Mar 9, 2017

Trump's art of the schmooze

Andrew Harnik / AP

With wiretapping, WikiLeaks and a rebellion on the right over Trumpcare specifics, the president has mostly had a terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad week in the media. But even Democrats who have visited the White House tell us that behind the scenes, he's coming into his own with the art of the schmooze:

  • Trump played Good Cop in a meeting yesterday in the Roosevelt Room (which friends say he calls "the Board Room") with conservative groups that have been skeptical or critical of the House GOP repeal-and-replace package. Some participants issued more positive statements afterward.
  • A White House official said: "There's a big change in tone from a day or two ago. I think we're getting there."
  • Trump loves building things, and attendees at a Cabinet Room lunch on infrastructure yesterday said that while he's still learning many policy subjects, he talked confidently about airports, roads and rural broadband as components of the public-private package he plans to push (probably next year, for reasons of both calendar and politics).
  • The Boston Globe's lead story today is "Former Trump foes get charm treatment: Senators invited to meals, flights," by Annie Linskey: Marco "Rubio scored a seat on Air Force One Friday, [Lindsey] Graham shared a private lunch with the president Tuesday, and [Ted] Cruz, along with his family, accepted an invitation to dine with Trump at the White House" last night.
  • This morning, Trump welcomes the CEOs of community banks from as far as Missouri, Texas and New Mexico "to discuss how excessive regulation has adversely impacted their businesses."
  • Vice President Pence is holding weekly dinners with senators, and hosted five Republicans last night at his residence at the Naval Observatory.

Chaser: It'll take more than charm ... Lead story on WSJ.com, "Opposition Mounts as GOP's Health Bill Undergoes Review: Groups representing hospitals, doctors and seniors are urging House GOP leaders to put the brakes on their plan to overhaul Obamacare."

Go deeper

Hong Kong police fire pepper pellets at demonstrators

Hong Kong riot policeissue a warning as they aim to clear away people gathered downtownon Wednesday. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong riot police fired pepper pellets at protesters and surrounded the Legislative Council during demonstrations against a bill proposing to criminalize "disrespect of the Chinese anthem" on Wednesday, per Reuters.

Why it matters: The bill is the latest concern pro-democracy protesters have that Chinese authorities are encroaching on the high degree of autonomy the former British colony has retained since it was returned to China in 1997.

Minneapolis unrest as hundreds protest death of George Floyd

Tear gas is fired as police clash with protesters demonstrating against the death of George Floyd outside the 3rd Precinct Police Precinct in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Tuesday. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Minneapolis police used tear gas during clashes with protesters demanding justice Tuesday night for George Floyd, an African American who died in police custody, according to multiple news reports.

Driving the news: The FBI is investigating Floyd's death after video emerged of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on his neck for several minutes, ignoring protests that he couldn't breathe. Hundreds of protesters attended the demonstration at the intersection where Floyd died, per the Guardian.

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced plans Tuesday to make wearing face coverings mandatory statewide for most people over the age of 10 when inside public places like retailers, on public transportation and government buildings. He announced the measure, effective Friday, as coronavirus case numbers increased to 39,342.

By the numbers: More than 98,900 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 384,900 Americans have recovered and more than 14.9 million tests have been conducted.