Will Trump Be the Sage One?

Only one person can save us from the dangerous belligerent in the White House.

And that person is Donald Trump.

How screwed up is that?

Will the president let himself be pushed into a parlous war by John Bolton, who once buoyed the phony case on W.M.D.s in Iraq? Or will Trump drag back his national security adviser and the other uber hawks from the precipice of their fondest, bloodiest desire — to attack Iran?

Can Cadet Bone Spurs, as Illinois senator and Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth called Trump, set Tom Cotton straight that winning a war with Iran would not merely entail “two strikes, the first strike and the last strike”? Holy cakewalk.

Once, we counted on Trump’s advisers to pump the brakes on an out-of-control president. Now, we count on the president to pump the brakes on out-of-control advisers.

.. “On one side, you have a president who doesn’t want war, who simply wants to do with Iran what he has done with North Korea, to twist the arm of the Iranians to bring them to a negotiation on his terms,” said Gérard Araud, the recently departed French ambassador. “He thinks they will suffer and at the end, they will grovel in front of his power.”

But in a way, Araud said, the face-off with the Iranians is more “primitive and dangerous” because, besides Bolton, other factions in the Middle East are also “dreaming of going to war.”

“Even if Trump doesn’t personally want war, we are now at the mercy of any incident, because we are at maximum tension on both sides,” said Araud, recalling Candidate Trump’s bellicose Twitter ultimatumsin 2016 when Iran’s Revolutionary Guards held American sailors blindfolded at gunpoint for 15 hours.

Given their sour feelings about W. shattering the Middle East and their anger at Trump shredding the Iran nuclear deal, Europeans are inclined to see the U.S. as trying to provoke Iran into war. This time, the Europeans will not be coming along — and who can blame them?

I’m having an acid flashback to 2002, when an immature, insecure, ill-informed president was bamboozled by his war tutors.

In an echo of the hawks conspiring with Iraqi exiles to concoct a casus belli for Iraq, Bolton told members of an Iranian exile group in Paris in 2017 that the Trump administration should go for regime change in Tehran.

And that’s why, before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran!” Bolton cheerily told the exiles.

When Bolton was the fifth column in the Bush 2 State Department — there to lurk around and report back on flower child Colin Powell — he complained that W.’s Axis of Evil (Iran, Iraq, North Korea) was too limited, adding three more of his own (Cuba, Libya, Syria). Then, last year, Bolton talked about “the Troika of Tyranny” (Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela). His flirtations with military intervention in Venezuela this month irritated Trump.

The 70-year-old with the Yeti mustache is an insatiable interventionist with an abiding faith in unilateralism and pre-emptive war. (The cost of our attenuated post-9/11 wars is now calculated at $5.9 trillion.)

W. and Trump are similar in some ways but also very different. As Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio notes: W. was interested in clarity. Trump wants chaos. W. wanted to trust his domineering advisers. Trump is always imagining betrayal. W. wanted to be a war hero, like his dad. Trump does not want to be trapped in an interminable war that will consume his presidency.

Certainly, the biographer says, Trump enjoys playing up the scary aspects of brown people with foreign names and ominous titles, like “mullah” and “ayatollah,” to stoke his base.

But Trump, unlike W., is driven by the drama of it. “It’s a game of revving up the excitement and making people afraid and then backing off on the fear in order to declare that he’s resolved the situation,” D’Antonio said. “Trump prefers threats and ultimatums to action because that allows him to look big and tough and get attention without doing something for which he will be held responsible. This is who he is at his core: an attention-seeking, action-averse propagandist who is terrified of accountability in the form of coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base.”

David Axelrod, who had the military briefing about what a war with Iran would look like when he was in the Obama White House, said: “I’m telling you. It’s not a pretty picture.”

He says he is not sure which movie Bolton is starring in: “Dr. Strangelove” or “Wag the Dog.”

If part of your brand is that you’re not going to get the U.S. into unnecessary wars,” he said, “why in the world would you hire John Bolton?

Half of 10 Biggest Federal Law Agencies Lack Permanent Chiefs

Number of acting heads produces a lack of leadership stability at agencies that enforce critical parts of Trump agenda

Five of the nation’s 10 largest federal law-enforcement agencies are currently operating with only interim heads amid an unprecedented long-term leadership vacuum that even some of the president’s congressional allies say is untenable.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Federal Bureau of Prisons all lack permanent heads.

Several of the agencies—ATF, DEA and ICE—have been without Senate-approved leadership for the entirety of Donald Trump’s term in office. That is the case despite unified Republican control of the Senate and presidency during that period, which typically leads to easier confirmation scenarios.

Because of opposition by some gun-rights groups, presidents of both parties have struggled to get ATF nominees through the Senate—but Mr. Trump has never even tapped anyone for the job. The leader of the Bureau of Prisons need not be Senate-confirmed, but even so it has only an acting director.

CBP has been run by an interim leader since mid-April because its current commissioner was tapped to run the entire Department of Homeland Security—as an acting secretary.

In part, the situation reflects Mr. Trump’s management style. He has said he prefers keeping people in “acting” roles rather than going through the Senate nominating process.

I sort of like ‘acting,’” Mr. Trump said earlier this year. “It gives me more flexibility.”

He is giving himself plenty of that. While vacancies are common toward the end of a presidential administration, the sheer number of them across the Trump administration as well as the turnover in crucial jobs, particularly at prestigious law-enforcement agencies, is without precedent, according to Max Stier, president and chief executive of the Partnership for Public Service.

Of the roughly 700 key positions requiring Senate approval that his organization tracks, only about 400 of them have been filled with a Senate-confirmed official. Some are extremely high profile, like the secretaries of defense and DHS.

But the result is a lack of leadership stability at several agencies that enforce critical parts of Mr. Trump’s agenda. The Drug Enforcement Administration has a prominent role in curbing opioid abuse, a priority of the Trump administration. ATF is a central player in combating gang violence and illegal firearms trafficking, other law-enforcement priorities of the president.

And CBP and ICE both play major roles in enforcing immigration law, the centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s domestic agenda. The president often talks of what he says is a “crisis at the border.”

Steadiness in leadership at government agencies with police powers may be especially crucial. “A law-enforcement organization is dealing with some of the most serious powers of the state and that is the power that involves people’s liberty,” said Mr. Stier.

Running a government with so many vacancies and “acting” leaders at high levels also bypasses the Senate’s constitutionally mandated “advice and consent” role in approving senior leadership at many agencies—and, similarly to Mr. Trump’s recent defiance of House subpoenas, shows little regard for Congress as a coequal branch of government.

“One of the purposes of the constitutional system we have is the checks and balances. The Senate, one of their critical roles, is to be able to in essence vet the senior leadership of our government—choices that the president is making,” Mr. Stier said. “That absolutely is a challenge to the system of government that we have.”

Veterans of government service note that it is difficult to be an effective manager with “acting” in your title.

To effectively lead an agency, you need as much authority and gravitas as you can muster. These are difficult jobs. Senate confirmation definitely helps,” said Robert Bonner, a former federal judge and prosecutor who was successfully nominated to lead both the DEA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency under two Republican presidents.

“It is enormously important that the people that work for you in that agency view you, not as an ‘acting,’ but as somebody who is going to be around for a while,” said Mr. Bonner, who was confirmed to four separate positions by the U.S. Senate. “If you’re not a confirmed head of an agency … you’re not going to be able to command as much respect and attention from your own people and from other agencies whose cooperation is important.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, an ally of Mr. Trump and the chairman of the committee that considers nominees for the DEA and AFT, said he doesn’t approve of the long-term vacancies created by the Trump administration.

“It bothers me. Why aren’t they doing it? They should,” Mr. Graham said about nominating permanent heads for those agencies. The South Carolina Republican is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which has oversight of the Justice Department and all its law-enforcement agencies—which include the FBI, DEA, AFT, U.S. Marshals Service and Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The lack of any nominees has created a messy situation at the top of several agencies—requiring tricky legal maneuvering to even name an acting successor.

ATF is currently being led by Reggie Lombardo, who holds the title of “acting deputy director.” Ms. Lombardo, who took office earlier this month after the departure of her predecessor, cannot hold the title of acting director because of a quirk in federal law caused by the lengthy vacancy and the lack of a nominee.

The current acting head of the DEA, Uttam Dhillon, had to be transferred from his White House job into a Justice Department post first—to qualify for the appointment as acting administrator because of another requirement in the agency secession rules. Mr. Dhillon was involved in the search for a DEA head while he was at the White House.

And Mr. Trump purged the leadership of the Department of Homeland Security last month in a clash over the direction of the agency. He named CBP commissioner Kevin McAleenan as the acting DHS secretarybypassing a law that required the acting job to go to the undersecretary for Management, Claire Grady. Ms. Grady eventually resigned to resolve the issue—clearing the path for Mr. McAleenan to become acting DHS secretary.

Fmr Trump Org Exec: Donald Trump Scared Of New Don Jr. Subpoena | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBCFmr Trump Org Exec: Donald Trump Scared Of New Don Jr. Subpoena | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC

President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. has been subpoenaed by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee. Members of the committee want to talk to him about matters related to the Russia investigation. Former Trump Organization Executive Barbara Res discusses why she believes people “do so much” for Trump, telling Ari Melber in some cases Trump “has something on them” or is “taking care of them in some way”.

 

breaking news the US Senate hitting
Donald Trump jr. with a subpoena late
today I was just discussing it with
congressman Jeffrey’s and the demand is
that he come back to discuss the rush of
probe the move adds a kind of a
bipartisan Sheen to Trump’s battles with
Congress today he is asserting executive
privilege over the whole Moeller report
which follows up on his demand that of
course his former council also defy
congressional quest for evidence and
then there’s the White House’s blanket
claim that Donald Trump wants to justify
all congressional subpoenas I want to
get into it with someone who knows how
Donald Trump fights in business and in
the courtroom Barbara rest is a former
Trump Organization executives you work
with Trump for over a decade and is also
the author of all alone on the 68th
floor and their burger a former federal
prosecutor and both SD and Y where the
Michael Cohen case was and Edie and why
good to have both of you here what does
it mean to you when you see Donald Trump
say we’re fighting all the subpoenas I
knew Trump or old Chuck old Trump from
you with it with inner twist absolutely
up with a new twist
yes president under six now it’s just
not just some guy you know some
developer yeah he refuses to do things
he typically would say no you know PS
things that he didn’t want to answer
provide information and want to provide
nothing new how does he test out whether
he thinks it’s working that’s a good
question
III think he always thinks it’s work and
to be honest with you that sounds crazy
but I think we read these stories about
him angrily yelling at people yelling at
Jeff Sessions documenting the poor
yelling and other people so frustrated
the in public he seems to say everything
I’d all like you know he has that he’s
sort of a fake DJ Khaled in public it’s
all I do is win and in private he’s
screaming I’m asked my presidency is
over Jeff Sessions you’re terrible and
so the mullah rapportive among other
things was simply embarrassing did you
ever see him in public say we’re gonna
win this case this or that way and then
in private say hey we may have to settle
yeah man I’ve never sung admit to being
the loser in private I saw him scream at
people
I saw him blaming people for things that
you know he thought might have happened
that shouldn’t have happened that he did
without a doubt but I’ve never seen him
myth that he was going to lose something
actually hmm interesting bear and I have
questions for you but any reaction to
that first I mean it’s interesting sort
of the the approach that one would take
in the private sector when it comes to
the civil litigation so the approach the
president may have been used to in his
previous life is really different than
the approach that is typically taken in
interactions between the executive and
the legislative branch which is you know
not let’s fight to the mat and you know
make a judge come in and make a decision
here there is this sort of
constitutionally rooted principle of
reasonable accommodation so it’s a very
different posture I think then the
president is probably used to fighting
his battles which means which means that
the legislative and the executive
branches are not expected to take
totally unreasonable positions and then
have a judge come in and try to make a
decision they are obligated courts have
found that this is an obligation that
they try to work together and that they
try to come to some sort of an
accommodation recognizing the interest
that each side has so this brings us to
why it’s great to have both of you here
as a DOJ expert and as a Trump expert I
know that’s maybe not what you set out
to be with the whole life yeah it’s not
your only skill set but it is one of
them it seems like Don Magan was trying
and at times failing to change or train
Donald Trump out of his worst impulses
indeed Don Magan may ultimately have
saved Donald Trump from the
self-inflicted massacre that might have
ended his presidency at that juncture
and it seems that mr. Barr is not doing
that that he’s actually encouraging
Donald Trump to give in to these
instincts what does it tell you that
Donald Trump’s first ever invocation of
executive power which is until the
courts overrule it unless they overrule
is a unitary unilateral thing he had to
be walked there by mr. Barr in part of
mr. bars fights with Congress it’s
almost like Donald Trump didn’t know how
to hit this lever without mr. Barr right
I mean you’ve seen very different
postures right I mean he was I don’t
want to say cooperative with the Malheur
investigation because he certainly
wasn’t cooperatively as we usually think
about it but he did let executive staff
talk to Muller he never had the proof I
wouldn’t call cooperative at all because
he did things that other people go to
jail for let’s narrow it to the gist the
privilege which is the news because
today is the only day the first state
Trump’s ever done this on the privilege
he never hit that button during the pro
correct and now today I’m gonna do it
Barbara I’m gonna do it again today bar
says mr. president we got to hit the
button for stuff that as far as I could
tell is not directly related to
privilege some of it and now they’re
doing it right it was they just see very
different postures that he was in sort
of pre and post bar
I mean look with respect to the
executive privilege today I mean the way
I sort of read it as this is a little
bit of a stalling technique he is trying
to sort of buy more time for them to I
didn’t continue to figure out how
they’re gonna fight the subpoena I mean
ultimately is there an executive
privilege for peripheral third party
information I think that it’s at least a
question that’s I mean it’s not a
slam-dunk either way I think it’s the
short answer here I think that they
there may be issues of valid issues of
privilege I think the bigger question is
were they waived so while they can sort
of hit this well I mean you’re so fair
which is why we have you here but I’ll
go further than you they were waived
they were waived they were waived at you
were waived I think there are n look
there are certain categories that there
just is no privilege for right like
anything that happened on the campaign
before he was actually the president
there’s no even plausible question of
whether that is covered by executive
privilege it’s just not so while there
are some that they may have some kind of
a plausible argument to put before court
there’s gonna be a huge loss that they
don’t you know I wanted to dive back a
little bit on why Trump didn’t hit the
button before yeah I don’t think you
could have hit the button how could he
have said we won’t cooperate with
legitimate an investigation I don’t
think you could say that now we can say
because he’s been you know exonerated
the bar exonerated him has he been
exonerated well according to him he has
according to as far as he has according
to the the people that want to allow him
like the entire Republican Party to pull
off the stuff that he’s pulling off yeah
so he now turns around he says he’s not
asking barfy should hit the button he
would have hit the button all along he
would have said no no I’m not giving him
that don’t bother me it’s only a
business I don’t think it’s bother told
him I think it was I think it’s just a
matter of now he’s got he’s got Meccano
amazing
it’s closed or whatever the hell we say
well why not why not stop it no one’s
gonna challenge him now whereas back
when everybody was interested well
what’s this guy mullet doing no he
couldn’t do it that that’s my I asked
you a question how does he get so many
people like Rosenstein like some of the
other DOJ officials mr. Horowitz in the
inspector general’s office who’s not a
household name but who really did what
Donald Trump asked for on Twitter and a
very unusual rousting of Andrew McKay
which we covered at the time mr. Rosen
site now mr. Barr how does he get so
many people well you and I both know
would have been the first to talk smack
about Donald Trump before he were
president and he knows deep down cuz
he’s an outer borough guy he he at least
seems to fear deep down that they don’t
really respect or like him how does he
get them to do so much for him you know
I I have to be honest with you this is
maybe a childish answer but I think that
he does one of three things
he is the Pied Piper to many people and
I’ve seen that happen I’ve seen it with
my own people I’ve seen architects that
he sued telling me what I’m voting for
him so some people just buy this BS
architects that he sued yeah I was are
you saying unfairly or oh absolutely and
they vote for him how do they explain it
to you oh he’s the best well first of
all people there’s the whole Hillary
problem which people just didn’t like
her but no he’s he’s really good for the
country
what is crap I mean he did sue him and
to him I think he might have been
impressed by the fact that is suit me
even though it was wrong and by the way
he won a large part of that lawsuit
because he got some people suggested to
provide information that was
questionable but the other two
possibilities are and this is the
childish part number one maybe he has
something on them and number two maybe
he’s taking care of them in some way or
another were the promise of this or a
promise of that well when you look at
the people that are in positions that
wrote about positive articles like the
tax guy or what you know wrote an
article and then next thing you know
he’s ahead of everything you know so
there’s a little quid pro quo there but
you know maybe with a guy like Barr
something he’s really got information I
don’t know like I said that sounds like
a computer
spiritually theorist but on the other
hand I mean it’s just you can’t explain
the number of people that are going
along with this guy Republican Jim
they’re just protecting the pond there’s
no quite my mind about that but somebody
like a bar why is he doing it why is
Rosenstein doing it I don’t know you
know what we call barber res in Brooklyn
a straight-shooter you work you were a
Brooklyn prosecutor I was I was I was
born a book which should be a credible
witness like absolutely Barbara Rad’s
and parrot burger digging into this on a
big story thank you both hey I’m already
Melbourne from MSNBC you can see more of
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