President Trump is spoiling for a fight. Aides say he's excited about plans, revealed last night by Axios' Jonathan Swan, to move aggressively against China over its theft of U.S. intellectual property.
Against what some aides call his better judgment, Trump moderated his campaign rhetoric about China. Now, irritated about how little Beijing has done to help pressure North Korea, Trump plans to let loose.
That announcement, which aides expect soon, reflects a coming hot period for the Trump administration:
Suddenly, Trump is facing a bunch of high-stakes confrontations, any one of which could define his presidency.
Richard Nixon wrote a book called "Six Crises" after losing the 1960 presidential race to JFK. Here are six of Trump's coming trials:
Be smart: Trump, who had a pretty good life before, has never seemed to love this job as much as friends thought he might. And he's about to find out just how hard a job it is.
The door to the Oval Office used to be wide open, with favored officials drifting in and out — even in the middle of meetings — to kibitz with Trump.
Now, the door is closed. Gen. John Kelly, the new White House chief of staff, has taken control in dramatic fashion, and is already imposing unmistakable signs of order after just a few days on the job:
Be smart: The most consequential workplace in America has been one of the most dysfunctional. General Kelly took an instantly assertive tack, and some of the overt shenanigans stopped overnight.
But the ultimate boss has no plans to really change. (Yesterday he tweeted: "Only the Fake News Media and Trump enemies want me to stop using Social Media (110 million people). Only way for me to get the truth out!") And the new internal order will remain only as long as he plays along.
President Trump needed the vote of just one more Republican senator to keep the repeal-and-replace process alive — and he could easily have had it.
Party sources tell us that during the transition, Senate Republicans heavily lobbied Trump to nominate red- state Senate Democrats to Cabinet positions, with the hope that the successors would be Republicans.
But Trump went with an all-GOP Cabinet — a fateful decision that fostered this scorched-earth atmosphere, in which no Democrat is willing to help him with his legislative priorities.
Why it matters ... A Republican strategist, closely familiar with the transition conversations, say in an email: "That vote would have repealed Obamacare last month [the stronger version that was considered before the Fourth of July break]. A strong Chief [of staff] would have understood and executed on that wisdom instead of waiting and watching the President's agenda lose by narrow margin.
"In short, if [Gen. John] Kelly — or someone of equal strength — was the Chief of Staff in January, Obamacare would be repealed today. And who knows what else may already be accomplished."
WashPost lead story ... "Action on Trump's tax cut plan could be delayed until next year," by Damian Paletta and Kelsey Snell: "Republican leaders in Congress ... face a pair of deadlines that are delaying any action on taxes. The current budget is set to expire at the end of September, and unless Congress approves new funding, there will be a partial government shutdown."
Also on the WashPost front page ... "Senate GOP's frustrations with Trump bubbling up," by Sean Sullivan: "Some are describing the dynamic in cold, transactional terms, speaking of Trump as more of a supporting actor than the marquee leader of the Republican Party."
"The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department's civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants," Charlie Savage writes in the lead story of the N.Y. Times:
"Stocks are at records, but it's no longer the 'Trump trade,'" by AP Business Writers Stan Choe and Marley Jay:
Top of N.Y. Times front page ..."Trump Loyalist Quits Lobbying To Be 'Adviser': Lewandowski Mixing Business and Access," by Nick Confessore and Ken Vogel:
The forthcoming N.Y. Times Magazine cover story ... "Losing It in the Anti-Dieting Age: The agonies of being overweight — or running a diet company — in a culture that likes to pretend it only cares about health, not size," by Taffy Brodesser-Akner:
If you had been watching closely, you could see that the change had come slowly. ''Dieting'' was now considered tacky. It was anti-feminist. It was arcane. In the new millennium, all bodies should be accepted, and any inclination to change a body was proof of a lack of acceptance of it. ''Weight loss'' was a pursuit that had, somehow, landed on the wrong side of political correctness.
People wanted nothing to do with it. Except that many of them did: They wanted to be thinner. They wanted to be not quite so fat. Not that there was anything wrong with being fat! They just wanted to call dieting something else entirely. ...
The change had been spurred not just by dieting fatigue but also by real questions about dieting's long-term efficacy.
"Inside Kathryn Bigelow's Journey to Tell 'Detroit's' Harrowing Story," by Variety's Brent Lang:
The Oscar winner's ripped-from-the-headlines drama, which opens nationwide [Friday], burrows into one of the most painful chapters in American history. It centers on the Detroit riots of 1967, a response to decades of racial oppression and economic marginalization that exploded during a scorching hot summer and enflamed the Motor City.
How could Bigelow — a white woman raised just ouside San Franicsco by middle-class parents and educated at Columbia University — understand and illuminate that kind of raw experience? ... Bigelow opted to put her clout as the most famous female filmmaker in the world on the line ...
"Detroit" ... is set against the backdrop of the race riots — or rebellion, as it has been rechristened by some academics and activists — but it is specifically focused on the killings of three black men that took place during that time in a nearby run-down motel.