August, 2017

Hurricane Complicates Government Shutdown Risk

Stan Collender: “In theory, providing funds for Hurricane Harvey relief should be quite easy. Fiscal 2018 begins on October 1 and some type of funding — either individual appropriations or a continuing resolution — will have to be enacted by then to avoid a government shutdown. In other words, there’s an almost must-pass-and-must-sign legislative vehicle already in the works that can be used for Hurricane Harvey and adding those funds should make the CR even easier to enact.”

“Except that’s not the case.”

“President Trump’s vow that he’ll veto the CR and shut down the government if money for his wall between the U.S. and Mexico isn’t included is still in effect. In fact, it’s noteworthy that he hasn’t yet withdrawn or modified that threat in the face of the Harvey-caused destruction.”

It’s Time for a Formal Impeachment Inquiry

Lawfare: “The evidence of criminality on Trump’s part is little clearer today than it was a day, a week, or a month ago. But no conscientious member of the House of Representatives can at this stage fail to share McConnell’s doubts about Trump’s fundamental fitness for office. As the Trump presidency enters its eighth month, those members of Congress who are serious about their oaths to “support and defend the Constitution” must confront a question. It’s not, in the first instance, whether the President should be removed from office, or even whether he should be impeached. It is merely this: whether given everything Trump has done, said, tweeted and indeed been since his inauguration, the House has a duty, as a body, to think about its obligations under the impeachment clauses of the Constitution—that is, whether the House needs to authorize the Judiciary Committee to open a formal inquiry into possible impeachment.”

“It’s not a hard question. Indeed, merely to ask it plainly is also to answer it.”

Garcetti Already Campaigning in New Hampshire

Politico: “Just like that, the 2020 retail campaigning for president began right here in a strip-mall campaign headquarters Monday, when Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti showed up for what he called ‘the most important race in the country.’”

“He was talking about the Manchester mayor’s election. Joyce Craig, the Democratic candidate, invited him to join her for an afternoon that also included a speech to the Manchester Young Democrats and a fundraiser. Garcetti worked the crowds, introduced himself as ‘Eric,’ and took a bumper sticker and put it on the back of the black SUV he was driving around in.”

Trump Twice Rejected China Steel Offer

Financial Times: “Donald Trump last month rejected a Chinese proposal to cut steel overcapacity despite it being endorsed by some of his top advisers, as he urged them instead to find ways to impose tariffs on imports from China. One week after the July G20 summit in Hamburg — where Mr. Trump criticised China for flooding the world market with cheap steel — Beijing proposed cutting steel overcapacity by 150m tonnes by 2022. But Mr. Trump twice rejected the deal, according to several people familiar with the internal debate.”

“Wilbur Ross, U.S. commerce secretary, endorsed the deal and brought it to Mr. Trump, but the president rejected the proposal. Mr. Ross, a long-time friend of the president, floated the deal again the following week during the two-day meetings with Chinese vice-premier Wang Yang, but Mr. Trump once again refused to accept it.”

North Korea Sends Clear Message of Defiance

“In a first, North Korea on Tuesday fired a midrange ballistic missile designed to carry a nuclear payload that flew over Japan and splashed into the northern Pacific Ocean,” the AP reports.

“The aggressive missile launch — likely the longest ever from North Korea — over the territory of a close U.S. ally sends a clear message of defiance as Washington and Seoul conduct war games nearby.”

Richard Haass: “The fact that NK took the provocative step of launching a missile over Japan raises the possibility that it cannot be assumed to act responsibly vis-a-vis anyone, including ourselves. Such an assumption is essential if we are to place our faith in deterrence. If we cannot make such an assumption, and if arms control fails to deliver, then a preventive strike becomes a serious option, notwithstanding its high risks and potential costs.”

Trump Fires Longtime Aide After Phoenix Rally

Bloomberg: “Donald Trump was in a bad mood before he emerged for a confrontational speech in Arizona last week. TV and social media coverage showed that the site of his campaign rally, the Phoenix Convention Center, was less than full. Backstage, waiting in a room with a television monitor, Trump was displeased… TV optics and crowd sizes are extremely important to the president.”

“As his surrogates warmed up the audience, the expanse of shiny concrete eventually filled in with cheering Trump fans. But it was too late for a longtime Trump aide, George Gigicos, the former White House director of advance who had organized the event as a contractor to the Republican National Committee. Trump later had his top security aide, Keith Schiller, inform Gigicos that he’d never manage a Trump rally again.”

Trump Ally Says He Can’t Get Meeting with President

John Bolton, who has been considered for top national security posts in the Trump administration, wrote in the National Review that he can no longer get in the White House to see President Trump:

I offer the Iran nonpaper now as a public service, since staff changes at the White House have made presenting it to President Trump impossible. Although he was once kind enough to tell me “come in and see me any time,” those days are now over.

Jonathan Swan: “The new strict system imposed by John Kelly will work until close allies can’t get through to the president. If Trump begins to feel cut off from people he once spoke to often, he could buck against the new order.”

Trump Silent After Top Aides Challenge Him

President Trump “is not happy with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, for publicly criticizing his response to violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. But it appears there is little he is planning to do about it, according to people who have spoken to him,” Politico reports.

“The unusually direct challenges from a Cabinet secretary and senior administration official seemed to make little more than a surface ripple in the swirling melodrama of the Trump White House, even as the president fumed privately about it.”

Bannon Backs Moore In Alabama Special Election

Steve Bannon is breaking from President Trump in the closely-watched Alabama Senate special election, Politico reports.

“During a closed-door meeting with powerful conservatives in Washington last week, Bannon declared that he’s supporting former state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore over Trump-endorsed incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, according to two people who were present. Bannon, who just over a week ago left the White House to rejoin the conservative website Breitbart News, said that he is looking to activate the conservative base to Moore’s cause.”

Mueller Looks at Trump Role In Hiding Purpose of Meeting

“Federal investigators working for special counsel Robert Mueller are keenly focused on President Trump’s role in crafting a response to a published article about a meeting between Russians and his son Donald Jr.,” three sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

“The sources told NBC News that prosecutors want to know what Trump knew about the meeting and whether he sought to conceal its purpose.”

“At the time, the White House confirmed that Trump had ‘weighed in’ as the response to the New York Times report was drafted aboard Air Force One on July 8 as the president returned to the U.S. from Germany. the Washington Post reported that Trump had ‘dictated’ the response.”

GOP Lawmaker Floats Measure to Stop Mueller Probe

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) “is pushing an amendment to severely curtail special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia,” Politico reports.

“DeSantis has put forward a provision that would halt funding for Mueller’s probe six months after the amendment’s passage. It also would prohibit Mueller from investigating matters that occurred before June 2015, when Trump launched his presidential campaign.”

Cruz Defends Voting Against Hurricane Relief After Sandy

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) defended his vote against disaster aid after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast in 2012, calling that aid package “filled with unrelated pork,” TPM reports.

Said Cruz: “There is time for political sniping later.”

MSNBC anchor Katy Tur interrupted him: “It’s not really political sniping, senator. These are people who needed money and who needed funding right after that storm, I covered those people. Many of them, just like those in Houston, lost absolutely everything they owned.”

Cruz responded: “Hurricane relief and disaster relief has been a vital central role for a long, long time and it should continue. The problem with that particular bill is it became a $50 billion bill that was filled with unrelated pork.”