Thursday, November 7, 2019

Last Call For Too Many Cooks

And former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg is making good on his threat to upend the Democratic 2020 primary by filing to enter the Alabama primary tomorrow.

Michael R. Bloomberg is actively preparing to enter the Democratic presidential primary and is expected to file paperwork this week designating himself as a candidate in at least one state with an early filing deadline, people briefed on Mr. Bloomberg’s plans said.

Mr. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor and billionaire businessman, has been privately weighing a bid for the White House for weeks and has not yet made a final decision on whether to run, an adviser said. But in the first sign that he is seriously moving toward a campaign, Mr. Bloomberg has dispatched staffers to Alabama to gather signatures to qualify for the primary there. Though Alabama does not hold an early primary, it has a Friday deadline for candidates to formally enter the race.

Should Mr. Bloomberg proceed with a campaign, it could represent a seismic disruption in the Democratic race. With his immense personal wealth, centrist views and close ties to the political establishment, he would present a grave and instantaneous threat to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has been struggling to raise money and assemble a ideologically moderate coalition.

But Mr. Bloomberg could also reshape the race in other ways, intensifying the Democrats’ existing debates about economic inequality and corporate power, and offering fodder to the party’s rising populist wing, led by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who contend that the extremely rich already wield far too much influence in politics. Mr. Bloomberg has repeatedly expressed discomfort with certain policies favored by both Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders.

Howard Wolfson, a close adviser to Mr. Bloomberg, said on Thursday that the former mayor viewed President Trump as an “unprecedented threat to our nation,” and noted Mr. Bloomberg’s heavy spending in the 2018 midterm elections and this week’s off-year races in Virginia. Mr. Bloomberg, he said, has grown uneasy about the existing trajectory of the Democratic primary.

“We now need to finish the job and ensure that Trump is defeated — but Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well positioned to do that,” Mr. Wolfson said. “If Mike runs he would offer a new choice to Democrats built on a unique record running America’s biggest city, building a business from scratch and taking on some of America’s toughest challenges as a high-impact philanthropist.

Once again, Bloomberg has no shot whatsoever:

Mr. Bloomberg will have to move quickly if he is to compete in a serious way for the Democratic nomination. Beyond Alabama, several other states have filing deadlines in quick succession, including New Hampshire, with its crucial early primary. While he has maintained a cluster of high-powered advisers in New York, he would have to build a campaign from zero in the early primary and caucus states, and it may be difficult for him to qualify for the two remaining debates this year.

In a Democratic race, Mr. Bloomberg would face a battery of complicated questions about his political ideology and governing record. He has been a vigorous advocate for core liberal causes, like gun control and battling climate change. But as mayor Mr. Bloomberg also championed police searches that targeted black and Latino men; in an interview last fall, he defended his administration’s stop-and-frisk policing strategy and also expressed skepticism about the #MeToo movement.

He's just there to hurt Biden.

Should He Steyer Should He Go

Democratic presidential candidate and billionaire Tom Steyer is a disaster, and it turns out he should have been shown the door a long time ago.

A top aide to Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer in Iowa has privately offered campaign contributions to local politicians in exchange for endorsing his White House bid, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of the conversations.

The overtures from Pat Murphy, a former state House speaker who is serving as a top adviser on Steyer’s Iowa campaign, aren’t illegal — though payments for endorsements would violate campaign finance laws if not disclosed. There’s no evidence that any Iowans accepted the offer or received contributions from Steyer’s campaign as compensation for their backing.
But the proposals could revive criticism that the billionaire Steyer is trying to buy his way into the White House. Several state lawmakers and political candidates said they were surprised Steyer’s campaign would think he could buy their support.

Tom Courtney, a former Democratic state senator from southeastern Iowa who’s running for reelection to his old seat, told The Associated Press the financial offer “left a bad taste in my mouth.”

Murphy didn’t respond to a request for comment. Alberto Lammers, Steyer’s campaign press secretary, said Murphy was not authorized to make the offers and that the campaign leadership outside of Iowa was unaware that he was doing so until the issue was raised by The Associated Press.

Courtney declined to name Murphy as the Steyer aide who made the offer, but several other local politicians said they received similar propositions, and all confirmed the proposal came from Murphy himself. Most requested anonymity to speak freely about the issue. Another, Iowa state Rep. Karin Derry, said Murphy didn’t explicitly offer a specific dollar amount, but made it clear Derry would receive financial support if she backed Steyer.

“It was presented more as, he has provided financial support to other downballot candidates who’ve endorsed him, and could do the same for you,” she said.

Courtney described a similar interaction with Steyer’s campaign.

“Tom, I know you’re running for Senate. I’m working for Tom Steyer,” Courtney recalled hearing from the aide. “Now you know how this works. ...He said, ‘you help them, and they’ll help you.’”

“I said, ‘it wouldn’t matter if you’re talking monetary, there’s no amount,’” Courtney continued. “I don’t do that kind of thing

No it's not illegal but Jesus, it's gross and immoral as hell.  But hey, you know what is illegal? Having your aides steal other candidate's mailing lists.

A Tom Steyer campaign staffer accused of stealing voter data from Kamala Harris' campaign has resigned. Steyer's campaign manager, Heather Hargreaves, released a statement explaining that last week, the South Carolina Democratic Party had turned off voter file access to his campaign briefly — and that when it was restored, Steyer staffer Dwane Sims, who had once worked for the state party, "had access to other presidential data."

"Within minutes of realizing this," Hargreaves said, "Sims called the South Carolina Democratic Party to alert them, and the access was turned off by the party authorities."

Steyer's national press secretary Alberto Lammers said that although the campaign wiped all voter data files from Sims' computer, Sims had already deleted the files in question.

Nonetheless, the Steyer campaign said that it put Sims on leave while it investigated. It "wiped Mr. Sims' computer to make sure the data was completely deleted and that there was no access to other campaign data."

The campaign did not overtly admit any wrongdoing, but it did state that "after that internal investigation, [Sims] resigned from the campaign."

The chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party said in a statement that the party "recently learned of a breach by an employee of the Steyer campaign, who obtained access to some of Senator Harris' volunteer data in South Carolina. This was a former SCDP employee, who was off-boarded at the end of September, and as we learned on Friday, maintained a separate user account, which is in clear violation of the VoteBuilder protocol."

"We take this matter very seriously, and that is why we immediately worked with the DNC to disable this employee's access to VoteBuilder," the statement continued. "All data downloaded by this individual was destroyed and was not provided to any third parties. It is critical that the Steyer campaign take immediate action regarding their employee. This user account did not have access to data from any other presidential campaign."

Hargreaves' statement includes an apology to the Harris campaign. "Tom Steyer and the Steyer campaign extend our deepest apology to Senator Kamala Harris and her campaign," Hargreaves wrote.

Oops we accidentally the voter data my bad.  Hitting the black woman's voter list in South Carolina is a nice touch, non?

C'mon Tom, should have stuck with funding state races with your money.  You could have made a difference.  Instead you wasted tens of millions on your ego and oh yeah, you're a cartoon villain and a fool.

Drop out already.

Ukraine In The Membrane, Con't

The Washington Post is reporting that Donald Trump wanted Attorney General Bill Barr to put an end to impeachment proceedings by holding a press conference declaring him innocent of any legal wrongdoing, a step that not even Barr would apparently take.  Not yet, at least.

The request from Trump traveled from the president to other White House officials and eventually to the Justice Department. The president has mentioned Barr’s demurral to associates in recent weeks, saying he wished Barr would have held the news conference, Trump advisers say.

In recent weeks, the Justice Department has sought some distance from the White House, particularly on matters relating to the burgeoning controversy over Trump’s dealings on Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry they sparked.

People close to the administration say Barr and Trump remain on good terms. A senior administration official said Trump praised the attorney general publicly and privately Wednesday, and deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement: “The President has nothing but respect for AG Barr and greatly appreciates the work he’s done on behalf of the country — and no amount of shady sources with clear intent to divide, smear, and slander will change that.”

But those close to the administration also concede that the department has made several recent maneuvers putting it at odds with the White House at a particularly precarious time for the president. Like others, they spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the politically fraught situation.

The request for the news conference came sometime around Sept. 25, when the administration released a rough transcript of the president’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The document showed that Trump urged Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter — while dangling a possible White House visit for the foreign leader.

By then, a whistleblower complaint about the call had moved congressional Democrats to launch the impeachment inquiry, and the administration was on the defensive. As the rough transcript was released, a Justice Department spokeswoman said officials had evaluated it and the whistleblower complaint to see whether campaign finance laws had been broken, determined that none had been and decided “no further action was warranted.”

It was not immediately clear why Barr would not go beyond that statement with a televised assertion that the president broke no laws, nor was it clear how forcefully the president’s desire was communicated. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment. A senior administration official said, “The DOJ did in fact release a statement about the call, and the claim that it resulted in tension because it wasn’t a news conference is completely false.”

From the moment the administration released the rough transcript, Barr made clear that whatever the president was up to, he was not a party to it. 
Though the rough transcript shows Trump offering Zelensky the services of his attorney general to aid investigations of Biden and his son, a Barr spokeswoman said that Barr and Trump had never discussed that.

“The President has not spoken with the Attorney General about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former vice president Biden or his son,” spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement released at the same time as the rough transcript. “The President has not asked the Attorney General to contact Ukraine — on this or any other matter. The Attorney General has not communicated with Ukraine — on this or any other subject.

Now this could very well be kayfabe rope-a-dope, but it seems to me that Barr is really, really going out of his way to avoid this whole Ukraine thing, and let's remember Trump fired Jeff Sessions because he wouldn't get involved in the Mueller probe.  Barr could pull another stunt but he hasn't yet.

My assumption is that Barr feels he doesn't have to interfere and that Mitch McConnell will "take care" of things for Trump.  But it sure doesn't keep Trump from complaining about "his" Attorney General.

The real reason I think is that Barr is involved in this Ukraine business far more than anyone wants to admit, so if he keeps his mouth shut and lays low, he figures he'll be okay.

Of course, Trump and "keeping his mouth shut" rarely happens.


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