President Donald Trump boards Air Force One before departing from Andrews...

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Thursday. He was heading to Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to attend a rally. Credit: AFP/Getty Images/Mandel Ngan

Pump and circumstance

The Trump administration’s new move to weaken future auto fuel-efficiency standards instantly exposed political rifts that go beyond the matter of pollution. It is also driving disagreements among car manufacturers, oil companies, states and even some top executive-branch officials.

Revisions are still being worked on, but the goal is to freeze mile-per-gallon requirements for cars and light trucks after the 2020 model year. This voids a 2012 requirement that automakers produce more electric vehicles and reach a 54-mpg standard by 2025. 

Automakers seek less stringent rules but also expressed support for steadily improved fuel economy and have warned against differing federal and state standards that could result.

And while the Environmental Protection Agency's acting chief privately criticized the plan, top Transportation Department officials promote it. Democrats say the change mainly benefits oil companies.

Bipartisan eco-chamber 

The Trump plan seeks to end California's long-held legal power to set its own emissions regulations. So far, the Golden State isn't playing, on either side of the two-party divide.

Former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger blasted it as a "stupid, fake-conservative policy announcement." No love lost there, since he has also called Trump a "wet noodle." 

Current Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown said: "Under his reckless scheme, motorists will pay more at the pump, get worse gas mileage and breathe dirtier air. California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible.”

Critics lampooned the administration's complicated claim that its plan would promote road safety.

Et tu, Ivanka? 

Presidential daughter-adviser Ivanka Trump told Axios that the separation of undocumented children from their parents at the southern border marked a "low point" for her. "I am very vehemently against family separation," she said. "These are not easy issues, these are incredibly difficult issues, and like the rest of the country, I experience them in a very emotional way."

And even with a number of other Trump supporters now parroting the president's description of the news media as an "enemy of the people," she said she does not share that view. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders declined to walk the statement back.

'Nice' NK talk, for what it's worth

Contents of a letter to Trump from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un received Wednesday have yet to be disclosed. 

“The ongoing correspondence between the two leaders is aimed at following up on their meeting in Singapore and advancing the commitments made in the US-DPRK joint statement,” Sanders said.

Trump called the letter "nice." North Korea has returned 55 boxes believed to contain remains of Americans killed in the war, but only one included military ID, according to officials.

How low it will go

Trump seemed a bit more unmoored than usual at a rally in Pennsylvania on Thursday. He mocked a cancer-stricken Sen. John McCain, mimicked the act of deadly stabbings by MS-13, and escalated alarms on the threat of border crossings to American security. Hours after his own national security advisers told of continued Russian election tricks, the president also bellowed anew about the Russia “hoax” and bemoaned news coverage of his administration. 

What else is happening:

  • Russia is still working to undermine U.S. elections, Trump's White House national security chiefs said, without any "hoax" talk.
  • Ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort's longtime bookkeeper testified against him, saying he ran out of cash in 2015 when he and his business partner began fudging numbers to get loans.
  • Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said Trump's tariff-threat strategy doesn't fit with the modern age. "We're not doing 19th century trade," he said. "Goods flow from one country to another along the globalized industrial value chains."