What Now?! – 2/18/19

“Fox News host Chris Wallace relentlessly pushed Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller on Donald Trump‘s declaration of a national emergency on Sunday, and nailed him particularly hard by repeatedly asking for a single example of another president who has done what Trump has done,” Mediate reports.

“Wallace was all over Miller, challenging him to provide some explanation for how Trump’s national emergency is a national emergency, when Trump himself essentially admitted it wasn’t a national emergency. And when Miller tried to fend off the questions with talking points, Wallace peppered him with followups.”

“Bernie Sanders, inching closer to a second bid for the White House, has recorded a campaign video in which he says he is running for president in 2020,” Politico reports. “It’s the latest sign the independent senator, the runner-up in the 2016 contest for the Democratic nomination, is nearing a presidential announcement.”

President Trump’s choice to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Heather Nauert, has withdrawn from consideration for the job for family reasons, according to a statement issued by the State Department, Reuters reports.

“Nauert was State Department spokeswoman when Trump chose her for the U.N. position after working as a host for the conservative Fox News Channel. She had been criticized by Democrats for her lack of diplomatic experience.”

“A director of the controversial data company Cambridge Analytica, who appeared with Arron Banks at the launch of the Leave.EU campaign, has been subpoenaed by the US investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government,” the Guardian reports.

“European leaders have long been alarmed that President Trump’s words and Twitter messages could undo a trans-Atlantic alliance that had grown stronger over seven decades. They had clung to the hope that those ties would bear up under the strain,” the New York Times reports.

“But in the last few days of a prestigious annual security conference in Munich, the rift between Europe and the Trump administration became open, angry and concrete, diplomats and analysts say.”

“President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to build a wall on the U.S. southern border comes after two years of political neglect of his signature campaign promise, lost amid competing priorities and divisions within his administration,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Timothy O’Brien: “Trump and his team neither prioritized building a border wall nor assigned someone to be the White House’s point person on the project for most of the president’s first two years in office… It was only after Trump recognized in January that he was being consumed by a government shutdown he set in motion — and that he had been politically emasculated by a woman to his left (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) and to his right (pundit and firebrand Ann Coulter) — that he fully embraced a border wall as his last stand.”

Saturday Night Live mocked President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency, suggesting the decision was just part of a master plan to escape the confines of the presidency. This skit hurt the President’s feelings, and he spent the morning seething about the “total Republican hit jobs” and wondering aloud about how the show could broadcast that material “without retribution.” Donnie boy, read the First Amendment. And then watch how SNL mocked Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter and Ford (they never could get Obama right).

“Stung by domestic defeat after a losing battle with Democrats in Washington, D.C., this winter, President Trump hopes his negotiating skills can achieve better results some 8,000 miles away when he meets with North Korea’s leader in Vietnam later this month,” Politico reports.

“Trump will travel for his second session with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to discuss whether the strongman might relinquish his nuclear weapons in return for an end to economic isolation.”

Former Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) and his staff racked up more than $20,000 in costs in 2017 and 2018 staying at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., the Portland Press Herald reports.

A new poll from the Global Strategy Group shows broad support for congressional investigations into the Trump administration, with 60 percent saying Democrats should investigate senior administration officials and 86 percent agreeing that it’s “Congress’s job to know whether the President or senior officials have committed any crimes.” The poll also found that support for the investigations is pretty unshakeable. Even after reading language suggesting the investigations would be a “politically-motivated witch hunt,” 60 percent of respondents still support Democrats using their investigatory powers.

Further, 84 percent of respondents agree that “No one is above the law. Congress has investigated past presidential administrations. The Trump administration shouldn’t get a special pass.”  Respondents said the No. 1 reason for investigating Trump is that “senior officials are not looking out for the public on issues that affect the lives of regular people” (24 percent overall, with 35 percent of independents choosing that rationale); the No. 2 reason is that “senior officials are engaging in criminal activities” (21 percent).

The Supreme Court says Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has returned to work at the building for the first time since lung cancer surgery in late December. The court’s press office says the 85-year-old Ginsburg is attending the justices’ Friday closed-door conference at which they’re weighing whether to add new cases and finalizing opinions in cases argued in the fall. Ginsburg also made her first public appearance since the surgery last week when she attended a musical account of her life that was put on by her daughter-in-law and other musicians.

“President Trump and his political team plan to make his years-long quest for a border wall one of the driving themes of his reelection effort — attempting to turn his failure to build such a project into a combative sales pitch that pits him against the political establishment on immigration,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump has declared a national emergency to secure the funds Congress has repeatedly denied him despite his own admission that the move is likely to get tied up in court. This move has galvanized many of his supporters even as others on the right remain dubious and disappointed.”

“His campaign is fundraising off his showdown with congressional Democrats over the border — portraying the opposition party as more interested in political games than the public’s safety. And faced with the fact that he has yet to build an inch of the concrete or steel wall he promised, Trump and his campaign have started relying on a rhetorical sleight of hand: speaking the wall into existence.”

Dana Milbank on Trump’s 25th Amendment worthy press conference: “His topic demanded utmost solemnity: The situation on the border is so dire, such a crisis, that he must invoke emergency powers to circumvent Congress, testing the boundary between constitutional democracy and autocracy. But with the nation watching, Trump instead delivered a bizarre, 47-minute variant of his campaign speech.

He boasted about the economy, military spending and the stock markets (“we have all the records”), and he applauded the Chinese president’s pledge to execute people who deal fentanyl (“one of the things I’m most excited about in our trade deal”). He said Japan’s prime minister had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. He declared Ann Coulter “off the reservation” but praised his favorite Fox News hosts and celebrated Rush Limbaugh’s endurance (“try speaking for three hours without taking calls”).

Oh, and he also mentioned his emergency declaration — specifically, that it isn’t necessary. “I didn’t need to do this,” he said in response to a question from NBC’s Peter Alexander. It’s just that the emergency declaration lets him build a border wall “faster.” He acknowledged that “I don’t know what to do with all the money” Congress gave him for border security, and he said that even if he only gets an amount closer to the $1.35 billion Congress authorized for barriers, “it’s going to build a lot of wall.”

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

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