Editors’ Blog

Barnes Up In Wisconsin

We’ve known that Wisconsin would be a key Senate battleground this year. But until just recently we didn’t know who the Democratic nominee was. Now we know it’s Democrat Mandela Barnes, who had essentially cleared the field by the time of the primary vote. A new Marquette Law poll just came out — this is Charles Franklin’s poll, which is the premium in-state poll. It shows Barnes up by seven points over Johnson 51%-44%. In June the same poll found a 46%-44% race. That difference is likely a mix of shifting electoral landscape and Barnes consolidating potential supporters after the primary ended.

I do not count Johnson out. He’s won two straight elections he was not expected to win, both against former Sen. Russ Feingold. He’s a canny and able politician. But unless this poll is a significant outlier Wisconsin looks like the strong pick up opportunity Democrats were hoping for. For an incumbent to be running behind a challenger who has crossed the 50% threshold is a perilous place to be.

Where Things Stand: Scott Escalates ‘87,000 New Armed IRS Agents’ Conspiracy Theory
This is your TPM evening briefing.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) pulled a publicity stunt this afternoon by releasing an open letter addressed to the “American Job Seeker” warning anyone who might be considering applying for a gig at the Internal Revenue Service that they need not apply.

That’s because, in his telling, any new funding being funneled into the agency after the passage of Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act will be reversed if Republicans take back Congress after the Midterms. Vowing to gut the agency once Republicans are back in power, Scott referred to any new job openings at the IRS — after the Democratic bill allocated $80 billion in additional funding for the agency, in part to help with staffing shortages — as a “short-term gig.”

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One Vague Reference

The Times has a story disclosing the fact that investigators have interviewed both Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and his Deputy Patrick Philbin in their classified documents inquiry. That’s not surprising. The two were also originally tasked with liaising with the National Archives on Trump’s behalf. But it does clarify one thing. If Trump had really had the “standing order” about documents he took home automatically becoming declassified, such an order would certainly have gone through the Counsel’s office. Obviously that never happened and we can infer that investigators know that as a fact directly from these two men.

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Rubio Could Be In Trouble

A new poll shows Val Demmings leading Marco Rubio by 4 percentage points. (University of North Florida, Demings 48%, Rubio 44%.) I suspect that this poll is an outlier. But it is actually on trend, with a group of recent polls showing a relatively close race. It’s the first independent poll of the race in a month and the first real known-quantity poll since the beginning of 2022. Given the rightward drift of Florida, I would not be getting my hopes up that this is a Democratic pick up. But it is a strong indication that this is a seat Republicans will have to fight to hold on to. Indeed, I suspect some of retrenchment from races in Arizona and Pennsylvania we mentioned yesterday is to defend seats like these.

Fun Times in TrumpLand Prime Badge

The articles that make you feel the best are the ones to be most skeptical of. But with that said, this article in The Guardian certainly brought a smile to my face and satisfied a need for a schadenfreude fix. A federal judge will now decide whether to release some portions of the affidavit in support of the search of Mar-a-Lago. There’s the warrant and the inventory, both of which the target gets to see. It’s the affidavit that lays out why are we doing this; why is it important; what larger schemes are we investigating that requires us to go into this home and look for stuff.

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Weisselberg Nearing Plea But Won’t Cooperate

The Times is reporting that Trump Org CFO Allen Weisselberg is nearing a plea deal with prosecutors in Manhattan. But the deal apparently does not include cooperating with the broader investigation into Donald Trump and his business. With a guilty plea and time served Weisselberg will likely spend roughly three months in jail.

Where Things Stand: Man Charged For FBI Death Threats After Gab Meltdown Over Trump Raid
This is your TPM evening briefing.

The FBI and DHS put out a bulletin last week announcing that the agencies were fielding a significant uptick in violent threats being made against federal law enforcement, courts and government employees and buildings in general. Some of those targeted by the “unprecedented” surge in threats were the agents and officials listed in court records as being involved in the raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence a week ago.

Names of at least two agents who signed off on warrant-related paperwork have been circulating online for several days, adding to the specificity of the uptick in threats against the bureau as a whole. That, of course, could’ve been prevented if someone — presumably Donald Trump — hadn’t leaked unredacted versions of the warrant before it was officially unsealed, with names redacted, on Friday.

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GOP Fixin’ to Kick Oz and Masters Off the Island? Prime Badge

Fascinating report here from the Times’ Shane Goldmacher. The national GOP — meaning the top DC party committees and leadership PACs — appears to be significantly ramping back support for Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Blake Masters in Arizona and even Ron Johnson in Wisconsin. Here’s the Times story and here’s Goldmacher’s Twitter thread, which I at least found easier to follow.

These stories are always a bit hard to interpret and everyone wants to jump forward with tendentious interpretations. Basically the top Senate party committee canceled a bunch of ad buy reservations in these states. Some of it is an effort to redeploy spending to less regulated parts of the campaign finance ecosystem, away from joint campaigns and hybrid spends. Some of these spending channels require the campaign to put up a minimum percentage of the spend in hard money. But the campaigns themselves are struggling financially. So they can’t afford their part.

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A Response to Jack Goldsmith
The TRUTH Social website is seen on a mobile device with an image of former US president Donald Trump in the background in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland on 23 February, 2022. TRUTH Social is a newly developed social media platform by the Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) modelled after Twitter. The initiative was taken after Trump himself had been banned from Facebook and Twitter in 2021. (Photo by STR/NurPhoto)

Jack Goldsmith has a lengthy discussion at the Lawfare Blog of whether Attorney General Garland was right to seek a search warrant to search and seize records from ex-President Trump’s Florida estate. It is a good discussion, though one might say the very brazenness of Trump’s indifference to the law has a way of rendering precious or quaint any serious and deliberate discussion of potential consequences. Most of Goldsmith’s discussion can be boiled down to this: it all depends on what’s in the documents, just how secret they needed to be and what Trump was planning to do with them. And it’s hard to disagree with that — of course it does. But Goldsmith’s analysis is missing something.

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Flying Blind Prime Badge

Some interesting and absurd but still noteworthy events overnight. Trump’s representatives, at least for the moment, have settled on a story which is that he had a “standing order” that any and all classified materials he took home with him to the White House residence was “deemed” declassified. So in fact, none of the materials in question are classified and none of it matters. This was announced on Fox as an official statement from Trump’s office by John Solomon, the notorious fake news hustler who is now operating as Trump’s “designated representative” to the National Archives.

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