Week 4, Wednesday

President Trump began the day with a series of angry tweets in response to yesterday’s report by the New York Times that his campaign was in constant contact with Russian intelligence in the year prior to the election, as well as to the departure of NSA Michael Flynn due to his pre-inauguration discussions with the Russian ambassador about easing sanctions. Trump’s tweets alternated between blasting the New York Times and Washington Post for publishing “fake news” and blasting (while effectively confiming) the leaks that led to those reports.

Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and, in a press conference, seemed to scrap decades of American foreign policy on the Israeli/Palestinian peace process by expressing openness to a one-state solution to the conflict. Talking about either a two-state or a one-state settlement, he said, “I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.” Regarding the expansion of West Bank settlements, Trump told Netanyahu “I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit.” For the third press conference in a row, Trump took questions only from conservative media outlets. There were no questions about Russia.

Andrew Puzder withdrew from consideration as Labor Secretary today after it became clear that there were at least 4 Republican Senators who would not vote to confirm him. Puzder faced strong opposition from Democratic Senators as a result of his treatment of workers, his thoughts on the minimum wage and automation, and allegations of spousal abuse.

On his first visit to NATO headquarters, Defense Secretary James Mattis issued an ultimatum today, saying “America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defense.”

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