What Now?! – 4/30/19

“President Trump appeared unnerved as Joe Biden secured the endorsement of the top firefighters’ union, issuing Monday a string of four tweets targeting the Democratic presidential candidate and union leaders,” CNN reports.

“That’s exactly the behavior several of the President’s political advisers have been warning him against, wary that Trump will elevate a potentially formidable rival.”

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis declined to carry out orders from President Trump or tried to limit his options in attempts to prevent tensions with North Korea, Iran and Syria from escalating, the New Yorker reports.

Said one former national security official: “The president thinks out loud. Do you treat it like an order? Or do you treat it as part of a longer conversation? We treated it as part of a longer conversation.”

The official added: “We prevented a lot of bad things from happening.”

“A little more than a year after President Trump slapped a 20% tariff on imported washing machines, new research finds that American shoppers have been the ones to pay the price,” NBC News reports.

“A study conducted by two researchers at the University of Chicago and a Federal Reserve Board Governor found that washers cost an average of 12% more after the imposition of the tariffs, or roughly $86 to $92 more per appliance.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports personal income for farmers “fell by the most in three years in the first quarter, as losses to U.S. agriculture mount from Trump’s trade wars.”

“Joseph Yun, the former State Department Special Representative for North Korea, confirmed Monday that he signed an agreement to pay North Korea $2 million for the release of American student Otto Warmbier in 2017,” CNN reports.

Said Yun: “As soon as North Korea side told me that this bill for $2 million would have to be paid … I contacted my boss then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He got back to me very quickly thereafter to say yes, go ahead and sign.”

Trump has flatly denied any money was paid for the release of Warmbier.

Trump lies. All the time. Nearly every word he says is a lie. So of course we paid them. That’s treason.

“Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein submitted his resignation letterto President Trump on Monday, ending a tumultuous two years in which he tried to steady a rocky Justice Department and its relationship with the White House,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

His resignation is effective May 11.

“The White House is reviewing past writings by Stephen Moore, the conservative commentator whom President Trump plans to nominate to the Federal Reserve Board, amid criticism that many of the opinion columns he penned denigrated women,” the New York Times reports.

Seriously, good for Bernie. I hope his supporters will do the same. Vote Blue No Matter Who.

Washington Post: “Trump’s confidence in the high court seems borne of the fact that he’s nominated two of the five conservative justices that make up the court’s majority — Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh. The president said this week he was pleased with Kavanaugh’s questioning in the census case, an adviser said. The president and the first lady are friendly with Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, Ginni Thomas, having shared dinner at the White House… Trump has referred to Supreme Court justices as Democrats and Republicans, current and former aides say, and has bragged that he thinks he may get one or two more chances to remake the court.

“Trump has told White House aides that he would take the battle over his tax returns to the high court, where he believes he would win.”

Benjamin Wittes: “There is no way around it. Attorney General William Barr’s efforts to clear President Donald Trump, both in his original letter and in his press conference the morning of the report’s release, are wholly unconvincing when you actually spend time with the document itself.”

“Mueller does not accuse the president of crimes. He doesn’t have to. But the facts he recounts describe criminal behavior. They describe criminal behavior even if we allow the president’s—and the attorney general’s—argument that facially valid exercises of presidential authority cannot be obstructions of justice. They do this because they describe obstructive activity that does not involve facially valid exercises of presidential power at all.”

Ryan Goodman offers an excellent guide to the Mueller Report’s findings on whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

“The analysis discusses affirmative evidence and countervailing evidence in the Report, references the Special Counsel’s court filings and reliable news reports that help shed additional light on information in the Report, and identifies significant loose ends that the investigation was unable to answer.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) writes in the Wall Street Journal that Trump administration tariffs are a significant roadblock to approving the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

Writes Grassley: “These levies are a tax on Americans, and they jeopardize USMCA’s prospects of passage in the Mexican Congress, Canadian Parliament and U.S. Congress. Canadian and Mexican trade officials may be more delicate in their language, but they’re diplomats. I’m not. If these tariffs aren’t lifted, USMCA is dead. There is no appetite in Congress to debate USMCA with these tariffs in place.”

“President Trump’s push to revamp North America’s trade rules is hitting a roadblock in Washington as Democrats and labor groups demand changes, dimming its chances of passage before next year’s presidential election,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“As Congress returns from recess this week with a full plate of priorities, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other prominent Democrats have signaled they won’t allow a vote on the administration’s new agreement with Canada and Mexico without certain changes.”

On Monday, House Judiciary Democrats took one step closer to a showdown with Attorney General Bill Barr Monday. The Committee has scheduled a vote for Wednesday on the plan for the additional hour or questioning, which would be divided equally between the majority and the minority. The additional questioning could be done by “either Members or Committee staff,” according to the notice for the vote.

The move signals that House Judiciary Democrats are not yet backing off the plan, even after the Justice Department threatened that Barr would not show up on Thursday because of it.

“The attorney general agreed to appear before Congress. Therefore, Members of Congress should be the ones doing the questioning,” DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupic said in a statement, according to CNN. “He remains happy to engage with Members on their questions regarding the Mueller report.”

Regardless of how the House Judiciary standoff is resolved, Barr will first appear in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Gerald Seib: “Everything about Mr. Trump’s history—before and since assuming the presidency—suggests he likes a clearly identifiable enemy, and he likes a fight. He is the famously self-proclaimed counter-puncher, defining himself by those with whom he is battling and distinguishing himself by the way he conducts the battle. In an impeachment fight, he could do exactly that.”

“Mr. Trump appears ready to portray himself as both a victim of his enemies, and the pursuer of them, in any impeachment battle.”

“In such a scenario, Mr. Trump would have the opportunity to offer to his base—and for the president, it’s all about that base—the ultimate proof of the ultimate conspiracy theory: That the whole investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections was, from the beginning, a pretense to bring him down.”

Beto O’Rourke released a sweeping, $5 trillion plan to combat what he regularly refers to as the “greatest threat” our nation faces: climate change, NBC News reports.

“O’Rourke’s four-pillar framework, detailed in a campaign memo, combines proposed executive action with legislation he pledges to introduce within his first 100 days in office and outlines further steps to take in response to climate-related disasters in the future. It amounts to the first major policy rollout for a campaign which critics have targeted for being light on specifics.”

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

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