President Trump fired John Bolton, his third national security adviser, on Tuesday amid fundamental disagreements over how to handle major foreign policy challenges like Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan, the New York Times reports.
Said Trump on Twitter: “I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week.”
“His departure comes as Mr. Trump is pursuing diplomatic openings with two of the United States’ most intractable enemies, efforts that have troubled hard-liners in the administration, like Mr. Bolton, who view North Korea and Iran as profoundly untrustworthy.”
Aaron Blake: “Just an hour before the announcement, the White House announced that Bolton would be appearing at a 1:30 p.m. Eastern time news conference alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. It seems unlikely Bolton would agree to show up after effectively being fired. If Bolton was on his way out as of Monday night, why did the White House press office not seem to know about it at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning?”
“Adding to the subplot is Bolton’s own comments. His tweets Monday night and Tuesday didn’t indicate anything had changed, and shortly after Trump’s tweets, he chimed in by saying, ‘I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow.’”
Playbook: “It seems unlikely Bolton will go quietly. This is a guy who is a savvy Washington player — he texts with many reporters — and it seems near-certain he will want to maintain his reputation and tell people some of what he witnessed in the Trump administration. He has already texted multiple reporters, including WaPo’s Bob Costa, to push his claim that the decision to resign was his own.”
“It’s no secret that Trump and Bolton disagreed on many things; the president said so openly, including today. But from what we’re hearing, there were two recent points of friction that triggered his exit: Bolton’s vocal unhappiness over the president’s idea to host the Taliban at Camp David, and a dispute over whether to waive some sanctions on Iran ahead of a possible summit with President Hassan Rouhani. The two men had a heated conversation on the phone after Trump’s rally Monday night in North Carolina, and that was it.”
“As President Trump began losing confidence in national security adviser John Bolton, whom he fired on Tuesday, he reached out to the man he had fired to give Bolton the job: retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster,” NBC News reports.
“Trump’s contacts with McMaster perhaps presaged his decision Tuesday to unceremoniously fire Bolton. They also marked a significant a remarkable shift for the president that is emblematic of how much Bolton fell out of favor since Trump welcomed him into the White House 17 months ago. At that time, Trump was barely speaking to McMaster and regularly did derogatory impressions of him in his absence.”
David Frum: “Trump prefers to surround himself with grifters and weaklings. That has been harder for him to do in foreign policy, especially after the rapid end of the career of Trump’s first national security adviser, Mike Flynn. Men such as Rex Tillerson, Jim Mattis, H. R. McMaster, and now John Bolton have all had important pre-Trump careers—and all have post-Trump reputations to consider. Yet even after the unhappy culmination of their work for Trump, they have all continued to protect him. They know he is unfit for the job—morally, intellectually, psychologically. But they keep silent.”
“They seem to be impelled by an ideal of loyalty: that the president who appointed them is entitled to their silence afterward. That is normally a fine principle. But all principles must take account of facts, and the facts in this case are unprecedented. They owe their duty to the president not because he is some kind of feudal lord, but because he heads and represents the state they swore to serve. And if they see things that convince them that the president poses a danger to that state, then their duty is to warn their fellow citizens, the common employers of both the aides and the president.”
“Their duty is to speak.”
“A week before an election in which he is battling for survival, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Tuesday asked voters to return him to power with a mandate to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, a move that could dramatically reshape the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the New York Times reports.
“The move would give the nation ‘secure, permanent borders’ for the first time in its history, he said, but it would also reduce any future Palestinian state to an enclave encircled by Israel.”
“A former top administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency was arrested on Tuesday in a major federal corruption investigation that found that the official took bribes from the president of a company that secured $1.8 billion in federal contracts to repair Puerto Rico’s shredded electrical grid after Hurricane Maria,” the New York Times reports.
“President Trump has ordered White House officials to conduct a sweeping crackdown on homelessness in California, citing the state’s growing crisis,” the Washington Post reports.
“The talks have intensified in recent weeks. Administration officials have discussed using the federal government to get homeless people off the streets of Los Angeles and other areas and into new government-backed facilities, according to two officials briefed on the planning. But it is unclear how they could accomplish this and what legal authority they would use.”
“A federal judge on Tuesday set sentencing for Dec. 18 for President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn as prosecutors warned they reserved the option to recommend prison time instead of probation for Flynn,” the Washington Post reports.
“Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Van Grack issued the notice as the government and Flynn’s new defense team escalated their legal fight in Washington over Flynn’s request that a court throw out his prosecution because of alleged misconduct by prosecutors in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.”
Jennifer Rubin: “The House should seriously consider shifting the focus from the Mueller report and Trump’s attempts to short circuit the Russia investigation to the overarching issue of this presidency: His unparalleled corruption. The Mueller report will come into play, but as an example of a particular form of corruption. This is easy to understand and undermines the entire premise of Trump’s outsider campaign by focusing on how he uses the presidency to enrich himself and serve his personal needs.”
“The enrichment schemes multiply and become more nauseating by the day.”
Zachary Wolf: “President Trump, by his simultaneous existence as a real estate tycoon and President, continues to test the U.S. Constitution in ways that the founding fathers didn’t anticipate and for which the current legal and political systems are completely unprepared.”
“The founders didn’t specifically anticipate a hotelier President pushing his golf resort as the ideal location for an international meeting of heads of state. They didn’t specifically say an Air Force crew couldn’t use taxpayer dollars to stay at a resort owned by the President in a foreign country, which may or may not be suffering as a result of his presidency.”
“They didn’t anticipate the President’s subordinates would begin serially staying at his properties or planning parties at them, potentially currying favor with their boss. And they didn’t anticipate a President who would be so willing to push every rule to the breaking point — or be so cavalier about the appearance of self-dealing.”
“But the real problem is that Congress hasn’t, either. There’s nothing on the books curtailing any of this — which means that the President could be in violation of the Constitution without breaking the law.”
“The share of Americans with health insurance fell last year, despite a strong economy that lifted families out of poverty,” the New York Times reports.
“About 27.5 million people, or 8.5 percent of the population, lacked health insurance for all of 2018, up from 7.9 percent the year before, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. It was the first increase since the Affordable Care Act took full effect in 2014, and experts said it was at least partly the result of the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine that law.”
“President Trump has privately and repeatedly expressed opposition to the use of foreign intelligence from covert sources, including overseas spies who provide the U.S. government with crucial information about hostile countries,” CNN reports. “Trump has privately said that foreign spies can damage relations with their host countries and undermine his personal relationships with their leaders.” Said one source: “The president believes we shouldn’t be doing that to each other.”
President Trump urged caution in admitting people into the U.S. from the Bahamas, claiming ― with no apparent basis in fact ― that “very bad people” could be hidden among the hordes of Hurricane Dorian survivors attempting to flee the devastated archipelago, the HuffPost reports.
Said Trump: “We have to be very careful. Everyone needs totally proper documentation because the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas who weren’t supposed to be there.”
“Senate Democrats plan to force another vote in Congress aimed at overturning President Trump’s border emergency — potentially triggering another standoff between the administration and congressional Republicans over the billions in dollars being siphoned from the Pentagon to pay for Trump’s border wall,” the Washington Post reports.
“Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to announce later Tuesday that Democratic senators will force a second vote in the chamber this year on a resolution to terminate Trump’s emergency border declaration.”
“The White House and Senate Republicans on Monday quietly advanced one of President Donald Trump’s most controversial judicial nominees to date, Steven Menashi, a legal aide to the president with a long record of opposing and undermining equality for communities of color, women and LGBTQ people,” the HuffPost reports.
“Within minutes of the White House formally submitting Menashi’s nomination to the Senate late Monday afternoon, the Senate Judiciary Committee added his name to its agenda for a Wednesday hearing. The agenda had been blank prior to the White House sending over Menashi’s nomination.”
“That’s an incredibly fast turn-around for a judicial nominee, and it’s no mistake that the Republican-led committee kept its agenda empty until the last minute.”
Margaret Carlson: “Until Vice President Mike Pence chose to stay at a Trump hotel 180 miles from where his meetings in Ireland were taking place, he fell somewhere in the middle of vice presidents: those who did so little to distinguish the office no one remembers them—Elbridge Gerry, Hannibal Hamlin, Dan Quayle—and those who did so much to disgrace the office—Calvin Coolidge, Spiro Agnew, Dick Cheney—that we can’t forget them.”
“Pence has moved from the first category to the second, not for dismissing claims that Trump paid off a porn star as baseless. It’s because rather than impose his Bible-thumping religion, with its commandment ‘Thou shalt not steal’ on Trump, he has let Trump corrupt him.”
Associated Press: “The launches and demand for new proposals were apparently aimed at pressuring the United States to make concessions when the North Korea-U.S. talks restart. North Korea is widely believed to want the United States to provide security guarantees and extensive relief from U.S.-led sanctions in return for limited denuclearization steps.”
NBC News: “A former senior Russian official is living in the Washington area under U.S. government protection… NBC News is withholding the man’s name and other key details at the request of U.S. officials, who say reporting the information could endanger his life.”
“Yet the former Russian government official, who had a job with access to secrets, was living openly under his true name. An NBC News correspondent went to the man’s house in the Washington area and rang the doorbell. Five minutes later, two young men in an SUV came racing up the street and parked immediately adjacent to the correspondent’s car.”
“Air Force crews have stayed overnight at President Trump’s Turnberry resort in Scotland on at least four occasions, two more than previously reported,” Politico reports.
“The four trips — uncovered through interviews with people present, records of expenditures and social media postings — date back to at least September 2018 and continued through at least this past June. They include at least one instance in which a crew member said a nearby airport arranged for rides and lunches to and from the luxury waterside retreat.”
“All the flights were shuttling crews between the United States and the Middle East, and at least three of them of them were divisions of the Air National Guard. In total, over 60 service members stayed at the posh property on these stopovers.”