Good Friday morning. Situational awareness: Sean Spicer isn't getting a contract from Fox News. But he can comfort himself with his fee for speeches, which I'm told is $30,000 in D.C. and $50,000 elsewhere on the East Coast (plus first-class air travel for two).
Among Republicans on Capitol Hill, "I've never heard members and senators so angry at the president of their own party," one durable Washington hand told me after yesterday's round of check-in calls.
But hate-watching "Morning Joe" down in the White House residence, President Trump was feeling cocky. His surprise deal with Democratic leaders may create midterm headaches for his party, but it's winning rave reviews from the academy.
Our thought bubble for the president when he spontaneously made the fiscal package deal in front of a chagrined Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan: "You say I can't make deals anymore? Hold my Diet Coke, and watch this! You say I'm beholden to Mitch and Paul? Watch me make a big deal without them!"
Sources familiar with Trump's thinking tell Swan the president saw an opening in the Oval Office meeting to do three impulsive/instinctive things:
Regrets? Trump has none. He revels in these moments when he can be unpredictable to the point where he confounds his own top aides and, especially, the press corps.
Be smart: If Trump gets to the fourth paragraph of the N.Y. Times story, he'll be reminded: "He is a man of the moment, and the moment often does not last."
It's like a fictional movie scene: A president wins election with harsh, anti-immigration rhetoric, then moves to terminate protections for kids of illegal immigrants. He's ridiculed on both sides for his heartlessness — but cheered by a band of white voters who helped put him in office.
Why it matters: Like the debt-ceiling fight, Trump forfeited all his leverage before the negotiation. He has virtually no choice but to sign permanent protections into law — and little power to get significant wall funding in exchange.
Sound smart: There's a chance this Republican president, with a Republican Congress, ends the year with this list of accomplishments: increasing spending, permanently lifting the cap on debt, propping up Obamacare after failing to repeal it, and offering new protections to children of illegal immigrants.
P.S. "Trump's decision leaves 'Dreamers' unable to travel," by L.A. Times' Kate Linthicum in Mexico City: "A Homeland Security memorandum said the department would stop approving new applications for travel permits, known as advance parole."
Only one poll number to remember this week: WSJ/NBC finds that Trump has 98% approval with Republicans who voted for him in both the primary and the general.
Be smart: Don't underestimate Trump's power to do whatever the hell he wants and still keep his base voters. If they stayed with him through Charlottesville and "Access Hollywood," they're not going anywhere over a Beltway deal.
The N.Y. Times leads with an investigation by Scott Shane into "The Fake Americans Russia Created to Influence the Election":
Taking in this week's new revelations, WashPost media columnist Margaret Sullivan writes on the Style front that "there's increasing reason to believe" that Facebook made Trump president:
Be smart: In an Oval Office interview with the Financial Times 70 days into his presidency, Trump said: "Without the tweets, I wouldn't be here." Trump's authentic, direct communication with voters is the sunny side of his social-media lift. This week's revelations uncover a darker side, with the potential that a vast swath of Americans were unwittingly manipulated.
Be even smarter: We can't stress enough how much public and political opinion is shifting against the darlings of Silicon Valley. Watch for intensifying calls for new regulations on Facebook and others.
While you slept ... "A major earthquake off Mexico's southern coast killed at least five people ... Houses toppled and the quake produced tsunami waves and sent people running into the streets in panic," per AP.
Evan Osnos' "Letter from Pyongyang" in next week's New Yorker: "This summer, the prospect of a nuclear confrontation between the United States and North Korea, the most hermetic power on the globe, entered a realm of psychological calculation reminiscent of the Cold War"
More than any other capital that has been marooned by politics — Havana or Rangoon or Caracas — Pyongyang presents a panorama from another time. Soviet-era Ladas and ancient city buses ply the streets, while passengers stick their heads out the windows in search of cool air. Buildings are adorned with Korean-language banners hailing the "Juche ideology," the official state credo, which glorifies self-reliance and loyalty.
On an embankment near a major intersection, workers in gray coveralls were installing an enormous red sign that praised the "immortal achievements of the esteemed Supreme Leader, comrade Kim Jong Un, who built the nuclear state of Juche, the leader in rocket power!"
Pyongyang is a city of simulated perfection, without litter or graffiti—or, for that matter, anyone in a wheelchair. Its population, of 2.9 million, has been chosen for political reliability and physical health. The city is surrounded by checkpoints that prevent ineligible citizens from entering. ... Pyongyang is the emptiest, quietest capital in Asia. ...
Iraq taught us the cost of going to war against an adversary that we do not fully understand. Before we take a radical step into Asia, we should be sure that we're not making that mistake again.
"This White House staffer might have the most important behind-the-scenes job in the administration — controlling what gets to Trump," by Business Insider's Allan Smith:
"Created in December 2016 to harness the collective energy of America's postelection freak-out, the Arena aims to recruit, train, and support first-time candidates for office.""The Arena was dreamed up by Ravi Gupta, a former staffer on Barack Obama's first presidential campaign. Gupta, now 34, served at the United Nations under Susan Rice before leaving government in 2010 to open a string of charter schools for low-income students in the South."Why it matters: "Since Trump's election, the Democratic Party has found itself both invigorated and adrift. ... The Arena joins a crowded field of get-out-the-candidate organizations that have formed since the election, from Indivisible and Swing Left to Code Blue and Run for Something.""[E]ach wants to transform the outrage and self-recrimination over Trump's election into tangible victories at the polls. Each believes that the Democratic Party has failed to recruit a diverse and viable slate of candidates."
"Cookie dough craze: Once-risky treat takes off in the Bay Area," by San Jose Mercury News' Linda Zavoral: