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Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

The Surprise in the Nunes Memo

A hotly anticipated memo from Representative Devin Nunes and Republican staff on the House Intelligence Committee offers a few new interesting pieces of information about the investigation into Russian interference in the election—though it leaves the most important questions unanswered. And in one crucial way, it seems to undermine the political case it was released to bolster. 

The most important and interesting assertions, yet the ones that cry out for more clarification, concern an application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court to surveil former Trump foreign-policy adviser Carter Page. The memo states that a dossier prepared by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence official researching Trump on behalf of a firm hired by the Democratic National Committee, “formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application.” It also states that outgoing FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told the committee that “no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.”

Each of these statements is important but heavily contingent. For one thing, the importance of the revelations hinges on the use of “essential.” National-security-law experts say FISA-warrant applications often run dozens of pages, and the Steele dossier doesn’t have dozens of...

There's No Way Mueller Will Indict Trump

The latest revelations about President Trump have, once again, excited the interest of the public, leading to speculation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller may have amassed sufficient evidence to charge the president with obstruction of justice. Trump’s attempt to fire Mueller (which happened last June, but is only now being publicly reported) is, under this line of thinking, the final straw.

Color me deeply skeptical.

Mueller will not indict Trump for obstruction of justice or for any other crime.  Period. Full stop. End of story. Speculations to the contrary are just fantasy.

He won’t do it for the good and sufficient reason that the Department of Justice has a long-standing legal opinion that sitting presidents may not be indicted. First issued in 1973 during the Nixon era, the policy was reaffirmed in 2000, during the Clinton era. These rules bind all Department of Justice employees, and Mueller, in the end, is a Department of Justice employee. More to the point, if we know anything about Mueller, we think we know that he follows the rules—all of them. Even the ones that restrict him in ways he would prefer they not. And if he were to choose not...

A New Group Wants to Elect More Veterans—From Both Parties

Even the most optimistic interpretation of this week’s government shutdown quickly slides into the abyss of the bottomless distrust between Republicans and Democrats in the House.

The brief standoff over immigration and funding the government mostly dramatized Washington’s dysfunction. But it offered one glimmer of the hope when about two dozen senators from both parties coalesced to urge a quick resolution that reopened the government.

That loose alliance is now expressing optimism it can reach agreements on other thorny issues, starting with the long-term fate of the roughly 800,000 “dreamers” brought to the U.S. illegally as children by their parents. President Trump in September ended an Obama-era program that shielded them from deportation, though a federal District Court has temporarily blocked his decision.

Yet even if the Senate can come together on the “dreamers” or other issues, any such cooperation would confront the chasm between the parties in the House. GOP leaders there have already indicated they don’t feel bound to even consider the legislation if the Senate approves a deal.

Enter a new organization called With Honor.

The group, which is announcing its first campaign endorsements Thursday, has launched a major effort to elect...

Book: Americans Are No More Polarized Than Pre-Reagan

Despite widespread perceptions of rising political polarization in the United States, the American public is no more polarized than it was before the Reagan era, says political scientist Morris Fiorina.

Fiorina, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution who studies elections and public opinion is the author of a new book, Unstable Majorities: Polarization, Party Sorting and Political Stalemate (Hoover Institution Press, 2017). Here, he offers his take:

Q: Are voters more polarized than ever?

A: No. Although pundits and politicos make that claim every day, it’s not true. If we take the electorate as a whole—without slicing it by partisanship, region, or anything else—the public doesn’t look any different than it did in 1976.

Polarization is the grouping of opinion around two extremes. No matter how we measure public opinion, this has not happened.

In 2016, more Americans classified themselves as moderates than as liberals or conservatives; moreover, the numbers are virtually identical to those registered in 1976.

The distribution of partisan identification flatly contradicts the polarization narrative: self-classified Republicans are no larger a proportion of the public than in the Eisenhower era, while self-identified Democrats are a significantly smaller proportion than in the 1960s...

These Are Donald Trump’s Unorthodox Views On Diet and Exercise

In 2015, during his presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s personal doctor, Harold Bornstein, declared that “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

That bold proclamation will be put to the test today when Trump, the oldest person ever elected president, has his first medical checkup as president at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The White House physician who also examined and treated Barack Obama will oversee the physical and give the post-exam readout.

The doctor might have something to say about Trump’s atypical views on diet, exercise, and lifestyle.

Trump’s diet

  • recent book co-authored by Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, revealed Trump had “four major food groups during the campaign: McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, pizza, and Diet Coke.” He also enjoys a well-done steak, doused in ketchup.
  • It’s been reported that Trump drinks as many as 12 Diet Cokes per day. The president even has a little red button on his desk to summon a White House butler to bring him more when he runs out, despite his public critique of the soda in 2009: