Sep 24, 2018

Trump's high-level improv act

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Before meetings and calls with world leaders, President Trump receives briefings of only "about two minutes... and sometimes that gets cut by a bit," a recently departed White House official said today.

What they're saying: Fernando Cutz, who left the White House in April and served on the National Security Councils of both Trump and Barack Obama, said Obama would read detailed pre-briefs — highlighting key passages and scribbling notes in the margins — before an oral briefing ahead of such meeting. Not so for President Trump.

  • “If it was a 4-page briefing, we’d start at page 5 because you knew he’d read and digested everything in there," Cutz said of Obama.
  • With Trump, “we were given about 2 minutes to brief him before a visit. Sometimes that gets cut by a bit.”

Does that result in him saying things his team would rather he didn't? “All the time.” Cutz described Trump as "the most transparent president in history," though, because he says the same exact things in the room with leaders as he says in public.

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Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to keep his momentum after winning New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hopes to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates are just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination are in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They're talking about health care, Russian interference in the election, the economy and race.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Sanders to Putin: You won't interfere in any more elections if I'm president

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Sen. Bernie Sanders sent a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the debate stage Tuesday, stating, "If I'm president of the United States, trust me, you're not going to interfere in any more American elections."

The big picture: It was unveiled last week that Russia has been interfering to boost Sanders' campaigns in an apparent attempt to strengthen President Trump's bid for reelection. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that "Vladimir Putin thinks that Donald Trump should be president of the United States, and that's why Russia is helping [Sanders] get elected.

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