July, 2017

Why Trump Thinks He Could Get Away with Firing Mueller

Al Hunt: “He thinks House Speaker Paul Ryan, whom he views as weak, will voice disapproval if Mueller is removed, but then say, ‘Let’s move on to the business of the nation and tax reform.’ Trump regards Senator Lindsey Graham as a showboat who will go on a Sunday talk show and decry a ‘lawless presidency,’ then turn his attention to the need for stronger action on Syria. As for the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Charles Grassley, who has a reputation as a curmudgeonly but straight-shooting conservative, Trump sees him as holding hearings on a constitutional crisis — and then pivoting to focus on an overview of antitrust laws.”

“Let’s hope Trump is wrong. If he takes the radical step of using an executive order to remove Mueller, there is a compelling case for an independent counsel, one who does not report to the Justice Department. Currently Mueller reports to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Restoring the independent-counsel statute would relieve the special prosecutor from the risk of political interference.”

Could Seth Moulton Be President?

Politico reports that one of Rep. Seth Moulton’s (D-MA) top advisers is urging him to run for president in 2020.

“This conversation—reported here for the first time—is precisely the type of talk that’s currently causing disgusted eye-rolling among significantly more tenured Democrats in Massachusetts and Washington. They dismiss Moulton, albeit never for attribution, as gratingly ambitious, a grandstanding backbencher who has advocated for the ouster of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to make way for new, younger standard-bearers—like himself. They see Moulton’s message of country over party as not so much admirable as annoying.”

“Every politician, of course, has enemies. But it’s Moulton’s allies who make him atypical—military leaders like David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal, experienced political minds like David Gergen. These people look at Moulton and see the face of the future of the Democratic Party, a social progressive who’s fiscally more moderate. They see somebody who could chip away at the intractable ideological conflict that is crippling this country and appeal to the sorts of voters who have turned away from the party.”

First Read: “Members of the House don’t exactly have a great track record on presidential runs (No congressman has been elected president straight from the House since James Garfield in 1880), but the level of uncertainty in the Era of Trump makes it easy for an ambitious pol to say ‘why not me?’ Add that to the business and celebrity types who’ve now seen that political experience is no prerequisite for winning a national election, and you’ve got a recipe for a big and unruly presidential field. And, while united opposition to Trump is somewhat obscuring the big divides within the Democratic Party for now, a big and unruly presidential field is one surefire way to bring them to the forefront.”

Democrats See Path to Single-Payer Health Care

NBC News: “As Republicans learned last week, making grand promises to the base on health care is easy — following through on them is not. For now, single-payer is little more than a slogan. Despite that, one thing is for sure, the issue is moving in only one direction for Democrats and it’s gaining steam quickly, including with recent converts in billionaires Warren Buffett and Mark Cuban.”

“Support for single-payer has jumped 19 percentage points among Democrats since 2014 — and nine points since January alone — to 52%, according to a Pew survey in June. With 85% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents now saying the federal government has a responsibility to make sure every American has health care, two-thirds of liberals favor single-payer as the means.”

Is It Possible for Trump to Reset?

Rick Klein: “This is one of those moments, in normal times, that would mark a strategic reset. These are not normal times. John Kelly assumes the role of White House chief of staff this morning, bringing his military and homeland security credentials to an institution that craves discipline and structure. This he might achieve. But while Kelly inherits the baggage of staff infighting and rivalries, mostly he inherits the man who still seems to relish the chaos.”

“President Trump has escalated his wars on, well, everybody – friends and foes, loyalists and lobbyists, Democrats and Republicans, Congress and his own executive branch. Trump finds himself at the low point of his influence, and raging even at those who continue to demonstrate loyalty. It would be a natural time to end the soap opera and concentrate on governing. But Trump, as always, appears to enjoy the show.”

Big Money Comes Out to Boost Tax Reform

Mike Allen: “Never mind President Trump’s weekend of after-the-whistle tweeting about health reform. The White House, Senate and House are all united in moving on full steam to tax reform this week.”

“They’re doing it with heightened urgency, since Republican lawmakers are more desperate than ever to pass something substantial ahead of midterms.”

McClatchy: “They’ll be getting a multi-million dollar boost from American Action Network, a major outside group aligned with House leadership. The organization expects to spend as much as $20 million on a pro-tax reform effort.”

McConnell Intervenes In Alabama Special Election

Politico: “The Republican leader is aiming to thwart Rep. Mo Brooks and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore in a special election in Alabama next month. Both men are campaigning against McConnell as a despised symbol of the establishment — and both would exacerbate his already stiff challenge wrangling his GOP conference. McConnell is responding in kind.”

“His super PAC is set to spend much as $8 million to boost his favored candidate, recently-appointed Republican Sen. Luther Strange. McConnell has activated his sprawling donor network and pressed the White House for more resources. And the [NRSC], the Senate GOP campaign arm which McConnell controls, has warned consultants they’ll be cut off from future work if they assist Strange’s opponents.”

Putin’s Bet on Trump Backfires Spectacularly

“A little more than a year after the Russian effort to interfere in the American presidential election came to light, the diplomatic fallout — an unraveling of the relationship between Moscow and Washington on a scale not seen in decades — is taking its toll,” the New York Times reports.

“President Vladimir V. Putin bet that Donald J. Trump, who had spoken fondly of Russia and its authoritarian leader for years, would treat his nation as Mr. Putin has longed to have it treated by the West. That is, as the superpower it once was, or at least a major force to be reckoned with, from Syria to Europe, and boasting a military revived after two decades of neglect. That bet has now backfired, spectacularly. If the sanctions overwhelmingly passed by Congress last week sent any message to Moscow, it was that Mr. Trump’s hands are now tied in dealing with Moscow, probably for years to come.”

“It is unclear how much the announcement will affect day-to-day relations. While the Russian news media said 755 diplomats would be barred from working, and presumably expelled, there do not appear to be anything close to 755 American diplomats working in Russia.”

Baby Boomers Are No Longer the Largest Voting Bloc

“Baby Boomers and other older Americans are no longer the majority of voters in U.S. presidential elections,” according to Pew Research.

“Millennials and Generation Xers cast 69.6 million votes in the 2016 general election, a slight majority of the 137.5 million total votes cast, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. Meanwhile, Boomers and older voters represented fewer than half of all votes for the first time in decades.”

Trump Deepens the GOP Divide

President Trump’s “tumultuous past week has widened rifts in his party, between those who vocally support the president’s combative style and others who bridle at it,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Mr. Trump has long been a polarizing force among members of his party, but for the first several months of his tenure, the GOP was largely united by a shared desire to make the most of his election and the party’s total control of the government for the first time in a decade.”

“After a week that included the president attacking his attorney general, the collapse of a GOP health bill, a surprise effort to bar transgender people in the military and a White House staff shakeup, divisions that were largely set aside at the start of 2017 have emerged anew.”

Christie Confronts Fan at Baseball Game

Associated Press: “Carrying a basket of nachos, the New Jersey governor was caught on video confronting a Chicago Cubs fan during Sunday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. The video circulating on Twitter showed Christie leaning over to nearly get in the man’s face at Miller Park, holding the order of nachos in his left hand.”

Said Christie: “You’re a big shot.”

It was not known was caused the incident.

What Was Winning Good For?

Molly Ball: “Everyone who works for Trump has to know that their turn in the barrel can come at any time, that the slavish loyalty he demands will be repaid only in abuse. Still, Priebus’s defenestration was particularly savage: a detested interloper brought in over his protestations, his best ally pushed out, Trump deafeningly silent as the new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, publicly derided him as ‘a fucking paranoid schizophrenic.’ After his dismissal was announced, he suddenly found himself alone in a black Suburban as the rest of the motorcade left for the White House without him.”

“Like Priebus, the Republican Party made a Faustian bargain when it capitulated to Trump’s takeover—it would sell its soul in order to win. But as chaos continues to swirl, Priebus is surely not the only Republican asking himself: What was that victory good for?”

When asked, Priebus said: “We have a Republican president, a Republican Senate, and a Republican House. I have no regrets at all.”

A Mueller Firing Would Be Worse Than Nixon

Jeffrey Toobin: “Trump now seems set on terminating Mueller’s investigation, which he could attempt to do by directing the head of the Justice Department (whoever that winds up being) to fire him. This, of course, would be reminiscent of President Nixon’s determination, in October, 1973, to fire Archibald Cox, the Watergate special prosecutor. But a dismissal of Mueller would be worse. Nixon clashed with Cox over what was at least an arguable matter of principle—specifically, whether the prosecutor had the right to subpoena the White House tapes. Trump wants Mueller gone simply because he doesn’t want to be investigated.”

“An order to fire Mueller would be an abuse of power, but one in keeping with the way that Trump has conducted his Presidency. On the Saturday night that Cox was fired, he said, ‘Whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people’ to decide. So it remains today.”