• More Information Leaks about Trump's Cabinet
• Clinton's Lead in the Popular Vote Has Passed 1 Million
• Republicans Who Opposed Trump May Be Primaried in 2018
• Ryan Appears Safe, Pelosi Not So Much
• Bannon May Have His First Scandal
• Glenn Beck Slams Bannon, Alt-right
• Senators Speak Out
• Hearing on Trump University Case Set for Friday
• Chelsea Clinton Might Run for Congress
The original head of Donald Trump's transition team was Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ). Christie and his team members compiled lists of possible appointees to various offices for Trump's inspection. When Trump unceremoniously replaced Christie with vice president-elect Mike Pence, all of Christie's work was thrown in the garbage can. The result has been chaos in the team. Just over 2 months are left to collect names for the approximately 4,000 positions the president has to fill.
Reportedly, the focal point for all the drama has been Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who loathes Christie with a passion. This is a holdover from the Governor's days as a U.S. Attorney, when he put Kushner's father in jail. Former Congressman Mike Rogers, a well-regarded national security expert, has been cashiered, as have several others who were brought on board by Christie. The word that's being bandied about to describe the process? Purges. How very....Russian. The transition operation is beginning to look like the one run by Dick Cheney for George W. Bush, in which Cheney had a list in his head of people he wanted, and he just appointed all of them, while sending his enemies packing.
One thing that Barack Obama had done by this point in 2008 is create and publish a code of ethics to reduce the influence of special interests. Trump has not done that so far. In fact, the transition team is stocked with lobbyists from the energy, agriculture, transportation, and banking industries. Potential appointees will be vetted in many dimensions and will have to disclose a vast amount of information, including their tax returns, something that Trump has never done. (V)
The transition team is leaking like a sieve, with authoritative but unconfirmed reports floating about on who will get which cabinet position. Here is the current state of the leakage:
- State Dept. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump's most loyal allies, wants to be secretary of state. This is surprising because
earlier leaks had him aiming at being Attorney General. In any event, as one of Trump's most loyal allies, he is certain to get a cabinet position.
Working in his favor for the job at State is the fact that megadonor Sheldon Adelson wants him there because Giuliani is a pro-Israel hawk.
Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton is also under consideration for the job. Potential candidates also include former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage
and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
- Treasury Dept. Steven Mnuchin, the former Goldman Sachs banker who was Trump's national finance chairman, has a good shot at the job as does
billionaire investor Carl Icahn, whom Trump is known to admire. Wilbur Ross, who runs a private equity firm, has also been mentioned.
- Homeland Security/Defense/Justice Depts. The inside word is that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) can have whatever he wants. Sessions was one of Trump's
earliest supporters and there is nothing Trump values more than loyalty. Homeland security would be a natural fit for Sessions, since he was the
one who wrote Trump's immigration plan.
No doubt he could write an emigration plan for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Sessions is also close to Steve Bannon, Trump's new senior political adviser.
In 1986, Ronald Reagan nominated Sessions to be a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Alabama, but the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected him on the grounds that he was
a racist. The then-senator from Alabama, Howell Heflin, voted against him. Heflin has been dead for 11 years, so he won't vote against Sessions this time.
- Education Dept. A few days ago, Ben Carson was on the list for the Education Dept., but that was probably never serious. The current favorites are Michelle Rhee and Betsy DeVos, both of whom strongly support the idea of the federal government giving parents vouchers to use at a private or public school of their choosing. This idea is violently opposed by teachers' unions, which say it would gut the public school system and allow the better students get a private education (often at religious schools) at government expense while leaving the most difficult students in the public schools. Rhee had a rocky history as chancellor of the D.C. public school system. DeVos is a billionaire Republican donor.
Just because Trump wants somebody for a specific position doesn't mean he gets it. All cabinet appointees must be confirmed by the Senate. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), for example, has said that he would oppose both Bolton and Giuliani at the State Dept. (V)
The votes are still dribbling in, slowly. As of yesterday afternoon, Hillary Clinton was at 61,963,234 and Donald Trump was at 60,961,185, so her lead in the popular vote has now passed the 1-million-vote mark. The counting process is still going on in California, Washington, Utah, and Michigan. Trump said that if the popular vote were the determining factor in winning the election, he would have campaigned in the big states, something he didn't do. (V)
A number of Republican politicians opposed Donald Trump, especially after the p***ygte scandal broke. Trump supporters are very angry with them and are all ready to defeat them in primaries in 2018. One target is Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), who won her fourth term comfortably last week. She beat state representative Nathan Mathis by 9 points, which is generally considered a solid win. The only problem is that all the other Alabama Republican members of Congress in contested races won by more than 30 points. Why did Roby do so badly by Alabama standards? After the Billy Bush tape came out, she suggested that Trump drop out and Mike Pence become the Republican nominee. The Trump voters were not amused. How many Republicans who didn't support Trump will be primaried in 2018 remains to be seen, but it could be a large number. (V)
There was talk, just a week or two ago, that Paul Ryan (R-WI) might be one-and-done as Speaker of the House of Representatives. But as the old line goes, in politics, a week is a long time. He was renominated for a second term on Tuesday by the House Republican Caucus, and appears to face no serious opposition for re-election as Speaker. So, he is safe.
Not safe, on the other hand, is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The Democrats decided to delay a vote on their leadership until after Thanksgiving. From Pelosi on down, everyone involved with this decision said it didn't mean anything, but of course it does. If the blue team is confident in their leadership, why do they need more time to think about it? It's understandable why they might consider sticking with her: Pelosi is a battle-tested veteran and a fundraising dynamo with connections galore. On the other hand, heads will roll when a party suffers a pasting like the Democrats took last week, and Pelosi's prediction that the blue team would retake the House makes her look particularly out of touch. She's also 76 years old, and seems rather unlikely to be captaining the ship when the Democrats make their next resurgence. Therefore, many younger Democrats think it's time for some new leadership, so that those individuals can get their feet wet while there's some margin for error. No clear alternative to Pelosi has yet appeared, though the name of Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), a charismatic 43-year-old with 14 years in Congress under his belt, has been bandied about. Which means that Pelosi could possibly, in the span of a couple of weeks, go from planning to resume the Speakership to being just another member among 435 of them. Oh, the times, they are a-changin'. (Z)
In politics, turnabout is fair play. Further, Steve Bannon is one of the most divisive figures on the right. Therefore, there was every reason to think his name would make quite of a few headlines of the not-so-good type, with the Democrats giving him the full Clinton treatment, looking into anything and everything that might turn up some dirt. The only surprise is how quickly the first salvo was fired. On Tuesday, the advocacy group Democratic Coalition filed an FBI complaint against Bannon, charging him with coordinating activities between the Trump campaign and its allied superPACs.
The evidence presented by Democratic Coalition is rather strong; Bannon was drawing a salary (as was Kellyanne Conway) from the Make America Number 1 PAC while he was also working on Trump's campaign. It's hard to imagine that he was collecting a salary without even speaking to his employers, and if he did, he was in violation of federal campaign law. In fact, even if he wasn't speaking to them, he's still on the wrong side of the law. Federal law requires a 120-day "cooling off" period between the last paycheck from a superPAC and the first day working for a campaign. Needless to say doing both at exactly the same time is not exactly waiting 120 days.
The charge certainly appears to have teeth, and if it's true, it means that Bannon behaved unethically, but also foolishly. He hamfistedly tried to hide the payments by setting up what are essentially shell corporations; if he really thought that would work, it speaks to woeful ignorance about the FEC (not to mention the Democratic oppo researchers). Given all of Bannon's liabilities—his outrageous rhetoric, his alleged financial shenanigans, his poor understanding of actual governance, the fact that most Republicans hate him—it is difficult to imagine his current position lasting all that long. (Z)
One year ago, it would have been hard to imagine a Republican president who would not have Glenn Beck's full-throated support. But now, we've got just that. Beck is a Mormon and, as we have pointed out, there is much in TrumpWorld that is abhorrent to members of the faith. On Tuesday, Beck was interviewed by the liberal yin to his conservative yang, namely Anderson Cooper. The former Fox News host had little good to say about Trump, directing special ire at Steve Bannon and the alt-right, whom Beck deems to be "truly terrifying." Expanding on that point, the right-wing talker said, "We have to have a discussion aside from politics about this small group of people and how this European and really pro-Russian nationalism is seeping into our country."
There was no question, heading into Election Day, that the GOP was a fractured party. And while a presidential victory has proven to be very good medicine, indeed, it's clear that many of the fracture lines are still there. It will take great skill on the part of Donald Trump to keep the S.S. Republican Party on course, and to leverage the control of all branches of government that the GOP enjoys. Does he have that skill? Certainly, the early indications don't give us much reason to think he does. (Z)
The framers of the Constitution intended the U.S. Senate to be the primary check on the Chief Executive's power, very much trying to re-create the dynamic that existed (then) between the House of Lords and the British king. Hence the six-year terms for senators versus the four-year terms for presidents, among other things. And in case Donald Trump needed a civics lesson in this finer point of American government, he's getting it, because the members are not being shy with their opinions about him.
To start, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is feeling pretty good these days. He just brushed aside the biggest electoral challenge of his Senate career with ease, and likely recognizes that he's in his final term, due to age and health limitations (he would be 86 at the start of his next term if re-elected). With little to worry about in terms of Trump supporters turning against him, McCain (a cold warrior from way back) took time on Tuesday to warn Trump about making nice with Russia. In a written statement, the Senator declared:
With the U.S. presidential transition underway, Vladimir Putin has said in recent days that he wants to improve relations with the United States. We should place as much faith in such statements as any other made by a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny, murdered his political opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America's allies, and attempted to undermine America's elections.
Meanwhile, there may be no member of the Senate who is more thoroughly anti-Trump than Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). She's on her way out the door, retiring after four terms. However, she's decided to tilt at one last windmill: the Electoral College. Implying that Trump's victory was less than legitimate, and reminding the Donald of his own previously stated belief that the College is undemocratic, she will introduce a bill to amend the Constitution and eliminate the electoral vote. As we have already pointed out, this is not going to happen. If it did, we'd have to change the name of this site.
Finally, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Donald Trump don't see eye-to-eye on much, but they did agree on "draining the swamp" in Washington. Now, it is evident to Sanders (and pretty much everyone else) that "draining the swamp" has evolved into "stock it with even more alligators." Sanders called Trump out on this, observing that, "[A] lot of what Mr. Trump was saying to get votes turns out to be not what he intends to do as the president of the United States." Sanders was joined in his protestations by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who said, "It doesn't look like they're draining the swamp, it looks like they're pouring the swamp into the transition." Sanders and Whitehouse both pledged to do whatever they can to hold Trump accountable.
In short, then, if Trump was expecting any sort of presidential honeymoon, it does not look like he will get it. (Z)
U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whose Mexican heritage is now well known, has decided that the motion Donald Trump's lawyers have filed to delay the fraud case against Trump University will be argued this Friday. The lawyers said that Trump is too busy to have the case tried now and would prefer it to go forward after he is inaugurated. Their argument on Friday will have to be something like: "Presidents aren't as busy as presidents-elect." Curiel, who has already delayed the case once, may or may not buy that. Trump has already given 10 hours of deposition testimony, so it is possible the case could go forward now without Trump actually appearing at the trial.
What the lawyers didn't say, but is obvious, is this: If the case can be delayed for a few months, then if Trump loses and appeals it all the way to the Supreme Court, his appointee to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia may already have been confirmed by the Senate and seated. Whether that justice recuses himself from a case involving the president who appointed him is up to the justice. The chief justice can make a suggestion, but it is up to the new justice to make the final decision. Trump is a great negotiator, and when interviewing his possible Supreme Court picks, might want to discuss the matter of how they would deal with a case involving him. (V)
While Bill and Hillary Clinton are unlikely to run for public office again, the same cannot be said for their daughter, Chelsea. Currently, Chelsea lives in Manhattan, but her parents recently purchased the house next to theirs in Chappaqua, NY. Might Chelsea move there to be next to her parents? That seems perfectly normal. What all of them are also aware of is that the representative from NY-17, where Chappaqua is located, is Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), who is 79 and who has been in office for 30 years. When Lowey retires, Chelsea would almost be a shoo-in given her name, fame, and her parents' fundraising network. Furthermore, both her mother-in-law and her father-in-law could give her tips on running for the House, since both of them served there. (V)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov15 Differences between Trump and the Republican Establishment Are Already Clear
Nov15 Takeaways from the First Five Days
Nov15 Trump Expected He Would Drop Out and Endorse Christie
Nov15 Democrats Warming to Comey, Fast
Nov15 Facebook Faces More Scrutiny
Nov15 Ryan Wants to Kill Medicare
Nov15 Head of the SEC Steps Down
Nov15 Fight Brewing for DNC Chairman
Nov15 Do Celebrity Endorsements Help?
Nov14 Trump Names Priebus as Chief of Staff
Nov14 Trump Is Disgusted with Christie
Nov14 Trump the President-Elect Versus Trump the Candidate
Nov14 What Does History Tell us About Trump? (Part II)
Nov14 2016 Was Not the Year of the Split Ticket
Nov14 Class Trumps Gender
Nov14 Is Trump Sui Generis?
Nov14 It's Not Over 'til It's Over
Nov14 Trump's Lawyers Ask for Trial Delay
Nov14 What About the Freedom Caucus?
Nov13 What Clinton Did Wrong
Nov13 Clinton Blames Defeat on Comey
Nov13 Infighting within Trump's Inner Circle is Back
Nov13 Roger Stone Warns Trump Not to Pick Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff
Nov13 Trump Will Lay Off Twitter
Nov13 Trump to Work with Granddaughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen
Nov13 What Does History Tell us About Trump? (Part I)
Nov13 Five Reasons Hillary Clinton Will Not Be Prosecuted
Nov13 Trump Might Be Impeached
Nov12 Another Take on Why Trump Won
Nov12 Trump Won White Women
Nov12 Breaking Out of the Bubble
Nov12 Whither the Electoral College?
Nov12 Christie Out, Pence In as Transition Chief
Nov12 The Map that Should Have the GOP Nervous
Nov12 Trump Open to Keeping Parts of the Affordable Care Act
Nov12 Facebook Under Scrutiny
Nov11 Democrats Lost Because Democrats Didn't Vote
Nov11 Was the Trump Voter Motivated by Economics or by Racism
Nov11 Other Key Findings from the Exit Polls
Nov11 Things Are Turning Ugly
Nov11 Classes, Exams Canceled on Wednesday
Nov11 Did Hillary Clinton Have a 98% Chance of Winning?
Nov11 President Ryan?
Nov10 Exit Polls Reveal a Deeply Divided Nation
Nov10 Third Parties Had a Huge Effect on the Election
Nov10 What Went Wrong?
Nov10 Trump's Business Conflicts Present Some Serious Issues
Nov10 Preliminary List of Trump Cabinet Officials Leaks
Nov10 Maggie Hassan Defeats Kelly Ayotte