Quick Takes: Will Stormy Tell All?

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* I don’t know who gets the credit, but this whole Stormy Daniels story is the kind of scandal that resembles the energizer bunny: it just won’t go away. Here’s the latest:

The pornographic film actress who says she had an affair with President Trump offered on Monday to return $130,000 she received from Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer in 2016 for agreeing not to discuss the alleged relationship.

In exchange, the actress, Stephanie Clifford [aka Stormy Daniels], seeks an end to her deal to keep quiet about what she says was an affair with Mr. Trump that started in 2006 and lasted for several months…

Under Mr. Avenatti’s offer, Ms. Clifford would then be allowed to “(a) speak openly and freely about her prior relationship with the president and the attempts to silence her and (b) use and publish any text messages, photos and/or videos relating to the president that she may have in her possession, all without fear of retribution and/or legal liability for damages.”

IOW, she has text messages, photos and/or videos…oh my!

* Robert Mueller is apparently done investigating Trump for obstruction of justice.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice is said to be close to completion, but he may set it aside while he finishes other key parts of his probe, such as possible collusion and the hacking of Democrats, according to current and former U.S. officials.

That’s because Mueller may calculate that if he tries to bring charges in the obstruction case — the part that may hit closest to Trump personally — witnesses may become less cooperative in other parts of the probe, or the president may move to shut it down altogether.

* Eric Levitz makes a great point: any deal Trump could reach to de-nuclearize North Korea (don’t hold your breath for that one) would be subject to the same criticisms he’s voiced about the Iran nuclear agreement..only more so.

It is hard to imagine a better way of sabotaging a deproliferation agreement with North Korea than betraying one with Iran. After all, every argument that Trump has made against the latter will (almost certainly) apply even more strongly to any plausible version of the former. The president has called the Iran nuclear agreement unacceptable because it does not mandate a strict enough inspection regime, and still leaves Tehran in a position to potentially develop a nuclear weapon at some point in the medium-term future. But the inspection regime that Iran agreed to is far more aggressive than any North Korea has ever tolerated…

Further, in the agreement, Iran forfeited 97 percent of its low-enriched uranium, and never got far enough to develop a single nuclear weapon. North Korea has at least 20 nuclear weapons, and much more experience and expertise in their development. No nuclear deal with the Kim regime will leave it further away from redeveloping an atomic weapon than Iran is today.

Separately, Trump has, on occasion, criticized the Iran agreement for failing to address that nation’s internal human-rights abuses — which, however real and contemptible, pale in comparison to those of North Korea’s totalitarian regime.

* Now that Steve Bannon isn’t running a political campaign or working in the White House, he obviously feels free to let his racist flag fly.

* Sean McElwee, Jesse Rhodes, Brian Schaffner and Bernard Fraga go in search of the four million missing Obama voters.

Our analysis shows that while 9 percent of Obama 2012 voters went for Mr. Trump in 2016, 7 percent — that’s more than four million missing voters — stayed home.

* Michael Gerson takes a deep dive into the history of white evangelicalism to explain how they came to be so loyal to Trump.

The moral convictions of many evangelical leaders have become a function of their partisan identification. This is not mere gullibility; it is utter corruption. Blinded by political tribalism and hatred for their political opponents, these leaders can’t see how they are undermining the causes to which they once dedicated their lives. Little remains of a distinctly Christian public witness…

How did something so important and admirable become so disgraced? For many people, including myself, this question involves both intellectual analysis and personal angst. The answer extends back some 150 years, and involves cultural and political shifts that long pre-date Donald Trump. It is the story of how an influential and culturally confident religious movement became a marginalized and anxious minority seeking political protection under the wing of a man such as Trump, the least traditionally Christian figure—in temperament, behavior, and evident belief—to assume the presidency in living memory.

* Finally, I’m not one who is hoping that Joe Biden will run for president again. Nevertheless, here is a great example of what “a distinctly Christian public witness” looks like.

Nancy LeTourneau

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