Just how bad was the shutdown for America’s image on the world stage? So bad, says Secretary of State John Kerry, that foreign officials joked about buying him meals.
“I have seen how our allies, our partners and those who wish to challenge us or to do us harm are all sizing us up every day,” Kerry said at an event hosted by Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. “What we do in Washington matters deeply”¦that’s why a self-inflicted wound like the shutdown can never happen again.”
Kerry added that the shutdown delayed security aid to Israel. “The dysfunction and the shutdown and the simplistic dialogue that came with it didn’t impress anyone,” he said.
The federal government was mostly shuttered for 16 days after House Republicans refused to sign off on a budget unless it stripped away funding for President Obama’s health care law. The impasse was condemned repeatedly by the Democratic leaders and progressive policymakers at the conference.
“I do love this country, damnit, and this country is in deep trouble,” declared former Vice President Al Gore. “What happened down there on Capitol Hill was pathetic.”
The shutdown sent the GOP’s approval ratings spiraling downward, leading some Democrats to think they might be able to take over the House in the 2014 mid-term election. “If they stay on course Democrats have a good chance,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former congressman who led the Democratic Party’s House campaign committee. “If they reverse course than it’s a district by district scenario.
Gerrymandering by GOP-led state legislatures, however, have left few competitive seats. “This is a map that the Republicans designed nationwide,” Emanuel said. “If you want to win it back, you have to pick the lock nationwide.”
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
"The House voted Thursday to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security. The bipartisan measure passed easily by a vote of 386-41, with nine Republicans and 32 Democrats voting in opposition. If the bill makes it through the Senate, it would be the first-ever reauthorization of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since it was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks." Among the provisions it contains is a mandate that the Senate confirm the Secret Service director. It also boosts funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative by $195 million per year.
In remarks scheduled to be delivered today at the American Federation of Teachers' summer conference, President Randi Weingarten "likens U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to a climate-change denier" and "says the Trump administration's school choice plans are secretly intended to starve funding from public schools. She calls taxpayer-funded private school vouchers, tuition tax credits and the like 'only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.'" The pro-voucher Center for Education Reform said teachers should "consider inviting Weingarten’s resignation."