As if the abrupt firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – and countless others in recent weeks and months – wasn’t enough of a surprise, President Donald Trump on Tuesday told an incredulous group of reporters that Tillerson’s head wouldn’t be the last to roll. The moment had all the hallmarks of a paradigm shift: with his approval rating at post-election highs (according to Rasmussen), an emboldened Trump is reworking the famous phrase “let Trump be Trump” by being more assertive on policy and personnel.
And today, Vanity Fair reported that Trump is planning to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions – a decision that would certainly complicate Robert Mueller’s investigation (perhaps that’s the intention). According to the report, the leading candidate to replace Sessions would be EPA administrator Scott Pruitt.
Perhaps most consequential for Robert Mueller’s investigation, sources said Trump has discussed a plan to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions. According to two Republicans in regular contact with the White House, there have been talks that Trump could replace Sessions with E.P.A. Administrator Scott Pruitt, who would not be recused from overseeing the Russia probe. Also, because Pruitt is already a Cabinet secretary, he would not have to go through another Senate confirmation hearing.
In another (perhaps expected) revelation, Sherman reports that Trump has been quietly grumbling about Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, telling advisors that he wished they’d move back to New York City as Kushner being stripped of his temporary security clearance has become a hindrance to performing his duties as a senior advisor to the president.
Then there is the question of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s futures. Trump has told people for months that he wants them to go back to New York. “Trump wants them out of there. He thinks they’ve been getting hit too hard,” a friend of the president said. But Javanka are digging in, sources said. “They’ve damaged us so much already. What else can they say about us?” Kushner recently said, according to a person who spoke with him. “And if we go back to New York, they’ll keep attacking. So what do we have to lose?” In recent days, the couple have argued for their continued relevance by cooperating with pieces in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Sources said that if Kelly is forced out, Jared and Ivanka will fight to stay on.
And that’s not all: Earlier this week, it was reported that Trump is preparing to also fire HR McMaster, his National Security Adviser. McMaster was appointed hastily in the aftermath of Mike Flynn’s firing, and has refused to parrot the president’s views about whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election, earning him the ire of Breitbart and most of the “alt-right.”
That news followed another report earlier this month suggesting that Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis had struck a deal to push out McMaster and install one of their proteges.
To summarize: the firing of Rex Tillerson was just the first in a series of terminations planned by what now appears to be a far more confident and empowered Trump. And judging by the market’s reaction today, risk assets are finally starting to get concerned.