Ben Smith POLITICO Playbook PM: What’s going on with Pence?

    Ben Smith POLITICO Playbook PM: What’s going on with Pence?

    Ben Smith These constituents are nice!

    ANOTHER ONE GONE …Texas GOP Rep.BILL FLORESwill not seek reelection. He was pretty unhappy last Congress, and considered leaving last term, we discovered when reporting for our book last cycle. Flores was the Republican Study Committee chairman as that conservative caucus waned in power. Flores’ district, the Texas 17th, is an R+12, which he won by 15 points in 2018. PresidentDONALD TRUMPwon the district, which includes Waco, by 17 points in 2016. (FWIW: Flores didn’t give many senior D.C. Republicans a heads-up on this, but few were surprised.)More from Melanie Zanona

    — THE FACE OF THE HOUSE REPUBLICAN CONFERENCEis changing. The face of Texas is definitely changing — Flores is the fifth House R from the state to announce he’s done with Congress. And the 12 retirements so far will likely make it tougher for the GOP to take back the House.

    — ALL EYESon NC-9 for a serious gut check six days from today.

    WHAT IS UP WITH THE VP? …On Tuesday, WaPo’s Bob Costa — the print pooler for thisVP MIKE PENCEtrip to Europe — was among the reporters who spoke toMARC SHORT,the VP’s chief of staff, and asked him why the vice president was staying at the Trump Hotel in Doonbeg, Ireland, instead of Dublin, where the VP needed to be for official business. Dublin is nearly 300 kilometers from Doonbeg.

    SHORT— who has spent his career working in politics, and for many years in very close proximity to Pence — said these words: “It’s like when we went through the trip, it’s like, well, he’s going to Doonbeg because that’s where the Pence family is from. It’s like, ‘Well, you should stay at my place.’”

    MY PLACE,meaning the president’s hotel. Meaning the leader of the free world — who is higher than Pence on the food chain, and is known to demand loyalty — suggested he stay at that hotel.

    NOW,Pence’s team is having to clean this up.

    HERE’SCosta’s pool report from this morning: “Of note: Late Tuesday, VP’s office put out a statement from a spokesperson to ‘clarify the decision to stay at Trump National in Doonbeg,’ stating, in part, that it was ‘solely a decision by the Office of the Vice President and was based on the requirement to find accommodations near the vice president’s ancestral hometown that could satisfy official meetings on both coasts of the Emerald Isle.’

    THE STATEMENT ADDEDthat ‘At no time did the president direct our office to stay at his Doonbeg resort and any reporting to the contrary is false.’ For the complete statement and further questions on that front, contact the VP’s office.”

    THE REPORTINGwas based on on-the-record remarks from the VP’s chief of staff, which indicated quite clearly that Pence’s superior suggested he stay at his hotel. The VP’s team was peeved that some people reported that Pence was “directed” to stay there. But it seems obvious that he heeded the suggestion of a president who appreciates his suggestions heeded.

    NEXT STOP … PENCEis in Iceland, and then going to London in the middle of a government crisis there.

    THIS IS ANOTHER EXAMPLEof …interestingtrips by the VP. Others included a much-maligned visit to a border facility back in July, and another that almost put him in contact with a man who was about to be arrested on criminal drug charges (it was canceled). That’s not to say Pence is not an effective surrogate domestically (he’s been the face of the USMCA, the president’s trade deal with Canada and Mexico) and internationally. But this does back up some of the what’s-going-on-with-the-VP talk that is so pervasive in some corners of the Trump universe.

    ISRAEL CHANNEL 13/AXIOS’ @BarakRavid:“BREAKING: Netanyahu to travel to London tomorrow to meet Boris Johnson and US SecDef Mark Esper”

    — NETANYAHUcanceled a one-day visit to India that was scheduled for Sept. 9.

    Good Wednesday afternoon.

    BREAKING … IMMIGRATION FILES — “U.S. watchdog: Separated migrant children suffered trauma,”by AP’s Colleen Long, Martha Mendoza and Garance Burke: “The children, many already distressed in their home countries or by their journey, showed more fear, feelings of abandonment and post-traumatic stress symptoms than children who were not separated, according to a report from the inspector general’s office in the Department of Health and Human Services.

    “Some cried inconsolably.Others believed their parents had abandoned them and were angry and confused. … The report is the first substantial accounting by a government agency on how family separation under the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy has affected the mental health of children.” APThe report


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