I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It's Thursday, April 13, 2017. 572 days until Election Day 2018. 1,300 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at email@example.com. Tell your friends to sign up to receive the newsletter in their inbox at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe!
Trump Backtracks Away from Populist Agenda President Donald Trump made a series of 180-degree turns on a number of issues Wednesday, in each case abandoning the position he held during his populist, nationalist campaign in favor of the more centrist, globalist stance. Here's a rundown of issues that the President reversed himself on:
“The secretary general and I had a productive conversation about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism. I complained about that a long time ago, and they made a change. Now they do fight terrorism. I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.” – President Donald Trump at a press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday
“I think NATO's obsolete. NATO was done at a time you had the Soviet Union, which was obviously larger, much larger than Russia is today. I'm not saying Russia’s not a threat. But we have other threats. We have the threat of terrorism and NATO doesn’t discuss terrorism, NATO’s not meant for terrorism.” – Donald Trump on ABC’s “This Week,” March 27, 2016
On China as a Currency Manipulator
“They’re not currency manipulators.” – President Donald Trump in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday
“I will direct my Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator.” – Donald Trump’s “Contact for the American Voter,” October 22, 2016
On the Export-Import Bank
“Instinctively, you would say, ‘Isn’t that a ridiculous thing.’ But actually, it’s a very good thing. And it actually makes money, it could make a lot of money.” – President Donald Trump in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday
“I don’t like it because I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s a one-way street also. It’s sort of a featherbedding for politicians and others, and a few companies. And these are companies that can do very well without it. So I don’t like it. I think it’s a lot of excess baggage. I think it’s unnecessary. And when you think about free enterprise, it’s not really free enterprise. I’d be against it.” – Donald Trump in an interview with Bloomberg, August 5, 2015
On Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen
“I like her, I respect her.” – President Donald Trump in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday
“I think she’s very political, and to a certain extent, I think she should be ashamed of herself because it’s not supposed to be that way.” – Donald Trump in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” September 12, 2016
There is a theme to each of those turnarounds: they all move Trump away from the position held by White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and towards the position of his son-in-law turned senior advisor Jared Kushner and National Economic Council director Gary Cohn. After Banon seemed dominant in the early weeks of the Trump Administration, Kushner and Cohn now apparently occupy the President's ear as they steer him towards the middle.
In the Wall Street Journal interview where he made many of those reversals on Wednesday, Trump "gave only tepid support" to Bannon, labeling him "a guy who works for me." The President also downplayed Bannon's role in the campaign (which he led from August to November) and their relationship (which has lasted at least five years) in an interview with the New York Post the day before, saying: "I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late. I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve. I’m my own strategist and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary."
Bannon now suffers from the same issue Trump's first two campaign managers faced: warring with members of the Trump family, specifically Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. It is a war Bannon likely cannot win, as Trump's closest advisers have always been his children and their spouses. According to the Washington Post, Bannon is "a marked man — diminished by weeks of battles with the bloc of centrists led by Trump’s daughter and son-in-law." A Post source compared the White House chief strategist to "a terminally ill family member who had been moved into hospice care. "
The New York Times also reported Wednesday that "it is unclear how much longer [Bannon] can survive in his job," in light of his battles with Kushner and the President's movement away from his positions. According to the Times, Bannon ally Rebekah Mercer, whose family donated millions to Trump campaign, has already begun "discussing a post-White House future" for him.
However, CNN adds that if Bannon leaves, a portion of the President's base could go with him. A White House source told the network that "some are worried Bannon will turn Breitbart against Trump if he leaves the White House," and may take the most loyal Trump supporters with them, those who fell in line with Bannon/Breitbart's nationalist agenda the President now seems to be rejecting.
--- Trump's narrative President Trump pushed back against the emerging narrative that he is reversing his positions Wednesday, via Twitter (of course). "One by one we are keeping our promises - on the border, on energy, on jobs, on regulations. Big changes are happening!" he tweeted.
--- "On the Border" As he pointed out in the tweet, Trump is holding firm on at least one issue: immigration, perhaps the leading item on his campaign agenda. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the Trump Administration is making moves to "assemble the nationwide deportation force that President Trump promised on the campaign trail as he railed against the dangers posed by illegal immigration."
The President's Schedule At 10:30am, President Trump will receive his daily intelligence briefing in the Oval Office.
At 11am, President Trump will sign H.J. Res. 43, which overturns an Obama-era rule by the Department of Health and Human Services that prohibited states from blocking Title X funding of health care providers. The congressional resolution will repeal that regulation, opening the door to states denying funding for some providers, namely Planned Parenthood. The measure passed the House, 230-186, with two Democrats in favor and two Republicans opposed (but otherwise along party lines). The Senate vote on the resolution tied, 50-50, after Republican Sens. Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) voted against it; however, Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie with a vote in favor.
At 2pm, President Trump will meet in the Roosevelt Room with first responders to the collapse of Interstate 85 after a fire last month.
At 3:45pm, President Trump will depart the White House for West Palm Beach, Florida, where he will arrive at 6:35pm. The President will spend Easter Weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in West Palm Beach, the 11th weekend in a row in which he will spend time at a Trump Organization property (out of the 13 weekend since he took office), according to the Washington Post's Philip Bump. The Post also calculated that Trump has spent 21 days at Mar-a-Lago (out of the 83 he has been President) up until now; he will likely add at least four days over Easter if he stays through Sunday.
Trump's visits to Mar-a-Lago have come under added scrutiny this week as Palm Beach County debated taxing the resort for the cost of protecting the President during his stays there if the federal government does not begin footing the bill. According to the Palm Beach Boast, the county has already spent $3.5 million protecting President Trump since January.
Daily Data A new poll by Morning Consult released this week asked more than 85,000 registered voters for their opinions on their elected officials. The results: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is the most popular senator in the country, with 75% of his constituents approving of his job performance. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is the most unpopular, disapproved of by 47% of Kentuckians.
Meanwhile, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is the most unpopular state executive in the country: just 71% of New Jerseyans disapprove of him, compared to just 25% who approve. In second place is Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS), with a 66% disapproval rating, whose unpopularity was likely a factor in the GOP's near-loss in Kansas' 4th congressional district Tuesday. Meanwhile, Govs. Charlie Baker (R-MA) and Larry Hogan (R-MD) - both Republicans in Democratic states - are the nation's most popular governors, with approval ratings of 75% and 73%, respectively.
Today's Trivia Today would be Thomas Jefferson's 274th birthday. Your challenge is: name a food that Jefferson is credited with introducing or popularizing in America. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your answer; correct respondents will be named in the next edition of Wake Up To Politics.
Answers I also understand that there are two questions for which I owe answers. One asked for the only member of Congress who voted against entering both World War I and World War II...the answer was Jeanette Rankin (R-MT), who was also the first female member of Congress.
GREAT JOB... Marlee Millman, Jamie Wagner's Urban Class (especially Ian Doty), Jakob Gibson, Calvin Cahan, Janice Goodman, Sally Kilbride, Jordan Burger, Joe Bookman, Joseph Heringlake, Thomas Alpert, and Mark Smith!
The other question wasabout the senator who had delivered the longest talking filibuster of the 21st Century (so far). I accepted two answers: Ted Cruz, whose 21-hour speech in 2013 on Obamacare was not technically a filibuster but a "talk-a-thon," and Chris Murphy, who held a proper filibuster for nearly 15 hours on gun control in June 2016.
GREAT JOB...Thomas Alpert, Matt Neufeld, Joe Bookman, and Jordan Burger!