Trump, Xi = Win, Win

Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will be having dinner this weekend to talk about trade. There has been a lot of speculation about the outcome, but one thing is for certain. Both will declare a win.

Xi has several things going for him. One is that his country makes many of the things Trump’s country needs and has no other supplier for. Also, he’s a better negotiator than Trump. Finally, Xi knows that Trump can be bought off by making nice to his family business, Trump Inc.

That is not to say that Xi won’t give Trump a tidbit he can use to declare victory. In fact, that’s a very likely scenario. The Chinese culture understands the value of saving face.

But once the outcome of their meeting is analyzed, it will probably be clear that Trump didn’t get much. Outcome analysis is another Xi advantage. He has the Chinese state press to sell a biased but thoughtful analysis of how he won to his country.

Thoughtful analysis is not Trump’s specialty. Slogans and tweets are his communication style. He’ll have plenty after the meeting, all designed to forestall any detailed analysis. Because if you think about it, thinking about it generally doesn’t work in Trump’s favor.

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Ivanka Might Have Stepped In It, Big Time

Back in the spring of 2018, the US imposed sanctions on a Chinese electronics firm for stealing technology. The sanctions were about to put the company out of business when Donald Trump gave it a lifeline. The company was exempted from sanctions because “Too many jobs in China (would be) lost.”

It isn’t clear why the Democrats didn’t jump on this during the midterm election campaign. Maybe they thought that the job market was so robust that no one would really care that Trump was putting Chinese workers ahead of US intellectual property holders. It was clearly a China first, not America first, move, but Trump seemed to be getting away with it.

Coincidentally, a few days before Trump spared the Chinese company, the Chinese government granted Ivanka Trump some important and valuable trademarks. It smelled  fishy, but there was no smoking gun.

Last week, however, it was revealed that Ivanka was channeling her inner Hillary and using her personal email account for government business.

Now that the Democrats control the House and can launch investigations, it is a good bet they will subpoena Ivanka’s mails and more details will come out. Unlike Hillary, she doesn’t run her own server in her basement, so it will be hard for her to delete all the evidence. Lock her up?

Rudi for Attorney General

Now that the election is over, Donald Trump is cleaning house (again). His first move was to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump was upset that Sessions didn’t do enough to protect him personally. He wanted an attorney general that would shield him from any investigations of his misdeeds.

Sessions wouldn’t do this, even after Trump repeatedly insulted him in public and on Twitter. In retrospect, it shouldn’t be surprising that an accused racist would have a thick skin.

There are several candidates to replace Sessions, but Rudi Giuliani should be on Trump’s shortlist. He has the political chops, he’s a former prosecutor and most importantly, he’s a Trump lap dog.

Sure, it would look bad if the lawyer defending Trump in Robert Mueller’s investigation became Mueller’s supervisor. But hey, the election’s over and who cares what people say. Trump certainly doesn’t – he has a thicker skin than Sessions.

Kemp’s Trumpian Surprise

In retrospect, we should have anticipated this. Our assumption was that a last minute election surprise would involve Donald Trump. It didn’t. It involved one of his most loyal wannabees.

Yesterday Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp declared that his office was investigating the Democrats for trying to hack Georgia’s voting system. It was a textbook Trumpian move: if your opponents accuse you of something, don’t defend yourself. Instead, accuse them of the same thing, only worse.

For months Kemp’s department has been accused of unfairly kicking people off the voter rolls to keep Democrats from voting. On Friday, a judge agreed and ordered the voters reinstated. There wasn’t much Kemp could do to defend himself, so instead, two days later, he accused the Democrats of malfeasance.

It is a technique that Trump is a master of. Trump has some kind of Teflon coating, and the media until very recently have been easily distracted by his schoolyard “no you did’ accusations. Kemp is not Trump though, so it remains to be seen whether he’ll get away with it. We’ll know soon enough.

 

Dems Lack A Star Campaigner. Sad

The 2018 campaign is almost over and no matter who wins or looses this week, one thing is abundantly clear. No one comes even close to matching Donald Trump on the campaign trail.

For the past several weeks, Trump has been able to command an incredible amount of  press coverage while crowding out anyone from the Democratic side. Yes, Barak Obama got some press, as did Bernie Saunders. And two-time loser Hillary Clinton is still kicking around and acting like she has a political future, which is catnip to the press.

But no one can put out a message on the campaign trail like Trump. Quite frankly, the Republicans are going have to think about lifting the ‘Great Communicator’ mantle from Ronald Reagan and giving it to Trump instead.

For the Dems to have any chance in 2020 they are going to have to find people that can take campaigning to a higher level. Maybe not at the Trump level, but at least close.

Mueller’s House Of Henchmen?

Here’s a scenario. Donald Trump stonewalls on talking to special counsel Robert Mueller. He decides he has nothing to gain by answering his questions. Mueller cannot subpoena the President, so we are done.

Or are we?

Assuming the Dems take power in the House (not a safe assumption at all), a number of House committees will start investigating Trump for this and that. He will stonewall all of them. And there the matter will end.

Or will it?

Suppose the House votes to impeach Trump, knowing that they have no hope of winning a conviction in the Senate. But the reason for impeaching him is not to kick him out of office. It is to force a trial in the Senate where the President will have to testify under oath. In other words, the House tells Mueller, “Give us your questions – we’ll get the answers for you”.

Mitch McConnell will do everything he can to delay a trial. Brett Kavanaugh will likely help him. But you have to admin it would be a pretty sneaky way for the Dems to get Mueller the information he needs to build his case(s).

Last Minute Election Surprises?

It is a week before election day and one wonders whether there will be some sort of last minute surprise. Like in 2016 when the FBI Director announced 11 days before the election that Hillary Clinton’s emails were again under investigation, only to say  ‘nevermind’ a week later.

  • Will there be a leak from Robert Mueller’s office or any of the attorney generals investigating Trump, Inc?
  • Will Hillary Clinton say something stupid? (And why is she still in the public eye?)
  • Does Michael Avenatti have another client in the wings ready to spill?
  • Will the Russians get caught red handed?
  • Will extreme Trump supporters try to kill more people?

The odds are at least 50/50 on something happening. If it does, which side will it help? The last minute Kavenaugh kerfuffle turned out to be a great motivator for Trump’s Republican base. Is there anything that will get more millennials or Hispanics to the polls for the Democrats without firing up the other side as well?

We will know soon enough.