May, 2017

Elon Musk Threatens to Stop Advising Trump

Elon Musk has threatened to cease advising President Trump on business issues “amid reports that the United States is expected to withdraw from a major international climate pact,” Recode reports.

“The SpaceX and Tesla founder has been a longtime public advocate for the Paris agreement, an accord signed by former President Obama — and almost every other major country — that seeks to reduce worldwide carbon emissions. Musk has even used his seat on one of Trump’s economic advisory councils to push Trump to stay on board with the accord.”

Comey Will Testify on Trump Interactions

“Fired FBI director James Comey plans to testify publicly in the Senate as early as next week to confirm bombshell accusations that President Trump pressured him to end his investigation into a top Trump aide’s ties to Russia,” CNN reports.

“When he testifies, Comey is unlikely to be willing to discuss in any detail the FBI’s investigation into the charges of possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign — the centerpiece of the probe… But he appears eager to discuss his tense interactions with Trump before his firing, which have now spurred allegations that the president may have tried to obstruct the investigation.”

No Decision Yet on Paris Climate Accord?

Playbook: “A few sources in and around Trump world tend to think that we haven’t heard the final word on pulling out of the Paris Accord. When we asked one senior administration official this morning whether Trump was pulling out of Paris, they told us: ‘No final decision yet’. Remember when Trump was pulling out of NAFTA and then said he was open to a better deal?”

Bloomberg: “There is consensus in the administration that the terms of the Paris deal must change, and it’s exploring whether that requires a full exit or a scaled-back U.S. commitment to cut emissions, according to one of the people. Trump is scheduled to meet with Tillerson at the White House on Wednesday, and the president said he’d declare an outcome soon.”

The DNC Meets The Resistance

NBC News: “Both the DNC show and its organizing program are attempts to connect with a fired-up and somewhat alienated grassroots base that has largely put its energy and money into other organizations. The DNC wants to bring into the fold ahead of the midterms and 2020 presidential race some elements of The Resistance that want nothing to do with the party organization, partly based on what is perceived as the DNC’s shabby, finger-on-the-scale treatment of Senator Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton in 2016.”

“A sign of the problem: Last month, the DNC posted its worst April fundraising haul in eight years, even as other Democratic committees and left-leaning groups raked in cash at unprecedented rates.”

Democrats Lack a Core Economic Message

Los Angeles Times: “Democrats have no clearly defined leader or universally accepted direction aside from opposition to Trump.”

“Democrats essentially remain in the box where Hillary Clinton spent the general election: able to unify Trump opponents, but unable to craft a message for those not motivated by distaste for him.”

Said pollster Peter Hart: “The Democrats are closer to where the electorate is headed, but have shown a tin ear and an inability to understand the groups that formed the backbone of the Democratic Party for decades.”

Most Think Trump Is His Own Worst Spokesperson

A new Monmouth University poll finds that President Trump may not be well-served by his primary spokespeople, but he is probably his own worst mouthpiece.

“More Americans say that Donald Trump, press secretary Sean Spicer, and counselor Kellyanne Conway tend to hurt rather than help the administration’s cause when they step in front of the media. Reviews are mixed for deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Vice President Mike Pence is the only official tested in the poll who has a net positive impact when he speaks on behalf of the administration.”

Key finding: 61% of Americans say Trump does more to hurt his own cause when he speaks on behalf of the administration. Just 33% say he does more to help his administration when he speaks publicly.

Said pollster Patrick Murray: “This is the epitome of a no-win situation. It’s not as if Trump’s appointed spokespeople are doing worse than the man himself. It may simply be an impossible task to represent this president and come off as credible.”

Quote of the Day

“When you have a communications team, they have to have that relationship with the president to understand how he communicates. Because he is the greatest communicator, as a president, we’ve ever had. He’s better than the staff. He knows the media better.”

— Corey Lewandowski, quoted by Politico, arguing that Trump needs more staff who have a preexisting relationship with him.

Trump Returns to Campaigning

Rick Klein: “What is it about the covfefe that so displeases President Trump? That may not seem to matter when the president finally manages to unite Twitter behind something he put into its all-too-toxic mix. The president, rather uncharacteristically, even had some fun with it by morning. But typos left to linger and inspire Twitter riffs are silly symptoms, not serious causes. This is Trump being Trump – and the rumblings out of the White House about a staff shake-up suggest we’re likely to get more such…creativity.”

“Trump’s White House has reacted to the recent barrage of negative coverage by turning inward, and/or responding not at all. Notably, when he made his return to the podium Tuesday, press secretary Sean Spicer didn’t even attempt to defend Jared Kushner’s alleged behavior with the Russians…. The White House also has anonymous spokespeople put out to condemn anonymously sourced stories as ‘fake news.’ The president himself RT’d a non-bylined story quoting an anonymous White House source saying other anonymously sourced stories are wrong. And, of course, Trump is very much back on Twitter. The president appears to be gravitating toward people who tell him he needs to return to his campaign style. That’s of questionable value for governing, to say nothing of spelling.”

Trump Advisers Claim He Backed NATO Article 5

First Read: “It’s not every day when two of Trump’s top advisers — National Security Adviser HR McMaster and chief economic aide Gary Cohn — pen an op-ed to tout the president’s recent trip overseas. And it’s not every day when they assert something the president never said. ‘While reconfirming America’s commitment to NATO and Article 5, the president challenged our allies to share equitably the responsibility for our mutual defense,’ the two write in the Wall Street Journal.”

“The problem? His speech at NATO last week never explicitly reconfirmed his commitment to Article 5, which states that an attack on one NATO ally is an attack on all.”

Trump Will Pull U.S. Out of Paris Climate Accord

“President Trump has made his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” Jonathan Swan reports.

“Details on how the withdrawal will be executed are being worked out by a small team including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. They’re deciding on whether to initiate a full, formal withdrawal — which could take 3 years — or exit the underlying United Nations climate change treaty, which would be faster but more extreme.”

Pulling out of Paris is the biggest thing Trump could do to unravel Obama’s climate legacy. It sends a combative signal to the rest of the world that America doesn’t prioritize climate change and threatens to unravel the ambition of the entire deal.”

White House Looking for ‘War Room’ Space

Playbook: “The White House is scouting office space for the much-speculated about new White House ‘war room’ in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House. (There isn’t much open office space in the West Wing these days.) The war room would manage fallout from the scandals engulfing the Trump administration. Corey Lewandowski — one of the potential hires for the war room — has been spotted in and around the White House in recent days.”

Trump’s White House Bake-Off for Chief of Staff

Mike Allen: “As a long-expected shake-up begins in the West Wing, President Trump has been asking key Republicans for their opinions about two possible replacements as White House chief of staff: Gary Cohn, a moderate voice who’s his current economic adviser; and David Urban, a Republican lobbyist now on the outside.”

“In true reality-TV style, the conversations are setting up a bake-off between the two men — at least in the minds of those whose opinions Trump is soliciting (and, of course, some of them yap). That’s feeding uncertainty for his current chief, Reince Priebus, and everyone who works for him.”

New York Times: “The president has joked repeatedly with Priebus, whose mother is of Greek descent, that he would send him to Athens as ambassador to Greece. Speculation grew last week when a list of ambassadors was compiled at Mr. Priebus’s request, and the Athens position was left blank, officials said.”