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May 18, 2017
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While Barack Obama is living his best life hanging out in tropical locales and wearing leather jackets, a gloomy group of Trump loyalists have put their heads together and concocted a plot to get revenge against the former president and members of his administration through an approach being described by one person as a "bag of crazy cats," Foreign Policy reports.

In the wake of The Washington Post's report that Trump gave highly classified information about the Islamic State to Russian officials during their visit to the Oval Office last week, members of Trump's inner circle held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss how to recover from the ongoing repercussions. A person with knowledge of the summit said the team is considering going after Obama's administration by accusing it of sharing sensitive information, too, launching an investigation into a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program called the Automated Indicator Sharing capability. That program gathers information from companies on possible cyberattacks, including malicious IP addresses and emails, that is then shared with foreign partners. The goal of the program is to "identify and block adversary methods that we've never seen before," DHS spokesman Scott McConnell told FP, but the Trump team suggests that the sharing capability can open up sensitive data to Russia and other non-allies.

The problem with this revenge plan is it "doesn't make sense," one former DHS official told FP, after bursting out laughing. "It seems ludicrous," said another former official, who added that the cybersecurity being shared is "beneficial for everyone to have, like, 'Hey, this Windows program has a bug.'" Beyond that, the information in the system is not highly classified but rather "indicators of an attack," the official said. "Nothing is going to be vital to national security." Aside from being "a bag of crazy cats," as the person with knowledge of the meeting judged the approach, Robyn Greene at the Open Technology Institute told FP it's a "massive distraction," and she doesn't understand "how they can draw the line between Trump sharing code-name information with the Russians and this." The White House told FP it is unaware of any meeting or talks. Catherine Garcia

9:46 a.m. ET

The "leaked" financial disclosure form that White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci has threatened to go to the FBI about is actually public information. After Scaramucci steamed for hours about the fact that Politico reported details of the financial disclosure form he filed with the Office of Government Ethics and vowed to clamp down on the stream of leaks coming out of the Trump administration, Politico reporter Lorraine Woellert set the record straight:

In Woellert's piece, she revealed that Scaramucci is still able to profit from his stake in his investment firm, SkyBridge Capital, despite the fact that he joined the Export-Import Bank last month as a government employee. He's still listed on the investment firm's website as the managing director. Becca Stanek

9:10 a.m. ET

Whether you're ready or not, here comes Hillary Clinton — with a new book about the 2016 election. The book will be released Sept. 12 and will be a memoir of Clinton's time on the campaign trail.

In classic Clinton fashion, the tome's title is straightforward and unexciting, with the cover deploying a minimalist two-piece aesthetic:

You'll note that the book's title is not punctuated by a question mark, but is rather a declaration that implies the memoir will deal in past events. It does not promise to answer the question of what happened, because, well, we all know that already. Kimberly Alters

9:07 a.m. ET

President Trump's Twitter announcement Wednesday that the U.S. government will no longer "accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military" left Stephen Colbert reeling Wednesday night on The Late Show. "Why the hell would he do this? This isn't even one of his campaign promises," Colbert said.

Colbert recalled how just months ago during the presidential campaign Trump assured the LGBT population that he "will fight for you." "What the hell does he think the 'T' in LGBT stands for?" Colbert quipped. "'Trump'? 'Tomato'?"

This ban takes Trump "from crazy to cruel," Colbert said. He likened Trump's decision to fire "those 15,000 transgender troops" by tweet to "your wife divorcing you by cookie bouquet." And then, to add insult to injury, Colbert pointed out they are "being rejected by a rich guy who during Vietnam, sidestepped the draft with four deferments and a medical disqualification for bone spurs in his foot."

Trump claimed the ban was due to "tremendous medical costs," but Colbert pointed out the costs added would only be "between $2.4 million and $8.4 million per year" — five times less than what the military spends on Viagra.

Watch Colbert's brutal monologue below. Becca Stanek

8:26 a.m. ET

In a Thursday morning interview on CNN's New Day, newly minted White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci invited White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to "explain" to the press "that he's not a leaker."

The previous evening, Scaramucci tagged Priebus in a tweet declaring he would be contacting the FBI about the "leak" of his financial disclosure information, which is publicly available. But Scaramucci insisted Thursday he wasn't accusing Priebus of being a leaker, but rather suggesting the chief of staff is "responsible for understanding and uncovering" the leakers.

However, Scaramucci stopped short of defending Priebus against journalists' "assumption that it's him," instead inviting Priebus to defend himself. "He's going to need to speak for his own actions," Scaramucci said.

Scaramucci did not make any attempt to hide his potentially irreparable beef with Priebus in the wide-ranging interview, commenting that "some brothers are like Cain and Abel." "We have had odds, we have had differences," Scaramucci said. "I don't know if this is reparable or not. That will be up to the president."

One thing Scaramucci did know for sure is that he and President Trump — who authorized his CNN interview — now have "a very, very good idea of who the leakers are." Becca Stanek

7:35 a.m. ET
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After Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) voted Tuesday against the motion to proceed to debating health care, Alaska got a call from the Trump administration. The Alaska Dispatch News reported that by Wednesday afternoon, President Trump's Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had dialed Murkowski and the state's other GOP senator, Dan Sullivan, to deliver what Sullivan described as a "troubling message."

"I'm not going to go into the details, but I fear that the strong economic growth, pro-energy, pro-mining, pro-jobs, and personnel from Alaska who are part of those policies are going to stop," Sullivan said. The Alaska Dispatch News reported that "issues on the line include nominations of Alaskans to Interior posts, an effort to build a road out of King Cove through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, and future opportunities to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and expand drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska."

Sullivan told the Alaska Dispatch News that Zinke "was clear that his message was in response to the no vote Murkowski cast."

Along with the phone calls, Trump on Wednesday singled out Murkowski on Twitter for being one of two Republicans to vote against the motion. Trump tweeted at Murkowski that she'd "really let Republicans, and our country down."

Read more on the story at the Alaska Dispatch News. Becca Stanek

1:58 a.m. ET
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President Trump will nominate Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) as ambassador at large for religious freedom, a position out of the State Department.

If confirmed by the Senate, Brownback, a social conservative, would monitor and respond to global threats to religious freedom. After the news broke on Wednesday, Brownback tweeted, "Religious Freedom is the first freedom. The choice of what you do with your own soul. I am honored to serve such an important cause."

Brownback is deeply unpopular in Kansas. He cut income taxes, but instead of jumpstarting the economy like he promised voters, the state was left with gaps in its budget, and lawmakers had to curb spending and raise taxes. Kansas Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley said in a statement Brownback's policies "have bankrupted our state and led to destroying nearly every agency of state government as well as his own political career. He is moving on not because of anything he accomplished in Kansas, but because of who he knows in Washington, D.C." Catherine Garcia

12:33 a.m. ET

After Politico published a piece Wednesday night about new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci still being able to profit from an ownership stake in his investment firm, Scaramucci tweeted that he will contact the FBI about the "leak" of his publicly available financial disclosure — and he tagged Reince Priebus, President Trump's chief of staff, in his message.

This didn't come as a surprise to The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza, who tweeted a bombshell:

Politico's report was the first one to reveal details from the disclosure form Scaramucci filed with the Office of Government Ethics, which showed that from Jan. 1, 2016, to the end of June, when he joined the Export-Import Bank, Scaramucci earned $4.9 million from his ownership stake in SkyBridge Capital, plus more than $5 million in salary. Scaramucci founded SkyBridge in 2005, and is still listed on its website as the managing director of the investment firm, Politico reports, even though he's been a government employee for more than a month.

RON Transatlantic and HNA Group, a Chinese conglomerate, are in the process of buying the firm, and the sale is being closely watched by federal regulators. A White House adviser told Politico that Scaramucci, a major fundraiser for Trump during his campaign, joined the Export-Import Bank in June as a way to get access to Trump while waiting for SkyBridge's very complicated sale to go through. Politico notes that he had security credentials that allowed him to gain access to Trump whenever he wanted, and could go around senior White House staffers, like Priebus.

Just a few hours after the report came out, Scaramucci tweeted his intentions of contacting the FBI and Justice Department, cryptically tagging Priebus, too:

@Reince45 hasn't responded, and perhaps most shocking of all, neither has @realDonaldTrump.

Update: Scaramucci has deleted his tweet mentioning Priebus, and posted a new message, with a screenshot of an Axios report with the headline, "Scaramucci appears to want Priebus investigated by FBI." "Wrong!" Scaramucci wrote. "Tweet was public notice to leakers that all Sr Adm officials are helping to end illegal leaks. @Reince45." Catherine Garcia

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