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Trump going his own way is raising GOP’s long-term anxiety

Former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, seen here

Former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, seen here in February 2017, is meeting with potential GOP primary challengers who would back the president, according to a Politico report. Credit: EPA / Jim Lo Scalzo

Grand Old Party pooper

President Donald Trump’s dance with the Democrats may not last. But Capitol Hill Republicans aren’t confident he’s going to close ranks with them, either.

They worry that Trump has relinquished his role as leader of the party, choosing to put the interests of his own political movement first, The New York Times reported. That could spell big trouble as the GOP looks to the 2018 midterm elections.

Trump has already shown a willingness to undermine incumbents who cross him.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been meeting with would-be primary challengers willing to side with Trump over establishment Republicans, and his patron — Long Island megadonor Robert Mercer — is prepared to spend millions of dollars to back them, Politico reported.

Republicans fear the intramural warfare could drain funds needed to take on the Democrats in the general elections and even imperil the GOP’s 52-48 Senate majority, the report said.

The take-away: Junk bonds

Newsday’s Dan Janison calls nonsense on the notion that their common New York pedigrees and language brought Trump and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer together for last week’s deal on the debt extension and Harvey aid.

Contrary to Schumer’s post-mortem — “We’re direct, blunt, don’t mess around” — New Yorkers can also, on all counts, be the opposite, Janison writes. Just like the rest of America.

Trump and 9/11

Trump will preside over his first 9/11 commemoration in office on Monday. The ceremonies will be solemn, but the anniversary will also be a reminder about Trump’s controversial comments during the campaign about the nation’s worst terrorist attack.

He has made unsubstantiated claims about what he did and saw on that day, particularly saying when talking about Muslims that “thousands of people were cheering” in Jersey City, New Jersey, across from lower Manhattan as the World Trade Center towers collapsed.

Trump has also said he lost “hundreds of friends” in the attack and that he helped clear rubble afterward.

Watching ‘monster’ Irma

Trump said “every group is coordinating really well” in the response to Hurricane Irma and he wants to visit Florida soon, reports Newsday’s Emily Ngo.

“The bad news is this is some big monster, but I think we’re very well put,” Trump said.

On Saturday, opening a Cabinet meeting, Trump said he will see faster action in the wake of the giant storm on a tax overhaul. “I wanted a speedup anyway, but now we need it even more so,” he said. The president didn’t elaborate to explain the linkage.

No pivot, no paws

Trump is the first president in almost 150 years — since Andrew Johnson — who doesn’t have a pet in the White House, according to The Economist.

Every president since Theodore Roosevelt has had a dog. Are there none that could meet Trump’s demands for loyalty?

What else is happening

  • Dan Scavino, Trump’s gaffe-prone social media chief, stumbled again Sunday when he tweeted a video purporting to show Miami International Airport awash in Irma flooding. The scene was from Mexico City several weeks ago. Scavino deleted his tweet.
  • The Trump administration is considering adding new, less powerful tactical nuclear weapons to America’s arsenal, worrying critics who say there would be greater temptation to use them, Politico reports.
  • On a piecemeal, agency level, the Trump administration is making changes that fit with a socially conservative agenda, the Times reports.
  • The red state/blue state divide from the 2016 election is reflected in which Trump businesses are thriving or slumping, The New York Times reports.
  • Chief of staff John Kelly brought a longtime aide — Kirstjen Nielsen — to the White House as his deputy and enforcer. Some staffers are chafing at the iron discipline she has imposed, according to Politico and The New York Times.
  • CIA veterans are increasingly worried that its Trump-installed director, former Rep. Mike Pompeo, is reversing the agency’s commitment to diversity, and that it will harm efforts to recruit agents from different backgrounds and orientations abroad, reports Foreign Policy.
  • There has been little follow-up from the White House since Trump announced in early August that the opioid addiction epidemic was a “national emergency.” A key unresolved issue is covering the costs of a response, The New York Times reported.
  • The Congress has put off its legislative agenda for now to accommodate members from storm-ravaged states, the Wall Street Journal (pay site) reports.


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