Happy Tuesday, July 23. A budget deal has been reached after two weeks of intensive negotiation. It has President Donald Trump’s early endorsement, but will his support hold steady? Here’s more on that and the other stories we’re watching.
I’m very curious what Bill Barr is up to with this letter to Robert Mueller insisting he not testify to anything beyond the four corners of the his report, and then only the unredacted points. You can see the letter here. This whole exercise has the Department of Justice acting like the White House Counsel’s Office. Indeed, in some respects it seems to have the DOJ operating more like the President’s own personal attorneys.
The letter begins by noting that Mueller has already said he doesn’t want to testify beyond what is contained in his report and then says it expects him to keep to that. Obviously, what he said was his preference has no binding power. There’s various stuff of that nature. But the letter really gets down to brass tacks in the penultimate paragraph where it says Mueller cannot testify to anything beyond what is stated in the report because the entire investigation is covered by executive privilege.
The Nixon reelection campaign was in the news last week because of this article this article by Never Trump Republican Charlie Sykes. He offers a warning to Democrats that in 1971 Democrats thought they had Nixon on the ropes only to see George McGovern lose to him in a devastating electoral landslide in 1972. As it happens, the history is off. Nixon was doing reasonably well in 1971 and was actually pretty popular in 1972. But the story of the Nixon presidency has notable parallels and contrasts to today that are worth revisiting.
It’s good to be back. I was away the second half of last week on a family trip, picking up my older son from camp. So sorry for the lack of posts. I always notice that some fallow time, some time away from the news and from posting, lets me return to it with some freshness and rejuvenated perspective.
Happy Monday, July 22. President Donald Trump’s comments about four congresswomen of color, and the reactions they incited, are already permeating daily life. Here’s more on that and the other stories we’re watching.
In case you missed it, we published two remembrances of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens at TPM Cafe this week, both by prominent law professors who clerked for Stevens.
Deborah Pearlstein writes on how Stevens might respond to the Trump administration’s census shenanigans. Amanda Cohen Leiter reflects on Stevens’ propensity for writing his own opinions, even when arriving at the same conclusions as other justices, in order to preserve his thinking for posterity.
Reader AV writes:
I’ve been a reader for a very long time, I read all your stuff. I’m Prime AF, but I haven’t written in seven years. I think that part of it is that politics are very personal for me. I’ve been very close to local politics where I live, I was a Congressional staffer, and I ran for office myself, and none of that comes close to the politics of today. Today we are in a space where politics are all about who we are, all about our identity.
My parents moved from India to the US in the 70’s and my brother and I were born in the US. Neither of my parents were US citizens at the time, so maybe that makes us anchor babies. When Trump tweeted those statements about going back to where you come from, I was brought back not to India, but to my childhood. I was bullied for the color of my skin, for the language my parents spoke, for our religion, and for our food. I’ve been told to go back to where I come from or to leave this country a number of times in my life. I know Trump is a bully, I know he’s trying to rally his racist supporters, I know he’s trying to distract from other issues, but at the end of the day he’s challenging my identity as an American, as someone who BELONGS in this country. That causes real pain and real trauma.
Happy Friday, July 19. The debates lineups have been finalized. Here’s more on that and the other stories we’re watching.
I keep seeing comparisons between Trump’s racial appeals and George Wallace’s 1968 campaign. Here’s the AP’s Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller: “Not since George Wallace’s campaign in 1968 has a presidential candidate — and certainly not an incumbent president — put racial polarization at the center of his call to voters.” Someone here can correct me if my memory is failing me, but in 1968, Wallace did not make explicit racial appeals.