must win for Democrats if they are to gain the majority. It goes back to that math problem again: If a Democratic incumbent loses in one of those four states, Democrats have to flip Tennessee in addition to Arizona and Nevada to win the Senate. The only alternative is running the table in all those six states other than Tennessee.”

Said J.B. Poersch, the head of the Senate Majority PAC: “There’s a way to get to the majority without Tennessee. But it’s a high priority.”

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

4 comments on “The Open Thread for September 14, 2018

  1. Not interested in Bloomberg buying himself a Presidency.

    But I will concede that he gets on the A list of people who could stand toe to toe with the GRIFTUS and “win” on stage. Not for Joe Biden “regular guy” reasons, but because Bloomberg is presumably Trump’s peer and I think that Bloomberg is on record as noting that the GRIFTUS isn’t as wealthy as he would have his followers believe.

  2. Word is Manafort has reached a plea deal, details are sketchy at best, is the pardon clock ticking? Regardless tweet storm a comin’ to rival the hurricane. Kinda.

    • Looks like he pled guilty to one count of conspiracy against the US and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice — witness tampering. Then he admitted guilt on all of the other charges, but those charges could be dropped if he cooperates in accordance with the agreement. Which sorta looks like they have him talking about pretty much anything they want. emptywheel thinks that this deal is “pardon-proof”.

      • Further developments do make it look pardon proof, have yet to read ( and reply) to expected tweet storm. Also agree he’s going to sing, loud and long, to save himself from dying in prison.

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