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Breaking: REXIT; Update: No explanation and no call from Trump? Trump: Tillerson will be “much happier now”; More Trump: I need Pompeo’s “tremendous energy”; CNN, NBC: Tillerson learned of firing by Trump’s tweet

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The ax finally fell on Rex Tillerson. The Washington Post reports that Donald Trump fired his Secretary of State and has already named his replacement:

President Trump has ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, orchestrating a major change to his national security team amid delicate negotiations with North Korea, White House officials said Tuesday.

Trump last Friday asked Tillerson to step aside, and the embattled top diplomat cut short his trip to Africa on Monday to return to Washington.

Pompeo will replace him at the State Department, and Gina Hapsel — the deputy director at the CIA — will succeed him at the CIA, becoming the first woman to run the spy agency, if confirmed.

Give Tillerson credit for lasting a lot longer than many had predicted. Rumors had swirled for months that Trump had grown unhappy with his first Secretary of State, but somehow the former ExxonMobil chair managed to outlast several White House figures. Tillerson’s run came to a screeching halt on Friday, although the news didn’t leak out until a few minutes ago.

Trump certainly sounded cheery just minutes after the news went out:

It’s a notable but perhaps understandable time for a shake-up on the nat-sec team. Put in Godfather terms, perhaps Trump didn’t think of the corporate exec as a wartime consigliere, a point which the upcoming negotiations with North Korea would make more acute. Pompeo has plenty of experience in the intelligence arena, and that will undoubtedly be crucial to any success in those talks.

It might be a signal that Trump wants to get tougher with Russia too. That would make this last conversation with the press as Secretary of State even more ironic. On his way back to the US, Tillerson went much farther than the White House did on the nerve-agent attack on Sergei Skripal. He corroborated Theresa May’s conclusion that the poison almost certainly came from Russian labs and that Russia should expect a response from the UK for the attack:

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cast the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain as part of a “certain unleashing of activity” by Russia that the United States is struggling to understand. He warned that the poisoning would “certainly trigger a response.”

Tillerson, echoing the British government’s finger-pointing toward Moscow, said he didn’t yet know whether Russia’s government knew of the attack with a military-grade nerve agent, but that one way or another, “it came from Russia.” He said it was “almost beyond comprehension” why a state actor would deploy such a dangerous substance in a public place in a foreign country where others could be exposed.

“I cannot understand why anyone would take such an action. But this is a substance that is known to us and does not exist widely,” Tillerson told reporters as he flew from Nigeria to Washington. “It is only in the hands of a very, very limited number of parties.”

Tillerson, in what seems clearly a valediction in retrospect, also told reporters that all attempts to improve relations with Russia had come to naught. The US and other Western nations should realize that Putin seems determined to remain aggressive and antagonistic:

Tillerson, who spoke Monday by phone with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, said he’s grown “extremely concerned” about Russia, noting that he spent most of the first year of the Trump administration trying to solve problems and narrow differences with the Kremlin. He said after a year of trying, “we didn’t get very far.”

“Instead what we’ve seen is a pivot on their part to be more aggressive,” Tillerson said. “And this is very, very concerning to me and others that there seems to be a certain unleashing of activity that we don’t fully understand what the objective behind that is.”

The acute question now will be whether the Senate will hold up Pompeo’s confirmation. He’s already been confirmed once and has performed well at the CIA, so it should flow relatively smoothly, but it’s also an election year. Senate Democrats will demand lots and lots of answers on Russian collusion in the 2016 election and whether intelligence agencies have been aggressive in confronting Russian meddling in this cycle too. It’ll be brief but memorable, and that may well have been why Trump waited this long to drop the ax on Tillerson.

Longer term, one has to wonder whether Pompeo will take State in a significantly different direction. Tillerson had dragged his heels on appointments to key positions; there are still dozens of ambassadorial positions open, including to key nations like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and South Korea, not to mention other political appointments within State. Pompeo will have a better grip on the need to fill the political appointments while cutting down on the career positions and shrinking the bureaucracy where it can be shrunk. Expect to see a different State Department in the next few months.

Update: Philip Klein notes another difference made in this change:

REXIT could be IRAXIT, although our Western allies will have something to say about that too.

Update: CBS reports that Trump didn’t tell Tillerson until this morning:

CBS News’ Kylie Atwood reports that Tillerson was leaving his Africa trip early to return back to Washington to talk with Mr. Trump and connect on developments in North Korea, which he was largely left out of as the White House announced it would be taking up talks with the regime sometime in May.

CBS News’ Margaret Brennan adds that the Secretary had not yet spoken with the president and found out about news of his ouster when the public did. Brennan adds that Tillerson had every intention of staying due to the critical progress in national security.

That seems a little difficult to credit, although it’s possible. Tillerson only just happened to be coming back when Trump was ready to announce his successor? Maaaaaybeeee.

Update: AP reports that not only was it a surprise, Trump didn’t offer any explanation for the move:

NBC reports that Tillerson didn’t even get a call from Trump:

Yikes. Looks like this was a surprise, although it can’t have been a shock after working for Trump more than a year. CNN reports that the move was in the works for months and that Trump never forgave Tillerson for the “moron” remark:

President Trump has wanted Mike Pompeo as his secretary of state for months now — and the White House began planning for him to take this job last fall.

Trump’s anger at Tillerson after it leaked that he called him “a moron” never subsided, and many in the White House saw their differences as irreconcilable. …

Sources close to the President say it was clear Tillerson didn’t support Trump. They say Tillerson wanted to handle foreign policy his own way, without the President. Trump didn’t feel that Tillerson backed him, source says.

The biggest difference, CNN reported in a separate tweet, was on Iran.

Update: To extend the Godfather references, it looks like this was personal and not business, Sonny:

Update: Trump claims that he and Tillerson have discussed the change “for some time,” but says their differences on the Iran deal was the catalyst. He and Pompeo share the same views on it, plus Trump cites Pompeo’s “tremendous energy” as something he needs in a Secretary of State:

Trump clearly had had enough of Tillerson, for one reason or another.

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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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