President Trump's unexpected announcement that he will slap a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum sent the U.S. stock market reeling Thursday, drew retaliatory threats from the European Union and Canada, and earned an expression of "grave concern" from China. On Friday morning, Trump seemed to welcome the financial upheaval.
When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 2, 2018
Most economists — including his top economic adviser, Gary Cohn — disagree with the tariffs and idea of a cost-free trade war. The tariffs Trump announced Thursday, during what was supposed to be a listening session with steel and aluminum executives, surprised his staff and haven't even cleared a legal review, The New York Times reports. Peter Weber
On Thursday night, President Trump announced on Twitter that he has called off a February visit to Great Britain, explaining he refused to cut the ribbon at the new U.S. embassy in London, built "in an off location" by the Obama administration.
Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts,” only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018
British news outlets had already reported that Trump had canceled the trip, which along with the embassy ribbon-cutting was expected to include a state visit hosted by Queen Elizabeth II. Trump had accepted the invitation but the White House had never "nailed down the details of the trip," says BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale. BBC News also says Trump reportedly "wanted to delay a potential visit amid concerns about large-scale protests," and he may visit later in the year.
U.S. Ambassador Woody Johnson said in December he "absolutely" expected Trump to visit Britain in the new year, and he gushed about the new London embassy, calling it "a signal to the world that this special relationship that we have is stronger and is going to grow and get better." The U.S. decided to build the new embassy out of security concerns and because its staff had quadrupled since the current U.S. embassy in Grosvenor Square was built in the 1950s. Johnson called the $1 billion price tag a "bargain" compared with the $1.6 billion stadium he built for his NFL team, the New York Jets.
The new U.S. embassy "sits on a bend in the River Thames and has sweeping views across London to the Houses of Parliament," Britain's Telegraph says. The Netherlands and China are considering moving their embassies there, too. Peter Weber
USA Today's editorial board savages Trump as 'uniquely awful' and 'not fit for office' after Gillibrand tweet
On Tuesday morning, President Trump sent out a tweet saying Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who had joined four male colleagues on Monday in calling on Trump to resign, had "begged" him for campaign contributions "and would do anything for them." On Tuesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted Trump's tweet wasn't "sexist" or dirty, and on Tuesday night, USA Today's editorial board disagreed in unusually strong terms.
"With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office," the editorial board wrote. "Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low." Trump's language was a "deliberate" attempt to pour "the gasoline of sexist language" on America's #MeToo fire "gleefully knowing how it will burst into flame," USA Today's editorialists wrote, adding: "A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush."
No president is perfect, and "Obama and Bush both failed in many ways," the editorial says. "But the basic decency of each man was never in doubt. Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful." They counted the ways Trump's "utter lack of morality, ethics, and simple humanity has been underscored during his 11 months in office." The USA Today editorial board did not call on Trump to quit, but said "it is a shock that only six Democratic senators are calling for our unstable president to resign." (Sen. Mazie Hirono [D-Hawaii] also called on Trump to step down on Tuesday.) You can read more of the editorial board's thoughts on Trump at USA Today. Peter Weber
Trump lawyer says he wrote the tweet potentially aiding an obstruction of justice case, calls it sloppy
President Trump's personal lawyer, John Dowd, says he wrote the tweet Trump sent out Saturday in which he said he "had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI," and Michael Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser, "has pled guilty to those lies." Many observers were skeptical that a seasoned lawyer like Dowd would have written a tweet that legal analysts say could amount to an admission of obstruction of justice (and that used "pled" instead of "pleaded"), but Dowd insisted to The Washington Post that he had drafted the tweet, called it sloppily worded, and said, "I'm out of the tweeting business."
Trump ousted Flynn on Feb. 13, more than two weeks after acting Attorney General Sally Yates had warned White House Counsel Don McGahn that Flynn had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about a phone call to the Russian ambassador. The Washington Post reported Feb. 16 that Flynn had also lied to the FBI, a felony — two days after former FBI Director James Comey says Trump privately asked him to drop the Flynn investigation; Trump fired Comey in May. Dowd told the Post that Trump knew in late January that Flynn had probably given the same false information to the FBI as he had to Pence, but said the Justice Department "was not accusing him of lying."
Legally, it doesn't really matter if Dowd wrote the tweet, former federal prosecutor Barak Cohen tells the Post. "If President Trump sends it, then Trump has adopted it. It's his statement," he said, and "it bolsters the intent for committing obstruction." A person close to the White House told the Post that the tweet was "a screw-up of historic proportions" that has "caused enormous consternation in the White House." Trying to curb Trump's tweeting is "a lost cause," a senior administration official tells Politico. Peter Weber
In between tweets attacking "Fake News CNN," lauding the stock market, and commenting on Matt Lauer's firing, President Trump retweeted three videos Wednesday morning from Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain's far-right, anti-immigrant Britain First group. The videos purport to show Muslims killing a boy, beating up a Dutch youth on crutches, and destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary. Fransen, 31, is on bail and facing four charges of religiously aggravated harassment for yelling insults at a Muslim woman in front of her children during a "Christian patrol." She celebrated the attention from the American president, tweeting: "God bless you Trump! God bless America!" Peter Weber
On Thursday night, President Trump fired off a crude tweet about sexual harassment claims against Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and the photo of him posing with his hands over a sleeping woman's breasts — despite the clear echoes with Trump's own hot-mic confession to groping multiple women. On Sunday night and Monday morning, Trump tweeted that he should have left three black college basketball players in jail in China because one of their fathers had failed to thank him for interceding, criticized a black NFL player over an anthem protest, insulted Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and predicted he would vote against the Senate GOP tax bill, and suggested that China's punishment of 5-10 years in jail for shoplifting is "as it should be."
"What Trump may not realize — and what new data shows — is that he may be tweeting his way into losses in 2018 and 2020," Democratic strategist Jim Messina writes in Politico Magazine. Advisers during the campaign and lawyers in the early days of his administration tried to set parameters on Trump's Twitter habit, but "none of the advice seemed to have any lasting effect on a president who views acting on his own impulses as a virtue," reports Annie Karni at Politico. "And these days, the staff has basically stopped trying: There is no character inhabiting the West Wing who is dispatched to counsel the president when he aims the powerful weapon of his Twitter feed at himself."
The Franken tweet, while putting White House officials on the spot all weekend, isn't even among "the high-water marks of self-destructive Trump tweets," Karni says. A former Trump administration official said Trump's tweet-attacks are par for the course for a "White House with a sub-40 job approval rating with a tough midterm cycle ahead. It doesn't matter if there are vulnerabilities on their own side: They're going to take anything they can get." Or at least get it while he can. Peter Weber
On Twitter Tuesday night, President Trump said he has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to "step up our already Extreme Vetting Program."
I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017
Trump made the announcement in the wake of Tuesday afternoon's truck attack in New York City, when a suspect, a 29-year-old man from Uzbekistan, drove a truck onto a busy bike path in lower Manhattan, killing eight people. The suspect came to the United States in 2010, law enforcement officials said. The Trump administration has called for a travel ban against citizens from seven countries; Uzbekistan is not on the list. Catherine Garcia
Following the truck attack in Manhattan that left at least eight people dead and more than a dozen injured, President Trump tweeted Tuesday evening about the Islamic State, saying militants "must not" be let into the United States.
"We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere," Trump said. "Enough!" It was his second tweet on the incident; about an hour earlier, he wrote, "In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!" Several minutes after his tweet about ISIS, Trump followed up with: "My thoughts, condolences, and prayers to the victims and families of the New York City terrorist attack. God and your country are with you!"
Police say a 29-year-old man drove his rented truck down a bike path in lower Manhattan, hitting several pedestrians before ramming into a school bus. The suspect then exited the vehicle, carrying "imitation firearms," and was shot by police. The suspect is in custody, being treated at a nearby hospital. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that based on the information available, "this was an act of terror," but no terror organization has claimed responsibility yet for the incident. Catherine Garcia