James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
Tiger Beat on the Potomac (thanks Charlie!) morning email thingie leads with:
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE TAPES — President Donald Trump’s quip that he might be taping conversations in the White House — and Sean Spicer’s follow up that he had nothing more to say about it — could have a real impact for his agenda in Washington. Democrats are already whispering about trying to slow legislation unless the president hands over tapes, or certifies he doesn’t have them. Democrats can force procedural votes on this topic, which could prove to be tough for Republicans. Who would vote against legislation to get to the bottom of whether the president is surreptitiously taping conversations? Democrats are looking for a quick and easy message. Many think this is it.
And we hope that the mother of all tapes that the Russians allegedly have are not forgotten.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday that he would support an effort to block any nominee to lead the FBI until an independent prosecutor is named to oversee an investigation into Russia’s interference into last year’s presidential election, as well as the possibility of collusion between the Kremlin and individuals with ties to President Donald Trump or his campaign.
And then, of course, the Villagers, who are Very. Serious. People:
Jonathan Karl on George Stephanopoulos’ “This Week” roundtable:
“[T]he president knows he needs to have somebody that is politically bulletproof. I would not be surprised to see it’s somebody who is not [being talked about], somebody like — even like [Comey’s predecessor] Robert Mueller, … who served under Democratic and Republican presidents [Obama and Bush 43], universally respected … Mike Rogers has some big fans in the West Wing.”
“[D]on’t rule out Merrick Garland [Obama’s failed nominee for Supreme Court], who was floated by Senator Mike Lee [R-Utah]. … Garland … could be confirmed 100-0 in the Senate.”
…to which we suggest a diary entry at the Great Orange Satan (Kos):
The reasons this is insane should be obvious: 1) Republicans would get to replace Garland on a critical appellate circuit court, and 2) popular-vote loser Donald Trump could turn around and fire Garland a week later and nominate the Russian ambassador instead. And the Senate GOP would vote to confirm, because they are all co-conspirators in Trump’s treason.
Dave Weigel at WaPo says it is “like Wile E. Coyote putting down a nest made of dynamite and writing ‘NOT A TRAP’ on a whiteboard next to it.”
“Garland probably won’t want to give up his lifetime tenure as the chief judge of the second-most important court in the land, and surely the most significant bulwark against Trump administration overreach, in exchange for a 12-minute gig on The Apprentice before he uses the wrong color highlighter and gets fired.”
A few headlines with more backfire:
NYTimes: Senate G.O.P. Is Edging Back From President,”
…and then Mike ‘Payola’ Allen writing the morning email thingie at Axios:
Almost four months into office, Trump has been unable to gain leverage over his party, especially in the Senate, much less Congress as a whole.
Senate Republicans don’t need him. They’re pressing ahead with their investigations into Russian interference in the election and pushing sanctions against Vladimir Putin. They’re pushing their own health care bill on their own timetable and hardly rushing to Trump’s defense. With a very favorable set of 2018 races, it’s hard to see a need materializing.
I’m told Senate Republicans will also go their own way on tax reform, unconstrained by White House policy priorities or timetable.
Most Republicans don’t like him. President Obama used a mix of need and genuine affection to jam through Obamacare in his first two years. There are very few Trump Republicans, much less lawmakers who dig their president. They tolerate him and they often vote with him, because Trump has largely embraced conventional GOP ideas. But most think he’s blowing it.
No one fears him. Not long ago, Republicans worried about a Trump tweet fired their way. No more. And Democrats certainly don’t fear a president opposed by most Americans. In fact, as Axios’ Jonathan Swan reported in his weekly Sneak Peek newsletter last night, they’re ready to effectively shut down the Senate to force a special prosecutor for the Russia probe.
Why all this matters: A top GOP lobbyist tells me: “Business feels the agenda is going down the toilet. … This said, his supporters are hanging in there.”