Quick Takes: Carter Page Pleads the Fifth

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* Carter Page has been one of the few members of Trump’s team who  has been absolutely chatty on cable TV when it comes to questions about the Trump/Russia investigation. Apparently something has changed:

Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, informed the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that he will not be cooperating with any requests to appear before the panel for its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and would plead the Fifth, according to a source familiar with the matter.

* In order to write about the organizations and individuals funded by the Mercer family, I re-read the profile Jane Mayer wrote about them last March. In light of all the post-election talk about Obama-Trump voters, this tidbit took on a whole new meaning:

Bannon has often collaborated with Bossie, producing half a dozen films with him. In 2012, Bossie suggested a new joint project: a movie that urged Democrats and independents to abandon Obama in the Presidential election. The film’s approach was influenced by polling work that Patrick Caddell had shared with Bannon. The data suggested that attacking Obama was counterproductive; it was more effective to express “disappointment” in him, by contrasting him with earlier Presidents…

Bannon was excited by Caddell’s polling research, and he persuaded Citizens United to hire Caddell to convene focus groups of disillusioned Obama supporters. Many of these voters became the central figures of “The Hope & the Change,” an anti-Obama film that Bannon and Citizens United released during the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

You can watch that documentary here. My thought after doing so is that you could teach a college course on propaganda using nothing more that this film.

* Here is a reminder that Trump’s presidency is having a global impact.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved building plans for 3,736 new units in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, in what activists say is part of a new wave of construction spurred by the Trump admin­istration’s more accommodating stance.

* Charlie Cook says that events this week have changed the outlook for the 2018 midterms.

Republicans woke up Columbus Day morning to the sights and sounds of the wheels coming off their midterm-election bus and their legislative jalopy. First came a widely publicized war of words between President Trump and the prominent Republican senator, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker. Then came a Bloomberg News story by Jennifer Jacobs and Bill Allison laying out Steve Bannon’s intention to back challengers to most of the GOP senators seeking re-election next year…

With 25 Democratic Senate seats up next year, ten in states Trump carried, five in states the former real estate developer won by 19 points or more, this should be a year for the GOP to expand its current narrow 52-48 majority. Under different circumstances, the GOP could hope to boost their Senate numbers by four to seven seats, perhaps even reaching the magic 60-seat Senate super-majority level that could break filibusters on party line votes. But given their current disarray, Republicans will need to fight hard to gain any new seats, and losing one or two of their own seats would put their majority in jeopardy.

The stakes are even higher in the House where their majority status is in real danger…last week’s news reduced the odds of the GOP retaining its majority from a good bet to even money.

* I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that this might be good news.

Even though the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was formally created five months ago and has conducted two public meetings, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap (D) told HuffPost that he still has no idea what it’s working on or when it will meet next…

“I think we have to talk about that if we get another opportunity. I don’t know that we’re ever going to meet again, to tell you the truth. We certainly haven’t talked about it,” Dunlap said. “I think it is a possibility. We haven’t heard about any future meetings. We talked about a meeting in November ― that was back in July. We haven’t had anything further about it. … It wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t meet again.”

* Finally, here’s another example of how everything old is new again.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.