The Thursday Night Twister (or "How President Trump Celebrated Six Months in Office"): The POTUS team explores pardons and digs dirt on Mueller. He offers the job of White House communications director to Anthony Scaramucci, without telling other top West Wing officials. Mark Corallo quits Trump's legal team. Remember health care? Or "Made in America Week"?
One of the more elusive skills in this White House is the ability to communicate effectively with President Trump. It's no secret he likes things short, simple, graphical.
Someone who was doing it all wrong (although better lately), according to colleagues, is national security adviser H.R. McMaster. It's one of several reasons the two men often don't click.
McMaster has briefed in a certain way his whole career: crisp, linear, dry, like a good military man, and leaves nothing to chance. The formality doesn't work with Trump, who sometimes simply tunes McMaster out.
"Can you believe this guy?" he once asked in a joking-not-joking tone.
Watching cable news, President Trump admired the scrappy style of Anthony Scaramucci, a brash Wall Streeter widely known as "Mooch," and would ask aloud why the financier wasn't working for him.
Scaramucci endeared himself even more when he fought back against a CNN story tying him to the Russia investigation, and won a retraction and the resignation of three CNN journalists.
Now, as Axios' Jonathan Swan scooped last night, Trump is expected to announce Scaramucci as White House communications director, a job that's been open since Mike Dubke resigned in May.
The President frequently vents about his press and comms operation, and he liked the ideas Mooch presented.
Scaramucci, who met with President Trump and Ivanka Trump at 4:30 p.m. yesterday, is supported by Ivanka, Jared Kushner and Hope Hicks, the director of strategic communications.
But he's walking into a buzz saw of internal opposition from aides who think he's unqualified for the job, which traditionally has focused on strategy and planning.
"Seeking leverage" ... "Trump's lawyers and aides are scouring the ... backgrounds of investigators hired by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, looking for conflicts of interest they could use to discredit the investigation — or even build a case to fire Mr. Mueller or get some members of his team recused," The N.Y. Times reports in a front-pager by Mike Schmidt, Maggie Haberman and Matt Apuzzo:
Mueller is taking "a broad view, an expansive view of his mandate," going back at least a decade ... Bloomberg scoops that Mueller "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump's businesses as well as those of his associates."
Be smart: These stories are very much tied together. West Wing confidants tell us that if Mueller goes too far beyond Russia-related matters, Trump could move to "quash it" (fire Muller), arguing a fishing expedition designed to humiliate him.
CNN: "Marc Kasowitz, Trump's longtime personal attorney who has been the lead lawyer on the Russia investigation, will see his role recede ... John Dowd, along with Jay Sekulow, will now be the President's primary personal attorneys for the investigation ... Ty Cobb will take the lead from inside the White House ... when he formally starts his job on July 31."
"Mark Corallo has resigned from his position as spokesman and communications strategist for Trump's legal team."
The WashPost lead story, "Trump exploring pardoning powers," reports that "[s]ome of President Trump's lawyers are ... discussing the president's authority to grant pardons":
"[T]he discussions of pardoning authority by Trump's legal team are purely theoretical ... But if Trump pardoned himself in the face of the ongoing Mueller investigation, it would set off a legal and political firestorm, first around the question of whether a president can use the constitutional pardon power in that way."
Be smart: Trump's supporters will rationalize this conversation are part of their broader argument that the "old way' of Washington is about protecting traditions and institutions, while the "new way" of this White House is about protecting Trump.
The N.Y. Times posted a "Fact Check" by Linda Qiu on its 50-minute interview with Trump, under the headline "Trump made several misleading claims in times interview." Here are the eight headings:
Denis McDonough, President Obama's last chief of staff (2013-17), for WashPost, "Preventing a 'next time'": [T]he intelligence community was dead right: Russia poses a threat to our democracy. Yet the past several months have also seen too much denial, finger-pointing and partisan posturing on this issue. Instead, we must build on the experience of past year, find a bipartisan path to complete a comprehensive review of what happened — and ensure that renewed efforts by Russia will not succeed."
WashPost column by Michael Gerson, former George W. Bush speechwriter, "Russia first": "Trump is alienating Republicans from their own heroic foreign policy tradition. The conduct of the Cold War was steadied and steeled by Ronald Reagan, who engaged with Soviet leaders but was an enemy of communism and a foe of Soviet aggression. ... Now Trump pursues a policy of preemptive concession with a Russia that is literally on the march in places such as Georgia and the Ukraine."
Peggy Noonan column in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal, "Trump, ObamaCare and the Art of the Fail": "Republicans on the Hill need a popular president with the quasi-mystical clout presidential popularity brings. Mr. Trump does not have it. They need someone who has a serious understanding of his own policies and can gently knock heads together."
"[A]t some point baseline political competence is going to become part of the story. If the president continues to show he doesn't have the toolbox for this job, he's going to go from not gaining support, which is where he is now, to losing support. He's not magic and they're not stupid."
"Sears Links With Amazon, Jolting Appliance Industry" — Wall Street Journal front-pager by Suzanne Kapner and Laura Stevens: "Sears ... said ... it will start selling its Kenmore appliances on Amazon, loosening its grip on one of its historic product lines and becoming the latest big American brand to capitulate to the online-retail giant."
Another Axios scoop, by deals whisperer Dan Primack ... "Multiple individuals close to Uber's board of directors have reached out to Bank of America vice chairman Anne Finucane about the company's CEO position, which has been vacant since Travis Kalanick resigned in June."
Per The Economist: "The last pet-less leader in American history was Andrew Johnson, who left office in 1869 and is best-known for being one of only two presidents to be impeached (the other, Bill Clinton, had a dog and a cat). According to the Presidential Pet Museum, the White House has been home to over 300 animals, ranging from dozens of dogs, horses and birds to the occasional bear, tiger and alligator."
"Theodore Roosevelt had by far the most impressive menagerie: while in office, the famed outdoorsman and conservationist cared for some 50 animals, including a badger, a barn owl and a one-legged rooster. Although animals are beloved by Americans of all political stripes, their appeal in the Oval Office has not been quite so bipartisan: Democratic presidents have averaged six pets each compared with nine for Republican ones."