“The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas,”.. At the conference, leaders of the Koch-backed political and policy groups said they wouldn’t support Rep. Kevin Cramer, a GOP Senate candidate challenging Democratic incumbent Heidi Heitkamp, because he has sided with Mr. Trump on tariffs... Mr. Trump won North Dakota by 36 percentage points in 2016, and Republicans see Ms. Heitkamp’s seat as one of their most promising pickup opportunities in the November midterms... The Kochs and many traditional pro-business Republicans oppose tariffs, fearing an increase in the cost of industrial supplies and retaliatory tariffs imposed by trading partners... Mr. Trump hasn’t attended any of the Koch conferences, held twice a year at posh resorts. Those gatherings are typically a draw for Republican candidates, and Vice President Mike Pence has been a regular attendee. Mr. Pence spoke at a small Koch gathering last fall in New York... During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump blasted his GOP opponents as “puppets” of donors such as the Koch brothers. In November 2015, Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, referencing presidential rivals Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, “@CharlesGKoch is looking for a new puppet after Governor Walker and Jeb Bush cratered. He now likes Rubio — next fail.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) has spent the better part of the past 15 hours poking holes in President Trump’s dubious trial balloon about a spy in his campaign.
Gowdy, who was one of the few people to get briefed on the situation last week, told Fox News on Tuesday night that the briefing vindicated the FBI: “I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.”
.. Even House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Trump’s most important ally in the House, has been quiet since receiving the briefing alongside Gowdy. That, perhaps more than anything, speaks volumes.
.. But we’ve been here before, and the lack of any real backup for Trump’s claims hasn’t stopped the GOP base from buying into them.
.. Few top Republican members of Congress are calling the Russia investigation a “witch hunt,” as Trump has, yet 82 percent of Republican voters and 44 percent of all Americans believe it is.
The Nunes memo that alleged a political and abusive predicate for the Russia probe wasn’t exactly embraced by Republicans, but it has contributed to Trump’s narrative.
.. Almost none of these conspiracy theories have been embraced by the broader, official Republican Party. Almost all of them have broken through, thanks to Trump’s singularity, his saturation of media coverage and the lack of a concerted pushback beyond people like Gowdy, Graham and Rubio
.. Gowdy is not seeking reelection after this term, so he does not have to worry about the political consequences of speaking out against Trump.
Several congressional Republicans had the right response to President Trump’s lie-laden tantrum about Robert Mueller yesterday.
Firing Mueller, Senator Lindsey Graham said, “would be the beginning of the end of his presidency.” Senator Jeff Flake called it “a massive red line.” Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, was weaker, letting his spokeswoman say, “Mr. Mueller and his team should be able to do their job” — but that’s still less deferential to Trump than Ryan normally is.
.. the firing of Andrew McCabe, the F.B.I. deputy director. “All this matters even more urgently when you consider the McCabe firing as a road-test for Trump’s method in an impending showdown with Robert Mueller,” Frum writes.
Smith and Hannity live in different realities, and that is a problem for Fox News. A division between news and opinion is standard — and healthy — at many media outlets, but facts and alternative facts cannot coexist.
.. In March, Fox News suspended legal analyst Andrew Napolitano for making an unsupported claim that British intelligence officials spied on Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign at the request of President Barack Obama.
In that case, as in the current one involving Clinton and Uranium One, it was Smith who set the record straight on his afternoon show.
.. This recent history would seem to bode well for Smith. When Hannity and Napolitano made assertions that were contrary to the reporting of others at Fox News, it was the pundits who had to back down or face a penalty.
.. “Were Fox forced to choose, it would choose Hannity over Shep,”
.. “The network has clearly placed its chips on Trump — witness the reshuffling of the lineup to highlight Trumpier voices, including Tucker Carlson — and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more pro-Trump voice than Hannity.”
.. “Rupert Murdoch highly prizes and highly pays Shep Smith because he brings credibility to the network. … Hannity gets away with a lot but also toes the line when he’s asked to.