“To most observers, President Trump’s first overseas trip was either a moderate success that was at times overshadowed by viral GIFs or a disaster that damaged the United States’ relationships with longtime European allies,” the Washington Post reports.
“But as Trump and his aides tell it, this was the most successful, most historic, most well-received foreign trip ever embarked on by a U.S. president.”
“Trump’s aides often exaggerate on his behalf — such as when Spicer insisted in January that the president’s inauguration crowd was the largest ever — but Tuesday’s monologue seemed to venture into new territory for even the Trump administration.”
This is what happens when an aide grabs a phone from you in mid-tweet:
What Covfefe means:
“President Trump faces an increasingly narrow path to win major legislative victories before the looming August recess, with only two months left to revive his health-care or tax initiatives before Congress departs for a long break,” the Washington Post reports.
“White House officials said Tuesday that Trump has become increasingly incensed that legislation is bogging down in the Senate, something they blame on Democrats… But critics from both parties have said the lack of progress is a reflection in part of Trump’s inability to marshal votes or persuade lawmakers to follow his lead.”
“The boldest ideas for changing the nation’s tax code are either dead or on political life support, as the Republican effort in Congress to reshape the tax system moves much more slowly than lawmakers and their allies in business had hoped,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The clear winner, so far, is the status quo.”
“Republicans, who control both chambers, are scouring the tax code, searching for ways to offset the deep rate cuts they desire. But their proposals for border adjustment—which would tax imports—and for ending the business interest deduction and making major changes to individual tax breaks for health and retirement have all hit resistance within the party. The only big revenue-raising provision with anything close to Republican consensus is repealing the deduction for state and local taxes, and that idea faces objections from blue-state lawmakers in the party.”
“Back from overseas and confronting an unforgiving political environment, President Trump appears increasingly isolated inside the White House, according to advisers, venting frustration over the performance of his staff and openly talking about shaking it up. But as he considers casting off old aides, Mr. Trump is finding it challenging to recruit new ones,” the New York Times reports.
“The disclosures from investigations stemming from Russian meddling in last year’s election — coupled with the president’s habit of undercutting his staff — have driven away candidates for West Wing jobs that normally would be among the most coveted in American politics, according to people involved in the search.”
President Trump “has been handing out his cellphone number to world leaders and urging them to call him directly, an unusual invitation that breaks diplomatic protocol and is raising concerns about the security and secrecy of the U.S. commander in chief’s communications,” the AP reports.
“Trump has urged leaders of Canada and Mexico to reach him on his cellphone, according to former and current U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the practice. Of the two, only Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken advantage of the offer so far, the officials said.”
Jared Kushner “was looking for a direct line to President Vladimir Putin of Russia — a search that in mid-December found him in a room with a Russian banker whose financial institution was deeply intertwined with Russian intelligence, and remains under sanction by the United States,” the New York Times reports.
“Federal and congressional investigators are now examining what exactly Mr. Kushner and the Russian banker, Sergey N. Gorkov, wanted from each other. The banker is a close associate of Mr. Putin, but he has not been known to play a diplomatic role for the Russian leader. That has raised questions about why he was meeting with Mr. Kushner at a crucial moment in the presidential transition.”
“The meeting came as Mr. Trump was openly feuding with American intelligence agencies and their conclusion that Russia had tried to disrupt the presidential election and turn it in his favor.”
“The Trump administration is planning to disband the Labor Department division that has policed discrimination among federal contractors for four decades, according to the White House’s newly proposed budget, part of wider efforts to rein in government programs that promote civil rights,” the Washington Post reports.
“The proposal to dismantle the compliance office comes at a time when the Trump administration is reducing the role of the federal government in fighting discrimination and protecting minorities by cutting budgets, dissolving programs and appointing officials unsympathetic to previous practices.”
The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that more Americans have an unfavorable view of the GOP health care plan than a favorable one, 55% to 31%. For comparison, the Affordable Care Act has mostly favorable views, 49% to 29%.
Wall Street Journal: “Robert Mueller quickly got to work as special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election: building a team, designing a budget and forcing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to withhold from Congress documents he may be interested in—all in his first full week on the job.”
“Mr. Mueller’s team has been assigned office space in a nondescript building in downtown Washington that is home to the Justice Department’s civil rights and environment and natural resources divisions. Mr. Mueller and his colleagues have been spotted using their badges to enter the office, conspicuous for their formal attire amid the other Department employees, who adhere to a more casual dress code.”
Rick Klein: “Office politics is a dangerous game when played White House style. A week that figures to be dominated by talk of staff changes and revamped teams has a twist: the problem-child staffer is the boss’ son-in-law – whom the president has expressed ‘total confidence in.’ Different rules apply when it comes to family, and the latest news on Jared Kushner would be complicated enough without the entanglements and conflicts-of-interest that the Trump family approach to the presidency invites.”
“What’s been alleged about Kushner and the Russians is inexplicable behavior, until or unless Kushner (whose voice has almost never been heard in public) explains himself. So yes, that explanation would fall to the embattled communications team – the one that people outside the White House are telling President Trump is failing him. This highlights what that team is up against: a series of overlapping scandals that keep expanding to add new players and circles – and in this case, reaching into an innermost circle. When you overlay a shakeup plan on that reality, you realize the problems aren’t with – and certainly aren’t exclusively with – those who can be fired.”
“Russian government officials discussed having potentially ‘derogatory’ information about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and some of his top aides in conversations intercepted by US intelligence during the 2016 election,” CNN reports.
“One source described the information as financial in nature and said the discussion centered on whether the Russians had leverage over Trump’s inner circle. The source said the intercepted communications suggested to US intelligence that Russians believed ‘they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information.’”