Quick Takes: Trump Engages in a Tit-for-Tat With Russia

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* Similar to what we saw a few months ago when Trump engaged in a tit-for-tat with Kim Jong-un, the president is repeating the pattern with Russia. After Trump met with military leaders to plan a response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons, Russia upped the ante.

Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon has said any US missiles fired at Syria would be shot down and the launch sites targeted, a step which could trigger a major escalation in the Syrian war.

* As is often the case, Trump responded on twitter.

* As a result, here’s what is happening in Syria:

Pro-government forces in Syria are emptying main airports and military air bases over possible U.S. strikes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said on Wednesday.

The Syrian military has repositioned some air assets to avoid the fallout from potential missile strikes, U.S. officials confirmed to Reuters on Wednesday.

* The Russian response to Trump’s tweet was pretty dismissive.

“We do not participate in Twitter diplomacy,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “We support serious approaches.”

* The president is really intent on punishing poor people.

President Donald Trump has directed his agencies to raise the bar for recipients of food stamps, Medicaid, rent subsidies and other welfare programs, and find ways to put more of them back to work.

In an executive order signed Tuesday afternoon, Trump directed the Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and other agencies to make a top-to-bottom review of their safety-net programs, with the goal of finding ways to push more people into the workforce and off of welfare.

* John Harwood doesn’t mince words when it comes to what Paul Ryan’s retirement means.

Among its other consequences, Speaker Paul Ryan’s retirement from the House increases the chance that President Donald Trump will be impeached.

Ryan’s decision accelerates the ongoing competition among his deputies to become the leader of the GOP in the House. But it will also dispirit fellow Republicans, diminish his ability to raise campaign funds and encourage more vulnerable incumbents to retire.

All of that smooths the path for Democrats to recapture the House in November and hand Nancy Pelosi the speaker’s gavel once again. And there’s little doubt that a Democratic-controlled House would seek to impeach the president.

* Devin Nunes is throwing around the “i” word as well.

* Sen. Bob Corker says, “oops!”

Retiring Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker (R) said his vote on the GOP tax law could be one of the worst of his career if estimates that it will add $1.9 trillion to deficits over a decade prove correct.

“If it ends up costing what has been laid out here, it could well be one of the worst votes I’ve made,” he said at a Senate Budget Committee hearing on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate that produced the figure.

* Finally, Erick Erickson talked to one of Trump’s congressional supporters at a grocery store and relays the tirade.

[Trump] may be an idiot, but he’s still the President and leader of my party and he is capable of doing some things right,” he says before conceding it’s usually other people doing the right things in the President’s name. “But dammit he’s taking us all down with him. We are well and truly f**ked in November. Kevin [McCarthy] is already circling like a green fly circling sh*t trying to take Paul’s [Ryan] job because nobody thinks he’s sticking around for Nancy [Pelosi]. She’s going to f**k up the cafeteria again too. [Lord’s name in vain], at least I’ll probably lose too and won’t have to put up with that sh*t.” He won’t lose. His district is very Republican.

What’s the problem, though? Well, get ready…

“It’s like Forrest Gump won the presidency, but an evil, really f*cking stupid Forrest Gump. He can’t help himself. He’s just a f**king idiot who thinks he’s winning when people are b*tching about him. He really does see the world as ratings and attention…

“Judiciary is stacked with a bunch of people who can win re-election so long as they don’t piss off Trump voters in the primary. But if we get to summer and most of the primaries are over, they just might pull the trigger if the President fires Mueller. The sh*t will hit the fan if that happens and I’d vote to impeach him myself. Most of us would, I think. Hell, all the Democrats would and you only need a majority in the House. If we’re going to lose because of him, we might as well impeach the motherf**ker…

“I say a lot of shit on TV defending him, even over this. But honestly, I wish the motherf*cker would just go away. We’re going to lose the House, lose the Senate, and lose a bunch of states because of him. All his supporters will blame us for what we have or have not done, but he hasn’t led. He wakes up in the morning, sh*ts all over Twitter, sh*ts all over us, sh*ts all over his staff, then hits golf balls. F*ck him. Of course, I can’t say that in public or I’d get run out of town.”

There you have it…what Republicans are saying, not behind closed doors, but in the privacy of the supermarket.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.