President Trump took the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday to a hero's welcome, just a year after being pressured not to attend. “The era of empty talk is over," he declared, as he delivered a yet another campaign-style speech to rally his party's faithful. "Basically, all I've done is keep my promise," he said. There was even a "Lock her up!" chant at the first mention of Hillary Clinton. Trump opened his speech by swiftly going off his teleprompter to bash the media. "It doesn't represent the people, it never will represent the people and we're going to do something about it," Trump said of the press. He repeated his "enemy of the people" charge, but said he only meant to apply it to "fake news," and that he has the greatest respect for the press and the first amendment. So there's that.
Yesterday at CPAC, Trump's senior-most aides, Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, continued their buddy comedy routine as they sought to prove they do, in fact, like each other. It was Bannon's most high-profile appearance in months, and the former Breitbart News boss didn't disappoint. Bannon echoed Trump's "economic nationalist" agenda, and said that Trump's "deconstruction of the administrative state” is underway. It was a remarkable window into how Bannon and his new boss see the world. Meanwhile, he and Priebus professed their undying love and affection—for now.
Trump took to Twitter Friday to call for the FBI to root out "leakers" amid new damaging stories raising questions about White House efforts to knock down stories critical of the President and raising questions about his aides' ties to Russia.
America's rowdy town halls. DOJ rolls back private prison guidance. And about those "military" deportations.
Here are your must reads:
White House Promises 'Greater Enforcement' of Federal Marijuana Laws
Even in states that have legalized the drug [TIME]
President Trump Forces a Reckoning Among Conservatives
TIME's Sam Frizell from the front lines of the intra-movement battle at CPAC
Weakened Democrats Bow to Voters, Opting for Total War on Trump
Democrats take a page from Republicans' 2009 playbook [New York Times]
America’s Rowdy Town Halls
More Organic Than Organized [Wall Street Journal]
President Trump's CPAC Speech Quickly Turned Into a Media-Bashing Session
Repeats "enemy of the people" charge [TIME]
FBI Refused White House Request to Knock Down Recent Trump-Russia Stories
White House disputes account [CNN]
"And it’s a military operation because what has been allowed to come into our country -- when you see gang violence that you’ve read about like never before and all of the things -- much of that is people that are here illegally." — President Trump to CEOs on his stepped-up deportation efforts
"The President was using that as an adjective. It’s happening with precision, and in a manner in which it’s being done very, very clearly. I think we’ve made it clear in the past, and Secretary Kelly reiterated it, what kind of operation this was. But the President was clearly describing the manner in which this was being done." — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on the use of "military"
Real talk: Then it'd be an adverb.
Bits and Bites
Jeff Sessions Reverses Government's Stance on Private Prison Use [Associated Press]