A rising White House power: true-believer Stephen Miller
Stephen Miller at the White House press briefing room podium. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty
Guess who’s likely to stick around for all four or eight years, and will be empowered in 2018? Stephen Miller, the true-believer senior policy adviser, who trumps Trump on hardline immigration views — and may outlast almost everyone.
- The two issues Miller cares and knows most about, immigration and trade, will be front and center.
- And Miller channels (and believes) Trump campaign rhetoric more than anyone internally.
- Although some of Miller’s allies speculate that he could one day wind up as chief of staff, he’s seen more as an advocate and adviser than manager or leader. He works super-hard, but doesn’t delegate.
Some West Wing officials are putting pressure on economic adviser Gary Cohn to stay: He would be vital to a push for a big infrastructure package, one of the year’s policy centerpieces. And he’s a crucial goalie on trade.
- But Wall Street sources tell us Cohn may depart.
- Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell — like Cohn, a major moderating influence — has said she’s leaving early next year.
- Finding big establishment names to replace them will be hard, especially with the tax cut already in the win column.
- If National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster leaves in the dominoes that would follow the expected departure of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, one possible replacement is hardliner John Bolton, who was U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under President George W. Bush.
Among key advisers likely to stay:
- Chief of Staff John Kelly, who has imposed order and seems to enjoy running the place, despite occasional frustrations with the boss.
- Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who is good at engaging Trump in briefings.
- Defense Secretary James Mattis, a moderate voice in Situation Room meetings.
- Communications Director Hope Hicks, the closest adviser — period.
- Staff Secretary Rob Porter, respected for his intellect and instincts.
- Marc Short, the legislative affairs director, coming off the big tax-cut win.
- Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Pence.
Go deeper … “Scoop: White House reshuffle expected in new year,” by Jonathan Swan:
- Senior Trump administration official Johnny DeStefano is set to assume greater responsibilities and influence, including overseeing the beleaguered White House political operation.”
Trump unchained: staff leaves, hardline ideas rise
President Trump speaks during a rally at the Pensacola Bay Center on December 8, 2017 in Pensacola, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
If you ask some close to President Trump what worries them most about 2018, it’s not Robert Mueller’s probe. It’s that establishment guardrails of 2017 come down — and Trump’s actual instincts take over.
Next year will bring “full Trump,” said one person who recently talked to the president.
Trump has governed mostly as a conventional conservative — on tax cuts, his Supreme Court pick, and rolling back regulations. Most of his top advisers are fairly conventional conservatives, so that makes sense.
- Most of those in his current decision-making circle — even if they’re not mainstream Republicans — are defending mainstream Republican principles like free trade and an internationalist view of foreign policy.
- But top officials paint a different portrait of Trump when it comes to what he really wants on trade, immigration and North Korea — but has been tamped down by skeptical staff and Cabinet officials.
In private meetings:
Trump keeps asking for tariffs — on steel and aluminum, in particular. He wants a trade war, and has for many years. His economic and diplomatic advisers persuaded him to delay trade actions in 2017.
- Those advisers recognize that the day of reckoning will come in 2018, regardless of whether economic adviser Gary Cohn and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — who advocated restraint — stay or go.
- Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin successfully persuaded Trump not to do anything rash while tax reform was being negotiated.
- Trump also saw the advantage of trying to use that as leverage with China to get help on North Korea. He said yesterday in an interview with the N.Y Times: “China’s hurting us very badly on trade, but I have been soft on China because the only thing more important to me than trade is war. O.K.?”
- And he tweeted yesterday, in response to Chinese ships secretly delivering oil to North Korea: “Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!”
- NEW: Look for Trump to take action on trade in the next month. It probably won’t be next week, so as not to disrupt the afterglow of the tax cut. But nothing is final.
- Trump still wants his wall, and tighter restrictions on legal immigration. He’s a true believer on this stuff, and knows intuitively that it keeps his base stoked.
Trump seems most interested in discussing military options on North Korea in these meetings. He is surrounded by advisers who share his concern about the rogue state, but not his fixation on a military strike.
- And some top officials have told us Trump’s belligerent rhetoric on the subject makes them nervous.
- There is a reason the harshest assessments of Trump usually leak after North Korea meetings.
- Shane Savitsky
- 28 mins ago
South Korea moves against Bitcoin
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios
South Korea has proposed legislation that would prohibit South Korean entities from providing settlement services to complete cryptocurrency transactions, per The Verge. The country also handed down rules earlier this year that restrict cryptocurrency investments by financial firms. And South Korea’s government has hinted that it might want to ban cryptocurrency exchanges entirely in the future.
Why it matters: It’s a sign that developed nations with strict monetary controls are becoming hyper-aware of the implications of an uncontrolled cryptocurrency market. But while nations could make it difficult for their citizens to interact and do business with cryptocurrency by implementing regulations preventing interactions with traditional financial institutions, it might be impossible to ever completely cut off access.
- 47 mins ago
Behind the scenes: choosing the new 💩💁😂
There’s 🍞, 🥐 and 🥖, but where’s the bagel? AP Tech Writer Barbara Ortutay looks at the emoji approval process (complete with lobbying and campaigning).
How can our emotional vocabulary be complete without a teddy bear, a lobster, a petri dish or a tooth?
- “These are the kind of questions that trigger heated debates … among members of the group burdened with deciding which new emojis make it onto our phones and computer screens each year.”
- “The Unicode Consortium is tasked with setting the global standard for the icons. … The nonprofit group [is] mostly made up of people from large tech companies like Apple, Google and Facebook.”
- Why it matters: “Not since the printing press has something changed written language as much as emojis have, says Lauren Collister, a scholarly communications librarian at the University of Pittsburgh. ‘Emoji is one way language is growing.'”
- Former N.Y. Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee “didn’t understand how there could be no dumpling. … The process took almost two years, including research, many meetings and a written, illustrated proposal that reads a bit like an academic paper, complete with research on dumpling history and popularity.”
- “But thanks largely to her efforts, the 🥟 was added to the Unicode Standard this year. “
- Stef W. Kight
- 49 mins ago
Trump just fired the entire White House HIV/AIDS council
An LA protest in 2009. Photo: David McNew / Getty
There is currently no Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS as President Trump fired the last 16 members on Wednesday, the Daily Beast reports. Six other members had resigned in June.
A grain of salt: Trump had renewed the council’s brief through next year and PACHA advisor Gabriel Maldonado told the WashingtonBlade, “Like any administration, they want their own people there. Many of us were Obama appointees. I was an Obama appointee and my term was continuing until 2018.”
Reaction: Scott Schoettes, a former PACHA member who resigned in June, tweeted: “Remaining #HIV/AIDS council members booted by @realDonaldTrump. No respect for their service. Dangerous that #Trump and Co. (Pence esp.) are eliminating few remaining people willing to push back against harmful policies, like abstinence-only sex ed. #WeObject #PACHA6 #Resist”
Was a drama critic at Manhattan College. Wrote professionally for Bergen News, Sun Bulletin . Alpha Sigma Lambda, Beta Theta. Has seen over 600 shows worldwide, has published both on Theater and Politics. Avid reader on many subjects and writers. Chief Drama critic for Metropolitan magazine. Writes for Jerrick media, American conservative, The City Journal and Reason magazine. Has produced shows both on and off Broadway. View all posts by nobullwithragingrobert