9 things Trump flip-flopped on this week - Axios
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9 things Trump flip-flopped on this week

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Last week, President Trump discussed one of his key traits: "I like to think of myself as a very flexible person." This week, his flexibility was on full display on everything from China, to NATO to his legislative priorities:

1. China's currency

Nov. 9, 2015 (WSJ Op-ed)

"On Day One of a Trump administration, the U.S. Treasury Department will designate China a currency manipulator."

Wednesday (WSJ interview)

"They're not currency manipulators."

2. Export/Import Bank

Aug. 26, 2015 (Bloomberg interview)

"I don't like it because I don't think it's necessary."

Wednesday (WSJ interview)

"It's a very good thing and actually it makes money."

3. NATO

January 15, 2017 (Bild interview)

"It's obsolete, first because it was designed many, many years ago. Secondly, countries aren't paying what they should."

Wednesday (Press conference)

"I said it was obsolete. It's no longer obsolete."

4. Janet Yellen

May 5, 2016 (CNBC interview)

"When her time is up I would most likely replace because of the fact it would be appropriate."

Wednesday (WSJ interview)

Trump has "respect" for her and she's "not toast" when her term is up. He added, "I do like a low-interest rate policy, I must be honest with you."

5. National debt

April 2, 2016 (Washington Post interview)

Trump said he would eliminate the National Debt "over a period of eight years."

Wednesday (CNBC interview)

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney: "I think it's fairly safe to assume that was hyperbole."

6. Health care

March 24, 2017 (To reporters in Oval Office)

Trump says he's "moving on" from health care: "We will probably be going right now for tax reform."

Tuesday (Fox Business interview)

"We have to do health care first."

7. Tax reform

February 23, 2017 (CNBC interview)

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: "We want to get this done by the August recess."

Wednesday (Fox Business interview)

"By putting a deadline, they say, 'Oh, Trump didn't make it…. I don't wanna put deadlines."

8. James Comey

July 5 (Twitter)

"FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security. No charges. Wow! #RiggedSystem"

January 24

Trump asks Comey to stay on as FBI director.

Wednesday (Fox Business interview)

He said it was too late to fire him for not supporting his wiretapping claims. "We'll see what happens. You know, it's going to be interesting."

9. Russia

2016 campaign

Trump repeatedly defended Putin and praised his strong leadership in contrast to Obama's "weak" leadership.

Wednesday (New York Times)

"I think it's a very sad day for Russia because they're aligned, and in this case, all information points to Syria that they did this."

Honorable mentions:

Hiring freeze: In January, Trump signed an executive order implementing the hiring freeze, and on Wednesday, he lifted it.

Syria: In 2013, Trump repeatedly tweeted against invading Syria and for Obama getting Congressional approval before bombing. Last week, Trump signed off on the strikes to Syrian airfields without Congressional approval. This isn't a total flip-flop. Trump has been notably pro-bomb — promising to "bomb the hell out of ISIS" — and in a mostly-overlooked interview with Circa last year, said that the use of chemical weapons would be his "red line."


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Roy Moore refuses to concede

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore looks at election returns. Photo: Brynn Anderson / AP

Republican candidate Roy Moore said late Tuesday night that the election for Alabama's U.S. Senate seat wasn't over.

"God is always in control. Part of the problem with this campaign is we've been painted in an unfavorable and unfaithful light. We've been put in a hole, if you will...what we've got to do is wait on God, and let this process play out...The votes are still coming in and we're looking at that." However, Alabama's Secretary of State told CNN the people of Alabama had spoken, and Doug Jones was the winner.

Go deeper: How Alabama elected Doug Jones.

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Winners & losers from the Alabama special election

Photo: John Bazemore / AP

A Democrat will serve as an Alabama Senator for the first time in two decades after Republican Roy Moore's campaign collapsed following allegations of child sexual abuse.

Why it matters: This is a big, unexpected win for Democrats, and follows another key victory in the Virginia governor's race. It's bad news for the Steve Bannon brand of conservatism and President Trump, who went all in for Moore in the closing weeks.

​Winners:

  • Doug Jones, who had never run for public office before, and won as a Democrat in a red state.
  • Democrats​ now have another important notch on their belt, and will close the gap in the Senate to 51-49.
  • #MeToo: Many voters believed Moore's accusers, and the accusations brought down his campaign.
  • Mainstream Republicans: Moore's baggage would have presented plenty of problems for the GOP down the road, even if they are losing a vote in the Senate.

Losers:

  • Roy Moore: He did the unthinkable, and lost to a Democrat in a statewide Alabama race.
  • Steve Bannon: He was the one promoting Moore from the beginning, over fierce objections within his own party.
  • The Republican Party: The RNC and the president backed an accused sexual predator, and lost. They're also now down a Senate seat.
  • President Trump: He decided to throw his full-throated support behind Moore, and in so doing made his second incorrect bet on the Alabama race. Not to mention, he was the one who appointed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General — considering it a safe seat.
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Trump, Biden, Clinton react to Doug Jones' victory over Roy Moore

Democrat Doug Jones pulled out a victory over Republican Roy Moore on Tuesday night, after a race that was turned on its head by allegations of child sexual abuse against Moore. Moore was the second Alabama Republican endorsed by President Trump to lose, after he Moore defeated Trump-backed Luther Strange in the primary. Trump congratulated Jones on "a hard fought victory."


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Both Trump-endorsed candidates lose in Alabama

Trump told voters to elect Roy Moore. Photo: AP

President Trump has now twice endorsed the losing candidate in Alabama. He backed Luther Strange in the Republican primary, and threw his weight behind Roy Moore for the general election. Moore was defeated by Democrat Doug Jones tonight.

The big picture: Trump won Alabama by almost 20 points in the 2016 election, but Alabama voters rejected his favored candidates in the Senate race. The same thing happened on Nov. 8 in Virginia, when voters elected Democrat Ralph Northam over Trump-backed Republican Ed Gillespie by a 9-point margin.

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FBI agents on Russia probe called Trump an "idiot"

Photo: AP

Two FBI agents who were assigned to investigate alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin exchanged text messages in which they referred to President Trump as an "idiot," Politico reports, citing copies of the messages provided to Congress by the Justice Dept.

The backdrop: Special Counsel Robert Mueller fired one of the agents, Peter Strzok, from the investigation in late July, "immediately" after he learned of the text exchange, the Justice Dept. told Congress. Lisa Page, the other agent in question, had already left Mueller's team by that point.

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In tax plan negotiations, corporate rate currently sits at 21%

Rubio. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

The corporate tax rate currently stands at 21%, according to three sources familiar, as lawmakers work to finalize the tax bill they hope to vote on by next week.

  • Why it matters: Both the House and Senate passed bills that would cut the top corporate rate to 20%, but hours after the Senate bill passed, President Trump said he would accept a 22% rate.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted on Tuesday, likely referring to reports that the individual rate is being lowered to 37%: "20.94% Corp. rate to pay for tax cut for working family making $40k was anti-growth but 21% to cut tax for couples making $1million is fine?" Rubio had wanted to raise the corporate tax to pay for a more generous child tax credit, but was shut down.
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Charming Charlie becomes 20th major retailer to file for bankruptcy this year

Charming Charlie, the Houston-based jewelry and accessories retailer, announced Tuesday that it reached an agreement with lenders and equity sponsors to clear the way for its filing of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

What went wrong: Charming Charlie's bread-and-butter, affordable jewlery, is an ideal product for online sellers, given that it can be warehoused and shipped cheaply. What's more, even as business migrated online, Charming Charlie overextended itself, opening 79 stores between 2013 and 2015.

Why it matters: It's the twentieth major retailer to have filed for bankruptcy protection in 2017.

Charming Charlie burst onto the retail scene in 2004, with stores uniquely organized by color, and offering products at prices between high-end jewlery stores and discount shops like Claire's, which is aimed at the teenage market.

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Tillerson says he'd meet with North Korea without preconditions

Photo: Susan Walsh / AP

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday that the U.S. was dropping the precondition that North Korea give up its nuclear weapons before sitting down together, according to CNN.

"We are ready to have the first meeting with precondition...Let's just meet, and we can talk about the weather if you want. Talk about whether it's going to be a square table or a round table, if that's what you are excited about. But can we at least sit down and see each other face to face, and then we can begin to lay out a map, a road map of what we might be willing to work towards."

Why it matters: Tillerson said demanding North Korea denuclearize is "unworkable," and that Trump agrees it isn't plausible. Tillerson did demand, however, that North Korea "ensure a period of quiet during talks," per CNN.

  • The White House released a statement in regards to Sec. Tillerson's comments, saying: "The President's views on North Korea have not changed. North Korea is acting in an unsafe way not only toward Japan, China, and South Korea, but the entire world. North Korea's actions are not good for anyone and certainly not good for North Korea."
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Washington Post reporters barred from Moore's election night party

Photo: Brynn Anderson / AP

The Moore campaign has revoked press credentials from reporters for the Washington Post and asked them to leave an election party tonight in Alabama. The campaign also reportedly notified the Post on Monday that its reporters' credentials were denied. It was the Post that broke the story of the first sexual misconduct allegations against Moore.

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Trump's lawyer says Mueller is done interviewing White House staff

Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP

Ty Cobb, President Trump's White House lawyer, says "all the White House interviews are over” in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, NBC reports.

  • The big picture: Trump's team has repeatedly tried to take the president out of the spotlight of Mueller's investigation and stated that the probe will wrap up this year.
  • The backdrop: Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's private lawyers, told Axios' Mike Allen that he believes a second special counsel is needed, to investigate potential conflicts of interest in the FBI and Department of Justice.