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Trump’s takeover of GOP forces many House Republicans to head for the exits
Rep. Mitchell chokes up in speech announcing he will not run for reelection
Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.) announced on the House floor on July 24 that he will not run for reelection. (The Washington Post)
By Rachael Bade
September 22 at 1:36 PM
Republican Rep. Paul Mitchell’s surprise retirement began with a President Trump tweet.
Moments after Trump’s July 14 missive telling four U.S. congresswomen of color to “go back” to their countries of origin, the congressman from Michigan phoned a fellow House GOP leader and asked him to get Trump to stop. “It’s the wrong thing for a leader to say,” he told the leader, whom he declined to name. “It’s politically damaging to the party, to the country.”
Three days later, Mitchell was awaiting a prime-time CNN appearance when he saw footage of Trump rallygoers chanting “send her back,” aimed at one of the congresswomen, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). Stunned, Mitchell said he scribbled question marks on a notepad to silently ask an aide: “How do I even respond to this on TV?”
But one of the final straws was the unwillingness of people in Trump’s orbit to listen. Mitchell implored Vice President Pence, his chief of staff, Marc Short, and “any human being that has any influence in the White House” to arrange a one-on-one conversation between him and the president so he could express his concerns.
It never happened. And 10 days after the Trump tweet, Mitchell — a two-term lawmaker who thought he’d be in Congress for years to come — announced his retirement.
“We’re here for a purpose — and it’s not this petty, childish b------t,” Mitchell, 62, said in an interview in early September. Pence’s office declined to comment.
Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.) walks down the House steps in February 2018. (Bill Clark/AP)
Mitchell 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, 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.
Most of the departing Republicans publicly cite family as the reason for leaving. But behind the scenes, Republicans say the trend highlights a greater pessimism about the direction of the party under Trump — and their ability to win back the House next year.
The president has doubled down on an all-base strategy for his reelection campaign, making some Republicans ask whether Trump has put his own political future ahead of the long-term viability of the party of Abraham Lincoln.
“If the party doesn’t start looking like America, there will not be a party in America,” said Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.), the only black House Republican, who announced his retirement in August.
[Texas Rep. Hurd, lone black Republican in House, won’t seek reelection]
House Republicans knew Trump was going to be a problem in the suburbs well before they lost 29 incumbents and their majority in the 2018 elections. In a private meeting at Camp David in early 2018, then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tried to explain to Trump why the suburbs were key to the GOP keeping the House.
Publicly, Republicans rarely challenge or criticize Trump, showering him with chants of “four more years” as he spoke to the House GOP at a policy retreat in Baltimore last week.
During a fundraiser before his speech, Trump bragged that he was the reason the GOP won a North Carolina special election held days earlier, according to an individual in the room who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak freely.
The president had hosted a rally for Dan Bishop the night before the election — but Trump carried the district by 12 points in 2016, and the seat should not have been competitive.
“He has not been a net positive for suburban House Republicans, I mean, that’s a truism,” said former congressman Ryan Costello (Pa.), a moderate Republican who retired in 2018 rather than face a difficult reelection in the Philadelphia suburbs. “Down ballot, for the Republicans, you are basically judged by whatever the president does, and not by what you do.”
Even in leadership circles, there’s an admission that Trump isn’t helping the party in the suburbs. No one, however, is willing to say it aloud.
“Unless we figure out exactly how we’re going to win back suburban voters, we’re going to be in the minority for a while,” said a GOP leadership aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly.
The aide said such knowledge has been driving many of the recent retirements: “I think a lot of members are pretty nervous that Trump doesn’t win reelection. And then we’re in the minority and we have a Democrat in the White House. . . . We’re in the wilderness right now, but if you lose the White House, then that is the extreme wilderness.”
Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, pushed back, saying, “the only people who can find fault with President Trump’s influence on the Republican Party are those who have seen their own power and control wither away.”
After the 2012 election, when Republicans failed to beat Obama, the party conducted an internal “autopsy” and determined that the GOP needed to do more to attract minorities. That plan yielded success in the House with the election of two black Republicans — Hurd and Utah’s Mia Love, Hispanics such as Carlos Curbelo of Miami, and five GOP women.
But Curbelo, who lost in the Democratic wave last year along with Love, said Trump “hijacked everything,” effectively erasing all the progress they’ve made with minorities.
“He’s turned [the GOP] into a personal vessel for his brand,” Curbelo said. “The president seems to be doubling down on an all-base strategy; perhaps that can work for him . . . but it certainly makes it very difficult for Republicans to win a majority of seats in the House.”
Hurd, a former CIA official who would have faced a difficult reelection in a Democratic-leaning district, has been increasingly vocal about the direction of the party. He told a Republican LGBTQ group in June that the GOP wasn’t expanding in some places because unnamed people weren’t following “real basic things that we should all learn when we’re in kindergarten”: “Don’t be a racist. Don’t be a misogynist, right? Don’t be a homophobe.”
“The electorate is changing . . . and if you’re not staying up to date, and if you’re not talking to people who are going to be future voters, then you’re going to have a problem at the ballot box,” Hurd said in an interview. “It’s women in the suburbs, minorities and young people — those are going to be the key groups and key voters in 2020.”
The quiet frustration with Trump extends beyond Republicans in swing districts, according to multiple GOP officials. One Republican aide close to Rep. Martha Roby, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak frankly, said the Alabamian decided to retire in part because she was tired of pretending she backed Trump.
Roby was one of the first Republicans to disavow Trump after he bragged about grabbing women by their genitals in a video that emerged days before the 2016 election.
[Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005]
Roby’s conservative base turned on her, however, and the next election cycle, she had to reverse course and embrace Trump to defeat a primary challenger.
“It would not matter who is president or speaker of the House. Rep. Roby has chosen to close this chapter,” said Emily Taylor, a spokeswoman for Roby.
A former House Republican close with Rep. Susan Brooks said she also has struggled with Trump’s tone, though the Indiana Republican pushed back on the suggestion that frustration with Trump was the reason for her retirement.
Brooks, 59, who is one of 13 House GOP women and the lawmaker tasked with recruiting GOP candidates, said in a statement that she was “ready to pass the baton” and sought a more flexible schedule.
Interviews with about a half dozen of the retiring GOP members in the past two weeks found a reluctance to speak freely about Trump and his impact.
Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said Trump’s tweets are “more divisive” than he would like, but the former Natural Resources Committee chairman said he’s leaving because “this is the maximum ability I have to be helpful to the state.” Bishop is term-limited on the panel.
Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), another retiring member, declined to say whether he had any problems with Trump.
“The president is the de facto head of the party by definition, but the party for me is less government, individual responsibility, lower taxes, more personal freedoms and liberties,” he said.
“People come and go. Personalities are personalities,” he added.
Mitchell has been perhaps the most forthright about his reasons for leaving.
A pragmatic former businessman, he came to Congress in 2017 to work on health care and trade. Two years later, he blamed both parties for putting partisan sniping above solutions.
Trump’s tweet telling Omar, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna S. Pressley (D-Mass.) to “fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” upset him. Three were born in the United States; Omar, a Somali refugee, became a U.S. citizen as a teenager.
Mitchell said he always taught his children that “you don’t stare at people that look different; you don’t assume bad things because people look different than you.”
“The personal diminishing of someone else is destructive to a country,” he said.
As Mitchell headed home that July weekend, he asked himself: Would the divisiveness get any better?
His decision was difficult, said an emotional Mitchell.
“Fewer than 12,500 people have ever done this. Congress has the opportunity to do incredible things for this country. I worked hard to be here. I love what it stands for. But I can’t afflict that trade-off, that sacrifice on [my son], when in fact all we’re sacrificing is just time because . . . we’re not solving the nation’s problems here,” he said.
« on: September 19, 2019, 01:51:57 PM »
Democracy Dies in Darkness
Correction: Trump never said all those things you heard him say
By Dana Milbank
September 18 at 7:20 PM
Is President Trump losing his marbles?
(Or did he not have a full bag to begin with?)
On Tuesday, with characteristic inhumanity, he insulted journalist Cokie Roberts on the occasion of her death: “I never met her. She never treated me nicely. But I would like to wish her family well.”
On Monday, he declared that he “didn’t say that” he thought Iran was
responsible for the attack on Saudi oil
On Sunday, he denied that he had said he would meet with Iran with no conditions.
Last month, he said, of the ongoing trade war, that he “never said China was going to be easy.” And, responding to the Texas and Ohio massacres, he said he wanted “meaningful Background Checks” for firearms sales — something he “never said” before.
Trump says 'it's looking' like Iran was behind attack on Saudi oil field
While meeting with Bahrain's crown prince Sept. 16, President Trump spoke about the recent attacks on Saudi oil installations and denied wanting war with Iran. (The Washington Post)
There are just a few asterisks to attach to the above statements:
He did meet Roberts. At Trump Tower. In a nationally televised interview. (“Thanks for having us here at your palace,” said she. He replied: “It’s been a great honor.”)
He did suggest he thought Iran was responsible for the attacks, hours before denying he said it.
He did say at least twice, on TV, that he would meet with Iran with “no preconditions.”
He also had previously said a trade war with China would be “really easy to win” and that he wanted “powerful, strong” background checks.
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This is the guy who claimed he has “one of the best memories in the world”?
Actually, he forgot that, too. “I don’t remember saying that,” he once declared in a deposition.
Maybe the president’s mind isn’t what it once was. Maybe he misrepresents past statements to get out of trouble. Either way, while the political world focuses on the lapses of 76-year-old Joe Biden, 73-year-old Trump acts as if his frontal lobe is made of Swiss cheese.
Take just a few others from this year.
He said of the de-nuclearization of North Korea: “I never said speed.” But asked seven months earlier about the pace of North Korea’s denuclearization, he replied: “Very quickly. Very, very quickly, absolutely.”
At a rally in Greenville, N.C., he said: “I never said we were going to get, as an example with our vets, that we were going to get choice.” But in October 2016, he promised: “We’re going to give our veterans the right to see their doctor of their choice.”
He said of his border wall: “I never said, ‘I’m going to build a concrete.’ I said, ‘I’m going to build a wall.’ ” But 10 months earlier, he stood in front of a (concrete) wall prototype in San Diego and said: “We’re looking very much at the wall with some see-through capability . . . and then solid concrete on top, or steel and concrete on top.”
He said of his oft-repeated claim that Mexico would pay for the wall: “Obviously, I never said this and I never meant they’re going to write out a check.”
But in 2016, Trump proposed to stop some immigrants’ wire transfers to Mexico unless “the Mexican government will contribute the funds needed to the United States to pay for the wall.”
The misfires, like Biden’s, are not necessarily a new phenomenon. In 2016, Politifact found Trump claiming he never said what he actually had said about wind farms, Jon Stewart, calling John McCain a “loser,” calling women animals, Marco Rubio, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Megyn Kelly, Ted Cruz, Ted Cruz’s wife, Lee Harvey Oswald, David Duke, Bill Kristol, violent supporters, nuking the Islamic State, arming Japan with nukes, guns and those with disabilities.
But the lapses have become more serious.
Of Obamacare, he said, “I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days. I have a long time.” Actually, he said, “we have to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare — so important.”
He claimed that “I never said Russia did not meddle in the election.” But, standing at Vladimir Putin’s side, he famously said: “President Putin says it’s not Russia. I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
And now he “never met” Roberts? Then who was that talking with her in Trump Tower on ABC’s “This Week” on Dec. 5, 1999?
Twenty years is too long ago? How about 10 hours?
At 5:15 a.m. Monday, Trump tweeted that Iran stuck to “a very big lie” about a previous attack. “Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see?” His meaning was unmistakable. But when a reporter asked him that afternoon to clarify why he thinks “Iran is responsible for the attack,” Trump replied: “I didn’t say that.”
Whether it’s deceit or memory malfunction, the consequence is the same: Friends and foes alike know that the president’s word is not to be taken seriously.
« on: September 19, 2019, 10:48:35 AM »
Democracy Dies in Darkness
As the whistleblower story gets worse for Trump, his corruption keeps spreading
By Greg Sargent
WAPO Opinion writer
September 19 at 10:21 AM
Shockingly, it turns out that President Trump appears to be directly implicated in the remarkable tale of the mysterious whistleblower complaint that has yet to be transmitted to Congress, in direct violation of the law.
The new details emerging about Trump’s involvement in this story are damning on their own. But they also illustrate a broad theme of the Trump presidency: How his enablers keep wheeling the machinery of government into action to insulate his corruption from accountability.
The Post reports that the whistleblower who submitted a complaint to the intelligence community’s inspector general did so after growing alarmed by a call Trump held with an unspecified foreign leader. Former officials tell The Post that the whistleblower was particularly troubled by some sort of “promise” Trump made to that leader.
This new reporting also sheds light on how this process has been deeply perverted to prevent the facts of this situation from reaching Congress.
To quickly recap, acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire failed to transmit the whistleblower’s complaint to Congress’ intelligence committees, even though the DNI inspector general deemed it “credible” and of “urgent concern,” triggering a statutory requirement that he do so. Maguire has continued to refuse, citing specious legal reasoning.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has raised the alarm about this, and the inspector general, Michael Atkinson, is scheduled to testify to the committee Thursday in closed-door session. Maguire may testify next week.
The Post report further demonstrates how this all happened.
The process is getting perverted
As The Post reports, Maguire declined to forward the complaint to Congress after consulting with the Justice Department for legal guidance. Maguire supposedly believes he faces a real legal predicament -- the details of the complaint are outside his jurisdiction. In one letter to Schiff, Maguire had already justified withholding it by claiming it involves “potentially privileged communications by persons outside the intelligence community.”
We now know that one of these “persons” is likely Trump himself. So the Justice Department apparently advised Maguire not to forward the complaint to Congress, likely on this basis.
The statute defines an “urgent concern” as a “serious” abuse or violation of the law “relating” to the “operation of an intelligence activity” within the DNI’s “responsibility or authority.” If the inspector general deems the complaint about such a matter “credible,” the DNI “shall” forward it to Congress.
But the DNI -- apparently at the Justice Department’s urging -- is claiming that the event in question fell outside this statutory language. What to make of this argument?
A deeply strained argument
Ned Price, a national security adviser to former president Barack Obama, told me that the key here might lie in the statute’s use of the word “relating.” If Trump’s phone call to a foreign leader related to intelligence activity within the DNI’s responsibility -- that is, if the call implicated that activity -- that might be grounds for a whistleblower complaint that fell squarely within the statute’s parameters.
“The word relating gives a lot of wiggle room,” Price said. “It has to be an issue relating to the intelligence community,” in which a “reasonable person” would see a “direct connection to the intelligence community.”
For instance, Price noted hypothetically, if Trump made a promise to Russian president Vladimir Putin or North Korean leader Kim Jong Un -- two leaders with whom Trump communicated over the summer -- that compromised or seriously strained ongoing intelligence operations, that would clearly “relate” to ongoing intelligence activity.
Such a matter, then, would have to be passed on to Congress by law, Price noted. And the claim that it doesn’t fall within the statute because it involves activity committed by someone outside the intelligence community -- i.e., Trump -- would be particularly strained.
This would be even more glaring if it involved Trump making a promise that didn’t have any discernible connection to the national interest, and appeared to be more in the interests of the foreign power in question -- or even in his own direct interests. Obviously, given all we’ve seen, these seem perfectly plausible.
In such a scenario, if the Justice Department is advising the DNI to break the law to prevent the details from being shared with Congress, that perverts the process and enables Trump’s corruption. And let’s not forget that the inspector general looked at these details and concluded the report of Trump’s call did fall within the statute’s parameters.
It’s possible that the Justice Department and the DNI inspector general have a legitimate disagreement about this matter. But the Justice Department’s position, conveniently, makes it impossible for Congressional oversight to shed light on this matter one way or the other, since it keeps the details from Congress. Given what we’ve seen from the Justice Department thus far, we shouldn’t give it the benefit of the doubt.
One complication is that presidents should have the power to keep some private communications with other world leaders from Congress, for good reasons. But as Asha Rangappa outlines in this thread, this power should not be unlimited.
And what we’ve seen repeatedly is that Trump is abusing such powers, notably for reasons that don’t appear driven by any conception of what’s in the national interest.
Trump isn’t operating in the country’s interests
Recall that Trump went to extraordinary lengths to keep top aides from learning the details of multiple conversations with Putin. And his aides moved to suspend the long-established practice of publishing details of Trump’s calls with foreign leaders. How are these things in the national interest?
Given the current context -- a call with a foreign leader aroused alarm in a whistleblower, and the DNI’s inspector general agreed that his complaint is legitimate -- all that looks even worse in retrospect. We’re seeing the bulldozing of multiple guardrails all at once. And looming behind it all is the overarching factor that Trump just doesn’t seem to be operating in the country’s interests.
« on: September 19, 2019, 08:55:56 AM »
IS TRUMP A TRAITOR? CLOSED HEARINGS BEGIN IN 5 MINUTES IN WASHINGTON. WHY DID A SECURITY OFFICER FEEL COMPELLED TO REPORT TRUMP's PHONE CALL PROMISES TO A "FOREIGN LEADER"?
The whistleblower complaint that has triggered a tense showdown between the U.S. intelligence community and Congress involves President Trump’s communications with a foreign leader, according to two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter. Trump is pictured Wednesday during a visit to the border with Mexico in Otay Mesa, Calif. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)
September 18 at 8:56 PM
The whistleblower complaint that has triggered a tense showdown between the U.S. intelligence community and Congress involves President Trump’s communications with a foreign leader, according to two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
Trump’s interaction with the foreign leader included a “promise” that was regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community, said the former officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
It was not immediately clear which foreign leader Trump was speaking with or what he pledged to deliver, but his direct involvement in the matter has not been previously disclosed. It raises new questions about the president’s handling of sensitive information and may further strain his relationship with U.S. spy agencies. One former official said the communication was a phone call.
[Gap continues to widen between Trump and intelligence community on key issues]
The White House declined to comment late Wednesday night. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a lawyer representing the whistleblower declined to comment.
Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson determined that the complaint was credible and troubling enough to be considered a matter of “urgent concern,” a legal threshold that requires notification of congressional oversight committees.
But acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to share details about Trump’s alleged transgression with lawmakers, touching off a legal and political dispute that has spilled into public view and prompted speculation that the spy chief is improperly protecting the president.
The dispute is expected to escalate Thursday when Atkinson is scheduled to appear before the House Intelligence Committee in a classified session closed to the public. The hearing is the latest move by committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) to compel U.S. intelligence officials to disclose the full details of the whistleblower complaint to Congress. Maguire has agreed to testify before the panel next week, according to a statement by Schiff. He declined to comment for this article......
I AM NOT A FAN OF COUNTRY MUSIC, BUT I AM A FAN OF KEN BURNS' DOCUMENTARIES. I DECIDED TO WATCH THE SECOND EPISODE OF "COUNTRY MUSIC" AND I AM NOW MORE THAN EVER CONVINCED THAT MR. KEN BURNS IS A NATIONAL TREASURE. I BELIEVE I ENJOYED IT BECAUSE I AM A LOVER OF AMERICAN HISTORY AND THIS WAS A NEW FOUND ASPECT OF WHICH I HAD LITTLE REAL KNOWLEDGE OF. I FOUND MYSELF TOTALLY ENGROSSED IN THIS STORY, I LEARNED QUITE A LOT AND NOW HAVE A NEW FOUND RESPECT FOR COUNTRY MUSIC AND ITS INFLUENCE IN OUR SOCIETY AND CULTURE. I LEARNED QUITE A BIT ABOUT THE INFLUENCE OF AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN COUNTRY MUSIC TOO. KEN BURNS IS A MASTER STORYTELLER.
WACO, Texas – Ferris State (Mich.) was holding onto a 34-28 lead early in the fourth quarter against Central Washington when the Bulldogs scored three times in a four-minute span to put the game out of reach, winning 62-28. Ferris State keeps their No. 2 ranking in the AFCA Division II Coaches' Top 25 Poll and received one first place vote this week. FULL RELEASE (PDF)
Valdosta State (Ga.) remains in the top spot after a 48-21 victory over Ohio Dominican. The Blazers will get their first real test of the 2019 season as they host No. 20 West Alabama to open up Gulf South Conference action. Minnesota State, Tarleton State (Texas) and Notre Dame (Ohio) round out the top five.
The only other Top 25 matchup in week 3 is a big Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference game as No. 9 Colorado State-Pueblo hosts No. 17 Colorado School of Mines. The ThunderWolves will be looking for some revenge because Mines won last year's meeting, 35-21. The only newcomer to this week's Top 25 is No. 25 Bowie State (Md.). The Bulldogs are 2-0 after a 26-21 victory over Shaw (N.C.).
As Trump dials up the hate, a new poll shows he’s in trouble
By Greg Sargent
WAPO Opinion writer
September 10 at 9:30 AM
Call it Trump’s Law: The more it looks like President Trump is in political trouble on the economy, the louder he’ll crank up the dial on his hate-mongering.
The confluence of two new events neatly captures this dynamic: Trump’s rally in North Carolina on Monday night at which he fearmongered relentlessly about immigrants and socialists, and the release of a new Post-ABC News poll showing Trump’s numbers on the economy slipping perilously.
The new Post-ABC News poll paints an ugly picture for Trump. His approval rating now sits at 38 percent, a drop of 6 points since June. Approval of his handling of the economy has slipped 5 points, to 46 percent, with 47 percent disapproving.
And while 56 percent rate the economy positively, 60 percent expect a recession in the next year. An abysmal 35 percent approve of Trump’s handling of trade relations with China, vs. 56 percent who disapprove — even as 60 percent are concerned that Trump’s trade war will hike prices for them.
Trump’s approval rating falls amid recession, trade war fears
How can a majority rate the economy well even as Trump himself remains underwater on it? One answer is that Trump isn’t getting the credit for the state of the economy, probably because his individual economic policies remain deeply unpopular and Americans fear things are deteriorating.
Dig into the demographic breakdowns and it looks worse. The Associated Press reports that Trump advisers worry that support for Trump among moderate Republican and independent voters is very tenuous and could easily be ruptured by an economic slowdown — a reference to the more educated and suburban white voters Trump absolutely must win back.
And the Post-ABC News poll confirms those fears: Among both independents and college-educated whites, Trump’s approval is an abysmal 36 percent, and large majorities of both groups expect a recession and disapprove of Trump’s handling of China and trade. Remarkably, only 42 percent of college-educated whites approve of Trump on the economy, vs. 53 percent who disapprove.
Trump’s hate on full display
Trump jetted to North Carolina on Monday to salvage a special House election for Republicans in a district that he carried in 2016 by 11 points. Even a tight Republican victory will suggest that Trump could remain a major liability for the GOP heading into 2020; as one elections expert puts it, this race wouldn’t be at all close if it weren’t for him.
And yet, at his rally, Trump cranked up the hate-mongering to 11. He goaded his audience into venting angry abuse at reporters covering the event. He smeared undocumented immigrants as “hardened, horrible criminals.” He claimed that Democrats are releasing rapists into communities. He railed that the election is a referendum on the socialist and “America-hating left.”
That Trump needs to go to such great lengths to rev up his base — in a frantic effort to put the Republican over the top in a district he won overwhelmingly only three years ago — is remarkable.
Michael Bitzer, an expert on North Carolina politics, told me that this race captures how Trump and the GOP are caught in a trap. Because Trump has alienated more moderate and educated white voters with his performance as president, including in Republican-leaning suburbs, this forces Trump to pull out all the stops in pumping up base turnout.
“It’s almost a Devil’s bargain,” Bitzer said, noting that Trump needs to ply the base with “anger and energy to motivate them,” but that this risks alienating “moderate, college-educated white voters, especially women in the suburbs.”
And so, even if Democrat Dan McCready loses a close race, how moderate white voters in the suburbs of Charlotte break could be a key tell as to how badly Trump is still alienating those voters. If McCready somehow wins, of course, that only further underscores the point.
The interesting question is why it has come to this.
The big Trump fail
At his rally, Trump preposterously claimed that he is turning around “this big beautiful ship” known as America “very quickly,” a story that’s in keeping with his frequent lie that he inherited nothing but smoking wreckage from his predecessor that he’s rapidly converting into the greatest economy in U.S. history.
Trump also told an absurd tale about his trade war with China, falsely claiming China is paying billions and billions of dollars to the United States in tariffs and suggesting more broadly that Trump is grinding China into abject submission.
Trump claims that because of his tariffs, China is having its "worst year in 57 years" -- a span of time that predates the Cultural Revolution pic.twitter.com/MFf7GGKYoY
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 9, 2019
But if Trump’s economy really were the greatest in history, and if Trump really were crushing China with his manly bare hands, then why would he need to work so hard to energize the base with hate and lies, and why would he be struggling to offset major alienation among independents and educated and suburban whites to bail out a Republican in a district he won overwhelmingly?
The Post-ABC News poll helps answer this question. Republicans like to say that Trump will win back those educated white voters — who are relatively affluent — when they decide his economic performance makes it worth it for them to overlook his daily lunacy. But as noted above, the poll finds that Trump’s numbers on the economy and trade among college-educated whites are terrible.
This is forcing Trump to squeeze his base ever harder and harder for votes, necessitating the sort of display we saw on Monday night. That might be enough to win a district that Trump carried by 11 points, but the frantic effort required to make this happen itself doesn’t bode particularly well for Trump and Republicans in 2020.
THERE IS A MINOR CONTROVERSY OVER WHETHER HE WAS FIRED OR QUIT? IT MATTERS LITTLE TO ME WHETHER HE RESIGNED OR WAS FIRED. WHAT IS IMPORTANT IS THAT HE IS GONE. I READ EARLIER THAT BOLTON SUSPOSEDLY TAPED THE CONVERSATION LAST EVENING.
IF BOLTON RELEASES THAT TAPED CONVERSATION, I WONDER WHAT THE LIAR TRUMP WILL HAVE TO SAY THEN?
THE ENTIRE PIECE IS POSTED HERE FOR YOUR EDIFICATION.
Six in 10 Americans expect a recession and higher prices as Trump’s approval rating slips, Washington Post-ABC News poll finds
By Toluse Olorunnipa and Scott Clement
September 10 at 6:00 AM
President Trump is ending a tumultuous summer with his approval rating slipping back from a July high as Americans express widespread concern about the trade war with China and a majority of voters now expect a recession within the next year, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The survey highlights how one of Trump’s central arguments for reelection — the strong U.S. economy — is beginning to show signs of potential turmoil as voters express fears that the escalating trade dispute with China will end up raising the price of goods for U.S. consumers.
The poll also shows a schism between Americans’ continued positive ratings of the economy and fears of a downturn, with far more saying Trump’s policies have increased chances of a recession than decreased it.
Trump’s approval rating among voting-age Americans stands at 38 percent, down from 44 percent in June but similar to 39 percent in April, with 56 percent now saying they disapprove of his performance in office. Among registered voters, 40 percent say they approve of Trump, while 55 percent disapprove.
[Read full poll results and how the survey was conducted]
Concerns over the economy — and specifically Trump’s handling of trade negotiations with China — have become a drag on the president’s public standing, particularly with women.
The Post-ABC poll finds that Trump’s economic approval rating has also declined from 51 percent in early July to 46 percent in the new survey, with 47 percent disapproving. His relatively positive standing on the economy continues to buoy his reputation amid public criticism on other issues.
Here's how a poll of 1,000 people represents the entire country
Go inside a Florida survey center as the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll is conducted. (Lee Powell, John Parks/The Washington Post)
In the July survey, the economy was the sole issue on which Trump received positive numbers, with more than half of all Americans disapproving of his handling of immigration, health care, gun violence, climate change and other issues.
Trump’s handling of trade negotiations with China is a particularly weak spot, with 35 percent in the new poll approving of him on this issue and 56 percent disapproving.
While a 56 percent majority of Americans rate the economy as “excellent” or “good,” that figure is down from 65 percent in November. A separate question finds 6 in 10 say that a recession is either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” in the next year. That fear compares with 69 percent who said a recession was likely in fall 2007, shortly before the recession began later that year.
Separate national surveys by the University of Michigan and the Conference Board found consumer confidence fell in August, driven by lowered expectations for the economy’s future. But as with the Post-ABC poll, ratings of the economy remain positive.
Fears of an impending recession have taken hold across much of the political spectrum, amid a slowing pace of job growth and the emergence of an “inverted yield curve” in the U.S. bond market last month.
The stock market has gyrated wildly in recent weeks, with some investors seeing last month’s bond market developments as a harbinger of a recession. Trump has taken an erratic approach in response to the economic turbulence, attacking his handpicked Federal Reserve Board chair, floating and then abandoning plans for a new tax cut, and vacillating between praising and pillorying Chinese President Xi Jinping amid an escalating trade war.
The president has also sought to talk up the U.S. economy and praise his handling of it, while casting any talk of a slowdown as mere politics.
“Our economy is strong, our country is great, we’ve never been in a better position,” Trump said in a video posted to Twitter on Saturday. “To all fellow American citizens, I say one simple word: Congratulations.”
The Post-ABC poll finds 43 percent of Americans say Trump’s trade and economic policies have increased the chance of a recession in the next year, more than double the 16 percent who say his policies have decreased the likelihood of a recession. Another 34 percent say Trump’s policies have not made a difference.
Many worry about a personal financial cost of the trade war, with 6 in 10 saying they are concerned that the current dispute with China will raise the price of things their family buys, including one-third who are “very concerned” about this.
While Americans have increasingly viewed the economy through a partisan lens, Democrats and Republicans disagree more about the current strength of the economy than at any point in more than a decade. Nine in 10 Republicans say the economy is in excellent or good shape, compared with 33 percent of Democrats. The 57-point partisan gap is far larger than any seen previously during the Trump administration or during the Obama administration, in which the largest divide was 43 percentage points.
But among political independents, ratings for both the economy and Trump have sagged. A slight 52 percent majority currently rate the economy positively — down from 66 percent in November — and 6 in 10 think a recession is at least somewhat likely in the next year.
Independents split on Trump’s economic stewardship, with 46 percent approving and 46 percent disapproving, a backslide from July, when approval outpaced disapproval by 12 points. Nearly 6 in 10 independents disapprove of Trump’s handling of trade negotiations with China, and a similar share are concerned about the trade dispute raising prices for things their families buy.
Trump’s overall approval rating among independents is deeply underwater, with 36 percent approving of his job performance and 58 percent disapproving. That compares with a narrower negative split of 43 percent approval to 54 percent disapproval two months ago.
The poll finds a persistent and large gender gap in views of Trump; women give him some of his lowest approval ratings and express elevated concern about the economy. Only 30 percent of women approve of his job performance, with 64 percent disapproving. Men are evenly split: 47 percent approve of Trump and another 47 disapprove.
Nearly two-thirds of men say the economy is in good or excellent condition, compared with just under half of women. But there is little gender gap in concerns about a recession; 57 percent of men and 62 percent of women say it is likely.
Concerns about tariffs raising costs differ sharply along partisan lines. More than 8 in 10 Democrats say they are concerned that the trade dispute with China will raise the price of things their family buys compared with about 3 in 10 Republicans.
But sizable shares of Trump’s core supporters say they are worried about price increases because of tariffs, including 55 percent of whites without college degrees, 54 percent of people living in rural areas and 45 percent of white evangelical Protestants. Concern rises to about 6 in 10 political independents and people living in the suburbs, two key swing voting groups.
In a trend that has persisted throughout his administration, Trump receives some of his lowest marks from minorities. Among nonwhites as a whole, 21 percent approve of Trump’s job performance, while 71 percent disapprove. His approval rating among whites is 48 percent, with 47 percent disapproving.
The Post-ABC News poll was conducted by telephone from Sept. 2 to Sept. 5 among a random national sample of 1,003 adults, 65 percent of whom were reached on cellphones and 35 percent on landlines. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points; the error margin is four points among the sample of 877 registered voters and is larger for other subgroups.
Emily Guskin contributed to this report.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
A shocking CNN scoop confirms: Officials are defending our country from Trump
By Paul Waldman WAPO Opinion writer
September 9 at 12:33 PM
What good is having a secret if you can’t tell people about it?
This is the dilemma President Trump has found himself in many times. Often he just blurts (or tweets) the secret out, as he did recently when he tweeted a probably classified image of an Iranian launch facility, enabling the Iranians (and everyone else) to learn more about American surveillance capabilities.
And according to this extraordinary CNN story, from early in his presidency, the intelligence community felt it had no choice but to make decisions based on the likelihood that the person with almost unlimited access to American secrets probably couldn’t keep his mouth shut — especially when it came to Russia:
In a previously undisclosed secret mission in 2017, the United States successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government, multiple Trump administration officials with direct knowledge told CNN.
A person directly involved in the discussions said that the removal of the Russian was driven, in part, by concerns that President Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.
The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been provided by Israel.
In all the ongoing horrors emanating from the White House, you may have forgotten the story of that Oval Office meeting, but it was truly shocking. It concerned a spy Israel had succeeded in placing near the center of the Islamic State, a piece of information so sensitive that we hadn’t even shared it with many of our key allies. And then Trump, in an apparent attempt to impress the Russians, just told them all about it.
Then Trump defended himself by saying “I have the absolute right” to give incredibly sensitive secrets to our adversaries. This is technically true — as president, he can decide what’s classified and what isn’t, and reveal pretty much whatever he wants, no matter how pathetic or nefarious his motives.
Liberals and conservatives share basic common values, but leaders like Donald Trump use fear to exploit their differences for political gain. (Joshua Carroll, Danielle Kunitz, Kate Woodsome/The Washington Post)
If you were an American intelligence official and you just watched that happen, what would you do? Your obvious response would be to ask, “What else is he going to tell the Russians? What’s he going to tell Vladimir Putin the next time he sees him? What other intelligence assets is he going to burn?”
You’d have to assume the worst, which is apparently what they did.
The recent ludicrousness around “Sharpie-gate” shows how professionals in our government are constantly forced to devote time and energy to propping up Trump’s absurd lies. As my colleague Greg Sargent noted, that was just one of many times Trump has sent people in the administration scrambling to provide support for some idiotic story he has told, not only forcing them to cooperate in his dishonesty but also wasting government resources in the process.
But this story illustrates another dimension to the ways federal officials have had to accommodate Trump: They have been forced to defend the United States of America, its government and its interests from the president himself. As we have learned, this is a task of enormous difficulty and complexity; in a case like this, there are risks to national security and even lives.
And for what? To serve Trump’s embarrassing man-crush on Putin?
Try to imagine something similar happening with any other president from either party. Imagine American intelligence officials saying “We’d better exfiltrate this spy we have in the Kremlin before the president tells the Russians about him” if the president was Obama or Bush or Clinton or Reagan or Nixon or any other. You can’t do it.
It’s in part because of events like such as one that I’m certain history will judge Trump to be the worst president America has had in 230 years. Not just corrupt, not just ignorant, not just impulsive, not just divisive, not just bigoted, not just juvenile and petty and vindictive, but someone so untrustworthy that he couldn’t even be relied on to not spill intelligence secrets to our adversaries.
Some people assert that Trump is in fact a Russian asset; whether you agree will depend on how you define the term. But it has become clear that across the government and the country, everyone has had to adjust their expectations and actions to the fact that the president of the United States simply cannot be trusted to uphold America’s interests, if doing so conflicts with his greed, or his desire to please a foreign dictator, or simply some whim he had while watching “Fox & Friends.”
It may be some time before we understand the full extent of the damage that has caused.
IT IS ONE THING TO LIE FOR A SPECIFIC REASON, GOAL OR OBJECTIVE. IT IS QUITE ANOTHER THING TO LIE WHEN THERE IS NO APPARENTLY LOGICAL RFEASON. EVERYONE KNOWS THAT WEATHER PREDICTION IS NEVER 100% ACCURATE. THE CRUDELY ALTERED MAP THAT TRUMP USED TO PREDICT ALABAMA IN THE PATH OF HURRICAN DORIAN WAS AN EARLY PREDICTION. WHY TRUMP USED A SO CRUDELY DOCTORED MAP TO SUPPORT HIS CLAIM THAT ALABAMA WAS "95%" CERTAIN TO BE IN THE PATH PROVES ONE THING. HE LIES FOR NO APPARENT REASON AND THAT HE IS PATHOLOGICAL. A REASONABLE PERSON WOULD HAVE SAID THAT UPDATED INFORMATION ILLUSTRATED THAT ALABAMA WAS NO LONGER IN DANGER. NOT TRUMP. HE WILL NEVER MAKE A CORRECTION BECAUSE HE IS NEVER WRONG. THIS IS BUT THE LATEST EXAMPLE OF A DANGEROUS AND DEMENTED INDIVIDUAL.