SHARP DECLINE IN BLACK VOTER TURNOUT COULD SPELL TROUBLE FOR DEMOCRATS IN 2018: Once prized fighters in the battle for voting rights, students at America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities dropped their guard in the 2016 elections. Voter turnout among the estimated 300,000 students at HBCUs fell nearly 11 percent from 2012 to 2016, according to a national survey by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts University. The decline, while consistent with a fall off among black voters of all ages in 2016, was a sharp departure. If historic trends hold, Democrats could see black voter turnout drop 30 percent in 2018, resulting in 5.2 million fewer African-American voters, according to a report by the non-partisan Voter Participation Center and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake.
MAINSTREAM REPUBLICANS MAY BE RUNNING AGAINST BRIETBART IN PRIMARIES: "I can't read Mr. Bannon's mind," said North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger, who could well be on the list. Back atop the right-wing media organization Breitbart News, President Donald Trump's ousted strategist is openly trying to topple Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and incumbents backing the Kentucky Republican. Bannon and his supporters say McConnell is the embodiment of an insufficiently conservative, unproductive party establishment. "There are qualities about my candidacy he certainly would like," Mark Harris, a former pastor set for a rematch with Pittenger in a district east of Charlotte, said of Bannon. "We've got to start draining the swamp." Harris lost in 2016 by fewer than 200 votes. He says he hasn't talked to Bannon "as of yet." In New York, GOP Rep. Dan Donovan got a shot across the bow: a "Game on!" tweet by Michael Grimm, his challenger in next year's primary, that included a photo of a smiling Grimm with Bannon. Grimm held Donovan's Staten Island seat before serving seven months in prison for tax evasion.
MANAFORT'S TIES TO RUSSIAN OLIGARCHS RUN DEEPER THAN PREVIOUSLY KNOWN: Political guru Paul Manafort took at least 18 trips to Moscow and was in frequent contact with Vladimir Putin’s allies for nearly a decade as a consultant in Russia and Ukraine for oligarchs and pro-Kremlin parties. Even after the February 2014 fall of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, who won office with the help of a Manafort-engineered image makeover, the American consultant flew to Kiev another 19 times over the next 20 months while working for the smaller, pro-Russian Opposition Bloc party. Manafort went so far as to suggest the party take an anti-NATO stance, an Oppo Bloc architect has said. A key ally of that party leader, oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, was identified by an earlier Ukrainian president as a former Russian intelligence agent, “100 percent.” What’s now known leads some Russia experts to suspect that the Kremlin’s emissaries at times turned Manafort into an asset acting on Russia’s behalf.
ACTING DIRECTOR OF CFPB FILES SUIT TO BLOCK TRUMP NOMINEE FROM TAKING OVER: Leandra English, the federal official elevated to the position of interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by its outgoing director, filed the suit against Trump and his choice, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney. The suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asked for a declaratory judgment and a temporary restraining order to block Mulvaney from taking over the bureau. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer joined Pelosi in arguing that English was the rightful acting director. He accused Trump of ignoring the law "in order to put a fox in charge of a hen house." Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said putting Mulvaney in charge was part of an effort to destroy the bureau. "Wall Street hates it like the devil hates holy water," Durbin said. "And they're trying to put an end to it with ... Mulvaney stepping into Cordray's spot."
TRUMP'S DOGGED SUPPORT OF PEDOPHILE ROY MOORE NOT SHARED BY MANY OTHER PROMINENT REPUBLICANS: President Donald Trump said Sunday that electing a Democrat as Alabama’s next senator “would be a disaster,” making clear the success of his legislative agenda outweighs widespread GOP repulsion at the prospect of seating Republican Roy Moore, who is dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct. But Graham said when it comes to Moore, it’s unclear “what winning looks like.” “If he wins, we get the baggage of him winning and it becomes a story every day about whether or not you believe the women or Roy Moore, should he stay in the Senate, should he be expelled. If you lose, you give the Senate seat to a Democrat at a time we need all the votes we can get,” he said, referring to Republicans’ current 52-48 majority in the Senate. “The moral of the story is: Don’t nominate somebody like Roy Moore who could actually lose a seat that any other Republican could win,” Graham said.