A Look At The Political Ramifications Of The Mueller Report For Trump

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Joining us now to talk through what the release of the report means for the president is NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Hey, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa.

CHANG: So it sounds like the president is pretty happy. But it’s not like there wasn’t unflattering and potentially damaging information about him in this report. Let’s talk about that.

LIASSON: Well, there’s a lot of damaging information. First of all, Mueller established that Russia interfered in the election, something the president still hasn’t consistently accepted. The very embarrassing scene that you just described, where Trump finds out there’s a special counsel investigating him, and he says, I’m F-ed – expletive deleted.

CHANG: Yeah.

LIASSON: Then there was the vindication of the fake news; turned out fake news was real news. Mueller actually corroborated several news reports that the president has called fake – one of them where he asked his White House counsel, Don McGahn, to order the deputy attorney general to fire Bob Mueller, which he didn’t do, or the Mueller report validated news reports that show the president dictating the false statement about the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians. So there is a lot of embarrassing material; unclear if it will be anything in the report that will change the political dynamic in a major way because people are so locked in about their views about the president.

CHANG: Yeah, it sounds like the partisan reaction so far has been pretty predictable.

LIASSON: Yes. Trump and the Republicans are sticking to the no collusion, no obstruction message. Democrats are upset; they feel the report is more damning than Attorney General Barr’s description of it. The House Judiciary Committee chairman, Jerry Nadler, said that Congress will continue to investigate the president. Here’s what he said today.

(SOUNDBITE OF…

‘Dems in Disarray’ Is an Exhausting and Flawed Beltway Meme

The Washington Post would like you to know that the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives has degenerated into open gang warfare, and that they’ll be very lucky if they all come out of all this success alive. Just read this account of the “explosion” of bloody mayhem.

House Democrats exploded in recriminations Thursday over moderates bucking the party, with liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez threatening to put those voting with Republicans “on a list” for a primary challenge. In a closed-door session, a frustrated Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) lashed out at about two dozen moderates and pressured them to get on board.

“We are either a team or we’re not, and we have to make that decision,” Pelosi said, according to two people present but not authorized to discuss the remarks publicly. But Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the unquestioned media superstar of the freshman class, upped the ante, admonishing the moderates and indicating she would help liberal activists unseat them in the 2020 election.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Triggering the blowup were Wednesday’s votes on a bill to expand federal background checks for gun purchases. Twenty-six moderate Democrats joined Republicans in amending the legislation, adding a provision requiring that ICE be notified if an illegal immigrant seeks to purchase a gun.

We all should be accustomed by now to the Dems In Disarray template. (Note the perpetual binary by which the caucus is divided into “liberals” and “moderates.” Conservative Democrats apparently do not exist.) But the apocalyptic prose here has been dialed up to 11.

The Democratic infighting reflects a fractured caucus and diverse freshman class, with dozens of moderates elected in districts that President Trump won in 2016 at odds with hard-charging liberals. The split has exposed divisions among Pelosi and her top lieutenants, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) and Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (S.C.), over the party strategy to keep its newfound majority.

Republicans have capitalized on the divide, using legislative tactics to split politically vulnerable moderates from the party leadership. In the coming months, votes on health care,…

Politicians Tour San Ysidro Port Of Entry, Praise Operations

Congressmen talk to media outside San Ysidro Port of Entry, Feb. 22, 2019.
Above: Congressmen talk to media outside San Ysidro Port of Entry, Feb. 22, 2019.

U.S. House majority leader Steny Hoyer toured the San Ysidro Port Of Entry Friday to evaluate a recent pilot program to return some asylum-seekers to Mexico while they await their day in U.S. court.

San Diego Democratic Congressmen Juan Vargas, Scott Peters and Mike Levin were all there to welcome Hoyer for the visit with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

RELATED: San Diego Judge Considers Expanding Migrant Family Reunification Case

Vargas condemned the pilot program, saying asylum seekers aren’t safe in Tijuana amid record homicides. Peters agreed with him. More than 70 asylum-seekers have been sent back to Mexico…

Dispute dashes hopes on deal to avert shutdown

Clock ticking on compromise to prevent another shutdown

(CNN)America could be sliding toward a new government shutdown and President Donald Trump may face a fateful choice over his border wall as another knife-edge week opens in Washington.

Democratic and Republican negotiators last week seemed to be on course for a deal to fund the government and boost border security short of paying for a wall, and it seemed possible that Trump might grudgingly sign on.

But the talks ground to a halt over the weekend in a dispute over limits demanded by Democrats on the number of places available in detention centers used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations away from border areas.

The disagreement appeared to dash hopes that a deal could be reached by Monday to allow each chamber of Congress plenty of time to pass legislation well before a Friday deadline.

“I think the talks are stalled right now,” said Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the 17-member conference committee on “Fox News Sunday.”

If no deal is reached and no stop-gap spending measure emerges, a new government shutdown could be triggered, again subjecting 800,000 federal workers who could be furloughed or asked to work without pay.

The most recent shutdown, which was the longest in history, ended last month in victory for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who refused to fund the wall — and with a damaging political defeat for the President in their first significant clash since the midterm elections.

The unpredictable Trump could rattle the effort to avoid a second shutdown when he heads to El Paso, Texas, on Monday for his first political rally of the year — a context which seems unlikely to see him offer flexibility on the notion of building a wall.

Sudden pessimism over the conference talks between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate reflected the uncertainty and raw political nerves on Capitol Hill at the dawn of a new era of divided government.

It also reflected the excruciatingly tough task of seeking compromise on immigration policy, an issue with visceral power for both parties and which is almost an existential issue for the presidency of Trump.

Even if it turns out that the weekend’s hiccup is just a typical Capitol Hill delay en route to a deal, it could precipitate even more uncertainty, since the compromise is certain to fall short of $5.7 billion in money Trump has demanded for his wall.

In that scenario, Trump would again face a choice between climbing down on the central issue of his 2016 campaign and alienating grassroots supporters and conservative pundits or refusing to sign a bill passed by Congress.

If he digs in, the President could spark a new partial shutdown for which he would again risk being blamed.

Last week, Shelby had fueled optimism for an agreement after visiting Trump to update him on the process.

But on Sunday, he was more downbeat when asked if hopes of an agreement on Monday were realistic.

Two senior Republican aides told CNN that the cap demanded by Democrats on internal enforcement beds would force ICE officials to make impossible decisions about which immigrants…

Trump denies Pelosi aircraft for foreign trip, after call for State of the Union delay

Is the State of the Union address in jeopardy? Pelosi asks Trump not to come to Capitol Hill

President Trump on Thursday abruptly denied military aircraft to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a foreign trip just minutes before the congressional delegation was set to depart, in a stunning decision that followed her call to delay the State of the Union address amid the government shutdown.

In a curt letter, Trump said her trip has been “postponed.”

“Due to the Shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over. In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate,” Trump wrote.

CLICK HERE TO READ TRUMP’S LETTER TO PELOSI

“I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the Shutdown. Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative.”

Asked if lawmakers might still be able to find another way to travel overseas, a senior congressional official told Fox News Thursday evening only, “I don’t know.”

According to sources, the president pulled the plug on Pelosi’s aircraft as she was about to leave for her overseas trip. Her congressional delegation’s military aircraft was slated to depart at 3 p.m. ET.

A senior White House official also told Fox News that all congressional delegation travel by military aircraft is now postponed.

SHUTDOWN STANDOFF: PELOSI RENEWS CALL TO DELAY STATE OF THE UNION, TRUMP SAYS DEMS ‘HIJACKED’ BY ‘FRINGE’

An official said that “as soon as the president found out about the trip today, he took immediate action.” A source told Fox News that when moving to cancel Thursday’s flight, the White House reasoned that the trip would keep Pelosi out of the country beyond next Tuesday night—when the next government pay period would occur.

“If she had gone on this trip she would have guaranteed that 800,000 federal workers would not receive their second paycheck because she would not have been here to…

Hoyer reacts to GOP Rep. telling Dems ‘go back to Puerto Rico’

Hoyer reacts to GOP Rep. telling Dems 'go back to Puerto Rico'

Congressman Jason Smith said his remark was not racially insensitive, and that he was referring only to Democrats’ recent trip to Puerto Rico. House Majoirty Leader Steny Hoyer believes the comment was an aspersion on Rep. Tony Cardenas. #FoxNews

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Democrats won’t seat North Carolina Republican amid election fraud claims

The Republican Mark Harris holds a slim lead but election officials are looking into claims of fraud.

Democrats said on Friday they will not swear a North Carolina Republican into his US House seat until state officials resolve questions surrounding his election.

The North Carolina elections board has refused to certify the race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready, while it investigates irregularities concerning absentee ballots. Harris holds a slim lead in unofficial results, but officials are looking into criminal allegations against an operative hired by his campaign.

Confusing the picture, a state court panel ruled on Thursday that the current elections board should disband at noon on Friday, which…

Nancy Pelosi on track to become House speaker after agreeing to term limit

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer leave the West Wing on Tuesday.

Nancy Pelosi has all but sealed her ascent to speaker of the House after striking a deal with a rebellious group of Democratic lawmakers demanding fresh faces in leadership.

The agreement, which she announced on Wednesday, was the latest in a series of hurdles that the Democratic leader from California has cleared in her bid to reclaim the speakership, a post that is second in line to the presidency. She was the first woman to hold the position when she became speaker in 2007.

The plan would bind the party’s leaders to a four-term limit as part of an effort to ensure opportunities for younger members of the party. It would apply retroactively, meaning Pelosi could only serve for an additional two terms, or four years.

“Over the summer, I made it clear that I see myself as a bridge to the next generation of leaders, a recognition of my continuing responsibility to mentor and advance new members into positions of power and responsibility in the House Democratic Caucus,” Pelosi said in a statement, which concluded with her saying she was “comfortable” with the term-limit proposal.

Moments later, several Democratic lawmakers announced that they would support the California Democrat in a floor vote on the House on 3 January, when the party regains control after winning a majority of at least 40 seats in the November midterms.

“We are proud that our agreement will make lasting institutional change that will strengthen our caucus and will help develop the next generation of Democratic leaders,” the rebellious lawmakers said.

Despite what appeared to be entrenched opposition to her leadership, Pelosi ran uncontested for the position during a caucus vote last month. Democrats overwhelmingly nominated her to be the next speaker by a margin of 203-32. But that was shy of the support she would need to win an absolute majority…

Who will replace House Speaker Paul Ryan?

A look at some of the likely contenders who would replace Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) when he retires in January and relinquishes the speakership.

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Still Saddled With the Politics of the Seventies

Still Saddled With the Politics of the Seventies

Not since James Monroe left the presidency in 1825, 48 years after he fought in the Battle of Princeton, has America had political leadership with careers running so far back in the past. Our current government leaders have political pedigrees going back to the 1970s.

Consider the Senate. Democratic leader Chuck Schumer was first elected to the New York Assembly in 1974. Republican leader Mitch McConnell was elected Jefferson County judge — the county administrator for Louisville, Ky. — in 1977.

Consider the House. Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was elected Northern California Democratic Chairman in 1977. Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer was elected to the Maryland Senate in 1966 and was elected state Senate president in 1975.

And what about California’s leading Democrats? Senator Dianne Feinstein was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1970 and became mayor in 1978. Governor Jerry Brown was elected California secretary of state in 1970 and to his first term as governor in 1974.

Technically, President Trump is an exception, never having held public office until 2017. But his public career began in the 1970s, a terrible decade during which New York City’s population fell by 823,000. That’s when Trump refocused his father’s business from the outer boroughs, whose white ethnics were fleeing into Manhattan, where low real estate prices, other people’s money and political pull enabled him to flourish in anticipation of an eventual upturn.

When Trump developed his disdain for establishment liberal opinion and penchant for outrageous tabloid-style disparagement thereof he was left as the odd man out in the Reagan/Bush/Clinton high contentment years and a natural fit for post-2007 discontent.

Democrats with political roots in the 1970s have a different perspective. They have persevered in office even as political times changed. During the Reagan governorship and presidency, they pursued incremental leftward initiatives, like Henry Waxman’s behind-the-scenes Medicaid expansion in the 1980s.