The Morning Dispatch: What’s Next for the GOP

Happy Wednesday! A big thank you to everyone who tuned in to all or some of our What’s Next event programming the past two days, and an even bigger thank you to the three behind-the-scenes Dispatch staffers who worked tirelessly to make it happen: Catherine Lowe, Valerie Smith, and Caleb Parker.

If you missed a session—or want to rewatch one—they are all archived here.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • President Donald Trump has fired much of the senior leadership of the Department of Defense over the last 48 hours, including the Secretary of Defense and his chief of staff, the top Pentagon policy official and the top Pentagon intelligence official. In their place, the president has installed Trump loyalists, including Kash Patel, a National Security Council official close to Rep. Devin Nunes, and Anthony Tata, onetime nominee to serve as undersecretary of defense for policy whose nomination stalled after reporting on controversial comments he’d made about Islam and Barack Obama. The changes at the Pentagon comes after the White House named Michael Ellis, another former Nunes aide, to serve as the top lawyer at the National Security Agency. The moves have alarmed top military and national security officials, who worry that there may be more to come, possibly including combatant commanders and top officials at the FBI and the CIA. The removals have prompted a wave of speculation in Washington about the motives. One former Trump administration official familiar with the shakeups tells The Dispatch there’s no great mystery. The White House is “preparing for the second Trump administration.”

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a similar comment at a State Department briefing Tuesday, responding to questions from reporters about what his team is doing to prepare for a transition. Pompeo promised “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” with a laugh. While he might have been joking, Trump himself tweeted about the comment favorably. In an interview Tuesday evening with Fox News anchor Bret Baier, Pompeo pledged a smooth transition regardless of who is inaugurated on January 20.

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