He leaves the Trump team under increasing scrutiny about his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.
Tim MurphyAug. 19, 2016 10:23 AM
Two days after a campaign shakeup that left his leadership role in doubt, and after a series of damaging reports about his work with a Russian-backed Ukrainian political party, Paul Manafort resigned from his post as chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign on Friday morning.
Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, easily won the Republican primary for Wyoming's lone congressional district on Tuesday, all but assuring her a seat in the House of Representatives in January. In a crowded field, Cheney scored 40 percent of the vote, besting her closest rival, state Sen. Leland Christensen, by 17 points.
Cheney, who served as a deputy assistant secretary of state during the George W. Bush administration, launched a brief and calamitous challenge to Sen. Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, two years ago. That race earned her rebukes from veteran conservatives in the deep-red state, who accused her of parachuting in from her home in the Virginia suburbs to take on an incumbent no one really had a problem with. It also resulted in a series of high-profile feuds. Most notable was a public spat between Liz and her sister, Mary, after the candidate promised to oppose same-sex marriage if elected. Mary Cheney, who is a lesbian, announced that she would not be visiting the family at Christmas that year. Liz Cheney's candidacy also drew criticism from former Wyoming Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, a longtime friend of Dick Cheney who continued to back Enzi and published a lengthy and remarkable statement in the Cody Enterprise chewing out Liz's mom, Lynne Cheney, for pressuring him to change his support.
Liz Cheney was the lone candidate with real name recognition in the race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Cynthia Lummis, making the run-up to Tuesday's primary comparatively tame. The Cheney name is still strong in her home state, and she has received contributions from a bevy of big-time Republican donors and Bush-era heavyweights, including Donald Rumsfeld and Karl Rove.
But while some prominent ex-Bushies have repudiated Trump—including former first lady Barbara Bush—Liz Cheney, like her father, is fully on board, telling Rush Limbaugh that Hillary Clinton is a "felon" who can't be allowed back in the White House. "In Wyoming, there's no question for us that Hillary Clinton would be devastating—and far, far worse than Donald Trump," she said. "We've gotta unify behind him and make sure Hillary Clinton's not elected."
Until the election, we're bringing you "The Trump Files," a daily dose of telling episodes, strange-but-true stories, or curious scenes from the life of GOP nominee Donald Trump.
Donald Trump's favorite movie is Citizen Kane, the 1941 film about a publishing tycoon mogul who surrounds himself with material luxury but struggles to find happiness. "I loved Orson Welles," Trump told Bloomberg's Timothy O'Brien. "He was totally fucked up. He was a total mess. But think of his wives. Think of his hits. He was like this great genius that after 26, never did it. He became totally impossible. He thought everybody was a moron, everybody was this, everybody was that; if he had a budget he’d exceed it by 20 times and destroy everything. He became impossible. I loved that."
In fact, Trump was such a big fan of the movie that he filmed a short video about it, directed by famed documentarian Errol Morris. "Citizen Kane was really about accumulation. At the end of the accumulation, you see what happens, and it's not necessarily all positive," Trump says, in what is fair to describe as an understatement. As he describes the film, Trump comes close to doing something unusual—he engages in self-reflection. "Perhaps I can understand that—the relationship that he had was not a good one for him," the thrice-married Trump says of Kane's declining relationship with his wife. He adds that "in real life, I believe that wealth does isolate you from others; it's a protective mechanism."
He muses briefly about Kane's famous last word, "Rosebud." "A lot of people don't really understand the significance of it. I'm not sure if anyone really understands the significance," Trump says, before remarking on the effectiveness of the word as a symbol. "Perhaps if they came up with another word that meant the same thing, it wouldn't have worked," he says. "But Rosebud works."
At the end of the video, Morris asks him a question: "If you could give Charles Foster Kane advice, what would you say to him?"
Trump doesn't have to think about it. "Get yourself a different woman," he says.
When Donald Trump promised to expand the electoral map this spring, he didn't mean he'd put Utah in play for his Democratic rival. But on Tuesday we got a little bit more evidence of how shaky the GOP nominee is looking in one of the most consistently Republican states in the country. With polls showing a close race in Utah and two third-party candidates looking to siphon off votes from Trump—former CIA officer and Brigham Young University alumnus Evan McMullin entered the race this week—Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton published an op-ed slamming Trump in the Deseret News, the Salt Lake City newspaper published by the Mormon Church.
Trump has struggled to win over some Mormon voters in large part because of his extreme positions on immigrants and his proposal to crack down on adherents of a specific religion, Islam. (Mormons have endured a history of religious persecution.) In her op-ed, Clinton zeroed in on these policies. "I've been fighting to defend religious freedom for years," she wrote, touting her work with former Utah Republican governor (and 2012 presidential candidate) Jon Huntsman, scion of one of the state's most powerful families, in protecting Christians in China.
Then she twisted the knife, comparing Trump's proposals to previous instances of state-sponsored discrimination and violence against Mormons:
But you don't have to take it from me. Listen to Mitt Romney, who said Trump "fired before aiming" when he decided a blanket religious ban was a solution to the threat of terrorism.
Listen to former Sen. Larry Pressler, who said Trump's plan reminded him of when Missouri Gov. Lilburn Boggs singled out Mormons in his infamous extermination order of 1838.
Or listen to your governor, who saw Trump's statement as a reminder of President Rutherford B. Hayes' attempt to limit Mormon immigration to America in 1879.
The Clinton op-ed gets at just how unusual the 2016 campaign has been. Four years after Romney, the first Mormon presidential nominee, won an astounding 72.6 percent of the vote there, the Democratic nominee is invoking Joseph Smith and Brigham Young in a pitch for Utah votes. And it doesn't even sound that far-fetched at this point.
Meet Jason Lewis, who just won a key congressional primary.
Tim MurphyAug. 10, 2016 2:53 PM
The most important congressional primary on Tuesday wasn't House Speaker Paul Ryan's cakewalk in Wisconsin. It was in neighboring Minnesota's 2nd District, where Republicans are scrambling to retain the seat held by retiring Rep. John Kline. Their new nominee: Jason Lewis, a talk radio host who founded an Ayn Rand social network and has a history of making inflammatory comments about slavery and women.
Republicans had fought hard to nominate someone other than Lewis in the swing district, which voted narrowly for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Kline backed Lewis' Republican opponent, businesswoman Darlene Miller. But Lewis won the district GOP's endorsement and cruised past Miller by nearly 20 points, setting up a November showdown with Democrat Angie Craig. The suburban Minneapolis district is a must-win for Democrats hoping to take back the House, a goal that would require flipping 30 seats currently held by Republicans. That's a long shot right now. But it becomes a bit likelier when the GOP fields controversial candidates like Lewis in swing districts.
Lewis' past comments have been a gold mine for critics. In his 2011 book, Power Divided Is Power Checked: The Argument for States' Rights, he questioned the wisdom of the Civil War, arguing that it had been fought over states rights, not slavery, and changed the nation's constitutional framework for the worse. In his book, he proposed a constitutional amendment that would help restore what he believed had been lost, by allowing any state to peaceably leave the Union. And in a 2011 interview, Lewis declined to say whether the Civil War should have been fought, suggesting, as he had in the book, that there were better alternatives to ending slavery that President Abraham Lincoln could have considered.
Lewis has also taken heat for comments he made about women on his radio show. Many of the old episodes have been taken down from his website, but in a segment after the 2012 election that was unearthed by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Lewis went off on "ignorant" voters who he believed had sold their votes for free birth control. "You've got a vast majority of young single women who couldn't explain to you what GDP means," he said on his radio show in 2012. "You know what they care about? They care about abortion. They care about abortion and gay marriage. They care about The View. They are non-thinking."
He added, "I never thought in my lifetime where you'd have so many single, or I should say, yeah, single women who would vote on the issue of somebody else buying their diaphragm. This is a country in crisis. Those women are ignorant in, I mean, the most generic way. I don't mean that to be a pejorative. They are simply ignorant of the important issues in life. Somebody's got to educate them."
And in another 2012 segment, he said the "white population" of the United States was "committing cultural suicide" by not having more kids. "Other communities are having three, four, five, six kids—gee, guess what happens after a while, folks?"
Lewis has kept busy outside of the talk radio arena. Two years ago, he launched a new online community called Galt.io, which describes itself as "a members-only network of makers inspired by 'Galt's Gulch' from Ayn Rand's classic novel 'Atlas Shrugged.'" Galt.io members earn "Galtcoins" for participating in the community and can "invest" them in different causes on the site, in order to promote various political agendas. According to the site, "Galt.io is part stock exchange, part social network and truly a society of people committed to changing the direction of our country."