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I confess I’m stunned. I’ve told you again and again that the iron law of 21st century Israeli politics is that Netanyahu always wins. The election he’s finally going to lose, the coalition he’s never going to hold together – fuggedaboutit, he always figures it out; he always threads the needle. Yet, only a couple hours ago, he finally didn’t. Netanyahu managed what seemed like a come from behind election victory on April 9th of this year. But he turned out not to be able to assemble a government. He got together 60 Knesset members. But he needed 61. He held out dissolving the Knesset and holding new elections as a doomsday cudgel to get everyone in line. But it didn’t work. Now the country will return to the second election in only a few months. It is the first time in Israeli history that an election has failed to produce a government.
Let me explain what happened.
I was out at a long scheduled meeting when Robert Mueller gave his statement a short time ago. Here’s Tierney Sneed’s write up. The upshot to me is that he has to testify in public. He’s made clear he doesn’t want to. But half of life is made up of things we’d rather not do. And my takeaway is that the Congress has to approach securing his testimony with the same determination and teeth they’re using with the bad-acting administration officials. That’s not because I see him as a bad actor. It’s simply because he has to testify, time is of the essence and the decision is up to Congress.
Robert Mueller to make statement from the Justice Department at 11 a.m. ET. Will not take questions. More soon.
I checked my email this morning and a number of you wrote in asking about some version of this oped by Steven Rattner in The New York Times. You flagged either the original piece or various other publications picking up the underlying studies or riffing on the Times article. If you haven’t read it, Rattner notes a number of economic models which have predicted election outcomes in the past. They tell us now that, contrary to the polls, President Trump is a solid favorite for reelection.
Is this true?
For those of you who’ve been trying to make sense of the EU elections and especially the EU elections in the UK, I wanted to add a few thoughts. First, the results are a bit muddled and contradictory. But they’re also mired in a fair amount of misunderstandings and misleading spin and gloss. Rightwing parties did do well in a lot of EU countries. But in most they either underperformed expectations or fell from previous highs in the 2014 EU election. The big story overall is the decline or in some cases near collapse of the traditional parties of government – center-right and center-left – in lots of countries, particularly heartland EU countries like Germany, France, the UK, et al.
Let’s focus in on the UK.
I should note that after a day of saturation coverage of those doctored Pelosi hoax videos Facebook continues to slow roll taking them down. Theyir current stance is still that they’ve been “enqueued” the videos for review by third party fact-checkers, a group that includes publications such as The Daily Caller among others.
For now they continue to derive ad and data revenues from the video and curry favor with the President of the United States by keeping it online.
For everyone who’s been worried about Attorney General Bill Barr’s lawless reign at the Department of Justice last night was the big moment. As you’ve likely already seen President Trump gave Barr blanket authority to access and declassify any and all classified information from the country’s dozen and a half intelligence agencies in his quest to “investigate the investigators” of the Russia scandal.There’s hardly any way to overstate just how big a deal this is or how dangerous it is in the hands of a corrupt official like Bill Barr.
As Kate Riga reported earlier, someone has created a series of highly realistic and yet provably doctored videos running on Facebook which appear to show Nancy Pelosi slurring her speech or drunk. The Post was first on this, showing conclusively how the doctoring had happened and the real video it was based on.
This is a growing issue, the increasing ability to created phony videos which look very real and are very difficult to show are not real. They are referred to as “deepfakes” and they’re getting talked about more and more in media and intelligence circles.
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The NRA is suing its longtime ad firm, Ackerman McQueen, for another $40 million for allegedly mounting a campaign of leaked emails to foment a coup at the NRA.
TPM’s Josh Kovensky was in the courtroom today when a federal judge rejected Trump’s attempt to halt a congressional subpoena issued to Deutsche Bank and Capitol One. Read his report from the courtroom, where the judge said Trump’s case was not “serious”and said that Congress’ authority is “well-settled.”
President Trump has made a surprise appearance in the White House’s Rose Garden to discuss — what else? — the Mueller report.
His podium is decked out with statistics about the Mueller investigation alongside the President’s mantra: “NO collusion, NO obstruction.”
Podium set up in the Rose Garden with statistics on the Mueller investigation. pic.twitter.com/cZMytbKbvS
— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) May 22, 2019
The Washington Post has gotten hold of a draft internal IRS memo which argues that the IRS and Treasury Department have no choice but to hand over the President’s taxes.
This seems like little more than a legal analysis that states what I think everyone who has looked at the law understands, which is that it’s crystal clear: To follow the law they have no choice but to hand over the returns. The only real argument I’ve seen from conservatives is that the law itself is unconstitutional. But the text of the law is clear.
Yesterday we got the first court ruling in Congress’ battle to conduct oversight of President Trump. The judge issued a broad decision that affirmed Congress’ oversight authority, rather than narrowly ruling on the subpoena for Trump’s accountant, Mazars. TPM’s Josh Kovensky talked to legal experts who provide a very helpful lens through which to read the ruling. It’s worth a look.
Some very interesting numbers in a just released Quinnipiac Poll.
Here are numbers that jump out to me.
President Trump’s numbers are 38% approve, 57% disapprove. On May 2nd those numbers were 41%-55%. 54% of voters say they would “definitely not vote” for President Trump. 31% say they’d “definitely vote” for him.