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Who’s going to pay? Trump passes the hat for his Mexican wall

President Donald Trump, here in the Oval Office

President Donald Trump, here in the Oval Office on Friday, April 21, 2017, is coming up on his first 100 days in office soon. Credit: AP / Andrew Harnik

Build now, collect mañana

“Who’s gonna pay for the wall?” Donald Trump shouted to fire up his campaign crowds.

“Mexico!” they roared.

Trump’s tweet on the subject Sunday didn’t quite have the same punch. “Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall,” he said.

The president is asking Congress for border-wall funding as part of spending package that must be passed by Friday to avoid a government shutdown.

In a separate tweet, he alluded to the deadly violence by the MS-13 gang — largely immigrants from Central America — including a quadruple homicide this month in Central Islip. “The Democrats don’t want money from budget going to border wall despite the fact that it will stop drugs and very bad MS 13 gang members,” he posted.

But amid Democratic opposition and some GOP doubts, it wasn’t clear whether Trump would force the issue in the spending bill. “We don’t know yet,” budget director Mick Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.”

See Emily Ngo’s story for Newsday.

Trump’s support foundation

While his overall approval rating is only 42 percent, Trump’s fans are loyal -- 96 percent of those who supported him in November say they’d do it again today, while 2 percent regret it, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll. Among Hillary Clinton supporters, only 85 percent would still be with her.

Trump got fair-to-good marks in pushing for jobs and in foreign policy. His weak spots so far aren’t presaging Democratic strength -- 67 percent say the Democratic Party is out of touch with the concerns of most Americans, even more than say the same about Trump.

Trump’s approval came in at 40 percent in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, with low marks on honesty and trustworthiness (25 percent), being knowledgeable and experienced enough (27 percent) and having the right temperament (21 percent.) But 50 percent called him firm and decisive.

Trump’s spin: “New polls out today are very good considering that much of the media is FAKE and almost always negative,” he tweeted. On Monday he took a more aggrieved tone, presumed to be a reaction to TV coverage. 

Don’t count the days

With five days to go, Trump has come up short on several major promises from the 100-day plan he touted in his “Contract with the American Voter” in the campaign’s final weeks.

Asked during an interview with The Associated Press about whether he should be held accountable, Trump suggested the pledge wasn’t really his idea to begin with.

“Somebody put out the concept of a 100-day plan,” he said.

Trump also told AP that being commander in chief brings with it more of a “human responsibility” that his past pursuits.

“Pretty much everything you do in government involves heart, whereas in business, most things don’t involve heart,” he said. “In fact, in business, you’re actually better off without it.”

The take-away: Tropic thunder

Attorney General Jeff Sessions insists he wasn’t trying to demean Hawaiians when he complained about the court order halting Trump’s travel ban by “a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific.”

The comments did fit a Team Trump pattern, though, of scoffing at court opinions and judges that frustrate them. See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.

Xi calls on Don to chill on Kim Jong-un

The Associated Press reports early Monday: "Chinese President Xi Jinping called for restraint in dealing with North Korea during a telephone call with U.S. President Donald Trump, Chinese state media reported Monday, amid speculation that the North could soon carry out a sixth nuclear test."

Spicer, unlike Schwarzenegger ...

At the start of Trump’s presidency, he was frequently critical in private of press secretary Sean Spicer’s performance at briefings, but the spokesman’s star seems to have risen, The Washington Post reported.

“I’m not firing Sean Spicer,” Trump told attendees at a small working lunch last month. “That guy gets great ratings. Everyone tunes in.” He even likened Spicer’s daily news briefings to a daytime soap opera.

The anecdote is part of an in-depth Post story on Trump’s obsessive TV viewing habits. The president, advisers said, also uses details gleaned from cable news as a starting point for policy discussions or a request for more information. One of the best ways to get his attention is to be seen on TV.

Trump takes on anti-Semitism

Trump’s White House has sometimes muddled its messaging on anti-Semitism, including a Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that didn’t mention Jews and Spicer’s worse-than-Hitler gaffe on the Syrian poison gas attack.

But in a video message Sunday to the World Jewish Congress, Trump was forthright. “Six million Jews, two-thirds of the Jews in Europe, murdered by the Nazi genocide,” he said of the Holocaust. “They were murdered by an evil that words cannot describe, and that the human heart cannot bear.”

He added, “We must stamp out prejudice and anti-Semitism everywhere it is found,” he said. “We must defeat terrorism, and we must not ignore the threats of a regime that talks openly of Israel’s destruction.”

What else is happening

  • Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), facing a mostly anti-Trump town-hall crowd in Riverhead, said he disagreed with the president’s Russia policy and proposed cuts to the Department of Energy and environmental programs. He also said Trump should release his tax returns, reports Newsday’s David M. Schwartz.
  • The Obama administration frustrated its own Justice Department appointees with an Iran prisoner swap when it dropped charges against major arms offenders, Politico reports.
  • Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told CNN his department is not targeting “Dreamers” for deportation — its priority is “many, many more important criminals to go after and get rid of.”
  • A quarter-century before Trump, Patrick Buchanan ran for president on a message of economic nationalism and nativism. Buchanan tells Politico he’s pleased his ideas prevailed, but he fears Trump might be too late.
  • Only 34 percent of voters in the ABC/Post poll approve of the White House roles Trump has bestowed on son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump, while 61 percent disapprove.
  • The White House will be unveiling a tax-cut plan Wednesday, but it will be light on details, including whether it would add to the debt or be revenue-neutral, Politico reported.
  • Trump, who is skipping the White House correspondents dinner Saturday night, will instead be holding a rally for supporters that night in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
  • In Trump's peculiar AP interview, maybe the oddest utterances occurred when he said:  “Never heard of WikiLeaks, never heard of it. ... When WikiLeaks came out, all I was just saying is, ‘Well, look at all this information here, this is pretty good stuff.’... I don’t support or unsupport.” Videos prove this untrue.

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