President Trump has nominated only 42 of the 553 key leadership positions in his administration, and 18 of those 42 have been confirmed, mostly Cabinet secretaries, according to a tally of jobs requiring Senate confirmation by the Partnership for Public Service and The Washington Post. Left unfilled are dozens of deputy and assistant secretary posts, chief financial officers (including at the Treasury Department), general counsels, and ambassadors. None of his Cabinet secretaries have deputies, and there are no such nominees yet for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson or Defense Secretary James Mattis.
"There's no question this is the slowest transition in decades," former State Department official R. Nicholas Burns, who has been involved in transitions since 1988, tells The New York Times. "It is a very, very big mistake. The world continues — it doesn't respect transitions." Trump seems unconcerned about the vacancies, telling Fox News in February that "a lot of those jobs, I don't want to appoint, because they're unnecessary to have." But White House spokeswoman Lindsay E. Walters says Trump actually intends to fill most of the vacancies, eventally.
Former Cabinet officials, federal agency administrators, and White House transition experts tell The New York Times that the vacant offices and resultant power vacuums will hinder Trump's policy goals, and weaken America's position in the world. America's ambassador to Chile, Carol Perez, will represent the U.S. at a meeting of Pacific Rim trade ministers this week, for example, because the U.S. trade representative job hasn't been filled. And a U.S.-Mexico sugar dispute flared up last week because Mexico did not have anyone to negotiate with at the Commerce Department.
Trump is about halfway to where former President Barack Obama was at this stage in his administration, and "months behind where experts in both parties, even some inside his administration, say he should be," The Times says. He is making up for lost time, but got off to a slow start in a tumultuous transition period and has compounded his staffing problems by narrowing down the pool of qualified applicants by imposing loyalty tests, a five-year lobbying ban, and a chaotic White House. You can read more about Trump's slow transition at The New York Times. Peter Weber
The Senate Finance Committee was forced to briefly delay its hearing on the Republican health-care bill on Monday after police were called in to remove loud protesters, many of whom were representing the disability rights group ADAPT, The Hill reports. The demonstrators chanted "no cuts to Medicaid, save our liberty" and "kill the bill, don't kill me," and could still be heard in the hallways after they'd been removed from the room.
This is Colleen of ADAPT.
I have no idea what this country is supposed to be pic.twitter.com/de86rRuLiM
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_Vox) September 25, 2017
Growing frustrated with the noise, panel chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) snapped: "If you want a hearing, you better shut up."
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reassured Americans that President Trump did not actually declare war on North Korea via tweet.
Sanders' statement ran contrary to claims made earlier in the day by North Korea's foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho. Ri claimed Pyongyang now has the right to shoot down U.S. bombers in international airspace after Trump said Saturday that North Korea "won't be around much longer" if it keeps intimidating America.
"We've not declared war on North Korea," Sanders said. "And frankly the suggestion of that is absurd."
She went on to add: "It is never appropriate for a country to shoot down another country's aircraft when it's over international waters. Our goal is still the same. We continue to seek the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. That's our focus." Watch below. Jeva Lange
North Korea said one of Trump's tweets was a declaration of war, but the White House says that's "absurd." pic.twitter.com/xjyljfhrHn
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) September 25, 2017
After famously dubbing President Trump a "bum" over the weekend, LeBron James doubled down on his comments at the Cleveland Cavaliers' media event on Monday. "The thing that kind of frustrated me and pissed me off a little bit is that [Trump] used the sports platform to try to divide us," James said in response to Trump's comments about NFL protests as well as his decision to disinvite the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry from the White House. "It is so amazing what sports can do for everyone, no matter what shape or size or race or ethnicity or religion or whatever … It just brings people together like none other."
James added: "We're not going to let — I'm not going to let ... one individual, no matter the power, no matter the impact that he should have or she should have, ever use sport as a platform to divide us."
LeBron James: "The people run this country. Not one individual. And damn sure not him." pic.twitter.com/b82ojpXkZt
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 25, 2017
James also stressed that everyone should try every day to make a difference for others. "We know this is the greatest country in the world," James said. "It's the land of the free. But we still have problems just like everybody else, and when we have those problems we have to figure out how to come together and be as great as we can be as a people. Because the people run this country. Not one individual. And damn sure not him." Jeva Lange
The Supreme Court has removed President Trump's travel ban case from its schedule after the administration announced a new approach over the weekend. Sunday's presidential proclamation places indefinite travel restrictions on visitors from eight nations: Chad, Libya, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, and Somalia. Sudan was dropped from Trump's original travel bans, the latter of which expired Sunday, while Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela were added.
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) September 25, 2017
Oral arguments for the original ban had been scheduled to begin Oct. 10. The New York Times observed last week that the changes could "[complicate] the review by the justices and potentially [make] parts of the case moot even before" arguments began. Jeva Lange
Cardi B overtook Taylor Swift on Monday to become the first female rapper since 1998 to top the Billboard Hot 100 without "the assistance of any other credited artists," Billboard reports. Cardi B's "Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)" beat out Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do" and earned a distinction that has been otherwise unmatched by a solo female rapper since Lauryn Hill's "Doo-Wop (That Thing)" 19 years ago. Cardi B is also the first female soloist to top the chart in an unaccompanied debut since Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" crested in 2014.
Billboard adds that "Cardi B is only the fifth female rapper ever to lead the Hot 100 at all. After Hill, Lil' Kim ruled for five weeks in 2001 with Christina Aguilera, Mya, and P!nk on 'Lady Marmalade'; Shawnna reigned as featured on Ludacris' 'Stand Up,' which topped the Dec. 6, 2003, chart; and Iggy Azalea's introductory Hot 100 hit, 'Fancy,' featuring Charli XCX, led for seven weeks in 2014."
Cardi B's accomplishment is "a specific victory for women in hip-hop, but it also obliquely carries a win for hip-hop overall," BuzzFeed News writes. "This past July, according to Nielsen Music, hip-hop/R&B dethroned rock as the most popular genre when it comes to overall music consumption in the United States. Hip-hop's recent coronation comes as a result of the increasing popularity of streaming and, unsurprisingly, so does 'Bodak Yellow''s success."
Listen to the track below. Jeva Lange
Former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner was sentenced to 21 months in prison Monday after pleading guilty to a sexting scandal involving a 15-year-old girl. The emotional moments afterward were captured on paper by the courtroom sketch artist:
Courtroom sketch of Anthony Weiner during his sentencing belongs in a museum. pic.twitter.com/d1RtP8a8SO
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) September 25, 2017
Weiner had reportedly sought probation on the grounds that he needs therapy, calling himself "a very sick man for a very long time." After the sentencing he "remained behind, crying and talking with lawyers," the New York Daily News writes. "He appeared crushed." Jeva Lange
Chelsea Manning tweeted Monday that she has been "permanently banned" from Canada due to violations of the Espionage Act stemming from her leak of thousands of classified and unclassified documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. "[Canadian immigration] denied entry [because] of convictions similar to 'treason' offense," Manning wrote.
The letter indicates that Manning was rejected "on grounds of serious criminality" that "if committed in Canada ... would equate to an indictable offense, namely Treason." Manning had her sentence commuted by President Obama in 2016 and she was released earlier this year.
Manning said she would challenge Canada's denial of entry at a future date:
— Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea) September 25, 2017
Earlier this month, Harvard's Kennedy School announced that it had rescinded its invitation to Manning to be a visiting fellow at the Institute of Politics after CIA Director Mike Pompeo canceled his appearance at the school, citing Manning as being a "traitor to the United States of America." Jeva Lange