• Mall Banned Moore in the 1980s
• McConnell Calls on Moore to Drop Out
• Cory Gardner Calls for Moore to Be Expelled from the Senate if He Runs and Wins
• Trump Jr. Had Contact With Wikileaks
• Justice Dept. May Appoint Second Special Counsel to Look into Uranium Deal
• Trump Taps Azar for HHS
• Huge Wave of Puerto Ricans Have Moved to Florida
• Menendez Jurors Are Deadlocked
Yesterday afternoon, celebrity attorney Gloria Allred held a press conference at which she introduced Beverly Young Nelson and let her read a statement about how Alabama Senate candidate and alleged child molester Roy Moore assaulted her when she was 16. Nelson was in tears as she told the reporters that Moore often came to the restaurant where she worked after school and touched her long red hair. She was honored when he asked to sign her yearbook. One time when her shift ended and her boyfriend was late picking her up, Moore offered to drive her home. But instead of doing that, he parked the car behind the restaurant, groped her, and forced her head into his crotch. She fought him off and tried to escape. Eventually, he gave up and pushed her out of his car. Nelson's story gains instant credibility because Allred produced the yearbook with Moore's message to her and showed it on camera.
The response from Moore's campaign was virtually instantaneous. Moore's campaign manager, Bill Armistead, said: "Gloria Allred is a sensationalist leading a witch hunt, and she is only around to create a spectacle." Armistead went on to say that Moore was the victim of a well-coordinated hit job. So for the moment, Moore is staying in. Of course, the pressure on him to drop out will soon exceed the pressure needed to turn a lump of coal into a diamond. Whether that will do the trick remains to be seen. (V)
Beverly Young Nelson's tale was the big news on the Roy Moore front on Monday, but there were also a few other revelations, as people from the would-be senator's past come out of the woodwork. The New Yorker is reporting that the Gadsden Mall, in Gadsden, Alabama, felt compelled to ban Moore in the mid-1980s given his penchant for patrolling the mall for teenage girls. Over a dozen people confirmed this, including several former employees of the mall and multiple police officers who patrolled the area.
Meanwhile, AL.com has a very similar story. They spoke to a large number of Gadsden residents, who confirmed Moore's reputation for pursuing overly-young women. "It's not a big secret in this town about Roy Moore," said one. "Him liking and dating young girls was never a secret in Gadsden when we were all in high school," agreed another. "It was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls, everyone we knew thought it was weird...We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall," declared a third.
In short, if this is a big conspiracy, it's being awfully well-orchestrated, and involves an extremely large number of participants, all of whom lie very convincingly. If Moore is going to continue to hang his hat on that hook, he will need to come up with an answer as to exactly who it is that would be capable of pulling this off. Putin, maybe? (Z)
One day after a JMC Analytics poll showed Democrat Doug Jones leading Republican Roy Moore for Jeff Sessions' old Senate seat, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called for Moore to drop out of the race. And this was before Gloria Allred's press conference. Moore responded in kind, calling for McConnell to step aside for failing conservatives. Moore's reaction is hardly surprising, since his whole campaign is about draining the swamp in D.C. More specifically, he (and backer Steve Bannon) see McConnell as alligator-in-chief. Since McConnell and his allies spent millions of dollars trying to defeat Moore in the Republican primary, it would be quite surprising for Moore to suddenly start taking his marching orders from the Majority Leader.
The dam has now broken, though. Numerous other Senate Republicans are also calling for Moore to quit. These now include Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Bob Corker (TN), Steve Daines (MT), Lindsey Graham (SC), Chuck Grassley (IA), Orrin Hatch (UT), Ron Johnson (WI) Mike Lee (UT), John McCain (AZ), Rob Portman (OH), Richard Shelby (AL), Thom Tills (NC), and Pat Toomey (PA). Presumably, they also saw the JMC Analytics poll and are beginning to get scared. They don't want the Democrat to win the seat but they also don't want Moore in their caucus. The solution: Convince Moore to drop out and replace him with someone else.
If that fails, the fallback plan is to run a write-in campaign for Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL). The danger there is that it will split the Republican vote and give Jones a plurality. It is entirely possible that the Senate Republicans would prefer to lose one seat than have the entire party tarred as pedophile enablers. Nevertheless, Moore still has his supporters on Capitol Hill. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who ran against Moore in the primary but now supports him, said yesterday that he supports Moore because he will vote the right way and Jones will vote the wrong way on the deficit, national security, abortion, and Supreme Court nominations. We certainly haven't heard the last word on this matter. (V)
Yesterday, NRSC Chairman Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) demonstrated how scared Republicans are of having Moore in their caucus. Gardner said that if Moore is elected, the Senate should expel him. It takes a 2/3 majority to expel a senator. This is an extreme measure. During the Civil War, 14 senators were expelled for supporting the Confederacy, which the other senators saw as treason against the United States. Only one senator has ever been expelled for reasons not relating to the Civil War, and that was in 1797 and related to the senator's support for inciting the Creek and Cherokee Indians to assist Great Britain in invading Florida. No senator has been expelled since 1862.
With that said, no senator has ever plausibly been accused of being a serial pedophile either. And, in fact, this talk of expulsion should have Moore very, very worried. Consider the following:
- If such a vote were to come to pass, would any senator want to be on record
as pro-pedophile? Much less 33 of them, which is the total that would be needed
to save Moore's job? The Democrats would undoubtedly love to see Moore stick around
and make headaches for Mitch McConnell, but it's hard to believe they would be
willing to take the necessary PR hit, particularly given how much they complained
- The GOP caucus, with the possible exceptions of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand
Paul (R-KY), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) doesn't want him in the Senate anyhow. Even
if they weren't concerned about being labeled pro-pedophile, why wouldn't they
use this as an excuse to show him the door?
- If Moore is expelled, his temporary replacement would be chosen by Gov. Kay
Ivey (R-AL), who would undoubtedly select a nice, conventional, loyal Republican
who might even claim the seat in his or her own right the next time an election
is held (it would be sometime next spring, most likely).
- Meanwhile, if Moore is expelled, who would be upset? Maybe some voters from Alabama who, conveniently, have no voice in electing the other 98 senators. Put another way, why does Tim Scott (R-SC) or Marco Rubio (R-FL) need to worry about what a bunch of Alabamians think?
In short, if Moore does not drop out, then making it known that they will expel him may be the very best move for the GOP. Then, Alabama Republicans can vote for him, knowing that what they are really voting for is a "Republican who will quickly replace Roy Moore."
Or not. Some senior Republicans are afraid that premature talk about expulsion will only stiffen Moore's resolve and that of his supporters, many of whom hate "Washington." When Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) was asked what would happen if Moore won, he said: "We will seat him." Furthermore, expelling Moore doesn't necessarily solve the problem. When Moore was removed from the Alabama Supreme Court (an elected position) for violating the Constitution, he ran again—and won. If he is expelled from the Senate, he could run in the new special election and possibly win again. The last thing the Republicans want is to spend the entire spring talking about Roy Moore. But if Moore does not want to go gentle into that good night, the Republicans have no realistic way of making him do it. (Z & V)
Donald Trump Jr. is a very honest, open, and transparent fellow—when he has no choice. The Atlantic got wind of secret communications between the First Son and Wikileaks, which prompted Trump to release those messages to the general public. Minutes before, you know, The Atlantic was going to do so anyhow. It would seem that Julian Assange had a number of things he wanted, like help in sharing Wikileaks' ill-gotten gains, and assistance in contesting Hillary Clinton's victory, and...an ambassadorship from Australia to the United States (which, of course, is not Trump's privilege to grant).
By all evidences, the correspondence between Trump Jr. and Wikileaks was pretty one-sided, with Assange doing most of the talking. With that said, Trump did engage with Assange on occasion. Perhaps more importantly, he did not tell Assange to get lost, nor express concerns that such activities and communications might be illegal or unethical, nor did he alert the FBI as to what was going on. Meanwhile, the web of connections between the Trump campaign and the Russians just keeps adding more threads. Among other things, we know that Wikileaks and the Russians were collaborating. We know that Trump Jr. at least dabbled in collaborating with Assange, and also dabbled in collaborating directly with the Russians (specifically, Putin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya). So now we have a Trump-Wikileaks-Russia triangle. Either young Donald was up to no good, or he was almost comically inept in managing to get himself linked to just about every shady thing that was taking place during the 2016 election. (Z)
At the "request of House Republicans," Attorney General Jeff Sessions has requested that senior Dept. of Justice officials "evaluate certain issues" related to the Russians' purchase of a Canadian-owned uranium mining concern in the U.S., and whether or not Hillary Clinton did anything nefarious. Ultimately, depending on what he learns, Sessions may decide to appoint a second special counsel to look into the matter.
Surely, Sessions already knows that there's no fire here, and not even that much smoke. Clinton does not appear to have known about the transaction, and even if she did, she did not have sole authority to approve it (nor anything close to sole authority). Further, while the FBI had suspicions about the Russian buyers, they did not share those suspicions with anyone else until well after the transaction was complete (and, in fact, well after Clinton was out of office). Since Clinton is now a private citizen, the only thing the DoJ could even theoretically do is try and charge her with a crime, but it's not exactly clear what that crime would even be, much less how the Department might make a criminal charge stick in a court of law.
So, what is the AG's game here, then? There are two possibilities, and either or both could well be correct. First, it seems unlikely it's a coincidence that Sessions let this slip out on the same day Donald Trump Jr. sank deeper into the Russiagate muck. Many in the GOP badly want to flip the script or, at very least, peddle the tale that conspiring with Russia is not just a Republican habit. For those who hate Hillary Clinton, or those who just aren't paying attention, the headline "Clinton investigated for Russia collusion" will go a long way, even if there's no actual substance there. Second, Donald Trump Sr. has made it clear over and over that he is unhappy there's an investigation focused on him and his campaign, but not one focused on Clinton. Normally, the president has no say in what the DoJ does or does not investigate, but these are not normal times. Sessions could very well feel that his job is on the line (yet again), and that he needs to do something to keep the boss happy. Only he knows what his goals are, and how far he's going to take this, though he might have a hard time finding a credible special counsel who is willing to be sent on a wild goose chase. (Z)
Pop quiz! When it comes to a replacement for departed HHS Secretary Tom Price, which of these options is most loathsome to liberals?
- A longtime member of the George W. Bush administration?
- A former pharmaceutical executive?
- A former lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry?
- A former clerk for Antonin Scalia?
- A former assistant to Ken Starr, who describes Starr as "my mentor"?
As is turns out, there's no need to choose, because Donald Trump's nominee Alex Azar is all of the above. Specifically, he worked for Scalia, then Starr, then Bush, then pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co., then for the mega-lobby Biotechnology Industry Organization. The President declared that his pick will be "a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!" If so, that would represent a pretty dramatic change of course, since Azar spent most of his time in the pharmaceutical industry fighting against lower drug prices. In fact, he so skillfully raised prices (and profits) on insulin that he was accused of colluding with the other drug manufacturers.
In short, then, Trump has moved from an HHS Secretary who was in bed with Big Pharma to one who actually is Big Pharma. Apparently, the President defines "drain the swamp" a little differently than the rest of us. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has promised a "tough" confirmation hearing, but of course, there's nothing he can do unless at least three Republicans find Azar's resume and background to be problematic. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has already come out and described the nominee as an "experienced and highly capable leader." Ryan doesn't get a vote, of course, but his remarks certainly suggest which way the wind is blowing. (Z)
Hurricane Maria came close to sinking Puerto Rico, and may also come close to sinking the Republican Party in Florida. Since the hurricane, 140,000 Puerto Ricans have left the island, and 130,000 of them have settled in the mother of all swing states: Florida.
All Puerto Ricans are American citizens. Puerto Rico has no electoral votes, but as soon as an adult Puerto Rican moves to the mainland, he or she can register to vote. Furthermore, most Puerto Ricans are Democrats and after the way Donald Trump rushed to help Texas after it was hit by Hurricane Harvey but basically ignored Puerto Rico after it was hit by Maria, the few remaining Puerto Rican Republicans probably are going to switch parties.
As background, Trump won Florida by 120,000 votes. Consequently if a large fraction of the 130,000 new Florida residents register and vote in 2018 and 2020, it could mean a lot of trouble for the Republicans. By itself it probably wouldn't have changed the result, but it would have made the race a lot closer and will also matter for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in 2018 as well as for many House races next year. (V)
The jurors deliberating in the corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) sent a note to the judge saying they are deadlocked and asking him what they should do. The judge quickly answered them, telling them to go home, have a nice dinner, a good sleep, and come back tomorrow for more deliberations.
If the jury finds Menendez guilty of any of the charges, there will be enormous pressure on him to resign his Senate seat. If he does it before governor-elect Phil Murphy (D) takes office in January, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) will be able to appoint a Republican to Menendez's seat. However, if the judge ultimately rules that there is a hung jury, the prosecution can ask for a new trial, but it is almost certain that it won't be finished before Murphy is sworn in. In that case, the Democrats will hold the seat, no matter whether Menendez is found guilty or not.
Nevertheless, there is a complication here. Menendez is up for reelection in 2018. If he is still in office then, guilty or not, the voters may decide they have had enough of him and could elect a Republican to replace him. Of course, some other Democrat might challenge Menendez in a primary to give Democratic voters a chance to get rid of him without handing the seat to a Republican. (V)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov13 Could Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL) Cancel the Alabama Senate Election?
Nov13 Advertisers Hit Hannity Where it Hurts
Nov13 Trump Should Resign, Says Kellyanne Conway
Nov13 Evangelicals, Southerners: Trump Gets It
Nov13 Senate Tax Bill Is in Trouble--in the House
Nov13 It Is Congress' Fault that Tax Reform Is So Hard
Nov13 Rundown of House Retirements
Nov13 Biden Clearly Planning 2020 Run
Nov12 Trump: I Believe Putin
Nov12 Moore Remains on the Hot Seat
Nov12 Let the Departures Resume
Nov12 GOP No Longer the Party of Environmentalism
Nov12 "America First" Means "America Alone"
Nov12 New Twitter Limit May Be Bad News for Trump
Nov12 How to Fix the Electoral College
Nov11 Republicans End Joint Fundraising with Moore
Nov11 Moore Fundraises Off Controversy
Nov11 Excuses for Moore Are Pretty Flimsy
Nov11 New Poll Shows Moore and Jones Tied
Nov11 Could Jones Win This Thing?
Nov11 Ryan and McConnell Misspoke on Middle Class Taxes
Nov11 If the Tax Bill Fails, Republican Donors Will Flee
Nov11 Senate Judiciary Committee Approves a Judge the ABA Says Is Not Qualified
Nov10 Senate Releases Its Tax Bill
Nov10 Roy Moore Is Accused of Sexually Assaulting a 14-Year-Old Girl When He Was 32
Nov10 Miller Meets Mueller
Nov10 Wilbur Ross Feels the Heat, Again
Nov10 Jury Deliberation in Menendez Case to Start All Over Next Week
Nov10 Republicans Hold Virginia House of Delegates...For Now
Nov10 Goodlatte to Bid Good Night
Nov09 Takeaways from the Election
Nov09 What Happened in Virginia?
Nov09 Cohn: Democrats Shouldn't Be Counting Their Chickens Quite Yet
Nov09 Election Day Brought Numerous Firsts to Many States
Nov09 Trump Kowtows to Xi
Nov09 The Tax Bill Has Winners and Losers
Nov09 Tax Bill Hits Rough Waters
Nov09 Why Trump Will Never Lose His Supporters
Nov08 Virginians Give Red Team, and Their White Nationalist Supporters, the Blues
Nov08 Mostly Good News for Democrats Elsewhere
Nov08 Seven Problems Trump Will Face on His Asia Trip
Nov08 Martha McSally Will Run for Jeff Flake's Seat
Nov08 Frank LoBiondo Is Retiring from the House
Nov08 Twitter Doubles Down
Nov07 Today Is Election Day
Nov07 Retirements Will Shape the New House
Nov07 GOP Shrugs Off Texas Shooting
Nov07 Was the Tax Bill Written Specifically Tailored to Donald Trump's Needs?
Nov07 Dean: Kushner Is Going Down