One way to look at it is that Donald Trump is picking on someone his own size. Actually, much bigger, if measured by the wallet. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is the world’s second-richest person, worth more than $80 billion.
So what set off the lesser billionaire? He’s angry at the Bezos-owned Washington Post, whose big splash Tuesday was a story on fake Time magazine covers of Trump that adorn his golf properties.
“The #AmazonWashingtonPost, sometimes referred to as the guardian of Amazon not paying internet taxes (which they should) is FAKE NEWS!” Trump tweeted Wednesday.
A pause here for fact checks: Amazon now collects sales taxes from all states that have them. (It was less thorough in the past.) There are no “internet taxes.” Bezos’ ownership of the Post since 2013 is a personal investment, not Amazon’s.
But the angry presidential tweet could be read as a threat of retribution against Amazon for the Post’s coverage. It’s not just about the tax code. Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods will likely require regulatory approval.
Wait, isn’t that smart?
Off-base or not, a Trump scolding over not paying taxes looks to be a pivot from 2016.
When Hillary Clinton attacked him during their Hofstra debate over old returns that showed him not paying income taxes, his comeback line was: “That makes me smart.”
Trump: Health bill will happen
With Majority Leader Mitch McConnell trying to rework the Senate Republicans’ health care bill, Trump promised Wednesday that it will be a “great, great surprise.” In what way, he didn’t say.
McConnell delayed a vote on the bill because of opposition within his own party by both conservatives and more moderate Republican senators. Pleasing enough senators from either side to get at least 50 of 52 GOP senators aboard is proving a daunting challenge.
The president, who has complained repeatedly that Democrats won’t help, rejected overtures by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to find a bipartisan approach.
“I don’t think he’s serious,” Trump said.
See Tom Brune’s story for Newsday.
The take-away: Repeal or retreat?
How awful will it be for the Republicans in Congress if they fail to repeal and replace Obamacare? Maybe not so bad, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
If they somehow manage to remake the health care system, they’ll own it politically, with all its perceived flaws. No matter how they try to tweak it to get it passed, it’s become clear the result is unlikely to live up to Trump’s campaign promises.
Polls to GOP: Don’t do it
Three new polls Thursday showed the Senate health care plan is wildly unpopular with Americans.
Only 17% approved of it, versus 55% who disapproved, according to an NPR / PBS NewsHour / Marist survey released Tuesday. A USA Today / Suffolk University poll found only 12% of Americans support the Senate plan. Quinnipiac University’s count was 58% disapproval, 16% approval.
Early Thursday Trump fixated anew on "Morning Joe" Scarborough and wife Mika Brzezinski in a pair of tweets that earned the president instant widespread ridicule.
"I heard poorly rated @Morning Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came.....to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!"
One sarcastic sample of the responses among thousands: "This is the moment Donald Trump became President of the United States."
Brzezinski herself posted a photo of a Cheerios box with the message "Made for LIttle Hands."
From MSNBC which disputed the account: “It’s a sad day for America when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job.”
From Sen. Lindsey Graham, whose cell number Trump once spitefully blurted out at a campaign stop: "Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America."
Rex T roars
In a glimpse of a White House divided, Politico reports that the usuallly composed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went ballistic during a meeting last Friday, with officials gathered in Chief of Staff Reince Priebus' office.
Oval Office leaks of hostile stories, blocked appointments and other micromanaging have been known to irk Tillerson as he geared up the department. First son-in-law Jared Kushner was in the meeting and reportedly complained afterward about Tillerson's demeanor.
The president saw fit early Thursday to fixate on personally attacking 'Morning Joe' Scarborough and spouse/on-air partner Mika Brzezinski -- drawing the president instant and widespread nonpartisan ridicule on Twitter.
The two-tweet rant:
"I heard poorly rated @ MorningJoe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came .to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!"
Responses included: "This is the moment Donald Trump became President of the United States." Mika herself posted a Cheerios box that touts the cereal as "made for little hands." Sen. Lindsay Graham,
The backdown is back
Trump’s outside lawyers have dropped plans for now to file complaints with the Justice Department accusing former FBI Director James Comey of improperly leaking confidential information about his conversations with the president, Yahoo News and ABC News reported.
Sources told both outlets that they were holding off out of deference to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, and complaints will be filed eventually.
But Trump has a pattern of making legal threats that turn out to be pure bluster. During the campaign, Trump at various points threatened to sue The Washington Post, The New York Times and multiple women who had accused him of sexual misconduct.
What else is happening
- South Korean President Moon Jae-in is due to meet with Trump at the White House Thursday where they will likely discuss North Korea.
- Trump administration officials want more visas granted for guest workers for the Maine and Alaska tourism and fishing industries, ProPublica reports. As it happens, a GOP senator from each state — Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — is among the holdouts on the health care bill.
- Trump has accepted an invitation from French President Emmanuel Macron to visit Paris on Bastille Day, July 14. There will also be commemorations on the holiday marking the 100th anniversary of the U.S. joining World War I.
- The new owners of Canada’s Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto have reached a deal that will remove the Trump name from the property.
- Trump held a $35,000-a-ticket fundraising event for his 2020 campaign and the GOP at his Washington hotel Wednesday night. Critics say the venue raises questions about self-dealing, Bloomberg News reported. The news media were barred from hearing his remarks.
- Trump called on the House to pass two bills Thursday to toughen immigration policies: one to cut funding to “sanctuary cities” and another increasing prison terms for criminals who entered the country illegally.
- Keith Schiller, the former Trump Organization security chief now directing Oval Office operations, is on the House Intelligence Committee's witness list in the Russia probe, ABC reports.
- Jamie Gorelick, a Democratic lawyer whose clients include Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, is also representing opponents of the Trump “sanctuary cities” crackdown in court, Politico reports.
- The feds have a massive worldwide cybercrime problem to help confront in some way. The UN's top cybercrime official says the motive does not appear to be money even though disruptions arrived in the form of so-called ransomware.
- When Walt Disney World reopens its Hall of Presidents attraction late this year, it will have an animatronic Trump with his real speaking voice. A recording session with the president has been scheduled, according to a Disney Parks blog.
- When CNN's Jim Acosta was off-camera at a White House briefing, he said he did not get to ask a spokeswoman: “Isn't holding a fundraiser at the Trump hotel rather swamp-like?”