Well, let’s get this out of the way. In bizarre visit, Donald Trump compares Puerto Rico to ‘a real catastrophe like Katrina’ - and congratulates himself. That’s the analysis from Daniel Dale for the Toronto Star, who calls the trip “Trump's surreal, self-centred and insulting visit to Puerto Rico yesterday.” Tweets Jay Rosen, “Here's how you report on him without pretending there is anything normal about this president. Read, please.” Dan Pfeiffer agrees: “This is how to cover Trump’s insane behavior today.” Dale writes, “Trump’s Tuesday visit to San Juan was a chance to begin to repair the wounds he had caused over a week of tweeted insults. Instead he casually tore them open, a smile on his face.”
Related: A new AP-NORC Poll finds few approve of Trump's Puerto Rico response, report AP’s Laurie Kellman and Emily Swanson.
Also, “wut,” says Kate Smith. At Bloomberg Politics, Justin Sink and Jennifer Epstein reported, Trump Suggests Puerto Rico's Debt May Need to Be ‘Wiped Out,’ but then, “President Trump’s budget chief said not to take the president’s suggestion that Puerto Rico’s debt would be ‘wiped out’ literally, as the territory’s bonds plunged to a record low on Wednesday.” Tweets Alex Wayne, “Mick Mulvaney, cleanup in aisle infinity.”
So much winning!
Back in Washington, “yes, this is totally how professional workplaces full of rational, competent adults function,” tweets Kate Cox. She’s referring to Tillerson's fury at Trump required an intervention from VP Pence, the exclusive from NBC News’s Carol Lee, Kristen Welker, Stephanie Ruhle and Dafna Linzer. Tweets Chemi Shalev, “Tillerson said Trump is a moron, and he’s a witness for the defense.” “Moron is as moron does,” says Joe Mandese. “*Homer Simpson voice* so much winning!” says Charles Arthur. Just so we’re clear, “It’s never a good day at work when your boss finds out you called him a moron…” Stephanie Ruhle points out. Words you never thought you’d see: “Hot Tillerson on Trump action,” which his how Jack Shafer puts it.
This morning, Tillerson gave a statement saying that he’s never considered quitting his post. But, as Clara Jeffery says, Tillerson “Should quit to make a point but also because he sucks at the job.” Here’s an “Excellent piece on the death of expertise in Rex Tillerson's State Department,” tweets Susan Glasser, who links to Rex Tillerson Is Running the State Department Into the Ground, Nik Steinberg’s piece for POLITICO Magazine. “Good God this is a depressing read,” says Daniel Drezner. Seth Mandel says it’s “The most persuasive case I've seen yet that Tillerson's management at Foggy Bottom is damaging US security long-term.”
The family business
New from ProPublica’s Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott, along with Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz of WNYC, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. Were Close to Being Charged with Felony Fraud: “New York prosecutors were preparing a case. Then the D.A. overruled his staff after a visit from a top donor: Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz.” The article is a collaboration between ProPublica, WNYC and the New Yorker. Tweets Eric Fitzsimmons, “When the family business is fraud and bribery, ProPublica report.” “Trump's presidency is only possible because wealthy, well-connected elites can break laws with impunity,” says David Klion. “Phenomenal reporting by @eisingerj @JustinElliott et al. on how Ivanka and Don Jr. ducked fraud charges,” Will Hobson says.
And then USA Today’s Brad Heath brings us the exclusive, Jared Kushner’s personal email moved to Trump Organization computers amid public scrutiny. Tim O’Brien wonders, “Now why would Javanka move their personal email to the Trump Org server as scrutiny intensified?” Tweets Ray Locker, “Javanka spox won't go on record with email denial because he really doesn't know the details of the emails.”
This is a BFD
More exclusives, this time from CNN’s Manu Raju, Dylan Byers and Dana Bash: Russian-linked Facebook ads targeted Michigan and Wisconsin. Tweets Mat Honan, “This art is going to stick with Facebook for a long time.” Michael Cohen says, “This is a BFD. No way the Russians were able to do this on their own.”
Elias Groll of Foreign Policy has the scoop, GOP Congressman Met in Moscow With Kremlin-Linked Lawyer at Center of Russia Investigation. He reports that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher met in Moscow with Natalia Veselnitskaya two months before she met with Donald Trump Jr. “Oh,” says Matt O'Brien.
And at The Wall Street Journal, Thomas Grove, Julian Barnes and Drew Hinshaw report, Russia Targets Soldier Smartphones, Western Officials Say. Tweets Barnes, “Military networks have been hardened, tough for Russia to crack. Personal mobile phones are soft targets.” “Loose phones sink ships?” tweets Nathan Hodge.
Well this is something
Matt Nussbaum tweets, “SCOOP w/ @AndrewRestuccia: In closed door meeting w/ donors,VP's CoS slams congressional leadership, doubts tax cuts.” That’s his piece in POLITICO with Andrew Restuccia, Pence’s chief of staff floats ‘purge’ of anti-Trump Republicans to wealthy donors. Tweets Restuccia, “POLITICO obtained audio of Pence aide Nick Ayers' remarks to donors during closed-door RNC meeting today.” They write, “Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff railed against congressional leaders in closed-door remarks to wealthy donors and called for a ‘purge’ if GOP lawmakers don’t quickly rally behind President Donald Trump’s agenda.” “Well this is something,” tweets Mike Memoli.
Really a must-read story
At 84,000+ shares, Wesley Lowery’s piece in The Washington Post, Two strangers bond over country music and beer. Then the shots started, has struck a chord. Says Josh Salman, “Stop what you are doing and read this.” Benjy Sarlin says, “This is the most vivid story on the shooting I've seen, from @WesleyLowery. Just devastating.” Adds Kevin Fallon, “This is really a must-read story. And I think this is first time I’ve used the phrase ‘must-read.’”
In The New York Times, Rosanne Cash tells Country Musicians to Stand Up to the N.R.A. “Quite the bold statement from Ms. Cash,” tweets Dibya Sarkar. Cash, who has received death threats for speaking out about ending gun violence, writes, “The stakes are too high to not disavow collusion with the N.R.A.”
Meanwhile, Leah Libresco writes in The Washington Post, I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise. She tweets, “I was all for banning silencers, assault weapons, etc. until I researched gun deaths for @FiveThirtyEight.”
In the search for answers in Las Vegas, Louis Sahagun of The Los Angeles Times reports, At his local Starbucks, Las Vegas shooter remembered for berating his girlfriend. Tweets Matt Pearce, “The Vegas gunman berated his girlfriend in public. "’I’m paying for your drink, just like I’m paying for you.’”
So “What if Rupert Murdoch is the only one in media with a clue …” Ben Smith asks. BuzzFeed’s Steven Perlberg and Mark Di Stefano say Rupert Murdoch Is The Media’s Unlikely Hero In The War Against Facebook And Google. Tweets Perlberg, “As the media girds for war w/ Google and FB, execs are coming to a painful realization: Rupert Murdoch saw it coming.” “Good look at Murdoch & Robert Thomson's crusade agst Google/FB & how it found its moment,” tweets David Folkenflik.
“You Can't Make This Up™” tweets Bob King, referring to IRS awards $7.25 million fraud-prevention contract to Equifax, by Steven Overly and Nancy Scola of POLITICO.
Under the same heading: Rep. Tim Murphy, popular with pro-life movement, urged abortion in affair, texts suggest. That’s by Paula Reed Ward at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Check out the 2017 National Book Award finalists.
The new Rolling Stone cover by Brian Hiatt explores The Liberation of Kesha.
In the New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin reports, Ginsburg Slaps Gorsuch (but not literally).
The Wall Street Journal’s Richard Rubin reports on Talking Taxes: The Sacred Cows of the Tax Code.
Stephen Castle of The New York Times writes, Theresa May, Coughing and Caught by a Prankster, Endures a Speech to Forget.