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Thread: The US 2020 Presidential Election

  1. #346
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    03 Sep 03
    How a bill co-sponsored by Elizabeth Warren and signed by Trump could reshape the next presidential transition

    WASHINGTON — In approximately 10 months, a new presidential administration will take shape. It could be a second term of the Trump administration, or an entirely new one led by Joe Biden. It may come as the coronavirus epidemic still rages or, more likely, in the epidemic’s fraught aftermath.

    And just how that administration takes shape could have great consequences in the years to come. That’s why there’s reason to cheer a little-noticed bill that could ensure that the transition is conducted with the proper ethical strictures in place — the kinds of strictures that did not exist in 2016.

    No, the transitions bill won’t cure the coronavirus, but advocates of the legislation say it’s an unlikely success story, particularly given who championed it.

    President Trump branded one of them “Pocahantas,” while she, in turn, calls him Vladimir Putin’s “elf on the shelf.” Earlier this month, in an unlikely act of bipartisanship, Trump signed a bill written, in part, by Elizabeth Warren, one of his most stinging critics in the Senate. What’s more, the bill seems to directly address the accusations of corruption she has leveled against him.

    Trump may not have even known he was signing a bill written by Warren.

    That’s because the bill, the Presidential Transition Enhancement Act of 2019, was principally sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, who is a Democrat, and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a Republican. The legislation is identical to a bill Warren and Carper had earlier introduced that was also supported by Rep. Elijah Cummings, the House Oversight Committee chairman who recently died. Cummings was as determined an adversary of Trump as Warren has been.

    The bill would require every presidential transition to have — and release to the American people — an ethics plan. In effect, the new law amounts to a codified message that incoming presidents have to take ethics seriously.

    Crucially, the law must also say what the president will do to resolve his or her own conflicts of interest. The measure was obviously written with Trump in mind, and was a provision especially dear to Warren. Like many Democrats, she remains dismayed by the president’s nebulous arrangement with the Trump Organization, the real estate and marketing business he founded, which is now operated by his sons.

    Trump promised that his business interests would be placed in a “blind trust” after he took office, but he does not appear to have followed through with that promise.

    Even supporters of the president admit the Trump transition was chaotic, ethically challenged and not always confidence-inspiring. “We could have done a much better job,” former White House chief political strategist Steve Bannon remembered in 2018. “Absolutely, much better job. It's one of the things that Trump didn’t fight,” he said, referring to Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” that was official Washington and to stock his White House with “the best people.”

    This turned out to be difficult for a campaign that had made little preparation because it thought it had little chance of winning. “The swamp draining, we had all these potential things,” Bannon lamented of lost opportunities to enact an agenda aligned with his populist principles, which had helped Trump win the White House. “They just got ground up, and it just turned out not to be a priority.”

    The bill passed the Senate with unanimous consent, which means there were no objections to the measure. It then passed the House with a voice vote, as its passage was never in doubt.

    The legislation — the 15th law signed this year by a president who has spent most of 2020 fighting off impeachment and, now, the escalating coronavirus outbreak — places greater ethical strictures on how a president-elect puts in place key members of an administration in the critical weeks between election and inauguration. It amends the original 1963 law on presidential transitions and is part of a broader, yet-unrealized government ethics proposal introduced by Warren. That proposal would put strict new rules on public service, thus probably leading to the kind of swamp-draining Trump had promised. But that broader ethics plan is unlikely to be realized anytime soon, given Republican opposition to such measures.

    The new law, relatively modest in scope, requires every presidential nominee to have a concrete, public ethics plan, one that will stipulate how the campaign will handle the hiring of lobbyists, potential conflicts of interest and restrictions on access to classified information during the transition period. It also stipulates how the candidate will address his or her own conflicts of interest if elected president.

    Trump signed the bill into law on March 3. Warren had hoped to be the first president to have to abide by the new ethics provisions, but she ended her campaign two days after those provisions became law. Trump could also be the first who is subject to its strictures, since incumbent presidents have transitions.

    While it may lack teeth — a president could simply create a plan that suits his or her own needs — the legislation will at least force the incoming administration to address potential conflicts of interest in a transparent fashion.

    Trump and Warren did not celebrate with a round of golf at Mar-a-Lago. Instead, Warren noted the bill by bashing the man who signed it. “The Trump transition team was absolutely awash in conflicts and corruption, and now the American people can celebrate new rules to ensure that never happens again,” the Massachusetts senator told Yahoo News.

    “I know he would be proud today,” she said of Cummings.

    The bill received praise from the Partnership for Public Service, a bipartisan center focusing on good governance. A policy director there described it as an encouraging sign that a Capitol Hill that can agree on almost nothing found it can agree on something, and that that something turned out to be presidential ethics reform, of all things. Upon passage of the bill, the group praised legislators for codifying “lessons learned in the 2016 transition.”

    Those lessons could probably fill a legal tome — and have already made for several popular books about how the days and weeks after Trump’s victory resulted in chaos in the months and years to come.

    Trump’s transition was spearheaded by then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who did not believe Trump would win. Christie was fired after the election, and his plan — however flawed — was discarded. The transition was then divided between presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, campaign manager and Breitbart publisher Steve Bannon and incoming chief of staff and GOP head Reince Priebus.

    The transition was a “shallow hole,” says one campaign staffer who stayed on with Trump and served some time in the White House.

    Because none of the three had high-level executive branch experience, Washington and Wall Street got to shape an administration that had promised to be beholden to neither. “The time we needed to put an apparatus around Trump, that gave him some time to work himself in to be commander in chief,” Bannon explained in 2018. But that involved many Republican operatives who had spent the previous eight years working in private industry. They were the very “deep state” whom Bannon feared, the people Trump was never going to pick.

    “Here’s the brutal reality,” Bannon said. “There is not a deep bench of talent that could step into the government and run things.”

    Once in office, Trump signed an executive order that would have seemed to close the revolving door between private industry and public service. But he has routinely granted waivers to officials with industry ties, robbing the executive order of any power it may have had.

    What motivated him to sign a new ethics bill is not clear, though it may be that Johnson is a Trump ally, Carper is not a nemesis and Warren’s hand in the legislation simply went unnoticed by the White House. The White House declined to talk about the bill.

    Warren, conversely, has wanted to talk about this since roughly the day Trump was elected. “Within days of your election, you have elevated a slew of Wall Street bankers, industry insiders, and special interest lobbyists to your transition team,” she wrote to him on Nov. 15, 2016, as the new administration was starting to take shape at Trump Tower.

    And she reminded him of the now-famous refrain that had become the rallying cry of his campaign’s final stages. “Maintaining a transition team of Washington insiders sends a clear signal to all who are watching you — that you are already breaking your campaign promises to ‘drain the swamp’ and that you are selling out the American public,” Warren wrote. Trump did not answer.


    Of course, laws mean nothing if they aren't enforced. But Trump has known this his entire life.
    “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role… because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
    ~ Lindsey Graham

    "The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles."
    ~ Trey Gowdy

  2. #347
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    03 Sep 03
    Republicans block most aid to help states plan for presidential election amid coronavirus pandemic

    WASHINGTON — Voting reforms that would make it much easier to cast ballots by mail in the fall presidential election were left out of the $2 trillion rescue package that was unveiled Wednesday, but key lawmakers vowed to keep pushing for a series of measures that would prepare the country for an election in the likely scenario that the coronavirus will still be a major presence in the country.

    Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said that while the $400 million included in the current package is “a step in the right direction,” it fell well short of what they and other Democrats had pushed for.

    The money included for now will be available to states “to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting and online registration and increase the safety of voting in-person by providing additional voting facilities and more poll workers,” one House Democratic staffer told Yahoo News.

    But it’s a fraction of the $4 billion that House Democrats had pushed for. Those measures, along with the reforms in the “Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act” proposed by Klobuchar and Wyden, would radically expand the ability of Americans to vote by mail in this fall’s elections, and would also expand early voting for up to two weeks prior to Election Day.

    It’s still not clear where the country will be with the coronavirus pandemic in November, but one thing is certain: There won’t be a vaccine. Given that reality, these moves would be aimed at avoiding any kind of large gatherings at polling places this fall, to help prepare states for a nationwide election with outbreaks still happening.

    “In times of crisis, the American people cannot be forced to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote,” Klobuchar and Wyden said in a statement. “We must enact election reforms across the country as well as secure more resources to guarantee safe and secure elections. We will continue to fight to pass the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020 to ensure every eligible American can safely and lawfully cast their ballot.”

    On Monday, Wyden told reporters on a conference call that “it’s either going to be vote-by-mail or nothing if we have to deal with a worst-case scenario.”

    Klobuchar announced Monday that her husband, John, had tested positive for the coronavirus.

    Among Republicans who actually run elections at the state and local level, there is growing recognition of the need for such planning. A number of Republican elections officials signed a letter to Congress this past weekend calling on lawmakers to “include substantial funding in the coronavirus stimulus package so that we have the ability and resources to ensure that our voters can participate safely and with confidence in our elections.”

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had proposed $140 million in the current package for elections, but state and local officials said this was “simply not enough.”

    The idea of broadening access to voting by mail has yet to be embraced by Republican politicians in Washington. No GOP members of Congress have backed the reforms, and some hard-line Republicans have railed against the idea.

    Conservative think tankers said universal mail voting would “make it easier to manipulate election outcomes and commit fraud.”

    “The next president would be determined by ballots that have been marked behind closed doors by who knows who, perhaps collected and dropped in the mail (or not) by another who knows who, and then swiftly processed by the U.S. Postal Service, the same organization that routinely delivers us our neighbor’s mail,” wrote Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation and J. Christian Adams of the Public Interest Legal Foundation.

    Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., tweeted that “universal vote by mail would be the end of our republic as we know it.”

    The Brennan Center for Justice, a nonprofit advocacy group at New York University, has already warned that Congress is wasting precious time by not immediately deploying resources to plan for the fall.

    “They need the money now,” Wendy Weiser, director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, told the Washington Post. “If we wait a couple of months, it will be too late. They won’t be able to use it effectively or make the changes needed to avoid significant chaos on Election Day.”

    The Brennan Center has released a detailed plan for how to safeguard the ability of all citizens to vote in the fall without fearing contagion of the coronavirus. Their proposal estimated a cost of at least $2 billion, and includes conservative cost estimates for each provision: between $54 and $89 million for printing mail-in ballots, $413 million to $593 million for prepaid postage, $82 million to $117 million for secure drop boxes and $120 million to $240 million for equipment to facilitate a massive influx of mail-in ballots.

    “Implementing that plan,” the Brennan Center said, “must begin now.”

    Can't make it easier for people to vote, no matter if their life is on the line or not.
    “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role… because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
    ~ Lindsey Graham

    "The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles."
    ~ Trey Gowdy

  3. #348
    Senior Contributor surfgun's Avatar
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    06 Nov 09

  4. #349
    Defense ProfessionalSenior Contributor tbm3fan's Avatar
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    01 Nov 09
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Trump camp threatens local TV stations over Democratic ad

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is threatening legal action against local TV stations in Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin if they don’t pull a Democratic anti-Trump commercial that uses clips of the president talking about the coronavirus outbreak. The campaign says the ad is false. ISN'T THAT RICH

    Priorities USA Action Fund, the Democratic super PAC that created the 30-second spot and supported Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, responded by soliciting financial contributions to keep the ad on the airwaves.

    Trump’s campaign said the commercial contains the “false assertion” that Trump called the coronavirus a “hoax.”

    The ad strings together audio of recent comments by Trump in which he attempts to minimize the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak, including a snippet in which he says “this is their new hoax.”

    Trump’s campaign said Wednesday that it had delivered “cease and desist” letters to the stations demanding that they pull the ad or face legal action. The stations were not named in a news release announcing the action or in a copy of the letter accessed by a hyperlink included in the emailed release.

    Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA, tweeted Wednesday that Trump wants to block the ad “because he doesn’t want Americans to know the truth.” He included a link for donations to pay to keep the ad on the air.

    Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are among states where Trump’s is spending heavily in his bid to win a second term.

  5. #350
    Senior Contributor surfgun's Avatar
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    06 Nov 09
    More on Joe’s “Me Too” event (digital penetration included).
    Last edited by surfgun; 28 Mar 20, at 18:54.

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