Morning After (News Wrap for Sunday, December 17, 2017)

Making from everything shit

If it’s Sunday — and if you’re Democratic senator or Democratic senator in waiting — it’s time, as the sagacious Florence Friedman once put it, to make from everything shit.

And this after a good week, no less, an inexplicably good week.

Let us begin then with Meet the Press and with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who reminded us, if such a reminder were necessary, how great it is being Joe Manchin.

Let me start with this. You are representing a state that President Trump won by 40 points. You’re up for reelection in 2018. Does Doug Jones —
I think 43 points.
Well, there you go. Does Doug Jones’ victory in Alabama, does that give you more confidence or does that tell you, ‘Well, if I get to run against Roy Moore, I can win.’?
Well, I feel good in my state. I’ve been in my state all my life, born and raised here. And I’ve been in public office for quite some time in different capacities, most recently as a governor before U.S. senator. So I think the people know me. My brand is very independent and my brand is all about West Virginia.

Count the I’s; count the number of times he mentioned Doug Jones.

And you have to be — whether you’re Democrat or Republican — you have to be who you are for the state you represent. And I think people know that I’m going to put West Virginia and my country ahead of my party.

Joe, Narcissus; Narcissus, Joe

What should Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi take away from this? They’re the titular heads of your party right now, uh, on both the House and the Senate. What lesson do you want them to take away from Doug Jones in Alabama?
Well, let me just talk about Washington Democrats, which I am not one.

For the love of Robert Byrd, give it a rest, would you?

I am not a Washington Democrat. I’m a West Virginia Democrat. And I believe that Doug Jones is an Alabama — Alabamian — Democrat.

This is fascinating stuff. And insufferable spelled backwards is elbareffusni. What’s your point here?

The Washington Democrats have to understand we’re a little bit different. We do — and we are very much concerned about the social issues that have divided — and it seems like the Democrats have abandoned. But we’re going to stay true to our roots and who we are. And as long as they understand that and leave us alone, let us do our job here, we’re going to be just fine.

A Democrat wins in Alabama, what better time to start issuing ultimatums to the winners and wave your cock around.

Let this also be a lesson to all the hosts of all the Sunday morning shows: invite Joe on and you can take off the segment. He doesn’t need you.

And when we go to Washington, it’s not with a Chuck Schumer, who I think the world of, a good guy, nice person and a good friend of mine. But still, yeah, Chuck knows I’m going to be voting for West Virginia. He accepts that. He understands that. And he knows exactly who I am and the people of West Virginia know who I am. So that’s really what it’s about. And that’s what Doug Jones needs to do.

How many times do we have to make this plain? All politics is Joe Manchin.

Let’s move on to Face the Nation, where my very own Oklahoma junior senator, James Lankford, began lying about the soon-to-be-passed tax cut and just didn’t (or couldn’t) stop himself.

JOHN DICKERSON: We turn now to Oklahoma Republican Senator James Lankford. He joins us from Oklahoma City. Welcome Senator, I want to start with this tax cut bill. You have talked about the debt and deficit throughout your career. All of the independent analysis shows that this tax cut bill will add a trillion or more to the debt. Why then is this a bill you can support?
JAMES LANKFORD: Actually, all the independent analysis doesn’t note that. The joint committee on tax does note that, but the tax foundation doesn’t. There’s a lot of others.

Just hold on, Euclid.

Thirty-seven of 38 experts surveyed by the University of Chicago’s Initiative on Global Markets agreed that the GOP tax bills in Congress would cause U.S. debt to increase “substantially” faster than the economy.

And the one who wasn’t? How about this for a ringing endorsement?

Only one economist — Stanford’s Liran Einav — said that he was “uncertain” if the bills would exacerbate America’s debt-to-GDP ratio. But after the survey’s release, Einav said his response had been a mistake, and that he actually agrees with the economists who expect the debt ratio to soar. (Four other economists in the IGM panel didn’t answer the question one way or the other.)

But I interrupt, senator. You were digging a hole and about to fill it with bankrupt swill and jump in.

We have said for years the debt has become so large — the only way to get on top of this debt and deficit is a growing economy and limiting your spending.

Sorry, sorry. Just one more interruption.

The GOP bill including some changes would increase federal budget deficits by $1.7 trillion over 10 years, according to an estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. That includes money for additional debt service payments due to the bill.

The senator was at his most juvenile, though, when he started talking about, well, juveniles. In a discussion about Russian interference in our elections, Lankford agreed that it was a very bad thing that Putin got all hinky with it and wants to hold him accountable … next time.

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, and that’s the big question that remains from a process. Let me though, we’ve got to switch to talk about the Intelligence Committee and the work you’re doing. You’ve looked at this question of Russian interference in the election. Are the Russians still interfering, and how are we going to protect the next election?
JAMES LANKFORD: Yeah, there’s no doubt the Russians not only engaged in our past election but they’re still trying to find ways to be able to do that. We’ve noted several ways publicly in the last couple of months that they’re still engaging in social media, trying to stir up the United States controversies. I compare it to if you’ve got two kids in a playground that are in a fight, there’s always somebody on the edge of the playground screaming, “Fight, fight, fight,” trying to bring a bigger crowd to it. That’s what the Russians are really trying to do. They’re not starting it. They’re just trying to add fuel to the flame any time. The key thing that I think needs to be done right now is a bill that’s actually a bipartisan bill I’m working on to be able to finalize hopefully this week to be able to deal with election security, helping states protect their own election security.

You know what else would help? If we had a president who got as upset with Putin as he does with large African American professional football players.

On This Week, Senator John Cornyn, in responding to a question from George Stephanopoulos about a specific last-minute addition to the tax cut that will benefit him, Cornyn, personally, the Texas senator let the host know that, yeah, maybe there’s so much in the bill that’s not about me.

So picking out one piece in a 1,000-page bill and saying, well, this is going to benefit somebody, I just think that takes the whole bill out of context.

Other than that, Mrs. Cornyn, how did you like the tax bill?

Cornyn then explained the real problem in the Alabama senate race, at least for Republicans, is that the party has high standards and a bigoted, anti-Semitic pedophile came up just a little bit short.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It doesn’t appear that any of them will. And they are banking on the fact that they think this is going to help them this 2018. Also looking to those results on Tuesday out of Alabama where Roy Moore, the Republican candidate, lost. Of course, you were not a fan of Roy Moore in that campaign. Do you think the GOP dodged a bullet with that loss?

Of course? Did Cornyn criticize Moore overtly, lambaste his racism and homophobia, urge the president to stay away from the race, actively support the non-bigot, or did he, like most GOP senators, simply furrow his brow?

CORNYN: Well, I think the explanation for Alabama was we had a flawed candidate who won the Republican primary and who couldn’t win the general election. That’s really not a new lesson. That’s an old lesson remembered or demonstrated once again. So, what we need to do is — my party needs to do is make sure we nominate electable candidates, good candidates who can win general elections.
I don’t think the lesson of Alabama is any more complex than that, flawed candidate, couldn’t win the general election.

There’s outrage in them thar brows.

On the Mueller investigation, Cornyn said the former FBI director should remove all those investigators from the inquiry before proceeding any further. When Stephanopoulos reminded him that that had already happened, Cornyn said it should be done. When Stephanopoulos said, again, that had already been done, Cornyn said, again, he hoped it would be done.

And then I hit myself with a hand-held Shop-Vac.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the other X-factors heading into 2018, of course, is the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. You have been active on Twitter over the weekend responding to the former attorney general, Eric Holder. In one of your tweets you said that Mueller needs to clean house of partisans. And then you were asked in another tweet, will you accept the findings in the Mueller probe as legitimate by Greg Sargent of The Washington Post.
You say that “makes sense to me to wait and see what they are first.” That sounds like you’re saying that you’re going to believe that Mueller’s conclusions are legitimate only if you like them.
CORNYN: Well, no, that’s not true. I have a lot of admiration and respect for Director Mueller. But I would think he would want to eliminate challenges to the integrity of his investigation by eliminating agents who have taken positions either in text messages or through their political activity that undermine the integrity of…
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, those people have been taken off the investigation.
CORNYN: … the results of the investigation. So I think he should want to do that because not only is an objective investigation and justice needs to be done, the appearance of justice needs to be done. And I think these conflicts of interest jeopardize the integrity of his investigation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The FBI agent who was engaged in those text messages, both of them have been taking off the investigation. They were taken off apparently as soon as special counsel Mueller found out about them.
CORNYN: And I commend him for that. He should. And but there ought to be — there are others who — he needs to make sure he vets that team.


There are plenty of FBI agents and prosecutors who have not been politically involved on behalf of Democrats or overtly critical of the president that can serve in this important investigation.

We end this week, skipping Fox News Sunday, and head over to CNN’s State of the Union and a chat with Alabama Senator-elect Doug Jones, who wasted no time in not exactly thanking the people who elected him — Democrats.

TAPPER: You told reporters on Wednesday that you had a — quote — “gracious phone” call with President Trump. The president, of course, has not always been so gracious when it comes to you.
In the days leading up to the election, he repeatedly attacked you, saying you were weak on crime, a Schumer-Pelosi puppet, bad for the military.
Is that all water under the bridge, as far as you’re concerned?
JONES: Of course it is.

That’s taking it to the man, senator. Nicely done.

And then it went downhill from there.

TAPPER: Do you agree with Senator Booker that President Trump should resign because of these allegations?
JONES: You know, Jake, where I am on that right now is that those allegations were made before the election, and so people had an opportunity to judge before that election.
I think we need to move on and not get distracted by those issues. Let’s get on with the real issues that are facing people of this country right now, and I don’t think that the president ought to resign at this point. We will see how things go.
But, certainly, those allegations are not new, and he was elected with those allegations at front and center.

You won’t let us enjoy your victory for even a week, will you?


TAPPER: Republican Senator Cory Gardner, who is the chairman of the Senate Republican campaign arm, the NRSC, and purposely did not — decidedly did not endorse Roy Moore, Cory Gardner was adamantly opposed to Roy Moore. In fact, he refused to help fund his campaign.
But take a look at the statement he released after your victory — quote — “I hope senator-elect Doug Jones will do the right thing and truly represent Alabama by choosing to vote with the Senate Republican majority.”
Now, I know that you’re going to vote according to what you think is right, but Alabama is a deeply red state. It went for President Trump by 28 points. Your reelection is just in three years.
In order to truly represent your state, do you need to consider voting with Republicans on some issues?
JONES: Of course I do. I mean, look, Jake, one of the problems in American politics right now, in my opinion, is that everybody thinks, because you’re a member of one party or another, you’re going to vote a certain way.

I mean, look, Doug, one of the problems in American politics right now, in my opinion, is one party whores itself out to not only the highest bidder, but any bidder, while coddling a near-berserk, incurious horror who’s down the street at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But I forget. There are good people on both sides.

Jones: And all those things, we can work together with anybody. That’s been my whole mantra. Let’s just try to find common ground to get things done for the people in the state, as well as the people in the country.

Honey lamb, hand me the Shop-Vac, would ya?