inside scoop
February 15, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spoke with President Trump on the phone at least three times Thursday as Trump balked over signing the bipartisan spending bill that includes $1.375 billion for border fencing, not $5.7 billion for the border wall he demanded, The Washington Post reports, citing more than two dozen sources. McConnell and other Senate Republicans had "spent recent days on the phone, soothing him" and telling him Democrats lost, and when Trump finally agreed to sign the bill, McConnell rushed to the Senate floor, The New York Times adds, "interrupting a colleague's speech to announce Mr. Trump's decision, in effect locking it in before he could change his mind."

With Trump pairing his decision with a legally dubious emergency declaration, "White House officials insisted Thursday that Trump was acting in a defiant and assertive way," the Post reports, but "few Republicans, including the president's closest allies, were pleased with the ending. ... Yet for Trump, the negotiations were never really about figuring out how to win. They were about figuring out how to lose — and how to cast his ultimate defeat as victory instead."

"Time and again, Democrats demonstrated during the negotiations that they — not Trump — had the leverage," the Post reports, and when Democrats agreed to offer Trump $1.45 billion for non-wall fencing, lead negotiator Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) "walked into the room and surprised her Senate counterparts by lowering the offer to $1.375 billion" — a number lead Senate negotiator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) "accepted without a fight."

Still, Democrats decided "to be "careful with their language," the Post says, and when Republicans spun the $1.375 billion as a burn on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), "Democrats, privately, were amused but made a conscious decision not to gloat," worried their celebrations "might anger Trump enough to veto the deal." Trump "doesn't seem to work on a totally rational basis," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told the Post. "Little comments throw him off." Read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

May 8, 2017

President Trump apparently isn't as thrilled with his new national security adviser as he says he is, Bloomberg reported Monday. While Trump claimed publicly Sunday that he "couldn't be happier" with General H.R. McMaster and the "terrific job" he's doing, White House officials report he's actually "disillusioned" with McMaster.

Part of the problem, Bloomberg reported, is McMaster's failure "to read the president ... at times even lecturing Trump":

The first conflict between McMaster and Trump was about the major speech the president delivered at the end of February to a joint session of Congress. McMaster pleaded with the president not to use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism." He sent memos throughout the government complaining about a draft of that speech that included the phrase. But the phrase remained. When Trump delivered the speech, he echoed his campaign rhetoric by emphasizing each word: "Radical." "Islamic." "Terrorism." [Bloomberg]

Trump is also apparently convinced that McMaster is "undermining his policy." Bloomberg reported that Trump once "screamed" at McMaster for assuring South Korea "that the president's threat to make that country pay for a new missile defense system was not official policy," a move that Trump claimed was "undercutting efforts to get South Korea to pay its fair share."

And that's not all: Trump has also reportedly complained about McMaster in front of McMaster at intelligence briefings; declined McMaster's requests to brief him before press interviews; and he even took the outgoing deputy national security adviser instead of McMaster to his meeting with Australia's prime minister.

But, the White House insists, all is well. Read the full story on tensions between Trump and McMaster at Bloomberg. Becca Stanek

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