Friday, November 17, 2017

Last Call For Cutting The Cordray

As many in Ohio have long suspected, it looks like the Democrats are finally getting their top candidate in the race for Governor to succeed Republican John Kasich in 2018: former state Attorney General Richard Cordray has quit his federal watchdog post at the CFPB.

Former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray will step down as the head of a consumer watchdog agency by the end of the month and is expected to run for the Ohio Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Cordray, the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, announced his decision to leave in an email to all bureau staff early Wednesday.

“As I have said many times, but feel just as much today as I ever have, it has been a joy of my life to have the opportunity to serve our country as the first director of the Consumer Bureau by working alongside all of you here,” he wrote.

Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Eckart, a Cleveland Democrat, said “several prominent Democrats have told me this morning they expect Cordray to run for governor.”

He added, “Cordray has a very compelling story and is motivated by convictions that will resonate well in Ohio and especially for those voters in Ohio who believe they have been left behind, ripped off, or ignored.”

Joe Rugola, a leading Ohio Democrat and director of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, said, “I fully expect he will at some time very soon be making some kind of an announcement about his intentions and I would be shocked if he didn’t run for governor.

“It absolutely isn’t too late for Rich to enter the race. The test will be to put together a campaign and surround himself with professionals who know what they are doing and raise a significant amount of money in a hurry.”

Former Ohio Democratic Chairman David Leland said he had not yet talked to Cordray about the governor’s race but “he would be a great candidate if he decides to run.”

“I’ve known him for over 25 years,” said Leland, now a state representative. “He always fought for issues that are important to people in the state of Ohio. I think taking his record at the CFPB and using it as a platform to say he’s actually fighting for working families in the state of Ohio would be tremendously successful for him.”

Kasich has overseen Ohio's transformation into a red state garbage fire over the last seven years, spouting nonsense about his "moderate" credentials and doing everything in his power to end legalized abortion in the state, all while plotting to wreck the country with a "balanced budget" amendment to the Constitution that would force massive austerity cuts.

Cordray meanwhile has been running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has already fought for getting billions in dollars back from crooked banks, shady mortgage lenders, predatory payday loan outfits and awful title loan shops. He has a real shot at winning in 2018, especially against somebody as awful as Ohio's current statewide office holders on the Republican side, anti-choice fanatic AG Mike DeWine, voter suppression expert Jon Husted, and Kasich's right hand, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor.

That's the good news.  The bad news is Trump is now going to appoint a new head to the CFPB in order to drive the agency into the ground, screaming.  His top choice is current Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.

Mick Mulvaney once called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “a sad, sick joke.” Now, he may get to oversee Elizabeth Warren’s favorite regulator.

Mulvaney, President Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget director, is being considered for a temporary role as interim director of the consumer watchdog after Richard Cordray steps down later this month, according to two people familiar with the matter. Mulvaney would be expected to name someone else or a team of people to run the CFPB on a day-to-day-basis so he could keep his focus on OMB, said one of the people.

The goal is to hit the ground running in overhauling an agency that some Republicans have called corrupt and that GOP lawmakers widely blame for burdening lenders with unnecessary red tape. It could be months before Trump nominates a permanent CFPB director and the Senate confirms his selection.

Under a federal vacancies law, Trump can replace an outgoing director temporarily with someone from another agency who has already won Senate approval. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has also been considered to run the CFPB on a temporary basis, said one of the people who asked not to be named because the deliberations are private.

Cordray would have been forced out eventually, his term would have been up in July 2018 anyway.  It would have been nice to get a few more months out of the one federal government agency that was actually not being awful and that Trump hadn't completely ruined yet, but there you go.

Bottom O' The Evenin', GOP Guvna

It's not just the House and Senate that are in play for the Democrats in 2018, but several state legislatures and of equal import, the two-thirds of governor's races across the country.

Democrats got mauled in 2014 and saw Republicans pick up state chief executive seats in deep blue states like Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland and Vermont three years ago.  That's been a particular problem in Illinois, where Republican Bruce Rauner has vetoed several progressive bills and has been in a three-year long budget fight with Democrats.

But now these same governors are in real trouble as the Trump/Roy Moore millstone is threatening to drown them, and Democrats are waiting in the wings to pick up the pieces, and after 2017 losses, the GOP is scrambling to try to run from their own party.

Republican governors and their donors -- still reeling from GOP losses last week in New Jersey and Virginia -- are trying to distance themselves from their party’s problems and plot a 2018 strategy to protect their state-level dominance.

At the annual Republican Governors Association meeting in Austin, Texas, party officeholders downplayed those defeats and dismissed the political fallout of President Donald Trump’s historically low approval ratings and lack of legislative accomplishments. They brushed aside questions about the potential long-term consequences from growing sexual misconduct allegations that have engulfed Republican U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore in Alabama.

"I think we’ll see Republican governors walking a tightrope in 2018 as they navigate a difficult election year," said Steve Grubbs, an Iowa-based Republican strategist and former state party chairman.

Thirty-six states will hold gubernatorial elections in 2018, with 26 of those now controlled by Republicans. In those races, which often have trickle-down effects on legislative and local elections, Republican candidates will have to decide just how closely to embrace Trump and distance themselves from an unpopular Washington.

"The Trump base is very strong, and alienating that base by pushing Trump away could cost a governor two to five points on election day," Grubbs said. "But there are also suburban voters who are bothered by the positioning of the White House and risk being lost on the other side."

I'm out of tears to shed for "Never Trump" Republicans.  They gladly played into racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and sexism when it benefited them in 2014 and 2016.  Now the bill for that is coming due and it's time to make them pay up.

Even if Trump’s popularity wasn’t an issue, Republicans are likely to face headwinds next year based on past trends. Midterm elections for a new president generally result in losses, sometimes big ones, and Trump currently has the lowest approval ratings of any president at this point in a first term. 
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the association’s chairman, is seeking a third term next November. He downplayed the role Trump will play and said he’s encouraging his colleagues to run their "own race." 
Walker and Florida Governor Rick Scott, while meeting with reporters, called for Moore to exit the race before the Dec. 12 special election. Scott called his alleged actions "disgusting," while Walker dismissed suggestions that Moore might hurt the Republican brand. 
No more so than Democrats had to answer for Anthony Weiner or Eliot Spitzer," he said, pointing to other politicians who have had sex scandals.

The problem of course is that both Spitzer and Weiner resigned and Weiner is in prison.  Trump is still in the White House, and Moore is still running for Senate.  I have a feeling voters are going to care a lot more about Trump than Anthony Weiner in 2018, even New Yorkers.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

It's a race at this point to see who is more cartoonishly and stupidly evil, Donald Trump's son, Donald Jr. or his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.  Turns out both of these clowns were involved with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Assange's apparent attempts to shop a deal for stolen DNC emails.

Jared Kushner received emails in September 2016 about WikiLeaks and about a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite” and forwarded them to another campaign official, according to a letter to his attorney from the bipartisan leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 
Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Kushner failed to turn over the relevant documents when they asked for them last month.

“We appreciate your voluntary cooperation with the Committee’s investigation, but the production appears to have been incomplete,” the pair wrote in a letter dated Thursday to Kushner’s attorney, Abbe Lowell. 
In a section of the letter titled “Missing documents,” Grassley and Feinstein said Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and a senior adviser, had handed over some materials but omitted communications that mentioned some of the people connected to the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. 
“If, as you suggest, Mr. Kushner was unaware of, for example, any attempts at Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, then presumably there would be few communications concerning many of the persons identified,” the lawmakers wrote.
Grassley and Feinstein also alluded to documents they received from other witnesses on which Kushner was copied. 
“Other parties have produced September 2016 email communications to Mr. Kushner concerning WikiLeaks, which Mr. Kushner then forwarded to another campaign official,” they wrote. “Such documents should have been produced...but were not.” 
Likewise, other parties have produced documents concerning a ‘Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite’ which Mr. Kushner also forwarded. And still others have produced communications with Sergei Millian, copied to Mr. Kushner. Again, these do not appear in Mr. Kushner’s production despite being responsive to the second request. You also have not produced any phone records that we presume exist and would relate to Mr. Kushner’s communications regarding several requests.” 
They asked Kushner to turn over all responsive documents by Nov. 27.

We know that this overture from Assange and WikiLeaks exists because Donny Jr. was more than happy to tell everyone about it earlier this week.

Just before the stroke of midnight on September 20, 2016, at the height of last year’s presidential election, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent a private direct message to Donald Trump Jr., the Republican nominee’s oldest son and campaign surrogate. “A PAC run anti-Trump site is about to launch,” WikiLeaks wrote. “The PAC is a recycled pro-Iraq war PAC. We have guessed the password. It is ‘putintrump.’ See ‘About’ for who is behind it. Any comments?” (The site, which has since become a joint project with Mother Jones, was founded by Rob Glaser, a tech entrepreneur, and was funded by Progress for USA Political Action Committee.) 
The next morning, about 12 hours later, Trump Jr. responded to WikiLeaks. “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around,” he wrote on September 21, 2016. “Thanks.” 
The messages, obtained by The Atlantic, were also turned over by Trump Jr.’s lawyers to congressional investigators. They are part of a long—and largely one-sided—correspondence between WikiLeaks and the president’s son that continued until at least July 2017. The messages show WikiLeaks, a radical transparency organization that the American intelligence community believes was chosen by the Russian government to disseminate the information it had hacked, actively soliciting Trump Jr.’s cooperation. WikiLeaks made a series of increasingly bold requests, including asking for Trump’s tax returns, urging the Trump campaign on Election Day to reject the results of the election as rigged, and requesting that the president-elect tell Australia to appoint Julian Assange ambassador to the United States.

Trump Jr. then tweeted copies of his conversations with WikiLeaks because he is both immensely arrogant and painfully idiotic, always a terrible combination.

As Ten Bears pointed out in the comments a couple days ago, we know Donny can't keep his goddamn trap shut.

On the same day that Trump Jr. received the first message from WikiLeaks, he e-mailed other senior officials campaign, including Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Brad Parscale, and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner... Didn't Our Tea Pot Dictator twit a teaser to the effect that dirt was on the way shortly thereafter? Like, the same day.

Why yes, yes he did.  That would be a very interesting subject to know more about.  So interesting, in fact, that the Senate is asking Jared Kushner what he knew at the minimum, and I'm betting Bannon, Conway, and Parscale will be asked to turn over any correspondence on this if they haven't done so already.

Robert Mueller too is on the case here in his own investigation.  The WSJ reported last night that Mueller issued a subpoena to more than a dozen members of the Trump campaign last month.

These guys are really, really bad at being sneaky.


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