Trump Pushes His Chips to the Center of the Table, Endorses Roy Moore

by Jim Geraghty

President Trump must feel pretty confident Roy Moore is going to win the Senate special election in Alabama.

This morning he declared on Twitter, “Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!”

(There’s something German about Trump’s capitalization habits, isn’t there? Just this morning, he has capitalized “Witch Hunt,” “Tax Cutting,” “Republican Agenda,” and “Highest Stock Market.”)

Even by Trump standards, there’s not much logic or advantage by jumping on the bandwagon of an enormously controversial candidate like Moore if he’s about to lose.

On the other hand, how confident should anyone be about the outcome right now? It’s a special election, which usually means much lower turnout. It’s a special election just a few weeks before Christmas. Then again, this special election, and in particular the allegations against Moore, have been huge news, it’s hard to believe too many Alabama voters will simply not notice the special election going on. As Allahpundit observes, the polling is probably even more suspect that usual, with everyone guessing how many Republicans don’t want to tell a pollster that they’ve voting for Roy Moore, and how many Republicans don’t want to tell a pollster that they’ve voting for a Democrat.

Had Doug Jones looked or sounded at all like a moderate on abortion, you would probably see more open defections from the Republican nominee. But right now he’s asking pro-life Alabamans to vote for a candidate who declares, “I’m not in favor of anything that is going to infringe on a woman’s right and her freedom to choose” and who’s declared he doesn’t support any changes to current laws on abortion. There’s your choice, Alabama pro-lifers: abortion on demand or the creep who kept pursuing teenagers when he was in his 30s (and perhaps did more than merely “pursue” them).

Interestingly, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell appears to be coming to terms with seating Moore if he wins the election. Asked yesterday if he believes Roy Moore should be in the Senate, McConnell said, “I’m going to let the people of Alabama make the call.”

Back on November 14, McConnell declared, “He’s obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate, and we’ve looked at all the options to try to prevent that from happening.”

How many senators are reluctant to begin the process of refusing to seat a legally elected senator over serious, but unverified allegations of criminal behavior? If the Senate refused to seat Moore because of this . . . would there be an effort to refuse to seat or unseat another senator facing slightly less horrific allegations? Maybe Roy Moore isn’t fit to join the chamber where Ted Kennedy served 47 years . . . but if he isn’t, is Al Franken?

If Moore wins, Republicans keep the Senate seat, with the minor complication that Democrats will argue that they “welcomed” a man facing allegations of statutory rape. There’s also the minor problem that Roy Moore tends to make Donald Trump look like a disciplined, focused speaker, going on about “reds and yellows,” not knowing what the Dreamer program was as recently as this summer, and contending that Illinois communities are under Sharia law. (This isn’t even getting the conspiracy theory right, which contends that majority-Muslim communities in Michigan operate under de facto Sharia law.)

If Doug Jones wins, Republicans are down to a 51-49 majority in the Senate, and President Trump will have managed to back the losing candidate in the primary and in the general, in one of his strongest states. Before today, Trump could have at least claimed, “Moore always struck me as a loser, that’s why I never explicitly endorsed him.”

If Jones wins, can we all agree to never listen to Steve Bannon again? Just think, Senator Luther Strange could have been cruising right about now.

McCarthy: You Can Have Obstruction Even If There’s No Evidence of Collusion

Our Andy McCarthy, former federal prosecutor, reading between the lines and using deductive reasoning in the Russia investigation#..#

If the FBI had a collusion case of some kind, after well over a year of intensive investigation, Flynn and Papadopoulos would have been pressured to plead guilty to very serious charges —  and those serious offenses would be reflected in the charges lodged against Manafort. Obviously, the pleas and the indictment have nothing to do with collusion because Mueller has no collusion case.

Since there is no collusion case, we can safely assume Mueller is primarily scrutinizing President Trump with an eye toward making a case of obstructing an FBI investigation. This also makes sense in light of the pleas that have been taken.

Obstruction itself is a process crime – i.e., it relates to interference in the investigation of an underlying transaction that may or may not be criminal. In the first point, above, we noted that prosecutors generally do not let a cooperator settle a case by pleading guilty to a mere process crime. But, if the main case the prosecutor is trying to build is itself a process crime, such as obstruction, then it is not all that damaging that the witnesses have pled guilty only to process crimes. The theme of such a prosecution is that the investigative process must be protected, not that some terrible underlying crime (like an espionage conspiracy) has been committed. Witnesses such as Flynn and Papadopoulos would therefore not be made to look like they had gotten a pass on serious offenses; they would look like they had owned up to corrupting the process and are now helping the prosecutor against the principal corruption target.

None of that will matter to most of Trump’s most ardent critics, of course. In their eyes, any obstruction is automatically evidence that there was indeed collusion with Russia.

The GOP Tax Bill Is Almost Passed . . . 

Congressional Republicans have almost passed a tax bill. But let’s not count our chickens before they hatch. The House and Senate still have to take their different versions and mash them together into a new version in a conference, and pass that new hybrid through both houses.

Senator Susan Collins liked the Senate version, but isn’t making any promises about the conference version: “I want to see what comes out. I believe that the amendments I added on medical expense deductions, on property tax deductions, on helping retirement security for employees improve the bill.”

The finish line of the marathon is in sight. Don’t trip over your shoelaces now!

ADDENDA: Why did the clash of white nationalists and protesters in Charlottesville this summer get so out of hand? A new independent review concludes the Charlottesville police deliberately chose to not stop the fighting.

Chief Thomas’s response to the increasing violence on Market Street was disappointingly passive. Captain Lewis and Chief Thomas’ personal assistant Emily Lantz both told us that upon the first signs of open violence on Market Street, Chief Thomas said “let them fight, it will make it easier to declare an unlawful assembly.” Thomas did not recall making that statement, though he did confirm that he waited to “see how things played out” before declaring the unlawful assembly. Regardless of what he said, Chief Thomas’ slow-footed response to violence put the safety of all at risk and created indelible images of this chaotic event.

John Sexton concludes, “All the police really succeeded in doing at this point was forcing the white supremacist protesters back toward a crowd of counter-protesters.”

The Morning Jolt

By Jim Geraghty