Eyeing White House, Cory Booker introduces himself to Iowa
By THOMAS BEAUMONT
Monday, September 24
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Cory Booker is not being subtle.
The Iowa caucuses are well over a year away, but the New Jersey senator is working overtime to make an impression in Iowa and in other states that will be crucial to winning the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
Booker has secured the keynote speaker role at the marquee fall Democratic Party fundraising banquet in Des Moines on Oct. 6. He’ll also headline a Democratic fundraiser later in October in South Carolina, which holds the first primary in the South and is a key test of support among black voters.
Adding to the intrigue surrounding Booker is his budding relationship with Des Moines lawyer Jerry Crawford, a party powerbroker helping the senator make connections in Iowa. After Crawford attended a dinner with Booker in the Washington area last spring, he arranged meetings in Newark for him with influential Iowa Democrats, including state House Minority Leader Mark Smith.
The moves are a notable break from the approach of other well-known Democrats considering 2020 campaigns. While many potentially top-tier prospects have fostered relationships in Iowa, Booker is the only one — for now — to be in the state ahead of the November midterm elections. The strategy is risky but gives Booker the opportunity to introduce himself to Iowa voters before other high-wattage candidates show up later this year or in early 2019. That, according to some Iowa political operators, could prove helpful.
“I’m aware of Sen. Booker,” said Nathan Thompson, a Democratic chairman in Winneshiek County. “He definitely seems like he has presidential ambitions. But I’m not real familiar with him, beyond being the former mayor of Newark.”
A spokesman for Booker, Jeff Giertz, insists the senator has not decided to run for president and is focused purely on the midterms.
Booker has campaigned for Democrats in 20 states “with one purpose in mind: to support great Democratic candidates who will be a check and balance to President Trump,” Giertz said.
Still, Booker is working to build his profile with a recent appearance on “The Tonight Show” and a sprawling profile in New York magazine last week in which he said it would be “irresponsible” for him not to consider a presidential bid.
But nothing has put Booker on the political map quite like his actions during Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He made public some documents the panel had kept secret, risking potential expulsion from the Senate.
“This is about the closest I’ll probably ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus moment,’” he said.
If Kavanaugh returns to the Judiciary Committee this week to address a woman’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her in the 1980s when they were teenagers, one of two sexual-misconduct allegations Kavanaugh is denying as they roil his court nomination, Booker will almost certainly have another starring role. While such performances cause some observers in Washington to view Booker as overly theatrical, he’s so far used it to create a buzz in Iowa, said former state Democratic Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky.
“It’s a good event for Booker to make his move,” Dvorsky said.
Dvorsky recalled the winning impression Booker left when he spoke to Iowa’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, before the 2012 election.
“He had them eating out of his hand,” she recalled.
But commanding a ballroom of influential state party leaders is different from grasping the concerns at a cafe table in rural Iowa, where Barack Obama connected during his winning 2008 Iowa caucus campaign. That leaves some Democratic strategists uncertain about Booker’s prospects.
“Soaring oratory that can inspire is a very different skill set from the natural ability to connect with voters of all political stripes,” said Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 campaign manager.
As a young, black senator with a background in urban politics and known for his oratory, Booker inevitably draws comparisons to Obama, whose win in the 2008 Iowa caucuses propelled him to the Democratic nomination that year. But Iowa political strategists say it’s premature to expect a repeat of Obama’s explosive rise, ignited by his speech to the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston as a little-known Illinois senator.
“It would be hard to top the moment Barack Obama seized at the 2004 convention,” said John Norris, a veteran Democratic Iowa caucus operative who advised Obama’s 2008 campaign.
Sandy Cronbaugh of rural eastern Iowa, who supported Obama in 2008, recalled him “listening to what we were saying about problems with rural health care.”
“I haven’t read up on Cory Booker yet,” Cronbaugh said. “I would need to know more about him.”
CCAO OPPOSES ISSUE 1
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) board of directors voted to oppose Ohio Issue 1, which would change the state’s constitution to classify any drug possession offense as a misdemeanor and generally prohibit jail time as a sanction.
Members expressed serious concerns about the amendment leading to an unfunded mandate on local communities. The proponents’ speculation about savings upon the release of drug offenders is not the same as dedicated funding to pay for the treatment services mandated by Issue 1. Additionally, the amendment calls for retroactive application, requiring courts to re-sentence and/or release any individual convicted of an offense of possessing, obtaining or using drugs with no funding identified to pay for these costs.
“This proposal does not belong in the Ohio Constitution,” CCAO President Daniel Troy said. “Decisions around whether jail time is an appropriate tool to incentivize people to seek treatment, whether or not mandatory sentencing reductions make sense and for what offenses, and how to fund treatment are decisions that should be able to be easily amended to match evidence-based practices. Legislating by utilization of the State Constitution eliminates that flexibility.”
Given the multi-faceted and devastating impacts of addiction, CCAO recommends that the state establish and fund a special line item that would help counties pay for a portion of the increased costs related to the explosive growth of the opiate epidemic crisis.
The County Commissioners Association of Ohio advances effective county government for Ohio through legislative advocacy, education and training, technical assistance and research, quality enterprise service programs, and greater citizen awareness and understanding of county government.
‘Rocket Man’ to ‘Terrific’: Trump lauds Kim in UN return
By JONATHAN LEMIRE and ZEKE MILLER
Monday, September 24
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — President Donald Trump raised hopes at the United Nations on Monday that a second meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un could occur “quite soon,” striking a conciliatory tone one year after he used his debut at the U.N. to deride the autocrat as “Little Rocket Man” and threaten to “totally destroy North Korea.”
Trump praised Kim as “very open” and “terrific,” despite the glacial pace of progress toward denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.
U.S. officials defended Trump’s strategy of engagement with the erstwhile pariah state as the president embarked on a week of meetings with world leaders. The softer tone toward North Korea — once threatened with “fire and fury” — has been replaced by rosy optimism, with Trump reserving tough rhetoric for another potential nuclear aspirant and strategic foe: Iran.
“It was a different world,” Trump said Monday of his one-time moniker for the North Korean leader. “That was a dangerous time. This is one year later, a much different time.”
Trump began his second visit to the U.N. with a brief meeting on the global drug trade before sitting down with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who delivered a personal message to Trump from Kim after their inter-Korean talks last week in Pyongyang.
“You are the only person who can solve this problem,” Moon said to Trump, relaying Kim’s words.
Trump, for his part, said: “We are in no rush. We are in no hurry” to bring about a nuclear agreement. U.S. officials are insisting that economic sanctions remain in place against the North until it eliminates its nuclear program.
Trump said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been tasked with bringing about the second summit, despite an assessment by U.S. officials that the North has not followed through on its commitments to take steps toward denuclearization. Pompeo defended Trump’s decision to seek another meeting despite the slow progress.
“We’ve been at this the other way an awfully long time and failed,” he said, adding: “We tried to do details. We tried to do step for step. We tried to do trade for trade. Each of those failed.”
“We’re bringing the two senior leaders, the individuals who can actually make the decisions that will move this process forward,” in hopes they can make a breakthrough, he said.
Trump said the location for the second summit is still to be determined, but officials have said the U.S. leader is holding out hope it could take place on American soil. Such a move would itself present a complex political and logistical challenge for the North Korean leader. His trip to Singapore in June for the inaugural summit was anything but trivial.
Trump has often fondly invoked the Singapore summit, a made-for-TV event that attracted the world’s media attention and largely received positive marks from cable pundits — reviews that were not repeated for his summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki the following month.
Trump and Moon on Monday signed a new version of the U.S.-South Korean trade agreement, marking one of Trump’s first successes in his effort to renegotiate economic deals on more favorable terms for the U.S. Trump labeled it a “very big deal” and says the new agreement makes significant improvements to reduce the trade deficit between the countries and create new opportunities to export American products to South Korea. He says U.S. automobiles, pharmaceuticals and agricultural products will gain better access to Korean markets.
Even so, some U.S. officials worry that South Korea’s eagerness to restore relations with the North — known as its “sunshine policy” — could reduce sanctions pressure on Kim’s government, hampering efforts to negotiate a nuclear accord.
The nuclear threat also was on the agenda at Trump’s first meeting in New York, a dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday night. Abe stands first among world leaders in cultivating a close relationship with the president through displays of flattery that he has used to advance his efforts to influence the unpredictable American leader.
Trump is set to address the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday morning and will chair a meeting of the Security Council Wednesday on counter-proliferation. In both venues, U.S. officials say, he is expected to offer a contrast between the path of negotiation chosen by North Korea and that of Iran.
Trump earlier this year bucked allies and removed the U.S. from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, citing Iran’s malign influence in the region and support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah. The next round of tough sanctions on Iran is set to go into effect in November.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in New York to attend U.N. meetings. U.S. officials said Trump is not seeking a meeting with the Iranian leader, but is not opposed to talking if Iran requests a session.
Rouhani, appearing on NBC on Monday, cited the threat of more U.S. sanctions in stating, “There is no such program for a meeting.”
In keeping with his “America First” pronouncements, Trump’s return tour to the annual diplomatic summit was eclipsed before it began by domestic political crises. The fate of Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee was cast into doubt over the weekend amid new allegations of sexual misconduct. Drama also swirled Monday around the status of his deputy attorney general.
Rod Rosenstein was revealed last week to have floated the idea of secretly recording Trump last year and to have raised the idea of using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Rosenstein has denied the reports. Trump said he will meet with Rosenstein on Thursday upon his return to Washington.
Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JonLemire and Miller at http://twitter.com/zekejmiller
December 11, 2016
Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University
John Broich does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Case Western Reserve University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
How to report on a fascist?
How to cover the rise of a political leader who’s left a paper trail of anti-constitutionalism, racism and the encouragement of violence? Does the press take the position that its subject acts outside the norms of society? Or does it take the position that someone who wins a fair election is by definition “normal,” because his leadership reflects the will of the people?
These are the questions that confronted the U.S. press after the ascendance of fascist leaders in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.
A leader for life
Benito Mussolini secured Italy’s premiership by marching on Rome with 30,000 blackshirts in 1922. By 1925 he had declared himself leader for life. While this hardly reflected American values, Mussolini was a darling of the American press, appearing in at least 150 articles from 1925-1932, most neutral, bemused or positive in tone.
The Saturday Evening Post even serialized Il Duce’s autobiography in 1928. Acknowledging that the new “Fascisti movement” was a bit “rough in its methods,” papers ranging from the New York Tribune to the Cleveland Plain Dealer to the Chicago Tribune credited it with saving Italy from the far left and revitalizing its economy. From their perspective, the post-WWI surge of anti-capitalism in Europe was a vastly worse threat than Fascism.
Ironically, while the media acknowledged that Fascism was a new “experiment,” papers like The New York Times commonly credited it with returning turbulent Italy to what it called “normalcy.”
Yet some journalists like Hemingway and journals like the New Yorker rejected the normalization of anti-democratic Mussolini. John Gunther of Harper’s, meanwhile, wrote a razor-sharp account of Mussolini’s masterful manipulation of a U.S. press that couldn’t resist him.
The ‘German Mussolini’
Mussolini’s success in Italy normalized Hitler’s success in the eyes of the American press who, in the late 1920s and early 1930s, routinely called him “the German Mussolini.” Given Mussolini’s positive press reception in that period, it was a good place from which to start. Hitler also had the advantage that his Nazi party enjoyed stunning leaps at the polls from the mid ‘20’s to early ‘30’s, going from a fringe party to winning a dominant share of parliamentary seats in free elections in 1932.
But the main way that the press defanged Hitler was by portraying him as something of a joke. He was a “nonsensical” screecher of “wild words” whose appearance, according to Newsweek, “suggests Charlie Chaplin.” His “countenance is a caricature.” He was as “voluble” as he was “insecure,” stated Cosmopolitan.
When Hitler’s party won influence in Parliament, and even after he was made chancellor of Germany in 1933 – about a year and a half before seizing dictatorial power – many American press outlets judged that he would either be outplayed by more traditional politicians or that he would have to become more moderate. Sure, he had a following, but his followers were “impressionable voters” duped by “radical doctrines and quack remedies,” claimed the Washington Post. Now that Hitler actually had to operate within a government the “sober” politicians would “submerge” this movement, according to The New York Times and Christian Science Monitor. A “keen sense of dramatic instinct” was not enough. When it came to time to govern, his lack of “gravity” and “profundity of thought” would be exposed.
In fact, The New York Times wrote after Hitler’s appointment to the chancellorship that success would only “let him expose to the German public his own futility.” Journalists wondered whether Hitler now regretted leaving the rally for the cabinet meeting, where he would have to assume some responsibility.
Yes, the American press tended to condemn Hitler’s well-documented anti-Semitism in the early 1930s. But there were plenty of exceptions. Some papers downplayed reports of violence against Germany’s Jewish citizens as propaganda like that which proliferated during the foregoing World War. Many, even those who categorically condemned the violence, repeatedly declared it to be at an end, showing a tendency to look for a return to normalcy.
Journalists were aware that they could only criticize the German regime so much and maintain their access. When a CBS broadcaster’s son was beaten up by brownshirts for not saluting the Führer, he didn’t report it. When the Chicago Daily News’ Edgar Mowrer wrote that Germany was becoming “an insane asylum” in 1933, the Germans pressured the State Department to rein in American reporters. Allen Dulles, who eventually became director of the CIA, told Mowrer he was “taking the German situation too seriously.” Mowrer’s publisher then transferred him out of Germany in fear of his life.
By the later 1930s, most U.S. journalists realized their mistake in underestimating Hitler or failing to imagine just how bad things could get. (Though there remained infamous exceptions, like Douglas Chandler, who wrote a loving paean to “Changing Berlin” for National Geographic in 1937.) Dorothy Thompson, who judged Hitler a man of “startling insignificance” in 1928, realized her mistake by mid-decade when she, like Mowrer, began raising the alarm.
“No people ever recognize their dictator in advance,” she reflected in 1935. “He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship. He always represents himself as the instrument [of] the Incorporated National Will.” Applying the lesson to the U.S., she wrote, “When our dictator turns up you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American.”
Rosenstein to meet Trump Thursday as job hangs in balance
By ZEKE MILLER and ERIC TUCKER
Monday, September 24
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House delayed until at least Thursday a decision on the fate of Rod Rosenstein, the Justice Department official overseeing the Trump-Russia investigation, following chaotic hours of breathless and sometimes conflicting reports anticipating his imminent departure.
His future hanging in the balance over revelations that he had discussed possibly secretly recording the president, Rosenstein expected to be fired as he headed for the White House on Monday for what was later described as a prescheduled meeting.
Instead, the White House said that Rosenstein and Trump would meet Thursday after the president’s return to Washington, suggesting the deputy attorney general may be in his job for at least several more days. The meeting is set for the same day as an extraordinary Senate committee hearing that is to feature Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a woman who has accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school.
Any termination or resignation would have immediate implications for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible collaboration between Russia and the Trump campaign before the 2016 election. Rosenstein appointed Mueller and oversees his investigation.
Rosenstein and Trump, who is in New York for a U.N. meeting, had an extended conversation to discuss recent news stories about negative comments Rosenstein is reported to have made last year about the president, said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
The deputy attorney general was reported as having discussed possibly secretly recording the president and invoking the Constitution to have the Cabinet remove him from office. The Justice Department issued two statements from Rosenstein denying the remarks and released a separate statement from someone who said he recalled the recording comment but insisted that it was meant sarcastically.
As Trump mulled Rosenstein’s fate and consulted on how to respond, Rosenstein was summoned to the West Wing on Friday evening by White House chief of staff John Kelly.
He also spoke with White House counsel Don McGahn over the weekend to say he was considering resigning, according to a person familiar with the conversation. McGahn told Rosenstein they should discuss the issue Monday, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation.
Rosenstein was captured by photographers leaving the White House after his meetings Monday and was led out by Kelly.
“At the request of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, he and President Trump had an extended conversation to discuss the recent news stories,” Sanders said in a statement. “Because the President is at the United Nations General Assembly and has a full schedule with leaders from around the world, they will meet on Thursday when the President returns to Washington, D.C.”
It’s unclear what will happen Thursday.
Despite his “You’re Fired!” tagline from his “The Apprentice” reality show days, the president has shown himself reluctant to directly fire aides himself.
While his White House has been marked with unprecedented staff turnover, Trump has often left the task to deputies, including Kelly. He dispatched his former bodyguard to fire former FBI Director James Comey — though Comey was out of town. In other cases, Trump has publicly and privately shamed a staffer, pushing them to resign of their own volition.
The reports about Rosenstein add to the turmoil roiling the administration, just six weeks before midterm elections with control of Congress at stake. In addition to dealing with the Mueller investigation, the White House is also struggling to win confirmation of Kavanaugh, in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations.
The latest speculation surfaced Monday morning amid conflicting reports about Rosenstein’s plans. One person with knowledge of the situation said he expected to be fired, though other reports suggested that he would resign.
Trump, who on Friday suggested that he would remove a “lingering stench” from the Justice Department, did not publicly reveal any plans over the weekend.
As of Sunday, Trump said he had not decided what to do about Rosenstein. He angrily asked confidants, both inside and outside the White House, how to respond. He received mixed messages. Some urged him to fire Rosenstein. Others suggested restraint while seeing if the report was incorrect or if it was planted by some adversary.
Congressional Republicans, Democrats and some Trump aides have warned for months that the president shouldn’t fire Rosenstein, saying such a move could lead to impeachment proceedings if the Democrats retake the House in the upcoming midterms.
Though Trump has mostly spared Rosenstein from some of the harsher and more personal attacks he has directed at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he has occasionally lashed out with angry tirades at the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, including after FBI raids in April targeting the president’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Rosenstein appointed Mueller in May of last year after Sessions, who ordinarily would have overseen the investigation, recused himself because of his close involvement in the Trump campaign.
Those developments came one week after Rosenstein laid the groundwork for the firing of Comey by writing a memo that criticized Comey’s handling of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. The White House initially held up that memo as justification for Comey’s firing, though Trump himself has said he was thinking about “this Russia thing” when he made his move.
Were he to be forced out, Solicitor General Noel Francisco, the highest-ranking Senate confirmed official below Rosenstein in the Justice Department, would take control of the Mueller investigation. A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment.
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, whose private memos document comments made by Rosenstein, said Monday he was concerned that a Rosenstein departure would put the investigation at risk.
“There is nothing more important to the integrity of law enforcement and the rule of law than protecting the investigation of special counsel Mueller,” McCabe said in a statement. “I sacrificed personally and professionally to help put the investigation on a proper course and subsequently made every effort to protect it.”
Miller reported from the United Nations. Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo, Chad Day and Jon Lemire contributed to this report.
Opinion: Botched Reports Over Rosenstein Fuel Fake News
By Rochelle Ritchie
As a former journalist who still believes in fair and accurate reporting, I am truly annoyed with the journalistic ethics lacking in today’s news cycle. Too often, journalists, commentators and media outlets are pressured to be first, rather than right. The immediacy of 24-hour news outlets and a social media world that never sleeps has created a culture of irresponsible journalism that gives credence to Trump’s infamous refrain: fake news.
On Monday morning, I received a news alert informing me that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was leaving his post. The headline read, “Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein RESIGNS before Trump can fire him.” The headline has since changed, but luckily screenshots are forever.
TV news outlets got into the action, too, as CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett was first on the network to report exclusively that Rosenstein was heading to the White House to resign. The media whirlwind swirling around Rosenstein’s departure played out on Twitter in mass hysteria and confusion as a war of words played out on social and mainstream media.
Did he resign or was he fired? That all depends on which outlet you watched and when you watched it.
Once upon a time newsroom executive producers and editors, in their quest to be factual, would bite their nails in anxiety, making thousands of calls to confirm information before they went on air with breaking news. Often a competitor would be first to scoop them but in the world of journalism, getting it first took a back seat to getting it right. Now the need to be exclusive has overshadowed the duty to be accurate. The sensationalized headlines to accompany the hype confuses readers, voters and the American people, adding to an already volatile perception of the press. As much I hate to admit it, Monday it proved that it’s not all Trump’s fault.
More often than I’d like to acknowledge, his favorite criticism of the media as “fake news” rings true. Yet, despite the failure to apply Journalism 101 by most media outlets, political analysts like Mark Preston still found a way to blame the confusion on the chaos surrounding Trump’s White House, telling CNN’s Kate Bolduan, “For the last two years, we’ve all been confused by the Trump presidency.”
What does Trump have to do with any of this? The White House did not put out a statement about Rosenstein resigning or his status, but political pundits and national newspapers are now tripping over themselves to get the story right.
It pains me to my core to come across as if I am a Trump apologist, something I am most vehemently not. Trump’s racist, divisive and childish rhetoric and behavior is unfitting of any commander in chief. However, as a free and independent thinker, I do not tap dance to the left or to the right of politics. I believe in right is right, and wrong is wrong. And today, in the hoopla around Rosenstein’s status, Trump was right.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Rochelle Ritchie is a political analyst and former press secretary for Congress. She wrote this for InsideSources.com.