All that’s left is the proverbial engraved invitation. Which reminds me: It’s weird that a guy whose catchphrase is “you’re fired” seems so reluctant to utter those words as president, even though there are a good half-dozen staffers at any given time whom he seems to hate and wishes weren’t there. Even Spicer, his evergreen whipping boy, reportedly was asked by the president to stay on last week after he quit in a huff over Anthony Scaramucci’s hiring. If he’s so unhappy with Sessions, why not give him the full “Apprentice” treatment?
Sessions didn’t take the hint last week when Trump told the Times that he never would have hired him if he’d known he would recuse himself from the Russia probe. So here’s another hint.
So why aren't the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2017
Sounds like dereliction of duty by Sessions. That’s a firing offense! But why would Trump be so reluctant to fire him? Josh Barro floats an interesting theory:
It's gotta be that Trump has already told Sessions to unrecuse / fire Mueller / stop the probe and Sessions told him no.
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 24, 2017
That would explain why Trump is wary of canning him — it’d be Comey redux when Sessions was inevitably called to testify before Congress about what the president told him vis-a-vis the Russiagate probe. But it doesn’t explain Trump’s very public humiliation campaign, which is working to achieve the same outcome by forcing Sessions out of the administration. If Trump’s worried about Sessions turning on him and going public about presidential pressure tactics, why doesn’t he just lay off?
If you’re keeping score at home, there are credible news reports swirling today of potentially two cabinet officers plus the White House chief of staff inching towards leaving, with others potentially to follow. Ed already wrote about the humiliation of Reince Priebus, who seems increasingly unlikely to last a year now that Anthony Scaramucci has supplanted him. There’s the Sessions fiasco noted above, but there’s also this tidbit from Politico about the growing unhappiness of Rex Tillerson, another secretary who’s suffered indignities from the president in being effectively subordinated to Jared Kushner and having his hiring choices micromanaged. How long before Tillerson gets fed up? Maybe sooner than you think:
Among those who viewed the President’s public rebuke of Sessions as unprofessional, according to several sources, is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon-Mobil CEO…
For weeks, conversations with Tillerson friends outside of Washington have left the impression that he, despite his frustrations, was determined to stay on the job at least through the end of the year. That would allow time to continue efforts to reorganize the State Department and would mean he could claim to have put in a year as America’s top diplomat.
But two sources who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity over the weekend said they would not be surprised if there was a “Rexit” from Foggy Bottom sooner that that.
Trump could have vacancies at State and the DOJ before too much longer — and that may not be all. This piece about Steve Bannon being marginalized and lying low in policy debates lately in hopes of avoiding an August purge was written before Bannon allegedly had a major blow-up with Trump over Scaramucci’s appointment. Will he survive the year as senior advisor? And what about H.R. McMaster, another “beleaguered” cabinet official? This Eli Lake piece from a few days ago suggests his current position is a nightmare, with the NSA ignored by Mattis and Tillerson, clashing with counterterror advisors like Tom Bossert, dealing with endless turnover among deputies, and excluded by the president from major meetings like the one with Putin at the G20. The latest news is that McMaster has been trying to sell Trump on a new strategy for Afghanistan but was blocked by Mattis and Tillerson; Trump himself viewed the NSA’s proposal coolly, “a striking vote of no-confidence in his national security adviser.” I wonder how seriously McMaster is thinking about retirement these days.
As for Sessions, Trump reportedly has a replacement in mind:
President Trump is so unhappy with Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he has raised the possibility of bringing back Rudolph Giuliani to head the Justice Department, according to West Wing confidants…
Giuliani would have a tough time getting 50 Republicans senators to vote to confirm him. He was such an early and ardent Trump backer that he wouldn’t be seen as an independent guardian of the department in these tumultuous times.
In fact, the nomination could be seen as Trump throwing gasoline on a fire.
Right. Rand Paul hates Giuliani and vehemently opposed him for Secretary of State during the transition period. Assuming Rand’s dislike carries over to Rudy as AG, McConnell would start with just 51 votes for confirmation. And the party may be in no mood to cut Trump any further slack on Russia matters: They’re poised to rebuke him by passing a sanctions bill that ties his hands, and they clearly want no part of a gigantic constitutional clusterfark involving Trump firing Mueller, the odds of which would increase with a loyalist like Rudy in charge at Justice. He’s probably unconfirmable. Especially with Trump stupidly taking potshots at the people who’d have to confirm him.