In recent elections, primary challengers against GOP incumbents have come almost exclusively from the right. But in the House, we’re seeing signs of an establishment backlash, challenging tea party and iconoclastic members from the middle.
— The center of the opposition is in the suburbs of Michigan, where the business community has been dissatisfied with Rep. Justin Amash, a Ron Paul acolyte, and Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, a part-time reindeer rancher who bumbled into a House seat. Bentivolio already faces a primary challenge from attorney David Trott. Businessman Brian Ellis is expected to run against Amash. And former Bush aide Taylor Griffin just announced a campaign against anti-war North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones.
— There are signs these challengers will be credible. Trott reported raising more money in the third quarter than Bentivolio did in the first half of the year. Amash represents an urban Grand Rapids district where the business community holds more sway than the tea party. Jones has beaten back primary challenges before, but Griffin should run a better-organized campaign than his predecessors.
— While the GOP’s internal divisions over Obamacare tactics could spark more tea party primary challenges, they haven’t emerged yet. The Club for Growth has only endorsed one challenger, Bryan Smith, running against Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson. (Other incumbents to watch: Reps. Bill Shuster, Frank Lucas and Renee Ellmers.) That’s a testament to conservative success in shaping the GOP caucus, but there aren’t many battles left to be won.
There’s long been a divide between the GOP’s business wing and populist factions, with the former usually winning out. But with the business wing losing sway, they’re showing signs of emulating the tactics of the feisty opposition.
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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"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."