Something in the air
To President Donald Trump, global warming is a wintertime punchline, not a danger. Others in government take it more seriously, including the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies, which see climate change as a long-term danger to national security.
Three months ago, a report by 13 federal agencies found global warming is intensifying and poses a major threat to the U.S. economy, too. Responded Trump: “I don’t see it.”
The White House is now considering establishing a presidential committee to assess the scientific consensus, The Washington Post and Bloomberg News reported. Its proposed leader: William Happer, who argues we should stop worrying and love the pumping of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
In 2014, Happer founded an advocacy group, the CO2 Coalition, and told a CNBC interviewer that "the demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler."
Most scientists have concluded that if the world doesn't curb its carbon output sharply in the next few decades, it faces dire consequences, including rising seas inundating coastlines, droughts, more extreme storms and disruption of food sources.
The planned panel, said Francesco Femia, co-founder of the Center for Climate and Security, is "the equivalent of setting up a committee on nuclear-weapons proliferation and having someone lead it who doesn’t think nuclear weapons exist.”
But Happer's fellow climate skeptics are ecstatic. “Sounds like the dishonest/know-nothing climate bed-wetters in the national security apparatus — as well as those across the federal government — are about to get schooled in CO2 reality,” said Steve Milloy, a policy adviser for the Heartland Institute, a group critical of climate science.
Ticktock to Mueller time
Attorney General William Barr is preparing to announce as early as next week the completion of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, CNN reported. The Washington Post also reported that the Justice Department expects the report in the coming days.
The plan is for Barr to then submit a summary of Mueller's confidential report to Congress, said the network, citing people familiar with the plans as its sources. Democrats have called for the entire report to be made public.
A Trump adviser told the Post there is concern in the president’s inner circle that the report might contain politically damaging information about Trump, although not allegations of criminal conduct.
Trump told reporters Wednesday he's not getting involved in how the report is handled. It's "totally up to Bill Barr," he said.
Janison: Still standing
Trump has sought to demean institutions that won't bend to his will, including federal law enforcement, intelligence agencies, the courts and the news media. Despite his powerful platform, however, the collective impact of his public snits remains hazy, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.
On Wednesday, Trump denounced The New York Times as "a true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!" as he denied its report that he tried to put a friendlier prosecutor in charge of the New York investigations eyeing him. Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger called Trump's tweet “reckless” and “dangerous” rhetoric that could encourage violence against journalists.
Hours later, the feds revealed the arrest in suburban Washington of a self-identified white nationalist Coast Guard lieutenant who allegedly stockpiled weapons and ammo for a massive domestic terror attack targeting journalists and Democratic politicians, The Washington Post reported.
Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers voiced support for Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats amid reports that Trump is thinking of getting rid of him for being "not loyal," The Washington Post reported.
The president has complained Coats' public statements have undercut his policy goals.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said of Coats: "We are fortunate to have a person of his ability and candor to lead our intelligence community." House intelligence chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Coats "speaks truth to power" and is "loyal to the country and Constitution," which is "as it should be."
Asked Wednesday whether he was considering removing Coats, Trump said, "I haven’t even thought about it."
A finely tuned machine?
The Trump 2020 campaign is seeking to avoid the constant chaos of its first effort with a corporate-style structure, Politico reports. Ten divisions are to report to a single senior adviser, campaign manager Brad Parscale.
Chief operating officer Michael Glassner, a veteran of the 2016 effort, said that "while ultimately successful, the campaign was primarily staffed with inexperienced and untested political operatives and often lacked a cohesive organizational structure."
Of course, Trump can be a disrupter. Politico said many current and former Trump White House officials are convinced there will be turnover at the top as the 2020 campaign heats up.
What else is happening:
- A judge granted Michael Cohen a two-month delay on his prison sentence, until May 6, while he recovers from a medical procedure, reports Newsday's John Riley. That also opens up more time for the ex-fixer who turned on Trump to testify before Congress. He is due before two House panels next week.
- Cohen tweeted: "Looking forward to the #American people hearing my story in my voice!"
- Politico reports a disinformation campaign aimed at 2020 Democrats is already underway on social media, with signs that foreign states are behind some of it.
- Bernie Sanders' campaign said he raised almost $6 million from 225,000 contributors in the first 24 hours after launching his repeat presidential bid.
- California's Sen. Kamala Harris' joke linking youthful pot-smoking to her half-Jamaican roots was denounced by her father, Politico reported. Donald F. Harris, an economics professor, said the family's Jamaican identity should not be connected with "the fraudulent stereotype of a pot-smoking joy seeker."
- Special U.S. envoy Stephen Biegun is in Hanoi trying to lay groundwork for next week's summit between Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un, The Washington Post reports. It's not his first tough assignment. He was given the job in 2008 of tutoring Sarah Palin on foreign policy.
- Trump tweeted a "Go get them Nick" encouragement to Nicholas Sandmann, the MAGA hat-wearing Kentucky high school student who is suing The Washington Post for $250 million over its coverage of a faceoff with a Native American protester.
- Trump's first White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, has signed a contract to serve as a special correspondent for syndicated newsmagazine show "Extra," according to The Hollywood Reporter.