The FBI is investigating a $300 million contract awarded by Puerto Rico’s government power company to a tiny Montana energy firm to rebuild electrical infrastructure damaged in Hurricane Maria, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Archives for October 2017
“Democratic power lobbyist Tony Podesta, founder of the Podesta Group, is stepping down from the firm that bears his name after coming under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller,” Politico reports.
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.”
A new Quinnipiac poll in Virginia finds Ralph Northam (D) holds a 17-pointlead over Ed Gillespie (R) in the race for governor, 53% to 36%.
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.
“We’ve got some of the smartest people in America who serve in the Congress, and we’ve got some of the dumbest. We have some of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet, and some that are Nazis. Congress is nothing more than a slice of America.”
— Former Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), quoted by Politico.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
“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.”
Wall Street Journal: “The plan is to keep the tough trade-offs in the bill secret until after Halloween, then reach Thanksgiving with bills passed by the House and Senate and hit New Year’s Day with a bill on Mr. Trump’s desk. That’s close to financial-crisis speed, pushing Congress into a kind of emergency lawmaking mode it typically uses only when inaction means cataclysm.”
Jonathan Swan: “The politically correct term for that timetable is ambitious; another adjective might be insane.”
“The best thing Republicans have going for them is that they simply have to get tax reform done. It’s now a question of survival after they failed so spectacularly to repeal Obamacare after seven years of promises.”
“Fuck Jordan. Fuck Chaffetz. They’re both assholes… Jordan was a terrorist as a legislator going back to his days in the Ohio House and Senate. A terrorist. A legislative terrorist.”
— Former Speaker John Boehner, quoted by Politico, about Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).
“Lawyers for Sen. Bob Menendez – on trial in federal court for bribery and other corruption charges – formally declared in a new court filing Sunday that they will seek a mistrial, declaring the judge overseeing the case is biased and has prevented the New Jersey Democrat from presenting his case,” Politico reports.
“During a contentious hearing Thursday, defense attorneys repeatedly challenged U.S. District Judge William Walls and said they would file a motion for a mistrial. Walls is almost certain to rule against them. Menendez and Melgen’s attorneys, however, are clearly setting up grounds for an appeal if they are convicted at the end of this trial. Arguments over the defense motion will take place this week.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rebuffed a request from President Trump to meet at the United Nations in New York in September, a day after the Trump made a speech highly critical of the Islamic republic, Bloomberg reports.