GOP Inherits What Trump Has Wrought

“The darker forces that propelled President Trump’s rise are beginning to frame and define the rest of the Republican Party,” the Washington Post reports.

“When GOP House candidate Greg Gianforte assaulted a reporter who had attempted to ask him a question in Montana, many saw not an isolated outburst by an individual, but the obvious, violent result of Trump’s charge that journalists are ‘the enemy of the people.’ Nonetheless, Gianforte won Thursday’s special election to fill a safe Republican seat.”

“Trump — and specifically, his character and his conduct — now thoroughly dominate the national political conversation… The dynamic is shaping the contours of this year’s smattering of special congressional elections and contests for governor, as well as the jockeying ahead the 2018 midterm elections.”

Democrats Gain Ground In Special Elections

Axios: “There have been three special elections in the Trump era, and although Democrats have yet to flip a seat, they’ve gained considerable ground in each compared to results in the general.”

“A similar situation unfolded in 2009 when three blue-state seats opened up following Obama’s win. The GOP gained ground in each of those special elections (without winning), foreshadowing the 2010 midterms when Republicans picked up 63 seats and took control of the House.”

Matthew Yglesias: “If Republicans are winning in places like Montana by just 7 percentage points, then they are in extreme peril of losing their House majority in November 2018.”

GOP Turns Gloomy Over Obamacare Repeal

Politico: “A feeling of pessimism is settling over Senate Republicans as they head into a week-long Memorial Day recess with deeply uncertain prospects for their push to repeal Obamacare. Senators reported that they’ve made little progress on the party’s most intractable problems this week, such as how to scale back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and overall Medicaid spending.”

“Republicans have started writing the very basics of their repeal legislation, even though they’ve made few decisions about what it will say. Staffers will work on the bill over the break to try to increase the pace of negotiations, as well as haggle with the Senate parliamentarian over whether the chamber can even consider the bill because of procedural reasons. But in the meantime, frustrations are rising and confidence is diminishing.”

Bannon Is Back In Favor

Jonathan Swan: “Nine sources in the West Wing and within Trump’s close orbit said the Russia situation is Bannon’s shot at redemption. He’s being described as a ‘wartime consigliere’ relishing a fight against the ‘deep state,’ media, Democrats and investigators.”

“Bannon had been on very rocky footing recently (to the extent that the President has vented to a number of people about him), but the bolstering of the White House team to respond to the outside crises is a joint effort led by Kushner, Bannon and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, two sources said. The senior staff that had been out for each other is now united by a common enemy.”

Said one source: “It is now very clear that there is a unified opponent and that’s ultimately the swamp, both with regard to the deep state leakers, to the partisan opponents and the people who just don’t want to give up their power. That includes the media.”

Gianforte Wins In Montana

“Unhampered by being charged with the assault of a reporter just 24 hours earlier, Republican Greg Gianforte on Thursday won the special election to fill Montana’s empty seat in the U.S. House by 7 percentage points,” the Billings Gazette reports.

“The Bozeman technology entrepreneur, who did not appear publicly after the assault until his victory speech late Thursday, traded leads with Democrat Rob Quist as early results came in, but by 10 p.m. he took a lead Quist could not recover from.”

Montana Polls Close

The polls in Montana’s special congressional election race between Greg Gianforte (R) and Rob Quist (D) are now closed.

Nate Silver: “Yeah, my back-of-the-envelope math is that Gianforte is winning the early vote by somewhere in the high single digits (5-9 points). Which might qualify as a moral victory for Democrats, but makes an actual one something of a long-shot for Quist.”

David Wasserman: “The truth is, we’ll never really know where the race stood yesterday, only a messy combination of where it stood pre- and post-slam. That said, I think a 4-8 point Gianforte victory would still be a good sign for Democrats nationally, considering they haven’t come that close in a Montana House race in two decades.”

For members: A Loss In Montana Wouldn’t Be Terrible for Democrats

Russian Hackers Now Using ‘Tainted Leaks’

Wired: “Over the past year, the Kremlin’s strategy of weaponizing leaks to meddle with democracies around the world has become increasingly clear, first in the US and more recently in France. But a new report by a group of security researchers digs into another layer of those so-called influence operations: how Russian hackers alter documents within those releases of hacked material, planting disinformation alongside legitimate leaks.”

GOP Tries to Recruit Author J.D. Vance for Senate

“Some Republican activists and donors worried about the prospects of their party’s Senate candidate in Ohio are kicking around an outside-the-box alternative: Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“The recruiting overtures reflect unease with the early GOP frontrunner, state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who is seeking a rematch with Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown.”

Kushner Now a Focus in Russia Probe

“Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and one of his senior advisers, has come under FBI scrutiny in the Russia investigation,” multiple U.S. officials told NBC News.

“Investigators believe Kushner has significant information relevant to their inquiry… The FBI’s scrutiny of Kushner places the bureau’s sprawling counterintelligence and criminal investigation not only on the doorstep of the White House, but in the Trump family circle.”

Washington Post: “Kushner, who held meetings in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow , is being investigated because of the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians.”

Trump Claims He Wanted Macron to Win in France

President Trump told Emmanuel Macron that he had been his favorite to win the French presidential election and media reports that he was backing far-right leader Marine Le Pen were wrong, Reuters reports.

Said Trump: “You were my guy.”

“Trump told Macron that, contrary to media reports during the race, he had not backed Le Pen and had followed Macron’s campaign with great attention, the source said, adding that the two leaders had spoken in English.”

Flashback: Trump says Le Pen is strongest candidate.

Kushner Failed to Disclose Art Collection

“Since their wedding in 2009, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have amassed a formidable collection of contemporary art… Yet in required financial disclosures, Kushner, a senior advisor and son-in-law to President Trump, failed to report the couple’s art collection,” Artnet News reports.

“The omission stands in contrast to disclosures from other senior members of the Trump administration. In recent months, Trump’s top cabinet picks have revealed considerable art holdings as part of required financial disclosures.”

Trump Chastises NATO on Payment Obligations

President Trump “exported the confrontational, nationalist rhetoric of his campaign across the Atlantic, shaming European leaders for not footing more of the bill for their own defenses and lecturing them to stop taking advantage of U.S. taxpayers,” the Washington Post reports.

“And he held back from the one pledge NATO leaders most dearly wanted to hear: an unconditional embrace of NATO’s solemn treaty commitment that an attack on a single alliance nation is an attack on all of them.”

Appeals Court Won’t Reinstate Trump Travel Ban

The federal appeals court in Richmond “refused to reinstate President Trump’s revised travel ban, saying it discriminated on the basis of religion,” the New York Times reports.

“The decision was a fresh setback for the administration’s efforts to limit travel from several predominantly Muslim countries. Mr. Trump had narrowed the scope of his first executive order, issued in January, in response to an earlier appeals court decision halting it. But the basic flaws in his approach remained, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled.”

“The case is now likely to go to the Supreme Court.”