I’m going to be away for a week. We prerecorded the latest episode of The Josh Marshall show. That will drop on Tuesday. You’re in good hands. Sign up for Prime if you haven’t already. Be excellent to each other.
Lot of stuff in this interview from earlier this afternoon with Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti. He tells us more about threats of physical violence that have been used to keep her silent, other “Trump surrogates” who’ve been involved in leveling those threats and spreading false information about Stormy. We also get into Michael Cohen’s tactics, his history of strong-arm tactics and more. Listen here on the site or on iTunes or Google Play. This is a Josh Marshall Podcast Extra. Listen and remember to subscribe. It helps us no end if you subscribe on iTunes or Google Play.
This is a White House press pool report from a few moments ago …
Since it’s a quiet day — albeit with heightened anticipation — I will point out the flurry around National Security Adviser HR McMaster’s brief appearance outside the West Wing a bit ago. He was escorting guests out of the West Wing entrance, near the stakeout area. Tara Palmeri of ABC News caught up with him. Per her tweet, he said, “Everybody has got to leave the White House at some point.” She asked if he was leaving sooner rather than later, and he said, ‘I’m doing my job.” Then he walked back inside.
We just recorded a podcast interview with Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti. We went into more depth on the physical threats Daniels’ has allegedly received to stay quiet, Stormy’s former lawyer, other “Trump surrogates” allegedly spreading rumors and threatening her. There’s a lot there. We expect to post this “Extra!” episode in about an hour. If you’re already subscribed on iTunes or Google Play to The Josh Marshall Podcast, it’ll show up on your device the moment it’s uploaded. Takes a bit longer to show up there if you’re not already subscribed. Stay tuned.
This is shocking and yet not at all surprising. Trump officials working with outside activists to purge undesirables from the State Department staff and foreign service. The activists in this case – David Wurmser, among others – are among the worst of the worst. We’ll be digging out of under this wreckage and corruption for years. Give this a read.
Yesterday, after news broke that Rex Tillerson had been fired and replaced by Mike Pompeo, I heard some voices reassuring themselves that unlike many in the Trump world Pompeo is fairly hostile to Russia. At least, they say, he views Russia through a more traditional Republican prism. This raises a general point that is critical and we all must address. We don’t need more hostility toward Russia or more hawkishness. What we need is an un-compromised policy toward Russia. Most specifically, we need an uncompromised President, something we currently do not have. Read More
TPM’s Tierney Sneed is now back in our Washington office after a week in Kansas to cover the trial in which Kris Kobach — one of our era’s great opponents of voting rights – defended another voter suppression law he helped spearhead. First, I want to thank Tierney as well as editors David Kurtz and Zack Roth, who together have many years of collective experience covering this critical issue. TPM was one of only a handful of non-local news organizations there to cover it in full. Thanks to you for the many kind emails we got over the last week for the coverage.
I wanted to take a moment to note that when you join TPM Prime this is where your subscription fees go. They go of course to paying almost half of all of our salaries and all the miscellaneous other expenses of running TPM. You get access to the Prime-only articles, fewer ads, the Hive, RSS feeds and all the rest. But your subscriptions especially make possible efforts like this — sending a reporter across the country for a week to cover a key trial, the output of which may not pay off in purely monetary terms but is critical to our mission as an organization. (You can see our live coverage here and Tierney’s recent feature stories here.) That shapes how we’re able to run the whole organization today — a freedom and ability to deliver which is scarce in this era in which ad-only publications find themselves in a tightening financial vise.
So if you’re a member, thank you! You make this possible. If you’re not yet a member, please consider clicking here and joining us today. It’s easy, quick, just 14 cents a day. If you’d like to do still more, you can purchase one or more subscription credits or FIN credits which we then provide at no cost to readers in financial need or to students, respectively. These help power TPM even further and make it possible to give the full TPM experience to still more readers. Join us!
Unsurprisingly, the President’s sham ‘voter fraud’ commission was in the process of getting used as a vehicle to gin up bogus voter fraud prosecutions. A replay of the crooked efforts that led to the US Attorney firing scandal back in 2006-2007.
This is paragraph four from Allegra’s latest report on the domestic violence arrest of white nationalist leader/idiot Matthew Heimbach. I knew it couldn’t be as simple as just abusing his wife. It seems like he was attacking both his wife and her father because he, Heimbach, was having an affair with her mother and his wife.
The white nationalist leader is married to the step-daughter of Matt Parrott, the Traditionalist Worker Party’s chief spokesman. Per the police report, Heimbach attacked both Parrott and Heimbach’s wife, Brooke Heimbach, after the pair confronted Matthew Heimbach about an affair he was carrying out with Matt Parrott’s wife, Jessica Parrott.
Here’s Allegra’s whole report.
Episode #4 of The Josh Marshall Podcast is out. TPMer Allegra Kirkland sits in for the vacationing David Taintor as my co-host and we talk to Joan Walsh about Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels, the #metoo movement, 2016 and 2018 and a bunch more. I discuss my reporting about what Stormy Daniels told 60 Minutes and Allegra and I discuss an earlier Michael Cohen strong arm incident which sheds some light on the ‘intimidating’ behavior Daniels’ lawyers claim in her lawsuit. Listen to Episode #4 here or on iTunes or Google Play and please subscribe.
We have what is probably the final data for tonight. (Actually, see below. Maybe not.) Almost all the final election day votes were reported just a short time ago. Those ballots brought Connor Lamb’s lead to just under 100 votes. But then a short time later, Allegheny County reported its absentee ballots. Those came in overwhelmingly for Lamb, leaving him with an 847 vote lead. The remaining counties are all red counties and all plan to count their absentee votes tomorrow. It looks hard for Saccone to make up that margin. But it’s definitely possible.
The latest we heard is that one of those counties may count their absentee ballots tonight, just because it’s so close. If that happens, we might have a pretty clear sense tonight of who won. Stay tuned.
Late Update: Watching the number crunchers whose opinions I most respect, the consensus seems to be that Lamb wins, absent sole counting error as yet unknown.
10:52 PM: This sounds key.
Lamb (D) should expect a pretty healthy boost from uncounted absentees. Why? 1) They've historically skewed Dem 2) More than half of them are from Allegheny Co. (despite Allegheny only being ~43% of #PA18). pic.twitter.com/SAth8WtnY0
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) March 14, 2018
10:39 PM: The final point seems to be this. There are estimated to be 6k or 7k absentee ballots that are being counted. Wasserman, who I flagged below, says these tend toward Democrats in this district. Those could be more decisive than the remaining outstanding election day votes. Also, two of the counties in the district won’t count their absentee votes until tomorrow. It sounds like there’s a decent chance we’ll *largely* know the outcome by about midnight eastern. But it’s possible we won’t really know until tomorrow. Sad.
10:31 PM: This is from Cook Report/538’s Dave Wasserman. Could be key. “It’s been reported that there were about 6-7k absentees cast in #PA18. In the past, absentees have run slightly more Dem than the overall vote and I don’t believe they’ve been counted yet. They may matter here.”
10:24 PM: Lamb is up by just 500 +/- votes with 97% precincts reporting.
10:14 PM: We are now at 96% of precincts reporting. Connor Lamb, the Democrat, has a lead of about 900 points. The remaining votes pretty clearly favor Saccone. But it’s not clear that it’s enough to put him into the lead. There just aren’t many votes left. I’m not sure there’s any way to get a clearer prediction than that. I will note a few key caveats about this entire race. This district won’t exist in November. It will be replaced by a more Democrat-friendly district. There’s already been a huge shift in the Democrats’ favor since 2016. For tonight, though, a win is a win is a win. But we don’t know who the winner is.
9:46 PM: Damn, this is close. And the late numbers are pushing Saccone toward a tie. Most number counters don’t seem to have the precinct granular data to know where we’re really at.
9:37 PM: We’re at just past 9:30. It’s exceedingly close with an ever so slight advantage – maybe – for Democrat Connor Lamb. The Times “needle”, which I mentioned below, is the night’s first casualty. It was struggling. Then one county stopped reporting precinct data. At that point the whole enterprise is flying blind. So they shut it down. Honestly, I feel their pain (in the web production/publishing sense). So where is this? Lamb seems to have the inside track. It’s very close but Saccone isn’t quite at the margins he needs to be. There are enough votes outstanding, though, that he can expand those margins. You’d rather be Lamb than Saccone. But it’s close. Real close.
This is from almost a half hour ago. It was from when things were leaning a bit against Republican Saccone but not by much. This is Jason Miller, longtime Trumper who may return to the White House soon. He was on CNN as the designated Trump. It’s a good illustration of how it works in Trump world. It’s never about Trump. If you lose you were barely even a Republican and certainly not remotely associated with Trump.
Jason Miller, the Trump guy on CNN, already bailing out on Saccone while it's neck and neck. pic.twitter.com/EUicJszxQ2
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) March 14, 2018
9:11 PM: One possible explanation for the uncertainty and conflicting signals is that Lamb is over-performing in many key areas but Saccone seems to be over-performing in his own state legislative district. In other words, a couple or more than a couple conflicting trends.
9:05 PM: So I follow the NYT “needle” very closely. It’s a great widget and is often very predictive. It’s sort of an automated version of the way an experienced election watcher can look beneath the total results and tell you where things are going by look at individual precincts. That “needle” has swung heavily in Saccone’s favor in the last 20 minutes or so. But the numbers crunchers I watch aren’t convinced things have moved that far in Saccone’s favor. Unclear. Less bullish for Lamb than it looked a half hour ago. But we need to see more.
8:58 PM: The tide seems to have shifted in Saccone, the GOPers, favor. Still early. But more uncertain now than it was.
8:45 PM: We’re at a quarter to nine. The top line current results show an overwhelming lead for Lamb, the Democrat. But that’s meaningless. The early results are from counties that favor Dems. What’s not meaningless is that Lamb seems to be exceeding the margins he needs in key precincts. It’s not by big margins but by meaningful ones. And that pattern seems to be showing up in a lot of places. Cautious optimism warranted for Dems. Of course, still need to see more.
8:39 PM: We’re only seeing fragmentary bits of data. But these aren’t necessarily tiny in given precincts and counties where we have historical benchmarks. And Lamb seems to be running a bit ahead of the margins he needs. Could easily go either way. And it almost certainly will be close either way. But room for some very cautious and early optimism for Dems.
8:30 PM: Finally some results. Only a thousand votes though. Meaningless 4 point margin for Lamb. More notably: a single precinct in Allegheny County and it’s a 20% swing in the Dems favor.
8:14 PM: I’m watching an Applebee’s commercial with Melissa Ethridge’s ‘Come to My Window’ and it’s really tragic.
8:09 PM: Quick Josh cheat sheet. PA Secretary of State election results website. The state always collects and reports results at a slightly different pace than AP (the source of almost everyone else’s data. Not better or worse. But different pace and order. Good to watch. Here’s my list of election numbers crunchers I watch on Twitter.
8:06 PM: Okay, let’s do this. Okay, we still have no results.
7:31 PM: We’re a half hour out. What’s your prediction?
One last glimpse at the racially tinged amateur hour that Kris Kobach seems to have put on in defending his strict voter registration law:
ACLU lawyer Dale Ho cross-examined Jesse Richman, a witness for Kobach, about the methodology in a controversial study Richman produced showing significant rates of non-citizen voting. In the study, Richman coded certain respondents who had “foreign”-sounding names, for weighting purposes.
Tierney Sneed reports:
After going over some of the names Richman coded as foreign — two respondents with the last name Lopez were coded as foreign, and three Lopezes were not — Ho asked Richman how he would code the name “Carlos Murguia.” Richman said he’d probably code the name as “foreign.” Ho pointed out that Murguia is a federal judge in the same courthouse in which the trial is taking place. Richman admitted he wasn’t aware of that.
Last Friday I mentioned that 60 Minutes might find the Stormy Daniels interview they recorded last week more embarrassing for the President than they have a stomach for. Yesterday I noted, based on my own reporting, that Daniels apparently claimed in her interview with Anderson Cooper that the President sometimes liked to be treated in a humiliating or denigrating fashion by Daniels during their sexual encounters. I’m told there’s also a matter of details. Now comes more evidence that CBS seems to be slow-rolling the interview. Read More