Jul 14, 2017

Trump's "corner man" role with his cable TV defenders

Carolyn Kaster / AP

After this week's Russia revelations, the mood in the West Wing is increasingly grim and paranoid. But President Trump seems to relish being embattled: One friend describes him as "acting like a corner man in a boxing match."

  • This is especially evident in Trump's constant patter about TV, as he praises aides for their combative appearances. He periodically asks about surrogates who have scored points on cable: "Why isn't she my press secretary?"
  • In calls and Oval Office chats with supporters who have been on the tube, Trump gleefully reenacts exchanges with anchors blow by blow, referring to CNN as "Fraud News" even in private conversation.
  • Regardless of what he or his staff say, he hate-watches "Morning Joe" — toggling among MSNBC, "Fox & Friends" and CNN's "New Day".

Be smart: Aides say Trump loves the combat, and just wants respect and deference.

An entertaining example of this phenomenon was captured by Axios' Jonathan Swan (whose reporting informed the above) in a piece about how much Trump loves the recent heated TV appearances by a deputy assistant, Sebastian Gorka (Twitter bio: "Irregular Warfare Strategist"):

"Before Trump left for Paris, ... he was asking West Wing staff, 'Did you see Gorka? So great, I mean really, truly great.' Trump loved ... when Gorka told CNN morning host Alisyn Camerota that more people are interested in cartoons than CNN, and that the network's ratings are lower than 'Nick at Nite.'"

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Updated 34 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump administration to eliminate nuclear waivers tied to Iran deal

Pompeo testifies on Iran in February. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The U.S. is ending waivers that had allowed foreign companies to work at Iran's civilian nuclear facilities, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday.

Why it matters: This will eliminate most elements of U.S. sanctions relief still in place two years after President Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Pompeo said "continued nuclear escalation" made the move necessary, but critics warn it will encourage further Iranian enrichment.

Top Senate Democrat says State Dept. is working on new Saudi arms deal

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefs reporters on May 20. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/pool/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) wrote in a CNN op-ed on Wednesday that he learned that the State Department is currently working to sell thousands of additional precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia.

Why it matters: Democrats say that Steve Linick, the State Department inspector general who was ousted on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recommendation, was investigating the administration's previous effort to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval.