October, 2017

How Smart Is Trump?

Peter Dreier: “Anyone who feels compelled to boast how smart he is clearly suffers from a profound insecurity about his intelligence and accomplishments. In Trump’s case, he has good reason to have doubts.”

“A linguistic analysis by Politico found that Trump speaks at a third-grade level. A study by researchers at Carnegie-Mellon University compared last year’s Republican and Democratic presidential candidates in terms of their vocabulary and grammar. Trump scored at a fifth-grade level, the lowest of all the candidates.”

Lobbyists See Danger In Special Counsel’s Indictment

BuzzFeed News: “The threat of serving hard time for failing to disclose foreign lobbying work is rattling Washington’s multi-billion dollar influence industry following Monday’s 12-count indictment against Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates.”

“And although the charges have largely been seen as a blow to the White House, Monday’s actions by special prosecutor Robert Mueller also sent shivers down the spines of Washington’s lobbyists, both Democrats and Repulicans.”

Mueller Starts Squeezing Witnesses

First Read: “Yesterday’s news was about witness squeezing — either through the indictments against Manafort and Gates, or letting Trump World know that they’ve flipped Papadopoulos.”

“Mueller is sending the message that he hasn’t received a lot of cooperation in his probe, and that he’s going to get that cooperation — one way or another.”

For members: Mueller Wants Manafort for Someone Bigger

Why Staying Silent May Backfire on GOP Lawmakers

David Frum: “You need to wonder whether the avoidance of blowback from Fox News in November 2017 is worth the risks hurtling at you in the weeks ahead. The Trump administration’s authoritarian moment is on the verge of materializing. The president seems likely to openly stake a claim to use his position as head of the executive branch to exempt himself from all law enforcement. If the president can never obstruct justice, he can use the pardon power to protect himself and his associates from any investigation into criminal wrongdoing.”

“By speaking out today, you may dissuade the White House from staking the whole Republican Party to an authoritarian, anticonstitutional position. At a minimum, you protect yourself from answering for it. Nobody’s asking you to be a hero. Just think ahead beyond the next 10 minutes and 10 days to your own interests and future.”

Ezra Klein: The cowardice of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.

Trump Doubles Down on ‘No Collusion’ Claim

President Trump lashed out on Twitter at special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling:

The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manafort’s lawyer said, there was “no collusion” and events mentioned took place long before he came to the campaign. Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!

First Charges Stem from Trump’s First Week

TPM: “Thanks to an indictment unsealed Monday morning, we now know former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos lied about the extent of his Russian contacts in an interview with FBI agents on Jan. 27, exactly one week after the inauguration. Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to making false statements in that interview about his Russian contacts.”

“Mueller’s appointment didn’t come until May, after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, who had been overseeing the bureau’s probe into Russian interference in the U.S. election—and the collection of evidence for that investigation had already begun before Trump had even taken his hand off the Bible.”

Guardians of the Confederacy

David Drucker: “The current debate over Confederate symbols cuts to the central, existential question hanging over the G.O.P. The Republican Party today is an amalgam of upscale white suburbanites who are moderate on social issues but conservative on fiscal and national-security issues, and exurban and rural populist working-class whites, who are quasi-liberal on economic matters and foreign policy, but conservative on politically charged social issues.”

“But the key demographic in this coalition is ‘white.'”

“The Republicans becoming the guardians of the Confederacy is a function of the G.O.P. becoming so predominantly white, and yes, the predominant party in the South. The Republican project to take over the South was completed in 2010, when the red wave that swept Republicans into power in Congress and state capitals across the country ejected the last remnants of white Democratic authority. So by the time Trump responded to Charlottesville with vows to protect ‘our culture’ and ‘our history,’ and protect Confederate monuments from being relegated to some museum’s dusty storeroom, there were few sympathetic voters left in the Democratic Party to cheer him on. But there were plenty of Republicans.”

Bannon Urges Trump to Fight Mueller

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is pushing President Trump “to take action against Mueller, urging him in particular to defund the investigation… a move that would defang Mueller without the president formally firing him,” Politico reports.

Playbook: “There’s next to no way this will happen. Bannon can pressure Trump until he’s blue in the face. It is much more likely Congress will shield Mueller from being fired than strip funding from his effort.”

Page May Have Discussed Russia with Papadopoulos

“Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, said he might have exchanged emails about Russia with a fellow adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the president’s campaign and possible collusion with the Russian government,” Politico reports.

“As he has in the past, Page repeatedly declined to provide direct answer to questions about his role on Trump’s campaign.”

Kelly Praises Robert E. Lee

White House chief of staff John Kelly said that the Civil War was “caused by a lack of an ability compromise” and that Confederate general Robert E. Lee was “an honorable man,” Politico reports.

Said Kelly: “I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state which in 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War. And men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had to make their stand.”