Rexit stage right
The handwriting was on the wall in October when word spread that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called his commander-in-chief “a moron.”
He and President Donald Trump were on different pages regarding North Korea and Iran, amid warnings that the U.S. foreign service was being cut and shrunk.
Now administration officials are telling news agencies that the former Exxon-Mobil CEO could soon be replaced by Mike Pompeo, the current CIA director and ex-congressman.
During an Oval Office meeting with the crown prince of Bahrain, Trump avoided a question about Tillerson’s future.
“He’s here. Rex is here,” the president noted.
Rockets’ red scare
If verbal threats make up the Trump strategy, his tactic is gaining momentum.
Trump complained Thursday: “The Chinese envoy, who just returned from North Korea, seems to have had no impact on Little Rocket Man.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called Washington’s approach dangerously provocative. Trump’s menacing talk was largely met with silence, leading foreign analysts to see the U.S. as increasingly isolated.
Even some who agree with Trump that his predecessors left him with the current mess doubt he is having any impact.
War worries abound.
New deficit warning
The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation says the Senate tax package now gaining steam would add $1 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade. The current deficit is $448 billion. A previous estimate from the committee projected $1.4 trillion in additional red ink, but the estimated revenue to be generated by increased economic activity was added.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he will back the measure, boosting the legislation’s chances.
Turning to Stone?
Self-described political trickster Roger Stone, a longtime Trump acquaintance, said New York gadfly Randy Credico confirmed to him last year that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would be releasing hacked Hillary Clinton-related emails, Newsday’s Emily Ngo reports.
Stone at first declined to tell House probers the identity of an intermediary he said would communicate with Assange during the campaign. Assange tweeted lightheartedly this week about Credico in his Diogenes costume, looking for an honest man in Washington.
Assange, a fugitive living in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, also linked to a Credico documentary with the message: “Who is political satirist @credico2016 who has been subpoenaed by the U.S. House ‘intelligence’ committee after interviewing me?”
The uproar over Trump’s tweeting of anti-Muslim videos from the far-right group Britain First — and his dismissal of Prime Minister Theresa May’s criticism — resounded for a second day.
“The fact that we work together does not mean that we are afraid to say when we think the United States have got it wrong and to be very clear with them,” May said in the U.K., earning the Conservative head of state local plaudits.
Trump tweeted — initially, to the wrong Theresa May — that she should “focus on the Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place in the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!”
(“Just fine” presumably didn’t include the Islamic State group-linked attack in lower Manhattan that took eight lives on Oct. 31).
What else is happening
- Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not directly answer behind closed doors if Trump asked him to hinder the Justice Department’s Russia probe, a leading House Democrat said.
- White House buzz to the contrary, Trump’s vulgar comments on the “Access Hollywood” tape are quite authentic.
- House Speaker Paul Ryan canceled plans to help Rep. Lee Zeldin at a fundraising luncheon, Newsday’s Ngo reported.
- Long Island’s billionaire Mercers helped fund Project Veritas, the negative-research firm that tried to punk The Washington Post with a phony Roy Moore accusation, reports BuzzFeed.
- Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has said an analysis he had in the works would show the pending tax plan would pay for itself. No such report has emerged.