Monday, February 3, 2020

Last Call For Orange Revenge

Trump is now fully unleashed and deep into grievance as his acquittal on Wednesday is certain now, but the first of many pounds of flesh Trump will exact will come from John Bolton's mustache.

With Senate Republicans on track to acquit Donald Trump on Wednesday, Washington is bracing for what an unshackled Trump does next. Republicans briefed on Trump’s thinking believe that the president is out for revenge against his adversaries. “It’s payback time,” a prominent Republican told me last week. “He has an enemies list that is growing by the day,” another source said. Names that came up in my conversations with Republicans included Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Mitt Romney, and John Bolton. “Trump’s playbook is simple: go after people who crossed him during impeachment.”

Several sources said Bolton is at the top of the list. Trump’s relationship with Bolton was badly damaged by the time Bolton left the White House in September. Trump has since blamed his former national security adviser for leaking details of his forthcoming memoir that nearly derailed the impeachment trial by pressuring Republicans to call witnesses. In the book Bolton reportedly alleges Trump told him directly that Ukraine aid was tied to Ukraine announcing investigations into the Bidens (Bolton has denied being a source of the leak).

The campaign against Bolton has already begun. On January 23, the White House sent a cease and desist letter to Bolton’s lawyer demanding that Bolton’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, not release the book in March without removal of certain information. Trump intends to ratchet up the pressure, and some Republicans close to the White House fear how far Trump will take things after he’s gotten off for a second time (Trump famously made his July 25 call to Volodymyr Zelensky the day after Robert Mueller testified before Congress.) “Trump has been calling people and telling them to go after Bolton,” a source briefed on the private conversations said. The source added that Trump wants Bolton to be criminally investigated. A person familiar with Trump’s thinking said Trump believes Bolton might have mishandled classified information. According to a former official, the White House is planning to leak White House emails from Bolton that purportedly allege Bolton abused his position at the National Security Council. The official said that West Wing officials have discussed releasing emails “showing [Bolton] was doing pay-to-play,” the official said. A person close to Bolton dismissed the story. “John plays things straight,” the person said.

Indeed, Bolton is being systematically excommunicated and exiled from the GOP gravy train.

Several of President Donald Trump’s most loyal donors and supporters are telling other conservative financiers to shun former national security advisor John Bolton’s political action committee and super PAC as he prepares to publish a memoir that is reportedly critical of the administration.

The financiers are signaling to their networks not to give to his committees following a report in The New York Times about claims Bolton made in a draft of the book, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter who declined to be named in order to speak freely about Bolton.

The move by these donors to take on Bolton is the latest example of how Trump has command of those who fund the Republican Party.

“You’re on the president’s side or you’re not. It’s simple,” said Arthur Schwartz, a Republican consultant with close ties to the White House.

Trump will not settle for just Bolton's head, either.  He'll go after anyone who supports him, because Trump is the GOP, and the GOP is Trump now.  It's a mob operation from top to bottom, and capos who break the silence of Trumpmerta end up getting horse heads in their beds.

And yet more excerpts from Bolton's book are sure to drop over the next few weeks and months. We'll see if Trump decides to go after Bolton in a more...punitive...manner soon, but this is absolutely the kind of thing to expect from the autocratic despot from now on.

We're transitioning from Trump tossing out reporters and shouting "Lock them up!" at his hate rallies to actually having Bill Barr and the Senate GOP doing it.

The State Of Play Of The Hawkeye State

No matter who wins in Iowa tonight and how many delegates are assigned, the truth is Iowa, like Ohio and Indiana, won't be contested by Democrats in November and conceded to Trump. Tim Alberta:

Iowa’s place at the molten core of the political universe has, for much of the past half-century, owed to the marriage of its first-in-the-nation nominating contest with the state’s reputation as a quintessential general-election battleground. The swinging of Iowa’s electoral votes between the two parties, and the tight margins by which those contests have often been decided, guaranteed the state would be just as relevant in October as it was in January.

That won’t be the case this year. A new sentiment has echoed throughout recent conversations with Democratic strategists, activists and campaigns, a consensus that would have been unthinkable just eight years ago: Iowa is no longer a battleground. Not in 2020, anyway.

After decades spent at the center of both parties’ strategies for winning the Electoral College, Iowa is suddenly an afterthought. Its six electoral votes no longer seem essential, not when states like Texas and Arizona and Georgia — longtime GOP strongholds — all were decided by tighter margins in 2016, and all have demographic tailwinds that benefit the Democratic Party.
Few states received more time and attention from Barack Obama during his White House campaigns than Iowa. Part of that was due to its pride of place in his political ascent; Iowa, after all, was the state that vaulted him from long shot to Clinton slayer. But there also was as widespread view then that Iowa was up for grabs in November. Now, less than five years removed from his presidency, Democrats talk openly about not contesting the state at all.

“The trends here are much more red than purple. I could see that swinging back at some point, but probably not with Trump on the ballot,” says Ben Foecke, who served as executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party four years ago. “It became clear to us in 2016 that this was the path we were heading down, at least in the short term, so I'm not surprised when I hear these conversations or read these memos explaining that Iowa isn’t really a swing state in 2020."

At a glance, this fatalism might seem exaggerated. Democrats carried the state in six of the seven presidential contests before Trump came along, and the one exception — George W. Bush’s victory in 2004 — was decided by 1 percentage point. Even today, the RealClearPolitics average of general election polling shows Trump leading Joe Biden by just 3 points and Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders by 6 points apiece —hardly the indicators of a blowout.

Moreover, there’s recent history to consider: Democrats flipped two Republican-held congressional seats in the 2018 midterms, giving the party control of three of the state’s four districts, and also won a number of bellwether legislative races in the suburban areas around Des Moines. These victories, on top of ousting the Republican state auditor, gave some Democrats confidence of being able to compete statewide with Trump’s apparatus in 2020.

And yet, embedded in those 2018 results were trend lines that demonstrate just how distinct Trump’s advantage in Iowa has become. Despite overall midterm turnout spiking by some 180,000 votes, Republicans were able to hold both chambers of the Legislature and several statewide offices, including the governorship, all while growing their advantage in active party registration. The reason: Even in a terrible environment for the GOP, driven by suburbanites fleeing the party, Republicans performed even better in rural areas than they did in the 2014 cycle, one of the best in modern history for the party.
“Joni Ernst ran up significant margins in rural Iowa in a great Republican year in 2014,” explains David Kochel, the longtime Iowa GOP strategist who led the senator’s campaign. “But the Trump effect put those margins on steroids to such an extent that [Gov.] Kim Reynolds won many counties in a bad Republican year at even higher margins than Ernst."

Short-term or not, as Midwestern states lose population to the coasts as younger voters move away from the farms and shuttered factories, these states are becoming more white and older, and they are voting Republican.  They are voting Trump.  That's not going to change anytime soon, maybe not even in my lifetime.

But I don't buy that Iowa is out of play.   Not after they came within 5 points of preventing Gov. Kim Reynolds in 2016. Not after Dems took 3 of 4 House seats in 2018.

It did happen with Kentucky and West Virginia.  Pennsylvania and Michigan are still battlegrounds for now, and Minnesota and Wisconsin are also in the mix more than Iowa.  The hope for Dems in the next decade is flipping Georgia and North Carolina and fighting for Florida, and the big prize: a blue Texas.  But Iowa and I think Kansas are coming around.

Stupor Bowl Post-Game

The Chiefs defeated the Niners last night, but the loser was the American taxpayer, who gave millions to King Trump so he could hold court at Mar-A-Lago for his big game party.

Taxpayers shelled out another $3.4 million to send President Donald Trump to Florida this weekend so he could host a Super Bowl party for paying guests at his for-profit golf course.

The president’s official schedule shows him spending two and a half hours Sunday evening at a “Super Bowl LIV watch party” at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach. Tickets sold for $75 each, but were only available to members of the club — the initiation fee for which reportedly runs about $450,000, with annual dues costing several thousands of dollars more.

“Well, obviously there are no TVs in the White House, so what alternative did he have?” quipped Robert Weissman, president of the liberal group Public Citizen. “He could have saved money by chartering a plane and flying club members to watch the game at the White House.”

In response to a query, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham defended Trump’s trip and attacked HuffPost: “The premise of your story is ridiculous and false, and just more left-wing media bias on display. The president never stops working, and that includes when he is at the Winter White House.”

Her phrase “Winter White House” refers to Mar-a-Lago, the for-profit resort in Palm Beach that is several miles east of the golf course and that doubled its initiation fee from $100,000 to $200,000 after Trump was elected in 2016. Trump frequently mingles with guests at social events there.

On Saturday, for example, Trump appeared at a dinner at Mar-a-Lago arranged by the “Trumpettes,” a group his female supporters. The dinner did not appear on the president’s publicly released schedule, and in any case was a campaign event, not an “official” one.

When a pool reporter asked the White House on Saturday what work Trump did over the weekend, the reply was that he had calls and “meetings with staff.” The president did not attend a rally on Saturday for Venezuelan leader Juan Guaido, whom the United States and other governments have recognized as the legitimate president of that country. That rally began while Trump was still at his golf course, and attending it could have made him late for the start of the Trumpettes’ dinner.

"He never stops working."

Except when he's at his Florida private club hosting football game parties at our expense.

It doesn't matter which state the winner is in.

We are all subjects of King Donald The Orange now.


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