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One first lady at a time, please, at the Trump White House

First Lady Melania Trump was prompted to respond

First Lady Melania Trump was prompted to respond after Ivana Trump called herself the "first lady" in an ABC interview. Credit: AP; Getty Images For NYFW: The Shows / Cindy Ord

Trump’s erst lady

Feeding tabloid frenzies has become as much a part of White House operations as handling genuine crises.

Nothing could be better suited to that purpose than a voluntarily public spat between a current wife of the president and a former one.

ABC’s “Good Morning America” gave Ivana Trump a platform for self-promotion early Monday, where she quipped: “I have the direct number to White House. But I’m not really going to call him there because Melania is there, and I don’t want to cause any kind of jealousy or something like that, because I’m basically first Trump wife, OK?

“I’m first lady, OK?”

The mother of Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka Trump has a new book out that includes recollections on raising them and her relationship with their father, President Donald Trump.

Escalating the personal drama, Melania Trump — his third wife, but his first lady — didn’t let the matter pass.

Her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham put out a statement: “There is clearly no substance to this statement from an ex, this is unfortunately only attention-seeking and self-serving noise.”

Power play

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt boasted to coal miners in Kentucky he will wipe out a rule that aims to reduce greenhouse gases from existing power plants. “The war against coal is over,” he said.

The Clean Power Plan, due to be ordered withdrawn Tuesday, was enacted under President Barack Obama. Pruitt and others argue that the EPA overstepped its legal mandate in imposing it on utilities.

ISIS, credit and blame

Now that it finally appears the Islamic State group is on the ropes in Syria and Iraq, there is predictable posturing within and outside the Pentagon over whether the Obama or Trump administration deserves credit for the strategy.

Contrasting statements have come from former Defense Secretary Ash Carter and current Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, as quoted by the conservative Washington Examiner.

A massive, humiliating ISIS surrender to Kurdish forces in Iraq prompts the comparison, as described here.

Bigger than Corker

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) blasted back over the weekend at Trump, with the soon-to-retire lawmaker warning that the president’s tweets threaten to put us “on the path to World War III,” and describing the White House as “an adult day care center.”

And on Tuesday, Trump was back to childishly belittling his nemesis, this time as "Liddle Bob Corker."

But the fight is bigger than a one-on-one feud.

Corker could obstruct whatever tax bill may be coming. But beyond that, Trump ally Steve Bannon is running insurgencies against incumbent GOP senators, and Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff has talked about a “purge” of Republican lawmakers disloyal to the president. Some are even calling Trump “a man without a party.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, top target of these insurgencies, calls Corker a “valuable member” of his conference.

Golfing with the enemy

Despite the president's undeclared war with the Senate majority of his own party, or perhaps because of it, Trump met on his Virginia golf links with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a past recipient of POTUS' vitriol.

“How bad did he beat me?” Graham tweeted, as reported by Newsday's Emily Ngo. “I did better in the presidential race than today on the golf course! Great fun. Great host.”

Money and patriotism

More than 20 San Francisco 49ers players kneeling during the national anthem served as a cue for Pence to walk out of the team’s NFL game Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

Three factors have now added controversy to the earlier controversy.

One is that the little jaunt to the stadium cost taxpayers upward of $200,000. Another is that the stroll was preplanned, with VP aides telling reporters there was no need to get out of the van traveling to the next event.

And in the wake of the alleged stunt, Pence dashed off for some timely fundraising. Some Trump-Pence appeals explicitly cite his walkout.

What else is happening

  • Trump’s support is slipping in rural America, Reuters reports.
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's reported branding of Trump as a "moron" elicited from the president some bizarre new talk about "an IQ contest."
  • Foreign diplomats find it hard to consider Trump a “reliable partner,” The Washington Post reports.
  • Ken Bone, the famous “undecided voter” from the 2016 debate season, says he is dissatisfied with Trump’s performance.
  • Putting “guard rails” on Trump is no joke for White House aides, Politico reports.
  • Obamacare may never be repealed, some Republican players are now acknowledging.

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