The Grudge Report
Donald Trump buried the hatchet. He must have felt like something was missing, because he soon dug it up again.
A day after a White House statement playing down the president’s feud with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Trump reignited it in a tweet, Newsday’s Emily Ngo reports.
“The only problem I have with Mitch McConnell is that, after hearing Repeal & Replace for 7 years, he failed! That should NEVER have happened!” the president said, replaying a previously aired grievance.
If House Speaker Paul Ryan was feeling left out of the hissing match, Trump fixed that. He complained McConnell and Ryan passed up an easy chance to pass needed legislation to raise the debt ceiling by attaching it to “a popular VA bill” and it’s “now a mess.”
Neither McConnell nor Ryan responded in kind. A Senate GOP aide told CNN that Trump’s idea wouldn’t have worked because of opposition from some conservatives.
Put a cork in it
Given that Trump shows little inhibition in going after fellow Republicans who cross him, it was curious that he refrained from attacking Bob Corker. On Thursday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did it for him.
The Tennessee senator — once considered by Trump for a Cabinet position — said last week after the Charlottesville uproar that the president hasn’t demonstrated the “stability” or “competence” needed for the job.
Asked about that at a briefing, Sanders said: “I think that’s a ridiculous and outrageous claim and doesn’t dignify a response from this podium.” Count that as a response.
Trump did go after former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who questioned his fitness for office, during his morning tweet torrent. (Trump on Tuesday said, “I don’t do Twitter-storms.”)
The take-away: Fragmentation
Trump vs. McConnell is but one of the cracks in the unity of the Republican Party, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
Some of the tension is ideological, some personal, some institutional, some regional. There have been fissures before on policy, but disagreement over Trump’s very viability is a big added complication. So is the GOP president’s willingness to inflame intra-party warfare instead of hosing it down.
Transgender troop ban is coming
A month after Trump announced in a tweet he will ban transgender people from the military, a plan from the White House is taking shape, The Wall Street Journal [pay site] reported.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will be given six months to fully implement the ban, which would bar new recruits. As for those already in the armed forces, their ability to deploy will be evaluated in deciding whether to kick them out. The Pentagon would also stop paying medical costs for treating the condition known as gender dysphoria.
Trump moons Obama
Trump on Thursday retweeted a meme of “the best eclipse ever,” featuring a montage of four photos that show Trump “eclipsing” an image of former President Barack Obama.
It didn’t exactly make scientific sense. If Trump is in the role of the moon and Obama the sun, he would keep moving until he was off-screen, leaving only the 44th president in the picture.
The voices in his head
He’s not volatile, just versatile. That’s the gist of Trump’s tweets Thursday about the differences in tone when he spoke soberly this week about Afghanistan, angrily to a campaign rally in Phoenix and measuredly to an American Legion conference.
“The Fake News is now complaining about my different types of back-to-back speeches. Well, there was Afghanistan (somber), the big Rally ...(enthusiastic, dynamic and fun) and the American Legion - V.A. (respectful and strong). Too bad the Dems have no one who can change tones!”
What else is happening:
- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on Trump to withdraw the nomination of Sam Clovis as the Department of Agriculture’s chief scientist for “extremist views.” Clovis is a climate-change skeptic and called progressives “race ‘traitors.’”
- Quitting his holdover position as a State Department science envoy to protest Trump’s response to Charlottesville, a University of California professor wrote a resignation that spelled out the word “impeach” with the first letters of each paragraph.
- CIA Director Mike Pompeo seems to be in a conflicted position over the campaign-Russia investigation.
- Roger Stone, a longtime outside adviser to Trump, told TMZ that any politician who voted to impeach Trump “would be endangering their own life” and such an effort would cause “a spasm of violence, an insurrection in this country like you have never seen before.”
- With Trump threatening a government shutdown if Congress doesn’t allocate money for a border wall, Sanders was asked why he’s no longer vowing Mexico will pay for it. “He hasn’t said they’re not, either,” Sanders replied.
- Along with controlling the flow of staffers and paper traffic into the Oval Office, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is trying to bring order to the policy-making process — presenting Trump with “decision memos” that give him straightforward information and options, Politico reports.
- Trump’s command of detail as a builder influenced how the recent West Wing renovation project was carried out, CNN reports. That included picking out the new wallpaper for the Oval Office.
- Alec Baldwin returns to NBC on SNL's summer update, playing a post-eclipse Trump wearing sunglasses and declaring: "Now, a lot of people don't know this, but you can damage your eyes when looking at an eclipse. No one predicted this, they couldn't have. I figured it out all out by myself."