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Here’s why a Dem victory in Wisconsin last night was a big deal

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WASHINGTON — A state Supreme Court race in Wisconsin followed a familiar pattern we’ve seen over the past year in other contests during the Trump Era: Democrats are way overperforming from 2016 and even before that.

“Rebecca Dallet trounced Michael Screnock on Tuesday for a seat on the state Supreme Court, shrinking the court’s conservative majority and giving Democrats a jolt of energy heading into the fall election,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. “It marked the first time in 23 years that a liberal candidate who wasn’t an incumbent won a seat on the high court.”

 Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet Scott Bauer / AP file

Dallet beat Screnock statewide by 12 points out of about 1 million votes cast, 56 percent to 44 percent. Remember, in 2016, Trump won Wisconsin 47 percent to 46 percent. And in 2012, Obama won it by 7 points, 53 percent to 46 percent.

And here are the results from some key counties:

Brown (Green Bay)

2012: Mitt Romney 50 percent, Barack Obama 49 percent

2016: Trump 52 percent, Clinton 41 percent

2018: Dallet 55 percent, Screnock 45 percent

Dane (Madison)

2012: Obama 71 percent, Romney 28 percent

2016: Clinton 70 percent, Trump 23 percent

2018: Dallet 81 percent, Screnock 19 percent

Eau Claire

2012: Obama 56 percent, Romney 42 percent

2016: Clinton 50 percent, Trump 42 percent

2018: Dallet 64 percent, Screnock 36 percent

Kenosha

2012: Obama 56 percent, Romney 43 percent

2016: Trump 47 percent, Clinton 47 percent

2018: Dallet 57 percent, Screnock 43 percent

Milwaukee

2012: Obama 68 percent, Romney 32 percent

2016: Clinton 66 percent, Trump 29 percent

2018: Dallet 66 percent, Screnock 34 percent

Waukesha (outside of Milwaukee)

2012: Romney 67 percent, Obama 32 percent

2016: Trump 60 percent, Clinton 33 percent

2018: Screnock 64 percent, Dallet 36 percent

Bottom line: Dallet’s margins were about equal to Democrats’ 2012/2016 performance in the urban areas, and they were significantly better in more rural counties. (Just as an aide, but with the teacher rebellions in Oklahoma and West Virginia, is there something going on in rural America that Team Trump is missing?)

“This is freaking code RED,”said MSNBC GOP analyst Charlie Sykes, who hails from Wisconsin.

GOP Gov. Scott Walker, who’s up for re-election in 2018, tweeted:

Begun the trade war has

The Star Wars reference here is intentional – this U.S.-vs.-China battle over tariffs is straight out of the George Lucas prequels.Bloomberg News: “China said it would levy an additional 25 percent tariff on imports of 106 U.S. products including soybeans, automobiles, chemicals and aircraft, in response to proposed American duties on its high-tech goods.”

CNBC adds that, as of 7:00 am ET this morning, Dow Jones futures had dropped more than 500 points due to worries about this standoff over tariffs.

We agree with the take from Bloomberg’s morning “Balance of Power” newsletter: This is a standoff that both sides – Trump and China – think they can win. “Trump sees China’s economy as fragile and is betting that Xi will force through reforms before risking instability, according to Scott Kennedy, a China scholar at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. Xi, on the other hand, doesn’t think Trump can endure much political pain or equity market losses, and will likely take a quick deal.”

This morning, Trump tweeted:

So in other words: Yes, we’re in a trade war…

WaPo: What Mueller has told Trump’s team so far

Turning to the Mueller investigation, last night’s Washington Post scoop contained two big pieces of news: 1) Mueller is investigating President Trump but doesn’t consider him a target AT THIS TIME, and 2) Mueller is preparing a report about the president’s actions while in office, including potential obstruction of justice.

“In private negotiations in early March about a possible presidential interview, Mueller described Trump as a subject of his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Prosecutors view someone as a subject when that person has engaged in conduct that is under investigation but there is not sufficient evidence to bring charges,” the Post reports. “Mueller reiterated the need to interview Trump — both to understand whether he had any corrupt intent to thwart the Russia investigation and to complete this portion of his probe, the people said.”

More: “The president and some of his allies seized on the special counsel’s words as an assurance that Trump’s risk of criminal jeopardy is low. Other advisers, however, noted that subjects of investigations can easily become indicted targets — and expressed concern that the special prosecutor was baiting Trump into an interview that could put the president in legal peril.”

Trump says no one has been tougher than he has on Russia. His outgoing national security adviser appears to disagree

At his news conference with Baltic leaders yesterday, President Trump declared, “No one has been tougher on Russia than I have.”

But check out these words from outgoing National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who said the U.S. could be doing much more against Russia: “For too long, some nations have looked the other way in the face of these threats. Russia brazenly, and implausibly denies its actions, and we have failed to impose sufficient costs,” McMaster said in a speech to the Atlantic Council, per Politico.

“The three-star Army general added that Russian President Vladimir Putin believes he is ‘winning’ through the county’s ‘hybrid warfare,’ which ‘combines political, economic, informational, and cyber assaults against sovereign nations.’ But, he argued, the U.S. and its allies will prevail. ‘We will triumph over new threats, including those posed by Russia’s increased aggression around the world,’ he said.”



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Northern Ireland Protocol 'dead in the water' claims Boris ally as Brexit fears reemerge

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THE NORTHERN IRELAND Protocol is “dead in the water”, according to a senior ally of the Prime Minister.

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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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