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Axios: Trump now sees Shulkin as a “major problem”

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What changed Donald Trump’s mind about VA Secretary David Shulkin? Assuming that Axios’ Jonathan Swan has the story right, it wasn’t an Inspector General report about Shulkin’s misuse of funds and resources on an expensive European vacation. It wasn’t Shulkin’s threadbare “one-memoed hacker” response to the report, which didn’t exactly impress the White House. It wasn’t even a second IG report on the chronic failures of the Washington DC VA facility which Shulkin never corrected as deputy AG because, as the IG reported, Shulkin didn’t bother to ask about it.

No, the final straw might end up being Shulkin’s contact with the New York Times to spin meetings with John Kelly and Trump himself. Shulkin insisted that he walked away with complete victory over political foes and the authority to remove other Trump appointees:

In an administration rife with intramural fights, the battle over the Department of Veterans Affairs has stood out, not only for its vitriol but also for its consequences. At stake is the future of the nation’s veterans health care system.

For now at least, it appears moderation has prevailed, with the Veterans Affairs secretary, David J. Shulkin, thwarting a pitched conservative push to drive him out.

“It’s my job as secretary to get the organization singly focused on making the V.A. work better for vets,” the secretary, a physician and holdover from the Obama administration, said in an interview on Monday, after the latest in a string of meetings with the White House chief of staff. “I’ve been making it clear to the organization that we will not be distracted as we have in the last couple weeks.”

“People need to get on board with that or need to leave,” he added.

Not so fast, Swan reports. Kelly felt burned by Shulkin after this got published, and not for the first time:

This paragraph in the story especially infuriated Kelly, according to two sources familiar with his thinking: “[Shulkin] said in an interview that President Trump and Mr. Kelly supported his making changes at the department, including the removal of any staff members who did not support him.”

Kelly found out about the article because the NYT reporters contacted the White House press shop before publishing the story. Kelly called Shulkin to ask him if he had said this to Times. He felt Shulkin was trying to exploit the meeting he had with him.

(This isn’t the first time Kelly felt that way. Senior White House officials were infuriated by an interview Shulkin gave Politico late last month, where he effectively said the same thing. The headline blared: “Shulkin says he has White House backing to purge VA.” But the White House gave Shulkin no such authority at the time, and in fact stymied his attempts to fire what he perceived as Trump political appointees who were conspiring against him.)

From the WH’s perspective: They agreed to work with Shulkin on fixing his staff problems. But both times they talked, he went directly to the media and declared victory. In the view of senior officials, there’s a difference between discretely and professionally handling staffing issues and publicly embarrassing and firing supporters of the president. Kelly agreed to help Shulkin with the former, and Shulkin keeps trying to do the latter.

Nothing will get under Trump’s skin faster than someone attempting to play him in the press, especially with the New York Times. If Swan’s correct, this was an exceedingly arrogant maneuver, which seems to go along with the portrait of Shulkin painted in both IG reports, especially the first. He seems much more interested in building fiefdoms than in changing the fundamental flaws at the VA.

So why is he still there? Congress sees Shulkin as a continuity champion, and members of both parties seem invested in incremental repair of the status quo rather than effective reform. Shulkin understands this too, which is why he is casting the internal war as a conservative coup in an attempt to “privatize” the VA. That has captured the attention of the congressional committees that oversee the VA, helping Shulkin maintain his political influence in DC.

Swan indicates that Trump might be tired of both Shulkin and of business as usual. During their most recent meeting, Trump called Fox’s Pete Hegseth to discuss the pace of reform. Hegseth used to helm Concerned Veterans for America and had been suggested for Shulkin’s job at one time. Hegseth wants much broader choice for veterans, especially in routine care, rather than having them stuck inside the government-run system for issues that have little to do with military service. Swan reports that the call to Hegseth made Shulkin feel awkward, which raises questions about why he would then tell the NYT that he’d gotten a “full speed ahead” from Trump. Anyone else would have seen that as a signal of less than full confidence, assuming it happened as Swan reports.

Clearly, someone needs to leave, and it’s probably not the rest of Trump’s appointees who took “draining the swamp” seriously at the VA. Rather than wait for a resignation, Donald Trump needs to put an end to the confusion at the VA and give Shulkin the boot.

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New York Times on latest Scott Pruitt “scandal”: Never mind

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When we were recently discussing the Washington Post’s fervent desires to somehow see EPA administrator Scott Pruitt impeached, I provided a roundup of some of the latest “scandals” which have been run up the flagpole. That list only brought us up to Lunchgate, however, and another one slipped past me. (They come up with scandals over there so quickly that nobody can possibly keep track.) In just the past few days the New York Times turned in some additional crackerjack reporting claiming that Pruitt has been abusing the goodwill of his staff and employing his influence as a cabinet member to land his daughter a spot in the University of Virginia Law School.

While perhaps not technically illegal, that’s still dirty pool. Children of powerful government executives shouldn’t get a leg up and a free pass to prestigious schools at any level while regular citizens sweat it out hoping to land a spot for their own kids. (Right President Obama and Michelle?) We can’t allow Scott Pruitt to use his position as a Cabinet member to gain special perks for his family. This is an outrage! Somebody needs to get to the bottom of this and…

Wait a minute. What’s that you say, New York Times? Nevermind? (Emphasis added)

An article on Saturday about senior staff members at the Environmental Protection Agency who said they frequently felt pressured by Scott Pruitt to help in nonwork matters included an item that erroneously described Mr. Pruitt’s use of his position for personal matters. While a Virginia lawmaker, William Howell, said he wrote a letter of recommendation to the University of Virginia Law School on behalf of Mr. Pruitt’s daughter, McKenna, he actually wrote it while Mr. Pruitt was the attorney general of Oklahoma. After publication of the article, additional research by a legislative aide, Mr. Howell said, showed he had incorrectly stated the date of the letter, which he said was actually written on Nov. 1, 2016, more than three months before Mr. Pruitt was confirmed as E.P.A. administrator, in February 2017. The law school, which had declined to comment for the article because of privacy concerns, issued a statement on Saturday saying Ms. Pruitt had given the school permission to confirm that she had been offered early admission in late November 2016 and that the “application was evaluated according to our usual admissions procedures.”

I see. Pruitt’s daughter had gotten her letter confirming early admission months before Donald Trump was even sworn into office. I would have brought this to all of your attention earlier but it took a while to find it. You see, while the news of the original “scandal” was plastered all over page 1 in the Times, this correction showed up at the bottom of page A-17. It was melded in with a correction to the caption under a photograph from somebody’s funeral. (I’m not even kidding.)

Well, mistakes happen, right? Some day we’ll all look back on this and laugh, I’m sure. It will be hilarious, just like that fun-filled time last summer when the Gray Lady reported that Pruitt had taken a secret meeting with the head of Dow Chemicals. (It was some spot on, incisive reporting except for the fact that they later admitted the meeting never happened.) Or that laugh riot from a couple of months ago when the Times reported that a member of Pruitt’s inner circle had been seen out drinking with the EPA Inspector General. (A story which was absolutely accurate, except for the part about the member of Pruitt’s inner circle being out drinking with the EPA Inspector General.)

Good times all, and we shall no doubt remember them fondly down the road. And besides, who among us hasn’t been tracking the Cabinet official we’re trying to paint as being under a cloud of scandal and suspicion and made the odd mistake over and over and over and over and over again?

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FBI Director Wray Praises Mueller “I Do Not Believe Special Counsel Mueller is on a Witch Hunt” (VIDEO)

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FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday on the IG report’s findings of the Clinton email investigation.

Christopher Wray told Senator Leahy (D-VT) that Robert Mueller’s investigation is ‘not a witch hunt.’

FBI Director Wray once again proves he serves the Deep State swamp rather than the interests of the American people.

FBI Director Christopher Wray held a press conference last Thursday afternoon from the FBI headquarters in DC following the release of the IG report was released.

Wray defended the swamp; he said the IG report “did not find any evidence of political bias or improper considerations actually impacting the investigation under review.”

On Monday, the FBI Director praised Mueller and said the dirty cop is not on a witch hunt.

Truly disgusting.

VIDEO:

We shouldn’t be surprised as Wray defended the corrupt officials in the FBI brass last week in a disgraceful press conference.

Americans are disgusted after reading more anti-Trump text messages from FBI agents.

What a disgrace.
The top officials at the FBI and DOJ hated Donald Trump and his supporters.

The Deep State hacks called Trump supporters: F***ing Idiots, Sad, Pathetic, Retarded.

Chris Wray told reporters there was “no evidence of political bias.”
This is the same FBI that had spies inside the Trump campaign and continued to spy on President-elect Trump after his election and inauguration.
And the FBI spy infiltrating the Trump campaign openly advocated for Hillary Clinton during the election.

According to Wray, there’s no political bias and Mueller is not on a witch hunt despite KGB tactics of breaking down doors and raiding anyone connected to the president without even naming the crime.

Wray needs to go.

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Study: The states with the most psychopaths seem to be blue

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Why on Earth would we talk about a Social Science Research Center study like this? The real question is… how could we not?

Reported at QZ, this new study by Southern Methodist University Professor Ryan Murphy correlated a bunch of data which I can’t make heads or tails of and figured out how psychopathic the residents of every state are. He was looking at the “levels of big five personality traits” (extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience) in each state. These apparently correlate with other traits which identify psychopathic tendencies. To put it mildly, the news was not good for the blue states.

Sometimes, it can feel like there are psychopaths everywhere. If you live in the United States, it’s now possible to move to less psychopathic environs, thanks to new research ranking 48 contiguous states by psychopathy.

Connecticut wins the dubious award of most psychopathic state in the US, followed by California in second, and New Jersey third. New York and Wyoming tie for joint fourth place, followed by Maine. The least psychopathic state is West Virginia, followed by Vermont, Tennessee, North Carolina, and New Mexico…

Earlier research shows that psychopathy is composed of disinhibition, boldness, and meanness, and a forthcoming paper shows that these characteristics can be translated into the big five traits.

I’m still not sure how things like “meanness” and disinhibition translate over to characteristics typical of psychopaths, but then, I only lasted for a few classes in pre-med. It’s still interesting to note that while the five states with the highest psychopath rating were almost entirely blue states in the northeast (plus California), the least psychopathic ones were in red (or at least reddish purple) areas. Who would have guessed that West Virginia would be the best location, particularly if you’ve ever watched the movies based in that region?

Oh, there was one more kicker to the study results. You might have been wondering where the District of Columbia landed. The answer is that it’s not on the list because it rang up a psychopath rating that was off the charts but was disqualified due to mitigating circumstances. (Emphasis added)

Murphy also included the District of Columbia in his research, and found it had a psychopathy level far higher than any other state. But this finding is an outlier, as Murphy notes, as it’s an entirely urban area and cannot be fairly compared with larger, more geographically diverse, US states. That said, as Murphy notes, “The presence of psychopaths in District of Columbia is consistent with the conjecture found in Murphy (2016) that psychopaths are likely to be effective in the political sphere.”

So if you’re looking for the highest concentration of psychopaths in the country, head to Washington, D.C. Apparently they have more of them than you can shake a stick at and the majority are working “in the political sphere.”

C’mon, man. You’re not going to sit there and tell me you’re surprised.

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