Gillibrand: Congress Should Take Action If Trump Doesn’t Resign

The same Gillibrand who protected and defended “former President Clinton when he was accused of sexual misconduct” is singing a different tune now that it comes to President Trump.

From The Hill:

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said Sunday she believes Congress should hold President Trump accountable for the numerous allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against him.

“I think he should resign, and if he’s unwilling to do that, which is what I assume, then Congress should hold him accountable. We’re obligated to have hearings,” Gillibrand said in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

Gillibrand, who was among the first to call for former Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to resign due to sexual misconduct allegations, was also one of several Democratic senators who late last year said Trump should resign due to sexual misconduct allegations that surfaced during the 2016 presidential campaign.

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Some Theories About Michael Flynn’s Plea Deal

“There’s a chance Robert Mueller is holding back for the moment.”

From Kate Brannen:

I’m continuing my look at the central mysteries of the Trump-Russia investigation, diving into a question that has former federal prosecutors and legal experts scratching their heads: the plea deal of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

As Lawfare’s Susan Hennessey and Ben Wittes have written, Flynn’s plea deal remains an unsolved mystery. The central question is: Why, after so much public reporting about Flynn’s potential criminal exposure, was his plea so limited—only one count for a set of false statements to the FBI? Many have interpreted the deal to mean that special counsel Robert Mueller gave Flynn a good deal, because Flynn had so much important information to share with the special counsel.

“I think Flynn is giving up the goods, big time,” Asha Rangappa, a former special agent in the New York office of the FBI and Just Security editor, said at the time.

In an interview with Politico’s Susan Glasser just last month, Sen. Mark Warner said, “The fact that he pled to one count would say to me that he’s probably got a story to tell, and my sense is that Mueller is getting closer and closer to the truth and that closer and closer to the truth is getting closer and closer to the president.”

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I Love a Parade, but Not This One

“Trump’s supporters and opponents alike are decent and patriotic. If only he lived up to their standard.”

From The Wall Street Journal:

Traveling this week in California and Texas, I was struck again by how every political discussion is about Donald Trump. People who used to bring up state races — “We’ve got a hot election for governor going on here” — rarely mention them, and immediately revert to the national. Like no other president in my lifetime, he obsesses the nation.

I heard two things that stuck with me and reminded me of what a lot of us know is the special tragedy of this moment—that most people on both sides of the pro- and anti- Trump divide are trying to be constructive, to think seriously and help the country. That is what makes our division so poignant.

A rock-solid Republican, a veteran of the Reagan wars who knows what it is to have all forces arrayed against you, spoke of opposing Mr. Trump. It isn’t a matter of style or snobbery, isn’t knee-jerk. The veteran said: People who are for Trump always say “Look, he’s got an unfortunate character and temperament, but he’s good on regulation, good on the courts.” The problem, the veteran said, is the but. Once you get to the but, you are normalizing him — you are making him normal, which means you are guaranteeing a future of President Trumps. That means you have lowered the presidency forever, changed it forever, just when the world’s problems are more dangerous, and thoughtfulness and wisdom more needed.

The veteran is trying to be protective, and a patriot.

Trump supporters, on the other hand, chose him and back him because he isn’t normal. They’d tried normal! It didn’t work! Of course he’s a brute, but his brutishness was the only thing that could surprise Washington, scare it, make it reform. Both parties are corrupt and look out only for themselves; he’s the one who wouldn’t be in hock to them and their donors. Is he weird? Yes. But it’s a weird country now. He’s the only one big enough to push back against what’s pushing us.

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Rob Porter Scandal Reveals a White House With No Principles

From The Washington Post:

This afternoon, President Trump finally commented on the rising scandal over Rob Porter, the now-former White House staff secretary who has been accused of domestic violence by both of his ex-wives.

“He says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that,” said the president, who takes men’s protestations of innocence over allegations like this very, very seriously. “We absolutely wish him well.”

This is a somewhat unusual scandal in that it doesn’t seem to involve Trump himself doing something corrupt, despicable or bizarre. But it is nonetheless a very Trumpian scandal, in that it provides a window into so much of the pathology that Trump has created in his administration.

Let’s begin with this question: If you work for Trump, what gets you fired? Do multiple, credible accusations of wife-beating do it? Well, no. Top White House officials knew for months of the allegations against Porter, and not only didn’t get rid of him — they gave him more responsibility. As The Post reports, White House Counsel Don McGahn knew about the domestic violence allegations a full year ago, and chief of staff John Kelly found out at least as long ago as last fall. Deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin also reportedly knew last fall about the allegations. There may well be others who knew as well.

Those allegations — and the fact that they could potentially be used to blackmail him — were the reason that Porter’s security clearance was being held up. Yet McGahn and Kelly not only didn’t see it as a problem, they were eager for Porter to stay on, apparently because he was a competent employee, something that is unusually rare in this White House. Kelly initially urged Porter to stay, and earlier this week called him “a man of true integrity and honor,” despite the fact that, as Politico reports, “Kelly had been aware for several weeks that Porter would never receive a full security clearance due to a protective order that had been filed against him by an ex-wife in 2010.”

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Trump Denies ‘Shithole Countries’ Remark but Senator Asserts He Said It

Donald Trump says highly inappropriate things in front of witnesses, gets in trouble for saying them, then turns around and flatly denies having said them. It has happened time and time again. When will he ever learn?

Here’s the latest reported example:

Donald Trump denied on Friday that he used the phrase “shithole countries” to describe Central American and African nations during talks with US lawmakers the day before. But one of the senators present contradicted Trump and called the remarks he had heard “hate-filled, vile and racist”.

Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat who was in the meeting, contradicted him to local Chicago press on Friday morning. He said Trump “in the course of his comments said things which were hate-filled, vile and racist”.

Durbin said: “He said these hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly.”

Trump’s Touch Toxic Enough to Flip Public Opinion on Range of Issues

Last week Stephen Dinan wrote:

Obamacare had been deeply unpopular for its entire history, with more voters consistently telling pollsters they opposed the massive health care overhaul that Democrats pushed through Congress in 2010.

That is, until President Trump took office.

On Inauguration Day this year, Obamacare’s approval flipped from negative to positive in the Real Clear Politics average of polling, and it has never looked back. Despite Mr. Trump’s constant gibes, a stunning 51 percent of Americans now back the troubled health care law, according to Real Clear Politics, compared with 39 percent who oppose it.

Obamacare is just one of a number of issues where the public has flipped, and pollsters say Mr. Trump has a lot to do with it. He is chasing people away from issues, in part, just by supporting them.

“The psychology is easy. ‘I don’t like the guy. If he says two plus two is four, I’m going to make it five.’ That’s human nature,” said Michael McKenna, a Republican Party strategist and pollster. “The message and the messenger are inextricably linked.”

Perhaps most striking is how Mr. Trump has infected so many issues.

The Iran nuclear deal, which Mr. Trump mocks, is more popular than ever. The North American Free Trade Agreement, whose approval crumbled during the presidential campaign, is now firmly back in positive approval territory with Mr. Trump vowing to renegotiate it. The number of people who say they worry about global warming “a great deal” has soared this year.

Support for legalizing people in the country without authorization, which for most of this decade has hovered between 50 percent and 59 percent in Quinnipiac University polling, crossed the 60 percent support line this year and stood at 68 percent as of September. CNN’s polling shows similar trends, with support for legalization rising 9 percentage points after Mr. Trump took office.

And so it goes.

How Come Trump Defeated ISIS in Months, When Obama Couldn’t Do It in Years?

President Obama, “after belittling ISIS as a “JV” team and then being surprised by its advances,” predicted that victory in the war against ISIS would take years to achieve — and proceeded to dictate the waging of it in a way that ensured it did.

Obama said, “We must be patient and flexible in our efforts; this is a multiyear fight and there will be challenges along the way.”

But here’s the thing: While President Obama was implementing his tactic of degrading and ultimately destroying ISIS — and, by all accounts, hobbling battlefield commanders in the process — the militant Islamic group was seizing the opportunity thus afforded, and making territorial gains in great big leaps and bounds.

Finally, President Trump took over the reigns as commander in chief and promptly “made several changes in the way the war was fought, the most important of which were to loosen the rules of engagement and give more decision-making authority to battlefield commanders.”

And those changes paid dividends, bringing about the rapid decline of ISIS, as a significant military force.

In a nutshell, what Obama did — again, by all accounts — was micromanage the war, hampering battlefield commanders at practically every turn, as opposed to President Trump giving them free reign to fight the war in the way they knew best.

Which allowed them to achieve victory in next to no time at all, relatively speaking.