Open Thread

The Open Thread for 12/6/2018

“Lobbyists representing the Saudi government reserved blocks of rooms at President Trump’s D.C. hotel within a month of Trump’s election in 2016 — paying for an estimated 500 nights at the luxury hotel in just three months,” the Washington Post reports.

“The visits were part of an unorthodox campaign that offered veterans a free trip to D.C.– then sent them to Capitol Hill to lobby against a law the Saudis opposed.”

“Some of the veterans who stayed at Trump’s hotel say they were kept in the dark about the Saudi’s role in the trips. Now, they wonder if they were used twice over: not just to deliver someone else’s message to Congress, but also to deliver business to the Trump Organization.”

Rep.-elect Haley Stevens (D-MI), who was one of 32 House Democrats that voted “no” in caucus to nominate Nancy Pelosi as the next House Speaker, told the Oakland Press that she will support Pelosi in the key January vote.

Said Stevens: “I’ve had the chance to sit down with her on a couple of different occasions. I was clear going into that vote with her and the rest of the leadership about where I would be. I was also clear with her that I wouldn’t be voting against her on the House Floor in January.”

Meanwhile, Rep.-elect Gil Cisneros (D-CA) writes on Medium that he too will support Pelosi: “While I maintain my call for new leadership, I refuse to jeopardize a Democrat being Speaker of the House and our Democratic legislative agenda.”

“In contrast with leaders seated around them, President Trump and first lady Melania Trump did not recite the Apostles’ Creed — a common statement in Christianity — at the Washington, D.C. funeral for late President George H.W. Bush on Wednesday,” Newsweek reports.

Video of the funeral showed former President Barack Obama, former first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, former President Jimmy Carter, former first lady Rosalynn Carter and Vice President Mike Pence, among others, reciting the Apostles’ Creed during the funeral. The Trumps, meanwhile, silently held their sheets as others recited the creed, which begins: ‘I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth.’”

Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano told Dan Abrams on his SiriusXM radio show that he believes someone in President Trump’s inner circle will soon be indicted.

Said Napolitano: “I don’t know who. But I do know that Donald Jr. has told friends he expects to be indicted.”  When asked whether he expects Donald Trump Jr. to be indicted, Napolitano replied: “Yes.”

Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) vow to block judicial nominees is significantly disrupting the Senate Judiciary Committee’s plans to advance more of President Trump’s picks for the lower courts, CNN reports.

“The committee’s chairman, Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, scrapped a Thursday meeting, according to an announcement from the committee. A Grassley aide cited the reason as Flake not backing off his threat to vote against all pending nominees until he gets a floor vote on a bill to protect special counsels like Robert Mueller from political interference. This is the second meeting in consecutive weeks the committee has scrapped, delaying 22 nominees from floor consideration by the end of the year.”

“Republicans who control Michigan’s Legislature voted Wednesday to advance a measure that strips campaign-finance oversight power from the Democratic secretary of state-elect, and they were poised to give lawmakers authority to stand up for GOP-backed laws if they think incoming the Democratic governor and attorney general are not adequately defending the state’s interests,” NBC News reports.

“The lame-duck moves followed within hours of similar efforts in Wisconsin, where lawmakers voted earlier Wednesday to shift clout to the Republican-controlled Legislature and weaken the Democrat replacing the GOP governor.”

Slate: “Republicans in Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina haven’t gone as far as to challenge the results of their respective elections, but their actions, which serve to hamstring the incoming body of duly elected officials, are movement in that direction. In national politics, Republican lawmakers are openly questioning the legitimacy of the Democratic House of Representatives victory, casting ordinary acts—the counting of ballots—as potentially insidious. Indeed, much of the Republican Party has already embraced voter suppression, extreme gerrymandering, and other methods to preserve legislative majorities in the face of popular opposition. The lame-duck power grab is just a natural next step.”

“For all the attention on Donald Trump as a threat to American democracy, it’s these actions—from ordinary, almost anonymous, Republican politicians, uncontested by anyone of influence in the party—that are much more ominous.”

“Jeff Sessions doesn’t sound eager to run for his old Senate seat in 2020,” Politicoreports.

“The former attorney general and Alabama senator said in an interview on Wednesday that he doesn’t miss being a senator and won’t be deciding anytime soon about running. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) is seen as the most vulnerable incumbent on the ballot in two years — and Sessions as a prime candidate to beat him.”

“New satellite images obtained exclusively by CNN reveal North Korea has significantly expanded a key long-range missile base located in the mountainous interior of the country, offering yet another reminder that diplomatic talks with the US have done little to prevent Kim Jong Un from pursuing his promise to mass produce and deploy the existing types of nuclear warheads in his arsenal.”

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said he was “struck” by the reception of President Trump and first lady Melania Trump upon their arrival at the funeral for George H.W. Bush on Wednesday, The Hill reports.

Said Wallace: “I have to say I was struck when President Trump and Melania Trump came to the front row, that it was as if a chill had descended on that front row.”

He added: “You had seen a lot of chatty talk between the Clintons and the Obamas, the Carters. But when Donald Trump sat down, the greeting that he was given by Barack Obama and Michelle Obama was about as cool as it could have been.”

The Charlotte Observer calls for a new election in North Carolina’s 9th congressional district:

“There may be no way, however, to know how widespread the fraud was, or whether it involved enough ballots to potentially change the outcome of the election — a 905-vote victory for Republican Mark Harris over Democrat Dan McCready. But we do know enough. Unless new evidence somehow clears the clouds hanging over this election, the Board of Elections should toss out the 9th District results.”

“Florida voters spoke clearly four weeks ago: They restored the right to vote to most convicted felons who complete their sentences,” the Tampa Bay Timesreports.

“When it becomes Florida law in five weeks, an estimated 1.2 million felons will be eligible to rejoin the voter rolls. But at a statewide elections conference, it was obvious that confusion and uncertainty still hovers over implementation of Amendment 4.”

“The state announced that it has stopped transmitting documents counties use to remove convicted felons from the rolls. One official said the issue requires more research on how to carry out the will of the people.”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sentencing memo for Michael Flynn “should give pause to members of Trump’s inner circle – especially the president’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner,” Tim O’Brien writes.

“Mueller’s memo noted that federal investigators’ curiosity about Flynn’s role in the presidential transition seemed to have been sparked by a Washington Postaccount of a conversation he had with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak… But the meat of what should worry Team Trump is in Mueller’s disclosure that Flynn has provided firsthand information about interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials.”

“The timeline around Flynn’s conversations is crucial because it shows what’s still in play for the president and Kushner… Kushner’s actions are also interesting because the Federal Bureau of Investigation has examined his own communications with Kislyak – and Kushner reportedly encouraged Trump to fire his FBI director, James Comey, last spring when Comey was still in the early stages of digging into the Trump-Russia connection.”

The Cook Political Report shows that the Democratic lead in the U.S. House popular vote for the 2018 midterms is now up to 8.5%.

Steve Benen: “For comparison purposes, note that in 2010 – which was widely seen as a GOP ‘wave’ cycle – Republicans won the U.S. House popular vote by 6.6%. In 1994, which was seen as a Republican ‘revolution,’ the GOP won the U.S. House popular vote by 7.1%.”

Daily Beast: “Since the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s aides and advisers have tried to convince him of the importance of tackling the national debt.”

“Sources close to the president say he has repeatedly shrugged it off, implying that he doesn’t have to worry about the money owed to America’s creditors—currently about $21 trillion—because he won’t be around to shoulder the blame when it becomes even more untenable.”

The Hill: “Traditionally, candidates have hunkered down in Des Moines and Manchester, hoping that a victory in the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire primary would jumpstart their campaigns.”

“But in 2020, voters in California and Texas along with seven other states will head to the polls on March 3 — exactly one month after the Iowa caucuses and just a few days after the South Carolina primary.”

“The shift could lead some candidates, particularly those focused on winning over African-American or Hispanic voters, to put their focus on California instead of the smaller, whiter and more conservative states.”

“Three days after Trump emerged from his dinner with Xi touting an ‘incredible’ deal, U.S. and Chinese officials were offering different accounts of whether there was a 90-day deadline for progress in new trade talks, the schedule for China to increase its purchases of American farm and industrial products, and Beijing’s plans to reduce or eliminate specific tariffs,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Trump on Twitter: “President Xi and I want this deal to happen, and it probably will. But if not remember… I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so.”

First Read: “Remember, this trade/tariff standoff with China is a crisis that Trump created, and it’s a crisis that he ultimately might not be able to solve, because he doesn’t understand that tariffs mean higher prices for American business and consumers.”

Garrett Graff: “Decoding Mueller’s 17-month investigation has been a publicly frustrating exercise, as individual puzzle pieces, like Flynn’s sentencing memo, often don’t hint at the final assembled picture—nor even tell us if we’re looking at a single interlocking puzzle, in which all the pieces are related, or multiple, separate, unrelated ones. Mueller’s careful, methodical strategy often only reveals itself in hindsight, as the significance of previous steps becomes clear with subsequent ones.”

  1. Is Matt Whitaker overseeing the Russia probe—and is his appointment as attorney general even legal?
  2. Is Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross involved in any of this?
  3. How closely related is the investigation of the 2016 election to the Trump Organization’s financial scandals?
  4. How did Trump himself, and the Trump family, react to Cohen’s updates on various schemes?
  5. What has Felix Sater told Mueller?
  6. What has George Nader told Mueller?
  7. What happens to Cozy Bear?
  8. Who is the (unindicted) Atlanta traveler?
  9. Why was Trump’s team so concerned about the transition documents?
  10. How much more of the Steele Dossier is true?
  11. Is it a coincidence that the Internet Research Agency scheduled a “Down with Hillary” rally in New York, weeks in advance, for the day after WikiLeaks dumped the DNC emails?
  12. Why isn’t Mueller prosecuting Maria Butina and Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova?
  13. Why is Mueller charging Michael Cohen?
  14. Was the Guardian correct in reporting that Paul Manafort met with Julian Assange?

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

7 comments on “The Open Thread for 12/6/2018

  1. RE Vanella

    I’m not interested in an “it” factor. Beto is trash.

    In other news, I know I don’t “know how it works” but you’ll never ever convince me this is good.

    https://www.delawareonline.com/story/money/business/2018/12/06/delaware-quietly-sending-millions-taxpayer-dollars-handful-companies/2201673002/

    This is garbage. It’s corporate welfare. Private enterprise and capital are, by definition, not in the public interest. This is disgusting.

    • OMG, say it’s not so…….RE and I agree on something. I read the story and this line is classic; “Taxpayer dollars have flowed to companies that fulfilled promises of new jobs in the past, but there also have been high profile failures. In 2010, Delaware gave $20 million to the electric car maker Fisker Automotive, which went bankrupt three years later, without hiring the thousands it had promised.”

      Of course, no mention of Bloom Energy, which continues to not making hiring goals or the number of job opportunities in India or California, compared to Delaware. AND, the NJ which buries any article on Bloom! What a joke!

      And, speaking of the NJ, notice that the comments are almost completely gone…..very interesting!

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