The Week on Planet Trump: Unpopular POTUS Celebrates First Year with Government Shutdown

Monday: “Shithole” Comments are Fake News, Says Racist-in-Chief

President Trump told reporters late Sunday that "I am not a racist” and denied reports that he referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries.”

Trump made the denial as he arrived for dinner with House majority leader Kevin McCarthy at his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Asked if he is a racist, Trump said: "No, I'm not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed."

Trump denied making the “shithole countries” comments during discussions about whether to include immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti and African countries in an immigration bill on Thursday.

The president, who was due to discuss the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with McCarthy, also said Democrats were ruining chances for an agreement on immigration legislation and DACA, according to the Washington Post.

“Honestly, I don’t think the Democrats want to make a deal,” he said. “I think they talk about DACA, but they don’t want to help the DACA people.”

Jane Onyanga-Omara, USA Today

Tuesday: Steve Bannon Forced to Bear Witness

Lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election vowed Tuesday to force answers from Steve Bannon after the former senior strategist to President Donald Trump stonewalled their inquiries — even after the committee issued a subpoena with bipartisan support.

Lawmakers in both parties attributed Bannon's silence to the White House, which they said told him to refuse to discuss his time in the West Wing or on Trump's transition team. Bannon's refusal to speak clearly angered lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee, who vowed to make him speak.

Bannon was in the White House during a stretch of Trump's presidency that included Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey, which is now of interest in a criminal investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who's examining whether Russians had any help from Trump associates in their interference in the 2016 election — and whether the president or allies obstructed the FBI's investigation in the matter.

Kyle Cheney, Politico

Wednesday: North Korea Conflict Chills Russia Relations

US President Donald Trump may have found another whipping boy when it comes to reining in North Korea.

On Wednesday, Trump accused the Kremlin of helping North Korea skirt international sanctions aimed at curbing North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

"Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea," Trump told Reuters in an interview. "What China is helping us with, Russia is denting. In other words, Russia is making up for some of what China is doing."

Trump welcomed the ongoing dialogue between the two Koreas regarding next month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Reuters reported, but said he didn't think direct US talks with Kim Jong Un would solve anything.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered vocal support for the North Korean regime and has publicly questioned the efficacy of sanctions.

Jeremy Diamond, Nicole Gaouette and Joshua Berlinger, CNN

Thursday: Voters Grade First Year as a Divisive Failure

As President Trump approaches the one-year anniversary of his inauguration, a majority of Americans think that his first year in office has been a failure and that he has divided the nation.

NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll data released Thursday finds that Americans deemed Trump's first year a failure, 53 percent to 40 percent. And by an almost 2-to-1 ratio (61 percent to 32 percent), Americans said they believe Trump has divided the country since his election. A majority of Americans continue to disapprove of the job Trump is doing overall (53 percent), think the country is headed in the wrong direction (57 percent), overwhelmingly believe his policies are directed toward helping the wealthy (60 percent) as opposed to the middle class (25 percent), and see his use of Twitter as a risky way to communicate (78 percent) that isn't sending the right message.

Jessica Taylor, NPR



Friday: Economic Optimism despite Unpopular President

Americans are now as satisfied with the U.S. economy as they were during the dotcom boom, a new poll from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal found.

Sixty-nine percent of Americans said they were satisfied or somewhat satisfied with economic conditions in the country. That figure is up sharply from the mere 37 percent who said they were satisfied in June 2015.

That economic satisfaction was found across the political spectrum. While 86 percent of Republicans said they felt good about the economy, 65 percent of independents and 57 percent of Democrats said they were satisfied.

But the GOP can't breathe easy just yet. About 38 percent of respondents said they will head to the ballot box in 2018 hoping to send a message to the president. That's the highest level since October 2006, just before Republicans lost 30 House seats during the George W. Bush administration.

Christine Wang, CNBC

Saturday: Republicans Shift Blame on Child Healthcare Funding

House Speaker Paul Ryan placed the blame for the government shutdown squarely on the shoulder of Democrats in an impassioned address to fellow lawmakers on Saturday. Ryan accused Democrats of holding the government “hostage,” and slammed them for refusing to budge, saying it would negatively impact both the military and children dependent on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

A government shutdown went into effect in the early hours of Saturday morning after a federal spending bill failed to pass. The bill was approved by the House, but after some Senate Republicans and most Senate Democrats voted against it, the government ceased some operations until a compromise is reached. The bill would have funded the federal government until February 16.

Concern for CHIP is also not directly tied to the current shutdown. For the last few years, the expiration date for CHIP funding was September 30, 2017. The renewal of funding for CHIP, which covers medical treatment for children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford other health care coverage, was stalled months ago, when lawmakers disagreed how to fund the program. A short-term solution gave lawmakers a few more months to work out a bipartisan deal, but the deadline for that compromise was separate from the deadline that caused the shutdown. Some states will run out of funding for CHIP by the end of the month without an agreed-upon extension.

Summer Meza, Newsweek



Sunday: Amnesty for Dreamers Could Make “The Wall” Reality

Federal lawmakers are now in a shutdown standoff: Democrats are refusing to support a bill funding the government unless they have a deal on immigration. Republicans are refusing to negotiate on immigration until Democrats support a bill to fund the government.

But amid the noise and recriminations, President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer are tantalizingly close to a surprising immigration deal that would protect the 'Dreamers,' approximately 800,000 young immigrants who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children.

Sources inside the White House tell ABC News that the president has expressed a willingness to support legal status for 'Dreamers' in exchange for full funding of his border wall at a cost of about $20 billion over seven years.

Trump has expressed a willingness to do this, sources tell ABC News, even if he gets nothing on the two other big Republican immigration priorities: Ending the visa lottery system and restricting so-called chain migration.

Johnathan Karl, ABC News



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