“President Trump’s campaign and the RNC have paid more than $600,000 in legal fees to the law firm that represents Hope Hicks,” CNN reports.
President Trump insisted that he won’t watch special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress next week, The Hill reports.
Said Trump: “As far as I’m concerned, they already took their impeachment vote, and the impeachment vote was so lopsided. It was a massive victory.”
Matt Taibbi: “Cable news coverage of politics has hit a new low. The next new low will probably be next week, but still. CNN’s NBA-style debate lottery Thursday night degraded us all.”
“‘The Leader’ held a special segment for the randomized determination of the order for Democratic Party presidential debates on July 30 and 31. They gave the show a snappy marketing title: ‘The Draw’ – and had half the network doing promos and commentary. Anderson Cooper probably woke up this morning wanting a long shower.”
Writing for Lawfare, former FBI director James Comey lists the questions he would ask former special counsel Robert Mueller next week in his much-anticipated House testimony.
For members: The new edition of Inside Elections.
This issue features a deep dive into the Michigan U.S. Senate race and what it might say for each party’s prospects in the state for the 2020 presidential election.
The edition also includes an update on the three gubernatorial races happening in 2019 (including a rating change in Kentucky), analysis of Rep. Justin Amash’s decision to leave the Republican Party, and a conversation with a potential rising Democratic star running in New York City.
Nate Cohn says President Trump’s Electoral College edge endures heading into the 2020 presidential election, and it could grow further — potentially allowing him to win the presidency while losing the national vote by 5 points or more.
“Wisconsin was the tipping-point state in 2016, and it seems to hold that distinction now, at least based on the president’s approval rating among 2018 midterm voters.”
“Over all, the president’s approval rating was 47.1% in Wisconsin, above his 45.5% nationwide. This implies that the president’s advantage in the Electoral College, at least by his approval rating, is fairly similar to what it was in 2016.”
“A closer look at the underlying evidence suggests there’s reason to think the president’s ratings could be higher than estimated in the state.”
David Wasserman: “The bulk of the nation’s demographic transformation is taking place in states that matter the least in deciding the Electoral College… In 2020, it’s possible Trump could win 5 million fewer votes than his opponent — and still win a second term.”
“When I said I was the president’s nightmare, well you’re watching it now. We are going to continue to be a nightmare to this president, because his policies are a nightmare to us. And we are not deterred, we are not frightened, we are ready.”
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), quoted by The Hill.
This video is worth watching: For several minutes in the Oval Office, human rights activist Nadia Murad stood beside a seated President Trump and implored him to help the Yazidi community return to Iraq.
Said Murad: “If I cannot go to my home and live in a safe place and get my dignity back, this is not about ISIS. It’s about I’m in danger. My people cannot go back.”
Murad told him she never wanted to be a refugee but that ISIS murdered her mother and six brothers.
Trump’s response suggested he wasn’t even listening: “Where are they now?”
George Nader, a wealthy Lebanese-American businessman who was a witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, “has been indicted on charges of importing child pornography and traveling with a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity,” Politico reports.
“Prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Nader over the images in April 2018, but kept the charges under seal and never told his attorneys about them even as he continued to cooperate with Mueller’s probe.”
Andrew Sullivan: “This country has had volatile civil conflicts before. What’s different now is we have a president whose instinct in such turbulent times is actually to intensify the turbulence with rhetoric and mass rallies that foment greater and greater mutual hostility. Most presidents regard it as their responsibility to tamp down racial and cultural conflict. Trump, having no concept of any broader interest than his own, is incapable of it. His malignant narcissism prevents him from any other way of behaving, and each outrage becomes a new baseline for the next one.”
“So yes, we are in an abyss. And as Trump becomes increasingly emboldened by his survival, and one of the two major parties has become a cult, the bottom seems even more elusive than before. Think of what might happen if Trump loses the popular vote in 2020 by an even bigger margin but still ekes out an Electoral College victory. Think of how a close election could lead to Trump’s refusal to concede, and how the wheels could come off the entire system. What we know for certain is that, for the first time, we have a president who doesn’t care if that happens, who’d rather destroy the legitimacy of liberal democracy than compete legitimately within it.”
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Axios suggests President Trump is well-positioned to win re-election based on the strength of the economy based on this statistic: “Every incumbent president since FDR has won if he avoided a recession in the lead-up to an election year.”
Philip Bump: “Well, that’s that, right? Can’t argue with data.”
“Except that the sample size here is… small. There have been 13 presidents since Franklin Roosevelt. Only three have lost reelection bids, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. There have been seven recessions since 1970, two of which ended in the first quarters of the year before reelection bids (Ford’s and Bush’s). Is that what doomed them? More importantly, does that mean that a president without a recession can’t be defeated?”
For more on predicting the future based on the past, see this XKCD comic.
A new Public Policy Polling survey in Georgia and North Carolina finds Democrats might have a path to a 2020 victory in the South.
“Trump is underwater in both Georgia (which he won by 5 points in 2016) and North Carolina (which he won by 4 points in 2016.) In Georgia 45% of voters approve of the job he’s doing to 49% who disapprove and in North Carolina 46% of voters approve of the job he’s doing to 48% who disapprove. In Georgia Trump trails a generic Democrat for reelection 50% to 46%, and in North Carolina Trump trails a generic Democrat for reelection 49% to 44%. We wouldn’t go so far as to say Trump is an underdog based on these numbers — Democrats may very well end up with a candidate who’s not as strong as Good Old Generic — but we see them as toss ups if Trump remains as unpopular as he is right now.”
Combined with Arizona and Florida, this is essentially the Rust Belt vs. Sun Belt paths explained over at Electoral Vote Map.
Chris Riback talks with constitutional scholar Robert Tsai and has him answer many questions on the state of the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The Mueller Report tells a heck of a story, a bunch of incredible stories, actually. But it does so in a form that’s hard for a lot of people to take in. It’s very long. It’s legally dense in spots. It’s marred with redactions. It’s also, shall we say, not optimized for your reading pleasure.”
“Over the coming dozen or so episodes, we will walk through the entire report, we hope in an engaging fashion that is at once thorough, true to the document, and genuinely engaging to listen to.”
“We have created an electorate full of pundits and strategists, and the result is that we’re puzzling through not who we like but who we imagine someone else will like. It’s a fool’s errand to imagine who will be appealing to someone else.”
— Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), quoted by the New York Times, on picking a presidential candidate in 2020.
Noah Rothman: “The 2016 election cycle was a forsaken orgy of racial anxiety, political violence, spineless complacency, and depravity of a scale that was abnormal even for American politics. The 2020 election cycle will be worse.”
New York Times: “There are fierce rivalries, long-tangled histories, deeply personal grudges — and in the end, only one winner can hold the rose.”
“No, this isn’t The Bachelor. But the Democratic presidential candidates are taking part in the latest installment of a storied tradition of American politics: They are aiming to outwit, outplay and outlast a field of rivals in a campaign so far defined partly by its theatrics and big moments.”
“From the heavily rehearsed jabs, gimmicks and one-liners at the June debates to the elaborately staged ‘live drawing’ for the July debate lineups that aired Thursday night on CNN, it’s starting to look like Democrats have been drawn into the reality TV genre that President Trump, who first entered most homes as a character on The Apprentice, started spreading in American politics.”