Thank you, US Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions. Were it not for your tendency to mendacity on all things Russo-Trumpian, this week’s edition might have had to resort to wading through the debris field of all of those lowered expectations shattered as a result of the president’s ability to competently read someone else’s words off of a TelePrompter.
But you, sir, you of the Manichean view on perjury so ably elucidated in 1999 on C-SPAN when discussing accusations that President Clinton perjured himself over statements made under oath about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky – you performed a true public service.
In one (or two, depending on whether or not you include then Sen. Sessions’ written response to Sen. Carl Levin’s questionnaire about whether or not he had contact with the Russians prior to the election) fell swoop, you managed to call into question your ethical and moral compass; to leave previously complacently complicit stonewalling Republicans no choice but to publicly declare you should recuse yourself from any investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election; and to find yourself, at long last, with the sense of decency to actually recuse yourself.
So, while one of the Trump campaign’s earliest, most ardent supporters is still in charge of the Senate investigation into Russian involvement in the election, and calls for a special counsel to investigate the metastasizing scandal continue to go unheeded, at least you, the first senator to openly, enthusiastically back candidate Trump, will no longer be riding herd over any probe to be conducted into what the president’s campaign did and didn’t do with Russian officials.
So, thanks for providing source material. As you put it back then, we look forward to the process that will continue to demonstrate that “The American people believe no one is above the law.”
On to the Winners & Losers:
Lucinda Little: Yeah, that’s right. The GOP nominee in the 197th PA House District special election to replace convicted former Rep. Leslie Acosta is the big winner. Despite running in a North Philly district where barely 5 percent of voters are registered Republican, Little is – still – the only candidate on the ballot, courtesy of incompetence by Green Party candidate Cheri Honkala’s inability to meet filing deadlines and, even more egregiously, Democratic leadership’s failure to put someone on the ballot who, y’know, lived in the district – a pesky requirement, to be sure. And today, a judge made the completely expected decision that the Democrats could not get Emilio Vazquez, the replacement for geographically undesirable Freddie Ramirez, onto the ballot some three weeks after the deadline.
The upshot: Unless Honkala or Vazquez run a killer write-in campaign, the GOP majority in the House is going to be 122 instead of 121 strong.
Marcus Brown: Talk about falling up! Two years after being rejected as Gov. Wolf’s nominee to head the Pennsylvania State Police, Brown has a new job: overseeing the force. Despite fierce opposition from both the state Senate and past and present officials in the state police to his 2015 candidacy, Wolf appointed Brown to become his liaison on public safety. The job must not be as taxing as heading the agency, though: Brown will keep his job overseeing the state’s homeland security office.
Ryan Costello: How low is the bar to stay over the political Mendoza line these days? Low enough that the Daily Times used an entire editorial to laud US Rep. Costello for his availability to constituents, including holding an impromptu town hall last week. His appearance and engagement is lamentably notable for a GOP Congressman, since the vast majority of them used the recent recess to avoid dealing with their constituents, including…
Mike Kelly and Glenn Thompson: These two Erie County US Reps. managed to avoid having to face the people they were elected to represent during the entire recess. Kelly, to his credit, had the most jaw-dropping excuse this side of Sen. Marco Rubio for holding a telephone town hall instead of an in-person one. According to the Times-News, he said that remote meetings are “the easiest, safest way to discuss matters, because residents can sit and drink coffee with a clean restroom nearby.” Uh, hey, Erie County, you might wanna shine a light on all that shade just thrown your way.
Ellen McLean: Whenever the story comes out about the reasons and machinations behind the removal of McLean, the CEO of the Pittsburgh Port Authority, it is going to be a must-read. By all accounts a respected and capable leader who shepherded the authority through trying times since taking over in 2013, McLean was unexpectedly given a four-month extension and a severance package at the end of the organization’s board meeting last week.
Barbara Hafer: the former PA state treasurer found out this week that a judge would not dismiss charges of pay-to-play crimes against her, and that her case will go to trial June 12.