Fighting Their Own Wars

Monday, March 20, 2017Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 11.25.35

Good Monday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • President Trump has so far maintained the strategy of training and supporting indigenous forces to fight their own wars instead of deploying large American forces to far-flung hot spots. Mr. Trump is largely relying on the policies of his two immediate predecessors.
  • The Senate, the House and the F.B.I. are conducting investigations into Russia’s election meddling, all with different agendas.
  • As Mr. Trump doubled down again on his unsubstantiated assertion that his phones had been bugged, others made it an opportunity to discuss the real potential for invasion of privacy by our spy agencies.
  • As Judge Neil M. Gorsuch prepares for his Supreme Court confirmation hearing, he may take a page from the playbook of former nominees who successfully navigated the process.
— The First Draft Team
On Washington

Gorsuch Confirmation Presents Democrats With 2 Difficult Paths

By CARL HULSE
Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, right, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, meeting with Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, on Capitol Hill last month.

Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, right, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, meeting with Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, on Capitol Hill last month. Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

When it comes to the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, Senate Democrats appear to have two options: Get out of the way or get run over.
Senate Republicans’ enthusiastic backing of President Trump’s nominee ensures majority support even before the confirmation hearing begins Monday. But the Republicans also hope that enough Democrats are won over by Judge Gorsuch — or recognize the inevitability of his confirmation — that they join in efforts to head off an explosive showdown over a filibuster.
Should Democrats ultimately deny the judge the necessary backing to clear the way for an up-or-down vote, Republicans seem more than ready to take the potentially volatile procedural steps to eliminate the 60-vote threshold on high court picks and summarily install him over Democratic objections. In either case, Judge Gorsuch winds up on the Supreme Court, filling the vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February 2016.
That ending will be hard to swallow for many Democrats and their activist allies, considering Senate Republicans completely stonewalled the nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland made by President Barack Obama almost exactly one year ago, on March 16, 2016. They are not yet ready to concede that outcome.
Read more »

Using Special Forces, Trump Seeks to Avoid Big Ground Wars

By ERIC SCHMITT

President Trump came to office without a clearly articulated philosophy for using the military to fight terrorist groups. Now, he is choosing to maintain the same approach but giving the Pentagon more latitude.

Russia Inquiries Overlap in a Tangle of Secrets and Sniping

By MATT APUZZO, ADAM GOLDMAN AND MATTHEW ROSENBERG

The investigations have, in some cases, been plagued by partisan sniping and misdirection by the president, raising questions about whether there can ever be a full public accounting of the scope of Russia’s campaign to influence the election in November.

Trump’s Wiretap Accusations Renew Debate About Privacy

By SCOTT SHANE

Whether the president intended such a discussion or even welcomes it, his repeated undercutting of the spy agencies has been striking.

Avoid, Sidestep, Retreat: Justices’ Advice on Confirmation Tactics

By ADAM LIPTAK

Former Supreme Court nominees who succeeded in navigating the confirmation hearings offer advice, reflections and criticism about the process.

Grassley and Feinstein: The Pair Who Will Lead Gorsuch’s Hearings

By JENNIFER STEINHAUER

The senators will face pressure to vindicate their parties’ views both of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch’s worthiness to join the Supreme Court and of the process leading him there.

DIPLOMATIC NOTEBOOK

Rex Tillerson’s Hope for a Media-Free Bubble May Burst

By DAVID E. SANGER

In the modern era, everyone from Dean Acheson to John Kerry has found that superpower diplomacy abhors a news vacuum, which the new secretary of state seems to want.

Was Trump Golfing? Time at His Clubs Remains Cloaked in Mystery

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS

After President Trump criticized his predecessor for golfing, the administration has provided few details about the time Mr. Trump spends at his clubs.

To South Carolina District, Trump’s Tough Budget Is a Promise Kept

By NICHOLAS FANDOS

The plan, with its focus on defense, has met with skepticism in Washington, but supporters here cheer a leader doing “just what he said he was going to do.”

RETRO REPORT

Grilling Gorsuch: Why He Won’t Answer

By CLYDE HABERMAN

A rhetorical version of dodge ball is a favored tactic for nominees regardless of their position on the political spectrum.

Choice of I.M.F. Critic Highlights Trump’s Reversal of Global Policy

By LANDON THOMAS JR.

Adam Lerrick, set to be nominated as deputy under secretary of the Treasury for international finance, has been a vocal scold of global bodies like the International Monetary Fund for nearly 20 years.

G.O.P.’s Health Care Tightrope Winds Through the Midwest

By ABBY GOODNOUGH AND JONATHAN MARTIN

Undoing and replacing the Affordable Care Act means bridging a vast gulf between the expectations of many working-class Trump voters and party orthodoxy.

Rex Tillerson and Xi Jinping Meet and Emphasize Cooperation

By JANE PERLEZ

The U.S. secretary of state and the Chinese president kept away from contentious issues even as North Korea defiantly showed off a new missile engine.

What We’re Reading
From BuzzFeed:
“…a spate of people, often with financial motives, have been peddling dirt on the president.”
You’ve heard about “fake news.” Now learn about an emerging market of phony documents intended to damage the president and his associates. The intended customers? Journalists, liberal activists and other people eager for any information on Mr. Trump.
From Stanford Law Review:
“I have seen him change his mind as a result of discussion.”
For those who want a “legally grounded analysis” of Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, the Stanford Law Review has assembled a collection of essays — including two personal notes from former colleagues — doing just that.
If you still want to know more about Judge Gorsuch, read our article about his ties to the secretive billionaire Philip F. Anschutz.
See more great reads from around the web »