• Judge Says Trial about Trump's Charity Can Proceed
• Trump Wants Supreme Court to Uphold Transgender Ban
• New White House Staffers Likely Coming Soon
• Warning Lights Are Flashing for Trump's Reelection
• Sherrod Brown Looked in the Mirror and Saw a Future President
• Global Warming Is Bad News (so Bury It)
Jerome Corsi, an associate of Donald Trump's adviser Roger Stone, is currently engaged in plea negotiations with special counsel Robert Mueller. It's the usual story: Mueller nails a small fish (Corsi) who then implicates a medium-sized fish (Stone) in order to get the Big Fish.
What Mueller wants to know is whether Stone or anyone else in Donald Trump's campaign conspired with the Russians to obtain and leak Democratic e-mails during the 2016 election. Corsi has already spent 40 hours talking to prosecutors and feels under tremendous pressure. He said his brain was "mush." Absent a plea bargain, Corsi (72) could spend the rest of his life in prison for lying under oath. If Corsi clearly and repeatedly says that Stone was deeply involved in making the Democratic e-mails public, then when Mueller finally gets around to interviewing Stone, the latter is going to be under a huge amount of pressure to spill the beans on Trump. Stone has said that he will never do that, but that is just brave talk. When push comes to shove, he'll fold like a cheap suit. He won't go to prison for years just to save Trump's neck. G. Gordon Liddy he is not. (V)
New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood has sued Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump for numerous crimes related to the elder Trump's charitable foundation, including self-dealing, misuse of charitable assets, breach of fiduciary duty, and illegally coordinating with Trump's 2016 campaign. Yesterday, Justice Saliann Scarpulla of the New York state supreme court ruled that the Constitution does not immunize Trump from the lawsuit, which may now proceed. In her 27-page decision, Scarpulla said the lawsuit is "replete" with allegations that the foundation's funds were misused.
The judge noted that her decision is entirely consistent with the Supreme Court's 9-0 ruling in 1997 that Paula Jones could sue the president for his private actions unrelated to the presidency. Jones' lawyer in that case was George Conway, the husband of presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway. This is the second private lawsuit against Trump that is going forward. In an unrelated case, Summer Zervos has sued Trump for defamation. She claimed that he groped and kissed her against her will and he called her a liar, which she said defamed her (while simultaneously making her famous). Discovery in that case is likely to start in the coming months. (V)
In July, Donald Trump banned transgender Americans from serving in the armed forces. He famously (notoriously?) announced the decision via Twitter, and apparently did not consult anyone in his administration before making the call. Lawsuits came quickly, of course, and at the moment there are at least three of them making their way through the lower levels of the federal court system. Ever impatient, Trump wants a decision NOW. And so, on his instruction, solicitor general Noel Francisco has filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to take up the case in their next term.
This is certainly interesting strategy from the President. Trump spent all week bashing Chief Justice John Roberts, and now he wants special considerations and a favorable ruling from the Court. Approximately 100% of lawyers would advise that you get on a judge's good side when you need something from him, not his bad side. The President did not go to law school, though, so maybe he knows better than they do. Politically, of course, Trump cares not one bit whether or not transgender people serve in the military. He just wants to create a new wedge issue, given that the kneeling football players thing seems to have run its course, he can only get so much mileage out of the immigrant caravan, the attacks on Adm. William McRaven (ret.) fizzled, etc. (Z)
You might have thought that Donald Trump would spend the whole Thanksgiving weekend doing absolutely no work, truly making Mar-a-Lago into the "Southern White House." However, if you thought that, you were wrong. When not tweeting or golfing, he's actually spending some of his time interviewing candidates for positions in his administration.
It is not exactly known what positions Trump might be interviewing people for. Generally speaking, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is understood to be at the front of the line for the chopping block. A permanent AG is needed, of course. There was scuttlebutt on Friday that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has fallen out of favor. And the seats of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and Chief of Staff John Kelly have been rumored to be hot, as well.
For the latter post, Nick Ayers, currently chief of staff for VP Mike Pence, appears to be a serious contender. Trump has enjoyed the flattering things Ayers says about him at weekly lunches with the two of them, plus Pence and Kelly. Further, the President is impressed at how smoothly the Vice President's office runs. Apparently, the Donald has not considered that the differences between his office and Pence's might have some other major cause besides whoever is chief of staff. In any event, the odds are pretty good that heads will start to roll sometime this week or next. (Z)
Republican pollsters are slowly chewing on the midterm results and they don't like what they are tasting. Presidents have been thumped or shellacked in the midterms before and come back to win a second term, but there are a lot of warning signs they can't ignore. A big one is that Trump's approval rating is stuck in the 35-45% range, depending on which polls you like. Having more than half the country disapprove of you is not a sure-fire way to get reelected. Ronald Reagan's approval was in the low 40s after 2 years in office, but he shot up to 58% by 1984 and won reelection easily. No one expects Trump's approval to be even 50% in 2020. That would require millions of Democrats to start approving of him, and that is exceedingly unlikely, especially if Robert Muller comes out with a damning report and House committees start discovering all kinds of dirt.
Also problematical is that the three states that flipped in 2016 and gave Trump the presidency, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, just elected Democratic governors and Democratic senators, and it wasn't especially close in any of them. In Michigan and Pennsylvania, Democrats also picked up six new House seats. In addition, Arizona just elected a Democratic senator for the first time in decades, probably putting that state in play in 2020. Trump won Georgia and Florida in 2016, but both of those had very close statewide elections and are probably in play in 2020, as well.
Lynn Vavreck, a professor at UCLA and member of the advisory board of the American National Election Studies, is skeptical that public opinion about Trump will change in the next two years. Republicans approve of him and Democrats don't, with little chance that will change by 2020. Nevertheless, some Republican pollsters are hopeful. Neil Newhouse, Mitt Romney's pollster in 2012, summed it up thusly: "2018 was more of a referendum on President Trump. 2020 is going to be more of a choice. And Trump does much better in a choice battle when he has someone to run against." (V)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is a polite guy and knows it is in poor taste to talk about running for president during your Senate reelection campaign. But having taken care of that little detail (and getting 100,000 more votes than Gov.-elect Mike DeWine, R), he is now clearly exploring a run. As a white man from Ohio, he has a much better shot at winning back the working-class white men in the Midwest who deserted the Democrats in 2016 than, say, a black woman from California. He is also liberal enough that the "Bernie" wing of the Democratic Party would probably embrace him wholeheartedly if he got the nomination, even though he might not be its first choice. If he runs, his theme will be worker-centered populism under the motto of "protecting the dignity of work." On some key issues, like tariffs, he has broken with more liberal elements of his party, but that would work for him in much of the Midwest. And coming from Ohio puts him in a strong position to win back that key state and its 18 electoral votes.
He has one huge downside, however, and there is nothing he can do about it. If he is elected president, the Democrats will lose a Senate seat until 2023, as DeWine will appoint a Republican to it. With some other candidate, Democrats are going to have to flip four seats just to get to 50. With Brown, they will have to flip five to get there. That is a very steep hill for them to climb. In fact, the potential loss of his Senate seat was the main reason Hillary Clinton picked Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) over Brown as her running mate. The other Midwesterner who is frequently mentioned as a candidate, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN), doesn't have this problem since the newly elected governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, is also a DFLer. (V)
The U.S. Global Change Research Program is a consortium of 13 federal agencies, and was required by statute to compile and release a report on climate change. Two reports, actually—the first was released in November of last year, and the second was released on Friday. The new document is really quite grim, and says that if something is not done soon, climate change will cost the United States tens of thousands of lives and billions (or even trillions) of dollars annually.
For those who want the gory details, the report is happy to provide them. The Southwestern United States will be particularly hard-hit, as rising temperatures will result in many more days where people cannot work, and many more cases of heatstroke and other ailments that will also cost man hours. The Midwest will take a beating, too. Farmers' land won't be as fruitful, and dairy cattle will produce less milk. The South is also in line for some nasty consequences. Higher heat will mean more mosquitoes and, thus, more mosquito-borne diseases (particularly Zika). Anyone in the fishing business will be ruined, as more acidic oceans will produce much less edible sea life (and much more red algae).
This, of course, is not news that Donald Trump wants to hear. Especially since, as irony would have it, the places that voted for him are in line for the worst consequences. His administration was legally required to release the report, but had some leeway in choosing when to do so (it was originally expected to be made public in December). In view of this, Trump's recent tweet on global warming takes on added significance, from a propaganda/PR perspective:
Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS - Whatever happened to Global Warming?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2018
And it's hard to imagine that releasing the report on the day after Thanksgiving, which just so happens to be one of the biggest shopping days of the year, was a coincidence. If there was a non-holiday day left in this year, on which people are most likely to de distracted, Friday was it.
We often wonder around here what the post-Trump GOP will look like. However, there is one thing we are confident in saying: The Republican Party cannot keep up its climate change denial forever. They are an outlier; no other major political party in the world embraces climate change denial as a core tenet. At the moment, the GOP is handing the Democrats a big-time winning issue to run on, and one that matters a whole lot to young voters. And if things go on long enough, those folks in the red states are going to start noticing that the predicted outcomes are coming to pass. It is very unlikely that Trump himself will ever change his tune, but the odds are very good that whoever succeeds him as the leader of the Republican Party is, for one reason or another, going to be singing a very different tune. (Z)
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov23 Schiff Will Follow the Money
Nov23 Goodlatte Subpoenas Comey, Lynch
Nov23 "President" Bolton Better Watch His Back
Nov23 Billion-dollar Politics
Nov23 Trump Calls Troops, Visits Coast Guard
Nov23 Crooked Politicians Are Thankful for Partisanship
Nov23 Soybeans Are Fungible
Nov22 Chief Justice John Roberts Hits Trump and Trump Hits Right Back
Nov22 Trump Defends Ivanka, Wanted to Prosecute Hillary
Nov22 Trump Twitter Feed Is a Pre-Thanksgiving Cornucopia
Nov22 Opposition to Pelosi as Speaker Collapses
Nov22 Four Democrats Want to Chair the DCCC
Nov22 Bourdeaux Concedes
Nov22 Democrats Made Gains in Rural Areas
Nov22 Thursday Q&A
Nov21 Trump Won't Punish Saudis for Murdering Journalist
Nov21 Bye Bye Love
Nov21 Fudge Is Out
Nov21 More Trouble for Hyde-Smith
Nov21 The Blue Wave Was Black
Nov21 Latinos Showed Up, Too
Nov21 Trump Submits Answers to Mueller
Nov21 Poll: Trump Beats All Rivals in 2020 Republican Primary
Nov21 Whitaker Was Paid over $1 Million by Conservative "Charity"
Nov20 Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Trump
Nov20 Troops at Border Are Headed Home
Nov20 Acosta Wins
Nov20 Trump Causes General Irritation
Nov20 Pelosi Opposition Comes into Focus
Nov20 Another Whitaker Lawsuit
Nov20 Everybody Is Waiting to See What Beto Will Do
Nov19 Nelson Concedes
Nov19 Republicans Are Concerned about the Mississippi Runoff
Nov19 Trump Slams McRaven
Nov19 It Wasn't All about College-Educated Suburban Women
Nov19 Texas May Be in Play Sooner than Expected
Nov19 Ohio and Colorado May Not Be Swing States Anymore
Nov19 A Battle Looms among Aspiring Ranking Members of the House Judiciary Committee
Nov19 An Early Look at the 2020 Senate Races
Nov19 Monday Q&A
Nov18 Election Updates: Gillum Concedes, Cisneros Wins
Nov18 Progressives Back Pelosi
Nov18 Trump Wonders about Pence's Loyalty
Nov18 Trump Threatens Shutdown...Again
Nov18 Trump May Take His Ball and Go Home
Nov18 Another Facebook Scandal
Nov18 Democratic Presidential Candidate of the Week: Eric Holder
Nov17 Election Updates: Abrams Concedes, Love Leads, Nelson Bleeds
Nov17 Senate Republicans Want to Get Rid of Whitaker