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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Trump Threats

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.


Sunday, September 29, 2019

Impeachment Opinion Starts to Shift

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.

From CBS News:
More than half of Americans — and an overwhelming number of Democrats — say they approve of the fact that Congress has opened an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. But as the inquiry begins, there is no national consensus on how to assess the president's actions.

Partisans have immediately and predictably split: most Democrats call the president's handling of matters with Ukraine illegal, and deserving of impeachment.
Most Republicans call his actions proper — or, even if improper, then still legal — and feel they're an example of things that past presidents typically did, too. Most Americans think that because Congress is now taking up the matter, it will be unable to work on other issues.

FiveThirtyEight on September 27: 
Most early polls show uptick in support for impeachment
The final poll conducted in April, July and September* from pollsters that have released a poll after news about Trump’s call to the Ukrainian president first broke on Sept. 20
SUPPORT FOR IMPEACHMENT IN POLLS TAKEN …
POLLSTERPOST-MUELLER REPORT (4/18)POST-MUELLER TESTIMONY (7/24)POST-UKRAINE NEWS (9/20)OVERALL CHANGE
YouGov/HuffPost**37%41%47%+10
Morning Consult/Politico343743+9
Quinnipiac293237+8
HarrisX/ScottRasmussen.com424344+2
Ipsos/Reuters4039-1
SurveyMonkey/Business Insider45
*For polls released before Sept. 27, 2019.
**The post-Mueller-testimony YouGov/HuffPost number is from a poll conducted Aug. 9-10; that pollster’s July poll was conducted before the testimony.
Polls started on or after the relevant date with the exception of the post-Ukraine Quinnipiac poll, which started the day before that story broke. Different polls survey different subsets of the U.S. population (e.g. all adults, registered voters, likely voters).
SOURCE: POLLS

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Trump Tells Russians He's Unconcerned about Interference

In Defying the Oddswe discuss social mediafake news, and Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  

The oath of office: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey and Ellen Nakashima at WP:
President Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because the United States did the same in other countries, an assertion that prompted alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to an unusually small number of people, according to three former officials with knowledge of the matter.
The comments, which have not been previously reported, were part of a now-infamous meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in which Trump revealed highly classified information that exposed a source of intelligence on the Islamic State. He also said during the meeting that firing FBI Director James B. Comey the previous day had relieved “great pressure” on him.

A memorandum summarizing the meeting was limited to a few officials with the highest security clearances in an attempt to keep the president’s comments from being disclosed publicly, according to the former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
...
According to the fourth former official, Trump lamented to Lavrov that “all this Russia stuff” was detrimental to good relations. Trump also complained, “I could have a great relationship with you guys, but you know, our press,” this former official said, characterizing the president’s remarks.
H.R. McMaster, the president’s then-national security adviser, repeatedly told Trump he could not trust the Russians, according to two former officials.
...
“What was difficult to understand was how they got a free pass on a lot of things — election security and so forth,” this former official said. “He was just very accommodating to them.”
The former official observed that Trump hasthat streak of moral equivalency,” recalling how he once dismissed a question about the assassination of journalists and dissidents in Putin’s Russia by telling Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly: “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”

Friday, September 27, 2019

I-Word Friday

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.



At The Hill, Marina Pitofsky reports that Giuliani is implicating the State Department:
President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Thursday called on Kurt Volker, the U.S. special representative to Ukraine, and other State Department officials to say that they directed Giuliani to meet with Ukrainian officials in the wake of a whistleblower complaint released Thursday on Trump and Giuliani’s contacts with Ukraine.
Giuliani appeared to share text messages from Volker in an appearance on Fox News Thursday night. One encouraged Giuliani to call him to “brief you more about [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky dynamic,” and another “connected” Giuliani with Andriy Yermak, a Zelensky aide.
“He should step forward and explain what he did,” Giuliani told Fox News host Laura Ingraham. “The whistleblower falsely alleges that I was operating on my own. Well, I wasn’t operating on my own.”

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Whistleblower Thursday

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.

The House Intelligence Committee posted a declassified version of the whistleblower complaint.
In the days following the phone call, I leamed from multiple U.S. officials that senior White House officials had intervened to "lock down" all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced-as is customary-by the White House Situation Room. This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.
  • White House officials told me that they were "directed" by WhiteHouse lawyers to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system in which such  transcripts are typically stored for coordination, finalization, and distribution to Cabinet-level officials.
  • Instead, the transcript was loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature. One White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective. 
At LAT, Eli Stokols reports that Trump suggested that the whistleblower and her or his sources were guilty of treason -- a capital crime
President Trump expressed disgust Thursday morning with the explosive whistleblower complaint, slamming the intelligence officer and the White House aides who helped him or her as “almost a spy” and suggested it was treason.
Speaking at a private event in New York, Trump described reporters as “scum” and raged at the Democrats’ new impeachment proceedings, which were spurred by the whistleblower’s complaint alleging that Trump tried to strong-arm Ukraine’s leader to interfere in the 2020 election.
The still-unidentified whistleblower acknowledged that he did not listen to Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, but cited information from more than half a dozen U.S. officials over the past four months as part of “official interagency business.”
“Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call — heard something and decided that he or she, or whoever the hell they saw — they’re almost a spy,” Trump said.

“I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy,” he continued. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The "Transcript"

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.

Trump released a memo summarizing a phone call with the president of Ukraine.


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Day the Dam Broke

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.

Mike Allen at Axios
More momentum built yesterday among Democrats for impeachment proceedings than on any other single day of the Trump presidency.
  • Why it matters: One summer phone call by President Trump is proving to be more of an impeachment catalyst for House Democrats than two years of drip-drip revelations from Robert Mueller's investigation. Today, the behind-the-scenes action could burst into view.
  • "The horse is out of the barn," tweeted Geoff Garin, a pollster for House Democrats. "Saddle up."
What's happening: Pelosi meets today with her six committee chairs leading different strands of the Trump investigation.
  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), a 28-year House veteran and Pelosi ally, issued a statement yesterday calling Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian president "a new chapter in Trump’s egregious conduct," "a reckless abuse of power" and "a turning point."
  • Last night, seven freshman Democrats — all with military and national security backgrounds — published a Washington Post op-ed saying it will be "an impeachable offense" if, as alleged about the Ukraine phone call, Trump "used his position to pressure a foreign country into investigating a political opponent, and ... sought to use U.S. taxpayer dollars as leverage."
...
Why Ukraine is different: Axios' Zach Basu points out that the Mueller investigation played out through press reports and occasional indictments across two years — softening the blow from the most damning revelations.
  • The Ukraine story has unfolded in less than a week.
...
🗞️ How it's playing ... WashPost lead story: "Trump ordered hold on military aid days before calling Ukrainian president" ... N.Y. Times lead story: "TRUMP IS ACCUSED OF FREEZING AID DAYS BEFORE CALL."

Monday, September 23, 2019

The GOP Departure Lounge

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.

Rachel Bade at WP:
[Paul] Mitchell [R-MI] is among a growing list of House Republicans — 18 to date — who have announced plans to resign, retire or run for another office, part of a snowballing exodus that many Republicans fear is imperiling their chances of regaining control of the House in the 2020 elections.

And the problem for the GOP is bigger than retirements. Since Trump’s inauguration, a Washington Post analysis shows that nearly 40 percent of the 241 Republicans who were in office in January 2017 are gone or leaving because of election losses, retirements including former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), and some such as Mitchell who are simply quitting in disgust.

The vast turnover is a reminder of just how much Trump has remade the GOP — and of the purge of those who dare to oppose him. Former congressman Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) lost his June 2018 primary after challenging Trump; he’s now a Republican presidential candidate. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), the only Republican to accuse Trump of impeachable acts, quit the GOP in July citing the “partisan death spiral.” His political future is uncertain.

Mitchell, who hails from a Republican-leaning district that Trump won easily in 2016, simply decided he had enough. He has a 9-year-old son with a learning disability and remaining in a highly polarized Washington just wasn’t worth the trade-off, he said.

“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?” Mitchell asked, referring to Trump’s Twitter habits. “We’re not moving forward right now. We are simply thrashing around.”

The retirement numbers are particularly staggering. All told, 41 House Republicans have left national politics or announced they won’t seek reelection in the nearly three years since Trump took office. That dwarfs the 25 Democrats who retired in the first four years of former president Barack Obama’s tenure — and Republicans privately predict this is only the beginning.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

If I Did It

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's record of scandalThe update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Felicia Sonmez at WP:
President Trump suggested Sunday that he mentioned former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden in a phone call with the leader of Ukraine, amid swirling questions about whether Trump sought to use his influence to seek reelection help from a foreign country.
In an exchange with reporters outside the White House before departing for events in Texas and Ohio, Trump was asked about his July 25 conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The Washington Post reported last week that Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate a company with ties to Hunter Biden, and the call between Trump and Zelensky is the subject of an extraordinary whistleblower complaint.
“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place, and largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine,” Trump told reporters. “And Ukraine has got a lot of problems.”

Saturday, September 21, 2019

High Crimes and Ukraine

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's record of scandalThe update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Alan Cullison, Rebecca Ballhaus and Dustin Volz at WSJ:
President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden ’s son, according to people familiar with the matter, urging Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani on a probe that could hamper Mr. Trump’s potential 2020 opponent.

“He told him that he should work with [Mr. Giuliani] on Biden, and that people in Washington wanted to know” if his lawyer’s assertions that Mr. Biden acted improperly as vice president were true, one of the people said. Mr. Giuliani has suggested Mr. Biden’s pressure on Ukraine to fight corruption had to do with an investigation of a gas company for which his son was a director. A Ukrainian official this year said he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden or his son Hunter Biden.
Mr. Trump in the call didn’t mention a provision of U.S. aid to Ukraine, said this person, who didn’t believe Mr. Trump offered the Ukrainian president any quid-pro-quo for his cooperation on any investigation.
The interactions between the president, Mr. Giuliani and Ukraine have come under scrutiny in recent days in the wake of a whistleblower complaint that a person familiar with the matter said involves the president’s communications with a foreign leader. The complaint, which the Washington Post reported centers on Ukraine, has prompted a new standoff between Congress and the executive branch.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Student Turnout

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.

A release from  from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life.
College-student voting rates in the 2018 midterm elections doubled compared to the 2014 midterms, marking a watershed election year for student voter turnout, according to a report today from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life. The report, Democracy Counts 2018, is based on an analysis of the voting patterns of more than 10 million college students on more than 1,000 campuses participating in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE).
In 2018, the Average Institutional Voting Rate (AIVR) among campuses in the study was 39.1 percent, nearly 20 percentage points higher than 2014’s average turnout rate of 19.7 percent. Turnout increases were widespread, with virtually all campuses seeing an increase over 2014.
Major research findings include:​​
  • In the 2018 midterm elections, college students turned out to vote at double the rate of the last midterm. Across all students in the study, the National Student Voting Rate (NSVR) in 2018 was 40.3 percent. Remarkably, this 2018 student turnout was closer to the NSLVE-estimated voting rate for the 2016 presidential election–51.3 percent–than to the previous midterm in 2014–19.3 percent;
  • According to the U.S. Elections Project, the voting rate among all Americans increased 13 percentage points in 2018 as compared to the prior midterm. By comparison, the college and university National Student Voting Rate (NSVR) rose 21 percentage points;
  • In 2018, the voting rates of 99 percent of campuses in the study increased from the 2014 midterms, and nearly half of all institutions saw their rate increase between 15-24 percentage points;
  • Women in college continued to vote at higher rates than men in 2018, with black women maintaining their position as the most active voters on campus, and Hispanic women making the largest gains;
  • While older Americans historically vote at higher rates than their younger counterparts, 2018 data showed a trend toward age parity. The turnout gap between students over 30 and those under 22 narrowed from 22.3 percentage points to 16.9 points;
  • There was relative consistency in voting rates between students attending two-year, four-year, public or private institutions. Women’s colleges continued to vote at the highest rates among institutional types, but two-year, four-year, public, and private institutions showed consistent upward movement between 2014 and 2018; and,
  • Voting gaps between disciplines persisted in 2018. Turnout among students in STEM fields, as well as those majoring in business, lag behind students studying the humanities, social sciences, and education.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Justice Nails PAC Scamster

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the conservative movementThe update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Eric Hoffer wrote: "What starts out here as a mass movement ends up as a racket, a cult or a corporation."  The conservative movement is a case in point.

Maggie Severns and Derek Willis at Politico:
In one of the first Justice Department cases of its kind, Maryland political consultant Kelley Rogers pled guilty to wire fraud on Tuesday for operating multiple fraudulent political action committees that raised money from donors for conservative causes but kept much of the funds for Rogers and his associates.
Rogers’ arrest and indictment took place shortly after Politico and ProPublica investigated one of Rogers’ PACs, Conservative Majority Fund, which since 2012 has raised close to $10 million — mostly from small-dollar donors, many of them elderly -- while giving out just $48,400 to politicians.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Selfies

 In Defying the Oddswe discuss the role of social media in the 2016 campaign.    The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.