He Speaks

We now have the President’s first response to last night Post revelation.

At the risk of stating the obvious, this is perhaps more revealing than the President intended. The President has repeatedly sought to communicate with foreign leaders out of earshot of other US officials. In certain cases he’s removed them from private meetings where he is speaking with a foreign leader. He confiscated the notes of a translator who translated during one of his meetings with Vladimir Putin.

The Big Story

The new details about the secret Intelligence Community whistleblower makes it the big story today and perhaps for many days going forward. I shared my initial thoughts last night. The gist as reported last night in the Post is that the complain is about the President himself, turns on a “promise” he made to an unnamed foreign leader sometime in late July or early August. Critically, the IC Inspector General judged it serious and of urgent concern. Again, more details in my summary. We’ll have more on this over the course of the day.

Today’s Agenda: Pelosi Said Lewandowski Should Have Been Held In Contempt
Prime Membership Required

Happy Thursday, September 19. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told members in a closed-door meeting that former Trump campaign chairman Corey Lewandowski should have been held in contempt by Judiciary Democrats “then and there.” Here’s more on that and the other stories we’re watching.

The Whistleblower Complaint Is About Trump

For days we’ve been hearing about the standoff between Chairman Adam Schiff and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence over a whistleblower complaint. Josh Kovensky walked us through some of the details this afternoon. Now The Washington Post has escalated the story dramatically by reporting that the complaint is about President Trump himself and centers on a “promise” he made to foreign leader. The complaint was filed on August 12th. So this is all quite recent.

And Then There Were Two?
Prime Membership Required

There are some signs that the Democratic presidential primaries are evolving into a two person race – Biden and Warren. There’s a good argument for Sanders supporters that this is premature and it’s actually a three person race – Biden, Warren and Sanders. But before we litigate that question, let’s look beyond those three.

More Questions, Fewer Answers In The DNI Whistleblower Saga
Prime Membership Required

Late on Tuesday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released two letters outlining why it has refused to hand over a whistleblower complaint to Congress, and why it is refusing to comply with a House subpoena to that end.

The letters answer a few questions, but mostly stoke more curiosity about what’s in the complaint and how close it may be to the White House.

This Could Be The Future

My big problem with the various plans for free college and university educations is that it starts from the wrong place. Public colleges and universities are run by states, not by the federal government, with a minute number of exceptions. The real problem is that states aren’t committing enough resources to their state colleges and universities. We have had a two generation long process of disinvestment where the deficit is made up by making students pay for a rising portion of their education in loans. Subsidizing these institutions from the federal level just equates to none of the funding or price discipline that is needed at the state level. States need to raise and spend way, way more on higher education for residents in their states.

Why We Need Your Emails

This is why we want your emails about those things you know that haven’t yet pierced the news cycle. This morning, an anonymous TPM Reader who is a former law firm colleague flagged the fact that Trump’s choice for National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien, is tight with none other than Hugh Hewitt, famed rightwing yakker. In fact, they’re business and law partners. O’Brien brought Hugh with him when he left the LA office of Arent Fox to set up his own law firm in 2016. And O’Brien Larson, the new firm, has gotten deep into the lobbying business under Trump. Josh Kovensky ran down the story.

Israeli Returns Update

Slightly different picture with 95% of ballots counted. BW and Likud each get another seat – 33 for Blue and White, 32 for Likud. Joint List drops from 13 to 12. Yisrael Beiteinu loses one seat and Shas (the ultra-orthodox party of Jews from the Arab World) gains one. This is ever so slightly better for the rightist bloc. But the fundamentals remain the same. Avigdor Lieberman, even with one less seat, remains the kingmaker. The Joint List, with one less seat, still seems primed to lead the opposition.

If you want to think in blocs: Rightist bloc 56, Anti-Bibi bloc 56, Yisrael Beiteinu 8.

Important to remember these numbers could still change, but only slightly at this point.

Budget Grim Reaper Gets Reaped

A month ago, Matt Shuham brought you the story of Donna Arduin, the budgetary grim reaper who’s gone from state to state over the last quarter century, slashing social safety nets in numerous states after they elect Republican governors. She’s also a business partner of Art Laffer and Stephen Moore. Now she’s out as state budget director in Alaska as momentum builds in a recall campaign against the governor.

GOP Consultant

Donna Arduin, the Republican consultant known for overseeing slashed budgets in state after state, is no longer Alaska’s budget director.

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