2016 Campaign

Dear Trump Voters: You’re a Bunch of Idiots

Matt Lewis: “Now look, I realize that a lot of good Republicans voted for someone other than Trump in the GOP primary. Further, I realize that Trump lost the popular vote in the general election. So I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush when I say that you were warned about this man—and you ignored our warnings. We were right; you were wrong.”

“The masses, it turns out, sometimes are asses. Sometimes the people who actually pay close attention to politics know more than the disgruntled populists and nationalists who are willing to gamble on the future of this great republic—and on the reputation of a conservative philosophy that goes from Aristotle to Burke to Buckley—in order to boost a reality show host. You elected your guy, and look where it got us.”

“Congratulations, or something.”

Nine Months Later

McKay Coppins profiles Trump campaign aides A.J. Deglado and Jason Miller who “engaged in a romance that had been forged in the frenetic final weeks” of the presidential race. After the campaign, Miller returned to his pregnant wife who recently gave birth to their child.

A few weeks later, Delgado also gave birth to a Miller child.

The secret relationship, and bitter breakup, between these two high-profile Republicans—both of whom became cable news stars in 2016 as Trump campaign surrogates—has been the subject of widespread speculation in Washington since last December, when the scandal first burst into public view, causing Miller to turn down the job of White House communications director. The story faded from view in the months that followed, but it resurfaced last week in the gossip pages of the New York Post—prompting a flurry of late-night tweets from Delgado, and a rash of national news coverage.

In a series of interviews, Delgado told me her full story for the first time.

The Obama-Trump Voters Swung the Election

Nate Cohn: “The story of the 2016 presidential election is simple. Donald J. Trump made huge gains among white voters without a college degree. His gains were large enough to cancel out considerable losses among well-educated white voters and a decade of demographic shifts.”

“There are questions and details still up for debate: whether Democrats can win back these voters, and how to think about and frame the decline in black turnout. But postelection surveys, pre-election surveys, voter file data and the actual results all support the main story: The voters who switched from President Obama to Mr. Trump were decisive.”

Key finding: “They had soured on Obama. Just 29% of white, no-college Obama-Trump voters approved of his performance, and 69% disapproved. Similarly, 75% said they would repeal the Affordable Care Act. Only 15% believed the economy had improved over the last year, and just 23% said their income had increased over the last four years.”

Trump Aide Repeatedly Tried to Set Up Russia Meetings

Just after Donald Trump named his campaign foreign policy team in March 2016, new adviser George Papadopoulos offered to set up “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump,” telling them his Russian contacts “welcomed the opportunity,” according to internal campaign emails read to the Washington Post.

“The proposal sent a ripple of concern through campaign headquarters in Trump Tower… But Papadopoulos, a campaign volunteer with scant foreign policy experience, persisted. Between March and September, the self-described energy consultant sent at least a half-dozen requests for Trump, as he turned from primary candidate to party nominee, or for members of his team to meet with Russian officials.”

“Papadopoulos emerges from the sample of emails as a new and puzzling figure in the examination of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian officials and their proxies during the 2016 election, now the subject of a special-counsel investigation.”

Manafort Switches Legal Team

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort “is changing his attorneys as a federal investigation heats up into his financial transactions,” Politico reports.

Manafort’s case will now be handled by Miller and Chevalier, a boutique firm in Washington that specializes in complicated financial crimes among other issues… Manafort is cutting ties with WilmerHale, the firm that has represented him in the matter so far. His former lawyer there, Reg Brown, led the congressional investigations practice.”

Trump Says It Was ‘Tough Stuff’ to Raid Manafort Home

President Trump said he was “surprised” by the fact that the FBI conducted an early morning raid of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s home last month, CNN reports.

Said Trump: “You know, they do that very seldom, so I was surprised to see it. I was very, very surprised to see it. I thought it was a very, very strong signal, or whatever.”

He added: “But to do that early in the morning, whether or not it was appropriate you’d have to ask them. I’ve always found Paul Manafort to be a very decent man. He’s like a lot of other people — probably makes consultant fees from all over the place. Who knows? I don’t know, but I thought it was pretty tough stuff to wake him up, perhaps his family was there. I think that’s pretty tough stuff.”

Mueller Turns Up Heat on Manafort

Special counsel Robert Mueller “is bearing down on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as he directs a wide-ranging probe into Russian interference in last year’s presidential election,” Bloomberg reports.

“Mueller’s team of investigators has sent subpoenas in recent weeks from a Washington grand jury to global banks for account information and records of transactions involving Manafort and some of his companies, as well as those of a long-time business partner, Rick Gates, according to people familiar with the matter.”

“As prosecutors gather many years of information about his financial affairs, Manafort could be dragged deeper into any number of legal disputes. He has a history of doing business with oligarchs and politicians in Ukraine and Russia that predates his political work for Trump, with payments routed through foreign banks and investments in U.S. real estate.”

Feds Sought Cooperation from Manafort’s Son-in-Law

“Federal investigators sought cooperation from Paul Manafort’s son-in-law in an effort to increase pressure on President Trump’s former campaign chairman,” Politico reports.

“Investigators approached Jeffrey Yohai, who has partnered in business deals with Manafort, earlier this summer, setting off ‘real waves’ in Manafort’s orbit, one of these people said. Another of these people said investigators are trying to get ‘into Manafort’s head.'”

FBI Conducted Predawn Raid of Manafort’s Home

“FBI agents raided the Alexandria home of President Trump’s former campaign chairman late last month, using a search warrant to seize documents and other materials,” the Washington Post reports.

“Federal agents appeared at Paul Manafort’s home without advance warning in the predawn hours of July 26, the day after he met voluntarily with the staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

“The search warrant was wide-ranging and FBI agents working with special counsel Robert Mueller departed the home with various records… The search warrant indicates investigators may have argued to a federal judge they had reason to believe Manafort could not be trusted to turn over all records in response to a grand jury subpoena.”

New York Times: “Officials did not disclose where the search warrant was carried out. Mr. Manafort has homes in Virginia, Florida, New York City and the Hamptons.”

GOP Staffers Hunt for Trump Dossier Author

Politico: “Two Republican House Intelligence Committee staffers traveled to London earlier this summer to track down the former British intelligence operative who compiled a controversial dossier on President Trump and Russia.”

“The previously unreported trip underscores the importance of the 35-page dossier Christopher Steele wrote last year to Congressional probes into possible collusion between Moscow and the 2016 Trump campaign.”

“The London trip has also angered Democrats in both chambers of Congress, who were not consulted by their colleagues before the investigators knocked on Steele’s door. Democrats fear House investigators are more interested in discrediting the dossier than trying to substantiate its allegations.”

Mueller Is Following the Trump Money Trail

“Federal investigators exploring whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian spies have seized on Trump and his associates’ financial ties to Russia as one of the most fertile avenues for moving their probe forward,” CNN reports.

“Sources described an investigation that has widened to focus on possible financial crimes, some unconnected to the 2016 elections, alongside the ongoing scrutiny of possible illegal coordination with Russian spy agencies and alleged attempts by President Trump and others to obstruct the FBI investigation. Even investigative leads that have nothing to do with Russia but involve Trump associates are being referred to the special counsel to encourage subjects of the investigation to cooperate.”

Two interesting items:

  • Investigators have discovered communications from Russian spies about their attempts to coordinate with Paul Manafort and other Trump associates on damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
  • Former Trump adviser Carter Page had been under a FISA warrant since 2014, longer than previously reported.

Kushner Says Trump Team Too Disorganized to Collude

Jared Kushner told a group of interns that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign “could not have colluded with Russia because they were barely talking to each other,” Foreign Policy reports.

Said Kushner: “They thought we colluded, but we couldn’t even collude with our local offices.”

“For investigators attempting to determine whether Trump’s associates knowingly worked with Russia to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a defense claiming chaos and confusion might be the key difference between criminal behavior and incompetence.”