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Trump returns to the immigration playbook

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And speaking of bullying and creating alternative realities, here’s Jill McCabe, wife of fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, writing in the Washington Post: “Andrew’s involvement in the Clinton investigation came not only after the contributions were made to my campaign but also after the race was over. Since that news report, there have been thousands more, repeating the false allegation that there was some connection between my campaign and my husband’s role at the FBI… To have my personal reputation and integrity and those of my family attacked this way is beyond horrible. It feels awful every day. It keeps me up nights. I made the decision to run for office because I was trying to help people. Instead, it turned into something that was used to attack our family, my husband’s career and the entire FBI.”

Update on Trump’s Great Economic Experiment

A month ago, we noted that Trump – cutting taxes during a time of near full unemployment and instituting new tariffs that could potentially spark a trade war – was embarking on a great economic experiment. Well, here’s an update:

“The Chinese government hit back Monday at President Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum by acting on a threat to put tariffs as high as 25 percent on imports of 128 American-made products, including pork and seamless steel pipes,” the New York Times says.

What’s more, the Times adds, stock markets plunged yesterday. “Even after a fast start to 2018, stock markets finished the first quarter down for the year — the first quarterly decline since 2015. It suggested that a period of calm and steadily rising markets had given way to a turbulent new era with a bearish bent.”

By the way, the Dow has been up 19 percent since Trump took office. By comparison, it was up 32 percent for Barack Obama during the same time period (from inauguration to the April of his second year as president).

Roger Stone’s August 2016 email

“I dined with Julian Assange last night”: Turning to the Russia investigation, longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone has insisted he was joking about his references contacting WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. But the Wall Street Journal has this: “In an email dated Aug. 4, 2016, Mr. Stone wrote: ‘I dined with Julian Assange last night,’ according to a copy of the message reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Stone is a longtime informal adviser to President Donald Trump who at that point had no official campaign role.”

“In an interview, Mr. Stone said the email to Mr. Nunberg was a joke and that he never communicated with Mr. Assange in 2016. ‘I never dined with Assange,’ he said. The email ‘doesn’t have any significance because I probably didn’t go…there was no such meeting. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. This was said in jest.'”

This would be pretty easy to fact-check: Was Stone in London in August 2016?

Embattled Esty won’t run for re-election

“Connecticut U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty said Monday she won’t seek re-election amid calls for her to resign because of her handling of a sexual harassment case involving her former chief of staff,” the AP wrote yesterday. “The Democrat issued a statement saying she has determined it’s in the best interest of her constituents and her family to end her time in Congress at the end of this year ‘and not seek re-election.’ Esty is in the middle of her third term.”

The Connecticut Post first reported last week on Esty’s handling of that sexual harassment case.

The Cook Political Report has moved the race from Solid Democratic to Likely Democratic, writing: “The 5th CD is the most competitive district in Connecticut. Its Cook PVI score is D+2, making it less Democratic than all but two other New England districts. In 2016, it voted for Hillary Clinton 50 percent to 46 percent, down from President Obama’s eight-point margin in 2012… In light of her self-inflicted scandal, Esty’s exit is probably good news for Democrats’ chances of holding the seat. Connecticut’s filing deadline (June 8) and primary (August 14) are relatively late, so both parties more than two months to plot their course.”

Rundown on the 2018 midterms

In case you missed them, here are some of the recent midterm developments that we’ve chronicled on our “Rundown” blog: Dem donor Tom Steyer, who has been airing TV ads calling for President Trump’s impeachment, said he’s not looking beyond the midterms… And late last week, Joe Biden said he was endorsing Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

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Matt Gaetz equates sex trafficking investigation with earmarks in Ohio speech

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STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican mired in controversy, told a crowd of Republican activists Saturday that sexual misconduct allegations involving him are as benign as legislative earmarks.

“I’m being falsely accused of exchanging money for naughty favors,” Gaetz said at the Ohio Political Summit, a gathering sponsored by the Strongsville GOP in suburban Cleveland. “Yet, Congress has reinstituted a process that legalizes the corrupt act of exchanging money for favors, through earmarks, and everybody knows that that’s the corruption.”

Gaetz’s keynote speech came a day after Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax official and associate of the congressman, pleaded guilty to six charges and is cooperating in a federal sex trafficking investigation. Federal officials are looking into whether Gaetz and Greenberg used the internet to find women they could pay for sex and whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a minor he paid to travel with him, the New York Times reported.

Documents filed in connection the Greenberg’s plea agreement do not mention Gaetz. He has not been charged with a crime and has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

An audience of at least 400 in person and others online turned out for the event, billed as a major forum ahead of the 2022 midterm election. A dozen or so guests trickled out after hearing from conservative commentator Candace Owens, who spoke before Gaetz, who delivered the final speech of the afternoon. But Gaetz received a standing ovation from those who stayed, and a dozen or so others lingered afterward for autographs and selfies.

Several Republican candidates for governor and U.S. House and Senate, had planned to address the crowd but backed out in recent days. Representatives from their campaigns declined to say why on the record, but all of them had committed before Gaetz was added to the program. Another scheduled keynote speaker, Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., didn’t show.

To fill the time, organizers used everything from video footage from Trump rallies to a local conservative radio host and others who acknowledged on stage that they had been pressed into speaking duty at the last minute.

The scene at a suburban banquet hall offered a preview of how GOP campaigns, particularly in messy primaries, will proceed over the next 18 months. Strongsville is the center of Ohio’s 16th congressional district, represented by Anthony Gonzalez, one of the few Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. The Ohio Republican Party, nudged along by the Strongsville GOP, has called on Gonzalez to resign. Here, many people believe the lie that the last election was stolen. (“Trump Won,” read a bumper sticker in the parking lot.)

Attendees booed whenever someone mentioned Gonzalez or Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican who has become a villain to many in the party base for his acceptance of the 2020 election results and his cautious approach to the coronavirus pandemic. Far-right activists have taken to calling DeWine a RINO, or Republican In Name Only. If DeWine is renominated next year — and this week former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale got behind former Rep. Jim Renacci as a potential primary challenger — some are considering protest votes.

“I’ll vote for Nan Whaley before I vote for Mike DeWine,” said Dave Desser, a Toledo businessman who is pushing a No More DeWine effort online. Whaley, the mayor of Dayton, is a Democratic candidate for governor whose team relishes such intramural GOP squabbling.

Aware they’d be on hostile ground, DeWine and Gonzalez had never planned to attend Saturday’s summit. Renacci bailed after Gaetz was added to the program. Max Miller, a former Trump White House aide who is challenging Gonzalez with the former-president’s endorsement, appeared via a pre-taped video. That left Joe Blystone and Jonah Schulz, lesser-known candidates for governor and the Ohio 16th, respectively, with the audience to themselves.

“We’re going to Trump this state,” said Blystone, a farmer who campaigns in a cowboy hat.

The most prominent 2022 candidate to speak was Josh Mandel, a former state treasurer who has aggressively positioned himself as the most pro-Trump candidate in the Senate race. At one point Mandel, who is seeking retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s seat, went on an extended attack against a reporter, making sure attendees knew she was in the room as he read her tweets aloud. Mandel also revved up the crowd by lying about the 2020 election.

“Let me be very clear, this election was stolen from Donald Trump,” Mandel said. “My squishy establishment opponents in this race won’t say those words. But I will.”

Gaetz spent much of his speech railing against establishment Republicans such as Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, and Paul Ryan, the former House speaker from Wisconsin. He praised one Ohio congressman, Rep. Jim Jordan, saying he aspired to be “the Robin to his Batman,” while castigating another, Gonzalez, a former first-round NFL draft pick who played in parts of five seasons.

“Is it likely that the Anthony Gonzalez congressional career might mirror the Anthony Gonzalez NFL career?” Gaetz wondered. “Whole lot of hype, first round draft pick, out in four years.”

The absent Gonzalez appeared to issue a subtle rebuke of Gaetz and the Strongsville GOP from afar.

“Ending child exploitation remains one of my top policy initiatives in Congress,” Gonzalez, alluding to the controversy surrounding Gaetz, tweeted during the event. “Anyone engaged in these heinous acts needs to be held accountable and taken off the streets.”



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Confusing pension statements to be banned in huge retirement shake-up

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PENSION providers are to be forced to give much clearer information to people saving for retirement under new regulations being introduced by the government.

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Labour warned over antisemitism AGAIN as MPs turn on Israel

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Labour MPs attacking Israel on social media have been warned they risk stoking division within Britain with Jewish communities this week being forced to bring in extra security after an increased level of threats.

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