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Morning Briefing: A Top Advisor Rebukes Trump, On the Record

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | August 25, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | August 25, 2017 |

The big news this morning is that Gary Cohn — Trump’s top economic advisor — spoke out against Donald Trump’s response to Charlottesville in an interview with the Financial Times.

“Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the K.K.K.,” Mr. Cohn said. “I believe this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities.”

Cohn, a Jew and a “Democrat,” reportedly strongly considered resigning after Trump’s response but decided against it for the “good of the country,” i.e., he really, really wants to be Fed Chairman. But also, he said, “As a Jewish American, I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting ‘Jews will not replace us’ to cause this Jew to leave his job.”

I get that, actually..

The public rebuke here is not just significant because a close Trump subordinate spoke out against him, but because Cohn’s remarks match the narrative that Trump spent 77 minutes in Phoenix trying to rebut: That he equated peaceful protestors in Charlottesville to Nazis.

It’s almost certainly going to set Trump off, who will think that Cohn has sided with “fake news.”

— Next week will be “Tax Reform” week, in which Trump will start selling a tax reform package. I wonder if it will go as well as “Infrastructure Week.” Importantly, the package will not come from Trump but House Republicans, and Trump will need all the help he can get, especially from Senate Republicans, of whom he has alienated many (including Flake, Heller, McConnell, McCain, Sasse, Graham, Grassley, etc.) If he is planning big tax cuts for the rich, that might be difficult to pass, as well. However, from the looks of it, he’s zeroing in on cutting corporate tax rates. He’ll probably get the support he needs for that even from a hostile Republican Congress, but can he get the Democratic votes he needs? He’s still fuming about that on Twitter:

That tweet about not being able to pass any bills, by the way, was followed ten minutes later by a tweet about how many bills he’s passed.

Speaking of GOP support, he is shitting on another Republican Senator, and using a private conversation to twist the knife:

Unfortunately, when Trump bashes other Republicans, it works. Some of his biggest targets (Flake, Heller, etc.) have the lowest approval ratings. Mitch McConnell, in fact, is down to 18 percent approval in his own state of Kentucky. The GOP doesn’t fear Trump, but they do fear his base.

— In Russia news: Michael Flynn was “reportedly” fired for lying to Mike Pence. Sure looks like Mike Pence knew all along:

— This? I have zero enthusiasm for this idea. I could see a segment of independents voting for this ticket as an alternative to the insanity of Trump (and sadly, I could see this ticket potentially playing spoiler), but I don’t see it working. Given the choice between Kamala Harris or Corey Booker and John Kasich, no Democrat it going to vote for the latter, and no Trump Republican is going to vote for Kasich (he is polling less than Ted Cruz).

I like the idea, in general, but not a ticket with two old white guys. No. Fuck no. Old white guys have gotten us into this mess, I don’t need another four fucking years of them (I might make an exception for Biden at the top of the ticket, but even then … )

— Finally, Scott Baio is apologizing this morning for tweeting about a conspiracy theory … eh, you know what? I don’t give a shit about Scott Baio.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.