What Now?! – 2/1/19

“Senate investigators have obtained new information showing Donald Trump Jr.’s mysterious phone calls ahead of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting were not with his father,” CNN reports.

“Records provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee show the calls were between Trump Jr. and two of his business associates, the sources said, and appear to contradict Democrats’ long-held suspicions that the blocked number was from then-candidate Donald Trump.”

“CNN has not confirmed the identity of the business associates who spoke with Trump Jr. nor what they discussed on the calls. The purpose of the calls and their relevance to the Trump Tower meeting and the Russia investigation is still unclear.”

President Trump claimed that his intelligence chiefs told him that they were misquoted when they publicly contradicted him during public on-camera testimony, CNN reports.  Said Trump: “They said they were totally misquoted and totally taken out of context. They said it was fake news.”

He made this argument even though a full report and recordings of the testimony are publicly available.  He made this argument even though earlier in the day he again disparaged his intelligence officials, and insisted “time will prove me right” on sensitive foreign policy matters like North Korea and the Islamic State, Politico reports.

When asked if he has confidence in CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to give him good advice, Trump replied: “No, I disagree with certain things that they said. I think I’m right. Time will prove me right, probably.”

Make up your mind, Donnie.

“The vast majority of Republican senators voted to support a measure declaring that the Islamic State and al-Qaeda remain serious threats in Syria and Afghanistan — directly contradicting the president’s assessment and his justification for seeking to withdraw U.S. troops from both countries,” the Washington Post reports.

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Trump supporter who seldom openly crosses the president, drafted the amendment to a larger Middle East policy bill.”

“Jeff Bezos’ top personal security consultant has questioned his mistress’ brother as part of the probe into how the couple’s text messages wound up in the hands of the National Enquirer,” the Daily Beast reports.

“Gavin de Becker, the Amazon chief’s longtime personal security consultant, confirmed that his probe has scrutinized Michael Sanchez, the brother of Bezos mistress Lauren Sanchez and a personal and business associate of Trumpworld figures including Roger Stone, Carter Page, and Scottie Nell Hughes.”

Key takeaway: “Stone proceeded to deny that he hacked Bezos’ phone. When The Daily Beast pointed out that it had never suggested or asked if he had, Stone replied, ‘You are busted. You are not a journalist. No one believes anything you write.’”

Ben Smith: “Howard Schultz’s clumsy and damaging entry into the 2020 presidential race this week offers a lesson for billionaires who would like to replace Donald Trump: They should consider running against Donald Trump. And the place to do that is the wide-open Republican primary.”

“You can see why Schultz is tempted by an independent run. His politics don’t particularly fit either party: He favors LGBT rights and social rights, but he also wants to cut entitlements, keep taxes low, and considers deficits the ‘greatest threat’ to America.”

“That’s mainstream Republicanism, circa 2010. And guess what! This is the traditional kickoff of the Republican primary season. There are a couple of Trump challengers circling, but none with Schultz’s resources and access to the media. If he joined the primary, he could at least spend the next several months engaged with the central story of America, not looking like a rich guy on an ego trip.”

Instead, Schultz has been attacking Democrats.  “In a four-day blitz of interviews across major broadcast networks, Schultz has been outspoken in his criticism of liberal Democratic leaders, saying their policies for expanding Medicare or taxing the wealthy are ‘not American,’ ‘misinformed’ and ‘ridiculous,’” the Washington Post reports.

“Schultz’s aggressive approach reflects a core strategy his advisers have developed in recent months through extensive polling and research. Schultz hopes to turn the 2020 campaign into a referendum not only on Trump, as is traditional when a president seeks reelection, but on the nation’s two-party political system, which could open up space for partisans to reconsider an independent campaign.”

“Priorities USA, a progressive group and the largest Democratic super PAC, is sending FOIA requests to nearly 70 different national and state agencies that either Howard Schultz or his corporate entities may have interacted with at any point between August 1987 and June 2018,” Axios reports.

“The group is gathering as much potential opposition research as they can on Schultz and his business in anticipation of his decision to possibly run for president as an independent.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi reiterated on that “there’s not going to be any wall money in the legislation” to keep the federal government open but left the door open for GOP suggestions on how to address the issue of stronger technology along the border as well as improving security at ports of entry., CBS News reports.

Said Pelosi: “Ninety percent of what were concerned about comes thru point of entry. Let’s make them stronger.”

President Trump urged lawmakers to “stop playing political games” and refer to his proposed barrier along the southern border as “walls.”  Tweeted Trump: “Lets just call them WALLS from now on and stop playing political games! A WALL is a WALL!”

A new Monmouth poll finds that more than 62% of Americans believe that President Trump was aware that people like Roger Stone, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort or others tried to conceal information from federal investigators and 50% believe that he personally asked at least some of them to do it.

Said pollster Patrick Murray: “After a number of indictments and guilty pleas, there’s a pervading sense that Trump was aware that others were trying to cover up his business dealings or what his campaign may have known about Russian meddling in the 2016 race.”

The poll also finds the public remains divided on Moscow’s sway over Trump with 55% saying the president’s family either definitely (32%) or probably (23%) has financial interests or other ties to Russia that influence how Trump deals with that country.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn’t push back when asked if she actually thinks the Kremlin has compromising information on President Trump.

Said Pelosi: “I’ve been asking that question for two years – almost as long as you’ve asked me, ‘Is there any money for the wall in the bill?’ I’ve always said that. What is this? What is this? Something is wrong with this picture.”

Bloomberg: “Cain, 73, was in the White House on Wednesday, according to people familiar with the matter. Two seats on the Fed board are vacant, but nominating Cain raises the prospect of a Senate confirmation hearing focused on the sexual harassment and infidelity accusations that ended his presidential campaign.”

“Cain had a long corporate career and is also familiar with the Federal Reserve system. From 1992 to 1996, he served as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, as well as deputy chairman and then chairman.”

Federal investigators probing Roger Stone “have seized multiple hard drives containing years of communication records from cellphones and email accounts,” NBC News reports.

“Robert Mueller’s prosecutors, in a new court filing, described the evidence as ‘voluminous and complex’ in asking a judge to delay his trial to give them more time to sift through the seized devices.”

“The clearest path for Democrats to return to the White House runs straight through the upper Midwest, fueling debate over who is best positioned to recapture the region’s working-class voters who broke for President Trump in 2016,” the AP reports.

“Though the first prominent Democrats to announce their 2020 candidacies hail from the coasts, several Midwestern natives — including Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota — are offering themselves as potential contenders uniquely attuned to the region’s priorities.”

According to a new poll from the Detroit News and WDIV-TV, the majority of voters in Michigan plan to vote for someone not named Donald J. Trump in 2020.   “Michigan voters blame President Donald Trump over congressional Democrats for the record-setting 35-day partial government shutdown, and 53 percent say they would vote for “someone new” in the 2020 election, according to a new statewide poll.  [The poll] found that 23 percent would “definitely” vote to re-elect Trump in two years and 49 percent would “definitely” vote for someone else.”

“Mitch McConnell is willing to go big, go small or anything in between to avoid another government shutdown,” Politico reports.

“McConnell has made no secret of how much he hates shutdowns, particularly the most recent and historic partial funding lapse. He said Tuesday he’ll probably support ‘whatever works’ to avoid another debacle. He’s considering bills to end shutdowns forever and giving his four GOP conference committee negotiators wide berth to strike a deal with Democrats.”

Meanwhile, the “White House is finalizing the details of a potential national emergency declaration to secure President Donald Trump’s border wall, even as lawmakers are trying to broker an immigration deal that could avert another shutdown in just over two weeks,” Politico reports.

“Trump met with his budget chief, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Jared Kushner and other top officials including White House lawyers on Tuesday to walk through the logistics of such a move. And White House aides have been quietly meeting with outside conservative political groups to build support for the president to take such an action. Those talking points, which emphasize Trump’s legal authority, have begun to show up in such conservative media outlets as Breitbart News.”

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

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