Busy, busy, busy. At work I mean which is why I didn’t post last week. Also Trump been busy though, hasn’t he. That’s what, two highly placed civil servants being pushed out, and a third under threat in two weeks? I wonder who’s next?
Or I would, if this was a reality TV show. Which it’s not.
To abbreviate this clusterfuck, Tillerson was fired via tweet last week, unceremoniously and without any prior indication according to one of Tillerson’s top aides, who was then fired. Because that definitely proves otherwise. Since then Trump pushed Attorney General Sessions to fire Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI who was retiring within a few days. And now he might be pushing to remove his National Security Adviser General McMaster. Or not, we’re not sure, and maybe neither is Trump.
In the aftermath of this whole mess, CIA director and former Representative for the state of Kansas 4th district Mike Pompeo has been nominated to become his replacement. He’s something of an anti-Muslim McCarthy, with warlike tendencies and a disdain for North Korea, so I’m sure he and Trump will get along just fine. Pompeo’s replacement for CIA director on the other hand is Gina Haspel, a longtime agent of the CIA and former director at a CIA ‘blacksite’, and presided over the torture of at least one man.
Given how things had slowed down as of late, I’m starting to wonder if this is what happens when Trump gets bored. Cause that’s not terrifying.
Times: Rex Tillerson Fired
Vox: Andrew McCabe Fired
Politico: Trump gives McMaster the Tillerson Treatment
Gary Cohn is resigning from the White House, leaving his position as head of the National Economic Council. Officially they’re claiming it’s because he has accomplished all he set out to do with the Tax bill and the regulatory cuts, but let’s be honest the tariffs, the gaffes and the chaos of the general situation simply burned him out. Apparently when he tried to dissuade Trump from proceeding with the Tariffs, the man was basically snubbed so that probably didn’t help.
Now Wall Street has apparently not approved of this particular news (the S&P went down by 0.5 points, and the Nasdaq went down by 0.6), and this along with the recent volatility in the stock markets mean it’s unlikely for those stocks to improve rapidly. So Trump’s not gonna like that, but more importantly this is another key staffer he’s lost and this may be a position he finds hard to fill given the sheer chaos of this white house. However that’s also all I can really predict about this situation, given that the presidents chief economic adviser is not exactly a well defined role, and how important it was in regulatory changes and the tax bill itself I can’t really say. Given Trumps own proclivities towards random acts and declarations, and otherwise handing responsibility for legislation over to congress it’s hard to say how important this role will be going forward. Then again I could be very wrong and it could be quite important.
All that said this won’t change much immediately regardless of Wall Streets little moment, but in the long term this may be another sign of a White House steadily losing it’s ability to function, if only due to a lack of staffers. Not sure yet though, you never know this could simply be another bump on the road for Trump.
The Atlantic: Who will Replace Gary Cohn and What will it Mean?
Because I’m short on time today I’ll just do a short summation on a few topics (because I haven’t done this in a long time, right? /s).
Firstly, the CNN town hall for the survivors of the Florida school shooting, involving the two senators from Florida and a representative of the NRA, Dana Loesch, was quite the show, the kids comporting themselves well and challenging both Rubio and Loesch not only in regards to gun laws and the NRA itself but also to, you know, answer their questions. Because political double-speak just doesn’t work with these kids. I won’t say it changed any minds, but it does present movement towards actual change and a recognition that people are truly tired of this damn ritual regarding shootings that so many on the right have tried to almost institutionalize. I wonder how far this’ll go.
Secondly, Hope Hicks is out of the White House, and Mueller is looking further into Trumps business dealings, and his threats towards Sessions. With Hicks leaving, not only is another member of the original campaign bowing out of the White House but Trump is now also bereft of a communications director, which I’ll admit is something of a misnomer; the only real communications director in this White House is Trump, but still. I’m guessing Huckabee-Sanders is now in charge, or the new guy who’s been showing up lately (and no I don’t remember his name, and apparently neither does google).
There’s some things occurring in Europe, a German Federal Court has allowed the banning of certain diesel cars in the cities, which is a bad sign for one of the largest industries in the country. It’s also fully deserved given their conduct and malpractice regarding their cars, but that’s just my opinion. The Italian election is coming up, which I’ll discuss at a later date, but it looks like a right-wing government has a fair chance of getting into power though as always that is never a guarantee these days. Guess we’ll see.
I didn’t speak up when the shooting occurred, but in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, where 17 young men and woman died, their friends and fellow students have collectively demanded change, loudly and vociferously. Not just once, but continually; likely even as your reading this (circa 22, February 2018), they are loudly demanding changes to the laws in their country which allows the dangerous, the criminals and the simply unfit to buy military grade weapons at their leisure.
To elaborate, the shooter in question was not legally allowed to drink the state of Florida (minimum age for alcohol is 21, he is 19), nor is he allowed to acquire a handgun (also 21). But he can somehow buy an assault rifle at 18, because in Florida he is mature enough to handle something far more dangerous than the previous two items.
Due not only the trauma they have endured during the two hours they were locked in their school with a shooter, but also the sheer insanity of the laws which many of the students already agreed were excessive and unacceptable, they are now planning two different protests. Firstly a National School Walk Out on March 14, where they encourage all schools to walk out of their buildings and wait for 17 minutes, to represent the lives lost in the shooting. Additionally there is the March for Our Lives on March 24, planned to be held in Washington D.C. These kids are bold and furious, and it’s quite interesting to see Americans actually doing something about school shootings.
The question is will anything come of this? I’m hesitant so long as McConnell and House Republicans insist on prioritizing reelection and NRA money over the peoples voices. Still I could be wrong, which would be nice.
Former White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned a few days ago, after information surfaced that during his background check the FBI had uncovered accusations of abuse from his two previous ex-wives. It’s good that he’s left of course, however it later came out that the White House was in fact aware of these allegations since January, and decided to let him remain in his position (with interim clearance for classified documents) until such time as these allegations surfaced. He was even being considered for a promotion to deputy chief of staff, because of course he was.
First off, this man is a disgusting piece of shit and I’m glad he’s gone. That said I unfortunately have to say I understand McGahns motivations, regardless of the moral implications Porter really was one of the few actually competent members of this Administration. It’s not really surprising that he remained, even if it is disheartening on general principal.
Oh and a second staffer, a speechwriter I believe, has also been outed for abuse allegations. Wonder how many more of these pricks will show up.
Released on the 2nd of February, the Nunes memo alleges serious impropriety on the part of the FBI, claiming that they requested and received FISA warrants illegally by misinforming the judge responsible for overseeing this particular investigation (on Carter Page), using information acquired from the Steele Dossier, but not informing the judge of its political origin and leaning. Supposedly this renders the investigation itself invalid, and from there somehow renders the separate Mueller investigation defunct or corrupt or some-such.
So, firstly the investigation on Carter Page by the FBI was not precipitated by the Steele Dossier. The memo itself states that it was in fact another aides bragging session with and Australian diplomat, regarding his and the Trump campaigns Russian contacts, that first begun the investigation and inquiry into Carter Page. Additionally, Nunes himself confirmed a few days after the release that on issuing their request for FISA warrants for Page, the FBI did note that the dossier where some, not all, of the information presented to the court to provide reasoning for a warrant did in fact come from a political source. Apparently that was not enough to invalidate it. Finally no, the FBI investigation is neither defunct nor corrupt, and Mueller was not involved in this matter in any way until months later when his own investigation began. I don’t think the memo even mentions him.
So basically the Nunes memo is is kind of irrelevant. While it alleges significant things, not only does it refute them itself, the author has denied certain points, the FBI and the Justice department have both named the memo false and misleading, and most people (other than Republicans) agree that while the FBI is certainly not squeaky clean, they are professionals who would never do the things the memo alleges. It did however suck a lot of the air out of the room, and made people forget that Trump threatened to fire Mueller not long ago.
Which, you know, is a big deal.
The Atlantic: The Twist in the Nunes Memo
The New York Times: Trump Ordered Mueller Fired
Well, that happened.
So Trump gave a speech regarding his achievements (Tax bill, Judges, Obamacare Mandate repeal) talked about his plans for this year (Infrastructure plan, same as last year, Wall, same as last year, Immigration reform, see previous) and made oblique threats to Mueller and his investigation. He also read it from a teleprompter, dressed it up in bipartisan language and didn’t veer off into tangents and random attacks so hey, decent overall. For Trump anyway.
He was followed by Representative Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts, who gave a fairly decent speech refuting Trump on his character and actions, the Republican party on following suit and gave a vague direction for his own parties plans going forward. Also a perfectly fine speech. Senator Bernie Sanders followed him, talking about the economic concerns that Trump glossed over, the need for a proper plan, and in turn laying the groundwork further for (potentially) a presidential run.
I mean, I think anyway.
The problem with these followup speeches is that even if you stick around to watch them, and after nearly an hour and a half of listening to any politician speak about their agenda much less Trump, I would be surprised if a majority of watchers even knew or cared for the response, they just don’t really mean much. Unless you actively screw up, they’re pretty quickly forgotten.
But yeah that happened. Guess we’ll have to wait and see if there’s any follow through from Trump.