The Russia investigation's effect on the GOP agenda

Here are the stories our DC insiders are talking about in this week's "Inside Politics" forecast, where you get a gli...

Posted: Dec. 26, 2017 8:18 AM
Updated: Dec. 26, 2017 8:18 AM

Here are the stories our DC insiders are talking about in this week's "Inside Politics" forecast, where you get a glimpse of tomorrow's headlines today.

1) A timely tax plan fact check

Mueller's investigation may speed up agenda items for the GOP

Fact vs. fiction: debunking some of President Trump's tax plan hyperbole

A Virginia delegate race will be decided by picking a name out of a hat

A first year that began with ludicrous claims about crowd size wound down with presidential hyperbole on Trump's tax cut plan.

Tax reform was a marquee GOP agenda item. The legislation also checked another Trump and conservative priority box by eliminating the Obamacare individual mandate.

Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur listened closely as the President signed the tax bill, and found more than a little Trumpian-style rhetoric.

"He said it was the largest tax cut in history. It is smaller, in real dollar terms, than the one President Obama signed in in 2013 ... He said the tax bill is selling itself, becoming very popular. That is not the case yet. Americans disapprove of it by a wide margin. This is the key sales job Republicans have between now and the 2018 election -- can they make the people like it?"

2) GOP's Mueller motivation

Donald Trump Jr., like his father the President, dismisses the Russia meddling investigation as a hoax and a waste of time.

In one recent speech he went as far as to say here are people at the highest levels of the American government working to thwart his father's agenda. The special counsel is interested in the President's son for his Kremlin-connected campaign year meetings. But for some Republicans, Mueller is a motivating factor for their agenda.

CNN's Maeve Reston explains:

"There's actually some fear among Republicans that there are rumblings that Mueller is closing in on Don Jr. and they want to get as much done with the President's help before that point because a lot of them are very worried about what [President Trump] might do if his son ended up in legal jeopardy."

3) A 2018 Russia readiness question

This past year was full of talk about Russia's brazen interference in the 2016 election, and warnings it would happen again. And again.

President Trump has never discussed the issue as a priority, and his Cabinet agencies have sent mixed messages about their preparations to improve election security in 2018 and beyond. There have been speeches and hearings in Congress, and conversations across America at the state level.

But Julie Pace of The Associated Press shared reporting about possible lessons learned from 2016 as the country looks ahead to 2018 midterms.

"There's a real fear that, well, we've been discussing a lot the prospect of collusion or President Trump's involvement, there hasn't been enough discussion about helping the parties and the campaign actually protect themselves. This is not just at the presidential level. This really is about the midterm elections."

4) Virginia's delegate drawing

In baseball the old saying is the tie goes to the runner. But what about in politics?

In some states, Virginia among them, ties are settled with a game of chance -- drawing straws or a name out of a hat, for example.

That practice will be front and center this week as Virginia moves to finally settle a state legislative race that was on the ballot in November.

The recount ended with a tie. New York Times' Michael Shear, a former Virginia politics reporter who now covers the White House, explains what happens now.

"They're actually putting the names in little film canisters and they're going to pull them out. And whoever they pull out will be the next delegate. ... The outcome of this race decides the entire balance of power in Virginia House of Delegates."

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