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The Apprentice: Trump plays Santa’s helper on Christmas Eve

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump speak by phone with children as they track Santa Claus' movements on Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017. Photo Credit: AP / Carolyn Kaster

Ho, ho, ho — believe me

It took a while for Donald Trump to warm up to the Christmas spirit from Mar-a-Lago.

Instead of holiday cheer, his tweets Saturday and Sunday were replete with personal vilification for an FBI official he insinuates is biased against him. He shared more grievances about “fake news” not showing good will toward Trump.

But Trump on Christmas Eve gave a nod to another character who made red hats famous. Along with first lady Melania Trump, he took calls from kids calling the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s “Santa Tracker” center. The youngsters didn’t know they were really speaking to the president, who is quick to promise and sometimes over-promise.

Trump listened to 5-year-old Casper ask for building blocks. He responded: “I predict that Santa will bring you building blocks, so many you won’t be able to use them all.”

Another child expressed a wish for Grandma to get out of the hospital.

“Your grandma’s gonna be good, OK, she’s gonna be good,” Trump said.

Fed to the lions

When Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, his deputy — Andrew McCabe — was one of the candidates the president interviewed as a possible successor.

But McCabe, still deputy director, is in Trump’s crosshairs as the president’s allies air their suspicions that the career FBI official went soft in the Hillary Clinton investigation because McCabe’s wife got financial support from allies of allies of Clinton in a failed Virginia political campaign. McCabe’s role in the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe also has made him a target.

McCabe is planning to retire in early 2018 when he becomes fully eligible for his pension, The Washington Post reported. Trump seized on that to slam him, tweeting: “FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!” See Newsday’s story by Scott Eidler and David M. Schwartz.

Class act

When Trump signed the tax bill Friday, he touted it as “very much a bill for the middle class and a bill for jobs.”

Greeting friends that night at his Mar-a-Lago resort, where initiation fees cost $200,000 and annual dues are $14,000, Trump had another message, according to CBS News:

“You all just got a lot richer,” Trump told them, according to the report, which cited two friends at a nearby table as sources.

Maybe Trump was softening them up for a dues increase to share the wealth.

Third World, according to Trump

Angrily complaining to officials back in June that too many immigrants were still coming into the country, Trump singled out Nigerians and Haitians for especially demeaning remarks, according to a New York Times account of a meeting.

The Haitians “all have AIDS,” the president was said to have remarked, and Nigerians would never “go back to their huts” once they had seen the United States.

The White House denied the president made those comments.

A Christmas squish

Trump on Christmas Eve retweeted a doctored image with the CNN logo imposed on a bloodlike, or buglike, splatter under his shoe.

It’s not the first time Trump has retweeted violent, cartoonish imagery against CNN.

But there was an irony of sorts — in real life in 2017, Trump wouldn’t hurt a fly. When one buzzed through the Oval Office earlier this year, the president summoned then-chief of staff Reince Priebus to swat it dead.

What else is happening:

  • Trump has grown close to Rupert Murdoch, taking calls at least once a week from the media mogul, The New York Times reports. The president blessed Murdoch’s plan to sell much of his Fox empire (but not Fox News) to Disney. Trump has been hostile to a merger of AT&T and Time Warner (owner of CNN.)
  • Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a fierce critic of Trump, told CBS News he hasn’t ruled out running for president in 2020.
  • Trump has exempted his chosen FBI director, Christopher Wray, from his attacks on the bureau’s leadership. But the sniping is making it harder for Wray to shore up morale and his goal of keeping the bureau above politics, The New York Times reports.
  • White House officials remain convinced that Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital won’t derail its peace initiatives despite broad international condemnation. “We always anticipated that there might be a temporary cooling-off period,” one told The Washington Post.

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