Wednesday’s Mini-Report, 2.20.19

Today’s edition of quick hits:

* In the criminal-justice world, this ruling is a big deal: “The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines applies to punishments imposed by the states as well as by the federal government.”

* Trade talks: “President Trump gave his firmest indication yet that the U.S. may not increase tariffs on Chinese goods on March 1, as scheduled, despite statements by his top trade official that the U.S. should stick to a firm deadline.”

* If Trump were to nominate Shanahan to lead the Pentagon, this could matter: “Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan clashed with Sen. Lindsey Graham over the administration’s Syria policy during a briefing last weekend, prompting Graham to unleash a string of expletives and declare himself Shanahan’s ‘adversary,’ according to two officials in the briefing and three others familiar with the conversation.”

* Sulzberger’s right: “A few hours after President Donald Trump described The New York Times in a tweet as ‘a true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE,’ A.G. Sulzberger, the newspaper’s publisher, accused him of a ‘reckless’ and ‘dangerous’ attack that could put the lives of journalists at risk.”

* In case you missed this last night: “President Donald Trump plans to nominate Jeffrey Rosen as the next deputy U.S. attorney general, the White House said on Tuesday night, the latest shuffle in the Justice Department at a time when it faces close scrutiny over its Russia investigation.”

* Coats’ precarious future: “President Trump has grown increasingly disenchanted with Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, who has served as the nation’s top intelligence official for nearly two years, leading some administration officials to worry he will soon be dismissed, according to people familiar with the matter.”

* Short wasn’t gone from Trump World very long: “Former White House director of legislative affairs Marc Short will return to the Trump administration as Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff.”

* An interesting new trend: “Republican lawmakers in at least six states are pushing to eliminate the death penalty, signaling a broader reversal by many conservatives on an issue that has long been a bedrock for their party.”

* Trump’s ambassadors: “The U.S. ambassadors appointed by President Trump have given more financial support to his election than any cohort of ambassadors in recent history, even as they demonstrated fewer qualifications for the job, according to a new study of ambassadorial appointments over the last three decades.”

* Noted without comment: “Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Boris Epshteyn celebrated Presidents Day by releasing a new ‘must-run’ segment suggesting President Donald Trump’s face ought to be added on Mount Rushmore.”

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Wednesday's Mini-Report, 2.20.19