Constant infighting among top officials. Sudden departures of senior staffers without explanation. A leader who is disengaged and prone to falling asleep in meetings.
The Commerce Department has reached its apex of dysfunction under Wilbur Ross, according to four people with knowledge of the inner workings of the department. The 81-year-old Commerce secretary, who has for months endured whispers that he is on the outs, spends much of his time at the White House to try to retain President Donald Trump’s favor, the sources said, leaving his department adrift.
He’s hardly the only top Trump official to seek the president’s approval. But department insiders say they’ve rarely seen Commerce so rudderless — and they say Ross’ penchant for managing upward at the expense of his staff is leading to what one plugged-in observer described as “a disaster over there.”
A great detail: Ross’ aides are wary of scheduling meetings that include the secretary, since he “tends to fall asleep in meetings.”
Organizers denied that the effort is intended to drive up conservative turnout but acknowledged the measure could work to Trump’s benefit by forcing Democratic candidates to say whether they support noncitizen voting in local elections.
The initiative is being publicly championed by a West Palm Beach couple who are members of the president’s private club and have been associated with Trump’s political operation.
But an examination of the ballot measure campaign found it is being driven by a veteran GOP political consultant based in Arizona who said he has plans to expand the effort to at least a dozen other states in time for the 2020 elections — many of which are key Senate battlegrounds.
The financiers of the Florida ballot measure, who public records show have contributed more than $4.7 million through a recently formed nonprofit organization, are a mystery.
The unspoken model here is 2004, when Republicans pushed laws banning same-sex marriage in states around the country as a way to juice GOP turnout.
* Mike DeBonis and Any Narayanswamy report that Democratic members of the House have outraised their Republican counterparts and look to be in a strong position for 2020.
* Jonathan Chait argues that the “national conservatism” meant to give intellectual cover to Trump is just as devoted to enriching the international financial elite as any other contemporary Republican sub-ideology.
* Jeff Hauser and David Segal argue that Sen. Chuck Schumer is squandering one of the only shreds of real power that Democrats still have in the Senate.
* At the American Prospect, I gave some thought to the idea that “This is not who we are.”
* And Jake Pearson reports on the unusual influence in federal affairs now wielded by a man named Tommy Hicks Jr., whose qualification for that influence is that he’s Donald Trump Jr.’s hunting buddy.