• Trump Will Speak at Davos
• Trump Is Now Open to Citizenship for Dreamers
• Tax Cut? What Tax Cut?
• Marco Rubio Is Done with Gangs
• Poll: Trump Is No Moral Leader
• Kennedy to Deliver SOTU Response
• Meehan to Retire
Another day, another bombshell from the New York Times. The latest news is that, according to four different sources inside the White House, Donald Trump decided to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller last June. The only reason that it did not come to pass is that the President ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to talk to the Justice Dept. to make it happen, and McGahn refused, declaring that he would resign if Trump did not back down. Unlike Richard Nixon, Trump did not choose to move on to a second and then a third underling to make sure the dirty work got done.
Let us now review a partial list of some of the things Trump has done:
- Fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates
- Asked FBI director James Comey for loyalty
- Asked Comey to lay off Michael Flynn
- Told Comey to make a public statement that Trump was not under investigation
- Fired Comey when those demands were rebuffed
- Told Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from Russiagate
- Thrown a tantrum when Sessions recused himself anyhow
- Pressed GOP Senators to end their investigation into Russiagate
- Tried to undermine Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and to get him fired
- Pressed McCabe to reveal his political loyalties
- Tried to fire Mueller
- Worked hard to undermine the credibility of Mueller
So, do we have an obstruction of justice case yet? It certainly may appear that way, though there remain some obstacles, if that is the path Mueller chooses to travel. To start, the presidency is a unique job and institution, and it's never 100% clear when the laws of mortal men apply to the holder of that office. Despite the precedents set during the Nixon years, there are still some legal experts who believe that the president cannot be prosecuted, or else cannot commit obstruction. More importantly, however, is that an obstruction conviction requires proof of corrupt intent. If Trump really believes no crime has been committed (which is a big assumption), his actions could plausibly be interpreted as an effort to bring an end to an unjust prosecution, as opposed to a corrupt attempt to subvert the law.
Point is: Based on what is publicly known, obstruction is not currently a slam dunk. Of course, Mueller undoubtedly knows things that we do not, and that may include significant information from Flynn, George Papadopoulos, et al. about the President's intent. Further, if Trump actually did commit a crime, despite his protestations of innocence, that would substantially bolster an obstruction case.
But while the situation with obstruction remains a little hazy, some things are crystal clear. Trump's staff have denied, over and over, that the President has so much as considered firing Mueller. "The President is not discussing firing Bob Mueller," announced senior advisor Kellyanne Conway, while Trump lawyer Ty Cobb insisted that, "there is no consideration of firing the special counsel." These statements are not correct, and so it is evident that either Trump's inner circle does not actually know what's going on, or they are liars, or some of both. Whatever the case may be, there's no real purpose in listening to what they have to say on this subject (or, perhaps, any subject) going forward.
It's also obvious that Mueller's job is not safe. If Trump nearly fired the Special Counsel before, then there's every chance that he could reach the same decision again, except this time with the will to do whatever it takes to get the job done. There's nothing that Mueller can do with that knowledge; he can't change his approach for fear of a Trump meltdown. Congress, on the other hand, better have their contingency plan in place, since the constitutional crisis that would ensue if Mueller is terminated would fall squarely in their laps. (Z)
Today, Donald Trump will speak to the industrialists and government leaders assembled at Davos, all of them confirmed globalists (or they wouldn't be there) on a subject close to his heart: America first. He will be the first American president to speak there since Bill Clinton in 2000. Trump is expected to take credit for the booming stock market, even though the bull market has been going on for close to a decade now.
Not all the attendees may hear his speech, though. Some people are planning a boycott of his speech and may walk out during it to protest his calling Haiti, El Salvador, and countries in Africa "shithole countries." Others indicated their disapproval of the American president by putting this sign on the side of a local mountain.
Trump will not be the only world leader present at Davos. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will also be there and they will be pitching world cooperation, rather than "France first" or "Germany first." They, and others, note that every government puts its own country first. That's not their beef with Trump. Their problem is his racist and xenophobic agenda, not his trying to make the best trade deals for the U.S., something every leader tries to do. (V)
Donald Trump's views on the dreamers change daily, so a status report doesn't mean that much. It could be invalid tomorrow. But for the moment, Trump is open to allowing them to become citizens in 10-12 years. Of course, there are some catches. One of them is that he wants Congress to appropriate $25 billion to build a border wall. Another is eliminating the diversity lottery. Still another is to scale-back or eliminate visas for family reunification.
Although most Americans support the idea of letting the dreamers stay in the U.S., there is a small but vocal minority that wants them to go home, even though some of them lived at "home" only as babies, don't speak their "home" language, and know very little about their "home" country. Some of the opponents say that the dreamers broke the law and must be punished for that. Others say that allowing them to stay would be unfair to the many would-be immigrants who have patiently waited in line for years for a visa and have never broken the law. Still others say they want the dreamers deported, but they don't really mean it. To these folks, the dreamers are merely a bargaining chip to improve border security and make sure no more people enter the U.S. illegally. (V)
Republican groups are going to spend millions of dollars reminding voters that they are the ones responsible for their tax cut. Assuming the voters notice they got a tax cut, though making that happen may not be so easy. For people earning between $50,000 and $75,000, their net pay increase will typically be $30 if they are paid biweekly. Some may not even notice it, especially if their health insurance premiums go up. Democrats are already harping on the reduced deductibility for state and local taxes, so some people are aware they will get an unpleasant surprise in April 2019, when they file their 2018 tax return.
Republicans think everyone will immediately notice their tax cut, but history is against them. Barack Obama pushed through a tax cut in 2009 and 2010, giving couples up to $800 in cuts, but most people didn't notice. A NYT/CBS poll found that fewer than 10% were aware of the cuts. So selling the tax cut as a great achievement may be harder than one might think. (V)
Birds come in flocks, fish come in schools, lions come in prides, and senators come in gangs. However, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is 46, says his gang days are behind him. So, he will not join the hottest gang in town, the 20-or-so-member bipartisan gang of senators who are working on writing a bill to protect the dreamers. When asked about this, Rubio said: "I don't believe that what we're going to end up doing here can be a product of a gang."
In the past, Rubio was an enthusiastic gang member. He was a key member of the 2013 Gang of Eight that wrote an immigration bill that passed the Senate 68 to 32, with 14 Democrats voting for it. However, the House didn't even take up the bill, so it died in silence. Rubio's lack of interest in ganging is an indication that he thinks it is pointless and that Congress won't agree to a bill. (V)
A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that 90% of Americans think that the president should be a positive influence on children, but only 29% think Donald Trump is, while 67% think he is not. Among Republicans, 72% think he is a good role model for children, but with every other demographic group Trump is deeply under water. On the question of moral leadership, 33% think he provides it but 63% think he does not. Even worse, only 27% are proud to have him as president while 53% are ashamed of him.
In short, nothing has changed for months. His base (36%) is still with him on all counts, but a substantial majority of all Americans (58%) disapprove of the job he is doing. White men without college degrees favor him 50% to 42%, but beyond that demographic, it is all bad news. (V)
On Tuesday, Donald Trump will deliver the State of the Union address. This will be followed by a response from the Democrats. That particular job is high profile under any circumstance, but it will be particularly significant this year. In part, because this is Trump's first SOTU (and thus, the first Democratic response). And in part, because Trump is so singularly unpopular with his opposition that Democrats across the country will tune in because they want to hear him lambasted.
On Thursday, it was announced that the honor will be given to Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA), grandson of Robert and grand nephew of Jack and Teddy. The Congressman has attracted much positive attention for his pointed responses to Charlottesville, and to GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare. The SOTU response affirms his upward trajectory within the Democratic Party, as many see him as a probable leader of the next generation of Democrats, as well as a future Massachusetts senator (and maybe much more than that). Of course, a bungled speech could derail all of that very quickly. Should Kennedy need any clarification on that point, he might talk to former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, who delivered the response to Barack Obama's first SOTU, botched it, and thus began his slow but steady exit from the political stage. (Z)
In an unsurprising turn of events, Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of his current term. The Congressman was the latest member of the legislature to be implicated in a sexual abuse scandal, when it was revealed that he used government funds to settle a harassment complaint filed against him by a former staffer.
The fate of Meehan's seat is now up in the air, perhaps more so than any other seat in Congress. Obviously, the Republicans are now going to have to scramble to find a candidate. The Democrats, on the other hand, have the opposite problem: Too many candidates, such that the survivor is going to emerge from the primary bloodied (and underfunded). So, neither side can feel secure about their situation. The partisan makeup of the district (PA-07) offers little insight, first because it's a near toss-up (R+1), and second because the Pennsylvania legislature has been ordered by the state's supreme court to redraw the overly-partisan map of congressional districts. Depending on how that plays out, the district could remain a tossup, or could possibly become a safe Democratic seat. If one was placing a bet, then "generic Democrat" would be the best bet based on the notion that 2018 could be a wave year, but really there are just too many known unknowns right now to hazard a guess as to what will happen. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jan25 Trump Will Send Immigration Framework to Congress on Monday
Jan25 Trump Welcomes Opportunity to Talk to Mueller Under Oath
Jan25 Mueller Will Interview Bannon within a Week
Jan25 Mnuchin Undermines the Dollar
Jan25 Senate to Vote on 20-Week Abortion Ban Next Week
Jan25 Another 2020 Democratic Candidate?
Jan25 Presidents Are Always Healthy--Except When They Are Not
Jan24 Schumer Rescinds Wall Offer
Jan24 Mueller's Team Interviewed Sessions
Jan24 Mueller is Pushing for an Interview with Trump
Jan24 Gates May Have Flipped
Jan24 Republicans Will Channel Their Inner Clinton in 2018
Jan24 Family Research Council Chief Tony Perkins Gives Trump a Mulligan
Jan24 Trump Gives Cabinet Officers Free Rein
Jan24 Trump Finally Slaps Chinese with a Tariff
Jan24 New Poll Looks Ugly for Trump
Jan24 Happy Anniversary?
Jan24 Romney Would Cruise to a Landslide Victory in Utah If He Runs
Jan23 Democrats Give In and Shutdown Ends
Jan23 Kelly May Be on His Way Out
Jan23 Pennsylvania's Supreme Court Throws Out the State's Gerrymandered Map
Jan23 NAFTA Is on Life Support
Jan23 Infrastructure Plan Urges States to Find Their Own Money
Jan23 What the Border Really Looks Like
Jan23 Melania Has Remained Silent About Cheatergate...or Has She?
Jan23 Trump's First Year Makes Him Least Popular President in 60 Years
Jan23 Bush's Popularity Is Up, Up, Up
Jan22 Senate Moderates Are Trying to Reopen the Government
Jan22 Trump Calls for the Nuclear Option
Jan22 Ross and Zinke Are in the Doghouse
Jan22 Ryan Got $500,000 from Kochs
Jan22 Language Has Become Yet Another Partisan Divide
Jan22 FBI Surrenders 400 Pages of Texts, Many Critical of Trump, to Congress
Jan22 Will There Be a Blue Wave in November?
Jan22 Trump's Tweets Are a Legal Nightmare
Jan21 Both Sides Entrench in Shutdown Fight
Jan21 Who Will Be Blamed for the Shutdown?
Jan21 Women March on One-Year Anniversary of Trump Inauguration
Jan21 Pat Meehan's Career Is Probably Over
Jan21 Why Isn't the Stormy Daniels Story Bigger?
Jan21 Experts Wonder About Trump's Doctor
Jan21 Tom Cotton Takes the Ostrich Routine to New Extremes
Jan20 Government Shuts Down
Jan20 Supreme Court Will Hear Muslim-Ban Case
Jan20 Only a Third of the Country Approves of Trump
Jan20 Vance Won't Run for the Senate
Jan20 Government Will Retry Menendez
Jan20 Sotomayor Survives a Health Scare
Jan20 Trump Administration Picks Jerusalem Embassy Site