October, 2017

GOP Plans to Push Tax Bill at Breakneck Speed

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.”

Quote of the Day

“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).

Menendez Seeks Mistrial in Corruption Trial

“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.”

Congressional Candidate Says She Was ‘Weinsteined’

“A top congressional candidate in one of the nation’s marquee races for Democrats is accusing a political ally she once supported of exposing himself to her — and he’s countering that she might be lying to gain attention for her campaign,” Politico reports.

“The lurid dispute between Miami Beach City Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and progressive activist Rafael Velasquez — a city commission candidate she had endorsed — marks the latest scandal nagging Florida Democrats amid the national debate about sexual harassment sparked by accusations from multiple women against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.”

Said Gonzalez: “I was ‘Harvey Weinsteined’ by Rafael Velasquez, the candidate I have been supporting and raising money for in the Miami Beach commission race.”

FBI Looking at Suspicious Manafort Wire Transfers

“The FBI’s investigation of Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, includes a keen focus on a series of suspicious wire transfers in which offshore companies linked to Manafort moved more than $3 million all over the globe between 2012 and 2013,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“These transactions — which have not been previously reported — drew the attention of federal law enforcement officials as far back as 2012, when they began to examine wire transfers to determine if Manafort hid money from tax authorities or helped the Ukrainian regime close to Russian President Vladimir Putin launder some of the millions it plundered through corrupt dealings.”

Robert Mueller Sends a Message

John Cassidy: “After CNN published its story on Friday night, some Democrats and commentators suggested that the Trump Administration may have known the Mueller indictments were coming and leaked the Steele story to create a smokescreen… Plausible as that theory sounds, it, too, is conjecture.”

“What isn’t speculation is the fact that, five months into his investigation, Mueller has brought a first set of criminal charges. By the standards of recent special prosecutors, that is fast work, and it confirms Mueller’s reputation as someone who doesn’t like to dally. Now that he has started arresting people, there is no reason to suppose he will stop. And that is precisely the message he wants to send.”

Trump Organization Skirts Pledge on Foreign Deals

“President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., is expected to launch two residential projects in India for the Trump Organization in the coming weeks, continuing the family’s promotion of the Trump empire despite concerns over the president’s potential conflicts of interest with foreign governments,” the Washington Post reports.

“The Trump Organization vowed early on there would be ‘no new foreign deals’ during Trump’s tenure as president; these two projects in India were inked before his election.”

“But the high-profile launches demonstrate that the pledge comes with an asterisk — agreements made years ago can move forward or be revitalized, such as the Trumps’ 2007 deal to build a luxury beachfront resort in the Dominican Republic that may be revived.”

British Minister Admits Asking Assistant to Buy Sex Toys

The British Cabinet Office is to investigate whether Conservative MP Mark Garnier “broke the ministerial code after he admitted asking his former assistant to buy sex toys,” the Guardian reports.

However, Garnier insisted that referring to his assistant as “sugar tits,” as she says he did, was a reference to the popular BBC comedy Gavin and Stacey, saying: “It absolutely does not constitute harassment.”

Flake Explains He Could Not Condone Trump

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told the Washington Post that he spoke out against President Trump because, “I couldn’t sleep at night having to embrace the president or condoning his behavior or being okay with some of his positions.”

He added: “I knew that when I spoke out at that time that I was out of step with a lot of the Republican primary voters, but I felt that I had to do it. I had hoped — and I still hope and I’m confident at some point — that the fever will break. But it just became more and more apparent that it certainly wasn’t going to break by next year.”

Mercers Go After Elizabeth Warren

Boston Globe: “This time the attacks are coming from someone new: Robert Mercer, a New York billionaire who is trying to remake American politics and who bankrolled former Trump chief strategist Stephen Bannon’s Republican revolution.”

“Mercer’s methods are anything but subtle. One political operative described Mercer’s approach to politics as a ‘trail of tears’ tactic, a reference to President Andrew Jackson’s forced removal of Native Americans from their homelands.”

“Given political realities — including Warren’s massive fund-raising advantage and Massachusetts’ liberal status — Mercer’s intent isn’t really to defeat her in the 2018 Senate race, according to three people with knowledge of the family’s intentions. Instead, Robert Mercer and his politically minded middle daughter Rebekah have a longer term goal: They want to sand down some of Warren’s gloss ahead of an expected presidential campaign in 2020.”

House GOP Abandons Conservative Playbook

“House Republicans are so desperate for a win on taxes that they’re agreeing to proposals that would have caused internal party warfare just a year or two ago,” Politico reports.

“They’re considering forgoing a big cut in the top income tax rate on the rich, offering moderate-income Americans so many tax breaks that many would be excused from paying taxes entirely and passing a potentially 1,000-page tax bill few have seen within a matter of weeks. Last week, they agreed to a budget that ignored their demands for deep cuts in federal spending just so they could pass a tax bill using a special procedure that enables them move forward without any Democratic votes.”