2016 Campaign

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I got home about 4:30 a.m. And Mary Pat, who is the soundest sleeper I’ve ever met in my life, who can sleep through anything, was straight up in bed waiting for me. And she looked at me and said, ‘Are we going to Washington?’ And I said, I really don’t know, but get ready.”

— Gov. Chris Christie (R), in a New York Times interview, remembering election night in 2016.

Grassley Refers Dossier Author for Possible Charges

“The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended that the Justice Department investigate for possible criminal charges the author of the now-famous ‘dossier’ alleging the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin during the 2016 election,” the Washington Post reports.

“The move by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) marks a major escalation in conservatives’ challenges to the FBI’s credibility as the agency investigates whether any Trump associates committed crimes.”

Bannon Called Trump a ‘Narcissist’ In Private Emails

“Steve Bannon privately expressed ambivalence about Donald Trump as a presidential candidate before taking over his campaign, calling Trump a ‘narcissist’ and stating that he didn’t care if Trump won,” according to emails obtained by BuzzFeed News.

“The email exchange, during Bannon’s first run as executive chairman of Breitbart News, is of fresh relevance after President Trump lambasted his former chief strategist.”

Trump Never Wanted to Win

New York Magazine runs an excerpt from Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House:

Not only did Trump disregard the potential conflicts of his own business deals and real-estate holdings, he audaciously refused to release his tax returns. Why should he? Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary. His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.

Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears—and not of joy.

There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon’s not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump. But still to come was the final transformation: Suddenly, Donald Trump became a man who believed that he deserved to be, and was wholly capable of being, the president of the United States.

Bannon Called Trump Tower Meeting ‘Treasonous’

Steve Bannon has described the Trump Tower meeting between the president’s son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”, according to an explosive new book seen by the Guardian.

Said Bannon: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, “reportedly based on more than 200 interviews with the president, his inner circle and players in and around the administration, is one of the most eagerly awaited political books of the year. In it, Wolff lifts the lid on a White House lurching from crisis to crisis amid internecine warfare, with even some of Trump’s closest allies expressing contempt for him.”

Firm Defends ‘Dossier’ on Trump-Russia Ties

Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, founders of Fusion GPS, write in the New York Times:

Yes, we hired Mr. Steele, a highly respected Russia expert. But we did so without informing him whom we were working for and gave him no specific marching orders beyond this basic question: Why did Mr. Trump repeatedly seek to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state that most serious investors shun?

What came back shocked us. Mr. Steele’s sources in Russia (who were not paid) reported on an extensive — and now confirmed — effort by the Kremlin to help elect Mr. Trump president. Mr. Steele saw this as a crime in progress and decided he needed to report it to the F.B.I…

We’re extremely proud of our work to highlight Mr. Trump’s Russia ties. To have done so is our right under the First Amendment.

It is time to stop chasing rabbits. The public still has much to learn about a man with the most troubling business past of any United States president. Congress should release transcripts of our firm’s testimony, so that the American people can learn the truth about our work and most important, what happened to our democracy.

Democrats Want to Depose Priebus About Election Night

“Fresh from interviewing former White House press secretary Sean Spicer over what he was doing on the fifth floor of Trump Tower on election night, Democrats now want to interview former RNC Chairman Reince Priebus,” Politico reports.

“Spicer’s presence that night has caused some unease among Republicans because the expiration of a 35-year-old settlement, or consent decree, barring the RNC from engaging in ballot security operations may depend on it. The fifth floor was the nerve center of then-candidate Donald Trump’s poll-watching operations.”

“The consent decree originated from the RNC’s voter intimidation efforts in New Jersey’s 1981 gubernatorial election. Republicans, some of whom were armed off-duty law enforcement officers wearing armbands, showed up at urban polling places and challenged voters. The display was blamed for suppressing the black vote, allowing Republican Tom Kean to squeak out an extremely narrow victory over Democrat Jim Florio.”

Conspiracy Is Main Issue in Russia Investigation

Nick Ackerman, a former Watergate prosecutor, told MSNBC that the big issue in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is not whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia, but whether it conspired to steal emails from prominent figures in the Democratic Party.

Said Ackerman: “I think the big enchilada here is the conspiracy to break into the Democratic National Committee in violation of the federal computer crime law and to use those emails to help Donald Trump get elected. All of that is motive as to why Donald Trump and others were endeavoring to obstruct the investigation, and why Donald Trump told James Comey to let the investigation on Michael Flynn go. All of this is going to come together in 2018.”

How the Russia Inquiry Began

New York Times: “During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.”

“About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.”

“Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts.”

FBI Investigating Trump Surrogate

“According to federal court filing made public today, the FBI has executed a search warrant on an e-mail address associated with Trump surrogate and former sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.,” NBC News reports.

The Daily Beast notes it involves “a January incident with a passenger on a plane… Clarke, a vocal Trump surrogate, had a minor disagreement with fellow passenger Dan Black on a Milwaukee-bound plane. Clarke texted one of his officers, asking him to detain Black when the plane landed.”

Trump Binges on ‘No Collusion’ Talk

Jack Shafer: “Bringing up collusion unbidden, Trump returned to it again and again, scratching it like a suppurating wound, probing his own threshold of pain… If you witnessed this tic at the movies, you’d reckon that the scab-picker was a little bit nuts. But if the scab-picker got caught searching the face of his interviewer for a reaction, you’d ask yourself, ‘What is the old fox up to?'”

“Like advertising writers, sloganeers and propagandists, Trump appreciates the power repetition has on the lax mind. Properly executed, the right catchphrase can work as both setup and punch line and occupy mind-space in friends and adversaries even when spoken out of context. By repeatedly pressing the ‘no collusion’ hotkey, Trump challenges his foes, who believe he has compromised his country, to prove it—or to shut up. He also succeeds in cueing his allies to ridicule his enemies.”

Mueller Zeroes In on Trump’s Data Operation

Special counsel Robert Mueller has begun to question RNC staffers about the party’s 2016 campaign data operation, which helped the Trump campaign target voters in key swing states, Yahoo News reports.

Mueller’s team is examining whether the joint RNC-Trump campaign data operation — which was managed by Jared Kushner — “was related to the activities of Russian trolls and bots aimed at influencing the American electorate.”