The Open Thread for August 10, 2017

“FBI agents raided the Alexandria home of President Trump’s former campaign chairman late last month, using a search warrant to seize documents and other materials,” the Washington Post reports.

“Federal agents appeared at Paul Manafort’s home without advance warning in the predawn hours of July 26, the day after he met voluntarily with the staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

“The search warrant was wide-ranging and FBI agents working with special counsel Robert Mueller departed the home with various records… The search warrant indicates investigators may have argued to a federal judge they had reason to believe Manafort could not be trusted to turn over all records in response to a grand jury subpoena.”

New York Times: “Officials did not disclose where the search warrant was carried out. Mr. Manafort has homes in Virginia, Florida, New York City and the Hamptons.”

Washington Examiner: “Trump gave Kelly unchecked hiring and firing power over White House aides below the senior counselor level when he chose the former homeland security secretary to replace outgoing chief of staff Reince Priebus late last month…. But while the president has offered Kelly a level of control Priebus never managed to obtain, Trump has resisted giving his new chief of staff veto power over the spontaneous and provocative tweets that often serve as a distraction for his administration.”

Said one insider: “Trump was pissed when he read Kelly wanted to control his Twitter feed.”

BuzzFeed News: “For months, national security experts have warned that the large number of unfilled positions at the State Department risked putting the United States in jeopardy in the event of a crisis. Now, with North Korea threatening war and a new US intelligence finding that Pyongyang has succeeded in miniaturizing a nuclear bomb, a crisis has arrived, and President Trump has yet to name a US ambassador to South Korea.”

“The personnel gap comes amid confusing signals out of Washington — at a time when one of America’s most important and vulnerable allies is seeking clarity and instruction.”

President Trump delivered his “fire and fury” threat to North Korea “with arms folded, jaw set and eyes flitting on what appeared to be a single page of talking points set before him on the conference table at his New Jersey golf resort,” the New York Times reports.

“The piece of paper, as it turned out, was a fact sheet on the opioid crisis he had come to talk about, and his ominous warning to Pyongyang was entirely improvised… In discussions with advisers beforehand, he had not run the specific language by them.”

“The inflammatory words quickly escalated the confrontation with North Korea to a new, alarming level and were followed shortly by a new threat from North Korea to obliterate an American air base on Guam. In the hours since, the president’s advisers have sought to calm the situation.”

White House social media director Dan Scavino slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Twitter for suggesting President Trump was inexperienced in how legislation is crafted.

Playbook: “This is stunning. Mitch McConnell is the lynchpin to whatever Donald Trump wants to get done on Capitol Hill. Sure, health care did not go as the White House wanted it to. They might get there in the future, they might not. But McConnell is not going anywhere for a very long time, he commands respect from all Republican senators and controls the Senate floor… Capitol Hill is hardly ever in unison but dumping on McConnell is seen as confused a strategy as the administration could employ.”

And then the President joined in:

A new Quinnipiac poll in Virginia finds Ralph Northam (D) leading Ed Gillespie (R) by six points in the race for governor, 44% to 38%.

Meanwhile, in the GOP primary for the Special Election for the U.S. Senate seat in Alabama, President Trump surprisingly endorsed Sen. Luther Strange saying on Twitter that he “has my complete and total endorsement.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said that he thinks that Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) brain tumor and the early morning hours may have affected the Arizona Republican’s no vote on the Senate bill to repeal Obamacare, CNN reports.

Said Johnson: “I’m not gonna speak for John McCain — he has a brain tumor right now — that vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning, some of that might have factored in.”

He quickly added: “Again, I-I-I don’t know exactly what — we really thought — and again I don’t want speak for any senator. I really thought he was going to vote yes to send that to conference at 10:30 at night. By about 1, 1:30, he voted no. So you have talk to John in terms what was on his mind.”

President Trump tweets this morning: “My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before… Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!”

A reality check: Business Insider notes Trump’s first executive order was on the Affordable Care Act and that none of his orders in his first 100 days were on the nation’s nuclear arsenal. And as the New York Times reports, the trillion dollar modernization of nuclear forces started under President Obama.

Rick Klein: “The North Koreans did what the North Koreans do, and then President Trump…did what the North Koreans do, too. Trump’s new line is not just red – it’s fiery and furious and now closer than ever to being crossed, since the president’s warning applies to further threats, not just actions.”

“Perhaps it was a strategic attempt to speak in a manner Kim Jong Un would understand. The president said ‘fire and fury like the world has never seen’ and then repeated much of that phrase. But for all Trump’s inconsistencies, one major theme of his critique of his predecessor was on not following through on threats. This – ‘power, the likes of which this world has never seen before’ – is a doozy in that category.”

“We know, or we think we know, the president doesn’t like to convey weakness. We know almost nothing about what Kim Jong Un is thinking. In any event, this might be a good time to have a president who enjoys the trust of the American people and the lawmakers he serves with.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told KTAR that President Trump’s threat to rain “fire and fury” down on North Korea was a mistake.

Said McCain: “I take exception to the President’s comments because you gotta be able to do what you say you’re gonna do. In other words, the old walk softly but carry a big stick, Teddy Roosevelt’s saying, which I think is something that should’ve applied because all it’s going to do is bring us closer to a serious confrontation. I think this is very, very, very serious.”

He added: “The great leaders I’ve seen don’t threaten unless they’re ready to act and I’m not sure President Trump is ready to act… It’s the classic Trump in that he overstates things.”

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

3 comments on “The Open Thread for August 10, 2017

  1. Brian Stephan

    Of McConnell, “he commands respect from all Republican senators and controls the Senate floor… Capitol Hill is hardly ever in unison but dumping on McConnell is seen as confused a strategy as the administration could employ.”

    Which of course assumes this administration actually knows about, has possession of, and the ability to employ strategies.

  2. snewton929

    “Fire and Fury”–actually stolen from Captain America #330, where the Red Skull said it. I hope this link works

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