News Sips 1/25: President Blitz, Immigration Actions, SCOTUS Pick, and Ending Urban Carnage

Here are the four things you need to know before your coffee gets cold, the January 25, 2017 edition:


President Blitz

There was some criticism of the Administration on major news outlets, including on FoxNews, that centered on the idea that the Administration was “stepping on its own stories” in the first few days since taking power. Basically, what this means, is that the press team and the President were generating more news than could adequately filter through a news cycle. The media, then, would have to pick and choose what coverage to give to what item because of the volume of news items being created.

Of course, CNN and other disreputable outlets that are focused on clickbait, have chosen stories like a spat over inaugural crowd size and whether the President thinks a few million people voted illegally. However, even media outlets with more integrity have been forced to choose between valid stories, like the President’s meetings with business interests, unions, Congressional leaders, auto makers, the restoration of pipelines, the canceling of TPP, the decision not to fund international abortions, and cabinet appointments. Not to mention the fact that those stories are just the ones being generated by the President. There’s also the House passing HR7 that would permanently remove federal funding from any abortions, the EPA and Interior being instructed not to tweet or issue press releases, repealing Obamacare, and tax reform.

With this backdrop, it’s understandable that media outlets are aflutter with criticism of Mr. Trump and his Administration for rushing the narrative. Even conservatives, who want to give Mr. Trump some praise in the news cycle, find themselves not being able to cover all of what is going on. This would seem like an unforced error by the Trump team, especially when there are laudatory achievements being advanced.

However, let’s present the counterpoint. You’ve read here, and we’ve covered in-depth, the two potential realities of the “Trump Phenomenon” for months. Distilled: either Trump has bumbled his way to glory with brute force and a bit of luck, or he’s savvy and knows precisely how the media works and has been playing them like a fiddle. We concluded that “bumbling luck” would eventually run out. It has, seemingly, not done so. Now that Mr. Trump is governing, rather than campaigning, the inundation of stories and narratives serves a much more tangible purpose than merely driving a news cycle like it did in the campaign. Now it has the power to advance an agenda without very much dissent.

As we’ll discuss more, Mr. Trump’s first days in office have been the fulfillment of what so many of his supporters were hoping for when they voted for him. This looks likely to continue and accelerate over the next days and weeks. Having a heavy agenda and moving rapidly is a clear political move to harness the selective news cycle that dominates the way in which people receive their media today. What does this mean? Frontloading the narrative is perfect for Twitter and Facebook where people have the option to tailor what they’re reading and discussing. The headlines pop quickly, supporters are happy and detractors don’t have enough time to push a biased narrative before the next headline pops and people have already moved along.

In all, Mr. Trump’s early strategy seems to be one of playing total offense. He has an image and policies that he wanted to push for months, and now he has the power to do it. We’ll say it clearly, Americans used to politicians wrangling for months over details in back rooms are going to be surprised at the lightning war the President is going to be waging in the coming weeks.


Immigration Actions

The President is set to add several new Executive Orders/Actions to the already impressive stack he’s generated in his first week. The President has already pulled the country out of the TPP multinational trade agreement, stopped funding for abortions overseas, restarted oil pipeline projects, and expedited permitting for infrastructure. He will now turn his sights on immigration.

It’s important to realize that the President is no legislating by Executive Order, which has been a growing fear among people who tend to be more libertarian. Rather, he’s, mostly, undoing or modifying existing Executive Orders from the Obama Administration. In essence, the Memoranda being signed are instructions to the Federal Departments that he controls as President about the allocation of resources rather than laws that Americans will have to follow.

Today, the President will head to the Department of Homeland Security to sign Executive Orders related to building a border wall, a promise of his campaign, and possibly one related to suspending immigration from terror hotspots in the Middle East and North Africa.

While the text of the Orders is still embargoed, the President appears to be using authority passed by Congress in 2006 for the construction of border security to allocate funds to the creation of the Wall. It’s amusing to note that folks in the media and pundits have held to the idea that Mr. Trump would not make good on his promise to build a wall and that the same was just meant to lure in gullible rubes. It appears that Mr. Trump will be fulfilling his promise (at least in part) within his first week in office.

According to press reports, and from Press Secretary Sean Spicer, there does not appear to be any indication that the President will be taking action on DACA (the “dreamers” or, illegals brought to this country as children by illegal parents). Rather, Mr. Trump’s first concern is over the “bad hombres” who are illegal and have committed crimes in the United States. Apparently, Mr. Trump will also take a hard stand against Sanctuary Cities around the country who have decided to unilaterally not enforce immigration laws. It’s unclear exactly what action the President can take without Congress, but it may go so far as to deny HUD grants and other funding to Sanctuary jurisdictions. This would have a crippling impact on cities that resist enforcing the law.


SCOTUS Pick Inbound

Next Thursday, the President will be making his nomination to the Supreme Court. While on the campaign trail, to mollify conservative critics, Mr. Trump released a list of 21 jurists across the country who he could pick to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Antonin Scalia. It appears that Mr. Trump interviewed three potential judges over the course of the transition including Judges Thomas Hardiman, William Pryor, and Neil Gorsuch. Each Judge is on one of the Circuit Courts of Appeal (the second highest Courts in the United States) and is under the age of 60.

Early indicators (which, take them as a grain of salt with Mr. Trump) point to the President selecting Judge Gorsuch. Gorsuch, the 49 year old Judge on the 10th Circuit, is widely-respected for conservative jurisprudence and would be the youngest Justice on the Supreme Court in nearly three decades. His nomination would almost certainly spark a fight with Democrats (what else is new?) and would probably require Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to remove the 60-vote cloture threshold for Supreme Court nominees.


Ending Urban Carnage

The President sent a fiery tweet last night from his personal account that noted an uptick in violence in Chicago even after the terrible violence there in 2016. The President ended the tweet with an ominous warning that he may have to “send in the Feds” to clean up the city’s carnage.

Certainly there’s a twang of posse comitatus to the threat, but, it’s far more likely that Mr. Trump is referring to sending in resources, including Justice Department officials and Homeland Security in order to, well, bring order to Chicago (and probably Baltimore and other violent hotspots around the country).

While the rhetoric will likely come under fire, the reality is very clear: Mr. Trump was not just being rhetorical and playing on fears in order to get votes when he talked about what was going on in America’s cities during the campaign. It appears that he is in earnest looking for ways to bring order to the lawlessness in many of America’s poorest areas. While there could certainly be debates over statistics, what’s clear is that Mr. Trump values life and wants nothing more than to end the violence on the streets. Further, for him, it’s clear that the policy merely talking about fixing problems and doing nothing concrete has failed.



As always, there are more things going on in the world, but these should get you started for today.

Matt McDaniel

Attorney and Political Commentator

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