Rick Klein: “President Obama is off the bench. Members of Congress are chanting with the protestors. The party has found its cause –blocking the Trump agenda. Just a week ago, talk in Washington was about how Chuck Schumer could be a closer partner to the president than Mitch McConnell. Now, the president is making fun of Schumer’s tears when he appeared alongside people impacted by the travel ban. Add that to the late-night firing of an acting attorney general over an entirely political disagreement and you have a base plus elected officials who are losing any incentive to work with the new president. Democrats can thank the president for showing them the strategy that now seems inevitable for the next four years: stand strong, and stand in his way.”
Archives for January 2017
James Hohmann: “Trump’s move last night, while legally defensible, raises fresh questions about the president’s commitment to the rule of law. It follows several episodes during the campaign that were far outside American norms.”
“The decision to fire Yates also raises profound questions about Trump’s view of the judiciary as an independent branch of government. Firing Yates gives Democrats more fodder to rigorously scrutinize whomever Trump announces tonight at 8 p.m. as his pick for the Supreme Court. What kind of conversations has the president had with this person? Did he ask him to make any commitments about anything? Would Trump stop himself, or would anyone on his staff stop him, from calling this justice directly to complain about something he doesn’t like or to press him on a case that’s before the high court?”
First Read: “There’s one more thing that’s so rare or unprecedented about Trump — the degree to which he criticizes the political opposition or even members of his own party… If you cover politics like we do, you’ve become numb to these kinds of statements from Trump. But remember, these are the people (Republicans, Democrats, even the media) that a presidential administration needs to work with.”
Air Force Times: “The Defense Department and Iraqi diplomats are trying to find a way to exempt Iraqi military pilots from President Trump’s executive order on immigration and allow them to continue training in the United States with the Air Force.”
At her 2015 confirmation hearing, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), President Trump’s nominee for attorney general, asked Sally Yates, the acting attorney general Trump fired last night, an interesting question:
Sessions: Do you think the attorney general has the responsibility to say no to the president if he asks for something that’s improper? A lot of people have defended the Loretta Lynch nomination, for example, by saying: ‘Well, he appoints somebody who’s going to execute his views. What’s wrong with that?’ But if the views the president wants to execute are unlawful, should the attorney general or the deputy attorney general say no?
Yates: Senator, I believe that the attorney general or the deputy attorney general has the obligation to follow the law and the Constitution, and to give their independent legal advice to the president.
The exchange starts at about 1:15 in the video.
First Read: “The question Democrats are asking today: Can someone like Sessions who played such a big role in Trump’s campaign — and whose top staff now work for Trump — show that same kind of independence at the Justice Department?”
Los Angeles Times: “Even as confusion, internal dissent and widespread condemnation greeted President Trump’s travel ban and crackdown on refugees this weekend, senior White House aides say they are only getting started.”
“Trump’s top advisors on immigration, including chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior advisor Stephen Miller, see themselves as launching a radical experiment to fundamentally transform how the U.S. decides who is allowed into the country and to block a generation of people who, in their view, won’t assimilate into American society. That project may live or die in the next three months, as the Trump administration reviews whether and how to expand the visa ban and alter vetting procedures. White House aides are considering new, onerous security checks that could effectively limit travel into the U.S. by people from majority-Muslim countries to a trickle.”
Rep. David Brat (R-VA) told a conservative audience he “is feeling some political pressure as Republicans in Congress move to repeal the Affordable Care Act,” the Richmond Times Dispatch reports.
Said Brat: “Since Obamacare and these issues have come up, the women are in my grill no matter where I go. They come up — ‘When is your next town hall?’ And believe me, it’s not to give positive input.”
He pleaded with the audience to get organized: “Help us write newspaper articles. We’re getting hammered.”
Politico: “Barack Obama and his aides expected to take on President Donald Trump at some point, but they didn’t think it would happen this quickly. Now they’re trying to find the right balance on issues that demand a response, and how to use Obama deliver the selective pushback. Obama and his team are monitoring what’s happening at the White House, and not ruling out the possibility that Obama will challenge Trump more forcefully in the coming months, according to people who’ve been in contact with the former president.”
“It depends on Trump. It also depends, the people close to the former president said Monday, on whether speaking out would just set him up to have no effect and be dismissed, and result in empowering Trump more, which is a very real worry for them.”
New York Times: “Repeated comments from President Trump and his advisers about barring Muslims from entering the United States were at the heart of the decision on Monday by the acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, to refuse to defend the president’s executive order on immigration, senior officials involved said.”
“Like many others in the government, Ms. Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, was caught by surprise Friday night by Mr. Trump’s executive order temporarily halting all refugees from entering the country and indefinitely blocking immigration or visits from seven Muslim countries. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel had reviewed the order and signed off on its legality. But Ms. Yates and her staff lawyers believed that the department had to consider the intent of the order, which she said appeared designed to single out people based on religion.”
Mike Allen: “Clintonites feel that if Obama had come out early and forcefully with evidence of Russian interference in the campaign, and perhaps quicker sanctions, she might be president today. His caution, they argue, allowed the public to have a foggy sense of clear, calculated, consistent Russian meddling in the campaign. We can’t stress enough how upset some Democrats are. It’s testing relationships between Clinton and Obama loyalists. It’s making efforts to form a new Trump opposition coalition harder.”
However, Obama “has let it be know he remains befuddled how she missed what to him was an easy layup of a win, given his own popularity on Election Day and Trump’s vulgarity.”
David Brooks: “Many Republican members of Congress have made a Faustian bargain with Donald Trump. They don’t particularly admire him as a man, they don’t trust him as an administrator, they don’t agree with him on major issues, but they respect the grip he has on their voters, they hope he’ll sign their legislation and they certainly don’t want to be seen siding with the inflamed progressives or the hyperventilating media.”
“Their position was at least comprehensible: How many times in a lifetime does your party control all levers of power? When that happens you’re willing to tolerate a little Trumpian circus behavior in order to get things done.”
“But if the last 10 days have made anything clear, it’s this: The Republican Fausts are in an untenable position. The deal they’ve struck with the devil comes at too high a price. It really will cost them their soul.”
Eliot Cohen: “Precisely because the problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better. It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity — substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) “is publishing a book this spring that outlines his vision for an America based on tolerance and inclusion, which is expected to draw sharp contrasts with the state of the country under President Trump,” the Washington Post reports.
“The book, titled Two Paths: America Divided or United, builds upon the themes of Kasich’s 2016 presidential campaign, when he unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination. Kasich delivered an uplifting, Reaganesque speech ahead of the New York primary entitled “Two Paths,” which was widely interpreted as an attack on Trump, then the front-runner.”
“It’s crazy. It’s crazy and it makes us look stupid when the White House is ill-prepared to put this kind of executive order out there.”
— Arnold Schwarzenegger, in an interview with Extra, on President Trump’s executive order barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
Vanity Fair: “And, according to a source familiar with the situation, Kushner’s influence on his boss may be flagging. Last week, Kushner spent 24 hours trying to broker a meeting between Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. The source said that Kushner was even considering flying to Mexico in order to convince Peña Nieto, who had butted heads with Trump over various issues, to travel to the White House. Ultimately, Peña Nieto agreed—a feat Kushner presented to his father-in-law on Wednesday night. It was his first real victory in the West Wing in his role as senior adviser, and it would be a major step toward turning one of Trump’s main campaign promises into a reality.”
“Less than 12 hours later, though, it all fell apart. After Peña Nieto reiterated that Mexico does not plan to pay for Trump’s proposed wall, Trump tweeted that if Mexico is ‘unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.’ Just like that, the meeting was cancelled.”
Said the source: “Kushner was fucking furious. I’d never once heard him say he was angry throughout the entire campaign. But he was furious.”
Trump declared that Yates had “betrayed” the administration.
The statement continued: “Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.”
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly “has clashed with the White House over staffing and other decisions in recent days, people familiar with the matter said, leaving the agency without a second-in-command as it tried to institute a new travel ban during a chaotic weekend at the nation’s airports,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Mr. Kelly hasn’t been able to name the deputy he wants at the agency, people familiar with the matter said, and he fought off attempts by the White House to put Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state known as a hard-liner on immigration, into the position.”
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) told the Arizona Capitol Times that he may challenge Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in next year’s Republican primary.
“Flake’s frequent clashes with President Donald Trump throughout his 2016 campaign and into the early days of his presidency have earned him the enmity of many in the Republican base.”