Special counsel Robert Mueller “has submitted a confidential report to Attorney General William Barr, marking the end of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump,” the Washington Post reports.
NBC News: “No details of Mueller’s findings have been released, but Barr said he may be able to brief congressional leaders on the report as soon as this weekend.”
Here’s what Barr said in a letter to congressional leaders: “I am reviewing the report and anticipate that I may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend. Separately, I intend to consult with Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Special Counsel Mueller to determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public consistent with the law, including the Special Counsel regulations, and the Department’s long-standing practices and policies. I remain committed to as much transparency as possible, and I will keep you informed as to the status of my review.”
A Justice Department official described the report to CNN as “comprehensive.”
New York Times: “Even though Mr. Mueller’s report is complete, some aspects of his inquiry remain active and may be overseen by the same prosecutors once they are reassigned to their old jobs within the Justice Department.”
CNN reports that Mueller “is not recommending any further indictments.”
A new Harvard study finds the Trump administration’s proposal to ask a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. census could lead to an undercount of some 4.2 million among Hispanics, “costing their communities federal aid and political representation,” Reuters reports.
The researchers admitted the study may have even undersold the impact of the question: “Not only are we university affiliated academic researchers, and not the U.S. Government… but our respondents were paid panelists and thus financially incentivized to complete the survey.”
“The Democratic chairs of the six House committees investigating potential abuse of power by President Trump and his campaign’s business and alleged foreign ties will ask several executive branch agencies to preserve information they provided to special counsel Robert Mueller as he investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 election,” the Washington Post reports.
“The six House leaders and their Senate Democratic counterparts have signed a letter that will be sent to the Department of Justice, FBI and White House Counsel’s Office, among other agencies, shortly after Mueller submits his report to Attorney General William P. Barr, signaling the investigation’s conclusion.”
“It is an effort to ensure the agencies retain correspondence, memos, reports and other material should the committees request it.”
“The U.S. posted its biggest monthly budget deficit on record last month, amid falling corporate and individual tax revenue and increasing federal spending,” Bloomberg reports.
“The budget gap widened to $234 billion in February, compared with a fiscal gap of $215.2 billion a year earlier. That gap surpassed the previous monthly record of $231.7 billion set seven years ago.”
President Trump announced that he planned to nominate 2016 campaign adviser Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve board, the AP reports. Moore wrote a book called Trumponomics and is a vocal critic of Fed chairman Jerome Powell, who Trump appointed.
Jonathan Chait: “Moore’s primary area of pseudo-expertise — he is not an economist — is fiscal policy. He is a dedicated advocate of supply-side economics, relentlessly promoting his fanatical hatred of redistribution and belief that lower taxes for the rich can and will unleash wondrous prosperity. Like nearly all supply-siders, he has clung to this dogma in the face of repeated, spectacular failures.”
David Gergen: “If and when he declares, Biden might break precedent by promising up front that he will serve for only a single term — ‘one and done,’ as they say in college basketball. Unlike other politicians who always seem grasping for power, Biden would have a credible argument that he is truly putting country first.”
“But, the critics will respond, he will automatically become a lame duck, unable to get big things done. So? It is already clear that unless we break out of today’s paralyzed politics, the next president will be badly handcuffed.”
“And committing to one term would also diminish the importance of his age issue. With a single term, he would step down at 81. People might accept that. But trying to go on till 85? That seems beyond the pale.”
“As blue-chip advertisers have abandoned Tucker Carlson’s well-rated primetime show, his network has recently opted to keep things in the family, broadcasting a growing and increasingly sizable number of ‘house ads’ for Fox News, Fox Nation, Fox television and Fox Sports programming in recent weeks,” according to a Hollywood Reporterreview.
Donald Trump tweeted that he has ordered the reversal of sanctions against North Korea that were announced just today by his own Treasury Department.
“A closely watched section of the Treasury yield curve on Friday turned negative for the first time since the crisis more than a decade ago, underscoring concern about a possible economic slump and the prospect that the Federal Reserve will have to cut interest rates,” Bloombergreports.
“The gap between the 3-month and 10-year yields vanished on Friday as a surge of buying pushed long-end rates sharply lower. Inversion is widely considered a reliable harbinger of recession in the U.S.”
National Journal: “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is making an early move to deter primary challenges against sitting incumbents in the caucus with a new policy aimed in part at protecting the new majority.”
“The campaign arm on Friday sent out a list of hiring standards to more than 100 political firms, including one provision that made clear it will neither contract with nor recommend to House candidates any political vendors that work to oust sitting members of Congress. That offers key protection to the caucus’s moderate members in battleground seats, where House control will be won or lost.”
Idiots. No one donate to the DCCC then. Fund candidates for the House that you like.
Henry Olsen: “The rise of this democratic sentiment has, over time, created the sense that democratic legitimacy flows from the expressed judgment of the people. This sentiment gave rise to the 17th Amendment, which instituted direct election of the Senate. So long as the electoral college merely amplified the popular vote’s determination, the college was not seen as illegitimate.”
“The current political circumstances, however, have changed that dramatically. President Trump won in 2016 because his political coalition was efficiently distributed among states with a majority in the college. Moreover, the durability of that coalition despite withering criticism creates the strong possibility that he could be reelected in 2020 while losing the popular vote by an even greater margin. His successor in 2024 could win while losing the popular vote by still greater margins.”
“That simply cannot stand over time. The majority of Americans will not consent to being ruled by a minority, nor should they. Whatever the republican theory of the founding generation, public opinion now conflates republican government with liberal democracy, and democracy cannot long endure the rule of the majority by a minority.”
Here’s a really interesting snapshot from the 2018 General Social Survey from the University of Chicago: Those Americans who identify with “no religion” (23.1%) are now statistically the same size as Christian evangelicals (22.8%).
Andrew Sullivan: “That’s one way of putting it. Let us count the ways. On trade, we have a record deficit in goods — precisely the opposite of what Trump promised. On immigration, we are facing the biggest crisis since the Bush years — a huge jump in migrants from Central America that is now overwhelming the system. Trump, for his part, is now enabling what he calls ‘catch and release’ on a massive scale. On economic growth, the huge tax cut for the rich has failed. It will not boost growth to levels of 4 or 5 percent — even the president’s own advisers think it’s likely to be a shade less than 3 percent this year and will decline thereafter. The Fed thinks we’ll be lucky to get a little more than 2 percent.”
“Meanwhile, the budget deficit now looks likely to be more than a trillion dollars annually for the indefinite future, and public debt is hitting new, stratospheric levels. Trump pledged he’d balance the budget. On entitlements, Trump is beginning to backtrack on his promises to protect the safety net. On climate, the denial of reality is exposed almost daily. In just the last week, we’ve seen catastrophic flooding in the Midwest and what could become the Southern Hemisphere’s deadliest cyclone on record.”
“And what consequences do we see for these massive failures? Staggeringly stable polling numbers.”
Amy Walter: “What makes our democracy work is that the players agree to the rules, both written and unwritten…”
“But, when politicians and voters believe that the system is inherently flawed or rigged — or that the people in charge of enforcing those rules are compromised – well, the whole thing falls apart. Americans don’t trust the political class, the media, the political parties, or almost any institution in this country. As such, even an attempt to discuss reform or change will be met with charges of malfeasance. Republicans accuse Democrats of being sore losers, while Democrats argue that Trump and Republicans are comfortable with a descent into ‘despotism.’”
“It’s unlikely that the 2020 campaign will do anything but widen distrust of our institutions and each other. The challenge of the 21st century is to understand and anticipate where this distrust and disruption lead. The tipping point has yet to be reached. But, it feels like we sit on its precipice more awkwardly than ever.”
“When members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election arrived for work each day, they placed their mobile phones in a locker outside of their office suite before entering,” Reuters reports.
“Operating in secrecy in a nondescript glass-and-concrete office, the team of prosecutors and investigators since May 2017 has unearthed secrets that have led to bombshell charges against several of President Donald Trump’s aides, including his former national security adviser, campaign chairman and personal lawyer, who have pleaded guilty or been convicted by a jury.”
“To protect those secrets from prying ears, the whole of the office suite in southwest Washington was designated a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), U.S. spy speak for an area that has restrictions to ensure secret information stays secure.”