Quick Takes: Trump Plans to Prove That Tilerson Was Right

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* Just a day after the news broke that Sec. of State Tillerson called Trump a moron, we get leaks that next week the president plans to prove he was right.

President Trump plans to announce next week that he will “decertify” the international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is not in the national interest of the United States and kicking the issue to a reluctant Congress, people briefed on an emerging White House strategy for Iran said Thursday…

That would start a 60-day congressional review period to consider the next steps for the United States. On its own, the step would not break the agreement among Iran, the United States and other world powers, but would start a clock on resuming sanctions that the United States had lifted as its part of the deal.

While it’s clear that Sen. Tom Cotton welcomes the prospect of breaking the agreement, getting 60 votes in the Senate to reinstate sanctions is difficult to imagine. So it’s very likely that the whole thing stalls out and Trump’s big accomplishment will be to make himself look like a fool on the world stage once again.

* As another indication that the GOP is Bannon’s party now, candidates are lining up to get his approval.

The Republican establishment pick to take on Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill quietly reached out to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon last week — the latest step taken by concerned Republicans to counter Bannon’s threats to wreak havoc across the Senate landscape in 2018.

Two Republican sources said Attorney General Josh Hawley, a soft-spoken 37-year-old with an Ivy League pedigree who is expected to officially announce a run soon, called Bannon late last week, after The New York Times reported the Breitbart leader was targeting Hawley for defeat in Missouri’s GOP Senate primary…

On the call, Hawley reminded Bannon of their mutual friends, including the Mercer megadonor family, which bankrolls much of Bannon’s political work. Hawley met with Robert Mercer last fall when he was running for attorney general, one Republican close to Hawley said. Hawley also mentioned Club for Growth President David McIntosh and conservative legal expert Leonard Leo, who advises President Donald Trump on judicial nominations.

Apparently being pals with the Mercer family and the guy who runs the Club for Growth are calling cards to get Bannon’s blessing.

* Rep. Marsha Blackburn announced that she is running for the Senate seat in Tennessee being vacated by Bob Corker. Here is how you have to sell yourself these days in Steve Bannon’s party:

“The United States Senate, it’s totally dysfunctional and enough to drive you nuts,” Blackburn said of the Republican-led upper chamber, in the first lines of a video announcing her candidacy…

“I’m politically incorrect and proud of it, so let me just tell you how it is,” Blackburn said. “The fact that our Republican majority in the US Senate can’t overturn Obamacare or will not overturn Obamacare is a disgrace. Too many Senate Republicans act like Democrats or worse, and that’s what we have to change.”

Other than trashing the Republican Senate majority, I thought you might be interested in the “issues” candidates like Blackburn are going to run on. Here is her list from that introductory ad:

1. Be politically incorrect
2. 100% pro-life
3. Carry a gun
4. Reduce government spending
5. Support the immigration ban
6. Fight to build “the wall”
7. Stand up for the national anthem

There you have it, folks…the insurgent agenda.

* Martin already wrote about a fascinating column by Jennifer Rubin that you really should read, if you haven’t already. I wanted to note one additional thing. Here is how she described a possible Republican agenda to attract a “new base” of voters:

…support for free-market economics with a safety net; American leadership in the world; defense of institutions that restrain demagogic power and faith in government not to solve all problems, but to create conditions that solve some problems; support for civic virtues (empathy, civility, etc.)

Does that sound familiar to anyone else? The best alternative she can come up with to Blackburn’s list is to basically parrot the Democrats. That is precisely why the Republican “establishment” is in trouble.

* Here’s some good news:

Rebuffing the Trump administration, a federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Interior Department to reinstate an Obama-era regulation aimed at restricting harmful methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands.

The order by a judge in San Francisco came as the Interior Department moved to delay the rule until 2019, saying it was too burdensome to industry. The action followed an earlier effort by Interior to postpone part of the rule set to to take effect next year.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte of the Northern District of California said Interior had failed to give a “reasoned explanation” for the changes and had not offered details why an earlier analysis by the Obama administration was faulty. She ordered the entire rule reinstated immediately.

* Finally, Hillary Clinton was on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last night. She got some thank you notes.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.