The Upcoming Week 7/30/2017

As I'm sitting here on a Sunday night, waiting to watch Game of Thrones, I thought, "what's coming up this week?"

While it is impossible to accurately predict the future, here's a few stories that I think will draw attention, from the MSM, the Rumor Mill, and everything in between.

John Kelly's appointment as WH Chief of Staff will be scrutinized and analyzed, and some pundits will talk about how this will add a layer or responsibility and accountability. Except this narrative to last three days until something breaks.

With Reince Preibus gone, the only Washington insiders around the President are James Mattis and Jeff Sessions, and no one of power in the Republican Party is around to speak in Trump's ear. This could lead to Donald being "without a party." Expect this narrative to dominate the MSM for the week.

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, is on "extended leave" and has been rumored to be sick of Donald's crap.

Anthony Scarmucci exists to distract. If the administration is serious about becoming respectable, they'd fire him Monday. Expect his antics to continue all week.

The Republicans in Congress are getting fed up with Trump as well. They've given him 6 months, which was 5.75 months more than he received from Liberals due to the Muslim Ban. This will develop into a full blown battle by the end of the week.

Putin expelled 755 US diplomats from Russia on Sunday. This was in response to the strengthening of sanctions by the Congressional bill currently sitting on Trump's desk.

North Korea is being all North Korea. Expect them to pick up their craziness when Trump needs a distraction. It's almost like they were receiving orders on when to do this…

On the Rumor Mill, there are three stories developing this week. Remember, take all of this with a grain of salt.

Rumor has it the FinCEN Death Robot of Death is loading up on Trump and camp based off of the Panama Papers. The Panama Papers were a treasure trove of financial data released in 2016 about shell companies, money laundering, celebrities using LLC's to purchase property, and the like. 2.6 TB of data. For someone as shady as Trump, having the Treasury Department investigating your finances is slightly less comfortable than a nuclear warhead suppository.

Louise is following up on the June 24th meeting in Scotland. I'm wondering, if that meeting happened, was it a setup of the media campaign, building to the Rosneft meeting in Moscow with Carter Page, if both?

Claude is going pretty dark. He's pulling on the human trafficking thread pretty hard, and according to his sources, things are moving fast. Some of the girls from Trump Modeling were sent to a party in California to "entertain" the guests. The California AG is getting the same information that the NY AG has. He's reporting that some people close to Trump are looking for plea deals. Remember, Presidential Pardons do not work for state level crimes.

Lateral Movement

In the world of business, lateral movements are pretty common. For those new to the term, it's HR speak for taking a new position with new responsibilities and team members, but no promotion or raise is included in the mix. Moving to a new shift in the kitchen, taking on a new software project, or leaving one team to join another that does something similar, those are lateral moves.

Companies love lateral movement because it usually means they get more work out of a known person for the same cost, and it is either a better fit for everyone involved, or it puts an incompetent nincompoop that can't be fired in a place where they can't break anything.

Government agencies like this as well, but usually for the latter reason than the former. Low and mid-level government positions can be difficult to fill, but once in the system, one has to work hard to get fired. It's often times easier to strongly encourage someone to apply for a transfer to some obscure department where they will spend their days filling out status reports about meetings about status reports about meetings about status reports.

But what about government positions requiring a presidential appointment and approval by Congress? Especially in the Cabinet?

Does moving from Cabinet post to another require approval from the Senate? Or does the previous approval count for the old position still count for the new one?

That's the question being asked on twitter today. Here's why…

Trump wants to remove Jeff Sessions from his spot as United States Attorney General because Sessions recused himself from any investigation related to the campaign, which he worked on. This recusal is required by law. Because of this recusal, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein became the go-to person in the DOJ for the Russian Investigation. Then, when Trump fired FBI Director Jim Comey to bury the Russian Investigation, Rod activated the Special Counselor rule, and named Robert Mueller III, aka "Bobby Three Sticks" as the Special Counselor in charge.

Only the AG can fire Bobby Three Sticks. And since Jeff "Keebler Nazi" Sessions is recused, that means it's Rod's job, and he's said he's not gonna do it.

That leaves Trump with three moves to fire Bobby, and all of them suck.

The first move is a repeat of history. He could fire Jeff, Rod, and everyone down the line until he gets someone to fire Bobby. Nixon did this on a Saturday night for the exact same reason, to remove a Special Prosecutor. It was called the Saturday Night Massacre. Nixon fired both the AG and Deputy AG until he found Robert Bork, Solicitor General, to do the needful, as the Indians say. Bork was promised the next open chair on the Supreme Court for his part in this. The Saturday Night Massacre basically ended Nixon's presidency, and Bork became the first person to ever have their SCOTUS nomination voted down in the Senate.

The second move is to fire Jeff Sessions during a recess, and appoint his replacement then. The Constitution has a provision in it for the President to make an appointment during a Congressional recess. That appointment would then be approved or not during the next session. This has been anticipated, though. Thanks to a SCOTUS ruling from the 1920's a three day break is not long enough for a recess appointment to take place. Congress will hold a Pro Forma session once every three days, to prevent the recess from becoming official. One member of either house shows up, goes through the motions of having and setting up a session of Congress, sits around for a while, then calls it a day. If this seems petty, it is. Mitch McConnell used this against Barack Obama for a year to prevent him from naming Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

The third trick left up to Trump to get Bobby fired is for a lateral movement. Here's the plan…

Trump recently hired John F. Kelly as his new Chief of Staff. He was the Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, DHS, a Cabinet position. Trump would try to convince Jeff to step down from AG and take over the DHS. Assuming Jeff goes along with this plan, and that's a BIG if, Trump would then name one of his other Cabinet picks, like Rick Perry, as the new AG. He would then have Rick fire Bobby Three Sticks (I'll have more on why he's called that in a future article, but the dude's like Wu-Tang, ain't nothing to fuck with). There's also the chance he fires Jeff outright and names Rick Perry the new AG anyway.

This leads to a Constitutional Crisis, or a scenario that was not explicitly defined in the Constitution, nor has it been decided since.

Does filling a Cabinet opening with a person from another Cabinet position require the consent of Congress, or was that consent already given when that person was approved for their original position?

What if there was a significant change between when the original approval was given, and when the new position opened? Would it be realistic to assume that consent would have been granted?

This is where we're at. We're debating the constitutionality of a Hail-Mary move by the President to end an investigation into his campaign where his own son admitted to meeting with the Russians to gain an edge on his opponent.

But, let's answer the question as best as possible. Does a lateral cabinet movement require approval from the Senate?

To answer that question, let's look at some historical perspective.

Wikipedia link to people that served two or more Cabinet positions.

There are more than a few people that have served in two cabinet positions, but this list also includes cabinet-elevated positions like Chief of Staff which don't require approval from Congress.

So, I had to find someone in two positions, same President, and two positions that required approval, preferably since Watergate.

I found Federico Peña. He served Bill Clinton as Secretary of Transportation then as Secretary of Energy. Here is an article about his nomination for Energy in 1997, and Here for his 1993 nomination. He required Senate approval for both positions.

The most recent example of a person serving two positions is Elaine Chao, the current Transportation Secretary who was also on W's Cabinet. Norman Mineta served 6 months on Bill Clinton's Cabinet, then on W's. For both people, both instances required Senate approval.

The argument that Trump's team will make is that any approval for a Cabinet position is good enough, and that it's not specifically mentioned that each person has to be approved for a specific position. At best, their argument is flawed, and history is not on their side. Every person who was approved for one position had to be approved for the new position they took.

Daily Check-In 7/28/2017

So far today…

Early in the Trumpcare bill died in the Senate to a vote of 49-51. Straight party lines, with Murkowski, Collins, and McCain voting against.

People are confused by McCain's actions this week. Don't be. He voted to open the debate process which brought the bills to the floor for a vote, then voted against the bills on the floor, which killed the ACA repeal. No debate, no vote, no death.

Trump went on a twitter tirade about how the Senate should destroy the filibuster. A filibuster breaking number of senators signed a letter telling him to pound sand.

Russian sanctions restrictions landed on Trump's desk this morning. In response, Russia seized two diplomatic compounds from the U.S. and demanded the reduction in the number of diplomats there.

Supposedly the Republicans are starting to distance themselves from Trump, and the ACA Repeal debacle, combined with the treatment of Sessions and Preibus, might be the excuse they needed.

Rumor has it that some big news about Trump's connections to Russia may be dropping soon. This could be transcripts of the Mayflower meeting, evidence of him dialing in to the June 9 meeting in Trump Tower, or something else entirely.

It's a little after noon as I write this. I'll update further if/when something breaks.

UPDATE: Reince Preibus resigned yesterday. It was just announced around 5pm. He will be replaced as White House Chief of Staff by the current DHS Secretary John F. Kelly.

Daily Check-In 7/27/2017

For Thursday …

New White House Communications Director Anthony Scarmucci continues to be a loud distraction for the administration. For Trump, that's a good thing. Keeps the eyes off the other crimes.

Jeff Sessions may have struck a deal to stay in his position. The deal isn't with Trump, but possibly Mueller's team.

The Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke just threatened the state of Alaska over the health care bill. Senator Lisa Murkowski voted no on the Republican health care bills so far. Zinke, almost certainly acting on orders from Trump, threatened Alaska with further isolation. That's like threatening a German with more efficiency.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina just threw down the gauntlet. He's looking to introduce legislation that makes it illegal to fire a Special Counselor without judicial review. He said to the press afterwards that any attempt by Trump to fire Jeff Sessions or Robert Mueller would "be the beginning of the end of Trump's presidency."

Everything above this line happened before Noon EST. It's gonna be one of those days.