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Morning Briefing: Michael Flynn, China, Mourning, and Wisconsin

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | December 5, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | December 5, 2018 |


There’s been surprisingly little speculation this morning about the implications of Michael Flynn’s sentencing memo, although Fox News is calling it a “big nothing.”

The sentencing memo says that Flynn was interviewed 19 times by prosecutors on Mueller’s team and other Justice Department lawyers. But crucially, the memo doesn’t specify anything that Flynn told Muller’s team regarding allegations against President Trump or anything else.

Uh, everything about the investigations in that memo was redacted. How the hell would they know what it does and does not specify?

Anyway, most legitimate news organizations disagree. Bloomberg offered perhaps one of my favorite phrases in the world: “It should give Jared Kushner pause.” With 119 hours of testimony from Cohen, Flynn, and McGahn, that should be a very long pause for Kushner.

— Meanwhile, yesterday stocks dropped another 800 points after Trump’s big talk about a trade agreement with China failed to materialize, because Trump — as he is apt to do — put the horse in front of the cart again. The dumbass backed himself into a corner, too. He made assurances. Those assurances did not come through. The stock market tanked. There’s talk of a recession precipitated by this trade war, and now Trump has weakened his negotiating position because China can just sit back at this point and watch Trump twist in the wind until he either agrees to terms favorable to China or sinks his own economy. Trump is historically unpopular, and the only thing he’s had going for him besides racism is the economy. If it slips, his own party may finally turn against him.

Meanwhile, he’s ignoring the Michael Flynn news, but he’s otherwise sounding kind of desperate on Twitter this morning.

— It seems awfully early to talk about 2020, but look: The first primary is in 13 months. There’s something like 25-30 potential candidates, and I’d actually like to see the race get started so that we can start winnowing the field down to candidates who actually have a shot, and that means throwing a lot of spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. We all think we know who the frontrunners will be, but ultimately it’s going to come down to who the media decides to pay attention to, and who is left after Trump goes on his nicknaming spree. One guy that President Obama seems to be a big fan of is Beto O’Rourke, who met with Obama last month. The media does love him; he can raise a lot of money; and his brand of hope and optimism might actually be the thing that can neutralize Trump’s insults.

Or maybe not. It’s gonna be a wild 2019, but I’m actually excited to see what comes out at the other end of it.

— The stock markets are closed today, and the postal service is not delivering mail, as it has been designated a National Day of Mourning for George H.W. Bush. The same thing apparently happened after Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan’s deaths, too, so this is not atypical. It just feels atypical.

Speaking of Bush, Trump got an eight-car motorcade going yesterday so that he could travel … 250 yards to pay his respects to Bush. He could have just walked across the street, like other Presidents have done. But, you know: It’s Trump. Even on the occasion of another President’s death, he’s gotta make a big show of it.

— What’s going on in Wisconsin (and Michigan) is a goddamn nightmare. The Republican legislature, in a lame-duck session, is diluting the power of the incoming Democratic governor and secretary of state, and honestly, there’s not really anything that can be done about it. Democrats handily defeated Republicans in the midterms, and took back the Governor’s mansion and the Secretary of State’s office. They also won 54 percent of the vote in the state legislature. However, because of gerrymandering, Republicans will have 63 percent of the state Congressional seats. So, even when the Democrats win, they get boned. The Wisconsin Senate passed the bill that would dilute the Governor’s power and restrict early voting early this morning; the Assembly just followed suit.

(Note: I will never replace header photos of Jared Kushner with anyone else, like we do with Trump and others, because the way our commenters describe Kushner header photos is often the highlight of any day.)

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

Header Image Source: Getty