Trump Keeps Acting Like He’s Guilty

Washington Post: “By asserting that the government would not be able to ‘flip’ Cohen, Trump invited a question: If the Russia probe is the ‘witch hunt’ the president says it is — and if he is as innocent as he so often proclaims — what incriminating evidence would Cohen have on Trump that would give him leverage to flip?”

“It was only the latest instance of the president adopting a posture vis-a-vis his legal troubles that is both combative and defensive — and, perhaps unwittingly, seems to assume guilt.”

“Trump accused the FBI of going rogue by seizing Cohen’s records. He went to court to try to deny investigators access to his communications with Cohen. And he threatened to fire Justice Department officials, protesting overreach. Again and again, many legal experts say, the president has taken the steps of a subject who has something to hide, creating the appearance of a coverup even if there is no crime to cover up.”

Comey’s Book Outselling Other Recent Political Books

Former FBI director James Comey’s book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, “has dominated headlines for more than a week, and became an instant blockbuster, selling more than 600,000 copies in all formats during its first week on sale,” the New York Times reports.

“The early sales figures for Mr. Comey’s book dwarfed other recent political best sellers. Hillary Clinton’s memoir, What Happened, sold more than 300,000 copies in all formats in its first week on sale. And Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff’s explosive look inside the Trump White House, sold around 200,000 hardcover copies in its first full week on sale.”

Hogan’s Approval Soars In Maryland

A new Goucher College poll finds 69% of Marylanders approve of the way Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is handling his job, an increase from 61% in February.

“Hogan is vying to become the second GOP governor in 60 years to be reelected in Maryland, where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 2 to 1. He has tried hard to avoid a partisan label and has repeatedly distanced himself from Trump and Republicans in Congress.”

“So far, the strategy seems to have worked. Seventy percent of Marylanders disapprove of Trump, nearly the opposite of Hogan’s approval rating… But 47% of Marylanders polled say Hogan has distanced himself ‘about the right amount’ from Trump. Twenty-seven percent say he’s distanced himself too little, and 9% say too much.”

Trump Voters Driven by Fear of Losing Status

New York Times: “A study published on Monday… is the latest to suggest that Trump voters weren’t driven by anger over the past, but rather fear of what may come. White, Christian and male voters, the study suggests, turned to Mr. Trump because they felt their status was at risk.”

Said author Diana Mutz: “It’s much more of a symbolic threat that people feel. It’s not a threat to their own economic well-being; it’s a threat to their group’s dominance in our country over all.”

“Losing a job or income between 2012 and 2016 did not make a person any more likely to support Mr. Trump… Neither did the mere perception that one’s financial situation had worsened. A person’s opinion on how trade affected personal finances had little bearing on political preferences. Neither did unemployment or the density of manufacturing jobs in one’s area.”

Koch Network Re-Evaluates Midterm Strategy

“The network of groups affiliated with billionaire conservative donors Charles and David Koch are taking a new look at which Republican candidates to support this year,” The Hill reports.

“The groups still plan to spend up to $400 million on politics and policies this election cycle, but they’re deeply frustrated by what they view as the GOP’s refusal to take up major legislation ahead of the midterm election.”

“Some of the network’s donors privately tell us that the House majority looks like a lost cause, potentially accelerating the movement of money toward protecting the Senate majority.”

Trump Almost Brought Nunes Into His Administration

New York Times: “The Trump team was so impressed with Nunes that, according to the transition official, it considered bringing him into the administration. A few weeks after the election, the congressman traveled to Trump Tower, where, according to transition officials, he and Trump discussed the possibility of his becoming the director of national intelligence and overseeing an ambitious reorganization of the intelligence community. But Trump ultimately decided to shelve those plans and appoint as director a less disruptive figure, Dan Coats, a former Indiana senator. Besides, with Pompeo leaving Capitol Hill for Langley, Trump’s circle believed that Nunes would be even more valuable to the administration if he remained in Congress, running the Intelligence Committee.”

“Some 17 months later, that looks to have been a remarkably prescient decision — as Trump appears to have been able to influence Nunes to a remarkable degree.”

Exchange of the Day

Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock spoke to CNBC‘s John Harwood:

HARWOOD: What do you advise people as a matter of strategy to do about situations like Conor Lamb found himself in when he was running? You want a Democratic majority. He’s trying to win a very Trumpy district. And he says in the campaign, “I don’t support Pelosi for speaker.” How do you feel about that and what do you advise women candidates in more conservative districts to say to that question?

SCHRIOCK: We need to win. So if you feel like you’re in a district that you need other make those types of positions, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to win.

HARWOOD: You don’t care?

SCHRIOCK: We just have to win. We have to take back the majority, and that’s really critically important.

Quote of the Day

“When we get to it, we collectively as a country will know it — as we did with, like, Richard Nixon… You don’t just treat… the policy standard of impeachment as a political tool.”

— Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), quoted by Axios.

Trump’s False Claims About Moscow Could Aid Mueller

Politico: “A conscious effort by Trump to mislead the FBI director could lend weight to the allegation—contained in a largely unverified private research dossier compiled by a former British spy in 2016—that Trump engaged in compromising activity during the trip that exposed him to Russian government blackmail.”

“It has also likely caught the eye of special counsel Robert Mueller, legal analysts say. False statements to Comey about the trip could demonstrate that Trump has ‘consciousness of guilt,’ according Pete Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor who worked for special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation of national security-related leaks during the George W. Bush administration.”

“That could bolster a legal case against Trump.”

Pruitt’s Support Erodes In the Senate

Politico: “Scott Pruitt’s wall of GOP support developed some new cracks on Monday, with three key Senate defenders calling for hearings into the embattled EPA administrator’s recent controversies. The three, including staunch Pruitt ally Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), all said they supported hearings by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to look into the former Oklahoma attorney general’s actions.”

Flipping Cohen May Not Be That Easy

Politico: “Getting Michael Cohen to rat out President Donald Trump may not be as simple as it sounds. Although Trump’s detractors are rooting for Trump’s personal attorney to ‘flip’ on the president and cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller to escape a potentially harsh prison sentence, legal obstacles make it difficult for lawyers to expose their clients’ guarded secrets.”

“Even if Cohen is determined to break his confidences with Trump, legal ethics might deter federal prosecutors from coaxing him to betray his professional confidences with Trump, legal veterans and experts say.”

Arizona’s Special Election May Be Close

“It has been decades since Phoenix’s western suburbs have seen a congressional election with any real suspense,” the Arizona Republic reports.

“Since 1977, only two people — Bob Stump and Trent Franks — have represented the area in the U.S. House of Representatives. Because of the 8th Congressional District’s reputation as a Republican stronghold, Democrats haven’t even bothered to put a candidate on the ballot since 2012.”

“On Tuesday, voting ends in the special election to replace Franks, the veteran House Republican who resigned in December amid a sexual-misconduct scandal. Republican Debbie Lesko is the favorite to replace him because of her party’s 17-percentage-point registration advantage in the district. But at a time when independents, and even some Republicans, nationally are increasingly wary of the GOP, Democrat Hiral Tipirneni has mounted a serious challenge to Lesko.”