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.

talkingpointsmemo.com/news/beto-lukewarm-on-2020

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.

It’s Roger’s time in the barrel!

CNBC offers a quick summary that include an appearance by Bannon!

Trump associate Roger Stone arrested on 7 counts, including lying to Congress, in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe

• Roger Stone, a longtime political advisor to President Trump, has been arrested in Florida.

• Stone faces seven counts, including witness tampering, obstruction of justice and making false statements to Congress.

• The indictment alleges that Stone had been in contact with top-ranking Trump campaign officials about efforts to leak damaging information about Hillary Clinton just before the 2016 election.

• According to a person with direct knowledge of the matter, one of the senior officials who reached out to Stone was Steve Bannon, who served as CEO of the Trump campaign during the election’s final stages.

www.cnbc.com/2019/01/25/us-special-counsels-office-trump-ally-roger-stone-arrested-in-florida.html

“The Trump Tower Moscow discussions were ‘going on from the day I announced to the day I won,’Giuliani quoted Trump as saying”

Here’s how the NYT wraps it up–what must the truth be that they are now admitting this to the public?!?

WASHINGTON — President Trump was involved in discussions to build a skyscraper in Moscow throughout the entire 2016 presidential campaign, his personal lawyer said on Sunday, a longer and more significant role for Mr. Trump than he had previously acknowledged.

The comments by his lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani indicated that Mr. Trump’s efforts to complete a business deal in Russia waned only after Americans cast ballots in the presidential election.

The new timetable means that Mr. Trump was seeking a deal at the time he was calling for an end to economic sanctions against Russia imposed by the Obama administration. He was seeking a deal when he gave interviews questioning the legitimacy of NATO, a favorite talking point of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. And he was seeking a deal when, in July 2016, he called on Russia to release hacked Democratic emails that Mr. Putin’s government was rumored at the time to have stolen.

SOURCE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/20/us/politics/trump-tower-moscow-cohen-giuliani.html

The central issue is now clear: “the post-2014 sanctions against Russia had to be lifted before the (Trump Tower Moscow) deal could be finalized.”

Josh Marshall gets it:

“…throughout 2016 Trump was trying to finalize a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow from which he believed he’d reap hundreds of millions in profits over the coming years.

Again, whether and how he lied about it is legally interesting. But that’s the cover-up rather than the thing itself. That deal was with sanctioned individuals and sanctioned banks. Whether it was even legal to be entering into the negotiations is not clear to me. But certainly the post-2014 sanctions against Russia had to be lifted before the deal could be finalized. That is the central issue. It’s not simply that Trump had “business” with Russia and deceived the public about it during the campaign and after. It’s more specific and direct. Why was Trump so solicitous of Russia and Vladimir Putin during the campaign? Well, a lot of possible reasons. But a major and likely the major reason was because Putin was dangling a multi-hundreds of millions of dollars payday in front of him. That’s a big incentive, especially for Donald Trump.

To get that money, Trump had to court Putin and he’d eventually need to lift sanctions against him.”

SOURCE: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/the-hotel-deal-is-really-all-that-matters

And this all makes perfect sense if you assume that they believed they would lose the election. In fact, Trump has explicitly told us as much. His words, from back on November 29, 2018:

we were very open with it. We were thinking about building a building. I guess we had — in a form, it was an option. I don’t know what you’d call it. We decided — I decided ultimately not to do it. There would have been nothing wrong if I did do it. If I did do it, there would have been nothing wrong. That was my business.

[…]

I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business. And why should I lose lots of opportunities?

He was just keeping his options open, after all. Who among us hasn’t negotiated with sanctioned individuals to conduct a real estate deal in a country also sanctioned for, among other things, seeking to undermine our electoral opponents during that very same election in which we were running. It’s all so commonplace and within the bounds of normal political behavior. You see it every day, am I right?!?

I get it. The ins and outs of this scandal are incredibly complicated, so much so that most people just have no way to keep up without make sense of it all. But if you do, it’s all there ain’t as day:

Trump was happy to have Putin muck about in our election, so long as in the end he got his real estate deal. He never thought he would win. It was never about that. And then he did, and he was screwed. He almost had no choice by to try to cover it up. But then it turned out he wasn’t the only grifter at the top of the food chain; Gen. Flynn, among others, went and screwed the whole thing up. And so here we are.

It’s like 2006 all over again. If you’re paying attention, the war has already been lost. Most people aren’t. Most people are only just about to figure it out. And when they do, they’ll try to pretend like they never supported the damn thing in the first place.

Don’t. Let. Them. Get. Away. With. It. This. Time.

Just don’t.

Giuliani now admits Trump Tower Moscow negotiations continued thru the election.

Mueller already knows this, of course, which among a variety of things means he has Don Jr dead to rights on perjury. Oops.

In an interview Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, Rudy Giuliani said conversations extended as far as October or November of 2016 — precisely around the time Donald Trump was elected president. If accurate, Giuliani’s comments dramatically extend the timeline of the business dealings behind the now-defunct plans to build Trump Tower Moscow, plans which have drawn questions about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Until recently, talks led by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen were believed to have ended in June 2016. Now it appears they actually took several more months to “peter out.” 

Asked by NBC News host Chuck Todd clarify the timeline of negotiations, Giuliani said he didn’t have exact dates, but thought it was around the time of the election.

So while Putin was trying to help Trump get elected, Trump was trying to negotiate a deal with Putin’s people that would bet him and his family millions of dollars, all while lying to the American people about it. I see.