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Short Takes
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Short Takes

KAHNTENSIONS

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

The President has proven to all that they he has neither compassion nor humanity. Border security is critical to all Americans, but food and logging is even more important. President Trump is unwilling to admit that there is no national emergency on the border. As a result, 800,000 federal government workers and their families—more than 4 million people– will miss another pay check this Friday; meanwhile, Trump plays politics over a wall on the Mexican border. No one in the security field has been able to confirm that the border crossing is the major source of illegal immigration, illicit drugs, or terrorists entering the country.

The Democratic House has given the Republican Senate legislation to fund the Government but Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not bring the bills to the Senate floor for a vote. The Republicans are worried—probably rightfully so—that voters will remember in 2020 who voted against reopening the Government. McConnell could oppose the bills but let them be voted on and, if passed, let the President veto them. The President has calculated that he has less to lose by a stand-off than he does by a veto or even having them overridden.

At this point, if the Government were re-opened, it is possible the Democrats might give the President additional funding for homeland security—although not directly earmarked for a wall.

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It is not clear whether the BuzzFeed allegations that Trump directly instructed Cohen to lie to a Congressional committee were accurate or not. It is also not evident whether Mueller was totally denying the BuzzFeed story or only in part and if so which part. As the White House reportedly reached out to the Special Counsel after the story broke, it is not obvious why Mueller’s spokesperson broke the investigation’s almost two years of silence to appear to contradict the story. The BuzzFeed story caught all of Washington by surprise and it still remains to be corroborated. What is clear from this incident is that all parties on all sides of the Mueller probe are anxious, nervous, and very touchy.

Congress shortly will be organized and the House will be prepared to investigate the Breitbart matter and others related to the Russia probe. As with most legal investigations, the House will proceed very slowly. Given the political complexities and nuances, all Committees will not want to make mistakes.  Any impeachment consideration is at least months away.

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In addition to the vacancy at the Justice Department, the Trump Administration has major vacancies at Defense, Interior, and the U.N.  In addition, it appears to have been corroborated that Senator McConnell has approached directly Secretary of State Pompeo to run for the Senate seat in Kansas being vacated by the retirement of Senator Pat Roberts. As Democrats made significant gains in Kansas in the off-year election, including winning the Governorship, Secretary Pompeo, formerly a Kansas Congressman, would be a strong candidate in 2020.

McConnell may be a true Trump loyalist, but retaining control of the Senate after 2020 is even more important to him. McConnell is not interested in leading the Minority after the next election. In addition, he is politically savvy enough to realize that if the Democrats take the White House in 2020, he expects the Senate will be the only branch which might remain in the GOP’s control and thus a constraint on unified Democratic government.

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Democrats seeking the nomination to challenge President Trump in 2020 are pouring out of the woodwork. According to the New York Times there currently are eight people running, two about to announce, and six likely to announce. There are another eight who might throw their hat into the ring. This group of 24 is larger even than the prospective Republican group in 2015. At this point only ten or twelve of the group even have minimal name recognition.

Given the amount of time, the staff, and the money needed to become a serious and viable candidate, this list will be winnowed down rather quickly.  Ambition knows no restraint, but the Democratic Party will need to have a very small group left by the late fall when the American people begin to focus on the 2020 election; especially if they hope to win the White House.

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