The New York Times has the big Senate story Thursday on Democrats’ plan to make the midterm electorate more friendly. It’s also another signal to allies about why the party needs help on TV.
— The DSCC will run a $60 million field operation, using a staff of thousands to find, register, and turn out eligible but irregular voters in 10 states. If this was easy, it wouldn’t be interesting, but it might be the best path forward for Dems. The voters are out there: It took over 2 million voters to win North Carolina in the 2008 and 2012 elections, but Sen. Richard Burr (R) won in a relative landslide with fewer than 1.5 million votes in 2010.
— The “Rising American Electorate” on which Democrats rely so heavily (minorities, young people and unmarried women) turns out in droves in presidential years and grows each time, but it lags 10 years behind in midterms: RAE turnout in the 2010 midterms basically matched its 2000 presidential turnout. This turnout project is Democrats’ attempt to build a time machine for the midterms.
— Don’t miss an important subtext in the NYT, where Senate Dem strategists again not-so-subtly call for help in the TV war. AFP has already spent $27 million, most of it against Democratic senators, and the media has been full of appeals for big Democratic donors to step up. DSCC director Guy Cecil saying he’s “not willing to sacrifice the turnout operation” looks like another nudge for help on the airwaves.
The early TV battle right now is catching eyes now, but field programs will play a critical role later. Democrats will hope they have money behind both.
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"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."
The government alleges the company put eight “software-based features” on diesel engines in nearly 104,000 Ram pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokees from the 2014 to 2016 model years, which allowed the vehicles to emit fewer pollutants during EPA lab tests than during normal driving conditions.
At an open hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, former CIA chief John Brennan said he saw information on Trump-Russia contacts that were worth a further look. "Having been involved in many counterintelligence cases in the past, I know what the Russians do. They try to suborn individuals," Brennan said. "And they try to get individuals, including U.S. persons, to act on their behalf, whether wittingly or unwittingly. And I was worried by a number of the contacts that the Russians had with U.S. persons, and so therefore by the time I left office ... I had unresolved questions in my mind."
"President Trump is moving rapidly toward assembling outside counsel to help him navigate the investigations into his campaign and Russian interference in last year’s election, and in recent days he and his advisers have privately courted several prominent attorneys to join the effort. By Monday, a list of finalists for the legal team had emerged, according to four people briefed on the discussions."