After a necessary break in which we hoped against hope that things would get a little less depressing in the political world, we're back, disappointed but unsurprised, with the Trump administration panic power rankings. This week, we start with a man named Tom...
1. Tom Marino
Months back, Donald Trump announced that he was going to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency. More recently, word came down that he was finally going to get around to that. This morning, Marino, a Pennsylvania congressman and Trump’s nominee for drug czar, withdrew his nomination after a Washington Post/60 Minutes report that uncovered Marino was the chief steerer of legislation that crippled the DEA’s ability to fight Big Pharma on the—wait for it—opioid epidemic. More sound judgment on the part of 45.
2. Reince Priebus
Reince had his moment in the sun with Bob Mueller and has just about zero reasons to lie about coverups, misdeeds and general gossip, after being ousted by Trump in July and having never been part of the Trump inner circle to begin with. If, as they say, the coverup is always worse than the crime, Priebus is in position to do some damage to Trump himself if he wants to avoid perjury charges.
3. Donald Trump
Neglected to speak with the families of servicemen recently killed in Niger on the odd and false claim that Obama never did that. Has been silent on the devastation of the California wildfires. Continually has advisors who have to clarify for the press that they’re not quitting or being fired—the political equivalent of Homer Simpson’s “Everything’s Okay Alarm.” Allegedly “hate[s] everyone in the White House.”
4. Michael Flynn
New reports suggest that Flynn was part of a shadow national security/foreign policy team Trump was consulting with during the campaign, and that his unreported foreign entanglements and pipeline to Russia-hacked dirt on Hillary Clinton were well-known to all and, in fact, viewed as an asset, by administration decision makers by the time Flynn was named national security advisor. Flynn increasingly looks like the lynchpin on which the Russia investigation will be based.
5. Jared Kushner
Kushner further solidified his place as the worst filler-out of forms in American history when it was revealed he failed to disclose ownership of a real estate tech firm that’s raised millions of dollars and doubled in value since he’s entered the White House.
6. Paul Manafort
After a week of Trump trashing NBC News, said news outlet published a report that Manafort, Trump’s one-time unpaid campaign head, has (present-tense) even closer financial ties to a Putin-connected Russian oligarch than originally known, and the connections were already pretty damn strong. $60 million worth of connections in fact, to Oleg Deripaska, whom Manafort inexplicably offered private briefings on the campaign.
7. Robert Mueller
With the interview of Priebus and, according to Trump’s lawyers, possibly the president himself soon, Mueller’s shown that he’s worked pretty quickly through the lower-level players in the Russian investigation, and odds are good that he’ll be talking with current White House officials soon.
8. Mike Pence
It should matter more that Trump, referring to gays, said that Pence wanted to “hang ‘em all,” in a New Yorker profile, but the news cycle doesn’t allow much time to process these things anymore. Still, it’s a damning, if (slightly) overstated piece of evidence in the “Pence would be worse,” argument.
9. John McCain
At the twilight of his career, McCain seems to be re-embracing the maverick label that put him on the national political map many moons ago. In a speech accepting the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal last night, McCain denounced what he called, “half-baked, spurious nationalism.” No word yet on who that line may have been aimed at.
10. Roy Moore’s Twitter feed.
The Honorable (?) Roy Moore, batshit GOP candidate to replace Jeff Sessions in the senate, has seen his twitter following balloon since he’s come into national prominence following a primary race in which he beat the Trump-endorsed Luther Strange. The catch: there seem to be an awful lot of those new fans who speak Russian as a primary language.