audience of one
June 9, 2020

President Trump trails former Vice President Joe Biden by double digits in a bevy of new national polls, and his internal polling is reportedly equally bad. Trump tweeted a memo from his pollster Monday alleging that CNN's "fake" poll and others are aimed at harming him electorally.

"Trump allies fear the election is now shaping up as a simple referendum on Trump and his performance in the White House — with recent polling showing Trump losing ground with noneducated white voters, senior citizens, Catholics, and evangelicals," Politico reports. "Trump himself has grown frustrated by the negative polling in recent weeks, confounded by Biden's lead and frustrated by his own campaign actions and execution of strategy during the pandemic."

With Trump "growing increasingly agitated with the state of his re-election campaign," his campaign came up with a plan, Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng report at The Daily Beast: "Run a series of hard-hitting ads and place them on networks that they knew the president and congressional Republicans would watch. And so, over the past month, the Trump campaign has spent slightly more than $400,000 on cable news ads in the Washington, D.C., area, buying time largely on Fox News but with some smaller buys on CNN and MSNBC as well, according to filings with the Federal Communications Commission."

There's little chance the ad buys will sway solidly blue Washington, D.C., Maryland, or Northern Virginia. Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh explained to The Daily Beast that "we want members of Congress and our D.C.-based surrogates to see the ads so they know our strong arguments for President Trump and against Joe Biden." But a Trump campaign adviser and person close to Trump told Markay and Suebsaeng that the real goal was "to put the president himself at ease" and assure him "his formidable political machine is hard at work defending him and attacking his enemies." Read more at The Daily Beast. Peter Weber

January 28, 2020

For cursing out a reporter and accusing her of lying, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has earned high praise from President Trump.

Trump on Tuesday celebrated Pompeo after his recent confrontation with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly. Kelly last week said Pompeo angrily berated her after an interview in which she asked about Ukraine, cursing her out and demanding she find Ukraine on a map. Pompeo in a subsequent statement only doubled down, claiming Kelly "lied to me" and that she incorrectly pointed to Bangladesh and not Ukraine, even though Kelly has a master's degree in European studies from Cambridge University. The State Department subsequently removed another NPR reporter from an upcoming Pompeo trip in apparent retaliation.

This earned Trump's seal of approval on Tuesday, as after Pompeo received a round of applause during a White House event, Trump said, "That reporter couldn't have done too good a job on you yesterday, huh? I think you did a good job on her, actually."

Trump then asked if Pompeo is running for Senate but quickly added, "I guess the answer's no after that, huh?" The New York Times' Michael Barbaro wrote Tuesday this is "the latest case of Trump celebrating poor treatment of the media." Brendan Morrow

July 29, 2019

President Trump met with Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) on July 19 to discuss replacing Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who submitted his resignation letter on Sunday, nine days later, The New York Times reports. Coats, one of the last and "most prominent national security officials willing to contradict the president," told Trump "last week that it was time to move on," the Times says. Ratcliffe is considered a Trump loyalist and has espoused similarly critical views of the FBI and former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Ratcliffe's views were on display during his early and aggressive questioning of Mueller on Wednesday. "His performance earned him attention among conservatives as well as an invitation to appear on Fox News on Sunday," and Trump was apparently impressed with his exchange with Mueller, the Times notes. But people close to Ratcliffe say he "was voicing views of the investigation that he truly believes," not auditioning for Coats' job.

Intelligence veterans expressed alarm at Ratcliffe's expected politicization of the U.S. intelligence community and lack of relevant experience — the law requires the DNI to have "extensive national security expertise," the Times reports — and even some Republicans, like Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.), "privately express concern" that "Ratcliffe is too political for the post." Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wasn't private, tweeting Sunday that "it's clear Rep. Ratcliffe was selected because he exhibited blind loyalty to" Trump, and "if Senate Republicans elevate such a partisan player to a position requiring intelligence expertise & non-partisanship, it'd be a big mistake." Like Burr, other Democrats praised Coats and didn't mention Ratcliffe. Peter Weber

June 18, 2018

Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz decided to make the most of his Fox & Friends appearance.

Dershowitz came on the show Monday morning and spoke directly to its most prominent viewer: President Trump. The law professor pleaded with Trump to end the forcible separation of migrant parents and children who cross the border illegally.

Perhaps assuming that Trump would be tuning in, as he often does, Dershowitz told the show's hosts that he had a message to relay to the president. "You have to end this policy of separating parents from children," he said to Trump. "Not because of the parents but because of the children. It imposes a trauma on the children. It's just unacceptable. It's just not proper. There are other ways of doing this."

He pointed out that the problem wasn't about the conditions of the facilities where children are being held, but the policy itself that even members of the Trump administration find "dangerous and immoral." Trump has the authority to immediately demand that law enforcement respond differently, argued Dershowitz, regardless of the origin of the policy or the details about how it's enforced.

"Mr. President, it just has to stop," continued Dershowitz. "There are better ways of doing this. You're better than this, the American people are better than this, the American government is better than this. So I implore you to stop it now." Watch the segment below. Summer Meza

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