S18E39: New 2020 democratic candidates? What trump knew & when he knew it!

On last week’s podcast we brought listeners up to date on all the important news of the week. From Donald Trump’s impeachment, to the resignation of Congresswoman Katie Hill to the democratic 2020 candidates.

On today’s  blog we provide an update on what’s been going on since the last podcast.  This includes reports Mike Bloomberg and former governor Deval Patrick’s rumored decision to running as 2020 candidates.

I also discuss the 2020 candidates on the republican side with reporting today about one candidate who is dropping out. And finally I provide an update on what I call the theocratic court.

I speculate many of the 2020 candidates already running are not going to last much longer.  The field is getting thinner and, as discussed below, many are running out of money to remain competitive.


Bloomberg In Arkansas

New democratic 2020 candidates?

Some are saying democrats are not happy with the current crop of 2020 candidates. I would love Fivethirtyeight to poll test who these people are.   

In any event, Michael Bloomberg, the corporate billionaire, on Friday, decided to file in Alabama as a democrat.  And today, Bloomberg filed in Arkansas as a democrat.  In both cases he waited until the last day to file.  Reports are the former New York City Mayor’s strategy is to skip all primary states in New Hampshire, Iowa , etc and clean up on Super Tuesday.

According to Bloomberg’s campaign, the businessman is not running as a 2020 candidate due to any particular candidate (Hint! Hint! Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden).   He, reportedly, is running  because he doesn’t see the current crop of democrats as particularly formattable against Trump.

This seems to be the same rationale driving Deval Patrick, the former governor of Massachusetts who is also mulling a run.  Listeners may know I’d been a fan of Gov Patrick and thought he should run. Just not at the last minute.   Patrick had been asked to run a year ago, but said the “cruelty” of the election process and his perceived inability to gain traction on a national stage prevented him from getting in.   

One should not be surprised Patrick would be concerned about being attacked given his ties to private equity company Bain Capital.  Mitt Romney, who founded the company, was vilified due to his association with it when he ran for president. 

The company was famous for what amounted to a kind of pump and dump scheme. Unlike a stock, Bain would “rescue” companies in distress only to demand it aggressively cut spending, destroying jobs, health care benefits, pensions, etc. Then companies like Bain would sell off the “healthy” company for big profits. But the new company, on many occasions, would collapse not long after.

While the base of support for a Bloomberg run seems dubious (except for the neo liberal democrats), Deval Patrick, an outstanding African American politician, would be expected to tap into the Obama coalition and eat into Biden’s support among blacks in South Carolina.

The Warren Factor

Then there is Senator Warren and her wealth tax. Anyone paying attention knows the primary reason these democrats are looking to jump in the race is due to the rise of Elizabeth Warren. 

Her tax plan would target rich democrats.   As we already know the 1% are running scared of Warren.   As we discussed this before on this blog,  Warren herself has been making fun of the perceived fear rich bankers have in a Warren presidency. A recent interview with both Jamie Diamond…

…and Bill Gates…

seems to confirm as much. But CNBC reports, some fear a Bloomberg run could hurt Biden, not Warren.

“This hurts Biden tremendously,” said one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s outside advisors. Cuomo has encouraged his vast donor network to back the former vice president. “Even if he doesn’t get it,” this person added, “the whole thing plays that Biden is weak. It cements in people’s minds that Biden can’t make it work.”

Bloomberg is already gaining the support of people on Wall Street, a core source of fundraising for Biden. Billionaire Leon Cooperman endorsed Bloomberg him before he even officially jumps into the primary. Biden’s closest supporters largely agree that Bloomberg and Biden would likely split moderate voters in the party.

Walsh, Sanford and Weld

And what about Republican 2020 candidates running against Trump?

Yes, there are Republicans that have been and still are running against Trump.  The first to jump in was Bill Weld, a moderate Republican.  The former Massachusetts governor (what is up with Mass. politicians wanting to run for president this year??) has been in the race for some time and was the only Republican running.

Things, unfortunately, are not looking good for the former governor.  Republicans in his home state rewrote the rules so that all the state’s Republican delegates will be awarded to the candidate who gets a majority of the vote in the primary.   So far that looks to be Trump.

Then there is Joe Walsh.  He is by no means a moderate.  He is a former congressman and then right-wing talk show host who regularly lambasted president Obama.  Now he is taking aim at Donald Trump.  But what are the chances this tea party congressman who could not even win back his Illinois seat, can beat Trump?

The most promising was Mark Sanford of South Carolina.  You would think the pious, family values governor who famously cheated on his wife and abandoned his state for another woman in Argentina would stay away from politics. But Sanford is trying to make a come back. 

He has called out Trump and tried to make a run against him.  But here too the Republican party of his state changed the rules to benefit Trump. The South Carolina Republican party abolished their primary so that Sanford’s name won’t even appear on the ballot.

Today, reports are the former governor has decided to suspend his campaign.  Sanford blamed impeachment inquiry as the reason for calling it quits.

What did the president know and when?

During the Nixon impeachment inquiry, “what did the president know and when did he know it”, became one of the most important guiding principals for uncovering wrong doing (perhaps second only to “follow the money”).

While the Mueller report and its finding are in the dust bin of history, the fallout of the investigation continues in earnest.  And make no mistake, it is not beneath Trump acolytes to squash investigations that look bad for Trump or his supporters. Just ask the former head of the CFPB.

But for some reason William Barr is allowing the justice department to continue its post Mueller investigation. In this case it is against Roger Stone.  As we learned in testimony today, Rick Gates, one of the key men in the Trump Campaign for President in 2016, testified that the campaign was being regularly updated by Stone regarding the stolen Podesta email later dumped by Julian Assange’s Wikileaks.

Some may remember Trump denied knowledge of the the dump by Wikileaks which, along with Comey, Russian bots, social media and other factors, contributed to the loss by Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump in some counties by only hundreds of votes. 

The Hill reports:

Gates testified that there were high-level campaign meetings to discuss WikiLeaks releases and that there was a “state of happiness” among aides over the damaging information about their rival.

A little over a week after WikiLeaks released the trove of DNC emails on July 22, 2016, Stone had a phone conversation with Trump. Gates told the jury on Tuesday that the candidate “indicated that more information would be coming” after speaking with Stone.

How this will affect impeachment inquiry is anyone’s guess.  What will be interesting is if Barr or Trump would be willing to do anything to help Stone.  So, the major question for Trump is – if Stone believes the president is incapable or unwilling to help him, will Stone flip on Trump before the trial is over?

The theocratic court

Stepping away from democratic 2020 candidates, I’ve tried to spend a lot of time in this blog and podcast, talking about the importance about the courts.  In my view, any democrat without a plan for how to deal with the courts is in deep trouble with me. 

It is my belief the theocratic court to come will be heartless when it comes to average every day individuals and minorities that come before it.  They will work hard to strike down laws that have been on the books to protect women and the poor. 

They will reserve all of their concern for religious liberty, the right of religious businesses and universities to discriminate against groups they find offensive. But it won’t be all religions.  It will be only so-called Christian religions that will get this benefit.

To this end, two interesting pieces of news happening in the court and in the senate.  In the US senate, the Republicans have been having an unusually difficult time seating a right wing judge.  We discussed this in our previous blog post you can read here.

It’s all about ideology

A buddy of Mike Mulvaney is having trouble getting out of the judiciary committee.  For the fifth time Halil Suleyman “Sul” Ozerden has had his vote postponed.   Ozerden is being considered for the very powerful 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

And least you think it’s something substantive like his judicial temperament, his knowledge of the law or his years on the bench, you would be wrong.  According to Politico, GOP senators are pissed that he did not strike down Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate when he had the chance in 2012.

That’s it. Ideology wins the day.

Will the Supreme Court kill DACA?

The second issue is DACA.  The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was created by the Obama administration and ended by Trump.  The Court clearly has enough conservatives on it strike the law down, but according to Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog, they appear to be torn over the issue. 

I think it is simply a ploy to appear to be non partisan, but the arguments centered on two issues. One is whether the courts have the constructional authority to overrule the executive branch.

Trump is arguing lower courts that have stopped him so far, have no right within the law to do so.

Arguing for the federal government, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco urged the justices to stay out of the fray. The administration’s decision to end DACA is not subject to judicial review at all, he suggested, because it simply ended a prior administration’s choice not to enforce immigration policy.

The second was a process question.  Not, is it legal, but did the Trump administration perform due diligence?  To this the Trump admin says:

…the decision to rescind DACA would only violate the APA if the government had entirely failed to consider an important aspect of the problem before it – which it had not.

On the side of the DACA recipients, Theodore Olson (who has argued in front of the justices before) and co council Michael Mongan, addressed the first question saying to the justices :

…they should start with a “strong presumption” that a federal agency’s actions are reviewable, Alito asked Olson how to draw the line in challenges to an agency’s exercise of its discretion. If a law enforcement agency has guidelines for when it will exercise its discretion not to prosecute, Alito asked, is the decision to tighten those guidelines reviewable?

As for the second issue the two argued:

…Trump administration did not want to take responsibility for the decision to end DACA, instead wanting to blame it on Congress and the courts. Mongan echoed that idea, arguing that sending the case back would require the Trump administration to issue a new decision that took ownership of the choice to terminate DACA.

As mentioned above, I believe much of this is kabuki theatre.  The Court appearing to weigh these issues is there for public display. But McConnell did not hold up a seat on the court and Trump did not elect these two guys for their jurisprudence.    

They nominated these men to see clearly the issues as they understand them,  for their ability to remain true to the party line and above all, ideology.