Washington Post: “The already tense relationship between the two headstrong men — one a billionaire former real estate developer, the other a former captain of the global oil industry — has ruptured into what some White House officials call an irreparable breach that will inevitably lead to Tillerson’s departure, whether immediately or not. Tillerson’s dwindling cohort of allies say he has been given an impossible job and is doing his best with it. For months now, Trump has been piqued by rumors of disloyalty that have filtered up to him from Foggy Bottom, the home of the State Department… And as Tillerson has traveled the globe, Trump believes his top diplomat often seems more concerned with what the world thinks of the United States than with tending to the president’s personal image. Meanwhile, Tillerson — who ran one of the world’s largest corporations with near-dictatorial control — has struggled to submit to the whims and wishes of a boss who governs by impulse.”
A U.S. official told BuzzFeed that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson won’t be fired due to a so-called “suicide pact” forged between Defense Secretary James Mattis, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Tillerson whereby all three cabinet secretaries vow to leave in the event that the president makes moves against one of them. Other Trump insiders suggest another reason Tillerson won’t leave is a potentially hefty tax bill he would have to pay if he resigns before serving a year in government.
Jonathan Swan: “While there’s plenty of speculation that Tillerson will resign or be fired by Trump, I’ve heard nothing from any senior officials to corroborate those rumors.” Said one senior administration official: “I think his saving grace may be that Mattis and Kelly have his back and there’s not a great desire for further shuffling in the cabinet at this time.” However: “Not denying he called the President of the United States a moron ends any chance of him being a credible representative of the administration around the world.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee has reached no conclusion on whether anyone around President Trump was part of a Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election, the New York Times reports. Said Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC): “The issue of collusion is still open.”
“Mr. Burr had expressed a desire this summer to conclude the probe by the year’s end. But on Wednesday, he all but conceded that with so many avenues of investigation still open that would not be possible.” Bloomberg reports the panel “has hit a wall” in its investigation of an unverified “dossier” purporting to have compromising information on Trump because former British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the report, hasn’t agreed to be interviewed.
Washington Post: “Russian operatives set up an array of misleading Web sites and social media pages to identify American voters susceptible to propaganda, then used a powerful Facebook tool to repeatedly send them messages designed to influence their political behavior, say people familiar with the investigation into foreign meddling in the U.S. election. The tactic resembles what American businesses and political campaigns have been doing in recent years to deliver messages to potentially interested people online.”
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) October 4, 2017
President Trump casually told Fox News last night that the United States “would have to wipe out $75 billion in debt owed by Puerto Rico to bondholders around the world,” Politico reports.
“Wall Street promptly freaked out, sending Puerto Rican bonds into a tailspin and leading the White House to move swiftly to clean up Trump’s seemingly offhand remarks.”
This is a really important story. Read and pass it on: Trump Still Hasn’t Gotten Around to Appointing Someone to Protect Our Elections From Cyberattacks https://t.co/Fp8yyUL5Lo
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) October 4, 2017
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) suggested that Gens. John Kelly and James Mattis as well Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are the “people that help separate our country from chaos,” a stinging criticism of President Trump from a man once considered an ally in Washington, CNN reports.
— CSPAN (@cspan) October 4, 2017
Asked whether he was referring to Trump in using the word “chaos,” Corker responded: “They work very well together to make sure the policies we put forth around the world are sound and coherent. There are other people within the administration that don’t. I hope they stay because they’re valuable to the national security of our nation.”
— Dana Milbank (@Milbank) October 4, 2017
Abraham Lincoln, at age 28, predicted that only one nation could defeat America–ourselves. We're proving him right. https://t.co/8DUHgRVyVo
— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) October 3, 2017
Brian Beutler: “Trump is a uniquely dangerous and unfit president in many ways, but he tempts liberals to paint the Republican leaders who preceded him in an afterglow of decency and high-mindedness that is hard to detect if you go searching for it in the recent past.”
“Through a process of both forgetting and cohort replacement, the unremitting awfulness of the George W. Bush presidency—particularly its early years—has been rewritten in a faction of the liberal imagination as a kind of golden age when political debate was more honest and fact-driven. Things are in some ways worse now, but if that era ever existed, it predated George W. Bush by many years.”
“Top Senate Republicans said Wednesday they are open to considering legislation banning devices that were reportedly used to gun down scores of people in the worst mass shooting in modern American history,” Politico reports.
“No Republican has yet joined Democrats in endorsing a bill targeting bump stocks, but their comments suggest a potential shift in the party’s typically hard-line opposition to gun control measures.”
Yeah right, just like they were open to background checks until the NRA cracked the whip.
ICYMI: President Trump’s top military adviser openly contradicted Trump’s position on the Iran nuclear deal https://t.co/7muhraiAnc
— Vox (@voxdotcom) October 3, 2017
Washington Post: “The inspector general for the Interior Department has opened an investigation into Secretary Ryan Zinke’s travel during seven months in office, from his use of taxpayer-funded charter and military planes to his mixing of official trips with political appearances.”
The most corrupt administration in history. Worse than Teapot Dome, worse than Grant.
New York Times: “It was just a typical day for Mr. Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general. Since taking office in February, Mr. Trump’s E.P.A. chief has held back-to-back meetings, briefing sessions and speaking engagements almost daily with top corporate executives and lobbyists from all the major economic sectors that he regulates — and almost no meetings with environmental groups or consumer or public health advocates, according to a 320-page accounting of his daily schedule from February through May, the most detailed look yet at what Mr. Pruitt has been up to since he took over the agency.”
— Michael Hobbes (@RottenInDenmark) October 3, 2017
Bloomberg: “Special Counsel Robert Mueller has a distinctly modern problem. The president, judging by his tweets, could try to pardon people in his circle even before prosecutors charge anyone with a crime. Mueller’s all-star team of prosecutors, with expertise in money laundering and foreign bribery, has an answer to that. He’s Michael Dreeben, a bookish career government lawyer with more than 100 Supreme Court appearances under his belt.”
“Acting as Mueller’s top legal counsel, Dreeben has been researching past pardons and determining what, if any, limits exist, according to a person familiar with the matter. Dreeben’s broader brief is to make sure the special counsel’s prosecutorial moves are legally airtight. That could include anything from strategizing on novel interpretations of criminal law to making sure the recent search warrant on ex-campaign adviser Paul Manafort’s home would stand up to an appeal.”
Jonathan Swan: “Since the Las Vegas shooting, we’ve spoken or texted with more than 20 sources inside and out of the White House — all people who’ve worked close enough to Trump to have something useful to say about his likely next moves. Most say they can’t imagine him doing a Chuck-and-Nancy deal on gun control.”
“They say that while he bathed in the glowing media coverage after his surprise debt ceiling deal with the Democrats; he’ll be very reluctant to do anything like that on guns: He feels closer to the NRA than just about any outside group.”
“I asked Steve Bannon whether he could imagine Trump pivoting to the left on guns after the Las Vegas massacre. ‘Impossible: will be the end of everything,’ Bannon texted. When asked whether Trump’s base would react worse to this than they would if he supported an immigration amnesty bill, Bannon replied: ‘as hard as it is to believe actually worse.’”
It’s budget week for Republicans on Capitol Hill. Here's what that means for tax reform. https://t.co/6ZxxtoRt4H
— Vox (@voxdotcom) October 4, 2017