Haley and farewell
In sharp contrast to the departure of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is leaving on warm and fuzzy public terms with President Donald Trump. That doesn't mean the two were always on message or even the same side.
When a White House adviser said in April that Haley was confused in announcing more sanctions against Russia, she replied: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” Two years earlier, when she was South Carolina governor, candidate Trump claimed she had "embarrassed" the people of the state. She then replied with a passive-aggressive Southern-style "Bless your heart."
But in the Oval Office announcement, Trump might as well have sung "Oh Nikki, you're so fine." In the chaotic and divided White House, Haley emerged as an ally of Trump's daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner. On Tuesday, she called Kushner "such a hidden genius that no one understands." Speculation centers on Dina Powell, formerly of banking giant Goldman Sachs, to succeed Haley.
Trump in the scorn belt
Trump hammed it up big time for more than an hour for a rally audience in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Tuesday evening. He said "Democrats want to destroy everything, that's what they're good at." He acknowledged a chant of "Lock her up!" now directed at Senate Judiciary Committee ranking minority member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Trump, a former Democrat, said the party would "pack the courts with radical judges to overrule the will of the American people" and degrade law enforcement.
Trump name-checked numerous Fox News talkers. And he claimed without backup that Democrats would stop corn-made E-15 high-ethanol gasoline, which he announced will be sold year-round rather than eight months out of the year. Farmers wore hats that said "Make Farmers Great Again." He also made up names for local Democratic candidates, and claimed they want to make America a "giant sanctuary" for criminal aliens.
Among dozens of provably false statements was that the Obama administration was "ready to go to war with North Korea."
Many people came out to demonstrate over the weekend in various places against the ascension of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Without a shred of backup, but with a strong dose of murk, the president tweeted:
"The paid D.C. protesters are now ready to REALLY protest because they haven’t gotten their checks — in other words, they weren’t paid! Screamers in Congress, and outside, were far too obvious — less professional than anticipated by those paying (or not paying) the bills!"
One plausible interpretation of this message from on high had it that the president misunderstood a bit of sarcasm on his favorite morning show, "Fox & Friends." Others pointed out Trump's inclination toward projection, based on his own history of stiffing contractors but paying actors to cheer his candidacy announcement.
Shards of scandal
Pieces of what may or may not be a bigger Russia-meddling puzzle keep popping loose as the world's most feared and famous multipronged federal investigation continues.
The late GOP activist Peter Smith, who tried to get hold of Hillary Clinton's hacked emails, listed top Trump campaign officials on a document, but it is unclear why, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Special counsel Robert Mueller's office has obtained written proposals for consulting services that involved the creation of fake online identities, The New York Times reports.
But in these pre-midterm days, Trump has turned around the rhetoric and seeks to sound sanguine. On Monday he said: “I think we’ll be treated very fairly. Everybody understands there was no collusion, there’s no Russia. It was all made up by the Democrats.”
Early Tuesday during the Haley announcement, Trump said regarding the widely publicized disappearance of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul: "I know nothing right now. I know what everybody else does — nothing."
It seemed the American president would have heard a little more than "everyone else." In earlier statements, Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed concern, and called on the Saudis to support a "thorough investigation" of what Turkish authorities portrayed as an unconfirmed homicide. Those remarks ended six days of silence from the Trump White House, firmly allied with the Saudis.
What else is happening:
- Voter registrations among young Americans were said to have picked up sharply after pop star Taylor Swift put out a rallying cry.
- Rival pop star Kanye West is due at the White House Thursday to meet with Trump and Kushner, and discuss policy, officials said.
- Hillary Clinton told CNN: "You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about."
- The Toronto Star's Daniel Dale tweeted Trump's latest falsehoods in real time.