The Week on PLanet Trump: Enraging Allies, Chaotic White House Starts Global Trade War

Monday: “The Wall” Ruins Relations with Mexico

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was preparing to visit the U.S. and meet with President Donald Trump until a phone call last week devolved into a testy exchange over Trump's proposed border wall, two senior administration officials confirmed to ABC News.

The plans for Peña Nieto to visit were in an early planning phase, according to both officials, with one saying the call was supposed to lay the groundwork for a formal invitation for a visit during which the two leaders would sign a series of agreements on "broad-based" issues like security and energy.

But according to one official, Trump went off script and brought up the wall. Peña Nieto said Mexico would not support the wall, while Trump reiterated his campaign position that it would. Both sides then concluded together that now was not the right time to move forward with a visit, according to the other official.

Mexico has denied repeatedly that it would pay for the wall, and Peña Nieto opposes its construction.

Conor Finnegan and Jordyn Phelps, ABC News

Tuesday: Ground Set for 2020 Campaign… and the Midterms

President Donald Trump has hired Brad Parscale, the digital media director of his 2016 campaign, to run his re-election bid, the campaign announced on Tuesday.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters in June 2017 that Trump was going to run for re-election in 2020.

Jared Kushner, the President's son-in-law and senior adviser, added that Parscale was "essential in bringing a disciplined technology and data-driven approach to how the 2016 campaign."

The campaign also said in the announcement that it would be involved in the 2018 midterm election by "providing candidates with general support, endorsements and rallying the support of the political grassroots by engaging Trump supporters in districts and states."

The midterm will be pivotal for the future of Trump's presidency. The party in control of the presidency historically suffers sizable losses in the first election after winning the White House. Trump has already begun mentioning that trend in speeches, hoping to spur his supporters to buck history.

Dana Bash, CNN

Wednesday: Republicans Shocked by Strong Line on Gun Control

President Trump stunned Republicans on live television Wednesday by embracing gun control and urging a group of lawmakers at the White House to resurrect gun safety legislation that has been opposed for years by the powerful National Rifle Association and the vast majority of his party.

In a remarkable meeting, the president veered wildly from the N.R.A. playbook in front of giddy Democrats and stone-faced Republicans. He called for comprehensive gun control legislation that would expand background checks to weapons purchased at gun shows and on the internet, keep guns from mentally ill people, secure schools and restrict gun sales for some young adults. He even suggested a conversation on an assault weapons ban.

At one point, Mr. Trump suggested that law enforcement authorities should have the power to seize guns from mentally ill people or others who could present a danger without first going to court. “I like taking the guns early,” he said, adding, “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

Michael D. Shear, The New York Times

Thursday: A White House of Chaos and Corruption

The ceaseless barrage of news — both real and fake — from the Trump administration can be numbing, so it’s important to step back every once in a while and look at the big picture: Never have we seen such utter chaos and blatant corruption.

Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, decided Wednesday to self-eject. Was it because she had spent the previous day testifying on Capitol Hill and was forced to admit having told “white lies” for President Trump? Was it because the man she had been dating, Rob Porter, lost his important White House position when the Daily Mail revealed he faced multiple allegations of wife-beating? Or was Hicks simply exhausted?

Among those now with limited access is Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, whose heavily indebted real estate empire and grudging disclosure of his many foreign contacts worried FBI investigators. Kushner is a senior adviser to the president whose many assignments include forging peace in the Middle East — but who now is not cleared for documents or meetings that discuss what’s really happening in the Middle East or anywhere else. So why is he still there?

Why was he there in the first place? Because of Trump’s appalling nepotism.

Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post

Friday: President’s Rage Sparks Global Trade War

With global markets shaken by President Donald Trump's surprise decision to impose strict tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, the president went into battle mode on Friday: "Trade wars are good, and easy to win," he wrote on Twitter.

But the public show of confidence belies the fact that Trump's policy maneuver, which may ultimately harm U.S. companies and American consumers, was announced without any internal review by government lawyers or his own staff, according to a review of an internal White House document.

A trifecta of events had set him off in a way that two officials said they had not seen before: Hope Hicks' testimony to lawmakers investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election, conduct by his embattled attorney general and the treatment of his son-in-law by his chief of staff.

Trump, the two officials said, was angry and gunning for a fight, and he chose a trade war, spurred on by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro, the White House director for trade — and against longstanding advice from his economic chair Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Stephanie Ruhle and Stephen Alexander, NBC News

Saturday: Praise for Xi’s Power Grab

President Trump on Saturday praised a move by China's Communist Party to abolish presidential term limits, and suggested that maybe the United States would "give that a shot someday."

"He's now president for life. President for life. No, he's great," Trump told Republican donors during a closed-door event in Florida. A recording of Trump's remarks was obtained by CNN.

"And look, he was able to do that," he added. "I think it's great. Maybe we'll give that a shot someday."

China's Communist Party announced Sunday that it intends to do away with presidential term limits, paving the way for the country's president, Xi Jinping, to remain in power indefinitely.

Trump has personally praised Xi, despite railing against unfair trade practices by China during his 2016 presidential campaign and first year in office.

Max Greenwood, The Hill

Sunday: Russia Condemned for Role in Ghouta Disaster

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Sunday criticized Russia and Iran over the deteriorating conditions in Syria, where people in an enclave near Damascus are caught up in a struggle between rebels and government forces.

"The United States condemns the ongoing military offensive that the Assad regime, backed by Russia and Iran, is perpetrating against the people of Eastern Ghouta," Sanders said in a statement.

"Russia and others with influence over the Syrian regime must act now to cease their campaign of violence and to protect civilians," May and Trump agreed, her office said.

President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May spoke about the situation on Sunday, May's office said, adding that the two leaders agreed the situation is a "humanitarian catastrophe" for which blame rests with Syria and Russia.

"They agreed that Russia and others with influence over the Syrian regime must act now to cease their campaign of violence and to protect civilians," the British readout said.

Brent T. Griffiths, Politico

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