Open Thread

The Open Thread for November 16, 2018

TRUMP TO TURN OVER US RESIDENT TO APPEASE TURKEY.   They call it the Trump Crime Family for a reason.  “The White House is looking for ways to remove an enemy of Turkish President Recep Erdogan from the U.S. in order to placate Turkey over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” NBC News reports.

“Trump administration officials last month asked federal law enforcement agencies to examine legal ways of removing exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen in an attempt to persuade Erdogan to ease pressure on the Saudi government.”

I’M ON AOC’S SIDE ON THIS ONE. “A fight broke out in a closed-door meeting of House Democrats over climate change as a powerful veteran lawmaker fought with freshman star Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and other members-elect over the creation of a special panel for the issue,” Politico reports.

“Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), incoming chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee — backed by a number of other committee members — slammed the creation of the new climate panel… Pallone argued that his committee and other existing panels within the House could take on the issue aggressively.”

Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi has also sided with AOC on this one.  She will be ordering the creation of a climate panel.

MAINE UPDATE.  Jared Golden (D) was declared the winner of Maine’s 2nd congressional district race over Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) following a historic tabulation of ballots using ranked-choice voting, the Portland Press Heraldreports.

“This is the first time in U.S. history that a congressional race was decided using ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to cast ballots for their favorite candidate but also rank other candidates in order of preference. Those ranked-choice votes only come into play, however, when no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote on the initial tally.”

Roll Call notes there are no GOP congressmen left in New England.

A federal judge rejected Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s (R-ME) request to force the Maine Secretary of State to stop the ranked-choice run-off on Thursday morning, the Portland Press Herald reports.

“Less than an hour earlier, elections officials finished scanning all of the remaining ballots that were cast in the Nov. 6 election and announced plans to run the results through the ranked-choice software.”

Vanity Fair: “As Donald Trump’s West Wing careens through one of the most turbulent weeks of his presidency, White House officials are struggling to understand the source of the fury fueling the president’s eruptions… Current and former officials are debating different theories for Trump’s outbursts, ranging from his fears over his son Don Jr.’s legal exposure to the prospect that House Democrats will unleash investigations in January.”

Said one former West Wing staffer: “This is a level of insanity I’ve never seen before.”

“What’s surprising to some advisers about how bad the past week has been is that Trump initially seemed to take the midterm losses in stride… But by Wednesday, after hours of commentary about the suburbs’ distaste for him and with seat after undecided House seat slipping toward the Democrats, his mood slid, too, hitting bottom in a bizarre and combative press conference.”

COLORADO INDIES REJECT GOP. A new Magellan Strategies (R) poll finds that Colorado’s unaffiliated voters “turned out for last week’s election in record numbers and turned their backs on Republicans by wide margins.”

Pollster David Flaherty said the poll’s findings “can only be described as extraordinary… because in the past 20 years, never has one political party been so overwhelmingly rejected at every level of representative government by the electorate.”

MUELLER UPDATE.  A federal judge upheld a federal indictment against the Russian troll farm accused of meddling in the 2016 election, handing a victory to special counsel Robert Mueller, CNN reports.  It was the second time that Judge Dabney Friedrich, a Trump appointee, sided with Mueller and let the case proceed.

President Trump resumed his Twitter attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, calling its “a total mess.”  Said Trump: “The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want.”

PEW POLL SHOWS PUBLIC EXPECTS MORE GRIDLOCK, BUT IS PLEASED ABOUT IT.  Pew Research: “The public is generally positive about the outcome of last week’s midterm elections. Yet most Americans think that neither Democratic congressional leaders nor Donald Trump will be successful in getting their policies passed into law during the next two years.”

“And after years of growing political divisions in Congress and the nation, the public expects little improvement in relations between Republicans and Democrats in Washington in the coming year. Most expect partisan relations will get worse or stay the same. Just 9% expect that partisan relations will improve.”

CNBC: “Among other results, this year’s midterm elections affirmed this much: in Washington, the two parties now speak for dramatically different segments of the American economy.”

“Republicans represent the smaller, fading segment, with less-educated, more-homogenous work forces reliant on traditional manufacturing, agriculture and resource extraction. Democrats represent the larger, growing one, fueled by finance, professional services and digital innovation in diverse urban areas.”

TRUMP MOCKS HANNITY.   Daily Beast: “Donald Trump’s close relationship—on air and off—with Sean Hannity hasn’t stopped the president from mocking the Fox News star behind his back for being such a suck-up, according to three sources who have independently heard this mockery.”

“Trump has repeatedly—and sometimes for a sustained period of time—made fun of Hannity’s interviewing skills, usually zeroing in on the low-quality laziness of the host’s questions.”

“The president’s recurring complaints often focus on how sycophantic the TV host can be, both on and off camera, with Hannity’s slobbering leaving no friction to generate the sparks and drama that Trump craves.”

NORTH KOREA SUMMIT TO GO ON DESPITE THEIR DECEPTION.  Trump is so fucking weak. “The U.S. will not require North Korea to provide a complete list of its nuclear weapons and missile sites before President Donald Trump and the North’s leader Kim Jong Un meet for a second time,” Vice President Mike Pence told NBC News.

“Since an initial agreement for denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula was reached between Trump and Kim in June, the United States has pressed the North Koreans to provide information on the entirety of its nuclear operations. The Kim regime has refused to provide the details of the country’s operations and postponed scheduled meetings with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in New York City last week.”

TRUMP FACES FACE TWO FRONT WAR IN 2020.   “To win re-election, President Trump must wage a two-front war: Not only does he have to defend Democratic-leaning Midwest states that sealed his victory in 2016, but he now needs to defend against clear Republican erosion in the South and Southwest,” Mike Allen reports.

Said former White House aide Doug Sosnik: “Changing demographics and Trump have blown up the electoral map that has dominated American politics since 1992.”

“Sosnik projects that there could be more tossup states in the South and Southwest than in the Midwest — with almost twice the number of electoral votes at stake.”

“President Trump could be eyeing Minnesota as a way to expand his Midwest footprint in 2020, if the activities of his designated super PAC in the midterm elections are any indication,” the Washington Examinerreports.

“Minnesota was among the limited 2018 battlegrounds to see a major investment by America First Action, which gathered data that might inform Trump’s strategy and boost his re-election bid over the next two years. America First Action tailored its activities to states and subregions considered crucial to Trump’s next campaign: Michigan; Minnesota; North Carolina; Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.”

GOP’S DANCE WITH AUTOCRACY. E.J. Dionne: “When a national leader urges that votes be ignored, or that an election result he doesn’t like might best be set aside, we label him an autocrat or an authoritarian.”

“When it’s President Trump, we shrug. Worse, many in his party go right along with his baseless charges of fraud.”

“We are in for a difficult two years. Surviving them will require that Republican senators take seriously the pledge they made in their oath of office to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ What we have seen so far is not encouraging.”

FLORIDA UPDATE.  “Florida’s historic recount was thrown once more into uncertainty Thursday when a federal judge ruled that at least 4,000 voters whose mail-in and provisional ballots were rejected because of issues with their signatures may be given two days to resolve the problem and have their votes counted,” the Washington Post reports.

“The decision by Judge Mark Walker of the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee came hours ahead of the Thursday afternoon deadline for elections officials to complete a machine recount… It was not clear how the judge’s decision would affect the timing of recount, which was expected to move to a manual canvass Friday in the too-close-to-call Senate race, in which Gov. Rick Scott (R) leads Sen. Bill Nelson (D) by fewer than 13,000 votes.”

Meanwhile, unofficial Florida election results show that the governor’s race seems to be settled after a machine recount but the U.S. Senate race is likely headed to a hand recount.  Republican Ron DeSantis is virtually assured of winning the nationally watched governor’s race over Democrat Andrew Gillum. Florida finished a machine recount Thursday that showed Gillum without enough votes to force a manual recount.

The margin between U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott is still thin enough to trigger a second review. State law requires a hand recount of races with margins of 0.25 percentage points or less.

Counties have until Sunday to inspect the ballots that did not record a vote when put through the machines. Those ballots are re-examined to see whether the voter skipped the race or marked the ballot in a way that the machines cannot read but can be deciphered. The election will be certified Tuesday.

CNN: “Scott holds a little more than a 12,000 vote lead over Nelson. That amounts to an advantage of about 0.15 percentage points, which is well within the 0.25 point margin needed for a manual recount required by Florida law. This margin may seem small, but for recount purposes, it is actually quite large.”

“According to a FairVote database of statewide recounts from 2000 to 2015, the average recount moves the margin by 0.02 points. Nelson needs the margin to move by nearly eight times as much.”

GEORGIA UPDATE. “A federal judge has ruled that Georgia counties must count absentee ballots even if the voter’s date of birth is incorrect or missing, and he is preventing the state from finalizing election results until that happens,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“Although U.S. District Judge Steve Jones agreed with the Georgia Democratic Party and Stacey Abrams’ campaign on this issue, he ruled against them on two others. He will not require counties to accept absentee ballots with incorrect residence addresses or to accept provisional ballots cast by people who attempted to vote in a different county than where they are registered to vote.”

TRUMPS RALLIES IN MONTANA BACKFIREDWall Street Journal: “President Trump focused heavily on Montana this year, holding four rallies there since the summer. His visits, and the publicity they generated, likely are a central reason for high turnout. Vote tallies exceeded 2016 presidential levels in 15 of the state’s 56 counties.”

“But Mr. Trump appeared to have an effect on both parties. In 10 of the counties where vote tallies topped 2016 totals, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester received a similar or greater share of the vote than he did in his last election, and he won more than 50% of the vote statewide.”

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

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