Open Thread

The Open Thread for November 1, 2018

TRUMP IS THROWING THE KITCHEN SINK AT THE WALL.  New York Times: “In the last days before a midterm congressional election that will determine the future of his presidency, Mr. Trump seems to be throwing almost anything he can think of against the wall to see what might stick, no matter how untethered from political or legal reality. Frustrated that other topics — like last week’s spate of mail bombs — came to dominate the news, the president has sought to seize back the national stage in the last stretch of the campaign.”

“Ad hoc though they may be, Mr. Trump’s red-meat ideas have come to shape the conversation and, he hopes, may galvanize otherwise complacent conservative voters to turn out on Tuesday. But he risks motivating opponents, as well, and he has put even some of his fellow Republicans on the spot as they are forced to take a position on issues they were not expecting to have to address.”

Including this:  Trump said that “he is considering a significant increase to the number of military personnel along the border, two days after he unveiled plans to send 5,200 troops there,”  the Washington Post reports.  Said Trump: “We’ll go up to anywhere between 10 and 15,000 military personnel on top of Border Patrol, ICE and everybody else at the border. Nobody’s coming in. We’re not allowing people to come in.”

Notice how each day the number goes up by 5-10,000.  By Tuesday, 1 million troops will be heading to the border.

Washington Post: “Republican leaders and candidates in tough races to be decided in next Tuesday’s midterm elections were divided, evasive and otherwise just plain off message yesterday after President Trump spontaneously introduced the notion of ending birthright citizenship.”

“This really isn’t the way Republicans running with — or in some cases, away — from Trump want to be spending the closing days of a campaign on which control of Congress hinges.”

TRUMP’S NATIONALISM BACKFIRES.  Washington Post: “Trump’s sharpened tone creates potential complications for some Republican candidates, particularly those in centrist suburban House districts where many GOP voters have grown uneasy about the president, as Trump embarks on a final week of nearly nonstop rallies where immigration is likely to be a frequent topic.”

”There were signs Tuesday that some Trump allies were nervous about sparking a deeper cultural debate in the campaign’s final stretch, particularly with some critics alleging that hostile political rhetoric has played a role in encouraging violence.”

KEMP TO SKIP DEBATE WITH ABRAMS TO RALLY WITH TRUMP.  Brian Kemp (R) will not appear as scheduled at what would have been the second and final televised debate with opponent Stacey Abrams (D) in Georgia’s race for governor, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“With Kemp scheduled to campaign alongside Donald Trump in Macon at 4 p.m. on Sunday, it created a conflict with the debate to begin at 5 p.m. in Atlanta.”

“Abrams’ team accused of Kemp of backing out on his commitment and said she will find a way to still answer voters’ questions on Sunday at 5 p.m.”

DOWN GOES GIANFORTE.  “Montana Democrat Kathleen Williams is raising her party’s hopes for a long-shot House gain in a Republican-tilting state,” Bloomberg reports.

“Republican Greg Gianforte is seeking his first full term in office after he won a 2017 special election to his at-large seat after Representative Ryan Zinke was appointed to become President Trump’s Interior secretary. Yet Gianforte, with less than a week to go, has yet to put away the race, according to recent polling.”

“That the result is even close at all is remarkable in a state that Trump won by 20 percentage points in 2016. However, if House Democrats are competitive in states like Montana — and especially if Williams wins — it raises questions of how broad Democratic gains may be on election night.”

WALL STREET CHOOSES ITS HORSE.  President Trump warned that Americans could “lose a lot of money” if Republicans don’t do well in next week’s midterm elections, Politico reports.  Said Trump: “If the midterms for some reason don’t do so well for Republicans, I think you’re all going to lose a lot of money. I hate to say that. I think you’re going to lose a lot of money.”

And yet…. “There’s still a week to go before the midterm elections, but Wall Street has already voted — with its campaign contributions,” CBS News reports.  “The securities and finance industry has backed Democratic congressional candidates 63% to 37%… Democratic candidates and political action committees have received $56.8 million, compared to Republicans’ $33.4 million.”

HAWLEY HAS CONSULTANT TEAM RUN AG OFFICE.  Kansas City Star: “Josh Hawley pledged to Missouri voters in 2016 that he was not the kind of career politician who would use ‘one office to get to another.’”

“But within weeks of Hawley’s swearing in as the state’s top law enforcement official, the high-powered political team that would go on to run his U.S. Senate campaign had stepped in to help direct the office of the Missouri attorney general — and raise his national profile.”

“Hawley’s out-of-state political consultants gave direct guidance and tasks to his taxpayer-funded staff, and followed up to ensure the tasks were completed, according to emails, text messages and other records.”

TRUMP BLAMES MCGAHN FOR MUELLER. “Former White House Counsel Don McGahn ended his tumultuous tenure at the White House with one last encounter in which President Donald Trump blamed him for Robert Mueller’s appointment,” CNN reports.

“In a face-to-face Oval Office meeting, the President groused to McGahn about Mueller’s appointment made on McGahn’s watch as White House counsel, and the cloud the investigation has continued to cast over the presidency.”

REPUBLICANS IN DISARRAY.  President Trump slammed Speaker Paul Ryan on Twitter for rejecting his call to end birthright citizenship.

Said Trump: “Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the majority rather than giving his opinions on birthright citizenship, something he knows nothing about! Our new Republican majority will work on this, closing the immigration loopholes and securing our border!”

Rep. Chris Curbelo (R-FL) told MSNBC that he would never vote for Rep. Steve King (R-IA), whose white nationalist ties are finally hurting his bid for re-election.

Said Curbelo: “His comments and his actions are disgusting. And look, I know nothing about his opponent, but I will tell you this: I would never cast a ballot for someone like Steve King.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee says it will not help out Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has supported far-right causes and white supremacists, in the remaining days of his bid to win re-election to his Iowa 4th District seat against Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten, CNBC reports.  The NRCC cited King’s “words and actions” for its decision to sit out the race.

DEMOCRATIC DARK MONEY GROUPS FLOODING THE ZONE.  New York Times: “A structure unknown even to some of those involved, Floridians for a Fair Shake and 13 other groups around the country are funded and coordinated out of a single office in Washington, with the goal of battering Republicans for their health care and economic policies during the midterm elections.”

“At the center of the effort is an opaquely named Democratic organization, the Hub Project, which is on track to spend nearly $30 million since 2017 pressuring members of Congress in their districts. The great bulk of its funding has come from so-called dark money — funds from donors who are not legally required to reveal their names.”

Good.  If Republicans can use Citizens United to power dark money groups, then so can Democrats.  I do not believe in unilateral disarmament.

WHITE HOUSE EXODUS FOR CAMPAIGN AFTER MIDTERMS.  Politico: “The first moves could come shortly after next week’s election, when senior Trump aides Bill Stepien, the director of political affairs, and Justin Clark, who oversees the office of public liaison, are expected to take senior roles with the reelection effort, according to two people with direct knowledge of the plans. Both are heavily involved in the run-up to the midterms and had top positions on Trump’s 2016 campaign.”

“The list is almost certain to grow. Jessica Ditto, a staffer in the White House press office who worked on the first Trump campaign, is widely expected join the 2020 team in a communications role. Cabinet aides with political backgrounds — such as Jason Simmons, a Small Business Administration staffer who ran Trump’s North Carolina effort — are regarded as potential hires.”

REPUBLICAN WARNER ENDORSES DEMOCRATS IN VIRGINIA.  “Former Sen. John Warner, who spent 30 years representing Virginia as a Republican, is lending his support to Leslie Cockburn, a Democrat and former investigative journalist vying to represent the 5th District in the U.S. House,” the Fauquirer Times reports.  “Warner endorsed Sen. Tim Kaine, also a Democrat, in his race against GOP nominee Corey Stewart in September.”

Said Warner: “I’m still a Republican. I’m going to tell this gang, I’m still a Republican. You can’t take that away from me. But you’ve got to have the courage to do what’s right for the country and what’s right for your state.”

TROOPS AT THE BORDER CAN’T DO MUCH.   Stars and Stripes: “The more than 5,200 active-duty troops being sent by President Donald Trump to the U.S.-Mexico border will be limited in what they can do under a federal law that restricts the military from engaging in law enforcement on American soil.”

“That means the troops will not be allowed to detain immigrants, seize drugs from smugglers or have any direct involvement in stopping a migrant caravan that is still about 1,000 miles from the nearest border crossing.”

“Instead, their role will largely mirror that of the existing National Guard troops — about 2,000 in all — deployed to the border over the past six months, including providing helicopter support for border missions, installing concrete barriers and repairing and maintaining vehicles.”

HAS MUELLER ALREADY QUIETLY SUBPOENAED TRUMP?  Nelson Cunningham: “As the summer proceeded, we certainly heard a great deal from Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, about purported negotiations with Mueller’s office about the propriety and scope of Trump’s potential testimony.”

“And then—nothing. Labor Day came and went without a visible move by Mueller to subpoena the president, and we entered the quiet period before the midterms. Even the voluble Giuliani went quiet, more or less. Mindful of the time it would take to fight out the legal issues surrounding a presidential subpoena, and mindful of the ticking clock on Mueller’s now 18-month-old investigation, many of us began to wonder if Mueller had decided to forego the compelling and possibly conclusive nature of presidential testimony in favor of findings built on inference and circumstantial evidence. A move that would leave a huge hole in his final report and findings.”

“But now, thanks to Politico’s reporting (backed up by the simple gumshoe move of sitting in the clerk’s office waiting to see who walks in and requests what file), we may know what Mueller has been up to: Since mid-August, he may have been locked in proceedings with Trump and his lawyers over a grand jury subpoena—in secret litigation that could tell us by December whether the president will testify before Mueller’s grand jury.”

ZINKE REFERRED TO JUSTICE DEPARTMENT.  “The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General has referred one of its ongoing probes into the conduct of Secretary Ryan Zinke to the Justice Department for further investigation,” the Washington Postreports.

“Interior Deputy Inspector General Mary L. Kendall, who is currently serving as acting inspector general, is conducting at least three probes that involve Zinke. These include his involvement in a Montana land deal and the decision not to grant two tribes approval to operate a casino in Connecticut. The individuals, who spoke of the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, did not specify which inquiry had been referred to the Justice Department.”

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

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