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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Right-Wing Authoritarianism

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the conservative movement, which is not good.

 Cameron Easley at Morning Consult:

  • A scale measuring propensity toward right-wing authoritarian tendencies found right-leaning Americans scored higher than their counterparts in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
  • 26% of the U.S. population qualified as highly right-wing authoritarian, Morning Consult research found, twice the share of the No. 2 countries, Canada and Australia.
  • The beliefs that voter fraud decided the 2020 election, that Capitol rioters were doing more to protect than undermine the government and that masks and vaccines are not pivotal to stopping COVID-19 were similarly prevalent among right-leaning Americans and those that scored high for right-wing authoritarianism.
Take views on the rioters themselves, for example: More than a quarter of high-RWA respondents and conservatives said those that broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6 were protecting the U.S. government rather than undermining it, compared with roughly 9 in 10 liberal or low-RWA respondents who said the opposite.
Similar divides cropped up on the questions that helped lead to the Jan. 6 riot, with most right-leaning and high-RWA Americans agreeing that Joe Biden won the presidential election due to widespread fraud. A slim majority of those respondents also said they were more likely to believe Trump than U.S. judges when it comes to the existence of evidence of voting irregularities.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Working Class in Black and White


In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. In Divided We Stand, we discuss how these divides played out in 2020.

Ruy Teixeira:
Trump’s not-so-secret weapon going into the 2020 election was the white working class (noncollege) vote. That weapon didn’t work or didn’t work well enough to save him. The release of Catalist and Census data, as well as other data sources, now allow us to sketch a portrait of that demographic in the 2020 election and how their voting patterns fell short of what Trump needed.

.... White working class voters did indeed shift against Trump in 2020 relative to 2016, albeit not as much as pre-election polls suggested would happen. That 3 point shift against Trump was exactly what Trump didn’t need; what he needed was a 3 point shift toward him to replicate his 2020 success. It’s a popular, if unenlightening, exercise to claim that such-and-such a demographic group “won” the election for Biden, given the small vote margins in a handful of states. I won’t do that here but it’s fair to say that the white working class vote was “the dog that didn’t bark” in 2020. Trump needed more of their support, not less, in 2020 and he just didn’t get it.

The Democrats will hope that dog doesn’t bark—in fact, wags its tail--in 2022 and 2024. That is a challenge the party needs to keep its eye on especially since nonwhite working class voters no longer seem like such a lock.

Katie Glueck at NYT on Eric Adams:

He bluntly challenged left-wing leaders in his party over matters of policing and public safety. He campaigned heavily in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, often ignoring Manhattan neighborhoods besides Harlem and Washington Heights. And he branded himself a blue-collar candidate with a keen personal understanding of the challenges and concerns facing working-class New Yorkers of color.

With his substantial early lead in the Democratic mayoral primary when votes were counted Tuesday night, Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, demonstrated the enduring power of a candidate who can connect to working- and middle-class Black and Latino voters, while also appealing to some white voters with moderate views.


Saturday, June 26, 2021

Notes from Crazytown

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the conservative movement, which is not good.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Documents on the Big Lie

Our forthcoming book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie.

Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, First Judicial Department has suspended Giuliani's law license:

For the reasons that follow, we conclude that there is uncontroverted evidence that respondent communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed effort at reelection in 2020. These false statements were made to improperly bolster respondent’s narrative that due to widespread voter fraud, victory in the 2020 United States presidential election was stolen from his client. We conclude that respondent’s conduct immediately threatens the public interest and warrants interim suspension from the practice of law, pending further proceedings before the Attorney Grievance Committee (sometimes AGC or Committee).

Reid J. Epstein at NYT:

A committee led by Michigan Republicans on Wednesday published an extraordinary debunking of voter fraud claims in the state, delivering a comprehensive rebuke to a litany of accusations about improprieties in the 2020 election and its aftermath.

The 55-page report, produced by a Michigan State Senate committee of three Republicans and one Democrat, is a systematic rebuttal to an array of false claims about the election from supporters of former President Donald J. Trump. The authors focus overwhelmingly on Michigan, but they also expose lies perpetuated about the vote-counting process in Georgia.

The report is unsparing in its criticism of those who have promoted false theories about the election. It debunks claims from Trump allies including Mike Lindell, the chief executive of MyPillow; Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former president’s lawyer; and Mr. Trump himself.


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Crime and the New York Mayoral Race

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses issues such as crime.  In the 2020 congressional elections, Republicans gained seats because some prominent progressives talked about "defunding the police."

 Eric Adams had a substantial lead in the first round of the NYC Democratic mayoral primary. Mike Allen at Axios:

The latest: Democrats say it's no coincidence that Eric Adams, the leader in the New York City mayoral race, ran against defunding the police.
  • Adams, who retired as an NYPD captain after a 22-year law-enforcement career, held a lead in yesterday's Democratic mayoral primary. Final results could take weeks because of the election's complex ranked-choice voting. Andrew Yang conceded.
The big picture: Homicide rates in large cities — many of them run by Democrats — were "up more than 30 percent on average last year, and up another 24 percent for the beginning of this year," foreshadowing a violent summer, the N.Y. Times reported June 1.
  • President Biden sees this rising threat, and plans to roll out anti-crime plans at 3:30 p.m. ET today. (See next item).
The N.Y. Times' Tom Friedman, one of Biden's favorite columnists, writes today under the headline "Want to Get Trump Re-elected? Dismantle the Police":
  • "As for policing, this issue could really sink Democrats. For example, big swaths of my old hometown, Minneapolis, have been turned into a dangerous and dystopian ghost city, wracked by gun violence, since the police murder of George Floyd."
What's next: Republicans plan to use Dems' defund-the-police rhetoric as a major issue in next year's midterms.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

GOP Metro Decline

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections 

At NYT, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin discuss the GOP's urban decline.  Moderate Republicans such as Jerry Sanders and Kevin Faulconer served as mayor of San Diego.  The current mayor, Todd Gloria, is a Democrat.

 In off-year elections from Mr. Sanders’s California to New York City and New Jersey and the increasingly blue state of Virginia with its crucial suburbs of Washington, D.C., the Republican Party’s feeble appeal to the country’s big cities and dense suburbs is on vivid display.
Where the G.O.P. once consistently mounted robust campaigns in many of these areas, the party is now all but locked out of all the major contests of 2021.

The realignment of national politics around urban-versus-rural divisions has seemingly doomed Republicans in these areas as surely as it has all but eradicated the Democratic Party as a force across the Plains and the Upper Mountain West. At the national level, Republicans have largely accepted that trade-off as advantageous, since the structure of the federal government gives disproportionate power to sparsely populated rural states.

But the party’s growing irrelevance in urban and suburban areas also comes at a considerable cost, denying conservatives influence over the policies that govern much of the population and sidelining them in some of the country’s centers of innovation and economic might. The trend has helped turn formerly red states, like Georgia and Arizona, into purple battlegrounds as their largest cities and suburbs have grown larger and more ethnically mixed.

At Politico, Zack Stanton writes of Oakland County, Michigan, where Mitt Romney grew up.

“Oakland County was kind of the quintessential suburban Republican stronghold over the postwar period,” says Jeff Timmer, a longtime GOP strategist who was executive director of the state party from 2005-2009. It was (and is) a huge source of campaign donations for the party and its candidates. It had massive influence in Lansing, and an influential bipartisan delegation in Washington. It was a must-visit locale for every aspiring Republican presidential candidate.

“When I ran the Michigan Republican Party, we always pointed to Oakland: ‘These guys have got their shit together,’” says Timmer.

To put it bluntly, the shit is no longer together.

Ten years ago, Republicans held two of the four GOP-drawn U.S. House seats in Oakland (the other two were safe Democratic); now, all four are in Democratic hands. Democratic women now represent the Romney family’s hometown in the state House, state Senate and U.S. House (Rep. Haley Stevens). Ten years ago, Brooks Patterson, the silver-tongued sun-God around whom all local politics orbited, was county executive, and Republicans held four of the six countywide elected posts; Democrats now hold five of them, including the executive. After GOP-controlled redistricting in 2012, Republicans had a 14-7 majority on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners; now, Democrats have an 11-10 edge and will control the county-level redistricting process for the first time in a half-century.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Believing the Big Lie, June 2021

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.

The state of the GOP is not good. 

 A release from Monmouth University:

One-third (32%) of Americans continue to believe that Joe Biden’s victory in 2020 was due to voter fraud – a number that has not budged since the November election. At first glance in the crosstabs, it looks like the number of “Republicans” who believe this has been trending down while the number of independents who agree has ticked up. However, this appears to be a product of a shift in how Republicans identify themselves, with some moving their self-affiliation from being partisan to being an “independent” who leans partisan. When all Republican identifiers and leaners are combined, the number who believe Biden won only because of voter fraud has been fairly stable (63% now, 64% in March, 69% in January, and 66% in November). Furthermore, 14% of the American public say they will never accept Biden as president, including 3 in 10 (29%) Republicans and Republican leaners.

“The continuing efforts to question the validity of last year’s election is deepening the partisan divide in ways that could have long-term consequences for our Democracy, even if most Americans don’t quite see it that way yet,” said Murray.

Most Americans (57%) see audits of the 2020 election results that are ongoing or planned as primarily partisan efforts to undermine valid election results. One in three (33%), though, say these are legitimate efforts to identify possible voting irregularities. When asked about the impact of these audits, 40% say they will weaken American democracy versus 20% who say they will strengthen our democracy, while 35% say they will have no impact. A majority of Republicans and GOP leaners say these audits are legitimate (61%) and one-third say the audits will strengthen American democracy (34%). Among all other Americans, just 14% say the audits are legitimate with 55% saying they will actually weaken our democracy. Overall, 38% of the American public expects the impact of these audit efforts to be long-lasting, including nearly two-thirds of those who believe they will either weaken (63%) or strengthen (64%) our democracy.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Ranked-Choice Voting and the NY Mayor Race

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections

Michael Gold, Jeffery C. Mays and Emma G. Fitzsimmons at NYT:

Andrew Yang had been hinting for days that he might form an alliance with one of his rivals in the New York City mayor’s race to stop the front-runner, Eric Adams, from winning the Democratic primary.

On Friday night, Mr. Yang announced he would spend Saturday campaigning with Kathryn Garcia, another leading candidate, in an apparent signal of a likely cross-endorsement, or something close to it.

An email from his campaign said Mr. Yang and Ms. Garcia planned on Saturday to attend a rally, greet voters and hold a news conference together, grabbing attention in the final days of the race. A spokesman for Mr. Yang, Jake Sporn, would not say if the joint events meant the candidates would cross-endorse each other.

“Stay tuned,” he said.

Cross-endorsements are a common feature of ranked-choice elections — a voting system that New York City is using for the first time in a mayoral election. Candidates encourage their supporters to rank another candidate second on their ballot, boosting both campaigns.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Ex-Cop in the Insurrection

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.  The attackers included people with experience in law enforcement and the military.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

House Elections: Advantage R

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections

In most states, the state legislature is in charge of redrawing congressional districts every decade. So in 2020, when the GOP gained full control of the legislature in 30 states, they won line-drawing power. According to FiveThirtyEight’s count, Republicans will control the redrawing in 187 districts in 2021, bipartisan and independent commissions 167, and Democrats only 75....

Early estimates from the Cook Political Report suggest that Republicans could gain three to four seats from redistricting alone.

And, as FiveThirtyEight analyst Geoffrey Skelley has argued, Republicans might use their line-drawing power to pressure once-reliable Democratic candidates out of the House. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) is mounting a Senate campaign, possibly in part because state-level Republicans seem poised to redraw his Youngstown-area district. Similarly, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), once the state’s Republican governor, is seeking his old job, now as a Democrat, perhaps to avoid reelection in a newly drawn, increasingly competitive St. Petersburg seat. Rep. Filemon Vela — a Democrat who would have faced reelection in heavily Latino, red-trending Texas — announced his retirement before even seeing how Republicans would redraw his district.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Insurrection Update, Mid-June

 In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection

Colin Woodward at the Portland [ME] Press-Herald:

Dana Rohrabacher, the former California representative who earned the moniker “Putin’s favorite congressman” for his coziness with Russian President Vladimir Putin and moved to Maine after losing re-election, confirmed Monday that he participated in the Jan. 6 march on the U.S. Capitol.

Rohrabacher, who lives in York, told the Press Herald that he participated in what he says started as a peaceful march but said he did not enter the building. He confirmed he was there in an interview Monday afternoon after internet sleuths identified him in footage of the crowd that gathered on the west side of the Capitol.

“I marched to protest, and I thought the election was fraudulent and it should be investigated, and I wanted to express that and be supportive of that demand,” Rohrabacher told the Press Herald. “But I was not there to make a scene and do things that were unacceptable for anyone to do.”

Rohrabacher’s attendance was exposed on Twitter Saturday by a group of anonymous open-source intelligence sleuths using the account @capitolhunters. They found him – wearing a knit hat and overcoat – in four videos that establish he was standing in the crowd at the edge of the Lower West Plaza from at least 1:58 to 3:20 p.m. on Jan. 6. He was nearly 500 feet beyond the police barriers and inside the restricted zone, but there is no indication he attempted to climb the West Plaza steps or enter the building.

From the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis

We assess that some DVE [domestic violent extremist] adherents of QAnon likely will begin to believe they can no longer “trust the plan” referenced in QAnon posts and that they have an obligation to change from serving as “digital soldiers” towards engaging in real world violence—including harming perceived members of the “cabal” such as Democrats and other political opposition—instead of continually awaiting Q’s promised actions which have not occurred. Other QAnon adherents likely will disengage from the movement or reduce their involvement in the wake of the administration change. This disengagement may be spurred by the large mainstream social media deplatforming of QAnon content based on social media companies’ own determinations that users have violated terms of service, and the failure of long-promised QAnon-linked events to materialize. Some DVEs have discussed how to radicalize new users to niche social media platforms following QAnon adherents’ migration to these platforms after large scale removals of QAnon content from mainstream sites. Adherence to QAnon by some DVEs likely will be affected by factors such as the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, the level of societal polarization in the United States, social media companies’ willingness to host QAnon-related content on their sites, and the frequency and content of pro-QAnon statements by public individuals who feature prominently in core QAnon narratives. (U) 

From the House Oversight Committee:

Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, released new documents showing President Trump’s efforts to pressure the Department of Justice (DOJ) to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 presidential election. At 2:00 p.m., the Committee will hold its second hearing on the events of January 6, 2021, in which insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol to disrupt a joint session of Congress convened to count Electoral College votes.
On May 21, 2021, the Committee sent a letter to DOJ requesting documents relating to President Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election prior to the January 6 attack.

Documents obtained by the Committee in response to this letter show that in December 2020 and early January 2021, President Trump, his Chief of Staff, and outside allies repeatedly put pressure on senior DOJ officials to challenge the results of the presidential election and advance unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud, with the apparent goal of keeping President Trump in power despite losing the 2020 election.


Click here to read the documents released today.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Nationalized Election, Trumpified Party

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections. 

At Presidential Studies Quarterly, Gary Jacobson has an article titled "Driven to Extremes: Donald Trump’s Extraordinary Impact on the 2020 Elections." The abstract:

Reactions to the divisive person and presidency of Donald Trump dominated voting decisions in the 2020 elections, which consequently set new records for electoral continuity, party loyalty, nationalization, polarization, and presidential influence on the down-ballot vote choices, to the point where local factors such as incumbency, candidate quality, and campaign spending barely registered in the congressional election results. Evaluations of Trump’s leadership in the national crises besetting the United States in 2020 were assimilated almost entirely into existing attitudes toward the president, limiting the impact of these events. The Democrats achieved unified control of the government, but by the narrowest of margins, and the political configuration that had emerged from Trump’s election in 2016 remained largely intact. Republicans’ responses to Trump’s seditious efforts to nullify Biden’s victory promise to extend his influence through the 2022 elections and beyond.

e 2022 elections and beyond.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Accelerating the California Recall

CA Democrats reckon that Gavin Newsom would benefit from holding the recall election sooner rather than later. Emily Hoeven at CalMatters:
Thursday morning, the state Department of Finance released estimates showing it would cost California’s 58 counties at least $215 million to hold the recall election. A few hours later, the leaders of the state Assembly and Senate announced they would include the money in the state budget they’re required to pass by Tuesday — and would waive the 30-day period the law gives them to review election costs. That helps pave the way for the election to be as soon as September instead of the traditional November.
  • Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon: “This funding will allow for an earlier recall election.”
Ironically, Democratic lawmakers are waiving the very rules they wrote in 2017, when they added more steps to California’s recall process in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat the recall of Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman of Fullerton. In that case, they were trying to delay the election. Now, they’re trying to accelerate it — though the jury’s still out on whether the legislators’ maneuvers will help Newsom any more than they helped Newman.

The rapid-fire changes illustrate the power the Legislature’s supermajority of Democrats wields over state law. They also underscore the fact that although election dates may seem set in stone, some can be shaped by the party in charge. That’s one reason why you’ll likely vote twice for the same California U.S. Senate seat in 2022.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Lafayette Square

 Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses how Trump weaponized the federal government for his political benefit.

A year ago, officials forcibly cleared Layfette Square shortly befoe Trump's Bible photo op.  Many interpret a recent report as suggesting that the photo op did not motivate the clearance. Ryan Cooper at The Week:

The inspector general (IG) of the U.S. Park Police recently published a report taking issue with this history. The "evidence did not support a finding that the USPP cleared the park on June 1, 2020, so that then President Trump could enter the park," wrote IG Mark Lee Greenblatt, who instead found that the park was cleared so that some fencing could be put up.
Now, the report does say that the clearance had been planned for days to install some fencing, and that happened long before Trump decided to visit. But it also says that the specific time of the clearance had not been settled, and that at about 6:10 on that day, Attorney General Barr came out of the White House and asked the USPP commander: "Are these people still going to be here when [President Trump] comes out?" to which the commander responded, "Are you freaking kidding me?" and hung his head.

USPP personnel insisted to the IG that Barr's request did not affect their plans (a highly dubious assertion), but it was actually the Secret Service who initiated the park clearance. "At approximately 6:16 p.m., contrary to the operational plan and before the USPP gave the first dispersal warning, the Secret Service entered H Street from Madison Place … the Secret Service lieutenant later apologized for the early entry onto H Street during the operation but did not explain why it occurred." About seven minutes later the clearance began in earnest.

A very obvious question would be whether Barr, or someone else from the White House, ordered the Secret Service to start attacking the protesters. The IG did not even try to figure this out: "[We] did not seek to interview Attorney General William Barr, White House personnel, Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officers, MPD personnel, or Secret Service personnel," it reads. The presence of the BOP is another giant question mark: "The USPP acting chief of police and the USPP incident commander told us they did not request the BOP's assistance and did not know who dispatched them to Lafayette Park on June 1." One wonders why they bothered even writing this report at all.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Tump DOJ Investigated House Dems

 Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses how Trump weaponized the federal government for his political benefit.

Katie Benner and colleagues at NYT:
As the Justice Department investigated who was behind leaks of classified information early in the Trump administration, it took a highly unusual step: Prosecutors subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides and family members. One was a minor.

All told, the records of at least a dozen people tied to the committee were seized in 2017 and early 2018, including those of Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, then the panel’s top Democrat and now its chairman, according to committee officials and two other people briefed on the inquiry. Representative Eric Swalwell of California said in an interview Thursday night that he had also been notified that his data had been subpoenaed.

Prosecutors, under the beleaguered attorney general, Jeff Sessions, were hunting for the sources behind news media reports about contacts between Trump associates and Russia. Ultimately, the data and other evidence did not tie the committee to the leaks, and investigators debated whether they had hit a dead end and some even discussed closing the inquiry.

But William P. Barr revived languishing leak investigations after he became attorney general a year later. He moved a trusted prosecutor from New Jersey with little relevant experience to the main Justice Department to work on the Schiff-related case and about a half-dozen others, according to three people with knowledge of his work who did not want to be identified discussing federal investigations.


Thursday, June 10, 2021

Trump Lied About the Mueller Investigation

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection

 From the House Judiciary Committee:

Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) released a transcript of the Committee’s June 4 interview with Donald F. McGahn, former White House Counsel.

Chairman Nadler issued the following statement on the release of the transcript:

“Mr. McGahn provided the Committee with substantial new information—including firsthand accounts of President Trump’s increasingly out of control behavior, and insight into concerns that the former President’s conduct could expose both Trump and McGahn to criminal liability. Mr. McGahn also confirmed that President Trump lied when he denied the accuracy of the Mueller report, and admitted that he was the source for a Washington Post report that confirmed Trump’s direction to McGahn to remove the Special Counsel.

“All told, Mr. McGahn’s testimony gives us a fresh look at how dangerously close President Trump brought us to, in Mr. McGahn’s words, the ‘point of no return.’”

The full transcript is available here. Key quotes from Mr. McGahn’s testimony can be found below.

McGahn described President Trump’s conduct over the course of the Mueller investigation as increasingly erratic. The President’s directions to McGahn were “crazy shit” that threatened to “spiral out of control” and to a “point of no return.”
  • “[W]hat I was not going to do is cause any sort of chain reaction that would cause this to spiral out of control in a way that wasn’t in the best interests . . . of my client, which was the President.” (40)
  • “This was sort of my Irish Blarney way of explaining what I tried to explain earlier, that if I, as counsel to the President, called the Acting Attorney General and conveyed an urgent message about the need for the Special Counsel to not be permitted to serve because of conflicts, that could cause Rosenstein to think he was being ordered to do something that he would find contrary to his oath of office. And there’s a historical example of that happening. And when that happens, you have had a succession of resignations at the Department of Justice.” (46)
  • “‘Inflection point,’ with that I meant a point of no return. If the Acting Attorney General received what he thought was a direction from the counsel to the President to remove a special counsel, he would either have to remove the special counsel or resign. We are still talking about the ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ decades and decades later.” (46)
  • “After I got off the phone with the President, how did I feel? Oof. Frustrated, perturbed, trapped. Many emotions.” (122)
  • [After reading testimony from former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who said that the President had asked McGahn to “do crazy shit.”]
Q. So, even if you don’t recall saying those specific words, is that a fair characterization of how you viewed the President’s request?

A. Well, the President probably thinks this is an unfair characterization, but I …

Q. I'm asking for your opinion.

A. … I think it’s fair. (103)
[After being asked about the President’s request to Priebus to force Sessions to resign]

Q. So there could potentially have been legal implications for removing the Attorney General.

A. Sure. Just because the initial act is legal doesn't mean it couldn’t cause other issues that raise legal problems. Happens all the time. (234)

McGahn repeatedly warned President Trump that “knocking out Mueller” might constitute obstruction of justice and both McGahn and the President worried about their own liability if they played any part in the obstruction.

  • Q. Was it your understanding that the President was concerned that him asking you to have the special counsel removed could be harmful to him in the special counsel's investigation?
A. Certainly, yeah. (158)
  • Q. Well, you had previously advised the President that [] quote, “knocking out Mueller,” end quote, would be, quote, “another fact used to claim obstruction of justice.” … Were you concerned that, if you had any part in removing Mueller, that could be a fact to use to claim obstruction of justice?
A. My own concern? Sure, yeah. (93-94)

President Trump directed McGahn to write a false statement—knowing that the statement was false, and knowing that carrying out this order might expose McGahn to criminal liability, including prosecution by the Special Counsel.
  • Q. If you had put out the statement the President was requesting, disputing that the President ever asked you to have the special counsel removed by Rosenstein, would that have been accurate?
A. That statement would not have been accurate. (152)
  • Q. So by February of 2018, the President was very aware that it was a Federal crime to lie to the special counsel and you could be indicted for doing so, correct?
A. Suppose so, yeah. (164)
  • “Given his track record of prosecuting people for violations of [18 U.S.C.] 1001, I would have probably been next. He had already publicly made clear he was going after various people for that, and that certainly is one that would weigh on anybody’s mind.” (113)
Although President Trump has since called McGahn a “lying bastard,” McGahn stands by his testimony to the Special Counsel.
  • Q. According to [former White House Staff Secretary Rob] Porter’s statements, the President also told him during that conversation that the article was, quote, “BS,” and claimed—it uses the full word—and claimed that he had not sought to terminate the special counsel, referring to you as a “lying bastard.” Did Porter convey that to you when you spoke to him?
A. Not that I recall, no. I think I learned [] I learned about that one once the Mueller report was released.
  • Q. And was your reaction when you learned that?
A. Disappointing.
  • Q. Why?
A. Well, because it’s not true. (126)

President Trump clearly lied when he told the press that he “never suggested firing Mueller.”
  • “Well, you know, he certainly entertained the idea. Certainly seemed to ask a number of people about it. Certainly had a number of conversations with me about something along those lines. And, you know, I’ve learned other things in the report; apparently, that he had a conversation with Chris Christie on the same topic. So, you know, it was disappointing that he’d come out and say, oh, it was never on the table when, certainly, at least the conflict of interest issue and whether that would preclude Mueller from being special counsel, certainly was discussed.” (166)
McGahn acknowledged that he was the source for a Washington Post report that President Trump had ordered him to remove the Special Counsel.

“I did talk to The Washington Post. I was a source for that second story over whether or not . . . because the press shop did not seem to be knowing how to get out that I never told the President directly I was going to resign….” (124)

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Trump Screwing Up GOP Senate Hopes

 Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.

The state of the GOP is not good. 

 Josh Kraushaar at National Journal:

But now that he lacks tangible political power, he’s showing little willingness to play ball with party leadership. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott made headlines in declaring that the party wouldn’t engage in competitive primaries, and he has said he hoped Trump would follow suit. But since then, Trump has picked his favorites with abandon, elevating a leading election denialist like Rep. Mo Brooks to front-runner status in Alabama, opposing party-backed Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, and urging a political novice like former NFL star Herschel Walker to run in a must-win Georgia contest.

Trump’s biggest impact has been in North Carolina, where he endorsed conservative Rep. Ted Budd at a state party dinner last Saturday over former Gov. Pat McCrory and former Rep. Mark Walker. (The endorsement came after his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, declined to mount a bid of her own.) Before Trump’s endorsement, McCrory looked like the favorite to prevail, given his experience, higher name identification, and fundraising potential. But Trump turned that expectation upside down with his surprise endorsement of Budd.

Republicans are also watching the Missouri Senate race nervously. Scandal-plagued former governor Eric Greitens has already hired top Trump campaign official (and Don Jr. girlfriend) Kimberly Guilfoyle as his campaign chair. Missouri is a reliably Republican state, but Greitens’s baggage is so extensive that his nomination would potentially put the race in play.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Audio: Giuliani Pressured Ukraine

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses foreign influence and Trump's attack on democracy.

Matthew Chance and Marshall Cohen at CNN:
Never-before-heard audio, obtained exclusively by CNN, shows how former President Donald Trump's longtime adviser Rudy Giuliani relentlessly pressured and coaxed the Ukrainian government in 2019 to investigate baseless conspiracies about then-candidate Joe Biden.
The audio is of a July 2019 phone call between Giuliani, US diplomat Kurt Volker, and Andriy Yermak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The call was a precursor to Trump's infamous call with Zelensky, and both conversations later became a central part of Trump's first impeachment, where he was accused of soliciting Ukrainian help for his campaign.

 During the roughly 40-minute call, Giuliani repeatedly told Yermak that Zelensky should publicly announce investigations into possible corruption by Biden in Ukraine, and into claims that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election to hurt Trump. (These separate claims are both untrue.) 

Monday, June 7, 2021

Trump Before and After the Social Media Ban

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the impact of social media.

Davey Alba, Ella Koeze and Jacob Silver at NYT:
The New York Times examined Mr. Trump’s nearly 1,600 social media posts from Sept. 1 to Jan. 8, the day Mr. Trump was banned from the platforms. We then tracked the social media engagement with the dozens of written statements he made on his personal website, campaign fund-raising site and in email blasts from Jan. 9 until May 5, which was the day that the Facebook Oversight Board, which reviews some content decisions by the company, said that the company acted appropriately in kicking him off the service.

Before the ban, the social media post with the median engagement generated 272,000 likes and shares. After the ban, that dropped to 36,000 likes and shares. Yet 11 of his 89 statements after the ban attracted as many likes or shares as the median post before the ban, if not more.

How does that happen?

Mr. Trump had long been his own best promoter on social media. The vast majority of people on Twitter and Facebook interacted directly with Mr. Trump’s posts, either liking or sharing them, The Times analysis found.

But after the ban, other popular social media accounts often picked up his messages and posted them themselves. (Last week, Mr. Trump shut down his blog, one of the places he made statements.)

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Democratic Postmortem

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses issues, organization, and voter demographics.

Alexander Burns at NYT:

Democrats defeated President Donald J. Trump and captured the Senate last year with a racially diverse coalition that delivered victories by tiny margins in key states like Georgia, Arizona and Wisconsin.

In the next election, they cannot count on repeating that feat, a new report warns.

A review of the 2020 election, conducted by several prominent Democratic advocacy groups, has concluded that the party is at risk of losing ground with Black, Hispanic and Asian American voters unless it does a better job presenting an economic agenda and countering Republican efforts to spread misinformation and tie all Democratic candidates to the far left.

The 70-page report, obtained by The New York Times, was assembled at the behest of three major Democratic interest groups: Third Way, a centrist think tank, and the Collective PAC and the Latino Victory Fund, which promote Black and Hispanic candidates. It appears to be the most thorough act of self-criticism carried out by Democrats or Republicans after the last campaign.

The document is all the more striking because it is addressed to a victorious party: Despite their successes, Democrats had hoped to achieve more robust control of both chambers of Congress, rather than the ultra-precarious margins they enjoy.

From the report:

  1. Voters of color are persuasion voters who need to be convinced
  2.  Republican attempts to brand Democrats as " radicals worked
  3. Polling was a huge problem - even after 2016 adjustments
  4.  COVID-19 affected everything
  5. Year-round organizing worked, as did cross- Party collaboration
  6. Our hopes for 2020 were just too high

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Domestic Terrorism: Two Thousand Insurrectionists

 In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection

From the FBI's FY2022 budget request:

The FBI considers the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 to be a “DT event” and therefore is managed by the Domestic Terrorism Operations Section (DTOS). As such, DTOS tracked an increase in investigations of approximately 57 percent from January 2021 to April 2021. It is estimated that approximately 2000 individuals are believed to have been involved with the siege and nearly all field offices have an active investigation stemming from this DT event. Given the  complexities of this singular event, the increase in funding and personnel is crucial to the success of the FBI to provide appropriate oversight in these investigations to ensure consistency, compliance, and appropriate use of resources.

A June 3 FBI release:

 Three Florida men and one Alabama man were arrested for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, which disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the presidential election.

Joseph Hackett, 50, of Sarasota, Florida; Jason Dolan, 44, of Wellington, Florida; William Isaacs, 21, of Kissimmee, Florida; and Jonathan Walden, 46, of Birmingham, Alabama, are charged with federal offenses that include conspiracy, among other charges, related to the Jan. 6 Capitol breach. Dolan was arrested on Thursday, May 27, and Isaacs self-surrendered the same day. Hackett was arrested on Friday, May 28. Walden was arrested today, June 3. Hackett, Dolan, Isaacs and Walden are the latest four of 16 defendants to be arrested in this case.

As alleged in the indictment, the defendants agreed to plan and participate in an operation to interfere with the certification of the electoral college vote by coordinating in advance with others, using websites and social media to recruit participants, and traveling to Washington, D.C., with paramilitary gear and supplies including firearms, tactical vests with plates, helmets and radio equipment. As early as Jan. 3, Hackett, Dolan and Isaacs joined an invitation-only encrypted Signal group message titled, “OK FL DC OP Jan 6”.