Patterico's Pontifications

11/7/2018

At Trump’s Request: Resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:27 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Here is the pertinent part of Sessions’ resignation letter:

Dear Mr. President,

At your request, I am submitting my resignation.

Easy to read between the lines here: Either you do it, or I’ll do it for you.

President Trump tweeted about Sessions’ exit, but did not discuss it at today’s press conference:

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Allahpundit fills in some details about Whitaker:

A former U.S. Attorney, Whitaker ended up becoming Sessions’s chief of staff at the DOJ after that op-ed was published. Now suddenly he’s in a position to give Mueller the order that he demanded Rosenstein give him last year. The NYT and WaPo noted within the past few months that he and Trump had hit it off and that POTUS was eyeing him as a potential solution, if only short-term, to his Sessions problem. Now that he’s assured of Republican gains in the Senate, he doesn’t really have a “Sessions problem” anymore; he can get a handpicked successor confirmed, probably, an outcome that wouldn’t have been possible if the blue wave really had crashed into the battlegrounds last night.

Of course, Democrats have new leverage after last night too. Jeff Sessions’s testimony before the House next year will be amazing. And if Whitaker does ride herd on Mueller, don’t be surprised if they move to impeach him. Impeachment will fail in the Senate but the point for Dems wouldn’t be to remove him, just to delegitimize him and his oversight of the Russiagate probe.

We didn’t have to wait long for Phase Two of the Trump era to begin.

Interestingly:

Is Whitaker the new head of the Russiagate probe? The Times story I linked above addressed a scenario in which Rosenstein, not Sessions, might be fired and Whitaker would be installed as acting deputy AG. In that case, noted the Times, “complex” Justice Department rules would make Solicitor General Noel Francisco the new man in charge of the Russiagate investigation.

As the acting deputy attorney general, Mr. Whitaker would oversee the nation’s federal prosecutors, including the investigations of Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, the Trump Organization and the business run by the father of Mr. Kushner.

The Russia investigation would be overseen by the solicitor general, Noel J. Francisco. But Mr. Whitaker could have visibility into the special counsel’s work. Officials in the deputy attorney general’s office have met regularly with Mr. Mueller’s team.

Whitaker is now the top dog in the department, not the deputy, albeit on an interim basis. Doesn’t that mean he leapfrogs everyone, including Francisco, to be Mueller’s new boss?

(I lack both the time and energy to go into any depth regarding Sessions, Mueller, investigation, etc. so please do read all of Allahpundit’s post because it raises some rather interesting possibilities…)

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

Ready to Rumble: President Trump And CNN’s Jim Acosta (Update Added)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:19 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Things got contentious between President Trump and CNN’s Jim Acosta at today’s press conference. Jim Acosta, being the reporter “woke” activist that he is, couldn’t resist grandstanding as he challenged the President to debate a number of issues. When the President made it clear that he was done talking to him, Acosta stubbornly continued to push his agenda (yes, agenda):

JIM ACOSTA: Thank you, Mr. President. I want to challenge you on one of the statements that you made in the tail end of the campaign in the midterms.

DONALD TRUMP: Here we go.

ACOSTA: If you don’t mind, Mr. President. That, well, that this caravan was an invasion.

TRUMP: I consider it to be an invasion.

ACOSTA: The caravan was not an invasion. It was a group of migrants moving up from Central America towards the border with the U.S.

TRUMP: Thank you for telling me that. I appreciate it.

ACOSTA: Why did you characterize it as such and —

TRUMP: Because I consider it an invasion. You and I have a difference of opinion.

ACOSTA: But do you think that you demonized immigrants in this election to try to keep them —

TRUMP: Not at all. I want them to come into the country but they have to come in legally. They have to come in, Jim, through a process. I want it to be a process. And I want the people to come in and we need the people.

ACOSTA: Your campaign —

TRUMP: Wait, wait! Wait. You know why we need the people. We had hundreds of companies moving in. We need the people.

ACOSTA: Your campaign had an ad showing migrants climbing over walls and so on.

TRUMP: That’s true. They weren’t actors.

ACOSTA: They aren’t going to be doing that.

TRUMP: Well, no. It was true. Do you think they were actors? They weren’t actors. They didn’t come from Hollywood. These were people — this was an actual, you know, it happened a few days ago and —

ACOSTA: They’re hundreds of miles away. They are hundreds and hundreds of miles away. That’s not an invasion.

TRUMP: Honestly I think you should let me run the country. You run CNN and if you did it well, your ratings would be much higher. Okay, that’s enough.

Tensions increased when a young, female staffer attempted to take the microphone from Acosta and pass it on to another reporter. Unbelievably, Acosta would not relinquish it, and instead pushed the young staffer’s arm away from him to prevent her from taking it:

ACOSTA: If I may ask one more question.

[White House staffer comes and tries to take microphone.]

TRUMP: That’s enough. That’s enough. That’s enough.

ACOSTA: Excuse me, I was going to ask one other question. Pardon me, ma’am.

TRUMP: That’s enough.

ACOSTA: Mr. President, I had one other question if I may ask on the Russia investigation. Are you concerned that you may have —

TRUMP: I’m not concerned about anything with the Russian investigation because it’s a hoax. That’s enough. Put down the mic!

ACOSTA: Mr. President, are you worried about indictments coming down in this investigation? Mr. President —

After warning Acosta five times to be quiet, a visibly angry presdient criticized Acosta in no uncertain terms:

I’ll tell you what, CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN. [To Peter Alexander.] Go ahead. You’re a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible and the way you treat other people is horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way. Go ahead. Go ahead, Peter.

I sure can’t argue with the President about Acosta behaving rudely and certainly, inappropriately. His supreme arrogance in believing he deserved to continue to be heard – and that America needed to listen to him even if it meant getting physical with a young staffer trying to do her job, is some serious level of douchery. But then, this is Jim Acosta we’re talking about. A reporter who takes pride in needling Trump and his administration:

Kimmel decided to praise Acosta for “tormenting” members of the Trump administration, and Acosta’s response was very telling.

“Well, I’m enjoying you tormenting them, I will say that,” Kimmel said trying to wrap things up. “It’s a small consolation. It really is.”

“It’s a living,” Acosta replied. “It pays the bills.”

After the confrontation between Trump and Acosta, April Ryan, also from CNN, was told by Trump to “sit down” for interrupting:

Acosta then accused Trump of “attacking people of color” at the presser. At different points, Trump told CNN political analyst April Ryan to “sit down” and he accused a PBS Newshour reporter Yamiche Alcindor of asking a “racist” question about him embracing the word “nationalism.” Trump explained that he berated Ryan because she “rudely interrupted” another reporter and Alcindor’s question was “racist” and “insulting.” He defended his relationship with the black community, noting that he has some of “the highest poll numbers” among African-Americans.

Reporter Amber Athey confirmed that Ryan had indeed “rudely interruptedz” another reporter”:

Acosta just accused Trump of “attacking” April Ryan by telling her to sit down. To be clear, April Ryan was shouting out of turn while my colleague @esaagar was attempting to ask the president a question. That’s not supporting your press colleagues, that’s being selfish and rude.

The smug earnestness wafting from Acosta whenever he has a mic in hand, is unavoidable. His evolution is complete: he is no longer just a reporter. Instead, he has risen to loftier heights: The partisan diva now preens and protests, opines, scolds, and most importantly, he nobly resists.

With that, it’s also amusing to see Trump, who himself has offended untold numbers of people, get so offended by a fellow narcissist. Pot meet kettle. Two peas in a pod. But only one of them is the President of the United States.

So how did CNN respond to Jim Acosta’s very inappropriate behavior? About how you would expect. Meet CNN’s next Hero of the Year:

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And how is the MSM framing this story? About how you would expect:

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President Trump, who mistakenly accused (and accuses) the media of being “the enemy of the people,” seemed to have that misconception confirmed today by a clueless goober not smart enough to see how he was feeding the President’s narrative, all because he egotistically sees himself as the captain of the Partisan Debate Team. [Ed. That this happened should not be construed as the President having cleverly played Acosta. Don’t be silly.]

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

UPDATE: The White House has suspended Jim Acosta’s press pass:

“President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration,” Sanders said in a statement. “We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern. This conduct is absolutely unacceptable. It is also completely disrespectful to the reporter’s colleagues not to allow them an opportunity to ask a question.”

Jim Acosta disagreed with Sanders’ assessment:

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A White House correspondent for Reuters backs up Jim Acosta’s claim that he did not place hands on the young woman:

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Aftermath of a Consequential Night

Filed under: General — JVW @ 1:14 pm

[guest post by JVW]

My extended and self-indulgent thoughts to go along with Patterico’s earlier post.

So that’s that. The GOP largely gets drubbed in the House and loses a couple of key Senate races, though at the same time appears to have increased its Senate majority by at least one and as many as four seats, subject to recounts in Arizona and Montana and a run-off in Mississippi next month. Here are some issues for us to mull over:

House of Representatives
1. The Democrats aren’t really going to return Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker are they? Surely they realize they need fresh blood.

2. Surprisingly, California Republicans appear to be holding on more strongly in the House than expected. Young Kim is slightly leading in the race to succeed Ed Royce; Jeff Denham may have squeaked out a win; Mimi Walters is 6,000 votes ahead out of the 180k counted; and Duncan Hunter appears to have won despite being indicted on campaign violations. Three GOP seats went to Dems: Dana Rohrabacher and Steve Knight both lost reelection, and the retiring Darrell Issa’s seat flipped to Dems. I think I expected the Dems to win six seats, so limiting them to three is something of an accomplishment.

3. Iowa started the night with three Republicans and one Democrat in the House, and ended the night with three Dems and one Rep, the execrable Steve King. That’s disheartening, considering that the party hoped to consolidate the gains it made in the Midwest in 2016.

4. Dems picked up two House seats in Illinois and may end up taking away four in New York, so blue states get bluer.

5. Ugh. Hate seeing Mia Love lose. She needs to move to a better district in Utah, away from all of the transplants from other states.

Senate
6. If you were a swing state Democrat and voted against Brett Kavanaugh, you were toast [except for shortly after I drafted this post earlier this morning, it became apparent that Jon Tester will eke out a narrow win in Montana]. The annoying Jane Mayer, who worked with Ronan Farrow to push the questionable allegations from Deborah Ramirez, got a little bit ahead of herself last night based upon one exit poll in Indiana that a Hillary shill was touting:

The reality is that she and Farrow contributed greatly to the GOP’s gains last night.

7. New phenomenally stupid lefty talking point: Senate Democrats received eight million more votes than Senate Republicans last night yet somehow lost between one and four seats. Gerrymandering! (Never mind that it’s the Constitution that defines states.) Yeah, that kind of margin will happen when you win at least 21 out of 34 contested seats (not to mention have two candidates from your party opposing each other in the largest state in the union). Yet Democrats went into last night defending 25 of the 34 seats. I think we can thank years of piss-poor civics education for the sheer ignorance that pervades regarding how elections work.

8. Beto O’Rourke came way closer in Texas than we thought possible, and Kyrsten Sienma made Arizona a nail-biter, and could conceivably pull it out if the Democrat post-election vote manufacturing industry operates effectively in the Grand Canyon State. Is this an ugly harbinger of the future, or was this really just a strong Democrat year and two Republican candidates who were fairly divisive characters (I read that McSally, the ex-fighter pilot, unsurprisingly has a pretty formidable ego and can be as prickly as an Arizona cactus)?

9. It turns out that Dean Heller had virtually no chance against the Clark County (i.e. Las Vegas) machine which has come to dominate Nevada politics. Outgoing governor Brian Sandoval might be the last major Republican elected statewide for the foreseeable future. The unionization of the Las Vegas casinos which came about as a result of Teamsters pension funds being invested in the 1960s has significantly narrowed the path to victory for Republicans there.

Governors
10. Generally a bad night for Republicans. I’m sad to see Scott Walker go, but it sounds like the GOP held on to the Wisconsin legislature so hopefully the Dems can’t undo the reforms that Walker implemented. Frankly, Walker should have pronounced himself pleased with this two terms and closed up shop. Democrats now fully own the Illinois mess, and voters in the Land of Lincoln will have no one to blame when their taxes and dysfunction continue to skyrocket. Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Nevada (see above), New Mexico, and Oregon are lamentable, though I am not sure any of those states are candidates for rampant gerrymandering in favor of Dems when states are redistricted after the 2020 census.

11. The Georgia race sounds like a mess. A part of me thinks that Georgia and Florida ought to have elected far-left Democratic Socialist governors, just to give the South an up-close look at how dumb that ideology really is. But I am glad they did not.

12. Gavin, Gavin, Gavin. The mess is all yours now pal as Moonbeam slunks out of town. I know I have been promising to write about him and I will, but I didn’t make it a priority because I knew it wouldn’t have any effect on his election.

California
13. Looks like rent control failed and failed pretty substantially, by a three-to-two margin. A welcome moment of sanity here.

14. As usual, the majority of bond measures passed. The only one that went down to defeat was the really awful water bond, but as proven time and time again, if you attach the words “children” or “veterans” to your bond proposal it is destined to succeed.

15. The gas tax repeal failed by a 55% – 45% margin, so Gavin and the Dems will still have that $5 billion annually to play with, and they now probably have no compunction about raising additional taxes to fund their wishlist.

16. We voted down the California Nurses Association attempt to kneecap the dialysis industry, but we’re forcing farmers to provide more space for their livestock and fowl.

17. Dianne Feinstein earned the hallowed honor of being allowed to die in office, even if it means reelecting her again in 2024.

18. Steve Poizner took the prudent step of ditching his GOP party affiliation and running as an independent for Insurance Commissioner, but he is going to lose by a narrow margin to Ricardo Lara, a termed-out legislative hack who is too useless to gain employment in the private sector and thus needed to find a new office.

19. It’s clear that no matter how awful the candidate (*cough cough* Gavin Newsom *cough cough*), a Democrat will win a minimum of 60% of the vote for a statewide office in California when running against a Republican.

Final Thoughts
20. If you are the people who handle President Trump’s political stuff, you have to be a bit concerned about your guy’s chance of winning Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin again in 2020, and even Iowa is now in play. And the potential bluing of states like Arizona, Texas and Georgia (long discussed, but until now just a campfire story told by high-strung Dems) does not bode well for the GOP in the long term.

21. Some wags are pointing out the possibility that Trump wins Wisconsin, but loses the other states and loses all four electoral votes in Maine, leading to a 269-269 electoral college tie and throwing the election into the Democrat-controlled House. That’s just about what we deserve.

22. The GOP has been dead in California for some time now, and it now appears to be dead in Virginia too. Again, an ominous sign for future elections.

23. I am staying with my prediction made on election night two years ago: Kamala Harris is the Democrat nominee in 2020, and she will be a very formidable opponent for President Trump.

– JVW

Open Thread: Election Results

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:47 am

All in all, not a bad night for the GOP. I have already said that the House doesn’t seem to matter much, with no real GOP legislative agenda at stake. Gaining seats in the Senate means more easily confirmed judges. In California, we’re still insane, approving bonds like there’s no tomorrow, and trading Clown #1 for Clown #2 in the Governor’s mansion.

What did you think was important?

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


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