Democrats won yet another special election this week in a district that had voted for Trump. Democrat Margaret Good won by seven points over Republican James Buchanan in a Florida district that voted for Trump by more than a four-point margin. This is the 36th time since the 2016 election that a state legislative seat has switched from a Republican to a Democrat. As Mr. Dylan said, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows” when it comes to the 2018 elections.
Regarding those elections, a source close to the White House said that Trump will be looking for “unexpected cultural flashpoints” like kneeling football players to support Republican candidates. It’s good to know that the President will be focused like a laser on the issues.
Last week we learned that dozens of Trump advisors have not received permanent security clearances despite having access to top-secret material. On Friday White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said employees with interim security clearances will no longer be given access to top-secret information. Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, is one who has not been able to obtain permanent clearance. One wonders whether this is a way for Kelly to diminish the power of a rival.
A bipartisan bill to give Dreamers permanent U.S. status died in the Senate this week. (The Dreamers were brought here as children as undocumented aliens by their parents.) Trump began this when last fall he rescinded President Obama’s executive order protecting the Dreamers from deportation (DACA”) and gave Congress until March 5 to act. In January he said that he would accept anything that Congress agreed upon. That carried as much weight as most of Trump’s promises.
After lengthy negotiations produced a bipartisan plan in the Senate that would legalize the Dreamers – and give Trump $25 billion for border security — the Trump administration strenuously lobbied Republican Senators to vote against the bill. After the legislation then reached only 54 of the needed 60 votes, even Republican Senators criticized Trump for killing the bill. It is not clear what will happen with the Dreamers now.
Tragically, 17 were killed in yet another school massacre this week, this time in Parkland Florida. The killer used an AR-15 assault rifle and the leader of a white nationalist group said the suspect was a member. In response, Trump called the assailant “mentally disturbed” but did not mention gun control. About a year ago Trump signed a bill making it easier for people with mental illness to purchase a gun. Mission accomplished, Mr. Trump.
On Friday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought indictments against 13 Russians and three Russian companies for violating U.S. criminal law by interfering in the 2016 election in favor of Trump. Many times previously, Trump has insisted that Russian meddling in the election is a hoax. Even H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security advisor, said after the indictments that Russian interference in the election was beyond dispute.
Trump responded to the news by claiming that the indictments showed that “The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!” Although that may have been directed at his base, the indictments showed no such thing, and everyone else in the known universe expects additional indictments in the future.
The indictments carried additional weight because they were announced by Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, who is the acting attorney general for the Russia probe. While the indictments will make it politically harder for Trump to fire Mueller or Rosenstein, they also dramatically increase the pressure on Trump to find a way to get rid of Mueller. Trump’s attorneys will likely use the careful language in the indictments to try to convince Trump not to remove Mueller. It’s not clear that they will succeed.