Did He Or Didn’t He Call For A Tenfold Increase In America’s Nuclear Arsenal?
Trump angrily denied an NBC news story claiming he called for that tenfold increase during a meeting with the nation’s highest ranking military leaders this summer. (The same meeting after which Secretary of State Tillerson allegedly called him a “f***ing moron”.) The NBC story is sourced to “three officials who were in the room”.
According to NBC, here’s how it went down: Trump was shown a chart indicating a reduction in the number of U.S. nuclear weapons, with the lowest point being at present, during his Presidency. He did not like that, and said he wanted to bring the stockpile back up to 1960’s levels.
Trump called that account “pure fiction” and said he doesn’t really want more nukes, just the ones we have right now to be in “perfect condition, perfect shape”. Trump Tweeted:
A brief interlude: after a gunman in Las Vegas killed 58 people apparently with a semi automatic assault rifle modified to fire continuously, Trump was asked about the 2nd Amendment. He replied: “we’re not going to talk about that today”. Yet someone writes a few words he doesn’t like and Trump is immediately ready to throw out the 1st Amendment. Fortunately, he doesn’t quite have the power to do that…yet.
Also hold on a second! As the normally very measured Roll Call calls out in full voice: the reason it’s hard to believe Trump now on nukes, is he’s spent so much time in the past saying he does want more, and would even embrace a new arms race! So maybe Trump is technically correct: he never said the word “tenfold” (NBC did that math for him), but he did repeatedly imply “whatever it takes“.
For instance, in this Tweet, from last December:
Dexter Filkins points out in his great profile of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the New Yorker: nukes or no, Trump is looking to expand military spending by $54-billion. The current total budget of the State Department is $54-billion. And that’ll be cut. The Washington Post asserts that kind of thing demonstrates Trump’s preference for shows of military might over diplomatic skill.
Another side benefit to Trump of a weaker diplomatic force: an understaffed State Department supports his campaign to curb immigration and deny refugees. Since he can’t count on Congress to pass legislation for him, one great way to accomplish it is have the State Department not fully functional and unable to process paperwork in a timely fashion.
Two Incredibly Destructive Things Trump Will Do Today And Tomorrow
Both part of his continued efforts to dismantle Obama era accomplishments through Executive Orders:
• The New York Times says today Trump is going to take a hatchet to Obamacare, announcing he will allow the sale of health insurance through small industry groups. We discussed the impact at length in yesterday’s The Chaos Report, and why it’s likely to lead to weaker coverage or higher premiums (or both) for anyone who earns too much to get government subsidies.
• Reuters says tomorrow Trump will go after the Iran nuclear deal: he’s expected to decertify Iran’s compliance, even though by all accounts Iran is actually complying with the requirements of the Obama-crafted deal. Trump will argue that doesn’t matter because Iran is not complying with the spirit of the agreement. It would be up to Congress, to take action to restore economic sanctions.
Insight (And Wisdom) From A Close Trump Ally
The Washington Post has a profile of Trump confidant Thomas Barrack, a Manhattan real estate investor who is one of the people outside the White House Trump speaks to on a regular basis. And he says this:
“[Trump] thinks he has to be loyal to his base….I keep on saying, ‘But who is your base? You don’t have a natural base. Your base now is the world and America, so you have all these constituencies; show them who you really are.’ In my opinion, he’s better than this.”
Of course the Post also points out it was Barrack who convinced Trump to hire Paul Manafort as his Campaign Chairman (something Trump apparently never brings up). Barrack’s name often comes up as a potential White House Chief of Staff should John Kelly ever leave.
Sober Choice For New Homeland Security Secretary Produces Wild Gossip
The White House will name Kirstjen Nielsen as Secretary of Homeland Security. She is a close ally of John Kelly, the former DHS chief, who is now White House Chief of Staff. When he moved over to the White House, Nielsen came with him and has been working as his main deputy.
While one might logically presume Nielsen’s appointment reflects Trump’s confidence in Chief of Staff Kelly, Gabriel Sherman in Vanity Fair interprets it as the exact opposite: Kelly trying to take care of his people in the event his departure is imminent.
Nielsen will replace Interim Chief of Staff Elaine Duke who was considered as a permanent replacement, and was all over the Trump talking points on Puerto Rico. She’s the one who called it a “good news story“. But in the end even that demonstration of loyalty wasn’t enough. A lesson for all you boys and girls out there: a career as a lifelong bureaucrat almost never pays off.
Fuller Picture On What Led U.S. To Ban Kaspersky Labs’ Software
According to the New York Times, Israeli intelligence alerted the U.S. to Russian hacking through an almost insanely obvious door: anti-virus software from Russian software company Kaspersky Labs.
The U.S. has since ordered Kaspersky products removed from government computers. But according to the Times, one of the most successful hacks involved stealing classified documents improperly stored on the home computer of a National Security Agency employee. Of course, that employee’s computer was “protected” by Kaspersky’s antivirus software.
California Wine Country Fire Update
At least 23 people are dead. Evacuations continue to expand and now include such storied towns as Calistoga and Geyserville, and residents of Napa have been told to prepare to evacuate, although a mandatory order has not yet been issued. The National Weather Service says winds will pick up again today, fanning the flames.
Still not a peep from Trump as of late Wednesday night. And sadly, that’s making a difference. This story while at least equivalent in impact, is getting a lot less national coverage than either of the hurricanes that struck the U.S. mainland. We believe had Trump Tweeted about it, even negatively, over the last 5 days since the fires started, the plight of the people would be getting a lot more attention. We also think Trump knows this.