Gergen Warns of Authoritarian Rule

David Gergen, who has worked as a White House aide for four different presidents, issued a stark warning about the Trump administration on CNN, saying the threat of authoritarian rule under President Trump is growing.

Said Gergen: “It is the beginnings, in many other countries it’s been the beginnings of an authoritarian rule, and that’s the larger threat hanging over us now,”

‘I Especially Appreciate the Deeper Analysis’

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Once we elected the unthinkable — a boorish businessman surrounded by hucksters and cronies — I temper my always present anxiety with a goal of not being too media-obsessed. I read many other sites, but subscribing to Political Wire gives me a shortcut to assessing the significance of what’s happening.

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A Skirmish In China Over the Nuclear Football

When President Trump and his team visited Beijing last November, Chief of Staff John Kelly and a U.S. Secret Service agent skirmished with Chinese security officials over the nuclear football, according to Jonathan Swan.

“When the U.S. military aide carrying the nuclear football entered the Great Hall, Chinese security officials blocked his entry… Then a U.S. Secret Service agent grabbed the Chinese security official and tackled him to the ground.”

“The whole scuffle was over in a flash, and the U.S. officials told about the incident were asked to keep quiet about it. Trump’s team followed the normal security procedure to brief the Chinese before their visit to Beijing… but somebody at the Chinese end either didn’t get the memo or decided to mess with the Americans anyway.”

Gates Will Now Testify Against Manafort

Rick Gates “will plead guilty to fraud-related charges within days – and has made clear to prosecutors that he would testify against Paul Manafort,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

According to a person familiar with those talks, Gates, a longtime political consultant, can expect “a substantial reduction in his sentence” if he fully cooperates with the investigation. He said that Gates is apt to serve about 18 months in prison.

A New Presidential Low

Karen Tumulty: “Imagine how history would have judged Franklin D. Roosevelt in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, if he had taken to the radio airwaves to declare that Tokyo was “laughing their asses off.” Or if George W. Bush had stood in the rubble of the World Trade Center with a bullhorn and launched a name-calling tirade against the Democrats.”

“There was no loss of life or destruction of a city in the Russian actions described in a sweeping indictment secured by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. But it was an act of war nonetheless, a sneak attack using 21st-century methods.”

“These are the moments that test a country — and a president. They call for bringing people together in a sense of national purpose against a common adversary. Once again, Trump has failed that test.”

Trump Blames Democrats for Russia Meddling In Election

“President Trump, in a series of angry and defiant tweets on Sunday morning, sought to shift the blame to Democrats for Russia’s virtual war to meddle in the 2016 election, saying that President Obama had not done enough to stop the interference and denying that he had ever suggested that Moscow might not have been involved,” the New York Times reports.

Tweeted Trump: “If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.”

Politico: “He did not criticize Russia, or voice concern over Vladimir Putin’s attempts to undermine U.S. elections.”

Washington Post: “Trump, ensconced at Mar-a-Lago, has so far stayed away from the golf course even though the weather has been sunny and almost 80 degrees — in what aides describe as showing respect for the 17 killed in a mass school shooting in Florida this week. The president has instead, spent much of his time watching television and tweeting.”

Biden Moves Closer to a Presidential Bid

Former Vice President Joe Biden “is tiptoeing toward a potential presidential run in 2020, even broaching the possibility during a recent gathering of longtime foreign policy aides,” the AP reports.

“He said he was keeping his 2020 options open, considering it a real possibility. He insisted he had made no decision, and didn’t need to yet, according to five people who either attended the meeting or were briefed on it by those who did.”

“Biden also expressed interest in bringing those in the room onto his team if he decides to launch a campaign. At the same time, he gave them an out: There would be no hard feelings if they decided they were content in their current roles outside of government, said the people, who demanded anonymity to discuss a private meeting.”

Romney Could Take on Outsized Role in the Senate

“Mitt Romney’s extensive resume has many Republicans looking to him to take on a role in the Senate as a political and moral counterweight to a president many in the GOP see as divisive and undignified,” the AP reports.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who often has taken on Trump, was quick to welcome Romney in a tweet saying that the former Massachusetts governor “has shown the country what it means to lead with honor, integrity and civility. The people of #Utah and the nation need his strong voice, resolve and service now more than ever.”

Trump Slams FBI for Too Much Time on Russia Probe

President Trump lashed out at the FBI Saturday night, saying the agency “missed all of the many signals” sent by the suspect in the Florida school shooting and arguing they are “spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign,” USA Today reports.

Said Trump on Twitter: “This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

Fox & Friends amplifies: “I think what President Trump does is what he always does, which is he channels what we are all thinking.”

Republicans Race to Reverse Recruitment Failures

“For months, Republican leaders watched in horror as hordes of their most sought-after midterm recruits passed on running, spooked by what increasingly looked like an electoral beatdown in the making,” Politico reports.

“But leading GOP officials in recent weeks have seen their fortunes brighten — if only slightly — and the party is now scrambling to take advantage by luring otherwise reluctant candidates back into targeted races across the country.”

Inside Trump’s Effort to Kill an Immigration Compromise

Washington Post: “The Trump administration’s extraordinary 11th-hour strategy to sabotage the bill showed how, after weeks of intense bipartisan negotiations on Capitol Hill, it was the White House that emerged as a key obstacle preventing a deal to help the dreamers.”

“The episode reflected President Trump’s inability — or lack of desire — to cut a deal with his adversaries even when doing so could have yielded a signature domestic policy achievement and delivered the U.S.-Mexico border wall he repeatedly promised during the campaign.”

“Along the way, Trump demonstrated the sort of unpredictable behavior that has come to define his topsy-turvy tenure, frequently sending mixed signals that kept leaders in both parties guessing.”

Earlier for members: Trump Just Played Congress on Immigration

Virginia Democrats See Their Bills Blocked Despite Wave

“Though the House’s new Democratic lawmakers have made their presence felt in other ways both big and small, just 27 of the 202 bills they filed are still alive after the House finished work on its own legislation at the crossover deadline, according to a Richmond Times-Dispatch analysis of bills with freshmen listed as the chief patron. The analysis did not include resolutions, which convey the will of the body but do not carry the force of law.”

“Democrats flipped 15 GOP-held House seats last year and swept all three statewide races, a result widely interpreted as a repudiation of President Donald Trump.”

“A random tiebreaker secured a 51-49 GOP majority, setting up a session in which ascendant Democrats have the energy, but Republicans still have the numbers.”