Apr 27, 2017

The one big thing to understanding Trump

Seth Wenig / AP

In a whirlwind of White House leaks, prods and announcements leading up to Saturday's 100-day milestone, one unifying characteristic explains everything President Trump is doing. Aides say he is still the dealmaker — pragmatic and practical, rather than ideological.

Buzz: Axios' Jonathan Swan tells me after a visit to the West Wing yesterday that aides think Trump now understands the system better and how to work it, with the revival of health reform as a shining example of a classic Trump move.

His dealmaker roots have surfaced repeatedly this week:

  • He announces a tax "plan" that's one page, so he has plenty of room to negotiate details with the Hill, and give lots of wins.
  • Aides debate renouncing NAFTA but say it'll be a process, not something sudden. The N.Y. Times reports: "Trump told the leaders of Mexico and Canada on Wednesday that he would not immediately move to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement, only hours after an administration official said he was likely to sign an order that would begin the process of pulling the United States out of the deal."
  • Rather than playing heavy-handed broker on health care, the White House pushes toward a House vote as soon as tomorrow by letting conservatives and moderates work out internal differences on terms that are partly self-initiated. Swan explains that instead of bullying holdouts, Trump let the air drain out of the initial attempt, then let the factions start again themselves.

Get smart fast: "Revival of unpopular health care plan divides GOP," by Axios' David Nather: "They're closer to the goal of fulfilling a campaign promise, but they're about to take a vote that will be perceived, rightly or wrongly, as abandoning sick people."

The narrative: N.Y. Times' striking 5-column (out of 6) lead headline: "TAX OVERHAUL WOULD AID WEALTHIEST."

Go deeper

Joe Biden places second in Nevada caucuses, ahead of Pete Buttigieg

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden a Nevada Caucus watch party in Las Vegas on Saturday. Photo: Ronda Churchill/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden secured second place in the Nevada Democratic caucuses with former Southbend Mayor Pete Buttigieg third, according to NBC News projections Sunday.

Why it matters: It's a boost for Biden, who's widely tipped to be endorsed by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Wednesday, ahead of this week's South Carolina primary.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Sanders reveals free childcare plan for preschoolers

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally on Saturday in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders announced on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday a new plan to guarantee free child care and pre-kindergarten to all American children from infancy to age four.

Details: In the wide-ranging interview, Sanders told Anderson Cooper he planned to pay for universal childcare with a wealth tax. "It's taxes on billionaires," he said.

Exclusive: Trump's "Deep State" hit list

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: WPA Pool/Getty Pool, Drew Angerer/Getty Staff

The Trump White House and its allies, over the past 18 months, assembled detailed lists of disloyal government officials to oust — and trusted pro-Trump people to replace them — according to more than a dozen sources familiar with the effort who spoke to Axios.

Driving the news: By the time President Trump instructed his 29-year-old former body man and new head of presidential personnel to rid his government of anti-Trump officials, he'd gathered reams of material to support his suspicions.