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The kiss of death in Trump's Cabinet is disagreeing with the boss

Let's take this moment to pause and take stock of the jetsam that has been jettisoned from President Donald Trump's C...

Posted: Apr 4, 2018 8:41 AM
Updated: Apr 4, 2018 8:41 AM

Let's take this moment to pause and take stock of the jetsam that has been jettisoned from President Donald Trump's Cabinet and compare it with what hasn't.

Beware the effort to make full sense of the President's hiring and firing decisions or to explain why one person (Rex Tillerson, for example) doesn't last, while another person (Scott Pruitt, say) does. So far, at least. Pruitt could be gone tomorrow, for all we know.

But there are some themes worth examining here. Notably, that what seems to get a Trump Cabinet official forced out is not scandal but disagreeing with the boss.

That's why Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and VA Secretary David Shulkin were both let go via tweet. They both disagreed with Trump on real policy moves. Trump said Tillerson didn't want to end the Obama-era Iran nuclear agreement. Trump does.

So no hard feelings, but there's the door.

Tillerson's very simple policy dispute with Trump (exacerbated, perhaps, by those reports that Tillerson had called Trump a "moron" behind closed doors), seems tame compared to the high-flying scandals ensnaring other Cabinet members.

It's a wonder Shulkin made it as long as he did; the subject of an IG investigation over his travel. But it was a hard policy issue -- how much to privatize the health care of veterans -- that ultimately seems to have created an irreparable rift between Shulkin and the White House. Now they can't even agree on whether Shulkin was fired or not.

There has been no such rift for EPA administrator Pruitt, despite a string of embarrassing stories about his first-class flights, his apparently cozy low-rent housing situation courtesy of the spouse of an energy lobbyist, and more.

If an embarrassing scandal is going to claim a Cabinet secretary, the smart money is on Pruitt. But we'll see.

For all that, Pruitt still has his job. And he got a call of encouragement from the President on Tuesday. Why? Who the heck knows! But with Trump, it's worth mentioning that Pruitt is executing his duties as Trump sees them -- dismantling the US regulatory state -- quite well. He announced Tuesday a plan to revisit car emissions standards put in place during the Obama presidency.

Neither Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson nor Education Secretary Betsy DeVos appear to have crossed Trump on a policy idea. They both still have their jobs, despite some embarrassments. DeVos gave a less-than-stellar interview to "60 Minutes." Carson came under fire when his office tried to spend taxpayer money on extravagant redecoration of his HUD office. (Trump also might also be loath to lose the only African-American member of his Cabinet and one of the few women).

The President wasn't too torn up about losing Gary Cohn, who was not a Cabinet member as director of Trump's National Economic Council. But Cohn was a principal and top policy mind at the White House. He and Trump differed over tariffs the President unilaterally enacted on steel and aluminum imports, and then Cohn resigned.

Trump never gelled with national security adviser H.R. McMaster, and replaced him with John Bolton, who has much more aggressive views on foreign policy, in line with Trump's own.

There are obviously exceptions. Trump's first HHS Secretary Tom Price resigned under pressure back in September of 2017 during a private plane scandal in which he spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on private transportation.

But other Cabinet secretaries, including Pruitt, Shulkin, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke all have had travel issues.

What helped push Price out the door was his attachment to the failed efforts by Republicans to repeal Obamacare. Trump even said during a speech to Boy Scouts in July that if Price couldn't get the votes to repeal Obamacare, he'd be gone.

"He better get them. Oh, he better," Trump said. "Otherwise I'll say, 'Tom, you're fired.' "

The wild card in all of this is Jeff Sessions, the attorney general who was an early and vocal Trump supporter but who Trump now regrets appointing. Sessions' big problem is that he blinked in the face of public scrutiny and recused himself from any sort of Russia election meddling investigation. That set off the series of dominoes that gave us Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation, which has already gotten guilty pleas from former Trump campaign aides and shows few signs of slowing down.

Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has said he had to chase down Sessions outside the White House and convince him not to quit at one point. Trump has made sport of publicly humiliating Sessions to the point that Sessions has pushed back at times. But Sessions seems to have weathered the storm for now and is busy carrying out Trump's hardline immigration policies and engaging in political war with California.

Priebus, by the way, took the fall for a string of legislative failures and leaks from the White House. Former chief strategist Steve Bannon was forced out after he contradicted Trump on North Korea and overstated his power. Failure to enact Trump's agenda -- or unwillingness to do so due to policy differences -- has been the downfall time and again for members of the President's team.

So, Sessions and Pruitt are in, for now. And Tillerson and others are out. It's a lesson other Cabinet members might want to learn. They'll need to keep up with the boss if they want to stay put.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 98190

Reported Deaths: 2969
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7179161
DeSoto567863
Harrison391774
Jackson355370
Rankin334679
Madison333190
Lee280471
Forrest252476
Jones251580
Washington226379
Lafayette220840
Lauderdale2077126
Bolivar185770
Oktibbeha181152
Lamar174336
Lowndes159858
Neshoba1597104
Panola151231
Sunflower148546
Leflore142681
Warren141550
Pontotoc129316
Pike124953
Monroe124669
Copiah119933
Scott117727
Coahoma116730
Lincoln112353
Marshall111821
Holmes110060
Grenada109836
Yazoo106631
Simpson105047
Tate101238
Union100224
Leake96338
Adams94537
Wayne91221
Pearl River90953
Prentiss87918
Marion87136
Itawamba85021
Alcorn83211
Covington83023
George78413
Newton77824
Tallahatchie77724
Winston74619
Tishomingo70338
Chickasaw69224
Tippah68718
Attala67225
Clarke61048
Walthall60426
Clay59918
Hancock59522
Jasper58115
Noxubee55816
Smith54515
Calhoun52712
Tunica49915
Montgomery46920
Claiborne46516
Yalobusha44214
Lawrence43714
Perry42821
Greene38917
Quitman3875
Stone37913
Humphreys37715
Jefferson Davis34611
Amite34210
Webster33913
Carroll32312
Wilkinson30718
Kemper29115
Sharkey26614
Jefferson2429
Benton2333
Franklin1973
Choctaw1876
Issaquena1053
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 137564

Reported Deaths: 2399
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19938351
Mobile13507293
Montgomery8866185
Tuscaloosa8837118
Madison798179
Shelby607449
Lee597161
Baldwin560650
Marshall397543
Calhoun355644
Etowah354845
Morgan333428
Houston293921
Elmore271948
DeKalb244321
St. Clair235936
Walker235485
Talladega217830
Limestone214420
Cullman191920
Dallas179826
Franklin179130
Autauga178727
Russell17683
Lauderdale175133
Colbert167726
Blount162115
Escambia161624
Jackson159712
Chilton159530
Covington140727
Dale140344
Coffee13716
Pike121611
Chambers117542
Tallapoosa117185
Clarke110316
Marion97529
Butler91740
Barbour8867
Winston75013
Marengo72620
Pickens67014
Randolph66613
Lowndes65927
Bibb65810
Hale64928
Geneva6444
Lawrence63425
Cherokee61713
Bullock60714
Clay5918
Monroe5908
Washington56012
Crenshaw54332
Perry5426
Conecuh53911
Wilcox53211
Henry5105
Macon48318
Fayette4689
Sumter43719
Cleburne3945
Lamar3822
Choctaw35112
Greene30515
Coosa1743
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