The anti-hero president
Donald Trump was asked by The Times of London (pay site) if he had any heroes. “I don’t like heroes, I don’t like the concept of heroes,” the president-elect replied.
“Certainly you can respect certain people,” Trump went on. He briefly described learning about negotiation from his father. He spoke at greater length, bragging about his “natural ability” and how he “beat all the politicians” — all in answer to the question about his heroes.
It’s another example of why, as The Associated Press writes, the transition period “has left little doubt that the man Americans elected in November is the president they’ll get” — confrontational, unpredictable and hungry for attention.
Trump also said he will keep using his personal @realdonaldtrump Twitter account because “it’s working” instead of switching after he is sworn in to the @potus handle that Barack Obama will relinquish.
A poll last week found almost two-thirds of Americans want Trump to delete his personal account, but he says no. “The tweeting, I thought I’d do less of it but I’m covered so dishonestly by the press,” he told the British newspaper.
Trump totters on Twitter
Instead of praising his daughter as intended on Twitter on Monday, the president-elect sent his admiring message to another Ivanka, in southern England -- a gaffe replicated at lightning speed for all to see.
Latest reality check
Trump claimed at his rare news conference last week that Americans don't care that he has broken from past practice and refused to release his tax returns. Now an ABC News / Washington Post poll shows otherwise -- that three-quarters of respondents say he should release his tax returns, and four in 10 say they "care a lot" about the issue.
King, for a day — then back on attack
Fresh off his Twitter battle with civil rights champion John Lewis, Trump met with Martin Luther King III on the holiday named for King’s father.
Asked whether he believed Trump can follow through in representing the interests of all Americans, King’s eldest son said, “I believe that that’s his intent, but I think also we have to consistently engage in pressure, public pressure.”
Of the Trump-Lewis tensions, King said, “Things get said on both sides in the heat of emotion.” See Emily Ngo’s story for Newsday.
But on Tuesday, Trump was at it again, fuming in multiple tweets that Lewis may be a liar, and denouncing polls showing the former reality-TV star to be starkly unpopular compared to other incoming presidents.
The take-away: Educating Betsy
Like it or not, school politics — at least on the national level — is a partisan battlefield. Expect that divide to be on display, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison, when Trump’s pick for secretary of education — billionaire and GOP megadonor Betsy DeVos — has her Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday.
Secure in his knowledge?
Trump has said he knows more about the Islamic State group than “the generals do,” but foreign policy and counterterrorism experts say that his learning curve will be steep and answers not so easy to find and implement, Newsday’s Laura Figueroa reports.
Jeffrey Engel, director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said the national security bureaucracy is “filled with smart people who have already been working 24/7 on these difficult problems for years.”
If solutions were clear, “they would have already come up with them by now, which means they are unlikely to radically change direction overnight,” Engel said.
Following accusations of plagiarism, Monica Crowley, a GOP strategist and former Fox News talking head, is withdrawing from her appointment as senior director of strategic communications for Trump’s National Security Council.
CNN reported last week that it found more than 50 examples of Crowley copying the work of others without credit for a 2012 book. Politico then reported that Crowley had plagiarized more than a dozen passages in her doctoral dissertation.
Rustic’s fleeting charm
Camp David, the retreat in Maryland’s Catoctin mountains, has been a getaway choice for presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt. It looks like Trump will stick with Mar-a-Lago and his other luxury resort properties.
“Camp David — very rustic, it’s nice. You know how long you’d like it? For about 30 minutes,” Trump said in an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper.
What else is happening
- Andrew Puzder, Trump's lightning-rod pick for labor secretary, has privately voiced second thoughts about going through with the confirmation process, CNN quotes Republican sources saying.
- Trump’s renewed criticism of NATO as “obsolete” and his encouragement of more defections from the European Union is alarming European allies, The Washington Post reports. The Kremlin agreed with Trump’s comments.
- Americans are evenly divided on whether Trump is doing enough to separate himself from his businesses to avoid conflicts of interest, an ABC News-Washington Post poll says. Three-fourths say he should release his tax returns.
- A Bruce Springsteen cover band has pulled out of the inaugural gala. B Street Band keyboardist Will Forte said the decision came from the “respect and gratitude we have for Bruce and the E Street Band.” Springsteen has denounced Trump as a “moron,” among other things.
- Obama didn’t realize his goal of closing Guantánamo, but he’ll be leaving Trump with a high vacancy rate at the Cuba lockup — only about three dozen inmates in a facility that once held almost 680. Trump has said he wants to “load it up with some bad dudes.”
- Rep. Tom Price of Georgia — Trump’s pick for Health and Human Services secretary — bought shares last year in medical device manufacturer Zimmer Biomet days before introducing legislation that would have directly benefited the company, CNN reports.
- Trump’s team worries that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer could successfully lead a filibuster to block a Supreme Court nominee unless they can induce enough Democrats to break ranks, CNN reports. Vice President-elect Mike Pence is working on it.
- German officials bristled at Trump’s threat to impose a tariff on BMW cars from a plant under construction in Mexico. To Trump’s complaint that few U.S. cars are bought in Germany, a deputy chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, responded that “the U.S. needs to build better cars.”