EDITOR’S BLOG
Whitaker Is An Anvil Chained to Trump
Prime Membership Required

The New York Times story out tonight is a reminder of the grave danger the United States is in as long as President Trump remains in the Oval Office. President Trump asked his White House Counsel, Don McGahn, to prosecute Hillary Clinton and James Comey. McGahn, who is quite likely the ultimate source of this story, put Trump off. What is probably obvious but deserves to be said is that it’s pretty clear Trump had no theory – or theory with any basis – for what crimes Clinton and Comey should be indicted for. He just wanted the state to attack them.

But with all the swirl of information dumped in our laps this afternoon we can discern a confluence and pattern.

Let’s discuss it.

Walking Around Money

Before Matt Whitaker was installed as Jeff Sessions chief of staff and minder at the Department of Justice he was making more than $900,000 as the “director” of a pro-Trump dark money group called FACT.

Candidate Demands Debate Be Held in Light Proof Velveteen Box

The trend of ridiculously bad appointed Southern senate incumbents continues and is entertaining in a hideous kind of way. Cindy Hyde-Smith is no Roy Moore. But coming off a feel good comment about lynching and ‘jokes’ about voter suppression she’s making a real run at it. She has now apparently demanded that there be no audience and no press at tonight’s sole debate in the Mississippi senate run off. It’s Mississippi, an extremely conservative state with extremely racialized voting. She’s definitely the favorite. But it does seem to be an actual race, with Roll Call just today moving it from Sold Republican to Likely Republican.

Wild Even For Trump

Take a few moments to read this statement just out from the President, on Saudi Arabia.

The Importance of Focus
Prime Membership Required

Democrats want to investigate everything. They’re right to. Publications like Politico are setting up strawman dichotomies between feral Democrats who want to attack Trump on every front and ‘moderates’ who don’t want to alienate voters. It’s best to ignore all of this. As I’ve argued before, most of the history and conventional wisdom about ‘over-reach’ is based on a basic inability to distinguish between real oversight and investigations and conspiracy theories and frivolous nonsense. The public gets impatient with the latter, though it’s important to recognize that it’s only a few times cost Republicans much at the ballot box.

But there is a need for focus, and it’s only indirectly related to politics and optics.

Today’s Agenda: Democrats Want An Investigation Of Whitaker
Prime Membership Required

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling for an investigation into acting attorney general Matt Whitaker. Here’s more on that story and others we’re following.

Court Packing Pays

This get a bit technical. (It’s about SCOTUS intervention in the on-going Census case Tierney Sneed has been covering for TPM.) But it’s a good example of how GOP court packing seems to paying quick dividends in efforts to further entrench GOP power and undercount blue states with significant immigrant populations.

Just Leaving This Here

Why President Trump hasn’t visited troops in Afghanistan or Iraq, according to the Washington Post:

‘He Was Indeed a Bit of a Douchebag’

A few TPM Readers were at Seth Moulton’s townhall last night in Amesbury, Massachusetts. TPM Reader MK went in unhappy with Moulton’s antics and wasn’t impressed with what he saw …

He was indeed a bit of a douchebag during the town hall.

Critical Point

As Amy Walter points out here, there are a number of new members in very competitive districts who pledged – in varying degrees – not to support Pelosi. There are good reasons to believe that provided a margin of victory, though obviously there’s no real way to know. Very, very few of them have signed this letter. The vast majority of the signers are from very safe districts. So the upshot here is that this likely forces freshmen Dems who will have very hard reelection races in two years to start their term with a tough vote which could get them tossed in two years.

Ep. #46: Rep. Ruben Gallego on Whether It’s Time for a Change in Dem Leadership
Latest Episode
Ep. #46: Rep. Ruben Gallego on Whether It’s Time for a Change in Dem Leadership
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) joins the podcast to talk about the changing political dynamics in his home state. He also gives his take on the ongoing debate within...
Hyde-Smith Controversy

A pair of racially charged gaffes and nagging problems with her base have Republicans nervous that Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) could blow what should be a slam-dunk election and cost their party a Senate seat.

Census Citizenship Trial

As the DOJ makes a habit out of fast-tracking to SCOTUS the most controversial lawsuits the Trump admin is facing, perhaps there is no case where those tactics have been so extreme than the census citizenship question case.

LIVEWIRE
Trump Dismisses Report On Ivanka Using Personal Email: ‘There Was No Deletion!’

WaPo CEO: Trump Standing With Saudis Despite Khashoggi Murder Is ‘A Betrayal’

Fred Ryan, the publisher and CEO of The Washington Post, said Tuesday that President Donald Trump had betrayed “long-established American values of respect for human rights and the expectation of trust and honesty in our strategic relationships” by siding with Saudi Arabia’s leadership despite reports that the CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman ordered the killing of former Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. “If there is reason to doubt the findings of the CIA,” Ryan wrote, “President Trump should immediately make that evidence public.”

In Rare Rebuke, Grassley Scolds Trump For Bad-Mouthing Kelly

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a reliable Trump ally, chided the President Monday for publicly sharing his critiques of chief of staff John Kelly.

Kelly is once again rumored to be on the way out at the White House.

WHCA ‘Fully Expects’ Reporters Will Ask Follow Up Questions Despite New Rules

The White House Correspondents Association was pleased the White House backed off its push to strip CNN’s Jim Acosta of his press credentials, but said it “fully expects” reporters will continue asking follow up questions despite the White House’s supposed new rules for the press corps.

Michelle Wolf: WH Correspondents’ Association ‘Cowards’ For Ditching Comedy

Responding to the news that this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner will feature historian Ron Chernow rather than a comedian, as is traditionally the case, Michelle Wolf, who lit up the stage in April, called the WHCA “cowards.”

Joke’s Over: WH Correspondents Dinner Will Feature Historian Ron Chernow

Departing with years of tradition, this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner will feature a historian, Ron Chernow, in place of a comedian. In years past, with a few exceptions, comedians from Stephen Colbert to Richard Pryor have performed for members of the White House Correspondents’ Association and their guests. Michelle Wolf performed most recently. “While I have never been mistaken for a stand-up comedian, I promise that my history lesson won’t be dry,” Chernow said in a press release from the association.

Rubio Defends McRaven After Trump Attack: Few ‘Have Sacrificed Or Risked More’

Ernst: Trump’s Troop Deployment At Border Provides ‘Opportunity For Real-Life Training’

Trump: I’ll Submit ‘Very Simple’ Answers To Mueller Questions ‘At Some Point Very Soon’

Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace spoke with Trump Friday for an interview aired Sunday:

trump written answers

President Trump tells Chris that his written answers for the special counsel will be submitted "at some point very soon." Watch the full interview on Fox News Channel at 2P/7P.

Posted by Fox News Sunday on Sunday, November 18, 2018

Trump On Ricardel: ‘She Was With Me For A Long Time, Although I Don’t Know Her’

President Donald Trump flip-flopped mid-sentence when describing ousted Deputy National Security Adviser Mira Ricardel (pictured, right), who was removed from that position after a statement urging as much from first lady Melania Trump.

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