EPA administrator Scott Pruitt continues to be terrible at his job

New Trump EPA administrator Scott Pruitt had two choices after hurricanes Harvey and Irma. He could rise to the challenges of his office, or he could tool around the country pooh-poohing people who asked about climate change, giving friendly interviews to conspiracy sites like Breitbart and issuing furious ad hominem attacks on journalists who questioned the EPA’s seemingly less-than-robust response to the chemical explosions and spills accompanying the storms.

He, of course, chose the latter. And mind you, I suspect most of us were prepared for how beholden to polluting industries Scott Pruitt would be, because that is precisely how he auditioned for his current position; what’s more surprising is just how petulant the man would be. He appears to be running the entire department as an exercise in self-gratification and extended bouts of pouting.

“I’ve got to say this to you: what is it about the past administration?” Pruitt

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Crazy person riles Trump up; crazy person blocked from riling Trump; Trump steams. Repeat.

It seems there are only two stories that ever come out of the White House. There are stories about Donald Trump surrounding himself with horrible people, and stories about Donald Trump chafing and pouting when slightly less horrible people stop him from doing the things the more horrible people want.

In this story about now-sidelined anti-trade warrior Peter Navarro, an unapologetic burn-it-downer, we have both.

Trump is increasingly eager to flex his muscles on trade, according to White House aides and outside advisers to the president, who added that the president is sometimes resentful of those who recommend a more measured approach to the issue. And, the advisers said, Kelly’s efforts to impose order on the West Wing have isolated the president — leaving Trump increasingly frustrated and unpredictable. […]
Prior to Kelly’s entry, Navarro enjoyed a private 15-minute conversation with Trump at least once a week, where he

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CNN: Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort wiretapped by US investigators during, after election

Here we go.

US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe.
The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.

Some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign, according to three sources familiar with the investigation. Two of these sources, however, cautioned that the evidence is not conclusive.

This may help explain special counsel Mueller’s move to raid Manafort’s Virginia home last July, an aggressive act that hinted Mueller had reason to believe the supposedly-cooperative Manafort was hiding information from them. After that raid, the New York Times reports:

The special counsel,

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It’s happening: Trump is gaining cash based on his policies as president

This is crooked.

In Florida this year, the president’s politics attracted a new client for one of his businesses. Steven M. Alembik, a conservative activist, is planning a $600-per-seat gala at the Mar-a-Lago Club.
His logic: Trump helped Israel. So Alembik will help Trump in return.

“He’s got Israel’s back,” Alembik said. “We’ve got his back.’”

This isn’t money that’s going to a Trump election fundraiser. This is money being paid to Trump, via his for-profit business—those profits go into his own pockets. And it’s openly intended to reward Trump for supporting a particular foreign policy. He has a certain policy, therefore he gets a check.

At least 27 federal political committees — including Trump’s reelection campaign — have flocked to his properties. They’ve spent $363,701 in just seven months, according to campaign-finance reports. In addition, the Republican Governors Association paid more than $408,000 to hold an event this spring at the

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Senate Republicans fret that Alabama’s runoff results could upend GOP incumbents in 2018

Although interim Alabama Sen. Luther Strange has the backing of both Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, his candidacy to claim Jeff Sessions’ old seat is flagging against fire-breathing conservative Roy Moore. Moore, who’s been removed from the Alabama Supreme Court bench twice for defying the federal judiciary, is looking strong in state polls ahead of his Sept. 26 runoff against Strange, even registering double-digit leads in some cases.

This has Senate Republicans extremely worried. Not only is there bad blood between McConnell and Moore, but Moore’s victory could give rise to a crop of GOP grenade throwers in the 2018 primaries. Politico writes:

A win by Moore could embolden conservative insurgents to challenge [Arizona Sen. Jeff] Flake and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and potentially Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

That’s a nightmare for Republicans that are trying to add to their majority next

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AARP and doctors’ groups oppose latest Republican health care plan, but it’s not dead yet

Doctors’ groups are against the latest Republican effort to repeal Obamacare and gut health care, writing that “The proposal fails to protect the health care coverage and consumer protections available under current law.” Public hospitals are against it. Planned Parenthood is against it, calling it “especially terrible for women.” The AARP is against it, bluntly tweeting that “it’s a bad plan.” But Senate Republicans are still trying to get the votes to pass Graham-Cassidy, and that should make us all nervous. Specifically, it should make us all nervous in a calling-our-senators-and-taking-action-every-way-we-know-how way:

Indivisible’s policy director Angel Padilla told TPM that even if the GOP’s senators’ trumpeting of the bill’s chances turns out to be “a big headfake,” he wants to make sure he and other activists did all they could to oppose it.

“Earlier this summer, the Senate tried and failed in an embarrassing way. They want to avoid

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Senate Republicans are scrambling for the 50th vote to gut health care

They’re not there yet, but Senate Republicans are working hard to get from 49 to 50 votes to pass Graham-Cassidy, their latest plan to strip health coverage from tens of millions of people and rob still-insured people of important protections. That means it’s time—again—to call your senator and urge him or her not to be the 50th vote that enables Mike Pence to once again show off his special smug tie-breaking smile.

On Friday, Cassidy told reporters his bill has support from as many as 48 or 49 Republicans. “I’m confident we’ll get there on the Republican side,” he said. “People are coming out and saying they are for it, either publicly or privately.”

Confident they’ll get there means they aren’t there yet, but consider who’s standing in the way. Sen. John McCain voted against “skinny repeal” in July, dooming that bill, but he hasn’t ruled out voting for

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