The Open Thread for July 29, 2017

President Trump fired Reince Priebus as his chief of staff, “a move that completes a purge of Washington insiders from Trump’s inner circle and virtually ensures an even harder turn into his outsider rhetoric and approach,” CNN reports.

“The Priebus firing proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Trump’s attempts to merge his New York and family worlds with the staider environment of official Washington had failed miserably — and that he has clearly sided with those urging him to be more himself over those who had hoped to bend him somewhat to the ways of the nation’s capital.”

Washington Post: “With every staff move, Trump seems to be moving ever further away from the Republican establishment and building a much more insular team that fits his narrow worldview. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Priebus-Kelly switch.”

Jonathan Swan: “Reince Priebus told CNN he resigned on Thursday. If that’s true, today he sure wasn’t acting like someone who had quit, according to sources with direct knowledge.”

“Priebus was seeing subtle assurances from colleagues about his future, accompanied Trump on Air Force One to New York, and was telling colleagues that the president didn’t like Mooch’s comments to the New Yorker and saying that he was going to work hard and keep his head down during the current turmoil.”

“President Trump plans to sign a bill passed by Congress that increases sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea,” the Washington Post reports.  “The decision comes despite strong reservations among Trump advisers over a provision that binds his hands when it comes to altering sanctions policy against Moscow.”

In retaliation for new U.S. sanctions, Russia announced Friday that it is reducing the number of U.S. diplomats in the country and shutting down the U.S. Embassy’s recreational retreat outside Moscow. It will now cap the number of U.S. diplomats allowed in the country at 455, though it’s not immediately clear how many are currently there.

Andrew Sullivan: “We have become, at this point, inured to having an irrational president in an increasingly post-rational America. We’ve also come to tell ourselves that somehow (a) this isn’t really happening, (b) by some miracle, it will be over soon, or (c) at some point the Republican Party will have to acknowledge what they are abetting, and cut their losses. And yet with each particular breach of decency, stability, and constitutionality, no breaking point seems to have arrived, even as the tribalism has deepened, the president’s madness has metastasized, and the norms of liberal democracy are hanging on by a thread.”

But surely this week must mark some kind of moment in this vertiginous descent, some point at which the manifest unfitness of this president to continue in office becomes impossible to deny.

A Trump humiliation anecdote from the Washington Post:  “Trump’s demeaning of Priebus came through in other ways, too. At one point, during a meeting in the Oval Office, a fly began buzzing overhead, distracting the president. As the fly continued to circle, Trump summoned his chief of staff and tasked him with killing the insect, according to someone familiar with the incident.”

Michael Grunwald: “Forty-nine Republican senators voted for legislation that many of them admitted was substantively flawed and procedurally absurd—legislation that only 17 percent of the public supported and every major medical interest group opposed; that had been shredded by a bipartisan coalition of governors, the Congressional Budget Office and their own hand-picked parliamentarian.”

“After Trump promised to expand coverage, lower costs and block any cuts to Medicaid, he almost got to sign a bill that the CBO warned would do exactly the opposite, leading to a massive expansion of the insured rolls, higher premiums and deductibles for the old and the sick, and hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Medicaid cuts.”

“After attacking Democrats for ramming Obamacare into law with only 60 votes after insufficient hearings, insufficient bipartisan outreach, and insufficient transparency, Republican senators nearly passed Trumpcare with only 50 votes after no hearings, no bipartisan outreach, and so little transparency that even most of them had no idea what would be in it until a few hours before their middle-of-the-night roll call.”

David Remnick: “Scaramucci, who was endorsed by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, seems to have been installed to carry out Trump’s form of personnel management—to help demean and get rid of retainers who have proved disappointing or threatening to his interests. Sean Spicer. Reince Priebus. Steve Bannon. Jeff Sessions. And, ultimately, Robert Mueller.”

“In other words, the Mooch matters because the Mooch helps to clarify what matters most to the President and his family. What matters most is Trump’s grip on his base voters and his survival in office. Everything else—a sane health-care policy, the dignity of the transgender people who have volunteered to serve their country, a rational environmental policy, a foreign policy that serves basic democratic values, rule of law—is of tertiary interest.”

“Trump’s focus is not impossible to divine. He is increasingly anxious that Mueller and congressional investigators are exploring the details of his business transactions and financial holdings, and how they might have exposed him to being targeted by the Russian government.”

Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was murdered in Washington, DC on the eve of a planned meeting with the U.S. Justice Department, according to two FBI agents whose assertions cast new doubts on the US government’s official explanation of his death,” BuzzFeed reports.

“Mikhail Lesin’s battered body was discovered in his Dupont Circle hotel room on the morning of November 5, 2015 with blunt-force injuries to the head, neck, and torso. After an almost year-long ‘comprehensive investigation,’ a federal prosecutor announced last October that Lesin died alone in his room due to a series of drunken falls ‘after days of excessive consumption of alcohol.’ His death was ruled an ‘accident,’ and prosecutors closed the case.”

David Leonhardt: “The capitulation of McConnell and Ryan has created an impression — especially among many liberals — that congressional Republicans stand behind the president. McConnell and Ryan, after all, are the leaders of Congress, and they continue to push for the legislation Trump wants and to permit his kleptocratic governing.”

“But don’t be fooled: Republican support for the president has started to crack.”

“Below the leadership level, Republicans are defying Trump more often, and McConnell and Ryan aren’t always standing in their way. You can see this defiance in the bipartisan Senate investigation of the Russia scandal. You can see it in the deal on Russian sanctions. And you can see it in the Senate’s failure… to pass a health care bill.”

CBS News has obtained a new confidentiality agreement rolled out after the election.

“The Trump Organization is requiring employees at all levels to sign it, or else they will lose their jobs. Employees must agree to keep secret any information they learn about anyone in the ‘Trump family’ and extended family, including their ‘present, former and future spouses, children, parents, in-laws.”

Hadas Gold gives White House communication director Anthony Scaramucci some tips about leaks:

“What is not a leak? A public disclosure form available to anyone who requests it, as my colleague Lorraine Woellert did on Tuesday, obtaining and publishing Scaramucci’s financial disclosure form which he was required to file when he joined the government last month. The information is publicly available to anyone who asks.

Another thing that’s not a leak, you yourself telling reporters that someone is going to be fired. On Tuesday Scaramucci told my colleague Tara Palmeri that Assistant Press Secretary Michael Short was going to be let go. But then he told other reporters that “the fact that you guys know about it before [Short] does really upsets me as a human being and as a Roman Catholic.”

What is a leak then? Well it could be what Scaramucci did with Lizza. Lizza said Scaramucci did not request the conversation be off-the-record or on-background but it’s clear that he thought it was at least somewhat private because he tweeted last night “I made a mistake in trusting a reporter. It won’t happen again.” Some people have suggested that Scaramucci, being new to Washington and politics, wasn’t aware of the norms. But even if he did think he was talking privately, he initiated a phone call with someone he knew to be a reporter during which he was talking about internal feuds, trashing his colleagues, his own conversations with the president and that Priebus would be forced to resign soon. That is leaking.”

James Hohmann: “There is nothing Trump can do any more that will get to McCain. Battling an aggressive form of brain cancer, the maverick was willing to vote ‘no’ on the ‘skinny repeal’ amendment so that other GOP colleagues who were also opposed to the measure could vote ‘yes’ to save face with the conservative base. To this day, Trump has never apologized for saying that the former fighter pilot was not a war hero because he got captured in Vietnam. It gets less attention, but the president also besmirched the Arizona senator’s character by repeatedly accusing him of not taking care of other veterans. McCain has never forgotten.”

Playbook: “Talk to Hill Republicans and the big problem is this: House Republicans do not believe Senate Republicans can pass anything substantial — period. And the idea that a bi-cameral negotiation — called a “conference committee” — would have somehow produced a compromise was also a bit of a fantasy.”

“Repealing and replacing Obamacare is still the party’s central tenet — and has been for nearly a decade. But it will have to start anew, now. And it will continue to eat up much of the party’s time and energy on Capitol Hill. Obamacare was on life support many times in 2009-2010. Democrats eventually got it through… There will definitely be a push to starve the law of funding.”

Sam Baker: “Conservatives were particularly stung by last night’s defeat, and said they would keep up the pressure for some sort of action on repeal. But, realistically, it’s hard to see leaders in either chamber wading back into such a bruising fight any time soon.”

Alex Conant: “In some leaky organizations, people leak to advance agendas or undermine opponents. Some leakers seek to enhance their egos or curry favor with reporters. Sometimes people leak without even realizing it, speaking carelessly to journalists or lobbyists, who then repeat the story to others. The common thread is that unauthorized leaks are a symptom of political organizations that have a broken culture: They lack unity, trust and self-discipline.”

“This is not to excuse leaks or leakers. The improper sharing of information outside an organization inevitably paralyzes it, which leads to more dysfunction and failure. President Trump is completely justified to be outraged about the leaks in his White House. But mole hunts inevitably lead only to more moles, and more leaks.”

“Trump’s White House is not leaky because of a few bad apples. The No. 1 reason why it leaks is because his team lacks unity. It’s not without irony that many of the leaks are about the very staff infighting that is causing the leaks.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

2 comments on “The Open Thread for July 29, 2017

  1. Trump’s encouragement to police brutality was not unexpected, he’s called for violence numerous times at his rallies. Troubling that his comment was met with applause and cheers from the cops, we have much work to do to end police brutality. Been in the wind for weeks that Priebus was gone, great concern that Trump seems to be militarizing the White House with his replacement. Note that Ryan and McConnell are eager to move on to “tax reform”, code for giveaway tax cuts to the rich and the corporations they own. Dare say they’ll shop around the usual lies about “creating jobs”, problem is Americans have seen this games many time starting with Reagan. Seems no one really wants to be trickled on or believes the rich are “job creators”, would you?

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