Quick Takes: The White House Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* During remarks in Davos, Trump’s Treasury Secretary said:

“Obviously, a weaker dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities,” Mnuchin told reporters in Davos. Mnuchin said recent declines in the value of the dollar against other currencies were “not a concern of ours at all.”

He was quickly corrected by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and eventually the president himself, who said, “The dollar is going to get stronger and stronger, and ultimately I want to see a strong dollar.” Whether or not any of that actually has an impact will remain to be seen. But it reminded me of this:

President Donald Trump was confused about the dollar: Was it a strong one that’s good for the economy? Or a weak one?

So he made a call ― except not to any of the business leaders Trump brought into his administration or even to an old friend from his days in real estate. Instead, he called his national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, according to two sources familiar with Flynn’s accounts of the incident.

Flynn has a long record in counterintelligence but not in macroeconomics. And he told Trump he didn’t know, that it wasn’t his area of expertise, that, perhaps, Trump should ask an economist instead.

Trump was not thrilled with that response ― but that may have been a function of the time of day. Trump had placed the call at 3 a.m., according to one of Flynn’s retellings.

* Jonathan Chait brings us another example of the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

In a surprise, impromptu press conference today, President Trump told reporters that he would absolutely speak with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. “I would love to do it, and I would like to do it as soon as possible,” Trump proclaimed. “I would do it under oath, absolutely.” Trump insisted he was one-upping Hillary Clinton in his transparency. “She didn’t do it under oath, but I would do it under oath,’’ he said.

White House lawyer Ty Cobb quickly intervened and said, “Mr. Trump was speaking hurriedly and intended only to say that he was willing to meet,” reports the New York Times. “He’s ready to meet with them, but he’ll be guided by the advice of his personal counsel,” Cobb said.

* Contrary to some of the headlines you might be seeing today, Senate Democrats have not given up the fight for Dreamers. Here is the critical quote:

“We’re viewing [immigration and spending] on separate terms because they are on separate paths,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “procedural concession means we’ve got a deadline and a process,” Durbin added.

* Today FiveThirtyEight launched a fascinating new feature.

To explore how subtle (and not-so-subtle) changes to district lines can affect the makeup of the U.S. House, we embarked on a project to redraw each state’s boundaries based on different priorities. We used a web-based application created by programmer Dave Bradlee and drew new maps six different ways…

You can see the full interactive map here.

* Finally, I’ll leave you with a couple of interesting entertainment notes. The first is about HBO’s series “Big Little Lies.”

An all-star cast has just gotten starrier. Meryl Streep, the most Oscar-nominated actress in history, is joining the second installment of HBO’s Emmy-winning limited series Big Little Lies.

Streep will play Mary Louise Wright, the mother of Perry (played by Alexander Skarsgard in Season 1). Concerned for the well-being of her grandchildren following her son Perry’s death, Mary Louise arrives in Monterey searching for answers.

I don’t want to get my hopes up too high about the second one. But if it is anything like it’s previous run, this could be huge in the Trump era.

Another beloved comedy series is coming back for a new installment on its original network. CBS has given a 13-episode series order to Murphy Brown, a revival of the 1988 sitcom with its creator Diane English and star Candice Bergen both set to return. Warner Bros. TV, which was behind the original series, is the sole studio.

Bergen will reprise her role as the famous investigative journalist and TV anchor at the FYI network, as Murphy Brown returns to a world of cable news, social media, fake news and a very different political and cultural climate. I hear talks are underway with other original cast members to return.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.