New York Times: “To the extent that there was a plan to take advantage of the first days of his administration, when a president is usually at his maximum leverage, Mr. Trump threw it aside with a decision to lash out about crowd sizes at his swearing in and to rewrite the history of his dealings with intelligence agencies. The lack of discipline troubled even senior members of Mr. Trump’s circle, some of whom had urged him not to indulge his simmering resentment at what he saw as unfair news coverage. Instead, Mr. Trump chose to listen to other aides who shared his outrage and desire to punch back. By the end of the weekend, he and his team were scrambling to get back on script.”
“That Donald Trump chose to spend the first 48 hours of his presidency feuding with the news media over crowd sizes, crowing about his win in front of a wall of killed CIA agents, spreading inaccurate information and firing off tweets didn’t shock his supporters or critics,” Politico reports.
“Trump’s inauguration was largely an as-expected affair, and he sounded many of the right notes, said political observers, historians and people close to him. But news coverage soon fixated on the protesters across the country that far outnumbered his supporters the day before. Trump was increasingly angered by it, sending his press secretary out to fuzz up the situation and to brag about Trump’s support, in the face of knowable facts that contradicted what he said about record crowd sizes.”
Said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley: “Now he’s off to the worst start of a presidency in a very long time.”
The Economist: “But there was nothing for those hoping to see a more pragmatic, moderate President Trump take office, or to hear him admit that the world is complex and less pliable than he pretended on the campaign trail. All populists are at heart conspiracy theorists, who pretend that easy solutions exist to society’s woes and have only not been tried to date because elites are wicked and deaf to the sturdy common-sense of decent, ordinary folk. That was the Trump approach.”
Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-AZ) “said that they will back the nomination of Rex Tillerson, clearing the way for the oil executive to become secretary of state and leaving just one drama unresolved: What will Marco Rubio do?,” the Washington Post asks.
“The Republican senator from Florida made clear during Tillerson’s confirmation hearing earlier this month that he had significant reservations… Since then, Rubio has come under significant pressure from Republican party leaders to back Tillerson and avoid a split within the GOP on one of President Trump’s most high-profile picks.”
“A team of prominent constitutional scholars, Supreme Court litigators and former White House ethics lawyers intends to file a lawsuit Monday morning alleging that President Trump is violating the Constitution by allowing his hotels and other business operations to accept payments from foreign governments,” the New York Times reports.
“In the new case, the lawyers argue that a provision in the Constitution known as the Emoluments Clause amounts to a ban on payments from foreign powers like the ones to Mr. Trump’s companies. They cite fears by the framers of the Constitution that United States officials could be corrupted by gifts or payments.”
Brian Beutler says that the Trump Administration has made the wrong bet and it will sink him: “For this [overt lying and bullying the press] to work, Trump’s propaganda strategy has to recruit more support to his side, rather than drive existing support away. He has to assume that his base hasn’t maxed out, and that he can grow it with easily disproved lies. Reporters who don’t accommodate Spicer’s ridiculous deceit will thus be highly empowered. Trump’s effort to insulate himself from accountability to his own supporters by discrediting the non-Pravda press is insanely reckless and demoralizing. It would be better if it weren’t happening. But it doesn’t mean the press will be neutralized as a shaper of public opinion. Instead, it’s likely that Trump has made the wrong bet here. The failure of his presidency will stem from assuming that the media will make issue of his lies, but no one will believe us.”
Robert Kuttner’s “Q&A: A New 50-State Strategy” at The American Prospect interviews Former DNC Chair Howard Dean on the DNC leadership contest and, more importantly, his ideas for rebuilding the Democratic Party. Among Dean’s observations: “We need a partnership between the DNC with the state parties, to get more Democrats elected to state legislatures. Republicans have been incredibly effective with that. They’ve creamed us, and that’s a really big problem..,And we need a national database. You’ve got to support the state parties with technology…We need two things: we need a 50-state strategy, and a 50-year strategy…[The] generation elected Barack Obama. 2008 was the only election in my lifetime where more people under 35 voted than over 65. This year is a wake-up call for that generation, which is really grief-stricken by Trump’s vote, because it was a repudiation of all their values. I think they’re ready to consider getting involved again.”
Edward-Isaac Dovere and Elana Schor ask in Politico “Will the women’s march be another Occupy, or a Democratic Tea Party? Organizers and participants want it to be a movement that can do what Trump did in his presidential campaign—only in reverse.” “Now they have to figure out what to do next to channel the raw energy of the marches into political action,” wite the authors. “And what is it that they’re about: Women’s equality? Reproductive Rights? Race? Climate change? Stopping Trump from putting someone they don’t want on the Supreme Court? Making him release his taxes? All of the above? Signs (and costumes) for all of that and more were all over the place on Saturday.”In his Washington Post column, E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains, “The politics of the next few months and years will depend a great deal on whether the energy displayed on Saturday is sustained through the hard work of political activism. I can imagine skeptics reading this and saying one day of protests will be very easy for Trump and the Republican Party to absorb (even if one can imagine Trump’s fury at not getting even a day’s peace)…there is reason to believe this was not a one-off. First, there was not a single march in Washington but demonstrations all over the country. As the tea party showed, change comes from local actions coordinated nationally. There is clearly a large national base of opposition, community by community.”