White House Secy. Resigns, Senate Spending Deal
Thursday, February 8, 2018
Vol. 7, No. 39
Beat It: White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter has resigned following accusations published in the British newspaper The Daily Mail that he physically abused two ex-wives. “These outrageous allegations are simply false,” Porter said in a statement.
As staff secretary, Porter controlled the paper flow to the President. It’s a powerful position and a history of domestic abuse would disqualify him because he could be subject to blackmail.
CNN reports that the White House has known about the accusations for months because Porter was investigated for a security clearance. Porter, 40, is dating White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, who had a hand in statements issued to defend him. It’s like backstage in high school theater.
The former wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby, both told The Daily Mail about abusive behavior by Porter. Holderness described her relationship with Porter as “verbally, emotionally and physically abusive.” She gave a picture to the website The Intercept in which she has a blackened right eye and a swollen cheekbone. She said, “He threw me down on the bed and punched me in the face. I think he was shocked that he had lost control to that extent.”
“I took the photos given to the media nearly 15 years ago, and the reality behind them is nowhere close to what is being described,” Porter said in his statement. “I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign.” He’s out.
Deal, No Deal: Senate leaders from both parties reached an agreement yesterday to raise the debt limit and fund the government for two years, potentially avoiding a government shutdown tonight and breaking the stalemate between the two parties in the Senate.
But House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi was unhappy that the deal does not include anything for the so-called “Dreamers,” the immigrants brought to the US illegally as children. She delivered a protest speech on the House floor that went on for eight hours, the longest House speech in a century. Admirers tweeted that six hours in, the 77-year-old Pelosi was still wearing four-inch heels.
Coming on top of the Republican tax reform bill, the deal would further raise the national deficit, but neither party seems to care. The deal would raise overall spending caps by about $300 billion over two years. The limit on military spending would increase by $80 billion this fiscal year and by $85 billion next year. The limit on nondefense spending would increase by $63 billion this year and $68 billion next year.
The bill also tacks on another four years for the Children’s Health Insurance program, extending it for a total of 10 years.
Money, Money: The Dow Jones closed down just 19 points yesterday, holding the line against a deeper selloff. One factor that triggered selling earlier in the week was low unemployment, which is raising wages. President Trump complained on Twitter, “In the ‘old days,’ when good news was reported, the Stock Market would go up. Today, when good news is reported, the Stock Market goes down. Big mistake, and we have so much good (great) news about the economy!”
Headlines and Deadlines: The news company Tronc has agreed to sell the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune for $500 million to a billionaire Los Angeles doctor who is a major shareholder in Tronc. The buyer is Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the founder and chief executive of the healthcare company, NantHealth.
Tronc used to be the Tribune Company, but changed its name in an attempt to brand itself as a digital news company. “Tronc” is short for Tribune Online News Company, as if anyone cares.
The LA Times in particular has had a fractious relationship with its owner, and in recent weeks has suffered turmoil in the newsroom with turnover in the top leadership and a fight about a plan to have non-staffers contribute news reports. Struggling as all newspapers are to survive in the digital world, the Times since 1993 has shrunk its news staff from 1,300 to about 400.
The paper is still profitable, though. It has 431,000 subscribers and is one of the top providers of news online.
The Big Parade: Debate broke out yesterday about the wisdom of President Trump’s plan for a giant military parade to outshine France’s Bastille Day display of might. White House Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “The president is exploring different ways that he can highlight and show the pride we have in the military.” Critics say what Trump wants is to honor himself. Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy said, “I think confidence is silent and insecurity is loud.”