Dem 49
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GOP 51
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New polls:  
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: (None)
TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  GOP Trumped in Three of Four States
      •  Trump Withdraws from the Iran Deal
      •  Cohen's Financial Dealings Raise Serious Questions
      •  Trump Is Frustrated with Giuliani
      •  Trump Has Asked Congress to Rescind $15 Billion in Approved Funds
      •  Blue-slip Rule Is Dead

GOP Trumped in Three of Four States

Primaries were held yesterday in four states. Given how many offices were before the voters, and that in most cases there was a Democratic and a Republican contest, it's tough to impose order on it all. That said, the main themes of the night were clearly that Democratic voters want to retake Congress, and the GOP is turning into the party of Trump. Here's a breakdown of the key contests:

  • Ohio: The most interesting races here were for the governor's mansion, and both of them resulted in a 2016 presidential candidate getting a poke in the eye. On the Republican side, the candidates were Mike DeWine, a former state AG, state senator, representative, and U.S. senator who is about as establishment as it gets. His opponent was Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who positioned herself as the female Donald Trump (though presumably without the pu**y grabbing). DeWine trounced, Taylor, claiming 59.8% of the vote to her 40.2%.

    On the Democratic side of the gubernatorial race, it was Richard Cordray, a consumer advocate with the backing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) up against former Cleveland mayor and representative Dennis Kucinich, who had the backing of Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) group, Our Revolution. Cordray is liberal, but Kucinich is really liberal. Given that he's won many elections, Kucinich is someone the lefties might theoretically hitch their wagons to and persuade themselves that he could win. However, the blue team went with the more electable Cordray by a nearly 3-to-1 margin, giving him 62.3% of the vote to just 22.9% for Kucinich. It seems clear, at this point, that the electoral power of the Sanders movement is fairly limited.

    In the race for the Senate, meanwhile, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) was unopposed, and yet he still got good news on Tuesday night. Facing off for the right to challenge him were Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) and businessman Mike Gibbons. Renacci had Trump's endorsement, but Gibbons had Trump's general profile as an outsider businessman and self-proclaimed "swamp drainer." Renacci won comfortably with 47.4% of the vote to 31.7% to Gibbons. Undoubtedly, the President will be happy that his candidate prevailed. However, Renacci is basically an establishment Republican, and trying to run an "outsider" campaign won't fly. In a matchup between a moderate, insider Republican and a moderate, insider Democratic incumbent, go with the incumbent.

    The other Ohio contest that got some national attention was in OH-12, where voters will need to pick a replacement for Rep. Pat Tiberi (R). On the Democratic side, establishment candidate Danny O'Connor collected 40.9% of the vote, beating his opponents by 25 points or more. On the Republican side, Trump-loving state senator Troy Balderson, who had the full backing of the GOP establishment, claimed 29.2% of the vote, outpacing the 28.2% won by the archconservative businesswoman Melanie Leneghan and the 17.1% for more moderate economist Tim Kane.

  • Indiana: This is another state where an incumbent Democratic senator—in this case, Joe Donnelly—was unopposed in his primary, but got good news nonetheless. That is because the GOP Senate primary was bloody and brutal, with mud aplenty being slung in all directions by three candidates arguing about who loves Trump the most. When the dust had settled, outsider businessman Mike Braun had taken 41.2% of the vote, while his eerily similar politician opponents Todd Rokita and Luke Messer took eerily similar percentages of the vote (30.0% and 28.9%, respectively). Donnelly has to feel pretty good, because Braun is not a terribly strong candidate, and businessmen-turned-politicians in general have a pretty poor track record (the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue notwithstanding). Braun likely would not have triumphed, if not for the three-headed nature of his race.

    In other Hoosier State news, Mike Pence's older brother Greg—a political newbie—easily claimed the GOP nomination in IN-06. That is one of your redder districts, at R+18, and the Democrats' nominee—Jeannine Lake—is an unknown, so it is likely that Washington will soon have tuppence. It is not known whether or not Greg is willing to dine with women who are not his wife, however.

  • West Virginia: Not all incumbent Democratic senators had a good night on Tuesday. Sen. Joe Manchin (D) did fend off a challenge from the left in the form of Paula Jean Swearengin, taking 69.8% of the votes to 30.2%. However, he really, really would have liked to face Don Blankenship in the general, since Blankenship is a carpetbagger, racist, and convicted felon who was responsible for the deaths of 29 miners in a state that just so happens to be full of miners and their family members. Unfortunately for the Senator, Blankenship went down to defeat; his 19.9% of the vote was good only for third place, and well behind newly-minted nominee state AG Patrick Morrisey (34.9%) and second-place finisher Rep. Evan Jenkins (29.3%). The GOP establishment, particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), thinks Morrisey is just fine and dandy. Donald Trump will be happy, too, since he gave his endorsement to anyone but Blankenship. Also, Morrisey said many flattering things about Trump during the campaign, and Trump likes flattering things.

  • North Carolina: The Tar Heel State gave us the big upset of the night, as Rep. Robert Pittenger (R) became the first incumbent to be sent packing this election season. He took 46.2% of the vote in NC-09 to Mark Harris' 48.5%. Both men ran Trumpian campaigns, but Harris—who is known for his efforts to keep gay marriage illegal in North Carolina—managed to convince GOP voters that as a three-term Congressman, Pittenger is basically a swamp dweller. Bye bye, Bob!

On the Democratic side, then, there was a clear predilection on Tuesday for the most electable candidates over the most outspoken and/or progressive candidates. If that becomes a national trend, it dramatically increases the blue team's chances of taking back the House, and possibly even the Senate.

On the Republican side, on the other hand, most of the winners were all aboard the S.S. Trump, and often the losers were, too. The big exception was the gubernatorial primary in Ohio. And that is the result that should actually have the GOP a bit worried. North Carolina didn't have any statewide races, and Indiana and West Virginia are both solid Trump states (he won them by 19 and 42 points, respectively). Ohio, on the other hand, is a critical swing state that went for Trump by a more modest 8 points. If the state's GOP voters now prefer the non-Trumpian candidate over the Trumpian candidate, that could be a very bad sign for close, statewide races in 2018, and—even more so—for the presidential election in 2020. (Z)

Trump Withdraws from the Iran Deal

In a development that was about as surprising as the end of Saving Private Ryan (Hint: Private Ryan gets saved), Donald Trump announced that he has decided to withdraw the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), aka the Iran nuclear deal. There are a lot of moving parts here, so let's proceed like this:

  • Why now?: By the terms of the deal, Trump had to decide every three months whether the U.S. should remain on board or not. Six months ago, he blustered about Congress toughening up the deal, and they did nothing. Three months ago, he gave them one last chance, and they did nothing. The next deadline was Saturday, so Trump either had to admit he was bluffing, or he had to pull the plug. Given that he has now surrounded himself with Islamophobic hawks, most notably NSA John Bolton, it is no surprise that he pulled the plug. His choice to make the official announcement on the same day as an election is presumably not a coincidence; either he thinks he can bury the story, or he thinks he can drive a few more Trump-friendly Republicans to the polls, or both. Whatever his thinking is, he is probably wrong.

    It has also been suggested that Trump was trying to put some space between this announcement and the official move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is set to happen next week. White House insiders, who were caught by surprise when Trump announced his decision was coming Tuesday, think he might be trying to avoid the impression that Israel is dictating American foreign policy. If he really thinks that people won't perceive the fingerprints of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu all over this, then he's definitely wrong.

  • Why did Trump do this?: Put simply, he talked himself into a corner. Inasmuch as his political program was essentially "Obama and Hillary are bad," it was necessary for him to spend much verbiage on the campaign trail tearing down one of his predecessor's signature foreign policy accomplishments. A more deft politician might have left himself some wiggle room, using phrases like "flawed" or "room for improvement" or "imperfect." Trump, on the other hand, went over the top, denouncing the deal as "disastrous" and "so bad it's suspicious" and "horrible" and "the worst deal ever." If those things are the case, Trump could hardly let the deal stand. That meant either a new deal or a dead deal. And the "author" of The Art of the Deal, despite his bragging during the campaign, has shown no particular ability to negotiate deals with foreign powers, nor any particular inclination to even try in the case of Iran. That means that no new deal was likely to be made. If we cross "keep the current deal" and "negotiate a new deal" off the list, all that leaves is "cancel the current deal." Trump tried to pass the buck to Congress, and he may even have tried to get dirt on the two men who took the lead in negotiations for the Obama administration. When neither worked, Trump had to own the cancellation himself.

  • Why did Trump say he did this?: Obviously, the President could not admit that his decision was about saving face or protecting his own political prospects. So, in his remarks on Tuesday, he said, "The agreement was so poorly negotiated that even if Iran fully complies, the regime can still be on the verge of a nuclear breakout in just a short period of time. The deal's sunset provisions are totally unacceptable. If I allowed this deal to stand, there would soon be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Everyone would want their weapons ready by the time Iran had theirs."

  • Is he right?: Iran is a secretive nation with some shady behavior in their recent past, so anything is certainly possible. With that said, experts in both the U.S. and abroad were in near-universal agreement that the Iranians appeared to be complying with the terms of the deal, and were much further away from having a nuclear weapon than when the pact was negotiated. If Trump has reason to believe otherwise, it is incumbent upon him to present evidence in support of his conclusion, and he did not do so. In fact, his address was a (characteristic) collection of mostly obfuscations and distortions. Most notably, he declared that, "Last week, Israel published intelligence documents, long-concealed by Iran, conclusively showing the Iranians' regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons." To the non-careful reader/listener, this suggests that the Israelis recently discovered and published evidence of misdeeds on the part of the Iranian government. But notice that the statement actually says nothing about Iran's current activities, or its future intentions, only its past behavior. In other words, these supposedly revelatory documents tell us nothing that was not already well known. Indeed, one could have gotten the exact same information from the Wikipedia article Nuclear program of Iran, which lays out in great detail that nation's long history of trying to build nuclear weapons. Not exactly "Top Secret" intel.

    Now, Trump might have classified information that he's keeping to himself (for once), and that is influencing his thinking. But while it may not be possible for the American public to be clued in on this hypothetical intelligence, surely the leaders of the other nations who were party to the deal (like, say, the UK and France) could be. They have shown no indication that there is reason to doubt Iran.

  • What is Trump's alternative, better plan?:

  • Nothing? Really?: Trump has never, on any occasion, laid out his vision for what the agreement should look like. As with Obamacare, he's been more than happy to point out the flaws in the current arrangement, but has been silent on viable alternatives. State Dept. officials admitted, off the record, that "We did not talk about a Plan B because we were focused on negotiating a supplemental agreement."

  • How did the world react to Trump's announcement?: Iran's enemies were pleased, of course. Netanyahu declared that, "Israel fully supports President Trump's bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran." Saudi Arabia agreed with the Israelis (for once) and issued a statement declaring that, "The kingdom supports and welcomes the steps announced by the U.S. president towards withdrawing from the nuclear deal." The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, allies of the Saudis and foes of Iran, also expressed their approval.

    Most of the rest of the world, on the other hand, was none too pleased. France's Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Angela Merkel, and Britain's Theresa May each made individual statements expressing "concern" over the move. Then the trio conferred by phone, and issued a joint statement announcing that, "Together, we emphasise our continuing commitment to the JCPoA. This agreement remains important for our shared security." EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini echoed the sentiment: "The European Union will remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the nuclear deal." Russia, China, Japan, and India were slightly less direct, but also made clear that they intend to stick with the deal. That means that all of the signatories to the JCPoA besides the U.S. (EU, UK, France, Germany, China, Russia), as well as Iran's three main trade partners (Japan, India, China) all remain on board. So, the U.S. could find itself as the odd man out, unless the Trump administration is willing to take punitive action against countries that work with Iran. That is certainly within the realm of possibility, but it remains the case that any nation Trump tries to punish is likely to respond in kind. If a trade war with China is bad, then surely simultaneous trade wars with Europe, China, India and Japan would be far, far worse.

    Of particular interest is the response of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is something of a neutral observer, as he's not much a fan of Iran or Israel. He foresees greater instability in the Middle East, and said that, "If any document is bearing your signature, you need to respect that. You need to abide by that." He also said he believes that, "Iran will never compromise on this agreement, and will abide by this agreement to the end...that's what I think. However, the U.S. will lose in the end."

  • How did Iran react?: They are not pleased. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani slammed Trump, declaring that "By exiting the deal, America has officially undermined its commitment to an international treaty." Rouhani signaled that he would work with the other nations to salvage the JCPoA, while at the same time threatening that if it cannot be salvaged, the nation will rapidly resume its nuclear program.

    Rouhani's unhappiness is understandable, as Iran's economy is stagnating right now, and he was depending on the foreign investment that the deal promised. Much of that was to come from the U.S., and so isn't going to happen now, which means the Iranians will see if other countries can be persuaded to fill the void. If they cannot, and Iran's economy keeps sliding downhill, that is a situation that can foment radicalism and reactionary leadership. And whatever happens, it is likely that Iran will never really trust America again. This being the case, this might be the first damage Donald Trump has done to America's foreign relations that cannot be reversed when he leaves office.

  • How did Republicans react?: Their response was mixed. Mitch McConnell, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) were among those who applauded the decision. The Majority Leader's statement, for example, said: "The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action represented a deeply flawed agreement, which President Trump has determined is not in the national security interests of the United States. Iran's malign behavior across the broader Middle East—support to proxies such as Shia militias within Iraq, Hezbollah, the Houthis in Yemen and militias inside of Syria, use of cyberattacks, support for terrorism and pursuit of an advanced ballistic missile program—must all be addressed in a wider regional effort." Not exactly a rousing endorsement of Trump's decision, but supportive nonetheless. Other Republicans said that Trump's decision is a mistake, or at least was made too hastily. Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) were among those in this camp.

  • How did Democrats react?: Their response was not mixed. Name any prominent Democrat, particularly one that had anything to do with the Obama administration, and you can be pretty sure that they expressed their irritation with Trump on Tuesday. That includes Obama himself, who made a rare exception to his general "remain above the fray" rule, and issued a statement describing the decision as "a serious mistake" and "misguided." Former VP Joe Biden preferred "profound mistake," and said, "Talk of a 'better deal' is an illusion." The secretary of state who oversaw the deal, John Kerry, opined that, "Today's announcement weakens our security, breaks America's word, isolates us from our European allies, puts Israel at greater risk, empowers Iran's hardliners, and reduces our global leverage to address Tehran's misbehavior, while damaging the ability of future administrations to make international agreements." Meanwhile, the secretary of state who did not oversee the deal, Hillary Clinton, expressed her view that "our credibility is shot." The blue team is undoubtedly getting ready to make this a campaign issue.

  • What will happen now, short-term?: There is going to be much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments for the next day or two. There are also two possible developments that may come to pass in the next few weeks. First, oil prices were all over the place on Tuesday, closing at $70.58/barrel, which is the highest figure in four years. Gas prices were already likely to spike this summer, but now that spike might come much, much faster. Second, it is possible that Iran might take military action in Syria against Israeli forces. The Golan Heights, which borders/is in Syria (depending on whose perspective you take), has been put on high alert, while the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which is no fan of Trump or Netanyahu, believes that an attack is "imminent."

  • What will happen now, medium-term?: The process of withdrawing from the deal and reimposing sanctions will take some time. Although John Bolton declared on Tuesday that the sanctions would resume "immediately," he's wrong—it will take about six months. This is going to hit Iranians in the pocketbook, as noted above, but it will hit Americans too. Wall Street is not likely to be pleased, so there is probably going to be some more stock market roller coastering. Beyond that, there are several American companies that will be particularly hard hit. Boeing and Airbus had both signed juicy contracts to help Iran rebuild its airplane fleet; they have been advised that those contracts will be nullified within 90 days. Boeing has already said that the loss of this business could kill as many as 100,000 jobs. Several carmakers, including Ford, were set to help overhaul Iran's car market. That's not going to happen, either. General Electric, several hotel developers, and several airlines are also expected to take a hit with the loss of the Iran market. This does not seem to mesh with Trump's campaign promise of "jobs, jobs, jobs," but perhaps he is using a new math that we are not aware of.

    Meanwhile, the Trump administration will presumably try to work out a new deal with the Iranians. Politico's Ray Takeyh, who has thought a fair bit more about this situation than Trump has, has written an analysis of the flaws in the JCPoA that Trump might try to improve upon. For example, most of the limits on Iran's nuclear development were set to expire eventually (in 15-30 years); Takeyh argues that "permanent" should be the goal.

    There are two problems here, though. The first is that Trump has poisoned the well with the Iranians; they are not going to be terribly enthusiastic about working with him now, particularly if they're getting 90% of what they want from the other powers. The second is that the possibility of a "better deal" not only assumes that the Obama administration's negotiators were chumps, but that the leadership and the foreign ministries of all of the world's superpowers were, too. In other words, if a better deal was really possible, wouldn't someone in the UK, or France, or China, or Russia, or the EU, or Germany have done something about it? The only plausible way that Trump negotiates a new deal is if the Europeans step in, and come up with a JCPoA v2.0 that tweaks the current one just enough that the President can save face and declare victory. The notion that the Trump administration will somehow secure a radically different, radically better deal is a fantasy.

    Finally, this development represents a clear defeat for the last of the "grown-ups" left from the trio of former Sec. of State Rex Tillerson, former NSA Herbert McMaster, and Sec. of Defense James Mattis. Mattis lobbied hard for the U.S. to stay in the deal, and clearly did not get what he wanted. Chief of Staff John Kelly is believed to have been in favor of that position as well. This could prove to be the final straw (or close to it) for one or both of them, and it would actually be something of a surprise if they're both still hanging around by the time the midterms arrive.

  • What will happen now, long term?: That, of course, is the big question. Clearly, all of the other major powers of the world are going to work hard to maintain the status quo, and perhaps they will succeed. In that case, the U.S. would once again be left on an island, as with the Paris Accord (and, it would appear, the Trans-Pacific Partnership). "America First!" is quickly becoming "America Alone!"

    And that may be the best-case scenario. If the situation in Iran deteriorates, and diplomacy proves to be no longer possible, then they are going to make a mad rush towards becoming a nuclear power, moving so fast it will make Kim Jong-Un's head spin. At that point, the options will be to allow Iran to join the club, which everyone agrees will be bad for the security and stability of the Middle East (and really bad for the security and stability of Israel), or else to invade Iran. We all know how very well that worked out in Iraq. And let's not forget, incidentally, that one of the primary architects of the Iraq War was...John Bolton. And he just might remind Trump that the invasion of Iraq facilitated the reelection of a president with low approval ratings who lost the popular vote on his first go-round.

  • What does this mean for Trump, politically?: Trump may still pull a face-saving rabbit out of his hair, and agree to a slightly modified version of the JCPoA. But it's not probable, and even if it happens, it will take time to work out. Meanwhile, for at least the next few months, and perhaps even for the next two years, the President has just handed the Democrats a wedge issue that they are going to wield like a sledgehammer. In contrast to the war in Iraq, which some Democrats supported and others opposed, the blue team has been generally unified on the Iran deal. Whatever the consequences of Trump's decision are—economic turmoil, violence in the Middle East, higher gas prices, layoffs, etc.—they are going to be able to point the finger right at the President and the GOP. And Trump will have nowhere to pass the buck. After all, the situation was stable before Tuesday, and now it's not. If things go south in any way, it's not because of anything that Crooked Hillary, or Robert Mueller, or the fake news, or the deep state, or kneeling football players did.

    Meanwhile, the rest of the world keeps inching closer to concluding that, at least in the short term, it's better to work around the United States than to work with the United States. It's true that they cannot completely turn their backs on the world's mightiest economic and military power. However, Trump—who has already proven himself to be a mediocre diplomat—is going to find it harder and harder to get the Theresa Mays and the Xi Jingpings of the world to work with him to advance his priorities. Whatever those are.

As the old saying goes, "Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it." Well Trump has his wish, now we'll see what he gets. (Z)

Cohen's Financial Dealings Raise Serious Questions

You have to hand it to Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels (aka Stephanie Clifford): He's very good at turning the screws. He managed to acquire some potentially compromising information about the finances of Michael Cohen (and by extension, Donald Trump). Then, Avenatti handed the information off to the New York Times, which verified it and printed it, and made certain special counsel Robert Mueller was aware of it. So, what's the new dirt? Well, it turns out that the shell corporation Cohen set up in order to pay $130,000 to Stormy Daniels was actually doing a land office business. At least $4.4 million was funneled through Essential Consultants L.L.C. between September 2016 and January of this year.

Already this is not good, and it gets worse. The "corporation" received six-figure payments from a number of mega-corporations with business before the Trump administration, including telecom giant AT&T, multinational pharmaceutical concern Novartis, and Korea Aerospace Industries. AT&T has already issued a statement in which they claim the $200,000 they paid to Cohen was to "provide insights into understanding the new administration." Whatever that might mean, it does not appear to be a synonym for "draining the swamp." And then there is the transaction that really has people talking: $500,000 from Columbus Nova. That is a New York City investment firm whose biggest client is...Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Columbus Nova has already issued a statement insisting that the payment had nothing to do with Vekselberg, but of course they would say that even if it came directly from his account.

It is possible that Cohen has excellent explanations for all of this. And because the story just broke, there is still a great deal that is unknown (including what other dubious transactions there might be). Among the unknowns is whether or not Cohen violated any election or federal corruption laws (though he almost certainly violated banking laws, since he made false reports about some of the transactions). At first glance, it looks like he may have been selling access to the President, which is not illegal, but is also pretty hypocritical, given how much noise the Donald made about the Clinton Foundation. Another possibility, which would be illegal, is that Cohen was collecting bribes for Trump. Yet another, which would be really illegal, is that he was laundering money for the President.

In any case, this chapter of the Cohen saga is just getting underway. And if he somehow extricates himself from all the intrigue he's managed to get caught up in, then he's a miracle worker on the order of Anne Sullivan. (Z)

Trump Is Frustrated with Giuliani

Donald Trump has been kvetching to his associates that his new fixer, Rudy Giuliani, is not doing his assigned job: making the Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) drama vanish. In fact, the opposite has happened. Giuliani made it worse by admitting Trump knew all about it and supplied the $130,000 payment to Daniels. Some aides have said that if Giuliani continues to make the situation worse, Trump might fire him.

If Giuliani got the boot, he wouldn't be the first lawyer to go. Let's see now: There was Marc Kasowitz, Ty Cobb, and John Dowd already. And then there were all the lawyers who were on the brink of being hired, or at least being considered, and then all of a sudden weren't. That list includes Joseph diGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing, Brendan Sullivan, Paul Clement, Mark Filip, Robert Giuffra, Robert S. Bennett, and Theodore Olson. Part of the problem has been the legal team's structure. Nobody seems to know who reports to whom and what everyone's job is. The other part of the problem is the client, who refuses to listen to what his lawyers tell him to do. This is surely frustrating to the lawyers. (V)

Trump Has Asked Congress to Rescind $15 Billion in Approved Funds

With great difficulty, Congress agreed on a budget for 2018 and passed it. Now Donald Trump is trying to retroactively change it by asking Congress to unapprove funding it just approved. In total he wants to claw back $15.4 billion, but much of that is for defunct programs. Still, he wants to take $3 billion away from functioning programs that he doesn't like, such as the children's health insurance program, which pays for medical care for poor children.

Democrats are crying foul at the idea of the president trying to unilaterally change a very carefully crafted budget. It is true that Congress has the legal authority to do so; it's called rescission and is authorized by the Impoundment Control Act of 1974. It is also true, however, that this action will completely poison the well and make bipartisan deals impossible since the Democrats will conclude (with reason) that they can't trust Republicans to carry out their part of compromises. Members of the House and Senate appropriations committees, even the Republicans, are wary of doing this because they realize how hard it will be to pass next year's budget if the Democrats simply don't believe Republicans will carry out what is in the budget.

Meanwhile, some members of the GOP presumably also realize that "Republicans went back on their word so that they could take money away from poor, sick children" is not exactly a winner come election season. So, for both of these reasons, it is unlikely Trump will find much support for his request, even among members of his own party, especially when the amount of money in question is a relative drop in the bucket relative to the size of the entire federal budget. (V & Z)

Blue-slip Rule Is Dead

A long-standing Senate practice has been to allow senators to veto judicial appointments in their home states. The senators of the state(s) in which a potential judge would have jurisdiction were given blue slips on which they could approve or veto the nominations. This was never a formal rule, but a very long-standing tradition. In a Senate hell-bent on confirming as many conservative judges as possible, the rule is dead as the dodo.

First case in point: Donald Trump has nominated lawyer Michael Brennan to the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court, which has jurisdiction over Wisconsin. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) opposes Brennan, but the nomination is going forward anyway. Second case in point: Trump has nominated Ryan Bounds to the 9th Circuit, based in San Francisco, which has jurisdiction over Oregon. Both Oregon senators have objected, but to no avail.

One area in which Trump has been very successful is appointing conservative judges, especially to the appeals courts. He has already gotten 15 of his nominations through the Senate, with more to come. Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he will keep the Senate in session after the election to approve more judges as a hedge against Democrats taking control of the upper chamber and blocking Trump's appointments starting in January.

Of course, what is happening here is that Trump and his party are putting short term gain ahead of long-term pain. It is true that the conservatives Trump appoints will linger for a long time; three or four (or even five) decades in some cases (the most senior judge currently serving, Manuel Real, was appointed by LBJ in 1966). However, it is also the case that federal judges retire at the rate of about 45 per year. In recent years, Republican presidents have tended to favor fire-breathing conservatives (think: Neil Gorsuch), while Democrats have tended to favor moderate choices more likely to make it through the process (think: Merrick Garland). Not universally true, but generally true.

What this means is that the GOP doesn't have as much space to move the judiciary rightward as the Democrats have to move it leftward. And perhaps as soon as 2020, the Democrats could have the trifecta the Republicans currently enjoy. When that comes to pass, get ready for a stream of young, left-leaning judges—30 or 40 or 50 a year—so pinko that they make Lenin look like Ronald Reagan. We shall see how, for example, Alabamians feel when key judicial matters are being decided by a 35-year-old black lesbian atheist from San Francisco. (V & Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
May08 Four States Are Holding Their Primaries Today
May08 Ohio Is Also Holding a Special Election Primary Today
May08 Trump Will Announce His Decision on the Iran Deal Today at 2 p.m.
May08 Schneiderman Resigns
May08 Haspel Tried to Withdraw from Consideration as CIA Director
May08 Melania Trump Announces Platform
May08 Poll: Trump Is Doing Better on the Issues
May07 Conway: Trump Didn't Know about Payment to Daniels
May07 Bad Economic News Is Looming
May07 Four States Will Hold Primaries This Week
May07 California Republicans Are Afraid of Being Shut Out Statewide
May07 Trump Appoints Oz to Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition Council
May07 Trump Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
May07 Trump Set to Get Monument
May07 Connecticut Set to Join Interstate Compact
May06 Stormygate Just Keeps Getting Worse for Trump
May06 Mueller Talked to Barrack
May06 Lots of Blowback Over Trump's NRA Speech
May06 Kerry Trying to Save Iran Deal
May06 Trump Suggests "Closing" the Country for a While
May06 McCain Speaks Out
May06 Right-Wing Fringe Moves Center Stage
May05 Trump Excuses Giuliani as a Newbie
May05 Judge Challenges Mueller on Manafort Case
May05 Trump Speaks to the NRA
May05 Pruitt Reimbursed Himself $65,000 from Former Campaigns
May05 DHS Ends Protections for 90,000 Immigrants
May05 Unemployment Drops Below 4%
May05 Rosen Leads Heller by a Hair in Nevada
May04 Feds Monitored Michael Cohen's Phones
May04 Trump Tries to Quell the Storm(y)
May04 Giuliani Revelation Blindsided Trump's Legal Team
May04 Lessons Emmet Flood Could Try to Teach Trump
May04 How Long Will Sanders Last?
May04 California Gubernatorial Race Casts a Long Shadow
May04 House Chaplain Unresigns, Dares Ryan to Fire Him
May03 More Turnover on Trump's Legal Team
May03 Giuliani: Trump Repaid the $130,000 to Cohen
May03 Caputo Has Some Scary Words for Trump
May03 Trump Claims Absolute Immunity in Emoluments Lawsuit
May03 Pruitt Under Review--Times 10
May03 West Virginia Senate Candidate Uses Fake Photo in Ad
May03 Corker's Distaste for Blackburn Could Hand the Democrats a Senate Seat
May03 Democrats Win a Bellwether Race in Florida
May02 Trump May Not Understand His Legal Jeopardy
May02 Things Are Tense Between Team Trump and Team Mueller
May02 Rosenstein: I Won't Be Intimidated
May02 Bornstein Turns on Trump
May02 This Week in Scott Pruitt Corruption
May02 Rubio: Workers Get Little Benefit from Tax Law