The Week on Planet Trump: Democrats Surge Ahead while POTUS Shames the Nation

Monday: AMLO Extends Olive Branch

The electoral dust has settled in Mexico, and voters did not defy what the polls had been predicting for months. Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s landslide victory on Sunday signals a tectonic shift in contemporary Mexican politics not seen since the Institutional Revolutionary Party was vanquished in 2000 after 71 years of continuous one-party rule. This also entails a dramatic partisan realignment as a result of the shellacking of the three main political parties.

During the run-up to the election, as Trump continued his anti-Mexican and anti-immigrant tirades, presidential contenders in Mexico unsurprisingly adopted, to varying degrees, a robust anti-Trump stance. And while Trump didn’t move the needle on how Mexicans voted, he might certainly impact the appetite and bandwidth with which the new Mexican government, conceivably composed of cabinet and subcabinet officials who have previously had precious little diplomatic U.S.-Mexico diplomatic experience, will devise policies toward their northern neighbor.

Notwithstanding, López Obrador underscored throughout the campaign that his objective was to strive for productive, mutually respectful relations with the United States and to support the successful renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Arturo Sarukhan, The Washington Post

Tuesday: Letters Pressure NATO Powers

President Donald Trump is demanding that Norway ramp up its defense spending as a NATO partner, according to a letter he wrote to Prime Minister Erna Solberg that was obtained by CNN.

The letter was one of a series that Trump sent to NATO allies, including Germany, Belgium, Canada and others, demanding they boost spending and threatening to shift the US military presence in Europe if they do not. The letters were first reported in The New York Times on Monday.

Two defense officials told CNN on Tuesday that Defense Secretary James Mattis has also sent a letter to his British counterpart Gavin Williamson, warning that the UK's position in the world was at risk of erosion unless the it upped its defense spending beyond current levels of about 2% of GDP.

Ryan Browne, Zachary Cohen and Michelle Kosinski, CNN

Wednesday: Nation Ashamed and Divided

On the 242nd anniversary of our independence, Americans express deep unhappiness with border policies separating immigrant children from parents. Polling suggests that most consider their president dishonest. Financial markets and corporate leaders fear destructive trade wars.

As a result, a new Gallup Poll this week found sagging patriotism. For the first time since Gallup began asking the question in 2001, fewer than half of U.S. adults, 47 percent, call themselves extremely proud to be American. Five years ago, the number was 10 percentage points higher.

In some ways, the new numbers tell a familiar story: Older Americans express fiercer pride in the country as it exists, than more rebellious young people seeking change.

Only one group reports greater patriotism than five years ago. Among Republicans, 74 percent call themselves extremely proud to be Americans, up from 71 percent in 2013.

John Harwood, CNBC

Thursday: Chaos Leaves Children Stranded

Faced with a court-imposed deadline to reunite families separated at the southwest border, federal authorities are calling in volunteers to sort through records and resorting to DNA tests to match children with parents. And they acknowledged for the first time Thursday that of the nearly 3,000 children who are still in federal custody, about 100 are under the age of 5.

The family separations, part of an aggressive effort by the Trump administration to deter illegal immigration, have produced a chaotic scramble as officials now face political and judicial pressure to reunite families.

Records linking children to their parents have disappeared, and in some cases have been destroyed, according to two officials of the Department of Homeland Security, leaving the authorities struggling to identify connections between family members.

Administration officials previously had said about 2,300 children had been separated from their parents. But over the weekend, the agency came up with its final accounting that showed nearly 3,000 in total.

Caitlin Dickerson, The New York Times

Friday: Democrats Surge Ahead

Democrats enjoy a 10-point lead over Republicans on the generic House ballot, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll released Friday.

Of the registered voters surveyed, 47 percent said they preferred to vote for a Democrat in the November midterm elections, while 37 percent said they would cast a vote for a Republican.

The poll comes four months ahead of an immensely important general election for Democrats, as they try to seize on opposition to President Trump to retake the House. The party needs to pick up at least 24 House seats to gain a majority in the lower chamber.

Justin Wise, The Hill

Saturday: Kim Slaps Down Twitter Boast

On Saturday, after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo finished talks with North Korean officials in Pyongyang, Kim Jong Un's foreign ministry accused the Trump administration of a “unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization." It was an immediate and sharp contradiction to President Donald Trump’s rosy descriptions of his North Korea diplomacy.

The harsh statement also illustrates the risks of putting so much stock in a ceremonial summit, now that last month's meet-and-greet between Trump and Kim in Singapore is colliding with the hard-nosed reality of enormously complex nuclear negotiations.

This dissonance between fact and fancy was made clear earlier this week. After NBC News first reported that Pyongyang was in fact expanding elements of its weapons program, the president tweeted, “Many good conversations with North Korea — It is going well!” He added: “If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!”

Andrea Mitchell, NBC News

Sunday: POTUS Promotes Peace with Putin

In combining meetings with NATO and British allies with a Russian tete-a-tete, Trump will display two hallmarks of his foreign policy: Getting tough on allies and trading partners over their defense spending and trade policies, while opening the door to better relations with longtime adversaries like Russia, China and North Korea.

Trump will meet Tuesday with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg before participating in high-level sessions with the 28 allies on Wednesday.

The U.S. ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, said the meetings would focus on NATO's mission of countering Russia.

Trump has met his Russian counterpart twice before, but those meetings were at gatherings of other world leaders – "on the margins," in diplomatic parlance, of summits in Hamburg, Germany, and Da Nang, Vietnam, last year.

The Helsinki meeting will be the first formal meeting with the Russian president.

"What is important in all these cases is dialogue. And this can take many forms. But what is important here is that we start a discussion," said Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Russia. "The president has determined that now is the time for direct communication between himself and President Putin, and that it is in the interest of the United States, in the interest of Russia, in the interest of peace and security around the world. And that's the way he's proceeding."

Gregory Korte, USA Today

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