Here are the stories our D.C. insiders are talking about in this week’s “Inside Politics” forecast, where you get a glimpse of tomorrow’s headlines today.
1. Pruitt’s chummy relationship with Trump
EPA chief Scott Pruitt is facing at least a dozen ethics investigations. Most recently, he’s been accused of asking staffers to help his wife and daughter find jobs. Top Republicans on Capitol Hill are calling for his resignation, and even White House aides are exasperated by his behavior.
So why does Pruitt still have a job? Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey says he’s cultivated a relationship with President Trump, in part by being unfailingly obedient.
“He has been a bit sycophantic to the President,” Dawsey said. “He’s been doing whatever the President wanted and remains one of his favorite Cabinet members. So I’m sure more revelations will be coming, with different Inspector General reports, OMB reports, administration reports. But Scott Pruitt hangs on.”
2. Pompeo’s profile on the rise
With the Singapore summit now in the history books, the real work of North Korea denuclearization begins. And Politico’s Eliana Johnson says the point man will be Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“It was clear behind the scenes that he was really the guy leading the effort,” said Johnson, who traveled to Singapore with the president. She said Trump singled Pompeo out by name several times.
“The President is putting a lot of his capital into this,” Johnson said. “I think Pompeo’s fate really rests on the success of these negotiations.”
3. Red-state Democrats reaching out to Trump
Ten Senate Democrats are up for re-election in states Trump won in 2016 – including in deep-red places like West Virginia, Montana and North Dakota. And those senators want to show their constituents they can work with a Republican president.
“Joe Manchin of West Virginia has a new TV ad out where he boasts about his support for President Trump’s border wall,” Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur said. “Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota recently got a plum photo op with the president at the signing of a financial regulation bill she pushed. This is survival in the age of Trump.”
4. Jockeying to succeed Paul Ryan
Meantime Paul Ryan’s two top deputies are fighting a shadow campaign to succeed him as House Speaker. Their strategy so far: get close to President Trump.
“House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, he is the next in line for the position, and we have seen him grow increasingly aggressive against the (Robert) Mueller probe,” Politico’s Rachael Bade said.
Bade says Steve Scalise, the third-ranked House Republican, announced he wouldn’t back a House immigration bill immediately after President Trump said he opposed it (though the White House later backtracked and said Trump does, in fact, support it).
“It’s (about) who can hug Trump more,” Bade said.