Quick Takes: Trump’s Fixer Seems to Be in Legal Trouble Himself

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* The New York Times reported that the FBI raided Michael Cohen’s office. Bloomberg has a bit more on the story.

Cohen’s attorney Stephen Ryan said agents on Monday seized documents using several search warrants after a referral to prosecutors in the Southern District of New York based in part on a referral by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The raid signals that the FBI and federal prosecutors in New York are conducting a criminal investigation involving Cohen, although it’s not immediately clear whether he’s a focus of that probe….

Mueller brought information involving Cohen to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who decided that the matter should be handled by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York rather than by Mueller’s team, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Under Justice Department regulations, Mueller is required to consult with Rosenstein about how to handle evidence and matters that fall outside his jurisdiction and authority. Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, whether anyone close to Trump colluded in it and whether Trump sought to obstruct justice.

* EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s troubles continue to mount.

The federal government’s top ethics official has taken the unusual step of sending a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency questioning a series of actions by Administrator Scott Pruitt and asking the agency to take “appropriate actions to address any violations.”

The letter, sent to Kevin Minoli, the E.P.A. official designated as the agency’s top ethics official, addresses questions about Mr. Pruitt’s rental for $50 a night of a condominium linked to an energy lobbyist, as well as his government-funded flights to his home state of Oklahoma. The letter also cites reporting last week in The New York Times that agency staff members who raised concerns about these and other actions found themselves transferred or demoted.

* While the ethics complaints against Pruitt continue, Michael Grunwald reminds us that—contrary to what he would have us believe—Pruitt hasn’t actually accomplished that much.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s spiraling ethics scandals and perilous job status were big news this week, but he also made headlines with his latest assault on President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy. “Pruitt Announces Rollback of Obama-Era Auto Fuel Efficiency Rule,” ABC News reported. “EPA’s Pruitt Kills Obama’s Auto Rules,” the Washington Examiner put it. The New York Times analyzed how the furor over Pruitt’s behavior has overshadowed his triumphs over regulation: “For Scott Pruitt, a Spotlight Shines on His Ethics, Not His EPA Rollbacks.”

But Pruitt did not kill or roll back Obama’s strict fuel-efficiency standards; he merely announced his intention to launch a process that could eventually weaken them. In fact, Pruitt has not yet killed or rolled back any significant regulations that were in place when President Donald Trump took office. While Pruitt is often hailed (or attacked) as Trump’s most effective (or destructive) deregulatory warrior, the recent spotlight on his ethics…has arguably overshadowed his lack of regulatory rollbacks during his first 15 months in Washington. The truth is that Scott Pruitt has done a lot less to dismantle the EPA than he—or his critics—would have you believe.

* CBO weighed in on the Republican tax cuts.

The combined effects of President Trump’s tax cuts and last month’s budget-busting spending bill is sending the government’s budget deficit toward the $1 trillion mark next year, according to a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.

The CBO report says that that the twin tax and spending bills will push the budget deficit to $804 billion this year and just under $1 trillion for the upcoming budget year.

CBO says economic growth from the tax cuts will add 0.7 percent on average to the nation’s economic output over the coming decade. Those effects will only partially offset the deficit cost of the tax cuts. The administration had promised the cuts would pay for themselves.

* Former Congressman Henry Waxman has some advice for Democrats on health care.

We should remind voters again and again that Democrats are committed to universal coverage while Republicans try to take people’s health insurance away.

But what Democrats cannot do is turn this winning issue into a loser by imposing litmus tests — in particular, by demanding that all Democratic candidates support a single-payer bill, such as Medicare for all…

One priority must be to fix the ACA’s problems — most of which are the result of deliberate sabotage by the Trump administration and the Republican Congress — while also strengthening and expanding the law.

* If this holds up, it could be game, set and match for the Democrats in November.

Older, white, educated voters helped Donald Trump win the White House in 2016. Now, they are trending toward Democrats in such numbers that their ballots could tip the scales in tight congressional races from New Jersey to California, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll and a data analysis of competitive districts shows.

Nationwide, whites over the age of 60 with college degrees now favor Democrats over Republicans for Congress by a 2-point margin, according to Reuters/Ipsos opinion polling during the first three months of the year. During the same period in 2016, that same group favored Republicans for Congress by 10 percentage points.

The 12-point swing is one of the largest shifts in support toward Democrats that the Reuters/Ipsos poll has measured over the past two years. If that trend continues, Republicans will struggle to keep control of the House of Representatives, and possibly the Senate, in the November elections, potentially dooming President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda.

* I mentioned this one earlier today, but I highly recommend that you read the piece by Junot Díaz titled, “Legacy of Childhood Trauma.”

Yes, it happened to me.

I was raped when I was eight years old. By a grownup that I truly trusted.

After he raped me, he told me I had to return the next day or I would be “in trouble.”

And because I was terrified, and confused, I went back the next day and was raped again.

I never told anyone what happened, but today I’m telling you.

And anyone else who cares to listen.

That violación. Not enough pages in the world to describe what it did to me. The whole planet could be my inkstand and it still wouldn’t be enough. That shit cracked the planet of me in half, threw me completely out of orbit, into the lightless regions of space where life is not possible. I can say, truly, que casi me destruyó. Not only the rapes but all the sequelae: the agony, the bitterness, the self-recrimination, the asco, the desperate need to keep it hidden and silent. It fucked up my childhood. It fucked up my adolescence. It fucked up my whole life. More than being Dominican, more than being an immigrant, more, even, than being of African descent, my rape defined me. I spent more energy running from it than I did living. I was confused about why I didn’t fight, why I had an erection while I was being raped, what I did to deserve it. And always I was afraid—afraid that the rape had “ruined” me; afraid that I would be “found out”; afraid afraid afraid. “Real” Dominican men, after all, aren’t raped. And if I wasn’t a “real” Dominican man I wasn’t anything. The rape excluded me from manhood, from love, from everything.

The kid before—hard to remember. Trauma is a time traveller, an ouroboros that reaches back and devours everything that came before. Only fragments remain.

* Finally, very apropos to that story as well as the rest of us, here is the latest from Lake Street Dive.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.