August 30, 2017


The incredible shrinking president (Mike Allen, 8/30/17, Axios)

Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are going their own way on tax reform. Hill sources believe his original targets, including a 15% corporate rate, are dead.

SecDef Mattis didn't immediately embrace his full ban on transgender troops.

His Justice Department won't drop the Russia probe.

Courts won't allow his full Muslim ban.

Mexico won't pay for his wall.

Congress won't pay for his wall.

The Senate won't pass his promised health-care reform.

Gary Cohn and Sec State Tillerson won't tolerate his Charlottesville response.

North Korea won't heed his warnings.

China doesn't fear his trade threats.

CEOs won't sit on his councils.

Mexico and Canada won't bend to his will on NAFTA.

Why Trump's aides are so openly trashing him (Joel Mathis, August 30, 2017, The Week)

It was Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council -- and one of Trump's most prominent Jewish advisers -- who criticized the president to the Financial Times. And it was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who told Fox News that Trump "speaks for himself" on American values, leaving Chris Wallace slack-jawed.

In most administrations, it's practically taboo for White House officials to criticize their president so openly and on the record -- or even to suggest a sliver of difference with the president's views. "You should not air the dirty laundry with the president in public," Roger Stone, a Trump ally, sniffed to The Washington Post.

This, of course, isn't most administrations. Which suggests one reason Cohn and Tillerson might've said what they said: History is watching. And they know it.

Yes, history is always watching the White House. But given the disruption Trump caused by being elected, and his inability to let a week go by without distraction and controversy, it seems likely that this administration will get the treatment more than most -- that, like the Nixon administration, which practically created its own cottage industry in publishing, it will be dissected by historians, journalists, and writers for decades to come.

There will be heroes and villains in those stories. And surely, lots of people working for President Trump have already decided that they don't want to be seen as the villains. 

Why Trump's threat to withdraw from NAFTA is an empty one (Don Lee, 8/30/17, LA Times)

[M]any former trade negotiators and experts agree that the president's threat to cancel NAFTA is essentially an empty one, more likely intended as a bargaining ploy.

For one thing, Trump lacks the legal authority to unilaterally end all U.S. obligations under the 23-year-old agreement with Canada and Mexico. Some of that power rests with Congress.

And even if the president moved for a withdrawal, he would almost certainly face legal challenges and come under enormous pressure because of domestic economic and political considerations. His base in rural America, in particular, would be slammed by a U.S. pullout.

"I don't think it's a credible threat," said Warren Maruyama, a partner at the Washington law firm Hogan Lovells who worked on NAFTA and other trade issues in both Bush administrations. "Trump would do serious political damage and split the coalition that got him into the White House. While his win is often credited to anti-trade, blue-collar voters, he won just about every rural county, and Mexico is a huge market for America farm products."

Posted by at August 30, 2017 6:55 AM