August, 2017

Trump Aide Sought Putin’s Help on Moscow Project

“Donald Trump discussed a proposal to build a hotel and condominium tower in Moscow on three occasions with his company’s lawyer, who emailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman to ask for assistance on the project,” Bloomberg reports.

ABC News reports Trump himself signed a “letter of intent” to pursue a Trump Tower-style building development in Moscow.

Mike Allen: “The stories cast doubt on Trump’s continued assertions that he had no business dealings in Russia.”

Fascism, American Style

Paul Krugman: “As sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., Joe Arpaio engaged in blatant racial discrimination. His officers systematically targeted Latinos, often arresting them on spurious charges and at least sometimes beating them up when they questioned those charges. Read the report from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and prepare to be horrified.”

“Let’s call things by their proper names here. Arpaio is, of course, a white supremacist. But he’s more than that. There’s a word for political regimes that round up members of minority groups and send them to concentration camps, while rejecting the rule of law: What Arpaio brought to Maricopa, and what the president of the United States has just endorsed, was fascism, American style.”

Hurricane Cleanup Poses Governing Test for Republicans

“The catastrophic floods brought by Hurricane Harvey to southeastern Texas will pose an immediate test for the White House and Congress, pressing policymakers to approve billions of dollars in recovery funds even though they haven’t agreed on much else this year,” the Washington Post reports.

“White House officials and GOP leaders were already taking stock of the challenge on Sunday, even as the floodwaters in Texas — and the eventual cost of recovery — were still rising. One senior White House official and GOP aides on Capitol Hill said late Sunday they expected to begin discussing an ’emergency’ package of funding soon to help with relief and rebuilding efforts, even if agreement as to the size of such a package remained premature.”

Trump May Use Rove Playbook to Boost 2018 Turnout

Politico: “The administration has been in talks to put conservative initiatives on the ballot in 2018 midterm battleground states in hopes of energizing base voters dispirited by the performance of Republican-controlled Washington. The strategy is similar to the one Rove used in 2004. The George W. Bush political guru helped engineer a slate of anti-gay marriage amendments that year to boost GOP turnout in swing states such as Ohio, an approach that many are convinced helped pave the way for Bush’s reelection. (Rove has denied accounts that he orchestrated the 11-state effort.)”

“White House aides are less interested in a ballot initiative campaign focused on social issues, fearful that it would only serve to further stoke an already-motivated liberal base. Instead, according to three people familiar with the deliberations, they’re considering initiatives involving tax reform and other economic issues seen as more likely to invigorate conservatives. Tax reform also goes to the heart of Trump’s agenda, and he’s expected to spend much of the fall pursuing it.”

The Part of the Job Trump Likes Most

Politico: “Donald Trump has grown frustrated with many parts of being president. But the former showbiz star is still in love with one perk: The Oval Office photo op. Despite the weight of multiple Russia investigations, open war with GOP leaders and a stalled congressional agenda, Trump has spent considerable time grinning behind the Resolute Desk, where he summons visitors from PGA star John Daly to former campaign aides to pastors, truck drivers, tech CEOs, teachers and even journalists to pose in front of the gold curtains.”

“He tells aides, from senior White House advisers to his private bodyguard, Keith Schiller, to snap the photos on cell phones, or he shouts for Shealah Craighead, the official White House photographer, to come in. The often impatient president will sometimes pose for several minutes per sitting, taking variations of a photo with a single group. He even stands with people to inspect the photos.”

Trump Sought Moscow Deal While Running for President

“While Donald Trump was running for president in late 2015 and early 2016, his company was pursuing a plan to develop a massive Trump Tower in Moscow, according to several people familiar with the proposal and new records reviewed by Trump Organization lawyers,” the Washington Post reports.

“As part of the discussions, a Russian-born real estate developer urged Trump to come to Moscow to tout the proposal and suggested he could get President Vladimir Putin to say ‘great things’ about Trump.”

“The details of the deal, which have not previously been disclosed, provide evidence that Trump’s business was actively pursuing significant commercial interests in Russia at the same time he was campaigning to be president — and in a position to determine U.S.-Russia relations.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I know there are some people in the room right now that are upset. I know there are some globalists in the room right now. And they don’t want them, John, they don’t want the tariffs. But I’m telling you, I want tariffs.”

— President Trump, quoted by Axios, in an Oval Office discussion with chief of staff John Kelly and others.

Trump’s Frustration with Tillerson Grows

Jonathan Swan: “There’s a ticking problem with Rex Tillerson, and it’s growing louder by the day, according to officials inside and close to the White House.”

“President Trump has been growing increasingly frustrated with his Secretary of State. One time recently, after Trump had returned from a meeting on Afghanistan, a source recalled Trump saying, ‘Rex just doesn’t get it, he’s totally establishment in his thinking.'”

“Tillerson’s jaw-dropping comments on TV today will likely only worsen their relationship.”

Kasich Rules Out Bid with Hickenlooper

Gov. John Kasich “tried to shut down reports that he is considering an independent presidential bid in 2020 with Colorado’s Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper,” NBC News reports.

Said Kasich: “Look, ‘Kasich-Hickenlooper,’ first of all, you couldn’t pronounce it and second of all, you couldn’t fit it on a bumper sticker.”

When told that those words weren’t a denial, Kasich flatly said, “the answer is ‘no,’ okay.”

Trump Increasingly Alienated from GOP Leaders

Mike Allen: “Until now, most Republicans on the Hill have either backed Trump, or mostly stayed silent about their differences. Now, he’s being openly defied.”

“After the President has spent weeks seemingly divorcing himself from the GOP — openly blaming Mitch McConnell for healthcare’s failure and pre-blaming McConnell and Ryan for debt-ceiling headaches — many feel liberated to speak their minds.”

“All that will hamper Trump’s ability to help muscle tax reform through Congress. But the endgame is Special Counsel Bob Mueller… Trump’s attacks on McConnell are self-defeating for a lot of reasons. But if Mueller ever makes an impeachment referral (like the Watergate special counsel did), Trump needs McConnell more than anyone in the world.”

What If Trump Left the Republican Party?

Aaron Blake: “I wouldn’t be the first to note that it seems, well, counterproductive to attack your own party’s leaders. It’s entirely possible that this is Trump simply trying to motivate his team in his own divisive, Trump-ian way. It’s also possible he’s just lashing out and doesn’t actually have a plan.”

“But there’s also an Option C here. What if Trump, fed up by a lack of progress and fealty, is ready to take on his own party? What if, having systematically attacked what seems like every other institution involved in American government — the judiciary, the intelligence community, the press, the election process, law enforcement, Congress — he’s now set to attack and undermine the institution whose nomination he commandeered to obtain the presidency? What if he simply ditched the Republican Party, either officially or in spirit?”

For members: Trump’s re-election may depend upon leaving the GOP.

Trump Could Set Off Shutdown And Debt Ceiling Bombs

Stan Collender says there’s a 60 % chance of a government shutdown because there are actually seven different power groups in the Republican party.

“Trump’s political needs and goals are different from almost every congressional Republican. Not only is he not up for reelection in 2018, his base of supporters is very different from that of most GOP representatives and senators. As the Affordable Care Act debacle amply demonstrated, what’s politically correct for Trump sometimes isn’t even close to what’s right for many others in his party…and continued funding for the federal government and the debt ceiling are two of those times.”

“Trump also continues to refuse to accept that Congress is not a wholly-owned subsidiary of his presidency. His ongoing attacks on individual Senate Republicans for not doing what he wants on health care, the wall, the debt ceiling, the Russia sanctions law and the collusion-with-Russia investigation undeniably shows that he considers the House and Senate to be subservient divisions of Trump Administration, Inc. rather than the equal partners created by the U.S. Constitution.”

“The existence of these seven Republican groups all point directly to legislative and political chaos and perhaps an explosion in September on the shutdown and debt ceiling.”