Trevor Noah’s theme was that Trump’s speech was exactly identical to his 2016 speeches

Colbert noted the same thing, but his most hilarious take was when he made fun of Trump’s brags about crowd size. (Contrary to what you might have heard, there was zero overflow, there were empty seats inside, and Colbert’s staffers were able to buy tickets at the last minute after their press credentials were denied.)

President Trump made two points on Twitter:

1. The Times is guilty of virtual treason for betraying our secrets.

2. Their story is not true.

He doesn’t seem to grasp that those two points are contradictory. If the Times gave Russia (and us) nothing more than false information, it can’t be guilty of betraying any secrets.

Trump is obviously wrong about point one, for two reasons: (1) Trump has demonstrated many times that he has no clue what treason actually is; (2) NY Times responded that the paper had described the content of the article to administration officials before the story’s publication, and the officials had no concerns.

I think Trump is probably right about point two. (Yes, I just typed “I think Trump is probably right.” Even a blind pig can scent truffles if he gets somewhere near them. Moreover, if one presents two contradictory arguments, there’s a decent chance that one of them will be correct. ) I have a feeling that the pentagon may have gamed the NY Times into printing that story, and that there is no such cyber-plant.

  • If it was a true story, the military would have nothing to gain and everything to lose by revealing it and allowing Russia to seek it out and develop a counter-strategy. In the intel game they say “publicity burns capability.”
  • But if it was “disinformation” that the Pentagon wanted Russia to worry about, they knew the perfect way to get the Times to print it as a major story – by claiming that they had to keep it a secret from Trump. Hanging that idea in front of the Times is like hanging honey-soaked marshmallows near a cave in a bear preserve. This also explains exactly why Trump’s NSC said they had no problem with the story – they wanted Russia to read it.

Warfare capability, and especially warfare deterrence, can be physical or psychological. Countries may prevent an attack either by actually developing a new and terrifying capability, or by getting their rivals to think they have developed such a capability. I think this is the latter – a case of “Don’t screw with Ukraine or our elections, Vlad, or we’ll turn off your electricity and internet.” I think it’s probably a bluff.

Three of his pollsters are fired. Just call him Trump the Impaler

Trump has derided as “Fake News” the report than his internal polls showed him losing to Joe Biden in most battleground states. Trump said that those alleged leaked polls did not exist, and further claimed that his polls showed him winning everywhere.

When that was contradicted by a report showing the actual numbers from his polls, step two of the defense was for his spokespeople to say that the cited numbers were dated, were taken out of context, and represented a worst case scenario.

Finally, step three was to fire the pollsters for assembling the polls which did not exist, but if they had existed would only have shown a worst case scenario.

It looks to me like they’re trying to take away her right of free speech, and that’s just not fair.”

That is ignorant, as usual. The Hatch Act exists for the very purpose of noting a necessary limitation on free speech as it relates to certain executive branch officials and their ability to influence elections. It provides that persons below the policy-making level in the executive branch of the federal government must abstain from “any active part” in political campaigns. Although that might seem in conflict with the First Amendment, the Supreme Court has upheld its constitutionality on more than one occasion, and has specifically rejected Trump’s “free speech” argument. The court ruled in 1973 that the Hatch Act had achieved “a delicate balance between fair and effective government and the First Amendment rights of individual employees.”

Those FBI people, Page and Strzok, who got in trouble for making anti-Trump comments during an election process, were also exercising their free speech, but free speech has to be given practical limitations in certain circumstances, and a political campaign seems to be one of those. Kellyanne can, however, quit her current job, go to work for Trump’s campaign, and then say anything she wants with impunity. The problem is not what she said, but her specific position.

Hickenlooper mania is on the march!

I’m already working on my Hickenlooper costume for Halloween.

The match-ups were determined by the luck of the draw:

Booker, Pocahontas, Beto and Klobuchar will go on Wednesday. Like any good sporting season, the ceremony will begin with the National Anthem and Klobuchar throwing out the first binder.

The second night will feature Hickenlooper …

… and some lesser, almost insignificant figures like Biden, Sanders, Harris and Mayor Pete. (Have you guessed that I can’t spell his last name? I know it begins with “Butt.”)

This night will also include a ringer, which could be a lot of fun. Do you recall the episode of Veep when Jonah only qualified for the second tier of candidates and therefore had to debate against Dumbledore? Well, Biden and Sanders will have to contend with their own Dumbledore – new age guru Marianne Williamson, who somehow made the cut into the final 20, even though the governor of Montana (a Democrat who won a red state) was eliminated. She will present a fascinating and possibly strange contrast to the mainstream pols.

Turns out that he loves collusion even more than he loves the poorly educated!

Yeah, why did the special counsel spend all that time investigating? All Mueller needed to do was to ask Trump the dreaded direct question, as George Stephanopoulos did: If Russia offered you dirt on a political opponent, would you take it? And he would have said, as he did to Snuffleupagus in these exact words: “They have information – I think I’d take it.”

Today’s inept effort to spin his way out of it actually made it worse:

“President Donald Trump on Friday tried again to rectify the mess he made by saying he would likely accept dirt on a political opponent from a foreign entity, going on ‘Fox & Friends’ to clean up the comments. Trump insisted during a meandering 50-minute interview that ‘of course’ he would alert the FBI in such a case, but only after reviewing it first, ‘because if you don’t look at it, you won’t know it’s bad.'”

The more he tries to worm out of it, the worse he makes it, because he doesn’t seem to know what is actually wrong with what he said. He doesn’t seem to grasp that the bad part is not what’s in the info, but the source itself, and the thing he needs to report is the contact, not the content.

Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Mayor Wayne Messam of Miramar, Fla., did not qualify, whoever they are.

The good news – my man Hickenlooper is in! I truly believe this is the year of Hickenloopermania!

The bad news – this crap goes on for two days, ten candidates each day. They have not yet decided which candidates will appear which days. Gee, I was really hoping to watch, but I think those are the days when I need to binge-watch every episode of “Dads,” but I’ll record Hickenlooper and watch him later.

“The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which is unrelated to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, said in a letter to Trump that Conway has been a ‘repeat offender’ of the Hatch Act by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.”

——-

“Allowing Ms. Conway to continue her position of trust at the White House would demonstrate that the president is not interested in following the law or requiring his closest aides to do so.”

Hey, brilliant thinking, Poindexter! Do ya’ think the president is not interested in following the law or requiring his closest aides to do so? Gee, what tipped you off? Was it yesterday’s comment when he said that election laws do not apply to him?

“President Trump has claimed for two days that he secured a secret immigration deal with Mexico — beyond the one announced Friday. But the White House has declined to disclose any details, and Mexico has denied it. Confronted with understandable skepticism that such a deal exists, Trump produced a folded piece of paper from his breast pocket Tuesday.”

Here’s what the mysterious piece of paper says, as verified and clarified by Mexico.

The essence is this:

The Friday agreement gave Mexico 45 days to prove that it could diminish migration without agreeing to a “safe third” deal. If the United States does not assess that progress has been made, the Trump administration probably will ask again for a “safe third” agreement. Mexico has not committed to that agreement, which would have to be approved by lawmakers and probably negotiated with other countries in the region.

“Safe third” means that a country can reject a person’s asylum application if they have already been granted protection by another country. (In other words, with Mexico’s agreement, the USA could deny asylum applications from Central Americans who have passed through Mexico, since Mexico has already guaranteed their safety from whatever they were fleeing.) This makes sense, but is outside the structure of current international agreements, so it would require extensive negotiations.

Top Dems Lead Trump In Head-To-Head Matchups; Democratic Primary Race Narrows As Biden Goes Flat

Trump’s support is really narrowing to uneducated white males. Biden wins every other demographic.

The biggest vulnerabilities for Trump:

1. Trump’s lack of support among the elderly was the biggest surprise in the results. Despite the best efforts of Fox News, Biden overwhelmingly defeats Trump among senior citizens, 56-39. That is distressing for the GOP because Trump defeated Clinton 52-45 in this demographic. If that keeps up, Trump can kiss Florida and Arizona good-bye, and he can’t afford to lose those states. Without those two states, his 2016 electoral total would have been 264 – not enough to win.

2. White women have turned against the president. Trump won this demo 52-43 in 2016, but is now trailing Biden 51-43.

After he was briefed on the results of a 17-state poll conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Trump told aides to publicly deny that he was trailing Joe Biden in states like Texas, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump doesn’t yet have a chief political strategist, the Times reports, and Fabrizio’s “blunt approach is not always welcome by a candidate who prefers good news and can take a shoot-the-messenger approach to receiving information he does not like.”

“On Saturday Trump told his 61 million Twitter followers in an all-caps message that Mexico had agreed to “immediately begin buying large quantities of agricultural product from our great patriot farmers” following the border security deal. He retweeted the message overnight.”

But Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard on Monday said there were no undisclosed parts of the U.S.- Mexico deal. “Outside of what I have just explained, there is no agreement,” Ebrard said at a morning press conference. “It is an immigration agreement, not a commercial one.”

It is possible that both men are accurate. Trump may be referring to something completely different which was not part of this deal, but was agreed upon six months ago, but not yet finalized and/or announced.

Maybe.

In a previous post, I was impressed that Trump had managed to use the threat of tariffs to get the Mexicans to take dramatic action to curb the passage of Central Americans through their country to the USA.

It turns out I, and pretty much everyone else, misread the situation. That would have been smart, but his real plan was even smarter and much more devious.

Whereas we had assumed that the Mexican promises were offered as a result of the tariff threat, it turns out that the truth was much more complicated. The Mexicans had offered these same promises many months ago, but no deal had been finalized.

So the net is this:

When everyone jumped on his tariffs as a monumentally bad idea, he was able to save face by saying he had used the tariffs to bring the Mexicans to the negotiating table, meanwhile accepting the offers which had already been on the table for months! (Some parts had been on the table since December, others since March.) That was smart. He came up with some pretty damned good spin, and a pretty clever way to make lemonade out of lemons and earn a political victory for himself. Slick!

Best of all, his machinations ended up with the USA in a better position, which has not always been true of his past shenanigans.

Now, you might think, “But Scoop, if your theory is correct, why didn’t he just accept the deals in the first place?” Think about it. If he had done so, he would have had to give credit to Kirstjen Nielsen, who negotiated those deals, rather than to Donald J. Trump, master dealmaker. Let’s assume for a moment that he did not want Ms Nielsen to get credit for these Mexican concessions, preferring to bide his time until he could come up with a Machiavellian ploy to get the credit himself. If that’s true, he pulled it off, and that would be some pretty slick politics worthy of Tricky Dick himself. I didn’t know Trump was capable of such strategic long-range planning. I’m kind of impressed. Now I’m thinking maybe he was smart enough to use the tariffs as nothing more than a ruse all along, neither intending to impose them, nor to gain leverage with them, but rather always intending to use them simply as a subterfuge to take personal credit for Kirstjen Nielsen’s achievements.

Of course that may not be the case, but if that is the case, I have to tip my hat to the sheer evil genius of that plan. Either he’s smarter than I thought, or he has found a conniving new counselor to whisper in his ear.

The Mexicans don’t want those tariffs, and are willing to take serious steps to curb the passage of immigrants from Central America to the USA

If this deal comes off, it is a win for the president, and for the country. Trump took a lot of flak for calling the southern border a national emergency, but recent developments have shown that he was correct. The number of illegal crossings has grown beyond America’s capacity to absorb the people and process their cases. The wall may have been the wrong solution to the problem, but Trump may now have found a different approach that works.

Most experts think that the actual tariffs would have been a terrible idea – but the THREAT of tariffs seems to be pretty effective.

Nancy Pelosi’s latest logic, at least according to the linked article, is that Trump will go to prison if defeated in 2020, so she would rather defeat him in an election than impeach him.

Maybe she really said that. Maybe she didn’t.

There is some logic to that strategy. Cohen has already gone to jail for an act Trump asked him to do, and their conversation is on tape, so there’s a pretty clean case against him. The strategy does not pay off, however, if Trump wins re-election. He would be unlikely to face justice in that case because he is much more likely to die in office between 2020 and 2024 that he would be to face criminal charges in 2025. After all, in 2024 he will be a 78-year-old fat man. There are not a lot of those in the world.

If I were advising Pelosi, I would advise her to open an impeachment investigation, but slow-walk the hell out of it. Do not move it into the Senate, where Trump would get “cleared,” before the 2020 election. Just drag it out, and time all the worst revelations to occur during the election campaign. That would leave Trump trying to run for office as he is being investigated. The trick is for the House to run an impeachment investigation without ever bringing the charges, thus never allowing Trump to get cleared by the Senate.

Starting that investigation would also mollify the members of the Democratic left wing, who have been restively clamoring for just that.

Furthermore, Madam Speaker, do not publicly admit that is your strategy. You just say everything must be duly considered, and that process takes time. It will be easy enough to slow-walk it, because Trump will presumably continue to stonewall the evidence – thus slowing down the process and sealing his own doom. You leave Trump pinned in an unwinnable dilemma – if he gives up the damning evidence to speed up the investigation, he’s screwed – if he does not give up the evidence, the investigation continues throughout the presidential election, with uglier headlines and more obstruction charges every day.

Once the 2020 election is complete:

  • If Trump wins, finally bring the charges, especially if he loses the Senate.
  • If Trump loses, drop the investigation and let the criminal investigators handle it. There’s no point in impeaching a lame duck.

Sure, running an impeachment investigation without ever intending to conclude it before the election is a dirty trick. That’s what politics is all about. That’s exactly what Mitch McConnell would do in her shoes. Ask Merrick Garland. If you want to beat ol’ Mitch, play by the same rules.

An impeachment investigation also has the additional bonus of overriding “executive privilege.” If Trump comes up with excuses to withhold evidence while he is being formally investigated, that per se would be another instance of obstruction. Every time he comes up with an excuse to hide evidence – tack on another count!

One further example of how Democrats always get outsmarted

As I pointed out before, here is the right way to do it:

    • 1. Drop the contempt charges in exchange for the unredacted materials.
    • 2. Once you get the materials, subpoena Barr to discuss his handling of the materials.
    • 3. When he refuses to testify, THEN file new contempt charges.

That way you keep your word, you get the contempt citation on the record, and you get the materials you need. This seems so simple and obvious, Why does this solution elude Nadler?

The reporters informed him that Markle “wasn’t so nice to” Trump during the 2016 campaign, and that she said she would have moved to Canada if Trump was elected.

“I didn’t know that, no. So, what can I say? No, I didn’t know that she was nasty.”

Not only did he deny saying something he said on tape, but what’s more, he demanded an apology from the sources that reported it! Ya gotta love the cojones on the guy, but you have to think about something else. Nixon had to resign because he was recorded committing a crime. If that happened to Trump, he’d just deny that it happened. He’d claim it was “fake news,” and life would go on.

By the way, in an interview which will air tomorrow, Trump was asked about the incident and called her nasty again! “That’s okay for her to be nasty,” Trump told Piers Morgan.

The legal experts have varying opinions.

To me it’s not a legal question at all, but a practical one. The answer is obviously “no,” because no conviction removes him from office, no matter how serious the crime. If President Trump, for example, held a Black Mass and sacrificed a virgin to Satan on the White House lawn, and were then convicted of murder, Trump would still be President of the United States, in charge of the nuclear codes, the military, the CIA, the FBI, etc. It doesn’t matter if he were on death row – he’d still be running the executive branch, and for all practical purposes, the country.

(And you know that Republican senators are still going to say that he was convicted by Obama judges and refuse to impeach him, even as he sits in The Big House.)

He’s not refusing to testify, but simply insisting that any congressional testimony he would provide would not go beyond his report. “We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself, and the report is my testimony.”

Mueller sought to explain his thinking more fully. As an employee of the DOJ, he was bound by their guidelines. Therefore, he said a president “cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional.” And he noted, “Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that, too, is prohibited. Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.” The Constitution “requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse the president of wrongdoing.”

However …

“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

According to Wolff, Mueller’s team drew up both the three-count indictment of Trump and a draft memorandum of law opposing an anticipated motion to dismiss.

Mueller’s spokesman has responded:

The special counsel’s spokesman actually said, “The documents that you’ve described do not exist.” The complication is that they do exist. Wolff has allowed journalists to see them, and says they are “based on internal documents given to me by sources close to the Office of the Special Counsel.”

Therefore, either the special counsel’s office is lying, or Wolff’s documents are forgeries, or some of Mueller’s underlings created them without his knowledge. The special counsel’s office has always shot straight, so it’s hard to believe they would lie now. If they are not forgeries, why was Mueller’s spokesman unaware of them and who created them? If they are forgeries, who forged them? Those questions are more interesting than Wolff’s actual book. It appears that there are more secrets waiting to be revealed.

Here’s the story from The Guardian.

Elizabeth Warren’s poll numbers are improving. Her increases are coming from two sources: (1) she is swaying the previously undecided; (2) Bernie is tumbling. Kamala Harris is also receiving a boost for the same reasons, but Warren is making more progress.

In the March 21-25 Quinnipiac poll, she was pulling a measly 4% among the Democratic contenders. In the most recent one, she’s pulling 13%. Biden is also up over that time period, Bernie is down.

In the Monmouth poll for April 11-15, she was at 6%, and in the new Monmouth she’s up to 10%. Biden, Warren and Harris are all up over that time period. Bernie is down. (By the way, 538 gives Monmouth their A+ rating, so that’s one to take seriously.)

In the Emerson poll for April 11-14, she was at 7%, and in the new Emerson she’s up to 10%. Just as in the Monmouth results, Biden, Warren and Harris are all up over that time period, while Bernie is down.

Warren is now outpolling Trump head-to-head, even in the new Rasmussen poll, which was a major one (5000 likely voters, with a margin of error below 2 points). That is significant news because Rasmussen consistently leans right by about four points. Both Rasmussen and Fox News now show Warren ahead of Trump face-to-face.