The Week on Planet Trump: Pathetic on Guns and Pursued by Mueller, No Wonder He’s Rated Worst President Ever

Monday: Academics Rate Trump Worst US President in History

Donald Trump is America's worst president, says a New York Times opinion piece that's based on a survey of 170 members of the American Political Science Association’s Presidents and Executive Politics section.

The survey was conducted by Brandon Rottinghaus, a professor of political science at the University of Houston, and Justin S. Vaughn, an associate professor of political science and director of the Center for Idaho History and Politics at Boise State University.

Their op-ed, was posted Monday in the Times, showed Barack Obama faring much better than Trump. Obama shot into the top 10, up from 18th when a previous survey was conducted in 2014.

The authors said the four years since the previous survey had other changes in rankings, with James Buchanan, who was at the helm as the United States careened into civil war, benefiting from the Trump era. Buchanan was dislodged from his position as our nation’s worst president by Trump.

Bob Jordan, USA Today

Tuesday: North Korea Cancels Pence Meeting but Reaches out to South

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to meet with North Korean officials, including leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, while in South Korea for the Winter Olympics this month but the North Koreans canceled at the last minute, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

Pence was going to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, and the nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam, but the North Koreans called off the Feb. 10 meeting two hours before it was set to start, a U.S. official said, confirming a story first reported by the Washington Post.

Pence had criticized Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions and announced the “toughest and most aggressive” sanctions against Pyongyang yet, while also moving to strengthen the U.S. alliance with Japan and South Korea.

Kim Jong Un, through his sister, invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to Pyongyang to begin talks “soon.”

Matt Spetalnick and Christine Kim, Reuters

Wednesday: Court Strikes Down Republican Gerrymandering

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court released a new map for the state’s US House of Representatives districts Monday, to replace the old one it struck down as a Republican partisan gerrymander. And the new map is positively fantastic news for Democrats in their effort to take back the House this fall.

Overall, it reduces by one the number of safe Republican districts (where Trump won by more than 15 points), and by one the number of lean Republican districts (where Trump won by 5 to 15 points).

But however the candidates shake out, this new map is enormously good news for Democrats in their effort to take back the House. Republicans currently hold the majority in the entire House of Representatives by 24 seats. Now, all of a sudden, their chances in several key Pennsylvania races have sharply improved — there are now five very plausible pickup opportunities in this state alone. If the party can score victories on this more favorable new turf, it will be a major help in their efforts to retake the chamber.

Andrew Prokop, Vox

Thursday: Mixed Reception for Armed Teachers Plan

President Donald Trump, after listening to a series of emotional stories and pleas to enhance school safety at the White House Wednesday, floated the idea of arming teachers and school staff, an idea that was met with support from many of the attendees.

"If you had a teacher who was adept with the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly," he said, stating that schools could arm up to 20% of their teachers to stop "maniacs" who may try and attack them.

But not all agreed with that approach.

Nicole Hockley, whose six-year-old son was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, took the microphone and told Trump she would rather arm teachers with ways to prevent shootings in the first place rather than with a firearm.

"Let's talk about prevention," Hockley said. "There is so much we can do to help this person before we reach this point."

But many others embraced the President's idea.

Andrew Pollack, a father of one of the 17 victims who died in last week's Florida shooting, said he was speaking Wednesday because his daughter couldn't.

"We as a country failed our children," he said. "This shouldn't happen."

He asked how it was that America could protect its airports, its concerts, its embassies and even the elevators at the Department of Education, but not its schools.

Dan Merica and Betsy Klein, CNN

Friday: Kim Threatened with Ominous “Phase Two”

President Donald Trump said Friday "we'll have to see" what the United States will do if sanctions on North Korea fail to deter its nuclear and missile programs.

However, he cryptically warned of a potential "phase two," which may prove "very, very unfortunate for the world." He did not give more details on what action he would take or when he would consider the sanctions failed.

Earlier in the day, the Trump administration announced a sweeping sanctions package aimed at curbing the communist dictatorship's weapons development. The measures target one individual, 27 entities and 28 vessels, located or registered in several locations: North Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Panama and Comoros, the Treasury Department said.

Jacob Pramuk, CNBC

Saturday: Flurry of Mueller Charges Should Worry POTUS

With each passing day, Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, seems to add another brick to the case he is building — one more indictment, one more interview, one more guilty plea. Mr. Trump and his advisers insist they are not worried because so far none of the charges implicate the president. Yet no one outside Mr. Mueller’s office knows for sure where he is heading and the flurry of recent action seems to be inexorably leading to a larger target.

“When you put that all together, the White House should be extremely worried,” said Benjamin Wittes, editor in chief of Lawfare, a blog that analyzes legal issues, and a friend of James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director who was leading the Russia investigation until being fired by Mr. Trump last year. “You have to ask the question about whether there is a certain measure of self-delusion going on here.”

In the last 10 days, Mr. Mueller has indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies on suspicion of secretly trying to help Mr. Trump win the election, added new charges against Paul Manafort, who was Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, and secured a guilty plea from a lawyer tied to Mr. Manafort’s business dealings with pro-Russian figures. The guilty plea on Friday by Rick Gates, the former deputy chairman, raised the pressure on Mr. Manafort.

Peter Baker, The New York Times

Sunday: White House Considers Increased Age Limit for Gun Ownership

The NRA appeared to suggest there was no clash between the organization and President Donald Trump over gun control following discussions in a reduction on the age limit to buy guns.

NRA spokesperson Dada Loesch said the organization had made its position on raising the age limit clear, in that it would not support such a move, but suggested they remained on the same side as Trump.

Despite the NRA’s attempt to maintain a united front with the president, Trump has suggested raising the minimum age to purchase an assault rifle to 21, in defiance of the views of the gun organization.

Harriet Sinclair, Newsweek

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