The other question … is the extent to which the repeated and overt invocations of the most invidious motivations on the part of the President himself, his campaign, his adviser, and his Twitter feed will render an otherwise valid exercise of this power invalid.
“He really backed away from it. Even in the most general constitutional terms, he didn’t want to discuss it. From where I am sitting I don’t think there is a more important question in light of this president.”
The first hint of trouble for Republicans came two weeks ago, when Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz was confronted by hundreds of angry protesters at his town hall. Since then, Republican lawmakers have canceled town halls, while others have split town entirely — heading on Congressional delegation trips to spots like the Mexican border and Europe.
So what’s the big deal? Republicans can just claim George Soros is funding all the protests and tell themselves everything they’re doing is going just fine.
* TRUMP’S NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER IS SKEPTICAL OF RUSSIA, IRAN: Trump has chosen Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser. The Post reports:
Peter Feaver, a scholar on civil-military ties at Duke University, said he expected McMaster to take a skeptical view of Russia, seeing Moscow as a dubious partner and major potential threat to U.S. security. And Feaver said he expects a similar skepticism toward Iran…In the Iraq War…his strategy, dubbed “clear, hold and build,” became a model for the broader campaign…to stabilize Iraq in 2007 and 2008.
Two things to watch, then, will be the fate of sanctions on Russia and the Iran nuclear deal.
* HERE’S A SPECIAL ELECTION TO WATCH: FiveThirtyEight reports that the special election to replace Tom Price (Trump’s new health and human services secretary) in the Atlanta suburbs will be a key political indicator. Price easily won the district last time. But:
Trump barely carried it in the 2016 general election … Trump struggled largely because the district is highly educated — 60 percent of people 25 or older in the district have a college degree, compared with just 31 percent nationally. Mitt Romney won this district by over 20 percentage points in 2012 … [This] could be our first real test of whether Democrats can make inroads into traditionally red districts that were wary of Trump.
* TRUMP IS SET TO ROLL BACK OBAMA CLIMATE AGENDA: The Post reports that Trump is set to roll out an executive order, as early as this week, that instructs the Environmental Protection Agency to rewrite Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which seeks to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. That, in turn, is key to meeting our commitments to the Paris climate accord.
Environmental groups will fight the rollback, and it’s possible it could take years or end up not mattering all that much. But this is a reminder that Trump could deliver a major setback to international efforts to fight global warming, with untold long-term consequences.
* SENIOR TRUMP ADVISER IS FROM THE ‘FRINGE’: The Post has an eye-opening profile of one Sebastian Gorka, who is now a senior adviser to Trump and believes we’re locked in a global showdown with Islamo-facism:
For years, Gorka had labored on the fringes of Washington and the far edge of acceptable debate as defined by the city’s Republican and Democratic foreign policy elite. Today, the former national security editor for the conservative Breitbart News outlet occupies a senior job in the White House and his controversial ideas — especially about Islam — drive Trump’s populist approach to counterterrorism and national security.
In an interview, Gorka says that he “completely jettisons” the idea that the terrorism problem is “nuanced and complicated.” It’s about “religious ideology.” Who needs nuance and complexity, anyway?
* AND THE TWEET OF THE DAY: A prominent figure tweeted just moments ago about the rash of bomb threats to Jewish community centers and other anti-Semitic incidents we’ve been seeing across the country. But it wasn’t President Trump: