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Trump Supporters Are Standing by Their Man

While D.C. and the national media are in a tizzy over President Donald Trump's firing of James Comey, his supporters continue to back him. The Gallup daily tracking poll shows him up from 40% to 41% after the firing. An NBC/Survey Monkey poll shows that 79% of Republicans think the firing was appropriate. Most elected Republicans back him in public. Finally, although the traditional media are in a feeding frenzy about Comey, on Facebook there are seven other topics that are trending harder. So thus far, Trump is holding his base quite well, thank you.

Nevertheless, dangers lurk. Mike Allen of Axios, who is well plugged-in among D.C. insiders, is reporting that while Republican politicians are nearly all supporting Trump in public, every one he has spoken to is privately dumbfounded, disgusted, and demoralized by the Comey firing. Their main worries are:

  • The scandal kills all momentum on getting legislation through Congress
  • The Democrats are finding it much easier to recruit top House candidates and raise money for them
  • The swing voters don't like this at all
  • At constituent meetings, the politicos want to talk tax cuts and deregulation, not secret tapes and Russia
  • They are now finally convinced there will be no pivot; Trump will never change, and they are stuck with him

At any moment Trump could do something so outrageous that the dam will break and dozens, maybe hundreds, of Republicans will condemn him in public. He will fight back vigorously, attacking his own party, and all the Republicans' plans for changing the country will go up in smoke. (V)

What to Watch for in the Comey Story

If Donald Trump thinks the story of his firing now-former FBI Director James Comey is finished, he is going to be surprised in the coming days. There is more to come. The Hill has compiled a list of five areas to watch closely in the next few days:

  • What will Comey say if he testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee next week?
  • Will Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoint a special prosecutor, resign, or do nothing?
  • How long with congressional Republicans continue to back Trump?
  • What will happen with the FBI's investigation of Trump under the yet-to-be-nominated new director?
  • What will Trump tweet and will it cause him even more problems?

In short, this story could yet unfold in even more unexpected ways. (V)

Comey Furious with White House

There is good reason to believe that James Comey has information that Donald Trump would rather not see the light of day. The question is whether the former FBI Director will choose to share that information. Based on how things have unfolded in the past three days, the odds are good that he will soon sing like a canary.

Comey is, according to several sources close to him, furious about the ham-fisted way in which his firing was handled. He's even more irritated by the various threats and smears that have emanated from the White House since then. In particular, he was aggravated by the President's claims that Comey is a "showboat" and is not "competent." Reportedly, he is playing his cards close to the vest, and is negotiating for an opportunity to testify before the Senate under oath. So, the dirt may not only see the light of day, it may see it sooner rather than later. (Z)

Trump Likes to Make Secret Recordings

When Donald Trump took to Twitter earlier this week to threaten James Comey that his words might have been recorded, it was unclear if the threat was hypothetical or real. In the past two days, several of Trump's past associates have come out of the woodwork to report there's a very good chance that the President really did record his conversations with Comey.

During his business career, Trump made a habit of recording phone conversations, even when doing so was not legal. For example, John O'Donnell was president of the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in the 1980s and later wrote a book about The Donald. "Talking on the phone with Donald was a public experience," said O'Donnell. "You never knew who else was listening." Given this past behavior, along with the fact that presidential phone calls are conducted via Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)—which is particularly easy to capture—it's very possible that the President's phone conversations are being recorded. In-person meetings are a separate issue, though there's no question that the White House is set up for such recordings, to which Richard Nixon could attest (if he were alive). Of course, now that the risk of being recorded has been made public, nobody with any brainpower will say anything to the President in his office or on the phone. So, the value of such recordings, if they exist, may have just evaporated. (Z)

FBI Agents' Group Endorses Mike Rogers for FBI Director

The Trump administration has been interviewing candidates for FBI Director this weekend, but the 13,000-member FBI Agents Association has already picked a favorite: former congressman Mike Rogers. Rogers was also a special agent as well as a veteran of the armed forces. The group's president, Thomas O'Connor, said that his extensive background in the military, law enforcement, and politics give him a unique perspective for dealing with the challenges facing the Bureau.

No one doubts that the challenges will be immense, in particular heading up an impartial investigation of the president's ties to Russia while fending off the president who says that such an investigation is completely unnecessary. Rank-and-file agents working on the case—supposedly more than 100 of them—would be dismayed if the new director puts the project on the back burner due to political pressure from above. They are especially worried about what could happen to the Bureau's reputation if people come to see it as a partisan political outfit. (V)

Trump Says New FBI Director Could Be Hired Quickly

Donald Trump is gearing up for his first out-of-country trip as president (to commence Friday). On Saturday, amidst interviews for a replacement candidate, he advised the press that a final decision may be announced before he departs.

This would, of course, be a remarkably short turnaround. It's possible that the President is just doing things at breakneck speed, once again, even if that means a bit of carelessness and a lack of due diligence. However, it's also possible that he made a decision before the interviews even began, and that he wants to bring the charade to an end as rapidly as he can. We may never know for sure, although if the pick is Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), it certainly argues for the second scenario.

Cornyn is not a totally crazy choice. He served on the Texas supreme court for 6 years and later served for 4 years as Texas' attorney general, so he certainly knows a fair amount about law enforcement. However, from Trump's point of view, Cornyn's judicial and prosecutorial experience is secondary to the fact that he is a highly partisan Republican and will presumably do whatever it takes to protect Trump from the FBI's Russia investigation. The Democrats are not going to like the idea of a Republican politican running the investigation and will howl to the moon that a special prosecutor is need if Cornyn is selected.

It is not even clear, however, that Cornyn would take the job if offered. He is currently the #2 Republican in the Senate. At 65, he is 10 years younger than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. When McConnell retires, Cornyn would be his logical successor. Right now he is second on the totem pole. As FBI director, he would be third on the totem pole (after Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein), so in a way, it is kind of a demotion for him, even though he would get to run part of the Justice Dept. Furthermore, after having been a partisan Republican senator for 15 years, switching gears and acting like he is politically neutral won't be easy. (Z & V)

Super PAC Money Flooding Special Elections

If 2017 is a preview for 2018, an awful lot of money is going to spent on the 2018 midterm elections. The Republicans' congressional super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, is already on track to spend almost $9 million on two special House elections this spring, one in Georgia and one in Montana, and that is just the beginning. The executive director of the super PAC, Corry Bliss, said: "We are just getting warmed up." In 18 of the past 20 midterms, the president's party has gotten whacked badly in the House, so Bliss is gearing up to minimize the expected losses. Democrats will need to flip 22-24 seats to capture the House in 2018, depending on how four special elections this year turn out.

Of course, the Democrats are not sitting still, either. Nancy Keenan, the executive director of the Montana Democratic Party, said: "The enthusiasm here is off the charts," referring to the race between Democrat Rob Quist and Republican Greg Gianforte for the seat of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.

Both parties are bringing out the big guns. Vice President Mike Pence will campaign in Montana for Gianforte; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has pledged to campaign for Quist. Both the Georgia and Montana seats were previously held by Republicans, so if the Democrats can win either or both of them, they will tout that as evidence that two red states are turning against the Republicans. If the Democrats win either of them, it will make it easier for them to recruit better quality candidates than if they are crushed in both. That, in turn, will put more seats in play. Both parties fully understand that, hence the large amount of outside money flowing into these races. (V)

The Republican National Committee Meets--Nervously

The Republican National Committee is meeting at a posh resort in Coronado, CA, this weekend, and the 2018 midterms are very much on everyone's mind. Many members are already dreading going into a critical election with an unstable president who could wreak havoc with the party's chances in so many ways. The firing of James Comey was bad enough, but no one knows what to expect next from the White House. Committeeman Randy Evans said: "Anybody that tells you they have a feel for what's going to happen next year is just delusional."

The committee's big fear is losing the House, since it is much more sensitive to national trends than the Senate. Besides, the Senate map is extremely favorable for the Republicans, with 10 Democratic senators up in states Donald Trump won and only one Republican senator up in a state Hillary Clinton won. The NRCC's executive director, John Rogers, pointed out that the House situation is the mirror-image of the Senate's, with far more Republicans up in Clinton districts than Democrats up in Trump districts. Jeff Essmann, the chairman of the Montana Republican Party, addressed the group and said that the Democrats are extremely highly motivated so the Republicans need to recruit top candidates and raise boatloads of money.

At a closed-door breakfast, Ronna Romney McDaniel, the RNC chairwoman, implored everyone to turn off their smartphones and not record the proceedings. She also asked RNC and hotel staff to leave the room. She clearly hasn't forgotten the 2012 meeting in which Uncle Mitt talked about the 47% of the country that didn't pay taxes and were mooching off the other 53%. That speech leaked and didn't play out so well for the party.

Another issue facing the Republicans is that there are two gubernatorial elections in 2017 and 36 in 2018, and more than a dozen of those in states with a term-limited Republican governor. If the energy is with the Democrats, those seats will all be in play. (V)

O'Reilly Launches "Woe Is Me" Tour

Psychologists suggest that when people suffer setbacks, they can either become introspective or defensive. Bill O'Reilly has suffered a setback or two in the past month, as you may have heard. And it seems fair to say that he's never spent a moment of his entire life being introspective. So, it's no surprise that he's shifted into full defensive mode.

O'Reilly ended his relatively brief exile on Friday with a Glenn Beck interview. The man who has come up short in five different sexual harassment lawsuits, and has since been excoriated by countless additional former coworkers, is persuaded that he's done nothing wrong, and that it's all a vast liberal conspiracy. He says his firing was a left-wing "hit job," and promised that, "In the weeks to come we're going to be able to explain all of it. It has to do with destroying voices that the far left and the organized left-wing cabal doesn't like." Of course, if this theory was correct, then we are left to wonder why other right-wing voices—Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage—are able to continue with their careers. In any event, O'Reilly is 67 years old, has an audience that's even older, and no longer has a platform beyond the new podcast he just launched. So what we are presumably seeing here is a bitter man's last hurrahs as he unsuccessfully tries to avoid going gentle into that good night. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
May13 Trump Keeps Talking about Comey
May13 Trump Really Stepped in it with Threat to Comey
May13 Search for Comey Replacement Underway
May13 Trump's Tax Lawyers Say He Has No Income or Debts in Russia
May13 Black Voters' Turnout Fell Sharply in 2016
May13 Sessions Wants Harsher Sentences
May13 Cheri Bustos Can Show Democrats How to Win Rural Areas
May12 Trump's FBI Story Collapses
May12 Sessions, Trump May Be in Serious Legal Trouble
May12 For Conservatives, the Big Comey Story is the Left's Outrage
May12 Like a Leopard, Trump Can't Change His Spots
May12 Trump Picks Kris Kobach to Be Vice Chairman of the Voter-fraud Committee
May12 Senate Approves Lighthizer as U.S. Trade Representative
May12 California Ground Zero in Battle for Congress
May11 Republicans Resist Calls for a Special Prosecutor
May11 Just Before He Was Fired, Comey Asked for More Money to Expand the Russia Probe
May11 Trump's Biggest Mistakes
May11 Do We Have a Constitutional Crisis?
May11 Senate Intelligence Committee Subpoenas Flynn
May11 Old Senate Custom for Confirming Judges Could Be on its Way to Extinction
May11 Sean Spicer Could Be on His Way to Extinction
May11 Four Potential Deal-breakers that Could Kill the Senate Healthcare Bill
May11 Betting Markets Grow Bearish on Trump
May10 Trump Fires Comey
May10 Flynn Subpoenas Issued
May10 McConnell Downplays the Absence of Any Women in the Healthcare Group
May10 Trump Talks Mostly to Rich White Republican Men
May10 Democrat Fills in for Absent Republican
May10 South Korea Elects New President
May09 Yates Tells the Senate that Flynn Could Have Been Blackmailed by the Russians
May09 Clapper Says Russians Wanted to Help Elect Trump
May09 Wagon Circling Has Already Begun
May09 Why Did Trump Persist in Hiring Flynn?
May09 Court of Appeals Has Tough Questions over Muslim Travel Ban v2.0
May09 EPA Fires Half of Its Scientific Advisers
May09 Manchin Gets a Republican Challenger
May08 AHCA Could Have Many Unintended Consequences
May08 Russia Investigation Will Resume Center Stage This Week
May08 Border-Adjustment Tax Is Dead in the Senate
May08 Republican Leads in Montana Special House Election
May08 Next Test for Muslim Ban v2.0 Comes Today in Virgina
May08 Kusnher's Sister Offers Green Cards to Chinese Investors Who Invest in Her Business
May08 Obama Unveils Plans for Presidential Library
May08 Macron Crushes Le Pen to Become President of France
May07 Trump to Make First Trip Abroad
May07 Democrats May Contest 90 House Districts
May07 The GA-06 Special Election Is the Most Expensive House Race in History
May07 Get Ready for the AHCA Blowback
May07 Five Ways the Senate's Healthcare Bill May Differ from the House's
May07 Trump's Relationship with McConnell Will Be Sorely Tested in the Months Ahead