A Week of Political Ups and Downs -- Sunday Political Brunch August 26, 2108


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Once again President Trump was back in West Virginia this week, the state in which he is the most popular with a 62 percent approval rating. That’s six visits since taking office. Many people here love him, but he got two doses of bad news upon Air Force One’s touchdown. It’s a mixed bag for Mr. Trump. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“The Manafort Factor” – The conviction of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on Tuesday is a toss-up. Yes, Manafort was convicted on eight counts including bank fraud, but none of it had anything to do with the 2016 presidential campaign. It all had to do with Manafort’s business relationships with Russian and allied entities. Whether you like the president or not, there is still no proof of collusion. That’s not opinion, it’s fact. If there is a contrary viewpoint, please connect the dots. For now, Manafort’s misdeeds happened well before he was campaign chair.

“Cohen Goin’” – On the other hand, the guilty plea by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen Tuesday may prove a lot more problematic for the White House. Did he pay hush money to two women claiming affairs with then candidate-Trump? (Apparently someone did) Does it matter if it happened before he took office? (Yes) And does it matter if campaign versus personal funds were used? (Yes). Again, if there’s real smoke and fire here, prosecutors need to lay out the road map ahead.

“Morrisey or Bust” – The main reason for President Trump coming to West Virginia was to campaign for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R-WV), who is the nominee for U.S. Senate to face incumbent Senator Joe Manchin, (D-WV). While the President spoke for about 75 minutes total, only about 10 to 15 minutes was devoted to Morrisey and the senate race. Will that hurt? Said Trump of Morrisey, "A tremendous gentleman, I got to know him during the campaign.... He doesn't stop. He's going to fight for you like no one has ever fought for West Virginia." Morrisey responded, "When I get to the U.S. Senate I'm going to be a strong ally of President Trump." Which party controls the U.S. Senate my hinge on this race.

“Manchin” – Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-WV) is clearly the most conservative Democrat in the U.S. Senate, voting with President Trump 60 percent of the time. He, in fact, came out in support of President Trump’s newly announced Affordable Clean Energy Plan which was unveiled at the rally. Manchin also voted for Justice Neil Gorsuch on the U.S Supreme Court. But Manchin has reservations about the future of Obama Care, worrying that Attorney General Morrisey will lead to its demise. "He basically has sued the federal government to take away insurance for 800,000 West Virginians who have pre-existing conditions. The suit he has entered will do that. It destroys basically the Affordable Care Act which we have," said Sen. Joe Manchin, (D) West Virginia.

“Duncan Hunter – Chris Collins” – Republicans have some increased worries this week. Rep. Duncan Hunter, Jr., (R-CA) and his wife were indicted on accusations of using campaign contributions for personal use – a big no-no. Last week it was Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) indicted on charges related to insider trading and his son. Both Congressman may have to abdicate, so the party can try to save the seats. On the plus side for the GOP, these are two of the most reliably red districts in two of the nation’s bluest states. On the other hand, Democrats are trying to sow the seeds of discontent and there is some real “red” meat here, pardon the pun. Can they flip?

“Trump v Sessions” – Boy this one is getting ugly, with President Trump continuing to do battle with his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The President is still angry Sessions recused himself from the Russian meddling investigation saying, “I put in an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department. Jeff Sessions never took control of the Justice Department.” That prompted Sessions to fire back with this statement, “While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations. I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action.” Ouch!

“My Perspective” – I know Jeff Sessions from covering him when he was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama in the 1980s when I was a reporter in the Mobile-Pensacola TV market. He’s tough, and he gives no ground. I think he’s safe. As we learned from Richard Nixon, firing an Attorney General can backfire. Janet Reno really got under the skin of President Bill Clinton, but she didn’t dare be dismissed. The same goes for Trump. Canning Sessions and others would be another Saturday Night Massacre, and that would not bode well for Trump, just as it blew up on Nixon.

What are your thoughts on this week’s developments? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Mark Curtis Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia and surrounding states.

©2018, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: Mark Curtis Media

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