We begin today’s roundup with Ben Schreckinger at Politico who outlines how Donald Trump’s Russia defense is falling apart:
[F]light records obtained by POLITICO, as well as congressional testimony from Trump's bodyguard and contemporaneous photographs and social media posts, tell a different story—one that might bring new legal jeopardy for the president, legal experts say. [...] A conscious effort by Trump to mislead the FBI director could lend weight to the allegation—contained in a largely unverified private research dossier compiled by a former British spy in 2016—that Trump engaged in compromising activity during the trip that exposed him to Russian government blackmail. [...]
It has also likely caught the eye of special counsel Robert Mueller, legal analysts say. False statements to Comey about the trip could demonstrate that Trump has “consciousness of guilt,” according Pete Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor who worked for special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation of national security-related leaks during the George W. Bush administration.
At The New Yorker, John Cassidy examines Trump’s history of lying:
In the past few days alone, the President has claimed that North Korea has already “agreed to denuclearization.” (It hasn't). He has described his Mar-a-Lago resort as “the Southern White House.” (It’s a Trump enterprise, not a public building.) And he’s said that his poll numbers are the highest ever. (The latest Gallup survey puts his job approval at just thirty-eight per cent). About the only difference, these days, is that when Trump has a self-serving whopper to spread around, he goes on Twitter and attaches his own name to it. In the age of @TheRealDonaldTrump, there is no longer any need for John Barron.
On the topic of Kellyanne Conway’s reaction to CNN’s question about her husband’s anti-Trump tweets, Michael Tomasky calls her a “conservative snowflake”:
[C]ome on. It was a totally reasonable and legitimate question, as Bash told my colleague Matt Wilstein Monday . Kellyanne Conway was relying on your average CNN viewer having no idea who her husband is. And indeed, if George Conway were some legal services attorney trying to save poor people from their eviction notices who had nothing to do with politics, then Bash’s question would have been out of line.
But George Conway is an intensely political figure. He’s been a conservative power-lawyer in Washington for more than two decades. He was reportedly considered for more than one top spot in the Trump administration. Most interestingly, he was a key player in the late 1990s in the laying of the famous perjury trap for Bill Clinton. He was one of the right-wing so-called “elves,” a group that also included Ann Coulter, trying to find ways to lay Clinton low. [...]
If a guy like that is sending out anti-Trump tweets while his wife is going on TV serially offering alternative facts in defense of the President, it’s bound to pique the interest of people around Washington. I don’t know if you’d call it Capital-N News, but it’s certainly fair game for an end-of-segment question on a Sunday show.
The question was completely in-bounds—and Conway’s angry reaction to the question only confirms its in-bounds-ness. Her first instinct was to invoke her autonomy as a woman. It was completely inappropriate, she suggested, to ask one spouse any questions about the political activities of the other—and especially inappropriate to ask such questions of a wife, for they would never be asked of a husband.
This is the same Kellyanne Conway who played a key role in the Trump campaign’s strategy for addressing accusations of sexual misconduct against its candidate—and that was to raise as a defense the sexual misconduct of their opponent’s husband. Here, for example, is Conway speaking with Chris Matthews after Trump’s press conference with Bill Clinton accusers. Here she is again with Megyn Kelly—insisting that women who claimed to have been victimized by Bill Clinton “deserved to be heard” as part of the case against Hillary Clinton. On the attack, Conway embraces views akin to the antiquated legal doctrine of coverture, wherein a woman’s legal existence is entirely subsumed into her husband’s. On the defensive, she’s suddenly Gloria Steinem.
Russell Berman dives into Senator Rand Paul’s cave which leads to committee approval of Trump’s Secretary of State pick:
Never in its 202-year history had the Senate Foreign Relations Committee given a public thumbs-down to a presidential nominee for secretary of state. [...] What may have helped persuade Paul to change his mind was the knowledge that the committee’s rejection of Pompeo would soon be rendered moot. The CIA director had received crucial endorsements earlier Monday afternoon from Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, who joined Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota in committing their votes for Trump’s pick on the floor—virtually assuring his confirmation by the full Senate.
Meanwhile, Catherine Rampell explains how maybe giving a massive tax cut to the richest people and corporations in America wasn’t such a good idea politically for the GOP:
Voters were supposed to be so very grateful to have a little extra pocket money that they would be willing to overlook all that nonsense and eagerly cast their ballots for the GOP come November.
Unfortunately for Republicans, this deus tax machina never arrived.
Just 27 percent of Americans believe the GOP tax overhaul was a good idea, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Even among Republican voters, the tax cuts are not exactly thunderously popular: A little more than half (56 percent) say they were a good idea.
On a final note, Paul Waldman explains how the GOP is stuck on Clinton messaging for the upcoming midterms:
[R]epublicans have a plan, in the form of two magic words that will turn the electorate back their way: Hillary Clinton.
You remember her, right? Wrote a book, makes the occasional public appearance, not actually president of the United States, and exceedingly unlikely to destroy your life? [...]
So get your "Trump That Bitch" T-shirt out from the bottom of the drawer, because it's time to stoke those fires of hate once more. Sometimes it'll just be "My opponent loves Hillary. Well, I say we don't need more Hillary here in West Flurdburt!" At other times, it'll be about defending President Trump. "Nothing's been turned up except that Hillary Clinton is the real guilty party here," says a Senate candidate in Indiana about Robert Mueller's probe. "We don't need to investigate our president, we need to arrest Hillary," says an ad for West Virginia Senate candidate Don Blankenship, who may be the most despicable human being running for office this year.