Photos: Bloomberg, Getty; photo illustration: Tom Hall/Bloomberg
Balance of Power: Can New ‘Grown-Up’ Quell White House Discord?By and
Another week, another new hire to save U.S. President Donald Trump.
Last week it was Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. But that was before his potty-mouthed rant to the New Yorker where he (accurately) predicted Reince Priebus would be ousted as chief of staff. Priebus was gone less than 48 hours later.
This week it’s retired General John Kelly. He's taking over Priebus's job after impressing as head of homeland security, the latest person introduced into Trump's orbit with the unofficial title of “grown-up.”
Maybe Kelly didn't notice, but previous grown-ups with military medals - H.R. McMaster at the National Security Council comes to mind - haven't exactly kept Trump in line. Now it's up to Kelly to enforce order on the notoriously undisciplined president as his legislative agenda threatens to unravel.
It's a little dangerous to say time is running out on a presidency that still has three years and five months to go, but let's take stock: Health care imploded, tax reform is tougher than health care, the Russia probes are heating up and Congress is openly ignoring Trump. At this point, it's not clear that anyone can save Trump from himself.
GOP's diverging priorities | After the failure to repeal Obamacare, the White House is considering acting on its own to chip away at the law. But Republican lawmakers are moving on to tax reform. House Speaker Paul Ryan took to the Sunday shows to insist that Congress could “stick the landing” on a revamped tax code. He'll get a boost from the billionaire Koch brothers, who are planning to lend their financial muscle.
Divided on Kim Jong Un | Trump and Japanese leader Shinzo Abe called on China and Russia to do more to rein in North Korea after the regime's second intercontinental ballistic missile test this month. But China's reaction to the test has been muted. Beijing is resisting Trump's demands to crack down further, a sign that it may be more concerned about potential chaos on its doorstep if it squeezes its neighbor too hard.
Europe's next fault line | The financial crisis may be over, but a political one is brewing in the east. The threat of unprecedented penalties against Poland may be just the start, with other former communist nations also ignoring European rules on judicial independence. As Jonathan Stearns writes today, scrutiny of democratic standards is moving up the EU agenda.
Preserving the dynasty in Pakistan | Ousted premier Nawaz Sharif's younger brother Shehbaz is set to take over as leader, with the ruling party seeking to hold on to power until an election next year. The Punjab chief minister has driven economic reforms in his province and is famous for his work ethic, sleeping four hours a night. But he may struggle to cast off the corruption case that toppled his brother and is dogging other members of his family.
A contested vote | President Nicolas Maduro went ahead with an election of an assembly that will rewrite Venezuela’s charter to give him greater powers, in a vote punctuated by violent protests and low turnout. The big question now is how much the U.S. ramps up its criticism of what it called a “flawed election,” and whether it imposes tough sanctions on the oil-rich nation.
Russia's “regrettable” act | President Vladimir Putin says he hopes the tit-for-tat retaliation can stop after he ordered the U.S. to cut 755 staff from its diplomatic presence in Russia. Washington is mulling a response to the “regrettable” act and Trump is still poised to sign new sanctions into law. Putin's wish that the new president would bring better ties seems unlikely to come true anytime soon.
And finally... The Spanish government is insisting that Catalonia's plans for a referendum on independence in October will be blocked by the courts. But the Regional President Carles Puigdemont tells Esteban Duarte he's prepared to go to jail rather than back down. The Catalan assembly in Barcelona will be pushing through legislation for the vote, and a possible succession, in the next few weeks. Your move Madrid.