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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Trump Is Gambling on His Base
      •  Winners and Losers
      •  Bloomberg Pledges $15 Million for Dealing with Climate Change
      •  Trump Pressed Obama State Dept. to Ease Russia Sanctions
      •  Did Sessions Meet with the Russians a Third Time?
      •  Keep an Eye on Al Franken
      •  Are Democrats Barking Up the Wrong Tree?

Trump Is Gambling on His Base

President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Accord is an immense gamble, given that the great majority of Americans want to stay in it. He is basically conceding that he will never win over Democrats or most independents, so he is betting the farm that the move will so shore him up with his conservative base that they will keep the Republicans in power in 2018 and return him to the White House in 2020. It is a daring and risky strategy for a president whose approval rating is below 40% in most polls. Historically, most presidents have their highest approval in the first 6 months, with it going down from there, so Trump has almost no margin for error.

Fundamentally, much of his base hates and fears the rest of the world. The Europeans don't believe in God or capitalism any more. The Chinese are taking our jobs. The Mexicans are raping our women. We've heard this all before from Trump. His solution is isolationism, a policy strongly supported by his adviser Steve Bannon, and one which entails building walls and pulling out of international agreements. But he may have gone too far this time, as at least one poll shows that a majority of Trump voters favor staying in the Paris Accord.

While Trump has changed his mind on many issues, often in the same day, his decision on climate change shouldn't come as a shock to anyone. There is one area in which he has been consistent for years: Other countries have been taking advantage of the U.S. for a long time and only he can stop it. From this deeply held view, we get Trump overriding his much more internationalist daughter, Ivanka, and siding with Bannon. Much of his foreign policy also follows from this basic view. (V)

Winners and Losers

Donald Trump is always talking about winners and losers, so we should naturally examine his decision to pull out of the Paris Accord in terms of winners and losers, as seen by The Hill:

  • Steve Bannon is back from the dead, getting his way on a major issue
  • Scott Pruitt, the first EPA administrator who hates the EPA and would love to see it vanish
  • Mitch McConnell and other conservative Republicans who never liked the Accord in the first place
  • Ivanka Trump has a lot of influence on her father, but this decision shows that there are limits
  • Jared Kushner has Russia problems now, which may be reducing his influence on Trump as a result
  • Rex Tillerson looks like a 97-pound weakling now
  • Europe was strongly united in wanting to keep the Paris Accord intact, but now it has taken a big hit
  • Barack Obama's list of achievements just got one item shorter
  • The Paris Accord itself

Another loser, which The Hill missed, is the planet, and the things that live on it. (V)

Bloomberg Pledges $15 Million for Dealing with Climate Change

The day after Donald Trump said that the U.S. was pulling out the Paris Accord on climate change, Billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he was donating $15 million to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This is about the amount that the group will lose due to the U.S. pull-out. It will go to help stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the earth's atmosphere.

In addition, Bloomberg is organizing an effort to get governors, mayors, and business leaders to uphold the Paris Accord, with or without Trump's approval. Bloomberg has been a long-time activist for the environment. He recently co-authored a book with the former Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope entitled Climate of Hope. The book discusses precisely this issue: what states, cities, businesses, and individuals can do about climate change without counting on Washington. Bloomberg is busy signing up groups to help. He expects to have between 10 and 20 states and hundreds of cities signed up before long. (V)

Trump Pressed Obama State Dept. to Ease Russia Sanctions

When Donald Trump took office, most of the government was still staffed by Barack Obama's appointees. And, according to news reports that broke this week, one of the new President's first items of business was to press the State Department on easing or completely removing the sanctions that had been imposed on Russia following their invasion of the Ukraine. So aggressive were the overtures from Trump and his staff that the Obama appointees became alarmed, and asked members of Congress, particularly Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)—ranking minority member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—for help. He responded by introducing a bill in the Senate that would have made it much harder for Trump to reduce the pressure on Russia. Little progress was made on Cardin's legislation, because Michael Flynn found himself in hot water and then fired less than a week later. This put the Russia issue on the national radar, and made it politically impossible for the administration to press forward with lifting the sanctions at that time.

This is, of course, another piece in the puzzle that is currently being put together by Robert Mueller and others. There are going to be dozens of current and former State Dept. officials who can and will testify as to what happened. And that means that there now exists overwhelming evidence of four things: (1) There were extensive, and often secret, contacts among the Trump campaign and the Russians; (2) The Russians interfered with the election to the benefit of Trump; (3) Trump endeavored to kill the sanctions on Russia; and (4) Trump endeavored to kill the investigation into all of this. We are getting to the point—if we're not already there—that it is impossible to believe that there is no causal relationship between these things. And if that causal relationship exists, Trump and his team are guilty of impeachable offenses and, very likely, criminal acts. Their lawyers are certainly going to earn their retainers. (Z)

Did Sessions Meet with the Russians a Third Time?

And speaking of Trump officials for whom the sky may be falling, we also learned this week that several Senators—led by Al Franken (D-MN) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT)—are pressing the FBI to investigate Attorney General Jeff Sessions. They believe he perjured himself when he "forgot" to mention his two meetings with the Russians during his Senate confirmation hearings, and again on his security clearance paperwork. They also suspect that there was a third meeting that Sessions has yet to publicly acknowledge.

The FBI has yet to respond to the request made by Franken and Leahy, though their hands are probably pretty full right now, so that might not tell us much. It's also the case that Congress has its own investigators; they just don't work quite as quickly as FBI agents. Republicans are already circling the wagons, in case a third meeting does come to light. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, for example, said, "You're trying to make this look like Attorney General Sessions is doing something sinister because he forgot that he'd had one extra conversation with the Russian ambassador." That's nice spin, but if it is actually proven that a third meeting happened, Sessions is dead in the water. He is a high-ranking politician with secretaries and extensive records of all of his appointments and activities. If he "forgot" his third meeting with the Russians, that would be the third "error" of this sort, and would also come to light after he'd been called on the carpet twice, and after he'd already insisted up and down that everything has been disclosed. Even his friends in the Senate wouldn't be able to keep looking the other way. (Z)

Keep an Eye on Al Franken

Speaking of Al Franken, he's one of the Democrats whom we think is worth keeping an eye on in anticipation of the 2020 horse race. CNN's Julian Zelizer agrees with us, and has written a piece detailing the reasons that the Senator—although he currently says he's not running in 2020—could well rise to the top.

To start, Franken is deft when it comes to dealing with those on the other side of the aisle. He can be bipartisan when needed, as indicated by the civil discussion on healthcare he had with tea partiers (which went viral), as well as the fact that his very first bill that became law was co-sponsored with Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is about as conservative as it gets. That said, Franken can brawl when he needs to do so. He has taken a leading role in grilling Trump appointees, including his battles with Jeff Sessions. He also has a new book out, "Giant of the Senate," which will thrill Democratic readers. He dedicates a whole chapter, for example, to why nobody likes Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and another to examining Donald Trump's lies.

Franken is also, of course, a comedian and entertainer. He's good on TV, and would be strong in televised debates. He also tosses off the occasional bon mot on Twitter which, as you may have heard, is occasionally used by politicians these days. Given how well being telegenic has served Trump, and Barack Obama, and Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan, it may be time that "TV presence" is added to the list of important qualities in a presidential candidate.

Finally, imagine that the Democrats can't quite decide whether to target Obama-Trump voters (i.e., white, working-class men who went Democratic in 2012 but flipped Republican in 2016) or Romney-Clinton voters (i.e., urban professionals who went Republican in 2012 but flipped Democratic in 2016; see below). Franken has the potential to appeal to both groups. On one hand, he's the son of working-class immigrants who was raised in the Midwest and represents the state of Minnesota. On the other hand, he is an intellectual who graduated Harvard with honors, and spent decades living in New York and absorbing its urban culture.

It's going to be a crowded field in 2020, and there are a lot of Democrats who appear to have star potential—Gov. Andrew Cuomo (NY), Sen. Cory Booker (NJ), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA), Sen. Kamala Harris (CA), etc. The point here is merely that Franken should be ranked in the first tier of candidates until we have reason to think otherwise. (Z)

Are Democrats Barking Up the Wrong Tree?

Ever since the election, pundits of all stripes have been discussing, interviewing, and analyzing Obama-Trump voters, many of them blue-collar men, to see what the Democrats did wrong in 2016 and how to do it right next time. However, an alternative view is that is looking in the wrong place. Yes, the Democrats have to stanch the bleeding, but their future may lie elsewhere, with Romney-Clinton voters. These are college-educated suburban professionals: lawyers, doctors, and businesspeople. They supported Mitt Romney in 2012 but felt no affinity for Trump at all, so many switched to Clinton in 2016. In this view, Democrats need to complete the process and get the rest of them on board. This would change the Democratic Party from FDR's coalition to a coalition of affluent professionals and poor minorities. It is an odd mix, but no stranger than the Republicans' coalition of fervent evangelicals and secular captains of industry.

The handwriting is on the wall in places like Orange County (CA), Salt Lake County (UT), Fort Bend County (TX), and Cobb County (GA), all of which were strongly Republican for years, but all of which Clinton won. The special election runoff in GA-06 on June 20 is in precisely this kind of area. If Democrat Jon Ossoff wins, it will support the hypothesis that the well-off Romney voters are up for grabs. If the Democrats decide the Romney-Clinton voters are their future, they will have to emphasize issues these people care about, including quality-of-life issues, affordable college, rebuilding America's crumbling infrastructure, not demeaning immigrants, and recovering America's standing in the world. It is a different approach than focusing primarily on unemployed workers in the Rust Belt. Ideally, the Democrats can find a candidate in 2020 who appeals to white-, blue-, pink-, and other collars, such as Franken or Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). But the 2020 field will be very crowded, so anything can happen. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jun02 U.S. to Withdraw from Paris Climate Accord
Jun02 Will Trump Try to Block Comey's Senate Testimony?
Jun02 Trump Will Appeal Travel Ban to the Supreme Court
Jun02 White House Grants Ethics Waivers to 17 Appointees
Jun02 Trump Breaks Promise and Will Keep U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv
Jun02 Why Kushner Is in Jeopardy
Jun02 Senate Races with an Incumbent Republican
Jun01 Trump's Window for Passing Laws Is Closing
Jun01 Trump Likely to Exit Paris Accord Today
Jun01 Trump Is Running a Bake-off for Chief of Staff
Jun01 Trump Is Having Trouble Hiring Senior Officials
Jun01 Trump's Approval Ratings Continue to Erode
Jun01 Why Russiagate Is Not Watergate
Jun01 Republicans Are Already Gunning for Elizabeth Warren
Jun01 CNN Cans Kathy Griffin
Jun01 More Senate Races
May31 Trump's Communications Director Leaves
May31 Trump's Communications Strategy Really Is a Mess
May31 Can Trump Stop the Leaks?
May31 Russians Discussed "Derogatory" Information about Trump and His Aides
May31 Dirty-Money Case Could Ensnare Trump
May31 Rundown of the Senate Races, Part I
May30 New Main Page Today
May30 Trump Is Consumed by the "Russia Thing"
May30 Trump Should Fire Kushner
May30 Trump Can't Decide How to Deal with the News
May30 Trump Staffer Says that the Portland Attacks are Unacceptable
May30 Can the President Be Indicted?
May30 The CBO Score and Election Year Pain
May30 The Sanders Revolution is Fizzling
May30 Georgia Republican Is Running with Trump and against Trump at the Same Time
May30 Wisconsin Democrats Like Their Chances of Knocking Off Scott Walker
May29 Merkel: United States Is Not a Reliable Partner
May29 Trump Calls Kushner Reports "Fake News"
May29 Intel Pros See No Legitimate Explanation for Kushner Plan
May29 Rosen: Trump No Media Master
May29 Mattis: ISIS Policy Now "Annihilation"
May29 Trump Pressed to Speak Out on Portland Attack
May29 Trump's Budget Got a Chillier Reception than Bush's
May29 Who Is Trump Most Like?
May28 Trump: I Think We Hit a Home Run
May28 Trump Plans to Back Out of Paris Accord
May28 Florida Republican Worked with the Russians
May28 McMaster: I am Not Concerned about a Backchannel with Russia
May28 Follow the Money
May28 Is Trump Stuck?
May28 Bannon May Return to Prominence as "Wartime" Consigliere
May28 Tillerson Will Not Host Ramadan Reception
May25 Former CIA Director Tells House that Russia May Have Recruited Trump Campaign Aides
May25 Did Russia Buy Ads on Facebook during the Election?