Apr 8, 2017

This week in Trumpland: where to begin?

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Seriously, where do we even start with week 11 in Trumpland? It's been so crazy that even POTUS himself has lost track of time, calling his time in office so far "one of the most successful 13 weeks in the history of the presidency" on Thursday. You can't blame him for getting confused because it sure feels like 13 weeks. Or maybe 13 years? After all, Chuck Todd did joke this week at an Axios event that Trump might still be president in 2032…

Striking Syria: In a week filled with absolutely massive stories, this one was by far the biggest: President Trump launched an airstrike against a Syrian air base in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime against its own people. (And he did it from Palm Beach!) Reactions in Washington were all over the place — though largely positive from the foreign policy establishment. Not surprisingly, Russia was not a fan in the slightest. Even the Donald Trump of 2013 didn't like the idea at all. Stay tuned because this decision is likely to be one of the defining features of Trumpland for some time to come.

Going nuclear: In retrospect, Thursday was not the best time for Twitter to break out the bomb GIFs, but we had no way to know what was coming. In any other week, the Senate casting aside tradition to invoke the nuclear option and get rid of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees would have been the story. It even might have been the story of the month. It could have been the story of the year. But this is Trumpland, where nothing can be so simple. And Neil Gorsuch will soon be an associate justice of the Supreme Court. If you see Merrick Garland in DC this week, won't you buy him a beer?

Mar-a-China: While all of that was going on, Trump was hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago for a bilateral summit and a not-quite-a-state-dinner. Trump's talked big on China for months now, saying they manipulate they're currency and that we're in the midst of a trade war, but he was surprisingly quiet after the summit. POTUS simply said that "tremendous progress" was made and branded his relationship with Xi as "outstanding." That's good news, but we now know that Trump's mind was likely elsewhere as he and Xi tucked into their New York strip steaks on Thursday night.

The gunfight: Long-simmering tensions in Trumpland finally boiled over this week — and the whole world got to learn what the word "cuck" means! First came news of Steve Bannon getting banished from the National Security Council. Then came the tales of the Bannonites in the White House pushing back against the more moderate Javankans (that's Jared and Ivanka, for those not keeping score at home). And yesterday had the biggest twist yet: Trump's apparently searching for a new chief of staff and considering a demotion for Bannon. Pick your sides, Trumpland. This is gonna get messy.

We hardly Nunes you: There was a time on Thursday morning when it seemed certain that House Intel Chair Devin Nunes recusing himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 was going to be the surprise story of the week. Especially when we all found out that the House Ethics Committee had launched an internal investigation surrounding his potential reveal of classified information. And that was after reports emerged earlier this week that Obama national security advisor Susan Rice had unmasked the identity of Trump associates who had communicated with foreign officials! But you'd forgotten all about Susan Rice hadn't you? That's just how Trumpland rolls.

Go deeper

Warren sees bump in national poll following Nevada debate

Photo by David Becker/Getty Images.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren surged to 19% and second place in a CBS News/YouGov national poll released Sunday, trailing front-runner Sen. Bernie Sanders (28%) but edging out Joe Biden (17%) and Michael Bloomberg (13%).

Why it matters: The poll notes that only 42% of Democratic primary voters have made up their minds. While Warren underperformed in the first three states, her strong debate performance in Nevada last week may have given her campaign new life.

Pence aide says intel report of Russia helping Trump is "false information"

Marc Short. Screenshot: Fox News

Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, claimed on "Fox News Sunday" that the White House has not received intelligence that Russia is seeking to help President Trump win re-election, calling it "false information" that has been selectively leaked by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.

The big picture: Short and national security adviser Robert O'Brien both dismissed reports published in the Washington Post and New York Times last week about a briefing provided by top election security official Shelby Pierson, an aide to outgoing acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire.

Bernie's juggernaut

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks in San Antonio last night with his wife, Jane. Photo: Eric Gay/AP

Sen. Bernie Sanders won so big in the Nevada caucuses that Democrats are hard-pressed to sketch a way he's not their nominee.

Driving the news: With 60% of precincts counted (slow, but better than Iowa!), Sanders is running away with 46% of delegates — crushing Joe Biden's 20%, Pete Buttigieg's 15%, Sen. Elizabeth Warren's 10% and Sen. Amy Klobuchar's 5%.