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Trump: Have I mentioned lately that Jeff Sessions was a total disaster and an embarrassment to his state?

Westlake Legal Group ts Trump: Have I mentioned lately that Jeff Sessions was a total disaster and an embarrassment to his state? Trump The Blog republican Jeff Sessions impeachment gop endorsement disaster attorney general Alabama

Every time I start to sympathize with Sessions, I remember how important his endorsement of Trump was in the 2016 primary and end up wishing Trump would bite him harder. Like a real-life version of Trump’s favorite song.

If Sessions had stayed out of the primary he might never have been Attorney General. But he’d still be a senator from Alabama and a figure beloved by Republican nationalists instead of unemployed and a perpetual whipping boy for their new favorite politician. You knew damn well he was a snake before you took him in, Jeff. How much sympathy can we really have?

There are two things that make these comments newsworthy.

GORKA: Last two questions. How are we doing, Mr. President, in defeating the Deep State?

TRUMP: Well, I think, if it all works out, I will consider it one of the greatest things I’ve done. You look at what’s happened to the absolute scum at the top of the FBI. You look at what’s happening over at the Justice Department, now we have a great attorney general. Whereas before that, with Jeff Sessions, it was a disaster. Just a total disaster. He was an embarrassment to the great state of Alabama. And I put him there because he endorsed me, and he wanted it so badly. And I wish he’d never endorsed me.

I can think of at least one other person who wishes Sessions had never endorsed Trump. Anyway, that’s newsworthy in the first place because Sessions himself recently had occasion to comment publicly on Trump — and was characteristically gracious, ignoring the many months of Twitter tirades he endured as AG:

In a speech to Alabama Republicans at a fundraiser Tuesday night, the former longtime senator said despite nearly two years of being publicly berated by Trump, “I still do support him” and his policies.

Sessions said Trump continues “relentlessly and actually honoring the promises he made to the American people,” such as “boldly” asserting the principles of the Republican Party, despite being engulfed in scandal after scandal. Sessions praised Trump’s trade maneuvers with China and his foreign policy and immigration moves…

“There was one problem as attorney general, that’s for sure, as you well know,” he told the crowd. “I like to say a lot of people get fired from their work, but mine was a little more public than most. You do the best you can. At least they don’t shoot you when they fire you.”

Much has been written (including by me) about Trump’s transactional nature but his capacity to pursue a vendetta long after it’s stopped being useful to him is constantly amazing. The most notorious example is him wandering off-script at official events occasionally to remind the audience how much he disliked the now long-dead John McCain but his Sessions grudge is almost as weird. We get it — he resents the fact that Sessions did something ethical by recusing himself from the Russiagate probe instead of acting like a southern-fried Roy Cohn. He’s raged about it at length literally for years now. In the end Mueller didn’t charge him and didn’t even give Democrats enough to impeach him for obstruction, and Trump finally ended up replacing Sessions with a much more accommodating AG. You’d think he’d be ready to shift towards more conciliatory talking points about Sessions — “a good man, didn’t agree with his recusal decision, but I’ll always be grateful for that endorsement,” and so on. Nope.

Which brings us to the other reason this is newsworthy. Jeff Sessions has a lot of friends in Mitch McConnell’s caucus, having spent 20 years in the Senate before being named AG. No doubt many of those friends are unhappy with how Sessions was demagogued by Trump during the Russiagate process. There’s also no doubt that some will be annoyed to see Trump still flogging him, long after POTUS stopped getting any political mileage from it. Some might even draw a lesson in loyalty from it: Sessions, who stuck his neck out to become the only U.S. senator willing to formally support Trump in 2016, was rewarded in due time with endless abuse. His early, even singular loyalty earned him nothing from the president.

These are the people who’ll soon be rendering a verdict on impeachment.

You would think Trump would be willing to make a few small concessions to their sensitivities even knowing how unlikely it is that that they’d ever vote to remove him, but instead he seems willing to antagonize them repeatedly and gratuitously. There’s today’s pummeling of Sessions. There’s his decision to step aside in northern Syria and let Turkey mash the Kurds, a decision seen by nearly every Republican in Congress as a grievous betrayal. There were the antics last week on the White House lawn when he called publicly on Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens, making it that much harder for Republicans to spin his phone call with Zelensky. It’s not just right-wingers on the Hill whom he’s feuding with either. He’s decided to escalate his attacks on Fox News, a key messenger in his impeachment media strategy:

He decided to make an enemy of John Bolton too by firing him just as the Ukraine matter was coming to a head behind closed doors, despite doubtless knowing of Bolton’s willingness to settle scores with his enemies via leaks to the media. News broke just this morning that Bolton is already writing a book about his experiences with Trump; whether he’s also been a source of the many damaging national-security scoops that have ended up in newspapers lately remains an open question.

Meanwhile, rising support for impeachment is making it that much easier for Senate Republicans who are weary of the daily circus to give removal a second look.

All of this feels like a domestic version of Trump’s trade-war policies. In each case he’s facing a formidable adversary, China on the one hand and House Democrats on the other. The logical thing to do strategically would be to make nice with allies, offering concessions as needed in hopes of assembling a united front against the enemy. Instead Trump lashes out indiscriminately at everyone, slapping tariffs on allies in the trade-war context and slapping Jeff Sessions across the face today in print knowing that Senate Republicans won’t like it. There’s no eight-dimensional chess here; there’s not even checkers. In both cases the “strategy” is simply brute-force intimidation, believing in the case of trade that allies will have no choice but to acquiesce to the demands of the American superpower and believing in the case of impeachment that Senate Republicans will have no choice but to acquiesce to the will of his voters, which is to protect Trump at all costs. A little bit of honey would make his life easier but it’s all vinegar:

In private, Trump is increasingly leaning on the Republican leader in the Senate. In a return to the President’s panicked behavior during the height of the Mueller investigation, Trump is calling McConnell as often as three times a day, according to a person familiar with the conversations…

Trump has been lashing out at GOP senators he sees as disloyal, according to the person familiar with the conversations, telling McConnell he will amplify attacks on those Republicans who criticize him.

Maybe tomorrow he’ll dump on Ronald Reagan during a press conference or call George W. Bush some names. See if he can alienate every last remaining Republican on the Hill who’s kinda sorta well disposed to him.

As long as he has people like this in conservative media willing to treat him like an actual king, he may figure that intimidation on the Hill is destined to work. The cultier the party becomes, the greater the risk to anyone who tries to leave the cult. Why make concessions to get your way if you can get it with threats instead?

The post Trump: Have I mentioned lately that Jeff Sessions was a total disaster and an embarrassment to his state? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Romney: I’m not endorsing anyone for president in 2020

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You didn’t think I’d deny you a thread to stomp on him for officially withholding his endorsement from Trump next year, did you?

He *is* showing some loyalty to Trump here. Kind of. There are now three different primary challengers to the president; Romney happens to be buddies with one of them, Bill Weld, and would doubtless heartily agree with another, Mark Sanford, that the Trump administration needs to take America’s looming fiscal crisis more seriously. And no one in the race this year sounds as much like Romney did in his (in)famous 2016 speech lambasting Trump as Joe Walsh, who lashes the president every day in media appearances for his character deficiencies. Instead of backing one, Mitt’s staying neutral.

You may remember that Trump endorsed Romney in 2012 in one of the more awkward joint photo ops in recent political history, when he was still mainly known in politics as the Birther-in-chief. Romney returned the favor four years later by writing in his wife’s name on his presidential ballot. Weld, of course, ran against Trump in 2016 as the Libertarian Party’s VP nominee before endorsing Hillary Clinton shortly before Election Day. Can’t any of these dudes pick a winner?

“I’m not planning on endorsing in the presidential race,” Romney, who has periodically sparred with Trump, told CNN in the Capitol. “At this stage, I’m not planning on endorsing in the primary or in the general.”…

On Thursday, Romney told CNN that he has concerns with the move by several states to cancel their primary contests in a bid to help Trump as he faces challenges from Weld, former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh and former South Carolina congressman and Gov. Mark Sanford.

“I would far prefer having an open primary, caucus, convention process … where people can be heard,” said Romney, who reiterated that he’s not running himself.

Should we read anything into him saying “at this stage”? I don’t think so. He’d gain nothing by endorsing Weld and would lose what little influence he has with Trump. He’s better off staying neutral and keeping up his mix of sporadic lacerating criticism of the president tempered by occasional praise.

A more interesting question than what Mitt will do is how many of the people on this list of former Never Trumpers will end up endorsing Trump for reelection. There were a lot of prominent Republicans who held out on backing the nominee in 2016, way more than I remember. People with some sort of personal grudge against Trump, like the Bushes or Carly Fiorina, will likely continue to hold out, I assume. But as an incumbent president, he’s likely to improve dramatically among Republican senators: Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee will definitely back him this time and Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, and Rob Portman are likely to. Trump may even flip the two Alaskans, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan. As for Ben Sasse, what choice does he have but to return the favor after Trump endorsed him earlier this week? The president may have saved his Senate seat for him by discouraging a primary insurrection among Trump fans in Nebraska. If Sasse were to insult him by withholding his support again, who knows how Trump — and Trumpers — would react.

We can safely say that if Sasse is planning to stay neutral, he won’t make that fact plain until after his primary.

I think ex-Never-Trumpers could actually be a useful campaign tool for Trump next year. Many swing voters will be wary of giving him a second term; an ad featuring someone like Mike Lee discussing Trump’s accomplishments and how he came to be more comfortable with the idea of Trump as president should be more relatable to those voters than someone doing the full Lou Dobbs “WE HAVE ENTERED A GOLDEN AGE” pitch for POTUS. Lee’s reluctance in 2016 would prove to skeptics that he understands their concerns about Trump, making his decision to back Trump this time that much more powerful.

In lieu of an exit question, here’s Dobbs last night sounding exceedingly Dobbs-ish.

The post Romney: I’m not endorsing anyone for president in 2020 appeared first on Hot Air.

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Wait, what? Trump endorses … Ben Sasse?

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Who’s more annoyed by this, Trumpers or anti-Trumpers?

One Trump fan on Twitter tried to cope with the news last night by suggesting that POTUS was using reverse psychology in endorsing a longtime critic. Reportedly he endorsed one Republican House member last year out of spite, because that congressman was from a battleground district and had tried to distance himself from Trump before the midterm elections. Trump refused to allow him that distance, punishing him instead with the rhetorical equivalent of a hug. Maybe he was doing the same thing to Sasse!

But … Sasse isn’t from a battleground. He’s from blood-red Nebraska and is facing a primary challenge. Trump’s endorsement is a godsend to him by signaling to Trumpers there that they shouldn’t give Sasse the Mark Sanford treatment in the primary. POTUS has all but singlehandedly ensured Sasse’s reelection by bestowing his blessing.

I can’t wait for them to campaign together.

Another longtime Trump critic who was facing a Sanford scenario himself next year before he quit the party couldn’t resist snickering at the news:

That’s why Sasse landed the Trump endorsement. He *used to be* an outspoken Trump critic. But since the 2016 election, when he refused to support the president, he’s gone the Mike Lee route, gradually dialing back his criticism until it’s all but disappeared. He’s still more willing than most to take a shot at Trump, in fairness; it’s just that he does it sporadically now and usually in the form of low-key press releases that no one reads. His final surrender came a few months ago when he voted against a bill to stop Trump from claiming emergency authority to fund the border wall, then concocted an embarrassing excuse blaming his vote on Pelosi for not going far enough in trying to curb presidential power. Anti-Trumpers were watching that vote closely to see if Sasse would dare cross Trump in a meaningful way or if his willingness to check the president was limited to snarky tweets.

We got our answer. So did the president, who rewarded Sasse last night. Critics accused Sasse at the time of having gone native in Washington, caring more about keeping his seat than keeping his principles about doing things by the book constitutionally. In hindsight it’s hard to read his vote any other way. It’s also a reminder, though, that Trump is more strategic towards some of his critics than he’s often given credit for. He held back on promoting a primary challenger to Sasse, doubtless in the hope that keeping him dangling would buy the Nebraskan’s silence whenever he’s tempted to criticize POTUS. It worked. It reminds me a bit of the (alleged) understanding between Trump and John Kelly: Kelly keeps his mouth about Trump so long as Trump is in office and Trump in turn has nothing but polite things to say about John Kelly. That’s the art of the deal. Sasse has learned.

Those who used to admire him are letting him have it today for agreeing to that deal:

For Sasse, the past several months have represented something akin to surrender in the war for the soul of modern conservatism. More significant than his voting record is the evolution in Sasse’s tone about Trump and his increasingly long periods of silence. He’s gone to apparent pains not to be perceived as a Never Trumper or to become a face of the Republican resistance, mostly by flying below the radar and not speaking out against the president on Fox News. His once prolific personal Twitter account has been dark since May. He rarely engages with reporters seeking comment on the story of the day in the corridors of the Capitol.

During the first year of the Trump presidency, Sasse was often snarky about Trump’s apostasies. His office has released fewer such statements to the press over time, increasingly avoiding the president by name unless it’s a compliment. Last year, Sasse blasted Trump’s tariffs as “dumb.” Back home during the August recess, he was quoted by small-town papers speaking in a more cautious and measured way about the trade war. Sasse also didn’t speak out after Trump tried to bring the Taliban to Camp David on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary, for example, nor as the president fired fellow hawk John Bolton.

It was almost exactly one year ago today that Sasse admitted he thought about leaving the Trump-era GOP every single morning. A very quiet year later, he has the official Trump endorsement. Tim Miller wonders how Sasse reckons with that:

I bet he tells himself that playing ball with Trump is, in its own strange way, the best thing he can do for Conservative Principles. If he goes the Amash route and turns his back on Trump, he’ll certainly be primaried and might very well lose. Result: A Trump stooge ends up taking Sasse’s seat in the Senate and suddenly there’s even less resistance to POTUS in the chamber than there was before. With Sasse there, at least Nebraska’s vote might *conceivably* be used to check Trump in a big spot when he needs checking.

Except … that big spot already came and went in the border-wall matter and Sasse voted Trump’s way. So what’s really the difference between having him and a more forthright Trump stooge in the seat? With Sasse you at least get some half-hearted rhetorical gestures towards limited government, I suppose.

It bears remembering today that Sasse’s entire “brand” as a politician is that he doesn’t like being in the Senate. He’s a scholar at heart, a guy who writes books about social problems like loneliness which legislation can’t easily reach. He chatters endlessly in pox-on-both-their-houses fashion about gridlock and petty partisanship in the chamber. He’s not relegated to a career as a lobbyist after his Senate career either: He has attractive options in academia available to him potentially. Why would he want a second term when he hasn’t seemed to enjoy his first term, has few options (or inclination, seemingly) to move major legislation in an era when Congress is dominated by party leadership, and has to reconcile himself to post-tea-party Trumpism as a governing model as the price for keeping his seat? The answer can only be pure prestige, I think. You sacrifice whatever you need to sacrifice to keep a Senate seat, period.

The post Wait, what? Trump endorses … Ben Sasse? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Romney: I might not endorse anyone for president next year

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You’re reading that headline and thinking, “WHO CARES?” But that’s Romney’s point. Who the hell pays attention to endorsements? They almost never matter. Mitt endorsing or not endorsing Trump won’t change a single vote in a country of 300 million people. Literally no one will care.

Except one person. And the fact that he cares means his fans will be forced to sort of care too, no?

Anyway, enjoy this as the closest Willard Mitt Romney will ever get to trolling someone:

“I don’t think endorsements are worth a thimble of spit,” the Republican former presidential candidate told reporters during an annual gathering of political leaders, wealthy donors and powerful businesspeople in the Utah ski-resort town of Park City. “I wouldn’t be surprised if I stay out of the endorsements.”

Romney wrote in the name of his wife, Ann, on his 2016 ballot and said Tuesday, “I still think she’s doing a fine job.”

Jake Tapper asked him last month about endorsing Trump as well. Romney dodged, adding:

“I think he could substantially improve his game when it comes to helping shape the character of the country,” Romney said, reiterating his pledge to speak up when he disagrees with Trump.

He also pointed out that he believes “young people as well as people around the world look at the president of the United States and say, ‘Does he exhibit the kind of qualities that we would want to emulate?’”

I’m guessing whether he endorses depends on who Trump’s opponent is. The more the Democratic nominee’s politics lend themselves to a “Flight 93 election” argument, the more pressure Romney will face to be a team player. If it’s Biden, with Dems offering the same ol’ Clintonesque center-left oatmeal, maybe Mitt sits out like he did in 2016. If it’s Bernie, with the GOP mobilizing to hold off the rising tide of socialism, possibly Romney throws in with Trump as the lesser evil.

I said up top that endorsements almost never matter but I should stress the “almost” part. I can think of several endorsements that mattered to presidential elections I’ve covered at HA. Chris Christie’s endorsement of Trump in 2016 kind of mattered, I’d argue, because it semi-officially signaled that Trump was a serious threat to win the nomination. Christie was the first big-name establishmentarian to get behind him, and establishmentarians tend not to waste their endorsements on fringey characters who can’t win. His support lent Trump a sense of legitimacy that he didn’t have before; suddenly the game-show host was the choice of the twice-elected governor of New Jersey. In retrospect it was the very first sign of Trump’s eventual total domination of the party.

Christie’s endorsement influenced the media coverage and conventional wisdom more so than it influenced voter opinion, I suspect, but I can think of endorsements that influenced voter opinion too. In 2008, both Ted Kennedy and Oprah almost certainly drove some Democratic primary voters towards Obama. Remember the narrative of that race: Hillary was the establishment choice, the next in line, world famous, whereas Obama was the young exciting longshot with a pipe dream about becoming the first black president. Hillary led big early, even among black Democrats, due to the perception that Obama had no chance. The more that perception changed, the more it snowballed: As Obama rose in the polls and drew some prominent endorsements, voters who liked him but were skeptical of his chances began to believe and switched to him from Hillary. Oprah endorsed him a few weeks before the Iowa caucuses; Kennedy endorsed him a few weeks after. Having two living legends in their respective fields back him was all he needed to prove that he was for real. He never looked back.

All of which is to say, whether it’s Christie endorsing Trump or Oprah and Teddy endorsing Obama, endorsements can matter by injecting mainstream credibility into a dark-horse “outsider” candidate’s campaign. But in the case of Romney and Trump, where one’s a sitting president who enjoys something like 94 percent approval within his party? Nah. Doesn’t matter even a little bit.

I’ll leave you with this clip recorded a billion trillion years ago in an alternate universe. In hindsight, this was an early display of Trump’s political acumen. Romney palpably didn’t care about Trump’s endorsement or even want it, given that his chief influence within the GOP at the time was as the country’s most outspoken Birther, but he knew that Trump would attack him relentlessly in interviews and on Twitter if he insulted Trump by rejecting his support. So he took the path of least resistance by showing up and accepting it, reluctantly, to spare himself a headache. I think he’s been trying to atone ever since. Oh, and by the way: If you’re still thinking “WHO CARES?” about Romney’s non-endorsement, click here and keep scrolling. Some people sure do seem to.

The post Romney: I might not endorse anyone for president next year appeared first on Hot Air.

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Reuters Spins a Tale of Scandal Involving Cohen and Falwell Jr. Over “Racy Photos”

Westlake Legal Group reuters-spins-a-tale-of-scandal-involving-cohen-and-falwell-jr-over-racy-photos Reuters Spins a Tale of Scandal Involving Cohen and Falwell Jr. Over “Racy Photos” Silly Theory Reuters Racy Photos Politics Non-story Michael Cohen media bias Jerry Fallwell Jr. Front Page Stories Front Page Featured Story endorsement donald trump

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The media think they have another bombshell on their hands.

This time it involves an “exclusive” by Reuters entitled “Trump Fixer Cohen Says He Helped Falwell Handle Racy Photos.” Sounds juicy, doesn’t it? Well, until you get into the details at least.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Months before evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr.’s game-changing presidential endorsement of Donald Trump in 2016, Falwell asked Trump fixer Michael Cohen for a personal favor, Cohen said in a recorded conversation reviewed by Reuters.

Falwell, president of Liberty University, one of the world’s largest Christian universities, said someone had come into possession of what Cohen described as racy “personal” photographs

So was Falwell having an affair that he needed Trump’s “fixer” to make go away? That’s certainly the impression you get from the headline. The answer? Nope.

…the sort that would typically be kept “between husband and wife,” Cohen said in the taped conversation.

Let me get this straight. Someone stole personal pictures of Falwell and his wife and the story to Reuters is that they sought to keep them private? The sheer level of scandal here is hard to comprehend. I had no idea husbands and wives do intimate things that they’d like to not be shown publicly. Thanks Reuters, for reporting this story which seeks to do nothing but embarrass someone.

They go on to suggest that Falwell Jr.’s endorsement might have been based on Cohen helping him take care of the issue with the photographs. Their evidence? Well, they have none, but when has that ever mattered?

Reuters has no evidence that Falwell’s endorsement of Trump was related to Cohen’s involvement in the photo matter. The source familiar with Cohen’s thinking insisted the endorsement and the help with the photographs were separate issues.

There was a time when the highlighted area meant this would have never gone to print. But we live under Trump rules now, which means anything that can even slightly poke at the President is worthy of publication.

In reality, Falwell Jr. was being illegally blackmailed.

The Falwells told Cohen that someone had obtained photographs that were embarrassing to them, and was demanding money, the source said. Reuters was unable to determine who made the demand. The source said Cohen flew to Florida and soon met with an attorney for the person with the photographs. Cohen spoke with the attorney, telling the lawyer that his client was committing a crime, and that law enforcement authorities would be called if the demands didn’t stop, the source said.

The matter was soon resolved, the source said, and the lawyer told Cohen that all of the photographs were destroyed.

Instead of reporting that as the primary story because blackmail is bad, Reuters chose to frame their headline and the majority of the story as Falwell Jr. having some scandalous activity covered up by Michael Cohen in exchange for an endorsement.

That’s journalism today.

My personal opinion of Jerry Falwell Jr. is pretty low. Despite that, I have no problem saying that this is garbage reporting. The headline alone appears slanderous in its purposeful omission. They could have easily put “…with his wife” after “racy photos” and it would have still fit fine. They didn’t do so for obvious reasons.

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The post Reuters Spins a Tale of Scandal Involving Cohen and Falwell Jr. Over “Racy Photos” appeared first on RedState.

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Everyone wants the John Lewis endorsement, but his last one was rather tainted

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Westlake Legal Group JohnLewis Everyone wants the John Lewis endorsement, but his last one was rather tainted The Blog John Lewis Joe Biden Hillary Clinton endorsement Bill Clinton Bernie Sanders 2020 Democrat primaries

The endorsement race in the Democrats’ 2020 primary battle has already begun, with candidates scurrying around trying to get influential figures signed on to add some heft to their bid. As The Hill reports this week, one person with a very full dance card is civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis. His leadership in the Congressional Black Caucus (in addition to his remarkable personal history) is seen as key to shoring up support with minority voters. And according to Lewis, the candidates have already come calling.

Democrats making bids for the White House are clamoring to lock down support from Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), whose endorsement is among the most coveted on Capitol Hill.

The iconic civil rights leader, who switched his endorsement from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama in 2008, is holding off on backing a candidate as he considers the massive field of contenders.

In an interview with The Hill, Lewis said “several” 2020 contenders had swung by his office to seek his advice or an endorsement.

This is all perfectly understandable, as is Lewis’ hesitance to throw his weight behind anyone this early in the race. But as the Democrats scramble to catch the congressman’s attention, it’s worth keeping in mind that his 2016 endorsement generated some questions in terms of either the accuracy of his memory or his truthfulness. You didn’t hear much about it in the mainstream press, of course, because questioning anything to do with Lewis is seen as distasteful, but I wrote about it here back in February of 2016.

As I mentioned above, John Lewis is, without a doubt, a legendary icon in the civil rights movement. And he has devoted nearly all of his adult life to public service, for which he deserves the nation’s gratitude. He is also, however, a human being, and a politician to boot. That means he comes with the same fallibility and potential flaws as the rest of us. That may have been on display when he announced his endorsement of Hillary Clinton on the Capitol steps alongside many members of the CBC that year. All of the details are in the article I linked above, but here are the basic highlights.

Keep in mind that when Lewis was endorsing Clinton, he got in a bit of a shot at Bernie Sanders in terms of his history on civil rights activism. “To be very frank, I never saw [Bernie Sanders], I never met him,” Lewis said. Then he went on to make the following claim about Hillary Clinton and her husband. “I chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years, from 1963-1966. I was involved in sit-ins, Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, the March from Selma to Montgomery … but I met Hillary Clinton, I met President Clinton.”

That’s a pretty powerful endorsement. But is it true? To learn the details we can look to a source that is hardly any sort of right-wing attack dog. We can read the work of Janis F. Kearney, who served as the Presidential Diarist to President Bill Clinton from 1995 – 2001. She published a book in 2006 titled Conversations: William Jefferson Clinton: from Hope to Harlem. It tells the stories of Black Americans from the south during the civil rights era and how their experiences shaped Bill Clinton’s views on civil rights, including many personal stories from black leaders who knew him.

There’s one entire chapter dedicated to John Lewis and it’s composed almost entirely of direct quotes from him. Let’s see what he had to say about the Clintons back then. (Emphasis added)

The first time I heard of Bill Clinton was in the early ’70s. I was living in Georgia, working for the Southern Poverty Law organization, when someone told me about this young, emerging leader in Arkansas who served as attorney general, then later became governor…

I think I paid more attention to him at the 1988 Democratic Convention, when he was asked to introduce the presidential candidate and took up far more time than was allotted to him. After he became involved with the Democratic Leadership Council, I would run into him from time to time. But it was one of his aides, Rodney Slater, who actually introduced us in 1991 and asked me if I would support his presidency.

So Lewis told Clinton’s diarist that he’d first “heard of him” in the early seventies. Then he noticed him more in 1988. And at no time does he even mention Hillary in all of his. Then they finally get to meet in person… in 1991.

Rodney gets the credit for convincing me that Bill Clinton was “the man,” when he told me all he had done in Arkansas to help change the layout of that state. In the summer of 1991, I hosted a breakfast for him in the Rayburn building. Congressmen Mike Espy and Bill Jefferson were there. The three of us were trying to convince the Democratic Black Caucus to endorse Clinton. Most Northern members didn’t know him and wasn’t very interested

What was so striking about Bill Clinton was that here was a governor and a presidential candidate, and he actually made you feel as if he knew he needed you. He was warm, engaging, and comfortable with the African American audience. We literally began to feel he was one of us. The people there were amazed to see this white Southerner so comfortable around blacks.

So he never met the Clintons until 1991. And even then, he and many members of the CBC were “amazed” to see him being “so comfortable around blacks.” If he’d known Hillary Clinton long before, how would he have not known her far more famous husband? Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has significant evidence of all the college sit-ins and protests for civil rights he participated in as a 1960s hippie in Chicago. But Lewis’ endorsement tells a very different tale.

In any event, none of this detracts from Lewis’ own place in the history of the civil rights movement and I’m sure the candidates will continue to chase after his endorsement. All I’m saying is, when he eventually does endorse somebody, make sure you double check all the details.

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Cuomo on Biden: “You don’t hire a pilot who’s never flown a plane”

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Despite being tragically white, male, straight, cisgendered and elderly, former Vice President Joe Biden continues to lead in polling for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. This has been true in surveys taken both nationally and in the early primary states. And now he’s starting to rack up some endorsements. One of the first out of the gate to jump on the Biden bandwagon, however, might not be exactly the sort of endorsement Joe is looking for. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has looked over the field and decided that Biden is the right man for the job. (Washington Post)

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said Wednesday that Joe Biden “has the best case” to be president among those in the large field of Democrats eyeing 2020 White House campaigns.

Cuomo, who has ruled out a presidential bid of his own, offered his “two cents” on his fellow Democrats during a radio interview in which he argued that Biden’s experience as vice president makes him stand out.

“I think Joe Biden has the best case because he brings the most of the secret ingredient you need to win for a Democrat, which is credibility,” Cuomo said in a radio interview with WAMC, a public radio network headquartered in Albany. “You don’t hire an airline pilot who has never flown a plane. Joe Biden can say ‘I was there — I was not the president, but I was the second seat.’ ”

This rambling explanation offered during a local radio interview was a bit hard to follow, but it was definitely an endorsement. And to give credit where due, Cuomo is absolutely correct about Biden. He has extensive experience in both legislative and executive duties. His approval ratings and name recognition are the envy of most politicians. If you can look past his age (and he’s only four years older than Donald Trump), he’s the complete package on paper.

Is experience all that really counts in this race, though? Back in 2008, Cuomo was the Attorney General of New York State and was preparing to run for Governor. I don’t recall him having any objections to Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee. And yet Obama had arguably less experience than almost anyone in the anticipated Democratic nomination race this year.

Be that as it may, as I suggested above, Biden might not be all that thrilled with this particular show of support. Was this the best time to offer an endorsement, coming within 24 hours of yet another Cuomo donor barely escaping a guilty verdict in a corruption trial? Yes, that’s right. Another Cuomo crony was making all the wrong sorts of headlines just before this radio interview aired. (NY Post)

Will we ever see another public official convicted for a clear-cut case of bribery and corruption? The odds against it keep getting longer.

The latest shock came Wednesday, when a Manhattan federal court jury acquitted former NYPD Deputy Inspector James Grant on charges he took bribes in return for special police favors for businessman Jeremy Reichberg.

This was the same James Grant that was involved in the private jets full of hookers heading to Vegas story we covered here previously. Cuomo’s administration has the stench of corruption covering it like a dumpster fire on a hot summer day. None of that was enough to stop him from being reelected, of course, because… New York. But Biden could probably have his choice of many high-profile Democrats lining up to support him. It will be interesting to see how tightly he embraces Cuomo’s support if he makes his candidacy official this month.

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