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President Trump Is Now Fighting Directly With the Widow of a Slain Soldier

4 minute read

The controversy over President Trump’s handling of the deaths of four soldiers in Niger is now in its second week.

The pregnant widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson spoke with “Good Morning America” Monday, saying that Trump struggled to remember her husband’s name and corroborating the story of Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson, who sparred with the President after hearing the call on speakerphone.

Trump responded to Myeshia Johnson’s interview on Twitter, essentially calling her version of events untrue.

This isn’t going away, and not just because Trump can’t seem to back down. There are still a lot of unanswered questions about the ambush in Niger and the military response to it, and the controversy over the phone calls has only drawn attention to the failure of the mission.

401(OK): President Trump continues to negotiate with Congress via tweet.

On Friday, it was reported that Republican leaders were mulling a cap on the amount of money you could put in your traditional tax-deferred 401(k) retirement plan. One idea was to reduce it from the current $18,000 for people under the age of 50 to just $2,400 a year. (You would still be able to put more money in a Roth account, where you pay taxes upfront.)

From a policy standpoint, this doesn’t make a ton of sense: Less than half of Americans are saving well for retirement. But it would make a lot more income taxable, helping pay for tax cuts elsewhere in the bill.

On Monday morning, Trump shot the idea down, tweeting that “there will be NO change to your 401(k)” and calling it a “popular middle class tax break.” It’s not clear whether this was a policy decision from the White House or a response to a cable news segment, but either way, it takes one way to pay for tax cuts off the table.

A Change on Climate: It’s not as easy to upend environmental policy as it is other regulations. While the heads of other Cabinet agencies can simply throw out old guidance on disabled students or rescind old rules on labor law, the Environmental Protection Agency is bound by science, especially a 2009 finding that climate change is real.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has chosen to fight this on two fronts: first, by arguing that the agency’s proposals to fight climate change need to be narrowed, and second, by going after the science. The latest move? Canceling speaking appearances by three EPA scientists who were set to discuss climate change at a conference.

In a recent interview with TIME, Pruitt did not say he would overturn that 2009 finding, as hardline conservatives want him to do. But it’s clear that he’s going to keep chipping away at it.

A Late Night for Trump: Mark Twain perfected the art of being funny and political at the same time, so it’s only natural that this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor sounded both notes.

The honoree was David Letterman, who confronted Donald Trump in a 2012 appearance on his show over the fact that despite his protectionist rhetoric, his ties are made in China. Several of the comedians who toasted — and roasted — Letterman followed in that tradition, with the newly political late-night host Jimmy Kimmel blaming Letterman’s 2015 retirement for ushering in Trump. “It’s like you went out for cigarettes one day and left us in the hands of our abusive, orange stepfather,” he said.

In his time on stage, Letterman quoted Twain: “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” Another person who’s used that quote? Trump, who tweeted it in 2014. (The actual quote, from “The Czar’s Soliloquy,” was “loyalty,” not patriotism.)

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