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March 3, 2016
Craig Lassig/AFP/Getty Images

If Donald Trump is a "con man," as Marco Rubio likes to say, he's playing one helluva long con. Trump's rapid rise in the polls and success in the GOP primaries has caught Republicans and political observers off-guard, but the real estate mogul has been planning his conquest of the GOP nomination fight and, he hopes, the presidency since at least November 2012, the month Mitt Romney lost to President Obama — and Trump trademarked his slogan "Make America Great Again," The Wall Street Journal reports, citing federal records.

In 2013, Trump spoke at CPAC, and he campaigned for Rep. Steve King (R) in first-caucus-state Iowa a year later. Between 2012 and June 2015, he donated more than $1 million to Republican candidates and affiliated groups. Maybe nobody saw Trump's political success coming because he has been talking about running for president since at least 1988, when he told Oprah Winfrey that if he ever ran, he would probably win. He did briefly throw his hat in the ring in 2000, as a Reform Party candidate, but the 16 years since have been filled with feints widely viewed as publicity stunts.

Rush Limbaugh, Trump's longtime golfing buddy, said on his radio show Wednesday that looking back, "this is something Trump has been planning for years." While golfing, Trump would ask "pretty focused and intense" questions about politics, he said, but "at no point did I ever think, 'My God, this guy sounds like he's thinking of running.' I just thought it was somebody that was deeply interested and talking about things that you don't normally hear him talk about in public. But now looking back on everything that's happened, I think two or three years ago he was planning this."

Trump's advisers say that Trump has been toying with the idea for more than a few years. "I don't think people realized he has always had presidential aspirations," Sam Nunberg, a GOP strategist who advised Trump from 2013 until August 2015, told The Journal. "He knows the voters he attracts. He knew it from the beginning." Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser, explained the attraction: "He likes that he's making history. His likes that his name is up in lights.... And he's having fun." You can read more about Trump's long game at The Wall Street Journal. Peter Weber

2:52 p.m. ET

President Trump paused to reflect on his fond travel memories while discussing the relationship between the U.S. and China on Tuesday.

During a press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump said he was "a little disappointed" because there was a "change in attitude" after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un secretly met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in March. "I don't like that," said Trump. Even though North Korea has walked back its promise to discuss denuclearization during an upcoming summit between Trump and Kim, Trump didn't blame China.

"I have a great relationship with President Xi, he's a friend of mine, he likes me, I like him," said Trump "I mean, that was two of the great days of my life being in China, I don't think anybody's ever been treated better in China ever in their history."

Trump's apparently amazing trip to China was "an incredible thing to witness and see," but despite his great relationship with "world-class poker player" Xi, there is not yet a deal around Chinese company ZTE. The U.S. banned American businesses from selling to ZTE after the company violated trade sanctions, but Trump last week tweeted that he would help restore lost jobs in China. "We will see what happens," said Trump about ZTE negotiations with Xi. "We're discussing various deals."

Watch Trump's comments below. Summer Meza

2:20 p.m. ET

Time … it's like a flat circle, you know, man?

Or, if you're the glorified-bracelet company Nunc, time is more like a really expensive Italian marble stone shaped like a blank watch face. As the Swedish company explained to one understandably confused Facebook user who made the mistake of pointing out that a watch that doesn't work is just a bracelet, "Nunc is more than a product, it represents a philosophy and a way of life. And for some time we struggled: Should we call it a watch or a timepiece? It clearly doesn't tell the time."

No, it clearly doesn't, but for 160 euro (about $188), it will aggressively remind you that "time is now, and we should make the most of it" by otherwise being totally unhelpful and impractical:

The whole thing seems almost a little too millennial to be true; there is even a "literature & philosophy" page that discusses sophomore-year-of-college philosophy topics like "carpe diem" and "moment mori," and a "spirituality" page that is "coming soon." Go on your own "deep personal journey" to "find meaning and purpose" on Nunc's website here. Jeva Lange

1:57 p.m. ET

When Donald Trump announced he was running for president in 2015, he made a big point about how much smarter China's leaders are than America's presidents. Almost three years later and in the White House, Trump might finally be admitting he underestimated President Xi Jinping, HuffPost's Igor Babic observed Tuesday.

Trump's remarks came during a press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. "I think that President Xi is a world-class poker player," Trump told the press, adding that the North Koreans had "a somewhat different attitude" during negotiations with the U.S. after they met with the Chinese leader. Trump, who admitted that his summit with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un might be derailed, said of Xi's meeting with North Korea: "I can't say that I'm happy about it."

Compare that with Trump's tone in 2015: "[China's] leaders are much smarter than our leaders, and we can't sustain ourself with that," he said. "There's too much — it's like — it's like take the New England Patriots and Tom Brady and have them play your high school football team. That's the difference between China's leaders and our leaders." Watch below. Jeva Lange

1:24 p.m. ET

President Trump said it would be "a disgrace" for the United States if there were "spies in my campaign" in remarks Tuesday following a Monday meeting with FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Trump has demanded that the Justice Department look into whether Obama administration officials coordinated surveillance of his campaign for political reasons following reports that an American academic working as an FBI informant met with several members of his 2016 campaign in the early days of the agency's investigation into Russian election meddling.

"That would be one of the biggest insults that anyone has ever seen," Trump said, although there is no evidence the informant was embedded in his campaign. The president additionally dodged a question about whether he has "confidence" in Rosenstein. Jeva Lange

1:16 p.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The chairman and CEO of New York City's transit system is bound to be a busy man: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority carries millions of people every day, often via outdated infrastructure in a constantly-evolving city.

But that man, Joe Lhota, is even busier than one might expect, because he also has a handful of other jobs. Lhota's position as chief of staff at a major hospital network, along with his seats on eight different boards and additional lobbying work on the side make for potential conflicts of interest, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Lhota has run the MTA since 2017, but delegates much of the work while he juggles his other leadership positions. The Times explains that Lhota's influence in the city has continued to expand, but the amount of time he spends on the troubled subway system has decreased. Lhota is chief of staff at NYU Langone Health, a network of 230 hospitals and clinics. He has reportedly lobbied for NYU Langone while also running the MTA. He is also a paid board member at Madison Square Garden, a major facility tied to MTA decisions about the adjacent Penn Station.

His work at NYU Langone and on eight transportation-related boards earned Lhota $2.5 million last year, while he forfeited his MTA salary to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest. Lhota vowed to spend 40 hours a week working for the MTA, but records show he has been spending closer to 22 hours. Lhota denied that his multiple jobs represented any conflicts in his role as MTA chief. Read more at The New York Times. Summer Meza

1:08 p.m. ET

President Trump is tempering expectations ahead of his historic meeting with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un, telling the press Tuesday that the planned summit in Singapore "may not work out for June 12." Trump went as far as to say, "[we'll] see what happens, whether or not it happens, if it does, that'll be great … and if it doesn't, that's okay too."

Trump made the comments ahead of his meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and added that "whether or not" the North Korea summit happens, "we'll know soon." Jeva Lange

12:51 p.m. ET

Facebook — which in March admitted to a data breach of 50 million users — wants your nudes. Understandably, that might not seem like the most appealing idea at this point. But Facebook's policy chief in Ireland, Niamh Sweeney, said that the company is testing zapping photos that violate its terms and conditions by, apparently, inviting users to try to post the images themselves, The New York Times reports.

Facebook has struggled to keep "revenge porn" and embarrassing photos from being shared without users' consent, but it still needs something to test — the reasoning being that Facebook requires a nude photo to teach it to recognize and delete a nude photo. That's where audience participation comes in!

Lawyer Paul Tweed later expressed his disbelief at Facebook's suggestion, however, asking users rhetorically: "Are you gonna?" Jeva Lange

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