Mar 24, 2018

How Trump created a new era of high risk

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

On Jan. 26, just over a year into his presidency, President Trump had a president's dream: peace and prosperity. The Dow Jones industrial average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all hit record highs.

Where it stands: Since then, Trump has injected multiple new risks into the system.

  • Yesterday, "U.S. stocks suffered their worst week in more than two years, signaling mounting investor anxiety over whether factors from restrictive trade policies to rising interest rates could disrupt the nine-year bull market." (WSJ)
  • N.Y. Times: "Aides said there was no grand strategy to the president’s actions, and that he got up each morning this week not knowing what he would do. "

So what's happened in the past two months?

  • Checks inside the White House are gone, and Chief of Staff John Kelly's controls have been circumvented.
  • Critics of China and trade have been empowered.
  • Hawks have been installed at NSC and State.
  • Trump is stirring for a Mueller fight.

The conversation:

  • CFR President Richard Haass tweets: "This is the most perilous moment in modern American history-and it has been largely brought about by ourselves, not by events."
  • Jeremy Bash, former CIA and Pentagon chief of staff, on "Morning Joe": "I think the president is assembling a War Cabinet. To take a war to Bob Mueller, he's got Joe diGenova. To take a trade war to China, he's got Larry Kudlow. And now, to actually have a real war, he's got John Bolton. And the only question is: Will we find ourselves in a military conflict vis-à-vis North Korea or Iran or both?"
  • N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Tong Zhao, a nuclear policy expert at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing, on the apprehension of American allies in Asia about the appointment of John Bolton as national security adviser: “People are trying to avoid appearing terrified, but people are deeply concerned.”

The Trump view ... A source close to the president told me:

  • "I personally reject the premise that there is inherent 'risk' in Trump being more Trump."
  • "He's got 15 months under his belt, and is feeling more comfortable and confident in the job."
  • "The economy is booming ... ISIS is obliterated. He's got China to the table to help with NoKo in unprecedented ways."
  • "Now he's continuing to throw Kim off balance with a vocal NoKo hawk, reminding him he's serious."
  • "He's doing nothing on trade that he didn't openly campaign on."
  • "It's unorthodox. It's chaotic from a staff level. But I think folks need to relax."

Be smart: The markets can be prescient — they appear to be factoring in rising uncertainty and risk.

Bottom line: We have never seen so much wobbliness and apprehension, internally and externally. 

Go deeper

Top Trump ally sounds 2020 election alarm over coronavirus response

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

There is growing concern among top conservative leaders that the Trump administration isn't addressing the long-term economic impact of the coronavirus, several sources tell Axios. One top adviser said if the recovery is bungled it could cost President Trump the election.

What we're hearing: "The next 4-8 weeks is really going to decide whether Trump gets reelected," Stephen Moore, Trump's former nominee for the Federal Reserve board, told Axios. If the administration mishandles its economic recovery efforts, he said, Trump is "in big trouble."

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,600,427 — Total deaths: 95,506 — Total recoveries: 354,006Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 465,329 — Total deaths: 16,513 — Total recoveries: 25,410Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  5. 2020 latest: Top conservative leaders are concerned the Trump administration isn't addressing the virus' long-term economic impact.
  6. States latest: FEMA has asked governors to decide if they want testing sites to be under state or federal control.
  7. World latest: Lockdowns have led to a decline in murders in some of the world's most violent countries — Boris Johnson is moved out of the ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  8. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  9. 1 SNL thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return this weekend in a remotely produced episode.
  10. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Federal court temporarily blocks coronavirus order against some abortions

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday that clinics in Texas can immediately offer medication abortions — a pregnancy termination method administered by pill — and can also provide the procedure to patients nearing the state's time limits for abortions.

Driving the news: The decision comes after federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Tuesday in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy