February, 2018

Bannon Plots His Comeback

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon told GQ about his plans to launch a new political group sometime this spring or this summer.

Said Bannon: “In the modern digital age—and David Axelrod saw this very early on, and we a little bit copied it—there’s three things that are important: It’s authenticity of candidate. The one thing the Internet has done is blown through phonies. Number two is the importance of actionable ideas. Obama had a series of actionable ideas. Donald Trump had a series of actionable ideas. It’s the reason my office was called the war room. Number three is—and this is also an Obama and Trump characteristic — a volunteer army of dedicated people.”

He added: “We know from the studies, the most powerful thing in a digital world — in an isolated world, in a fractured world — is somebody ringing a doorbell and coming up to you and telling you from their heart about a candidate. The most powerful thing to this women’s movement is not Oprah Winfrey. The most powerful thing is a million people in the streets on a Saturday. That’s power.”

The GOP’s Tax Cut Narrative Is Unraveling

The Atlantic: “The most basic criticism of the GOP’s tax cut was that the boons for corporations and their shareholders would far outweigh the benefits for ordinary workers. That’s exactly what seems to be happening. Stock buybacks announced between January 1st and February 15th reached historically high levels, totaling about $170 billion in that period.”

“That’s 28 times larger than the total value of end-of-year bonuses that were credited to the corporate tax bill—some of which had been announced months earlier and had nothing to do with the tax cuts. Companies might be advertising new bonuses. But they’re quietly reaping the benefits of higher profits.”

Prosecutors Do Not Have Photo in Greitens Case

“Prosecutors in St. Louis do not possess the photograph that Gov. Eric Greitens (R) allegedly took of a woman without her consent,” the Kansas City Star reports.

“Greitens faces a felony indictment for invasion of privacy based on allegations that in 2015 he photographed a woman while she was blindfolded and partly nude in an effort to keep her from talking about the extramarital affair. The case could hinge on whether prosecutors can prove the photo’s existence.”

“The governor has refused to directly answer whether he took it.”

Judge Sets Manafort Trial Date for September

“A judge in Washington on Wednesday set a September 17 trial date for former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort on charges from special counsel Robert Mueller, including money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent,” Politico reports.

“The decision from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson would put Manafort on trial at the height of the midterm campaign season, a potentially unwelcome distraction for Republicans as they try to maintain majorities in Congress.”

Trump Aides Made Sure Bob Corker Wouldn’t Run

Washington Post: “Many of President Trump’s political aides made it a priority to ensure that the Tennessean, who has accused the president of ‘debasing’ the country with his ‘untruths’ and ‘name-calling,’ did not reenter the race. So they went straight to the one person with the ability to give Corker a new lease on his political life: Trump himself.”

“They frequently reminded the president of Corker’s criticism, at times even providing specific examples. They kept folders documenting the attacks from Corker and other Trump detractors. They argued that if Trump backed Corker, all that ugliness would receive renewed national attention.”

Remember How Trump Hit Clinton Over Classified Info?

First Read: “If there was one issue Donald Trump campaigned on more aggressively than the others in 2016, it was the importance of handling classified information — when it came to Hillary Clinton’s private email account and server… Why is this stroll down memory lane important? Yesterday, we learned that White House senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner — who had access to highly classified information and was even viewing the Presidential Daily Brief — lost his top-security clearance.”

“We’ve seen the Trump White House engage in plenty of hypocrisy over the past year — the vows to clean up the ‘swamp,’ the promises that wealthy Americans wouldn’t benefit under the tax law — but its carelessness about who is seeing classified information might be the biggest hypocrisy of all.”

“And regarding that Washington Post report about how foreign governments have discussed how they can manipulate Kushner, no one can survive a story like that — unless you’re the president’s son-in-law.”

DNC Will Contact 50 Million Voters

“Looking to harness anti-Donald Trump enthusiasm in what could be a banner year for Democrats, the Democratic National Committee will announce Wednesday that it’s planning to contact 50 million voters before the November elections,” NBC News reports.

“The DNC, which has struggled financially and faced doubts about its relevance, will focus its 2018 midterm elections organizing plans around partnerships with a wide range of groups aimed at boosting turnout among Democratic-leaning voters, who have been less likely to get to the polls in recent non-presidential elections.”

‘Only One Survives’

Jonathan Swan: “The Trump family — and the president’s oldest son, Don Jr., in particular — was angry about the overwhelmingly negative TV coverage about Jared Kushner last night, and feels White House Chief of Staff Kelly is hanging Jared out to dry.”

“Over the past few weeks I’ve found fewer people internally willing to defend Jared. Politically, I’ve never seen him so exposed.”

Said one White House official: “Javanka and Kelly are locked in a death match. Two enter. Only one survives.”

Lesko Wins Special Election Primary in Arizona

Debbie Lesko (R) won the Republican primary race for the vacant Arizona congressional seat Tuesday night, “drawing on her deep ties to the area to defeat 11 challengers,” the Arizona Republic reports.

Lesko and Hirai Tipirneni (D) “will face off in an April 24 special general election. The race will settle who finishes the current two-year term for Trent Franks, who resigned in December after being accused of sexual misconduct by some of his female staffers.”

Lesko is favored since Donald Trump won the district by 21 points in 2016.

Gun Control Push Collides with Political Reality

“Here’s how significant things don’t get done in Washington even in a moment of crisis and opportunity,” the New York Times reports.

“The president throws out a hodgepodge of ideas but refuses to put his full weight behind any of them. Senate Republicans, grappling for an answer that responds to public clamor but doesn’t alienate their conservative base, focus on a small fix unlikely to satisfy many people even if it could overcome internal divisions. House Republicans say they will wait to see what the Senate does — though history has shown that can be a very long wait. Democrats push for a broad debate that Republicans want nothing to do with.”

“That’s where Washington stands now on the subject of new gun legislation after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. Despite immense public pressure in part from students who escaped the shooting, the outlook for any consequential action remains dim as the president and lawmakers diverge on how best to respond.”

Vox: The Freedom Caucus is fighting to rein in Trump on gun control.

Kushner Broke Law In Announcing Campaign Manager

Associated Press: “The rollout of Brad Parscale’s announcement as Trump’s 2020 campaign manager was not without a hitch. A statement released Tuesday by the Trump campaign attributed to White House senior adviser Jared Kushner was in apparent violation of federal law prohibiting the use of official titles in political work. The campaign used Kushner’s title and his position as an ‘assistant to the president’ in its press release announcing Parscale’s role.”

“The Hatch Act bars government employees from using their official titles in political work. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday all senior officials and Cabinet secretaries have been briefed on the prohibition.”