Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder has issued a statement withdrawing from the nomination process, according to reports. His withdrawal comes as news broke that up to twelve Republicans were planning to oppose his confirmation. Rather than face defeat, he withdrew before his confirmation hearing. Writing for the Washington Post, Aaron Blake characterized his withdrawal as a “consolation prize.”
But Puzder’s defeat, while perhaps a shot in the arm for Democrats, doesn’t rank as a game-changer. It’s pretty business-as-usual for Cabinet picks, in fact.
For one, it’s a very low-profile Cabinet position. To get a sense of how low-profile the job of labor secretary is, see if you can name two of the three labor secretaries from the 21st Century. If you can, it’s probably because one of them is in line to be Trump’s transportation secretary (Elaine Chao) and another is running for Democratic National Committee Chairman and got some buzz as a potential Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential pick (Tom Perez). The work they do just isn’t front-page news.
Blake should tell that to the dozens of groups who organized to defeat Puzder’s nomination. Organized labor in particular has opposed the elevation of a man who made his fortune on the backs of workers. No, this was a victory for the left.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) announced that he will not support Rep. Mick Mulvaney’s (R-SC) nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget, The Hill reports. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told Maine Public Radio that she will oppose the confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.
President Trump will hold a rally Saturday afternoon in Florida, Politico reports. “The return to campaign form, if only for a day, is likely a welcome addition to Trump’s presidency. The early stages of his administration have been marred by damaging leaks compounded by withering criticism from the media, massive protests against his policies and Cabinet nominees, an increasing number of potential investigations against him and his allies, and some solitude, as his wife and 10-year-old son have spent most of their time in New York.”
David Corn says the crime may be worse than the cover-up this time: “Further revelations about contacts between the Trump camp and Russia could pose an existential threat to the Trump White House. The clear choice for him and his gang is to deny, to stonewall, to distract, to lie. Trump doesn’t explain the pre-election contacts; he complains about leaks. He casts all interest in this controversy as merely the revenge of the Clinton losers. He calls reporting on the Russia connection ‘fake news’ and slams journalists pursuing the Flynn story as ‘fake media.’”
“This is not shocking. He might not be able to survive a full accounting. The poison of the cover-up may be less deadly than the poison of the event itself. Only Trump and the people involved can know for sure. But investigations of the Russian contacts now being conducted by the FBI and the congressional intelligence committees—if they are mounted effectively and yield public results—may eventually allow us to see the full calculation. In the meantime, the public can justifiably conclude that when it comes to Trump-Russia connections during the campaign, the Trump team has been covering up for very good reasons.”
From MarketWatch: Under Armour Inc. was downgraded Wednesday to a rare bearish rating at Susquehanna Financial, which cited the “reputational risk” created by the chief executive’s praise of President Donald Trump. Analyst Sam Poser cut his rating on the athletic apparel and accessories company UAA, +0.11% to negative, after being at neutral since Jan. 31, and at positive since Aug. 11. Only four of the 310, or 1.3%, of the companies covered by Susquehanna were rated negative through Tuesday.
Rick Klein says the leaks are now a fountain: “At first glance, President Trump’s most substantive Twitter response to the events of the last few days seems like an attempt to deflect: ‘The real story here is why there are so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington?’ Yes, that’s easier to address than the substance of what’s emerging – until we get into leak investigations. But doesn’t the president have a point?”
“The public is learning an inordinate if not unprecedented amount of information about highly sensitive and classified information – the existence and even substance of secret (and secretly surveilled) phone conversations, details of active FBI and intelligence investigations, preliminary drafts of White House proposals. The president is right that there appears to be an effort, from deep inside the federal bureaucracy, to undermine him by exposing the inner workings of the new administration. You can argue that Trump deserves some of it, based on either his policies or his declarations against the intelligence community. (Don’t forget the ‘Nazi Germany’ comment, because you know intelligence pros don’t.) But a scary consequence of these last few weeks could be a permanent presidential mistrust of intelligence and law-enforcement officials – a dangerous road for the president to be on.”
Wall Street Journal: “Many of the U.S. ambassadorships remain unfilled, a result of a standoff between Mr. Tillerson and Mr. Priebus, the chief of staff, said people familiar with the process.”
“Mr. Trump had told Mr. Tillerson he would have a say in appointing some key ambassadorships, including Canada and Switzerland, those people said. Mr. Priebus subsequently got the president to approve names for those positions—including several top donors to the RNC—without consulting the secretary of state, which angered Mr. Tillerson.”
“The infighting has sown growing insecurity among Mr. Priebus and his top aides.”
Jonathan Chait asks, “Remember How Trump Was Going to Erase Obama’s Legacy Overnight?”
The notion that Obama’s presidency could and would be erased with a few strokes of the pen was a form of Republican propaganda that Republicans themselves came to believe. Conservatives took Trump’s grandiose rhetoric about repealing Obamacare and replacing it with something terrific, or bringing back coal jobs, at face value because they wanted to believe it. (Many despondent liberals yielded to the same conclusion out of characteristic fatalism.) But one of the lessons gained from a close study of Obama’s presidency, or any presidency, is that governing is hard. The reforms his domestic policies have wrought do not come easy. Even a highly competent Republican presidency would have difficulty unwinding them. And Trump has shown no signs so far of being even a minimally competent president. The expectation of a rapid erasure of Obama’s presidency looks like — to pick a cliché I read somewhere — hubris dashed against the sharp rocks of reality.
Charles P. Pierce at Esquire says the Russia story does not end with Flynn and the Trump White House has no idea how to handle it.
A couple of things. First, Sally Yates turns out to be an even bigger hero than we thought she was when she made the stand that got her fired on the immigration order. (And, one wonders what else was up with that now, too.) Second, I know it’s hard to believe either Clapper or Brennan as far as you can throw a federal courthouse, but they had absolutely no reason to align themselves with Yates’ concerns except out of a legitimate concern for the national security. Third, anyone fantasizing about what it would take to get the president* out of the White House and back on NBC where he belongs now has to factor in that Mike Pence is tainted by this dangerous nonsense, too.
At the very least, as people from Indiana warned us, the man is a dolt.