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Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider
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Feds charge Treasury official with leaks related to Russia probe

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 17:25

In an indictment released on Wednesday, federal prosecutors charged an official in the Treasury Department with illegally leaking financial information about bank transactions by certain people involved in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, indicating that a series of leaks to one news organization took place over the last year about key figures in the case, as well as details of the underlying financial probe.

“We hope today’s charges remind those in positions of trust within government agencies that the unlawful sharing of sensitive documents will not be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in a statement.

In an 18 page criminal complaint released today, the feds charged Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior official in the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, with leaking ‘Suspicious Activity Reports’ about certain financial transactions which were red-flagged by investigators.

“Each of the SARs Disclosures related to matters relevant to investigations being conducted by the Office of the Special Counsel” and other units looking at the Russia investigation, “such as suspicious transactions relating to Paul Manafort, Richard W. Gates, Russian diplomatic accounts, and other matters,” the complaint stated, rattling off the name of President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, and a top aide, both of whom are now cooperating with the probe led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

While the news organization was not named, it is reportedly Buzz Feed News, which has published a number of articles related to these SAR’s.

The feds say they found evidence on Edwards’ cell phone, showing that she had ‘engaged in hundreds of electronic communications with Reporter-1, many via an encrypted application.”

Prosecutors say the evidence was still on her cell phone, when she was arrested.

“At the time of EDWARDS’s arrest, she was in possession of a flash drive appearing to be the flash drive on which she saved the unlawfully disclosed SARs, and a cellphone containing numerous communications over an encrypted application in which she transmitted SARs and other sensitive government information to Reporter-1.”

Fellow reporters: if you’re going to exchange encrypted messages with a govt source, that crypto will do you no good IF THE SOURCE SAVES ALL THE MESSAGES AND THE FEDS GET INTO THE PHONE.https://t.co/cwslzUjRIx

— Cyrus Farivar (@cfarivar) October 17, 2018

The criminal complaint shows the feds were able to monitor messages being sent between the reporter and Edwards, after getting a court ordered ‘pen register,’ which records the numbers involved in communications, but not the actual details of those messages.

The complaint also hints at other possible leakers – or at least employees within the Treasury Department who were in with the same reporter.

“Initially, EDWARDS denied having any contact with any member of the news media, but indicated that she was aware that CC-1 and another FinCEN employee (“Employee-1″) were in contact with the news media,” the feds stated.

There was no indication if other charges would be forthcoming.

The 40 year-old Edwards faces two charges which carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison for each – unauthorized disclosures of Suspicious Activity Reports, and one count of conspiracy to make such disclosures.

After hurricane, Florida counties grapple with Election Day prep

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 13:21

If dealing with the severe damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael wasn’t bad enough for government officials in a series of counties in the Florida Panhandle, those same governments also must run a full-scale election in less than three weeks, as elections officials struggle with damaged voting locations, displaced voters, power problems, disrupted mail service, and internet outages.

“Some voters are asking questions on how we are going to be able to have an election in these catastrophic conditions,” said said Gulf County Supervisor of Elections John Hanlon, as he set out his “Recovery Election Plan” for the November 6 elections.

“With so many homes damaged or destroyed we have many voters displaced, with questions of if and when they can even return,” Hanlon added, noting that his county had “many polling locations damaged or designated as shelters.”

Next door in Bay County, home to Panama City, the notice on the website of Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen is straightforward:

The story is the same for a number of elections offices in the Panhandle which were in the path of Hurricane Michael.

“We will update the status of our office day by day on when we will be able to reopen,” said a notice posted on the website of Franklin County Supervisor of Elections Heather Riley.

Further inland in Liberty County, Supervisor of Elections Gina McDowell had a similar message.

“Due to impacts from Hurricane Michael, our office is closed until further notice.”

Nine of the #Florida counties hit hardest by #HurricaneMichael have historically played a significant role in the outcome of statewide elections. https://t.co/xCRuSVNPAi

— WEAR ABC 3 (@weartv) October 17, 2018

In next door Calhoun County, nothing has been posted on the elections website since before the hurricane struck the Florida Panhandle.

“Due to the extreme damage suffered during Hurricane Michael, our office will remain closed until further notice,” says a notice from Jackson County Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Stephens.

“The November 6 General Election WILL still be held,” Stephens emphasized, detailing at least four voting locations which ‘sustained serious damage’ and will not be open for voting on Election Day.

Other election offices are lending a hand.

“We are working towards successful elections here in Leon County, and we are assisting our neighboring counties in their recovery efforts and contingency plans for the upcoming 2018 General Election,” said Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley.


In race for U.S. House, Democrats grab money momentum

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 01:00

As Democrats try to wrest control of the U.S. House from Republicans in the November elections, the latest fundraising figures from around the nation clearly show dozens of Democratic candidates pulling in more money in the third quarter of this year than their Republican opponents in key House races, providing Democrats with some financial momentum going into the final weeks of the 2018 campaign.

The “green wave” of money certainly doesn’t guarantee victory for Democrats in any race – but it gives them the financial ability to make more noise in a number of districts when compared to two or four years ago.

In a statement, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said the ‘historic’ levels of money have expanded “the battlefield to create many paths to the 23 seats we need to flip the House.”

For example in Georgia, a pair of Democratic challengers in the Atlanta suburbs out raised GOP incumbents by 3-to-1 and 2-to-1 margins in the third quarter of this year.

Dem challengers show off massive fundraising tallies in Georgia's top House races https://t.co/7hVbS1Kncc #gapol

— Tamar Hallerman (@ajconwashington) October 16, 2018

In Florida, there were seven such races for GOP seats, six in Ohio, six more in Pennsylvania, seven in Texas, and 10 in California, as the Democratic money haul was repeated – and reported – all around the nation.

“Michigan Democrats dominate in latest U.S. House fundraising,” the report said in the Detroit News.

“California Republicans’ fundraising eclipsed by Democrats’ huge hauls in Congressional races,” read the headline in the Los Angeles Times.

“Democrats take fundraising lead in Minnesota midterms,” wrote the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

“Midterm money: Democrats crush GOP,” reported CNN.

And the money wasn’t just coming in for races which are considered to be close.

Perhaps most staggering: Dem challengers outraised GOP incumbents in 38 House seats @CookPolitical currently rates as Likely or Solid R.

— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) October 16, 2018

“Green wave,” tweeted GOP strategist Liam Donovan.

The National Journal crunched the numbers from the latest FEC fundraising submissions and found over 90 GOP incumbents were out raised in the third quarter of 2018; Democrats said the number was 110 races where their candidate held the financial edge.

While that doesn’t mean any of those Republicans will lose, it is a flashing red light, especially since the story line is being repeated in so many states this fall.

Those who have tracked fundraising numbers for years made clear this type of edge for one party was not normal.

Democrats have raised almost 2/3 of the total money for the House (not counting candidates who lost in primaries). Despite the fact that the GOP holds the incumbency advantage. Never been anything like that before in our House fundraising data, which goes back to 1998. pic.twitter.com/18iRaPGQxJ

— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) October 16, 2018

You might characterize the House data this way:
1—Most indicators are in consensus with one another and indicate that Dems are favored, although not overwhelmingly, to win the House.
2—The fundraising numbers are not in consensus and are crazy, astoundingly good for Democrats.

— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) October 16, 2018

But history shows something very true about money in political races – the person who raises the most doesn’t always win.

On Twitter, President Trump calls Stormy Daniels “Horseface”

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 17:41

After staying relatively on message for the past six weeks on social media, the more familiar version of President Donald Trump returned to Twitter on Tuesday morning, as the President lobbed insults at Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), complained about the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and called porn star Stormy Daniels ‘Horseface.’

“Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer,” the President tweeted just after 11 am.

The jab at Daniels came a day after her libel lawsuit against the President was thrown out by a federal judge in Los Angeles; her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, returned fire – calling the President a “disgusting misogynist.”

“Federal Judge throws out Stormy Danials lawsuit versus Trump. Trump is entitled to full legal fees.” @FoxNews Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer in the Great State of Texas. She will confirm the letter she signed! She knows nothing about me, a total con!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2018

While Republicans in Congress were quiet about the President’s tweets, Democrats denounced the President’s use of “horseface” to describe Daniels, who claims she had an affair with the President, and was paid just before the 2016 elections to stay quiet about it.

“Trump’s disgusting attacks aren’t acceptable coming from anyone,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). “Real men don’t talk about women this way.”

“I never thought the President of the United States would tweet something like this out,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ). “What an embarrassment for this country.”

Mr. Trump also brought up one of his most common Twitter themes, his criticism of the Russia investigation, using his term “witch hunt” for the first time in almost a month.

Is it really possible that Bruce Ohr, whose wife Nellie was paid by Simpson and GPS Fusion for work done on the Fake Dossier, and who was used as a Pawn in this whole SCAM (WITCH HUNT), is still working for the Department of Justice????? Can this really be so?????

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2018

“Where is Jeff Sessions?” the President asked in another tweet related to the Russia probe, taking another dig at his U.S. Attorney General.

The President also continued to tangle with Sen. Warren, a day after she issued the results of a DNA test, which she says confirms that she has Native American blood lines in her distant family tree.

Pocahontas (the bad version), sometimes referred to as Elizabeth Warren, is getting slammed. She took a bogus DNA test and it showed that she may be 1/1024, far less than the average American. Now Cherokee Nation denies her, “DNA test is useless.” Even they don’t want her. Phony!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2018

Now that her claims of being of Indian heritage have turned out to be a scam and a lie, Elizabeth Warren should apologize for perpetrating this fraud against the American Public. Harvard called her “a person of color” (amazing con), and would not have taken her otherwise!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2018

Thank you to the Cherokee Nation for revealing that Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to as Pocahontas, is a complete and total Fraud!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2018

Many Republicans were thoroughly enjoying the President’s jabs at Warren, who fired back at Mr. Trump as well.

“You’ve lost a step, and in 21 days, you’re going to lose Congress,” Warren tweeted.

Was at a breakfast this morning with a Trump adviser who was touting his relative good behavior on Twitter recently & equating it to the last few weeks of the 2016 campaign. https://t.co/dkFiGlbhyY

— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) October 16, 2018

Asked later in the day by the Associated Press about the “Horseface” tweet about Daniels, the President defended it, saying simply, “You can take it any way you want.”

The tweets by the President ended a fairly calm period for Mr. Trump, who had been shying away from his favorite social media platform, and doing more interviews and campaign rallies.

It also came on a day in which the White House listed no events on the President’s schedule.

Even with September surplus, feds run highest deficit since 2012

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 18:47

Despite running a surplus of $119 billion in the month of September, the Treasury Department reported Monday that the federal government chalked up a budget deficit of $779 billion for Fiscal Year 2018, the biggest yearly deficit since 2012, a 17 percent increase over the total amassed by Uncle Same in red ink for 2017.

The final budget numbers for the month of September – which ends the fiscal year – represented the first monthly surplus since April, as the feds brought in $343.5 billion in revenues, while spending $224.4 billion.

Those revenue figures were down $5 billion from a year ago, continuing a trend since the approval of a major tax cutting plan at the end of 2017; individual income taxes were down $4 billion from September of 2017, while the collection of corporate income taxes were down $21 billion from the same month a year ago.

At $779 billion, the 2017 deficit was the largest since 2012, the last of four straight years of deficits over $1 trillion in the Obama Administration.

The latest White House budget estimates predict several years of budget deficits over the $1 trillion mark – the big difference is that these deficits are occurring during a time period of economic growth.

“The last time the deficit was this high, our country was recovering from the Great Recession,” Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee immediately proclaimed, denouncing the GOP as the “the party of tax cuts for the wealthy and fiscal irresponsibility.”

Comparing 2018 to 2017 – revenues were up by $14 billion, from $3.315 billion to $3.329 trillion, while total spending went from $3.98 trillion to $4.108 trillion.

The Treasury Department today reported the official fiscal year 2018 deficit was $779 billion, an increase of $114 billion, or 17 percent, from last year. See our statement https://t.co/Wq326p5y4T

— CRFB.org (@BudgetHawks) October 15, 2018

“As expected, recent tax cuts and spending increases – all put on the national credit card – are making a bad problem even worse,” said the budget watchdog group Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

“This is bananas for an economy where unemployment is at a forty year low,” said Justin Wolfers, an economics professor at the University of Michigan. “It’s nuts.”

Republicans had argued during Congressional debate over the tax changes that the tax cuts would ‘pay for themselves’ – so far, that did not happen in 2018 – and according to the estimates of the Trump White House, deficits will continue to go up for several years.

In fact, the President’s own budget experts are forecasting that Mr. Trump will put together just as much in deficits as President Obama did.

Trump suggests ‘rogue killers’ possible in Khashoggi disappearance

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 14:33

After the King of Saudi Arabia ‘firmly denied’ any knowledge of a government plot to kidnap or kill missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Donald Trump suggested to reporters on Monday that ‘rogue killers’ could well have been responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance last week, when he visited the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

“I’ve asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to immediately get on a plane, go to Saudi Arabia,” the President told reporters outside the White House, as he said the ‘world is watching’ and waiting for answers.

But Mr. Trump made clear that the Saudi King made clear his government was not involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

“The King firmly denied any knowledge of it,” the President said. “Maybe these could have been rogue killers – who knows?”

Trump says the Saudi king “flatly denied” any knowledge of Khashoggi’s disappearance.

“It sounded to me like maybe these could be rogue killers, who knows?” #tictocnews pic.twitter.com/cXS5GF7WZZ

— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) October 15, 2018

“We’re going to try get to the bottom of it very soon but his was a flat denial,” the President added about his phone conversation with the King.

Asked by a reporter, “Do you trust him do you believe him?” – the President simply relayed the Saudi leader’s denial.

“All I can do is report what he told me and he told me in a very firm way that they had no knowledge of it. He said it very strongly,” Mr. Trump added.

The President left open the possibility that his Secretary of State would also go to Turkey, where Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate last week.

Officials in Turkey have laid out a story where Khashoggi was killed – and then possibly dismembered – by Saudi agents, a story that the Saudi government has firmly denied.

President Trump: "I've asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to immediately get on a plane, go to Saudi Arabia. Go to other places if necessary, which he probably will." pic.twitter.com/XJKpxQ1gKV

— CSPAN (@cspan) October 15, 2018

A Saudi citizen, Khashoggi has been a critic of his government, leading some to believe he was targeted by the Saudi regime.

“He firmly denied that,” the President said of the Saudi King.

President Trump to see hurricane damage in Florida, Georgia

Sun, 10/14/2018 - 21:45

With a number of communities and thousands of people still reeling from the severe damage done by Hurricane Michael, President Donald Trump on Monday will see some of the destruction himself, as he tours areas in both Florida and Georgia, getting an up close view of a recovery effort that’s also tinged with high-stakes politics, just over three weeks from key mid-term elections.

“The destruction caused by Hurricane Michael is really incredible,” the President said in a video released by the White House, as he proclaimed his support for those who might not have the ability to even hear or see him, because of damage to the power and communications grid.

“We are with you 100 percent,” the President added, as officials at FEMA touted their response, especially in the hard-hit Panhandle of Florida, where Michael made landfall last Wednesday afternoon.

“FEMA has released more than 700,000 meals and more than 1.7 million liters of water to Florida to supplement local resources,” FEMA reported. “In Georgia, to fill state requests, FEMA has transferred more than 350,000 meals to the state; more meals have been shipped.”

The State of Florida also set up a series of sites where residents could get food, water, and other recovery supplies – some far inland toward the Alabama and Georgia border, a reminder of just how wide a swatch the hurricane cut last week.

Thousands remained without power on Sunday in portions of southeastern Alabama, the Florida Panhandle, and in areas of southwestern Georgia, where the storm still packed a strong punch, hours after roaring ashore near Mexico Beach, Florida.

Helped by trucks and crews from around the nation, major power companies were doing all they could – but fully acknowledged it will take at days and weeks to get many customers back on line – but that it could be longer for others in severely damaged areas, as miles and miles of power infrastructure was taken down by Michael’s winds.

“Hurricane Michael was an unprecedented storm,” said Stan Connally, the head of Gulf Power. “We know that our customers are counting on us, so they can begin rebuilding their lives.”

Gulf Power announces that by midnight, Oct. 24, fourteen days after landfall of #HurricaneMichael, 95 percent of all Gulf Power customers who can accept electric service should be restored. #RestoringHope #PowerOfTeamwork https://t.co/68gKihurzb

— Gulf Power (@GulfPower) October 14, 2018

Hanging in the background of the repair effort in Florida and Georgia was also a political component – in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott (R) is not only leading the post-storm effort, but also running for U.S. Senate against Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who has also been on the ground in the Panhandle, helping with relief work.

A debate set for Tuesday on CNN between Scott and Nelson was postponed because of the ongoing relief work.

Meanwhile, Florida’s race for Governor involves the Mayor of Tallahassee, Democrat Andrew Gillum, who has been combining efforts to restore power and repair damage in his home city, postponing any campaign activities until Thursday – while his opponent, ex-Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), has been ferrying relief supplies to the Panhandle to help.

Gillum said over the weekend that he would not be at a scheduled debate in Orlando on Tuesday.

All four of those candidates are saying much the same thing – that it’s time to join together and help those in need – but the relief work comes at a critical time in Florida, for both the races for Senate and Governor.

With deal on judges, Senate goes home for the elections

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 11:30

Less than a week after ending a bruising partisan fight over the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the U.S. Senate joined the House in heading home for the November mid-term elections, as Democrats and Republicans agreed to allow approval of a package of GOP nominations, freeing those Senators who are up for re-election to return home to campaign.

The House left town two weeks ago; both chambers will return for their next votes on November 13, a week after Election Day.

Democrats cut the deal despite a lot of grumbling from their own side, as many more liberal activists wanted the Senate to stay in session, and have Democrats force votes and debates over any judicial nominee by President Trump.

15 judges were approved in the deal, which included three nominees to federal appeals courts, and a dozen federal district judges.

While Democrats have forced Republicans to use extra debate time repeatedly on nominations, GOP leaders have been relentless in using time on the Senate floor for judicial picks by President Trump in 2017 and 2018, confirming 84 judges to all levels of the judiciary.

And with the rules changes in the Senate – spearheaded by Democrats back in 2012 – which eliminated the use of the 60 vote filibuster against judicial nominees, there isn’t much Democrats can do to stop those Trump nominations, unless Republicans refuse to support the choices.

“Trump and McConnell are confirming conservative judges at a breakneck pace in what’s sure to be Trump’s most enduring legacy,” said Brian Fallon, who worked for Hillary Clinton and the Obama Justice Department, and has tried to spur Democrats to fight harder to block President Trump’s nominees.

“Senate Must Stop Rubberstamping of Trump’s Takeover of Federal Courts,” boomed a press release by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, as liberal groups denounced the deal.

But without any votes from Republicans – Democrats are powerless to stop the GOP from confirming judges. Their best weapon is to simply win a majority in the Senate in the upcoming election.

The Senate has confirmed President Trump’s judicial nominees at a historic pace – 84 total, including Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, 29 circuit judges, and 53 district court judges.

— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) October 11, 2018

A number of other nominations by the President were also approved late Thursday, including a series of ambassadors.

As GOP Senators crowed about their record number of judicial confirmations, they also took aim at Democrats on the way out of town.

“Senate Democrats must want to get out of Washington to campaign,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

One note – while the House and Senate will not conduct any legislative business until after the elections, but Congress is not officially in ‘recess’ – so, President Trump will not be able to make any recess appointments.

FULL VIDEO: Kanye West in the Oval Office

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 19:29

Wearing a signature red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap, rapper and producer Kanye West dominated a meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House on Thursday, declaring that the hat made him feel ‘like Superman,’ as West extolled the virtues of the President, dropped an f-bomb and more before reporters, and talked about maybe running for President in 2024 – only after Mr. Trump has served two terms.

West – who spoke for nearly ten minutes at one point – made clear again that he was a big supporter of the President and his policies, especially on North Korea.

“You stopped the war,” West said at one point.

As for West’s impromptu speech in the Oval Office, “I tell you what, that was pretty impressive,” the President said. “That was quite something.”

“It was from the soul – I just channeled it,” West explained, who at one point labeled the President, “a master of industry.”

Here is the full video of their Oval Office meeting, which included former NFL football great Jim Brown.

Before the meeting began, the White House gave this explanation to reporters of what would be covered:

“The discussion will be centered on President Trump’s historic work to benefit all Americans such as urban revitalization, the creation of Opportunity Zones, new workforce training programs, record highs in African American employment, the creation of manufacturing jobs, ideas from his meeting with African American pastors, potential future clemencies, and addressing the massive violent crime surge in Chicago,” said White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley in a statement.

Trump blames stock market drop on Federal Reserve

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 16:25

For a third straight day, President Donald Trump leveled stern public criticism at the Federal Reserve, directly blaming a recent drop in the stock markets on increases in interest rates, as the President bluntly said the Fed is endangering economic growth under the Trump Administration.

“I think the Fed is out of control,” the President told reporters in the Oval Office. “I think what they’re doing is wrong.”

It was the third consecutive day that Mr. Trump had criticized the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates; last night in Erie, Pennsylvania, the President said the Fed ‘has gone crazy.’

“I think the Fed is far too stringent, and they’re making a mistake,” Mr. Trump added.

“It’s not necessary in my opinion, and I think I know about it better than they do,” the President said of the decision to increase interest rates.

.@POTUS on Fed raising interest rates: "It's not necessary, in my opinion. And I think I know about it better than they do, believe me." pic.twitter.com/9Z5W5CUNjO

— FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) October 11, 2018

Asked if he would fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell – his own nominee – President Trump told reporters he was not considering such a move.

The impact of the boost in interest rates might best be seen in the home sale market, as mortgage rates jumped to their highest level in seven years on Thursday, with a 30-year mortgage now at an average of 4.9 percent, up from 4.71 percent last week.

The last time average mortgage rates were near the 5 percent level was in April 2011. One year ago it was just under 4 percent.

"I think the Fed has gone crazy," Trump says after the worst day for U.S. stocks since February #tictocnews pic.twitter.com/K7pqH82LzN

— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) October 10, 2018

The Dow fell over 830 points on Wednesday, and followed that with an over 545 point drop on Thursday, closing at just over 25,000, an over 5 percent loss in two days.

The day that the President took office on January 20, 2017, the Dow stood at 19,827.

“We’re still up forty percent,” the President told reporters.

Average price of Obama health law plans to drop in 2019

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 14:17

In a surprise announcement, the Trump Administration reported Thursday that the average price for benchmark health insurance plans under the Obama health law system would drop in 2019 by 1.5 percent, as statistics issued by the feds indicated the controversial health insurance exchanges were stabilizing in price and coverage.

“President Trump’s Administration took action to address the skyrocketing price of health insurance, and now we are starting to see the results,” said Seema Verma, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

But Verma made clear that President Donald Trump did not want to keep the current Obamacare health system in place.

“Even with this reduction, average rates are still too high. If we are going to truly offer affordable, high quality healthcare, ultimately the law needs to change,” Verma added.

CMS finds that the average premium for 2nd lowest cost silver exchange plans in 2019 will drop 1.5%, the number of counties with only 1 insurer has dropped from 56% in 2018 to 39%, and only 4 states will have just one insurer (compared to 10 in 2018) https://t.co/aScZsbrLEJ

— Health Agents for America (@HAFAinc) October 11, 2018

“One big reason insurers are lowering premiums,” said Cynthia Cox of the Kaiser Family Foundation, is that “Individual market insurers are currently so profitable it would be hard for many companies to justify a rate increase.”

“This profitability is also probably attracting new entrants and returning companies,” Cox added.

While the overall average is a decrease of 1.5 percent in premiums for 2019, the state-by-state data varies wildly, with everything from a 26 percent drop in Tennessee to a 20 percent increase in North Dakota.

Larger states like Florida (1.8 percent), Georgia (0.4 percent), North Carolina (-1.4 percent) and Texas (1.4 percent) are all around or above the average – some like Ohio (3 percent) and Arizona (4 percent) are above.

The full state-by-state data is available at this site from CMS.

Supporters of the Obama health law said it was more evidence that the system would work – if insurers and the Trump Administration would fully support it.

The Trump administration just announced that average benchmark ACA premiums will decrease by 1.5% next year. The overwhelming factor behind that is that premiums increased so much this year — 36.9%. Insurers overshot in the face of uncertainty and are returning excess profits.

— Larry Levitt (@larry_levitt) October 11, 2018

The announcement of the average premium increase for 2019 came a day after Senate Republicans blocked an effort by Democrats to overturn a new Trump Administration rule which allows short-term insurance plans to be sold, which don’t follow all the coverage requirements of the Obama health law.

Backers of the plan argue the lower-cost-but-less-coverage insurance policies are better for consumers than the higher-priced alternative under the health exchanges.

In Senate debate, Democrats derided the plans as ‘junk’ insurance, arguing they often don’t cover emergency services or pre-existing medical conditions.

Trump to visit areas hit by Hurricane Michael next week

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 08:00

As Hurricane Michael continued to barge its way inland overnight, the White House said President Donald Trump would visit areas damaged by the storm early next week, as the President expressed confidence that his administration would be able to deal with the needs of damaged communities in Florida, Alabama and Georgia.

“We have massive amounts of food and water that gets brought in immediately as it’s leaving. I mean, literally, we follow it right in,” the President told reporters after getting a briefing from FEMA officials on the progress of the storm.

“It’s one of the biggest storms to ever hit our country,” he added. “It’s almost like a big – it’s like a big tornado, a massive tornado.”

Trump says he’ll travel to Florida “probably Sunday or Monday” to survey #HurricaneMichael damage #tictocnews pic.twitter.com/yVrXhcL8ZH

— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) October 10, 2018

“We will spare no expense, no effort, no resource,” the President said, promising to help those hit by Michael.

“We will always pull through,” Mr. Trump added.

Last month when Hurricane Florence took aim at the Carolinas, the President scrapped a pair of campaign rallies in order to stay focused on the storm at the White House – but this time, he went ahead with a rally in Pennsylvania on Wednesday evening.

“I can’t tell thousands of people that have been waiting – some of whom got there literally last night, in order to be and get into an arena at 7 o’clock – it’s hard to tell them, ‘By the way, you’ve been waiting all day. Go home,'” the President said, expressing confidence in the federal emergency response.

“We have our people ready. We are really ready in Florida, and, frankly, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina. We’re very ready,” the President added. “And I think it’ll be just fine.”

But that was a different tune than one the President had been singing back in 2012, when he went on Twitter to criticize then-President Barack Obama for campaigning in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Yesterday Obama campaigned with JayZ & Springsteen while Hurricane Sandy victims across NY & NJ are still decimated by Sandy. Wrong!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012

The President began his rally in Pennsylvania by offering his “thoughts and prayers” to those in the path of the storm.

“I’ll be traveling to Florida very, very shortly, and I just want to wish them all the best,” Mr. Trump said.

“God speed. God speed.”

Trump on higher interest rates: “I think the Fed has gone crazy”

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 00:33

Hours after the major American stock markets registered their biggest losses since early this year, President Donald Trump again publicly rebuked the Federal Reserve, arguing their move to raise interest rates has caused stock losses and even some uncertainty about future economic growth.

“I think the Fed has gone crazy,” the President told reporters after arriving in Erie, Pennsylvania for a campaign rally, as he vented frustration again about decisions to raise interest rates, as Mr. Trump argued those tight-money policies will harm future growth.

It was the second straight day that the President had publicly criticized the Fed’s policy decisions.

“The Fed is doing what they think is necessary, but I don’t like what they’re doing,” the President said on Tuesday. “Because we have inflation really checked, and we have a lot of good things happening.”

"I think the Fed has gone crazy," Trump says after the worst day for U.S. stocks since February #tictocnews pic.twitter.com/K7pqH82LzN

— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) October 10, 2018

“I like to see low interest rates,” the President said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped almost 832 points on Wednesday, and is down almost 1200 points in the last five trading days.

Before the President made his comments about the Fed, the White House put out a statement to reporters that seemed to be an effort to calm the markets.

“The fundamentals and future of the U.S. economy remain incredibly strong,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“President Trump’s economic policies are the reasons for these historic successes and they have created a solid base for continued growth,” Sanders added.

Historically, interest rates are not high, and haven’t budged that much in recent years.

The typical rate for a 30-year mortgage remains under 5 percent; those rates were down under 4 percent a number of times over the last 10 years.

That’s a far cry from the early 1980’s, when mortgage rates remained in double digits for several years, peaking at over 15-18 percent for many home buyers.

Senate blocks Democratic bid to overturn Trump health care rule

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 19:57

On a tie vote, Senate Republicans on Wednesday stopped an effort by Democrats to overturn a Trump Administration rule which allows the sale of certain short-term health insurance plans, preserving the option for consumers to buy less-expensive, reduced coverage policies which do not follow the full requirements under the Obama health law.

The vote was 50-50, as Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) joined all 49 Democrats in voting to overturn the new rule, which has been heralded by the White House and Congressional Republicans as a way to make more affordable insurance available to consumers.

Democrats argued in vain that the less comprehensive offerings were nothing more than ‘junk insurance plans,’ which would not protect policy holders, leaving them open to not qualifying for coverage of pre-existing conditions and more.

“These junk plans will charge people more for coverage based on their pre-existing conditions or deny them coverage outright,” said Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), as Democratic activists sought to make the vote a campaign issue for November.

Junk plans allow insurance companies to NOT cover pregnancy, asthma, mental health, hospitalizations, – whatever they decide is unprofitable or too expensive – they just don’t cover it. And then everyone without a junk plan pays way more because the risk pool gets screwed up.

— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) October 10, 2018

“Junk insurance plans are exempt from covering essential services, like prescription drugs, emergency room visits, maternity care – or any service that treats pre-existing conditions,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD).

“What are junk insurance plans? It’s in the name. Junk,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM).

The effort by Senate Democrats drew a veto threat from the White House – the first of the Trump Administration – but in the end, it wasn’t needed.

“The new rule will increase choices for Americans facing escalating premiums and will create flexible options that are not currently present in the individual market,” the White House argued.

“Americans want and need more options for health care coverage – not fewer,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA).

“I come down on the side of more choices for consumers,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), as she said too many people were paying the penalty for not having insurance under the Obama health law, because they could not afford to pay for health insurance coverage.

What do Democrats have against lower-cost insurance that doesn't change one word of the Affordable Care Act's protection guarantee for pre-existing conditions?

— Sen. Lamar Alexander (@SenAlexander) October 10, 2018

“Thank goodness the vote forced by Democrats on short-term limited duration health insurance did not succeed,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). “Overturning this rule is a vote against affordable health insurance.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said the message from Democrats was simple: “We’re going to keep your costs for health care so high that you can’t afford it.”

Trump says feds are ready as Michael aims at Gulf Coast, Southeast

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 11:45

President Donald Trump joined with government officials in Florida and other southern states in warning those in the path of Hurricane Michael to take appropriate safety measures to deal with what may turn out to be the most powerful hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle.

The President was scheduled to meet late Wednesday morning with the head of FEMA and the Secretary of Homeland Security, as he expressed confidence that federal emergency officials would be up to the task.

“We’re very well prepared; FEMA’s ready, we’re all ready,” the President told reporters on Tuesday, as he said his administration’s record of dealing with tropical systems was a good one.

“We’ve done very well – North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico,” Mr. Trump added, as he rattled off areas hit by strong hurricanes in 2017 and 2018.

Michael roared down on the Florida Panhandle strengthening into a Category 4 hurricane early Wednesday before it crashes against the region's white-sand beaches, fishing villages and coastal communities later in the day: https://t.co/7c0afRjT3h pic.twitter.com/qgptcifnV8

— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) October 10, 2018

In September, when Hurricane Florence threatened the Carolinas, the President scrapped several campaign stops in order to deal with the federal response to the storm.

It wasn’t clear if that would happen again on Wednesday – President Trump is scheduled to hold a campaign rally in Erie, Pennsylvania this evening, and Vice President Pence is scheduled to hold two campaign events in Wisconsin for Gov. Scott Walker.

The threat of damage from Hurricane Michael isn’t limited to just the Florida Panhandle, as the storm is forecast to drop a large amount of rain on areas from southern Georgia, through the Carolinas, and up into southeastern parts of Virginia.

For the Carolinas, heavy rains would hit areas still struggling to get back to normal after Hurricane Florence, which caused extensive flooding in September.

Just spoke with @POTUS to give him an update on Hurricane Michael. He offered any federal resources necessary as we prepare to respond to this massive and catastrophic storm.

— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) October 10, 2018

The hurricane is anticipated to make landfall near Panama City, Florida early this afternoon.

Former FEMA Director Craig Fugate, who lives in north central Florida, said those in the path of the storm need to be ready – even if you don’t live near the coast.

“Hurricane Michael is almost here,” Fugate tweeted on Wednesday morning, as he said people should “expect long term power outages, limited or no cellular service, no cable, no WiFi. Charge your electronic devices.”

Senate doxing suspect pleads not guilty, remains jailed

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 01:00

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered a 27 year-old former Democratic Congressional employee to remain in jail, as Jackson Cosko pleaded not guilty to charges that he published the addresses and phone numbers of a Republican Senator during the recent debate over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

In an appearance before a federal magistrate judge, Cosko pleaded not guilty to seven different counts, including making public the personal information of Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT).

The indictment also spelled out other charges against Cosko, alleging that he illegally accessed a computer in the office of Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) – where he was once an intern – and that he threatened an employee of that office who discovered him there.

Cosko plead not guilty to the seven charges against him. The matter is now before Federal District Judge Hogan. Status hearing date TBD.

— Jake Gibson (@JakeBGibson) October 9, 2018

At the Tuesday afternoon hearing, Judge Deborah Robinson refused to release Cosko; a date for a future status hearing on his case was not immediately set.

In a ten page document asking that Cosko be kept in custody, federal prosecutors said a search of Cosko’s apartment found evidence that he planned to dox other lawmakers.

“Moreover, there is evidence that the defendant may possess, or have control over, as-yet unidentified information belong to Members of the United States Congress – and that the defendant may use or unlawfully release that information,” one document stated, as the feds described Cosko as a ‘flight risk.’

Prosecutors also released photos taken by police during the search of his apartment – one shows a crumpled piece of yellow note paper in which Cosko had seemingly scrawled, “contest of who to dox next.”

And there was more.

“United States Capitol Police officers found, sitting openly on a counter in the defendant’s apartment, a tray with a small pile of white powder that field-tested positive for cocaine, along with paraphernalia,” the judge was told.

The feds said the threat posed by Cosko had caused the Capitol Police to devote many more resources to protecting Senators.

“In the last week, the risk created by these doxxing offenses required the Capitol Police to make additional security details available to victim Senators, their families, and staffers, as a result of the defendant’s actions – and at significant costs to taxpayers,” prosecutors stated.

If found guilty on all of the charges, Cosko could face over 48 years in prison.

Four weeks out, Trump, Pence try to save GOP majority in Congress

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 18:49

Apart from targeting a handful of U.S. Senate seats held by Democrats, top Republicans mainly find themselves playing defense in the final weeks of the 2018 mid-term election campaign, working furiously to protect the seats of GOP lawmakers in the House, as President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence criss-cross the country in a bid to keep both the House and Senate in GOP hands next year.

Four weeks from Election Day, President Trump was holding a campaign rally in Iowa – not for his 2020 re-election bid – but instead trying to bolster the chances of Rep. David Young (R-IA), one of two Iowa Republicans whose seats could be in jeopardy on Election Day.

“I think we’re going to do well,” the President told reporters when asked Tuesday morning for a prediction for the mid-term elections, just a few hours before getting on Air Force One to head to Council Bluffs, Iowa, to make the case to GOP voters that they must get to the polls in November to help Young and other GOP candidates.

REGISTER TO VOTE! https://t.co/0pWiwCHGbh https://t.co/3vYfDmpqiH

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2018

Mr. Trump was also using the Iowa visit to announce a new federal plan to lift restrictions on ethanol use in gasoline, something that would be a boost to farmers in Iowa and the Midwest.

“Farmers, over the last fifteen years – it’s only gone down,” the President told reporters. “Now, they’re going to go up.”

While the President was jetting to the Hawkeye State on Air Force One, Vice President Pence was in Washington, hosting fundraisers on Tuesday for two Republicans, Rep. Troy Balderson (R-OH) – who won a narrow special election victory to Congress back in August – and Carol Miller, a West Virginia Republican trying to keep an open GOP seat in the House.

Those two events were almost a slow day of campaign work for Pence, who flew to Texas aboard Air Force Two on Monday to campaign with Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) in Dallas, then made a fundraising stop for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and later flew to Missouri to help GOP state Attorney General Josh Hawley’s bid to defeat Sen. Clare McCaskill (D-MO).

“This midterm may be the most important midterm election of my lifetime,” Pence said at a rally for Sessions, a veteran House Republican who is one of an unexpectedly large group of GOP lawmakers who are working very hard to survive this year’s election.

“I’m from Indiana, but when I think of North Texas, I don’t think liberal,” the Vice President said, as he thrashed the Democratic opponent of Sessions.

In a mid-term year like 2018, the schedules of both the President and Vice President paint an important picture for those trying to divine where things stand – as apart from a handful of races focused on incumbent Senate Democrats in Montana, Missouri, North Dakota, and West Virginia – it’s clear much of their energy is being expended right now to preserve GOP seats in Congress, especially in the House.

Along with his visit to Iowa on Tuesday, the President will headline campaign rallies later this week in Ohio to help Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), in Pennsylvania to shore up support for Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), and in Kentucky where Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) faces a stiff challenge in November.

The Vice President has been quietly doing a number of such events for House Republicans running for re-election in the House – just look at his schedule last week:

+ Separate events in New York for Rep. John Faso (R-NY) and Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ).
+ Washington, D.C. fundraising events for Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) and Rep. Danny Tarkanian (R-NV).
+ A Virginia fundraiser for Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA).
+ The Vice President also flew to Washington State to aid the re-election effort of top Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), after a stop in Montana to help the GOP effort to oust Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT).

Democrats need to gain a net of almost two dozen House seats in order to take control in January – most election experts agree that the battle for the House is being played out mainly in GOP districts.

In one month, @TheDemocrats will need to flip 23 House seats to win the majority.

Currently, 15 @GOP-held seats are rated either “Likely Democratic” or “Lean Democratic.” Another 29 Republican seats are rated as “Toss-Ups.” #Election2018https://t.co/sdKpJUiuGZ pic.twitter.com/ugIqz2Gkem

— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) October 9, 2018

New polling data released in recent days showed everything from a bump for Republicans in the wake of the fight over the Supreme Court nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to a big lead for Democrats in broader survey of battleground districts.

“I’d rather have 6-8 in-depth House district polls rather than a sample from 69 'battleground districts,'" tweeted political expert Stuart Rothenberg, who is sticking with his gut feeling about November.

“Right now, the House still looks poised to flip party control while the Senate does not,” Rothenberg wrote in his latest column for the Hill newspaper. “That’s the way things have looked for months.”

President Trump and Vice President Pence hope to show Rothenberg and other pundits that they’re wrong about such predictions – the two men have less than a month to save those GOP majorities.

Ex-staffer accused of doxing Senators due in court on Tuesday

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 08:00

The former Democratic Congressional staffer accused by police of publishing home addresses and phone numbers of Republican Senators during the nomination fight over Justice Brett Kavanaugh will go before a federal magistrate judge Tuesday afternoon in a Washington, D.C. federal court.

27 year-old Jackson Cosko has been held without bond since his arrest last Wednesday, with possible criminal charges related to unauthorized access to a government computer, identity theft, unlawful entry, second degree burglary, witness tampering, threats in interstate communications, and making public restrict personal information.

Cosko was fired last week by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX); he had been working in her office as a Congressional “fellow” – those arrangements allow people to work in a legislative office, but they are not paid by the member of Congress.

“I strongly condemn the individual’s indefensible and criminal behavior,” Jackson Lee said at a news conference last week in Texas.

Democrat arrested for doxxing GOP Senators charged with: 18 USC § 119 Making Public Restricted Personal Information; 18 USC § 1512(b)(3) (Witness Tampering); 18 USC § 875(d) (Threats in Interstate Communications); 18 USC §1030(a)(3) (Unauthorized Access of a Government Computer)

— La Noche Triste (@PowerElement) October 4, 2018

Police allege that Cosko went to the office of Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) – where he once worked – and illegally accessed a computer there with another person’s login credentials.

In the affidavit filed with the court by the Capitol Police, authorities told a judge they have video evidence that Cosko was in the Senate office building which houses Hassan’s office last Wednesday, bolstering the claim of a employee on the Senator’s staff.

“Witness 2 reported that COSKO was a former staff member with Senator 7’s office,” the affidavit states. “Witness 2 stated that COSKO’S employment with the Senator’s office had ended several months ago – that is, that COSKO was asked to resign – and that COSKO did not have permission or authorization to be in the Senator’s office on October 2, 2018.”

It’s not clear what outside group was paying Cosko for his Congressional fellowship; he described himself as a “Democratic Political Professional & Cybersecurity Graduate Student” on his LinkedIn account, which is no longer active.

VIDEO: At White House ceremony, Kavanaugh vows to be impartial

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 00:06

In a swearing-in ceremony at the White House on Monday evening, new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh said he would not let the caustic Senate confirmation process prevent him from being impartial to all who appear before the U.S. Supreme Court, as Kavanaugh thanked President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and a host of other supporters who gathered in the White House East Room.

“I take this office with gratitude, and no bitterness,” Justice Kavanaugh said in his remarks, not ignoring the contentious Senate confirmation battle which threatened his nomination by President Trump.

“I was not appointed to serve one party or one interest, but to serve one nation,” Kavanaugh said with his family, President Trump, and former Justice Anthony Kennedy standing by his side.

“Every litigant at the Supreme Court can be assured that I will listen to their arguments with respect, and an open mind,” Kavanaugh said.

Here are the remarks of Justice Kavanaugh at the White House:

Kavanaugh will join the other eight Justices on the bench for his first arguments on Tuesday.

As often happens at the Supreme Court, the case is not on an overtly political issue, as the Justices will hear a pair of cases dealing with state robbery statutes.

As Kavanaugh joins Court, Trump, GOP try to seize election momentum

Sun, 10/07/2018 - 08:00

Hours after the U.S. Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday, President Donald Trump implored his supporters to turn out in large numbers for the November mid-term elections, both to punish Democrats for their opposition to Kavanaugh, and to ensure that Republicans keep control of both the U.S. House and Senate.

“We’ll have a chance in just four weeks to render your verdict on the Democrats’ conduct at the ballot box,” the President said to loud cheers at a campaign rally in Topeka, Kansas.

“On November 6, you will have the chance to stop the radical Democrats, and that’s what they’ve become,” Mr. Trump said.

“The radical Democrats have turned into an angry mob,” the President added, giving the back of the hand to hundreds of protesters who turned up outside the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court buildings as Kavanaugh was first confirmed by the Senate, and then sworn in by the Chief Justice.

LIVE: President Trump says “things could change” if the “angry left-wing mob” are voted into office pic.twitter.com/CwANtnHGSK

— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) October 6, 2018

On Capitol Hill, GOP leaders said the rash of sexual misconduct allegations which suddenly surfaced against Kavanaugh had actually helped rally Republican Senators and voters behind the judge, as they also quickly tried to capitalize on the Kavanaugh fight for the November elections.

“We finally discovered the one thing that would fire up the Republican base,” said a smiling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “The other side did it,” he said, referring to the Democrats.

Other Republicans echoed those sentiments, as GOP lawmakers like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) thanked the President, “for sticking with Justice Kavanaugh through all the lies and in the face of crazed mobs.”

The word ‘mob’ was repeated by a number of Republicans from the President on down on Saturday, as GOP leaders tried to make the case that Democrats had crossed the line by embracing what they said was a series of uncorroborated claims against Kavanaugh.

“Americans outside the beltway don’t take kindly to the Washington smear machine, and a paid mob trying to prevent Senators from doing the will of their constituents,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "This is a good day for America and an important day for the Senate. We stood up for the presumption of innocence. We refuse to be intimidated by the mob of people that were coming after Republican members" pic.twitter.com/A425edIAED

— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 6, 2018

Polls in recent days have shown an uptick in the President’s approval rating, raising questions about whether this fight over Kavanaugh represents a temporary boost for the GOP, or a more long-lasting one for November.

“It may be that one side turns out at furious rates as a result of a vote,” said GOP pollster Patrick Ruffini, who cited the fight over the Obama health law as one example.

But Ruffini says he still believes the larger issue for voters is not Kavanaugh, or any other issue.

“The dominant factor in this election remains Donald Trump,” Ruffini said on Twitter Saturday afternoon.

For Democrats, the unanswered question right now is did this extended fight – highlighted by salacious accusations against Kavanaugh – energize Republicans, or is this still an election landscape which tilts away from the GOP, as Democrats keep reporting large fundraising numbers.

Just heard about an R poll where a longtime House R incumbent is up just 46%-39% vs. a Dem who trailed ~50-to-1 in cash in the last FEC report & gets no attention. Guys, there are going to be some surprises on Election Night.

— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) October 6, 2018

At this point, the predictions have a very wide spread in both the House and Senate – elections expert Harry Enten says it could be anything from Democrats having a maximum of 256 seats in the House to a minimum of 204.

Election Day is four weeks from Tuesday. The experts think it is advantage Democrats right now – but many thought that two years ago at this time as well.