• Let the Subpoena Wars Begins
• Sanders Releases His Tax Returns
• Tax Cuts Apparently Not What the Doctor Ordered
• Buttigieg Officially Declares
• So Does Weld
• It's Trump vs. Omar
AG William Barr promised that the redacted version of the Mueller report was coming soon, and he later narrowed it down to sometime this week. On Monday, he got even more specific, and announced that the document will be released on Thursday morning.
While only a few people know exactly what the report says, and even fewer know exactly what will be redacted, things are going to get wild. There is going to be widespread irritation with the redactions, regardless of how limited or extensive they are. Further, just about everyone this side of Fox News is going to be talking about obstruction and also about why the Trump campaign needed to have so many interactions with Russia. Meanwhile, Team Trump is undoubtedly preparing a counteroffensive. Rudy Giuliani has suggested they will be releasing their own counter-report, and at very least, there will be renewed claims of vindication, regardless of how reasonable those claims are. They say that politics is a full-contact sport. Well, get your helmets on. (Z)
House Democrats have largely been playing nice in their first 100 days in power, in hopes of keeping things cordial with anyone who wants to cooperate. Now, however, they are going to start playing hardball. In addition to going after Donald Trump's taxes, they are prepping subpoenas for other entities that might have some information about his financial picture. Deutsche Bank got theirs on Monday, and the President's accounting firm Mazars USA got theirs too. Trump's lawyers are already warning Mazars not to comply, and undoubtedly will do the same with Deutsche Bank (as the Trump legal team has already done with the IRS).
The President has a couple of very big problems here as he tries to puff out his chest and force his associates to keep his secrets. The first is that the law is not on his side. As David Cay Johnston points out, the same tax code that affords Congress access to Trump's tax returns also contains a provision that says:
Any officer or employee of the United States acting in connection with any revenue law of the United States ... who with intent to defeat the application of any provision of this title fails to perform any of the duties of his office or employment ... shall be dismissed from office or discharged from employment and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $10,000, or imprisoned not more than 5 years or both.
In other words, if Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and/or IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig try to protect Trump, they could be facing prison time or removal from office or both. The folks who run Mazars and Deutsche Bank aren't subject to the same laws as federal employees, but they could find themselves in contempt of Congress, which could also result in prison time.
The President's second problem is that once the financial cat's out of the bag, there's no putting it back in. Let us imagine that Mazars gets its subpoena and promptly coughs up the documents that have been demanded. The muckety-mucks there have indicated that is their plan. If Trump's attorneys go to court to quash the subpoena, then at that point, it won't matter. Either way, House Democrats (and, very likely, the general public) will know what they want to know. Combine this with the Mueller report, and it's likely that a fair number of things that Trump would prefer to remain secret won't be secret much longer. (Z)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) had, by all accounts, a very successful appearance on Fox News on Monday night. Appearing live from Bethlehem, PA (rust belt country), and on the network that is essentially Trump TV, the Senator managed to field the questions tossed in his direction with skill and aplomb.
However, the Fox News appearance was not the Sanders story on Monday. No, that would be the Senator's tax returns. He released 10 years' worth during the day on Monday, undoubtedly hoping that Tax Day plus the Fox News appearance would divert some of the attention paid to his healthy bottom line. It didn't work, though. Every outlet had a story, high on the page, reporting that Sanders collected $566,421 in salary and royalties in 2018, and that he and his wife have made nearly $3 million since he launched his first presidential run in 2016. At the Fox News event, he repeated his belief that being a millionaire and a democratic socialist are not incompatible.
What does appear to be incompatible, however, is being poor (or even middle class) and running for president. Many of the candidates who have released their tax returns, including Sanders and Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), are in the top 1% of income earners (exactly how much that takes varies from state to state; a complete list is here). And the ones who aren't in the top 1%, like Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Sens. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), are in the top 5-10%.
On the other hand, you don't have to be poor to support Democratic policies. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, arguably the most left-wing president ever, was a multimillionare. Jack Kennedy wasn't exactly a pauper either. Lyndon Johnson was also a millionaire many times over. So the media storm is just an attempt to take Sanders down. He could be a millionaire and still fight for the middle class as Roosevelt and Kennedy and Johnson did. (Z)
Speaking of Tax Day, just about every major polling house did a survey attempting to ascertain how voters feel about the Trump administration's tax cuts. The short version: They are not impressed. The longer version: According to a Hill-HarrisX poll, 18% of taxpayers think that the tax cuts put more money in their pocket, while 32% think they are paying more, and 36% say things are about the same. Other polls released in the last couple of days produced an almost identical result (despite the fact that considerably more than 18% of taxpayers actually paid less).
As they say, perception is reality. Although in this case, the perception has much truth to it. While it's true that most Americans paid a little less in taxes, the great majority of the tax cut money went to corporations. Consequently, both the GOP and the Democrats will go into 2020 with the same tax cut narratives they were peddling in 2018. The blue team will point out that, for a president who promised to be for the little guy, he seems to be only for the big corporation. The red team will make the case that the corporate tax cuts drove the economy to new heights, and the benefits spilled over to everyone. They trickled down, you might say. We know which party got the better of that argument in 2018; we will see if two more years of a good economy (if it holds up) shifts the balance in favor of the Republicans. (Z)
It wasn't exactly a secret that Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend) planned to run for president, since he's been saying so for many weeks. He's also been collecting money from donors—more than $7 million so far. In any event, at a rally in his hometown this weekend, the on-the-rise candidate made it official:
I recognize the audacity of doing this as a Midwestern millennial mayor. More than a little bold—at age 37—to seek the highest office in the land. But we live in a moment that compels us each to act. There's a long way for us to go. Life here is far from perfect. But we've changed our trajectory and shown a path forward for communities like ours. And that's why I'm here today. To tell a different story than 'Make America Great Again.' Because there is a myth being sold to industrial and rural communities: the myth that we can stop the clock and turn it back.
As he is an official candidate now, and one who has a lot of momentum, we will see if the Mayor can survive the harsh spotlight that will be shone upon him. Already, some on the left are griping about his record, which is pretty centrist (he does live in Indiana, after all), and not especially progressive.
There's also the matter of Police Chief Darryl Boykins, South Bend's first ever black police chief, who was controversially dismissed under somewhat murky circumstances. There are secret audio recordings related to that case, and the question of whether or not they are made public will soon be decided by a Hoosier judge. While Buttigieg was not among those recorded, it is possible that he has heard the five cassette tapes (yes, actual cassettes), that he knows that white cops used racist language, and that he tried to bury the matter. Depending on how things unfold, and exactly what is on the tapes, this could certainly be enough to torpedo his chances. (Z)
Donald Trump has his first official primary challenger. It's former Massachusetts governor and 2016 Libertarian VP candidate William Weld, who threw his hat into the ring on Monday. "It is time for patriotic men and women across our great nation to stand and plant a flag," he declared. "It is time to return to the principles of Lincoln—equality, dignity, and opportunity for all. There is no greater cause on earth than to preserve what truly makes America great. I am ready to lead that fight."
We pass this news along in the event that it proves to be significant, but we're struggling to think of a scenario in which that could come to pass. Since his past successes in Massachusetts, Weld has become a perennial candidate, including not only the Libertarian VP bid, but also one for U.S. Senate from Massachusetts (he lost to John Kerry) and another for governor of New York (he ultimately withdrew). In view of this, he's not going to be given much of a platform by the various news outlets. And he's going to be given zero platform by the GOP, which is doing everything it can to stack the deck for Donald Trump, including canceling primaries in some (or many) states. If Trump craters, a la LBJ in 1968, Weld would theoretically be in a position to pick up the pieces, but such a development would surely also attract more viable candidates, like John Kasich or Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). Add it up, and this very much appears to be a case of Don Quixote tilting at windmills. (Z)
Rep. Ilhan Omar (DFL-MN) has done something that seemed impossible just a month ago: Replaced Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) as Republicans' favorite target. Both are young, charismatic, left-wing, and female, which makes them appealing scapegoats for a certain segment of the GOP punditry. However, Omar is also Muslim. Further, she's said a few ill-considered things, and she's also more sympathetic to the Palestinians than she is to the Israelis.
The biggest potshot in Omar's direction was fired by none other than the commander-in-chief, who sent this tweet on Friday:
WE WILL NEVER FORGET! pic.twitter.com/VxrGFRFeJM— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2019
For a fellow who sends a lot of problematic tweets, this is one of the worst he's ever come up with. The clip is edited to make it appear that Omar downplayed the 9/11 attacks, and tried to pretend that Muslims had nothing to do with them. However, that is not what she said; what she actually said is that some Muslims were responsible for the attacks, and yet many Muslims saw their civil liberties threatened.
There are other objectionable elements, such as the President's ongoing willingness to leverage the 9/11 attacks for his own political gain. However, the worst part might be that Omar's life was threatened last week. Trump knows this, and he also knows that his words have inspired more than one person to take violent action. Consequently, he is quite literally willing to risk the Representative's life in order to score political points. Oh, and as is typical, he's doing it in a manner that would leave him just on the right side of the law if she were to be attacked. The theoretical crime here is incitement, but generally one is guilty of that crime only if one is highly specific, so as to create a specific expectation of a violent act being committed. For example, "Rep. Omar is a terrorist sympathizer" would not be enough; it would require something like, "Rep. Omar is a terrorist sympathizer, and someone should do something about it by this time next Tuesday."
In any event, Democrats are rallying behind Omar, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has assigned a special security detail to her. Trump, for his part, has continued tweeting about her, along with bashing her verbally, and other Republicans have followed suit. We will see if Ocasio-Cortez reclaims her throne, or if Omar remains GOP enemy #1, or if some as-yet-unknown target eventually supplants them both. The Democratic Party doesn't have any socialist black transgender Muslim members of Congress who arrived in the country as undocumented immigrants, does it? (Z)
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Apr15 Sanders Woos Trump Voters--by Attacking Trump
Apr15 Harris Releases 15 Years of Tax Returns
Apr15 Neal Gives Mnuchin More Time to Produce Trump's Tax Returns
Apr15 Democrats Are Already Thinking about Super Tuesday
Apr15 See Dick Run. But Why?
Apr15 Gillibrand Raised $3 Million in Q1
Apr15 Joe Manchin Invades Susan Collins' Personal Space While Endorsing Her
Apr15 New Mexico Secretary of State May Run for the Senate
Apr15 Rep. Dave Loebsack Will Not Run for Reelection
Apr15 Monday Q&A
Apr12 Miller-initiated Policy Was a Bridge Too Far for Nielsen
Apr12 Assange Arrested; Trump "Forgets" What Wikileaks Is
Apr12 Cain Is Dead in the Water
Apr12 McConnell Pushes Back against Cuccinelli
Apr12 Even if Trump Loses, He Wins?
Apr12 Former Obama Counsel Indicted
Apr12 Democratic Presidential Candidate of the Week: Mike Gravel
Apr11 Barr: Government Spied on Trump Campaign
Apr11 Democrats Are Preparing Their Response to the Redacted Mueller Report
Apr11 Warren Raises $6 Million in Q1
Apr11 How Democrats Could Get Ahold of Trump's Taxes
Apr11 Sanders Unveils Medicare-for-All Bill
Apr11 It's Now Miller vs. Kushner
Apr11 House Passes a Net Neutrality Bill
Apr11 Benjamin Netanyahu Won a Fifth Term as Israel's Prime Minister
Apr11 Thursday Q&A
Apr10 Fight over Trump's Tax Returns Is about to Heat Up
Apr10 Undocumented Immigration Way Up
Apr10 Republicans Push Back Against Trump
Apr10 Pelosi Cancels Budget Vote
Apr10 Barr Says Mueller Report Is Coming Soon
Apr10 Gravel Enters the Democratic Presidential Race
Apr10 Israel's Next Prime Minister Is Probably Benjamin Netanyahu
Apr09 It's a Bloodbath at DHS
Apr09 Trump Designates Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard as a Terrorist Organization
Apr09 Trump Administration Kills Baseball Deal
Apr09 Swalwell Announces Presidential Run
Apr09 Alabama Senate Race Just Keeps Getting More Crowded
Apr09 Trump and Nadler Have Been Fighting Each Other for Decades
Apr09 Israel Heads to the Polls
Apr09 India, Too
Apr08 Nielsen Meeting with Trump Becomes Nielsen Resignation
Apr08 Mulvaney Says Democrats Will Never See Trump's Tax Returns
Apr08 Nadler: Congress Has a Right to See Mueller's Report
Apr08 Nunes to Send Eight Criminal Referrals to Barr
Apr08 Polls: Voters Support Democrats on the Issues
Apr08 Democratic Candidates Are Struggling to Win Their Home States
Apr08 Top Democratic Senate Candidates Aren't Running
Apr08 Booker Raises $5 Million