• Trump Organization CFO Has Been Subpoenaed
• Trump Touts Economic Growth
• Trump Will Try to Save Barletta
• More Skeletons Emerge from Rep. Jason Lewis' Closet
• Rich White People Have Become Democrats
• How Five Key Demographics Regard Trump
• What Will Young Voters' Turnout Look Like in 2018?
Donald Trump is none too happy with former fixer Michael Cohen's bombshell that Trump knew about the July 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya in advance and approved it. Yesterday he tweeted:
.....I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr. Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam (Taxi cabs maybe?). He even retained Bill and Crooked Hillary’s lawyer. Gee, I wonder if they helped him make the choice!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2018
Trump's television lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, also delivered blistering attacks on Cohen. "I expected something like this from Cohen," he said. "He's been lying all week. He's been lying for years." The problem is that, back when Giuliani still thought that Cohen was part of Team Trump, he described Cohen as "honorable" and "truthful." So while the spin might help with the base, there is going to be a serious problem if Trump's lawyers ever need to make a legal case that Cohen is a liar who is only saying what the government wants to hear. This is the kind of mistake that one would expect from a former prosecutor who is now trying to be a defense attorney.
Given the accusations and denials, either Trump or Cohen is telling a whopper. At the moment, we don't know for certain which one, but Trump's track record of over 3,000 lies since Inauguration Day gives us a hint. Also, the fact that Trump and Giuliani are going after Cohen so hard does suggest that they are very worried. People usually worry a lot more when an opponent is telling the truth rather than when he is making stuff up out of thin air.
One might assume, incidentally, that the person Trump is worried about is himself, since he tends to be a tad bit self-centered. However, as CNN's legal analyst Paul Callan points out, the person who is really exposed—assuming Cohen is telling the truth—is Donald Trump Jr. While Senior might very well have lied repeatedly, and while those lies might eventually get him into trouble, he has not lied under oath. Junior, on the other hand, told Congress that his father knew nothing about the Trump Tower meeting. And so, he may well have committed perjury.
Cohen has not revealed exactly when he learned of Trump's involvement before the meeting, but he says there are other people who were there with him, and who can corroborate this story. If true, that could be devastating. Trump may be trying to preempt other people corroborating Cohen's story by blasting him so hard. Still, no matter what Trump says or does, this story is not going away any time soon. (V)
Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg has been subpoenaed to testify in the investigation of Donald Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen. Weisselberg has worked for Trump for decades and probably knows everything there is to know about Trump's finances—most likely more than Trump himself. On the recording that was released this week, Cohen was heard to say: "I've spoken with Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing [the payment concerning Playmate Karen McDougal] up." Trump responded that Weisselberg is a mere bookkeeper, but that is certainly not true. Trump owns something like 500 separate businesses and can probably not even remember half of them. Weisselberg is the numbers guy who knows them all. If there are skeletons buried somewhere, especially financial ones, he is likely to know about them.
One source for the original Wall Street Journal story said that Weisselberg is the #2 person in the Trump Organization, after The Donald himself. He is also the only non-family member of Trump's brain trust. He is clearly a major player and probably will not volunteer any damaging information on his own, but he probably also won't commit perjury to save Trump's skin. If the prosecutors know the right questions to ask, he could be a big source of important information, especially about money laundering. Weisselberg probably also has seen Trump's tax returns and knows his net worth. He certainly knows if Trump has any business deals in Russia or loans from Russian banks or oligarchs.
Also bad news for Trump is that the investigation of Cohen is not being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller. It is being run by the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan, and is basically a routine criminal investigation, so it will be much harder to get anyone to believe it is a witch hunt run by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein. (V)
In the second quarter, GDP gew by 4.2%, the highest growth since it hit 5.2% in Q3 of 2014, during the Obama administration. Donald Trump immediately claimed credit for the growth, even though the economy has been humming along for 9 years now. Trump said that the tax cut, trade deals, and repeal of regulations are what did the trick. Presidents typically try to take credit for a strong economy, even though the Federal Reserve Bank probably has more impact on the economy than the president does. Trump also noted that the trade deficit dropped by $50 billion and the reduction was due to the fact that countries could no longer treat the U.S. as a sucker.
Economists aren't so sure the growth is sustainable. Some of them think this is a one-time spike due to consumers spending their tax-cut money and the global rush to buy U.S. soybeans before the tariffs kick in. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated that without these factors, the growth rate would have been only 2.7%. (V)
Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) is flailing badly in his race to unseat Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), with polls consistently giving the incumbent a lead of 15-17 points. Consequently, Donald Trump has decided that he will ride to the rescue, and so will hold one of his trademark rallies in Pennsylvania on Thursday of next week.
Trump really believes that he can single-handedly change the outcome of a hopeless election. On Tuesday, for example, he tweeted this:
Thank you Georgia! They say that my endorsement last week of Brian Kemp, in the Republican Primary for Governor against a very worthy opponent, lifted him from 5 points down to a 70% to 30% victory! Two very good and talented men in a great race, but congratulations to Brian!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2018
If Trump really did achieve a swing of 45 points with a single tweet, that would give him by far the biggest and most powerful coattails in the history of American politics. But, of course, it is not true—Kemp consistently had a huge lead in polls. And in the case of Pennsylvania, there is little chance that a Trump rally (even if it's accompanied by a tweet) will move the needle. Beyond the obvious problem that two hours of bragging to the true believers about his own record, particularly three months before the election, is not likely to help Barletta much, there's also the fact that Trump's approval is pretty far underwater in the Keystone State.
Perhaps most problematic, however, is that Barletta made his name by persuading the city council of Hazelton, Penn.—population 24,659—to pass the Illegal Immigration Relief Act in 2006, back when he was mayor of the town. The Act meted out harsh punishments for business owners who hired undocumented immigrants and landlords who rented to them. The then-mayor also managed to persuade his fellow citizens that all of the problems they were experiencing—from stagnant wages, to joblessness, to rising prices—were all the fault of immigrants (and not, say, the economic policies of the Bush administration). Whether Trump looked to Barletta as a model, or he cooked up his xenophobic political program all by himself, the rally is likely to remind voters of Trump's very unpopular mishandling of border policy, and to connect that with Barletta's anti-immigrant resumé. So, the rally could very well do more harm than good. (Z)
Rep Jason Lewis (R-MN), prior to his Congressional career, was a right-wing radio talk show host. That's a job that sometimes entails saying outrageous things, and some of those things are now coming back to haunt the Representative. He's already earned a bunch of the wrong kind of headlines for misogynistic remarks he made during that time, particularly as regards women who would presume to use birth control. Now a number of additional impolitic comments have come to light.
Given his politics, and his medium, Lewis' words are somewhat predictable. He said, on several occasions, that Christians should be much freer to discriminate against LBGT people. He also referred to people on welfare as "parasites" and "scoundrels," and said the black community had "traded one plantation for another." Because if there is one kind of person who should be drawing parallels to slavery, it is a well-off white man.
Lewis, for his part, is unapologetic about his past. He cannot deny the comments, since they were recorded, but he does say they were just a part of the job and are now fake news. Time will tell if the voters of Minnesota agree, though he won the last election in his R+2 district by just 1.5 points, and he's drawn the same opponent (journalist and corporate HR specialist Angie Craig) again this time. If there is any sort of blue wave, Lewis is likely to be among the first to be swept out to sea. (Z)
For decades, rich white people have been Republicans and poor white ones have been Democrats. We may be in the middle of a realignment now in which that "truism" is no longer true. An analysis by Nate Cohn shows that in neighborhoods where 90% or more of the voters are white, there is an almost linear correlation now between the Democrats' share of the vote and the percentage of people with a college degree. That wasn't true in 2012, when all-white neighborhoods (except those where 90% graduated from college) voted Republican. Here are the data:
In 2016, the Democrats did much worse among noncollege whites and much better among college-educated whites than they did in 2012. The effect is striking. A similar effect holds for income. In 2012, white neighborhoods at all income levels voted Republican. In 2016, all neighborhoods with a median annual income below $150,000 voted Republican and all above it voted Democratic. Together these data suggest a clear shift in voting patterns, with poor, non-college whites firmly Republicans and rich college whites firmly Democrats.
Whether this is permanent remains to be seen. One huge problem is that the Republicans are massively dependent on large donors, since the poor white base doesn't have enough money to sustain a political party. And the donors are almost entirely rich white men with college degrees. What they want is not at all what the GOP base wants, so continued success requires deluding the voters to believe in programs that the donors want but which hurt the voters. So far what the party has done is put the culture wars front and center. If the Republicans can get away with campaigning on banning abortion and same-sex marriage and not talking about their real goals, namely tax cuts for the rich, the game plan may continue to work. However, if the base ever wakes up to the fact that it has been had, the GOP could be in for a rough ride. If the Democrats become the party of the well-educated affluent professionals, their own base can provide plenty of funding, so there won't be as clear a disconnect. The Democrats' main problem is that they are also the party of the minorities, whose priorities are different from those of suburban professionals. But to the extent the minorities are focused on racial justice, this is something that well-off professionals are generally in agreement with. (V)
A new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll looks at five key groups of voters to see how they feel about Donald Trump. These feelings could greatly influence how well the Republicans do in the midterms. Here are the results of the poll:
First, the good news for the GOP: Rural voters approve of Trump, 56% to 42%. That means he is holding his base, even after the disastrous press conference in which he supported Russian President Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence services. Now the bad news: He is under water with all the other key groups, including the "Never Hillary" independents, white suburban women, millennials, and black women.
Black women aren't big Trump fans, but they are the most loyal Democratic Party supporters, so that is no surprise. The key groups to keep track of are white suburban women, who were previously Republicans, and millennials. The former are probably more important because they actually vote. If they are becoming Democrats, that spells trouble for the GOP. Millennials are strongly Democratic, but they don't normally vote, so unless they greatly exceed their typical 20-25% turnout in midterms, their dislike of Trump doesn't actually matter much. That said, they may very well do that (see below). (V)
Given the importance of the millennial vote in this year's midterms, there have been a number of polls that tried to read the tea leaves. They are, in short, all over the place:
|SurveyMonkey/Cosmopolitan||March 13||48% of young voters are "absolutely certain" they'll vote.|
|Harvard Institute of Politics||April 10||37% of young voters are "definitely voting".|
|AP-NORC and MTV||May 30||32% of young voters are "certain to vote".|
|PRRI/The Atlantic||July 1||28% of young voters are "absolutely certain" they'll vote.|
There's a pretty clear trendline there, suggesting that enthusiasm is fading as we move from spring into summer. However, one should probably not put too much stock in that. This is a particularly difficult question to poll, and the results are particularly likely to be affected by wording choices (e.g, "certain to vote" vs. "absolutely certain to vote"), and by whatever happens to be in the headlines that day.
If we take the average of the four polls, it comes out to 36.25%. Even if we take the lowest number, 28%, that is still higher than the 23% of young voters who showed up in 2014. And the great likelihood is that as election season heats up, more young people will decide to vote rather than fewer. That said, the Democrats clearly need to get to work on the 2018 iteration of the Rock the Vote campaign. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul27 Trump Administration May Be Getting Ready to Bomb Iran
Jul27 Mueller is Following the Tweets
Jul27 Administration Misses Deadline to Reunite Families
Jul27 Democrats Up by Double Digits in Generic House Poll
Jul27 West Virginia Secretary of State Blocks Blankenship's Senate Bid
Jul27 Jordan Is Running for House Speaker
Jul27 Surprise! No Rosenstein Impeachment
Jul27 Cohen Claims Trump Knew in Advance about the Meeting with Veselnitskaya
Jul26 Trump Claims Cohen's Audio Tape May Have Been Doctored
Jul26 Trump Makes Trade Deal with EU
Jul26 Republicans Move to Impeach Rosenstein
Jul26 Emoluments Case Against Trump Can Go Forward
Jul26 Trump Won't Meet Putin This Year
Jul26 White House Appears to Be Rewriting History
Jul26 Sabato Says Democrats Are Now Favorites to Take the House
Jul25 Trump Promises Farmers $12 Billion, Republicans Revolt
Jul25 Trump Claims to Be Worried that Russians May Help Democrats in 2018
Jul25 Giuliani Has New Demands for Trump Interview
Jul25 Cohen-Trump Recording Leaks
Jul25 Georgians Go to Polls
Jul25 Republican Leaders Renege on Immigration Promise
Jul25 White House Will No Longer Announce Calls with Foreign Leaders
Jul25 Majority of Americans Think Putin Has Something on Trump
Jul24 Trump in the Midst of a Meltdown
Jul24 Rand Paul Still Undecided about Kavanaugh
Jul24 Judge Delays Manafort's Trial
Jul24 Number of Cohen Recordings: 12
Jul24 Republicans Are Already Starting Oppo Research for 2020
Jul24 Wilkie Confirmed to Lead VA
Jul24 Democrats' Chances Improving in Gubernatorial Races
Jul23 Trump Engages in War of Words with Rouhani
Jul23 Mariia Butina Got Funding from Russian Oligarch Close to Putin
Jul23 Carter Page: I Advised the Russian Government
Jul23 Trump's Meeting with Putin Didn't Move the Needle Much
Jul23 Progressive Democrats Are Not Doing Well in New York and California
Jul23 Democratic Governors Are Testing the 2020 Waters
Jul23 How Is the Senate Looking?
Jul22 Cohen Tapes Plot Thickens
Jul22 Did Trump Give Away Crimea?
Jul22 Congress Won't Talk to Trump's Interpreter
Jul22 Does GOP Have an Alger Hiss Problem?
Jul22 Is Will Hurd the New Whittaker Chambers?
Jul22 FBI (Sort of) Releases Carter Page Warrant Applications
Jul22 Tariffs Will Have Predictable Effects, Starting at the Worst Possible Time for the GOP
Jul21 Cohen Secretly Recorded Trump
Jul21 McConnell Threatens Democrats over Kavanaugh
Jul21 Trump Threatens Tariffs on $500 Billion in Chinese Goods
Jul21 Mueller Wants to Chat with "Manhattan Madam"
Jul21 Charlotte to Host 2020 RNC Convention