February, 2018

Trump Has Helped Putin Cover Up a Crime

David Corn: “This means that Mueller’s probe could yield additional information regarding the details and breadth of the Russian campaign to intervene in the election to assist Trump. The president, who has yet to say anything in public showing he is committed to preventing Russian meddling in this year’s election, can continue to dismiss such material as ‘fake news’ produced by a ‘witch hunt.’ (According to the Washington Post, in his first year as president, Trump said the Russia probe was a Democratic hoax 44 times.)”

“Hours after Friday’s indictment, Trump issued a statement once again dismissing the Russia investigation for producing ‘outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations, and far-fetched theories.’  But with this indictment—and possibly others—Mueller has demonstrated that Trump, by refusing to acknowledge fully the Russian assault of 2016, has been helping Putin cover up a crime. “

U.S. Man Pleads Guilty to Helping Russians

“A California man pleaded guilty to identity fraud in a second case unsealed Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into Russian interference in the US presidential election,” CNN reports.

“Richard Pinedo’s guilty plea was unsealed by the federal court in DC on Friday, minutes after the Justice Department announced charges against 13 Russian nationals.”

13 Russians Indicted for U.S. Election Interference

“The Justice Department announced the indictment of a notorious Russian troll farm — naming more than a dozen individual suspects who allegedly worked there — as part of the special counsel’s investigation into criminal interference with the 2016 election,” the Washington Post reports.

New York Times: “The indictment charges that the foreigners falsely posed as American citizens, stole identities and otherwise engaged in fraud and deceit in an effort to influence the U.S. political process, including the 2016 presidential race.”

“Though the Russians are unlikely to be immediately arrested, they are now wanted by the United States government, which will make it hard for them to travel or do business internationally.”

Commerce Recommends Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum

Jonathan Swan: “The Department of Commerce will recommend tariffs on steel and aluminum that, if applied, would be the first shots in a global trade war.”

“The fight over whether to use the Section 232 law to impose tariffs has already become the hottest trade fight inside the Trump White House. Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin, Rex Tillerson and James Mattis have all been fighting against these tariffs on steel and aluminum — arguing they would harm the global economy and damage relationships with allies.”

Scott Leaning Towards a Senate Bid In Florida

“Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), in conversations with major Republican donors over the past week, has signaled that he is moving closer to challenging Sen. Bill Nelson and has mapped out financial and political plans that could guide his potential bid,” the Washington Post reports.

“Scott’s study of the race’s dynamics and his confidence that the veteran Democrat is vulnerable has led those donors to conclude that the governor is now leaning toward running, the people said, requesting anonymity to discuss private exchanges.”

Said one donor: “He thinks Nelson isn’t ready for the velocity of a 2018 campaign.”

Quote of the Day

“I don’t think that the campaign colluded in some meaningful way. I don’t think that they were organized enough, or competent enough as a campaign to do that.”

— Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), in an interview with CNBC, doubting that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

Republicans Bet Their Majorities on a Tax Cut

Matthew Continetti: “Republicans want to tie the strong economy to the tax cut they passed last December. This is the most powerful weapon they have in the coming election, not just because the policy appears to be succeeding, but also because it’s the only major achievement of the 115th Congress. Republicans are keeping track of how many companies have pegged bonuses, raises, or 401(k) perks to the tax cut—the number currently stands at 348. They urge voters to “check their check,” beginning this week, to see the extra take-home pay the cut has given them. And they are telling candidates to highlight the impact on everyday people: Christmas toys purchased, vacations enjoyed, and small businesses expanded as a result of a policy the GOP embraced but every Democrat in Congress voted against.”

First Democratic Campaign Ads on the Tax Law

A Democratic super PAC unveiled these two television ads — in Indiana and Missouri — backing the endangered Senate incumbents.

Both ads feature the same message: The tax law gives 83% of the benefits to the richest one percent of the population while adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt. And to pay for it, there’s Republicans plan to cut Medicare.