Quick Takes: Responding to Trump’s Threats

A round-up of news that caught my eye today.

* Following reports from Comey associates about his dinner with Trump, this president did what he always does…issued a threat.

* Comey responded:

Former FBI Director James Comey is “not worried about any tapes” of conversations between him and President Donald Trump, a source familiar with the matter told CNN Friday, adding that “if there is a tape, there’s nothing he is worried about” that could be on it.

That is actually what sane people do when they don’t have anything to hide—a position this president isn’t very familiar with.

* Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) responded by calling Trump’s bluff.

“For a President who baselessly accused his predecessor of illegally wiretapping him, that Mr. Trump would suggest that he, himself, may have engaged in such conduct is staggering,” Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, wrote in a blistering statement. “The President should immediately provide any such recordings to Congress or admit, once again, to have made a deliberately misleading—and in this case threatening—statement.”

* Here is what Rod Dreher wrote about it at The American Conservative:

Think about it: the President of the United States is threatening to blackmail the former chief of the nation’s top domestic law enforcement agency in an attempt to shut him up…

This is banana republic stuff. This man is out of control. How can we have a functioning government if the President feels entitled to threaten blackmail, and every single official who meets with him in the White House has to worry that they’re being bugged, and that words they say in confidence could be used against them?

* It can seem like decades ago that this country was reaching a consensus on criminal justice reform that might begin to tackle this country’s dark history of over-incarceration. Obama was the first president in decades to leave office with a smaller federal prison population than when he arrived.

AG Sessions has already reversed the Obama administration’s directive to stop using private prisons to house federal inmates, ordered a review of all DOJ’s reform agreements with police departments and talked about reigniting the failed “war on drugs.” Here is his latest move:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned the sweeping criminal charging policy of former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and directed his federal prosecutors Thursday to charge defendants with the most serious, provable crimes carrying the most severe penalties.

The Holder memo, issued in August 2013, instructed his prosecutors to avoid charging certain defendants with drug offenses that would trigger long mandatory minimum sentences. Defendants who met a set of criteria such as not belonging to a large-scale drug trafficking organization, gang or cartel, qualified for lesser charges — and in turn less prison time — under Holder’s policy.

But Sessions’s new charging policy, outlined in a two-page memo and sent to more than 5,000 assistant U.S. attorneys across the country and all assistant attorneys general in Washington, orders prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” and rescinds Holder’s policy immediately.

* The author of the policy Sessions just rescinded, former Attorney General Eric Holder, responded. You can read his whole statement here. He minced no words.

The policy announced today is not tough on crime. It is dumb on crime. It is an ideologically motivated, cookie-cutter approach that has only been proven to generate unfairly long sentences that are often applied indiscriminately and do little to achieve long-term public safety.

* For years now the dirty little (not so) secret problem Republicans have faced is that,  in order to put together a plan to replace Obamacare without hurting millions of Americans in the process, the only real alternative is a plan that looks a lot like Obamacare. That’s is exactly what some Senators are dealing with right now.

Senate Republicans are working on a potential breakthrough that could help push through an Obamacare repeal bill – by making insurance subsidies look a lot like Obamacare.

There’s growing support for the idea of pegging the tax credits in the House repeal bill to income and making aid more generous for poorer people. But those moves — while they may win consensus among Senate moderates — are unlikely to sit well with House conservatives.

* Finally, as we head into Mother’s Day, Michelle Obama has a message for Mom’s—the people she sees on the front lines of the resistance.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .