John T. Bennett

Trump wings it in feisty, combative Rose Garden emergency announcement
POTUS berates reporters, slams Dems as policy event morphs into campaign rally

ANALYSIS  — A testy and combative President Donald Trump winged it Friday in the Rose Garden, turning an often-rambling defense of his border security emergency into a 2020 assault on Democrats.

Trump has redefined the presidency around his unique style and penchant for unpredictable and unprecedented moves, as well as the sharp rhetoric he uses both at the White House and his rowdy campaign rallies. But there was something different during Trump’s remarks Friday, with the president leading off his remarks by talking about anything but the compromise funding measure and border security actions he signed later that day.

Trump defends signing national emergency to build border wall
‘Walls work 100 percent,’ Trump said in a Rose Garden press conference

President Donald Trump defended his executive action to access $6.6 billion in Pentagon and Treasury Department funds for his southern border barrier, accusing Democrats of opposing it as part of a “big con” and “a lie.”

Trump said Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Charles E. Schumer “know” border walls work, but they are resisting his proposal purely for political reasons.

Trade talks with China ‘intensive’ but tariffs still set to balloon on March 1, White House says
‘Much work remains,’ Sarah Huckabee Sanders said ahead of new round next week

The White House on Friday said “intensive” trade talks this week with Chinese officials yielded “progress,” but there was no indication President Donald Trump is ready to delay a substantial ballooning of tariffs on Chinese-made goods set to take effect March 1.

“These detailed and intensive discussions led to progress between the two parties,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “Much work remains, however.”

White House: Wall funds would be ‘back-filled’ in 2020 budget request
Trump will take money from Pentagon and Treasury that would bring total wall funding to $8 billion

Senior White House officials said Friday that the funds President Donald Trump will take from the Pentagon and the Treasury Department to pay for his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would be “back-filled” in his 2020 budget request.

That means U.S. taxpayers would pay for every penny of the wall in fiscal 2019 — even though Trump long promised that Mexico would pay for it.

Legal fight expected for Trump’s national emergency declaration
Experts predict high court will back his power to do so, but maybe not accessing military monies

President Donald Trump will declare a national emergency at the southern border to redirect military funds to his border wall project after lawmakers gave him $4.3 billion less than his $5.7 billion ask. But the move is expected to bring court fights that could sink his plan. 

A House-Senate conference committee could only agree to give the president just shy of $1.4 billion for the barrier project as conferees struck a deal needed to avert another partial government shutdown. The president — who earlier this week said he couldn’t say he was happy about the contents of the compromise — reluctantly agreed to sign it into law after the Senate and House sign off during floor votes Thursday.

Trump’s cryptic ‘funding bill’ tweet momentarily casts doubt over border bill
President tweeted, then deleted but still hasn’t signaled if he’ll sign funding bill as shutdown looms

Washington lost its collective breath Thursday morning when President Donald Trump fired off a cryptic tweet that read simply: “funding bill.”

U.S. trade team ‘soldiering on’ in China ahead of high-stakes Xi meeting
Kudlow downplays deficit growth as experts, lawmakers sound alarms

U.S. officials on the ground in China for high-stakes trade talks are “soldiering on” and will get facetime with Chinese President Xi Jinping, something a top aide to President Donald Trump calls a positive sign as a key deadline approaches.

“I’ve talked to the group [in China]. They’re covering all the ground,” said Lawrence Kudlow, the White House’s chief economic official. “They’re hard at it. They are going to meet with President Xi, so that’s a very good sign.”

Trump has yet to make final decision on border bill as shutdown looms
Conservatives blast legislation on Fox morning show as White House staff evaluates it

President Donald Trump has not yet made a final decision about signing a massive spending measure needed to avert another government shutdown that includes far less for his southern border than he demanded, a White House official said.

“POTUS has not made a final decision. We are still reviewing the bill,” said the White House official, who has knowledge of the president’s decision-making.

3 Things to Watch: ‘Trump Show, Shutdown II’ heads to climactic scene
Will he or won’t he? Not even GOP lawmakers, WH staff seem to know

If Yogi Berra, the New York Yankees hall of fame catcher, was around to gaggle with reporters at the White House or in a Capitol hallway about the ongoing border security spending and government shutdown drama, he would likely note that it feels “like déjà vu all over again.”

Washington has entered a time warp of sorts as President Donald Trump and his top aides tiptoe up to the edge of declaring he will sign a bipartisan compromise package that would hand him $4.3 billion less for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall than he has for months demanded. By Wednesday morning, it became increasingly difficult to be sure whether it was December 2018 or February 2019.

Trump: ‘A shutdown would be a terrible thing’
But president says he’s looking for ‘land mines’ in deal with Democrats

President Donald Trump on Wednesday appeared to be inching toward supporting a compromise border security spending measure, saying another government shutdown would be “terrible.”

“I don’t want to see a shutdown. A shutdown would be a terrible thing,” he said in the Oval Office alongside his Colombian counterpart.

Trump field tests 2020 campaign attack lines amid latest shutdown drama
‘We have to stop politicking every minute,’ Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey shoots back

President Donald Trump tested a new 2020 script Monday night during a raucous rally in El Paso, slamming some new Democratic faces and policy proposals to the delight of a rowdy crowd.

But that doesn’t mean familiar targets and chant-encouraging lines were missing from the campaigner in chief’s roughly 80 minutes on stage in the West Texas border city. The president appeared to be field-testing which 2016 campaign lines to keep in his arsenal and which new ones might keep the conservative base energized — and angry at Democrats.

Trump calls on Rep. Ilhan Omar to resign
Criticism of Omar’s tweet was amplified when Democratic leaders released a statement condemning it as 'deeply offensive'

President Donald Trump called on Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar to step down Tuesday after the Muslim-American congresswoman made remarks about an Israeli political organization that drew rebukes from her own caucus.

“I think she should either resign from Congress or she should certainly resign from the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting. The president alleged Omar has anti-Israeli views “deep seeded in her heart” and labeled her Monday apology “lame.”

Trump on border deal: ‘I can’t say I’m thrilled’
Special panel’s leaders have said only they ‘hope’ president would support agreement

President Donald Trump showed his first cards Tuesday about a bipartisan border security deal that falls well short of his $5.7 billion funding demand for a U.S.-Mexico border barrier.

“I can’t say I’m happy,” Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting. “I can’t say I’m thrilled.”

Hill Leaders Await Trump Reaction to Spending Deal
‘We’re not sure yet’ without seeing the details, White House spokesman says

White House officials aren’t yet saying whether President Donald Trump will sign the emerging fiscal 2019 appropriations package agreed to “in principle” Monday night by top lawmakers from both chambers.

“We’re not sure yet,” White House principal deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told Fox News. “Until we actually see the language, it’s very hard for us to comment.” He raised concerns about provisions in the agreement that would reduce the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds, saying Democrats wanted that included because of their alleged support of “open borders.”

Trump pre-empts border wall pitch in El Paso to take shots at Beto O’Rourke
President vastly overstates crowd size as O’Rourke blasts his migrant rhetoric

President Donald Trump interrupted a border wall rally in Texas to take a shot at former Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, saying the potential 2020 presidential candidate “has very little going for him.”

“We were all challenged by a young man who lost an election to Ted Cruz. And then they said, ‘You know what? You’re supposed to win before you run,’” Trump said of O’Rourke.

Trump revives campaign rallies with trip into heart of ‘Beto Country’
Expect shots at O’Rourke and a border wall pitch ahead of Friday shutdown deadline

President Donald Trump ventures into Beto O’Rourke country Monday night, returning to the campaign trail in El Paso, the Texas border city home to the former Democratic congressman and potential 2020 Trump foe.

The president has held fire on a number of Democrats already running. But he has taken several shots at O’Rourke, the kind of youthful candidate who might be able to connect with both progressives and blue-collar voters who broke for Trump in 2016 in key states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Trump drags Schiff again in morning Twitter screed
The president suggested Schiff’s sweeping probe of all things Trump is merely a partisan hit job

Just three days after calling for cross-party unity in Washington, President Donald Trump on Friday again lashed out at House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, suggesting his sweeping probe of all things Trump is merely a partisan hit job.

The president used his Tuesday State of the Union address as a plea to Democrats to work with him and other Republicans to achieve legislative “greatness.” But just 16 hours later, he mockingly slammed the California Democrat after Schiff announced the panel would investigate Trump’s 2016 campaign, possible nefarious ties to Moscow and whether the former real estate mogul’s potential interest in financial gain has influenced his decisions as chief executive.

Trump, Schiff go to war as president’s call for unity fades quickly
House Intel chair moves toward sweeping probe of president, who questions his authority

Even by Donald Trump’s standards, that escalated quickly. His State of the Union call for comity between Republicans and Democrats to end Washington’s era of gridlock and bad blood lasted all of about 16 hours.

This was the president on Tuesday night during his State of the Union address: “This is the time to rekindle the bonds of love and loyalty and memory that link us together as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots. … No matter the trials we face, no matter the challenges to come, we must go forward together.”

Trump blasts Schiff after Intelligence chair vows to investigate the president
Trump’s comments come on the heels of Schiff’s announcement that Intelligence will investigate the president’s campaign and finances

President Donald Trump escalated his State of the Union threat to Democrats Wednesday when blasted House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, and suggested the California Democrat lacks any “basis” to launch a sweeping investigation of the president’s campaign and personal finances.

“Under what basis would he do that? He has no basis to do that,” Trump told reporters after an event to announce his World Bank presidential nominee.

After calls for unity, Trump sets table for 2020 re-election fight
President reverts to hardline immigration talk, vows 'America will never be a socialist country'

ANALYSIS | President Donald Trump, slowly but surely, morphed into Candidate Donald Trump Tuesday night during his second State of the Union address. What promises to be a loud and bruising 2020 presidential race is now under way.

His top aides billed the speech as one in which he wanted to set the table for breaking Washington’s era of gridlock and working with Democrats to pass major legislation on immigration, infrastructure and lowering prescription drug prices. But by the time he walked out of the House chamber, the placemats were all set for his 2020 re-election campaign.