October 7, 2019

President Trump is "not a commander-in-chief," his former anti-ISIS envoy says.

The White House announced Sunday the U.S. will "no longer be in the immediate area" of northern Syria where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday a Turkish military incursion was "imminent." The White House's statement also said that Turkey "will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years."

In response, Brett McGurk, former special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter the Islamic State, blasted Trump in a Twitter thread, saying is he "not a commander-in-chief" and that he "makes impulsive decisions with no knowledge or deliberation."

McGurk writes that the White House's statement "demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of anything happening on the ground," as contrary to what it suggests, the U.S. is "not holding any ISIS detainees" but rather they "are all being held by the [Syrian Democratic Forces], which Trump just served up to Turkey." McGurk also says that "Turkey has neither the intent, desire, nor capacity to manage" 60,000 detainees, and "believing otherwise is a reckless gamble with our national security."

"Bottom line: Trump tonight after one call with a foreign leader provided a gift to Russia, Iran, and ISIS," he concludes.

McGurk, who also served in the Obama and Bush administrations, in December left his position two months early after Trump announced he would withdraw troops from Syria, in a Washington Post op-ed later saying that Trump in doing so is giving ISIS "new life." Trump subsequently dismissed him in a tweet as "Brett McGurk, who I do not know." Brendan Morrow

5:23 p.m.

Rick Perry is out, and he's taking his glasses with him.

Perry informed President Trump on Thursday that he'll be resigning as energy secretary in the near future, The New York Times reports. The decision isn't a surprise, but it's hard not to see a connection between his resignation and Perry's Wednesday interview that dragged him deeper into the Trump administration's Ukraine scandal.

Perry is one of Trump's few Cabinet officials who have been on the job since the beginning of his presidency — not that he and Trump were exactly friends during the 2016 campaign. The former Texas governor has been supportive of Trump's environmental platform throughout his tenure, but was reportedly looking to leave by the end of this year earlier this month.

That exit plan became official after Perry explained his ties to Rudy Giuliani and the Ukraine controversy to The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. Perry led the U.S. delegation to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky's inauguration this year in what a whistleblower said was Trump's attempt to avoid Zelensky until he was sure the leader would "play ball" and probe former Vice President Joe Biden. Perry backed up the characterization of Trump refusing to meet Zelensky when talking to the Journal, but said Trump only wanted to ensure Ukraine "cleaned up their act" before a meeting. Perry also said Trump told him to call Giuliani to facilitate a Ukraine meeting, which Perry said he did. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:03 p.m.

Maybe there's a reason Mick Mulvaney's gig never went full time.

The acting White House chief of staff admitted on Thursday the Trump administration had engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine, withholding aid from the country until its role in the 2016 DNC email hack was further investigated. But the rest of the Trump administration isn't being so forthcoming, with Justice Department officials brushing off possible roles in the exchange entirely.

"If the White House was withholding aid in regards to the cooperation of any investigation at the Department of Justice, that is news to us," a senior DOJ official said in a statement to reporters Thursday. This comes after another DOJ official told reporters they "have no idea what [Mulvaney] is talking about."

But over on President Trump's personal legal team, things aren't going so well. "I think people are a bit stunned," one person familiar with the team's thinking told CNN. Another source called Mulvaney's briefing "not helpful," per CNN. Trump's top attorney Jay Sekulow, meanwhile, briefly said "the legal team was not involved in the acting chief of staff's press briefing."

Mulvaney's shocking comments were briefly characterized as taking the impeachment inquiry "from very, very bad to much, much worse," House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Thursday. After all, "no quid pro quo" has been Trump's simple defense from the day his call with Ukraine's president was first made public. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:17 p.m.

It's not Facebook's job to keep false information off your timeline.

At least that's the perspective of Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, which he shared with shared with The Washington Post ahead of a speech at Georgetown University on Thursday. While Zuckerberg says he's worried about "the erosion of truth" in society, he's just not ready to root out falsehoods on his platform altogether.

Zuckerberg and Facebook have been criticized for letting false news stories and even false claims from politicians stand on the site. That issue was the focus of an experimental ad from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), in which she claimed Zuckerberg endorsed President Trump for re-election just to see if the site would take it down. Facebook didn't, and on Thursday, Zuckerberg gave a reason why. "I don't think people want to live in a world where you can only say things that tech companies decide are 100 percent true," he said, adding that he fears "potentially cracking down too much" on free expression even if it can lead to confusion.

Still, Zuckerberg acknowledged that the power Facebook has on political systems is very much on his mind. He even considered banning political ads on Facebook altogether, he said Thursday at Georgetown. But that would result in a site that "favors incumbents and whoever the media covers," Zuckerberg added. Read more of Zuckerberg's political thoughts at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:14 p.m.

President Trump just created an "enormous headache" for himself with his plan to hold the 2020 Group of Seven summit at his Florida resort, according to Fox News' Andrew Napolitano.

The network's legal analyst reacted Thursday after the White House announced the 2020 meeting of world leaders would be held at the president's Doral golf resort, calling this a violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits the president from accepting "any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State."

After quoting from this clause, Napolitano noted its purpose is to "keep the president of the United States of America from profiting off of foreign money," and so Trump holding the summit at his private resort is "about as direct and profound a violation of the emoluments clause as one could create."

The White House has claimed the resort was simply the best venue for the event and that Trump will not profit from it. Napolitano, however, dismissed this defense.

"The president owns shares of stock in a corporation that is one of the owners of this, along with many other investors," Napolitano said. "He also owns shares of stock in the corporation that manages it. Those corporations will receive a great deal of money from foreign heads of state because this is there. That's exactly what the emoluments clause was written to prohibit."

Fox host Neil Cavuto also sounded fairly baffled by Trump's decision, saying he'd think Trump would "bend over backwards to avoid" holding the event at a location with his name on it. "You would think so," Napolitano responded. "But you know the president. He loves a fight, and he just picked another one." Brendan Morrow

3:31 p.m.

The riddle of who will help Warner Bros. flesh out its villainous The Batman cast has just been solved.

Paul Dano has landed the role of the iconic villain the Riddler in The Batman, which stars Robert Pattinson in the title role, The Hollywood Reporter writes. Jonah Hill was reportedly being considered to play the Riddler or the Penguin in the movie, but Hill recently dropped out of talks, and Variety reports the studio "had an offer ready to go out to Dano once Hill passed on the role."

The Riddler was previously brought to life by Jim Carrey in 1995's Batman Forever, as well as by Cory Michael Smith on Fox's Gotham. Dano's casting comes just days after Zoe Kravitz also boarded the project as Catwoman, and Jeffrey Wright is reportedly set to play Commissioner Gordon.

The Batman will see Pattinson take over as the caped crusader after Ben Affleck portrayed him in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, also having a cameo in Suicide Squad. Affleck was originally set to both star in and direct The Batman, but he said earlier this year he "couldn't crack" the movie and decided it was "time to let someone else take a shot at it." He was replaced as director by War for the Planet of the Apes' Matt Reeves.

Reeves has confirmed The Batman will feature a "rogues gallery" of villains, so prepare for the bat signal to be lit up as many more members of the cast are announced in the coming months. The film hits theaters in 2021. Brendan Morrow

2:48 p.m.

The G7 at Doral might be the only thing President Trump can look forward to right now.

After announcing that the Group of Seven summit would be held at Trump's Miami resort next year, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney took Trump's impeachment inquiry to a place he certainly didn't want it to go. Mulvaney essentially admitted to a quid pro quo agreement with Ukraine over security funding, and House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) says it has made things "much, much worse" for Trump and company.

When asked why the Trump administration withheld security aid to Ukraine earlier this year, Mulvaney didn't just say it was because Trump wanted the country to probe the DNC email hack it likely had nothing to do with. And he didn't just let his comments stand when ABC News' Jon Karl said Mulvaney had just described a quid pro quo. Mulvaney suggested withholding aid was something the U.S. does "all the time with foreign policy," and that the press should "get over it."

Schiff, who is currently leading the House's impeachment investigation into Trump's urging of Ukraine to investigate his political rival, kept his response to Mulvaney's admittance simple. "Mr. Mulvaney's acknowledgment means that things have gone from very, very bad to much, much worse," Schiff said, not saying whether he'd like to bring Mulvaney in for congressional testimony and letting his comments stand from there. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:40 p.m.

President Trump plans to hold next year's Group of Seven summit at his golf resort, and former President George W. Bush's press secretary isn't happy.

Ari Fleischer, who served as Bush's press secretary from 2001 through 2003, slammed Trump Thursday after the White House announced the 2020 Group of Seven summit will be held at Trump's Doral golf resort in Miami, as The Washington Post reports.

This, Fleischer tweeted, is "one of the most foolish, unseemly things the [White House] could do."

During a press briefing Thursday, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney defended the choice by saying the Trump-owned property is "the best physical facility for this meeting" and saying that Trump wouldn't profit in "any way, shape or form." But when asked if the White House would share documents showing how they arrived at this decision, he said, "absolutely not." Brendan Morrow

See More Speed Reads