Open Thread

The Open Thread for April 1, 2017

Mike Allen: “President Trump brought his chaos-and-loyalty theory of management into the White House, relying on competing factions, balanced by trusted family members, with himself perched atop as the gut-instinct decider. He now realizes this approach has flopped, and feels baffled and paralyzed by how to fix it, numerous friends and advisers tell us.”

Said one: “Trump is thinking through his frustrations. The team didn’t put the windows in right.”

“The chaos dimension has created far more chaos than anticipated. Come nightfall, Trump is often on the phone with billionaire, decades-long friends, commiserating and critiquing his own staff. His most important advisers are often working the phone themselves, trashing colleagues and either spreading or beating down rumors of turmoil and imminent changes.”

“This has created a toxic culture of intense suspicion and insecurity. The drama is worse than what you read.”

Peter Weber at The Week looks at what a Flynn Immunity Deal would mean for President Trump: “Flynn does appear to be vulnerable to prosecution on fronts other than Russian election meddling, as T. R. Ramachandran argues in a curated series of tweets. But Harvard national security expert Juliette Kayyem — who created a stir last week when she suggested Flynn was about to start cooperating with the FBI — says it really isn’t clear what Flynn is willing to proffer…”The idea that this goes directly to the Oval Office, we’re not there yet — these cases take a long time,” Kayyem said. “But certainly, this is basically horrible news for the White House at this stage.”

Politico: “Over the past week, six pollsters have released surveys conducted after the failure of the GOP health care bill. And while some show a decline in Trump’s approval rating and others show little change, one thing remains consistent across all of the surveys — more Americans disapprove than approve of Trump. None of the polls show any improvement in perceptions of the president.”

“Trump’s latest approval ratings range between 38 percent and 46 percent. Fifty percent or more of respondents in each of the polls disapprove of his performance.”

Poor Stephanie.   Rookie mistake.    I do like everyone’s reactions in this photo.

The New York Times on Republicans refusing to sabotage Obamacare: “The Republican-led House won a lawsuit accusing the Obama administration of unconstitutionally paying the insurance-company subsidies, since no law formally provided the money.  Although that decision is on appeal, President Trump could accept the ruling and stop the subsidy payments, which reduce deductibles and co-payments for seven million low-income people. If the payments stopped, insurers — deprived of billions of dollars — would flee the marketplaces, they say. The implosion that Mr. Trump has repeatedly predicted could be hastened.”

“But senior Republicans appear unwilling to force that outcome.”  No shit.  Because their voters are the ones getting the subsidy.

Politico on our invisible Secretary of State: “Tillerson takes a private elevator to his palatial office on the seventh floor of the State Department building, where sightings of him are rare on the floors below. On many days, he blocks out several hours on his schedule as ‘reading time,’ when he is cloistered in his office poring over the memos he prefers ahead of in-person meetings. Most of his interactions are with an insular circle of political aides who are new to the State Department. Many career diplomats say they still have not met him, and some have been instructed not to speak to him directly — or even make eye contact. On his first three foreign trips, Tillerson skipped visits with State Department employees and their families, embassy stops that were standard morale-boosters under other secretaries of state.”

“Eight weeks into his tenure as President Trump’s top diplomat, the former ExxonMobil chief executive is isolated, walled off from the State Department’s corps of bureaucrats in Washington and around the world. His distant management style has created growing bewilderment among foreign officials who are struggling to understand where the United States stands on key issues. It has sown mistrust among career employees at State, who swap paranoid stories about Tillerson that often turn out to be untrue. And it threatens to undermine the power and reach of the State Department.”

The Economist: “It is tempting to feel relief that the Trump presidency is a mess. For those who doubt much of his agenda and worry about his lack of respect for institutions, perhaps the best hope is that he accomplishes little. That logic is beguiling, but wrong. After years of gridlock, Washington has work to do. The forthcoming summit with Xi Jinping, China’s president, shows how America is still the indispensable nation. A weak president can be dangerous — picture a trade war, a crisis in the Baltics or conflict on the Korean peninsula.”

Eli Lake says Nunes intentionally misled the public: “This week, he told me that his source for that information was an intelligence official, not a White House staffer. It turns out, he misled me. The New York Times reported Thursday that Nunes had two sources, and both worked for the White House. This distinction is important because it raises questions about the independence of the congressional investigation Nunes is leading, which may lead to officials at the White House…”

“This is a body blow for Nunes, who presented his findings last week as if they were surprising to the White House. He briefed Trump, after holding a press conference on Capitol Hill. And as he was leaving the White House, he made sure to address the press again. But this was a show. The sources named by the Times work for the president. They are political appointees. It strains credulity to think that Trump would need Nunes to tell him about intelligence reports discovered by people who work in the White House.”

McKay Coppins interviewed Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform:

“I asked Chaffetz if he was concerned about Trump reaping financial rewards from his presidency, but he just shrugged. ‘He’s already rich,’ Chaffetz said. ‘He’s very rich. I don’t think that he ran for this office to line his pockets even more. I just don’t see it like that.’

“He promised that Trump won’t get an entirely free ride under his watch. ‘Somebody’ll do something stupid at some point, and we’ll be all over it.’ But, he added, ‘I think the people who voted for Donald Trump went into it with eyes wide open. Everybody knew he was rich, everybody knew he had lots of different entanglements… These other little intrigues about a wealthy family making money is a bit of a sideshow.’”

Gizmodo: “There is only one person currently following the account: Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare…  a personal friend of James Comey… ProjectExile7 follows 27 other accounts, the majority of which are either reporters, news outlets, or official government and law enforcement accounts.”

“And of the 39 total tweets the account has liked thus far, eight refer directly to the FBI or James Comey himself.”

Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), “a Democrat and ex-punk rocker who pulled a stunning upset to win his House seat six years ago, plans to declare his candidacy on Friday for the Senate seat held by Ted Cruz,” the Houston Chronicle reports.  Daily Kos says O’Rourke could give Democrats their best chance to win a Texas Senate seat in a generation.

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