Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who had stepped down from his post earlier this year but remained an FBI employee, was fired just two days before he was scheduled to retire, the Washington Post reports. “McCabe had been accused by the Justice Department’s inspector general of authorizing the disclosure of sensitive information to a reporter and misleading investigators when asked about it.”
“McCabe had been a lightning rod in the political battles surrounding the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe into whether any Trump associates coordinated with Russian agents to interfere in the 2016 presidential race.”
The lawyer representing Stormy Daniels claimed that she has faced physical threats, CNN reports. Said Michael Avenatti: “My client was physically threatened to stay silent about what she knew about Donald Trump.” He said more details would be forthcoming in Daniels’ upcoming interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” which is scheduled to air on March 25.
Washington Post: “Networks go to great lengths to secure interviews like this — with its promise of salacious new insights into an alleged affair between a president and a porn star, set against the roiling #MeToo movement — and promote them heavily.”
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) March 16, 2018
Politico: “The White House was hoping for a smooth 2018 on Capitol Hill. Instead, President Donald Trump is staring at two bitter confirmation fights — and the possibility emboldened Democrats could block his new Cabinet nominees.”
“Trump’s decision to nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace Rex Tillerson at the State Department — and to elevate Pompeo’s controversial deputy Gina Haspel, who hasn’t previously been confirmed — has created a pair of high-stakes battles in the Senate, where the GOP enjoys a threadbare 51-49 advantage. With Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) opposing both nominees and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) absent while he undergoes treatment for brain cancer, Trump will need Democrats to support his picks.”
“The looming struggle to get Cabinet replacements through underscores just how much the political calculus has changed for Trump since the early days of his administration, as Democrats look ahead to the midterms and throw off any semblance of cooperation with the White House.”
Nancy LeTourneau says Trump explained to us all why he lies: “Trump’s remarks last night in Missouri about all of this tell us a lot about why he lies so much. The first thing to note is the fact that he went in to that meeting with Trudeau completely ignorant of the facts. That confirms a lot of what we’ve learned about him: he isn’t simply ignorant, he’s not the least bit interested in knowing the facts. To justify simply making up a lie, the president explained that he did so “because we’re so stupid.” In other words, being honest in talks with a foreign leader, as he assumes previous presidents have done, is “stupid.”
But the kicker is that Trump actually bragged about his own ignorance and lies. He isn’t merely shameless, he thinks there is some value in not knowing what he’s talking about and simply making things up. That takes us back to something we’ve known about him all along. This president values bullying as a way to dominate above all else—even the truth. He bragged about this episode last night because he thinks it makes him look tough and Trudeau weak. That is all that matters to him.”
This is the most important thing I'll write this year, and it provides depth and perspective you won't see in other coverage of Puerto Rico (or the USVI, or other territories). Please give it a read.https://t.co/ZeZIZfPwvo
— Doug Mack (@douglasmack) March 16, 2018
The Hill: In an interview with Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier,” [Senator Chuck] Grassley, alongside fellow Judiciary Committee member Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), said he doesn’t believe Trump should oust his attorney general despite reported anger over Sessions’s handling of the Russia investigation. “I would only answer your question this way unless you push me on it: I don’t think he should be fired,” Grassley said. “It would blow up the committee,” Graham agreed. “The chairman has done a wonderful job in getting nominees out of the committee with a lot of [Democratic] obstruction, but if you had to replace the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, with somebody new it would blow the place up.”
“It would be seen as an effort to undermine the [special counsel Robert] Mueller investigation,” he continued. “It would lock the Senate down, and I think Jeff Sessions has done a great job.”
For a century, the GOP foreign policy establishment kept the far-right from controlling the state department. Until now. https://t.co/RIUYStA5CD
— Peter Beinart (@PeterBeinart) March 15, 2018
“Anticipating an unusually crowded Democratic presidential primary in 2020, the party’s biggest super PAC is vowing to stay out of the race and focus on taking on President Trump, beginning preparations now for an election more than two and half years away,” NBC News reports.“Priorities USA, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars backing Democrats since forming in 2011 to promote Barack Obama’s reelection, wants to be ready to assist whomever emerges from the fray as the party’s nominee.”
“The Trump administration is finalizing a long-awaited plan that it says will solve the opioid crisis, but it also calls for law enforcement measures — like the death penalty for some drug dealers — that public health advocates and congressional Republicans warn will detract from efforts to reverse the epidemic,” Politicoreports.
“The ambitious plan, which the White House has quietly been circulating among political appointees this month, could be announced as soon as Monday when President Donald Trump visits New Hampshire, a state hard hit by the epidemic.”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) “has a direct message for the Republicans of New Hampshire: Someone needs to stop Donald Trump. And Flake, a Republican senator from Arizona, may stand up against the Republican president in 2020 — either as a Republican or an independent — if no one else does,” the AP reports.
Said Flake: “It’s not in my plan to run for president, but I am not ruling it out. Somebody needs to stand up for traditional Republicanism. Somebody needs to raise that, for nothing else than to give people hope that that decent party will be back. We’ll get through this.”
A new study puts a spotlight on the massive gap between the views of Republican voters and those of their elected officials https://t.co/JuwdIkeXDR
— Daily Intelligencer (@intelligencer) March 15, 2018
“President Trump and White House chief of staff John Kelly have settled on a truce, at least temporarily, as the latest round of staff tumult continues to ripple through the West Wing,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The internal drama heightened when Mr. Kelly flew with the president to California on Tuesday, but returned alone and was working in his West Wing office on Wednesday morning. Mr. Kelly’s allies in the White House, however, said the chief of staff had always planned on flying the 4,500-mile round-trip between Washington and San Diego in less than a day.”
“But on Thursday, Messrs. Trump and Kelly had a productive meeting that left both men reassured. Mr. Trump told advisers afterward that Mr. Kelly was ‘100% safe.’ Mr. Kelly told his associates that, at least for the moment, he and the president had patched things up. ‘I’m in,’ Mr. Kelly told staff.”
— The New Republic (@newrepublic) March 15, 2018
Washington Post: “One reason may be that Trump Jr. is so important. Since Trump Jr. was so involved in so many important parts of the campaign and the business, Mueller may be trying to figure out what he needs to ask Trump Jr. before he asks it.”
“There are really two possibilities here: Mueller has already spoken with Trump Jr. and we don’t yet know about it — or he will at some point soon. It seems impossible that Mueller won’t want to know what Trump Jr. knows.”
— David Frum (@davidfrum) March 16, 2018
“He was clearly loved by women. He was a guy’s guy. He has all that virility. He also had amazing fashion sense, right, that whole thing with the uniforms. I’m fascinated by Mussolini.” — Stephen Bannon, in an interview with the Spectator.
Jonathan Swan: “John Kelly acknowledged in an off-the-record session with reporters today that his boss, Donald Trump, is likely speculating about staff moves to people outside the White House and that reporters are then talking to those people. And that’s how a good deal of news is likely being made about all the possible replacements.”
Mike Allen: “Comey has been quiet for nearly a year — fired by President Trump on May 9, precipitating the appointment of special counsel Bob Mueller eight days later. He has heard a lot of lies and misstatements about the FBI that he intends to correct. He didn’t want to be in this position, but is embracing it.”
“There’ll be more announcements about his book tour soon, but he’s eager to go to where his critics are and take them on.”
His book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, is out April 17.
John Nichols on the need for the Democratic party to embrace unions: “Americans of all backgrounds have experienced jarring economic and social shifts—a globalization revolution, a digital revolution, an automation revolution—that are making them feel insecure about their futures. Just as unions addressed the insecurities of the past, they are needed to get address the insecurities of this time. Conor Lamb recognized this reality, made common cause with the labor movement and won. His fellow Democrats would be wise to do the same.”