Updated Jan 12, 2018

Fits and fitness: Trump gives his skeptics plenty of fodder

Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

A new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll shows that 55% of Americans (and 54% of independents) think Trump's mental fitness is a legitimate issue. But this is as partisan as any other question, with most Republicans saying the questions are "unfair and politically motivated."

Well, Trump gave his skeptics plenty of fodder yesterday, including a bizarre midnight tweet.

While you slept:

  • At three minutes of midnight, President Trump tweeted that he's canceling a planned visit to London because of a previous administration's change in the U.S. embassy location.
  • He blamed the Obama administration, but the change actually began under George W. Bush.

The president called Haiti, El Salvador and African countries “shithole countries," stunning a bipartisan group of lawmakers with the comments he neither denied nor felt the need to defend:

  • What Trump said, as first reported by the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?"
  • Two Americas: The comments were branded racist by CNN's Don Lemon, a late-night anchor Trump often watches. But Fox's Tucker Carlson called Trump's point "something that almost every single person in America actually agrees with."
  • Overnight AP headline: "Africa startled by Trump's sudden and vulgar attention.”

The day had begun with a crazy plot twist, as Trump tweeted (based on a "Fox & Friends" rant about the Obama administration) skepticism about renewing the FISA warrantless surveillance program, one of his administration's highest Hill priorities. Then he reversed himself before the House voted.

  • As if scolding himself, he tweeted: "We need it! Get smart!"
  • WashPost: "House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) spent 30 minutes on the phone with the president explaining the differences between domestic and foreign surveillance, as many fellow Republicans reacted in disbelief and befuddlement."

What's next ... Before heading to Mar-a-Lago this afternoon, Trump has his annual physical at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Go deeper

Trump acknowledges lists of disloyal government officials to oust

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Monday acknowledged the existence of assembled lists of government officials that his administration plans to oust and replace with trusted pro-Trump people, which were first reported by Axios' Jonathan Swan.

What he's saying: “I don’t think it's a big problem. I don’t think it's very many people,” Trump said during a press conference in India, adding he wants “people who are good for the country, loyal to the country.”

Coronavirus only part of the story behind the Dow’s drop

Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

As someone has certainly told you by now, the Dow fell by more than 1,000 points yesterday, its worst day in more than two years, erasing all of 2020's gains. Most news headlines assert that the stock market's momentum was finally broken by "coronavirus fears," but that's not the full story.

What's happening: The novel coronavirus has been infecting and killing scores of people for close to a month and, depending on the day, the market has sold off or risen to record highs.

Bernie's historic Jewish fight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Sen. Bernie Sanders would be the first Jewish presidential nominee of a major American political party — but that history-making possibility is being overshadowed by his conflicts with America's Jewish leaders and Israel's leadership.

The big picture: That's partly because we're all focusing on the implications of Democrats nominating a self-described democratic socialist. It's also because a candidate's religion no longer seems to matter as much to voters or the media, making the potential milestone of a Jewish nominee more of a non-event.