CNN will host a town hall with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who will be debating health care with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on Monday, September 25 at 9 p.m. ET.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte “has said he will have his son killed if drug trafficking allegations against the younger politician are true, and that the police who carry out the hit will be protected from prosecution,” AFP reports.
“Paolo Duterte, 42, this month appeared before a senate inquiry to deny accusations made by an opposition lawmaker he was a member of a Chinese triad who helped smuggle in a huge shipment of crystal methamphetamine from China.”
“Special counsel Robert Mueller has sought phone records concerning the statement written aboard Air Force One defending a meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russians at Trump Tower last year that was set up by Donald Trump Jr.,” Politico reports.
Stephen Bannon told Vanity Fair that Jared Kushner, who oversaw the data operation of the Trump campaign, consulted regularly with Facebook director Peter Thiel:
When I asked Bannon about whether Thiel had some part in the data operation leading up to the election, he said, “When I joined the campaign, we were 16 points down and 85 days out. So I wasn’t working closely with Peter at that point.” He paused for a moment and then added, “Jared was interfacing with him pretty regularly.” On data?, I asked. “Data and other things. Ask Jared.” A source close to Kushner, however, denied that Thiel “worked with Jared on the campaign’s data operation.”
The role that data played in Trump’s victory appears to be of particular interest to legislators and prosecutors delving into the campaign’s interactions with Russian associates. As has been widely reported, separate probes, in the words of the McClatchy news service, have been “examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation—overseen by Jared Kushner—helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.”
Facebook reversed itself and will give Congress copies of 3,000 political ads bought through Russian accounts, the Washington Post reports.
New York Times: “The high-profile announcement came after Facebook spent two weeks on the defensive amid calls for greater transparency about 470 Russia-linked accounts the company took down after they had promoted inflammatory messages on divisive issues. Facebook had previously shown Congressional staffers a sample of the ads, some of which attacked Hillary Clinton or praised Donald J. Trump, but had not shared the entire collection.”
Politico: “The ads have become of increasing interest to Mueller and his team, according to people familiar with the investigation, because they could show Russian efforts to interfere — and who was behind them.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “used a foreign policy speech to knock President Trump’s handling of the Iran nuclear deal, Russia and his rhetoric on the violence in Charlottesville,” The Hill reports.
Said Sanders: “I call on my colleagues in the Congress, and all Americans: We must protect this agreement. President Trump has signaled his intention to walk away from it, as he did the Paris agreement, regardless of the evidence that it is working.”
Stephen Miles: “In laying out a principled and bold progressive vision for recentering US foreign policy at the core of a progressive platform, Senator Sanders has given voice to those of us who have always believed that our values don’t simply stop at the water’s edge.”
A Republican Senate aide told Independent Journal Review that Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) are attempting to buy Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) support through new changes to their controversial Obamacare repeal proposal before an expected vote next week.
“This draft includes 3 separate provisions benefiting Alaska.”
Most interesting: Alaska and Hawaii would “continue to receive Obamacare’s premium tax credits” despite them getting repealed in the rest of the country.
“As a CEO, not only today but in the past as well, I think silence is the ultimate consent. If you see something going on that’s not right, the most powerful form of consent is to say nothing. I think that’s not acceptable to your company, to the team that works so hard for your company, for your customers, or for your country.”
— Apple CEO Tim Cook, quoted by Recode, speaking in support of the “Dreamers.”
Edward Luce: “At stake in Alabama’s Republican primary election is the loyalty of the president’s base. Are they set on humbling America’s establishment come what may, as Mr Trump originally promised? Or is their allegiance to the president as a person, regardless of what he does? Next week will test the theory of Mr Trump’s base. Alabama is the laboratory.”
“It is a gamble Mr Trump did not have to take. On one side of the Alabama primary is Luther Strange, the sitting senator, whom the Republican establishment convinced Mr Trump to endorse. On the other is Roy Moore, the insurgent challenger, who is vowing to drain the Washington swamp, as Mr Trump earlier did. Mr Moore is backed by Steve Bannon, Mr Trump’s former chief strategist and architect of his 2016 campaign. It has been barely a month since Mr Bannon was ejected from the White House. He is already on an opposing side to the president.”
Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball has an excellent analysis of the race.
Time: “Every party cast out of power endures a period of soul-searching. But the Democrats’ dilemma was unimaginable even a year ago, when Clinton seemed to be coasting toward the White House and demographic change fueled dreams of a permanent national majority. Now, eight months into the Trump presidency, the party looks to face its toughest odds since Ronald Reagan won 49 states in 1984.”
“The Democrats are in their deepest congressional rut since the class of 1946 was elected, and hold the fewest governors’ mansions–15–since 1922. Of the 98 partisan legislatures in the U.S., Republicans control 67. During Barack Obama’s presidency, Democrats lost 970 seats in state legislatures, leaving the party’s bench almost bare. The median age of their congressional leadership is 67, and many of the obvious early presidential front runners will be in their 70s by the 2020 election.”
Honolulu Civil Beat: “Dozens of legislators and their staffers met behind closed doors Tuesday to hear a briefing by state Emergency Management Agency officials on preparedness for a North Korea nuclear strike on Hawaii.”
“Some lawmakers who attended stressed that the secret meeting was not called because of any immediate threat to the islands. Instead, it was a discussion of how to help the public prepare.”
Washington Post: “That bet, made out of fear rather than a sense that victory is any nearer than it has been all year, can be traced to this year’s August recess — the five-week stretch back home that immediately followed the Senate’s previous, failed attempt to overhaul the nation’s health-care laws. The late-summer break, distant as it already feels to many of us, remains fresh in some lawmakers’ minds.”
“It did not entail the kind of high-profile clashes at town halls that Democrats faced eight years ago as they began drafting the Affordable Care Act — or that House Republicans confronted at the start of the year, when their repeal effort took shape. Nevertheless, according to GOP senators and aides, Republicans faced an unrelenting barrage of confrontations with some of their closest supporters, donors and friends. The moments occurred in small gatherings that proved even more meaningful than a caustic town hall — at meetings with local business executives, at church, at parks.”
The Washington Post runs a must-read profile of Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore (R):
“The central argument of Moore’s campaign is that removing the sovereignty of a Christian God from the functions of government is an act of apostasy, an affront to the biblical savior as well as the Constitution. Among the prices he says this country has paid for denying God’s supremacy: the high murder rate in Chicago, crime on the streets of Washington, child abuse, rape and sodomy. It’s a crisis he hopes to address next year from the floor of the Senate.”
Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer acknowledged to ABC News that he’s “made mistakes,” but says that for those who “want some blanket apology — that’s not happening.”
Spicer added that he “tried to own” some of his mistakes, but said that “the personal attacks, questioning my integrity … you know, what my intentions were, I think, were really over the top.”
When asked if he had ever lied to the American people, Spicer responded: “I don’t think so.”
New on the podcast: Obama speechwriter David Litt joins us for a conversation about his new book, Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years, A Speechwriter’s Memoir.
As President Obama’s go-to comedy writer, Litt took the lead on drafting the president’s speech for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. It’s a great conversation.