Will chaos in the White House lead to the first presidential "you're fired" moment?
He may not admit it publicly, but Trump seems unhappy with some of his top staffers. Since it became clear late last week that national security adviser Michael Flynn wasn't totally honest with his superiors about his contacts with the Russian government, the president has faced mounting pressure to discipline or remove one of his longest supporters — and one of his earliest from the military establishment. Vice President Mike Pence reportedly privately thinks Flynn lied when he told White House officials he did not speak to Russians about U.S. sanctions during the month before Trump's inauguration, despite the vice president's public statements of support. The president's Sunday TV surrogate declined to defend Flynn, too. Trump is closely watching what happens next.
Reports of deceit go deeper than Flynn. Even Steve Bannon, whom progressives have branded as the shadow president, apparently kept from Trump that the president was signing Bannon into a role on the National Security Council. Others in the president's circle are facing criticism, too. Trump confidante and conservative media head Chris Ruddy questioned chief of staff Reince Priebus' ability on Sunday, messaging to the president through political shows. Both Priebus and press secretary Sean Spicer may need to be wary of losing their jobs. (For what it's worth, Trump tweeted congratulations to Stephen Miller for his Sunday television performances — maybe because Miller repeatedly highlighted false voter fraud claims.)
A note to the reader: These claims of Trump's unhappiness are largely based on anonymous administration sources quoted by major media publications. Those sources have been wrong in the past. Yet the uniform reports of Trump's concern about how his administration is performing suggest the president may be ready to shake things up among his top staff.
This is Mic's daily read on Donald Trump's America — and how it affects you. Welcome to the political newsletter that Trump never had the opportunity to fire. Want to receive this as a daily email in your inbox? Subscribe here.
• Today: Chaos in the White House?
• More: The Senate is scheduled to vote today on Steven Mnuchin's nomination for treasury secretary. It remains unclear whether Democrats will stall his confirmation vote as they did for Betsy DeVos and Jeff Sessions.
• Even more: Republicans are rolling back regulations — fast.
• Yes, more: The federal government is no longer working to give transgender Americans the right to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. And a must-read Mic article for those concerned about Trump's treatment of Muslims in the U.S. — not just those living abroad.
• One more item: The Grammys produced some political headlines. Mic has you covered.
• Trump's agenda today: Calls with two African heads of state. A state visit from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. We will recap that meeting — especially its implications for North American trade — in tomorrow's edition of #NTA.
ICE raids, protests and more White House controversy
Trump calls it the "keeping of my campaign promise." His Department of Homeland Security says it is "routine." (Others consider it "unprecedented.") Whatever your view, immigration raids drew national attention this weekend as police in New York, Austin and other cities arrested undocumented immigrants. Though Barack Obama took U.S. deportation numbers to new heights, Trump's rhetoric about Hispanic immigrants and promises to deport millions of people have activists worried these arrests portend a new era of strict immigration enforcement. The raids led to protests across the country, the fourth straight weekend of actions opposing Trump.
A decision on transgender rights from the White House that will draw backlash: With Jeff Sessions' confirmation, the Justice department will no longer pursue an appeal to block states from keeping transgender students out of public school bathrooms aligning with their gender identities. That move contrasts with Trump's campaign trail statement that transgender Americans "should use the bathroom they feel is appropriate," but jibes with Republican doctrine that schools should be able to separate use of bathrooms and locker rooms by students' gender as assigned at birth. The Obama-issued rule that led to a state vs. federal battle said states that did not allow transgender individuals to use bathrooms of their choice could face a loss of federal funding.
Meanwhile, transgender actress Laverne Cox used the Grammys stage to call attention to transgender rights. Cox told viewers to Google Gavin Grimm, a teenager who sued his school in 2014 over reluctance to let him use the men's bathroom.
This is but the first of many regulations Trump and Republicans plan to roll back over the next several months. According to the Washington Post, in the first 10 days of this Congress, the GOP has moved to nullify 37 regulations using the Congressional Review Act — more than any other Congress has done during a full two-year term.
Watch out for regulation rollbacks: Trump is expected to sign a bill on Thursday in Ohio that ends an Obama-era rule restricting coal companies from dumping mining waste into streams. The signing in the Mahoning Valley, once a prosperous hub of American industry that has lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs, signals Trump's campaign commitment to instituting policies he says will help mining and industry jobs return to the U.S.
How the Donald has changed everything
It's the beginning of week four, and so much has already changed.
Protests have become a constant. So have left-wing callouts at events packed with celebrities. Though Trump may not continue to fight a ruling ending (for now) his "Muslim ban" at the Supreme Court, the battle over immigration will stay with us — perhaps via a new executive order. LGBTQ Americans feel they are facing setbacks. Some fear the administration is considering targeting Muslims and Muslim organizations inside the U.S. False narratives out of the White House are here to stay. A redirection of scientific funding based on politics seems imminent. Chaos reigns at the top of Trump's administration, with leaks, lying and infighting clouding any firm policy direction.
Yet while Trump already faces a negative approval rating, his support among his staunchest backers has not wavered. According to new polling, the quarter or so of Americans who are stalwart Trump supporters believe he is doing what they elected him to do: building the wall, fighting ISIS, stemming the flow of immigration and fighting for the American worker at the table of international trade deals. In an Indiana county that has voted with the winning presidential candidate in the past 16 elections, Trump remains popular. In fact, many people said the president has already delivered on key promises.
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Watch the Senate, again
The Senate is expected to confirm Steven Mnuchin for secretary of the treasury on Monday — unless Democrats stall his confirmation vote as they did for Betsy DeVos and Jeff Sessions. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren loathe Mnuchin, a nominee they consider an irresponsible financial industry insider during the housing crisis and near-collapse of Wall Street. Mnuchin's vote gives Warren and other Democrats an opportunity to spotlight their differences with the hedge fund manager and multimillionaire. How strongly Mnuchin is opposed will signal what issues Democrats feel are most compelling to their base. And progressives, wary of the ties some Democratic politicians hold to big banks, will be watching closely.
In the end, Mnuchin is expected to be confirmed. Whether Democrats will stonewall for 24 hours and quietly let his vote pass is the question.
News and insight you cannot miss:
• The Grammys were not as anti-Trump as some recent awards ceremonies, but politics still made an appearance. James Corden trolled Trump with fake tweets. Beyonce's stunning performance may not have been overtly political, but her music speaks for itself. Black artists again felt shunned by the awards given out Sunday night. Read all of Mic's Grammys coverage here.
• 42% of post-election hate crimes (more than 200) have explicit links to Trump. (Mic)
• After North Korea tested a ballistic missile, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe went to work handling classified information — in the public members dining room at Mar-a-Lago. (Mic)
• Remember when Trump was critical (again and again) of Obama playing golf? Well, the president now hits the links with world leaders. (New York Times)
• One of Trump’s top White House aides wears the same medal worn by Nazi collaborators. (Mic)
Something to watch: Mic compares Trump's modern rhetoric on Muslims to a 1943 U.S. government video justifying the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent. Do you see any similarities?