Editor’s Blog

Courthouse Dispatch

TPM’s Josh Kovensky was in the courtroom today when a federal judge rejected Trump’s attempt to halt a congressional subpoena issued to Deutsche Bank and Capitol One. Read his report from the courtroom, where the judge said Trump’s case was not “serious”and said that Congress’ authority is “well-settled.”

Buckle Up

President Trump has made a surprise appearance in the White House’s Rose Garden to discuss — what else? — the Mueller report.

His podium is decked out with statistics about the Mueller investigation alongside the President’s mantra: “NO collusion, NO obstruction.”

Making the Case Prime Badge
Internal IRS Memo Says IRS Must Hand Over Trump Taxes

The Washington Post has gotten hold of a draft internal IRS memo which argues that the IRS and Treasury Department have no choice but to hand over the President’s taxes.

This seems like little more than a legal analysis that states what I think everyone who has looked at the law understands, which is that it’s crystal clear: To follow the law they have no choice but to hand over the returns. The only real argument I’ve seen from conservatives is that the law itself is unconstitutional. But the text of the law is clear.

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On Yesterday’s Major Court Ruling

Yesterday we got the first court ruling in Congress’ battle to conduct oversight of President Trump. The judge issued a broad decision that affirmed Congress’ oversight authority, rather than narrowly ruling on the subpoena for Trump’s accountant, Mazars. TPM’s Josh Kovensky talked to legal experts who provide a very helpful lens through which to read the ruling. It’s worth a look.

Numbers from New Q Poll

Some very interesting numbers in a just released Quinnipiac Poll.

Here are numbers that jump out to me.

President Trump’s numbers are 38% approve, 57% disapprove. On May 2nd those numbers were 41%-55%. 54% of voters say they would “definitely not vote” for President Trump. 31% say they’d “definitely vote” for him.

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Very Important

A highly knowledgable lawyer writes in the following about the Trump accounting firm subpoena …

Judge Mehta wrote a smart and detailed opinion. And his decision not to grant a stay pending appeal sends a strong message that he views Trump’s arguments as extremely weak.

Trump of course has appealed and will seek review in the Supreme Court if he loses in the court of appeals.

His goal is to run out the clock until the middle of next year, which will make it hard for the House to analyze the documents, conduct further investigations, and reach any conclusions before November 3. It also will mean that any conclusions will be lost in the swirl of a highly partisan election contest.

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Moving Fast

President Trump is moving quickly to appeal the federal court ruling against him over the congressional subpoena of his accounting firm.

Josh’s Epic List of Books

Over recent months I’ve had a number of readers write in to ask if I’d put all my book reviews and recommendations in one place. So I’ve done that. After the jump are recommendations for just over 60 books – all what I’d call serious popular history, with a few examples stretching over into more academic books. The topics range from language and alphabets to Rome and Late Antiquity to Christianity, Islam, the Renaissance, pre-history and ancient civilizations, Israel, Eastern Europe and a number of other topics. Many of them I’ve recommended at some point over the last couple decades. A number are recommended for the first time. And I’m not done. I have at least 15 or 20 more I plan to add.

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Collateral Damage

Important read. It appears that Rudy Giuliani and John Solomon got the US Ambassador to Ukraine canned (membership required) as part of their efforts to get the government of Ukraine to target Joe Biden.

What Is the Order of Battle? Prime Badge
Moving Forward Prime Badge
Safe Bet Prime Badge
Grotesque

From Pete Buttigieg’s Fox News townhall last night, a couple clips …

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Let’s Flip This Question Around
DORCHESTER, MA - APRIL 18:  Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks in front of a Stop & Shop in support of union workers on April 18, 2019 in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Thousands of unionized Stop & Shop workers across New England walked off the job last week in an ongoing strike in response to a proposed contract which the United Food & Commercial Workers union says would cut health care benefits and pensions for employees.  (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Joe Biden

I’ve been in endless debate (as many of you likely are) about the Democratic presidential primary field and who is the best pick to defeat President Trump. (I have a backlog of TPM Reader emails about it I plan to share with you soon.) For me, much of this debate is driven by the fact that Joe Biden is clearly and consistently polling the best against President Trump even though I can see as well as anyone a number of potential liabilities to his candidacy. This was plausibly chalked up to Biden’s universal name recognition and association with President Obama. But that theory gets less tenable as his support grows even as the other candidates’ name recognition and exposure grows.

But I want to come at this from a different angle. Maybe we shouldn’t just be looking at Biden’s seeming strength so much as the other candidates’ relative weakness.

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Josh’s Reading List No. 11 Prime Badge
What’s Going on With Mike Flynn?

This has just bubbled up in the last day. But this news about Mike Flynn and top House Trumper Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is something to watch closely. The gist is that twice after he became a cooperator with the Mueller probe, Flynn direct messaged Gaetz on Twitter, basically giving him a big thumbs up for his attacks on the Mueller probe. So he’s cooperating with the probe and also furtively encouraging public attacks on the probe. In April of 2018, for instance, just after Gaetz appeared on Lou Dobbs’ show with a standard anti-Mueller rant, Flynn DM’d him: “You stay on top of what you’re doing. Your leadership is so vital for our country now. Keep the pressure on.”

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Must Read

Please don’t miss this new Tierney Sneed piece on emails showing Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Thomas, directly involved in voter suppression efforts. Indeed, even one of the top kingpins of voter suppression in the country thought her plan was so over the top that it might boomerang and drive up turnout in targeted communities.

The Talking Points Are Identical

On Fox News Friday, contributor Katie Pavlich took umbrage at the suggestion that Attorney General Bill Barr is just “repeating talking points” pushed by Trumpworld. Barr’s investigation into the true origins of the Russia probe is simply, Pavlich said, an effort “to get government accountability.”

But the quotes speak for themselves. Read More

18 Angry Democrats

TPM Reader AB is not happy …

“Some Democrats are once again looking to special counsel Robert Mueller for salvation, this time to combat administration efforts to spin his report.”

Now I have no doubt that the Dems are grossly misplaying their hand.

None.

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Perfect Storm, Part II
Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to a couple thousand supporters in Louisville, Ky., on Tuesday March 1, 2016. (Mark Cornelison/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS)

One of the particular characteristics of the Trump presidency is the way Trump consistently creates drama – some by design, some not – that makes it hard to see the broader outline of events. Nowhere is this more clear than in considering the 2020 election. We’re inundated by reports about the President’s turbo-powered campaign, his vast fundraising, new kinds of micro-targeting, negotiations with foreign governments to attack domestic political opponents. In fact, though the President remains very unpopular. Despite the fact that incumbent President’s usually get elected, most signs suggest pretty clearly he won’t.

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Out in the Open

Bill Barr sat for an interview with Fox this morning. He made crystal clear he’s putting the DOJ 100% behind President Trump’s claims of a “coup” and spying. It’s all out in the open. Watch this clip where he suggests the evidence of an attempted ‘coup’ is growing.

Late Update: More video out now in which Barr suggests Comey, Clapper and Brennan were plotting against Trump during the election. Video after the jump.

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