April, 2017

Being on Trump’s Shortlist Pays Off

New York Times: “In January, Politico reported that President Trump was considering Sean Reyes, the Utah attorney general, to lead the Federal Trade Commission. Since then, donations to his political campaign have poured in from out-of-state donors and businesses that are regulated by the F.T.C.”

“Mr. Reyes, who is not up for re-election and won handily last year, received more than $113,000 in donations in the first three months of the year, far more than he received during the same period last year, an election year. Half of the new contributions came from out-of-state donors, and more than $43,000 came from first-time donors.”

“There is nothing illegal about the donations, but their timing reveals the power of the political shortlist in a city where lobbyists and businesses often place protective bets.”

Why Trump Backed Down from Pulling Out of NAFTA

President Trump “was set to announce Saturday, on the 100th day of his presidency, that he was withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement — the sort of disruptive proclamation that would upend both global and domestic politics and signal to his base that he was keeping his campaign promise to terminate what he once called ‘a total disaster’ and ‘one of the worst deals ever,'” the Washington Post reports.

Said Trump: “I was all set to terminate. I looked forward to terminating. I was going to do it.”

“There was just one problem: Trump’s team — like on so many issues — was deeply divided.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I’m pro-environment, I’m pro-trade, I’m anti-debt, I’m pro-immigration, I’m pro-NATO. And when I look at the party, I see it moving in a different direction. But I’ve always said I have the right to define what it means to be a Republican and a conservative.”

— Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), in an interview with BuzzFeed, when asked if he’s still a Republican.

House Democrats Bury 2016 Autopsy Report

“House Democrats are going to extreme lengths to conceal a report on the party’s problems,” Politico reports.

“After nearly five months, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) will present his investigative report to lawmakers during a members-only gathering at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee headquarters Thursday night. But members are not allowed to have copies of the report and may view it only under the watchful eyes of DCCC staff.”

New GOP Health Care Bill on Life Support

“The tide is quickly turning against the new Obamacare repeal legislation,” The Hill reports.

“At least 21 Republicans have said they would vote no on the revised GOP healthcare bill negotiated by centrist Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and conservative Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC)… Twenty-three GOP defections would be enough to kill House Republicans’ Obamacare repeal-and-replacement plan, assuming every House Democrat votes against it.”

Washington Post: “House Republican leaders scrambled Thursday evening to muster enough votes to bring a health-care bill to the floor this week, even though the latest changes have intensified resistance among some moderates and key industry players.”

Republicans Grumble Over Trump Tax Proposal

“Despite a positive public front, congressional Republicans are quietly voicing frustration that President Trump’s big tax announcement Wednesday emanated from a disjointed process — and lacked crucial components necessary in the push to secure the first major tax reform in more than 30 years,” CNN reports.

Said one senior GOP aide: “It’s not tax reform. Not even close.”

GOP Bill Would Discipline Hecklers at College Speeches

“University of Wisconsin students who disrupt speeches and demonstrations could be expelled and campuses would have to remain neutral on public issue under a bill Republican legislators are pushing this week,” the AP reports.

“The bill comes as free speech issues have grown more contentious on college campuses across the country. Conservatives are worried that right-wing speakers aren’t given equal treatment as liberal campus presenters and some students have complained about free expression fanning racial tensions.”

Trump Slams Democrats for Shutdown Threats

President Trump “railed against Democrats’ spending demands and complained about threats of a government shutdown, even as GOP leaders in Congress neared a deal with Democrats to keep the lights on past Friday,” the Washington Post reports.

“In a series of tweets, Trump accused Democrats of threatening to close the government over a refusal to back spending increases for defense and border security despite indications that Democrats have already signed off on a GOP request for those funds. The midmorning tweetstorm suggests that Trump hopes to claim credit for an eventual deal or blame Democrats if that deal falls apart tomorrow or next week.”

Tillerson In No Rush to Fill 200 Jobs

New York Times: “Many have little to do until the Trump administration starts filling the nearly 200 jobs at the department that require Senate confirmation, and their agendas look increasingly as though they will remain empty. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has done almost nothing to select leaders for the White House’s consideration, and nominations for assistant secretaries and others who largely run the State Department are unlikely to be made for months.”

“With a Senate confirmation process that takes months, that means the department will remain largely leaderless until well into 2018. And no other department in the federal government is as dependent on political appointees, or as paralyzed when the appointment process freezes.”

Will Trump Release the Missing JFK Files?

Politico: “The nation’s conspiracy-theorist-in-chief is facing a momentous decision. Will President Donald Trump allow the public to see a trove of thousands of long-secret government files about the event that, more than any other in modern American history, has fueled conspiracy theories – the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy?”

“The answer must come within months. And, according to a new timeline offered by the National Archives, it could come within weeks.”