• General Motors Will Slash Jobs and Trump Is Not Happy
• Trump Disapproval Hits All-Time High in Gallup Poll
• Nadler: A Partisan Impeachment Will Tear the Country Apart
• Manafort Allegedly Lied to Mueller; Corsi Says "No Plea"
• Who Will Be Trump's Running Mate in 2020?
• Cox Leads, Love Concedes
After a bitter campaign filled with allegations of racism in a state where the Civil War never really ended, Mississippi voters go to the polls today to determine if they would prefer a white woman or a black man to represent them in the Senate. Incidentally, the woman is a Republican and the man is a Democrat. Every poll published so far has the woman, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), ahead, although both parties agree the race has tightened in the past few days after Hyde-Smith said she would be happy to attend a public hanging (generally called a lynching in Mississippi).
Donald Trump wasn't taking any chances, so he visited the Magnolia State yesterday to support Hyde-Smith. That could have been a two-edged sword, though. Bobby Moak, the chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party (yes, such a thing actually exists) said of Trump's visit: "When he shows up, of course he's going to fire up the Republican base. But he also does the same thing with the Democratic base." The memory of Sen. Doug Jones' (D-AL) win earlier this year is still fresh in the minds of local Republicans, so they are hammering the Democrat, Mike Espy, with a final round of ads tying him to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), even though she didn't become speaker of the House until 15 years after he left Congress. Surprises are always possible, but if Espy wins, that will leave Jones' win behind it in the dirt. (V)
When Donald Trump signed the GOP tax bill and later started a trade war with China, he promised Americans that these actions would create jobs. Not all companies got the memo, apparently, as General Motors announced yesterday that it is closing plants in America and Canada and will lay off 14,000 workers. That wasn't in the script.
Donald Trump was not happy that GM's CEO, Mary Barra, was undercutting his plan to bring more jobs to America. He did help out though, by giving her some friendly advice: "They say the Chevy Cruze is not selling well. I say well, then, get a car that is selling well and put it back in." If Barra hadn't thought about focusing on cars that are selling well and dropping those that are not, now she knows what to do. Oh, wait. The plant closures Barra announced were the ones that made the cars that weren't selling well, including the Cruze, the Volt, and the Impala. So much for a businessman-president.
Part of the problem is the tariff on imported steel that Trump levied earlier this year. He did it to help the workers in the companies that make steel, but forgot completely about the much larger number of companies that use steel, like GM. Now that decision is coming back to bite him.
Republicans naturally attacked GM, rather than Trump's tariffs, as the problem. For example, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said he was "deeply frustrated with General Motors' decision." There may be more disappointment ahead because the closing of five assembly plants is going to have a big effect on the thousands of companies that make the parts the plants assemble, which is sure to lead to more layoffs in the Midwest. Many of the people laid off probably voted for Trump in 2016, since he claimed he was going to help them. They may be a bit more skeptical come 2020. (V)
A new poll just out shows that 60% of Americans now disapprove of Donald Trump's job performance, matching his previous all-time high. Only 38% approve of him. The news in the past week was not good to Trump, including his battle of words with Chief Justice John Roberts and his refusal to punish Saudi Arabia for murdering a journalist. The last time Trump's disapproval was this bad was in August 2017, when white supremacists marched in Charlottesville and Trump said there were good people on both sides. (V)
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) warned the Democrats that impeaching Donald Trump was not a done deal, saying: "You don't want half the country to say to the other half for the next 30 years, 'We won the election. You stole it from us.'" He didn't take impeachment off the table, but said that for an impeachment to be legitimate, it would have to pass a three-part test:
- The offense must be grave
- The evidence must be so clear that Republicans also agree impeachment is warranted
- The offense has to be so severe that it is worth putting the country through the trauma of an impeachment
However, he noted that it is entirely possible that special counsel Robert Mueller will deliver a report of an extremely grave offense and proof that Trump was guilty of it. He also noted that not all crimes are impeachable offenses and not all reasons for impeachment are technically felonies. (V)
Speaking of impeachment and Robert Mueller, there were some fireworks on that front on Monday. To start, Team Mueller filed paperwork in federal court that claims that, after reaching a plea agreement, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort lied "on a variety of subject matters" while giving testimony. Manafort, of course, denied this and insisted that everything he said was truthful. Monday's filing was very brief, and contained few details, but the special counsel's office says specifics are coming at a later date.
Manafort's behavior here is, to use the word preferred in the legal profession, "moronic." Of course, that is kind of par for the course for him. He hasn't exactly proven himself to be the sharpest knife in the drawer, what with his clumsy attempts to cover his tracks, and his flashy ostrich-skin coats (first rule of the successful criminal: Don't draw attention to yourself.). There is a 100% chance that Mueller deliberately laid traps for Manafort, asking questions to which the special counsel already knew the answer (thanks to his interrogation of Manafort's sidekick, Rick Gates). And, very clearly, Manafort sprung the traps. Now his plea deal is presumably kaput, and he might tack on a few perjury charges, as well.
Clearly, Manafort thinks that a pardon is coming from the fellow at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (possibly at the same time that Mueller is fired). However, there are some problems with that. The first is that if Trump was going to do so, why did he wait? The second is that Mueller still has state-level crimes in his back pocket, which Trump cannot pardon, and which the special counsel can ask the New York and/or Virginia AG's to deploy as needed. Even if Mueller doesn't proceed along that path (say, because he's been canned, and Congress/the courts have declined to save him), Virginia AG Mark Herring (D) and New York AG-elect Letitia James (D) will be eager to pick up the ball on their own. At this point, given how badly he's misplayed his hand, it will be a minor miracle if Manafort ever sees the outside of a prison cell again.
Nobody who has been paying attention at all thinks Robert Mueller is a sucker, but he may be even smarter than people have realized. After all, he has been in the law-enforcement business most of his life and has seen every flavor of crook and liar on the planet by now. It is entirely possible that he realized Manafort was lying from the get go (possibly due to what Gates told him) and fed Manafort misleading or incomplete information with the expectation that it would get back to Trump one way or another. It is also entirely possible that Trump's written answers to Mueller's questions may be based on what Trump thinks Mueller knows, rather than what Mueller actually knows. Consequently, his answers may be—how shall we put this—imaginative. If Mueller catches Trump on the answers, that could result in a finding of perjury.
Meanwhile, Jerome Corsi, close associate of Roger Stone (and, by extension, Donald Trump), has also made a high-stakes decision about which way the winds are blowing. After spending weeks negotiating a plea deal, Corsi announced on Monday that he wouldn't sign. "They can put me in prison the rest of my life. I am not going to sign a lie," he said. Incidentally, Team Mueller thinks they have also caught Corsi in multiple falsehoods. So, that "prison for the rest of my life" thing might prove prescient if Corsi does not change his tune.
It seems improbable that two people linked to Trump would both decide to take a high-stakes gamble on their future at exactly the same time. This certainly suggests that they know something the rest of us don't about the President's plans. But again, Trump can't pardon everything. And beyond that, we all know he changes his mind on a dime. He could be telling Manafort and Corsi, through back channels, that he is going to take care of them, and then he could change his mind and decide it's not worth sticking his neck out knowing how the House Democrats are likely to react to pardons. After all, Donald Trump is loyal to just one person, and that person is not named Paul or Jerome. (Z)
At a press conference on Nov. 7, a reporter asked Donald Trump if he would keep Vice President Mike Pence on the ticket in 2020. Trump then yelled out: "Mike, will you be my running mate?" Pence didn't answer, and Trump moved on. If things are looking grim for Trump in 2020, Pence might decide to do what rats do when the ship is sinking. Or, Trump might decide he needs to gin up the base with a new and exciting running mate, after all, that worked so well for John McCain in 2008. You can call Pence many things, but "exciting" isn't one of them. Roll Call has a list of potential running mates if Pence wants out or Trump wants him out. Here it is:
- Nikki Haley would appeal to women, something important if the Democrats pick one for the top job
- Liz Cheney is another woman and would bring some of father Dick's experience to the campaign
- Marsha Blackburn, the new senator from Tennessee, is a fire-breathing right winger in case Trump needs one
- Lindsey Graham long ago sold his soul to Trump, and if Trump wants a toady, Lindsey's his guy
- Mia Love, who just lost her House seat, might appeal to minorities and women (although see below)
- Ted Cruz and Trump hate each other, but Jack Kennedy hated Lyndon Johnson and picked him to win Texas
- Kelly Ayotte, the former New Hampshire senator, would help with women and foreign policy
Haley is the clear favorite if Pence is out of the picture, but so far that appears to be somewhat hypothetical. (V)
It turns out that the AP was indeed premature in calling the race in CA-21. With Monday's update, Democrat TJ Cox has taken the lead for the first time, by a little less than 400 votes. Given that absentee ballots in general tend to break Democratic, and that they have particularly been likely to do so in this cycle, and in this district, the odds are pretty good that Cox pulls this off. Assuming that NM-02, the other district that some outlets have as "uncalled," holds, then the Democrats are in line to pick up 40 seats in the House.
Meanwhile, Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) formally conceded to Ben McAdams (D) in UT-04. And she took the opportunity to fire back at Donald Trump, who previously suggested that Love deserved to lose because she did not embrace him closely enough. "[Those comments] gave me a clear vision of his world as it is," she said. "No real relationships, just convenient transactions. That is an insufficient way to implement sincere service and policy." She also sounded a vague but slightly sinister warning: "Good news is, I'm not going away. But now, I am unleashed, I am untethered and I am unshackled, and I can say exactly what's on my mind." Perhaps her future lies with CNN or MSNBC as an anti-Trump commentator? Whatever her plans are, it seems rather unlikely that there will be a Trump/Love ticket (see above) in 2020. Of course Love-Trump would make for a better bumper sticker, but that is certainly not going to happen. (Z)
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov26 Farm Bankruptcies Are Up
Nov26 Poll: Public Is Worried about Pre-existing Conditions
Nov26 Sessions Is Not a Shoo-in for His Old Seat
Nov26 New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner Is a Goner
Nov26 Fox's New Bugaboo: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Nov26 Monday Q&A
Nov25 Mexico Will Reportedly Hold Refugees
Nov25 Trump Tried to Bury Global Warming Report, Got Burned
Nov25 Mitt Gets to Work
Nov25 Espy Within Striking Distance
Nov25 Congress Is Going to Have a Busy Month
Nov25 Democratic Presidential Candidate of the Week: Eric Swalwell
Nov24 Jerome Corsi Is Negotiating a Plea Bargain with Mueller
Nov24 Judge Says Trial about Trump's Charity Can Proceed
Nov24 Trump Wants Supreme Court to Uphold Transgender Ban
Nov24 New White House Staffers Likely Coming Soon
Nov24 Warning Lights Are Flashing for Trump's Reelection
Nov24 Sherrod Brown Looked in the Mirror and Saw a Future President
Nov24 Global Warming Is Bad News (so Bury It)
Nov23 Trump Threatens to Close the Whole Border with Mexico
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