Trump Sought to Hang Onto Power at All Costs
Fox News Did Something Worse Than Not Covering Hearing
Trump’s 7-Point Plan to Overturn the Election
Jim Jordan Again Rebuffs Subpoena
Exchange of the Day
Will the Hearings Impact the Midterms?
• What Should the Select Committee Do?
• Election Takeaways
• Letitia James Has Subpoenaed Trump and His Kids
• How Bad Will the Midterms Be for the Democrats?
• Can Glenn Youngkin Be Cloned?
• Fetterman Is Advertising on Fox
• Ratf**king in the Mountains
After interviewing hundreds of witnesses and collecting thousands of documents for the better part of a year, the Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 coup attempt is going to start public hearings tonight at 8 p.m. EDT. Fox is not going to broadcast the hearing live, but the big broadcast networks are going to. Among others, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, and CNN are going to preempt everything to broadcast the presentation tonight. Of course they will. They love events that cost them nothing to produce and attract very large audiences in primetime. The big three broadcast networks have assigned their top anchor to host the show. These are David Muir, Norah O'Donnell, and Lester Holt, respectively. For the networks, it's not about the content or the crimes. It's about the ratings.
Fox is not ignoring the story altogether. It will be broadcast on the Fox Business Network. Hosting it will be Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. This is not the A team, but if Fox fans want to watch it so they can throw spitballs at the TV, they can do it on friendly territory. The regular Fox shows, with Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity will go on as usual. Maybe they will ignore the hearing, maybe they will pooh-pooh it as partisan nonsense. We don't know yet. Laura Ingraham said the quiet part out loud (well, she tweeted out loud), when she noted that Fox's audience doesn't want to see the hearing, so the network is complying. However at 11 p.m. Fox will broadcast a "reaction special" in which very carefully selected pundits will give the official Fox take on the hearing. Undoubtedly, Kayleigh McEnany will have some truly profound insights.
The hearing promises to be a captivating show. The Committee has promised to reveal new information previously not known to the public. However, the main focus will be to build a narrative to show that the coup attempt wasn't just a bunch of Proud Boys and Oath Keepers who were out for a fun day sacking the Capitol. The story is going to be a timeline of what happened when, and the role Donald Trump in it all. While few of Trump's top insiders have testified (except for Javanka and Junior), some folks one or two levels down are cooperating with the Committee. For example, Mike Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, is working with the Committee. He probably knows all kinds of details that have not been made public (yet). And he will soon be in bean-spilling mode.
At least two key witnesses will testify tonight. One is Nick Quested, a filmmaker who followed the Proud Boys on Jan. 6 as they stormed the Capitol. Given his occupation, he might just have some interesting film to show (well, unlikely film, but plenty of .mp4 files). This material could be of special interest now that the leader of the group, Enrique Tarrio, and four of his henchmen have been charged with seditious conspiracy. This is one peg below treason.
The Committee is not going to dump some raw footage out there. The material is being edited by James Goldston, who was an executive producer at ABC News for two decades. Goldston knows very well how to edit raw footage into a compelling story. The audio-visual material is going to be very polished and slick, put together by a guy who has been doing this professionally for 20 years. This is not going to be a boring congressional hearing. It is going to be a major media event. If the Committee were a football team, its slogan would be: Beat Watergate!
Republicans understand what a powerful and emotional video from Goldston could do to them, so they have already started their prebuttal. In particular, they maintain that the Committee should have gotten permission from the Committee on House Administration to hire Goldston, even if they didn't pay him. It is our best guess that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is not going to halt the show until the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed to the Republicans' satisfaction. Another bunch of Republicans are arguing over strategy in a different way. Some of them want to ignore all the hearings and pretend they are not happening, but others want the party to put on some counterprogramming to rebut what the Committee has to say. A wild card is how Trump himself reacts to the hearing and Goldston's video.
Another witness today will be Caroline Edwards, the first Capitol Police officer injured by the mob. She suffered traumatic brain injury and has not been able to return to work. She will no doubt have a few things to say about mob violence and what she saw on the front lines. If Republicans try to go after her later, the Democrats are going to be asking: "Why do Republicans hate the police so much, especially those officers who risked their own lives to save other people's lives?"
In addition to the big issues of whether democracy will last in the U.S., whether Donald Trump will be indicted later, and whether he will be damaged enough that he won't dare run in 2024 or will run and lose, there are also some smaller issues at stake. One of them is the fate Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), vice chair of the Select Committee. She is betting the ranch that the Trump fever will break eventually, that Republicans will come to their senses, and they will later see who enabled him and who opposed him and side with those who opposed him.
But there isn't much time left. The Wyoming primary is Aug. 16 so she needs to convince Wyoming voters before then that she is pro-democracy and Trump is anti-democracy and if they want to keep democracy in America, they should vote for her. The Democrats on the Committee understand this, of course, which is why they made her vice chair. They will also give her an important role in the hearings to make sure Wyoming voters know she is a conservative, but a pro-democracy conservative. The Democrats on the Committee are sure to go out of their way to point out that while they may not agree with Cheney on all the issues, they have the greatest respect for her devotion to democracy and for principled conservatives in general. As they say, stay tuned. (V)
By late tonight we will know what the Select Committee actually did. Whatever they do, it won't be for lack of advice. A column by The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin, who is (nominally) a Republican, is an example of some of the advice the Committee is getting on what to do and what not to do. The biggest suggestion about what not to do is follow the Mueller report and write a long, boring, ambiguous, and inconclusive report saying mistakes were made, without bothering to mention who made them and whether they rose to the level of federal felonies. She offers five specific suggestions and what it should do, summarized as follows:
- Establish credibility: The first task of the Committee is establishing itself as a
credible neutral body interested in finding the truth. The Republicans are already slamming it as a bunch of partisans
on a witch hunt. Having a bunch of Democratic politicians grandstanding will make this lie become the truth. What the
Committee needs to do is have the witnesses questioned by a carefully chosen staff lawyer who acts very professionally
and repeatedly makes clear that many of the witnesses are Republicans and maybe even (former) Trump supporters and
associates. If the Committee can't establish the fact that it is not on a partisan witch hunt, it is toast.
- State the mission: This is not a detective mystery; the Committee can't spend a bunch of
time building suspense, only to drop the bombshell at the very end. No, the Committee needs to start with the
conclusion of its long investigation by saying: "Donald Trump tried to steal an election he lost and end American
democracy. All of the hearings will be to show the evidence we found to support this conclusion."
- Establish Trump's role: The hearings need to establish that Trump was not an innocent
bystander who watched a bunch of zealots riot on TV. Rather, he was a central player, carefully setting up back-up
slates of electors and refusing to use the Capitol police and the National Guard to block the rioters early in the day.
He also took many other actions in an attempt to corrupt the election, like calling Georgia Secretary of State Brad
Raffensperger and asking him to "find" 11,780 votes. The Committee needs to make it clear that Trump wanted the
coup attempt to succeed and took many, many concrete steps to try to have it succeed.
- Who else helped?: It wasn't just Trump. Many officials helped Trump. This includes
senators and representatives who voted to reject some of the electoral votes. Name names. Also name people who defended
democracy, including Raffensperger, Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA), and Mike Pence. Make it clear who was pro-democracy and who was pro-coup.
Show that this is not Democrats vs. Republicans but people for democracy and people against democracy.
- Come to a conclusion: The Committee, unlike Mueller, needs to come to a clear and
unambiguous conclusion. For example, "Donald Trump is a criminal who tried to overturn a free and fair election he lost
and needs to be indicted, tried, convicted, and imprisoned for this. Otherwise other politicians are going to try this
in the future." If trying to overturn an election gets you a couple decades' free vacation in Club Fed, the animus to
repeat this playbook in the future will likely be reduced.
Rubin points out that there are two audiences: the general public and the Dept. of Justice. Both need to be kept in mind. For the public, convincing a large majority that "he did it" is enough. The legal details are not important. To get the Dept. of Justice off its rear end requires showing that Trump violated specific statutes and thus committed federal felonies. Merely showing that he is a sore loser isn't enough. The Committee needs to kept both audiences in mind. (V)
Yesterday we presented the results of some key elections. Here are some takeaways from various media outlets:The New York Times
- Californians want law and order
- GOP voters don't like Republicans who voted for a bipartisan commission to investigate the coup attempt
- In New Jersey, it's all about name recognition
- Trumpy far-right candidates didn't do so well
- Ethics matter (see: Palazzo, Steven and Zinke, Ryan)
- If you don't win on your first attempt at office, try again next time
- Even voters in blue cities are worried about crime
- Is support for the ill-fated bipartisan Jan. 6 commission suddenly an issue for Republican voters?
- Incumbents had trouble in multiple states
- Mixed verdict on Trump's power as a kingmaker
- Medicaid expansion is popular even in poor red states like South Dakota
- A dynasty begins in New Jersey
- Republicans who crossed Trump were not hurt by their apostasy
- Democrats have a turnout problem—even in blue California
- Liberal prosecutors got brushed back
- Kristi Noem's refusal to back the right-wing legislature didn't hurt her
- Ratf**king is alive and well in California
- Caruso blew it in L.A. by not getting to 50% and winning outright
- Progressive prosecutors are in trouble in a time of rising crime
- Republican incumbents survived challenges from the right
- However, Rep. Palazzo (R-MS), will have to face a runoff due to an intraparty challenge
- Nobody got 50% so the L.A. mayor's race will go to a runoff in November
- Progressive challengers to establishment candidates fared badly in very blue New Jersey
- Rising star Abby Finkenauer flames out in Iowa
- Caruso wasn't able to buy the L.A. election
- Recall of Chesa Boudin in San Francisco is a bad sign for progressives
- Noem's win keeps her vice presidential hopes alive
- Trump foes survive
- Is Michelle Lujan Grisham vulnerable?
- Anxiety over crime draws the spotlight
- House races underscore mixed night for Trump
- Democratic voters move toward the center
- Former rising star in Iowa goes down
Some themes that jump out here are the importance of crime to voters, Trump's mixed night, the sudden importance of the vote on the bipartisan commission, and Abby Finkenauer's surprise loss in Iowa. (V)
In addition to having a mixed night at the polls, Donald Trump now has yet another problem. New York AG Letitia James has subpoenaed him, Donald Jr., and Ivanka to appear before her for a pleasant chat on July 15. To our great surprise, they have all agreed to appear and will not appeal.
James is investigating whether Trump's business has done illegal stuff (like inflating the value of its properties when talking to banks and deflating it when talking to property tax officials). Having been president doesn't somehow relieve Trump (and the kids) from testifying in a routine investigation of shady business practices. Maybe Trump's lawyers told him that he would certainly lose an appeal, so he didn't even try.
One of the many things James wants to know is about the Trump Organization's document retention policies. Trump's long-time executive assistant, Rhona Graff, has told James that keeping business and legal documents throughout the company was hit or miss. Some divisions kept documents, some didn't; there was no standard policy. Trump has already been held in contempt for failing to produce subpoenaed documents. However, the judge said that if Trump deposited $110,000 in an escrow account, the fine would be suspended. Trump then deposited the $110,000 and the fine was suspended.
Other news on the Trump Organization's legal issues relates to the company's CFO Allen Weisselberg. He is not going to flip on Trump. In fact, he just hired a new lawyer, Nicholas Gravante, an experienced litigator who specializes in defending people accused of white-collar crimes. Gravante is in addition to Mary Mulligan, Tim Haggerty, and Brian Skarlatos, all experienced defense lawyers. Weisselberg may yet be found guilty of tax evasion, but it won't be due to lack of highly skilled counsel. (V)
History and the conventional wisdom say that the Democrats will lose seats in the House and maybe the Senate in November, but how bad will it be? Well, first of all, stuff happens. If Democrats run on a platform of "Give us the House and two new Senate seats and we'll pass a law guaranteeing abortion nationwide" that could change things. Similarly a big mass shooting in October could make gun control a winning issue. But as it looks now, Democrats are going to lose seats in the House and probably control. But how bad will it be? Charlie Cook has taken a look.
So what did he see? He starts out by noting that Joe Biden's approval rating is 7 points worse than Bill Clinton's was at this point in 1994. The Democrats lost 54 seats that year. Biden's approval is also 7 points worse than Barack Obama's rating in 2010. The Democrats lost 64 seats that year. So with inflation running rampant and fears of a recession growing, are the Democrats going to lose 60 or 70 seats in the House? Cook doesn't think so. The main reason is—get this—gerrymandering. There aren't a lot of competitive seats anymore. Most seats are nailed down by one party or the other. This reduces the volatility. So how bad will it bed?
No one knows, of course, but Seth Masket of the University of Denver has a statistical model that is predicting a loss of 25 Democratic seats. Cook's own team of Dave Wasserman and Amy Walter think the Democrats could lose 20 to 35 seats. While that is not 50-60, it is still a lot. And it is enough that the Freedom Caucus won't be able to blackmail the House speaker by withholding its votes on key issues.
Another point that Cook makes is that historically waves came when one party was way behind in seats. In 1994, for example, the Republicans went into the election with only 174 seats. That meant that a lot of reddish seats were held by Democrats who really didn't belong there and the voters corrected that, getting the Republicans to 228. Similarly, in 2010, Republicans held 178 seats before winning another 64, getting them to 242. These data suggest that in Republican wave years they can get to 228-242 seats. Currently Republicans hold 208 seats (with seven vacancies, some in red districts), so a gain in the range of 20 to 34 would put them at the level they had after previous red waves. For this reason, Cook doesn't foresee a Republican gain of 50, 60, or 70 seats. There simply aren't enough swing districts or red districts in the country with a Democratic representative.
Another political expert, James Campbell of SUNY Buffalo, said that a gain of 34 seats would put the Republicans at the highest level in the House they have had in almost 100 years, so the odds of beating that are pretty low.
Every election is different, and as we noted above, if abortion and guns come to dominate the election, the Democrats might be able to cut their losses or even barely hang on. (V)
A lot of Repiblicans are planning—no, make that expecting—to run the Glenn Youngkin campaign all over the country and win big. The idea was to have a candidate who likes culture wars at the local school board and who is good at owning the libs, while at the same time appearing to be somewhat competent and who benefits from a whispering campaign that he doesn't actually believe all the crazy stuff the consultants are telling him to say.
The model stalled somewhere along the Pennsylvania turnpike last week when David McCormick (R) conceded he lost to Mehmet Oz (R) in the Senate primary. And this despite trying to copy Youngkin in as many ways as possible. If McCormick had won, the consultants would be saying: "See, the Youngkin playbook works everywhere." As it is, it doesn't even work in another swing state a couple of states north of Virginia.
Tim Miller, the author of the item linked to above, says that there is a reason the Youngkin model doesn't work everywhere: It wasn't even road-tested in Virginia. In particular, Youngkin was chosen at a convention, not in a statewide primary. He didn't have to fight for the nomination by going full-blown MAGA in a statewide race. Also, he was very lucky that none of his opponents had any money. In contrast, McCormick had to walk a tightrope requiring him to be Trumpy enough to get the base but not so Trumpy that he lost suburban women. And he faced an opponent who could afford to match him dollar for dollar. These circumstances are quite different from those in Virginia, and more typical of the usual election. So once the Youngkin model was tried when actual voters got to chime in, it didn't work as planned.
Another way to look at the Youngkin model in Pennsylvania is that McCormick got under one-third of the vote. The rest went to Trumpier candidates. There are more candidates that are going to take the Youngkin road, but it is far from a sure thing that it is going to lead to the same result as in Virginia. (V)
Now that he won the Pennsylvania Senate primary with ease, Democratic nominee Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D-PA) is starting his general election campaign with a big ad buy. By itself, that is not unusual. Only the ad is running on Fox. That's not where Democrats normally start their campaigns. But the ad is all about establishing Fetterman's blue-collar background and credentials and his goal of actually representing all the blue-collar workers other politicians talk about but don't do anything for.
Fetterman is not your generic politician. He even ran another ad pointing that he is not even a generic person. It's very clever. Take a look:
The ad starts as follows: "People have been trying to label me my entire life. I do not look like a typical politician. I don't even look like a typical person." Like the other ad on Fox, it emphasizes his blue-collar background and desire to help ordinary Americans. Unlike some modern ads, it is entirely positive, talking about who he is and what he wants to do in the Senate for Pennsylvania. Seeing the set Fetterman uses for the ad is alone worth the price of admission. The ad doesn't mention Mehmet Oz, Donald Trump, or any Republicans. Maybe that will come later, but if this is how he is going to run his campaign, he could end up doing really well in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and decently in Pennsyltucky.
Fetterman clearly has some very clever people on his media team. He even cut an ad about how he met his wife. Here it is:
It's very different from the other two and quite touching. If Fetterman keeps rolling out ads like these, Oz has a big problem on his hands, even if the DSCC doesn't start running its own ads featuring every mallard in Pennsylvania noisily announcing its presence.
It's a brillant start for the Lieutenant Governor. If Oz campaigns on how bad the national Democrats are, we don't think it will work, since Fetterman has basically campaigning on how he is not at all like the national Democrats. (V)
As you probably know, Democrats are not big fans of Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Colorado's answer to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), and more heavily armed to boot. Beating her in the general election is out of the question; CO-03 is just too red. So they have come up with another strategy: Try to beat her in the primary.
The game plan is for Democrats in western Colorado to reregister as independents, which allows them to vote in either party's primary, and spares them the pain of having to claim they are Republicans. Several thousand of them have already done it. Take a look at this chart from the Colorado secretary of state:
What stands out here? New unaffiliated (independent) voters are showing up everywhere in the state. These are largely new 18-year-olds registering for the first time. Many young voters register as independents. There is also a small bump in third party registrants, probably Greens and Libertarians. But the big surprise is the sharp drop in Democrats and large rise in independents, but only in CO-03—Boebert's district. Nowhere else are Democrats losing large numbers of voters and independents gaining so much.
We can't say for sure why this is happening only in CO-03, but our guess is that it has something to do with Boebert and her in-your-face style.
The party switchers are all likely to vote for state Sen. Don Coram (R), who is challenging Boebert. However, so far only 3,700 people have switched. That may not be enough. In 2020, Boebert won her primary by 10,000 votes, so if all her 2020 voters are still with her, this stunt won't do the trick. The deadline for switching registration passed on June 6. The primary is June 28.
However, there are two other uncertainties here. First, the district's shape has changed since 2020, so there are quite a few voters now in the district who weren't in it in 2020 and some who were in it then but who are now in a different district. Second, over a quarter million voters in the district were already unaffiliated, and what they do is obviously very important. It is a race to watch. (V)
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Jun07 Senators Wrestle with Gun Control
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May31 The 1/6 Committee Is About to Be Front and Center...
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