Thursday, September 28

POLITICO Playbook PM: Trump takes false fraud claims to the GOP

BULLETIN — MICHAEL SUSSMANN, a lawyer for HILLARY CLINTON’s 2016 campaign, was acquitted of charges of lying to the FBI in its probe of DONALD TRUMP’s ties to Russia. It’s a big setback for Trump-era special counsel JOHN DURHAM, in what was his first courtroom test.

Our colleague Josh Gerstein has more: “It’s unclear how the high-profile courtroom setback will impact Durham’s ongoing probe or his ability to bring future charges in his broad investigation into the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe. … Senior Justice Department officials have been vague about what level of supervision is in place over Durham’s probe, which former Attorney General BILL BARR gave special-counsel status a few weeks before the 2020 election.”

TRUMP BLAMES GEORGIA PRIMARY BLOWOUT ON FRAUD — Trump blasted out an email to his supporters this morning with a link to an article falsely claiming Georgia Gov. BRIAN KEMP’s recent victory over Trump-backed challenger DAVID PERDUE in the Republican primary was the result of voter fraud.

A reminder: Kemp won the race by more than 50 points, consistently led in polling and his margin grew as the primary neared. He had the benefit of being a popular incumbent who found the Republican sweet spot of keeping his public criticisms of Trump to basically zero while abstaining from endorsing Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.

A couple things worth noting here:

— Could this (again) affect Republican turnout in a critical swing state? Many Republicans attribute the party’s loss of both Georgia Senate seats in the January 2021 runoffs to depressed turnout stemming from Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election. Now, he’s suggesting that the GOP gubernatorial nominee is himself the result of a fraudulent election. Will that matter in November?

— Trump is suggesting that the GOP primary in a GOP-run state was rife with voter fraud. This is a step further than most Trump-supporting Republican officials have been willing to go.

Case in point: “Already this year, 55 of the lawmakers who objected [to the 2020 election results] have run in competitive primaries, contests conducted largely under the same rules and regulations as those in 2020. None have raised doubts about vote counts. No conspiracy theories about mail ballots have surfaced. And no one has called for a ‘forensic audit’ or further investigations of the 2022 primary results,” NYT’s Reid Epstein and Nick Corasaniti write.

“[T]he lack of discussion about fraud in this year’s primaries highlights a particular strain of partisanship driving many of the myths about stolen elections. [Alabama GOP Rep. MO] BROOKS offered a simple answer to why he’s not worried about his race: There’s no fraud in Republican primaries, he said. … ‘In a Republican primary or a Democrat primary, the motivation to steal elections is less because the candidates’ philosophy-of-government differences are minor.’”

— Related read: “Brian Kemp allies looking for truce with Donald Trump,”“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338ab0004″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338ab0005″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>“Brian Kemp allies looking for truce with Donald Trump,” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

FLOTUS FILES — First lady JILL BIDEN lands the cover of Harper’s Bazaar: “A First Lady Undeterred,”“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338ab0006″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338ab0007″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>“A First Lady Undeterred,” by Mattie Kahn: “A pandemic. A war. A country at its breaking point. Dr. Jill Biden has faced it all with the grace and conviction that has guided her all her life — showing up for her students, her friends and family, the American people, her husband, and herself.”

One highlight that jumped out to us: She and President JOE BIDEN apparently argue via text message.

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“During the Obama years, they took to hashing out their occasional spats over text to avoid fighting in front of the Secret Service. (They christened it ‘fexting.’),” Kahn writes. “Not so long ago, she tapped out a message to him in a fit of pique. ‘Joe said, “You realize that’s going to go down in history. There will be a record of that.”’ She grins. ‘I won’t tell you what I called him that time.’”

Good Tuesday afternoon.


INFLATION NATION — Here’s a headline the White House won’t like as it embarks on a June campaign to tamp down Americans’ concerns about the state of the economy: “U.S. consumer confidence slips in May amid stubborn inflation,”“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338b00002″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338b00003″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>“U.S. consumer confidence slips in May amid stubborn inflation,” by AP’s Matt Ott


ON THE GROUND — Much of the blame for the delay in breaching the room where the shooter at Robb Elementary School had barricaded himself has fallen to the district’s local police chief, who was recently elected to the city council, AP’s Adriana Gomez Licon and Jamie Stengle write. “It’s left residents in the small city of Uvalde struggling to reconcile what they know of the well-liked local lawman after the director of state police said that the commander at the scene — PETE ARREDONDO — made the ‘wrong decision’ last week not to breach a classroom at Robb Elementary School sooner, believing the gunman was barricaded inside and children weren’t at risk.”

“There’s talk of razing Robb Elementary School and rebuilding it. Here’s what happened after other school massacres,”“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338b00006″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338b00007″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>“There’s talk of razing Robb Elementary School and rebuilding it. Here’s what happened after other school massacres,” by CNN’s Holly Yan

SOUL SEARCHING — As the United States confronts the latest string of mass shootings — combined with a global pandemic that has killed millions — NYT’s Elizabeth Dias writes that the “mountain of calamities, and the paralysis over how to overcome it, points to a nation struggling over some fundamental questions: Has our tolerance as a country for such horror grown, dusting off after one event before moving on to the next? How much value do we place in a single human life?”


DEMS GO ON OFFENSE IN FLORIDA — In Florida, Democrats are trying to recapture the message on rising costs and use it against GOP Gov. RON DESANTIS ahead of the midterms. “Up and down the ballot, Democratic candidates have shifted their campaigns to focus on the soaring housing costs that are eating into the savings of retirees and workers and leaving poorer Floridians with fewer places to go,” CNN’s Steve Contorno reports. “While inflation has put President Joe Biden’s party on defense in most of the country, Florida Democrats are on offense, drawing attention to historic rent hikes and blaming more than two decades of state Republican leadership.”

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THE CROSSOVER — AP’s Steve Peoples and Aaron Kessler uncover an interesting trend: Democratic voters are casting their votes in Republican primaries (where state law allows for it) in a bid to influence the opponent that their preferred candidate will be running against this fall. Case in point: “An Associated Press analysis of early voting records from data firm L2 found that more than 37,000 people who voted in Georgia’s Democratic primary two years ago cast ballots in last week’s Republican primary, an unusually high number of so-called crossover voters,” Peoples and Kessler write. “The phenomenon is playing out in multiple primary contests, sometimes organically and sometimes in response to a coordinated effort by Trump’s opponents.”

STATES RAMP UP MISINFO FIGHT — In states across the country, officials are stepping up their efforts to combat election misinformation. In Connecticut, for instance, the state is hiring for the “first-ever position for an expert in combating misinformation,” NYT’s Cecilia Kang writes. But that’s just one approach. “Oregon, Idaho and Arizona have education and ad campaigns on the internet, TV, radio and billboards meant to spread accurate information about polling times, voter eligibility and absentee voting. Colorado has hired three cybersecurity experts to monitor sites for misinformation. California’s office of the secretary of state is searching for misinformation and working with the Department of Homeland Security and academics to look for patterns of misinformation across the internet.”

HEADS UP — “Sarah Palin is low on cash compared to her top rivals as she heads into a 48-candidate June 11 special House election in Alaska,”“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”″,”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338b00010″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338b00011″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>“Sarah Palin is low on cash compared to her top rivals as she heads into a 48-candidate June 11 special House election in Alaska,” by Insider’s Grace Panetta


CLIMATE FILES — A new report released today shows that many of the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks and policy decisions have left the U.S. far behind its peers in combating climate change, NYT’s Maggie Astor writes. But even countries that have made concerted efforts on the issue aren’t rising far above the pack. “The report’s sobering bottom line is that, while almost every country has pledged by 2050 to reach net-zero emissions (the point where their activities no longer add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere), almost none are on track to do it.” At the top of the list: “Only Denmark and Britain were on a sustainable path to eliminate emissions by midcentury.” Rounding out the bottom: “China, India, the United States and Russia were on track to account for more than half of global emissions in 2050.”

— MEANWHILE … The EPA’s “budgetary woes are preventing the nation’s top pollution regulator from doing its job,” WaPo’s Dino Grandoni reports. “The agency’s funding has remained stagnant since his inauguration. Its work is hamstrung by low staffing levels not seen since Ronald Reagan left office. The lack of resources and workers has undercut its ability to inspect facilities, measure contamination, punish violators and write new rules to stem pollution and climate change at a time when scientists say the world needs to act faster to stop runaway global warming.”

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— “In the most significant effort yet to punish Russia for its war in Ukraine, the European Union agreed to ban the overwhelming majority of Russian oil imports after tense negotiations that tested how far the bloc is willing to go to ostracize Moscow,” AP’s Lorne Cook and Samuel Petrequin report.

— “Cracks are appearing in the Western front against Moscow, with America’s European allies increasingly split over whether to keep shipping more powerful weapons to Ukraine, which some of them fear could prolong the conflict and increase its economic fallout,” report WSJ’s Bojan Pancevski in Berlin and Drew Hinshaw in Warsaw. “At the center of the disagreement — which is splitting a group of Western European powers from the U.S., U.K. and a group of mostly central and northern European nations — are diverging perceptions of the long-term threat posed by Russia and whether Ukraine can actually prevail on the battlefield.”


WHO’S GONNA SHOW? — With Biden’s Summit of the Americas planned for next week, the White House still isn’t sure if Mexican President ANDRÉS MANUEL LÓPEZ OBRADOR will attend, AP’s Chris Megerian reports. While administration officials “insisted that the event, which is held every few years, is an important opportunity for national leaders to meet, they also said López Obrador’s attendance would not undermine U.S. efforts to tackle issues like migration.”

THE CHINA CHALLENGE — NYT’s Damien Cave writes an analysis piece: “Why China Is Miles Ahead in a Pacific Race for Influence:“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338b30006″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338b30007″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>“Why China Is Miles Ahead in a Pacific Race for Influence: To many observers, the South Pacific today reveals what American decline looks like. Even as Washington tries to step up its game, it is still far behind, mistaking speeches for impact and interest for influence.”


THE BRAVE NEW WORLD — “A hard truth is facing government officials around the world: They’re going to have to put up with spyware infecting their phones because they need the technology too much to ban it,” Maggie Miller writes.


MEDIA MOVE — Ben Domenech is joining The Spectator World as an editor-at-large. He currently is a contributor for Fox News, hosts a podcast on Fox News Radio. He left The Federalist, where he was a co-founder, earlier this year. More from OutKick“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338b3000a”,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338b3000b”,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>More from OutKick

ENGAGED — Caitlin Chin, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Kenny Rothmann, a logistics management specialist at the Naval Sea Systems Command, got engaged last week on a hike at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The two met as undergraduates at the University of Maryland. Pic“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338b3000c”,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338b3000d”,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>Pic

WEEKEND WEDDING — Andrew Ireland, an associate attorney at Scopelitis and a Ted Cruz 2016 campaign alum, and Madeline Ferry, an Instagram content creator, got married on Saturday in Dallas. The couple met while Maddie’s mom volunteered for Cruz. Pic“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338b3000e”,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000181-1ba3-d243-a1c9-3bf338b3000f”,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>Pic

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