The Fix's Ask Aaron: The week in politics

Aug 17, 2018

The Fix's senior reporter Aaron Blake chats with readers in his weekly politics chat series.

Welcome to Ask Aaron. Apologies for a bit of a late start today. Let's get on with it!

When Aaron officially cancels the chat. 12:09pm

Ye of little faith.

Are they still out?

I hope the reporters covering this don't have vacations scheduled for next week like I do!

Isn't there some sort of process for revoking a security clearance? Does Trump really get to say it on a whim?

It does appear to be something he can do at the drop of a hat-- kind of like declassifying information or pardoning people. But there are some legal questions here, which I'm getting to in a post that goes up shortly (it's why I was late!).

UPDATE: Here is the link -- https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/08/17/how-trumps-security-clearance-gambit-could-actually-get-him-deeper-trouble-with-mueller/

Not sure if you all still do "worst week"... If you do, Andrew Cuomo wins by a Reagan like landslide. I don't get why he thinks, even in a Dem primary, saying the country is irredeemable is a winning message.

He walked it back VERY quickly, which tells you just about everything you need to know. I'm not sure what he was thinking. Democrats have argued that Trump's slogan is a nostalgic dog-whistle, but that's different from saying American is and has never been great.

Hi Aaron -- great to see you on TV last night. I have to say I was pretty stunned by how quickly McConnell and Ryan came out with that joint statement not only condemning Trump for using a derogatory term against a former staffer, an African American woman, but also expressing alarm that it appears the Trump campaign tried to buy her silence after she was fired. (Just a little sarcasm there, in case you didn't notice). Seriously, though, how long can they stay on the sidelines? Or is Ryan just counting the days?

They don't weight in on most things, and I don't think this will be the exception. Omarosa is an unsympathetic enough character that they will feel fine not denouncing Trump for this. As long as there is plausible deniability...

If it turns out he said the n-word, or all the other bad words, will it make a difference? Maybe if he says them in Russian?

Context would obviously be important. I do think it's possible that he would say it in a way that plenty of his supporters -- if not all -- would be able to look past. It's just so difficult to know without seeing it or hearing it (if it exists, which is still a big if).

(Sorry I forgot to post the answer last week) Dogs kill about 250 each year, hippos kill 500. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-36320744

The more you know.

While I think it is likely that the Dems pick up 40-65 House seats, I'm predicting that Republicans will own 5/6 or possible all 6 Governorships in New England after November... is that a long shot?

Hoo boy. Interesting idea! Our polarization doesn't seem to extend to state executive offices, even in this age.

This is a good story idea for Amber!

Thoughts on the win last weekend?

Did nothing to temper my over-enthusiasm. If that defense can hold up, this team is capable of anything.

Please tell Amber Fix we liked her 'Top 10 Governorships about to flip' report!

I shall! Link here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/08/17/top-governors-races-heavily-favor-democrats/

Crickets?? I guess that's to be expected.

Lots of them have actually aired grievances with Brennan! Some of them have said despite those grievances, this is a step too far.

They're hoping it's one-off and, as Paul Ryan said, he's just trolling us. But the trolling stopped the moment Trump actually did this. And it sounds like her wants more.

How is your dad planning on spending all that sweet, sweet #Resistance GoFundMe cash?

Looks like my inheritance is safe, after all.

How surprised are you that he not only lost but got destroyed? I thought he would have won in the general but obviously he has lost favor with the state.

Lots of people are talking about how it's a reflection of the Trump era, but we've seen Minnesota Republicans buck a more moderate GOP governor before. They didn't even renominate Gov. Arne Carlson in 1990!

Lack of enthusiasm? Lack of planning? Ballooning cost? Other?

Mostly because there are a ton of people who don't want it -- including in his administration -- who are all searching for ways to prevent it.

Oh please, it's human beings.

Fair.

The end of summer or John Kelly resigns?

End of summer. I'd bet the farm.

Is he really in trouble or is this just a fantasy for the left?

My theory on Texas remains, even with demographic changes: Democrats can get to 45% in a good year, maybe even 47 or 48%. Getting that last couple points is just SO difficult.

What context could possibly justify Trump's use of the n-word? Other than a scholarly discussion of its etymology, I'm not sure there is one.

For his base? Maybe quoting someone, using it sarcastically -- something like that. They've forgiven plenty of things, and they'll look for a way to do it again.

Not exactly an "Ask not what your Country can do for you..." moment there, was it?

It also was kind of lazy. He's usually such a good quote, but "butthead" just didn't do it for me.

Any more word on what Trump promised Putin in there?

We still have almost no idea what was said in that meeting, and the White House apparently isn't about to tell us.

I liked it better as "drop of a hate". Sorry it got changed to "hat".

Sorry to burst all your Freudian bubbles.

Was this Trump basically wanting to change the subject by pulling Brennan's clearance?

I don't doubt that was part of it. But creating new fires to distract from other fires seems like a questionable strategy. And Omarosa sounds like she has enough content for a long time.

Was her apology about presenting false data on African-American job creation a one-off? Can we expect to see more of this behaviour from her? Or is this a sign that there are limits to what the administration thinks it can get away with?

She apologized in this cause because there was really no plausible explanation for her data -- not even a conspiratorial one about bogus numbers from the past administration. 

Do you think the President ever intended to have his parade? Or was it more a matter of providing him with one ore opportunity to play the aggrieved card when the inevitable happened?

I actually think he wants it. It totally fits with his M.O.

I'm assuming it won't be a focus on the issues, since he's too lazy and unfocused to actually learn anything. We're in for the most vitriolic, negative campaign ever, aren't we? (And if Kamala Harris - who I support - is the nominee the racial invective will be unprecedented too.)

We tend to gloss over how nasty campaigns of the past have been. But I would wager this will be one of the most consistently nasty in American history. Trump is always pushing the envelope, and it will only become more controversial and bare-knuckle.

It sounded to me as though she was throwing a government agency under the bus. Deep state, anyone?

Well the Council of Economic Advisers isn't exactly a Cabinet department. It's full of Trump appointees and is basically an arm of the White House.

The only way Cruz loses, IMO, is if enough Republicans are demoralized and stay home. It's not really possible right now for Dems to increase their turnout by enough to win if the usual Republican voters show up at the polls.

I think Cruz is compelling enough for conservatives that they'll come out for him.

The cynic in me thinks that the fight over the Kavanaugh papers is all a show for the Democratic base, that not a single Senator will read any of them and nobody's vote will be changed. Agree or not?

There is certainly something to be said for Democrats needing to look like they fought the good fight -- and to maybe gain some concessions for the next argument. I just don't really see the desire to press this too hard, though.

That was quite a fast rise and even faster fall for him. I don't understand when you worth 60 million you would be willing to ruin your life over $750 thousand...

I think the problem was that it wasn't his $750k; it was other people's. That money meant a lot to them, and it was people who were going to be your in-laws.

How does this keep getting weirder? One day I think we're at the bottom. The next day we're digging. I just keep wondering what historians are going to think of these 4 years, 50 years from now.

I'm sure President North West will have it all figured out by then.

Hi Aaron- when the President says Make America Great Again, do you have any sense of when he thinks we were not Great?

Well technically it would mean we're not great now, right? Unless he has already changed that?

Just asking

I don't! But my dad grew up on one!

Is George conway trying to get Kellyanne to quit and take one of those $15,000/month Hush Money jobs?

Pay the man, Shirley.

Are the Dems better off nominating someone who can go toe-to-toe with Trump, or should they nominate someone who "goes high" when Trump (inevitably) goes low?

I don't think it can be an either-or. They need someone who can fight without just being a brawler. I don't think they can afford to have a T-Paw-esque Democrat who won't say "Obamneycare."

I'm going with Avenatti-Omarosa ticket.

Don't. Just don't.

First it was Cillizza, now you're revealed as a foul supporter of Liverpool. When will we see some proper United supporters writing for The Fix? Glory Glory Man United! (PS: Really enjoy your work, even if you've dreadful taste in football clubs.)

The guy whose team is managed by the most regrettable human being in all of professional sports is lecturing me on my team choice. Interesting.

(But in all seriousness: Thank you. And also have fun in third place this year.)

Over time Congress has ceded more and more power to the office of the President. Is there any chance that post-Trump Congress will revisit this issue and try to regain some of the power they gave away? If so, how likely is it that they would succeed?

It's not out of the question. The problem is that the party in power never wants to rein in their own president. We'd basically need a president of one party and a Congress of the other -- possibly a GOP Congress and a Democratic president.

would YOU take a "you don't have to come to work" Hush Money Job?

Not if I had something in my "back pocket" that was much more lucrative than that and I could use to sell lots and lots of books.

Speaking as a amateur politico but also as a native Minnesotan, I wonder if it was just "more of the same" fatigue coupled with familiarity breeding contempt, though Walz is well known in the state too. There is a also a segment of the population that, rightly or wrongly, associate him with the 35W bridge collapse back in 2007...that his rigid budgetary policies resulted in lack of maintenance and oversight, etc. But I think a lot of people here were surprised by not just that he was defeated, but by how much.

All fair points. He was never a world-beating governor, even as he won reelection as a Republican in a blue-leaning state.

Obviously, there's a lot of other noise going on, but what's the word on the likelihood of a pre-midterm shutdown?

I really doubt congressional Republicans would allow it to happen. They want no part of it this late in a cycle.

you don't think the letter from most of the past CIA directors and other intelligence leadership repudiating Trump's actions will move the needle at all? How depressing.

I don't. Until congressional Republicans and people inside the administration decide to do something, it's just the "deep state" crying foul over their precious fellow deep-stater losing his security clearance so he can't bash Trump.

Sorry, but your facts about Arne Carlson aren't quite correct. Carlson defeated the DFL incumbent (Perpich) in 1990. It was in 1994 that he didn't get his party's endorsement for reelection. He won his primary despite this, and was reelected.

Ack. You are right. He lost the primary in 1990, but became the nominee after the other guy fell victim to a scandal. Sorry, folks.

It still speaks to the state of the Republican Party there, though, even in mild-mannered Minnesota.

Why are you assuming they finish 3rd this season?

If they finish outside the top 4 it'll prove God exists.

Would a Congress be able to take away a President's power of revoking Security Clearances without review? I bet if you had one to take away his twitter, that would pass real quickly!

I doubt that one would be taken away. It's a power so key to being commander in chief. 

It is most of the time, but with a president who changes his mind depending on who last talked to him, it could happen. Does he still talk to Bannon, ever? I put the chances at 20%. Not high, but not impossible.

Bannon says he hasn't spoken to Trump in a long time.

Probably a name you haven't heard in a while. I always thought he would run for president. What's he up to nowadays? Maybe he'll run in 2020?

Something tells me this is still disqualifying. 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2014/06/18/the-brian-schweitzer-presidential-speculation-was-fun-while-it-lasted/

What if Trump revokes Robert Mueller's Security Clearance. Could he conduct his investigation without it? If not, should he immediately prepare his findings?

That would be too transparent. It would be akin to firing him, I think, in the eyes of Republicans.

I just have to say she was one of the greatest voices ever!

In the words of Ali G: Respect.

Was he before or after Gov. Jesse Ventura?

Gov. Jesse Ventura!? Oh, come on. That's ridiculous. We would never have done such a thing.

(Okay it was before.)

I'm off next week, but I look forward to seeing all of you on Aug. 31!

In This Chat
Aaron Blake
Aaron Blake is a senior political reporter, writing for The Fix. A Minnesota native and graduate of the University of Minnesota, Aaron has also written about politics for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and The Hill newspaper. Aaron lives with his family and trusty dog, Mauer, in Northern Virginia.
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