2016

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the most presidential of them all?
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 57

Leah Askarinam of Inside Elections discusses the expansive Democratic presidential field with Political Theater's Jason Dick. (Toula Vlahou/CQ Roll Call)

After contentious border moves, stakes only get higher for Trump
‘The real rough water for President Trump still lies ahead,’ GOP insider says

South Koreans watch on a screen at the Seoul Railway Station on June 12, 2018, showing President Donald Trump meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images file photo)

ANALYSIS — “Stay tuned” is a common refrain from White House aides when asked about the many cliffhangers created by President Donald Trump. But remarkably, even after three topsy-turvy months that culminated Friday in a wild Rose Garden appearance, that West Wing mantra will apply doubly over the next few weeks.

Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency at the southern border to unlock Pentagon funds for his proposed border wall came wrapped in an announcement press conference during which he veered from topic to topic, undercut his own legal position, often appeared dispassionate when discussing the emergency declaration, and made more baseless claims. That matter is already embroiled in court fights, putting perhaps his biggest campaign promise in legal limbo, and has appeared to created new distance between him and some Senate Republicans.

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

\President Donald Trump speaks in the White House Rose Garden on Friday. Trump said he would declare a national emergency to free up federal funding to build a wall along the southern border. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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.

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

U.S. and Chinese officials made “progress” in trade talks this week in Beijing, the White House said. But spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not provide details as a new round of talks is slated for next week in Washington. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images file photo)

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.”

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, here addressing reporters on Jan. 10, will sign a government shutdown-avoiding bill and declare a national emergency at the border to access Pentagon funds for his proposed southern border barrier. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

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 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 speaks as he is joined by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Steve Scalise in the Rose Garden of the White House on Jan. 4. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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 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, here at a rally in North Dakota last year, was back on the campaign trail Monday night in El Paso, Texas. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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.

Whitaker hearing is first big test of Trump’s ‘executive privilege’ strategy
Acting attorney general will be first White House official to be questioned by new Congress

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is expected to get a number of questions from the House Judiciary Committee about any conversations he had with White House officials, including the president, about his role overseeing the special counsel investigation. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s testimony at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Friday will offer a first glimpse into how the Trump administration plans to comply with — or stall — House Democrats’ oversight inquiries.

The hearing, slated for 9:30 a.m., will put to the test the White House counsel’s strategy for invoking executive privilege on certain conversations between the president and his close advisers.

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

President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress in the Capitol on Tuesday as Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., listen. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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.”

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'

Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, in the House chamber Tuesday night as President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address. All are either running to replace him or seriously considering a bid. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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.