By Zeke J Miller
February 28, 2017

President Trump has never been one for introspection, and an interview with Fox & Friends Tuesday morning reveals that hasn’t changed as he reaches his 40th day as president. In the interview, the closest Trump came to self-criticism came as he gave himself an A-plus for “effort,” a C or a C-plus for “messaging,” and an A for “achievement.” I think I’ve done great things, but I think I and my people, I don’t think we’ve explained it well enough to the American people. But there were also fresh signs that Trump isn’t comfortable accepting responsibility for the actions he’s ordered. (He blamed “my people” too.) And on a far more serious note, when pressed on last month’s raid in Yemen in which more than a dozen civilians and a U.S. Navy SEAL were killed, Trump seemed to pass the buck to his military commanders. “This was something that was, uh, you know, they wanted to do,” Trump said. “They came to see me, they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected. My generals are the most respected that we’ve had in many decades, I believe. And they lost Ryan.” The comments come as the father of Ryan Owens has called for an independent investigation into the raid, and as intelligence officials told NBC the the intelligence-gathering operation didn’t produce actionable intelligence.

Trump will face a skeptical lawmakers and an anxious nation tonight as he addresses a joint session of Congress for the first time. His speech, which is set to begin at 9:10 p.m., is expected to be shorter than his predecessor’s often hour-long remarks. Trump will appeal for unity, aides said, as he tries to rewrite the narrative on his first weeks in office. He’ll make special emphasis on his executive orders that have fulfilled campaign promises, while pushing lawmakers to move swiftly on Obamacare and tax reform. Yet Trump’s plans on both issues—and on his newly announced budget outline—pit him not only against Democrats, but many in his own party. Trump refuses to touch federal entitlement spending, which is a core component of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s reform plan, which itself is already has some conservative members of Congress speaking out in opposition. In his short time in office, Trump has declined to invest in the gritty business of legislating, instead laying out broad, firm, and often contradictory markers that lawmakers are trying to work around as they seek to craft an agenda Trump can claim as his own. Many on Capitol Hill are hoping for Trump to take a stronger leadership position on lawmaking, but White House officials say to expect Trump to avoid substantive details as he seeks to tell the story of those he’s helped and seeks to help.

The slow pace of filling out Trump’s Administration. Generals call on Trump to keep foreign affairs money. And ‘The West Wing’ Supreme Court plan gets a Senate backer.

Here are your must reads:

Must Reads

Trump Hopes to Regain His Footing With a Crucial Speech to Congress
The fate of his first 100 days, and first year, may hang in the balance [TIME]

Conservative Lawmakers Threaten to Torpedo Obamacare Repeal
A blow to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan [TIME]

Officials: Yemen SEAL Raid Has Yielded No Significant Intelligence
Casting White House “success” narrative into doubt [NBC]

Trump Slow to Submit Nominations for Top Administration Posts
Of 549 key positions that require Senate confirmation, just 15 picks have been confirmed [Wall Street Journal]

The House Probe into Trump’s Russia Ties Is off to a Rocky Start
Top lawmaker pours cold water on investigation [Associated Press]

Trump to Seek $54 Billion Increase in Military Spending
A generational divide [New York Times]

New NSC Chief Pushed Trump to Moderate his Language on Terrorism
What words the president uses from the podium tonight will give a hint about McMaster’s clout. [Politico]

Sound Off

“We need to get answers. We need to make sure that nothing happened that shouldn’t have happened as we go forward.” — Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in an interview with NBC on Russia’s involvement in the 2016 campaign

“The president always gets something” — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on what Trump obtained for reaffirming the U.S.’s “one China” policy

Bits and Bites

Here’s Who President Trump Is Bringing to His Address to Congress [TIME]

Senate Confirms Wilbur Ross as Commerce Secretary [Associated Press]

Here’s How One Senator Plans to Get Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court [TIME]

An unlikely ally for President Trump: liberal actress Jennifer Garner [Washington Post]

President Trump Blames Best Picture Oscar Mix-Up on Politics [TIME]

‘Do More.’ Jewish Leaders Are Demanding White House Action After Another Cemetery Was Vandalized [TIME]

More than 100 generals sign letter warning against budget cuts [CBS]

Trump takes on entrenched practice of Washington leaks [Associated Press]

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Trump camp’s alleged Russia ties: ‘We need to get answers’ [NBC]

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