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The Jolt: ‘Not me,’ say Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo


No doubt you remember those Cabinet meetings where top leaders of the administration heaped their praises upon President Donald Trump. Get ready for the “not me” version. From the Associated Press:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has denied writing an anonymous New York Times opinion piece that said an internal “resistance” was working to thwart some of President Donald Trump’s efforts.

Pompeo spoke to reporters after a Thursday meeting in New Delhi with top Indian officials and said, “It’s not mine.”

Also from the Associated Press:

Hotly debated on Twitter was the author's use of the word "lodestar," which pops up frequently in speeches by Pence. Could the anonymous figure be someone in Pence's orbit? Others argued that the word "lodestar" could have been included to throw people off.

In a rare step, Pence's communications director Jarrod Agen tweeted early Thursday that "The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds. The @nytimes should be ashamed and so should the person who wrote the false, illogical, and gutless op-ed. Our office is above such amateur acts."

At least two people outside the confines of the New York Times know the identity of the “resistance” op-ed, according to James Dao, op-ed editor for the Times. In a newspaper podcast published this morning, Dao explained the origin of the piece:

“It began with an intermediary who I trust and know well. And they told me there was this individual in the Trump administration who was very interested in writing an op-ed, and would I want to see it?

“…I don’t typically expect someone in government to write clearly. It’s not what we anticipate most of the time. In this case, I was really quite impressed by the clarity of the writing and the emotional impact of the writing.

“We had to work to confirm that this person was real, and get us to a point where we were 100 percent confident that they were who they are….I did then have direct communication with the writer, and did a certain amount of background checking, and based on those conversations, and came away totally confident that this was truly the official in the Trump administration that they claim they were.”

Note the avoidance of gender-specific pronouns in the account.

Last night, one of President Trump’s responses was a one-worded Tweet in all caps: “TREASON?”

The president continued his Twitter assault this morning, and included a confidence-builder from the dictator of North Korea:

-- At 6:58 a.m.: “Kim Jong Un of North Korea proclaims “unwavering faith in President Trump.” Thank you to Chairman Kim. We will get it done together!”

-- At 7:19 a.m.:The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy - & they don’t know what to do. The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

-- At 7:31 a.m.:Co[n]sumer confidence highest in 18 years, Atlanta Fed forecasts 4.7 GDP, manufacturing jobs highest in many years. “It’s the story of the Trump Administration, the Economic Success, that’s unnerving his detractors.” @MariaBartiromo”

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One Trump staffer is in the clear. He left last week. Atlanta attorney Stefan Passantino, who stepped down after nearly two years as the White House’s top ethics lawyer, is heading the law firm helmed by former White House chief of staff and RNC chair Reince Priebus. Politico reports that Passantino started yesterday as a partner at Michael Best, where Priebus serves as president and chief strategist. Before working in the Trump administration, Passantino was a partner at the mega-law firm Dentons.

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Rebellion isn’t something that just needs tamping down in the White House, according to Republicans in Washington. In the Capitol, a Georgia congressman is taking the lead, according to The Hill newspaper:

House Republicans are chewing over a proposal to hold members accountable for not voting along party lines or signing discharge petitions — two acts of rebellion that GOP leadership has had to grapple with this year.

Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) pitched the idea on Tuesday to the Steering Committee, where it received a warm reception, but the panel decided to hold off on voting on the resolution until after the midterm elections, according to two GOP lawmakers who were present and a Republican source.

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Before he turned in last night, Jamie Dupree of WSB Radio sent word that House Republicans may be headed for another “family values” scandal:

Remember how indicted U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) blamed his wife on national television for misusing $250,000 in campaign funds? Well, the San Diego Union Tribune is now reporting what many of us had heard, that Individuals 14-18 named in the indictment of Hunter were women who were not Hunter’s wife – and that he was using campaign money to wine and dine them. I should also mention that two other lawmakers, Congressman A and Congressman C, also were along with their dates at times. So, there could be more here.

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Not only does U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, want to rename the Richard B. Russell Senate Office building on Capitol Hill, but he’d like to remove the name of the former Georgia senator and governor from a another structure in Atlanta. 

The Democrat thinks the Richard B. Russell Federal Building in Atlanta, which houses federal courtrooms and other agency offices, could be renamed to honor civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. or Frank Minis Johnson, the federal judge who made several watershed civil rights rulings beginning in the 1950s.

“There so many judges that building could be named after who have distinguished themselves throughout the history of Georgia,” Johnson said Wednesday. “There is no reason why we should continue to grace a (federal) office building after the name of a unabashed racist and one who turned a blind eye to terrorism against African Americans.”

One Democrat who’s stayed out of the debate is one of King’s former colleagues, U.S. Rep. John Lewis. The Atlanta congressman said the decision about the Senate office building in Washington should be left up to senators.

Lewis’ reticence comes as somewhat a surprise. The civil rights hero was one of the most prominent voices to call for Georgia legislators to remove a statue of Alexander Hamilton Stephens from the U.S. Capitol back in 2015.

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Politico’s latest midterm rankings favor Republican incumbents in two of Georgia’s most competitive U.S. House seats, now held by Karen Handel (Sixth) and Rob Woodall (Seventh). It has seven races for governor in the toss-up column - all in states now led by Republicans. Among them is Georgia, where Democrat Stacey Abrams faces Republican Brian Kemp. 

 

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A few weeks ago, we speculated that a Georgia visit could be in the works for fMichelle Obama. That isn’t happening yet, but we did get word yesterday that When We All Vote, the former first lady’s nonprofit, is planning an Atlanta rally later this month. The Sept. 27 rally at Spelman College will be headlined by musician Janelle Monae and seeks inspire people to volunteer to register voters and get others politically involved ahead of this year’s midterm elections. The first lady will be hosting rallies of her own in Miami and Las Vegas, the group said.

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