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President Trump reportedly receives a daily brief that only contains media excerpts and images that portray him positively, so it’s only a matter of time until he discovers the makeup filter on Snapchat. Maybe it’s just us, but Trump’s foreign policy missives increasingly sound like they were written by a D&D nerd on too much Adderall. And it turns out the president interacted with an obsequious Twitter bot, a development not too far outside the comfort zone of a guy who deals with Kellyanne Conway on a daily basis. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, August 8th, 2017:
GUY FORGETS HE ACTUALLY CAN DESTROY THE WORLD - We get it, this week’s “Game of Thrones” was cool, but maybe dial down the Daenerys Targaryen LARPing, you know? Marina Fang: ”President Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened North Korea, promising ‘fire and fury like the world has never seen,’ following new reports the country has escalated its nuclear program…. ‘He has been very threatening, beyond a normal statement,’ Trump said of the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un. ‘And as I said, they will be met with fire, fury and frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.’ Trump’s ultimatum, which mirrors North Korea’s rhetoric toward the United States, came as U.S. intelligence officials reportedly learned that North Korea has produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could be placed on a missile, a significant step in advancing its nuclear program.” [HuffPost]
R.I.P. THE ECONOMY - Also, Paul Ryan’s leadership tenure. Matt Fuller: “Republicans and Democrats will only have a few short weeks to raise the debt ceiling…. The gap between what House conservatives want for raising the debt limit and what they can actually get is looking increasingly vast ― and Ryan may pay a price if he simply turns to Democrats and passes a clean raise to the government’s borrowing authority. House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told HuffPost this week that conservatives have proposed a menu of options to GOP leadership. Their ideas include adding debt prioritization language to a limit increase, which would prioritize Treasury debt payments ahead of other spending, and codifying the Trump administration’s informal rule ― one regulation in, two out. Freedom Caucus Republicans are also open to making around $250 billion in mandatory spending cuts, as well as attaching a debt ceiling raise to their health care bill. But none of those options are looking all that likely, with any borrowing limit increase needing the sign-off of at least eight Senate Democrats. And with Republicans controlling Congress and the White House, there’s little incentive for Democrats to give Republicans any concession.” [HuffPost]
More on the Democrats’ thinking: “One senior Democratic aide told HuffPost that negotiations haven’t really begun at this point, but a lot of Democratic members are uneasy about approving more debt only to allow Republicans to cut taxes for the wealthy as a result. At this point, another senior aide said, Democrats are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach.” [Ibid.]
Haircuts: Jessica Schulberg (h/t Nick Baumann), Igor Bobic (h/t Eliot), Daniels Marans (h/t Nick Bauman).
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HASTERT RULE, SCHMASTERT RULE - Rachael Bade and Elana Schor: ”The Trump White House is quietly courting a few dozen House Democrats on tax reform — eager to avoid the fate of the GOP’s straight party-line attempt to jam through a repeal of Obamacare. Even as congressional GOP leaders largely embrace a partisan path on taxes, White House officials have been wooing 15 to 20 centrist House Democrats since early summer. The Trump administration is all too aware of congressional Republicans’ struggles to come together on a range of hot-button issues — from health care to government spending — and tax reform is littered with political minefields for the party. So the president and his staff are opening a line of communication with moderate Democrats in case a Plan B is needed. At a mid-June dinner at the White House with four centrist House Democrats, President Donald Trump expressed interest in a bipartisan package combining tax reform with infrastructure spending, multiple sources said.” [Politico]
POMPE-OH-NO - Matthew Rosenberg: “Unlike past directors, who typically sought to avoid policy discussions, [CIA Director Mike Pompeo] readily joins in when the president asks for his opinion, even on matters far afield of national security, such as health care. And he brings to the table the views of a former congressman first elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010 who staked out ground on the far right of the Republican Party…. Yet the attributes that have endeared Mr. Pompeo to the president — his hawkish politics and eagerness to speak his mind — have been met with a more mixed reception at the C.I.A. The agency sees its role as delivering hard truths that are unvarnished by political preferences, and there are concerns in the intelligence community that Mr. Pompeo’s partisan instincts color his views of contentious issues, such as Russia’s interference in the election or Iran’s nuclear program.” [NYT]
TRUMP TAKING LEAK ISSUE INTO HIS OWN HANDS - By perpetuating it. Marina Fang: ”President Donald Trump on Tuesday promoted a news article that cited information from anonymous officials, a practice he regularly decries — except when it benefits him. Trump retweeted several posts from the Twitter account for Fox News’ morning show ‘Fox & Friends,’ which he watches and tweets about regularly. One of the Fox tweets linked to a story about U.S. spies spotting North Korean cruise missiles. The article cites ‘U.S. officials with knowledge of the latest intelligence in the region,’ including one that ‘requested anonymity to discuss sensitive information.’ It’s common to cite anonymous officials when reporting on intelligence matters, especially if information is classified. But Trump has regularly criticized the practice, as well as leaks of information in general, and has pledged to make the issue a priority for his administration.” [HuffPost]
DEMS SEEK ANSWERS ABOUT TRUMP’S LATEST BUSINESS VENTURE - Julie Bykowicz: ”Democratic lawmakers are making a new push for information about how much money the federal government is spending at [Trump’s] for-profit properties. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday asked departments to hand over information about their Trump-related spending by Aug. 25. ‘The American people deserve to know how their tax dollars are spent, including the amount of federal funds that are being provided to private businesses owned by the president and the purposes of these expenditures,’ reads the lawmakers’ letter to Elaine Duke, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The lawmakers sent similar requests to all Cabinet secretaries.” [AP]
AREA MAN LITERALLY THE MOST INSECURE PERSON IN THE WORLD - Alex Thompson: “Twice a day since the beginning of the Trump administration, a special folder is prepared for the president. The first document is prepared around 9:30 a.m. and the follow-up, around 4:30 p.m. Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer both wanted the privilege of delivering the 20-to-25-page packet to President Trump personally, White House sources say. These sensitive papers, described to VICE News by three current and former White House officials, don’t contain top-secret intelligence or updates on legislative initiatives. Instead, the folders are filled with screenshots of positive cable news chyrons (those lower-third headlines and crawls), admiring tweets, transcripts of fawning TV interviews, praise-filled news stories, and sometimes just pictures of Trump on TV looking powerful.” [Vice]
HELLER GETS A PRIMARY CHALLENGER - Which is to say, “Dean Heller Gets A Guy To Make Him Talk About Trump’s Immigration Policies In A State With A Large Hispanic Population.” Hayley Miller: ”Businessman Danny Tarkanian, a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, announced Tuesday that he will run against Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada’s Republican primary next year. Tarkanian ― who has mounted several failed political campaigns, including for seats in the House and Senate ― announced his run at 4 a.m. Las Vegas time on ‘Fox & Friends,’ a morning show the president frequently watches and praises on Twitter. ‘We’re never going to make America great again unless we have senators in office that fully support President Trump and his America First agenda,’ Tarkanian said.” [HuffPost]
TRUMP TALKS TO BOT - It’s not easy to find people who can relate to not having a soul. You got to take what you can get. Abby Phillip: “On Saturday, President Trump tweeted his gratitude to a social-media super-fan, Nicole Mincey…. There is no evidence the Twitter feed belongs to someone named Nicole Mincey. And the account, according to experts, bears a lot of signs of a Russia-backed disinformation campaign. On Sunday, Twitter suspended the Mincey account, known as @ProTrump45, after several other users revealed that it was probably a fake, created to amplify pro-Trump content. The incident highlights Trump’s penchant for off-the-cuff tweeting — and the potential consequences for doing so now that he holds the nation’s highest office. Even as the president has railed against multiple investigations into Russia’s meddling in U.S. politics, he may have become Exhibit A of the foreign government’s influence by elevating a suspected Russia-connected social-media user — part a sophisticated campaign to exacerbate disputes in U.S. politics and gain the attention of the most powerful tweeter in the world.” [WaPo]
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a child being introduced to Sour Patch Kids.
THE FUTURE IS HERE - And in the future, we will all dress up like car seats and pretend we aren’t driving. Adam Tuss: “A van that appeared to have no driver made headlines when it was spotted in Arlington, Virginia, last week. But when News4′s Adam Tuss saw the van on Monday and looked inside, he saw that it did have a driver: a man dressed in a costume made to look like just a car seat…. After multiple inquiries by News4, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute said Monday afternoon that the van and van driver are part of a study they are conducting on driverless cars. The worker was wearing the uniform he was supposed to wear.” [WRC-TV]
- The “Game of Thrones” and Vanilla Ice remix you didn’t know you needed and, to be honest, probably don’t.
- The New York Times tells you what the opposite job from your current one is.
- 12 of Washington’s coolest homes.
Got something to add? Sen tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (email@example.com)