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AP

At 8:50 a.m. yesterday, the President of the United States confronted a day of tense and definitional decisions. His health-care plan faced life-or-death negotiations with nervous Republicans.

  • Within hours, he'd host his first meeting with the leader of a nation at urgent risk of decimation by North Korea, which is flirting with nuclear war. He was about to give a speech designed as the centerpiece of a week dedicated to national energy policy. The trade war we just mentioned was brewing.
  • But as the president watched TV, one topic consumed his mind and mood: two talk-show hosts who had insulted his psychological stability. Their average audience is just over 1 million — .3% of the nation's population.
  • He banged out those infamous 53 words.

"I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came.. ...to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!"

The tweets would suck up the day's public conversation, pushing aside any of his White House's planned messages. They'd provoke numerous Republicans to rebuke him, and force even some of his closest advisers to admit he wasn't acting presidential.

  • Sound smart: Reread the first paragraph.
  • Sound dumb: Defend the tweet.

P.S. AP's Barbara Ortutay: "If President Donald Trump were anyone else, he'd be fired, or at least reprimanded, for his latest tweets attacking a female TV host, social media and workplace experts say."

N.Y. Times Quotation of the Day ... Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, in response to Trump's tweet: "People may say things during a campaign, but it's different when you become a public servant. I don't see it as undermining his ability to negotiate legislation, necessarily, but I see it as embarrassing to our country."

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Go deeper

24 mins ago - World

Saudi dissident claims MBS said he could get "poison ring" to kill king

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attending the Saudi Green Initiative Forum, via video link, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday. Photo: Royal Court of Saudi Arabia/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A former senior Saudi intelligence official who worked with the U.S. on counterterrorism alleged to "60 Minutes" in an interview broadcast Sunday that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed in 2014 killing the kingdom's then-monarch.

Why it matters: The allegation by the exiled Saad al-Jabri, whom Saudi authorities describe as "a discredited former government official," that the crown prince, known as "MBS," claimed he could obtain a "ring from Russia" to carry out the attack, is one of several serious allegations he made on the CBS show.

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest — triggering widespread power outages and flooding.

Why it matters: The strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood.

“You blew it”: GOP activist turns on corporations over vaccine mandates

The chairman of the American Conservative Union said on "Axios on HBO" he accepts "Joe Biden is my president, and I want him to succeed," but predicted Republicans retake the House and Senate in 2022 — with greater than 50% odds Donald Trump runs in 2024.

The big picture: In a joint interview with his wife, Mercedes, Matt Schlapp also refused to share their vaccination status. And he told corporate America "you blew it" by embracing vaccine mandates and liberal social stances that have alienated GOP voters and politicians.