January, 2017

State Department Dissent Gets 1,000 Signatures

New York Times: “Within hours, a State Department dissent cable, asserting that President Trump’s executive order to temporarily bar citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries would not make the nation safer, traveled like a chain letter — or a viral video.”

“The cable wended its way through dozens of American embassies around the world, quickly emerging as one of the broadest protests by American officials against their president’s policies. And it is not over yet.”

“By 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the letter had attracted around 1,000 signatures, State Department officials said, far more than any dissent cable in recent years. It was being delivered to management, and department officials said more diplomats wanted to add their names to it.”

Trump Picks Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court

President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to be a Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

New York Times: “If confirmed, Judge Gorsuch would restore the 5-to-4 split between liberals and conservatives on the court, handing Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, 80, who votes with both blocs, the swing vote.”

Politico: “Gorsuch is a favorite of legal conservatives because he has sharply questioned a three-decade old legal precedent that many on the right believe has given too much power to the regulatory state.”

Trump Aides Won’t Appear on CNN

“The White House has refused to send its spokespeople or surrogates onto CNN shows, effectively icing out the network from on-air administration voices,” Politico reports.

“Administration officials are still answering questions from CNN reporters. But administration officials including White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and senior counselor Kellyanne Conway haven’t appeared on the network’s programming in recent weeks.”

Ayotte Will Guide SCOTUS Pick Through Senate

“The White House has assembled a team of political veterans with deep experience navigating the Senate to help shepherd President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court,” the Washington Post reports.

“Leading the effort will be former senator Kelly Ayotte, a relatively moderate Republican from New Hampshire… Ayotte will serve as the nominee’s so-called sherpa, personally introducing the pick to senators and escorting him or her to meetings and the confirmation hearing. Ayotte, who narrowly lost reelection last fall, is an unlikely selection by Trump considering she spoke out against his candidacy and was seen as having been on a blacklist for appointments to the new administration.”

Mysterious Intruder Recorded Lawmakers at GOP Retreat

Washington Post: “Reporters were kept out, and only a few select staffers, family members and outsiders were allowed to participate in the private GOP policy retreat. But at least one unauthorized person made it inside, and while it is unclear to what degree the country’s top leaders were in physical danger, their circle of trust was undoubtedly breached.”

“A person secretly recorded closed sessions on national security and health care that were attended by many dozens of GOP lawmakers. They had gathered for a private discussion of some of the thorniest legislative issues of the moment, as well as a question-and-answer session with Pence.”

A Jarring New Level of Confrontation Hits Washington

New York Times: “Even after years of unbreakable gridlock and unyielding partisanship, it was a jarring new level of confrontation and conflict, and it was contributing to a building sense of crisis just as the new president was to disclose the identity of a new Supreme Court nominee — a selection certain to further inflame tensions.”

“Republicans, adjusting to the new era, seemed blindsided by the rapid pace of events and the worrying failure of the new administration to engage in the information-sharing and consultation that would typically accompany the issuance of a potentially explosive proposal like the freeze on visas for refugees and immigrants from select countries.”

The Death of the Senate

“President Trump’s first Supreme Court nomination has the potential to do more than reshape the nation’s judicial branch for years to come. It could end the Senate’s long history as the world’s greatest deliberative body,” the Washington Post reports.

“Liberal and conservative activists are girding for a fight that, under current rules, gives Democrats the power to block any court nomination. But in this week’s environment, with Democrats delaying Cabinet nominations and both sides calling each other names largely unheard of in the history of the Senate’s genteel discourse, Republicans could take steps to eliminate that power.”

“If such a showdown occurs, it would be about more than ending Senate tradition of allowing an entrenched minority to stymie legislation and nominees through the filibuster. It would be about forever changing the nature of the Senate, which the founders set up with the express goal to slow down and cool off the hasty and heated impulses more common in the House.”

Trump Brings Two Supreme Court Finalists to D.C.

“The two judges who have been considered the top finalists to be President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court — Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman — are being brought to Washington ahead of tonight’s White House announcement,” sources tell CNN.

“The move comes as there were increasing indications that Gorsuch will be Trump’s choice, sources briefed on the White House deliberations tell CNN.”