Trump bumps against Trump

To Donald Trump’s voters, a big selling point was their belief that he says what he means. As a legal strategy, that’s looking like a loser.

A federal judge in California Tuesday limited any attempt by the Trump administration to withhold federal grants from “sanctuary cities” that don’t cooperate with U.S. immigration officials.

Judge William Orrick said Trump’s executive order overreaches his constitutional authority by threatening funds that have nothing to do with law enforcement.

“The President has called it ‘a weapon’ to use against jurisdictions that disagree with his preferred policies of immigration enforcement,” Orrick wrote.

Trump’s words came back to bite him when other judges in recent months blocked two attempts at a travel ban focused on Muslim-majority countries. Though it wasn’t called a “Muslim ban,” past statements by Trump and his advisers showed a discriminatory intent, the rulings said.

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On Wednesday the president launched a multi-tweet tirade blaming the courts’ Ninth Circuit where both cases ran afoul and where Republicans have alleged bias for years. “See you in the Supreme Court!” he tweeted at 6:20 a.m.

The courts aren’t involved so far in Trump’s other border-tightening plan -- the Mexico wall. But Congress isn’t ready for it, either, and Trump won’t push it for now.

“The wall is gonna get built, folks,” he said Tuesday. “ ... We have plenty of time.”

MS-13 focus of Sessions visit

The Trump administration has pointed to violence by the MS-13 gang, whose ranks are largely from Central America, as a justification for its immigration crackdown.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is coming Friday to Central Islip, where MS-13 is suspected in the recent slayings of four young men in a park, to discuss Long Island’s gang violence, Newsday’s Zachary R. Dowdy reported.

Vetting on the honor system?

Ousted National Security adviser Michael Flynn, a retired general, appeared to have violated federal law by not getting U.S. government permission to accept tens of thousands of dollars from Russian organizations after a trip there in 2015, leaders of a House oversight committee said Tuesday.

Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) also raised new concerns about consulting fees Flynn’s company received from a businessman tied to Turkey’s government.

Trump press secretary Sean Spicer, asked why Flynn wasn’t more closely vetted, said it wasn’t the fault of the process. It’s up to appointees, he said, to “fill out forms.”

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The House committee is wrangling with the White House over documents it is seeking for its investigation.

Even though he fired him, Trump complained March 31 that Flynn was the victim of a “witch hunt.”

The take-away: GOP flop sweat

The airing of anxieties has already begun, but there are plenty of reasons -- for now, anyway -- that Republicans need not worry too much about losing the House in the 2018 midterm elections, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

The GOP cushion is huge -- a 246-187 advantage in the House. Moreover, Democrats generally look as beatable as usual in competitive districts, and unity remains elusive in their party.

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Denial and disconnect

Trump expanded his recent, more forceful denunciations of anti-Semitism in a speech for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Days of Remembrance. “Those who deny the Holocaust are an accomplice to this horrible evil,” he said.

Just last week, however, Trump was signaling a preference in the French presidential elections for far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen. The party’s founder, her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, is notorious for minimizing the Holocaust and favoring France’s World War II Nazi collaborators.

Though Marine Le Pen has distanced herself from her father as extreme, two weeks ago she denied the complicity of some in France for mass roundups of Jews sent to death camps.

Canadian clubbing

With Trump taking a time out from bashing China’s trade policies while it helps him with North Korea, it’s Canada’s turn in the presidential penalty box.

The Trump administration has moved to slap a roughly 20 percent tariff on softwood lumber entering the United States from Canada, charging our northern neighbor with unfair practices.

“People don’t realize Canada has been really rough with the United States,” Trump said Tuesday. “They’ve outsmarted our politicians for years.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acknowledged the tariff could cause a rise in U.S. home building costs, but said it would be minimal.

No boo-hoos

There were boos and groans from a Berlin audience Tuesday when Ivanka Trump, speaking at a conference on women entrepreneurs, praised her father as an advocate for women and families.

She brushed off the negative reaction, and said she wasn’t bothered by a moderator’s tough questioning. “Politics is politics, as I’m learning,” she said. “I’m used to it. It’s fine.”

Ivanka Trump was invited to the panel by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He’s coming home

Trump will return to New York City for the first time as president on May 4  -- joining Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull aboard the USS Intrepid to mark the 75th anniversary of World War II’s Battle of the Coral Sea.

It was the first battle in which aircraft carriers engaged each other, and U.S. and Australian naval forces halted the advance of Japanese enemy forces four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

What else is happening

  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry said he will recommend to Trump that the United States stay in the Paris climate accord but renegotiate it. Perry said some European countries were not doing enough to curb emissions.
  • Half of Americans in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll say they have little to no confidence that Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare would make things better, compared with 34 percent who do have confidence. That’s a big drop for the GOP since February.
  • Florida paint shop owner Juan Carlos Enriquez waged a three-year legal battle with Trump over an unpaid bill for a golf-course renovation. He won $300,000. But despite “the bad taste in my mouth” from the dispute, he voted for Trump, NBC News reports.
  • Trump’s expected push to slash the corporate tax rate to 15 percent is setting up a showdown with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is skeptical that a cut that deep can be paid for in an overall plan, Bloomberg News reports.
  • The threat to balloon the deficit by enacting his plan in its entirety is an overall concern, the AP reports.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a hawk on Russia, told Politico that Trump reassured him and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) at a private dinner Monday that he is pushing back on Moscow’s increasing global assertiveness.
  • Trump has lately called his approaching 100-day mark “an artificial barrier,” “not very meaningful” and a “ridiculous standard.” Nevertheless, the White House has a new Web page touting Trump’s first 100 days.