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April 16, 2018

President Trump's former golf caddy — a man with zero political experience — has, against all odds, risen to a top position in the West Wing.

Dan Scavino, who is an assistant to the president and director of social media, is the longest-tenured Trump employee in the White House, noted a sprawling profile of the man published by The New York Times Magazine on Monday. He is the architect behind many of the president's tweets, often tapping out 280 characters while Trump dictates, and previously served as an unofficial photographer during the campaign. Now that Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director, has left the administration, Scavino is one of the last "original" Trump team members and is closer with the president than ever, the Times Magazine reports. Scavino even took over Hicks' office after she departed at the end of March, just down the hall from the Oval Office.

Scavino was instrumental in framing Trump's campaign as "a movement," former chief strategist Stephen Bannon told the magazine. "He has his hands on the Pepes," Bannon said of Scavino, referring to the alt-right mascot "Pepe the Frog." Scavino has remained close with Trump due to his understanding of how to play to the president's base, officials told the Times Magazine, and often acts as a yes-man to placate Trump's ego.

Scavino is also the only aide allowed access to Trump's treasured Twitter account, and one source said that Trump and Scavino craft his tweets together, splitting the work 50-50. Because of how much Trump values his Twitter presence, sources say, Scavino's importance is unlikely to diminish, especially given his undying faithfulness to the president.

Scavino declined to be interviewed for the story. As a friend of Scavino's told the magazine: "Golf is a sport of the least mistakes. … That's how someone like Dan might float to the top — by not doing anything wrong." Read more at The New York Times Magazine. Summer Meza

12:59 p.m.

Friday's federal court ruling that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as ObamaCare, is unconstitutional will be upheld by the Supreme Court, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller forecast on Face the Nation Sunday.

Miller conceded there would be no immediate change in ACA administration nationwide, but he answered CBS host Margaret Brennan in the affirmative when she summarized his comments as "predicting that this goes to the Supreme Court and that the Supreme Court ultimately strikes down" the ACA.

"I believe that's the likeliest outcome, because Obamacare has always been unconstitutional," Miller said, pointing to the individual mandate provision, which is core to Friday's decision.

It's that very focus on the mandate which has led most legal experts — including conservatives and libertarians who oppose the ACA as a policy matter — to conclude the Friday ruling probably will not hold up under appeal. Read about their reasoning here at The Week. Bonnie Kristian

12:46 p.m.

President Trump does not have the votes in either house of Congress to get the border wall funding he wants, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Meet the Press Sunday, arguing congressional Republicans should force Trump to accept this fact to avert government shutdown.

"Republicans just have to have the guts to tell President Trump he's off on the deep end here, and all he's going to get with his temper tantrum is a shutdown. He will not get a wall," Schumer told host Chuck Todd.

"If the president wants to debate the wall next year, he can," he continued. "I don't think he'll get it, but I don't think he should use innocent worker as hostages for his temper tantrum to sort of throw a bone to his base." Watch an excerpt of Schumer's comments below. Bonnie Kristian

12:38 p.m.

President Trump will not grant an interview to Special Counsel Robert Mueller if Rudy Giuliani has anything to say about it.

"There are reports now that the special counsel is interested again in interviewing the president," said Fox News host Chris Wallace when Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, joined his show for an interview Sunday. "Has his office reached out to you about sitting down for an in-person interview with the president?"

"Yes, there are several unpaid parking tickets back in 1986 [or] '87 that haven't been explained," Giuliani quipped. Pressed by Wallace for a more serious answer, Giuliani declared the Mueller investigation "a joke" and said Trump would grant the interview "over my dead body — but, you know, I could be dead."

Watch Giuliani's full interview below, and read more here at The Week on why an attorney would be wary of letting his client speak to federal investigators. Bonnie Kristian

11:56 a.m.

President Trump revisited familiar complaints on Twitter Sunday, reiterating his animosity toward a variety of people on a variety of topics.

He began with a gripe about the media, particularly Saturday Night Live, which opened the night before with Alec Baldwin reprising his role as the president in a sketch parodying the holiday classic It's a Wonderful Life.

Alas for Trump, satire is indeed legal.

He soon moved on to the subject of former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. While Trump claimed in tweets Saturday night and Sunday morning that "19,000 Texts between [the two] were just reported as being wiped clean," the reality is Politico reported Thursday that about 19,000 previously missing texts were recovered by the Department of Justice investigation into Strzok and Page.

Trump next made a convoluted non sequitur about the FBI's warranted search of an office belonging to his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen:

On immigration, Trump at once condemned the Obama administration for separating some migrant families while boasting of his own separation policy. And finally, the president said he would review the case of Matt Golsteyn, a former Green Beret who has been charged by the Army with premeditated murder for his admitted role in killing an Afghan man he claimed was a Taliban bomb maker. Bonnie Kristian

10:53 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday pushed back on calls for a second referendum on Brexit, the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union.

May particularly condemned remarks from former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who said this week a new vote should be considered if "none of the other options work." May accused Blair of "seek[ing] to undermine our negotiations by advocating for a second referendum," arguing "Parliament has a democratic duty to deliver what the British people voted for."

May's proposed Brexit deal with the EU has stalled, lacking support to pass a House of Commons vote. Bonnie Kristian

10:48 a.m.

The North Korean government on Sunday issued a typically dramatic statement condemning the United States' sanction regime and suggesting denuclearization plans are in jeopardy.

Pyongyang accused the U.S. State Department of being "bent on bringing [North Korea]-U.S. relations back to the status of last year which was marked by exchanges of fire," warning that additional U.S. sanctions would be America's "greatest miscalculation" and would "block the path to denuclearization on the Korean peninsula forever."

This comes as Pyongyang observes the seventh anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong Il and the rise to power of his son, current leader Kim Jong Un. Bonnie Kristian

10:24 a.m.

Negotiators representing nearly 200 nations in Katowice, Poland, on Saturday agreed to universal greenhouse gas emissions limits intended to mitigate global climate change.

"It is not easy to find agreement on a deal so specific and technical," said Polish economist Michal Kurtyka, who is leading the United Nations negotiations. "Through this package you have made a thousand little steps forward together," he told the assembled delegates. "You can feel proud."

U.S. negotiators sought to label coal a possible source of clean energy but also pushed for transparency and rules which apply equally to all participant nations. "Overall, the U.S. role here has been somewhat schizophrenic — pushing coal and dissing science on the one hand, but also working hard in the room for strong transparency rules," Elliot Diringer of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions told The Associated Press. "[T]he U.S. pushed harder than nearly anyone else for transparency rules that put all countries under the same system, and it's largely succeeded." Bonnie Kristian

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