Open Thread

The Open Thread for December 1, 2018

Michael Cohen “was under the impression Trump would offer him a pardon in exchange for staying on message in support of the President in discussions with federal prosecutors,” CNN reports.

“After a March 2018 visit to Mar-a-Lago, the President’s private club in Florida, Cohen returned to New York believing that his former boss would protect him if he faced any charges for sticking to his story about the 2016 payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels… Trump was also at Mar-a-Lago at the time of Cohen’s visit.”

“Another source said that after the April 2018 FBI raid on Cohen’s office and home, people close to the President assured Cohen that Trump would take care of him. And Cohen believed that meant that the President would offer him a pardon if he stayed on message. It is unclear who specifically reached out to Cohen.”

A source close to Michael Cohen told CNN that Cohen has “the goods” on his former boss, President Trump.  Said the source: “Michael has the goods. He has extremely valuable information.”

First Read: “Take away everything else we know about Russia’ interference in 2016 — the email hacks, the WikiLeaks disclosures, the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. Isn’t the news that a presidential candidate’s business deals were shaping his views about a geopolitical adversary a humongous scandal by itself?”


The Atlantic: “The third remarkable thing about Cohen’s plea was its substance. The president of the United States’ personal lawyer admitted to lying to Congress about the president’s business activities with a hostile foreign power, in order to support the president’s story.”

“In any rational era, that would be earthshaking. Now it’s barely a blip. Over the past two years, we’ve become accustomed to headlines like ‘President’s Campaign Manager Convicted of Fraud’ and ‘President’s Personal Lawyer Paid for Adult Actress’s Silence.’ We’re numb to it all. But these are the sorts of developments that would, under normal circumstances, end a presidency.”

Ken White: “The conclusion that the President of the United States knew that his personal counsel was repeatedly lying to the Congress of the United States about the President’s business is inescapable under these circumstances.”

David French: “This is a conclusion that’s directly relevant to the obstruction of justice inquiry. It does not mean that the president obstructed, but it’s important to remember that both the Clinton and Nixon articles of impeachment included charges related to the president’s efforts to get witnesses to lie under oath. We should now ask, did the president have any role in feeding this false information to Congress?”

Garrett Graff: “Remember Michael Cohen’s two major revelations so far have come in just two, fairly limited, specific episodes, both of which investigative reporters have unearthed ahead of time: Stormy Daniels’ hush money payments and the Moscow Trump Tower project. Cohen, though, worked with Trump — on his most sensitive messes — for a decade. What other episodes does he know about that we haven’t unearthed yet?”

“Prosecutors ethically can’t let a witness testify or plea to things they don’t believe are true. So remember that everything Michael Cohen is saying in court, or pleading guilty to doing on paper, has been combed over for corroboration.”

“If Cohen is standing up in court and saying Donald Trump ordered him to do something, prosecutors aren’t going just off his word. They have independent corroboration. Remember all those emails and telephones seized in the April raid on Cohen’s office? We haven’t seen any of that come out yet.”

Josh Marshall: “We can now see documentation and confessions that outline some of what has always seemed probable. During the campaign – for roughly the first year of the campaign! – Donald Trump was actively trying to strike business deals in Russia with the help of Vladimir Putin’s government and working closely with members of the Russian intelligence services. Felix Sater was working with all these people. Trump’s deal-maker and Russian money channel handler, Michael Cohen, literally reached out to Putin’s press office and spoke to a member of the staff to enlist the Russian government’s assistance. This was while Trump was already the clear frontrunner for the nomination.

As this was happening, Putin’s intelligence services were stealing emails and documents from various arms of the Democratic party. They were mounting various information operations within the United States. As this was happening a bankrupt and desperate political fixer who’d been working for a Putin loyalist for a decade showed up wanting to work for the campaign for free. That’s Paul Manafort, a longtime business partner of Roger Stone, another member of the conspiracy.

Did they work with Wikileaks? Yes, there was a back channel between Trump and Wikileaks murkily conducted through Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi and likely others – requests for help in one direction, information and assistance in the other.

President Trump has been at war with the Russia investigation from the get-go for an obvious and totally logical reason: the depth of his personal involvement in and knowledge of the conspiracy amounts to a devastating indictment of him and his presidency. It all makes perfect sense.”

David Wasserman: “As bad as this outcome was for Republicans, it could’ve been worse: there’s strong evidence November’s universally high, historic midterm turnout actually aided Republicans more than Democrats. For example, on November 6, Rep. Troy Balderson (R-OH) received about 68,000 more votes than he did in the August 7 special election, while Danny O’Connor (D) received just 56,000 more.”

“Nationwide, there were 23 Republicans who won their House races by less than five points. Had the Trump base not woken up after the Kavanaugh fight, Democrats could have easily gained 50 seats.”

Watch Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman greet each other at the G20 summit in Argentina.  Congratulating themselves on killing journalists and having Trump in their pockets.

The Associated Press is retracting its call of a winner for U.S. House in North Carolina’s 9th congressional district.  The AP had called the race for Mark Harris (R) on Nov. 9, after Dan McCready (D) conceded the election but the North Carolina board of elections has delayed certifying the results, citing “claims of irregularities and fraudulent activities related to absentee by-mail voting.”

“Mounting evidence of voter fraud in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District could indefinitely delay the certification of a winner, as state election officials investigate whether hundreds of absentee ballots were illegally cast or destroyed,” the Washington Post reports.  “The board is collecting sworn statements from voters in rural Bladen and Robeson counties, near the South Carolina border, who described people coming to their doors and urging them to hand over their absentee ballots, sometimes without filling them out. Others described receiving absentee ballots by mail that they had not requested. It is illegal to take someone else’s ballot and turn it in.”

FiveThirtyEight: “Where do we go from here? It’s unclear. If the state board of elections finds that fraud did indeed taint the results, it has the authority to call a new election — even if the fraud wasn’t widespread enough to change the winner. And according to the U.S. Constitution, the soon-to-be-Democratic House of Representatives has the final say on the qualifications of its members; it could theoretically refuse to seat Harris until it’s satisfied that he won fairly.”

“Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Trump’s efforts to build a skyscraper in Moscow has led him to ask questions about the role two of the president’s children played in attempting to secure a Russian real estate deal,” sources tell Yahoo News.

“Multiple sources have confirmed to Yahoo News that the president’s elder daughter, Ivanka, and his eldest son, Don Jr., were also working to make Trump Tower Moscow a reality. The sources said those efforts were independent of Cohen’s work on the project.”

CNN: “At least one of Trump’s children, Donald Trump Jr., has provided testimony under oath to at least three congressional committees where he was asked about the proposed deal. Most of that testimony is not public… Yet it could place him in legal jeopardy if anything he told Congress conflicts with information provided by Cohen if it is supported by other evidence.”

“Nancy Pelosi is refusing to entertain an end date on her leadership, even as more detractors have indicated they would support her speakership if she negotiates with them,” Politico reports.

“Pelosi is still short the votes to reclaim the speaker’s gavel in January but said the request many of her opponents are making — that she provide a clear timeline for when she’ll make way for a new crop of Democratic leaders — is unworkable.”

“Wisconsin Democrats scored a huge win when Tony Evers captured the governor’s office last month. But an even bigger fight is looming as Republican lawmakers prepare to redraw legislative boundaries, stirring fears among Democrats that their rivals could take unprecedented steps to remove Evers from the process,” the AP reports.

“The next round of redistricting is set for early 2021. After suffocating for a decade from the 2011 maps, Democrats had high hopes in the first days after the election that Evers would block another set of Republican-drawn boundaries.”

“But nervous Democrats fear Republicans may take steps to remove or weaken the governor’s power in the redistricting process.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued a scathing statement against Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), the incoming chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, accusing Grijalva of “drunken and hostile behavior” after the congressman called for Zinke’s resignation in a USA Today op-ed.  Said Zinke: “It’s hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle.”

Vanity Fair: “The fear in Trumpworld is that Mueller may have laid a perjury trap for the president, the former staffer said. Mueller waited until after Trump submitted written answers under oath to the special counsel’s office—some of which reportedly included responses to questions about Trump Tower Moscow—before revealing the evidence prosecutors had gathered to secure Cohen’s plea.”  Said the source: “Trump was totally caught off guard by the Cohen plea.”

“Cohen’s plea also re-ignited fears that the president’s son, Don Jr., will be next to be indicted… Mueller now appears to be driving the West Wing agenda, with the principals in a reactive crouch; there’s a sense of loss of control.”


“Months after joining the advisory board of a Miami-based patent company in 2014, Matthew Whitaker began fielding angry complaints from customers that they were being defrauded, including from a client who showed up at his Iowa office to appeal to him personally for help,” the Washington Post reports.

“Yet Whitaker, now the acting attorney general, remained an active champion of World Patent Marketing for three years — even expressing willingness to star in national television ads promoting the firm, the records show.”

Bloomberg: New documents released by the Federal Trade Commission suggest that Whitaker misled the agency’s investigators as he was stepping into his role last year as Justice Department chief of staff.

“Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) is inspiring aides and allies of former President Obama, who say they could support him if he decides to run for president in 2020,” The Hill reports.  “The Obama allies are quick to point out similarities between O’Rourke, 46, and the former president, who was 47 when he was elected to the White House.  Both are political upstarts with unusual names who seemingly came out of nowhere and inspired thousands upon thousands of people to be part of a movement.”

Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Republicans would need to net 18 seats in 2020 to win back the House.  The GOP holding onto the White House seems to be a prerequisite for realizing such a seat gain, although reelected presidents often don’t provide much in terms of House coattails. Since World War II, six presidents have been reelected to second full terms: Dwight Eisenhower (1956), Richard Nixon (1972), Ronald Reagan (1984), Bill Clinton (1996), George W. Bush (2004), and Barack Obama (2012). Trump hopes to become the seventh. On average, the parties of those six presidents elected to second terms netted only an average of seven House seats in those successful reelection bids.”

“Even in landslides, Nixon (+12) and Reagan (+16) didn’t net quite the number of seats the GOP would need in 2020 to win the House back. To be clear, President Trump has a path to a second term, one that probably would look fairly similar to the one he took in 2016. But the kinds of sweeping national presidential victories Nixon and Reagan achieved don’t seem possible in this current era, let alone with a president whose approval has been both consistent and consistently weak.”

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

22 comments on “The Open Thread for December 1, 2018

  1. “Donald Trump was actively trying to strike business deals in Russia with the help of Vladimir Putin’s government …. Josh Marshall


    If Coca-Cola does that in Russia or Trump does that in Great Britain with the help of Theresa Mays government….would Josh Marshall be raising a fuss ?

    • Except he’s the president, and the president of Coke is not. Are you going to visit your boys in prison?

    • Also, if the president of Coke offered Vladimir Putin something worth $50 million as an inducement to the deal, he would go to prison, as offering bribes is against the law. But snzzzzz, right? You’ve become a joke.

      • But Trump never actually did offer Putin the $50 million penthouse.

        Try again.

        • Don’t have to. It’s still criminal to bribe someone even if they don’t take it.

          Try again yourself. For example, try explaining why any of this is OK. See if you can do it without the what-aboutism — explain why it’s OK without saying someone else did it. Good luck.

      • At this point, that’s just a big “if”. There is no evidence that the offer ever went past the talking stage.

        According to Fortune mag, “It wasn’t clear how seriously the idea was ever pursued, or whether Trump knew about it. “

        I strongly suggest you consider Bob Woodward’s caution when you’re chowing down on this nothingburger.

        “I just think too many people have lost their perspective and become emotionally unhinged about Trump.”

        • cassandram

          Throughout the campaign and most of the time after the GRIFTUS has been insisting that he never had any business dealings with Russia. Cohen’s testimony shows this to be a lie (although there is other evidence as well). And these business interests in Russia could be motivation for collusion as well. Cohen’s testimony also calls into question the truthfulness of Don Jr’s testimony to Congress.

          But of course you are utterly sanguine about this President selling American interests down the river. Have you told your GM pals that you are here not writing about their situation?

          • Cassandra,

            I prefer to be “utterly sanguine” as opposed to be “emotionally unhinged” about this.

            Which are you ?

            • cassandram

              I am very distressed that my country is being grifted away by this liar and his lying family. Apparently you approve of the lying, the stealing and the utter incompetence.

            • Nobody here is emotionally unhinged. That’s you projecting again. Your constant denials are a less rational response to this than ours, which amounts to watching with concern.

              It’s not a matter of whether this tipped the election. The problem is that legalized dark money is an invitation to election meddling by foreign powers. It’s no surprise to most of us that this happened, because SCOTUS essentially incentivized it.

              You’re going to learn that the entire GOP is awash in laundered Russian cash, just like the NRA was. You saw what happened to them when the jig was up — their revenue crashed and they were outspent this cycle by gun-control groups.

              Just because you’re ignorant by choice doesn’t mean the rest of us should be ignorant as well. You’re just plain wrong about this and that’s demonstrated pretty much constantly.

              You still have never explained why foreign cash flowing into our elections should not be treated as a big deal.

        • Bob Woodward, White House stenographer? That’s who you’re turning to for advice?

          I have been wishing a horrible death on Donald Trump since the first time I saw his ugly, criminal mug back in the ’80s. Anyone who doesn’t have the same reaction isn’t to be trusted, ever.

          • But you trust Robert Mueller, who spread lies about Iraq’s non-existent WMD’s.

            • In what way do I have to trust Mueller? He hasn’t said anything yet that I have to take on trust. I don’t subscribe to the enemy of my enemy theory. That theory was devised by the Arabs, and you can see where that’s gotten them.

              Yet you trust Trump. Care to give a reason?

              • Took you quite a while to think up the reply, too. Needed help?

                • If it takes a while to reply, it’s because I have a life that does not revolve around your every inane comment.

            • Also — jeez, I miss the edit function — in a situation filled with liars, as in many criminal trials, there are no truthful people to believe. Jurors are left to determine which liar is being more truthful in the moment.

              There is no moment, ever, in which Trump has been the lesser of two, or multiple, liars.

            • cassandram

              The way I confirm wingnut (right or left) talking points is to just Google that talking point. This particular talking point comes directly from the GRIFTUS’ Administration back in the spring. And counts on us not knowing anything about how the Iraq War was justified. Did Mueller lie? Delacrat doesn’t know that, really, but it is certain that American intelligence (and British intelligence) relied on made up data (sent up the chain by minions of Wolfowitz and Cheney) to force up the chain to be able to present a case for war. What we know right now is that it was only the State Department’s Intel group who specifically and vigorously argued against the stovepiped data. Colin Powell went with the bad data anyway and specifically regrets that.

              I’m going through this to how how susceptible Delacrat is to anything that comes across his screen that agrees with his always wrong POV. Much like Paul Wolfowitz and the boys who fed that bad data into the system, Delacrat will believe pretty much anything as long as his own world view is reinforced. Bottom line is that he is not here to object to how his country is run. Just to the Democrats and insufficiently left people who want the country to run differently.

              • I looked it up, since I didn’t remember the incident. He testified that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons, which was common knowledge because the US gave them to him to fight Iran, and that he was trying to give them to other countries.

                That wasn’t a lie. I don’t trust the intelligence agencies, but I can’t claim to know they’re wrong. Delacrat does that repeatedly.

                Look, I’ve said it for years now, this exists because you allow it to.

  2. cassandram

    So then there’s this bullshit from Bernie Sanders’ weekend event to pass around the kool aid. I agree with others who think that this was programmed expecting Dems to blow the mid-terms. Otherwise how to explain this:

    Even as Democrats won back the House of Representatives last month, some high-profile left-wing candidates fell short, a dynamic Sanders struggled with; he opened the weekend conference by saying the party could have done better. For the senator and his supporters, it was clear that Democrats had squandered power when they last held it, leading to a surge of right-wing nationalism. To avoid a repeat, the left needed to organize — preferably, many here believe, with Sanders in the White House.

    The Democratic Party flipped 40 House seats. Our Revolution flipped none from R to D. Even my favorite Randy Bryce couldn’t make the sale and that district went *more* conservative. We took 7 governorships. Popular vote at +8 and counting.
    There seems to be a consensus that if it were not for the headwind of gerrymandering the number would have been greater. You know how the Party got those votes? They organized.

    At weekend panels, Sanders supporters argued that Democrats had created the opening for Trump by failing to crack down on industries, like health insurance and banking, that many voters saw as exploitative.

    Most of the D candidates literally organized around fixing healthcare.

    Today I am a Never Bernie.

    • Unless we go to ranked voting, it doesn’t matter whom you’ll never vote for. You only get one vote, and right now there are more possible candidates than the GOP had in ’16.

  3. “Most of the D candidates literally organized around fixing healthcare.” In Delaware, it was outside money!

    • Huh? You’re making even less sense than usual. The GOP’s problem in Delaware is that the Democrats stole their platform, making Republicans redundant.

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