Senior aides to President Trump repeatedly warned him not to deliver a personal attack on North Korea’s leader at the United Nations this week, saying insulting the young despot in such a prominent venue could irreparably escalate tensions and shut off any chance for negotiations to defuse the nuclear crisis.
Trump’s derisive description of Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man on a suicide mission” and his threat to “totally destroy” North Korea were not in a speech draft that several senior officials reviewed and vetted Monday, the day before Trump gave his first address to the U.N. General Assembly, two U.S. officials said.
Some of Trump’s top aides, including national security advisor H.R. McMaster, had argued for months against making the attacks on North Korea’s leader personal, warning it could backfire. But Trump, who relishes belittling his rivals and enemies with crude nicknames, felt compelled to make a dramatic splash in the global forum.
Some advisors now worry that the escalating war of words has pushed the impasse with North Korea into a new and dangerous phase that threatens to derail the months-long effort to squeeze Pyongyang’s economy through sanctions to force Kim to the negotiating table.
White House staffers are sending out resumes and preparing to flee the chaos of the Trump administration.
Morale has plummeted amid the widening Russia investigation and the personnel changes at the top, which has left staffers without allies in an administration characterized by mistrust, reported Politico.
“There will be an exodus from this administration in January,” said one Republican lobbyist, who has personally heard from five officials looking to leave. “Everyone says, ‘I just need to stay for one year.’ If you leave before a year, it looks like you are acknowledging that you made a mistake.”
Turnover is always high for White House political positions, which call for long hours in a high-stress, competitive environment — regardless of the president — but staffers usually wait until after an election to jump ship.
“There is no joy in Trumpworld right now,” said one adviser in close contact with staffers. “Working in the White House is supposed to be the peak of your career, but everyone is unhappy, and everyone is fighting everyone else.”
About 23 staffers have already left the White House since January, including chief of staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon, national security adviser Michael Flynn, deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh, communications directors Mike Dubke and Anthony Scaramucci, and press secretary Sean Spicer.
“I would say about anybody looking to leave that they are probably having a hard time keeping up with President Trump,” one senior White House official told Politico. “You sign on for this, and you’ve got to be ready to go.”
The constant turnover makes the White House is scaring away Republicans and top policy experts, who fear the chaos and scandals will destroy their own reputations.
“Some people are a little nervous that corporations will hold their time in the Trump White House against them, particularly companies like Google or Uber or tech players,” said one GOP strategist who has fielded calls from staffers looking to leave.
Donald Trump’s ousted chief strategist traveled to Beijing last week for a “secret meeting” with a top Communist Party of China leader, according to a bombshell Financial Times report.
The meeting allegedly took place at Zhongnanhai, the legendary Communist Party central headquarters adjacent to the Forbidden City.
The clandestine meeting was with Wang Qishan, “the second most powerful Chinese Communist Party official,” according to the Financial Times. Qishan is a member of the Politburo’s Standing Committee and is the Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China.
“Mr Wang, who is seen as the second most powerful person in China after President Xi Jinping, arranged through an intermediary for a 90-minute meeting,” the Financial Times reported. “After Mr Trump won the election, China frequently approached Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and top aide, to help navigate the US-China relationship. But Mr Kushner has taken much less of a role in recent months.”
The news was so big that it is being viewed as an indicator of internal power in the People’s Republic of China.
“The secret meeting between Mr Bannon and Mr Wang will also stoke speculation that the Chinese anti-graft tsar, who has purged hundreds of senior government officials and military officers for corruption in recent years, may continue to work closely with Mr Xi during his second term in office,” the Financial Times noted. “Before his appointment as head of the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, Mr Wang was Beijing’s point man for Sino-US relations and has played a pivotal role in most of China’s key financial reforms over the past 20 years.”
Bannon was ousted in August but is said to be still advising President Trump over the phone.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson spent Wednesday revealing his plan for how the agency will run with his employees. He’s launching a multi-year reform plan with zero details on how he plans to “reimagine” the way HUD works. His other goals are how he can “restore the American dream” and “rethink communities in a more holistic way. Carson said he hopes he can single handedly “heal the nation” using housing policy.
According to Government Executive, Carson told the audience of staff that he feels “blessed” by his opportunity to run HUD. He claimed he accepted the position because the country is on the brink of “tearing itself apart.”
Chief Operating Officer David Eagles said they haven’t exactly finished the plan they intend to send to the Office of Management and Budget and that’s why they were short on details. He swore, however, that it wouldn’t be “a cost-cutting exercise.” The Republican-led Congress has forced dramatic cuts to programs like HUD and Carson said he doesn’t plan on allowing the years of deep cuts to continue. Since 2003, HUD has been forced to reduce staffing by 20 percent, according to the Office of Personnel Management.
Given Eagles and Carson haven’t yet written the plan, they told the crowd they aren’t positive what the final numbers will be, but they’ll spend it “in efficient ways.”
Staff was understandably frustrated by the lack of information about the plan, Government Executive said about the Q&A session that followed the speech.
When asked if they intend to close field officers, Eagles gave a contradictory answer: “Certainly that’s not part of the plan. We’re not going to close offices just to close offices.”
“With all due respect, we’re not really hearing too much,” said one staffer. “Will there be forced reassignments?”
Carson swore that there isn’t a long-term plan for any forced reassignments. Eagles said the two of them were still “very early in the process” of developing the plan. Instead, all Carson could do is tell staffers he would be “very thoughtful, very transparent.”
“I can tell you this is certainly not a [reduction in force] operation,” Carson promised. When questions were presented about how to handle involuntary reassignment, they two didn’t have any idea, again, because there was no plan.
Their other major concern, according to Government Executive, is that the department lacks the political appointees in place to implement whatever plan Carson eventually gets around to putting together. Only four out of 12 key positions have been filled and that includes Carson himself, The Washington Post’s “Appointee Tracker” revealed.
Low morale is causing additional problems. Data collection through OPM’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey shows staffers have a low satisfaction with the skill-mission match; training and development; and strategic management. Eagles tried to spin the FEVS data as an indicator employee engagement has increased in the last year. Engagement may have improved because people are increasingly dissatisfied.
Staffers did applaud the idea of navigating immediate problems at the HUD headquarters. Namely, fixing the restrooms, installing wireless routers and putting in kitchenettes on each floor after their cafeteria was cut from the budget.
“When we feel better, we work better,” Carson said. “Then we really can do what we do, and that’s help people in need.”
Over the past eight months, we have watched the GOP make excuses for a “pResident” whose incompetence, ignorance, and downright stupidity has been on display every day since he was inaugurated. We have listened as you defend the indefensible, as you twist yourselves like crazed contortionists trying to conjure up explanations for his bizarre behaviour, as you make excuses for his obvious lack of understanding of even the most basic workings of our government.
I understand that many of you supported Trump early on, pinning your hopes on the idea that once installed in office, he would take his responsibilities seriously, would educate himself as to what those responsibilities entailed, and would conduct himself accordingly.
THAT was then – THIS IS NOW. The “now” we find ourselves in is the undeniable fact that your “pResident” is a pathological liar who spends his time watching TV, tweeting nonsense, and acting the buffoon on the world stage.
There’s no way you can still believe Trump and his cohorts are innocent of colluding with the Russians. You’ve heard the same lies we all have – the same attempted cover-ups, the same “I never met with Russian operatives” stories that quickly changed when the tale-tellers were confronted with irrefutable proof that they had indeed engaged in such meetings despite their earlier denials.
There’s no way you can still believe he’s “presidential”. You’ve heard his speeches; invariably as self-agrandizing as they are blatantly inappropriate. You’ve heard him speak about things like the Paris Climate Accord and the purpose of NATO in terms that clearly evidence his complete lack of knowledge about either.
There’s no way you can still believe he’s “working for the people”. You’ve seen his daily schedule: watching TV, tweeting incoherent nonsense, and using Air Force One and his SS entourage to take him to one of his own golf courses every weekend at the taxpayers’ expense.
There’s no way you can still believe he’s “a leader”. Our international allies shun him as the mindless buffoon they are forced to acknowledge due to the office he holds, but have no interest in including him in serious discussions about global challenges to be met, or world-wide concerns that need to be addressed.
There’s no way you can still believe he’s “honest”. His lying has now reached legendary proportions. From the claims about the size of his inaugural crowd to the denials of having had any business dealings whatsoever with Russia, Trump has had his lies debunked repeatedly, nationally and internationally.
There’s no way you can still believe he’s a “good Christian”. Christians don’t brag about pussy-grabbing, or pursuing married women in hopes of seducing them. They also don’t promote policies that leave the sick, the homeless, and the hungry to fend for themselves while urging tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of the middle-class and the poor.
There’s no way you can still believe that he’s “a smart businessman who can get things done”. He hasn’t achieved a single thing he promised to accomplish – and he isn’t even smart enough to stop digging the hole he, his associates, and his family find themselves in.
Despite your denial of the FACTS, the facts are extremely clear. If you are still supporting Trump’s “presidency”, you are complicit in lying to the American people. If you are making excuses for his idiocy, you are denying the obvious in an attempt to deceive your fellow citizens. If you are trying to reason-away Trump’s erratic actions and statements, you are guilty of misleading the people you claim to represent.
Whatever you thought – or chose to believe – about your “pResident” back in January has been rendered moot. Since then, he has demonstrated who he is, what he stands for, and what he hopes to accomplish – none of which benefits the citizenry or the country as a whole.
Anyone who continues to support this so-called “presidency” is knowingly – and at this point, with malice aforethought – supporting every lie he has been proven to have told, every policy that is aimed at diminishing the rights and freedoms Americans hold as sacrosanct, and is trying to un-do every hard-fought battle that has been won in order to advance the idea that the government exists to serve the American people.
Your “pResident” is now under investigation for colluding with our foreign adversaries, and the evidence that he did so is now overwhelming. If you continue to defend that collusion, you are as complicit in committing treason as he is.
Either you are on the side of the lying idiot who is trying to undermine everything our country stands for, or you are on the side of the country you claim to love.
There is no middle ground here. So pick a side – and be judged accordingly.
During a luncheon at the United Nations on Wednesday, President Donald Trump reportedly told African leaders that he has “so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich.”
“Africa has tremendous business potential,” the president said.
He later referred to the non-existent country of “Nambia” when discussing health crises on the continent. It is unclear if Trump was referring to Namibia or Zambia. There is no country called Nambia.