Yesterday we learned that Donald Trump is having members of his presidential transition sign non-disclosure agreements. During the campaign he said that presidential appointees and nominees should, too, because he doesn't like the idea of members of a government being critical after they leave the government. The key is that the transition, unlike the campaign, is a government entity. It has a government budget, access to government services, government offices, government emails etc. I am not sure of its technical standing or whether there is much relevant case law. But it is definitely not a private entity like a campaign.
We now have three of the four top national and domestic security agencies of the government under the management of recently retired generals. (One might reasonably change the number to five if considered the DOJ which houses the FBI.) We could have a fourth if President-elect Trump chooses David Petraeus as Secretary of State. They are Mattis at the Pentagon; Kelly at DHS; Flynn as the President's National Security Advisor. There is nothing inherently wrong with having retired generals serve in high level administration positions. We've had a number of accomplished retired general presidents—Washington, Jackson, Grant, Eisenhower. Barely more than a decade ago, Colin Powell served as Secretary of State. Brent Scowcroft served as National Security Advisor. Petraeus served as CIA Director under President Obama. But the issue is one of concentration and recency.
I was just corresponding with someone about how Trump has jumped out several laps ahead of everyone who is trying to keep Trump and his grasping kids from making billions off the Presidency. Here's what I said.
Our team of Lauren Fox and Tierney Sneed have been doing a superb job keeping us up to date on Republican plans to repeal Obamacare and phase out Medicare, often getting the key stories as much as a couple days in advance of the competition. (Sweet!) Today I want to show you some hard, granular numbers on the human toll of what Republicans plan to prepare for President Trump's signature right out of the gate next month. Depending on how they go about it, we are talking about tens of millions of Americans who are about to lose their health insurance coverage. Some people might think that's a big deal. For the moment the main policy debate within the GOP is how to accomplish this and evade as much blame as possible.
I've been watching closely as Hillary Clinton's popular vote lead has grown and grown since election day. It now stands at over 2.6 million votes, a 2 percentage point lead in the popular vote. Of course, the electoral college determines who becomes President. But contrary to what some say, the popular vote is still important. It shows that Trump will be a minority President. It also helps focus Democrats on what did an did not go wrong.
It looks like Paul Ryan and whoever else in the Trump camp and in the Senate who's in league with him has rolled Sen. Lamar Alexander on signing on to the GOP House's "repeal and delay" concept. As we've discussed "repeal and delay" seems certain to require chaos verging on collapse in the insurance markets or a gargantuan pay-off to insurance companies to tread water until Republicans come up with an idea of what to use to replace Obamacare.
George W Bush was one of our worst presidents, but he did one really good thing: in 2003, he established the “do-not-call-registry” to prevent telemarketers from besieging people like me who work at home with unwanted phone calls. Fine. And it worked and was a very popular program. But then telemarketers started to get around it – Brigid and her sisters of Hell from Cardholder Services began calling several times a day along with other deplorables offering to pay my credit card bills and increase my life span.
This morning Donald Trump lashed out at Boeing claiming its budget for the successor to the current Air Force One is wildly overpriced.
Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2016
What prompted this?
It seems increasingly clear that the Secretary of State search is the shiny object Trump is using to distract from every other appointment he makes. Specifically, we have a cavalcade of fairly qualified candidates for State which are reviewed, paraded and then tossed aside while basically every nominee or appointee who actually gets the nod is consistently hard right or wildly unqualified or both.
The far-right 'Freedom Caucus' in the House is signaling it won't go along with Paul Ryan's "Repeal and Delay" plan to repeal Obamacare. As I've said, I think the bigger challenge is going to come in the Senate. But it may not be that easy for Ryan in the House either. The key to remember here is that there is no reason to "delay" other than gaming the politics or, more importantly, the inability to come up with a politically palatable replacement. None.
I mentioned last night that incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn's son has been aggressively spreading the "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory that led to the shooting in D.C. yesterday. As I mentioned, Flynn Jr isn't some ne'er-do-well son who has no meaningful connection to his father. He was his top aide and chief of staff at the consulting firm the general ran after he left the military. I was curious if there was more because on Flynn Jr.'s twitter bio he lists the URL of the Trump presidential transition. Is he now on the government payroll? You can't necessarily draw that inference since obviously you can put anything you want on your twitter bio. But now CNN has confirmed that Flynn Jr. does have an official government transition email address. So this guy who is actively involved in spreading this dangerous nonsense is literally on the government payroll and looks likely to work in the government under President Trump.