If There’s “No Smocking Gun,” Why Is Trump So Terrified?

The honorific changes hands with the speed of the news cycle, but for the time being, the title of “Smartest Person In DC” belongs to a 36-year-old Republican operative from Georgia named Nick Ayers. Currently serving as Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Ayers’ name was all over the news this weekend after Donald Trump announced the at-long-last departure of his own chief of staff, John Kelly.

Ayers was a shoo-in to replace Kelly, most everyone agreed. Those who considered him a good fit for the spot pointed to his youth and vigor — Ayers looks a fair bit like the cherubic mass-murderer from the second half of “Breaking Bad” — and his deep connections with the Freedom Caucus wing of Congress. Both would serve him well in the storms to come, but for one problem: Turns out he is actually too smart to take the job.

Ayers took a long look at what was a supremely bad weekend for the White House and said, “Check please.” On Sunday afternoon, he sent his official regrets at turning down the C-o-S position with a tweet: “Thank you @realDonaldTrump, @VP, and my great colleagues for the honor to serve our Nation at The White House. I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause. #Georgia”

Translation: “Thank you but nope nope nope nope I’ll be over there doing MAGA things but nope nope nope no way no how. #nope”

It really was a bad weekend for the White House. The Mueller team dropped the sentencing paperwork for Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen on Friday. While the redacting pen was as busy with these documents as they were with Michael Flynn’s on Tuesday, there was enough bleeding meat on the bone to send Trump into a weekend-long, terrified Twitter frenzy that was precisely as fact-free and frightened as his last Twitter frenzy about whatever it was about.

The Friday documents had two significant thuds buried…

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