Morning Briefing: The Latest on North Korea, GOP Infighting, and Monica Lewinsky
Let’s start this morning with the escalating war of words between Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, because intra-party infighting is giving me life (at least on the Republican side). McConnell earlier this week suggested that Trump had “excessive expectations” about repealing Obamacare and his legislative agenda. Trump fired back this morning:
Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn't get it done. Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2017
What’s funny about this Tweet is that it’s basically the same thing White House social media guy Dan Scavino tweeted the other day, which means that Trump can’t even think of an original comeback:
Anyway, the point is, the President of the United States and the leader of his own party are fighting publicly, which will hopefully continue to make it difficult for Trump to get anything passed.
— Moving on: There is speculation that Bob Mueller conducted the predawn raid on Paul Manafort for a few reasons: To humiliate him, to soften him up so that he will flip, and to warn others in Trump’s inner circle that, should they not cooperate, they too may be the recipient of a predawn raid. And the thing about Manafort is, Trump doesn’t give two shits about him. They didn’t have a particularly close relationship. Imagine what might happen if Mueller conducted a raid on Ivanka and Jared’s home.
— In the meantime, as the predawn raid was being carried out, Trump was tweeting that he would no longer allow transgender individuals in the military. That tweet, so far, doesn’t seem to have led to the actual removal of anyone from the military … yet. There are now 5 transgender folks who are suing the Trump Administration over the ban (my guess is, at the very least, they’d have a very strong due process claim).
— Meanwhile, on the North Korean front, it seems that North Korea called Trump’s bluff and decided to threaten the United States again. Now, they say they’re planning to bomb Guam in mid-August. I’m not sure what this means — nobody does — but Trump did say that North Korea would be met with “fire and fury” if they “threatened” our interests again. They threatened. If Trump doesn’t retaliate, then he looks like the weak buffoon he is. If he does retaliate, then we may be heading toward something very, very ugly.
F**k you, Trump, for putting us in this position.
Related: Did you know that brown tree snakes were inadvertently transported to Guam in a military cargo plane during World War II, that they spread on the island, and eventually wiped out nearly every bird native to Guam? Fascinating. Apparently, the island is overrun with the snakes now, but they are mostly harmless to people.
— Trump also tweeted this poll this morning:
Who is a better President of the United States? #ObamaDay— ProgressPolls (@ProgressPolls) August 4, 2017
The poll is a few days old, and clearly comes from a conservative outlet. In fact, check out some of their other polls:
Do you think the wage gap for women is real? #BlackWomensEqualPay— ProgressPolls (@ProgressPolls) July 31, 2017
Do you think Seth Rich was murdered by the DNC / Clintons?— ProgressPolls (@ProgressPolls) August 1, 2017
What’s interesting here is that they are clearly a right wing organization (I mean, nearly half of them believe that Seth Rich was murdered by Hillary Clinton despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary) and yet, even a majority of those in his base believe that the transgender ban was wrong:
Do you think President Trump is right in barring LGBT transgender people from the military due to 'medical costs and disruption?'— ProgressPolls (@ProgressPolls) July 26, 2017
— As Lainey mentioned in Pajiba Love last night, Anthony Scaramucci compared Ryan Lizza — the man who destroyed his career — to Linda Tripp. Tripp, as you might recall, secretly recorded telephone conversations with Monica Lewinsky about her relationship with Bill Clinton. This morning, Lewisnky weight in (kinda):
I think Lewinsky just threw shade.
— In a somewhat comforting note, there is a report from Axios that suggests that there is a loose alliance among economic advisor Gary Cohn, National Security advisor Dina Powell, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (who have leaned Democrat in the past) and the generals (H.R. McMaster, John Kelly, and Jim Mattis) to protect the nation from disaster by quelling Trump’s worst instincts and preventing him from making bad decisions. If true, I’d hate to see what the Trump Administration might look like without them.
— Finally, in news that will almost certainly affect many of you, insurers are skittish because of Trump’s actions and the uncertainty surrounding the health insurance markets, which is expected to lead to double-digit premium increases for many next year. This is expected to affect as many as 10 million people on the exchanges, plus an addition 5-7 million of us who get our healthcare through our employers.