A new Washington Post-Schar School poll finds more Americans say they trust special counsel Robert Mueller’s version of the facts than President Trump’s, 56% to 33%. And by nearly as wide a margin, more believe Mueller is mainly interested in “finding out the truth” than trying to “hurt Trump politically.”
The survey finds that 81% of adults nationally believe Mueller’s report should be released, including 79% of Republicans. Most interesting: 61% would support impeaching Trump if Mueller finds Trump authorized his 2016 campaign to coordinate with the Russian government, including 29% of Republicans.
Ann Coulter accused President Trump of being afraid to “fight” for his proposed border wall, as he weighs a bipartisan deal that would avert another government shutdown. Said Coulter: “Trump talks a good game on the border wall but it’s increasingly clear he’s afraid to fight for it. Call this his Yellow New Deal.”
Philip Bump: “In other words, the whip count that matters here is not really what legislators on Capitol Hill think. It is probably — and we recognize the bizarreness of this sentence — more important what conservative commentators and Fox News presenters think of the deal than it is what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) thinks.”
“Trump’s mornings often begin with watching recorded episodes of Fox News programs that aired the night before and tuning in to ‘Fox & Friends.’ So here is a modern-day presidential whip count of what those programs are saying.”
And as if on cue… President Trump slammed a bipartisan deal to avert a government shutdown while providing some funding for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, The Hill reports. Said Trump: “I can’t say I’m happy. I can’t say I’m thrilled.” He did not say whether he would sign or veto the proposal but added he would hold a meeting to discuss it later.
Politico: “The White House is firming up plans to redirect unspent federal dollars as a way of funding President Trump’s border wall without taking the dramatic step of invoking a national emergency. Done by executive order, this plan would allow the White House to shift money from different budgetary accounts without congressional approval, circumventing Democrats who refuse to give Trump anything like the $5.7 billion he has demanded.”
“Nor would it require a controversial emergency declaration. The emerging consensus among acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and top budget officials is to shift money from two Army Corps of Engineers’ flood control projects in Northern California, as well as from disaster relief funds intended for California and Puerto Rico. The plan will also tap unspent Department of Defense funds for military construction, like family housing or infrastructure for military bases.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that the Senate would hold an upcoming vote on the Green New Deal resolution introduced last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), CNBC reports.
Axios: “McConnell wants to get Senate Democrats, especially the 2020 presidential election hopefuls, on the record about their support of the sweeping climate resolution.” However, five of the Democratic senators currently running for president — Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren — are already co-sponsors of the resolution with Markey. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is still mulling a bid, is also a co-sponsor.
Last week’s release of the court transcript of a pre-sentencing hearing shows that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team was deeply concerned that Paul Manafort – after he had pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate them – continued to lie in hopes of receiving a pardon from President Trump, TPM reports.
As prosecutor Andrew Weissmann explained to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson regarding why the government decided that Manafort has breached his plea agreement, “there was an unusual factor.”
Politico: “If O’Rourke was testing Democrats’ appetite for his potential candidacy, the signs he saw on Monday were reaffirming — beginning with a march to the rally that was so thick with supporters that organizers linked arms in a circle around O’Rourke and his family to keep them moving through the crowd.”
“The speech — and O’Rourke’s promotion of it beforehand — marked a pivot for O’Rourke from a contemplative period of wayfaring to a more traditional brand of campaign politics following his closer-than-expected loss to Republican Ted Cruz in the Texas Senate race last year.”
Mark Kelly, former astronaut and husband to former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), released a video announcing his campaign to challenge appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) In 2020.
USA Today: “McSally is considered one of the most vulnerable Republican senators heading into the 2020 election. McSally is a former Air Force pilot and was the first woman to fly combat missions.”
The Washington Post details a meeting between Paul Manafort, then Trump’s campaign chairman, Rick Gates, his deputy, and a former business partner of Manafort’s named Konstantin Kilimnik.
“The Aug. 2, 2016, encounter between the senior Trump campaign officials and Kilimnik, who prosecutors allege has ties to Russian intelligence, has emerged in recent days as a potential fulcrum in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. It was at that meeting that prosecutors believe Manafort and Kilimnik may have exchanged key information relevant to Russia and Trump’s presidential bid.” The meeting ended “with the three men leaving through separate doors” so they wouldn’t be seen together.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, rejected Republican Chairman Richard Burr’s (R-NC) recent statements that the committee has not found evidence of collusion, saying the investigation is still ongoing and the committee still had to interview key witnesses, CNN reports. Said Warner: “Respectfully, I disagree. I’m not going to get into any conclusions I’ve reached because my basis of this has been that I’m not going to reach any conclusion until we finish the investigation. And we still have a number of the key witnesses to come back.”
“Warner’s comments represented a rare public split for the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has been the only congressional panel that has kept its investigation into Russia’s 2016 election meddling on a bipartisan track.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released the following statement Tuesday in response to a Trump rally-goer attacking a BBC cameraman in El Paso Monday night: “President Trump condemns all acts of violence against any individual or group of people – including members of the press. We ask that anyone attending an event do so in a peaceful and respectful manner. For questions around security at Trump campaign events please contact the campaign directly.”
Ron Brownstein: “One of the defining characteristics of the 2020 Democratic presidential contest is the unprecedented diversity of the field, which already features more women and minority candidates than ever.”
“But even more significant than the increasing variety of the contenders may be the growing diversity of the primary voters who will choose among them. Over the past decade, the electorate in the Democratic presidential primary has grown more racially diverse, better educated and more heavily tilted toward female voters.”
“Party strategists almost universally expect those trends to persist, and even accelerate in 2020, as minority, white-collar and female voters continue to recoil from President Trump.”
“Senate Republicans are fuming at President Trump for telling lawmakers he would disregard a law requiring a report to Congress determining who is responsible for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” Politico reports.
The uproar among Republicans is just the latest example of their deep discontent with the president’s foreign policy. It could prompt even more defections in favor of a Democrat-led resolution coming before the House and Senate this month to cut off U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war.”
“The House Judiciary Committee is building out its legal team with an eye toward an aggressive oversight agenda, tasking new outside attorneys with a review of issues that could be at the heart of an impeachment case against President Trump,” NBC News reports.
“The Democratic-led panel on Tuesday received approval to hire two ‘special oversight counsels’ — Norm Eisen, a former ethics official in the Obama administration, and Barry Berke, a New York-based criminal defense attorney.”
“Committee officials stress that the new hires should not be seen as the precursor to impeachment. But the very issues they will be focused on — abuses of power, the rule of law and obstruction of justice — could well produce threads that lawmakers could use to lay the groundwork for that.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) “called for the legalization of marijuana at a federal level in a Monday morning interview, making her the latest 2020 contender to weigh in on an issue that has become front-and-center as the presidential campaign season begins,” Politico reports. When asked if she opposed legalization, Harris said: “Half my family’s from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?” She added: “Listen, I think it gives a lot of people joy. And we need more joy.”
Washington Post: “Historically, these early low-dollar contributions were viewed largely as a sign of grass-roots support and an indication of potential voter enthusiasm. But that has changed in recent elections as small contributions have increasingly filled the coffers of many candidates — providing the fuel that allows them to be viable contenders.”
“Being able to raise a lot of money from a lot of small donors is now a test — not only of a candidate’s ability to tap this source of funds, but to go head-to-head against [Trump] and his army of grass-roots donors.”
A supporter of President Trump wearing a “Make American Great Again” hat attacked a BBC cameraman at a campaign rally in El Paso, Texas, the BBC reports. Video of the incident shows the cameraman being shoved off balance before the man is pulled away by security while screaming “Fuck the media.”
When his rally in El Paso, TX got underway last night, President Trump claimed that “69,000 signed up to be here. The arena holds about 8,000,” the El Paso Times reports. He then thanked the fire department for getting 10,000 people in the El Paso County Coliseum, while noting that “tens of thousands of people are watching the screens outside.”
However, a fire department spokesman said 6,500 people were inside the venue and denied any special accommodations were made. Trump then mocked the crowd size at Beto O’Rourke’s rally held at the same time saying it was no more than 300 people. However, the Texas Tribune reports the O’Rourke rally drew at least 7,000 people.
First Read: “Trump sure did elevate O’Rourke – by 1) going to El Paso in the first place and 2) deliberately trying to understate his crowd.”
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) “signed legislation adopting a limited expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, defying voters who in November approved the full Obamacare program through the ballot,” Politico reports.
“Under the new GOP-written plan, Utah will ask the Trump administration for permission to implement unprecedented restrictions on the health coverage program for the poor, while insuring about 60,000 fewer people than the Obamacare expansion would have and initially costing the state tens of millions of dollars more.”