Greitens Adds to His Defense Team

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) “has added a new lawyer to his team amidst investigations surrounding allegations of blackmail during an extramarital affair,” KMOV reports.

“Local attorneys say Garvey’s hiring could signal a shift in Greitens’ strategy to begin to prepare for the possibility of having to defend himself in criminal proceedings.”

The Midterm Battleground

Ron Brownstein: “The clearest opportunity for Democrats is the relatively few remaining Republican-held districts in blue metro areas with large populations of college-educated whites, and in many cases substantial minority and youth populations as well. These are places crowded with voters who tilt toward liberal positions on social issues and recoil from Trump’s volatile persona, particularly the way he talks about race.”

“The next bucket of seats is demographically similar to the red pockets but politically distinct because they are in metro areas that lean much more reliably toward the GOP. I call this group of seats Romneyland because they are filled with voters who resemble Romney demographically and ideologically: professionals and corporate middle managers who want a president who will shrink government and even pursue a center-right social agenda, but also exude professionalism and decorum.”

“The third key test for Democrats is the districts I call ‘blue-collar blues.’ These are the blue-collar, exurban, small town and rural seats in states that generally lean Democratic.”

Don’t Blame Washington

Catherine Rampell: “Dysfunctional Washington refuses to work out its differences to solve problems that matter to Americans.”

“So say pundits and policy activists, perhaps hoping that diffuse criticism, rather than finger-pointing, will yield a government willing to govern.”

“But the problem isn’t ‘Washington.’ It isn’t ‘Congress,’ either. The problem is elected officials from a single political party: the GOP.”

Donald Trump, Then and Now

“A woman I don’t know and, to the best of my knowledge, never met, is on the front page of the Fake News Washington Post saying I kissed her (for two minutes yet) in the lobby of Trump Tower 12 years ago. Never happened! Who would do this in a public space with live security.”

— Donald Trump, on Twitter this morning.

“You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

— Trump, on the Access Hollywood tape in 2005.

Mueller Charges Dutch Lawyer In Russia Probe

Special counsel Robert Mueller has charged a new defendant in the Russia investigation, this time involving Dutch lawyer Alex Van Der Zwaan, who is accused of making false statements.

The false statements came when Mueller’s team was asking questions about Van Der Zwaan’s work representing the Ukraine Ministry of Justice.

The Kyiv Post reported last year that Van der Zwaan is “the Russian-speaking son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan.”

Not That Different Than George W. Bush

“If they squint hard enough, Republicans looking at President Trump can almost see George W. Bush,” the New York Times reports.

“Government spending and the debt are soaring, provoking grumblings about fiscal recklessness. Taxes were slashed at the expense of balanced budgets. Thousands of additional troops have been deployed into war zones half a world away. And with the exception of some highly specific tariffs, international trade remains free and unfettered.”

“For all the ways Mr. Trump has defied and flouted the norms of his office, many policies that he has approved are downright ordinary by the standards of modern Republican administrations.”

New Pennsylvania Map Is Huge Midterm Development

David Wasserman looks at the new Pennsylvania map this way: The six Democratic pick-up opportunities became even stronger pick-up opportunities when it comes to the Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voting Index. Under the old map, the six most vulnerable Republican seats were a median R+3:

  • PA-6: R+2
  • PA-7: R+1
  • PA-8: R+2
  • PA-15: R+4
  • PA-16: R+5
  • PA-18: R+11

Under the new map, they are even:

  • PA-1: R+1
  • PA-5: D+13
  • PA-6: D+2
  • PA-7: D+1
  • PA-10: R+6
  • PA-17: R+3

First Read: ” This new map is the most consequential midterm development of 2018, and it’s going to produce a chain of events (members hunting for new districts, member-vs.-member races, possible retirements, even more lawsuits) that we’ll be following all year long.”

Just Like Nixon’s Last Days

Former Nixon speechwriter David Gergen told CNN that President Trump’s erratic tweeting “reminds me very much of the last days of President Nixon when he became deeply, deeply insecure, lashed out in all sorts of ways and didn’t remain focused on the job at hand. But this, I’m afraid, has been President Trump’s pattern for some time.”

He added: “I don’t know why he is so insecure. It certainly suggests that as Mueller closes in more, that there is he very much does not want us to know, and he is very afraid that Mueller is going to get there.”

Will Anthony Kennedy Retire?

New York Times: “For the second year in a row, rumors that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy may retire from the Supreme Court are sweeping Washington. He is 81, and he is doubtless weighing many factors in deciding whether to stay. Among them, experts in judicial behavior said, are the tug of party loyalty, the preservation of his judicial legacy and how close his retirement would be to a presidential election.”

Inside Trump’s Miss Universe Gambit

Jeffrey Toobin looks back at Donald Trump’s decision to hold the 2013 Miss Universe competition in Moscow.

“Trump has long viewed his businesses as mutually reinforcing, with all the products—from hotels to steak, vodka to golf resorts—complementing one another… Today, the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow looks like a harbinger of the Trump campaign and Presidency, featuring some of the same themes and characters. Miss Universe represents a paradigmatic example of Trump’s business style in action—the exaggerations that teeter into lies, the willingness to embrace dubious partners, the hunger for glamour and recognition.”

Porter’s Resume Helped Obscure Abuse Allegations

New York Times: “Described as charismatic, intense and privileged, Mr. Porter, the son of Roger B. Porter, a Harvard professor and a former domestic policy adviser to President George Bush, spent years building on his pedigree. He grew up Mormon in a family with close ties to the elite Mormon enclave of Belmont, Mass., collected degrees from Harvard and Oxford University and amassed prestigious job titles. Though many described him as composed and calm, others in his ultracompetitive workplaces described him as tightly wound, revealing occasional glimpses of how angry he could become, particularly if anyone got in his way. A former White House official said the temper flare-ups left him with the sense that Mr. Porter was more volatile and troubled than his clean-cut image let on.”