Editor’s Blog

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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Key Development

The out-going top prosecutor in Ukraine – who Rudy Giuliani had been courting/pressuring to open investigations into Joe Biden has announced he’s not playing ball. He says there’s no probe, no reason to open a probe, etc. Yuriy Lutsenko said he didn’t want “Ukraine to again be the subject of US presidential elections.” This is clearly part of the reason Rudy canceled his trip and accused official in Kiev of being anti-Trump. Lutsenko also said that Giuliani had asked him whether the US Ambassador was “not loyal to Trump.” She was fired on May 6th.

Amazing

This is an amazing read. The White House’s new “tech bias” reporting process — where you can tell President Trump how tech platforms discriminated against you for being conservative — appears to be a list building scheme.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

United States Ambassdor to Israel David Friedman: “Israel has one secret weapon that not too many countries have. Israel is on the side of God, and we don’t underestimate that.”

Remarkable

Be sure to give this voting rights piece a glance. Tierney gives an overview of just how many fronts Republicans are operating on to limit voting as much as possible for 2020. I’m pretty versed on this. But it’s remarkable to see listed out just how many fronts they’re working on, just how central a part of GOP legal and legislative work this has become.

Trump Argument Comes Into View

We’ll have more on this shortly. But I want to point out the common argument the President’s personal lawyers (yesterday) and the White House Counsel’s office (in today’s letter) are now making. They argue that the Congress has no legitimate oversight role with respect to the executive branch at all, a stunning argument that would clip the wings of Congress permanently. They are arguing first that the only legitimate document requests or subpoenas are those tied specifically and narrowly to shaping upcoming legislation. That’s an aspect of oversight but only a smallish part of it. Secondly, anything that is tied to wrongdoing or malfeasance or possibly crimes is “law enforcement”, which is the exclusive purview of the executive branch. In other words, from both sides of the equation, they argue that Congress has no oversight role at all.

Now the argument is out in the open.

John Bolton, Far Worse Than You Realize
on July 12, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.

Looking at the escalating (US-created) crisis with Iran, one thing I realize is that a lot of people do not quite know who John Bolton is. They assume – rightly – that anyone in the Trump orbit must be either a moral weakling, a crazy person or someone with one foot out the door. All true. But John Bolton is a unique and uniquely dangerous character.

To give some perspective, back during George W. Bush’s second term, Bush nominated Bolton to serve as UN Ambassador. That was in 2006 and with a GOP majority in the Senate. Bolton was seen as so manifestly ill-suited to the position that he couldn’t get confirmed. He had to settle for a pity recess appointment.

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Leaked NRA Documents May Spell Trouble For Wayne LaPierre

Leaked documents suggest that NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre may have used an NRA vendor to conceal costs for luxury Italian suits and European vacations from the NRA’s books. Non-profit attorneys told Josh Kovensky that the documents are a “goldmine” for New York Attorney General Letitia James’ probe into the gun rights group. Read More

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