The maxim that "politics stops at the water's edge" hasn't been operative in the U.S. for more than a decade, but as President Trump continues his foreign trip in Europe its anachronism is on stark display. Speaking at a short joint press conference and delivering remarks to the Polish people Thursday morning, Trump's domestic politics followed him abroad, both as he sought to establish his "America First" foreign policy and amid continued questions about his views on the American press and Russian meddling in the 2016 election. On the former, Trump finally reaffirmed his commitment to NATO's Article V while overseas, but did so with continued reservation about allies' underfunding their commitment to the mutual-defense association. And speaking in Poland, where nationalism is also on the rise, Trump spoke out in emphatic terms about the need for border security and the challenges facing the West from the rise of extremism. It was the same rhetoric he deployed on the campaign trail, and which drew him emphatic applause before the friendly Polish audience.
Trump also used the occasion to continue his war against CNN and other American news outlets he's deemed "fake news," his rhetoric echoed moments later by his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda, who criticized his own domestic press. He also continued to raise doubts about Russian culpability in the 2016 election-related hacks on the eve of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I think it was Russia, and it could have been other people in other countries," Trump said when asked for a yes-or-no answer. “Nobody really knows for sure.” The president also doubted the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community with regard to Russia, even as his own aides are pushing him to get tough with the Russian leader when they meet in Hamburg Friday afternoon. Trump's meeting with Putin is set to be among the most closely-scrutinized foreign leader meetings in recent years, with U.S. political figures on both sides of the aisle looking for Trump to stand up to Putin and his aggression—something Trump hasn't committed to doing. If Trump lays off his Russian counterpart, his foreign trip could very quickly inflame what is already a troubling domestic political situation for the White House.
Trump aides build West Wing fiefdoms. The White House gender pay gap. And the U.S. weighs its North Korea options.
Here are your must reads:
The Remaking of Donald Trump
In the multicultural days of The Apprentice, he rose to a level of popularity with minorities that the GOP could only dream of. Then he torched it all to prepare for a hard-right run at the presidency. [Bloomberg]
Trump Says Russia Likely Hacked But Nobody ‘Knows for Sure’
Trump sets the tone for Putin meeting [Associated Press]
Trump’s Aides Build Their Own Empires in the West Wing
Top White House officials have broken from tradition by hiring chiefs of staff and personal PR people to support their policy goals [Politico]
Phone Taps, Power Plays and Sarcasm: What It’s Like to Negotiate With Vladimir Putin
A taste of what's to come for Trump [Washington Post]
U.S. Vows Tougher Action on North Korea After Missile Test
But options remain limited [New York Times]
"Personally I've picked up nothing...that's all right. Everyone else is getting very rich. That's ok, I'm very happy." — President Trump speaking on U.S. financial growth in Poland. He has not divested his assets
"The defense of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail and be successful and get what you have to have. The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?" — President Trump in Poland Thursday
Bits and Bites
White House gender pay gap more than triples under Trump [Washington Post]
Senator, Un(Interrupted): Kamala Harris’s Rise Among Democrats [New York Times]
President Trump: U.S. Economy Is Making Everyone Rich Except Me [Associated Press]