July 7, 2022, 11:13 am

It looks like there may be only one Senator standing between voters and passing a Roe law in January 2023. And it’s of all people the Senator from California: Dianne Feinstein! We mentioned this yesterday after a staffer in Feinstein’s office told TPM Reader RM that the senator could only commit “to discuss filibuster reform” to allow an up or down vote on the Roe bill in January 2023. Now Joe Garofoli of The San Francisco Chronicle got a more definitive not-at-all-definitive statement from Feinstein’s spokesperson Adam Russell.

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-Josh Marshall
July 7, 2022, 9:19 am

If you weren’t able to yesterday I hope you’ll take a moment to read Kate Riga’s piece on the abortion referendum in Kansas and Nicole Lafond’s rundown of high levels of opposition to the Dobbs ruling even in very red states. A few years ago the Supreme Court of Kansas ruled that the state constitution protects a woman’s right to an abortion. State Republicans got a constitutional amendment overruling that decision on the ballot on what should be low turnout election day in August. That’s about a month away. But with the Dobbs ruling still resounding around the country, it’s not clear that referendum will win. It’s got a good shot. It’s a very red state. Opposition to abortion runs much higher there than the national average. But in states like Kansas it’s still generally 50-50. It could go down to defeat. It gets to a broader issue. Even in red states, the Court’s ruling is not very popular. Often 50-50 even in fairly red states.

-Josh Marshall
July 6, 2022, 7:33 pm

One sentence in a post from earlier this afternoon really set off a firestorm in your emails. I’m going to print a selection of them later. For now, let me explain or clarify. As is so often the case, I think this is at least in part that so-common thing in political arguments: two sides tossing the same slogan back and forth and basically talking past each other because they are interpreting it as meaning different things. This is about “just vote” as some kind of generalized slogan and those who say that they’ve voted enough, voting hasn’t worked, it’s not a good enough answer, etc.

From your emails it’s clear that many of you interpret this phrase as “all you need to do is vote,” or “don’t ask questions, just vote,” or “don’t do anything else but vote.” I don’t know why anyone interprets this that way. But then again, it’s not something I tell anyone in the first place. I’m hardly someone who says, “just take the party leadership’s word for it” or “go with whatever strategy or lack of strategy they propose” since I’ve dedicated my writing at TPM for the last couple months to arguing that the White House and congressional leadership are making a category error in how they are approaching Roe and the midterm election and that it will require ordinary voters and activists to force their hand to follow a better strategy.

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-Josh Marshall
July 6, 2022, 6:43 pm

The results of Pew Research Center’s first poll on abortion since Roe was overturned came out today, revealing, unsurprisingly, that the majority of Americans do not agree with the Supreme Court’s decision to tear down the landmark case, which found abortion to be a constitutional right in the U.S. nearly 50 years ago.

The percentage of Americans who don’t support the death of Roe hasn’t shifted much since Pew conducted its last poll on the issue — 62 percent, overall, said abortion should be legal in most or all cases.

But interestingly, a slim majority disagree with the Supreme Court even in the states that have outlawed abortion in recent days and in states where lawmakers are scrambling to pass new restrictions and bans in the wake of Roe’s demise.

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-Nicole Lafond
July 6, 2022, 5:35 pm
FBI Director nominee Christopher Wray testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 12, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

From the moment Justice Alito’s draft decision leaked in early May (and really much earlier) it’s been clear that the only path to restoring Roe‘s protections was to elect two more senators to pass a Roe bill and change the filibuster rules to allow an up or down vote. The current leadership on the Hill simply doesn’t grasp the necessity of firm pledges from all 48 Democratic senators besides Manchin and Sinema. 48 pledges are there. But as we’ve discussed a few will require some real pressure. That’s why getting all the other pledges banked is so key. Then you can narrow the pressure down on any hold outs.

From the outset I’ve figured that high on the list of potential foot-draggers are Sens. Feinstein, Casey and King.

Today I want to talk about Sen. Feinstein, because we’ve got some new information on that front.

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-Josh Marshall
July 6, 2022, 2:05 pm

From TPM Reader LE

I’ve been thinking about this too, the ongoing, tiresome noise from those frustrated that Democratic leadership and politicos don’t have a magic bullet to fix everything. Take Roe, for example. Some on the left are upset, claiming Democrats and the party have done nothing over the years to protect reproductive freedom and other rights and liberties by, for example, ginning up interest in voting Democratic and for candidates who will protect those rights. But is their claim true? Seems to me the alarm has been sounded for years, just not with the volume and persistence that Republicans deploy to keep their base riled up and ready to fall in line.

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-Josh Marshall
July 6, 2022, 2:03 pm

From TPM Reader ES

I don’t think it is only “left-wing wreckers trying to break things” who are feeling growing frustration with the Democratic party. There is opportunity cost when the Democratic party leads the opposition – they take space, they demobilize other efforts by the implicit or explicit “trust us” logic of vote us in again, etc. And their response to the clear and systematic dismantling of norms and laws since Gore’s acquiescence, through failure to hold anyone accountable for the Great Crash of 08-09, to the denial of Garland’s nomination, up through the expanding Koch-envisioned and Tea Party / Trumpian grassroots fueled widening institutional erosion and now full, brazen takeover of the Supreme Court…has been astoundingly… small, tepid, narrow. 

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-Josh Marshall
July 6, 2022, 11:31 am

“At the same time, many are already voicing frustration with the Democratic nostrum ‘go vote’ when the party already controls Congress and the White House.” This is a sentence from an article TPM Reader EH sent me about Tim Ryan’s Senate campaign in Ohio, basically the very narrow path he has to tread to have a chance with Ohio’s increasingly Republican fundamentals. It’s from the Ohio Capital Journal. But I wanted to highlight this single sentence because it captures a good bit of what we discussed here yesterday, at once a sign of ignorance and bad faith and also simply a reality Democrats need to confront whatever mix of ignorance or bad faith is behind it in the given case.

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-Josh Marshall
July 6, 2022, 9:10 am

You did it.

As you can see by the tracker below, at some point yesterday we hit our $200,000 goal for this year’s TPM Journalism Fund drive. We are all pretty pumped here at TPM. Happy. Relieved. Energized. This is the first of many “thank yous” you’re going to be hearing from us over the next few days.

As I said in one post during the drive I was skeptical that we’d be able to reach this goal. Or perhaps equivocal. Uncertain? I thought it would be a real challenge, even though that was really the minimum to put everything in a good place. It’s daunting to put the number out there, with a counter and everything. What if you don’t get there? And it’s out there in public for everyone to see! In the event we hit our goal in about three weeks. Which is amazing. Just shy of 2,500 TPM Readers (2,477) contributed. We really appreciate your generosity and your faith in our operation.

You can of course still contribute. But we’re closing the curtains on the hard sell phase of this year’s effort. Truly, we really appreciate it.

More to come!

-Josh Marshall
July 5, 2022, 6:34 pm

The Supreme Court last month struck down a century-old New York state gun restriction, broadening the Second Amendment as the nation weathers a now-familiar spate of deadly mass shootings. It was the first major gun control ruling from the High Court in a decade, and a win for the gun lobby and gun rights groups.

Though the case before the Court was a challenge to New York’s laws, the ruling will impact several others states, many home to large, dense cities, that have similar laws on the books.

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-Nicole Lafond
x

ComeyWire

Trump Jr. Says Dad Asked Comey About Flynn Probe, Though He Denies Doing So

Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president of The Trump Organization, discusses the expansion of Trump hotels, Monday, June 5, 2017, in New York.  The Trump Organization is launching a new mid-market hotel chain called "American Ideas." The president's son said the new chain will start with three hotels in Mississippi. The president's son says inspiration for the chain came from traveling through America during his father's presidential campaign. The company also says the first of dozens of hotels in another new Trump chain called Scion is under construction in Mississippi, too. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Donald Trump Jr. on Saturday said that his father did speak to fired FBI Director James Comey about his preferred outcome for the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, though President Donald Trump flatly denied doing so.

“When I hear the Flynn comments, you and I know both know my father for a long time. When he tells you to do something, guess what? There’s no ambiguity in it,” Trump Jr. told Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro. “There’s no ‘Hey, I’m hoping. You and I are friends. Hey, I hope this happens, but you’ve got to do your job.’ That’s what he told Comey.”

On Friday, however, the President flatly denied making those remarks to Comey or pressuring him to drop the investigation into Flynn, implicitly or otherwise.

“You said you hoped the Flynn investigation he could let go,” ABC News’ Jon Karl asked Trump during a press conference.

“I didn’t say that,” Trump interrupted.

“So he lied about that?” Karl asked, referring to Comey.

“Well, I didn’t say that,” Trump said. “And I mean I will you tell you I didn’t say that.”

But, he added, “There would be nothing wrong if I did say it, according to everybody that I’ve read today, but I did not say that.”

Trump Jr. on Saturday claimed that “everything that went on in the Comey testimony was basically ridiculous.”

“For this guy as a politician to then go back and write a memo, ‘oh, I felt,’ he felt so threatened, he felt that — but he didn’t do anything!” Trump Jr. said.

Comey’s blockbuster testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, however, prompted Trump to offer to do the same.

Trump Turns Ire At Leakers Against Comey, Suggests There Is More To Come

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Romanian President Klaus Werner Iohannis, speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House, Friday, June 9, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump on Sunday suggested that there are more revelations to come from fired FBI Director James Comey, and questioned their legality.

“I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible,” Trump tweeted early Sunday morning. “Totally illegal? Very ‘cowardly!'”

Trump made similar remarks on Friday in another early morning tweet where he labeled Comey a “leaker,” referring to Comey’s decision to share the contents of memos about his conversations with Trump to the press via a friend.

Comey revealed that decision during his testimony on Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he painted Trump as a liar and testified that Trump tried to obtain a loyalty pledge from the former FBI head and pushed him to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Trump on Friday said he was “100 percent” willing to match Comey and testify under oath to contradict Comey’s testimony.

Jeff Sessions Pushes Back On Parts Of Comey’s Testimony

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, right, accompanied by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, left, talks to the media during the daily press briefing at the White House, Monday, March 27, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

A spokesman for Attorney General Jeff Sessions late Thursday pushed back on several aspects of James Comey’s Senate testimony after the former FBI director raised new questions about Sessions’ actions before and after he recused himself from the federal investigation of Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.

Comey’s testimony touched on Sessions at several points. He hinted that the FBI was aware of information that led the bureau to believe Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia probe weeks before he actually did so, and reportedly told senators in a subsequent closed session that Sessions may have met with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. on a third occasion that the attorney general had not disclosed.

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Trump Claims ‘Vindication’ After Comey Rakes Him Over Coals

President Donald Trump announces the approval of a permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline, clearing the way for the $8 billion project, Friday, March 24, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The morning after former FBI Director James Comey delivered blockbuster testimony in the Senate in which he painted President Donald Trump as a liar and said that the President pressured him to quash a probe into Michael Flynn, Trump published a tweet declaring “vindication.”

Trump published his tweet shortly after 6 a.m. on Friday morning, during the time frame when he typically shares his thoughts on Twitter.

He referenced “false statements and lies,” appearing to accuse Comey of lying under oath.

Trump also labeled Comey a “leaker,” referencing Comey’s decision to get a friend to share the contents of memos about his conversations with Trump to the press, a revelation the former FBI director shared on Thursday during with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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Is Trump Under Federal Scrutiny NOW? Comey Testimony Leaves Door Open

President Donald Trump meets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, May 16, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

James Comey testified Thursday that he was “stunned” by requests President Donald Trump made to curtail federal investigations related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and thought the President’s remarks were of investigative interest— and it seems other senior FBI officials agree.

Though the ousted FBI director did not go as far as accusing Trump of attempting to obstruct justice, Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee offered the clearest indication yet that the President may already be under scrutiny for exactly that.

Part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s job is to “sort that out,” Comey said, dismissing questions from the assembled senators on whether he personally believed Trump obstructed justice. His testimony made the case for why he felt “sure” that Mueller would look into the multiple one-on-one conversations that Trump requested of his then-FBI director.

Comey says Trump asked him to quash the FBI’s investigation into ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn in one Feb. 14 exchange in the Oval Office. In a March 30 phone call, Comey says Trump requested that he lift the “cloud” that the Russia probe was casting over his administration.

“I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the President was an effort to obstruct,” Comey said of the Feb. 14 meeting. “I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards to try and understand what the intention was there, and whether that’s an offense.”

Importantly, Comey noted that Trump asked other senior officials, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, to clear the room before initiating the conversation about the Flynn probe. He noted those officials hesitated before complying.

“Why did he kick everybody out of the Oval Office?” Comey said. “That, to me as an investigator, is a very significant fact.”

Senior FBI officials briefed on that conversation said it was “of investigative interest” to determine the intent of Trump’s statements about Flynn, Comey testified.

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe made similar remarks in separate testimony before the committee on Wednesday, telling Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) that it was “accurate” to assume that Comey’s private conversations with Trump either already are or are “likely to become part of a criminal investigation.”

These loaded comments apparently did not trouble Trump’s legal team or his defenders on Capitol Hill, who insisted that Comey’s testimony actually vindicated the President. They noted that, as Trump previously said, Comey confirmed that he informed Trump on three separate occasions that the President was not the subject of a counterintelligence investigation.

Republican lawmakers, the White House and Trump’s own family members also argued that the President was merely looking out for the interest of Flynn, a longtime adviser, and never explicitly ordered Comey to end any investigation. Those defenders neglected to mention that Comey testified that a senior FBI official cautioned him against telling Trump he was not a part of the federal investigation, because that person believed that “inevitably his behavior, his conduct will fall within the scope.”

Whether Trump requested or ordered that Comey drop the investigation into Flynn is an irrelevant semantic distinction. As Comey testified, Trump asked him to swear “loyalty” and repeatedly brought up the status of his job in their conversations, leaving the former FBI director with the impression that his continued tenure at the bureau was “contingent upon how he felt I conducted myself and whether I demonstrated loyalty.”

He did not comply with Trump’s requests and was fired only four months into Trump’s term. By the President’s own admission, Comey was dismissed because of the “Russia thing.”

“I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted,” Comey testified. “That is a very big deal.”

Schiff: ‘Hard To Overstate The Significance’ Of Comey Testimony

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, speaks after a closed meeting on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, June 6, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee said Thursday that it was “hard to overstate the significance” of fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), whose committee is leading its own investigation into Russian election meddling, wrote in a statement responding to Comey’s testimony that it “constitutes evidence of an intention to interfere or potentially obstruct at least a portion of the Russia investigation, if not more.”

Read Schiff’s full statement below:

“Today, former FBI Director James Comey testified that the President of the United States demanded his loyalty, and directed him to drop a criminal investigation into his former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. Director Comey further testified that he believes President Trump ultimately fired him in order to alter the course of the FBI’s Russia investigation. It is difficult to overstate the significance of this testimony.

“These discussions and others took place in one-on-one telephone conversions and meetings initiated by the President, or after the President cleared the room of other people. Director Comey wrote memoranda about his conversations with President Trump because he was worried that the President and his Administration would misrepresent them.

“In my view, this testimony constitutes evidence of an intention to interfere or potentially obstruct at least a portion of the Russia investigation, if not more. It will be important for Congress to obtain evidence to corroborate this testimony — the memoranda, certainly, as well as any tapes, if they exist. We should also interview those around Director Comey at the time of these contacts, to get their contemporaneous impressions of his conversations with the President and to supplement his testimony. Finally, we cannot accept the refusal of Directors Rogers and Coats to answer questions about whether they were asked to intervene with Comey on the Flynn case or any related matter. Similarly, we will need to ask Director Pompeo the same questions. These additional steps are vital to determining the ultimate significance of the President’s actions.”

Dem Senator To Question Sessions Tuesday About Comey Allegations

A routine budget hearing in the Senate next week featuring Attorney General Jeff Sessions took on heightened importance following ousted FBI Director James Comey’s explosive Thursday testimony, which raised questions about what Sessions did both before and after he recused himself from the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

At least one member of the Appropriations Committee, Vice Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), plans to use next week’s budget hearing as an opportunity to grill Sessions about Russia, Comey and President Donald Trump. “I have many important questions for him to answer,” he said in a statement.

[Read More]

Here’s What We Learned From James Comey’s Blockbuster Testimony

Former FBI Director James Comey is sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

During his feverishly-anticipated testimony Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, ousted FBI Director James Comey made a host of major revelations about his handling of President Donald Trump and the federal investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election in the months before he was abruptly fired in May.

Importantly, Comey disclosed new information about actions he took when he became concerned about the Trump administration’s attempts to establish a “patronage” relationship with him and persuade him to drop the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn. Here’s an overview of some of the most significant moments from the hearing, where Comey revealed exactly what steps he took and why he took them.

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Comey Repeatedly Emphasized The Gravity Of Russia’s Election Meddling

Former FBI Director James Comey speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Throughout his testimony Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey repeatedly stressed the serious implications of Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election. He argued that the issue of Russian meddling it not about politics, but about the credibility of the American government.

Toward the beginning of the hearing, Comey said that he has no doubt that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election and that Russian government officials were aware of the meddling.

He later stressed that Russian interference is very real, countering President Donald Trump’s constant dismissals of the Russia probe.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) asked Comey about the way Trump has discussed Russia’s election meddling, noting that the President has described Russian interference “as a hoax and as fake news.” In response, Comey stressed that there’s no doubt that the Russian government tried to interfere in the 2016 election and that the conclusion on Russia’s actions is “about as unfake as you can possibly get.”

“There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. And it was an active measures campaign driven from the top of the government. There is no fuzz on that,” Comey said.

“It is a high confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community — and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence — it’s not a close call,” he continued. “That happened. That’s about as unfake as you can possibly get and is very, very serious, which is why it’s so refreshing to see a bipartisan focus on that. Because this is about America, not about any particular party.”

Asked if it was a “hostile act by the Russian government,” Comey replied, “Yes.”

Later in his testimony, Comey emphasized that Russia’s attempt to meddle in the election is a threat to the United States and should rise above politics. He delivered a passionate monologue about just how grave a threat Russia’s meddling is to America.

“The reason this is such a big deal is we have this big, messy, wonderful country where we fight with each other all the time but nobody tells us what to think, what to fight about, what to vote for, except other Americans. And that’s wonderful and often painful,” Comey said. “But we’re talking about a foreign government that — using technical intrusion, lots of other methods — tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act.”

“That is a big deal. And people need to recognize it. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. They’re coming after America, which I hope we all love equally,” he continued. “They want to undermine our credibility in the face of the world. They think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them. And so they’re going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. That’s what this is about. And they will be back, because we remain — as difficult as we can be with each other — we remain that shining city on the hill and they don’t like it.”

The former FBI director also noted that Russia’s attempt to interfere in the 2016 election was part of an ongoing effort targeted at the U.S.

“It’s a long-term practice of theirs. It stepped up a notch in a significant way in ’16. They’ll be back,” he told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

He stressed that the probe into Russian election meddling is also about prevention of future attacks, saying that Russia is not a threat to any one political party, but to the country as a whole.

Comey also addressed some of the details of the the FBI’s investigation into Russian hacking attempts. He said there was a “massive” effort to target government agencies and non-governmental groups, estimating that hundreds, possibly around 1,000, entities were targeted. He also said that the FBI never examined the hardware that was hacked at the Democratic National Committee’s, but that the FBI got the information they needed from a third party.

McCain On His Comey Questions: Maybe I Shouldn’t Stay Up Late For Baseball

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Thursday reflected ruefully on his questions to fired FBI Director James Comey during an open session of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people’s heads,” McCain said in a statement. “Maybe going forward I shouldn’t stay up late watching the Diamondbacks night games.”

McCain said he wanted to find out whether Comey believed “that any of his interactions with the President rise to the level of obstruction of justice.”

“While I missed an opportunity in today’s hearing, I still believe this question is important, and I intend to submit it in writing to Mr. Comey for the record,” he said.