Wednesday, May 8, 2019

All-Out War With No End in Sight

Trump systematically withholds documents and testimony from Congress; McConnell and Hill Republicans in full wagon-circling mode to defend the president; Pelosi still wary of an impeachment attempt backfiring.

My take: Team Trump has mostly gotten what it wanted out of the Mueller aftermath, even though the report was of course more substantively damaging on both Russian cooperation and obstruction than the president pretends. The Wall Street Journal editorial board symbolically gets fully in line with other conservative media by suggesting Democrats must either move to impeachment or quit investigating the president, creating a false choice.

Pelosi remains the bedrock disciplinarian of her party’s pathway: point out the case against Trump is not closed; push for Mueller to testify; empower committee chairs to investigate; but ignore the rhetoric of Elizabeth Warren and others who are demanding an immediate start to impeachment hearings.

It seems laughable to think this current state of affairs leaves room for bipartisan immigration or infrastructure deals. 2020 politics are near full swing.

Trump is focused on rallying the base (including by using the Mueller outcome), demonizing the Democrats vying to run against him, and looking for victories on the economy.

Democrats are focused on using the courts to win fights with the White House, getting the president out of office, and finding a brand for its party that stands for more than just being anti-Trump.

Barring a Martian invasion, that is going to be the state of play for the next eighteen months.

New York Times Gets Trump Tax Data

Numbers suggest real estate mogul lost over a billion in ten-year span.

My take: Kudos to the Times for getting this information. The story they tell is rich but not a surprise. We still need to know more about Trump’s more recent tax returns in order to understand both what his financial situation was and what he is apparently so afraid of being released to the public. Getting the information by forcing the courts to release it might not happen as quickly as more thunderous leaks.

Markets, World Leaders Unsettled by Iran, China

Nuclear and trade face-offs boil on high for another day.

My take: Trump’s foreign policy and national security teams are making things up as they go along, dealing with two foes who are both wily and unpredictable. Trump does not want a crisis to break out on either front. One could have dire national security implications, the other disastrous economic implications. The uncertainty of how either conflict ends reminds one of the old joke: there are only two people who understand how the world economic system works, and unfortunately they disagree. As the Magic 8 Ball says: “Cannot predict now….Concentrate and ask again.”

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