That letdown feeling
Wall Street alumni like economic adviser Gary Cohn and the reputedly moderating voices of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are growing stronger in the White House. Nationalist firebrand Steve Bannon’s star is falling. Core campaign stands are getting swept out in a spring cleaning.
The dizzying shifts are shaking the faith of some of Donald Trump’s most fervent supporters, who rallied to his populist “America First” agenda and fear he is morphing into a more centrist figure.
“We expect him to keep his word, and right now he’s not keeping his word,” Tania Vojvodic, who founded one of Trump’s first campaign volunteer networks, told Politico.
“There was always the question of, ‘Did he really believe this stuff?’ Apparently, the answer is, ‘Not as much as you’d like,’ ” said former Breitbart writer Lee Stranahan.
After the Syria missile strike, columnist Patrick Buchanan wrote that many who supported Trump “to keep us out of unnecessary wars ... may not be standing by him.”
Ned Ryun, founder of the pro-Trump group American Majority, worried to The Associated Press about “liberal New York Democrats associated with Goldman Sachs coming in.”
He didn’t change — they did
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried to make the case that it’s not Trump who has changed — it’s others who are “evolving.”
For example, Trump no longer deems NATO “obsolete” because the alliance has been more responsive to his calls to “focus more on terrorism” and share more of the cost burden.
But on other flip-flops, Spicer fell back on variants of “the tweet speaks for itself” — his frequent rejoinder when there is no ready explanation at hand.
Why has Trump abandoned his charge that China is a “currency manipulator?”
“That’s a very, very complex issue and ... I’m going to leave it to the president to specifically answer that,” Spicer said.
See Emily Ngo’s story for Newsday.
Don’t worry, be hopey
A day after saying relations with Russia may have hit an “all-time low,” a Trump greet-the-morning tweet saw rays of sunshine:
“Things will work out fine between the U.S.A. and Russia. At the right time everyone will come to their senses & there will be lasting peace!”
CIA chief: Don’t love WikiLeaks
During the campaign, Trump gushed “I love WikiLeaks” when the anti-secrecy group flooded the internet with politically damaging emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo, in his first major speech, said Thursday that WikiLeaks is not a friend. It’s a “hostile intelligence service” that collaborates with Russia, is devoted to the “destruction of Western values” and is a threat to U.S. national security, Pompeo said.
Planned Parenthood takes a hit
Without ceremony, Trump signed legislation Thursday allowing states to withhold federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
The measure nullifies a rule that took effect in the last days of the Obama administration. The Trump White House tried to sell Planned Parenthood on a deal that would preserve funding for other women’s health programs if it stopped offering abortion services, but the group refused.
The Dear Leader Tower
Is North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un developing a case of Trump envy? As in Trump the real estate developer?
Amid rising nuclear tensions, foreign journalists summoned for a mysterious “big and important” event in Pyongyang found themselves watching Kim conduct a ribbon cutting for a towering apartment complex.
His prime minister, Pak Pong Ju, said the completion of the project was just as important as if North Korea had “dropped a hundred nuclear bombs.”
What else is happening
- Trump wouldn’t say if he personally signed off on the first-ever use of the military’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb on ISIS forces in Afghanistan Thursday.
- Is Trump going soft on journalists? He hasn’t complained on Twitter about “fake news media” since April 2. At an event for first responders Thursday, he said of the press pool attending, “They’re very honorable people,” though he noted to his guests: “You are more honorable, I can tell you that.”
- Starting in late 2015, British spy agencies detected contacts between members of Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, and they shared the information with counterparts in Washington, Britain’s Guardian reported.
- Florida health inspectors cited Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort with 15 violations in late January, including insufficiently refrigerated meats, The Associated Press reports. Another reason why Trump likes his steaks well-done?
- Two Secret Service officers have been fired over their handling of a White House incident last month in which a fence jumper was on the grounds for 15 minutes and made it just steps from a main door, CNN reported.
- The Anti-Defamation League offered to give Spicer and others in the White House a Holocaust education course following the press secretary’s worse-than-Hitler gaffe about Syria’s Bashar Assad.