On behalf of David Wilkins and the entire team, whether you’re celebrating Hanukah or Christmas or both – here’s wishing you a season filled with love, peace
and countless blessings for 2018!
A weekly outreach to our friends and colleagues in Canada
Top of the News
- Republicans are said to have agreed on their massive tax package – a much needed win they hope to have on President Donald Trump’s desk by Christmas. The GOP’s final bill would could cut taxes for American citizens and businesses and according to published reports, seems to favor more of the Senate’s product including a slightly higher corporate tax rate of 21 percent, rather than the 20 percent in the legislation that passed both chambers. The measure also includes the Senate’s repeal of the Obamacare requirement that most Americans have health insurance or pay a penalty. While the President and GOP lawmakers say they expect an economic boon from the package, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday that she and her Fed colleagues, who set interest rate policy, expect a “modest lift” to economic growth. Both chambers are expected to vote on the bill next week.
- Minnesota’s Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith is the pick to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Al Franken until a special election can be held in November. Another special election will be held again for the seat in 2018 which Smith will then have to defend. Governor Mark Dayton made the appointment Wednesday. Democrat Franken announced he was stepping down last week after a series of sexual misconduct allegations. It is not known when Franken will actually leave. He said he would resign “in the coming weeks.” A Texas Republican also announced he will not seek reelection. Congressman Blake Farenthold, who's under fire for accusations of sexual harassment, made the announcement in a video released yesterday.
- A new day for Democrats or just a bad candidate for Republicans? That question will loom over the Alabama Senate seat just won in a stunning 1-point victory by Democrat Doug Jones Tuesday night – at least until 2020 when Republicans get their shot at reclaiming the seat they’ve long held. Jones, a staunch pro-abortion former prosecutor, won the seat in deep red Alabama, defeating Republican Roy Moore who was accused of sexual misconduct. It was a massive upset bringing an almost unimaginable victory to Democrats and cutting the GOP majority in the US Senate down to a single seat. Had Moore not been rocked by the sexual misconduct allegations, a GOP victory would have all but been assured which has the Republican Party scrambling to find a viable candidate to take on Jones in the next election. But certainly for now, the Jones victory has breathed fire and life into Democrats and the mainstream media who view this as a repudiation of the President and the start of their reclaiming the Senate and the House in next year’s midterm election after suffering devastating losses during Barack Obama’s two terms. Over Obama’s eight years in the White House, Democrats across the country lost more than 1,000 seats – an historic number of Congressional, statehouse and governorships flipped to GOP control.
- Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday he stands by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Rosenstein faced pointed questions – mostly from GOP members of the committee – as we continue to learn about the trove of anti-Trump/pro-Hillary Clinton text messages exchanged between two FBI agents, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who were romantically involved on the Mueller team, as well as the political ties of Mueller investigators to Hillary Clinton and the former Obama administration.
- The text messages have revealed that the senior counterintelligence FBI official, Peter Strzok, who in 2016 interviewed Hillary Clinton and her top staff and wrote the language clearing Clinton of any crime in her use of a home rigged server and private email while she was Obama’s top diplomat and went on to investigate Donald Trump and his campaign associates, had a clear distain for Trump – calling him horrific names and even slamming Trump’s supporters, his wife and children. He shared his hatred for Trump with Page who agreed with his sentiments. Some 10,000 texts were exchanged between the two although just a fraction of them have so far been released to Congressional oversight committees and the media. The most disturbing of the FBI text messages seems to indicate some kind of proactive action should Trump win the election: “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strzok wrote in a cryptic text message to Page. “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40,” Strzok wrote in the text. It was dated Aug. 15, 2016. (“Andy” is reported to likely be Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe though the FBI refuses to confirm. McCabe is already under scrutiny for questions involving cash his wife received for a political campaign from the organizations of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton supporter and intimate. McCabe only recused himself from the Clinton email investigation one week before the election.)
- House investigators and GOP critics are now openly questioning whether Strzok’s “insurance policy” cited in his text was the discredited dossier on President Trump paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. In Wednesday’s committee hearing, GOP members demanded Rosenstein answer whether it was Strzok who repackaged the salacious political document as an FBI intelligence document and then took it to the FISA courts so they could spy on the Trump campaign. Rosenstein answered few questions directly citing an ongoing investigation into the handling of the Clinton email probe but promised the Mueller investigation into Trump is being conducted in an unbiased manner. Both Strzok and Page are no longer working on Mueller’s team though both continue to work for the FBI.
- Meanwhile, the political leanings of Mueller’s prosecutors continue to be revealed. One represented the longtime Bill Clinton staffer who admitted to destroying Hillary Clinton’s old mobile devices with hammers, another represented a former Obama aide, as well as the Clinton Foundation and Clinton herself. A top Mueller prosecutor attended what was meant to be Hillary Clinton’s election night victory party and later sent a laudatory email to the former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she refused to defend the Trump administration’s travel ban.
- On Monday we learned that a senior Department of Justice official had much deeper ties to a dirt digging firm hired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee to conduct anti-Trump research. Bruce Ohr was demoted last week by the DOJ for concealing meetings with Fusion GPS – the firm behind the unsubstantiated Trump-Russian dossier paid for by Democrats. Turns out that Ohr’s wife, Nellie H. Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS in the summer and fall of 2016 ahead of the presidential election. Bruce Ohr lost his gig as DOJ’s associate deputy attorney general after it was revealed he had secret meetings with the founder of Fusion GPS as well as the spy who crafted the discredited dossier.
Canadians Bring the Cold?
Your former US Ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, was in DC this week (read: where else?) but so too were many warm and wonderful Canadians which got us thinking does cold weather follow y’all?
We say no!
In fact, if anyone can warm up December in DC it surely is our friends from up north. That’s why it was an especially good week in Washington that started on Monday with an informative event hosted by the Wilson Center’s Canada and Mexico Institutes and the George W. Bush Institute focusing on North American Competitiveness and the future of NAFTA.
The morning included Matthew Rooney, the director of Economic Growth at the Bush Institute, sharing the Bush Institute’s 2017 Competitiveness Scorecard – an interactive tool that compares competitiveness between countries and trade groups.
Matt Rooney talks 2017 dynamics of world trade and economic success in DC Monday morning
Texas Congressman Will Hurd and Wilson Center President and CEO, Jane Harman, also addressed the trilateral crowd.
US, Mexican and Canadian stakeholders listen to a discussion on North American trade
Wilkins was privileged to moderate a panel discussion on NAFTA with some pretty hefty experts on the subject: Director of the Mexico Institute Duncan Wood; President of NASCO Tiffany Melvin, and Director of the Canada Institute Laura Dawson.
A prestigious panel weighs-in on the future of the tri-lateral NAFTA agreement
It was great as always to see our forever friend, current Exxon VP and former US diplomat, Tom Huffaker at the Wilson Center, as well as Alex Panetta with The Canadian Press.
Team Wilkins was also privileged to welcome Canadian provincial friends who were in town for important meetings. They included Saskatchewan Minister Dustin Duncan and Tyler Lynch, and fine folks from New Brunswick including Bill Levesque, Serge Breau, Jacques Pinet, Jean Finn and Tom MacFarlane.
Saskatchewan Minister Dustin Duncan and your former US Ambassador to Canada in DC this week
Never Tired at the Top!
Yep, yep! You’re reading it here so that means since our last chat (read: obnoxious bragging) Wilkins’ Clemson Tigers did go on to beat (read: annihilate) the University of Miami Hurricanes to secure once again the ACC Championship title and reclaim the top spot – the number one team in all of US college football. (The Clemson Tigers are the defending National Champs, just sayin...)
Speaking about the whole National Champs thing, so last January, you will recall (Editor’s note: because, really, how can you forget? We constantly pound it into you) that Clemson beat Alabama in the last second of the game to win the title (after losing to Alabama with a chance to win in the last few seconds the year before. Alabama sure can be a perennial pain in the posterior.) Anyway, as we were saying, so now, Clemson is ranked #1 and – urg – Alabama is ranked #4. That means, Clemson has to play dang Alabama – again – but this time not for the natty but for a shot at the natty.
The big playoff game is the Sugar Bowl and goes off on Jan 1, 2018 in New Orleans. Of course, David and Susan Wilkins have their tickets and will be headed down. And of course, the “experts” are predicting Alabama by 3. (They said something like that last year, too.)
When Clemson wins (y’all catch that?) the Tigers will go on to once again play for their third national championship title and their second straight win in Atlanta on Monday, January 8, 2018 – opponent TBD.
Home for Christmas!
So, really, she’s back from home for Christmas. But whateves. We sure are fired up to welcome back our own Ashley Martin Aldebol from maternity leave. She was back on the job Monday after she and handsome hubby, Jared, welcomed the seriously beautiful Mary Martin into the world a couple months ago. Mary Martin joins her older bro, Woods, in the Aldebol abode. And while your CCC editors think all babies are tots fab and too cute – we think all y’all will have to agree that these Aldebol kids are just crazy good lookin’.
Think we’re biased? Judge for yourselves:
The Adorable Aldebols!
See, told you so! We rest our case!
They Said What?
- “It was a very gracious call. I very much appreciate it. He congratulated me on the race that we won. He congratulated me and my staff on the manner in which we handled this campaign and went forward. And we talked about finding that common ground, to work together," – Alabama’s Democrat Senator-elect Doug Jones in a Wednesday news conference regarding his phone call with President Trump.
- “You’re really seeing millennial voters really leading now and millennial voters really taking the reins of this democracy and starting to drive it in the right direction,” – New Jersey Democrat Senator Cory Booker who rallied with Doug Jones in Alabama the weekend before the election.
- “Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support,” – text message written by Peter Strzok, an FBI counterintelligence officer and former member of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s “Russia” team, to Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer also formerly on the Special Prosecutor’s team.
- “The notion that three bureau agents would be conspiring or plotting on how to handle the outcome of the presidential election is the opposite of what you want in an objective, dispassionate and neutral FBI,” – Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) on the disturbing revelations of anti-Trump/pro-Clinton bias within the FBI and its possible impact on the Clinton and Trump investigations.
- “If I were offered the nomination by the Lord Almighty right now, today, I would say no because we're not ready, the family's not ready to do this. If, in a year from now, if we're ready, and nobody has moved in that I think can do it, then I may very well do it,” – former VP Joe Biden on whether he will run for president in 2020.