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Rex Tillerson out of touch with the White House: ‘Calls aren’t getting returned — that kind of crap’

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White House officials have complained they can’t get through to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whose chief of staff has closed off access to her boss.

The former Exxon Mobil chief executive has frustrated White House officials by surrounding himself with a tight circle of aides, led by his chief of staff, reported the Washington Post.

State Department chief of staff Margaret Peterlin has built a barrier around Tillerson, some Trump aides told the newspaper, and put herself — “and only her,” one administration official sniffed — at the center of information and decision making in the diplomatic agency.

Peterlin has been limiting access to Tillerson, one outside adviser told the newspaper, which has forced White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and other top officials to “sneak around” or call the secretary of state on his cell phone.

“It is stove-piped,” one senior administration official said. “Calls aren’t getting returned. It’s that kind of crap.”

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Some Trump administration officials believe Peterlin has taken too much of a role in hiring state department personnel, although State Department aides dismissed the complaints as sour grapes over political appointees.

Tillerson likes to interview two candidates for most department jobs, the newspaper reported, and he won’t hire an inexperienced candidate simply because they worked as a Trump campaign operative.

“A desire for political patronage does not help a candidate overcome a lack of competence,” said senior State Department aide R.C. Hammond.

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The White House has picked candidates for about a dozen ambassadorships, but the State Department hasn’t acted on the recommendations or even commented on them.

“Not a word back from State,” one adviser said.

Peterlin declined to comment, but Hammond said she’s simply doing her job — which is acting on Tillerson’s orders.

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“She is the chief of staff,” Hammond said. “Her job is to implement what the secretary wants her to do. She leads the staff to be the implementers of what the secretary wants to get done. Margaret doesn’t freelance.”


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Trump asked right-wing conspiracy theorist congressman to help him pick his next Director of National Intelligence

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On Monday, Politico reported that President Donald Trump is consulting with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) about who he should consider to replace Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

Nunes has led the Republican side of the House Intelligence Committee since 2015 and chaired the committee for four years, despite having no professional qualifications of any kind for that role. Since 2017, he has been known for his stunts and conspiracy theories intended to discredit the Russia investigation and throw suspicion on anyone who looks into Trump's conduct.

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Conservative newspaper hilariously trolls Trump about his failure to build any new border wall

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Donald Trump on the US-Mexico Border

The conservative Washington Examiner trolled President Donald Trump for his failure to construct any new border barricade during his 30 months in office.

On Monday, Trump lashed out at the media on Twitter for not giving him positive coverage for his wall, which he erroneously claimed would be paid for by Mexico.

The Examiner replied to Trump on Twitter, posting an article headlined, "Trump has not built a single mile of new border fence after 30 months in office."

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Here’s how a new study implies the Supreme Court has killed 16,000 people since 2012

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A new paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research looked into the effects of the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion to people below 138 percent of the poverty line, which has seen nearly 15 million people enrolled in participating states. The results were encouraging: the mortality rate for near-elderly adults has dropped over 9 percent in the four years for which data is available.

But while this is cause for celebration, The Atlantic staff writer Annie Lowrey offered a darker take on the implications of these numbers:

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