Jonathan Chait: “Trump is not actually suffering a severe mental impairment. White House doctor Ronny Jackson, who has served in the post since 2013, informed reporters on Wednesday that the president is in fine physical and mental health. The report comes as the national media has discussed whether Trump’s functional near-illiteracy, minuscule attention span, and narcissistic pathos are the symptoms of dementia or some other kind of cognitive incapacitation. We should take Jackson’s diagnosis as face value. Trump is just an idiot.”
A new Gallup poll finds President Trump’s 38% job approval rating is well below what would be expected based on Americans’ views of the economy and their level of satisfaction with the direction of the country for recent presidents.
A Gallup analysis of these relationships finds Trump’s approval rating is nine to 14 percentage points lower than the predicted values.
Said Evans: “I asked how it went. I’m sorry, but the visual that I get has stuck with me for this entire time. I’m glad that you guys all have to deal with it too. Having her tell me the next day when I asked how did it go, and she says, ‘Well, picture this: Donald Trump chasing me around the bedroom in his tighty whities,’ isn’t something you ever forget.”
Steve Bannon “refused to answer questions Tuesday from the House intelligence committee about his time in the White House, prompting panel members to subpoena him on the spot,” Politico reports.
“According to the source, Bannon’s attorney told the committee that he wouldn’t discuss anything about his time in the White House or during the transition after the 2016 election.”
President Trump “asked the White House doctor to perform a cognitive exam during his physical last week, despite the doctor’s determination that such testing wasn’t necessary,” CNN reports.
Said Dr. Ronny Jackson: “I have no concerns about his cognitive ability.”
CNN quoted Jackson: “He has incredibly good genes, and it’s just the way God made him.”
Former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon was subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller “to testify before a grand jury as part of the investigation into possible links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia,” the New York Times reports.
“The move marked the first time Mr. Mueller is known to have used a grand jury subpoena to seek information from a member of Mr. Trump’s inner circle.”
“The subpoena could be a negotiating tactic. Mr. Mueller is likely to allow Mr. Bannon to forgo the grand jury appearance if he agrees to instead be questioned by investigators in the less formal setting of the special counsel’s offices in Washington… But it was not clear why Mr. Mueller treated Mr. Bannon differently than the dozen administration officials who were interviewed in the final months of last year and were never served with a subpoena.”
Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen confirmed that President Trump used “tough language” in an Oval Office meeting last week over immigration policy, but she said she did not hear him describe some African countries and Haiti as “shithole countries,” the Washington Post reports.
Said Nielsen: “I did not hear that word used.”
She added: “The conversation was very impassioned. I don’t dispute that the president was using tough language. Others in the room were also using tough language.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said claims that President Trump is racist are “outrageous,” citing his success as a public figure and star turn on television as a host on NBC’s reality show The Apprentice, Bloomberg reports.
Said Sanders: “Frankly, if the critics of the president were who he said he was, why did NBC give him a show for a decade on TV.”
Jonathan Chait: “The belief that television networks would never employ a racist is oddly naïve, especially for a figure as steeped in criticism of Hollywood as the daughter of famed social conservative Mike Huckabee.”
“We face the challenge of an openly racist president of the United States. Donald Trump is a racist bully, and we know how to deal with bullies. We don’t back down. We don’t shut up. We fight back.”
— Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), quoted by Boston Magazine.
James Hohmann: “Credibility is like virginity. You only get to lose it once.”
After Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said that President Trump had complained about the United States taking immigrants from “shithole countries,” two Republican senators who attended the meeting — Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Sen. David Purdue (R-GA) took issue with their Democratic colleague. It turns out their denials were based on hearing Trump say “shithouse” instead of “shithole” — as if that makes a difference.
“Cotton and Perdue will be defined by this moment, in part, because other senators will remember their attacks on Durbin. This will make them less trustworthy as potential partners and thus less effective as members of Congress.”
Jennifer Rubin: “Colleagues on both sides of the aisle should keep these two Republican senators’ rampant, flippant dishonesty in mind going forward. Should either come before the Senate for a confirmable position, the Senate should reject the nomination. If they lied about this, they’d lie about anything.”
A new report finds that 64 trade groups, foreign governments, Republican candidates and others stayed at or held events at properties linked to President Trump during Trump’s first year in office, CNBC reports.
“The arrangements represented ‘unprecedented conflicts of interest’ because Trump oversees the federal government and has not divested from properties he owns or that carry his name.”
A new Politico/Morning Consult poll finds 35% would give President Trump an “F” for his job performance — slightly more than the 34% of voters who would give Trump an “A” or “B” grade for his first year. The remaining voters give him a “C” (14%) or a barely-passing “D” (11%), and 5% have no opinion.
Politico: “Handicapping potential 2020 challengers — however premature the exercise is — has become a favorite pastime for the competitive president, who still regularly rehashes his shock win in the 2016 race.”
Said one Republican: “He’s always asking people, ‘Who do you think is going to run against me?”
“Despite a bumpy first year and historically low approval ratings, this Trump ally said: ‘I don’t think he sees anyone, right now, being a serious competitor.’ … Former Vice President Joe Biden, however, is seen as someone who could cut into Trump’s base.”
A senior GOP source familiar with the matter told CNN that instead of hearing President Trump refer to “shithole” countries in their immigration meeting, some Republicans heard the president say “shithouse” countries instead.
“U.S. counterintelligence officials in early 2017 warned Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, that Wendi Deng Murdoch, a prominent Chinese-American businesswoman, could be using her close friendship with Mr. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, to further the interests of the Chinese government,” the Wall Street Journal reports.