After next week, primary season will rekindle for its last stretch before everyone can finally focus entirely on the general election. And the first week back could end up being the most dangerous primary week of the year for incumbents.
— Two House incumbents are more likely to lose than not: Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) and Scott DesJarlais (R-TN). But don’t write them into any broader pattern. Bentivolio, who was the only other Republican on the ballot in MI-11 when Thad McCotter‘s fradulent nominating petitions were thrown out, is the definition of an accidental congressman, while the 2012 revelations that DesJarlais had sexual relationships with co-workers and medical patients and pressured one to have an abortion destroyed his standing with Republicans. Both attracted very well-funded challengers with business and establishment GOP support.
— Other incumbents up at the beginning of August are better-positioned, though some still face potentially difficult challenges. Ex-Rep. Todd Tiahrt‘s (R) KS-04 comeback attempt also defies political pigeonholing. Many of the groups backing Rep. Mike Pompeo (R) had few ideological quibbles with Tiahrt while he was in Congress, per their vote scorecards, but they’re sticking with the incumbent. Both candidates are accusing the other of cronyism, and Pompeo is using Tiahrt’s service against him by attacking him over earmarks. Meanwhile, most still expect Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) to win renomination, but physician Milton Wolf (R) hasn’t faded as far as people thought after his X-ray controversy.
— Then, in Hawaii‘s traditional Saturday primary, there’s the lone big Democratic Senate primary of the cycle, pitting appointed Sen. Brian Schatz (D) against Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D), who wanted that appointment in the first place and was backed by late Sen. Daniel Inouye. That race and Gov. Neil Abercrombie‘s (D) contested primary are studies in contrast among Hawaii Democrats, highlighting ethnic differences, generational differences, and a long-term ideological shift within the state party.
Only two congressional incumbents have lost primaries this year (though as we’ve noted, that by itself isn’t a full measure of incumbent strength and weakness). As primaries restart, that figure could go up fast.
— Scott Bland
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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."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."