We have reached the “Cohen has ties to the Russian mob” stage of Team Trump’s defense. Because of course we have.

The fact that this was always inevitable does NOT mean that it isn’t remarkable.

Rudy Giuliani is out with a round of attacks on Michael Cohen. A central one is that Cohen was “connected to Russian organized crime” and that – relatedly – he got his money from his Ukrainian immigrant father-in-law Fima Shusterman…Rudy is not making this up. But in the nature of things, with the current questions before the public, accusing Trump’s former fixer of being tied to Russian organized crime seems like a perilous line of attack.
— Read on talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/annals-of-curious-defenses

Seems like? LOLOLOL

Look, I get why Rudy is doing this. It’s the last line of defense. And outside politics, it might work. Not here. Not now. Not today.

Warren makes a bold move, and you should support it even if she isn’t your preferred candidate

This is a seriously bold move from Sen. Warren:

My presidential primary campaign will be run on the principle of equal access for anybody who joins it.

That means no fancy receptions or big money fundraisers only with people who can write the big checks. And when I thank the people giving to my campaign, it will not be based on the size of their donation. It means that wealthy donors won’t be able to purchase better seats or one-on-one time with me at our events. And it means I won’t be doing “call time,” which is when candidates take hours to call wealthy donors to ask for their support. As a candidate for president, the expectation is you make hours of these calls a week and attend dozens of these exclusive events every quarter.

I’m saying no to that. I am grateful for every donation we get — and we need every single one! — but what matters more, much more, is that everybody who supports my campaign is treated equally, regardless of how much they can afford to give. And doing things this way will give me hundreds and hundreds of hours of time back to spend with more voters, grassroots donors, and volunteers.

It’s been estimated that up to 70% of a congressional candidate’s time is spent with potential wealthy donors — trying to get them to give, or as a reward for doing so. It’s safe to assume that goes for presidential campaigns too, and presidential donors are disproportionately white, male, and wealthy. Look at the 2016 election: The electorate was more diverse than ever, and yet 91% of donors were white. Only three percent of Americans were millionaires, but 17% of donors were. The wealthy and well-connected have been taught by politicians to expect that more money buys more access — they’ve done it for generations, and it too often closes out women and communities of color. We have to do things differently.

No doubt about it, there will be a cost to our approach. In fact, making this decision will ensure that I will be outraised by other candidates in this race.


Everyone knows that money buys access, whatever else they might say. This is the first serious proposal that I’ve ever seen that gets to the problem at one of its roots. At this point, it doesn’t even matter if she eventually wins; if she demonstrates that it’s still possible to even come close to winning while running under these rules, it could create a new standard among Democratic candidates. And that would be HUGE.

Money, like water, will always find a new path of least resistance. If that doesn’t mean we stop building dams on our rivers, then there’s no reason to think it should stop us from making improvements here too.

House Democrats moving to force Senate Vote on Emergency Declaration

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is throwing her muscle behind a legislative effort to block President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration, the first formal step to counter Trump and squeeze Republicans on the border wall.

Democrats will introduce legislation Friday to terminate the emergency proclamation and Pelosi is urging House colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support the resolution, according to a letter obtained by POLITICO on Wednesday.

Politico: https://politi.co/2Ng9FRg

Once this passes the House, the Senate will be forced to vote on it. There are thirty-four seats up for grabs in 2020, so this will be the first truly consequential vote for each of the following Senators: https://ballotpedia.org/United_States_Senate_elections,_2020

Alabama Democratic Party Doug Jones
Alaska Republican Party Dan Sullivan
Arizona Republican Party Martha McSally
Arkansas Republican Party Tom Cotton
Colorado Republican Party Cory Gardner
Delaware Democratic Party Chris Coons
Georgia Republican Party David Perdue
Idaho Republican Party Jim Risch
Illinois Democratic Party Dick Durbin
Iowa Republican Party Joni Ernst
Kansas Republican Party Pat Roberts
Kentucky Republican Party Mitch McConnell
Louisiana Republican Party Bill Cassidy
Maine Republican Party Susan Collins
Massachusetts Democratic Party Ed Markey
Michigan Democratic Party Gary Peters
Minnesota Democratic Party Tina Smith
Mississippi Republican Party Cindy Hyde-Smith
Montana Republican Party Steve Daines
Nebraska Republican Party Ben Sasse
New Hampshire Democratic Party Jeanne Shaheen
New Jersey Democratic Party Cory Booker
New Mexico Democratic Party Tom Udall
North Carolina Republican Party Thom Tillis
Oklahoma Republican Party Jim Inhofe
Oregon Democratic Party Jeff Merkley
Rhode Island Democratic Party Jack Reed
South Carolina Republican Party Lindsey Graham
South Dakota Republican Party Mike Rounds
Tennessee Republican Party Lamar Alexander
Texas Republican Party John Cornyn
Virginia Democratic Party Mark Warner
West Virginia Republican Party Shelley Moore Capito
Wyoming Republican Party Mike Enzi

Run BetoRun! For Senate:

Beto O’Rourke met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) last week to discuss taking on Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in 2020, according to a Wednesday Politico report.

Cornyn is seen as vulnerable after O’Rourke’s surprisingly competitive bid against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in 2018. The senator has already amassed the largest war chest of any of his peers.

“We’ve gotten complacent,” Cornyn told Politico. “The tectonic plates shifted in Texas in 2018 and I think everybody realized we need to do something different and to address those concerns or else we’re in trouble.”

O’Rourke is expected to make a decision on a possible presidential bid by the end of this month.

SOURCE: talkingpointsmemo.com/news/beto-meets-with-schumer-to-talk-2020-senate

The retreat from “conspiracy” to “collusion” is the tell. One is a crime that we already know the campaign manager committed. The other is…who cares?

Marcy Wheeler doin the work:

He was badly underwater, and — according to his grand jury testimony, at least as described by Weissmann — he clandestinely handed off recent detailed polling data to a guy connected to the agency that was still hacking Hillary Clinton, to be shared with a bunch of oligarchs who could help him reverse his financial fortunes.

It seems there’s a conspiracy there one way another. Either Manafort effectively stole Trump’s campaign data and traded it to foreigners for monetary gain. And/or Manafort handed over that data expecting that the campaign would get a thing of value from the foreigners he was sharing it with.

Richard Burr would seem to argue that’s not “collusion” unless Trump knew about it (whether he did is one of the questions Mueller posed to Trump).

But it is a conspiracy, an agreement with Konstantin Kilimnik to commit one or more crimes, right there in the middle of the election season. Whether Mueller will charge it or do something else with it remains to be seen. But it is fairly clearly a conspiracy, down to the clandestine arrivals and departures from the dark cigar lounge.

Ultimately, Burr’s retreat to that word “collusion” is a tell. Because, given the public facts in this case, Republicans should be outraged that Trump’s campaign manager was so disloyal he shared highly sensitive data with potentially malign actors. Republicans should be outraged that Trump’s campaign manager was putting his own financial imperatives ahead of sound campaign practice.

But they’re not. For some reason, Republicans are not squawking about the explanation for this data hand-off that would suggest the campaign didn’t expect to benefit.


Cory Booker and his relentless optimism are in. But is that really what Democrats want right now?

If you liked Obama’s brand of hope-and-change, then you’re gonna LUV yourself some Booker. God knows there have been times when I have too. But is this really want Democrat’s want from their front man right now? I don’t think so.

The party is at a moment when it’s taking things very seriously, and although it absolutely continues to believe that things can and will get better, I don’t think “hope and promise” are going to carry the day. We tried “look forward, not backwards” in 2008, and that’s part of what got us here. We need someone who can simultaneously offer a promise of change and prosecute the case against the opposition, who can be both a happy warrior and a determined foe. We’ve all seen Booker do the first, but the second has never really been part of his public persona. And I just don’t think democrats are willing to take the one without the other, not this time.

Booker as a VP? No doubt. He’d CRUSH that role. But President? Not this time, I don’t think. Not this time.

An Update on the Race for the Democratic Nomination

Just added an update to my Democratic Contenders post, but given how many of you read via RSS or other similar method, I thought I would post the update separately as well.


I added Buttigieg and Gabbard to the list of those running for reasons other than to win, and removed the handful of people who have formally announced that they do not intend to run.

As of today, it seems to me that Biden isn’t likely to be a legitimate contender, both because I don’t think he really wants to run and because I think Kamala Harris will crush him should he choose to. She is to me the very clear front runner as of this moment, and barring some kind of screw up, she is the one most likely to win the whole thing.

Gillibrand has been surprisingly quiet since announcing, and although it is obviously still very very early, it seems to me that she’s going to have a very hard time getting traction so long as Kamala Harris maintains the perception that she’s going to be hard to beat.

Warren….is who she is? I love her as my Senator. I think she’ll be a powerful force for good in the campaign. But no way do I think she wins the nomination. I thought that before she formally announced, and I think it much much more so since.

Tulsi Gabbard unexpectedly threw her hat into the ring, which is bizarre given her truly bizarre past, and it’s all quite predictably gone sideways very quickly (see, for example: https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/29/tulsi-gabbard-2020-election-1134055). Not only is she not going to win the nomination, she’s not likely to make it past the spring, and now she’s got a DailyKos-backed primary challenger to boot. Which is great, because she is truly awful

Schulz, the Starbucks dude, is out there pretending to be a disaffected Democrat preparing to run, but no way he sees this through to the end, and anyway, he’s really just a disaffected moderate Republican confused about how partisanship works in American politics. The fact that he hates what the REpublican Party has become does not even remotely mean he is a Democrat, or that he will appeal to Democrats, or that his influence will somehow help Trump get elected. That’s all very backwards.

Beto is making exactly the kinds of noises that a person who doesn’t want to run but feels sort-of-but-not-really compelled to , so while I’m making predictions, let me put myself down as him formally announcing he will NOT run sometime in late-Spring.

And hey….why not go all in. If I had to bet money today, I’d either go with Harris-O’Rourke or Harris-Hickenlooper.

Howard Schultz opposes Democratic priorities because he isn’t a Democrat. This is supposed to be a threat to Democratic chances how exactly?

People have this all wrong. Schultz isn’t going to run as a Democrat because he isn’t a Democrat. He says so himself when he tells you that he opposes nearly every major policy the Democratic Party stands for. Schultz isn’t a Democrat. He’s a pre-Trump Republican in the mold of a William Weld or a Jeb Bush or a W Bush prior to 9/11. You know, a “fiscally conservative but socially liberal” and “free markets forever” sort of guy.

If he were to stay in the race — which he almost certainly will not — he will function as the equivalent of as what we now call a “Never Trump Republican,” except that because he’s confused about how our institutional structures work, he’d call himself an “independent.” Which is fine. It’s just branding, after all.

So Democrats, stop fretting. He almost certainly won’t run for real, but if he does, he will get the handful of votes from voters who cannot vote for Trump but also would never vote for Democrats, because Democrats want things that he and his fellow Never Trumpers abhor.

Alternative hypotheses welcome, so long as they include an explanation of Steve Schmidt’s role in Schultz’s new organization. Schmidt worked for McCain and for W, among others, and comes with an extensive set of ideological and political pre-commitments.

Beto Asks: “Do I need to be back in the arena?”

Looks like he’s walking himself to a NO, at least for the moment. Because as hard as running for senator in Texas is, running for president is exponentially harder. And this time around, the party’s going to have way too many good people running.

If I were him, I’d start talking to Kamala Harris about becoming her surrogate, angling my way towards as VP or cabinet spot. Because he’s young, and he’s got plenty of time to move on up from where he’s starting. And in the meantime, I’d get someone smart to ghost write a book for me so that I could live off the proceeds while building my brand. If I were him, that’s what I’d do.


The Big Picture: a back channel to coordinate with the people using property stolen by an adversarial government to tilt an election

Josh Marshall:

All the specifics are less significant than the big picture: Roger Stone ran a backchannel between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks, exchanging advance notice, requests for particular kinds of documents, suggestions to the campaign about messaging directions and more. Critically, this continued long after it became clear and widely assumed, if not proven, that Wikileaks was peddling out documents and emails that had been stolen by the Russian intelligence services.

SOURCE: talkingpointsmemo.com/prime-beta/simple-there-was-a-trump-campaign-wikileaks-backchannel

Always worth repeating: this was all happening in plain view, making it obvious even in real time. All you had to do was follow along closely and it was there for you to see.

And of you don’t yet believe, remember that there are still dozens of shoes yet to drop.