August, 2017

Most Disapprove of Trump’s Decision on Arpaio

A new NBC News-Survey Monkey poll finds 61% of Americans view President Trump unfavorably — with 48% saying they have a strongly unfavorable impression of him — as compared to just 36% who have a favorable view.

Also interesting: 60% of Americans think Trump did the wrong thing when he granted former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio a pardon and 34% said the President did the right think in granting Arpaio a pardon.

Trump Praises Tax Policy He Once Called a Catastrophe

Jonathan Chait: “Donald Trump’s speech touting tax cuts — the largest ones ever, he promised — was devoted in large part to praise of the 1986 Tax Reform Act. ‘Our last major tax rewrite was 31 years ago,’ he said. ‘It was really something special … In 1986, Ronald Reagan led the world, cutting our tax base by 34 percent. Under this pro-America system, our economy just went beautifully through the roof.'”

“Trump has long attacked the 1986 Tax Reform Act as a disaster. The Act eliminated tax advantages for real estate, and Trump naturally equated the loss of special treatment for his own industry with harm for the economy as a whole. ‘This tax act was just an absolute catastrophe for the country,’ he told Congress in 1991. Eight years later, still fuming that Bill Bradley — a co-sponsor of the law — was running for president, Trump called it ‘one of the worst ideas in recent history.'”

Mueller Teams Up with New York Attorney General

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on its investigation into Paul Manafort and his financial transactions,” Politico reports.

“The cooperation is the latest indication that the federal probe into President Trump’s former campaign chairman is intensifying. It also could potentially provide Mueller with additional leverage to get Manafort to cooperate in the larger investigation into Trump’s campaign, as Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes.”

Jonathan Chait: “Trump can pardon anybody facing charges from Mueller, but not from Schneiderman. It is probably significant that Mueller is letting this fact be known to Trump’s inner circle. Trump’s biggest source of leverage over Mueller just disappeared.”

Prosecutors Say Menendez Led Bribery Scheme

Federal prosecutors say that Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) allegedly starting taking bribes from a wealthy donor shortly after he entered the Senate in 2006, Politico reports.

“Menendez’s bribery and corruption trial is set to begin next week. In preparation for that, Justice Department prosecutors filed a new document Wednesday laying out their case against the New Jersey senator, as well as Dr. Salomon Melgen, his alleged co-conspirator. Melgen has already been convicted in a separate case of bilking Medicare but has not been sentenced yet.”

Quote of the Day

“I don’t want to be disappointed by Congress, do you understand me? Do you understand? I think Congress is going to make a comeback. I hope so. I’ll tell you what, the United States is counting on it.”

— President Trump, quoted by Axios, urging Congress to pass a tax reform bill.

Trump Lawyer ‘Vehemently’ Denies Russian Collusion

“President Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, has given Congress a point-by-point rebuttal of a dossier alleging that he has deep ties to Russian officials — an effort to clear his name as the Justice Department and congressional committees investigate Russia’s attempts to disrupt last year’s election,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Cohen encouraged lawmakers to investigate those who paid for the salacious 35-page dossier, which surfaced online early this year and alleges that President Trump and his campaign conspired with Russia in the November election. The dossier, compiled by a retired British spy, portrays Mr. Cohen as a central figure in the conspiracy.”

Most Unhappy with Direction of Country

A new Fox News poll finds just 36% of voters are happy with how things are going in the country — down 10 points since April — while 64% are dissatisfied.

Most interesting is that the shift “is not, as is often the case, tied to the economy. Positive views on the economy are higher than in more than a decade: 36% say it is in either “excellent” (6%) or “good” (30%) shape. The last time conditions were rated this positively was August 2004.”

Why Pardons Might Not End Russia Prosecutions

NBC News: “While presidential pardons can halt the federal case, local prosecutors could then pursue any Americans suspected of aiding Russia’s election meddling. In fact, legal experts say presidential pardons could make that prospect more likely.”

“According to a new MSNBC legal analysis, federal pardons could open the door to local criminal investigations in several states… According to a source with knowledge of one state attorney general’s preparations, the office is already studying its potential state jurisdiction for Russia-related crimes. The source told MSNBC that state investigators typically defer to federal inquiries, but there is a perception the Russia inquiry may not turn out to be a typical situation.”

Hurricane Visit Was All About the Crowd Size

Washington Post: “As rescuers continued their exhausting and heartbreaking work in southeastern Texas on Tuesday afternoon, as the rain continued to fall and a reservoir near Houston spilled over, President Trump grabbed a microphone to address hundreds of supporters who had gathered outside a firehouse near Corpus Christi and were chanting: ‘USA! USA! USA!’ ‘Thank you, everybody,” the president said, sporting one of the white ‘USA’ caps that are being sold on his campaign website for $40. ‘I just want to say: We love you. You are special…. What a crowd. What a turnout.’”

Politico: “It was a presidential trip to a deluged state where the president didn’t meet a single storm victim, see an inch of rain or get near a flooded street.”

Trump Kicks Off Tax Reform Pitch with No Details

President Trump “is set to kick off his sales pitch on tax reform Wednesday with a speech in Missouri as he seeks to rally the public behind one of his top legislative priorities,” The Hill reports.

“The White House said that the address is not expected to delve into policy details, including specific tax rates. Instead, Trump is expected to make the case for why he believes changes to the tax code are needed to give people a better chance of achieving the American Dream.”

Jonathan Swan: “Even though Trump’s early tax plans largely follow Republican orthodoxy — major, across-the-board tax cuts — he’ll be selling it like Huey Long. The way White House officials tell it, Trump will describe how he’ll ‘un-rig’ the economy, resurrect ‘Main Street’ and end ‘the special interest loopholes that have only benefited the wealthy and powerful few.'”

Washington Post: “Advocates hoped to build a steady drumbeat of support over the August recess. Instead, the cheerleader-in-chief spent the month ripping open a painful national wound over race while antagonizing his would-be Republican allies on Capitol Hill… A presidential signing ceremony this year now looks remote at best. One presidential address won’t repair the damage.”

Trump’s Shrinking White House

Politico: “Interviews with six White House staffers and people close to the president attribute Trump’s shrinking West Wing to three factors: chief of staff John Kelly’s careful review process, which has led to the paring down of an organization that many inside have complained was top-heavy; the chilling factor of five open-ended Russia investigations hanging over the White House, making it hard to attract new talent; and the president’s own dark mood this summer, which has left him increasingly isolated and in the mood to hunker down, not hire up.”

Congress May Tie Debt Ceiling Hike to Hurricane Relief

Playbook: “One of the new leading theories among Senate and House Republicans in Washington is that Congress will combine a three-month stopgap spending bill to keep the government open, the first installment of hurricane relief for Texas and Louisiana and an increase of the federal debt limit. The idea is this package would create an undefeatable constituency across the Capitol.”

Melania’s Stiletto Sideshow

Politico: “The emblematic first image of the first lady heading off to visit a hurricane in heels — a moment that the president has seized on as an opportunity to project strength and show off decisive leadership — instead became another symbol of a White House that can often seem out of touch.”

“On board Air Force One to Corpus Christi, as the picture of the delicate heels ricocheted across the Internet, Melania Trump changed into a pair of bright, white sneakers, which looked fresh out of the box. She wasn’t the only female member of the Trump delegation wearing questionably appropriate footwear — two other women were spotted on Air Force One wearing pumps and suede heels.”

Washington Post: “Trump’s fashionable ensemble was defined by its contradictions. She was wearing a working man’s jacket but it was juxtaposed with sexy limousine shoes.”