Stories

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."