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.
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.
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.
Take a few moments to read this statement just out from the President, on Saudi Arabia.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a reliable Trump ally, chided the President Monday for publicly sharing his critiques of chief of staff John Kelly.
I wish President Trump would never discuss publicly any ill feelings has abt his CofStaff Gen Kelly. After all he was a Marine for 47 yrs. defended our freedoms. We need show respect
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) November 19, 2018
Kelly is once again rumored to be on the way out at the White House.
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.
I don’t know if Adm. William McRaven shares my political views or not.
But I do know that few Americans have sacrificed or risked more than he has to protect America & the freedoms we enjoy.
His military career exemplified honor & excellence.
I am grateful for his service.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 19, 2018
Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace spoke with Trump Friday for an interview aired Sunday: