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Vox Sentences: Let the "Rexit" begin

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A pink slip reportedly awaits Rex Tillerson; two candidates claim presidential victory in Honduras; the Senate sings the same old song, this time on tax reform.

State Department shake-up

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
  • Here’s a good reason to never call your boss “a moron.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is probably going to get fired, and the White House wants current CIA Director Mike Pompeo to take his job. [NYT / Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, and Gardiner Harris]
  • This national security team shake-up isn’t exactly a shocker. Trump had grown dissatisfied with the former Exxon Mobil CEO, and has undercut Tillerson on everything from North Korea to Qatar. Tillerson’s axing had become a matter of when, not if. [Axios / Jonathan Swan]
  • Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly is reportedly orchestrating the personnel shuffle — but it’s unclear if Trump has signed off. The president told reporters, “Rex is here,” during a visit with the crown prince of Bahrain on Thursday. [Washington Post / Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, and Anne Gearan]
  • CIA Director Mike Pompeo is widely expected to become top diplomat after Tillerson gets his pink slip — or saves some face and resigns. Trump reportedly has a good working relationship with Pompeo, something Tillerson and Trump sorely lacked. But while Tillerson’s ideology was a bit of a wild card, Pompeo tends to share the same worldview as Trump. And that might feed the president’s worst instincts. [Vox / Alex Ward]
  • Pompeo may like the sound of "Secretary of State Pompeo." He has reportedly put out some feelers to potential candidates to join him at Foggy Bottom. [Washington Post / Josh Rogin]
  • So who takes Pompeo’s spot at the CIA? Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) is reportedly in the running to become the new director. The hawkish senator is one of the White House’s key allies in the Senate, and Cotton has stood by Trump’s agenda. [NYT / Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, and Gardiner Harris]
  • Some former intelligence officials are already troubled by Cotton’s potential ascension to the CIA. Cotton has defended waterboarding and said Gitmo detainees can “rot in hell.” [Daily Beast / Spencer Ackerman]
  • If Cotton and Pompeo get new gigs, it would infuse the administration with even more military-minded leaders, putting a “quartet of warriors” — Cotton at the CIA; Pompeo at State; James Mattis at the Pentagon; Kelly as chief of staff — in key positions. Sleep tight, peaceniks? [NYMag / Ed Kilgore]

Honduras is taking a suspiciously long time to tally election returns

AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd
  • Three days after the polls closed in Honduras, votes are still being counted; two candidates are claiming victory, and both of those candidates’ supporters are marching in the streets (with supporters of challenger Salvador Nasralla clashing with police). [NPR / Scott Neuman]
  • The incumbent, Juan Orlando Hernandez, came to power in a 2009 coup — spurred partly by the fact that the then-president was hinting he’d run for a second term, in violation of the Honduran constitution. [LAT / Kate Linthicum]
  • Hernandez, a US ally, is credited with purging the police force and helping bring the murder rate (consistently among the highest in the world) down. [BBC]
  • He’s also purged some political opponents — including three supreme court justices… [NYT / Jan Schakowsky]
  • …paving the way for a 2015 supreme court ruling that it would not, in fact, be unconstitutional for Hernandez to run for a second term. [Telesur]
  • Before election day, Hernandez’s reelection seemed assured. But on Monday — after both Nasralla and Hernandez declared victory — early returns showed Nasralla up by 5 percentage points. [Deutsche Welle]
  • Over the past few days, that lead has evaporated in official tallies (as of Thursday, Hernandez was officially ahead). But many Hondurans are skeptical of the delay in announcing the final count, which keeps getting delayed for suspicious reasons. [New Yorker / Jonathan Blitzer]
  • Exacerbating suspicions, the Economist discovered a tape that appears to document an official from Hernandez’s National Party instructing party poll workers in how to commit election fraud. [The Economist]
  • In theory, both Hernandez and Nasralla have signed an agreement to accept the final vote tally. But Nasralla backed out of the agreement an hour later — and if Nasralla somehow does make a comeback, Hernandez isn’t likely to accept that either. [Al Jazeera / Heather Gies]

We've seen this Senate movie before

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • Senate Republicans looked this morning like they had the votes for their tax reform bill — and then this evening, it looked like it might fall apart, in a dance that might seem familiar to anyone who watched the health care debate unfold.
  • The bill would cut corporate taxes permanently, cut individual tax rates temporarily, and repeal the individual mandate in Obamacare. It could also permanently change life in many other ways, by making it politically harder for states to tax their own residents highly. [NYT / Peter S. Goodman and Patricia Cohen]
  • But some Senate Republicans are concerned about the deficit, and on Thursday evening, they managed to hold up the process by threatening to send the bill back to committee. [Vox / Tara Golshan]
  • And they have reason to be concerned. An estimate from a bipartisan Senate committee found Thursday that the bill would add $1 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, even after adjusting for economic growth. [Washington Post / Heather Long]
  • The next vote is Friday at 11 am. The race is on to rewrite the bill find a compromise that will get at least some of the holdouts — who include Sens. Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, and Susan Collins — on board. [Politico / Seung Min Kim and Colin Wilhelm]



Watch this: The real reason American health care is so expensive

Hint: single-payer won’t fix America’s health care spending. [YouTube / Ezra Klein, Liz Scheltens, and Mallory Brangan]

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