2016 Campaign

Democrats Suddenly Competitive In Rural Districts Too

Last year’s special election for Tom Price’s (R) seat in suburban Atlanta “became the most expensive House race ever, about $50 million on all sides, and while Democrats lost, it was by a narrow margin in a wealthy suburban district the Republicans used to win easily. It led Democrats to believe their initial strategy of focusing on the suburbs gave them a path to the majority,” the Washington Post reports.

“However, the more telling special elections might have been a handful in more rural districts President Trump won by overwhelming margins. Five special elections have been held for seats where Trump won 56 percent to 60 percent of the vote — in Kansas, Montana, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Arizona — and in each of those races the Democrat did much better than expected, winning one and getting very close in two others.”

Stein Won’t Comply With Senate Russia investigation

Jill Stein’s presidential campaign “is refusing to comply fully with a Senate intelligence committee request for documents and other correspondence, made as part of the committee’s probe into Russian activities in the 2016 election,” The Intercept reports.

“The Green Party campaign will agree to turn over some documents, but raised constitutional objections to the breadth of the inquiry, which was first made in November 2017, arguing that elements of it infringe on basic political rights enshrined in the First Amendment.”

Flynn Met with Russian Ambassador Before Speech at Gala

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn “met with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in December 2015, shortly after Flynn first met then-presidential candidate Donald Trump,” the New York Daily News reports.

“About a week after the meeting, Flynn traveled to Moscow to hold a paid speech at a gala hosted by Russian state-owned media organization RT. Flynn was seated next to President Vladimir Putin during the gala.”

“A few months after that speech, Flynn formally joined the Trump campaign as a national security adviser.”

House Republicans Claim No Evidence of Collusion

“The House Intelligence Committee released on Friday a roughly 250-page report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, laying out Republicans’ conclusion after a yearlong investigation that they had found no evidence that the Trump campaign aided Moscow’s efforts,” the New York Times reports.

“Their conclusions are certain to be attacked by Democrats on the committee, who have accused the Republicans of prematurely closing the investigation and failing to conduct it with the rigor that the subject called for out of a desire to protect President Trump. The committee also released dissenting views from the Democrats.”

Lawyer from Campaign Meeting Admits She’s an Informant

“The Russian lawyer who met with Trump campaign officials in Trump Tower in June 2016 on the premise that she would deliver damaging information about Hillary Clinton has long insisted she is a private attorney, not a Kremlin operative trying to meddle in the presidential election,” the New York Times reports.

“But newly released emails show that in at least one instance two years earlier, the lawyer, Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, worked hand in glove with Russia’s chief legal office to thwart a Justice Department civil fraud case against a well-connected Russian firm.”

In an interview to be broadcast by NBC News, Ms. Veselnitskaya recanted her earlier denials of Russian government ties: “I am a lawyer, and I am an informant.”

Bannon Asked for Test Messaging on Russia

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie told Democrats on Capitol Hill that former Trump campaign strategist Steve Bannon asked the embattled data firm to test messaging on Russia, NBC News reports.

Said Wylie: “I can’t explain why it was that they picked Vladimir Putin to talk about in focus groups or to do message testing or to do models on, and why that would be useful to Steve Bannon.”

Wylie also told lawmakers “that Bannon specifically tasked Cambridge Analytica with looking at ways to depress Democratic turnout with their messaging.”

Manafort Was Questioned by FBI Before Trump Campaign

“Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was interviewed by the FBI twice while he was working as a political consultant for a Ukrainian political party — several years before he was named a top adviser to Donald Trump,” the Washington Post reports.

“The information raises fresh questions about how closely the Trump campaign vetted staff members and whether Manafort and Gates told officials about their interactions with the FBI.”

Midwestern Democrats Want Less Focus on Russia Probe

“In battleground states in the middle of the country, some Democrats watched with frustration as their party grabbed headlines last week with a splashy new lawsuit alleging a vast conspiracy between President Trump and Russia,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“The DNC’s drumbeat of messaging on Trump and his relationship with Russia is wearing thin with some Democrats in purple states — particularly in the Midwest, where people on the ground say voters are uninterested and even turned off by the issue. The suit exposes a gap, they say, between the party’s strategy nationally and what Midwest Democrats believe will win elections in their state.”

Trump Voters Driven by Fear of Losing Status

New York Times: “A study published on Monday… is the latest to suggest that Trump voters weren’t driven by anger over the past, but rather fear of what may come. White, Christian and male voters, the study suggests, turned to Mr. Trump because they felt their status was at risk.”

Said author Diana Mutz: “It’s much more of a symbolic threat that people feel. It’s not a threat to their own economic well-being; it’s a threat to their group’s dominance in our country over all.”

“Losing a job or income between 2012 and 2016 did not make a person any more likely to support Mr. Trump… Neither did the mere perception that one’s financial situation had worsened. A person’s opinion on how trade affected personal finances had little bearing on political preferences. Neither did unemployment or the density of manufacturing jobs in one’s area.”

Quote of the Day

“The day Trump announced he was running, I admitted to a couple of Times editors that I’d watched eight seasons of The Apprentice and that we should do a story about it. They told me political reporters wouldn’t be writing about Trump. ‘We have enough candidates to cover,’ one editor said. ‘Let the TV writers do it.'”

— Amy Chozick, in her new book Chasing Hillary.

DNC Files Lawsuit Alleging Collusion to Disrupt Election

“The DNC filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization alleging a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump,” the Washington Post reports.

“The complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump by hacking the computer networks of the Democratic Party and disseminating stolen material found there.”

“The lawsuit echoes a similar legal tactic that the Democratic Party used during the Watergate scandal. In 1972, the DNC filed suit against former president Richard Nixon’s reelection committee seeking $1 million in damages for the break-in at Democratic headquarters in the Watergate building.”

Manafort Suspected of Being ‘Back Channel’ to Russia

“Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s interest in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort stemmed in part from his suspected role as a ‘back channel’ between the campaign and Russians intent on meddling in the election,” Bloomberg reports.

“The disclosure by U.S. prosecutors came Thursday during a hearing on whether Mueller exceeded his authority in indicting Manafort on charges of laundering millions of dollars while acting as an unregistered agent of the Ukrainian government. Manafort’s lawyers say those alleged crimes have nothing to do with Mueller’s central mission — to determine whether anyone in the Trump campaign had links to the Russian government.”

“Prosecutors hadn’t previously used such explicit language to describe their suspicions about Manafort.”