6 key takeaways from CNN's CITIZEN conference

On Monday, CNN hosted CITIZEN ...

Posted: Oct 23, 2018 5:51 AM
Updated: Oct 23, 2018 5:51 AM

On Monday, CNN hosted CITIZEN -- a politics and policy conference in New York City featuring a numbers of newsmakers, including White House adviser Jared Kushner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and retiring Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake.

Below, a rolling list of takeaways from the day -- in the order they happened. (You can watch the entire conference live online here.)

Business figures

Celebrities

Donald Trump

Ivanka Trump

Jared Kushner

Political Figures - US

2016 Presidential election

Elections (by type)

Elections and campaigns

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Political candidates

Politics

US Federal elections

US federal government

US Presidential elections

White House

Law and legal system

Nancy Pelosi

Political organizations

Subpoenas

Trial and procedure

US Democratic Party

US political parties

Impeachment

Political scandals

Rahm Emanuel

Scandals

Jeff Flake

Continents and regions

Eastern Europe

Europe

Investigations

Misc people

Robert Mueller

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

Ty Cobb

1. Kushner calls Donald Trump a "black swan"

President Donald Trump's son-in-law has a unique perspective on the man he also calls "boss." (Kushner is married to Ivanka Trump and serves as an adviser to the president.) Which is why when Kushner speaks about Trump -- and he doesn't do so often -- you need to pay attention.

Asked about Trump and the possibility that the coming 2018 midterm elections could be very bad for Republicans, Kushner told CNN's Van Jones: "He's a black swan. He's been a black swan all his life."

Which is a VERY interesting way to think about Trump. Black swan theory, for those who don't know it, is the idea -- first described by scholar and essayist Nassim Nicholas Taleb -- that there are high-profile, extreme outliers that defy all known wisdom and expectations and, in their wake, reshape what can and should be expected.

Here's Taleb's own explanation -- from an excerpt of his 2007 book -- of what makes a black swan moment:

"First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme impact. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable."

There's little question that Trump's 2016 election fits that description. There were ZERO indicators -- national polling, swing state polling, fundraising, ad spending, message, get out the vote -- in the run-up to the 2016 vote that suggested Trump would beat Clinton. Then he did. And in the past several years, the political world has worked to re-orient itself to explain how -- of course! -- Trump was always going to win.

The question is whether Trump as a black swan carries over to elections where he is not on the ballot. Or even any election other than 2016. Kushner believes that 2018 could be another black swan. We'll know in 15 days.

2. How Nancy Pelosi wants to use subpoena power

Pelosi has been VERY guarded about talking in anything but VERY broad terms about what Democrats might do if they retake the House majority. Which is why it was super interesting that when CNN's Dana Bash asked Pelosi about how Democrats might use subpoena power if they are in the majority come 2019, Pelosi said this:

"Subpoena power is interesting, to use it or not to use it. It's a great arrow to have in your quiver in terms of negotiating on other subjects."

So, Pelosi views the ability to subpoena members of the Trump administration to appear before various House committees as, essentially, a bargaining chip to, in her words, bring people to the negotiating table.

Which is intriguing. Because it suggests that Pelosi may not want to necessarily subpoena everyone and their brother in the Trump administration -- and she has said she is skeptical about impeaching Trump -- but rather use the ability to do so if necessary as a way to get what she wants or, at least, some of what she wants.

The question then becomes, how do Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration react to Pelosi's don't-make-me-use-this threat on subpoena power? Do they play ball -- especially considering that a Democratic House majority could make their lives very uncomfortable and gum up the works for the next few years? Or do they call Pelosi's bluff and see how far she is willing to push on subpoenas?

3. Pelosi believes she will be the next speaker if Democrats win the House

Pelosi was confident when asked whether she felt good about leading the Democratic caucus if her side retakes the majority. "It is up to them to make that decision, but I feel pretty comfortable where I am," she said of her Democratic colleagues.

She should feel good. While Pelosi has lost increasing levels of support within the Democratic caucus every two years, the truth of the matter is that there's no one who can beat her -- or, if we are being honest, come close. Both Steny Hoyer (Maryland) and Jim Clyburn (South Carolina), the two men directly below California's Pelosi on the leadership ladder, can't beat her. And there is no one on the younger end of the caucus -- where most of the discontent with Pelosi resides -- who can seriously challenge her.

The only scenario by which Pelosi could lose her top spot is if Democrats came up short in 15 days and remained in the minority. But under that scenario, Pelosi might not want to stick around anyway.

4. Count Rahm in the don't-talk-about-impeachment crowd

Outgoing Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel dismissed the idea of Democrats running on a promise to impeach President Trump, insisting that to do so would be "basically leading with your chin."

Emanuel insisted that in order to win -- both in 2018 and 2020 -- his party needs an affirmative message that goes beyond simply saying that Democrats will get rid of Trump (or try) if they retake the House and/or Senate.

Emanuel's skepticism about leading with impeachment puts him on the side of Pelosi, who both on Monday and more generally suggested that Democrats need to pick their spots "strategically" as it relates to Trump.

His view on the impeachment issue will do little to endear Emanuel to liberals, who are already deeply skeptical of him following his term as the chairman of the Democrats' campaign arm last decade. Emanuel may not care. He is not running for a third term in 2019 and made a Sherman-esque declaration about running for president in 2020; "I can tell you with 100% certainty, I have no interest," he said. "I did eight years in the Oval Office and I have no interest in returning to the White House."

5. Jeff Flake kind of admits thoughtfulness is dead

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R) is in his final days in Congress, forced into retirement -- at least in part -- by a disastrous dip in his poll numbers occasioned by his frequent Trump critiques.

And while he tried to put a brave face on the current state of politics, he just didn't sound terribly optimistic about the future. As Flake put it to CNN's Jake Tapper:

"Take, for example, on the Kavanaugh thing -- but it can be on just about any issue — there is no currency, there's no market for trying to be thoughtful on something like this. To actually go in a hearing with Dr. Ford and Brett Kavanaugh and say, I'm gonna actually see what comes out in this hearing instead of announcing before what you're gonna do."

Flake's broader point is clear: There's zero political currency in being thoughtful. Or undecided. Or persuadable based on the facts presented to you. The best way to succeed, according to Flake, is to simply agree with Trump on everything or disagree with him on everything. There's no room in the middle anymore.

What's even more depressing? He's 100% correct.

6. Ty Cobb isn't singing from the Trump songbook anymore

Cobb, once part of the legal team tasked with dealing with special counsel Robert Mueller on behalf of the President, doesn't believe his old boss is right about the nature of the Mueller investigation.

"I don't think it's a witch hunt," Cobb told CNN's Gloria Borger. (Cobb left Trump's legal team in May.) Cobb's opposition to Trump's ramped-up attacks on Mueller, whom he called "an American hero" at Monday's event, was one of the main reasons he stepped aside this spring. "Ty was uncomfortable with the Mueller tweets," a source familiar with the departure told CNN. "He was not going to be "part of a mud-slinging campaign."

Cobb was replaced as the public face of Trump's legal team by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has taken a -- how to say this -- more aggressive tack as it relates to Mueller.

Of course, neither Cobb, nor Giuliani nor Trump know a) what Mueller has in his probe into Russia interference in the 2016 election and b) when Mueller will tell the world what he has learned.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 259117

Reported Deaths: 5668
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17436187
Hinds16524328
Harrison13876199
Rankin11000217
Jackson10652187
Lee8981141
Madison8413168
Jones6552112
Forrest6101121
Lauderdale6034189
Lowndes5463119
Lafayette507393
Lamar496465
Washington4877124
Bolivar4068109
Oktibbeha401681
Panola378380
Pontotoc372155
Monroe3628105
Warren3619101
Union350563
Marshall349569
Neshoba3433152
Pearl River3380104
Leflore3079108
Lincoln300687
Sunflower289272
Hancock285360
Tate276762
Alcorn268854
Pike266580
Itawamba266261
Scott253448
Yazoo250156
Prentiss249552
Tippah245850
Copiah244549
Coahoma243654
Simpson240069
Leake234367
Grenada221171
Marion218473
Covington216972
Adams210170
Wayne206432
Winston205267
George202739
Attala195761
Newton195745
Tishomingo192461
Chickasaw186144
Jasper176038
Holmes169868
Clay162735
Tallahatchie154935
Stone148424
Clarke143562
Calhoun138021
Smith125825
Yalobusha120234
Walthall113437
Greene112129
Noxubee111425
Montgomery110936
Carroll105922
Lawrence104317
Perry103231
Amite99926
Webster94324
Tunica87621
Jefferson Davis87327
Claiborne86825
Benton84023
Humphreys83624
Kemper79120
Quitman7029
Franklin68716
Choctaw62313
Wilkinson58825
Jefferson55920
Sharkey44217
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 432536

Reported Deaths: 6379
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63523957
Mobile30967562
Madison27627201
Tuscaloosa21122268
Montgomery19495326
Shelby18941126
Baldwin16798188
Lee12901102
Morgan12447129
Etowah11911178
Calhoun11365205
Marshall10322119
Houston8813156
Limestone823176
Cullman8159106
Elmore8056104
DeKalb7796102
Lauderdale773399
St. Clair7705122
Talladega6347109
Walker5993174
Jackson590341
Colbert543274
Blount541186
Autauga527061
Coffee454160
Dale405482
Franklin371948
Russell345712
Chilton340972
Covington334168
Escambia328344
Dallas310196
Chambers297370
Clarke290536
Tallapoosa2665107
Pike258830
Marion250155
Lawrence249150
Winston231442
Bibb219848
Geneva206946
Marengo205229
Pickens198631
Hale180842
Barbour177836
Fayette174528
Butler171358
Cherokee162530
Henry157523
Monroe150718
Randolph143236
Washington139527
Clay128546
Crenshaw121644
Cleburne119724
Lamar119621
Macon119637
Lowndes112536
Wilcox105822
Bullock101428
Perry99118
Conecuh96320
Sumter89726
Greene76723
Coosa62215
Choctaw51624
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