Trump says he’ll allow the release of classified JFK assassination files

President Donald Trump on Saturday said that “subject to the receipt of further information” he will release classified files related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

“Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.” the president tweeted at 8:34 a.m.

The long-secret files are scheduled to be released by the National Archives next week as the 25-year deadline set by Congress expires.

Whether Trump chooses to release the files – or select information from the likely heavily redacted documents – has been a matter of some speculation.

Administration officials have said that releasing the files might expose information pertinent to American law enforcement operations in the recent past, with potential ramifications for national security and foreign policy.

White House spokeswoman Linsday Walters told POLITICO Magazine that the administration was working “to ensure that the maximum amount of data can be released to the public” by next Thursday, Oct. 26.

A White House official added later Saturday, "The President believes that these documents should be made available in the interests of full transparency unless agencies provide a compelling and clear national security or law enforcement justification otherwise," according to a pool report.



Anti-immigrant forces gain ground in Europe

Czechs this weekend elected a new prime minister who heaps scorn on the European Union and says his country shouldn’t have to accept a single refugee. Germany just sent a radical far-right party to parliament for the first time since the days of Adolf Hitler. And Austrians last weekend gave the anti-immigrant Freedom Party their biggest share of the vote since 1999.

Those three elections in the past month are just the latest to upend the European political order by elevating anti-establishment populists. Nationalist parties now have a toehold everywhere from Italy to Finland, raising fears the continent is backpedaling toward the kinds of policies that led to catastrophe in the first half of the last century.

The fissuring of Europe — a traditional American ally and the United States’ largest trading partner — could complicate U.S. foreign policy, hurt American corporations and even create problems for national security as the bloc struggles to find consensus on issues ranging from refugees to free trade to internal borders.

Meanwhile, with each bomb-thrower elected to national governments or to the European Parliament in Brussels, the prospect of reaching agreement on solving the very problems driving populist rage grows dimmer. Developing a common policy for dealing with the influx of Middle Eastern and African asylum-seekers, for instance, will be more difficult now that Austria is more likely to side with Hungary and Poland and move to block them.

‘When one country closes its borders, others do the same, and we all become losers,’ European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said on Tuesday at an event in Washington.

‘In Europe, this phenomenon had disastrous economic consequences in the 1930s and contributed to social unrest that fueled nationalism and ultimately contributed to war,’ he said.

The European nationalist movement has some parallels to what happened in the United States last year with the election of Donald Trump. The new Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, is also a blunt-spoken billionaire. But while U.S. voters fear losing their jobs to immigrants or workers abroad, European voters are angry about the EU’s inability to contain the financial and eurozone crises and the ineffectual response to the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war zones.

‘I see some evidence that poor economic performance in Europe is contributing to these anxieties and fueling some of the support, especially for left-leaning populists, but the story in central Europe is hysteria over migration and this distrust of elites,’ said American Enterprise Institute fellow Dalibor Rohac, who researches economic and political trends in central Europe.

In Europe — where the foreign-born unemployment rate is about 15 percent — voters worry that immigrants will sap resources from their often-generous welfare states.

"In general, pure economic considerations are secondary to voters of populist radical right parties like AfD and FPÖ," said political scientist Cas Mudde, author of On Extremism and Democracy in Europe.

"That said, many see the economy through a racialized lens, thinking immigrants or ethnic minorities costs the society too much money, as they overestimate the importance of these groups in the social provisions," he said.

The 2015 migration crisis remains a potent political issue in part because it appeared European leaders were in over their heads. The spate of recent terror attacks on European soil also played into the hands of right-wing agitators eager to connect the influx of migrants with Europeans’ growing security concerns.

"I think what [German voters] got angry and upset and worried about was the impression that government was really struggling to get this under control, didn’t have a plan," said Constanze Stelzenmüller, the Robert Bosch senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

In Austria, meanwhile, there has been "a rise in share of [the] foreign-born population over the last 10 years," Rohac said. "Austrians will tell you they sort of fear becoming a minority in their own country, which is sort of silly. But the pace of change has been dramatic… The hysteria over immigration is really unprecedented in this part of the world."

The new chancellor in Austria — conservative Sebastian Kurz — is expected to lead a right-leaning coalition with the Freedom Party, which will make talks about a bloc-wide asylum policy and financial reforms in the countries that use the euro more difficult.

Among European officials, the populist nationalist movement is often attributed to a "lack of leadership" — as both French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and European Investment Bank President Werner Hoyer put it during visits to Washington last week — and botched communication about the benefits of trade.

"There must be reasons for this disenchantment with the way politics is run all over Europe and in the western world in general, and it has certainly something to do with uneasiness about global developments, globalization developments, and the perception of a lack of leadership on this situation," Hoyer said. "I think it is basically a leadership issue."

Each anti-establishment tremor appears to come as a surprise to political and financial elites, many of whom believed the populist tide turned after the election of French President Emmanuel Macron in June — even though 40 percent of French voters cast their ballot for fringe candidates in the first round, and 34 percent voted for hard-right Marine Le Pen in the second.

The political shocks of the last year and a half don’t appear to be prompting course corrections. The International Monetary Fund’s Global Financial Stability report cautioned policymakers and banks to address the "legacy problems" lingering from the 2008 financial crisis — bad debt, for example. But it avoided perhaps the biggest legacy problem: a seething public.

Brussels, meanwhile, continues to talk of "ever-deeper integration," with Macron leading the calls for closer European ties now that the British have voted to leave the bloc. But Macron has proposed a common eurozone budget – the first step, critics allege, to a transfer program that would ask richer northern Europeans to subsidize poorer southern Europeans, which doesn’t sit well with the new coalition forming in Germany.

"I don’t think things can really go on as before," Rohac said. "These elections matter."

There won’t be any quick fixes, he added.

"The nation-state is back, and yes, that makes the politics of the whole thing difficult, but it is what it is. That’s what voters decided," he said. "It won’t be a straightforward way forward, but there is no alternative."


Can Trump stay on track on tax reform?

Congressional Republicans are readying themselves for a new obstacle on tax reform: President Donald Trump and his penchant for disruptions.

There’s no doubt that Trump badly wants a tax deal, and he appears very willing to travel the country in support of one. But the GOP lawmakers that are crafting the tax measure are also bracing themselves for the president to potentially disturb their negotiations at any moment, as he has done throughout his nine months in office and this week on a bipartisan Senate agreement to shore up Obamacare insurance markets.

“Sure, it’s going to come,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who’s been the target of his share of tweets from the president.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who brokered the health agreement that Trump has shifted between criticizing and praising, added that he had already told the president that his staying on track on tax reform could be key to getting a landmark achievement.

“If the president of the United States focuses on one thing, with everything he’s got, for as long it takes, he can usually get what he wants,” Alexander said.

Republicans believe everything is falling into place for the first major tax overhaul since 1986. They control Congress and the White House, members are motivated to notch a big legislative victory they can campaign on in 2018 and they are on the cusp of a bicameral budget agreement that would allow them to fully concentrate on a tax package instead of the Senate passing a budget.

But there are already signs that Trump could waver if a tax bill proposes to cut tax incentives in exchange for lower rates, a difficult process that could end up raising taxes on various industries or groups of taxpayers. The president was reportedly not happy that the GOP proposal to end the deduction for state and local taxes, a benefit largely used by upper-income taxpayers, would also hurt some in the middle class.

Republicans have started to scale back their ambitions on the state and local deduction, and are now looking at ending it only for top earners instead of a full repeal.

And while GOP lawmakers want as much control as they can get over actually writing a tax bill, Trump has left little doubt that he’ll be willing to lash out at them if they struggle or fall short.

"We’re not getting the job done. And I’m not going to blame myself, I’ll be honest," Trump said Monday about Republicans’ problems passing key legislation. "They’re not getting the job done,” the president then added.

Those dynamics have left tax lobbyists worried that Trump could further complicate the GOP’s work on overhauling the tax code, an issue already so difficult that it last happened more than three decades ago.

Trump also seems to have a penchant for reopening issues that top lawmakers and administration officials negotiating the plan thought had been long settled.

At a White House meeting this week, the president prodded Republican and Democratic tax writers in the Senate to form a bipartisan working group on taxes. That’s an idea that’s been tried several times in recent years, and runs counter to the GOP’s monthslong approach of going it alone on taxes.

On top of that, Trump himself had said just hours before that Democrats’ only interest on taxes was in raising them, and predicted they would do whatever they could to obstruct a tax bill. He repeated the criticism on Friday.

According to some attendees at the meeting, Trump also resurrected the idea of using revenue from tax reform to finance a massive infrastructure program, something other Republicans took off the table months ago.

It’s far from the first time that the president has surprised his GOP allies on the Hill on areas where they were working together. Perhaps most famously, Trump celebrated the passage of the House’s Obamacare repeal bill, then called it “mean” a couple months later, just as the Senate was gearing up to tackle the issue.

For now, top congressional Republicans essentially are saying they will deal with any Trump outbursts on taxes when and if they happen.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) and other GOP tax writers quickly brushed aside the idea of a new bipartisan tax working group this week, arguing that Congress already faced a time crunch in getting a bill to Trump’s desk.

“We need to focus on the budget resolution and taxes,” Cornyn said on Thursday, hours before the Senate passed a budget that would allow them to pass a tax plan without Democratic support.

“Keeping focused on that I think is the most important thing we can do right now," Cornyn said.

Senate Republican leaders later struck a deal with their House counterparts that would allow both chambers to consider a tax bill quicker, though neither side has released legislation yet.

That left Senate Republicans ready to redouble their efforts on the most difficult aspects on taxes, like exchanging cherished tax breaks for lower rates.

The challenge ahead for tax writers is “actually coming up with” $4 trillion worth of tax breaks to eliminate, Corker said. "Otherwise, we don’t have tax reform."

GOP tax writers are expecting to shoulder most of the work in converting the tax framework that Republican leaders negotiated with senior administration officials into legislation.

Trump and his team don’t seem to have any issue with that approach, at least not yet. The president’s key focus on taxes has been getting the corporate tax rate down from 35 percent to 20 percent, according to both key lieutenants like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and outside activists who have met with him.

Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, said this week that ensuring a tax package that benefits the middle class was the only other area where the president wasn’t willing to compromise, while also suggesting the administration would take a more hands-off approach while Congress worked its will.

"Everywhere else, we are more than flexible when working with the Senate and the House in the way they’re going to write the new legislation," Cohn, who negotiated the so-called Big Six framework along with Mnuchin and Hill GOP leaders, said at an event hosted by the American Bankers Association.

Lawmakers and tax observers say there’s also some reason to believe that Trump could inject less uncertainty into the tax process than he has on other issues.

By all accounts, Trump is more engaged and knowledgeable on tax issues than he was during Republicans’ effort to topple the Affordable Care Act, and he’s also well aware that the GOP needs a legislative victory before facing voters in the midterms in little over a year.

“So far, the president’s team has been working for months with members of the Finance Committee, with the leadership and have met with many of us,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), while also seemingly acknowledging the tangles she and other Republicans have had with Trump on health care and other issues. “It seems to be on a steadier path. Let’s put it that way.”


California Republicans go gaga for Trump

ANAHEIM, Calif. — His former chief strategist pillories fellow Republicans they once loved. His dreadful poll numbers here might drag their House incumbents down next year.

But with little else to cheer in this heavily Democratic state, the California Republican Party is falling hard for Donald Trump.

Rallying their dwindling ranks at the party’s fall convention over the weekend, Steve Bannon drew applause when he called former President George W. Bush a “piece of work” and said “there has not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush’s.” As for another Republican who once led the party ticket, Sen. John McCain, when Bannon mentioned his name at a dinner banquet here, someone in the audience yelled, “Hang him!”

Both Bush and McCain won more votes in California than Trump did last year. And the last Republican presidential candidate to carry the state was Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, in 1988. It was California’s own Ronald Reagan who popularized what he called the “Eleventh Commandment,” which declared, “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.”

But none of that seems to matter anymore. California GOP activists now celebrate a president who violates that commandment on a daily basis.

Following Bannon’s remarks, many convention-goers said the criticism of Bush was unwarranted — even regrettable. But it is also tolerated. And in an era of red-on-red recriminations, party leaders embrace the disorder that Trump has wrought.

“What we’ve been doing in California hasn’t been working,” said California’s Republican National Committeewoman, Harmeet Dhillon. “Disruption can be helpful. There is an appetite for that kind of in-your-face approach.”

Trump drew disaffected voters to the polls last year, Dhillon said. “Does some of the rhetoric from some of our national leaders alienate some potential voters? Probably. What’s the net? I don’t know.”

State party leaders’ decision to showcase Trump and Bannon — the most fire-breathing expression of his administration – startled many members of the GOP’s professional and political classes, who fear Trump could hurt Republicans in competitive House races and further damage the party’s long-term effort to rebuild in a state he lost by a landslide. The GOP’s share of statewide registration now languishes below 26 percent, in large part because of the party’s inability to attract young voters and Latinos.

Sean Walsh, a Republican strategist who worked in former GOP Gov. Pete Wilson’s administration, called the decision to highlight Bannon “a terrible thing.” And Mike Madrid, a former political director of the state party, said he had “no idea” why California Republican Party Jim Brulte would invite him to entertain “this peculiar cast of characters who somehow revel in this stuff.”

Channeling Bush’s denunciation of Trumpism last week, Madrid said, “This is not conservatism … It’s an abhorrent devolution” of the party’s base.

“This emergent, dysfunctional wing of the party that used to kind of be on the fringes is now becoming more mainstream as the party shrinks,” said Madrid, a political consultant who specializes in Latino politics in California. “The base loves this guy. Well, you know what? That doesn’t make it right. It means there’s something wrong with our base. And leadership requires leading us out of this dysfunction … Nobody believes that this is a recipe to grow the party. That’s absurd.”

Mario Guerra, a member of the state party board of directors who declined to serve as a delegate for Trump to the Republican National Convention after Latino activists objected, said Saturday that he was “disappointed by some of the reactions” from convention-goers to Bush and McCain.

“I think it’s wrong for us to take on other Republicans in that kind of manner, and there’s no reason to have attacked President Bush,” he said.

Still, when asked about applause in the room when Bush and McCain were criticized, he said, “It shows the diversity in the party. Again, we need to keep opening up and have a bigger tent.”

Republicans in California are seeking to defend GOP incumbents in seven congressional districts that Hillary Clinton carried last year, including several in suburban Orange County, where the party convened over the weekend. Once a Republican stronghold, Orange County went for Clinton last year — backing a Democrat for the first time since 1936. Now, the county is critical to Democratic efforts to gain control of the House. Democrats are gunning for Rep. Darrell Issa, whose district straddles Orange and San Diego counties, and Reps. Mimi Walters, Ed Royce and Dana Rohrabacher.

“Welcome to Orange County,” Orange County Republican Party Chairman Fred Whitaker told delegates on the opening day of the convention. “We’re the new ‘ground zero’ or Ohio of the West.”

Democrats seized on the convention to further yoke the Republican incumbents to Trump and Bannon — who described himself at the convention as Trump’s “wing man.”

In a statement, California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman said “Steve Bannon is a race-baiting thug masquerading as a pseudo-intellectual. Not since the days of George Wallace and Bull Connor have such prominent racists been considered political leaders, but it’s clear that the Donald Trump Republican Party has chosen to double-down on the alt-right, white supremacist element that Steve Bannon so proudly represents.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy brushed off reporters at a luncheon Saturday, telling them he would speak with them later. Instead, he left the ballroom without taking questions after delivering a speech in which he praised Trump’s “character,” “vision,” and “understanding.”

Walters was on hand for the event, but most of California’s House Republicans either did not attend the convention or kept a low profile – not unusual for state conventions in non-election years.

Still, some of those Republicans have sought in recent months to inch closer to more moderate ground. Royce, Issa and Walters have joined the House Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers formed to address climate change. After Trump announced the unwinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, many California Republicans called for legislative action to preserve protections for young immigrants.

But on health care, tax changes and other matters, said Dave Gilliard, a strategist for four of California’s targeted Republicans — Reps. Jeff Denham, Walters, Issa and Royce – any association with Trump’s agenda is unlikely to hurt.

“There’s certainly a lot of people questioning Steve Bannon’s approach,” Gilliard said. “But activists probably love it, and the convention is probably a convention of activists.”

Of Trump administration more broadly, he asserted, “In these [competitive] districts, his policies are not unpopular.”

Trump’s job approval rating is dismal in deep-blue California and not as robust among Republicans as in some other states. Still, Trump’s approval rating stands at 70 percent among California Republicans, according to a recent Public Policy Institute of California poll. And at the convention — a gathering that attracts the party’s most fervent activists – support ran off the charts.

Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff pardoned by Trump, posed for photographs in the convention halls. John Cox, a longshot candidate for governor, plastered walls with one slogan evocative of Trump – “CleanOutTheBarn” — while delegates wore buttons and t-shirts borrowing from another: “Make California Great Again.”

“The stakes are too high now,” said Ben Bergquam, a Fresno Republican who is helping organize a fledgling bid to repeal California’s expanded protections for undocumented immigrants.

He compared Trump and Bannon favorably “to the limp-noodle Republicans … that tend to be in California,” calling Bannon “a guy who doesn’t pull punches. He tells it like it is.”

Jim Brulte, the state party chairman who had invited Bannon — and who once campaigned for Bush in California — refused to give his own view of Bannon’s criticism of Bush. But he said “most people disagreed with that.”

In general, however, he said of the speech, “I polled about 40 people who run the spectrum from Team Trump to the moderates, and to a person they said it was interesting, thought provoking — they liked it … Most people said they agreed with 90 to 95 percent of it.”

One reason for the Republican Party’s embrace of Trump is simply that he won election, a rare point of pride for a state party desperate for successes of its own. On banners at the convention, the party branded itself as a group “electing Republicans in a Blue State” — more statement of aspiration than point of fact. Democrats control every statewide office in California and have amassed super-majorities in both houses of the state Legislature.

“It can’t get much worse for the California Republicans,” said Kurt Bardella, a former spokesman for Breitbart News and Issa. “Demographics are against them and this has been a lost decade with no electoral successes to speak of.”

Tom Del Beccaro, a former California state party chairman who flew with Bannon to California on Friday, said California Republicans can overlook any stylistic or ideological differences they might have with the White House or its surrogates. Republicans at the convention remained sore about Congress’ failure to repeal Obamacare, but they were optimistic about the prospect of a border wall and hoped for a victory on tax reform.

“At the end of the day, what’s really going to matter is whether Congress passes reforms that Donald Trump can sign,” Del Beccaro said.

As for Trump, he said, “It’s the divided era. There are some people who like him, and some people who don’t.”


DNC reeling financially after brutal 2016

LAS VEGAS — The Democratic National Committee is reeling, facing a turnaround that’s proving a much bigger lift than anyone expected as it struggles to raise enough money to cover its basic promises.

Many donors are refusing to write checks. And on-the-ground operatives worry they won’t have the resources to build the infrastructure they need to compete effectively in next year’s midterms and in the run-up to 2020.

Here in the halls of the Bally’s hotel and casino for the DNC’s fall meeting through the weekend, state committee chairs and operatives echoed a now-common concern among donors and strategists: the DNC’s recovery is still a ways away, and that could have serious repercussions for the party in the coming years.

"Donors, small and large, are so over the party," said Nebraska party chair Jane Kleeb, summing up the problem facing DNC chairman Tom Perez and his counterparts in the states. Kleeb, who is working on grassroots fundraising efforts for the committee, said she believes the money will come eventually.

"Everybody thinks that some magic three-page document and some magic tagline is going to turn everything around for us," she added. "But this is very typical work."

But the DNC reboot under Perez, the former Labor Department secretary who took over the DNC in late February, has taken longer than anticipated, in part because of the sheer scale of the undertaking, said a range of party operatives, donors, and elected officials.

"It’s a very legitimate concern," said one DNC member who has spent years raising money for the committee.

The financial challenges reflect a broader struggle at a committee led by a chairman who is new to party politics — and on a steep learning curve at a time national Democrats are still searching for an identity after a historic loss. And it’s not just donors who are staying away as the Perez-led group promises an expansive set of new investments and innovations. The party’s old leaders, led by former president Barack Obama, have kept their involvement to a minimum, as well.

So with 2018’s midterms presenting a clear opportunity for Democrats to leap forward, the worry is that they simply may not be prepared in time. While the House and Senate Democratic campaign arms — and individual candidates — are having no problem raising funds, the comparatively anemic cash flow at the central committee and state branches could affect organizing efforts on the ground across the country.

Much of the immediate anxiety centers on the State Party Innovation Fund, a planned $10.5 million competitive grant program that DNC leadership has made available to interested state parties over the next year. The money is meant to pay for organizing, ground operations and other mechanics seen as essential to countering Republican National Committee investments that helped elect Donald Trump and a slew of other other Republican candidates in 2016, leapfrogging Democrats in the process.

The planned funding is on top of the $10,000 each state party receives from the DNC every month.

But entering October, the DNC had just $7 million in its main account, which also has to cover its central responsibilities and salaries.

Financial concerns underpinned side conversations over the four-day meeting here, and officials repeatedly alluded to the committee’s fundraising troubles in formal sessions.

"We’re all aware the money is not flowing in the way we hoped it would," said longtime DNC member Alice Germond, a former secretary of the committee. The abundance of new resistance-minded groups asking for cash from donors "has been pretty overwhelming, and a newer phenomenon," she said, and it represents "competition for the party."

Top DNC finance officials painted an optimistic picture during an executive committee meeting on Friday, but still acknowledged the concerns.

“The finance organization has only recently been built up,” said Bill Derrough, the party’s new treasurer, in an extensive presentation, during which he insisted their efforts were "on track."

"In general, we’re in decent shape," he said, pushing a sentiment echoed by national finance chair Henry Muñoz. "But none of us are satisfied."

Perez did not address the committee’s fundraising during the Las Vegas conference. But DNC press secretary Michael Tyler pointed out that most of the party’s donations are small-dollar contributions, a sign of grass-roots enthusiasm.

"While our overall fundraising is on pace with previous ‘off-years,’ we want to do better and that’s why we are building a team to elect Democrats to win as we head into 2018 and beyond," he said.

Compared not just to the RNC, but to other Democratic committees, groups and candidates that are teeming with donations, the DNC’s funding problems are stark. That is the case even though it’s customary for an out-of-power committee to face a drop-off.

Perez, who had no previous fundraising experience, has been hitting the road non-stop for months in a bid to bring new donors and win over disillusioned contributors who are withholding checks after the 2016 election.

He hit fundraising hotspots like Martha’s Vineyard this summer and swung through San Francisco and Seattle in recent weeks, according to Democrats familiar with the events. Perez is also visiting secondary money destinations, including a planned stop in North Carolina later this month.

This isn’t a social club, he says at round-tables and meet-and-greets, according to donors who’ve heard the pitch. It’s something they all have to participate in, since they have to win — though it’s not going to be easy or cheap, he says.

Party officials involved in fundraising say donors repeatedly turn them away with a "try again next year," especially since it became clear there won’t be an official party autopsy from 2016. Democrat Jon Ossoff’s loss in his much-hyped special congressional election in Atlanta’s suburbs in June has also depressed donor enthusiasm.

"I’ve made it pretty clear I don’t want to donate to the DNC, DCCC, or the Senate counterpart, so they have not called me," said Northern California attorney Guy Saperstein, a part-owner of the Oakland Athletics and a prominent funder of progressive causes and candidates.

Even donors who are more willing to play ball have a stern message: The party needs a clearer plan to win before we fork over more money.

"You can’t just go to [donors] and say … ‘Support me, I’m the DNC.’ You have to rebuild the credibility," said a longtime Democratic donor and DNC member.

DNC members themselves have now been asked to give or raise $1,000 each, some said — a request people who’ve been around the committee for decades say they can’t remember being made before.

Part of the problem has been the lack of major draws for the contributors. For the past eight years, much of the party’s donor strategy has been built around large events featuring Obama.

But Obama so far has committed to just one DNC event since leaving office — a September event in Washington that brought in $2.5 million, a total that was less than officials had hoped for, according to people involved. Other high-profile party officials, like the dozens of potential presidential contenders, have not signed up to raise cash for the committee.

In Las Vegas, Minnesota party chairman Ken Martin, the president of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, went out of his way while speaking to a gathering of state party executive directors to assure them the grant program was on schedule, since the money will be doled out over the course of a year and so doesn’t have to be raised yet, said one Democrat in the room.

Brandon Dillon, the Michigan Democratic Party chair, said he believes that the matching grant program will help focus donors’ attention by giving them a specific target, with specific operations that they’d be funding. Asking for money to help a DNC that few have faith in anymore and that lacks a clear mission isn’t working, he warned.

With races for both governor and Senate in his state next year — not to mention Michigan’s must-win status in the 2020 presidential election — Dillon is hoping to get at least the $100,000 per wave of grants that’s been outlined. He said he has faith that Perez will find a way to come through.

“They’re going to get it done. They have to. There’s no other alternative,” Dillon said. “We’re going to operate under the assumption that if we apply for the grants, the money will be available for us to get. And if we don’t, we’ll be driving to D.C. to turn Tom upside down and get the money out of his pockets.”

Other members are urging patience, noting the magnitude of the rebuilding task.

"If you look at what Tom is trying to do, and [deputy chair] Keith [Ellison], it really is a turnaround of the whole organization," said Washington state chairwoman Tina Podlodowski. "It’s going to take a little time to turn it around."

It’s not just a fundraising hole DNC officials are facing. They have to rebuild political infrastructure and trust in the wake of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s controversial tenure atop the committee, the loss of the White House, and the fallout from the Russian hack of the committee computer system.

After being slow to assemble a full staff, the DNC is still advertising for 22 jobs to fill, including a chief security officer and a data science lead.

Paying for those jobs will take more money, which means winning over more skeptical donors.

“I’ve had enough dinners,” said Orlando attorney John Morgan, a longtime top party donor who is now considering a Florida gubernatorial run. “I’m not really interested. I’m going to let them get new blood. I can’t get motivated.”