Quick Takes: Who Does Trump Want You to Be Afraid Of?

* Reuters reports on the latest Trump administration plans.

The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.

In other words, Trump doesn’t think you should concern yourself with the people like this:

Instead, he wants you to be fearful about the fact that you have a 1 in 3,638,587,094 chance of being killed by a terrorist refugee.

* Tomorrow is jobs Friday. This week ADP (which uses a completely different method than BLS) reported that the economy had added 246,000 jobs in January. We can all assume that if BLS reports similar numbers, Trump will spend days celebrating it as a yuuuge win for his administration. Over the long term, Gene Sperling has questions about whether or not we’ll be able to trust the numbers.

While it’s very unlikely that any president could succeed in getting BLS or the Census Bureau or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to actually juice up their numbers, there is certainly reason to worry that Trump, like Nixon, might bring about the demotion of officials whom he feels are not on his team and replace them with political loyalists, which itself would cast doubt on the objectivity of published statistics. Even more likely is the possibility that he would undermine the credibility of these agencies by publicly attacking their officials or telling the public to ignore their statistical findings.

Another troubling outcome would be if he sought to defund economic agencies already low on resources, or called for ending surveys in areas he didn’t think would play well to his agenda.

* Trump is making threats to go after so-called “Sanctuary Cities.” Texas Governor Greg Abbott is already doing so.

Texas’s governor blocked funding this week to Travis County — home to Austin — over the county’s refusal to cooperate with federal authorities on detaining undocumented immigrants.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott withheld $1.5 million in grant money on Wednesday after Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez said the county’s jails would not abide by federal immigration orders in most cases…

According to the Associated Press, that $1.5 million would have gone to crime victim services and other programs.

* During the last presidential election, the National Republican Party was almost completely sidelined in terms of power and influence, owing at least in part to the effects of Citizen’s United. Steve Bannon wants to neuter it even further.

Well before President Trump’s inauguration, his top adviser Steve Bannon met with a few top-tier donors — the kind of donors capable of writing million-dollar checks.

The message, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversations, was that Bannon wants to use the 2018 midterm elections as the arena to test the political clout of Trump’s populist message.

“The days of [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell picking Republican nominees in Senate races are over,” Bannon has told the donors, according to sources familiar with the meetings. He also mentioned the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as declining in influence, according to one of those sources…

…he encouraged donors to starting giving to the outside entity created by Trump allies that was still taking shape at the time.

The group, a nonprofit called America First, officially launched this week. America First will focus on issue advocacy, but could eventually direct fire on congressional Republicans who defy Trump’s agenda.

* Rep. Nancy Pelosi sure didn’t mince words in describing Bannon.

* Finally, we’ve seen this message communicated in other forms. But it is ALWAYS worth a reminder – never more so than now.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.