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“A Dysfunctional Circus”: Trump Picks An Odd Time To Sue A Former Staffer

It’s tempting to assume Donald Trump would have plenty to occupy his time right now: choosing a running mate, preparing for his national nomination convention that begins in five days, trying to close the gap against Hillary Clinton, etc.

But as it turns out, the Republican candidate has also found the time to focus on filing a new lawsuit.

Donald Trump is seeking $10 million from a former aide he accused of leaking confidential information about a public spat between two senior campaign staffers, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Trump claimed that fired campaign consultant Sam Nunberg went to the press with confidential information in violation of a nondisclosure agreement, which the real estate mogul requires nearly all staffers for his campaign and businesses to sign.

Even by this campaign’s standards, it’s an odd story. Nunberg was fired last summer for publishing racist messages via social media. He then allegedly leaked word of an affair between two Trump campaign staffers. This leak, Team Trump believes, was a breach of the non-disclosure agreement Nunberg signed.

Which brings us to today’s court filing.

The Washington Post’s Robert Costa added that Trump reportedly “decided to file a lawsuit in the middle of a general-election campaign because he’s furious” with Nunberg.

But that’s not much of an explanation. Donald Trump is scheduled to receive a major-party presidential nomination literally next week. He’s announcing his running mate in two days. Whether he’s furious with Nunberg over campaign gossip or not, it’s not unreasonable to think Trump should have some impulse control.

As for the larger context, Trump’s entire political operation too often resembles a dysfunctional circus. Let’s not forget that the GOP candidate fired his campaign manager less than a month ago, and he’s parted ways with several other top aides since.

One senior aide was let go after less than three weeks on the job, while another was given the boot after less than three days.

For months, Trump’s campaign staff has earned a reputation for amateurish infighting, high turnover, and a complete lack of direction. I suspect the typical American voter will not know or care about any of this, but it matters: a national candidate who can’t run a credible campaign operation will struggle to oversee a competent White House operation.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 13, 2016

July 14, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Republican National Convention, Trump Campaign | , , , , | 2 Comments

“Gun Violence On The Other Hand…”: Republican Platform Labels Pornography ‘A Public Health Crisis’

It was just a few months ago when state policymakers in Utah approved a measure condemning pornography as a “public health crisis.” Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed a resolution, approved by the GOP-led legislature, calling for new policies to combat the porn scourge.

And at the time, much of the country had a good laugh about this, recognizing that Utah is one of the nation’s most conservative states, more likely than most to overreact to a pornography “crisis” that doesn’t really exist. But as Yahoo News reported yesterday, Republicans in Utah evidently aren’t alone on the issue.

Republican delegates unanimously adopted an amendment to their draft platform Monday morning that called pornography “a public health crisis” and a “public menace” that is destroying lives.

The language went further in its condemnation of porn than the 2012 GOP platform, which condemned child pornography and encouraged the enforcement of obscenity and pornography laws.

The new amendment, which will be added to the national party’s 2016 platform, reads, “Pornography, with its harmful effects, especially on children, has become a public health crisis that is destroying the life [sic] of millions. We encourage states to continue to fight this public menace and pledge our commitment to children’s safety and wellbeing.”

Now take a moment to read that exact same quote, only this time, replace “pornography” with “gun violence.” The national Republican Party’s platform committee unanimously approved the porn measure yesterday; is there any doubt it would have unanimously rejected the same language if it pertained to guns?

The point of a national party’s platform is to articulate its core values and priorities. Unfortunately, the RNC platform is doing exactly that.

The document, which won’t be formally approved until the Republican convention next week, also opposes “policies that encourage cohabitation,” supports crackpot “gay conversion therapy” in which sexual orientation is changed through prayer, expresses concern over electromagnetic pulse threats, declares coal power as “clean,” and seeks to turn back the clock on marriage equality.

The contemporary Republican Party, in other words, appears committed to looking backwards, and restoring policies of the past. If GOP officials are lucky, the American mainstream won’t read or hear much about their 2016 platform.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 12, 2016

July 12, 2016 Posted by | Gun Violence, Pornography, Public Health, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Forget Party Unity”: Congressional Republicans And Trump Are Actually Better Off Divided

Donald Trump has been trying to make peace with his party – and is failing miserably.

Earlier this week, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee went up to Capitol Hill to meet with GOP senators in a bid for party unity. According to reports, the meeting did not go well. As the New York Times described it, Trump’s session turned into “an extraordinary series of acrid exchanges, punctuated by Mr. Trump’s threatening one Republican senator and deriding another as a ‘loser.'” The episode prompted the Washington Post to declare that “GOP unity is dead.”

For any other presidential candidate, this would be problem of enormous proportions. For Trump, it’s more of a minor annoyance.

Trump doesn’t really need his party. His entire candidacy has been predicated on being an outsider. The continued conflict with party leaders has allowed Trump to pull off the rather difficult but necessary feat of being two things at once. As the party’s nominee, he is de facto the establishment. But the reticence of many of his political colleagues to embrace his candidacy means he remains the outsider, despite his current position as head of his party. The duality is essential for keeping the Trump campaign alive.

If Trump were to go mainstream, he wouldn’t be Trump anymore and the base of support that propelled him to the nomination would begin to dissipate. Would falling in line with his party, however, allow Trump to pick up the moderate votes that are always so crucial in a general election? Maybe. But those votes may not be enough if the core base that nominated him starts to feel disaffected because their candidate changed course. Trump rode to the nomination on a wave of disgust for the current system. The one and only rationale for his campaign is the claim that America needs to be fixed to be great again. It would be hard for Trump to continue toeing that line if he starts cozying up to some of the people who have been running America for several years.

The lack of GOP unity doesn’t just work for Trump. It also works for everyone else in the Republican Party. While some members of Congress have been quick to support Trump because it makes for good politics back home, there are several others who view their party’s presidential nominee as toxic to their re-election. The distance between Trump and the rest of the party benefits these folks greatly, as it helps insulate them from the “Trump effect” in their state or congressional district. For the most electorally vulnerable members of Congress, winning over moderate voters will be key to their ability to stay in office. Association with Trump’s polarizing views would jeopardize their ability to do so.

So if no one really benefits from GOP party unity, why do they keep trying to make it happen? It’s unclear. In most election years, a unified party is an important part of a winning strategy. It ensures a cohesive message and presents a comprehensive case to the country for the party’s entire ticket. Perhaps it’s hard for the GOP to move away from that paradigm. However, the Republican Party would do best to acknowledge that this election year is unlike any other and disunity may be their smartest strategy.

 

By: Cary Gibson, Contributor, U. S. News and World Report, July 8, 2016

July 12, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Establishment, Republican National Convention | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Floating Around The Political Ether”: Has Trump Reached The Self-Sabotage Stage?

In my lifetime, and I’m assuming in the life of the United States of America, there has never been a major-party candidate other than Donald Trump who anyone would think to ask if they’d actually serve as president if elected as president. But that’s what New York Times reporters asked Trump during a recent interview with him in his New York office. His answer wasn’t what you’d expect.

Presented in a recent interview with a scenario, floating around the political ether, in which the presumptive Republican nominee proves all the naysayers wrong, beats Hillary Clinton and wins the presidency, only to forgo the office as the ultimate walk-off winner, Mr. Trump flashed a mischievous smile.

“I’ll let you know how I feel about it after it happens,” he said, minutes before leaving his Trump Tower office to fly to a campaign rally in New Hampshire.

And he definitely left more than a spoken impression.

But the only person who could truly put any doubts to rest seemed instead to relish the idea of keeping everyone guessing, concluding the recent conversation with a you’re-on-to-something grin and handshake across his cluttered desk.

“We’ll do plenty of stories,” Mr. Trump promised enigmatically. “O.K.?”

Now, maybe he’s just messing with people’s minds, but it hardly helps him to leave the impression that he considers this just a game and that he won’t serve as president even if elected. It’s actually a kind of dangerous impression to leave at a time when he has not yet actually been confirmed as the nominee of the party.

I think this show was a lot more fun for Trump when he was leading in the polls and he wasn’t responsible for anyone else’s fate. Maybe, consciously or unconsciously, he actually wants to have the nomination wrested away from him in Cleveland. That’ll make him much more of a martyr than a loser, or at least he might feel that he can spin it that way.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 7, 2016

July 11, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Nominee, Republican National Convention | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Nothing Is Off The Table”: 4 Scenarios That Could Cause Havoc At The Republican National Convention

Back when it looked like Republicans might well hold a “contested convention” in Cleveland on July 18 to 21, the excitement of journalists at the prospect of covering something other than the usual four-day infomercial knew no bounds. It’s entirely possible, in fact, that the very recent breathless coverage of dozens of delegates preparing to vote to unbind themselves from primary and caucus commitment in order to make it possible to dump Trump owes a lot to the power of the “contested convention” fantasy, and the need to justify lavish outlays for media outlets for Cleveland.

The odds of a coup are extremely low for reasons I explain here and here.

But even if a rules-based coup to get rid of Trump isn’t happening short of the committing of a major felony by the candidate in broad daylight, that doesn’t mean other wild things are off the table. Here are four scenarios that could throw the RNC into turmoil:

Violent protests and counterprotests.

While the original nightmare of angry Trump supporters rioting as the nomination is “stolen” has abated, protests against Trump are a certainty. And they could get out of hand.

Local police originally drew up a plan to keep protesters as far away from the convention site as possible. But a federal judge has intervened with an order killing the plan. No telling which restrictions might survive.

And yes, even without a coup, there are going to be pro-Trump demonstrators in the vicinity. A group called Citizens for Trump is expecting 5,000 people to show up under its banner. Worse yet, the Traditionalist Worker Party, a pro-Trump fringe group that recently became embroiled in violent clashes with leftists in Sacramento, is planning to travel to Cleveland to “protect Trump supporters.” The convention will be an all-purpose freak magnet. And if that’s not scary enough, it’s clear Ohio’s “open carry” law will be in force in whatever area is eventually made available to the various protesters (it might have been enforced even inside the convention site had the Secret Service not stomped on that possibility).

Are local police up to the challenge? Maybe. But at least one out-of-state police chief who had been asked to bring officers to help with convention security has already pulled out, citing “a lack of preparedness for the RNC.”

It’s true that Secret Service agents will be available to make sure any violent activity doesn’t penetrate the actual convention perimeter. But as we learned in Chicago in 1968, violence in the streets has a way of spreading beyond any security perimeter. If violence is extensive, it will co-star with Donald Trump on television screens around the world.

A veep challenge

The freedom of delegates to do anything they want so long as they respect their binding commitments to vote for a presidential candidate extends to the nomination of a running mate. If a majority of delegates don’t actually favor Trump, there’s no inherent reason they should defer to his wishes on this important matter. There could be a mini-conspiracy to impose a veep on Trump who would make his candidacy or election less scary, like someone with extensive governing experience or perhaps a Latino elected official. Or if Trump names someone deemed unacceptable to a broad swath of delegates, a revolt on the floor could develop spontaneously — especially if the mogul chooses to spring his choice on the convention with no advance notice, which some observers think he would prefer to do to elevate the drama of “his” convention.

There is precedent for a veep revolt. In 1920, the same cabal of party leaders who chose Warren Harding as the GOP presidential nominee in the famous Chicago “smoke-filled room” decided to offer the vice-presidential nomination to Senator Irvine Lenroot of Wisconsin. But delegates stampeded to Massachusetts governor Calvin Coolidge, whose crushing of the Boston Police Strike of 1919 made him popular — sort of the Scott Walker of his time. Coolidge, of course, went on to become president upon Harding’s premature death.

A more subtle revolt occurred among Democrats in 1944. Shortly before the convention, party leaders convinced Franklin Roosevelt to dump Vice-President Henry Wallace owing to his strident liberalism and personal eccentricity. They then talked FDR into their consensus favorite, Harry Truman, who also became an accidental president.

All this talk of strange doings in Cleveland, of course, is pure speculation. Although it’s hard to imagine a convention that nominated Donald Trump for the presidency being “normal” in any real sense, it could lack unplanned drama. The only thing we know for sure is that any private meeting held to make key decisions out of the public eye will be smoke-free.

It’s even possible the convention could turn out to be boring. But the word that threatens to hang over the convention until the whole show is over is disorganized, which is first cousin to chaotic.

A vote on unbinding delegates

While delegates will not vote to unbind themselves from the primary and caucus results, they may have to vote against them. It only takes one-fourth of the Rules Committee to approve a minority report that will be entitled to a vote by all delegates when the convention’s rules are adopted. So a mere 28 delegates on that committee could get the convention off to a bad start by forcing a vote on, in effect, dumping Trump.

There’s no way it will pass, but there could be some anticipatory hype and of course some bad blood between Trump and anti-Trump factions.

A messy platform fight

Even if there is no serious challenge to the binding of delegates on the first ballot, the delegates are by no means forced to follow the direction of “their” presidential candidate on other matters. Platform fights are a time-honored way for party elites, interest groups, and defeated candidates to seek vindication even if they’ve lost the main battle. And in the case of a nominee like Trump, whose fidelity to conservative ideology is very much in question, there could well be efforts to rope him in with explicit platform planks, even on those issues where his positions are ostensibly kosher.  Depending on how Trump and the convention managers handle such efforts, you could wind up with big, noisy platform fights over items the GOP and Trump would just as soon not broadcast nationally during an event that is supposed to make the party look toothsome and non-controversial.

These could include the traditional GOP language opposing any rape-or-incest exceptions to a hypothetical abortion ban (Trump supports such exceptions); abrasive anti-LGBT planks styled as “religious liberty” guarantees; and challenges to Trump’s positions on banning Muslim immigration or deporting undocumented immigrants. Once the Pandora’s box of the platform is opened up, anything could happen.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, July 4, 2016

July 4, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Vice Presidential Nominee, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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