What President Trump's Russia Comment Means

Feb 06, 2017

President Trump is facing his first major setback as president, as his immigration and refugee executive order has been halted by a federal judge. The administration is appealing the temporary stay, but that didn't stop the president from lashing out at the "so-called judge," (a Bush appointee, by the way) who halted the ban on visas from seven countries, while arguing that the reversal would endanger the lives of Americans. Trump's assault on the legitimacy of judiciary drew condemnation from members of his own party, and only deepened his isolation in Washington. There are a declining few who Trump has not insulted, snubbed, or caught off guard in his first two weeks in office, and that cuts against his political capital.

Is American Exceptionalism dead? Perhaps Trump thinks so. In an interview with Fox's Bill O'Reilly that aired before the Super Bowl, the president of the United States compared the U.S. to Vladimir Putin's Russia when it comes to "killing." Note: Putin has invaded Ukraine, killed and jailed political opponents and human rights activists, and supported the Assad regime's brutal killings in Syria. Suggesting there is a comparison between the two reveals Trump's deeply transactional way of thinking about the world—where personal and national interests matter above all else. Of course, most of his party and his administration feels differently, but with rhetoric like that coming from the top, who knows what will happen next.

After a weekend at the "Winter White House" in Florida, Trump is set to visit U.S. Central Command in Tampa Monday where he will be briefed on the ongoing campaign against ISIS. Trump's SCOTUS pick faces scrutiny over his Harvard days. And Trump looks to a critic for a crucial State Department post.

Here are your must reads:

Must Reads

President Trump's Immigration Ban Faces a Major Legal Test
Currently suspended by federal judge [TIME]

Few Recall Gorsuch’s Volunteer Work at Harvard
Questions arise over Trump Supreme Court pick’s level of participation in programs to help less fortunate while in law school [Wall Street Journal]

Trump Sizes Up a Critic for High-Level State Department Job
The president will sit down this week with Elliott Abrams, a neoconservative contender to be Rex Tillerson’s No. 2. [Politico]

Trump Vowed, ‘I Alone Can Fix It.’
But he discovers power has limits [Washington Post]

Trump and Staff Rethink Tactics After Stumbles
A more deliberate approach [New York Times]

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Sound Off

"Lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. Boy you think our country’s so innocent? You think our country’s so innocent?" — President Trump to Bill O'Reilly on Putin and the U.S.

"I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it. Some FAKE NEWS media, in order to marginalize, lies!" — President Trump in a tweet, in apparent response to news coverage of the role of Steve Bannon in his White House

Bits and Bites

President Trump Defends Travel Ban: 'Any Negative Polls Are Fake News' [TIME]

President Trump's Nominee for Army Secretary Withdraws His Name [Associated Press]

Trump pulls back on delay for investor protection rule, raising new questions about regulation [CNBC]

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer Reacts to Melissa McCarthy's 'SNL' Skit [Extra]

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