Bernie Sanders Takes Shots At Amazon, Chevron, Other Big Businesses

Fox News contributor Leslie Marshall, CivicForumPAC Chairman Ford O’Connell and Boston Globe political reporter James Pindell discuss some of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) proposed policies ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

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Washington In Frenzy Over Release Of Mueller Report

Washington is on edge as it awaits the highly anticipated release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Thursday, the findings of which could ignite a political firestorm.

Attorney General William Barr isn't delivering the report to Congress until 11 a.m. — after he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein hold a 9:30 a.m. press conference to discuss the findings.

The move drew howls of protest from Democrats on Wednesday night, especially after The New York Times reported that White House lawyers and Department of Justice officials have already discussed details of Mueller's conclusions.

Democrats say Barr has acted as an agent of President Trump in his role overseeing the release of the report, which will mark the culmination of one of the most-watched probes in recent political history.

Democrats are hoping to use the report to bolster their sprawling probes into Trump’s administration, businesses and campaign.

Republicans are keenly aware that no matter what is in the public report, Democrats are going to use it to attack the president, said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.

“The White House knows there is nothing they can say or do that will satisfy the Democratic or media beast when it comes to the Mueller report. They already noticed this because the Democrats have moved from a Trump-Russia conspiracy to a Trump-Barr conspiracy,” O’Connell said.

Read more Olivia Beavers at The Hill

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Democrats, GOP Poised To Pounce On Mueller Findings

Democrats and Republicans are preparing their arguments and talking points ahead of Thursday’s release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report — before the contents of the roughly 400-page report are even known.

Democrats are poised to go after Attorney General William Barr over expected redactions, suggesting they will subpoena the Justice Department if they think too much information is left out of the document.

President Trump and his conservative allies on Capitol Hill are expected to point back to the core conclusions of Mueller’s report — as described by Barr — to argue Trump has been exonerated and that the investigation should no longer be an issue.

The president has repeatedly attacked the Mueller probe in recent days, tweeting Tuesday that the investigation was “the greatest scam in political history.” And, over the weekend, Trump called again for the investigators to be investigated.

GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said Republicans believe they can leverage the Mueller report to their advantage in 2020 by using Democratic calls for transparency to fuel their efforts to investigate the individuals who launched the counterintelligence probe into Russia’s election interference.

“You are in a messaging battle where the Democrats are trying to look for anything to hold onto this line of questioning and attacks on the president, but it seems to be their hand is getting weaker and weaker by the day,” O’Connell said. “It is quite clear the Democrats are going to scream bloody murder no matter what, and the White House knows this. It almost doesn’t matter what is in the report. The White House knows which way the Democrats are going to go.”

He added, “But what the White House is going to tell you over and over is exactly what the conclusions were, the fact that Bob Mueller never got fired, [and that] Bob Mueller and the DOJ got all the money they needed for this investigation.”

Read more from Jacqueline Thomsen and Olivia Beavers at The Hill

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Democrats' Billion-Dollar Fundraising Juggernaut Is Tucked Away In Somerville

The nondescript brick building that houses ActBlue’s headquarters in Somerville belies the nonprofit's mega-sized role in Democratic fundraising.

But the group that helps Democratic candidates, organizations and charities bring in cash with easy-to-use online tools has become a political juggernaut.

ActBlue has pulled in more than $3.3 billion — more than half of which has come in during and since the 2017-2018 election season. The average contribution is just shy of $40.

Republicans have scrambled to match ActBlue’s success, but so far they haven’t been able to bottle that lightning. But they’re trying: In January, after losing the House of Representatives in the midterm elections, the GOP launched its latest effort, called Patriot Pass.

But Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who has worked on the party’s efforts to build better grassroots fundraising apparatus, said ActBlue’s success isn’t just about its platform. It’s about the buy-in from the base.

“What makes ActBlue powerful goes beyond technology,” O’Connell said. “It has buy-in from the candidates, causes and grassroots donors. It is that trust between the participants that makes it truly a success.”

O’Connell said Republicans have gotten in their own way when if comes to efforts to duplicate ActBlue’s rise. Previous attempts to duplicate ActBlue’s model have been hampered by “big egos, infighting and counter-intuitive business considerations by GOP consultants and Republican campaigns,” Ford said.

“Patriot Pass is not the first Republican stab at trying to level the playing field with ActBlue,” O’Connell said. “There’s really a fiefdom mentality among the Republican players. Now, if Patriot Pass can overcome these internal roadblocks, then it will succeed. If not, it will be back to the drawing board."

Read more from Kimberly Atkins at WBUR

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Sanders Courts GOP Voters With 'Medicare For All' Plan

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is trying to use “Medicare for All” to win over white working-class voters, many of whom supported President Trump in 2016.

The 2020 candidate went on Fox News, Trump’s turf, on Monday night for a town hall, where audience members cheered when asked if they would support Medicare for All. Sanders shared the clip on social media several times the following day.

But Republicans see Medicare for All as a winning issue for their side as well, and they’re eager to attack Sanders and other White House hopefuls on the proposal.

Polling indicates the battle could come down to how the issue is framed.

A majority of voters favored a Medicare for All plan when asked about the concept: A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in January found that 56 percent of adults surveyed supported having a single government-run health plan for all.

But that number drops significantly when respondents are asked about tax increases or other downsides to the plan.

Just 37 percent of respondents said they supported Medicare for All when informed that the proposal would require most Americans to pay more in taxes. Likewise, only 37 percent backed the plan when told it would eliminate private insurance.

“It is ingenious branding surrounded by a terrible idea,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell, adding that Republicans should make sure voters know that Medicare for All means a huge government price tag, higher taxes and eliminating private insurance, including Medicare Advantage plans that many seniors like.

Studies from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and the Urban Institute have both found that Medicare for All would cost the federal government about $32 trillion over 10 years.

O’Connell said the White House is keen to keep Medicare for All on the front burner.

“They are very happy to talk about Medicare for All,” he said. “They like this. They like the possibility of going against Bernie.”

Read more from Peter Sullivan at The Hill

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Why AG William Barr Is Turning Out To Become Trump’s Best Cabinet Pick

President Trump went on the offensive Wednesday attacking the Mueller investigation and demanding an inquiry into the people behind the Russia probe.

“It was an illegal investigation. It was started illegally. Everything about it was crooked, every single thing about it. There were dirty cops, these were bad people,” Trump said while speaking to reporters. “You look at [Andrew] McCabe and [James] Comey and you look at Lisa [Page] and Peter Strzok, these were bad people and this was, an attempted coup, this was an attempted take-down of a president and we beat them.”

During his second day of testimony on Capitol Hill, Attorney General William Barr said that he believes spying did occur on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

“Spying on a political campaign is a big deal, it’s a big deal...I think spying did occur, the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated. I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated but I need to explore that.”

CivicForumPAC Chairman Ford O’Connell said Barr is “turning out to become President Trump’s best cabinet pick.”

“What is amazing here about Attorney General Barr is really his by the book manner, his ability to cut through the Democratic games, and also the willingness to get to the bottom of exactly how this Russia probe came about and whether or not there was foul play here,” he said on FOX Business’ “Making Money with Charles Payne ” Wednesday.

He adds that Barr’s demeanor will calm both sides of the political aisle down.

Watch the video and read more from Lucas Manfredi at Fox Business

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Bernie Sanders On Soviet-Style Socialism

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell says Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is engaging in revisionist history.

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Tax-Return Fight Tests Mnuchin's Loyalty To Trump

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin faces a challenging test after Democrats formally requested President Trump's tax returns.

Mnuchin has been one of Trump's most loyal Cabinet members, defending the president's policies and personal conduct when others have shied away.

Now as the president's chief line of defense he will have to balance his loyalty to Trump against a request that many experts say leaves him little wiggle room.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) Wednesday evening sent IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig a request for six years' worth of Trump’s personal and business tax returns. Neal made the request under a part of Section 6103 of the federal tax code that states that the Treasury Secretary “shall furnish” tax returns to the chairmen of Congress’s tax committees upon written request, so long as the documents are viewed in a closed session.

Key Republicans are critical of the request. The top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), argued in a letter to Mnuchin Wednesday that the request is “an abuse of the tax-writing committees’ statutory authority,” and he said it weakens Americans’ right to have their personal information kept private.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Thursday that courts have ruled that congressional requests for information need to have legitimate legislative purposes, and Democrats have fallen short on that front.

Mnuchin has been a fierce Trump loyalist and advocate for his agenda, supporting the president’s positions and controversial comments even when they differ from his own views.

Republican strategists predict that Mnuchin will get involved and that it will be an easy decision for him to reject Democrats’ request.

"You’ve never seen a Cabinet secretary at that level not fight for the administration,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. He predicted that Mnuchin is likely to let the issue end up in the courts.

The pressure from conservatives to defend Trump will likely be intense.

Read more from Naomi Jagoda and Sylvan Lane at The Hill

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The White House's Biggest Worry For 2020

With the 2020 presidential campaign ramping up and the Democratic field of presidential hopefuls growing, President Trump’s ability to secure a second term in office could hinge on his ability to weather an economic slowdown in the coming months.

“The biggest concern [for the White House] was not the Russia probe nor the Democrats’ field, but what the state of the economy is in 2020,” Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said. “That’s the biggest determinative of whether they’re going to be reelected.”

Historically, most incumbent presidents have been successful in winning a second term in the White House, with just five exceptions. The common thread shared by those one-term presidents was “either recession or a major economic blip,” O’Connell said.

“That’s what the White House has to guard against,” he said. “In some ways, that’s totally out of their hands. But at the same time, that’s why you see them trying to make end roads on other issues, like immigration and healthcare.”

Trump frequently cites as a key achievement of his presidency the growth in the economy and the low unemployment rate, which he attributes to tax cuts and deregulation.

But the economy could be buoyed by a trade deal between the U.S. and China, which the two countries are in the process of negotiating.

“A deal with China factors into it because what U.S. markets are looking for is stability,” O’Connell said. “It’s something the White House desperately wants to get done, but realizes it has some wiggle room in terms of timing.”

Read more from Melissa Quinn at the Washington Examiner

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Former VP Joe Biden Leads The 2020 Democratic Field Despite Misconduct Allegations

Two more women have reportedly come out against former Vice President Joe Biden saying that he engaged in unwanted and inappropriate behavior.

Biden responded to the allegations in a video posted to Twitter on Wednesday.

He acknowledges that “social norms have began to change, they’ve shifted, and the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset.”

FOX Business' Charles Payne believes that the former vice president seems to be a double standard when it comes to allegations of inappropriate behavior in the #MeToo era.

“In the very beginning of the #MeToo era, this was enough to destroy someone’s career. The fact that you touch someone without their permission, that you held them somewhere unfamiliar without their permission. People have been upset about this, particularly in the Democratic Party.”

He added that for Biden, the same people who have been the first to condemn those who committed sexual assault or harassment in the past have looked at his allegations very differently.

“It’s been a whole lot of these same celebrities that have been at the forefront of the #MeToo era who are pushing that, saying, well maybe Joe gets a pass?”

CivicForumPAC Chairman Ford O'Connell said that while the allegations against the former vice president are “one of the worst kept secrets in politics,” they are “under the microscope solely because his polling numbers are quite resilient” and that “someone wants to knock him down a peg.”

"Obviously, I don’t know whether they did or not, the inside job, but the two biggest beneficiaries are Bernie [Sanders] and [Sen.] Kamala Harris,” he added.

According to the latest poll by Real Clear Politics, Biden is still leading against Sanders and Harris by seven points.

O'Connell adds that even if Biden makes it past the allegations, "he’s going to be battling the past…you’re talking about Anita Hill, you’re talking about the 1994 crime bill, you’re talking about the only Democratic candidate who voted for Iraq. Basically Joe Biden is battling the past more than he’s battling the rest of the Democratic field.”

Read more from Lucas Manfredi at Fox Business

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