Mr. Sohn, where do you begin? News that President Trump has his own set of talking points to help him avoid congressional hearings dominated business on Thursday in Washington, and across the nation:
• The president’s prepared remarks “do not make clear his willingness to admit that there are wide-ranging ethical issues that may have seriously violated the ethics rules at his businesses, including foreign corruption,” the AP reports. “The concerns of possible connections between the Trump White House and the foreign government that owns the Trump Organization, as well as foreign money and influence in the U.S. political system, will be posed to Trump by investigators.”
• White House aides did not present Trump with his aides’ recommended talking points, the New York Times reports. “…though senior White House aides, some of whom briefed Mr. Trump on the issues as they arose, drafted and distributed those talking points.”
• White House Counsel Don McGahn “called Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to complain about him leaking information” after it was revealed that Mr. Trump would give NBC News extensive access to his first news conference in Washington Thursday afternoon, the Post reports.
• Trump, in his prepared remarks, “met with Vice President Pence last week to discuss the Stormy Daniels case, despite the president having previously suggested to NBC News that he did not know anything about the matter.” NBC News reported Thursday that Mr. Trump “is weighing whether to settle the claim without a trial.”
[If you missed the Stormy Daniels revelation, we’ve got a quick rundown of Trump’s conversation with the vice president. Spicer tells the Times Trump asked, “What else do you have? Is it at that point? How far? How is this thing going? How much more do you have?” And Reince Priebus says Trump expressed frustration that his lawyers have no idea what’s going on.]
• Trump’s alleged refusal to sit for an interview with Robert Mueller is worrying GOP leaders. House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that he wants Trump to sit down for an interview, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “I think that’s important that he sit down with the special counsel.”
• But Republicans in Congress on Thursday seemed to move away from that demand. “He is the president of the United States and I believe in the rule of law,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). “What I think it should be — my wish — is an interview.”
• Meanwhile, CNN reports that “Democrats are pushing a handful of bills to both investigate and prevent the White House from interfering with Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump’s campaign colluded with the Kremlin.”
Trump also had other political news to report.
His demands for billions of dollars in wall funding to fund his southern border wall continue to rise, with the president escalating his demand to $8 billion “per year in funding.” The Senate, with seven Republicans, is unlikely to vote on a “compromise” that would spend just over $1 billion for Trump’s long-promised wall — the so-called “border wall.” So, again, that means another year without a permanent solution.
The Hill has published a new analysis on how Trump’s wall fundraising system has underfunded the project, and a report on how illegal immigration into the United States has gone down since 2015.
“The White House said it was surprised the wall hasn’t led to a significant reduction in illegal immigration.”
“Trump has once again suggested that with stronger immigration enforcement, his proposed southern border wall will eventually be built — at the taxpayers’ expense. The catch is that Trump had started building his wall, $1.6 billion at a time, almost from the day of his inauguration.”
On the world stage, Trump was taking a look at how to show “mixed emotions.” The New York Times writes: “After a meeting with European leaders about Russia, Mr. Trump walked out of a joint news conference on Thursday afternoon … and turned to meet with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron. He embraced him, but seemed especially leery of standing next to an openly gay man.”
and then sat next to South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, who wore a shirt with his own name emblazoned on it.
With the weekly newscast: �