Right and Left React to Trump’s Sharing Classified Information With Russia, and More


If, as Democrats say, voter fraud doesn’t exist, what’s the harm in allowing the president’s Election Integrity Commission to do its work and come up empty-handed? Mr. Fund suspects that “leftists have known for a long time that America’s voter-registration lists are breeding grounds for potential fraud” but resisted any real investigations into the problem under the Obama administration. Read more »

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Tim Miller in The Daily Beast:

“When it comes to being President of the United States, do your intentions or your values matter, or is that a myth we tell ourselves to feel good?”

As former spokesman for Jeb Bush, Mr. Miller is particularly well-placed to ponder an existential question facing the Republican Party: Is winning more important than values? The Donald Trump doctrine, as it were, puts forward a “valueless leadership,” characterized by this central premise: “By relieving ourselves of that moral burden, the government can actually serve its people better.” For Mr. Miller, this “real life political science experiment” is far from conclusive. Read more »

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President Trump with Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday.

Credit
Doug Mills/The New York Times

Kyle Sammin in The Federalist:

“In one area they could create a bipartisan consensus on federalism, the Sessions wing of the party refuses to budge.”

Mr. Sammin wants as limited a federal government as possible. As such, he is disappointed in Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s decision to revive the war on drugs by directing prosecutors to seek the harshest punishments for the most serious crimes. According to Mr. Sammin, the way to battle the scourge of addiction is for local governments to take charge and promote treatment over incarceration. The oath of office, Mr. Sammin writes, does not pledge politicians to “do something” about the drug crisis; it merely binds them to uphold the Constitution and limit the federal government’s encroachment on the rights of the states. Read more »

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• Derek Hunter in Town Hall:

“Every move, every tweet is a threat to democracy, an affront to humanity, and surely will lead to the end of life as we know it. There’s no proportionality.”

Whatever blunders the president made last week in his dismissal of James B. Comey, none match the level of outrage and hysteria lofted at him by Mr. Trump’s liberal critics. Mr. Hunter speculates that the left would be more effective if it dialed back some of its reactions, writing, “When a 5 would do, they turn it up to 11.” Read more »

From the Left

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President Trump with Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, in the Oval Office last week. American journalists were barred, but Russia released photographs.

Credit
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, via Associated Press

Josh Marshall in Talking Points Memo:

“The only reason I can think of to be totalizing in general and lawyerly and nondenialing in the specifics is that you’re trying to deny something that actually did happen.”

“Classic nondenial denial.” That’s Mr. Marshall’s gloss on Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster’s response to the Washington Post report on the president’s divulging classified information to the Russian foreign minister. Read more »

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Jamil Smith in Esquire:

“The surprise over the firing was the most surprising thing.”

Mr. Trump’s decision to fire Mr. Comey did not surprise Mr. Smith. How could it? “Black and brown people” have been warning about the inequalities of our system of jurisprudence for “what seems like forever.” The system, Mr. Smith argues, has been broken since long before Mr. Comey’s dismissal; the president just made its fissures visible to those unwilling to see them. Read more »

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Members of the White House press corps on Tuesday after news broke that President Trump had fired the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey.

Credit
Doug Mills/The New York Times

Branko Marcetic in Jacobin:

“Just because it happens to have crossed Trump does not mean it is worth of veneration. James Comey is not an American hero.”

Although he is troubled by Mr. Comey’s ouster, Mr. Marcetic warns his readers not to imbue the F.B.I. — or its director — with a reputation it doesn’t deserve. The agency “has a long history as an intensely political organization” and has never served as a safeguard for democracy. Read more »

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Collier Meyerson in The Nation:

“It’s the most transparently illogical and unintelligent approach to criminal justice.”

Imposing mandatory minimum sentences on nonviolent drug offenders has yielded few positive results. Ms. Meyerson notes that Mr. Sessions’s “War on Drugs Redux” will put more brown and black people in jail, expand the private prison system and cut funding to programs that curb recidivism. Read more »

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Paul Waldman in The Washington Post:

“It’s as likely to find real evidence of voter fraud as O. J. is to find the real killers.”

Mr. Waldman is skeptical about the purpose for the president’s commission on election integrity. The order will do less to discover and root out any voter fraud, he writes, and more likely serve as a tool for Republicans to suppress the Democratic vote. Read more »

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And Finally, From the Center

Jack Goldsmith, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, Matthew Kahn, Benjamin Wittes, Elishe Julian Wittes in Lawfare:

“This is perhaps the gravest allegation of presidential misconduct in the scandal-ridden four months of the Trump administration.”

Shortly after the news broke that Mr. Trump shared classified information with Russian officials, writers at the Lawfare blog published this initial reaction to the story. They lay out the consequences of and context for this news in nine points, starting with the fact that this was not a criminal leak, and highlighting how the president’s actions may be a breach of his oath of office. Read more »

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Rob Quist, right, a candidate in Montana’s special election to fill the congressional seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Credit
Bobby Caina Calvan/Associated Press

Anne Helen Petersen in BuzzFeed:

“The Montana special election won’t be a referendum on Trump. It won’t even necessarily tell us what will happen in the midterms.

Ms. Petersen reports from the special election in Montana to fill the House seat left open by Ryan Zinke, who is now the secretary of the interior. There are lots of lessons that this election can teach us, she writes, but none have the predictive power that political news devotees hope for. Instead, this local election offers a “master class” in how to win over independent voters. And it could happen only in Montana, where, as Ms. Petersen writes, “the independent voter isn’t a mythical unicorn. It’s a way of life.” Read more »

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Garrett M. Graff in Politico:

“He will have the ability to see inside the most sensitive and covert programs run by the United States and its allies around the world; he will have access to surveillance tools, covert payrolls and personal secrets about foreign leaders.”

In January, before the inauguration, Mr. Graff wrote a piece for Politico Magazine detailing all the government secrets that would soon be in Mr. Trump’s hands. In light of recent news, we thought it would be helpful to revisit it. Read more »

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Maggie Koerth-Baker in FiveThirtyEight:

“The back and forth on this single study has been seen as a liberal-versus conservative smackdown where both sides — Voter fraud is a myth! Voter fraud is rampant! — claim to have the backing of absolute scientific fact. But that wasn’t what it was meant to be about.”

Mr. Trump’s “most celebrated evidence” of vast voter fraud started out as an undergraduate project by a Pakistani immigrant to determine “why people in her community who could vote, didn’t.” Ms. Koerth-Baker digs into the history of a study whose findings have been twisted, misinterpreted and magnified way beyond their intent. It’s a classic story, Ms. Koerth-Baker explains, of how scientists can easily “lose control of scientific results.” Read more »

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Voters casting their ballots in a special congressional election in Georgia in April.

Credit
Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times

Charles Stewart in Election Updates:

“The existence of a commission with a partisan framing will create barriers for nonpartisan and dispassionate work in this area to proceed.”

Mr. Stewart is a professor of political science at M.I.T. and is the university’s director for the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, an interdisciplinary group that applies social science and engineering to voting issues. The group works on a range of issues “from the functioning of voting machines to the effects of reforms on voter behavior to the assessment of voting systems.” It is from this vantage that Mr. Stewart offers his initial thoughts on the presidential commission on election integrity, worrying that it might paradoxically impede the real work of improving our election system. Read more »

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Scott Lucas in San Francisco Magazine:

“If it feels as if the political center no longer holds, it’s because of guys like Chapman pounding on the gates.”

Kyle Chapman is better known to his fans online as Based Stickman, an icon on 4chan’s toxic /pol/ forum and to his fellow right-wing protesters battling their leftist counterparts in Berkeley, Calif. Mr. Lucas, who spent time with this embodiment of “guns-cocked white manhood,” says that in real life, “Chapman doesn’t look or carry himself like an internet meme.” He looks like “your kid’s Little League coach.” Read more »

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