WHITE HOUSE CHAOS. Washington Post: “During his 43-hour stay in Paris, Trump brooded over the Florida recounts and sulked over key races being called for Democrats in the midterm elections that he had claimed as a ‘big victory.’ He erupted at his staff over media coverage of his decision to skip a ceremony honoring the military sacrifice of World War I.”
“The president also was angry and resentful over French President Emmanuel Macron’s public rebuke of rising nationalism, which Trump considered a personal attack. And that was after his difficult meeting with Macron, where officials said little progress was made as Trump again brought up his frustrations over trade and Iran.”
The Los Angeles Times similarly reports that the President’s “mood apparently has changed as he has taken measure of the electoral backlash that voters delivered Nov. 6. With the certainty that the incoming Democratic House majority will go after his tax returns and investigate his actions, and the likelihood of additional indictments by special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump has retreated into a cocoon of bitterness and resentment.”
“Behind the scenes, they say, the president has lashed out at several aides, from junior press assistants to senior officials.” Said one administration official: “He’s furious. Most staffers are trying to avoid him.” Probably because he wants to fire the lot of them. ABC News reports that Trump is again looking at possible replacements for Chief of Staff John Kelly, including Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff Nick Ayers. Kelly’s job is uncertain and his fate has been in question for some time. Sources says that within the last few weeks, the president has once again discussed Kelly’s fate with many of his top advisers; Kelly has continued to grow distant with the president.
The Washington Post reports that “Trump has decided to remove Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and her departure from the administration is likely to occur in the coming weeks, if not sooner.” “Trump canceled a planned trip with Nielsen this week to visit U.S. troops at the border in South Texas and told aides over the weekend he wants her out as soon as possible. The president has grumbled for months about what he views as Nielsen’s lackluster performance on immigration enforcement and is believed to be looking for a replacement who will implement his policy ideas with more alacrity.”
And then there was this yesterday….
Melania Trump publicly demanded a top NSC aide’s firing — and reportedly got it https://t.co/8dZizRX83L
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 13, 2018
President Trump “is moving to replace his deputy national security adviser after she feuded with first lady Melania Trump,” Reuters reports. “The first lady complained to the president that she was unhappy with how she was being treated by Mira Ricardel, a former Boeing executive who worked on the Trump presidential campaign and was picked by National Security Adviser John Bolton to be his deputy earlier this year.”
DEMOCRATIC PLANNING. “Democrats will take control of the U.S. House in January with big items topping their legislative to-do list: Remove obstacles to voting, close loopholes in government ethics law and reduce the influence of political money,” NPR reports. “Party leaders say the first legislative vote in the House will come on H.R. 1, a magnum opus of provisions that Democrats believe will strengthen U.S. democratic institutions and traditions.”
In all but one of the 21 Senate races, Democrats won the votes of 18-29 year olds. It's already a big problem for the GOP, but will become existential as that population grows.https://t.co/TwWkH9mrZS
— Washington Monthly (@washmonthly) November 13, 2018
The 2018 electorate was older and whiter than in 2016, and still Democrats won. That and demographic and economic trends should terrify the GOP. Axios: “[First,] the midterm results were actually a terrible leading indicator for [Trump]. Turns out that without Hillary atop the ticket, Midwest states like Wisconsin are tough for Trump, and Southern states with rising Hispanic populations are slowly growing more Democratic. Long term, the GOP should be freaking out about this. [Second,] Trump and the GOP face two years of public investigations, coming from three different and dangerous directions: Robert Mueller, the state of New York and Congress. Two years of probing hell await. [Third,] the prolonged recovery is on borrowed time, and a recession could well hit at the worst possible time for Trump — in the thick of the presidential race. Live by the markets, die by the markets.”
TRUMP APPROVAL PLUMMETS. Josh Marshall: “Gallup is out with its weekly Trump approval number today and he’s down at 38% approval, 56% disapproval. That’s one of his lowest numbers all year. Polls go up and down of course. But there’s a point I want to make that goes beyond what appears to be Trump’s permanent ping-ponging between 36% and 42% public approval. Put simply, I doubt it will be an accident or momentary that President Trump’s support goes down post-election. Partisanship is a heavy constraining force on public support in this era.” Josh’s theory, and its a good one, is that now that the election is over, Republican partisans no longer suffer a cognitive dissonance regarding their approval of the Presidents. During the election, they feel compelled to approval because, in their mind, the Democrats would be worse. Now that there is no choice facing them (their Trump v. the evil Democrats), they are free to offer candid assessments of the insane President.
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) November 13, 2018
“For years, some Democrats said gerrymandering was an insurmountable roadblock to the House majority that couldn’t be cleared until after the 2020 census. Then along came President Trump,” Politico reports.
“House Democrats steamrolled Republicans in an array of districts last week, from those drawn by independent commissions or courts, to seats crafted specifically by Republicans with the intention of keeping them in the GOP column.”
“The overriding factor: a Republican president who political mapmakers could not have foreseen at the beginning of the decade. Trump altered the two parties’ coalitions in ways that specifically undermined conventional wisdom about the House map, bringing more rural voters into the GOP tent while driving away college-educated voters.”
RANKED CHOICE VOTING IN MAINE GETS ITS TEST TODAY. Associated Press: “The four-way political battle won’t conclude until a computer algorithm has the final say this week on whether Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin wins re-election or is ousted by Democratic state lawmaker Jared Golden.”
“Under the system, a candidate wins with a majority of first-place votes. If there’s no majority, the last-place candidate’s second-place votes are reallocated to remaining candidates. The computerized process can be repeated until there’s a winner. Across the country, voting reform advocates are watching as the system faces its biggest test in the most expensive race in Maine history.”
Poliquin “filed a federal lawsuit against Maine’s Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap in an attempt to stop a tabulation of ranked-choice ballots in his race against challenger Jared Golden (D),” the Portland Press Herald reports. “Neither Poliquin nor Golden secured a majority of the vote in the first round of counting, pushing the tabulation to voters’ second choices in an attempt to determine which candidate has the support of more than 50 percent of voters.”
“Poliquin’s suit claims the use of ranked-choice voting violates the U.S. Constitution because the document ‘sets a plurality vote as the qualification for election’ to Congress.”
Yeah, I know lots of people won't like this one… https://t.co/M6vfm3R6Pj
— Markos Moulitsas (@markos) November 13, 2018
A NEW PHASE IN THE VOTING WARS. Rick Hasen: “With Florida set this week to undertake a massive and massively politicized recount in the critical races for governor and senator, the way that election fight has played out so far has been an absolute nightmare. Perhaps most terrifyingly of all, the 2018 Florida elections have demonstrated the real possibility that President Donald Trump might attempt to ignore an unfavorable 2020 election outcome if the result is a slim loss by the president, a possibility that should give us all chills.”
“There’s no mincing words: We are entering into a dangerous new phase in the voting wars. Last week, various election calamities were fueled by incendiary and unsupported claims by Trump and others of fraud, by pockets of incompetence of election administration, by partisanship in election administration, and by continued fundamental defects in how our elections are conducted.”
“The concerted effort by Republicans in Washington and Florida to discredit the state’s recount as illegitimate and potentially rife with fraud reflects a cold political calculation: Treat the recount as the next phase of a campaign to secure the party’s majority and agenda in the Senate,” the New York Times reports.
“That imperative — described by Republican lawyers, strategists and advisers involved in the effort — reflects the G.O.P.’s determination to tighten its hold on power in the narrowly divided Senate. The outcome of the Florida race will decide whether the party controls as many as 53 seats and has a freer hand to confirm Republican-backed judges with the vote of the man at the center of the recount, Gov. Rick Scott, who is trying to oust a three-term Democrat, Bill Nelson.”
It took half a century and aggressive gerrymandering to make Texas solidly Republican. Turning it purple, or blue, will not take as long.https://t.co/9hAnW6KG3W
— Washington Monthly (@washmonthly) November 12, 2018
THE KHASHOGGI KILLING. “Shortly after the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed last month at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, a member of the kill team instructed a superior over the phone to ‘tell your boss,’ believed to be Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, that the operatives had carried out their mission,” the New York Times reports.
“The recording, shared last month with the C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel, is seen by intelligence officials as some of the strongest evidence linking Prince Mohammed to the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, a Virginia resident and Washington Post columnist whose death prompted an international outcry.”
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) November 13, 2018
PELOSI MOVES TO LOCK DOWN SPEAKERSHIP. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi “is moving aggressively to snuff out a challenge from some lawmakers who are demanding new party leadership, while powerful allies outside Congress are helping rally support for her bid for speaker,” the Washington Post reports
“Pelosi has yet to clinch the necessary votes and is leaving nothing to chance, according to members and aides familiar with her approach. She is encouraging outside groups to speak up on her behalf while personally talking to the Democrats who will choose the next speaker on Jan. 3.”
“Pelosi is making gender a central part of her bid to reclaim the speaker’s gavel — leaning hard into the pitch that Democrats cannot oust the only woman at their leadership table following a historic election for women,” Politico reports.
“In addition to arguing she’s the best qualified for the job, the California Democrat and her allies are also framing a Pelosi victory as a matter of protecting political progress for women at a critical moment. Push her out, and men may take over the party at a time when more than 100 women are heading to Capitol Hill and after women voters have been thoroughly alienated by President Donald Trump. Embrace her, and she’ll prioritize legislation empowering women from equal pay to anti-harassment legislation.”
— Washington Monthly (@washmonthly) November 12, 2018
WHITAKER APPOINTMENT HEADS TO THE COURTS. “The Justice Department is expected to publish a legal opinion in support of Matthew Whitaker’s installation as acting attorney general as early as Tuesday… following questions about whether he can legally serve in the role,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The department’s Office of Legal Counsel is expected to say that President Trump had the ability to appoint Mr. Whitaker.”
New York Times: “The State of Maryland is expected to ask a federal judge on Tuesday for an injunction declaring that Mr. Whitaker is not the legitimate acting attorney general as a matter of law, and that the position — and all its powers — instead rightfully belongs to the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.”
Meanwhile, scandals continue to drip out about this unvetted partisan hack. “While in private business, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker walked away from a taxpayer-subsidized apartment-rehabilitation project in Iowa after years of cost overruns, delays and other problems,” the AP reports.
“The city of Des Moines ultimately yanked an affordable housing loan that Whitaker’s company had been awarded, and another lender began foreclosure proceedings after Whitaker defaulted on a separate loan for nearly $700,000.”
Women candidates propelled Democrats back into control of the House, and bent the arc of history back in the right direction.
— Crooked Media (@crookedmedia) November 13, 2018
JUDGES ORDER THE COUNTING OF VOTES IN GEORGIA. “A federal judge [U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg] on Monday ordered election officials to review thousands of provisional ballots that haven’t been counted in Georgia’s close election for governor,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. “The court decision comes as votes are still being counted in the race for governor between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp. Abrams trails Kemp and would need to gain more than 20,000 additional votes to force a runoff election.”
Further, another federal judge has ordered a populous Georgia county not to reject absentee ballots because the voter’s birth year is missing or wrong. The order issued Tuesday by U.S. Judge Leigh May says rejecting absentee ballots solely because of a missing or incorrect birth year violates the Civil Rights Act. She ordered Gwinnett County election officials not to reject those ballots and to count any that were cast in the Nov. 6 midterm election. She also ordered Gwinnett County to delay certification of its election results until those ballots have been counted. The order stems from requests filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and by Democratic congressional candidate Carolyn Bourdeaux. The race between Bourdeaux and Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District remains too close to call.
5 biggest takeaways from Michelle Obama’s revealing new memoir https://t.co/LQI9q9E1FS
— Vox (@voxdotcom) November 13, 2018
ALL POLITICS IS NATIONAL NOW. Ron Brownstein: “The results of last week’s election demonstrated how powerfully national trends now shape election outcomes in every region. The election produced remarkably consistent divides along demographic and geographic lines in states as diverse as Arizona, Georgia and Texas on one side, and Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania on the other. Though some important regional differences remained, voters who shared the same characteristics or resided in similar places largely voted the same way no matter what state they lived in.”
“In virtually every state, Democrats last Tuesday displayed a clear advantage in densely populated, culturally and racially diverse white-collar metropolitan areas, while Republicans relied on elevated margins in the preponderantly white, religiously traditional, smaller places beyond them. In almost all cases, the outcome in each state was determined less by how much they varied from that persistent pattern than by how much of each group was present in the state’s electorate to begin with.”
TRUMP WILL WANT TO KEEP HIS WALL ALIVE. Stan Collender: “The new reality is that, with a Democrat-controlled House next year, it may make more political sense for Trump to keep the wall issue alive through the next Congress — especially if he’ll be able to blame House Democrats for it not being funded — than to get his funding now.”
“‘The wall’ isn’t the real issue anyway; it’s just a way for Trump and other Republicans to appeal to the GOP base on immigration without using language that others will find offensive.”
“Given how much Trump relied on immigration in the midterms, it’s a safe bet to assume that he’ll want to keep the issue alive somehow and make it a major focus of his reelection campaign over the next two years. One of the best ways to do that will be not to make a stand that it be funded now.”