Dave Lawler

Trump says he's considering breaking up the 9th Circuit

Carolyn Kaster / AP

President Trump has told the Washington Examiner he is "absolutely" considering breaking up the 9th Circuit, where judges have struck down both his travel ban and sanctuary cities order.

"There are many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit. It's outrageous.... Everybody immediately runs to the 9th Circuit. And we have a big country. We have lots of other locations. But they immediately run to the 9th Circuit. Because they know that's like, semi-automatic."

The circuit includes... Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington and is by far the largest of the 13 appellate circuits.

Deep breath: It's not clear that splitting the court in two would be particularly helpful to Trump, or that this is something he's actually inclined to move ahead with.


White House reportedly considering NAFTA withdrawal

Carolyn Kaster / AP

The White House is considering an executive order declaring that the U.S. intends to withdraw from NAFTA, according to reports from Politico and CNN.

Politico reports that Peter Navarro and Steve Bannon are behind the draft order and that it could be unveiled as early as this week, while CNN reports that President Trump has not decided whether to proceed with the order.

Trump has long said Mexico is "killing" the U.S. on trade, and his administration has been confronting Canada in an unusually public way over dairy and softwood lumber, but withdrawing from the 23-year-old trade pact would be a drastic step.

Judge blocks Trump's sanctuary cities order


A federal judge in San Francisco has blocked part of President Trump's Jan. 25 executive order that would allow the administration to cut off funding to so-called sanctuary cities that don't cooperate with the feds over illegal immigration.

In blocking the order, Judge William Orrick III ruled that constitutional challenges were likely to be upheld:

"The Order has caused budget uncertainty by threatening to deprive the Counties of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants that support core services in their jurisdictions....Given the nationwide scope of the Order, and its apparent constitutional flaws, a nationwide injunction is appropriate."

Why it matters: The ruling is temporary and can be appealed, but it's a setback in Trump's efforts to ramp up immigration enforcement and comes as the White House tries to demonstrate the "remarkable" progress Trump has made in implementing his agenda ahead of the 100-day mark.


Paul Ryan is increasingly unpopular

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Just 22% of respondents to a new NBC/WSJ poll have a positive view of Speaker Paul Ryan, compared to 40% who view him negatively.
Disapproval of Ryan has ballooned since February, when his net rating was -1% compared to -18% now. Since that time Congress has tried and failed to pass the Republican healthcare plan and failed to move any major legislation.
The key finding: As Ryan's popularity among Republicans has been sliding, President Trump's has dipped only slightly. So while Trump is certainly under pressure to tally some concrete achievements, that pressure could be weighing even more heavily on Ryan.

Trump spins low poll numbers


New polls from ABC/WaPo and NBC/WSJ show Trump with record-low approval ratings of 42 and 40 per cent respectively. President Trump shared his reaction on Twitter:

"New polls out today are very good considering that much of the media is FAKE and almost always negative. Would still beat Hillary in popular vote. ABC News/Washington Post Poll (wrong big on election) said almost all stand by their vote on me & 53% said strong leader."

The takeaways: Trump says he would "still" beat Clinton in the popular vote, an odd claim given he lost the popular vote the first time around, but he's right that his base is standing firm. What he's not saying, though, is that there is a massive gulf between his approval ratings and those for all other recent presidents at the same juncture.


Le Pen, Macron advance in French election

Philippe Wojazer, Pool photo via AP

Official vote estimates from Sunday's election indicate that Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will advance to a runoff for the French presidency on 7 May. The latest numbers:

  • Macron: 23.7%, Le Pen: 21.9%, Fillon: 19.7%, Melanchon: 19.2%
Macron is not affiliated with any political party, and he is now the only candidate standing between Le Pen's populist anti-Europe, anti-immigration platform and the presidency. He is favored in head-to-head polls by upwards of 20 percent.

The American connection: Macron used a conversation with Barack Obama as a campaign ad, and Le Pen's campaign points to Donald Trump as evidence she can win.

Emmanuel Macron: the 39-year-old former investment banker resigned as economic minister under Socialist Francois Hollande to form his own centrist political movement, En Marche. He quickly went from long-shot to favorite, with Barack Obama showing his tacit support with a phone call earlier this week.

Marine Le Pen: Le Pen has worked to make what was a fringe party under her father Jean-Marie electable, but anti-immigration and anti-Europe policies still form the basis of the National Front platform. Steve Bannon is a fan, but Reince Priebus says Trump's tweets should not be taken as a sign he supports Le Pen.
Francois Fillon: The conservative candidate beat former president Nicolas Sarkozy in the primary and appeared on course for victory, but his campaign was hit by scandal and he slipped outside the top two.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon: The far-left candidate is skeptical of both NATO and the EU and surged in the polls late on, campaigning via hologram and coming within striking distance of the runoff.

Other updates

Le Pen called the results "historical," saying the very survival of France was at stake and adding, "I am the candidate of the people." She derided Macron as "Hollande's heir" and said "it's time to free French people from arrogant elites."

Macron congratulated all of the candidates who did not advance by name, taking the first step toward consolidating their support. He said the second round presented "an opportunity for hope" for France and Europe, in contrast with "the threat of nationalism."

Fillon called the National Front an "extremist party" that would lead France to bankruptcy and Europe into chaos, saying he would vote for Macron.

Benoit Hamon, representing President Hollande's Socialist Party, had a stunningly poor result with about 6%. He has called on Socialist voters to back Macron, calling Le Pen "an enemy of the republic."

Melanchon did not concede, saying he'd wait for the final results.

Hollande took in the results:


North Korea detains US citizen

Wong Maye-E / AP

North Korea detained a Korean-American citizen on Saturday, making him the third US citizen currently being held.

Per AP: Tony Kim, who also goes by his Korean name Kim Sang-duk, taught accounting at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology for about a month. The university's chancellor said he was detained by officials as he was trying to leave the country from Pyongyang's international airport.

The big question: No reason has yet been given for Kim's detention, but it comes as Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump have been exchanging threats over Pyongyang's nuclear program. So how will Trump react to this move?


Just 2% of Trump voters have regrets

Andrew Harnik / AP

President Trump has a record disapproval rating as he nears the 100 day mark, but his voters are standing firm according to a new Washington Post / ABC News poll. The key findings:

  • Job Performance: 42% approve, 53% disapprove.
  • Among Trump voters: 2% regret vote, 96% say it was the right thing to do.
  • Has he accomplished much? 42% yes, 56% no.
  • Can he be trusted in a crisis? 43% yes, 52% no.
  • Do you approve of Jared and Ivanka getting WH roles? 34% yes, 61% no.
Between the lines: Trump's approval rating is still at 84% among Republicans, and almost no one who voted for him now wishes it was President Clinton in the White House. He hasn't gained support since taking office, as most presidents do early on, but these results show he hasn't lost the base.

Chaffetz says he might leave early

Cliff Owen / AP

House Oversight chairman Jason Chaffetz, who had already announced he wouldn't be running for re-election, told Politico's Jake Sherman that he might leave office before the end of his term.

"It's not tomorrow, it's not next week. If it is, it's going to be in the months to come."

He said it was "not in any way shape or form" due to a yet-to-emerge scandal:

"I am who I am. If they had something really scandalous, it would've come out a long, long time ago."

The context: Chaffetz might run for governor of Utah in 2020, and his team appears to have already bought the URL for a 2028 presidential run, but there's no getting around the fact that these would be unusual circumstances under which to leave office.


Paris gunman was previously flagged as extremist

Kamil Zihnioglu / AP

The as-yet-unnamed suspect killed in an attack that left one police officer dead and a second "severely" wounded was previously known to authorities and had been flagged as a extremist. Police have issued a warrant for a second suspect, who Reuters reports arrived in France from Belgium.

What we know about the attack:

  • A car pulled up alongside a police vehicle and a man "immediately" emerged and began firing.
  • Interior Ministry spokesman: "An automatic weapon was used against police, a weapon of war."
  • ISIS has claimed responsibility.
  • The massive police response included the closing of the Champs-Élysées.
  • France will go to the polls Sunday in the presidential election, with terrorism a top issue.