Open Thread

The Open Thread for October 3, 2018

“President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents,” an investigation by the New York Times has found.

“Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire… But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.”

“Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents… Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.”

New York state tax officials are investigating in an exhaustive New York Times investigation into Donald Trump and his family’s business dealings, CNBC reports.  Meanwhile, the state tax department already is investigating the president’s charity, the Trump Foundation.

President Trump “for the first time directly mocked Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a rally in Mississippi, casting doubt on her testimony about her alleged sexual assault,” CNN reports.

“Trump imitated Ford during her testimony before the crowd, mocking her for not knowing the answer to questions such as how she got to the party.”

Said Trump: “‘I had one beer.’ Well do you think it was… ‘Nope. It was one beer.’ Oh good. How did you get home? ‘I don’t remember.’ How did you get there? ‘I don’t remember.’ Where is the place? ‘I don’t remember.’ How many years ago was it? ‘I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.’ What neighborhood was it in? ‘I don’t know.’ Where’s the house? ‘I don’t know. Upstairs. Downstairs. I don’t know. But I had one beer that’s the only thing I remember.’”

He addeed: “And a man’s life is in tatters. A man’s life is shattered.”

If Collins and Murkowski and Flake had any integrity, they would today come out and say the nomination is dead.

Wall Street Journal: “GOP aides on the Hill and another person familiar with the process said they were expecting the bureau to conclude its report as soon as late Tuesday or early Wednesday. Agents had interviewed at least four key people as of Tuesday in its background investigation of Judge Kavanaugh. The White House had given the bureau until Friday to wrap up the probe.”

“Senators would then be shown the FBI’s findings, but it wasn’t clear if the public would get a look as well.”

“The FBI has been granted broader authority to investigate sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but isn’t doing its own deep dive into his alcohol use or whether he committed perjury when he testified last week,” Bloomberg reports.  “The limits that remain on the investigation are significant because some Democrats and others opposed to Kavanaugh contend there are red flags in terms of whether he was honest in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

The FBI has finished interviewing Mark Judge, the former classmate of Brett Kavanaugh who Christine Blasey Ford identified as being in the room when Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulted her. His lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder told CNN the interview was complete.

President Trump’s net worth has declined by more than $1 billion since the year he launched his presidential campaign, Forbes reports.  “Much as he’s trying—and he’s definitely trying—Donald Trump is not getting richer off the presidency. Just the opposite. His net worth, by our calculation, has dropped from $4.5 billion in 2015 to $3.1 billion the last two years, knocking the president 138 spots lower on the latest The Forbes 400 (which will be published in full tomorrow).”

Democratic pollster Mark Mellman shared his perspective with the Washington Post:  “Internally, I think it’s very healthy. We have more people running for office as Democrats than we’ve had in a long time. Tremendous surge in interest. Tremendous surge in participation. … There are just vast numbers of people putting themselves out for the Democratic Party in ways… that they had not done before. That’s a sign, I think, of extraordinary health.”

He continued: “If you look at it from the outside, it’s not so healthy. The Democratic Party is not very popular today with a lot of people, and that is truly a problem. If you look at it in absolute terms and just look at where the Democrats stand today: not very good. You look at where our leadership stands, you look at where our party stands in terms of the public, it’s just not good. There’s no way to call it good. On the other hand, if you look at it in relative terms and say where are we compared to the Republicans? Well, not so bad. They’re there to save us.”

Jason Kander announced he has dropped out of the race for Kansas City Mayor:  “So after 11 years of trying to outrun depression and PTSD symptoms, I have finally concluded that it’s faster than me. That I have to stop running, turn around, and confront it.

I finally went to the VA in Kansas City yesterday and have started the process to get help there regularly. To allow me to concentrate on my mental health, I’ve decided that I will not be running for mayor of Kansas City. I truly appreciate all the support so many people in Kansas City and across the country have shown me since I started this campaign. But I can’t work on myself and run a campaign the way I want to at the same time, so I’m choosing to work on my depression.”

“The Trump administration on Monday began denying visas to same-sex domestic partners of foreign diplomats and United Nations employees, and requiring those already in the United States to get married by the end of the year or leave the country,” Foreign Policy reports

Rep. Duncan Hunter‘s (R-CA) campaign insinuates in a new TV ad that his Democratic opponent is part of an attempt by Muslims to “infiltrate” the U.S. government, Politico reports.

“As Democratic groups have sensed vulnerability, Hunter‘s campaign has embraced a tactic that strikes critics as racist: invoking the fraught family history of Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, whose grandfather was involved in the terrorist attacks on the 1972 Munich Olympics.”

“While Campa-Najjar has forcefully renounced his grandfather, saying he died 16 years before the candidate was born and emphasizing that Campa-Najjar is a Christian who has passed government security clearances, the Hunter campaign is doubling down.”

President Trump “personally directed an effort in February to stop Stormy Daniels from publicly describing an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“In a phone call, Mr. Trump instructed his then-lawyer Michael Cohen to seek a restraining order against the former adult-film actress, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, through a confidential arbitration proceeding.”

Trump also told Cohen to coordinate his efforts with Eric Trump, the president’s second-oldest son.

President Trump said the controversy surrounding Brett Kavaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court shows it is a “scary” time for young men, The Hill reports.  Said Trump: “It is a scary time for young men in America. You can be accused before you prove your innocence.”  Asked if he had a message for young women, Trump said: “Women are doing great.”

Rachel Bitecofer: “My faithful followers will know that I made quite a shock wave in June and July when I announced unambiguously there would be a large Democratic wave. Though only just getting into the general election once will see how much movement the other outlets have had towards my predictions since July 1. Astute observers will notice that many of my districts initially coded as ‘likely to flip’ to the Democrats have been reclassified as ‘will flip’ districts and some original ‘toss up’ districts are now ‘likely to flip.’ I now have 22 districts coded as will flip. Several of these have had resources pulled from them by the Republican SuperPac.”

“As you know, Democrats actually need 23 districts to win control of the House and they all virtually guaranteed to do so given my expectation of converting more races into the ‘will flip’ category over the month of October. As you can see, with just a few exceptions, my race raters are still largely on the fence on these districts but I expect that by Election Day, they too will rate these as likely pick-ups for the Democrats. Just remember, you heard it here first.”

Politico: “McConnell’s focus right now is entirely on the triumvirate of GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Jeff Flake of Arizona. McConnell needs two out of the three to back Kavanaugh in order for the nomination to succeed, and he is walking a fine line in addressing their concerns while continuing to press toward a final Senate vote.”

”McConnell has subtly tweaked his language on the Kavanaugh nomination. He’s a no longer vowing to ‘plow right through’ and confirm Kavanaugh, as he was just last week, crafting his message instead to appeal to the three Republicans who remain on the fence.”

”The Kentucky Republican is currently planning a move to end debate on the nomination by mid-week, forcing a critical procedural vote as early as Friday, which would set up a final vote on Kavanaugh by Sunday. But that timetable means the FBI investigation must be complete by Wednesday, and that’s where the situation become dicey for McConnell.”

Playbook: “With 35 days left until Election Day, House Republicans have found a bizarre phenomenon. Around the country, President Trump is above water in several House districts in which the GOP is struggling.”

“Why? Top figures in the party tell us this: Most of their members are stuck in the mushy middle when it comes to their political identity. They don’t totally align with the president, so they have trouble exciting part of the base, but they’re not far enough from the president to pull in undecided, middle-of-the-road voters who have soured on the president.”

“White House hawks earlier this year encouraged President Donald Trump to stop providing student visas to Chinese nationals, but the proposal was shelved over concerns about its economic and diplomatic impact,” the Financial Times reports.

“As the administration debated ways to tackle Chinese espionage, Stephen Miller, a White House aide who has been pivotal in developing the administration’s hardline immigration policies, pushed the president and other officials to make it impossible for Chinese citizens to study in the U.S.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) “has a Plan B if the Senate fails to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh: Let’s run this back and take it to voters in the midterms,” Roll Call reports.

Said Graham: “What would I do? I would re-nominate him and I would take this case to the American people and I’d ask voters in Indiana, in Missouri, in North Dakota and other places where Trump won — saying who he would nominate if he got to be president — and see if the voters want to appeal the verdict of their senator.”

Michael Bloomberg “will give $20 million to the main Democratic Senate super PAC this week — jolting the national battle for control of the chamber just five weeks away from the midterm elections,” the Washington Post reports.

“Bloomberg’s intervention bolsters the Democrats’ Senate chances by infusing significant late-season capital into the Senate Majority PAC, a group that had $29 million on hand at the end of August and has been purchasing advertising in expensive media markets.”

“Bloomberg believes the emotional national debate over sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has energized Democratic voters and provides an opening for the party to be more competitive in rallying women and swing voters.”

Benjamin Wittes: “These are words I write with no pleasure, but with deep sadness. Unlike many people who will read them with glee—as validating preexisting political, philosophical, or jurisprudential opposition to Kavanaugh’s nomination—I have no hostility to or particular fear of conservative jurisprudence. I have a long relationship with Kavanaugh and I have always liked him. I have admired his career on the D.C. Circuit. I have spoken warmly of him. I have published him. I have vouched publicly for his character—more than once—and taken a fair bit of heat for doing so.”

“Despite all of that, if I were a senator, I would vote against Kavanaugh’s confirmation. I would do it both because of Ford’s testimony and because of Kavanaugh’s. For reasons I will describe, I find her account more believable than his. I would also do it because whatever the truth of what happened in the summer of 1982, Thursday’s hearing left Kavanaugh non-viable as a justice.”

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

9 comments on “The Open Thread for October 3, 2018

  1. The most telling article is the one from the Washington Post “Will Dems wake up by 2020?”. The easy answer is no, not at the DNC and elite level. The party is slated to do very well in the next election, the reason is hatred of Trump and the Republicans, not love for the Dems. The elite have effectively stalled the coming generational change the party badly needs and made a great many yearn for term limits, I certainly do. Women are surging into the party right now, a very good thing, let’s see if they can inject some vigor into the party, and not just the money of assorted very rich men.

  2. Since when is the secretary of state on the hook for foreign policy? And what was “bad” about making a bad choice when presented with no good ones?

    What you know about Libya would fit on the head of a pin, and Glenn Reynolds is and always has been the worst kind of partisan hack. Stop embarrassing yourself.

    • “Since when is the secretary of state on the hook for foreign policy?”

      When they have a (D) listed as their political party affiliation… Any other letter means they’ll earn a pass or even be venerated for their war crimes (i.e. Kissinger).

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