pointed fingers
August 11, 2020

Negotiations for the next coronavirus relief bill have not been going well, to say the least, and each side is eager to blame the other for the breakdown.

But White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who has been representing the Trump administration alongside Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, is emerging as a particularly thorny player in the saga, as The Washington Post reports Meadows is the one drawing a "hard line" as negotiations continue. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is also leading talks, even reportedly calls Meadows "The Enforcer." Publicly, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said Meadows' views "are quite hardened and non-compromising, more so than Mnuchin."

The good cop / bad cop dynamic is apparently starting to wear on Democrats. But Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who presumably worked with Meadows back when he was a representative for North Carolina, seemed to think his stubbornness came as no surprise. Meadows was "well known on Capitol Hill for sabotaging negotiations," wrote Beyer on Twitter.

The stalled negotiations have led to a lapse in unemployment aid for millions of Americans who were previously receiving $600 per week as the pandemic keeps many out of work. While Mnuchin has seemingly been optimistic the two sides can make a deal, Meadows hasn't budged on insisting Democrats lower their demands and "come back with a counterproposal." Talks could be further delayed, in part because Meadows is reportedly "out for the week." Read more at The Washington Post. Summer Meza

March 15, 2018

Trump administration officials worked with conservative figures like Newt Gingrich to discredit government staffers who worked under former President Barack Obama, internal emails obtained by Politico revealed.

House Democrats penned a letter Thursday calling on White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Deputy State Secretary John Sullivan to comb through emails and documents from several high-level officials at the State Department and White House. The letter accuses the officials of collaborating to conduct a "cleaning" of longtime employees who worked for administrations other than President Trump's.

Politico reviewed emails from State Department officials like Brian Hook, the director of policy planning staff, and White House liaison Julia Haller, who repeatedly questioned the loyalty of Iran expert Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, a State Department employee who was hired under the Bush administration in 2005 and served under Obama.

At one point, Gingrich sent a disparaging article about Nowrouzzadeh to a top aide to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, writing, "I think a cleaning is in order here," referring to purging staffers not considered sufficiently "supportive" of Trump's agenda. Other emails branded inherited staffers as "a leaker and a troublemaker" and a "turncoat."

The State Department denies any wrongdoing. "Any suggestion that the makeup of the Policy Planning Staff reflects a bias against career civil servants is completely without merit,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert told Politico.

Thursday's letter, sent by Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings (Md.) and Eliot Engel (N.Y.), called the paranoia about so-called "Obama holdovers" disturbing. The letter requests action by the end of the month. Read more at Politico. Summer Meza

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