Inspiring Confidence Does Not Seem To Be Rex Tillerson’s Strong Suit

As you may know, the Independent Journal Review’s Erin McPike recently scored the first big one-on-one interview with President Donald Trump’s secretary of state, former award-winning Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, and has fashioned a first-of-its-kind profile of America’s new chief diplomat. You can just imagine the sort of opportunity this presented Tillerson. Here he is, following in the footsteps of Daniel Webster, Henry Kissinger, Dean Acheson and others, with his first big chance to lay out his vision, goals and priorities, and cement a Tillerson Doctrine.
So what’s his Big Idea? Per Tillerson: “I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job... My wife told me I’m supposed to do this.”
Well, that sure is stirring, no doubt music to the ears of State Department lifers. “When [Trump] asked Continue reading "Inspiring Confidence Does Not Seem To Be Rex Tillerson’s Strong Suit"

Trump’s Wild Wiretap Goose Chase Has No End In Sight, Apparently

Chances are that President Donald Trump did not want to wake up, 24 hours after the directors of the FBI and the National Security Agency spent the day testifying before Congress, to see historian Douglas Brinkley’s quip ― “There’s a smell of treason in the air” ― being bandied about in newspapers. But even for those less inclined toward the melodramatic, Monday’s hearing was a bad day for the Trump White House.
Or, as Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes put it, “Really bad.” The basic upshot is this: FBI Director James Comey confirmed that there is an ongoing investigation into Russian efforts to “interfere with the 2016 presidential election” and the possible “links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government.” But what’s not ongoing? Any Continue reading "Trump’s Wild Wiretap Goose Chase Has No End In Sight, Apparently"

What A Shock: Comey Says, ‘I Have No Information To Support Those Tweets.’

Monday morning on Capitol Hill brought us House Intelligence Committee hearing day, as FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers were brought in to answer questions on the alleged links between Russian officials and the inner circle of President Donald Trump’s campaign, as well as some of the more outlandish claims that have recently been made by Trump concerning “wiretaps” that were allegedly dropped on Trump Tower by President Barack Obama.
It was the latest moment in a strange and ongoing saga that has necessitated the involvement of government officials who all probably have much more important things to tend right now. At one point, the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif) was just reading Trump’s tweets to Comey and Rogers, hoping that they would, perhaps, explain Continue reading "What A Shock: Comey Says, ‘I Have No Information To Support Those Tweets.’"

What If The Sunday Shows Booked Ordinary Americans To Discuss The Budget?

This weekend, it would appear that one of the big topics of discussion for America’s Sunday morning public affairs programs will be the recently released budget overview from the Trump White House. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney will be making a return to Sunday morning, with slots booked on NBC’s “Meet The Press” and CBS’s “Face The Nation,” and it’s likely that the administration will dispatch someone to speak on competitors to these programs.
It’s a great opportunity to discuss a matter that’s captivated media attention since White House officials disseminated their budget outline. It would be an even better opportunity if one of these Sunday shows chose to break out of the Beltway media-politico feedback loop, and brought in some out-of-the-ordinary guests: the normal human Americans who would be Continue reading "What If The Sunday Shows Booked Ordinary Americans To Discuss The Budget?"

Trump’s ‘Wiretap’ Claims Are A Return To Those Old Birther Instincts

On Wednesday, one of the most zany press conferences in recent memory took place on Capitol Hill. It featured the two most important members of the House Intelligence Committee ― Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Democratic ranking member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). They appeared at a bank of microphones, to try to clear the air about a claim made by President Donald Trump ― the assertion that his predecessor, President Barack Obama, had ordered the intelligence community to drop wiretaps on Trump’s phones at his Manhattan redoubt, Trump Tower.
“We don’t have any evidence that that took place,” said Nunes. “You can’t level an accusation of that type without either retracting it or explaining just why it was done,” Schiff added.
But what made the whole affair so absurd Continue reading "Trump’s ‘Wiretap’ Claims Are A Return To Those Old Birther Instincts"

How To Lose Your ‘Presidential Pivot’ In Seven Days

I know this is going to sound crazy, but just one week ago, all of pundit-land was frantically competing to enthuse the loudest about how Donald Trump had finally become a president. “He became president in that moment, period,” declaimed CNN contributor Van Jones, referring to the fact that Trump had managed to get through a joint address to Congress without vomiting down his shirt front.

Jones was far from alone in these jubilations. “It was, by far, the best speech I ever heard Donald Trump give,” said Fox News’ Chris Wallace, later adding, “It was one of the best speeches, in that setting, that I’ve ever heard any president give.” ABC News’ Martha Raddatz insisted, “Not only was he more presidential, he was a politician ... he reached out to Continue reading "How To Lose Your ‘Presidential Pivot’ In Seven Days"

Former Aides Explain How They Shielded Trump From Twitter Destruction

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: If you are at all unsure about whether it’s a good idea to use Twitter, never tweet and delete your account. This is good advice, insofar as “advice on how to use Twitter” is even necessary. Concerned about Twitter, on any level? Good news: No one in the world ever needs to use it, so don’t. Enjoy your life, now.
Ah, but you can’t, can you, because now we have a president with a belly full of insecurities and deeply held grievances who uses his Twitter account to unleash whatever emotions are currently roiling his rickety psyche. And because he is, you know, the president, this could create any number of negative externalities. Stock prices could waver, diplomatic missions Continue reading "Former Aides Explain How They Shielded Trump From Twitter Destruction"