A Former General Takes Control at the White House

Friday, August 4, 2017Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 11.48.13 AM

Good Friday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • John Kelly, the former general and new chief of staff, is seeking to quell dysfunction with a suddenness and force that have upended the West Wing.
  • With President Trump by his side, West Virginia’s newly elected Democratic governor, Jim Justice, announced that he was becoming a Republican.

  • Transcripts of Mr. Trump’s contentious calls with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia show a new president anxious to fulfill campaign promises while developing relationships with foreign counterparts.
  • Mr. Trump blamed Congress for the United States’ poor relationship with Russia, a day after he signed sanctions legislation that he said was flawed and unconstitutional.
  • Years of study have not produced much evidence to support Mr. Trump’s claims that transgender members make it harder for the military to focus on “decisive and overwhelming victory.”
— The First Draft Team

Justice Dept., Under Siege From Trump, Plows Ahead With His Agenda

Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department in July. He has been the subject of President Trump's rage recently because of his recusal in the Russia inquiry.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department in July. He has been the subject of President Trump’s rage recently because of his recusal in the Russia inquiry. Tom Brenner/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is at the Justice Department by 6:15 a.m., when he exercises on a treadmill near his fifth-floor office, showers in an adjoining bathroom, microwaves instant oatmeal and hand-washes the bowl, then prepares for a daily 8:20 a.m. meeting with his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein.
The televisions in both of their offices are nearly always dark, and neither man has a Twitter account.
That does not mean they have missed the public criticism from President Trump, who was infuriated when Mr. Sessions recused himself from the government’s Russia investigation and when Mr. Rosenstein, who now oversees it, appointed Robert S. Mueller III as the inquiry’s special counsel.
Yet even as the Justice Department has been under siege by Mr. Trump, Mr. Sessions and Mr. Rosenstein have sought to tune out the noise as they remake the department into the one that is most powerfully carrying out the president’s agenda.
Read more »
Gloria Estefan at the Tony Awards in 2016. Ms. Estefan, a seven-time Grammy Award winner, said she looked forward to speaking with President Trump because it was “the perfect opportunity to make clear and express” her views.

Kennedy Center Announces First Honorees of Trump Administration


The awardees, including Norman Lear, Gloria Estefan and LL Cool J, appear to be divided on how best to respond to the honor.

Adolfo Guerra in his family home in Galveston, Tex. “Every day it feels like it’s getting hotter,” said Mr. Guerra, a landscaper.

In Sweltering South, Climate Change Is Now a Workplace Hazard


Workers laboring outdoors in southern states are wrestling with the personal and political consequences of a worsening environment.

President Trump in the White House on Thursday.

That Market Trump Is Raving About? Last Year, He Said It Was a ‘Bubble’


As a candidate, Donald Trump warned about the fragile economy and the overinflated stock market. As president, he takes credit for every record high.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, on Thursday. With this week’s passage of the F.D.A. bill and the approval of the new director of the F.B.I., Christopher A Wray, Mr. McConnell said, “We’re taking steps in the right direction.”

Senate Passes F.D.A. Funding and ‘Right to Try’ Drug Bills


The Senate capped a difficult seven months on Thursday by approving financing for the F.D.A. and expanding access to experimental treatments for people with terminal illnesses.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
• Jonathan S. Tobin in National Review:
There’s a more important story line that has been lost here: The departures of Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus. Or, in other words, the firing of the Republican party as we once knew it.”
Lost in all of the reactions to the political whiplash of the past few days, Mr. Tobin writes, is a larger narrative about the strength of the president’s relationship with his own party. With the departures of two of the most prominent establishment figures in the administration, Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer, Mr. Tobin suggests that “the connection between the West Wing and what we used to call the G.O.P. is gone.” Read more »
From the Left
• Erik Wemple in The Washington Post:
“There’s nothing clean about the slate that Kelly inherits.”
The White House’s reasoning for the depature of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director echoes something included in Sean Spicer’s letter of resignation: wanting to give a new administration official a “clean slate.” According to Mr. Wemple, the very notion of a clean slate in this administration is laughable on its face. Read more »
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