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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.