October, 2017

Trump Will Pick Powell to Lead the Fed

President Trump is expected to name Jerome Powell as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, replacing Janet L. Yellen, the current chairwoman whose term expires early next year, the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Powell, a Fed governor since 2012, is a Republican with deep roots in the party’s establishment and in the financial industry. He has steadily supported the Fed’s current approach to monetary policy and financial regulation, creating an expectation that he would bring continuity to the role.”

Is Trump’s Base Beginning to Fray?

First Read: “So Trump’s standing with independents and the middle of the electorate is Problem #1 for him in the NBC/WSJ poll. Problem #2 is the sign that his base is beginning to fray, even if it’s ever so slightly.”

“The drop in Trump’s overall approval rating — from 43 percent in September to 38 percent now — comes from independents, whites (who shifted from 51 percent approval a month ago to 47 percent now) and whites without a college degree (from 58 percent to 51 percent).”

Kasich Is Already Running for President Again

New York Magazine: “Kasich 2020 is not just a media proposition. Kasich is a sitting governor exploring a run against a president of his own party — a starkly unusual circumstance. He retains a skeletal campaign staff, and they are helping him to think through his options: Should he run as a Republican in the primaries or as an Independent in the general election?”

“A primary run is plausible, strategists say, if Trump’s approval ratings among Republicans fall below the high 70s, where they’ve been, and Democrats prevail during the midterms, signaling a loosening of the stranglehold of the far-right base on the party. A third-party run is optimal if the major-party candidates represent ideological extremes. Kasich has not declared he’s running, and everyone I spoke to preempted their hypotheticals with caveats. In the Trump era, two years is an eternity…. But among the party’s intelligentsia, all agree there is a common wish that the White House be occupied by a different Republican.”

Ex-Trump Adviser Pleads Guilty to False Statements

George Papadopolous has pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents, becoming the third adviser to President Trump’s campaign to face criminal charges in its investigation, Reuters reports.

Papadopolous is an international energy lawyer who was part of Trump’s advisory team during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The New York Times reports Papadopolous told an adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign in April 2016 that Moscow had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” according to court documents unsealed Monday.

Manafort and Business Partner Told to Surrender

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his former business partner Rick Gates “will turn themselves in on charges stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 election,” the Washington Post reports.

New York Times: “The charges against Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates were not immediately clear but represent a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over the president’s first year in office.”

CNN reports Manafort will turn himself in.

Axios: “The FBI rarely charges just one person, and this is likely just the beginning.”

The Russians Stole the U.S. Presidency

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Politico that no matter how much President Trump rants about the “Russia hoax,” the 2016 hacking was not only real and aimed at electing Trump but constituted a major victory for a dangerous foreign adversary.

Said Clapper: “The Russians have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations.”

He added that the investigation of whether Trump’s team colluded with Russia constitutes a “cloud not only over the president, but the office of the presidency, the administration, the government and the country” until it is resolved.

Half of Trump Appointees Have Major Conflicts

The Daily Beast looked at the background of all 341 people President Trump has nominated for positions in the administration and found that 179 — more than half — have some sort of a conflict of interest.

“One hundred and five nominees worked in the industries that they were being tasked with regulating; 63 lobbied for, were lawyers for, or otherwise represented industry members that they were being tasked with regulating; and 11 received payments or campaign donations from members of the industry that they were being tasked with regulating.”

Bannon Declares War on Top GOP Donor

Jonathan Swan: “In a Friday night phone call, President Trump’s former chief strategist and enforcer Steve Bannon told Trump he was going ‘off the chain’ to destroy Paul Singer, a New York hedge fund billionaire who is one of the most influential donors to the Republican Party.”

“Trump agreed with Bannon that it needed to be done, according to two sources familiar with the conversation. (Though I’m also told that Trump has since told at least one other person that Singer is ‘on the team’ — suggesting that maybe he’s telling everyone what they want to hear.)”

“Bannon spoke to Trump shortly after the New York Times broke the news that a Singer-funded conservative website first paid for anti-Trump research by the firm, Fusion GPS, that later produced the infamous Russia dossier.”

Boehner Says GOP Is Leaderless

Former Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), in a must-read Politico profile, says the Republican party is a completely adrift.

Said Boehner: “Donald Trump’s not a Republican. He’s not a Democrat. He’s a populist. He doesn’t have an ideological bone in his body. So who, I ask, is the leader of the party? There is nobody.”

Mueller Indictment Watch

“A mood of fateful anticipation is cloaking Washington, with possible arrests imminent after the federal grand jury in the Russia investigation approved its first charges,” CNN reports.

“By taking one or more people into custody… Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller would create a new, perilous reality for the White House, reflecting the gravity of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and alleged collusion by President Trump’s associates.”