The ableist observers of Saudi Arabia and the US-KSA relationship have been saying for days that it appeared the US was holding off from saying anything too definitive about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi to give the Saudis time to come up with at least a notionally plausible explanation of what happened – a rogue operation, an arrest or interrogation gone wrong, etc. We now see the choice. This morning President Trump announced a flat denial from Saudi King Salman (who is not really the effective ruler of the country) and his (Trump’s) suspicion that “rogue killers” are likely behind Khashoggi’s disappearance. Incredulity is warranted. But there is a bigger and, I would say, more important picture for the health of the US government. This is a carbon copy of what we’ve seen for the last two years in President Trump’s denials of Russian interference in the US elections and other bad acts. Read More
The President likely will claim a small out that he said he would make Elizabeth Warren a bet for a million dollars to a charity of her choice at a future presidential debate. But basically, he dared her and said he’d pay $1 million to a charity of her choice if she took a DNA test. Here’s video of him making that bet, followed by him denying it a few moments ago before boarding Marine One.
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) October 15, 2018
There was one thing that came up yesterday in our Inside briefing with Marc Elias that I wanted to share – just a general point, not something new or secret. In discussing the voter suppression issue Marc said that he thought 2008/2009 was a watershed. That was when the current version of the Democratic electorate came into full view – one which disproportionately drew voters not only from non-white minority groups but also disproportionately from the young. As we’ve discussed here before, this has a particular significance because with that demographic breakdown really across the board everything that makes voting harder hurt Democrats and helped Republicans. Read More
Keep an eye on this. Sure hope Wilbur Ross didn’t lie to Congress about coordinating or getting his department’s plan to rig the 2020 Census to disenfranchise blue state and district voters from a couple white nationalists.
With news that gubernatorial candidate and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is currently blocking 53,000 predominantly African-American voters from voting in this election, Cam Joseph’s report on this critical and historic showdown over voting rights is even more of a must-read.
Is this the story? There is a lot that is hard to figure about the apparent killing of Jamal Khashoggi. But one of the biggest for me is, why? He was a critic and a dissident. But he actually didn’t oppose the regime itself. He wasn’t calling for a change of government. He even supported a number of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s initiatives. Consolidating autocrats don’t like critics, period. But still it doesn’t quite fit. If Khashoggi died as described, it was an incredibly high stakes and visible move to silence someone who just doesn’t seem to have been that much of a threat. Read More
The Post is reporting that Turkish officials have told their U.S. counterparts that they have audio and video recordings that prove Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. It appears that the claimed video evidence is more circumstantial. The audio evidence would appear to be from listening devices either within or targeting the compound. According to the Post, the tapes the Turks claim to have essentially have the audio of Khashoggi being interrogated, tortured and then finally killed.
As the Post describes it, the Turks are extremely leery of sharing the evidence. And it’s not clear they’ve shared it with the U.S., as opposed to describe it to their U.S. counterparts. It’s a dicey situation. They clearly don’t want to out themselves or at least out the ways they bug diplomatic compounds.
Last night I reported this incident in which a campaign staffer with the campaign of Mike Siegel was arrested after delivering a letter about an on-going voting rights controversy to the County Judge’s office. I was able to speak to a representative of the Waller County Sheriff’s office who gave me their version of events. Read More
The most notable article in the last 12 hours is this one in Politico about the Jamal Khashoggi story. It contains clues and signs that the White House is trying to sweep the story under the rug or give the Saudis enough time and room to come up with at least a somewhat plausible cover story: an accident, rogue factions in the security services, etc. But the key part for me was more detail on those calls we discussed yesterday between Kushner and Crown Prince Mohammed (MBS). Read More
Here’s a troubling story out of Texas. Democrat Mike Siegel is running against Rep. Michael T. McCaul (R) in Texas’s 10th district. This evening I saw a tweet from Siegel which said: “Just learned that my field director was arrested while delivering our letter. He told police he was working for me and the officer asked, “what party is he?” Now Jacob is under 48 hour investigatory detention in Waller County.”
That didn’t seem right, especially the part about getting arrested after being asked what party he’s affiliated with. So I managed to get Siegel on the phone to get some more details. Read More
As noted below, Sarah Sanders says Jared Kushner (along with John Bolton) called Saudi Crown Prince and de factor ruler Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to ask for information about the whereabouts of exiled and now presumed dead Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A lot of circumstantial evidence points to MBS as the one who ordered the killing, if that’s what happened. Logic too. There’s always the possibility of rogue elements in Saudi security services. But something so audacious would almost certainly have to come from the top. So it’s worth reviewing the relationship between these two men, Kushner and MBS. Read More
One of the things I want to focus on as we get into the final weeks of the campaign are a series of unfolding efforts by Republicans to hold their own by preventing as many people as possible from voting. One of the clearest, most egregious cases is a voter ID law in North Dakota which the Supreme Court refused to block yesterday. All voter ID laws are bad. But this one is uniquely so. It is specifically tailored to disenfranchise the state’s substantial Native American population. Read More
Statement from Sarah Sanders …
“White House National Security Advisor, Ambassador John Bolton and White House Senior Advisor, Jared Kushner spoke to Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman yesterday about the missing Washington Post journalist. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then had a follow up call with the Crown Prince to reiterate the United States request for information. In both calls they asked for more details and for the Saudi government to be transparent in the investigation process. We will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as available.”
Don’t miss the fifth installment of our 10 part series on voting rights and democracy. The Georgia Governor’s race pits a hardened vote suppresser Brian Kemp against Stacey Abrams, a long time champion of voting rights in the state. The fact that Kemp is a hardcore Trumping white man and Abrams is a progressive African-American woman makes it a battle that brings together, in stark relief, almost everything going on in the country today. It’s very close and voting rights are on the ballot. Cam Joseph has our story.