December, 2017

Two Different Paths for Democrats

CNN: “One congressman is a low-key member of a political dynasty who is strategically inserting himself into policy debates and laying out what he thinks Democrats still need to learn. The other is a retired Marine and combat veteran who has tangled with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and has already logged a high-profile trip to Iowa more than three years ahead of the next presidential caucus.”

“Massachusetts Reps. Joe Kennedy III and Seth Moulton take different approaches to their work in Washington. But as Democrats focus on retaking the House next year, these lawmakers in their late 30s are getting a fresh look as potential future leaders in a party where many in the senior ranks are well into their 70s.”

Christmas in Guatemala and Belize

I’ve been traveling in Guatemala and Belize with my family over the last week and discovered there are still places in the world with spotty Internet access. My apologies for the sporadic updates.

It was a fantastic trip. We biked through Guatemalan towns, hiked through the rain forest and ate great food. We saw the Mayan ruins at Tikal, explored a cave still filled with ancient artifacts, visited the Belize Zoo and snorkeled on the coral reefs of Placencia. Most importantly, I had a great time with my family.

After the last year of near constant political news, I really needed a break. Thanks for your patience.

Obama and Clinton Retain ‘Most Admired’ Titles

Gallup: “Americans once again are most likely to name Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as the man and woman living anywhere in the world they admire most, as they have for the past 10 years. The pair retain their titles this year, although by much narrower margins than in the past. Obama edges out Donald Trump, 17% to 14%, while Clinton edges out Michelle Obama, 9% to 7%.”

Mueller Could Indict Paul Manafort Again

Daily Beast: “A superseding indictment would essentially replace the current indictment of Manafort. And in that current indictment, Mueller’s team hinted there was more to come. In particular, they hinted at potential tax charges for Manafort’s foreign financial transactions. Federal prosecutors can bring charges against any American who has money in a foreign bank account and doesn’t check a box on their tax forms disclosing it. The Manafort/Gates indictment describes financial behavior that may be liable for that kind of prosecution. And that’s an indicator that Mueller’s team may be preparing to formally charge both men with violating tax laws.”

Impeachment Drive Builds Digital Army to Oppose Trump

“When billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer launched a digital petition drive to impeach President Trump two months ago, some Democratic Party leaders dismissed it as an unhelpful vanity project — and even Steyer thought he’d top out at a million signatures,” Politico reports.

“But nearly 4 million digital signatures later, the philanthropist and environmental activist’s unlikely campaign has seized on an issue — impeaching Trump — that could become part of the Democratic mainstream in 2018. It’s placed at his fingertips a potentially powerful tool: an email list of millions of motivated activists whom he can reach instantly for organizing and fundraising and that could become the hottest trove of data in Democratic politics since the email list that Bernie Sanders’ insurgent campaign against Hillary Clinton collected in 2016.”

Trump Plans to Cast Flynn as a Liar

“President Trump’s legal team plans to attack the credibility of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and cast him as seeking to protect himself if he accuses the president or his senior aides of any wrongdoing,” the Washington Post reports.

“The approach would mark a sharp break from Trump’s previously sympathetic posture toward Flynn, who is cooperating with the special counsel’s Russia investigation.”

“Flynn is the most senior former Trump adviser known to be providing information to Mueller’s team. The lenient terms of his plea agreement suggest he has promised significant information to investigators, legal experts said.”

Mississippi Could Be Next Battleground In GOP Civil War

“Mississippi’s 2018 U.S. Senate race is poised as the next possible front in the fight between rival wings of the Republican Party, a campaign that could test how the GOP’s populist and establishment forces engage in the aftermath of this month’s bitter Alabama contest,” the Washington Post reports.

“If state Sen. Chris McDaniel, the hard right’s top recruit for the seat, decides to challenge U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, he will be up against the incumbent’s well-funded allies and President Trump, who has pledged Wicker his support. Those dynamics could trigger a broad intraparty clash such as the one that played out in Alabama, where the GOP lost a Senate seat for the first time in a quarter-century.”

Bannon Cuts Ties with Ryan Challenger

“Steve Bannon has cut ties with Paul Nehlen, the far-right activist who is challenging Paul Ryan for his congressional seat and who has received extremely favorable coverage from Breitbart in the past,” CNN reports.

Said one Bannon adviser: “Nehlen is dead to us.”

“Nehlen, who became a lightning rod for his anti-immigrant views, has escalated his rhetoric in recent days with a number of incendiary tweets.”

Trump Has Spent a Third of His Time at Trump Properties

President Trump “has spent nearly one-third of his time in office this year at one of the properties that either bear his name or that his family company owns,” according to CNN.

“Trump has so far spent 110 days as president at one of his properties, a fact that critics argue helps the businessman-turned-politician boost the bottom line at The Trump Organization. Trump transferred his business holdings to a trust run by his sons before taking office earlier this year, but stopped short of selling off his holdings.”

Mueller Probe Outgrows Its ‘Witch Hunt’ Phase

Yahoo News: “As described by sources familiar with various aspects of the investigation, the Mueller probe is fast approaching a critical crossroads. The president’s lawyers, Ty Cobb and John Dowd, are pressing Mueller to wind down the investigation and exonerate their client, which they have assured the president will happen by early next year.”

“But the sources familiar with the probe say that such a rapid conclusion is — as one put it — “fanciful.” Mueller and his team, they say, are pursuing new leads, interrogating new witnesses and collecting a mountain of new evidence, including subpoenaed bank records and thousands of emails from the campaign and the Trump transition.”

Garcetti Admits He’s Thinking About 2020 Bid

“It’s no secret Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is interested in running for president,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“When reporters ask about his intentions, he has used all sorts of ways to deflect, typically by saying he’s focused on his day job — for the moment. But speaking in Spanish to a Univision reporter this week, Garcetti edged ever closer to the telltale admission he’s actually considering it.”

Said Garcetti: “I am thinking about this. The majority of time goes to my work as mayor of Los Angeles, but every [citizen] should think about what our role is in these difficult times, in these dangerous times.”

New York Attorney General Leads Resistance

New York Times: “How far Mr. Schneiderman is willing to go in taking on Mr. Trump could define his political career, particularly in a blue state where disapproval of the president is high. The attorney general’s office potential for troublemaking and generating national headlines was redefined in the early 2000s by Eliot Spitzer. Mr. Schneiderman is a less combative man who was often the target of Mr. Trump’s Twitter wrath amid a three-year civil investigation into Trump University. In the end, Mr. Schneiderman’s office extracted a $25 million settlement in the case.”

“Nonetheless, Mr. Schneiderman is seen by some as a possible backstop should the president exercise his pardon power to help those who might become ensnared in the investigation of possible Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election being led by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel. Federal pardons do not apply to violations of state law.”

Putin Sidelines an Opponent

“Aleksei Navalny, a Russian anti-corruption activist, would have no real chance of defeating President Vladimir V. Putin in an election. The authorities have cast him as an utterly irrelevant showboat,” the New York Times reports.

“But on Monday the Kremlin barred him from running for president in March. Then on Tuesday, threatening legal action, it warned him against organizing a boycott of the election.”

“In one surreal turn after another, the Russian authorities have dismissed Mr. Navalny, a charismatic and canny street politician, as a nonentity — and then have done everything in their power to make sure that is the case.”

Obamacare Morphs Into Government-Run Health Care

New York Times: “In short, President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement is becoming more like what conservatives despise — government-run health care — thanks in part to Republican efforts that are raising premiums for people without government assistance and allowing them to skirt coverage.”

“By ending the tax penalty for people who do not have coverage, beginning in 2019, Republicans may hasten the flight of customers who now pay the full cost of their insurance. Among those left behind under the umbrella of the Affordable Care Act would be people of modest means who qualify for Medicaid or receive sizable subsidies for private insurance.”