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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Health Care, Harris, and Warren

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the health care issue in the 2016 campaign.  the update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Carla Marinucci and colleagues at Politico:
New Hampshire’s primary could be a first-class embarrassment to Harris, if the latest Quinnipiac University poll is any indication. It shows the senator’s formerly top-tier run has disintegrated, putting her at the back of the pack with just 1 percent support in New Hampshire. It adds some context to her announcement last week that she was closing all her campaign offices there.

“She’s been going downhill since the very first debate — and at an accelerated pace,’’ Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy tells Playbook. “The question is why.” His take: “She did reverse her stance on Medicare for All,’’ appearing in the start to support ending private insurance and then walking that back. “Health care is big with Americans, and it hit a hot button,’’ underscoring the perception she was trying to straddle big issues.
“And coming out of the blocks in that first debate, she made a huge impression going after the frontrunner, Joe Biden... maybe she wasn’t forgiven,’’ Malloy says. “A lot of people thought she went over the line.” Finally, her lane was crowded by Sen. Elizaberh Warren’s progressive moves on the left, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s moderate surge on the right.
Jon Greenberg at PolitiFact:
Elizabeth Warren faced increasing heat for not saying how she’d fund the health care overhaul that Medicare for All would bring. Then, she unveiled a funding plan, and the flames got even hotter.
Set aside the dismissals from Republicans. Her Democratic presidential primary foes offered plenty of their own.
Bernie Sanders, the original author of the legislation, said her plan would "have a very negative impact on creating jobs."

Joe Biden said "she’s making it up." Pete Buttigieg talked about Warren’s "aggressive math," and that "we don't need to spend tens of trillions of dollars in order to address this problem."

Monday, November 11, 2019

Peter King Retires

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race. The update -- recently published -- looks at political and demographic trends through the 2018 midterm.

Ashlyn Still and Kevin Uhrmacher at WP:
Twenty House Republicans have already announced they will retire or run for another office at the end of the current congressional term, compared with only eight Democrats who have done so.

Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) is the latest to retire, bringing the tally to 28 House members heading for the exits at the end of 2020. (Others have resigned and will be replaced by then.) King won New York’s 2nd District by 6 percentage points in 2018, and Donald Trump carried the district by 8.9 in 2016.
For many retiring Republican members, the often unspoken reason for their departure is frustration with President Trump and his grip on the party.
“Did any member of this conference expect that their job would start out every morning trying to go through the list of what’s happening in tweets of the day?” Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.) asked The Post’s Rachael Bade, referring to Trump’s Twitter habits. “We’re not moving forward right now. We are simply thrashing around.”
In 2018, King's margin was his smallest since he first won the seat in 1992.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Virginia Blue

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race. The update -- recently published -- looks at political and demographic trends through the 2018 midterm.

In 2000, the GOP had unified control of Virginia government.  As of the 2019 elections, the Democrats do.

 Sabrina Tavernise and Robert Gebeloff at NYT:
Once the heart of the confederacy, Virginia is now the land of Indian grocery stores, Korean churches and Diwali festivals. The state population has boomed — up by 38 percent since 1990, with the biggest growth in densely settled suburban areas like South Riding. One in 10 people eligible to vote in the state were born outside the United States, up from one in 28 in 1990. It is also significantly less white. In 1990, the census tracts that make up Mr. Katkuri’s Senate district were home to about 35,000 people — 91 percent of them white. Today, its population of 225,000 is just 64 percent white.
It’s not just Virginia. From Atlanta to Houston, this pattern is repeating itself — a new kind of suburbanization that is sweeping through politics. The densely populated inner ring suburbs are turning blue, while the mostly white exurban outer ring is redder than ever. Elections are won and lost along that suburban line, and in some places — like Atlanta, Denver, and Riverside County, Calif. — Democrats have begun to breach Republicans’ firewalls.
Around the advent of the modern immigration system, in 1965, foreign-born people made up only about five percent of the American population. Now they are nearly 14 percent, almost as high as the last peak in the early 20th century. The concentrations used to be in larger gateway cities, but immigrants have spread out considerably since then.
Some went South. In 1980, 56 percent of adults eligible to vote in Virginia were born in the state. Today, that’s down to 45 percent.
Lakshmi Sridaran, who heads South Asian Americans Leading Together, said that about a third of South Asians in the United States now live in the South. The South Asian population in the South nearly tripled from 2000 to 2017, to 1.4 million.
Of the 10 metro areas that had the largest South Asian growth, five are in the South, said Ms. Sridaran, who was born in Atlanta, after her father took a teaching job at Morehouse School of Medicine in the early 1980s.


Saturday, November 9, 2019

Trump Must Pay Damages for Phony Charity

 In  Defying the Oddswe discuss  Trump's record of scandal The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced that the New York Supreme Court ordered Donald J. Trump to pay $2 million in damages for improperly using charitable assets to intervene in the 2016 presidential primaries and further his own political interests. The award is part of Attorney General James’ lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation and its directors — Mr. Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump.
As part of the settlement, Attorney General James also announced that her office entered into multiple stipulations with the Trump Foundation and its directors to resolve the remaining claims in the lawsuit. Chiefly, Mr. Trump admits to personally misusing funds at the Trump Foundation, and agrees to restrictions on future charitable service and ongoing reporting to the Office of the Attorney General in the event he creates a new charity. The settlements also include mandatory training requirements for Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump. Finally, the settlements name the charities that will receive the remaining assets of the Trump Foundation as part of its dissolution.
“The Trump Foundation has shut down, funds that were illegally misused are being restored, the president will be subject to ongoing supervision by my office, and the Trump children had to undergo compulsory training to ensure this type of illegal activity never takes place again,” said Attorney General James. “The court’s decision, together with the settlements we negotiated, are a major victory in our efforts to protect charitable assets and hold accountable those who would abuse charities for personal gain. My office will continue to fight for accountability because no one is above the law — not a businessman, not a candidate for office, and not even the President of the United States.”
The lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation was filed in June 2018 — charging the Foundation’s directors with ignoring their oversight duties under New York’s charity laws and demonstrating how Mr. Trump repeatedly used Foundation money for his own personal, business, and political interests, including the unlawful coordination with his 2016 presidential campaign. In the first half of 2016 — at the height of the Republican primaries — Mr. Trump used Foundation money, raised from the public, to demonstrate his purported generosity and attract votes. Mr. Trump and his campaign doled out $500,000 at a campaign rally in the days leading up to the first primary election in the nation, the Iowa caucuses, then took credit for all $2.8 million in grants the Foundation made.
In her decision ordering Mr. Trump to pay $2 million, Justice Saliann Scarpulla said, “…Mr. Trump breached his fiduciary duty to the Foundation and that waste occurred to the Foundation. Mr. Trump’s fiduciary duty breaches included allowing his campaign to orchestrate the Fundraiser, allowing his campaign, instead of the Foundation, to direct distribution of the Funds, and using the Fundraiser and distribution of the Funds to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign.”
In total, the Office of the Attorney General has entered into four stipulation agreements as part of this settlement.
Last year, in December 2018, following a court decision in favor of the Attorney General’s Office, the first stipulation took effect when the Trump Foundation agreed to shutter its doors and dissolve under court supervision. In October 2019, the Office of the Attorney General entered three additional stipulations. One stipulation ensures that the Foundation’s remaining assets will go to reputable charities approved by Attorney General James and that have no connection to Mr. Trump or his family members.
Another stipulation ensures that Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump received training on the duties of officers and directors of charities so that they cannot allow the illegal activity they oversaw at the Trump Foundation to take place again.   
The third stipulation includes 19 paragraphs of factual admissions by Mr. Trump and the Foundation of illegal activity. Mr. Trump admitted that the Foundation’s board of directors — of which he was chair — failed to meet, failed to provide oversight over the Foundation, and failed to adopt legally required policies and procedures. He also admitted that these failures “contributed to the Foundation’s participation” in seven related party transactions described in the settlement document and in the Attorney General’s lawsuit. 
Mr. Trump and the Foundation have admitted key facts about their illegal political coordination with the Trump campaign, including that a purported Foundation fundraiser in January 2016 was in fact a campaign event, and that Foundation gave the Trump campaign complete control over the timing, amounts, and recipients of the $2.8 million raised through that event. Mr. Trump further admits that he and his campaign took credit for the grants that the Foundation made with funds that had been raised from the public. Justice Scarpulla noted in her decision that “Mr. Trump’s campaign, rather than the Foundation: (1) ‘planned’ and ‘organized’ the Fundraiser; and (2) ‘directed the timing, amounts, and recipients of the Foundation’s grants to charitable organizations supporting military veterans.’”
Additionally, Mr. Trump admitted a number of key facts about the other self-dealing transactions he initiated as chair — specifically, that he used Foundation funds to settle legal obligations of companies he controlled, and that the Foundation paid for a portrait of Mr. Trump that cost $10,000. As separate piece of the settlement Donald Trump Jr. reimbursed the Foundation for the cost of the portrait. The settlement also requires the Foundation to be reimbursed $11,525 for sports paraphernalia and champagne purchased at a charity gala.
Finally, the settlement agreement imposes a regime of restrictions on any future service by Mr. Trump on a charity’s board of directors, including a total ban on any self-dealing. Any charity he joins as a director must have a majority of independent directors, must engage counsel with expertise in New York not-for-profit law, and must engage the services of an accounting firm to monitor and audit the organization’s grants and expenses. If Mr. Trump forms a new charity, such an organization must comply with these requirements, and also report to the Office of the Attorney General for five years.  
The $1.78 million in assets currently being held by the Trump Foundation, along with the $2 million in damages to be paid by Mr. Trump, will be disbursed equally to eight charities: Army Emergency Relief, the Children’s Aid Society, Citymeals-on-Wheels, Give an Hour, Martha’s Table, United Negro College Fund, United Way of National Capital Area, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The charities — which were required as part of the resolution to be entities that did not have any relationship with Mr. Trump or entities he controlled — were approved by the Office of the Attorney General and the court.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Trump: Autocrats, Aye; Rule of Law, Nay

In Defying the Oddswe discuss Trump's crush on autocrats, and Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Josh Lederman at NBC:
A senior U.S. diplomat told Congress that he was briefed on conversations President Donald Trump had with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban in which the two foreign leaders talked Trump into a negative view about Ukraine and its new leader.
George Kent, a senior State Department official responsible for Europe, told House investigators that Putin and Orban, along with Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, had “shaped the president’s view of Ukraine and (President Volodymyr) Zelenskiy.” He said Trump’s conversations with the two leaders accounted for the change in Trump’s view of Zelenskiy from “very positive” after their first call on April 21 to “negative” just one month later when he met with advisers on Ukraine in the Oval Office.

In the interim, Trump spoke by phone with Putin on May 3, and hosted Orban at the White House on May 13.

From Kent's deposition:
I do not believe the U.S. should ask other countries to engage in politically associated investigations and prosecutions. … As a general principle, I don’t think that as a matter of policy the U.S. should do that period, because I have spent much of my career trying to improve the rule of law. And in countries like Ukraine and Georgia, both of which want to join NATO, both of which have enjoyed billions of dollars of assistance from Congress, there is an outstanding issue about people in office in those countries using selectively politically motivated prosecutions to go after their opponents. And that’s wrong for the rule of law regardless of what country that happens.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Impeachment Hardball

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.     The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. Impeachment is becoming likely.

Casey Burgat at
[T]he Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over impeachment in the House, inserted an interesting twist into the proceedings when its chairman, Jerry Nadler, D-NY, released his committee’s internal procedures for impeachment moving forward. Among other things, the procedures detail the president’s rights in any impeachment proceedings. The three-page document is a signal that House Democrats may be ready to play hardball with the administration should it continue to stonewall the investigation inquiry.
Specifically, section F of the Judiciary procedures creates a loophole for Democrats to take away the president’s ability to call witnesses or question witnesses that otherwise will appear before the panel “should the president unlawfully refuse to make witnesses available for testimony… or produce documents requested” by the any of the House’s investigative committees.
The provision appears to be an attempt by House Democrats to force compliance by an administration that has issued blanket orders for witnesses to stonewall the House’s subpoenas to testify and produce relevant documents. In short, it stipulates, “Don’t respect the committees and your rights to participate in your own impeachment proceedings will be stripped.”

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Off-Year Blues

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race. The update -- recently published -- looks at political and demographic trends through the 2018 midterm.

Catherine Lucey at WSJ:
President Trump tried an 11th-hour rally, a battery of tweets and a personal plea for help. But, as he acknowledged in a tweet late Tuesday, his efforts didn’t appear to be enough to get a Republican running for governor in Kentucky over the finish line late Tuesday, suggesting some limitations to his political pull at a key moment for his presidency.

Just three years after Mr. Trump won the state with wide margins, Democrat Andy Beshear declared victory over incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin Tuesday night, though Mr. Bevin didn’t immediately concede and the Associated Press has yet to call a winner. Republicans prevailed in other statewide races in Kentucky and won the governor’s race in Mississippi, another red state where Mr. Trump campaigned, but suffered losses in Virginia, where Democrats seized control of the statehouse.

Patrick Wilson at The Richmond Times-Dispatach:
Fueled by President Donald Trump’s unpopularity, Virginia voters on Tuesday handed control of the state’s General Assembly to Democrats, setting up the most progressive legislature in modern times.

Democrats have not held both the state House and Senate and the governor’s mansion in 26 years, and Tuesday’s results give them power to pass an agenda and allow Gov. Ralph Northam to sign his party’s bills into law.
Democrats celebrated across the state Tuesday night. Their momentum began two years ago when Democrats flipped 15 seats in the House of Delegates. They outraised Republicans this year to finish the job, doing well in Northern Virginia and the Richmond suburbs. Results were mixed in Virginia Beach, where Republicans held some key seats.
At Roll Call, Nathan Gonzales says that Trump probably helped Bevin more than he hurt him, but...
Suburbs continue to be a problem for Republicans. Tuesday’s results continued to demonstrate GOP problems in the suburbs since Trump took office. The latest was in northern Kentucky in the Cincinnati suburbs, where Bevin won in 2015 and Beshear won in 2019. Or in northern Mississippi, in the Memphis suburbs where the GOP margin in DeSoto County dropped from 61 points to 20 points, according to Ryan Matsumoto, a contributing analyst to Inside Elections. These are just the latest pieces of evidence after Democrat Dan McCready’s overperformance in the Charlotte suburbs from 2018 to the 2019 special election in North Carolina’s 9th District. It should be particularly concerning for President Trump in his efforts to win Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, and Texas in 2020.