What Now?! – 8/20/19

“Attorney General William Barr announced Monday that he is replacing the head of the Bureau of Prisons, in the latest fallout from the death in federal custody of multimillionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein,” the Washington Post reports.

Sen. Joni Ernst’s (R-IA) town hall meeting over the weekend grew contentious when she answered a question about school shootings by emphasizing the need to deal with mental illness.

“Several senior White House officials have begun discussing whether to push for a temporary payroll tax cut as a way to arrest an economic slowdown, three people familiar with the discussions said, revealing the growing concerns by President Trump’s top economic aides,” the Washington Post reports.

“The talks are still in their early stages, and the officials have not decided whether to formally push Congress to approve the cut.”

“President Trump on Monday called for the Federal Reserve to cut its benchmark interest rate by 1 percentage point, a move that would typically be considered only when the U.S. economy is on the brink of a recession, and again criticized his own central bank chairman for a ‘horrendous lack of vision,’” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The last time the Fed reduced rates by a full percentage point was during the 2008 financial crisis.”

Wall Street Journal: “Jerome Powell is entering the most perilous stage yet of his tenure as Federal Reserve chairman, fighting to keep the U.S. from recession while taking the blame from President Trump for skittish markets and a slowing economy.”

“Mr. Trump’s unyielding criticism of the Fed has led people inside the central bank to feel like they are fighting to both buoy the U.S. economy and preserve the Fed’s independence from political interference.”

Former Gov. Chris Christie (R), “who built a political brand around unfiltered frank talk aimed at political opponents and constituents alike, is starting a think tank centered on something unexpected: Civility in politics,” WNYC reports. Said Chrisite: “Unfortunately our politics have gotten so ugly and divisive in the country that people are not having civilized conversations.”

74% of U.S. business economists expect a recession in the U.S. by the end of 2021. The economists were surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics, and they didn’t share Trump’s optimistic outlook for the economy. Consumer confidence has dropped 6.4% since July.

Matt Taibbi: “Two and a half years into his presidency, Trump has already staked a claim to a role in history usually reserved for hereditary monarchs at the end of a line of inbreeding. Historians will list him somewhere between Vlad the Impaler and France’s Charles VI, who thought his buttocks were made of glass.”

“Much of America loves its Mad King, whose works are regularly on display. Russians under Ivan the Terrible used to watch dogs being hurled over the Kremlin walls when the tsar’s mood was bad. Americans have grown used to late-night insults tweeted at nuclear powers from the White House bedroom.”

“Royal lunacy is traditionally a secret, but in Twitter-age America it’s a shared national experience. We are all somersaulting down and out the sanity chute. The astonishing thing about Trump is that he wasn’t foisted on us by a council of Bourbons, or by succession law. We elected the man, and are poised to do it again.”

“History will judge us harshly for this, and will look with particular venom at Trump’s political opponents in both parties, who over the years were unable to win popularity contests against a man most people would not leave alone with a decent wristwatch, let alone their children.”

“Authorities this weekend announced they had foiled three potential mass shootings after arresting three men in different states who expressed interest in or threatened to carry them out,” CNN reports. “All three cases were brought to authorities’ attention thanks to tips from the public.”

President Trump spoke to reporters last night, Politico reports.

QUESTION: “But you’re not willing to support universal background checks right now?”

TRUMP: “I’m not saying anything. I’m saying Congress is going to be reporting back to me with ideas. And they’ll come in from Democrats and Republicans. And I’ll look at it very strongly. But just remember, we already have a lot of background checks. OK? Thank you.”

Playbook: “The president has trouble holding a position for more than a few days. This certainly seems like the president is backing away from background checks, and is settling into the old GOP position of bolstering mental health protections.”

If new gun legislation doesn’t pass in September, it won’t get done before the 2020 election, sources involved in the talks between the White House and Capitol Hill tell Axios.

Politico: “Tom Barrack and Donald Trump have been friends and confidants for more than three decades — the two men are so close, for instance, that Barrack comforted Trump during the funeral of his father, Fred.”

“But the intimate relationship between the wealthy California investor and the president has fractured so badly that the two no longer speak.”

“The key issue driving the two men apart: Barrack’s role as chairman of the president’s 2017 inauguration fund, which is under investigation by prosecutors.”

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), the No. 4 House Democrat, endorsed opening an impeachment inquiry against President Trump on Monday, Politico  reports. Luján, a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is the highest-ranking House Democrat to support an impeachment investigation.

President Trump claimed on Twitter that Google “manipulated” votes in the 2016 election that would have given him an even greater lead over his opponent and that the company “should be sued,” CNBC reports.

“Trump’s tweet appears to refer to documents leaked to conservative group Project Veritas, but the documents do not appear to contain any outright allegation of vote manipulation or attempts to bias the election.”

Hillary Clinton fired back at Trump: “The debunked study you’re referring to was based on 21 undecided voters. For context that’s about half the number of people associated with your campaign who have been indicted.”

“Twitter and Facebook have suspended numerous accounts that they say are tied to a Chinese disinformation campaign against pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong,” CNBC reports.

Twitter said the disinformation campaign was designed to “sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political protest movement on the ground.”

Anthony Scaramucci told CNN that he is putting together a coalition of former Trump Cabinet officials to denounce the President ahead of the 2020 election.

Said Scaramucci: “I’m in the process of putting together a team of people that feel the exact same way that I do. This is not a ‘Never Trump’ situation. This not just screeching rhetoric. This is — OK, the guy is unstable. Everyone inside knows it, everyone outside knows it. Let’s see if we can find a viable alternative.”

He added: “Moreover, I have to get some former Cabinet officials in unity to speak up about it. They know it’s a crisis.”

Scaramucci did not provide any names of people associated with the coalition he said he is assembling, but predicted that by “middle to late fall” there will be a “trove” of people willing to speak out against Trump.

The Business Roundtable has dropped the “shareholder primacy” creed that has driven U.S. capitalism for decades, urging companies to consider the environment and workers’ wellbeing alongside their pursuit of profits, the Financial Times reports.

It is a significant departure from the bedrock belief that businesses serve the owners of their capital — a philosophy championed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman and which has driven corporate America for decades.

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

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