Tuesday was a revealing day for President Trump’s foreign policy Wednesday, as leaked transcripts and readouts put a far darker spin on the president’s calls with Mexico and Australia than the official White House line. From allegedly “joking” about “bad hombres” and a U.S. incursion into Mexico, and sparring with the Australian prime minister over a refugee agreement signed by President Obama, they are self-imposed setbacks. Trump publicly addressed the reports Thursday morning, saying at the National Prayer Breakfast that they should be ignored. “When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it,” he said. “Just don’t worry about it.” But his aides are troubled. Inside the White House, there is recognition that the current tenor of the calls can’t continue without a significant impact on U.S. foreign policy.
Separately Wednesday, National Security Advisor Mike Flynn announced that the U.S. is putting Iran “on notice” after a ballistic missile test in violation of a UN Security Council resolution. But Administration aides offered no details about what that status meant and what its impact would be on the still-active Iran nuclear agreement.
TIME’s new cover story features Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist who has taken on an increasing role in policy and national security decisions. Tump’s immigration order is legal for now. And inside California’s plan to ‘resist’ Trump.
Here are your must reads:
Is Steve Bannon the Second Most Powerful Man in the World?
TIME’s David Von Drehle on Trump’s strategist
A Billionaire Resistance Targets President Trump from the Right
TIME’s Philip Elliott on Trump’s Koch problem
Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Puts Democrats In a Bind
TIME’s Tessa Berenson on the Gorsuch pick
California Prepares to Resist the President in Uncertain Times
TIME’s Katy Steinmetz on the protest movement
Trump’s Immigration Order Is Legal-for Now
TIME’s Massimo Calabresi on the challenges to the executive order
‘This Was the Worst Call by Far’
Trump badgered, bragged and abruptly ended phone call with Australian leader [Washington Post]
“When I ran for president, I had to leave the show. That’s when I knew for sure I was doing it. And they hired a big, big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to take pace my place, and we know how that turned out. The ratings went right down the tubes. It’s been a total disaster. And Mark will never, ever bet against Trump again, and I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings, okay?” — Trump joking at the National Prayer Breakfast
“We cannot let our personal convictions overwhelm our ability to work as one team.” — Newly sworn-in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during his welcome address to the department
Bits and Bites
Trump Attends the Return of the Remains of the Navy SEAL Who Died in Yemen [Associated Press]