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mr. trump goes to washington
January 25, 2017

President Donald Trump has now spent five straight nights living at the White House, and it's already starting to feel like home, The New York Times reports. Even his morning routine starts the same as it did in New York:

[Trump's] mornings, he said, are spent as they were in Trump Tower. He rises before 6 a.m., watches television tuned to a cable channel in a small dining room in the West Wing, and looks through the morning newspapers: The New York Times, The New York Post, and now The Washington Post.

But his meetings now begin at 9 a.m., earlier than they used to, which significantly curtails his television time. Still, Mr. Trump, who does not read books, is able to end his evenings with plenty of television.

In between, Mr. Trump signs executive orders in the Oval Office and has meetings in the West Wing. [The New York Times]

Alas, even the leader of the free world needs to curb his TV time — though Trump's aides are reportedly begging him to watch less. Jeva Lange

January 18, 2017

Ignorance can surely, at times, be bliss. Donald Trump appears "unusually subdued" these days, Axios co-founders Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei noted during their interview with the president-elect, and it might just be that the weight of the office is suddenly coming clear.

"A top adviser told us the sober tone reflects a bumpy few days inside Trump Tower — and the realization that he's days away from truly running the nation," Allen and VandeHei write. Trump admitted as much himself:

Trump seemed, dare we say, humbled by recent intelligence briefings on global threats. Dick Cheney's friends used to tell us he was a decidedly darker, changed man once he started reading the daily intel reports after 9/11. Trump seemed moved by what he's now seeing.

"I've had a lot of briefings that are very … I don't want to say 'scary,' because I'll solve the problems," he said. "But … we have some big enemies out there in this country and we have some very big enemies — very big and, in some cases, strong enemies."

He offered a reminder many critics hope he never forgets: "You also realize that you've got to get it right because a mistake would be very, very costly in so many different ways." [Axios]

But lest you begin to miss the "old Trump," don't worry, he's not that much more subdued: As of Wednesday morning, he was still his usual self, taking furious shots at the media on Twitter. Jeva Lange

December 29, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump is crafting the first draft of his inauguration address by himself, The Washington Post reports. The president-elect has reportedly told visitors that he is using speeches by former presidents Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy as inspiration.

The Trump transition team originally said Stephen Miller, Trump's aide and speechwriter, would write the speech. Miller will still assist on the text, although people anonymously said Trump has become more involved in the actual writing process. "[Trump] went on and on about Reagan and how much he admires him," said one individual who had heard Trump's comments. "But it wasn't all about Reagan. He spoke about Kennedy and how he was able to get the country motivated, to go to the moon. He's thinking about both men as he starts to write the speech, which is something he's now taking the lead on."

Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley was also present for Trump's remarks. "He recognizes that he's entering a club," said Brinkley. "Even if he didn't spend a lifetime reading presidential biographies, he appreciates that he is joining the club and is learning more about its traditions." Jeva Lange

December 28, 2016

The Consumer Confidence Index rose to 113.7 in December, the highest the indicator has been since August 2001, The New York Times reports. The index "is considered an important barometer of U.S. economic health because consumer spending accounts for about 68 percent of the country's total economic activity," ABC News writes.

The number was revised from 109.4 in November. "Looking ahead to 2017, consumers' continued optimism will depend on whether or not their expectations are realized," said Lynn Franco, the director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.

Donald Trump was quick to take credit himself: "The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index for December surged nearly four points to 113.7, THE HIGHEST LEVEL IN MORE THAN 15 YEARS!" he tweeted Tuesday. "Thanks Donald!" Jeva Lange

December 14, 2016

Donald Trump's adult sons will run the family real estate empire while their father is in office, the president-elect tweeted Monday. But if that is indeed to be the case, it raises new questions about the muddling of the Trump Organization with operations at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. as Donald Trump Jr. reportedly helped his father choose the interior secretary, Politico reports.

Donald Trump Jr. has long held an interest in interior secretary, joking that "the only job in government that I would want is with the Department of Interior. I understand these issues … I will be the very loud voice about these issues in my father's ear." Notably, Donald Jr. is an enthusiastic outdoorsman, especially if exotic animal hunting counts as "enjoying the outdoors." People familiar with discussions surrounding Trump's interior secretary decision confirmed that Donald Jr. was involved in the interview process, made phone calls, and helped settle on the eventual nomination of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.).

But "it's significant that Don Jr. took a hands-on role in hiring a Cabinet secretary," Politico writes. "Either Trump's boys … are running the Trump Organization, or they're helping advise their father, the next president of the United States. Doing both is exactly what Republicans and Democrats alike are worried about. If he's running the company, why is he helping his father assemble his Cabinet?"

Trump's transition team did not respond to Politico's request for a comment about the potential conflict. Jeva Lange

December 13, 2016

Voters don't trust Donald Trump's decision to bring on bankers to his team or his assurances that he will keep his business interests separate while in the White House, a new Politico/Morning Consult poll found. In the poll, 35 percent of people said that they would be less likely to support a president's Cabinet nominee if he or she was a banker, and 39 percent said presidents ought to nominate fewer bankers.

Additionally, over half of Americans, 52 percent, said they believe Trump's "business interests and positions" will affect his decisions as president "a lot" with another 29 percent saying they would have "some" effect, although voters are more split on if that effect will be positive or negative.

Trump has nominated Steven Mnuchin to be treasury secretary, named Gary Cohn to be director of the National Economics Council, and tapped Steve Bannon as his senior adviser; Mnuchin and Bannon are formerly of Goldman Sachs, while Cohn is the investment bank's president. Additionally, billionaire investor Wilbur Ross was nominated by Trump for commerce secretary.

Trump's intentions with his company have been murky, too. Trump canceled a press conference in which he was expected to discuss his plans for his business and has said that "my executives will run it with my children." Half of voters said Trump should "put all of his financial assets into a blind trust," 58 percent said he shouldn't maintain holdings in foreign countries, and 50 percent said he should give up maintaining his hotel chain.

The poll was conducted Dec. 8-11, reaching 2,000 voters, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent. Further analysis of the results can be read at Politico here and here. Jeva Lange

December 8, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly exploring how to turn his business over to his adult sons, Eric and Donald Jr., but plans to keep a stake in the real estate empire and will not heed calls to divest, The New York Times reports. People who were briefed on the discussions said that Ivanka Trump would also leave the Trump Organization, likely to assume a role in Washington, and that Ivanka and her father are exploring a "legal structure" to separate them from the company.

Critics have pointed out that any way in which Trump might have a continued financial interest in his organization could result in conflicts and questions. The Office of Government Ethics has reportedly informed Trump's lawyers that ethical concerns can only be avoided with a divestiture.

Trump has defended himself to reporters, stating that "the law's totally on my side." Still, he will have to navigate laws that prohibit government officials from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments, with even foreign diplomats staying at his properties being a cause for scrutiny.

"There are ways to make it work legally, but the appearances are going to be terrible and it's going to be a four-year ethical challenge," said former chief White House ethics lawyer Richard W. Painter. Jeva Lange

November 22, 2016

Donald Trump will reportedly not pursue criminal investigations into Hillary Clinton when he is president, despite vowing to go after her with a special prosecutor when he was campaigning during the general election.

Morning Joe broke the news, with co-host Mika Brzezinski reporting Trump allegedly feels that Clinton has "been through enough." A person familiar with Trump's plans revealed to the show that Trump would not pursue Clinton over either her private email server or the Clinton Foundation.

Just weeks ago, Trump had mocked Clinton during the third presidential debate, claiming she would "be in jail" if he was in charge of the United States' laws. "Lock her up" was also a favorite chant of Trump's rallies throughout his presidential campaign.

Update 8:32 a.m.: Trump's former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway confirmed Morning Joe's reports on the show. "I think when the president-elect, who's also the head of your party, tells you before he's even inaugurated that he doesn't wish to pursue these charges, it sends a very strong message, tone, and content [to Congress]," she said, adding, "if Donald Trump can help [Clinton] heal, then perhaps that's a good thing to do." Jeva Lange

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