From The Reporter's Notebook
Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview Wednesday that White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is a "very highly valued" staffer whose removal from the National Security Council was not a demotion. "This is just a natural evolution," he told Fox News' Martha MacCallum.
Agree or Disagree?
Josh Marshall: "Reporting suggests that this wasn't Kushner insisting on a visit to Iraq to investigate matters for himself. It appears more like Pentagon leaders invited Kushner to come along, knowing that they can communicate to Trump via Kushner. Now, this is a very unfortunate place for the country to be that the President's statutory top military advisor must communicate with the President through his unripe and inexperienced son-in-law who has no experience in any of these matters. But that's where we are. And communication in a corruptish, banana republic type way is better than not communicating at all — at least that appears to be the not unreasonable reasoning of people at the Pentagon."
"I have said repeatedly that he could be a great president if … if … he takes steps to truly represent all Americans."
- Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) on Thursday quickly threw cold water on Trump's unbelievable version of their conversation.
BUZZING: Today in the Hive
From a TPM Prime member: "To be clear, I was extrapolating from the prior Republican position, when Obama was in office. The "loss of credibility" argument was always overstated and... well, given what we've seen since November, it's no surprise that we don't hear many Republicans talking about how a casual statement by the President can have a long-lasting, devastating effect on our nation's credibility. The U.S. has the military might to impose regime change pretty much anywhere in the world. In the Iraq War, that was the easy part. It would not have been more difficult to depose Assad, but the looming question remains: What happens after that?"
Related: Republican and Democratic senators on Wednesday blamed the Trump administration for sending signals that encouraged the Syrian regime to "act with impunity."
Have something to add? Become a Prime member and join the discussion here.