It's hard to be surprised anymore by President Trump, but his vulgar Thursday tweets about MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski caught the political world off-guard. "I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came.....to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!" That message, directed at a critic, was most notable by the lengths to which the Trump Administration went to defend it in light of broad-based condemnation from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and other prominent Republicans. "This is a President who fights fire with fire," White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News. "As the First Lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder," added Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for First Lady Melania Trump—who once said a key focus of hers in the White House would be combatting cyber-bullying.
These un-presidential episodes by the president are nothing new. They defined his unconventional presidential campaign, winning over voters concerned by an overly-PC culture. And there continue to be few consequences for Trump. The statements of criticism by his fellow Republicans mean little if they otherwise support him on the issues important to him. There is certainly the opportunity cost to what he could be talking about instead, whether it be health care, tax reform, or the news of the day. On a day when his Administration is trying to make news on combating illegal immigration, Trump changed the subject in a self-defeating way. Get used to it, because Trump isn't changing.
Trump's travel ban is set to take effect. How extreme vetting is working. And how to spot a fake TIME cover.
Here are your must reads:
Going After the ‘Really Bad Dudes’
President Trump talks about deporting hardened criminals. His policy makes all undocumented immigrants vulnerable, TIME's Maya Rhodan explains
Beyond Repeal and Replace
The Republican plan for Obamacare scares GOP governors, TIME's Philip Elliott writes
Why America’s First Daughter Is a Hit In China
Ivanka Trump navigates politics and business [TIME]
Trump Quietly Puts Teeth Into his ‘Extreme Vetting’ Policy
As part of travel ban goes into place, so does another campaign promise [The Hill]
Portman and McConnell Clash Over Health Bill
If McConnell cannot win Portman's vote, there's no way Senate Republicans will be able to repeal Obamacare [Politico]
US Sets New Visa Rules for 6 Mainly Muslim Nations, Refugees
Partial travel ban to take effect after court ruling [Associated Press]
"We’re focused on plan A, and that is repealing and replacing Obamacare." — White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders asked what the Administration's "Plan B" is if the GOP healthcare bill goes down.
"I know that the plan as of right now and certainly in the most recent draft of the bill is to make sure that Medicaid is protected ... In its current form, that anybody who is currently on wouldn’t lose coverage." — Sanders misstating what the GOP healthcare bill would do
Bits and Bites
GOP ponders whether Trump helps sell health care [Associated Press]
Tillerson blows up at top White House aide [Politico]
Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz Is Officially Joining Fox News [Associated Press]